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1.  CD44 targets Na+/H+ exchanger 1 to mediate MDA-MB-231 cells' metastasis via the regulation of ERK1/2 
Chang, G | Wang, J | Zhang, H | Zhang, Y | Wang, C | Xu, H | Zhang, H | Lin, Y | Ma, L | Li, Q | Pang, T
British Journal of Cancer  2014;110(4):916-927.
CD44, a transmembrane glycoprotein expressed in a variety of cells and tissues, has been implicated in tumour metastasis. But the molecular mechanisms of CD44-mediated tumour cell metastasis remain to be elucidated.
The downregulation of CD44 was determined by immunofluorescence. Moreover, the motility of breast cancer cells was detected by wound-healing and transwell experiments. Then the spontaneous metastasis of CD44-silenced MDA-MB-231 cells was tested by histology with BALB/c nude mice.
A positive correlation between CD44 and Na+/H+ exchanger isoform 1 (NHE1) was found in two breast cancer cells. CD44 downregulation could inhibit the metastasis of MDA-MB-231 cells and the expressions of Na+/H+ exchanger 1. Moreover, CD44 overexpression upregulated the metastasis of MCF-7 cells, but the elevated metastatic ability was then inhibited by Cariporide. Interestingly, during these processes only the p-ERK1/2 was suppressed by CD44 downregulation and the expression of matrix metalloproteinases and metastatic capacity of MDA-MB-231 cells were greatly inhibited by the MEK1 inhibitor PD98059, which even had a synergistic effect with Cariporide. Furthermore, CD44 downregulation inhibits breast tumour outgrowth and spontaneous lung metastasis.
Taken together, this work indicates that CD44 regulates the metastasis of breast cancer cells through regulating NHE1 expression, which could be used as a novel strategy for breast cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3929887  PMID: 24434427
CD44; Na+/H+ exchanger 1; matrix metalloproteinase; breast cancer; metastasis
2.  Serum and dietary magnesium and the incidence of atrial fibrillation in whites and African Americans: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study 
Low serum magnesium (Mg) has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including ventricular arrhythmias. However, the association between serum or dietary Mg and AF has not been investigated.
Methods and Results
We studied 14,290 men and women (75% white, 53% women, mean age 54) free of AF at baseline participating in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study in the United States. Incident AF cases through 2009 were ascertained from electrocardiograms, hospital discharge codes, and death certificates. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for AF associated with serum and dietary Mg quintiles. Over a median follow-up time of 20.6 years, 1,755 incident AF cases were identified. In multivariable models, lower serum Mg was associated with higher AF risk: compared to individuals in the middle quintile (≥1.60–1.65 mEq/L), the HR (95% CI) of AF in quintiles 1, 2, 4, and 5 were 1.34 (1.16–1.54), 0.99 (0.85–1.16), 1.04 (0.90–1.22), and 1.06 (0.91–1.23), respectively. There was no evidence of significant interactions between serum Mg and sex or race. No association between dietary Mg and AF risk was observed.
Lower serum Mg was associated with a higher AF risk, and this association was not different between whites and African Americans. Dietary Mg was not associated with AF risk.
PMCID: PMC4228988  PMID: 23047297
atrial fibrillation; serum magnesium; dietary magnesium
3.  The Global Consortium for Drug-resistant Tuberculosis Diagnostics (GCDD): design of a multi-site, head-to-head study of three rapid tests to detect extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis 
Trials  2014;15(1):434.
Drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) remains a threat to global public health, owing to the complexity and delay of diagnosis and treatment. The Global Consortium for Drug-resistant Tuberculosis Diagnostics (GCDD) was formed to develop and evaluate assays designed to rapidly detect DR-TB, so that appropriate treatment might begin more quickly. This paper describes the methodology employed in a prospective cohort study for head-to-head assessment of three different rapid diagnostic tools.
Subjects at risk of DR-TB were enrolled from three countries. Data were gathered from a combination of patient interviews, chart reviews, and laboratory testing from each site’s reference laboratory. The primary outcome of interest was reduction in time from specimen arrival in the laboratory to results of rapid drug susceptibility tests, as compared with current standard mycobacterial growth indicator tube (MGIT) drug susceptibility tests.
Successful implementation of the trial in diverse multinational populations is explained, in addition to challenges encountered and recommendations for future studies with similar aims or populations.
The GCDD study was a head-to-head study of multiple rapid diagnostic assays aimed at improving accuracy and precision of diagnostics and reducing overall time to detection of DR-TB. By conducting a large prospective study, which captured epidemiological, clinical, and biological data, we have produced a high-quality unique dataset, which will be beneficial for analyzing study aims as well as answering future DR-TB research questions. Reduction in detection time for XDR-TB would be a major public health success as it would allow for improved treatment and more successful patient outcomes. Executing successful trials is critical in assessment of these reductions in highly variable populations.
