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1.  Chlamydia pneumoniae Infection Promotes Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Migration through a Toll-Like Receptor 2-Related Signaling Pathway 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(12):4583-4591.
The migration of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) from the media to the intima is proposed to be a key event in the development of atherosclerosis. Recently, we reported that Chlamydia pneumoniae infection is involved in VSMC migration. However, the exact mechanisms for C. pneumoniae infection-induced VSMC migration are not yet well elucidated. In this study, we examined the role of the Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) activation-related signaling pathway in VSMC migration induced by C. pneumoniae infection. An Affymetrix-based gene expression array was conducted to identify the changes of gene expression in rat primary VSMCs (rVSMCs) infected with C. pneumoniae. Both the microarray analysis and quantitative real-time reverse transcription (RT)-PCR revealed that TLR2 mRNA expression was strongly upregulated 12 h after C. pneumoniae infection. RT-PCR and Western blot analysis further showed that the expression levels of TLR2 mRNA and protein significantly increased at the different time points after infection. Immunocytochemical analysis suggested a TLR2 recruitment to the vicinity of C. pneumoniae inclusions. Cell migration assays showed that the TLR2-neutralizing antibody could significantly inhibit C. pneumoniae infection-induced rVSMC migration. In addition, C. pneumoniae infection stimulated Akt phosphorylation at Ser 473, which was obviously suppressed by the PI3K inhibitor LY294002, thereby inhibiting rVSMC migration caused by C. pneumoniae infection. Furthermore, both the infection-induced Akt phosphorylation and rVSMC migration were suppressed by the TLR2-neutralizing antibody. Taken together, these data suggest that C. pneumoniae infection can promote VSMC migration possibly through the TLR2-related signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3837995  PMID: 24082081
2.  Regulatory mechanisms of betacellulin in CXCL8 production from lung cancer cells 
Betacellulin (BTC), a member of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family, binds and activates ErbB1 and ErbB4 homodimers. BTC was expressed in tumors and involved in tumor growth progression. CXCL8 (interleukin-8) was involved in tumor cell proliferation via the transactivation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).
Materials and methods
The present study was designed to investigate the possible interrelation between BTC and CXCL8 in human lung cancer cells (A549) and demonstrated the mechanisms of intracellular signals in the regulation of both functions. Bio-behaviors of A549 were assessed using Cell-IQ Alive Image Monitoring System.
We found that BTC significantly increased the production of CXCL8 through the activation of the EGFR-PI3K/Akt-Erk signal pathway. BTC induced the resistance of human lung cancer cells to TNF-α/CHX-induced apoptosis. Treatments with PI3K inhibitors, Erk1/2 inhibitor, or Erlotinib significantly inhibited BTC-induced CXCL8 production and cell proliferation and movement.
Our data indicated that CXCL8 production from lung cancer cells could be initiated by an autocrine mechanism or external sources of BTC through the EGFR–PI3K–Akt–Erk pathway to the formation of inflammatory microenvironment. BTC may act as a potential target to monitor and improve the development of lung cancer inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3995556  PMID: 24629040
Lung cancer; Betacellulin; Interleukin-8; EGFR; PI3K
3.  Potential therapeutic targets for hypoxia-induced pulmonary artery hypertension 
Hypoxic pulmonary artery hypertension (PAH) as a severe pulmonary disease is characterized by changes of pulmonary vascular reconstruction. Mitochondrial ATP-sensitive potassium channel (mitoKATP) was considered as one of factors responsible for the proliferation of hypoxic pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs), although the exact mechanisms remain unclear.
Pulmonary artery hypertension was induced in rats with or without 5-hydroxydecanoate (5-HD). The mean pulmonary artery pressure, morphologic changes, mRNA and protein expressions of voltage-gated potassium channels (Kv1.5 channel), were measured. The concentrations of monocyte chemo-attractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-β1) were detected. Furthermore, pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) were isolated and cultured with or without hypoxia pretreated with or without 5-HD or/and Kv1.5 inhibitor 4-aminopyridine (4-AP). Mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) and the proliferation of PASMCs were detected.
5-HD significantly prevented the development of PAH by blocking the mitochondrial membrane depolarization, increased the expression of voltage-gated potassium channels, and reduced pulmonary hypertension mediated by TGF-β1 or MCP-1 signaling pathway.
The MitoKATP plays an important role in the development of PAH and may be therapeutic target for the treatment of disease.
