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1.  Refolded Recombinant Siglec5 for NMR Investigation of Complex Carbohydrate Binding 
Sialic-acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectin (Siglec5) is a carbohydrate-binding surface receptor expressed on neutrophils, monocytes and B cells in human lymphoid and myeloid cell lineages. Existing structural and functional data fail to define the clear ligand specificity of Siglec5, though like other Siglec family members, it binds a variety of complex carbohydrates containing a sialic acid at the non-reducing terminus. Prokaryotic expression of this protein has proven challenging due to disulfide bonds and Asn-linked glycosylation. We developed an expression and purification protocol that uses an on-column strategy to refold E. coli expressed protein that produced a high yield (2 mg / L) of the single N-terminal Siglec5 carbohydrate recognition domain (CRD). A 2D heteronuclear single-quantum coherence (HSQC) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrum showed this material was folded, and a secondary structure prediction based on the assigned chemical shifts of backbone atoms was consistent with a previously determined x-ray model. NMR chemical shift mapping of Siglec5 binding to three carbohydrate ligands revealed similarities in binding interfaces and affinities. In addition, the role of alternate protein conformations identified by NMR in ligand binding is discussed. These studies demonstrate the Siglec5 CRD alone is sufficient for binding sialylated carbohydrates and provide a foundation for further investigation of Siglec5 structure and function.
PMCID: PMC3593816  PMID: 23321067
on-column refolding; sialoside binding; glycoprotein; carbohydrate recognition; NMR chemical shift perturbation
2.  Regulatory effect and mechanisms of carbon monoxide-releasing molecule II on hepatic energy metabolism in septic mice 
AIM: To investigate the possible mechanisms of exogenous carbon monoxide-releasing molecule II (CORM-2) intervention on hepatic energy metabolism in experimental sepsis.
METHODS: Forty-eight C57BL/6 mice were randomly divided into four groups (n = 12): sham group; cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) group; CLP + CORM-2 group and CLP + iCORM-2 (inactive CORM-2) group. Survival rates were determined after 72 h. Twenty-four similarly treated mice (n = 6 in each group) were assayed for post-operative continuous blood glucose in the first 36 h. Thirty-six similarly treated mice (n = 9 in each group) underwent micro-positron emission tomography (PET) scanning after tail vein injection of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) 24 h after operation. Plasma and liver specimens were collected for assay of liver pathology, alanine transaminase (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST) activities. Hepatic glucokinase activity, lactic acid levels and mitochondrial swelling were also determined.
RESULTS: Improved survival was observed in CORM-2 treated mice. Both the CLP and CLP + CORM-2 groups had sustained low blood glucose levels within the first post-operative 36 h. 18F-FDG micro-PET images showed abnormally high levels of hepatic glucose metabolism (standardized uptake value) in the CLP group (2.76 ± 0.39 vs 0.84 ± 0.14, P < 0.01), which declined to normal levels after CORM-2 intervention (1.29 ± 0.32 vs 2.76 ± 0.39, P < 0.05). glucokinase activity was markedly increased in the CLP group (6.38 ± 0.56 U/g vs 4.60 ± 0.21 U/g, P < 0.01), but was normal after CORM-2 intervention (4.74 ± 0.14 U/g vs 6.38 ± 0.56 U/g, P < 0.05). CORM-2 suppressed plasma lactic acid levels (4.02 ± 0.02 mmol/L vs 7.72 ± 2.37 mmol/L, P < 0.05) and protected hepatic mitochondria in CLP mice. CORM-2 intervention also reduced elevated plasma AST (199.67 ± 11.08 U/L vs 379.67 ± 16.34 U/L, P < 0.05) and ALT (63.67 ± 12.23 U/L vs 112.67 ± 9.74 U/L, P < 0.05) activities in CLP mice.
CONCLUSION: The release of CO molecules by CORM-2 protects mitochondria and maintains a stable level of hepatic glucose metabolism. Thus, CORM-2 improves liver function and survival in septic mice.
PMCID: PMC3964400
Sepsis; Carbon monoxide; Liver; Energy metabolism; Regulation
3.  Complete Genome Sequence of Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense MSR-1 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(2):e00171-14.
We report the complete genomic sequence of Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense MSR-1 (DSM 6361), a type strain of the genus Magnetospirillum belonging to the Alphaproteobacteria. Compared to the reported draft sequence, extensive rearrangements and differences were found, indicating high genomic flexibility and “domestication” by accelerated evolution of the strain upon repeated passaging.