Trial registration NCT02170441.
PMCID: PMC4232628  PMID: 25377177
drug resistance; international; multi-site; rapid diagnostic tools; tuberculosis; XDR-TB
4.  Modulatory effects of taurine on jejunal contractility 
Taurine (2-aminoethanesulfonic acid) is widely distributed in animal tissues and has diverse pharmacological effects. However, the role of taurine in modulating smooth muscle contractility is still controversial. We propose that taurine (5-80 mM) can exert bidirectional modulation on the contractility of isolated rat jejunal segments. Different low and high contractile states were induced in isolated jejunal segments of rats to observe the effects of taurine and the associated mechanisms. Taurine induced stimulatory effects on the contractility of isolated rat jejunal segments at 3 different low contractile states, and inhibitory effects at 3 different high contractile states. Bidirectional modulation was not observed in the presence of verapamil or tetrodotoxin, suggesting that taurine-induced bidirectional modulation is Ca2+ dependent and requires the presence of the enteric nervous system. The stimulatory effects of taurine on the contractility of isolated jejunal segments was blocked by atropine but not by diphenhydramine or by cimetidine, suggesting that muscarinic-linked activation was involved in the stimulatory effects when isolated jejunal segments were in a low contractile state. The inhibitory effects of taurine on the contractility of isolated jejunal segments were blocked by propranolol and L-NG-nitroarginine but not by phentolamine, suggesting that adrenergic β receptors and a nitric oxide relaxing mechanism were involved when isolated jejunal segments were in high contractile states. No bidirectional effects of taurine on myosin phosphorylation were observed. The contractile states of jejunal segments determine taurine-induced stimulatory or inhibitory effects, which are associated with muscarinic receptors and adrenergic β receptors, and a nitric oxide associated relaxing mechanism.
PMCID: PMC4244673  PMID: 25387674
Taurine; Bidirectional modulation; Enteric nervous system; Calcium dependent; Homeostasis; Intestinal motility
5.  Association of Sick Sinus Syndrome with Incident Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study and Cardiovascular Health Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109662.
Sick sinus syndrome (SSS) is a common indication for pacemaker implantation. Limited information exists on the association of sick sinus syndrome (SSS) with mortality and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the general population.
We studied 19,893 men and women age 45 and older in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study and the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), two community-based cohorts, who were without a pacemaker or atrial fibrillation (AF) at baseline. Incident SSS cases were validated by review of medical charts. Incident CVD and mortality were ascertained using standardized protocols. Multivariable Cox models were used to estimate the association of incident SSS with selected outcomes.
During a mean follow-up of 17 years, 213 incident SSS events were identified and validated (incidence, 0.6 events per 1,000 person-years). After adjustment for confounders, SSS incidence was associated with increased mortality (hazard ratio [HR] 1.39, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.14–1.70), coronary heart disease (HR 1.72, 95%CI 1.11–2.66), heart failure (HR 2.87, 95%CI 2.17–3.80), stroke (HR 1.56, 95%CI 0.99–2.46), AF (HR 5.75, 95%CI 4.43–7.46), and pacemaker implantation (HR 53.7, 95%CI 42.9–67.2). After additional adjustment for other incident CVD during follow-up, SSS was no longer associated with increased mortality, coronary heart disease, or stroke, but remained associated with higher risk of heart failure (HR 2.00, 95%CI 1.51–2.66), AF (HR 4.25, 95%CI 3.28–5.51), and pacemaker implantation (HR 25.2, 95%CI 19.8–32.1).
Individuals who develop SSS are at increased risk of death and CVD. The mechanisms underlying these associations warrant further investigation.
PMCID: PMC4186847  PMID: 25285853
6.  Does alcohol increase breast cancer risk in African-American women? Findings from a case–control study 
British Journal of Cancer  2013;109(7):1945-1953.
Alcohol is an important risk factor for breast cancer in Caucasian women, but the evidence in African-American (AA) women is limited and results are inconclusive.
Associations between recent and lifetime drinking and breast cancer risk were evaluated in a large sample of AA women from a case–control study in New York and New Jersey. Multivariable logistic regression models provided odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
There was no association between recent drinking and breast cancer risk, even when stratified by menopausal status or by hormone receptor status. A borderline decreased risk with increased lifetime consumption was found (OR=0.77; 95% CI: 0.58–1.03), which was stronger among women who drank when under 20 years of age (OR=0.65; 95% CI: 0.47–0.89), regardless of menopausal or hormone receptor status.
