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1.  Maternal obesity down-regulates microRNA (miRNA) let-7g expression, a possible mechanism for enhanced adipogenesis during ovine fetal skeletal muscle development 
Obesity in women of childbearing age is increasing at an alarming rate. Growing evidence shows that maternal obesity induces detrimental effects on offspring health including pre-disposition to obesity. We have shown that maternal obesity increases fetal intramuscular adipogenesis at mid-gestation. However, the mechanisms are poorly understood. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate mRNA stability. We hypothesized that maternal obesity alters fetal muscle miRNA expression, thereby influencing intramuscular adipogenesis.
Non-pregnant ewes received a control diet (Con, fed 100% of NRC recommendations, n = 6) or obesogenic diet (OB; 150% NRC recommendations, n = 6) from 60 days before to 75 days after conception when the fetal longissimus dorsi (LD) muscle was sampled and miRNA expression analyzed by miRNA microarray. One of miRNAs with differential expression between Con and OB fetal muscle, let-7g, was further tested for its role in adipogenesis and cell proliferation in C3H10T1/2 cells.
A total of 155 miRNAs were found with a signal above 500, among which, 3 miRNAs, hsa-miR-381, hsa-let-7g and bta-miR-376d, were differentially expressed between Con and OB fetuses, and confirmed by QRT-PCR analyses. Reduced expression of miRNA let-7g, an abundantly expressed miRNA, in OB fetal muscle was correlated with higher expression of its target genes. Over-expression of let-7g in C3H10T1/2 cells reduced their proliferation rate. Expression of adipogenic markers decreased in cells over-expressing let-7g, and the formation of adipocytes was also reduced. Over-expression of let-7g decreased expression of inflammatory cytokines.
Fetal muscle miRNA expression was altered due to maternal obesity, and let-7g down-regulation may enhance intramuscular adipogenesis during fetal muscle development in the setting of maternal obesity.
PMCID: PMC4100693  PMID: 22614057
Maternal obesity; fetus; skeletal muscle; microRNA; adipogenesis; let-7g; muscle; adipocyte
2.  Fetal muscle development, mesenchymal multipotent cell differentiation and associated signaling pathways 
Journal of animal science  2010;89(2):583-590.
Meat animals are raised for their carcasses, and carcasses are composed from muscle, fat and bone. Enhancing muscle growth and reducing fat accumulation improve the efficiency of animal production. Fetal stage is crucial for skeletal muscle development. Due to extensive efforts to increase lean growth, marbling (intramuscular fat) is reducing in beef, pork and chicken breast, which impairs the eating quality of meat. Because fat is the major contributor to meat flavor, the presence of intramuscular fat is indispensible for the high eating quality of meat. However, up to now, our understanding of adipogenesis (formation of fat cells) in skeletal muscle is limited. Adipocyte differentiation in skeletal muscle initiates from mesenchymal multipotent cells, which are abundant in skeletal muscle at early developmental stages. In this review, the known cellular mechanisms regulating adipogenesis from multipotent cells are summarized, which include hedgehog, Wingless and Int (Wnt)/α-catenin, and bone morphogenesis protein (BMP) mediated signaling pathways, as well as AMP-activated protein kinase. Promoting adipogenesis inside skeletal muscle will dramatically increase intramuscular fat, improving the quality of meat.
PMCID: PMC4100697  PMID: 20852073
adipogenesis; meat; skeletal muscle; mesenchymal stem cells; signaling; marbling
3.  Arabidopsis DELLA Protein Degradation Is Controlled by a Type-One Protein Phosphatase, TOPP4 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(7):e1004464.
Gibberellins (GAs) are a class of important phytohormones regulating a variety of physiological processes during normal plant growth and development. One of the major events during GA-mediated growth is the degradation of DELLA proteins, key negative regulators of GA signaling pathway. The stability of DELLA proteins is thought to be controlled by protein phosphorylation and dephosphorylation. Up to date, no phosphatase involved in this process has been identified. We have identified a dwarfed dominant-negative Arabidopsis mutant, named topp4-1. Reduced expression of TOPP4 using an artificial microRNA strategy also resulted in a dwarfed phenotype. Genetic and biochemical analyses indicated that TOPP4 regulates GA signal transduction mainly via promoting DELLA protein degradation. The severely dwarfed topp4-1 phenotypes were partially rescued by the DELLA deficient mutants rga-t2 and gai-t6, suggesting that the DELLA proteins RGA and GAI are required for the biological function of TOPP4. Both RGA and GAI were greatly accumulated in topp4-1 but significantly decreased in 35S-TOPP4 transgenic plants compared to wild-type plants. Further analyses demonstrated that TOPP4 is able to directly bind and dephosphorylate RGA and GAI, confirming that the TOPP4-controlled phosphorylation status of DELLAs is associated with their stability. These studies provide direct evidence for a crucial role of protein dephosphorylation mediated by TOPP4 in the GA signaling pathway.
