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1.  Identification of Microbial Communities in Open and Closed Circuit Bioelectrochemical MBRs by High-Throughput 454 Pyrosequencing 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93842.
Two bioelectrochemical membrane bioreactors (MBRs) developed by integrating microbial fuel cell and MBR technology were operated under closed-circuit and open-circuit modes, and high-throughput 454 pyrosequencing was used to investigate the effects of the power generation on the microbial community of bio-anode and bio-cathode. Microbes on the anode under open-circuit operation (AO) were enriched and highly diverse when compared to those on the anode under closed-circuit operation (AC). However, among the cathodes the closed-circuit mode (CC) had richer and more diverse microbial community compared to the cathode under open-circuit mode (CO). On the anodes AO and AC, Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes were the dominant phyla, while Firmicutes was enriched only on AC. Deltaproteobacteria affiliated to Proteobacteria were also more abundant on AC than AO. Furthermore, the relative abundance of Desulfuromonas, which are well-known electrogenic bacteria, were much higher on AC (10.2%) when compared to AO (0.11%), indicating that closed-circuit operation was more conducive for the growth of electrogenic bacteria on the anodes. On the cathodes, Protebacteria was robust on CC while Bacteroidetes was more abundant on CO. Rhodobacter and Hydrogenophaga were also enriched on CC than CO, suggesting that these genera play a role in electron transfer from the cathode surface to the terminal electron acceptors in the bioelectrochemical MBR under closed-circuit operation.
PMCID: PMC3976363  PMID: 24705450
2.  Mutation Spectrum of Six Genes in Chinese Phenylketonuria Patients Obtained through Next-Generation Sequencing 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94100.
The identification of gene variants plays an important role in the diagnosis of genetic diseases.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To develop a rapid method for the diagnosis of phenylketonuria (PKU) and tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) deficiency, we designed a multiplex, PCR-based primer panel to amplify all the exons and flanking regions (50 bp average) of six PKU-associated genes (PAH, PTS, GCH1, QDPR, PCBD1 and GFRP). The Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine (PGM) System was used to detect mutations in all the exons of these six genes. We tested 93 DNA samples from blood specimens from 35 patients and their parents (32 families) and 26 healthy adults. Using strict bioinformatic criteria, this sequencing data provided, on average, 99.14% coverage of the 39 exons at more than 70-fold mean depth of coverage. We found 23 previously documented variants in the PAH gene and six novel mutations in the PAH and PTS genes. A detailed analysis of the mutation spectrum of these patients is described in this study.
These results were confirmed by Sanger sequencing. In conclusion, benchtop next-generation sequencing technology can be used to detect mutations in monogenic diseases and can detect both point mutations and indels with high sensitivity, fidelity and throughput at a lower cost than conventional methods in clinical applications.
PMCID: PMC3976377  PMID: 24705691
3.  Incorporating group correlations in genome-wide association studies using smoothed group Lasso 
Biostatistics (Oxford, England)  2012;14(2):205-219.
In genome-wide association studies, penalization is an important approach for identifying genetic markers associated with disease. Motivated by the fact that there exists natural grouping structure in single nucleotide polymorphisms and, more importantly, such groups are correlated, we propose a new penalization method for group variable selection which can properly accommodate the correlation between adjacent groups. This method is based on a combination of the group Lasso penalty and a quadratic penalty on the difference of regression coefficients of adjacent groups. The new method is referred to as smoothed group Lasso (SGL). It encourages group sparsity and smoothes regression coefficients for adjacent groups. Canonical correlations are applied to the weights between groups in the quadratic difference penalty. We first derive a GCD algorithm for computing the solution path with linear regression model. The SGL method is further extended to logistic regression for binary response. With the assistance of the majorize–minimization algorithm, the SGL penalized logistic regression turns out to be an iteratively penalized least-square problem. We also suggest conducting principal component analysis to reduce the dimensionality within groups. Simulation studies are used to evaluate the finite sample performance. Comparison with group Lasso shows that SGL is more effective in selecting true positives. Two datasets are analyzed using the SGL method.
PMCID: PMC3590928  PMID: 22988281
Group selection; Regularization; SNP; Smoothing
4.  An Ascending Ramp Biphasic Waveform Has a Lower Defibrillation Threshold and Releases Less Troponin I Than a Truncated Exponential Biphasic Waveform 
Circulation  2012;126(11):1328-1333.
We tested the hypothesis that the shape of the shock waveform affects not only the defibrillation threshold (DFT), but also the amount of cardiac damage.