Breast cancer risk associated with recent alcohol consumption was not apparent in AA women, while early age drinking seemed to decrease risk. This is the first investigation on recent and lifetime drinking in subgroups and drinking during different age periods in AA women. If findings are replicated, racial differences in biological pathways involving alcohol and its metabolites should be explored.
PMCID: PMC3790168  PMID: 24008665
African American; alcohol; breast cancer; menopause; race; lifetime drinking
7.  The surface density gradient of grafted poly (ethylene glycol): preparation, characterization and protein adsorption 
A surface density gradient of grafted poly (ethylene glycol) (PEG) chains was prepared using two-phase silanization of a flat silica surface. The first step was to create the surface density gradient of isocyanatopropyldimethylsilyl groups and to hydrolyze the isocyanato moiety into an amine. These surface amines were reacted with an excess of aldehyde-terminated PEG. The PEG–silica surface was characterized by dynamic contact angle measurements, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and ellipsometry. The length of the PEG gradient region was approximately 7 mm and the thickness in air ranged from zero to 1.1 nm. The maximum surface density of the PEG layer, as calculated from ellipsometric data, amounted to an average 0.4 PEG (molecular weight Mw = 2000 Da) molecule nm−2, while the surface density average of the amine groups was 1.4 molecules nm−2, indicating that only a fraction of the surface amines reacted with aldehyde-terminated PEG. The PEG segment density profile in the gradient PEG region was computed by a self-consistent mean field theory. The PEG (Mw = 2000 Da) segments profile was not parabolic, but showed a thin depletion zone next to the surface.
The influence of the surface density of the grafted PEG chains on protein repellence was tested by the adsorption of fibrinogen from solution and from a ternary protein solution mixture containing fibrinogen, albumin and immunoglobulin G. Fibrinogen adsorption onto the silica end of the gradient was extremely low, both in the presence of the other two proteins and in their absence. As the surface density of the grafted PEG chains increased, so did the fibrinogen adsorption (up to 0.024 μg cm−2). It is not clear whether this low fibrinogen adsorption resulted from the interactions of the protein with the grafted PEG chains or with residual surface amines that were available due to some imperfections in the grafted PEG layer.
PMCID: PMC4137780  PMID: 25147429
Grafted poly (ethylene glycol); Protein adsorption; Surface density gradient
8.  The desorption of ribonuclease A from charge density gradient surfaces studied by spatially-resolved total internal reflection fluorescence 
A quaternary amine surface gradient was prepared on fused silica by a three-step surface modification process. The gradient surface displayed a transition of surface charges along the gradient dimension from a net negative surface charge of silica to a net positive surface charge at the quaternary amine end. The gradient surface was characterized by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, ellipsometry, colloidal gold decoration, and dynamic contact angle measurements. It displayed an increased adhesion of negatively charged gold particles towards the quaternary amine end. The water contact angles also increased with the increased surface density of aminopropylsilyl groups.
The desorption of ribonuclease A labeled with fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate (FITC–RNase) from the quaternary amine gradient surface was measured using spatially resolved total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) spectroscopy. The experimental FITC–RNase desorption results fitted exceptionally well to a two adsorbed protein populations model. A tentative assignment of the two adsorbed protein populations is proposed based on the effect of the ionic strength of the desorbing buffer. The faster desorption population interacted primarily with the quaternary amine gradient surface sites through electrostatic interactions. The slower desorption population interacted with the surface sites via hydrophobic and possibly some electrostatic interactions.
PMCID: PMC4131239  PMID: 25132725
Charge density gradient surfaces; Desorption; Ribonuclease A; Total internal reflection fluorescence
9.  Association of blood pressure and aortic distensibility with P wave indices and PR interval: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Journal of electrocardiology  2013;46(4):359.e1-359.e6.
Hypertension is an established risk factor for atrial fibrillation. Understanding the association of blood pressure (BP) levels and aortic distensibility with P wave indices (PWIs) and PR interval, intermediate phenotypes of atrial fibrillation, could provide insights into underlying mechanisms.
This analysis included 3180 men and women aged 45-84 participating in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a community-based cohort in the United States. Aortic distensibility was evaluated in 2243 of these individuals using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. PWIs and PR interval were automatically measured in standard 12-lead ECGs. Sitting BP and other cardiovascular risk factors were assessed using standardized protocols. Left ventricular mass was measured by magnetic resonance imaging.
Higher systolic and diastolic BP, and greater pulse pressure were associated with a significantly greater P wave terminal force. These associations, however, were markedly attenuated or disappeared after adjustment for left ventricular mass. Systolic BP, diastolic BP, and pulse pressure were not strongly associated with PR interval or maximum P wave duration. Reduced aortic distensibility was associated with a longer PR interval but not with PWIs: compared with individuals in the top quartile of aortic distensibility, participants in the lowest quartile had on average a 3.7 ms longer PR interval (95% CI: 0.7, 6.7, p=0.02), after multivariable adjustment.
