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author:("Wang, hse-Wei")
1.  miR-146a-5p circuitry uncouples cell proliferation and migration, but not differentiation, in human mesenchymal stem cells 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(21):9753-9763.
Administration of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has the potential to ameliorate degenerative disorders and to repair damaged tissues. The homing of transplanted MSCs to injured sites is a critical property of engraftment. Our aim was to identify microRNAs involved in controlling MSC proliferation and migration. MSCs can be isolated from bone marrow and umbilical cord Wharton’s jelly (BM-MSCs and WJ-MSCs, respectively), and WJ-MSCs show poorer motility yet have a better amplification rate compared with BM-MSCs. Small RNA sequencing revealed that miR-146a-5p is significantly overexpressed and has high abundance in WJ-MSCs. Knockdown of miR-146a-5p in WJ-MSCs inhibited their proliferation yet enhanced their migration, whereas overexpression of miR-146a-5p in BM-MSCs did not influence their osteogenic and adipogenic potentials. Chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 12 (CXCL12), together with SIKE1, which is an I-kappa-B kinase epsilon (IKKε) suppressor, is a direct target of miR-146a-5p in MSCs. Knockdown of miR-146a-5p resulted in the down-regulation of nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-κB) activity, which is highly activated in WJ-MSCs and is known to activate miR-146a-5p promoter. miR-146a-5p is also downstream of CXCL12, and a negative feedback loop is therefore formed in MSCs. These findings suggest that miR-146a-5p is critical to the uncoupling of motility and proliferation of MSCs. Our miRNome data also provide a roadmap for further understanding MSC biology.
PMCID: PMC3834804  PMID: 23963696
2.  TET1 regulates hypoxia-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition by acting as a co-activator 
Genome Biology  2014;15(12):513.
Hypoxia induces the epithelial-mesenchymal transition, EMT, to promote cancer metastasis. In addition to transcriptional regulation mediated by hypoxia-inducible factors, HIFs, other epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation, such as histone modifications and DNA methylation, are utilized under hypoxia. However, whether DNA demethylation mediated by TET1, a DNA dioxygenase converting 5-methylcytosine, 5mC, into 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, 5hmC, plays a role in hypoxia-induced EMT is largely unknown.
We show that TET1 regulates hypoxia-responsive gene expression. Hypoxia/HIF-2α regulates the expression of TET1. Knockdown of TET1 mitigates hypoxia-induced EMT. RNA sequencing and 5hmC sequencing identified the set of TET1-regulated genes. Cholesterol metabolic process genes are among the genes that showed high prevalence and statistical significance. We characterize one of the genes, INSIG1 (insulin induced gene 1), to confirm its expression and the 5hmC levels in its promoter. Knockdown of INSIG1 also mitigates hypoxia-induced EMT. Finally, TET1 is shown to be a transcriptional co-activator that interacts with HIF-1α and HIF-2α to enhance their transactivation activity independent of its enzymatic activity. TET1 acts as a co-activator to further enhance the expression of INSIG1 together with HIF-2α. We define the domain in HIF-1α that interacts with TET1 and map the domain in TET1 that confers transactivation to a 200 amino acid region that contains a CXXC domain. The TET1 catalytically inactive mutant is capable of rescuing hypoxia-induced EMT in TET1 knockdown cells.
These findings demonstrate that TET1 serves as a transcription co-activator to regulate hypoxia-responsive gene expression and EMT, in addition to its role in demethylating 5mC.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-014-0513-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4253621  PMID: 25517638
3.  miRNome traits analysis on endothelial lineage cells discloses biomarker potential circulating microRNAs which affect progenitor activities 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):802.
Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) play a fundamental role in not only blood vessel development but also post-natal vascular repair. Currently EPCs are defined as early and late EPCs based on their biological properties and their time of appearance during in vitro culture. Both EPC types assist angiogenesis and have been linked to ischemia-related disorders, including coronary artery disease (CAD).
We found late EPCs are more mobile than early EPCs and matured endothelial cells (ECs). To pinpoint the mechanism, microRNA profiles of early EPCs late EPCs, and ECs were deciphered by small RNA sequencing. Obtained signatures made up of both novel and known microRNAs, in which anti-angiogenic microRNAs such as miR-221 and miR-222 are more abundant in matured ECs than in late EPCs. Overexpression of miR-221 and miR-222 resulted in the reduction of genes involved in hypoxia response, metabolism, TGF-beta signalling, and cell motion. Not only hamper late EPC activities in vitro, both microRNAs (especially miR-222) also hindered in vivo vasculogenesis in a zebrafish model. Reporter assays showed that miR-222, but not miR-221, targets the angiogenic factor ETS1. In contrast, PIK3R1 is the target of miR-221, but not miR-222 in late EPCs. Clinically, both miR-221-PIK3R1 and miR-222-ETS1 pairs are deregulated in late EPCs of CAD patients.