Methods and Results
DFTs were determined for 11 waveforms: 3 ascending ramp, 3 descending ramp, and 3 rectilinear first phase biphasic waveforms, a Gurvich waveform, and a truncated exponential biphasic waveform in 6 pigs with electrodes in the RV apex and SVC. The ascending, descending and rectilinear waveforms had 4, 8 and 16 ms 1st phases and a 3.5 ms 2nd rectilinear phase half the voltage of the 1st phase. The exponential biphasic waveform had a 60% 1st phase and a 50% 2nd phase tilt. In a second study, we attempted to defibrillate after 10 s of VF with a single ≈ 30 J shock (6 pigs successfully defibrillated with 8 ms ascending, 8 ms rectilinear wave and truncated exponential biphasic waveforms). Troponin I blood levels were determined before and 2 to 10 hrs after the shock. The lowest energy DFT was for the 8 ms ascending ramp (14.6±7.3 SD J), which was significantly less than for the truncated exponential (19.6±6.3 J). Six hours postshock, troponin I in ng/ml was significantly less for the ascending ramp (0.80±0.54) than for the truncated exponential (1.92±0.47) or the rectilinear waveform (1.17 ±0.45).
The ascending ramp has a significantly lower DFT, and at ≈ 30 J causes 58% less troponin I release than the truncated exponential biphasic shock. Therefore, the shock waveform affects both the DFT and the amount of cardiac damage.
PMCID: PMC3968773  PMID: 22865891
cardioversion; defibrillation; troponin; ventricular fibrillation
5.  Effects of Huanglian-Jie-Du-Tang and Its Modified Formula on the Modulation of Amyloid-β Precursor Protein Processing in Alzheimer's Disease Models 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92954.
Huanglian-Jie-Du-Tang (HLJDT) is a famous traditional Chinese herbal formula that has been widely used clinically to treat cerebral ischemia. Recently, we found that berberine, a major alkaloid compound in HLJDT, reduced amyloid-β (Aβ) accumulation in an Alzheimer’s disease (AD) mouse model. In this study, we compared the effects of HLJDT, four single component herbs of HLJDT (Rhizoma coptidis (RC), Radix scutellariae (RS), Cortex phellodendri (CP) and Fructus gardenia (FG)) and the modified formula of HLJDT (HLJDT-M, which is free of RS) on the regulatory processing of amyloid-β precursor protein (APP) in an in vitro model of AD. Here we show that treatment with HLJDT-M and its components RC, CP, and the main compound berberine on N2a mouse neuroblastoma cells stably expressing human APP with the Swedish mutation (N2a-SwedAPP) significantly decreased the levels of full-length APP, phosphorylated APP at threonine 668, C-terminal fragments of APP, soluble APP (sAPP)-α and sAPPβ-Swedish and reduced the generation of Aβ peptide in the cell lysates of N2a-SwedAPP. HLJDT-M showed more significant APP- and Aβ- reducing effects than berberine, RC or CP treatment alone. In contrast, HLJDT, its component RS and the main active compound of RS, baicalein, strongly increased the levels of all the metabolic products of APP in the cell lysates. The extract from FG, however, did not influence APP modulation. Interestingly, regular treatment of TgCRND8 APP transgenic mice with baicalein exacerbated the amyloid plaque burden, APP metabolism and Aβ production. Taken together, these data provide convincing evidence that HLJDT and baicalein treatment can increase the amyloidogenic metabolism of APP which is at least partly responsible for the baicalein-mediated Aβ plaque increase in the brains of TgCRND8 mice. On the other hand, HLJDT-M significantly decreased all the APP metabolic products including Aβ. Further study of HLJDT-M for therapeutic use in treating AD is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3966845  PMID: 24671102
7.  Increased Complement C1q Level Marks Active Disease in Human Tuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92340.
Complement functions as an important host defense system and complement C5 and C7 have been implicated in immunopathology of tuberculosis. However, little is known about the role of other complement components in tuberculosis.
Complement gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of tuberculosis patients and controls were determined using whole genome transcriptional microarray assays. The mRNA and protein levels of three C1q components, C1qA, C1qB, and C1qC, were further validated by qRT-PCR and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, respectively. The percentages of C1q expression in CD14 positive cells were determined by flow cytometry. Finally, C1qC protein level was quantified in the pleural fluid of tuberculosis and non-tuberculosis pleurisy.