In this large community-based sample, associations of BP and aortic distensibility with PWIs and PR interval differed. These results suggest that processes linking hypertension with the electrical substrate of atrial fibrillation, as characterized by these intermediate phenotypes, are diverse.
PMCID: PMC3700676  PMID: 23484862
aorta; blood pressure; electrocardiography; epidemiology
11.  Testing two models describing how methylome-wide studies in blood are informative for psychiatric conditions 
Epigenomics  2013;5(4):367-377.
As the primary relevant tissue (brain) for psychiatric disorders is commonly not available, we aimed to investigate whether blood can be used as a proxy in methylation studies on the basis of two models. In the ‘signature’ model methylation–disease associations occur because a disease-causing factor affected methylation in the blood. In the ‘mirror-site’ model the methylation status in the blood is correlated with the corresponding disease-causing site in the brain.
Materials, methods & results
Methyl-binding domain enrichment and next-generation sequencing of the blood, cortex and hippocampus from four haloperidol-treated and ten untreated C57BL/6 mice revealed high levels of correlation in methylation across tissues. Despite the treatment inducing a large number of methylation changes, this correlation remains high.
Our results show that, consistent with the signature model, factors that affect brain processes (i.e., haloperidol) leave biomarker signatures in the blood and, consistent with the mirror-site model, the methylation status of many sites in the blood mirror those in the brain.
PMCID: PMC3904748  PMID: 23895651
antipsychotic; DNA methylation; methyl-CpG binding domain; methylome-wide association study; mirror-site model; next-generation sequencing; signature model
12.  Comparable Ascertainment of Newly-Diagnosed Atrial Fibrillation Using Active Cohort Follow-Up versus Surveillance of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94321.
Increasingly, epidemiologic studies use administrative data to identify atrial fibrillation (AF). Capture of incident AF is not well documented. We examined incidence rates and concordance of AF diagnosis based on active cohort follow-up versus surveillance of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study.
Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities cohort participants without prevalent AF enrolled in fee-for-service Medicare, with inpatient and outpatient coverage, for at least 12 continuous months between 1991 and 2009 were included. In active Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study follow-up, annual telephone calls captured hospitalizations and deaths with incident AF diagnosis codes. For Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data, incident AF was defined by billed inpatient and outpatient diagnoses.
Of 10,134 eligible cohort participants, 738 developed AF according to both Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data; an additional 93 and 288 incident cases were identified using only Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data, respectively. Incidence rates per 1,000 person-years were 10.8 (95% confidence interval: 10.1–11.6) and 13.6 (95% confidence interval: 12.8–14.4) in Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, respectively; agreement was 96%; kappa was 0.77 (95% confidence interval: 0.75–0.80). Earlier AF ascertainment by one system versus the other was not associated with any cardiovascular disease risk factors, after accounting for sociodemographic factors. Additional Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services events did not alter observed associations between risk factors and AF.
Among fee-for-service enrollees, AF incidence rates were slightly lower for active cohort follow-up than for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services surveillance, because the latter included outpatient atrial fibrillation. Concordance was high and combining the two approaches could provide a more complete picture of newly-diagnosed AF.
PMCID: PMC3984174  PMID: 24727837
13.  Safety and efficacy of decitabine in combination with temozolomide in metastatic melanoma: a phase I/II study and pharmacokinetic analysis 
Annals of Oncology  2012;24(4):1112-1119.
Temozolomide (TMZ) is widely used for chemotherapy of metastatic melanoma. We hypothesized that epigenetic modulators will reverse chemotherapy resistance, and in this article, we report studies that sought to determine the recommended phase 2 dose (RP2D), safety, and efficacy of decitabine (DAC) combined with TMZ.
Patients and methods
In phase I, DAC was given at two dose levels: 0.075 and 0.15 mg/kg intravenously daily × 5 days/week for 2 weeks, TMZ orally 75 mg/m2 qd for weeks 2–5 of a 6-week cycle. The phase II portion used a two-stage Simon design with a primary end point of objective response rate (ORR).
The RP2D is DAC 0.15 mg/kg and TMZ 75 mg/m2. The phase II portion enrolled 35 patients, 88% had M1c disease; 42% had history of brain metastases. The best responses were 2 complete response (CR), 4 partial response (PR), 14 stable disease (SD), and 13 progressive disease (PD); 18% ORR and 61% clinical benefit rate (CR + PR + SD). The median overall survival (OS) was 12.4 months; the 1-year OS rate was 56%. Grade 3/4 neutropenia was common but lasted >7 days in six patients.