Author Summary
Gibberellins (GAs) are essential regulators of plant growth and development. They are tightly related to crop productivity in the first “green revolution.” GA triggers its responses by targeting DELLA proteins, the important repressors, for degradation. This process is believed to be regulated by protein phosphorylation and dephosphorylation, but there are not any reports describing the identification of phosphatases regulating this critical event. By screening an ethyl methane sulfonate (EMS)-mutagenized Arabidopsis thaliana population, we identified a protein phosphatase TOPP4, a member of protein phosphatase 1 (PP1), that acts as a positive regulator in the GA signaling pathway. TOPP4 promotes the GA-induced degradation of DELLA proteins by directly dephosphorylating these proteins. This study provides an important insight for the switch role of protein phosphorylation and dephosphorylation in GA signal transduction and sheds light on PP1 protein phosphatases in regulating plant growth and development.
PMCID: PMC4091783  PMID: 25010794
4.  Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase inhibition attenuates lipopolysaccharide induced persistent microglial activation and depressive-like complications in fractalkine receptor (CX3CR1)-deficient mice 
Brain, behavior, and immunity  2012;31:134-142.
An impaired ability to regulate the activation of microglia by fractalkine (CX3CL1) leads to persistent neuroinflammation and behavioral alterations following lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge. While these responses are usually transient, LPS injection caused prolonged depressive-like behavior in fractalkine receptor deficient mice (CX3CR1−/−) that was associated with exaggerated microglial activation and induction of the tryptophan (TRP) degrading enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO). IDO activation and subsequent generation of neuroactive kynurenine metabolites may have a pivotal role in the development of depression. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which LPS-induced depressive-like behavior in CX3CR1−/− mice was dependent on IDO activation. CX3CR1−/− mice were implanted prior to LPS challenge with a slow release pellet of 1-methyl-tryptophan (1-MT), a competitive inhibitor of IDO. Here we show that the depressive-like behavior evident in CX3CR1−/− mice 72 h after LPS injection was abrogated by inhibition of IDO. LPS also decreased body weight and locomotor activity in CX3CR1−/− mice, but these effects were independent of 1-MT. Consistent with the increased metabolism of TRP by IDO, the ratio of 3-hydroxykynurenine (3-HK) to TRP was increased in the brain 72 h after LPS. Increased serotonin (5-HT) turnover was also evident in the brain. The LPS-associated increases in both 3-HK:TRP and 5-HIAA:5-HT ratios were prevented by the inhibition of IDO. Last, IDO blockade attenuated microglial activation in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus 72 h after LPS. Collectively these data indicate that LPS-induced IDO activation contributes to persistent microglial activation and depressive-like behavior in CX3CR1−/− mice.
PMCID: PMC3554840  PMID: 22926082
Microglia; Depression; Indoleamine 2; 3-dioxygenase; Kynurenine; fractalkine receptor; 1-methyl-tryptophan
5.  Complete Genome Sequence of the p-Nitrophenol-Degrading Bacterium Pseudomonas putida DLL-E4 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(3):e00596-14.
The first complete genome sequence of a p-nitrophenol (PNP)-degrading bacterium is reported here. Pseudomonas putida DLL-E4, a Gram-negative bacterium isolated from methyl-parathion-polluted soil, can utilize PNP as the sole carbon and nitrogen source. P. putida DLL-E4 has a 6,484,062 bp circular chromosome that contains 5,894 genes, with a G+C content of 62.46%.
PMCID: PMC4064030  PMID: 24948765
6.  Multiple biomarkers analysis for the early detection of prosthetic aseptic loosening of hip arthroplasty 
International Orthopaedics  2013;37(6):1025-1031.
Our aim was to define the effect of multiple biomarkers of osteolysis or bone remodelling in the early detection of aseptic loosening (AL) of total hip arthroplasty (THA).
One hundred subjects were recruited, including 31 candidates for revision THA (Late AL group), 15 patients who had undergone THA and had clinical and radiographic evidence of AL (early AL group), 19 patients with no sign of AL (stable group), and 40 healthy volunteers. Plasma levels of osteoprotegerin (OPG), receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappaB ligand (RANKL), cross-linked N-terminal telopeptide (NTX), procollagen I C-terminal extension peptide (PICP), tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and interleukin (IL)-1β1 were measured using an immunoenzymatic method. The outcomes of biomarkers were analysed separately and synthetically using Revman software.
The plasma level of OPG, RANKL, NTX, TNF-α, and IL-1β declined from late AL, early AL, stable to the healthy group, while the level of PICP inclined reversely. There was a significant difference in synthetic analysis of six biomarkers between the AL group and the stable group, and between the stable group and the healthy group (both p = 0.02). Heterogeneity of six biomarkers in either comparison was extremely low (both I2 =0). Patients who had cemented implants had significantly higher levels of TNF-α than patients with cementless varieties (p = 0.042).
There was significant change in the plasma level of multiple biomarkers in patients with prosthetic AL of THA, especially in the cemented arthroplasties and in patients without traditional clinical or radiographic evidence of AL.
PMCID: PMC3664147  PMID: 23467893
7.  Novel Gene Clusters and Metabolic Pathway Involved in 3,5,6-Trichloro-2-Pyridinol Degradation by Ralstonia sp. Strain T6 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(23):7445-7453.