C1q expression increases significantly in the peripheral blood of patients with active tuberculosis compared to healthy controls and individuals with latent TB infection. The percentage of C1q-expressing CD14 positive cells is significantly increased in active TB patients. C1q expression in the peripheral blood correlates with sputum smear positivity in tuberculosis patients and is reduced after anti-tuberculosis chemotherapy. Notably, receiver operating characteristic analysis showed that C1qC mRNA levels in peripheral blood efficiently discriminate active from latent tuberculosis infection and healthy controls. Additionally, C1qC protein level in pleural effusion shows improved power in discriminating tuberculosis from non-tuberculosis pleurisy when compared to other inflammatory markers, such as IL-6 and TNF-α.
C1q expression correlates with active disease in human tuberculosis. C1q could be a potential diagnostic marker to discriminate active tuberculosis from latent tuberculosis infection as well as tuberculosis pleurisy from non-tuberculosis pleurisy.
PMCID: PMC3960215  PMID: 24647646
8.  Genome-wide association study in Han Chinese identifies four new susceptibility loci for coronary artery disease 
Nature genetics  2012;44(8):890-894.
We performed a meta-analysis of 2 genome-wide association studies of coronary artery disease comprising 1,515 cases with coronary artery disease and 5,019 controls, followed by de novo replication studies in 15,460 cases and 11,472 controls, all of Chinese Han descent. We successfully identified four new loci for coronary artery disease reaching genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10−8), which mapped in or near TTC32-WDR35, GUCY1A3, C6orf10-BTNL2 and ATP2B1. We also replicated four loci previously identified in European populations (PHACTR1, TCF21, CDKN2A/B and C12orf51). These findings provide new insights into biological pathways for the susceptibility of coronary artery disease in Chinese Han population.
PMCID: PMC3927410  PMID: 22751097
9.  Production of shikimic acid from Escherichia coli through chemically inducible chromosomal evolution and cofactor metabolic engineering 
Shikimic acid (SA) produced from the seeds of Chinese star anise (Illicium verum) is a key intermediate for the synthesis of neuraminidase inhibitors such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu®), an anti-influenza drug. However, plants cannot deliver a stable supply of SA. To avoid the resulting shortages and price fluctuations, a stable source of affordable SA is required. Although recent achievements in metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli strains have significantly increased SA productivity, commonly-used plasmid-based expression systems are prone to genetic instability and require constant selective pressure to ensure plasmid maintenance. Cofactors also play an important role in the biosynthesis of different fermentation products. In this study, we first constructed an E. coli SA production strain that carries no plasmid or antibiotic marker. We then investigated the effect of endogenous NADPH availability on SA production.
The pps and csrB genes were first overexpressed by replacing their native promoter and integrating an additional copy of the genes in a double gene knockout (aroK and aroL) of E. coli. The aroG fbr , aroB, aroE and tktA gene cluster was integrated into the above E. coli chromosome by direct transformation. The gene copy number was then evolved to the desired value by triclosan induction. The resulting strain, E. coli SA110, produced 8.9-fold more SA than did the parental strain E. coli (ΔaroKΔaroL). Following qRT-PCR analysis, another copy of the tktA gene under the control of the 5Ptac promoter was inserted into the chromosome of E. coli SA110 to obtain the more productive strain E. coli SA110. Next, the NADPH availability was increased by overexpressing the pntAB or nadK genes, which further enhanced SA production. The final strain, E. coli SA116, produced 3.12 g/L of SA with a yield on glucose substrate of 0.33 mol/mol.
An SA-producing E. coli strain that carries neither a plasmid nor an antibiotic marker was constructed by triclosan-induced chromosomal evolution. We present the first demonstration that increasing NADPH availability by overexpressing the pntAB or nadK genes significantly enhances SA production.