The combination of DAC and TMZ is safe, leads to 18% ORR and 12.4-month median OS, suggesting possible superiority over the historical 1-year OS rate, and warrants further evaluation in a randomized setting.
PMCID: PMC3603441  PMID: 23172636
decitabine; melanoma; pharmacokinetic analysis; temozolomide
14.  Evaluation of the BD Bactec MGIT 320 System for Detection of Mycobacteria and Drug Susceptibility Testing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(10):3403-3405.
Two different laboratories evaluated growth and detection of mycobacteria and drug susceptibility testing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by the BD Bactec MGIT 320 using the BD Bactec MGIT 960 (BD Diagnostics, Sparks, MD) as a reference method. Out of 359 processed sputum specimens for detection of mycobacteria, 99.7% were in agreement between the MGIT 320 and MGIT 960. Streptomycin (STR), isoniazid (INH), rifampin (RIF), ethambutol (EMB) (collectively known as SIRE), and pyrazinamide (PZA) drug susceptibility testing was performed on 89 clinical strains, prepared from both liquid and solid inocula. The results of SIRE and PZA were 100% reproducible between the two instruments tested at both laboratories.
PMCID: PMC3811643  PMID: 23863564
15.  Photo-multiplier Tube Based Hybrid MRI and Frequency Domain Fluorescence Tomography System for Small Animal Imaging 
Physics in medicine and biology  2011;56(15):4731-4747.
Fluorescence tomography (FT) is a promising molecular imaging technique that can spatially resolve both fluorophore concentration and lifetime parameters. However, recovered fluorophore parameters highly depend on the size and depth of the object due to the ill-posedness of the FT inverse problem. Structural a priori information from another high spatial resolution imaging modality has been demonstrated to significantly improve FT reconstruction accuracy. In this study, we have constructed a combined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and FT system for small animal imaging. A photo-multiplier tube (PMT) is used as the detector to acquire frequency domain FT measurements. This is the first MR-compatible time-resolved FT system that can reconstruct both fluorescence concentration and lifetime maps simultaneously. The performance of the hybrid system is evaluated with phantom studies. Two different fluorophores, Indocyanine Green (ICG) and 3-3′ Diethylthiatricarbocyanine Iodide (DTTCI), which have similar excitation and emission spectra but different lifetimes, are utilized. The fluorescence concentration and lifetime maps are both reconstructed with and without the structural a priori information obtained from MRI for comparison. We show that the hybrid system can accurately recover both fluorescence intensity and lifetime within 10% error for two 4.2 mm-diameter cylindrical objects embedded in a 38 mm-diameter cylindrical phantom when MRI structural a priori information is utilized.
PMCID: PMC3961472  PMID: 21753235
16.  Relation of Serum Phosphorus Levels to the Incidence of Atrial Fibrillation (from the Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities [ARIC] Study) 
The American journal of cardiology  2012;111(6):857-862.
High serum phosphorus levels have been linked with vascular calcification and greater cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. We assessed whether serum phosphorus was associated with the atrial fibrillation (AF) incidence in a large community-based cohort in the United States. Our analysis included 14,675 participants (25% black, 45% men) free of AF at baseline (1987 to 1989) and with measurements of fasting serum phosphorus from the Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities (ARIC) study. The incidence of AF was ascertained through the end of 2008 from study visit electrocardiograms, hospitalizations, and death certificates. Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate the hazard ratios of AF by the serum phosphorus levels, adjusting for potential confounders. During a median follow-up of 19.7 years, we identified 1,656 incident AF cases. Greater serum phosphorus was associated with a greater AF risk: the hazard ratio of AF with a 1-mg/dl increase in serum phosphorus was 1.13 (95% confidence interval 1.02 to 1.26). No significant interaction was seen by race (p = 0.88) or gender (p = 0.51). The risk of AF was increased in association with greater serum phosphorus in those with an estimated glomerular filtration rate of ≥90 ml/min/1.72 m2 but not among those with an estimated glomerular filtration rate of <90 ml/min/1.72 m2. The total corrected calcium levels were not related to AF risk; however, greater levels of the calcium-phosphorus product were associated with greater AF risk. In conclusion, in the present large population-based study, greater levels of serum phosphorus and the related calcium-phosphorus product were associated with a greater incidence of AF.
PMCID: PMC3632319  PMID: 23273530
17.  Overexpression of Aurora-C interferes with the spindle checkpoint by promoting the degradation of Aurora-B 
Cell Death & Disease  2014;5(3):e1106-.