PMCID: PMC3946029  PMID: 24507703
5-hydroxydecanoate; Mitochondrial ATP-sensitive potassium channel; Hypoxia; Kv1.5 channel; Pulmonary artery hypertension
4.  Fuzi Attenuates Diabetic Neuropathy in Rats and Protects Schwann Cells from Apoptosis Induced by High Glucose 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86539.
Radix aconite lateralis preparata (Fuzi), a folk medicine, has long been used for the treatment of diabetes and paralysis in China. We examined the effect of Fuzi alone on diabetic rats and Schwann cells in high glucose and the components responsible for its activity. The major constituents of FZE were identified by HPLC-MS/MS data. Male Sprague Dawley rats (n = 36) were randomly divided into control, diabetic, FZE 1.75 g/kg, FZE 3.50 g/kg, FZE 7.00 g/kg, and methylcobalamin groups. After two weeks treatment, nerve conduction velocity and paw withdrawal latency were measured. In vitro, the Schwann cells were grouped according to exposure: normal glucose (NG), normal glucose plus mannitol (NG+M), high glucose (HG), and HG plus different concentrations of FZE (0.1 µg/ml, 1.0 µg/ml, and 10.0 µg/ml). Oxygen free radicals and apoptosis were evaluated through DCFH2DA, DHE and annexin-PE/7-AAD assay, respectively. Apoptosis factors (Bax, Bcl-2, CytoC, caspase-3, and caspase-9) were analyzed using immunofluorescence. Nine alkaloids were identified. The results from animal model showed that FZE was effective in accelerating nerve conduction velocity and shortening paw withdrawal latency in diabetic rats. And in vitro, FZE was also found to protect Schwann cells against high glucose injury. FZE could significantly decrease the apoptotic ratio, superoxide anion and peroxide level. Furthermore, the apoptosis factors, including Bax, Bcl-2, CytoC, caspase-3, and caspase-9 were ameliorated in FZE treated groups. The HPLC-MSn method is simple and suitable for the identification of alkaloids in Fuzi. FZE has a protective effect in diabetic neuropathic rats, which is probably achieved by the antiapoptotic effect of FZE on Schwann cells. Apoptosis factor data imply that FZE protected Schwann cells through the mitochondria pathway. Alkaloids are major components contributing to the protective effect.
PMCID: PMC3900563  PMID: 24466139
5.  Producing aglycons of ginsenosides in bakers' yeast 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:3698.
Ginsenosides are the primary bioactive components of ginseng, which is a popular medicinal plant that exhibits diverse pharmacological activities. Protopanaxadiol, protopanaxatriol and oleanolic acid are three basic aglycons of ginsenosides. Producing aglycons of ginsenosides in Saccharomyces cerevisiae was realized in this work and provides an alternative route compared to traditional extraction methods. Synthetic pathways of these three aglycons were constructed in S. cerevisiae by introducing β-amyrin synthase, oleanolic acid synthase, dammarenediol-II synthase, protopanaxadiol synthase, protopanaxatriol synthase and NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase from different plants. In addition, a truncated 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase, squalene synthase and 2,3-oxidosqualene synthase genes were overexpressed to increase the precursor supply for improving aglycon production. Strain GY-1 was obtained, which produced 17.2 mg/L protopanaxadiol, 15.9 mg/L protopanaxatriol and 21.4 mg/L oleanolic acid. The yeast strains engineered in this work can serve as the basis for creating an alternative way for producing ginsenosides in place of extractions from plant sources.
PMCID: PMC3892717  PMID: 24424342
6.  Ubiquitin B in Cervical Cancer: Critical for the Maintenance of Cancer Stem-Like Cell Characters 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84457.
Cervical cancer cells exhibit an increased requirement for ubiquitin-dependent protein degradation associated with an elevated metabolic turnover rate. Ubiquitin, which is a small, highly conserved protein expressed in all eukaryotic cells, can be covalently linked to certain target proteins to mark them for degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Previous studies highlight the essential role of Ubiquitin B (UbB) and UbB-dependent proteasomal protein degradation in histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) -induced tumor selectivity. We hypothesized that UbB plays a critical role in the function of cervical cancer stem cells. We measured endogenous UbB levels in mammospheres in vitro by real-time PCR and Western blotting. The function of UbB in cancer stem-like cells was assessed after knockdown of UbB expression in prolonged Trichostatin A-selected HeLa cells (HeLa/TSA) by measuring in vitro cell proliferation, cell apoptosis, invasion, and chemotherapy resistance as well as by measuring in vivo growth in an orthotopic model of cervical cancer. We also assessed the cancer stem cell frequency, tumorsphere formation, and in vivo growth of human cervical cancer xenografts after UbB silencing. We found that HeLa/TSA were resistant to chemotherapy, highly expressed the UbB gene and the stem cell markers Sox2, Oct4 and Nanog. These cells also displayed induced differentiation abilities, including enhanced migration/invasion/malignancy capabilities in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, an elevated expression of UbB was shown in the tumor samples of chemotherapy patients. Silencing of UbB inhibited tumorsphere formation, lowered the expression of stem cell markers and decreased cervical xenograft growth. Our results demonstrate that UbB was significantly increased in prolonged Trichostatin A-selected HeLa cells and it played a key role in the maintenance of cervical cancer stem-like cells.