PMCID: PMC3923554  PMID: 24512078
Shikimic acid; Escherichia coli; Chemically induced chromosomal evolution; NADPH; Transhydrogenase; NAD kinase
10.  Effects of bone cement on intervertebral disc degeneration 
Percutaneous vertebroplasty (PVP) is popular for the treatment of intractable pain due to vertebral collapse from various lesions, intervertebral disk leakage of cement is a frequent complication. The aim of this study was to determine whether bone cement causes disc degeneration, and to evaluate the degree of intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD) according to the time period following cement injection, and the type and volume of cement injected. Sixteen dogs were randomly divided into two groups that were sacrificed at 12 or 24 weeks following cement injection. Five intervertebral discs in each dog were studied, including one control untreated disc and four discs randomly injected with polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) or calcium phosphate cement (CPC) in two quantities. Radiographic and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies were performed prior to animal sacrifice. T2-weighted mid-sagittal images of the discs were qualitatively analyzed for evidence of degeneration by calculating the MRI index, and all harvested discs were studied histopathologically. IDD was not evident in control discs. Univariate analysis revealed significant differences in the MRI index and the histological grade of disc degeneration in terms of the time period following cement injection, as well as the type and volume of cement injected. Result indicate that direct contact with PMMA and CPC can lead to IDD. However, IDD induced by PMMA was more severe than that induced by CPC. The extent of IDD was found to correlate with the time period post-cement injection and the volume of cement injected into the disc. PMMA and CPC may lead to intervertebral disc degeneration. Intervertebral disc degeneration induced by PMMA is more serious than that of CPC. The degree of intervertebral disc degeneration is correlative to the time after operation and the doses of bone cement.
PMCID: PMC3965156  PMID: 24669259
vertebroplasty; polymethyl methacrylate; calcium phosphate cement; intervertebral disc; degeneration; magnetic resonance imaging
11.  Rare, Non-Synonymous Variant in the Smooth Muscle-Specific Isoform of Myosin Heavy Chain, MYH11, R247C, Alters Force Generation in the Aorta and Phenotype of Smooth Muscle Cells 
Circulation research  2012;110(11):1411-1422.
Mutations in MYH11 cause autosomal dominant inheritance of thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections. At the same time, rare, non-synonymous variants in MYH11 that are predicted to disrupt protein function but do not cause inherited aortic disease are common in the general population and the vascular disease risk associated with these variants is unknown.
To determine the consequences of the recurrent MYH11 rare variant, R247C, through functional studies in vitro and analysis of a knock-in mouse model with this specific variant, including assessment of aortic contraction, response to vascular injury, and phenotype of primary aortic smooth muscle cells (SMCs).
Methods and Results
The steady state ATPase activity (actin-activated) and the rates of phosphate and ADP release were lower for the R247C mutant myosin than for the wild-type, as was the rate of actin filament sliding in an in vitro motility assay. Myh11R247C/R247C mice exhibited normal growth, reproduction, and aortic histology but decreased aortic contraction. In response to vascular injury, Myh11R247C/R247C mice showed significantly increased neointimal formation due to increased SMC proliferation when compared with the wild-type mice. Primary aortic SMCs explanted from the Myh11R247C/R247C mice were de-differentiated compared with wild-type SMCs based on increased proliferation and reduced expression of SMC contractile proteins. The mutant SMCs also displayed altered focal adhesions and decreased Rho activation, associated with decreased nuclear localization of myocardin-related transcription factor-A. Exposure of the Myh11R247C/R247C SMCs to a Rho activator rescued the de-differentiated phenotype of the SMCs.
These results indicate that a rare variant in MYH11, R247C, alters myosin contractile function and SMC phenotype, leading to increased proliferation in vitro and in response to vascular injury.
PMCID: PMC3917690  PMID: 22511748
MYH11; smooth muscle myosin heavy chain; thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections; smooth muscle differentiation; mouse model
12.  Autophagy in Muscle of Glucose-Infusion Hyperglycemia Rats and Streptozotocin-Induced Hyperglycemia Rats via Selective Activation of m-TOR or FoxO3 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87254.
Autophagy is a conserved process in eukaryotes required for metabolism and is involved in diverse diseases. To investigate autophagy in skeletal muscle under hyperglycemia status, we established two hyperglycemia-rat models that differ in their circulating insulin levels, by glucose infusion and singe high-dose streptozotocin injection. We then detected expression of autophagy related genes with real-time PCR and western blot. We found that under hyperglycemia status induced by glucose-infusion, autophagy was inhibited in rat skeletal muscle, whereas under streptozotocin-induced hyperglycemia status autophagy was enhanced. Meanwhile, hyperglycemic gastrocnemius muscle was more prone to autophagy than soleus muscle. Furthermore, inhibition of autophagy in skeletal muscle in glucose-infusion hyperglycemia rats was mediated by the m-TOR pathway while m-TOR and FoxO3 both contributed to enhancement of autophagy in gastrocnemius muscle in streptozotocin-induced hyperglycemia rats. These data shows that insulin plays a relatively more important role than hyperglycemia in regulating autophagy in hyperglycemia rat muscle through selectively activating the m-TOR or FoxO3 pathway in a fiber-selective manner.