The chromosomal passenger complex (CPC) plays a pivotal role in controlling accurate chromosome segregation and cytokinesis during cell division. Aurora-B, one of the chromosomal passenger proteins, is important for the mitotic spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC). Previous reports noted that Aurora-C is predominantly expressed in male germ cells and has the same subcellular localization as Aurora-B. Increasing evidence indicates that Aurora-C is overexpressed in many somatic cancers, although its function is uncertain. Our previous study showed that the aberrant expression of Aurora-C increases the tumorigenicity of cancer cells. Here, we demonstrate that overexpressed Aurora-C displaces the centromeric localization of CPCs, including INCENP, survivin, and Aurora-B. When cells were treated with nocodazole to turn on SAC, both the Aurora-B protein stability and kinase activity were affected by overexpressed Aurora-C. As a result, the activation of spindle checkpoint protein, BubR1, and phosphorylation of histone H3 and MCAK were also eliminated in Aurora-C-overexpressing cells. Thus, our results suggest that aberrantly expressed Aurora-C in somatic cancer cells may impair SAC by displacing the centromeric localization of CPCs.
PMCID: PMC3973241  PMID: 24603334
Aurora-C; Aurora-B; spindle assembly checkpoint; chromosomal passenger proteins
18.  MBD-seq as a cost-effective approach for methylome-wide association studies: demonstration in 1500 case–control samples 
Epigenomics  2012;4(6):605-621.
We studied the use of methyl-CpG binding domain (MBD) protein-enriched genome sequencing (MBD-seq) as a cost-effective screening tool for methylome-wide association studies (MWAS).
Materials & methods
Because MBD-seq has not yet been applied on a large scale, we first developed and tested a pipeline for data processing using 1500 schizophrenia cases and controls plus 75 technical replicates with an average of 68 million reads per sample. This involved the use of technical replicates to optimize quality control for multi- and duplicate-reads, an in silico experiment to identify CpGs in loci with alignment problems, CpG coverage calculations based on multiparametric estimates of the fragment size distribution, a two-stage adaptive algorithm to combine data from correlated adjacent CpG sites, principal component analyses to control for confounders and new software tailored to handle the large data set.
We replicated MWAS findings in independent samples using a different technology that provided single base resolution. In an MWAS of age-related methylation changes, one of our top findings was a previously reported robust association involving GRIA2. Our results also suggested that owing to the many confounding effects, a considerable challenge in MWAS is to identify those effects that are informative about disease processes.
This study showed the potential of MBD-seq as a cost-effective tool in large-scale disease studies.
PMCID: PMC3923085  PMID: 23244307
MBD; methylome-wide association studies; next-generation sequencing; principal component analysis; pyrosequencing
19.  Pyrosequencing for Rapid Detection of Extensively Drug-Resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Clinical Isolates and Clinical Specimens 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(2):475-482.
Treating extensively drug-resistant (XDR) tuberculosis (TB) is a serious challenge. Culture-based drug susceptibility testing (DST) may take 4 weeks or longer from specimen collection to the availability of results. We developed a pyrosequencing (PSQ) assay including eight subassays for the rapid identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) and concurrent detection of mutations associated with resistance to drugs defining XDR TB. The entire procedure, from DNA extraction to the availability of results, was accomplished within 6 h. The assay was validated for testing clinical isolates and clinical specimens, which improves the turnaround time for molecular DST and maximizes the benefit of using molecular testing. A total of 130 clinical isolates and 129 clinical specimens were studied. The correlations between the PSQ results and the phenotypic DST results were 94.3% for isoniazid, 98.7% for rifampin, 97.6% for quinolones (ofloxacin, levofloxacin, or moxifloxacin), 99.2% for amikacin, 99.2% for capreomycin, and 96.4% for kanamycin. For testing clinical specimens, the PSQ assay yielded a 98.4% sensitivity for detecting MTBC and a 95.8% sensitivity for generating complete sequencing results from all subassays. The PSQ assay was able to rapidly and accurately detect drug resistance mutations with the sequence information provided, which allows further study of the association of drug resistance or susceptibility with each mutation and the accumulation of such knowledge for future interpretation of results. Thus, reporting of false resistance for mutations known not to confer resistance can be prevented, which is a significant benefit of the assay over existing molecular diagnostic methods endorsed by the World Health Organization.
PMCID: PMC3911348  PMID: 24478476
20.  DNA-PKcs activates the Chk2–Brca1 pathway during mitosis to ensure chromosomal stability 
Oncogenesis  2014;3(2):e85-.