3,5,6-Trichloro-2-pyridinol (TCP) is a widespread pollutant. Some bacteria and fungi have been reported to degrade TCP, but the gene clusters responsible for TCP biodegradation have not been characterized. In this study, a fragment of the reduced flavin adenine dinucleotide (FADH2)-dependent monooxygenase gene tcpA was amplified from the genomic DNA of Ralstonia sp. strain T6 with degenerate primers. The tcpA disruption mutant strain T6-ΔtcpA could not degrade TCP but could degrade the green intermediate metabolite 3,6-dihydroxypyridine-2,5-dione (DHPD), which was generated during TCP biodegradation by strain T6. The flanking sequences of tcpA were obtained by self-formed adaptor PCR. tcpRXA genes constitute a gene cluster. TcpR and TcpX are closely related to the LysR family transcriptional regulator and flavin reductase, respectively. T6-ΔtcpA-com, the complementation strain for the mutant strain T6-ΔtcpA, recovered the ability to degrade TCP, and the strain Escherichia coli DH10B-tcpRXA, which expressed the tcpRXA gene cluster, had the ability to transform TCP to DHPD, indicating that tcpA is a key gene in the initial step of TCP degradation and that TcpA dechlorinates TCP to DHPD. A library of DHPD degradation-deficient mutants of strain T6 was obtained by random transposon mutagenesis. The fragments flanking the Mariner transposon were amplified and sequenced, and the dhpRIJK gene cluster was cloned. DhpJ could transform DHPD to yield an intermediate product, 5-amino-2,4,5-trioxopentanoic acid (ATOPA), which was further degraded by DhpI. DhpR and DhpK are closely related to the AraC family transcriptional regulator and the MFS family transporter, respectively.
PMCID: PMC3837728  PMID: 24056464
8.  Molecular characterization of Clonorchis sinensis secretory myoglobin: Delineating its role in anti-oxidative survival 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7:250.
Clonorchiasis is a globally important, neglected food-borne disease caused by Clonorchis sinensis (C. sinensis), and it is highly related to cholangiocarcinoma and hepatocellular carcinoma. Increased molecular evidence has strongly suggested that the adult worm of C. sinensis continuously releases excretory-secretory proteins (ESPs), which play important roles in the parasite-host interactions, to establish successful infection and ensure its own survival. Myoglobin, a hemoprotein, is present in high concentrations in trematodes and ESPs. To further understand the biological function of CsMb and its putative roles in the interactions of C. sinensis with its host, we explored the molecular characterization of CsMb in this paper.
We expressed CsMb and its mutants in E. coli BL21 and identified its molecular characteristics using bioinformatics analysis and experimental approaches. Reverse transcription PCR analysis was used to measure myoglobin transcripts of C. sinensis with different culture conditions. The peroxidase activity of CsMb was confirmed by spectrophotometry. We co-cultured RAW264.7 cells with recombinant CsMb (rCsMb), and we then measured the production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and nitric oxide (NO) in addition to the mRNA levels of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) and Mn superoxide dismutase (SOD2) in activated RAW264.7 cells.
In the in vitro culture of adult worms, the transcripts of CsMb increased with the increase of oxygen content. Oxidative stress conditions induced by H2O2 increased the levels of CsMb transcripts in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, CsMb catalyzed oxidation reactions in the presence of H2O2, and amino acid 34 of CsMb played an essential role in its reaction with H2O2. In addition, CsMb significantly reduced H2O2 and NO levels in LPS-activated macrophages, and CsMb downregulated iNOS and SOD expression in activated macrophages.
The present study is the first to investigate the peroxidase activity of CsMb. This investigation suggested that C. sinensis may decrease the redox activation of macrophages by CsMb expression to evade host immune responses. These studies contribute to a better understanding of the role of CsMb in the molecular mechanisms involved in ROS detoxification by C. sinensis.
PMCID: PMC4057808  PMID: 24885788
Myoglobin; Clonorchis sinensis; Point mutation; Hydrogen peroxide; RAW264.7; Peroxidase activity
9.  Acupuncture-moxibustion in treating irritable bowel syndrome: How does it work? 
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional intestinal disease characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort and altered bowel habits. It has drawn great attention because of its high prevalence, reoccurring symptoms, and severe influence on patients’ lives. Many clinical studies have demonstrated the efficacy of acupuncture-moxibustion in treating IBS. Increasing attention has been paid to research regarding the action mechanisms of acupuncture-moxibustion for IBS, and the adoption of modern techniques has achieved some progress. This article reviews the latest advances among action mechanism studies from the perspectives of gastrointestinal motility, visceral hypersensitivity, the brain-gut axis, the neuroendocrine system, and the immune system. It is shown that acupuncture-moxibustion can effectively regulate the above items, and thus, this treatment should have a high efficacy in the treatment of IBS. This article also identifies existing problems in current mechanism research and raises several ideas for future studies. Further revelations regarding these action mechanisms will promote the application of acupuncture-moxibustion in treating IBS.
PMCID: PMC4033444  PMID: 24876727
Irritable bowel syndrome; Acupuncture-moxibustion; Mechanism study; Gastrointestinal motility; Visceral hypersensitivity; Brain-gut axis
10.  ATF4- and CHOP-Dependent Induction of FGF21 through Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress  
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:807874.
Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is an important endogenous regulator involved in the regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism. FGF21 expression is strongly induced in animal and human subjects with metabolic diseases, but little is known about the molecular mechanism. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress plays an essential role in metabolic homeostasis and is observed in numerous pathological processes, including type 2 diabetes, overweight, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In this study, we investigate the correlation between the expression of FGF21 and ER stress. We demonstrated that TG-induced ER stress directly regulated the expression and secretion of FGF21 in a dose- and time-dependent manner. FGF21 is the target gene for activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) and CCAAT enhancer binding protein homologous protein (CHOP). Suppression of CHOP impaired the transcriptional activation of FGF21 by TG-induced ER stress in CHOP−/− mouse primary hepatocytes (MPH), and overexpression of ATF4 and CHOP resulted in FGF21 promoter activation to initiate the transcriptional programme. In mRNA stability assay, we indicated that ER stress increased the half-life of mRNA of FGF21 significantly. In conclusion, FGF21 expression is regulated by ER stress via ATF- and CHOP-dependent transcriptional mechanism and posttranscriptional mechanism, respectively.
PMCID: PMC4037570  PMID: 24900988
11.  Helicobacter pylori isolates from ethnic minority patients in Guangxi: Resistance rates, mechanisms, and genotype 
AIM: To investigate the rate of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) resistance to clarithromycin among ethnic minority patients in Guangxi, explore the underlying mechanisms, and analyze factors influencing genotype distribution of H. pylori isolates.
METHODS: H. pylori strains were isolated, cultured and subjected to drug sensitivity testing. The 23S rRNA gene of H. pylori isolates was amplified by PCR and analyzed by PCR-RFLP and direct sequencing to detect point mutations. REP-PCR was used for genotyping of H. pylori isolates, and NTsys_2 software was used for clustering analysis based on REP-PCR DNA fingerprints. Factors potentially influencing genotype distribution of H. pylori isolates were analyzed.
RESULTS: The rate of clarithromycin resistance was 31.3%. A2143G and A2144G mutations were detected in the 23S rRNA gene of all clarithromycin-resistant H. pylori isolates. At a genetic distance of 78%, clarithromycin-resistant H. pylori isolates could be divided into six groups. Significant clustering was noted among H. pylori isolates from patients with peptic ulcer or gastritis.
CONCLUSION: The rate of clarithromycin resistance is relatively high in ethnic minority patients in Guangxi. Main mechanisms of clarithromycin resistance are A2143G and A2144G mutations in the 23S rRNA gene. Clarithromycin-resistant H. pylori isolates can be divided into six groups based on REP-PCR DNA fingerprints. Several factors such as disease type may influence the genotype distribution of H. pylori isolates.
PMCID: PMC4000514  PMID: 24782630
Helicobacter pylori; Antibiotic resistance; Mechanism; Clarithromycin; Genotype
12.  EphA2 enhances the proliferation and invasion ability of LNCaP prostate cancer cells 
Oncology Letters  2014;8(1):41-46.
EphA2 is persistently overexpressed and functionally changed in numerous human cancers. However, to the best of our knowledge, the role that EphA2 plays in prostate cancer is not entirely clear. To investigate the roles of EphA2 in the development and progression of prostate cancer, the present study initially evaluated the roles of the EphA2 protein in LNCaP prostate cancer cells using recombinant plasmid, western blot analysis, flow cytometry, Matrigel invasion chamber and the cell counting kit-8 assay. An immunohistochemistry assay was also conducted to observe the effects of EphA2 in prostate cancer tissues. The results demonstrated that the LNCaP human prostate cancer cells that were transfected with pcDNA3.1(+) plasmid-mediated pcDNA3.1(+)-EphA2, markedly enhanced the cell growth and invasion in vitro. Additionally, EphA2 was overexpressed in prostate cancer specimens and the expression of EphA2 was significantly associated with Gleason grade, total prostate-specific antigen, advanced clinical stage and lymph node metastasis. Collectively, these results demonstrate that EphA2 is involved in malignant cell behavior and is a potential therapeutic target in human prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC4063646  PMID: 24959216
prostate cancer; LNCaP cell; EphA2; cell proliferation; tumor invasion
13.  Rapid Patterning of 1-D Collagenous Topography as an ECM Protein Fibril Platform for Image Cytometry 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93590.
Cellular behavior is strongly influenced by the architecture and pattern of its interfacing extracellular matrix (ECM). For an artificial culture system which could eventually benefit the translation of scientific findings into therapeutic development, the system should capture the key characteristics of a physiological microenvironment. At the same time, it should also enable standardized, high throughput data acquisition. Since an ECM is composed of different fibrous proteins, studying cellular interaction with individual fibrils will be of physiological relevance. In this study, we employ near-field electrospinning to create ordered patterns of collagenous fibrils of gelatin, based on an acetic acid and ethyl acetate aqueous co-solvent system. Tunable conformations of micro-fibrils were directly deposited onto soft polymeric substrates in a single step. We observe that global topographical features of straight lines, beads-on-strings, and curls are dictated by solution conductivity; whereas the finer details such as the fiber cross-sectional profile are tuned by solution viscosity. Using these fibril constructs as cellular assays, we study EA.hy926 endothelial cells' response to ROCK inhibition, because of ROCK's key role in the regulation of cell shape. The fibril array was shown to modulate the cellular morphology towards a pre-capillary cord-like phenotype, which was otherwise not observed on a flat 2-D substrate. Further facilitated by quantitative analysis of morphological parameters, the fibril platform also provides better dissection in the cells' response to a H1152 ROCK inhibitor. In conclusion, the near-field electrospun fibril constructs provide a more physiologically-relevant platform compared to a featureless 2-D surface, and simultaneously permit statistical single-cell image cytometry using conventional microscopy systems. The patterning approach described here is also expected to form the basics for depositing other protein fibrils, seen among potential applications as culture platforms for drug screening.