Our results illustrate EPCs and ECs exploit unique miRNA modalities to regulate angiogenic features, and explain why late EPC levels and activities are reduced in CAD patients. These data will further help to develop new plasma biomarkers and therapeutic approaches for ischemia-related diseases or tumor angiogenesis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-802) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4176563  PMID: 25236949
Endothelial progenitor cell; smRNA-seq; Circulating microRNA; Coronary artery disease; MicroRNA-221/222
4.  Dysregulated miR-361-5p/VEGF Axis in the Plasma and Endothelial Progenitor Cells of Patients with Coronary Artery Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98070.
Dysfunction and reduction of circulating endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) is correlated with the onset of cardiovascular disorders including coronary artery disease (CAD). VEGF is a known mitogen for EPC to migrate out of bone marrow to possess angiogenic activities, and the plasma levels of VEGF are inversely correlated to the progression of CAD. Circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) in patient body fluids have recently been considered to hold the potential of being novel disease biomarkers and drug targets. However, how miRNAs and VEGF cooperate to regulate CAD progression is still unclear. Through the small RNA sequencing (smRNA-seq), we deciphered the miRNome patterns of EPCs with different angiogenic activities, hypothesizing that miRNAs targeting VEGF must be more abundant in EPCs with lower angiogenic activities. Candidates of anti-VEGF miRNAs, including miR-361-5p and miR-484, were enriched in not only diseased EPCs but also the plasma of CAD patients. However, we found out only miR-361-5p, but not miR-484, was able to suppress VEGF expression and EPC activities. Reporter assays confirmed the direct binding and repression of miR-361-5p to the 3′-UTR of VEGF mRNA. Knock down of miR-361-5p not only restored VEGF levels and angiogenic activities of diseased EPCs in vitro, but further promoted blood flow recovery in ischemic limbs of mice. Collectively, we discovered a miR-361-5p/VEGF-dependent regulation that could help to develop new therapeutic modalities not only for ischemia-related diseases but also for tumor angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4035317  PMID: 24865854
5.  Cytotoxic effects of 15d-PGJ2 against osteosarcoma through ROS-mediated AKT and cell cycle inhibition 
Oncotarget  2014;5(3):716-725.
Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1), a critical cell cycle regulator, has been identified as a potential target in osteosarcoma (OS). 15-deoxy-Δ12, 14-prostaglandin J2 (15d-PGJ2), a prostaglandin derivative, has shown its anti-tumor activity by inducing apoptosis through reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated inactivation of v-akt, a murine thymoma viral oncogene homolog, (AKT) in cancer cells. In the study analyzing its effects on arthritis, 15d-PGJ2 mediated shear-induced chondrocyte apoptosis via protein kinase A (PKA)-dependent regulation of PLK1. In this study, the cytotoxic effect and mechanism underlying 15d-PGJ2 effects against OS were explored using OS cell lines. 15d-PGJ2 induced significant G2/M arrest, and exerted time- and dose-dependent cytotoxic effects against all OS cell lines. Western blot analysis showed that both AKT and PKA-PLK1 were down-regulated in OS cell lines after treatment with 15d-PGJ2. In addition, transfection of constitutively active AKT or PLK1 partially rescued cells from 15d-PGJ2-induced apoptosis, suggesting crucial roles for both pathways in the anti-cancer effects of 15d-PGJ2. Moreover, ROS generation was found treatment with 15d-PGJ2, and its cytotoxic effect could be reversed with N-acetyl-l-cysteine. Furthermore, inhibition of JNK partially rescued 15d-PGJ2 cytotoxicity. Thus, ROS-mediated JNK activation may contribute to apoptosis through down-regulation of the p-Akt and PKA-PLK1 pathways. 15d-PGJ2 is a potential therapeutic agent for OS, exerting cytotoxicity mediated through both AKT and PKA-PLK1 inhibition, and these results form the basis for further analysis of its role in animal studies and clinical applications.
PMCID: PMC3996657  PMID: 24566468
15d-PGJ2; AKT; PLK1; osteosarcoma
6.  The chromatin modification by SUMO-2/3 but not SUMO-1 prevents the epigenetic activation of key immune-related genes during Kaposi’s sarcoma associated herpesvirus reactivation 
BMC Genomics  2013;14(1):824.
SUMOylation, as part of the epigenetic regulation of transcription, has been intensively studied in lower eukaryotes that contain only a single SUMO protein; however, the functions of SUMOylation during mammalian epigenetic transcriptional regulation are largely uncharacterized. Mammals express three major SUMO paralogues: SUMO-1, SUMO-2, and SUMO-3 (normally referred to as SUMO-1 and SUMO-2/3). Herpesviruses, including Kaposi’s sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV), seem to have evolved mechanisms that directly or indirectly modulate the SUMO machinery in order to evade host immune surveillance, thus advancing their survival. Interestingly, KSHV encodes a SUMO E3 ligase, K-bZIP, with specificity toward SUMO-2/3 and is an excellent model for investigating the global functional differences between SUMO paralogues.