The catalytic subunit of DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PKcs) is known to have a critical role in DNA double-strand break repair. We have previously reported that DNA-PKcs is activated when cells enter mitosis and functions in mitotic spindle assembly and chromosome segregation. Here we report that DNA-PKcs is the upstream regulator of the Chk2–Brca1 pathway, which impacts microtubule dynamics, kinetochore attachment and chromosomal segregation in mitosis. Downstream from Chk2, Brca1 promotes monoubiquitination of γ-tubulin to inhibit microtubule nucleation and growth. We found that DNA-PKcs is essential for mitotic Chk2 phosphorylation at Thr68. As in Chk2- and Brca1-deficient cells, loss of DNA-PKcs resulted in chromosome misalignment and lagging during anaphase owing to elevation in microtubule dynamics. Importantly, these mitotic aberrations in DNA-PKcs-defective cells were alleviated by the overexpression of phosphomimetic Chk2 or Brca1 mutant proteins but not their wild-type counterparts. Taken together, these results demonstrate that DNA-PKcs regulates mitotic spindle organization and chromosomal instability via the Chk2–Brca1 signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3940919  PMID: 24492479
DNA-PKcs; Chk2; Brca1; chromosomal instability; microtubule
21.  Atrial Fibrillation and the Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study and Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) 
JAMA internal medicine  2013;173(1):29-35.
It is unknown whether atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) in the general population. This association was examined in 2 population-based cohorts.
In the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, we analyzed data from 15439 participants (baseline 45–64 years, 55% women, and 27% black) from baseline (1987–1989) through December 31, 2001. In the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), we analyzed data from 5479 participants (baseline ≥65 years, 58% women, and 15% black) from baseline (first cohort, 1989–1990; second cohort, 1992–1993) through December 31, 2006. The main outcome was physician-adjudicated SCD, defined as death from a sudden, pulseless condition presumed due to a ventricular tachyarrhythmia. The secondary outcome was non-SCD (NSCD): coronary heart disease death not meeting SCD criteria. We used Cox proportional hazards models to assess the association between AF and SCD/NSCD, adjusting for baseline demographic and cardiovascular risk factors.
In ARIC, 894 AF, 269 SCD, and 233 NSCD events occurred during follow-up (median, 13.1 years). The crude incidence rates of SCD were 2.89/1000 person-years (with AF) and 1.30/1000 person-years (without AF). The multivariable hazard ratios (HRs) (95% CI) of AF for SCD and NSCD were 3.26 (2.17–4.91) and 2.43 (1.60–3.71), respectively. In CHS, 1458 AF, 292 SCD, and 581 NSCD events occurred during follow-up (median, 13.1 years). The crude incidence rates of SCD were 12.00/1000 person-years (with AF) and 3.82/1000 person-years (without AF). The multivariable HRs (95% CI) of AF for SCD and NSCD were 2.14 (1.60–2.87) and 3.10 (2.58–3.72), respectively. The meta-analyzed HRs (95% CI) of AF for SCD and NSCD were 2.47 (1.95–3.13) and 2.98 (2.52–3.53), respectively.
Incident AF is associated with an increased risk of SCD and NSCD in the general population. Additional research to identify predictors of SCD in AF patients is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3578214  PMID: 23404043
22.  Kinetic quantification of protein polymer nanoparticles using non-invasive imaging 
Protein polymers are repetitive amino acid sequences that can assemble monodisperse nanoparticles with potential applications as cancer nanomedicines. Of the currently available molecular imaging methods, positron emission tomography (PET) is the most sensitive and quantitative; therefore, this work explores microPET imaging to track protein polymer nanoparticles over several days. To achieve reliable imaging, the polypeptides were modified by site-specific conjugation using a heterobifunctional sarcophagine chelator, AmBaSar, which was subsequently complexed with 64Cu. AmBaSar/64Cu was selected because it can label particles in vivo over periods of days, which is consistent with the timescales required to follow long-circulating nanotherapeutics. Using an orthotopic model of breast cancer, we observed four elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs)-based protein polymers of varying molecular weight, amino acid sequence, and nanostructure. To analyze this data, we developed a six-compartment image-driven pharmacokinetic model capable of describing their distribution within individual subjects. Surprisingly, the assembly of an ELP block copolymer (78 kD) into nanoparticles (Rh = 37.5 nm) minimally influences pharmacokinetics or tumor accumulation compared to a free ELP of similar length (74 kD). Instead, ELP molecular weight is the most important factor controlling the fate of these polymers, whereby long ELPs (74 kD) have a heart activity half-life of 8.7 hours and short ELPs (37 kD) have a half-life of 2.1 hrs. These results suggest that ELP-based protein polymers may be a viable platform for the development of multifunctional therapeutic nanoparticles that can be imaged using clinical PET scanners.