PMCID: PMC3911944  PMID: 24498304
13.  Incorporating Network Structure in Integrative Analysis of Cancer Prognosis Data 
Genetic epidemiology  2012;37(2):173-183.
In high-throughput cancer genomic studies, markers identified from the analysis of single datasets may have unsatisfactory properties because of low sample sizes. Integrative analysis pools and analyzes raw data from multiple studies, and can effectively increase sample size and lead to improved marker identification results. In this study, we consider the integrative analysis of multiple high-throughput cancer prognosis studies. In the existing integrative analysis studies, the interplay among genes, which can be described using the network structure, has not been effectively accounted for. In network analysis, tightly-connected nodes (genes) are more likely to have related biological functions and similar regression coefficients. The goal of this study is to develop an analysis approach that can incorporate the gene network structure in integrative analysis. To this end, we adopt an AFT (accelerated failure time) model to describe survival. A weighted least squares approach, which has low computational cost, is adopted for estimation. For marker selection, we propose a new penalization approach. The proposed penalty is composed of two parts. The first part is a group MCP penalty, and conducts gene selection. The second part is a Laplacian penalty, and smoothes the differences of coefficients for tightly-connected genes. A group coordinate descent approach is developed to compute the proposed estimate. Simulation study shows satisfactory performance of the proposed approach when there exist moderate to strong correlations among genes. We analyze three lung cancer prognosis datasets, and demonstrate that incorporating the network structure can lead to the identification of important genes and improved prediction performance.
PMCID: PMC3909475  PMID: 23161517
Integrative analysis; Cancer prognosis; Gene network; Penalized selection; Laplacian shrinkage
14.  The Importance of Purkinje Activation in Long Duration Ventricular Fibrillation 
The mechanisms that maintain long duration ventricular fibrillation (LDVF) are unclear. The difference in distribution of the Purkinje system in dogs and pigs was explored to determine if Purkinje activation propagates to stimulate working myocardium (WM) during LDVF and WM pacing.
Methods and Results
In‐vivo extracellular recordings were made from 1044 intramural plunge and epicardial plaque electrodes in 6 pig and 6 dog hearts. Sinus activation propagated sequentially from the endocardium to the epicardium in dogs but not pigs. During epicardial pacing, activation propagated along the endocardium and traversed the LV wall almost parallel to the epicardium in dogs, but in pigs propagated away from the pacing site approximately perpendicular to the epicardium. After 1 minute of VF, activation rate near the endocardium was significantly faster than near the epicardium in dogs (P<0.01) but not pigs (P>0.05). From 2 to 10 minutes of LDVF, recordings exhibiting Purkinje activations were near the endocardium in dogs (P<0.01) but were scattered transmurally in pigs, and the WM activation rate in recordings in which Purkinje activations were present was significantly faster than the WM activation rate in recordings in which Purkinje activations were absent (P<0.01). In 10 isolated perfused dog hearts, the LV endocardium was exposed and 2 microelectrodes were inserted into Purkinje and adjacent myocardial cells. After 5 minutes of LDVF, mean Purkinje activation rate was significantly faster than mean WM activation rate (P<0.01).
These extracellular and intracellular findings about activation support the hypothesis that Purkinje activation propagates to stimulate WM during sinus rhythm, pacing, and LDVF.
PMCID: PMC3959715  PMID: 24584738
arrhythmia (mechanisms); long duration ventricular fibrillation; ventricular arrhythmia
15.  Integrative Analysis of Cancer Prognosis Data with Multiple Subtypes Using Regularized Gradient Descent 
Genetic epidemiology  2012;10.1002/gepi.21669.
In cancer research, high-throughput profiling studies have been extensively conducted, searching for genes/SNPs associated with prognosis. Despite seemingly significant differences, different subtypes of the same cancer (or different types of cancers) may share common susceptibility genes. In this study, we analyze prognosis data on multiple subtypes of the same cancer, but note that the proposed approach is directly applicable to the analysis of data on multiple types of cancers. We describe the genetic basis of multiple subtypes using the heterogeneity model, which allows overlapping but different sets of susceptibility genes/SNPs for different subtypes. An accelerated failure time (AFT) model is adopted to describe prognosis. We develop a regularized gradient descent approach, which conducts gene-level analysis and identifies genes that contain important SNPs associated with prognosis. The proposed approach belongs to the family of gradient descent approaches, is intuitively reasonable, and has affordable computational cost. Simulation study shows that when prognosis-associated SNPs are clustered in a small number of genes, the proposed approach outperforms alternatives with significantly more true positives and fewer false positives. We analyze an NHL (non-Hodgkin lymphoma) prognosis study with SNP measurements, and identify genes associated with the three major subtypes of NHL, namely DLBCL, FL and CLL/SLL. The proposed approach identifies genes different from using alternative approaches and has the best prediction performance.