We investigated the effect of experimental herpesvirus reactivation in a KSHV infected B lymphoma cell line on genomic SUMO-1 and SUMO-2/3 binding profiles together with the potential role of chromatin SUMOylation in transcription regulation. This was carried out via high-throughput sequencing analysis. Interestingly, chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) experiments showed that KSHV reactivation is accompanied by a significant increase in SUMO-2/3 modification around promoter regions, but SUMO-1 enrichment was absent. Expression profiling revealed that the SUMO-2/3 targeted genes are primarily highly transcribed genes that show no expression changes during viral reactivation. Gene ontology analysis further showed that these genes are involved in cellular immune responses and cytokine signaling. High-throughput annotation of SUMO occupancy of transcription factor binding sites (TFBS) pinpointed the presence of three master regulators of immune responses, IRF-1, IRF-2, and IRF-7, as potential SUMO-2/3 targeted transcriptional factors after KSHV reactivation.
Our study is the first to identify differential genome-wide SUMO modifications between SUMO paralogues during herpesvirus reactivation. Our findings indicate that SUMO-2/3 modification near protein-coding gene promoters occurs in order to maintain host immune-related gene unaltered during viral reactivation.
PMCID: PMC4046822  PMID: 24267727
7.  DriverDB: an exome sequencing database for cancer driver gene identification 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(Database issue):D1048-D1054.
Exome sequencing (exome-seq) has aided in the discovery of a huge amount of mutations in cancers, yet challenges remain in converting oncogenomics data into information that is interpretable and accessible for clinical care. We constructed DriverDB (, a database which incorporates 6079 cases of exome-seq data, annotation databases (such as dbSNP, 1000 Genome and Cosmic) and published bioinformatics algorithms dedicated to driver gene/mutation identification. We provide two points of view, ‘Cancer’ and ‘Gene’, to help researchers to visualize the relationships between cancers and driver genes/mutations. The ‘Cancer’ section summarizes the calculated results of driver genes by eight computational methods for a specific cancer type/dataset and provides three levels of biological interpretation for realization of the relationships between driver genes. The ‘Gene’ section is designed to visualize the mutation information of a driver gene in five different aspects. Moreover, a ‘Meta-Analysis’ function is provided so researchers may identify driver genes in customer-defined samples. The novel driver genes/mutations identified hold potential for both basic research and biotech applications.
PMCID: PMC3965046  PMID: 24214964
8.  Forfeited hepatogenesis program and increased embryonic stem cell traits in young hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) comparing to elderly HCC 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:736.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in young subjects is rare but more devastating. We hypothesize that genes and etiological pathways are unique to young HCC (yHCC; ≤40 years old at diagnosis) patients. We therefore compared the gene expression profiles between yHCCs and HCCs from elderly patients.
All 44 young HCCs (≤40 years old at the diagnosis; 23 cases in the training set while another 21 in the validation cohort) were positive for serum hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), but negative for antibodies to hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV). All 48 elderly (>40 years old; 38 in the training set while another 10 in the validation cohort) HCC patients enrolled were also serum HBsAg positive and anti-HCV negative. Comparative genomics analysis was further performed for elucidating enriched or suppressed biological activities in different HCC subtypes.
The yHCC group showed more macroscopic venous invasions (60.9% vs. 10.5%, p < 0.001), fewer associated cirrhosis (17.4% vs. 63.2%, p < 0.001), and distinct profiles of expressed genes, especially those related to DNA replication and repair. yHCCs possessed increased embryonic stem cell (ESC) traits and were more dedifferentiated. A 309-gene signature was obtained from two training cohorts and validated in another independent data set. The ILF3 ESC gene, which was previously reported in poorly differentiated breast cancers and bladder carcinomas, was also present in yHCCs. Genes associated with HCC suppression, including AR and ADRA1A, were less abundant in yHCCs. ESC genes were also more enriched in advanced HCCs from elderly patients.
This study revealed the molecular makeup of yHCC and the link between ESC traits and HCC subtypes. Findings in elderly tumors, therefore, cannot be simply extrapolated to young patients, and yHCC should be treated differently.
PMCID: PMC3826595  PMID: 24160375
Young hepatocellular carcinoma; Embryonic stem cells; Dedifferentiation
9.  Unique Mechanisms of Sheng Yu Decoction (聖愈湯 Shèng Yù Tang) on Ischemic Stroke Mice Revealed by an Integrated Neurofunctional and Transcriptome Analysis 
Sheng Yu Decoction (聖愈湯 Shèng Yù Tang; SYD) is a popular traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) remedy used in treating cardiovascular and brain-related dysfunction clinically; yet, its neuroprotective mechanisms are still unclear. Here, mice were subjected to an acute ischemic stroke to examine the efficacy and mechanisms of action of SYD by an integrated neurofunctional and transcriptome analysis. More than 80% of the mice died within 2 days after ischemic stroke with vehicle treatment. Treatments with SYD (1.0 g/kg, twice daily, orally or p.o.) and recombinant thrombolytic tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA; 10 mg/kg, once daily, intravenously or i.v.) both significantly extended the lifespan as compared to that of the vehicle-treated stroke group. SYD successfully restored brain function, ameliorated cerebral infarction and oxidative stress, and significantly improved neurological deficits in mice with stroke. Molecular impact of SYD by a genome-wide transcriptome analysis using brains from stroke mice showed a total of 162 out of 2081 ischemia-induced probe sets were significantly influenced by SYD. Mining the functional modules and genetic networks of these 162 genes revealed a significant upregulation of neuroprotective genes in Wnt receptor signaling pathway (3 genes) and regulation of cell communication (7 genes) and downregulation of destructive genes in response to stress (13 genes) and in the induction of inflammation (5 genes), cytokine production (4 genes), angiogenesis (3 genes), vasculature (6 genes) and blood vessel (5 genes) development, wound healing (7 genes), defense response (7 genes), chemotaxis (4 genes), immune response (7 genes), antigen processing and presenting (3 genes), and leukocyte-mediated cytotoxicity (2 genes) by SYD. Our results suggest that SYD could protect mice against ischemic stroke primarily through significantly downregulating the damaging genes involved in stress, inflammation, angiogenesis, blood vessel formation, immune responses, and wound healing, as well as upregulating the genes mediating neurogenesis and cell communication, which make SYD beneficial for treating ischemic stroke.