PMCID: PMC3867485  PMID: 24367661
8.  Temporal expression patterns of insulin-like growth factor binding protein-4 in the embryonic and postnatal rat brain 
BMC Neuroscience  2013;14:132.
IGFBP-4 has been considered as a factor involving in development of the central nervous system (CNS), but its role needs to be further clarified. In present study, the localization of IGFBP-4 expression in the embryonic forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain was determined using immunohistochemistry, and the levels of IGFBP-4 protein and mRNA were semi-quantified using RT-PCR and Western blot in the embryonic (forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain) and postnatal brain (cerebral cortex, cerebellum and midbrain).
A clear immunoreactivity of IGFBP-4 covered almost the entire embryonic brain (forebrain, midbrain, hindbrain) from E10.5 to E18.5, except for the area near the ventricle from E14.5. The change of IGFBP-4 mRNA level was regularly from E10.5 to E18.5: its expression peaked at E13.5 and E14.5, followed by gradual decreasing from E15.5. The expression of IGFBP-4 protein was similar to that of mRNA in embryonic stage. After birth, the pattern of IGFBP-4 expression was shown to be rather divergent in different brain areas. In the cerebral cortex, the IGFBP-4 mRNA increased gradually after birth (P0), while the protein showed little changes from P0 to P28, but decreased significantly at P70. In the cerebellum, the IGFBP-4 mRNA decreased gradually from P0, reached the lowest level at P21, and then increased again. However, its protein level gradually increased from P0 to P70. In the midbrain, the IGFBP-4 mRNA first decreased and reached its lowest level at P28 before it increased, while the protein remained constant from P0 to P70. At P7, P14, P21, P28 and P70, the levels of IGFBP-4 mRNA in the cerebral cortex were significantly higher than that in the cerebellum or in the midbrain. Differently, the protein levels in the cerebellum were significantly higher than that either in the cerebral cortex or in the midbrain at P14, P21, P28 and P70.
The temporal expression pattern of IGFBP-4 in the embryonic brain from E10.5 to E18.5 was consistent with the course of neurogenesis in the ventricular zone, suggesting an important role of IGFBP-4 in regulating differentiation of neural stem cells. A strikingly higher abundance of the IGFBP-4 protein observed in the cerebellum from P14 to P70 suggests that IGFBP-4 may participate in the maintenance of cerebellar plasticity.
PMCID: PMC3871010  PMID: 24175938
Insulin-like growth factor binding protein-4 (IGFBP-4); Rat; Embryonic brain; Postnatal brain; Development
9.  Anticancer Agent Shikonin Is an Incompetent Inducer of Cancer Drug Resistance 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e52706.
Cancer drug resistance is a major obstacle for the success of chemotherapy. Since most clinical anticancer drugs could induce drug resistance, it is desired to develop candidate drugs that are highly efficacious but incompetent to induce drug resistance. Numerous previous studies have proven that shikonin and its analogs not only are highly tumoricidal but also can bypass drug-transporter and apoptotic defect mediated drug resistance. The purpose of this study is to investigate if or not shikonin is a weak inducer of cancer drug resistance.
Experimental Design
Different cell lines (K562, MCF-7, and a MDR cell line K562/Adr), after repeatedly treated with shikonin for 18 months, were assayed for drug resistance and gene expression profiling.
After 18-month treatment, cells only developed a mere 2-fold resistance to shikonin and a marginal resistance to cisplatin and paclitaxel, without cross resistance to shikonin analogs and other anticancer agents. Gene expression profiles demonstrated that cancer cells did strongly respond to shikonin treatment but failed to effectively mobilize drug resistant machineries. Shikonin-induced weak resistance was associated with the up-regulation of βII-tubulin, which physically interacted with shikonin.
Taken together, apart from potent anticancer activity, shikonin and its analogs are weak inducers of cancer drug resistance and can circumvent cancer drug resistance. These merits make shikonin and its analogs potential candidates for cancer therapy with advantages of avoiding induction of drug resistance and bypassing existing drug resistance.