PMCID: PMC3953193  PMID: 24625872
4.  TLR3 activation efficiency by high or low molecular mass poly I:C 
Innate immunity  2012;19(2):184-192.
Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) plays a critical role in initiating type I IFN-mediated innate immunity against viral infections. TLR3 recognizes various forms of double stranded (ds) RNA, including viral dsRNA and a synthetic mimic of dsRNA, poly I:C, which has been used extensively as a TLR3 ligand to induce antiviral immunity. The activation efficiency of TLR3 by poly I:C is influenced by various factors, including size of the ligands, delivery methods and cell types. In this study, we examined the stimulatory effect of two commercially-available poly I:Cs [high molecular mass (HMM) and low molecular mass (LMM)] on TLR3 activation in various human cell types by determining the induction of type I and type III IFNs, as well as the antiviral effect. We demonstrated that the direct addition of both HMM- and LMM-poly I:C to the cultures of primary macrophages or a neuroplastoma cell line could activate TLR3. However, the transfection of poly I:C was necessary to induce TLR3 activation in other cell types studied. In all the cell lines tested, the efficiency of TLR3 activation by HMM-poly I:C was significantly higher than that by LMM-poly I:C. These observations indicate the importance and necessity of developing effective TLR3 ligands for antiviral therapy.
PMCID: PMC3942089  PMID: 23035017
TLR3; poly I:C; type I IFN; type III IFN; LyoVec
5.  Ochracenoids A and B, Guaiazulene-Based Analogues from Gorgonian Anthogorgia ochracea Collected from the South China Sea 
Marine Drugs  2014;12(3):1569-1579.
Two new guaiazulene-based analogues, ochracenoids A (1) and B (2), along with four known analogues (3–6), were isolated from the gorgonian Anthogorgia ochracea collected from the South China Sea. The planar structures of the new compounds were elucidated by comprehensive spectroscopic data. The absolute configuration of 1 was determined as 3R by the comparison of TDDFT calculated electronic circular dichroism with its experimental spectrum. Compound 1 is a rare guaiazulene-based analogue possessing a unique C16 skeleton. The possible generation process of 1 through an intermolecular one-carbon-transfer reaction was also discussed. Compound 2 was previously described as a presumed intermediate involved in the biogenesis of anthogorgienes A and I. Compound 3 exhibited antiproliferative effects on the embryo development of zebrafish Danio rerio.
PMCID: PMC3967227  PMID: 24637960
gorgonian; Anthogorgia ochracea; guaiazulene-based analogue; antiproliferative effect; zebrafish embryo
6.  Chemokine Oligomerization in Cell Signaling and Migration 
Chemokines are small proteins best known for their role in controlling the migration of diverse cells, particularly leukocytes. Upon binding to their G-protein-coupled receptors on the leukocytes, chemokines stimulate the signaling events that cause cytoskeletal rearrangements involved in cell movement, and migration of the cells along chemokine gradients. Depending on the cell type, chemokines also induce many other types of cellular responses including those related to defense mechanisms, cell proliferation, survival, and development. Historically, most research efforts have focused on the interaction of chemokines with their receptors, where monomeric forms of the ligands are the functionally relevant state. More recently, however, the importance of chemokine interactions with cell surface glycosaminoglycans has come to light, and in most cases appears to involve oligomeric chemokine structures. This review summarizes existing knowledge relating to the structure and function of chemokine oligomers, and emerging methodology for determining structures of complex chemokine assemblies in the future.
PMCID: PMC3937849  PMID: 23663982
7.  Hepatic stellate cells, liver innate immunity, and hepatitis C virus 
Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection can cause liver damage, ranging from mild to more severe conditions, such as fibrosis and cirrhosis. Hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation is a key event in HCV-induced liver fibrosis. HSCs express several HCV coreceptors that interact with HCV proteins, promoting liver fibrogenesis. In addition, HSCs have the ability to engulf apoptotic bodies of hepatocytes induced by HCV and trigger a profibrogenic response. Recent studies have suggested that HSCs may play a novel role in the liver innate immunity. HSCs enhanced differentiation and accumulation of regulatory T cells. HSCs-activated natural killer cells could produce γ-interferon that inhibits HCV replication. Importantly, HSCs possess functional Toll-like receptor-3 and retinoic acid-inducible gene I that can be activated by their ligands (poly I : C, 5′ppp-dsRNA), leading to the induction of interferon and inhibition of HCV replication in hepatocytes. These new observations highlight the importance of HSCs in liver immunity against HCV, which is the focus of this review paper.