PMCID: PMC3925003  PMID: 24716184
Genome-wide transcriptome analysis; Ischemic stroke; Microarray; Positron emission tomography; Sheng Yu Decoction
10.  Rapid Generation of Mature Hepatocyte-Like Cells from Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells by an Efficient Three-Step Protocol 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2012;55(4):1193-1203.
Liver transplantation is the only definitive treatment for end-stage cirrhosis and fulminant liver failure, but the lack of available donor livers is a major obstacle to liver transplantation. Recently, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from the reprogramming of somatic fibroblasts, have been shown to resemble embryonic stem (ES) cells in that they have pluripotent properties and the potential to differentiate into all cell lineages in vitro, including hepatocytes. Thus, iPSCs could serve as a favorable cell source for a wide range of applications, including drug toxicity testing, cell transplantation, and patient-specific disease modeling. Here, we describe an efficient and rapid three-step protocol that is able to rapidly generate hepatocyte-like cells from human iPSCs. This occurs because the endodermal induction step allows for more efficient and definitive endoderm cell formation. We show that hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), which synergizes with activin A and Wnt3a, elevates the expression of the endodermal marker Foxa2 (forkhead box a2) by 39.3% compared to when HGF is absent (14.2%) during the endodermal induction step. In addition, iPSC-derived hepatocytes had a similar gene expression profile to mature hepatocytes. Importantly, the hepatocyte-like cells exhibited cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) enzyme activity, secreted urea, uptake of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and possessed the ability to store glycogen. Moreover, the hepatocyte-like cells rescued lethal fulminant hepatic failure in a nonobese diabetic severe combined immunodeficient mouse model. Conclusion: We have established a rapid and efficient differentiation protocol that is able to generate functional hepatocyte-like cells from human iPSCs. This may offer an alternative option for treatment of liver diseases.
PMCID: PMC3779307  PMID: 22095466
11.  Mesenchymal Stem Cells from Human Umbilical Cord Express Preferentially Secreted Factors Related to Neuroprotection, Neurogenesis, and Angiogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72604.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are promising tools for the treatment of diseases such as infarcted myocardia and strokes because of their ability to promote endogenous angiogenesis and neurogenesis via a variety of secreted factors. MSCs found in the Wharton’s jelly of the human umbilical cord are easily obtained and are capable of transplantation without rejection. We isolated MSCs from Wharton’s jelly and bone marrow (WJ-MSCs and BM-MSCs, respectively) and compared their secretomes. It was found that WJ-MSCs expressed more genes, especially secreted factors, involved in angiogenesis and neurogenesis. Functional validation showed that WJ-MSCs induced better neural differentiation and neural cell migration via a paracrine mechanism. Moreover, WJ-MSCs afforded better neuroprotection efficacy because they preferentially enhanced neuronal growth and reduced cell apoptotic death of primary cortical cells in an oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) culture model that mimics the acute ischemic stroke situation in humans. In terms of angiogenesis, WJ-MSCs induced better microvasculature formation and cell migration on co-cultured endothelial cells. Our results suggest that WJ-MSC, because of a unique secretome, is a better MSC source to promote in vivo neurorestoration and endothelium repair. This study provides a basis for the development of cell-based therapy and carrying out of follow-up mechanistic studies related to MSC biology.
PMCID: PMC3749979  PMID: 23991127
12.  Distinct angiogenesis roles and surface markers of early and late endothelial progenitor cells revealed by functional group analyses 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:182.
Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) play a fundamental role in post-natal vascular repair. Currently EPCs are defined as either early and late EPCs based on their biological properties and their time of appearance during in vitro culture. EPCs are rare and therefore optimizing isolation and culture is required before they can be applied as part of clinical therapies.
We compared the gene profiles of early/late EPCs to their ancestors CD133+ or CD34+ stem cells and to matured endothelial cells pinpointing novel biomarkers and stemness genes. Late EPCs were enriched with proliferation and angiogenesis genes, participating in endothelial tubulogenesis and hence neovascularization. Early EPCs expressed abundant inflammatory cytokines and paracrine angiogenic factors, thereby promoting angiogenesis in a paracrine manner. Transcription factors involved in EPC stemness were pinpointed in early EPCs (MAF/MAFB) and in late EPCs (GATA6/IRF6).