PMCID: PMC3729731  PMID: 22851516
Integrative analysis; Cancer Prognosis; Gradient descent; NHL; SNP
16.  Expression of CXCR4 and breast cancer prognosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:49.
The chemokine receptor CXCR4 plays a significant role in biological processes, as well as in tumorigenesis and the progression of cancer, especially breast cancer. However, the clinical application of CXCR4 for breast cancer prognosis is still very limited. A meta-analysis based on published studies was performed with the aim of obtaining an accurate evaluation of the relationship between CXCR4 expression and the prognosis of breast cancer.
A comprehensive search strategy was used to search relevant literature in PubMed, MEDLINE and the ISI Web of Science. The correlation between CXCR4 expression and clinicopathological features and breast cancer prognosis was analyzed. This meta-analysis was carried out using Review Manager 4.2.
Thirteen eligible studies consisting of 3865 participants were included. We found that breast cancers with CXCR4 expression were associated with lymph node status (pooled RR =1.20, 95% CI: 1.01-1.43, P<0.001) and distant metastasis (pooled RR =1.52, 95% CI: 1.17-1.98, P = 0.125). CXCR4 overexpression was significantly associated with disease free survival (DFS) (RR = 0.77, 95% CI = 0.70–0.86, P = 0.554) and overall survival (OS) (RR = 0.70, 95% CI = 0.59–0.83, P = 0.329). However, there was no significant association between CXCR4 expression and some clinical parameters of breast cancer, such as tumor category, ER status, PR status, or c-erbB-2 status.
Our meta-analysis showed that CXCR4 is an efficient prognostic factor for breast cancer. Overexpression of CXCR4 was significantly associated with lymph node status and distant metastasis and indicated poor overall and disease free survival.
PMCID: PMC3911796  PMID: 24475985
Breast cancer; CXCR4; Prognosis
Statistica Sinica  2011;21(4):1515-1540.
Nonparametric varying coefficient models are useful for studying the time-dependent effects of variables. Many procedures have been developed for estimation and variable selection in such models. However, existing work has focused on the case when the number of variables is fixed or smaller than the sample size. In this paper, we consider the problem of variable selection and estimation in varying coefficient models in sparse, high-dimensional settings when the number of variables can be larger than the sample size. We apply the group Lasso and basis function expansion to simultaneously select the important variables and estimate the nonzero varying coefficient functions. Under appropriate conditions, we show that the group Lasso selects a model of the right order of dimensionality, selects all variables with the norms of the corresponding coefficient functions greater than certain threshold level, and is estimation consistent. However, the group Lasso is in general not selection consistent and tends to select variables that are not important in the model. In order to improve the selection results, we apply the adaptive group Lasso. We show that, under suitable conditions, the adaptive group Lasso has the oracle selection property in the sense that it correctly selects important variables with probability converging to one. In contrast, the group Lasso does not possess such oracle property. Both approaches are evaluated using simulation and demonstrated on a data example.
PMCID: PMC3902862  PMID: 24478564
Basis expansion; group Lasso; high-dimensional data; non-parametric coefficient function; selection consistency; sparsity
18.  Atractylenolide-I Sensitizes Human Ovarian Cancer Cells to Paclitaxel by Blocking Activation of TLR4/MyD88-dependent Pathway 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:3840.
Paclitaxel, a known TLR4 ligand, leads to activation of TLR4/MyD88-dependent pathway that mediates chemoresistance and tumor progression in epithelial ovarian carcinoma (EOC). Atractylenolide-I (AO-I), a novel TLR4-antagonizing agent, inhibits TLR4 signaling by interfering with the binding of LPS or paclitaxel to membrane TLR4 of human leukocytes. In this study, AO-I was found to attenuate paclitaxel-induced protein expression of IL-6, VEGF and survivin, and to enhance early apoptosis and growth inhibition in MyD88+ EOC cells; AO-I was shown to fit into the hydrophobic pocket of human MD-2 and to partially overlap with the binding site of paclitaxel by docking simulations, suggesting that AO-I may block the MD-2-mediated TLR4/MyD88-dependent paclitaxel signaling in MyD88+ EOC cells. Therefore, AO-I could significantly sensitize the response of MyD88+ EOC cells to paclitaxel by blocking MD-2-mediated TLR4/MyD88 signaling, and that AO-I-paclitaxel combination could be a promising strategy for the treatment of EOC with a functional TLR4/MyD88/NF-κB pathway.
