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1.  Human dCTP pyrophosphatase 1 promotes breast cancer cell growth and stemness through the modulation on 5-methyl-dCTP metabolism and global hypomethylation 
Oncogenesis  2015;4(6):e159-.
Human DCTPP1 (dCTP pyrophosphatase 1), also known as XTP3-transactivated protein A, belongs to MazG-like nucleoside triphosphate pyrophosphatase (NTP-PPase) superfamily. Being a newly identified pyrophosphatase, its relevance to tumorigenesis and the mechanisms are not well investigated. In the present study, we have confirmed our previous study that DCTPP1 was significantly hyperexpressed in breast cancer and further demonstrated its strong association with tumor progression and poor prognosis in breast cancer. Knockdown of DCTPP1 in breast cancer cell line MCF-7 cells remarkably retarded proliferation and colony formation in vitro. The capacity of mammosphere formation of MCF-7 was suppressed with the silence of DCTPP1, which was consistent with the enhanced mammosphere-forming ability in DCTPP1-overexpressed MDA-MB-231 cells. To further dissect the mechanisms of DCTPP1 in promoting tumor cell growth and stemness maintenance, its biochemical properties and biological functions were investigated. DCTPP1 displayed bioactive form with tetrameric structure similar to other MazG domain-containing pyrophosphatases based on structure simulation. A substrate preference for dCTP and its methylated or halogen-modified derivatives over the other canonical (deoxy-) NTPs was demonstrated from enzymatic assay. This substrate preference was also proved in breast cancer cells that the intracellular 5-methyl-dCTP level increased in DCTPP1-deficient MCF-7 cells but decreased in DCTPP1-overexpressed MDA-MB-231 cells. Moreover, global methylation level was elevated in DCTPP1-knockdown MCF-7 cells or mammosphere-forming MCF-7 cells but decreased significantly in DCTPP1-overexpressed MDA-MB-231 cells and its mammospheres. Our results thus indicated that human DCTPP1 was capable of modulating the concentration of intracellular 5-methyl-dCTP. This in turn affected global methylation, contributing to a known phenomenon of hypomethylation related to the cancer cell growth and stemness maintenance. Our current investigations point to the pathological functions of DCTPP1 overexpression in breast cancer cells with aberrant dCTP metabolism and epigenetic modification.
PMCID: PMC4491611  PMID: 26075750
Neuroscience  2013;246:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.04.059.
Acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) are densely expressed in the brain with ASIC1a and ASIC2 channels being the predominant subtypes. These channels are enriched at synaptic sites and are central for the regulation of normal synaptic transmission. Moreover, increasing evidence links ASICs to the pathogenesis of various neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. In this study, we explore the putative role of ASIC1a and ASIC2 in the regulation of behavioral sensitivity to the psychostimulant cocaine by utilizing ASIC1a or ASIC2 knockout mice. Acute cocaine injection induced a typical dose-dependent increase in locomotor activities in wild-type (WT) mice. However, in ASIC1a and ASIC2 mutant mice, different motor responses to cocaine were observed. In ASIC1a−/− mice, cocaine induced a significantly less motor response at all doses (5, 10, 20, and 30 mg/kg), while in ASIC2−/− mice, cocaine (5–20 mg/kg) stimulated locomotor activity to an extent comparable to WT mice. Only at 30 mg/kg, the cocaine-stimulated motor activity was reduced in ASIC2−/− mice. In a chronic cocaine administration model (20 mg/kg, once daily for 5 days), a challenge injection of cocaine (10 mg/kg, after 2-week withdrawal) caused an evident behavioral sensitization in the cocaine-pretreated WT mice. This behavioral sensitization to challenge cocaine was also displayed in ASIC1a−/− and ASIC2−/− mice. However, ASIC2−/− mice showed less sensitization to challenge cocaine when compared to WT and ASIC1a−/− mice. Our results demonstrate the important role of ASIC1a and ASIC2 channels in the modulation of behavioral sensitivity to cocaine. The two synapse-enriched ASIC subtypes are believed to play distinguishable roles in the regulation of behavioral responses to acute and chronic cocaine administration.
PMCID: PMC3855427  PMID: 23644053
acid-sensing ion channels; cocaine; stimulant; addiction; locomotor activity; behavioral sensitization
3.  Effect of Feeding Bacillus subtilis natto on Hindgut Fermentation and Microbiota of Holstein Dairy Cows 
The effect of Bacillus subtilis natto on hindgut fermentation and microbiota of early lactation Holstein dairy cows was investigated in this study. Thirty-six Holstein dairy cows in early lactation were randomly allocated to three groups: no B. subtilis natto as the control group, B. subtilis natto with 0.5×1011 cfu as DMF1 group and B. subtilis natto with 1.0×1011 cfu as DMF2 group. After 14 days of adaptation period, the formal experiment was started and lasted for 63 days. Fecal samples were collected directly from the rectum of each animal on the morning at the end of eighth week and placed into sterile plastic bags. The pH, NH3-N and VFA concentration were determined and fecal bacteria DNA was extracted and analyzed by DGGE. The results showed that the addition of B. subtilus natto at either treatment level resulted in a decrease in fecal NH3-N concentration but had no effect on fecal pH and VFA. The DGGE profile revealed that B. subtilis natto affected the population of fecal bacteria. The diversity index of Shannon-Wiener in DFM1 decreased significantly compared to the control. Fecal Alistipes sp., Clostridium sp., Roseospira sp., beta proteobacterium were decreased and Bifidobacterium was increased after supplementing with B. subtilis natto. This study demonstrated that B. subtilis natto had a tendency to change fecal microbiota balance.