PMCID: PMC3984098  PMID: 24727667
14.  Acupuncture Promotes Angiogenesis after Myocardial Ischemia through H3K9 Acetylation Regulation at VEGF Gene 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94604.
Acupuncture exerts cardioprotective effects on several types of cardiac injuries, especially myocardial ischemia (MI), but the mechanisms have not yet been well elucidated. Angiogenesis mediated by VEGF gene expression and its modification through histone acetylation has been considered a target in treating myocardial ischemia. This study aims to exam whether modulation of angiogenesis through H3K9 acetylation regulation at VEGF gene is one possible cardioprotective mechanism of acupuncture.
We generated rat MI models by ligating the left anterior descending coronary artery and applied electroacupuncture (EA) treatment at the Neiguan (PC6) acupoint. Our results showed that acupuncture reversed the S-T segment change, reduced Q-wave area, decreased CK, CK-MB, LDH levels, mitigated myocardial remodeling, and promoted microvessel formation in the MI heart. RNA-seq analysis showed that VEGF-induced angiogenesis signaling was involved in the modulation of EA. Western blot results verified that the protein expressions of VEGF, Ras, phospho-p44/42 MAPK, phospho-p38 MAPK, phospho-SAPK/JNK and Akt, were all elevated significantly by EA treatment in the MI heart. Furthermore, increased H3K9 acetylation was also observed according with the VEGF. ChIP assay confirmed that EA treatment could notably stimulate the recruitment of H3K9ace at the VEGF promoter.
Our study demonstrates for the first time that acupuncture can effectively up-regulate VEGF expression through H3K9 acetylation modification directly at the VEGF promoter and hence activate VEGF-induced angiogenesis in rat MI models. We employed high throughput sequencing in this study and, for the first time, generated genome-wide gene expression profiles both in the rat MI model and in acupuncture treatment.
PMCID: PMC3983235  PMID: 24722278
15.  Pallidal Index as Biomarker of Manganese Brain Accumulation and Associated with Manganese Levels in Blood: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93900.
The current study was designed to evaluate the sensitivity, feasibility, and effectiveness of the pallidal index (PI) serving as a biomarker of brain manganese (Mn) accumulation, which would be used as an early diagnosis criteria for Mn neurotoxicity.
The weighted mean difference (WMD) of the PI between control and Mn-exposed groups was estimated by using a random-effects or fixed-effects meta-analysis with 95% confidence interval (CI) performed by STATA software version 12.1. Moreover, the R package “metacor” was used to estimate correlation coefficients between PI and blood Mn (MnB).
A total of eight studies with 281 occupationally Mn-exposed workers met the inclusion criteria. Results were pooled and performed with the Meta-analysis. Our data indicated that the PI of the exposed group was significantly higher than that of the control (WMD: 7.76; 95% CI: 4.86, 10.65; I2 = 85.7%, p<0.0001). A random effects model was used to perform meta-analysis. These findings were remarkably robust in the sensitivity analysis, and publication bias was shown in the included studies. Seven out of the eight studies reported the Pearson correlation (r) values. Significantly positive correlation between PI and MnB was observed (r = 0.42; 95% CI, 0.31, 0.52).
PI can be considered as a sensitive, feasible, effective and semi-quantitative index in evaluating brain Mn accumulation. MnB can also augment the evaluation of brain Mn accumulation levels in the near future. However, the results should be interpreted with caution.
PMCID: PMC3981755  PMID: 24718592
16.  Expression of the Pupal Determinant broad during Metamorphic and Neotenic Development of the Strepsipteran Xenos vesparum Rossi 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93614.
Derived members of the endoparasitic order Strepsiptera have acquired an extreme form of sexual dimorphism whereby males undergo metamorphosis and exist as free-living adults while females remain larviform, reaching sexual maturity within their hosts. Expression of the transcription factor, broad (br) has been shown to be required for pupal development in insects in which both sexes progress through metamorphosis. A surge of br expression appears in the last larval instar, as the epidermis begins pupal development. Here we ask if br is also up-regulated in the last larval instar of male Xenos vesparum Rossi (Stylopidae), and whether such expression is lost in neotenic larviform females. We clone three isoforms of br from X. vesparum (Xv’br), and show that they share greatest similarity to the Z1, Z3 and Z4 isoforms of other insect species. By monitoring Xv’br expression throughout development, we detect elevated levels of total br expression and the Xv’Z1, Xv’Z3, and Xv’Z4 isoforms in the last larval instar of males, but not females. By focusing on Xv’br expression in individual samples, we show that the levels of Xv’BTB and Xv’Z3 in the last larval instar of males are bimodal, with some males expressing 3X greater levels of Xv’br than fourth instar femlaes. Taken together, these data suggest that neoteny (and endoparasitism) in females of Strepsiptera Stylopidia could be linked to the suppression of pupal determination. Our work identifies a difference in metamorphic gene expression that is associated with neoteny, and thus provides insights into the relationship between metamorphic and neotenic development.