PMCID: PMC3937257  PMID: 23855305
hepatic stellate cells; hepatitis C virus; innate immunity; retinoic acid-inducible gene I; toll-like receptor-3
8.  Tetherin has negligible activity in restricting hepatitis C virus in hepatocytes 
Innate immunity  2011;18(3):398-405.
We investigated the ability of tetherin, a recently identified antiviral factor, in restricting hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the Japanese fulminant hepatitis-1 (JFH-1) infectious cell culture system. Human hepatocytes (Huh7, Huh7.5.1) expressed low levels of endogenous tetherin, which could be induced by IFN-α. However, tetherin contributes little to IFN-α-mediated anti-HCV JFH-1 activity. Although tetherin could inhibit Vpu-deleted HIV-1 release, it had negligible activity in restricting HCV JFH-1 release from hepatocytes, which was evidenced by unaffected levels of intracellular/extracellular HCV RNA and infectious virus. The failure of tetherin’s anti-HCV activity could not be related to the counteraction of HCV, as HCV infection of hepatocytes affected neither tetherin expression nor anti-HIV function of tetherin. These observations imply that tetherin has negligible activity in the restriction of HCV JFH-1 in human hepatocytes.
PMCID: PMC3937259  PMID: 21940748
Hepatitis C virus; innate immunity; interferon; tetherin; virus release
9.  Opioids and HIV/HCV Infection 
Since human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) share the same modes of transmission and common risk factors for infection, co-infections with HIV and HCV are frequently found in injection drug users (IDUs). IDUs represent one of the largest reservoirs of HIV as well as HCV in the United States. These two pathogens are also likely to be responsible for the highest infectious disease morbidity and mortality rates among IDUs. IDUs frequently involve the abuse of heroin, the most common abused opiate. Opiates have been suggested to have a cofactor role in the immunopathogenesis of HIV disease, as they have the potential to compromise host immune responses and enhances microbial infections. Although in vitro studies have yielded relatively agreeable data that morphine, the active metabolite of heroin, exacerbate HIV infection/replication, epidemiologic studies as well as in vivo non-human primate investigations on the impact of opiate abuse on HIV disease progression have yielded the conflicting data. Given immunomodulation and immunocompromising effect as well as demonstrated impact to enhance HIV replication in vitro, it is reasonable to believe that opiate abuse is a facilitator in HIV and/or HCV disease progression. However, much remain to be learned about the mechanisms of opiate-mediated broad influence on host immunity and viral expression. Thus, more extensive studies are needed in order to determine the effects of different conditions of opiate abuse and to define the understanding of the role of opiate in modulating HIV and/ or HCV disease progression.
PMCID: PMC3937260  PMID: 21755286
Opioids; Heroin; Morphine; Methadone; HIV; HCV
10.  Activation of Toll-Like Receptors Inhibits Herpes Simplex Virus-1 Infection of Human Neuronal Cells 
Journal of neuroscience research  2009;87(13):2916-2925.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play an essential role in initiating intracellular type I interferon (IFN)-mediated innate immunity against viral infections. We examined whether human neuronal cells (primary human neurons, NT2-N and CHP-212 cells) express TLRs and mount type I IFN-mediated innate immunity against herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) infection. Human neuronal cells expressed TLR family members 1–10 and IFN-α/β. The activation of TLR3 or TLR8 by double-stranded RNA (poly-I:C) or single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) induced IFN-α/β expression. In addition, HSV-1 infection of human neuronal cells induced IFN-α expression. Investigation of the mechanisms showed that poly-I:C or ssRNA treatment enhanced the expression of several IFN regulatory factors. Importantly, the activation of TLR3 or TLR8 by poly-I:C or ssRNA prior to HSV-1 infection reduced the susceptibility of the neuronal cells to infection. These observations indicate that human neuronal cells possess intracellular TLR-mediated innate immune protection against HSV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC3935181  PMID: 19437550
human neuronal cells; Toll-like receptor; poly-I:C; ssRNA; herpes simplex virus-1; type I interferons
11.  Hepatitis C virus impairs TLR3 signaling and inhibits IFN-λ 1 expression in human hepatoma cell line 
Innate immunity  2013;20(1):3-11.
Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) activation plays an important role in the innate immune responses to viral infections. We show here that the activation of TLR3 signaling pathway by poly I:C, a synthetic mimic of dsRNA, could induce high-level expression of interferon (IFN)-λ1 in a hepatoma cell line. The induced IFN-λ1 contributed to poly I:C-mediated inhibition of hepatitis C virus (HCV) Japanese fulminant hepatitis-1 (JFH-1) replication in Huh7 cells. This inhibitory effect of poly I:C on HCV replication, however, was compromised by HCV infection of Huh7 cells. Investigation of the mechanisms showed that HCV infection suppressed the expression of poly I:C-induced IFN-λ1 and IFN-stimulated genes [IFN-stimulated gene 56 (ISG-56), myxovirus resistance A (MxA) and 2′-5′-oligoadenylate synthetase 1 (OAS-1))], the key antiviral elements in IFN signaling pathway. Among the HCV nonstructural (NS) proteins tested, NS3/4A, NS5A and NS5B had the ability to inhibit poly I:C-induced IFN-λ1 expression in Huh7 cells. These observations provide the experimental evidence that HCV and its proteins impair TLR3 signaling and inhibit intracellular IFN-λ1/ISG expression in a hepatoma cell line, which may account for HCV persistence in the liver.
PMCID: PMC3935718  PMID: 23529855
Hepatitis C virus; interferon-λ; IFN-stimulated genes; poly I:C; Toll-like receptor 3
12.  Retinoic acid inducible gene-I (RIG-I) signaling of hepatic stellate cells inhibits hepatitis C virus replication in hepatocytes 
Innate immunity  2012;19(2):193-202.
Retinoic acid inducible gene-I (RIG-I) is critical in the activation of the type I IFN-dependent antiviral innate immune response to hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. We examined whether hepatic stellate cells (HSC; LX-2) possess a functional RIG-I signaling pathway and produce antiviral factors that can inhibit HCV. We showed that LX-2 cells treated with the RIG-I ligand (5′ppp-dsRNA) expressed significantly higher levels of IFN-β and IFN-λ than the control cells. The RIG-I activation in LX-2 cells also induced the expression of Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) and IFN regulatory factor-7 (IRF-7), the key regulators of the IFN signaling pathway. When HCV Japanese fulminant hepatitis (JFH)-1-infected hepatocytes were co-cultured with LX-2 cells stimulated with 5′ppp-dsRNA or incubated in media conditioned with supernatant (SN) from 5′ppp-dsRNA-stimulated LX-2 cells, HCV replication in hepatocytes was suppressed significantly. This LX-2 cell action on HCV replication was mediated through both IFN-β and IFN-λ, as Abs to IFN-α/β or IFN-λ receptors could neutralize the LX-2 SN-mediated anti-HCV effect. The role of IFNs in LX-2 cell-mediated anti-HCV activity is further supported by the observation that LX-2 SN treatment induced the expression of IFN stimulated genes, 2′-5′-oligoadenylate synthase-1 (OAS-1) and myxovirus resistance A (MxA), in HCV-infected Huh7 cells. These observations highlight the importance of HSC in liver innate immunity against HCV infection via a RIG-I-mediated signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3935722  PMID: 23060457
Hepatic stellate cells; hepatitis C virus; interferon; interferon stimulated genes; retinoic acid inducible gene-I
13.  Modulation of Intracellular Restriction Factors Contributes to Methamphetamine-Mediated Enhancement of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome Virus Infection of Macrophages 
Current HIV research  2012;10(5):407-414.
Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that the use of methamphetamine (METH), a sympathomimetic stimulant, is particularly common among patients infected with HIV. In vitro studies have determined that METH enhances HIV infection of CD4+ T cells, monocyte-derived dendritic cells, and macrophages. In addition, animal studies have also showed that METH treatment increases brain viral load of SIV-infected monkeys and promotes HIV replication and viremia in HIV/hu-CycT1 transgenic mice. However, the mechanisms (s) of METH actions on HIV remain to be determined. In this study, we investigated the impact of METH on intracellular restriction factors against HIV and SIV. We demonstrated that METH treatment of human blood mononuclear phagocytes significantly affected the expression of anti-HIV microRNAs and several key elements (RIG-I, IRF-3/5, SOCS-2, 3 and PIAS-1, 3, X, Y) in the type I IFN pathway. The suppression of these innate restriction factors was associated with a reduced production of type I IFNs and the enhancement of HIV or SIV infection of macrophages. These findings indicate that METH use impairs intracellular innate antiviral mechanism(s) in macrophages, contributing to cell susceptibility to the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) virus infection.