The detailed mRNA expression profiles and functional module analysis for different EPCs will help the development of novel therapeutic modalities targeting cardiovascular disease, tumor angiogenesis and various ischemia-related diseases.
PMCID: PMC3652793  PMID: 23496821
13.  YM500: a small RNA sequencing (smRNA-seq) database for microRNA research 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;41(Database issue):D285-D294.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small RNAs ∼22 nt in length that are involved in the regulation of a variety of physiological and pathological processes. Advances in high-throughput small RNA sequencing (smRNA-seq), one of the next-generation sequencing applications, have reshaped the miRNA research landscape. In this study, we established an integrative database, the YM500 (, containing analysis pipelines and analysis results for 609 human and mice smRNA-seq results, including public data from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) and some private sources. YM500 collects analysis results for miRNA quantification, for isomiR identification (incl. RNA editing), for arm switching discovery, and, more importantly, for novel miRNA predictions. Wetlab validation on >100 miRNAs confirmed high correlation between miRNA profiling and RT-qPCR results (R = 0.84). This database allows researchers to search these four different types of analysis results via our interactive web interface. YM500 allows researchers to define the criteria of isomiRs, and also integrates the information of dbSNP to help researchers distinguish isomiRs from SNPs. A user-friendly interface is provided to integrate miRNA-related information and existing evidence from hundreds of sequencing datasets. The identified novel miRNAs and isomiRs hold the potential for both basic research and biotech applications.
PMCID: PMC3531161  PMID: 23203880
14.  Genetic module and miRNome trait analyses reflect the distinct biological features of endothelial progenitor cells from different anatomic locations 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:447.
Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) play a fundamental role in post-natal vascular repair, yet EPCs from different anatomic locations possess unique biological properties. The underlying mechanisms are unclear.
EPCs from CB expressed abundant genes involved in cell cycle, hypoxia signalling and blood vessel development, correlating with the phenotypes that CB-EPCs proliferated more rapidly, migrated faster, and formed tubule structure more efficiently. smRNA-seq further deciphered miRNome patterns in EPCs isolated from CB or PB: 54 miRNAs were enriched in CB-EPCs, while another 50 in PB-EPCs. Specifically, CB-EPCs expressed more angiogenic miRNAs such as miR-31, while PB-EPCs possessed more tumor suppressive miRNAs including miR-10a. Knocking down miR-31 levels in CB-EPCs suppressed cell migration and microtubule formation, while overexpressing miR-31 in PB-EPCs helped to recapitulate some of CB-EPC functions.
Our results show the foundation for a more detailed understanding of EPCs from different anatomic sources. Stimulating the expression of angiogenic microRNAs or genes in EPCs of low activity (such as those from patients with cardiovascular diseases) might allow the development of novel therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC3443421  PMID: 22943456
15.  MicroRNA-34a modulates genes involved in cellular motility and oxidative phosphorylation in neural precursors derived from human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells 
BMC Medical Genomics  2011;4:65.
Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) found in bone marrow (BM-MSCs) and the Wharton's jelly matrix of human umbilical cord (WJ-MSCs) are able to transdifferentiate into neuronal lineage cells both in vitro and in vivo and therefore hold the potential to treat neural disorders such as stroke or Parkinson's disease. In bone marrow MSCs, miR-130a and miR-206 have been show to regulate the synthesis of neurotransmitter substance P in human mesenchymal stem cell-derived neuronal cells. However, how neuronal differentiation is controlled in WJ-MSC remains unclear.
WJ-MSCs were isolated from human umbilical cords. We subjected WJ-MSCs into neurogenesis by a published protocol, and the miRNome patterns of WJ-MSCs and their neuronal progenitors (day 9 after differentiation) were analyzed by the Agilent microRNA microarray.
Five miRNAs were enriched in WJ-MSCs, including miR-345, miR-106a, miR-17-5p, miR-20a and miR-20b. Another 11 miRNAs (miR-206, miR-34a, miR-374, miR-424, miR-100, miR-101, miR-323, miR-368, miR-137, miR-138 and miR-377) were abundantly expressed in transdifferentiated neuronal progenitors. Among these miRNAs, miR-34a and miR-206 were the only 2 miRNAs been linked to BM-MSC neurogenesis. Overexpressing miR-34a in cells suppressed the expression of 136 neuronal progenitor genes, which all possess putative miR-34a binding sites. Gene enrichment analysis according to the Gene Ontology database showed that those 136 genes were associated with cell motility, energy production (including those with oxidative phosphorylation, electron transport and ATP synthesis) and actin cytoskeleton organization, indicating that miR-34a plays a critical role in precursor cell migration. Knocking down endogenous miR-34a expression in WJ-MSCs resulted in the augment of WJ-MSC motility.
Our data suggest a critical role of miRNAs in MSC neuronal differentiation, and miR-34a contributes in neuronal precursor motility, which may be crucial for stem cells to home to the target sites they should be.
PMCID: PMC3195087  PMID: 21923954
16.  Differentially regulated splice variants and systems biology analysis of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus-infected lymphatic endothelial cells 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(16):6970-6985.