PMCID: PMC3977908  PMID: 24709670
17.  Mutagenesis analysis of T380R mutation in the envelope protein of yellow fever virus 
Virology Journal  2014;11:60.
The RGD motif in the mosquito-borne flaviviruses envelope protein domain III (EDIII) FG loop was shown to bind negatively charged cellular molecules and mediate virus entry in mammals. However, its importance in virus entry in the mosquito has not yet been defined. The sequences of RGD motifs are conserved in JEV-serocomplex members primarily transmitted by Culex mosquitoes but absent from members of the DENV serocomplex, which utilize Aedes mosquitoes as vectors. Interestingly, the RGD sequence is present in the attenuated 17D strain of yellow fever virus as a result of the T380R mutation in the EDIII of Asibi strain following extensive in vitro passage in mice and chicken embryos and was found to contribute to the more rapid clearance in mice challenged with 17D. However, viral infectivity and dissemination in mosquitoes had not been evaluated for this mutant.
The study utilized the reverse genetics system of YFV and Ae. aegypti RexD WE mosquitoes to assess the impact of a T380R mutation in YFV Asibi and 17D/Asibi M-E chimera. The T380R mutation led to higher infection rates but similar dissemination rates when introduced into the YFV Asibi strain and 17D/Asibi M-E chimera.
While the increase of the positive charge in EDIII may reduce the virulence of YFV in mice, this mutation favored the establishment of the viral infection in Ae. aegypti. However, such gain in viral infectivity did not increase dissemination in infected mosquitoes.
PMCID: PMC3974419  PMID: 24678844
Yellow fever virus; 17D vaccine; Aedes aegypti
18.  Asexuality Development among Middle Aged and Older Men 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92794.
To assess erectile function in middle-aged and older men with asexuality status and further analyze their specific reasons for this condition.
Subjects and Methods
Men who had regular sexual intercourse attempts (sex frequency≥1 time per month) were classified into mild erectile dysfunction (ED), moderate to severe ED and non-ED according to International Index of Erectile Function-5, and men having no sexual intercourse attempts for at least 6 months were defined as having an asexuality status. The risk factors associated with ED were collected in a sample of 1,531 Chinese men aged 40 to 80 years, and the self-report reasons for asexuality were recorded in asexual cohort individually. Comparative analyses and multivariate regression models were conducted among these groups.
The prevalence rates of ED and asexuality status were 49.9% and 37.2%. The asexuality status group had higher risk factors than the moderate to severe ED group in terms of old age (age≥65, adjusted odds ratio (OR) 17.69 versus (Vs.) 7.19), diabetes (crude OR: 2.40 Vs. 2.36) and hypertension (crude OR: 1.78 Vs. 1.72). The specific reasons for the asexuality status were “erectile difficulty” (52.9%), “do not care about sexuality” (53.5%)”, “no longer necessary to have sexuality at this age” (47.7%), “severe stress” (44.4%), “severe fatigue” (26.3%) and “masturbation” (26.9%).
Men with an asexual status suffer from higher risk factors for ED than men with moderate to severe ED. The majority of this asexual status could be attributed to a full ED, although the reasons for this transient asexuality also involved sexual attitudes and interests, sexual partners and masturbation.
PMCID: PMC3965446  PMID: 24667838
19.  Danggui-Shaoyao-San Improves Learning and Memory in Female SAMP8 via Modulation of Estradiol 
Previous studies showed that Danggui-Shaoyao-San (DSS), a traditional Chinese medicinal prescription, could alleviate cognitive dysfunction of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. However, the mechanisms remain unclear; we have now examined the effect of DSS on SAMP8 and elucidated the possible mechanism. Animals were treated with DSS for 2 months, and step-down test and Morris water maze (MWM) test were used to evaluated cognitive abilities. The estradiol (E2), NO, and glycine in blood plasma or in hippocampus were detected to explore the possible mechanisms. The latency of SAMP8 in step-down test was shorter than that of age-matched SAMR1, and DSS increased the latency especially in female animals. In MWM test, we got similar results; SAMP8 spent more time to find the platform, and DSS decreased the time before finding the platform, with little effect on swim velocity, during the training sessions. During test session, DSS increased the time spent in target quadrant especially in female SAMP8. In female SAMP8, plasma E2, NO, and glycine were elevated in plasma or hippocampus tissue. In conclusion, DSS could ameliorate deterioration of cognition in SAMP8, especially in female animals. Increasing E2, NO, and glycine might contribute to the cognitive improvement effect of DSS in female SAMP8.