PMCID: PMC3934555  PMID: 22591364
HIV; Interferon; Intracellular restriction factors; Macrophages; METH; microRNAs; SIV; Interferon regulatory factor
14.  Honokiol Enhances Paclitaxel Efficacy in Multi-Drug Resistant Human Cancer Model through the Induction of Apoptosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e86369.
Resistance to chemotherapy remains a major obstacle in cancer therapy. This study aimed to evaluate the molecular mechanism and efficacy of honokiol in inducing apoptosis and enhancing paclitaxel chemotherapy in pre-clinical multi-drug resistant (MDR) cancer models, including lineage-derived human MDR (KB-8-5, KB-C1, KB-V1) and their parental drug sensitive KB-3-1 cancer cell lines. In vitro analyses demonstrated that honokiol effectively inhibited proliferation in KB-3-1 cells and the MDR derivatives (IC50 ranging 3.35±0.13 µg/ml to 2.77±0.22 µg/ml), despite their significant differences in response to paclitaxel (IC50 ranging 1.66±0.09 ng/ml to 6560.9±439.52 ng/ml). Honokiol induced mitochondria-dependent and death receptor-mediated apoptosis in MDR KB cells, which was associated with inhibition of EGFR-STAT3 signaling and downregulation of STAT3 target genes. Combined treatment with honokiol and paclitaxel synergistically augmented cytotoxicity in MDR KB cells, compared with treatment with either agent alone in vitro. Importantly, the combined treatment significantly inhibited in vivo growth of KB-8-5 tumors in a subcutaneous model. Tumor tissues from the combination group displayed a significant inhibition of Ki-67 expression and an increase in TUNEL-positive cells compared with the control group. These results suggest that targeting multidrug resistance using honokiol in combination with chemotherapy drugs may provide novel therapeutic opportunities.
PMCID: PMC3934844  PMID: 24586249
15.  Plasma homocysteine levels and genetic polymorphisms in folate metablism are associated with breast cancer risk in chinese women 
Folate plays a pivotal role in DNA synthesis, repair, methylation and homocysteine (Hcy) metabolism. Therefore, alterations in the folate-mediated one-carbon metabolism may lead to abnormal methylation proliferation, increases of tumor/neoplasia and vein thrombosis/cardiovascular risk. The serine hydroxymethyhransferase (SHMT), methionine synthase (MS), methionine synthase reductase (MTRR) and cystathionine beta synthase (CBS) regulate key reactions in the folate and Hcy metabolism. Therefore, we investigated whether the genetic variants of the SHMT, MS, MTRR and CBS gene can affect plasma Hcy levels and are associated with breast cancer risk.
Genotyping was performed by PCR-RFLP method. Plasma Hcy levels were measured by the fluorescence polarization immunoassay on samples of 96 cases and 85 controls.
(a) The SHMT 1420 T, MS 2756G, MTRR 66G allele frequency distribution showed significant difference between case and controls (p < 0.01 ~ 0.05). (b) The concentration of plasma Hcy levels of SHMT 1420TT was significantly lower than that of the wild type, while the plasma Hcy levels of MS 2756GG, CBS 699TT/1080TT significantly higher than that of the wild type both in case and controls. The plasma Hcy levels of MTRR 66GG was significantly higher than that of wild type in cases. The plasma Hcy levels of the same genotype in cases were significantly higher than those of controls except SHMT 1420CC, MS 2756AA, MTRR 66GG; (c) Multivariate Logistic regression analysis showed that SHMT C1420T (OR = 0.527, 95% CI = 0.55 ~ 1.24), MS A2756G (OR = 2.32, 95% CI = 0.29 ~ 0.82), MTRR A66G (OR = 1.84, 95% CI = 0.25 ~ 1.66) polymorphism is significantly associated with breast cancer risk. And elevated plasma Hcy levels were significantly linked to increased risk of breast cancer (adjusted OR = 4.45, 95% CI = 1.89-6.24 for the highest tertile as compared with the lowest tertile).