PMCID: PMC3899591  PMID: 24452475
19.  Association between the IL1B (-511), IL1B (+3954), IL1RN (VNTR) Polymorphisms and Graves' Disease Risk: A Meta-Analysis of 11 Case-Control Studies 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86077.
Data on the association between the interleukin-1 (IL-1) gene polymorphisms and Graves' disease (GD) risk were conflicting. A meta-analysis was undertaken to assess this association.
We searched for case-control studies investigating the association between the IL1B (-511), IL1B (+3954), IL1RN (VNTR) polymorphisms and GD risk. We extracted data using standardized forms and calculated odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI).
A total of 11 case-control studies were included in this meta-analysis. Available data indicated that the IL1B (-511) polymorphism was associated with GD risk in the overall populations (Caucasians and Asians) in homozygote model (TT vs. CC, OR = 0.86, 95% CI: 0.76–0.97, Pz = 0.015), but not in dominant and recessive models (TT+TC vs. CC: OR = 0.95, 95% CI: 0.81–1.12, Pz = 0.553 and TT vs. TC+CC: OR = 0.82, 95% CI: 0.60–1.12, Pz = 0.205, respectively). No association between the IL1B (+3954), IL1RN (VNTR) polymorphisms and GD risk was found in the overall populations in any of the genetic models. In subgroup analyses according to ethnicity, the IL1B (-511) polymorphism was associated with GD risk in Asians in recessive and homozygote models (TT vs. TC+CC: OR = 0.68, 95% CI: 0.55–0.84, Pz<0.001 and TT vs. CC: OR = 0.81, 95% CI: 0.70–0.93, Pz = 0.003, respectively), but not in dominant model (TT+TC vs. CC: OR = 0.92, 95% CI: 0.77–1.11, Pz = 0.389). No association between the IL1B (+3954), IL1RN (VNTR) polymorphisms and GD risk was indicated in Asians, and we found no association between the IL1B (-511), IL1B (+3954), IL1RN (VNTR) polymorphisms and GD risk in Caucasians in any of the genetic models.
The IL1B (-511) polymorphism, but not the IL1B (+3954) and IL1RN (VNTR) polymorphisms was associated with GD risk in Asians. There was no association between these polymorphisms and GD risk in Caucasians.
PMCID: PMC3897612  PMID: 24465880
20.  Correction: Prognostic Significance of Circulating Tumor Cells in Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer Patients: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):10.1371/annotation/6633ed7f-a10c-4f6d-9d1d-9c1245822eb7.
PMCID: PMC3880240
21.  Oncogenic mutations in adenomatous polyposis coli (Apc) activate mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) in mice and zebrafish 
Disease Models & Mechanisms  2013;7(1):63-71.
Truncating mutations in adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) are strongly linked to colorectal cancers. APC is a negative regulator of the Wnt pathway and constitutive Wnt activation mediated by enhanced Wnt–β-catenin target gene activation is believed to be the predominant mechanism responsible for APC mutant phenotypes. However, recent evidence suggests that additional downstream effectors contribute to APC mutant phenotypes. We previously identified a mechanism in cultured human cells by which APC, acting through glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3), suppresses mTORC1, a nutrient sensor that regulates cell growth and proliferation. We hypothesized that truncating Apc mutations should activate mTORC1 in vivo and that mTORC1 plays an important role in Apc mutant phenotypes. We find that mTORC1 is strongly activated in apc mutant zebrafish and in intestinal polyps in Apc mutant mice. Furthermore, mTORC1 activation is essential downstream of APC as mTORC1 inhibition partially rescues Apc mutant phenotypes including early lethality, reduced circulation and liver hyperplasia. Importantly, combining mTORC1 and Wnt inhibition rescues defects in morphogenesis of the anterior-posterior axis that are not rescued by inhibition of either pathway alone. These data establish mTORC1 as a crucial, β-catenin independent effector of oncogenic Apc mutations and highlight the importance of mTORC1 regulation by APC during embryonic development. Our findings also suggest a new model of colorectal cancer pathogenesis in which mTORC1 is activated in parallel with Wnt/β-catenin signaling.