PMCID: PMC3976789  PMID: 24757492
20.  The sequence and de novo assembly of the giant panda genome 
Li, Ruiqiang | Fan, Wei | Tian, Geng | Zhu, Hongmei | He, Lin | Cai, Jing | Huang, Quanfei | Cai, Qingle | Li, Bo | Bai, Yinqi | Zhang, Zhihe | Zhang, Yaping | Wang, Wen | Li, Jun | Wei, Fuwen | Li, Heng | Jian, Min | Li, Jianwen | Zhang, Zhaolei | Nielsen, Rasmus | Li, Dawei | Gu, Wanjun | Yang, Zhentao | Xuan, Zhaoling | Ryder, Oliver A. | Leung, Frederick Chi-Ching | Zhou, Yan | Cao, Jianjun | Sun, Xiao | Fu, Yonggui | Fang, Xiaodong | Guo, Xiaosen | Wang, Bo | Hou, Rong | Shen, Fujun | Mu, Bo | Ni, Peixiang | Lin, Runmao | Qian, Wubin | Wang, Guodong | Yu, Chang | Nie, Wenhui | Wang, Jinhuan | Wu, Zhigang | Liang, Huiqing | Min, Jiumeng | Wu, Qi | Cheng, Shifeng | Ruan, Jue | Wang, Mingwei | Shi, Zhongbin | Wen, Ming | Liu, Binghang | Ren, Xiaoli | Zheng, Huisong | Dong, Dong | Cook, Kathleen | Shan, Gao | Zhang, Hao | Kosiol, Carolin | Xie, Xueying | Lu, Zuhong | Zheng, Hancheng | Li, Yingrui | Steiner, Cynthia C. | Lam, Tommy Tsan-Yuk | Lin, Siyuan | Zhang, Qinghui | Li, Guoqing | Tian, Jing | Gong, Timing | Liu, Hongde | Zhang, Dejin | Fang, Lin | Ye, Chen | Zhang, Juanbin | Hu, Wenbo | Xu, Anlong | Ren, Yuanyuan | Zhang, Guojie | Bruford, Michael W. | Li, Qibin | Ma, Lijia | Guo, Yiran | An, Na | Hu, Yujie | Zheng, Yang | Shi, Yongyong | Li, Zhiqiang | Liu, Qing | Chen, Yanling | Zhao, Jing | Qu, Ning | Zhao, Shancen | Tian, Feng | Wang, Xiaoling | Wang, Haiyin | Xu, Lizhi | Liu, Xiao | Vinar, Tomas | Wang, Yajun | Lam, Tak-Wah | Yiu, Siu-Ming | Liu, Shiping | Zhang, Hemin | Li, Desheng | Huang, Yan | Wang, Xia | Yang, Guohua | Jiang, Zhi | Wang, Junyi | Qin, Nan | Li, Li | Li, Jingxiang | Bolund, Lars | Kristiansen, Karsten | Wong, Gane Ka-Shu | Olson, Maynard | Zhang, Xiuqing | Li, Songgang | Yang, Huanming | Wang, Jian | Wang, Jun
Nature  2009;463(7279):311-317.
Using next-generation sequencing technology alone, we have successfully generated and assembled a draft sequence of the giant panda genome. The assembled contigs (2.25 gigabases (Gb)) cover approximately 94% of the whole genome, and the remaining gaps (0.05 Gb) seem to contain carnivore-specific repeats and tandem repeats. Comparisons with the dog and human showed that the panda genome has a lower divergence rate. The assessment of panda genes potentially underlying some of its unique traits indicated that its bamboo diet might be more dependent on its gut microbiome than its own genetic composition. We also identified more than 2.7 million heterozygous single nucleotide polymorphisms in the diploid genome. Our data and analyses provide a foundation for promoting mammalian genetic research, and demonstrate the feasibility for using next-generation sequencing technologies for accurate, cost-effective and rapid de novo assembly of large eukaryotic genomes.
PMCID: PMC3951497  PMID: 20010809
21.  A Robust Method for Transcript Quantification with RNA-Seq Data 
Journal of Computational Biology  2013;20(3):167-187.
The advent of high throughput RNA-seq technology allows deep sampling of the transcriptome, making it possible to characterize both the diversity and the abundance of transcript isoforms. Accurate abundance estimation or transcript quantification of isoforms is critical for downstream differential analysis (e.g., healthy vs. diseased cells) but remains a challenging problem for several reasons. First, while various types of algorithms have been developed for abundance estimation, short reads often do not uniquely identify the transcript isoforms from which they were sampled. As a result, the quantification problem may not be identifiable, i.e., lacks a unique transcript solution even if the read maps uniquely to the reference genome. In this article, we develop a general linear model for transcript quantification that leverages reads spanning multiple splice junctions to ameliorate identifiability. Second, RNA-seq reads sampled from the transcriptome exhibit unknown position-specific and sequence-specific biases. We extend our method to simultaneously learn bias parameters during transcript quantification to improve accuracy. Third, transcript quantification is often provided with a candidate set of isoforms, not all of which are likely to be significantly expressed in a given tissue type or condition. By resolving the linear system with LASSO, our approach can infer an accurate set of dominantly expressed transcripts while existing methods tend to assign positive expression to every candidate isoform. Using simulated RNA-seq datasets, our method demonstrated better quantification accuracy and the inference of dominant set of transcripts than existing methods. The application of our method on real data experimentally demonstrated that transcript quantification is effective for differential analysis of transcriptomes.