Alternative RNA splicing greatly increases proteome diversity, and the possibility of studying genome-wide alternative splicing (AS) events becomes available with the advent of high-throughput genomics tools devoted to this issue. Kaposi's sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the etiological agent of KS, a tumor of lymphatic endothelial cell (LEC) lineage, but little is known about the AS variations induced by KSHV. We analyzed KSHV-controlled AS using high-density microarrays capable of detecting all exons in the human genome. Splicing variants and altered exon–intron usage in infected LEC were found, and these correlated with protein domain modification. The different 3′-UTR used in new transcripts also help isoforms to escape microRNA-mediated surveillance. Exome-level analysis further revealed information that cannot be disclosed using classical gene-level profiling: a significant exon usage difference existed between LEC and CD34+ precursor cells, and KSHV infection resulted in LEC-to-precursor, dedifferentiation-like exon level reprogramming. Our results demonstrate the application of exon arrays in systems biology research, and suggest the regulatory effects of AS in endothelial cells are far more complex than previously observed. This extra layer of molecular diversity helps to account for various aspects of endothelial biology, KSHV life cycle and disease pathogenesis that until now have been unexplored.
PMCID: PMC3167639  PMID: 21646333
17.  A base-calling algorithm for Tm-shifted melting curve SNP assay 
Tm-shifted melting curve SNP assays are a class of homogeneous, low-cost genotyping assays. Alleles manifest themselves as signal peaks in the neighbourhood of theoretical allele-specific melting temperatures. Base calling for these assays has mostly relied on unsupervised algorithm or human visual inspection to date. However, a practical clinical test needs to handle one or few individual samples at a time. This could pose a challenge for unsupervised algorithms which usually require a large number of samples to define alleles-representing signal clusters on the fly.
We presented a supervised base-calling algorithm and software for Tm-shifted melting curve SNP assays. The algorithm comprises a peak detection procedure and an ordinal regression model. The peak detection procedure is required for building models as well as handling new samples. Ordinal regression is proposed because signal intensities of alleles AA, AB, and BB usually follow an ordinal pattern with the heterozygous allele lie between two distinct homozygous alleles. Coefficients of the ordinal regression model are first trained and then used for base calling.
A dataset of 12 SNPs of 44 unrelated persons was used for a demonstration purpose. The call rate is 99.6%. Among the base calls, 99.1% are identical to those made by the sequencing method. A small fraction of the melting curve signals (0.4%) is declared as "no call" for further human inspection. A software was implemented using the Java language, providing a graphical user interface for the visualization and handling of multiple melting curve signals.
Tm-shifted melting curve SNP assays, together with the proposed base calling algorithm and software, provide a practical solution for genetic tests on a clinical setting. The software is available in
PMCID: PMC3143900  PMID: 21884624
18.  Overexpression of hTERT increases stem-like properties and decreases spontaneous differentiation in human mesenchymal stem cell lines 
To overcome loss of stem-like properties and spontaneous differentiation those hinder the expansion and application of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs), we have clonally isolated permanent and stable human MSC lines by ectopic overexpression of primary cell cultures of hMSCs with HPV 16 E6E7 and human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) genes. These cells were found to have a differentiation potential far beyond the ordinary hMSCs. They expressed trophoectoderm and germline specific markers upon differentiation with BMP4 and retinoic acid, respectively. Furthermore, they displayed higher osteogenic and neural differentiation efficiency than primary hMSCs or hMSCs expressed HPV16 E6E7 alone with a decrease in methylation level as proven by a global CpG island methylation profile analysis. Notably, the demethylated CpG islands were highly associated with development and differentiation associated genes. Principal component analysis further pointed out the expression profile of the cells converged toward embryonic stem cells. These data demonstrate these cells not only are a useful tool for the studies of cell differentiation both for the mesenchymal and neurogenic lineages, but also provide a valuable source of cells for cell therapy studies in animal models of skeletal and neurological disorders.
PMCID: PMC2923118  PMID: 20670406
19.  Pediatric primary central nervous system germ cell tumors of different prognosis groups show characteristic miRNome traits and chromosome copy number variations 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:132.
Intracranial pediatric germ cell tumors (GCTs) are rare and heterogeneous neoplasms and vary in histological differentiation, prognosis and clinical behavior. Germinoma and mature teratoma are GCTs that have a good prognosis, while other types of GCTs, termed nongerminomatous malignant germ cell tumors (NGMGCTs), are tumors with an intermediate or poor prognosis. The second group of tumors requires more extensive drug and irradiation treatment regimens. The mechanisms underlying the differences in incidence and prognosis of the various GCT subgroups are unclear.
We identified a distinct mRNA profile correlating with GCT histological differentiation and prognosis, and also present in this study the first miRNA profile of pediatric primary intracranial GCTs. Most of the differentially expressed miRNAs were downregulated in germinomas, but miR-142-5p and miR-146a were upregulated. Genes responsible for self-renewal (such as POU5F1 (OCT4), NANOG and KLF4) and the immune response were abundant in germinomas, while genes associated with neuron differentiation, Wnt/β-catenin pathway, invasiveness and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (including SNAI2 (SLUG) and TWIST2) were abundant in NGMGCTs. Clear transcriptome segregation based on patient survival was observed, with malignant NGMGCTs being closest to embryonic stem cells. Chromosome copy number variations (CNVs) at cytobands 4q13.3-4q28.3 and 9p11.2-9q13 correlated with GCT malignancy and clinical risk. Six genes (BANK1, CXCL9, CXCL11, DDIT4L, ELOVL6 and HERC5) within 4q13.3-4q28.3 were more abundant in germinomas.