PMCID: PMC3536779  PMID: 23300986
10.  Palladium-catalyzed Allylic Substitution with (η6-arene–CH2Z)Cr(CO)3-based Nucleophiles 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2011;133(50):20552-20560.
Although the palladium-catalyzed Tsuji-Trost allylic substitution reaction has been intensively studied, there is a lack of general methods to employ simple benzylic nucleophiles. Such a method would facilitate access to “α-2-propenyl benzyl” motifs, which are common structural motifs in bioactive compounds and natural products. We report herein the palladium-catalyzed allylation reaction of toluene-derived pronucleophiles activated by tricarbonylchromium. A variety of cyclic and acyclic allylic electrophiles can be employed with in situ generated (η6-C6H5–CHLiR)Cr(CO)3 nucleophiles. Catalyst identification was performed by high throughput experimentation (HTE) and led to the Xantphos/palladium hit, which proved to be a general catalyst for this class of reactions. In addition to η6-toluene complexes, benzyl amine and ether derivatives (η6-C6H5–CH2Z)Cr(CO)3 (Z=NR2, OR) are also viable pronucleophiles, allowing C–C bond-formation alpha to heteroatoms with excellent yields. Finally, a tandem allylic substitution/demetallation procedure is described that affords the corresponding metal-free allylic substitution products. This method will be a valuable complement to the existing arsenal of nucleophiles with applications in allylic substitution reactions.
PMCID: PMC3241867  PMID: 22047504
11.  The Correlation between Thyrotropin and Dyslipidemia in a Population-based Study 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2011;26(2):243-249.
This study investigated the relationship between serum thyrotrophin levels and dyslipidemia in subclinical hypothyroid and euthyroid subjects. A total of 110 subjects with subclinical hypothyroidism and 1,240 euthyroid subjects enrolled in this study. Patients with subclinical hypothyroidism had significantly lower high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels than those who were euthyroid. The lipid profiles were each categorized and mean thyrotrophin levels were higher in subjects in the dyslipidemia subclasses than subjects in the normal subclasses. Thyrotrophin was positively associated with serum triglyceride and negatively associated with serum HDL-C in women. Thyrotrophin was also positively associated with total cholesterol (TC) in the overweight population along with TC and LDL-C in overweight women. In the euthyroid population, thyrotrophin was positively associated with TC in the overweight population. In conclusion, serum thyrotrophin was correlated with dyslipidemia in subclinical hypothyroid and euthyroid subjects; the correlation was independent of insulin sensitivity.
PMCID: PMC3031009  PMID: 21286016
Thyrotropin; Total Cholesterol; Cholesterol, LDL; Triglyceride; Cholesterol, HDL
12.  Clinicopathological Significance of VEGF-C, VEGFR-3 and Cyclooxygenase-2 in Early-Stage Cervical Cancer 
To investigate the roles of VEGF-C, VEGFR-3 and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in tumor progression and lymph node metastasis. The expression of VEGF-C, VEGFR-3 and COX-2 were examined in 93 cases of surgical speciments of cervical diseases by immunohistochemical staining. The correlation between expression of these factors and tumor aggressiveness was evaluated. The expression levels of VEGF-C and COX-2 were much higher in cervical cancer than in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) and in chronic cervicitis. VEGF-C expression correlated with lymph node metastases (P<0.01). Multivariate analysis indicated that lymph vessel density (LVD) was associated with the coexpression of VEGF-C and COX-2. Expression of VEGF-C and VEGFR-3 were both in coincidence with lymph node metastasis. VEGF-C and COX-2 may promote the canceration of cervical cancer and that VEGF-C/ VEGFR-3 system had a significant association with the lymphagiogenesis and lymph node metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3614667  PMID: 23675067
vascular endothelial growth factor-C; vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-3; cyclooxygenase-2; lymphagiogenesis; lymph node metastasis; cervical cancer
13.  Wwp2-Mediated Ubiquitination of the RNA Polymerase II Large Subunit in Mouse Embryonic Pluripotent Stem Cells▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(15):5296-5305.