PMCID: PMC3590898  PMID: 23461570
transcriptome; transcript quantification; RNA-seq
22.  Perineural Dexmedetomidine Attenuates Inflammation in Rat Sciatic Nerve via the NF-κB Pathway 
Recent studies have shown that dexmedetomidine exerts an anti-inflammatory effect by reducing serum levels of inflammatory factors, however, the up-stream mechanism is still unknown. The transcription factor NF-κB enters the nucleus and promotes the transcription of its target genes, including those encoding the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-α. In this study, we established a rat model that simulates a clinical surgical procedure to investigate the anti-inflammatory effect of perineural administration of dexmedetomidine and the underlying mechanism. Dexmedetomidine reduced the sciatic nerve levels of IL-6 and TNF-α at both the mRNA and protein level. Dexmedetomidine also inhibited the translocation of activated NF-κB to the nucleus and the binding activity of NF-κB. The anti-inflammatory effect is confirmed to be dose-dependent. Finally, pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate also reduced the levels of IL-6 and TNF-α and the activation of NF-κB. In conclusion, dexmedetomidine inhibited the nuclear translocation and binding activity of activated NF-κB, thus reducing inflammatory cytokines.
PMCID: PMC3975383  PMID: 24663080
dexmedetomidine; NF-κB; IL-6; TNF-α; nerve block
23.  Structure and Antitumor and Immunomodulatory Activities of a Water-Soluble Polysaccharide from Dimocarpus longan Pulp 
A new water-soluble polysaccharide (longan polysaccharide 1 (LP1)) was extracted and successfully purified from Dimocarpus longan pulp via diethylaminoethyl (DEAE)-cellulose anion-exchange and Sephacryl S-300 HR gel chromatography. The chemical structure was determined using Infrared (IR), gas chromatography (GC) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis. The results indicated that the molecular weight of the sample was 1.1 × 105 Da. Monosaccharide composition analysis revealed that LP1 was composed of Glc, GalA, Ara and Gal in a molar ratio of 5.39:1.04:0.74:0.21. Structural analysis indicated that LP1 consisted of a backbone of →4)-α-d-Glcp-(1→4)-α-d-GalpA-(1→4)-α-d-Glcp-(1→4)-β-d-Glcp-(1→ units with poly saccharide side chains composed of →2)-β-d-Fruf-(1→2)-l-sorbose-(1→ attached to the O-6 position of the α-d-Glcp residues. In vitro experiments indicated that LP1 had significantly high antitumor activity against SKOV3 and HO8910 tumor cells, with inhibition percentages of 40% and 50%, respectively. In addition, LP1 significantly stimulated the production of the cytokine interferon-γ (IFN-γ), increased the activity of murine macrophages and enhanced B- and T-lymphocyte proliferation. The results of this study demonstrate that LP1 has potential applications as a natural antitumor agent with immunomodulatory activity.
PMCID: PMC3975445  PMID: 24663085
structure; antitumor activity; immunomodulatory activity; polysaccharide; Dimocarpus longan pulp
24.  Performance and Long-Term Stability of Pd/PSS and Pd/Al2O3 Membranes for Hydrogen Separation 
Membranes  2014;4(1):143-162.
The present work is focused on the investigation of the performance and long-term stability of two composite palladium membranes under different operating conditions. One membrane (Pd/porous stainless steel (PSS)) is characterized by a ~10 µm-thick palladium layer on a porous stainless steel substrate, which is pretreated by means of surface modification and oxidation; the other membrane (Pd/Al2O3) is constituted by a ~7 µm-thick palladium layer on an asymmetric microporous Al2O3 substrate. The operating temperature and pressure ranges, used for studying the performance of these two kinds of membranes, are 350–450 °C and 200–800 kPa, respectively. The H2 permeances and the H2/N2 selectivities of both membranes were investigated and compared with literature data. At 400 °C and 200 kPa as pressure difference, Pd/PSS and Pd/Al2O3 membranes exhibited an H2/N2 ideal selectivity equal to 11700 and 6200, respectively, showing stability for 600 h. Thereafter, H2/N2 selectivity of both membranes progressively decreased and after around 2000 h, dropped dramatically to 55 and 310 for the Pd/PSS and Pd/Al2O3 membranes, respectively. As evidenced by Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) analyses, the pinholes appear on the whole surface of the Pd/PSS membrane and this is probably due to release of sulphur from the graphite seal rings.
PMCID: PMC4021960  PMID: 24957126
palladium composite membrane; porous stainless steel; ideal selectivity; hydrogen separation
25.  Telomere regulation in pluripotent stem cells 
Protein & Cell  2014;5(3):194-202.
Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) have the potential to produce any types of cells from all three basic germ layers and the capacity to self-renew and proliferate indefinitely in vitro. The two main types of PSCs, embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), share common features such as colony morphology, high expression of Oct4 and Nanog, and strong alkaline phosphatase activity. In recent years, increasing evidences suggest that telomere length represents another important internal factor in maintaining stem cell pluripotency. Telomere length homeostasis and its structural integrity help to protect chromosome ends from recombination, end fusion, and DNA damage responses, ensuring the divisional ability of mammalian cells. PSCs generally exhibit high telomerase activity to maintain their extremely long and stable telomeres, and emerging data indicate the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) pathway may play an important role in telomere functions too. Such characteristics are likely key to their abilities to differentiate into diverse cell types in vivo. In this review, we will focus on the function and regulation of telomeres in ESCs and iPSCs, thereby shedding light on the importance of telomere length to pluripotency and the mechanisms that regulate telomeres in PSCs.
PMCID: PMC3967062  PMID: 24563217
telomere; pluripotent stem cells; alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT); regulators

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