Our results integrate molecular profiles with clinical observations and provide insights into the underlying mechanisms causing GCT malignancy. The genes, pathways and microRNAs identified have the potential to be novel therapeutic targets.
PMCID: PMC2837036  PMID: 20178649
20.  Increased epithelial stem cell traits in advanced endometrial endometrioid carcinoma 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:613.
It has been recognized cancer cells acquire characters reminiscent of those of normal stem cells, and the degree of stem cell gene expression correlates with patient prognosis. Lgr5(+) or CD133(+) epithelial stem cells (EpiSCs) have recently been identified and these cells are susceptible to neoplastic transformation. It is unclear, however, whether genes enriched in EpiSCs also contribute in tumor malignancy. Endometrial endometrioid carcinoma (EEC) is a dominant type of the endometrial cancers and is still among the most common female cancers. Clinically endometrial carcinoma is classified into 4 FIGO stages by the degree of tumor invasion and metastasis, and the survival rate is low in patients with higher stages of tumors. Identifying genes shared between advanced tumors and stem cells will not only unmask the mechanisms of tumor malignancy but also provide novel therapeutic targets.
To identify EpiSC genes in late (stages III-IV) EECs, a molecular signature distinguishing early (stages I-II) and late EECs was first identified to delineate late EECs at the genomics level. ERBB2 and CCR1 were genes activated in late EECs, while APBA2 (MINT2) and CDK inhibitor p16 tumor suppressors in early EECs. MAPK pathway was significantly up in late EECs, indicating drugs targeting this canonical pathway might be useful for treating advanced EECs. A six-gene mini-signature was further identified to differentiate early from advanced EECs in both the training and testing datasets. Advanced, invasive EECs possessed a clear EpiSC gene expression pattern, explaining partly why these tumors are more malignant.
Our work provides new insights into the pathogenesis of EECs and reveals a previously unknown link between adult stem cells and the histopathological traits of EECs. Shared EpiSC genes in late EECs may contribute to the stem cell-like phenotypes shown by advanced tumors and hold the potential of being candidate therapeutic targets and novel prognosis biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC2810306  PMID: 20015385
21.  The M Type K15 Protein of Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Regulates MicroRNA Expression via Its SH2-Binding Motif To Induce Cell Migration and Invasion▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;83(2):622-632.
Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the etiological agent of KS. In vivo, KS is a tumor capable of spreading throughout the body, and pulmonary metastasis is observed clinically. In vitro, KSHV induces the invasiveness of endothelial cells. The KSHV open reading frame K15 is a KSHV-specific gene encoding a transmembrane protein. Two highly divergent forms of K15, the predominant (P) and minor (M) forms (K15P and K15M, respectively), have been identified in different KSHV strains. The two K15 alleles resemble the latent membrane protein 2A (LMP2A) gene of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in their genomic locations and protein topology. Also, both K15 proteins have motifs similar to those found in the EBV LMP1 protein. K15 therefore appears to be a hybrid of a distant evolutionary relative of EBV LMP1 and LMP2A. Since both LMP1 and LMP2A proteins are capable of inducing cell motility, we sought to determine whether K15 has similar abilities. In this study, we show that K15M is latently expressed in KSHV-positive PEL cells and knockdown of K15M in PEL cells reduces cell motility. K15M localizes to lysosomal membranes and induces cell migration, invasion, and NF-κB (but not AP-1) activity via its conserved SH2-binding motif. K15M also induces the expression of microRNAs miR-21 and miR-31 via this conserved motif, and knocking down both these microRNAs eliminates K15M-induced cell motility. Therefore, K15M may contribute to KSHV-mediated tumor metastasis and angiogenesis via regulation of miR-21 and miR-31, which we show here for the first time to be a specific regulator of cell migration. In light of these findings, the targeting of K15 or the downstream microRNAs regulated by it may represent novel therapies for treatment of KSHV-associated neoplasia.
PMCID: PMC2612383  PMID: 18971265
22.  A novel regulatory event-based gene set analysis method for exploring global functional changes in heterogeneous genomic data sets 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:26.
Analyzing gene expression data by assessing the significance of pre-defined gene sets, rather than individual genes, has become a main approach in microarray data analysis and this has promisingly derive new biological interpretations of microarray data. However, the detection power of conventional gene list or gene set-based approaches is limited on highly heterogeneous samples, such as tumors.