The current study results seem to suggest a possibility that SHMT C1420T mutation may be negatively correlated with breast cancer susceptibility; while MS A2756G and MTRR A66G mutation may be positively associated with breast cancer risk. SHMT C1420T, MS A2756G, MTRR A66G, CBS C1080T, CBS C699T locus mutation may be factors affecting plasma levels of Hcy. The plasma Hcy levels could be metabolic risk factor for breast cancer risk to a certain extent.
PMCID: PMC3936891  PMID: 24559276
Folate; SHMT; MS; MTRR; CBS; Hcy; Breast cancer; Risk
16.  N-acetyltransferase 2 Polymorphisms and Risk of Esophageal Cancer in a Chinese Population 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87783.
Esophageal cancer was the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer and the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in China in 2009. Genetic factors might play an important role in the carcinogenesis of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). We conducted a hospital-based case-control study to evaluate ten NAT2 tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on the risk of ESCC. Six hundred and twenty-nine ESCC cases and 686 controls were recruited. Their genotypes were determined using the ligation detection reaction method. In the single locus analyses, there was a borderline statistically significant difference in genotype frequencies of NAT2 rs1565684 T>C SNP between the cases and the controls (p = 0.057). The NAT2 rs1565684 CC genotype was associated with a borderline significantly increased risk for ESCC (CC vs. TT: adjusted OR = 1.77, 95% CI = 0.97–3.21, p = 0.063 and CC vs. TT/TC: adjusted OR = 1.68, 95% CI = 0.93–3.04, p = 0.085). The association was evident among older patients and patients who never drunk. After the Bonferroni correction, in all comparison models, NAT2 rs1565684 T>C SNP was not associated with ESCC risk (p>0.05). For the other nine NAT2 SNPs, after Bonferroni correction, in all comparison models, the nine SNPs were also not associated with ESCC risk (p>0.05). Thus, nine NAT2 tagging SNPs were not associated with risk of ESCC. NAT2 rs1565684 T>C SNP might play a slight role in ESCC etiology. Additional, larger studies and tissue-specific biological characterization are required to confirm the current findings.
PMCID: PMC3929587  PMID: 24586291
17.  Proteolysis breaks tolerance toward intact α345(IV) collagen, eliciting novel anti-GBM autoantibodies specific for α345NC1 hexamers 
Goodpasture disease is an autoimmune kidney disease mediated by autoAbs against NC1 monomers of α3(IV) collagen that bind to the glomerular basement membrane (GBM), usually causing rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis. We identified a novel type of human IgG4-restricted anti-GBM autoAbs associated with mild non-progressive glomerulonephritis, which specifically targeted α345NC1 hexamers but not α3NC1 monomers. The mechanisms eliciting these anti-GBM autoAbs were investigated in mouse models recapitulating this phenotype. Wild type and FcγRIIB−/− mice immunized with autologous murine GBM NC1 hexamers produced mouse IgG1-restricted autoAbs specific for α345NC1 hexamers, which bound to the GBM in vivo but did not cause glomerulonephritis. In these mice, intact collagen IV from murine GBM was not immunogenic. However, in Col4a3−/− Alport mice, both intact collagen IV and NC1 hexamers from murine GBM elicited IgG antibodies specific for α3α4α5NC1 hexamers, which were not subclass restricted. As heterologous antigen in COL4A3-humanized mice, murine GBM NC1 hexamers elicited mouse IgG1, IgG2a and IgG2b autoAbs specific for α345NC1 hexamers and induced anti-GBM Ab glomerulonephritis. These findings indicate that tolerance toward autologous intact α3α4α5(IV) collagen is established in hosts expressing this antigen, even though autoreactive B cells specific for α345NC1 hexamers are not purged from their repertoire. Proteolysis selectively breaches this tolerance by generating autoimmunogenic α3α4α5NC1 hexamers. This provides a mechanism eliciting autoAbs specific for α345NC1 hexamers, which are restricted to non-inflammatory IgG subclasses and non-nephritogenic. In Alport syndrome, lack of tolerance toward α3α4α5(IV) collagen promotes production of alloantibodies to α345NC1 hexamers, including pro-inflammatory IgG subclasses which mediate post-transplant anti-GBM nephritis.
