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1.  Subcellular RNA Sequencing Reveals Broad Presence of Cytoplasmic Intron-Sequence Retaining Transcripts in Mouse and Rat Neurons 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76194.
Recent findings have revealed the complexity of the transcriptional landscape in mammalian cells. One recently described class of novel transcripts are the Cytoplasmic Intron-sequence Retaining Transcripts (CIRTs), hypothesized to confer post-transcriptional regulatory function. For instance, the neuronal CIRT KCNMA1i16 contributes to the firing properties of hippocampal neurons. Intronic sub-sequence retention within IL1-β mRNA in anucleate platelets has been implicated in activity-dependent splicing and translation. In a recent study, we showed CIRTs harbor functional SINE ID elements which are hypothesized to mediate dendritic localization in neurons. Based on these studies and others, we hypothesized that CIRTs may be present in a broad set of transcripts and comprise novel signals for post-transcriptional regulation. We carried out a transcriptome-wide survey of CIRTs by sequencing micro-dissected subcellular RNA fractions. We sequenced two batches of 150-300 individually dissected dendrites from primary cultures of hippocampal neurons in rat and three batches from mouse hippocampal neurons. After statistical processing to minimize artifacts, we found a broad prevalence of CIRTs in the neurons in both species (44-60% of the expressed transcripts). The sequence patterns, including stereotypical length, biased inclusion of specific introns, and intron-intron junctions, suggested CIRT-specific nuclear processing. Our analysis also suggested that these cytoplasmic intron-sequence retaining transcripts may serve as a primary transcript for ncRNAs. Our results show that retaining intronic sequences is not isolated to a few loci but may be a genome-wide phenomenon for embedding functional signals within certain mRNA. The results hypothesize a novel source of cis-sequences for post-transcriptional regulation. Our results hypothesize two potentially novel splicing pathways: one, within the nucleus for CIRT biogenesis; and another, within the cytoplasm for removing CIRT sequences before translation. We also speculate that release of CIRT sequences prior to translation may form RNA-based signals within the cell potentially comprising a novel class of signaling pathways.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076194
PMCID: PMC3789819  PMID: 24098440
2.  Functional and genetic characterization of the promoter region of apolipoprotein H (β2-glycoprotein-I) 
The FEBS journal  2010;277(4):951-963.
This study characterized the human apolipoprotein H (APOH, a.k.a. β2-glycoprotein I) promoter and its variants by in vitro functional experiments and investigated their relation with human plasma β2GPI levels. We examined the individual effects of 12 APOH promoter SNPs in the 5' flanking region of APOH (~1.4 kb) on luciferase activity in COS-1 cells and HepG2 cells and their impact on plasma β2GPI levels in 799 U.S. Whites, the DNA-binding properties of APOH promoter using electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) in HepG2 cells, the effects of serial deletion analysis of APOH 5' flanking region in COS-1 and HepG2 cells, and cross-species conservation of the APOH promoter sequence. The variant alleles of three SNPs (−1219G>A, −643T>C and −32C>A) showed significantly lower luciferase expression (51%, 40% and 37%, respectively) as compared to the wild-type allele. EMSA demonstrated that these three variants specifically bind with protein(s) from HepG2 cell nuclear extracts. Three-site haplotype analysis (−1219G>A, −643T>C, and −32C>A) revealed one haplotype carrying −32A (allele frequency = 0.075) to be significantly associated with decreased plasma β2GPI levels (P < 0.001). Deletion analysis localized the core APOH promoter to ~160 bp upstream of ATG codon with the presence of critical cis-acting elements between −166 and −65. Cross-species conservation analysis of the APOH promoters of 7 species indicated that basic promoter elements are highly conserved across species. In conclusion, we have characterized the functional promoter of APOH and identified functional variants that affect the transcriptional activity of the APOH promoter.
doi:10.1111/j.1742-4658.2009.07538.x
PMCID: PMC2860786  PMID: 20089041
APOH; β2-glycoprotein I; promoter; polymorphisms; association
3.  APOH Promoter Polymorphisms in Relation to Lupus and Lupus-Related Phenotypes 
The Journal of rheumatology  2009;36(2):315-322.
Objective
Sequence variation in gene promoters is often associated with disease risk. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that common promoter variation in the APOH gene (encoding for β2-glycoprotein I) is associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) risk and SLE-related clinical phenotypes in a Caucasian cohort.
Methods
We used a case-control design and genotyped 345 SLE women and 454 healthy control women for 8 APOH promoter single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (−1284C>G, −1219G>A, −1190G>C, −759 A>G, − 700C>A, −643T>C, −38G>A, and −32C>A). Association analyses were performed on single SNPs and haplotypes. Haplotype analyses were performed using EH (Estimate Haplotype-frequencies) and Haploview programs. In vitro reporter gene assay was performed in COS-1 cells. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) was performed using HepG2 nuclear cells.
Results
Overall haplotype distribution of the APOH promoter SNPs was significantly different between cases and controls (P = 0.009). The −643C allele was found to be protective against carotid plaque formation (adjusted OR = 0.37, P = 0.013) among SLE patients. The −643C allele was associated with a ~ 2-fold decrease in promoter activity as compared to wild-type −643T allele (mean ± standard deviation: 3.94 ± 0.05 vs. 6.99 ± 0.68, P = 0.016). EMSA showed that the −643T>C SNP harbors a binding site for a nuclear factor. The −1219G>A SNP showed a significant association with the risk of lupus nephritis (age-adjusted OR = 0.36, P = 0.016).
Conclusion
Our data indicate that APOH promoter variants may be involved in the etiology of SLE, especially the risk for autoimmune-mediated cardiovascular disease.
doi:10.3899/jrheum.080482
PMCID: PMC2667221  PMID: 19132787
APOH; β2-glycoprotein I; promoter; SLE; lupus; polymorphism

Results 1-3 (3)