PMCID: PMC4093534  PMID: 25049979
Bacillus subtilis natto; Dairy Cow; Fecal Microbiota; DGGE
4.  dCTP Pyrophosphohydrase Exhibits Nucleic Accumulation in Multiple Carcinomas 
Nucleoside triphosphate pyrophosphohydrolase (NTP-PPase) functions as one of the mechanisms to guarantee the fidelity of DNA replication through the cleavage of non-canonical nucleotides into di- or monophosphates. Human NTP-PPase is poorly understood and investigated. In the present study, by using tissue microarrays with the paired cancer and adjacent regions, we found that with the prevalent expression of dCTP pyrophosphohydrase (DCTPP1) in the cytosol and nucleus in tumors investigated, DCTPP1 was inclined to accumulate in the nucleus of cancer cells compared to the paired adjacent tissue cells in multiple carcinomas including lung, breast, liver, cervical, gastric and esophagus cancer. More significantly, the higher DCTPP1 expression in the nucleus of lung, gastric and esophagus cancer cells was associated with histological subtypes. The nucleic accumulation of DCTPP1 was apparently observed as well when tumor cell line MCF-7 was treated with H2O2 in vitro. Considering the roles of DCTPP1 on restricting the concentration of non-canonical nucleotides in the nucleotide pool, accumulation of DCTPP1 in the nucleus of tumor cells might suffice for maintaining the proper DNA replication in order to fulfill the requirement for the survival and proliferation of tumor cells.
PMCID: PMC3794360  PMID: 24085278
dCTP pyrophosphohydrase; carcinomas; nucleic accumulation; immunohistochemistry; tissue microarrays
5.  Cysteine 149 in the extracellular finger domain of ASIC1b subunit is critical for zinc-mediated inhibition 
Neuroscience  2011;193:89-99.
Acid-sensing ion channel 1b (ASIC1b) is a proton-gated Na+ channel mostly expressed in peripheral sensory neurons. To date, the functional significance of ASIC1b in these cells is unclear due to the lack of a specific inhibitor/blocker. A better understanding of the regulation of ASIC1b may provide a clue for future investigation of its functional importance. One important regulator of acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) is zinc. In this study, we examined the detailed zinc inhibition of ASIC1b currents and specific amino acid(s) involved in the inhibition. In CHO cells expressing rat ASIC1b subunit, pretreatment with zinc concentration-dependently inhibited the ASIC1b currents triggered by pH dropping from 7.4 to 6.0 with a half-maximum inhibitory concentration of 26 μM. The inhibition of ASIC1b currents by pre-applied zinc was independent of pH, voltage, or extracellular Ca2+. Further, we showed that the effect of zinc is dependent on the extracellular cysteine, but not histidine residue. Mutating cysteine 149, but not cysteine 58 or cysteine 162, located in the extracellular domain of the ASIC1b subunit abolished the zinc inhibition. These findings suggest that cysteine 149 in the extracellular finger domain of ASIC1b subunit is critical for zinc-mediated inhibition and provide the basis for future mechanistic studies addressing the functional significance of zinc inhibition of ASIC1b.
PMCID: PMC3387560  PMID: 21767613
acid-sensing ion channels; zinc; ASIC1b; patch-clamp
6.  Loss of surface N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor proteins in mouse cortical neurones during anaesthesia induced by chloral hydrate in vivo 
BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia  2009;102(4):515-522.
Anaesthetics may target ionotropic glutamate receptors in brain cells to produce their biological actions. Membrane-bound ionotropic glutamate receptors undergo dynamic trafficking between the surface membrane and intracellular organelles. Their subcellular distribution is subject to modulation by changing synaptic inputs and determines the efficacy and strength of excitatory synapses. It has not been explored whether anaesthesia has any impact on surface glutamate receptor expression. In this study, the effect of general anaesthesia on expression of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the surface and intracellular pools of cortical neurones was investigated in vivo.
General anaesthesia was induced by intraperitoneal injection of chloral hydrate in adult male mice. Surface protein cross-linking assays were performed to detect changes in distribution of NMDA receptor subunits (NR1, NR2A, and NR2B) in the surface and intracellular compartments of cerebral cortical neurones.
Chloral hydrate did not alter the total amounts of NR1, NR2A, and NR2B proteins in cortical neurones. However, the drug reduced NR1 proteins in the surface pool of these neurones, and induced a proportional increase in NR1 in the intracellular pool. Similar redistribution of NR2B subunits was observed between the two distinct pools. The changes in NR1 and NR2B were rapid and remained throughout the duration of anaesthesia. NR2A proteins were not altered in the surface or intracellular pool in response to chloral hydrate.
These data demonstrate that subcellular expression of NR1 and NR2B in cortical neurones is sensitive to anaesthesia. Chloral hydrate reduces surface-expressed NMDA receptors (specifically NR2B-containing NMDA receptors) in these neurones in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2724878  PMID: 19224925
anaesthetics; cerebral cortex; glutamate receptor; NR1; NR2A; NR2B
7.  Enhanced Binding of Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Type 5 (mGluR5) PET Tracers in the Brain of Parkinsonian Primates 
NeuroImage  2008;42(1):248-251.
The interplay between dopamine and glutamate in the basal ganglia regulates critical aspects of motor learning and behavior. Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR) are increasingly regarded as key modulators of neuroadaptation in these circuits, in normal and disease conditions. Using PET, we demonstrate a significant upregulation of mGluR type 5 in the striatum of MPTP-lesioned, parkinsonian primates, providing the basis for therapeutic exploration of mGluR5 antagonists in Parkinson disease.
PMCID: PMC2532975  PMID: 18501638
PET; dopamine; glutamate; mGluR5; Parkinson disease; MPTP

Results 1-7 (7)