PMCID: PMC3563930  PMID: 23303673
autoimmune; autoantibody; mouse model; glomerulonephritis; glomerular basement membrane; Goodpasture disease; type IV collagen
18.  Genome-wide histone state profiling of fibroblasts from the opossum, Monodelphis domestica, identifies the first marsupial-specific imprinted gene 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:89.
Imprinted genes have been extensively documented in eutherian mammals and found to exhibit significant interspecific variation in the suites of genes that are imprinted and in their regulation between tissues and developmental stages. Much less is known about imprinted loci in metatherian (marsupial) mammals, wherein studies have been limited to a small number of genes previously known to be imprinted in eutherians. We describe the first ab initio search for imprinted marsupial genes, in fibroblasts from the opossum, Monodelphis domestica, based on a genome-wide ChIP-seq strategy to identify promoters that are simultaneously marked by mutually exclusive, transcriptionally opposing histone modifications.
We identified a novel imprinted gene (Meis1) and two additional monoallelically expressed genes, one of which (Cstb) showed allele-specific, but non-imprinted expression. Imprinted vs. allele-specific expression could not be resolved for the third monoallelically expressed gene (Rpl17). Transcriptionally opposing histone modifications H3K4me3, H3K9Ac, and H3K9me3 were found at the promoters of all three genes, but differential DNA methylation was not detected at CpG islands at any of these promoters.
In generating the first genome-wide histone modification profiles for a marsupial, we identified the first gene that is imprinted in a marsupial but not in eutherian mammals. This outcome demonstrates the practicality of an ab initio discovery strategy and implicates histone modification, but not differential DNA methylation, as a conserved mechanism for marking imprinted genes in all therian mammals. Our findings suggest that marsupials use multiple epigenetic mechanisms for imprinting and support the concept that lineage-specific selective forces can produce sets of imprinted genes that differ between metatherian and eutherian lines.
PMCID: PMC3912494  PMID: 24484454
Genomic imprinting; Monoallelic expression; Histone modification; ChIP-seq; Monodelphis domestica; Marsupial
19.  A Network Pharmacology Approach to Determine Active Compounds and Action Mechanisms of Ge-Gen-Qin-Lian Decoction for Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes 
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) herbal formulae can be valuable therapeutic strategies and drug discovery resources. However, the active ingredients and action mechanisms of most TCM formulae remain unclear. Therefore, the identification of potent ingredients and their actions is a major challenge in TCM research. In this study, we used a network pharmacology approach we previously developed to help determine the potential antidiabetic ingredients from the traditional Ge-Gen-Qin-Lian decoction (GGQLD) formula. We predicted the target profiles of all available GGQLD ingredients to infer the active ingredients by clustering the target profile of ingredients with FDA-approved antidiabetic drugs. We also applied network target analysis to evaluate the links between herbal ingredients and pharmacological actions to help explain the action mechanisms of GGQLD. According to the predicted results, we confirmed that a novel antidiabetic ingredient from Puerariae Lobatae radix (Ge-Gen), 4-Hydroxymephenytoin, increased the insulin secretion in RIN-5F cells and improved insulin resistance in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. The network pharmacology strategy used here provided a powerful means for identifying bioactive ingredients and mechanisms of action for TCM herbal formulae, including Ge-Gen-Qin-Lian decoction.
PMCID: PMC3914348  PMID: 24527048
20.  On cicadas of Hyalessa maculaticollis complex (Hemiptera, Cicadidae) of China 
ZooKeys  2014;25-41.
The genus Hyalessa China is reviewed based on the discovery of male of the type species H. ronshana China as well as the description of one new species (H. batangensis sp. n.). The species formerly included in the genus Sonata Lee are removed to Hyalessa as new combinations. Intraspecific variations of H. maculaticollis are enumerated based on materials collected from various locations from China. The identity of Sonata and the systematic placement of Hyalessa are discussed. A key to all species of Hyalessa is provided.
PMCID: PMC3904117  PMID: 24478586
Cicadomorpha; Oncotympana; Sonata; variability; morphology; new combination
21.  Conserved CO-FT regulons contribute to the photoperiod flowering control in soybean 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:9.