We developed a novel method, the regulatory event-based Gene Set Analysis (eGSA), which considers not only the consistently changed genes but also every gene regulation (event) of each sample to overcome the detection limit. In comparison with conventional methods, eGSA can detect functional changes in heterogeneous samples more precisely and robustly. Furthermore, by utilizing eGSA, we successfully revealed novel functional characteristics and potential mechanisms of very early hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Our study creates a novel scheme to directly target the major cellular functional changes in heterogeneous samples. All potential regulatory routines of a functional change can be further analyzed by the regulatory event frequency. We also provide a case study on early HCCs and reveal a novel insight at the initial stage of hepatocarcinogenesis. eGSA therefore accelerates and refines the interpretation of heterogeneous genomic data sets in the absence of gene-phenotype correlations.
PMCID: PMC2637897  PMID: 19146704
23.  easyExon – A Java-based GUI tool for processing and visualization of Affymetrix exon array data 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:432.
Alternative RNA splicing greatly increases proteome diversity and thereby contribute to species- or tissue-specific functions. The possibility to study alternative splicing (AS) events on a genomic scale using splicing-sensitive microarrays, including the Affymetrix GeneChip Exon 1.0 ST microarray (exon array), has appeared very recently. However, the application of this new technology is hindered by the lack of free and user-friendly software devoted to these novel platforms.
In this study we present a Java-based freeware, easyExon , to process, filtrate and visualize exon array data with an analysis pipeline. This tool implements the most commonly used probeset summarization methods as well as AS-orientated filtration algorithms, e.g. MIDAS and PAC, for the detection of alternative splicing events. We include a biological filtration function according to GO terms, and provide a module to visualize and interpret the selected exons and transcripts. Furthermore, easyExon can integrate with other related programs, such as Integrate Genome Browser (IGB) and Affymetrix Power Tools (APT), to make the whole analysis more comprehensive. We applied easyExon on a public accessible colon cancer dataset as an example to illustrate the analysis pipeline of this tool.
EasyExon can efficiently process and analyze the Affymetrix exon array data. The simplicity, flexibility and brevity of easyExon make it a valuable tool for AS event identification in genomic research.
PMCID: PMC2579307  PMID: 18851762
24.  Signature Evaluation Tool (SET): a Java-based tool to evaluate and visualize the sample discrimination abilities of gene expression signatures 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:58.
The identification of specific gene expression signature for distinguishing sample groups is a dominant field in cancer research. Although a number of tools have been developed to identify optimal gene expression signatures, the number of signature genes obtained is often overly large to be applied clinically. Furthermore, experimental verification is sometimes limited by the availability of wet-lab materials such as antibodies and reagents. A tool to evaluate the discrimination power of candidate genes is therefore in high demand by clinical researchers.
Signature Evaluation Tool (SET) is a Java-based tool adopting the Golub's weighted voting algorithm as well as incorporating the visual presentation of prediction strength for each array sample. SET provides a flexible and easy-to-follow platform to evaluate the discrimination power of a gene signature. Here, we demonstrated the application of SET for several purposes: (1) for signatures consisting of a large number of genes, SET offers the ability to rapidly narrow down the number of genes; (2) for a given signature (from third party analyses or user-defined), SET can re-evaluate and re-adjust its discrimination power by selecting/de-selecting genes repeatedly; (3) for multiple microarray datasets, SET can evaluate the classification capability of a signature among datasets; and (4) by providing a module to visualize the prediction strength for each sample, SET allows users to re-evaluate the discrimination power on mis-grouped or less-certain samples. Information obtained from the above applications could be useful in prognostic analyses or clinical management decisions.
Here we present SET to evaluate and visualize the sample-discrimination ability of a given gene expression signature. This tool provides a filtration function for signature identification and lies between clinical analyses and class prediction (or feature selection) tools. The simplicity, flexibility and brevity of SET could make it an invaluable tool for marker identification in clinical research.
PMCID: PMC2248562  PMID: 18221568
25.  K15 Protein of Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Is Latently Expressed and Binds to HAX-1, a Protein with Antiapoptotic Function 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(2):802-816.
The Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) (or human herpesvirus 8) open reading frame (ORF) K15 encodes a putative integral transmembrane protein in the same genomic location as latent membrane protein 2A of Epstein-Barr virus. Ectopic expression of K15 in cell lines revealed the presence of several different forms ranging in size from full length, ∼50 kDa, to 17 kDa. Of these different species the 35- and 23-kDa forms were predominant. Mutational analysis of the initiator AUG indicated that translation initiation from this first AUG is required for K15 expression. Computational analysis indicates that the different forms detected may arise due to proteolytic cleavage at internal signal peptide sites. We show that K15 is latently expressed in KSHV-positive primary effusion lymphoma cell lines and in multicentric Castleman’s disease. Using a yeast two-hybrid screen we identified HAX-1 (HS1 associated protein X-1) as a binding partner to the C terminus of K15 and show that K15 interacts with cellular HAX-1 in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, HAX-1 colocalizes with K15 in the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria. The function of HAX-1 is unknown, although the similarity of its sequence to those of Nip3 and Bcl-2 infers a role in the regulation of apoptosis. We show here that HAX-1 can form homodimers in vivo and is a potent inhibitor of apoptosis and therefore represents a new apoptosis regulatory protein. The putative functions of K15 with respect to its interaction with HAX-1 are discussed.
PMCID: PMC136811  PMID: 11752170

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