PMCID: PMC3762326  PMID: 23093022
23.  Association of p21 with NF-YA suppresses the expression of Polo-like kinase 1 and prevents mitotic death in response to DNA damage 
Cell Death & Disease  2014;5(1):e987-.
Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) is an important mitotic kinase and its expression is tightly regulated in the cell cycle and in the DNA damage response. PLK1 expression is previously shown to be suppressed by p53 and/or p21. Here, we demonstrate that the CCAAT box in the PLK1 promoter is pivotal for p53/p21-mediated PLK1 repression. Chromatin immunoprecipitation showed that cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2) associated with the CCAAT box-containing region of PLK1 promoter in unstressed cells, whereas adriamycin (ADR) induced the recruitment of p21 with a concomitant reduction in the occupancy of CDK2 in this region. Expression of p21 inhibited the interaction between CDK2 and the nuclear factor YA (NF-YA) subunit of the CCAAT box-binding transcription factor NF-Y. A mutant p21 that is defective in CDK2 binding was unable to disrupt the CDK2–NF-YA interaction or suppress PLK1 transcription. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments demonstrated the interaction between NF-YA and p21, and in vitro assays showed that p21 could directly bind to NF-YA. Knockdown of NF-YA decreased the amount of PLK1 promoter-associated p21 and abolished p21-mediated PLK1 repression in cells treated with ADR. Depletion of NF-YA diminished the p53-regulated transcriptional activation and suppressed the p53-mediated protection from mitotic death after DNA damage, and these effects of NF-YA deletion were alleviated by PLK1 depletion. Our findings have uncovered a novel p21/NF-YA/PLK1 axis critical for maintaining the checkpoint function of p53 to prevent mitotic death in the DNA damage-induced response.
PMCID: PMC4040702  PMID: 24407240
PLK1; NF-YA; p21; p53; mitotic death
24.  A modified bicanalicular intubation procedure to repair canalicular lacerations using silicone tubes 
Liang, X | Lin, Y | Wang, Z | Lin, L | Zeng, S | Liu, Z | Li, N | Wang, Z | Liu, Y
Eye  2012;26(12):1542-1547.
To explore a modified technique for silicone intubation for the repair of canalicular lacerations.
The surgery was performed on 35 eyes in 35 adult patients from October 2007 to September 2009. Using a modified soft probe, silicone tubes were inserted through the lacrimal punctum and left in the bicanaliculi for 3–10 months.
The surgery was performed successfully in all cases. The tubes were removed after 3–10 months (mean 5.3±1.8 months). The mean follow-up time after tube removal was 13.8 months (range, 6–22 months). Lower punctum splitting occurred in one case (2.86%) after the surgery. No other complications associated with the silicone tubes occurred. All the tubes were removed successfully without any difficulty. No iatrogenic injuries occurred during tube removal.
The modified bicanalicular intubation procedure described here is an effective and atraumatic procedure for the management of canalicular lacerations in adults, and it is associated with fewer complications than the traditional sutures of canalicular lacerations.
PMCID: PMC3522846  PMID: 23060024
modified; canalicular laceration; tube intubation
25.  Thyroid hormone receptors promote metastasis of human hepatoma cells via regulation of TRAIL 
Cell Death and Differentiation  2012;19(11):1802-1814.
Although accumulating evidence has confirmed the important roles of thyroid hormone (T3) and its receptors (TRs) in tumor progression, the specific functions of TRs in carcinogenesis remain unclear. In the present study, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) was directly upregulated by T3 in TR-overexpressing hepatoma cell lines. TRAIL is an apoptotic inducer, but it can nonetheless trigger non-apoptotic signals favoring tumorigenesis in apoptosis-resistant cancer cells. We found that TR-overexpressing hepatoma cells treated with T3 were apoptosis resistant, even when TRAIL was upregulated. This apoptotic resistance may be attributable to simultaneous upregulation of Bcl-xL by T3, because (1) knockdown of T3-induced Bcl-xL expression suppressed T3-mediated protection against apoptosis, and (2) overexpression of Bcl-xL further protected hepatoma cells from TRAIL-induced apoptotic death, consequently leading to TRAIL-promoted metastasis of hepatoma cells. Moreover, T3-enhanced metastasis in vivo was repressed by the treatment of TRAIL-blocking antibody. Notably, TRAIL was highly expressed in a subset of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients, and this high-level expression was significantly correlated with that of TRs in these HCC tissues. Together, our findings provide evidence for the existence of a novel mechanistic link between increased TR and TRAIL levels in HCC. Thus, TRs induce TRAIL expression, and TRAIL thus synthesized acts in concert with simultaneously synthesized Bcl-xL to promote metastasis, but not apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3469053  PMID: 22576662
thyroid hormone receptor; TRAIL; apoptosis; metastasis

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