PMCID: PMC3882049  PMID: 24092877
APC; Wnt; mTOR; mTORC1; Zebrafish; Colon cancer; Polyposis; GSK-3
22.  Aspirin Promotes Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cell Proliferation and Differentiation after White Matter Lesion 
Cerebral white matter lesion (WML) is one of the main causes for cognitive impairment and is often caused by chronic cerebral hypoperfusion. A line of evidence has shown that aspirin has neuroprotective effects and produces some benefits in long-term outcome and survival for ischemic stroke patients. However, whether aspirin exerts a protective effect against WML is still largely unknown. Here, we showed that aspirin could promote oligodendrocyte precursor cell (OPC) proliferation and differentiation into oligodendrocytes after WML. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to permanent bilateral common carotid artery occlusion, a well-established model for WML. Four weeks later, Morris water maze test showed an impairment of learning and memory ability of rat while aspirin treatment improved behavioral performance. Low dose of aspirin (25 mg/kg) was found to elevate the number of OPCs while relatively high doses (100–200 mg/kg) increased that of oligodendrocytes, and ameliorated WML-induced the thinning of myelin, as revealed by the electron microscope. Similarly, our in vitro study also showed that relatively low and high doses of aspirin enhanced OPC proliferation and differentiation into oligodendrocytes, respectively. Furthermore, we revealed that aspirin enhanced extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) but inhibited RhoA activities. In summary, we provided the first evidence that aspirin can promote oligodendrogenesis and oligodendrocyte myelination after WML, which may involve ERK and RhoA pathways.
PMCID: PMC3902474  PMID: 24478700
aspirin; oligodendrocytes; oligodendrocyte precursor cells; white matter lesion; extracellular signal-related kinase; RhoA
23.  Sudden and rapid progression of lung affectation but stability in kidney function: a case report of anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis 
We report the case of a patient with anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis (AAV) who exhibited sudden progression of lung infiltration while maintaining stable kidney function. The 69-year-old man was diagnosed with AAV and renal insufficiency 4 years ago. Pulmonic affectation was detected in the right lower lobe of lung by a computed tomography (CT) scan. After beginning cyclophosphamide pulse therapy and sequential therapy with low-dose prednisone, he underwent a 4-year follow-up to detect changes in hemoglobin levels and serum creatinine levels, and had chest CT examinations. The CT scan and creatinine assay showed stable pulmonic fibrosis and kidney function. Although there was no increase of creatinine and detectable perinuclear ANCA, the patient suffered a pulmonary hemorrhage and levels of hemoglobin became progressive lower; the lung infiltration was found to be enlarged compared to the last examination the previous year. After immunosuppressive therapy for one week, the lung fibrosis was progressive, increased pulmonary hemorrhage occurred, and the patient died due to respiratory failure but not end-stage renal failure.
PMCID: PMC3883597  PMID: 24403845
vasculitis; ANCA; lung fibrosis; pulmonary hemorrhage; renal insufficiency
24.  Phage Display Informatics 
PMCID: PMC3880736  PMID: 24454540
25.  Adequate Prenatal Care Reduces the Risk of Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes in Women with History of Infertility: A Nationwide Population-Based Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84237.
To investigate the effects of various measures of prenatal care on adverse pregnancy outcomes in women with a history of infertility.
Study Design
A retrospective cohort study.
Data were derived by linking 2 large nationwide population-based datasets, the National Health Insurance Research Database and Taiwan Birth Certificate Registry. The study sample included 15,056 women with an infertility diagnosis and 60,224 randomly selected women without infertility matched to the study sample by maternal age. A conditional logistic regression analysis was performed for the analysis.
Women diagnosed with infertility respectively had 1.39 (95% CI, 1.06~1.83), 1.15 (95% CI, 1.08~1.24), 1.13 (95% CI, 1.08~1.18), and 1.08 (95% CI, 1.05~1.12) higher odds of having very low birth weight (VLBW) babies, preterm births, labor complications, and cesarean sections (CSs) compared to women without infertility. Inadequate numbers of total and major prenatal visits and late initiation of prenatal care increased the risks of adverse pregnancy outcomes in women with infertility, especially the risk of a VLBW baby. However, no significant associations were found for the risks of adverse birth outcomes in infertile women with adequate prenatal care compared to fertile women with adequate care.
Study findings suggest that adequate prenatal care can reduce the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes in women with infertility.
PMCID: PMC3866182  PMID: 24358347

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