Ubiquitination and the degradation of the large subunit of RNA polymerase II, Rpb1, is not only involved in DNA damage-induced arrest but also in other transcription-obstructing events. However, the ubiquitin ligases responsible for DNA damage-independent processes in mammalian cells remain to be identified. Here, we identified Wwp2, a mouse HECT domain ubiquitin E3 ligase, as a novel ubiquitin ligase of Rpb1. We found that Wwp2 specifically interacted with mouse Rpb1 and targeted it for ubiquitination both in vitro and in vivo. Interestingly, the interaction with and ubiquitination of Rpb1 was dependent neither on its phosphorylation state nor on DNA damage. However, the enzymatic activity of Wwp2 was absolutely required for its ubiquitin modification of Rpb1. Furthermore, our study indicates that the interaction between Wwp2 and Rpb1 was mediated through WW domain of Wwp2 and C-terminal domain of Rpb1, respectively. Strikingly, downregulation of Wwp2 expression compromised Rpb1 ubiquitination and elevated its intracellular steady-state protein level significantly. Importantly, we identified six lysine residues in the C-terminal domain of Rpb1 as ubiquitin acceptor sites mediated by Wwp2. These results indicate that Wwp2 plays an important role in regulating expression of Rpb1 in normal physiological conditions.
PMCID: PMC1952083  PMID: 17526739
14.  Inhibition of PC cell-derived growth factor (PCDGF)/granulin-epithelin precursor (GEP) decreased cell proliferation and invasion through downregulation of cyclin D and CDK 4 and inactivation of MMP-2 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:22.
PC cell-derived growth factor (PCDGF), also called epithelin/granulin precursor (GEP), is an 88-kDa secreted glycoprotein with the ability to stimulate cell proliferation in an autocrine fashion. In addition, some studies indicated that PCDGF participated in invasion, metastasis and survival of cancer cells by regulating cell migration, adhesion and proliferation. Yet the effects of PCDGF on proliferation and invasion of ovarian cancer cells in vitro and the mechanisms by which PCDGF mediates biological behaviors of ovarian cancer have rarely been reported. In the present study we investigated whether and how PCDGF/GEP mediated cell proliferation and invasion in ovarian cancer.
PCDGF/GEP expression level in three human ovarian cancer cell lines of different invasion potential were detected by RT-PCR and western blot. Effects of inhibition of PCDGF expression on cell proliferation and invasion capability were determined by MTT assay and Boyden chamber assay. Expression levels of cyclin D1 and CDK4 and MMP-2 activity were evaluated in a pilot study.
PCDGF mRNA and protein were expressed at a high level in SW626 and A2780 and at a low level in SKOV3. PCDGF expression level correlated well with malignant phenotype including proliferation and invasion in ovarian cancer cell lines. In addition, the proliferation rate and invasion index decreased after inhibition of PCDGF expression by antisense PCDGF cDNA transfection in SW626 and A2780. Furthermore expression of CyclinD1 and CDK4 were downregulated and MMP-2 was inactivated after PCDGF inhibition in the pilot study.
PCDGF played an important role in stimulating proliferation and promoting invasion in ovarian cancer. Inhibition of PCDGF decreased proliferation and invasion capability through downregulation of cyclin D1 and CDK4 and inactivation of MMP-2. PCDGF could serve as a potential therapeutic target in ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC1794415  PMID: 17261172
15.  Molluscum Contagiosum Virus Topoisomerase: Purification, Activities, and Response to Inhibitors 
Journal of Virology  1998;72(4):3401-3406.
Molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV), the only member of the Molluscipoxvirus genus, causes benign papules in healthy people but disfiguring lesions in immunocompromised patients. The sequence of MCV has been completed, revealing that MCV encodes a probable type I topoisomerase enzyme. All poxviruses sequenced to date also encode type I topoisomerases, and in the case of vaccinia virus the topoisomerase has been shown to be essential for replication. Thus, inhibitors of the MCV topoisomerase might be useful as antiviral agents. We have cloned the gene for MCV topoisomerase, overexpressed and purified the protein, and begun to characterize its activities in vitro. Like other eukaryotic type I topoisomerases, MCV topoisomerase can relax both positive and negative supercoils. An analysis of the cleavage of plasmid and oligonucleotide substrates indicates that cleavage by MCV topoisomerase is favored just 3′ of the sequence 5′ (T/C)CCTT 3′, resulting in formation of a covalent bond to the 3′ T residue, as with other poxvirus topoisomerases. We identified solution conditions favorable for activity and measured the rate of formation and decay of the covalent intermediate. MCV topoisomerase is sensitive to inhibition by coumermycin A1 (50% inhibitory concentration, 32 μM) but insensitive to five other previously reported topoisomerase inhibitors. This work provides the point of departure for studies of the mechanism of function of MCV topoisomerase and the development of medically useful inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC109833  PMID: 9525670

Results 1-15 (15)