CO and FT orthologs, belonging to the BBX and PEBP family, respectively, have important and conserved roles in the photoperiod regulation of flowering time in plants. Soybean genome experienced at least three rounds of whole genome duplications (WGDs), which resulted in multiple copies of about 75% of genes. Subsequent subfunctionalization is the main fate for paralogous gene pairs during the evolutionary process.
The phylogenic relationships revealed that CO orthologs were widespread in the plant kingdom while FT orthologs were present only in angiosperms. Twenty-eight CO homologous genes and twenty-four FT homologous genes were gained in the soybean genome. Based on the collinear relationship, the soybean ancestral CO ortholog experienced three WGD events, but only two paralogous gene pairs (GmCOL1/2 and GmCOL5/13) survived in the modern soybean. The paralogous gene pairs, GmCOL1/2 or GmCOL5/13, showed similar expression patterns in pair but different between pairs, indicating that they functionally diverged. GmFTL1 to 7 were derived from the same ancestor prior to the whole genome triplication (WGT) event, and after the Legume WGD event the ancestor diverged into two branches, GmFTL3/5/7 and GmFTL1/2/4/6. GmFTL7 were truncated in the N-terminus compared to other FT-lineage genes, but ubiquitously expressed. Expressions of GmFTL1 to 6 were higher in leaves at the flowering stage than that at the seedling stage. GmFTL3 was expressed at the highest level in all tissues except roots at the seedling stage, and its circadian pattern was different from the other five ones. The transcript of GmFTL6 was highly accumulated in seedling roots. The circadian rhythms of GmCOL5/13 and GmFT1/2/4/5/6 were synchronized in a day, demonstrating the complicate relationship of CO-FT regulons in soybean leaves. Over-expression of GmCOL2 did not rescue the flowering phenotype of the Arabidopsis co mutant. However, ectopic expression of GmCOL5 did rescue the co mutant phenotype. All GmFTL1 to 6 showed flower-promoting activities in Arabidopsis.
After three recent rounds of whole genome duplications in the soybean, the paralogous genes of CO-FT regulons showed subfunctionalization through expression divergence. Then, only GmCOL5/13 kept flowering-promoting activities, while GmFTL1 to 6 contributed to flowering control. Additionally, GmCOL5/13 and GmFT1/2/3/4/5/6 showed similar circadian expression profiles. Therefore, our results suggested that GmCOL5/13 and GmFT1/2/3/4/5/6 formed the complicate CO-FT regulons in the photoperiod regulation of flowering time in soybean.
PMCID: PMC3890618  PMID: 24397545
CONSTANS; FLOWERING LOCUS T; Paralog; Ortholog; Functional divergence; Soybean
22.  Isolation of a novel alkaline-stable lipase from a metagenomic library and its specific application for milkfat flavor production 
Lipolytic enzymes are commonly used to produce desired flavors in lipolyzed milkfat (LMF) manufacturing processes. However, the choice of enzyme is critical because it determines the final profile of fatty acids released and the consequent flavor of the product. We previously constructed a metagenomic library from marine sediments, to explore the novel enzymes which have unique properties useful in flavor-enhancing LMF.
A novel lipase Est_p6 was isolated from a metagenomic library and was expressed highly in E.coli. Bioinformatic analysis indicated that Est_p6 belongs to lipolytic enzyme family IV, the molecular weight of purified Est_p6 was estimated at 36 kDa by SDS-PAGE. The hydrolytic activity of the enzyme was stable under alkaline condition and the optimal temperature was 50°C. It had a high specific activity (2500 U/mg) toward pNP butyrate (pNP-C4), with Km and Vmax values of 1.148 mM and 3497 μmol∙min-1∙mg-1, respectively. The enzyme activity was enhanced by DTT and was not significantly inhibited by PMSF, EDTA or SDS. This enzyme also showed high hydrolysis specificity for myristate (C14) and palmitate (C16). It seems that Est_p6 has safety for commercial LMF flavor production and food manufacturing processes.
The ocean is a vast and largely unexplored resource for enzymes. According the outstanding alkaline-stability of Est_p6 and it produced myristic acid and palmitic acid more efficiently than other free fatty acids in lipolyzed milkfat. This novel lipase may be used to impart a distinctive and desirable flavor and odor in milkfat flavor production.
PMCID: PMC3880967  PMID: 24387764
Metagenomic library; Alkaline-stable lipase; Myristic acid; Palmitic acid; Milkfat flavor
23.  Suppressive Effect of CORM-2 on LPS-Induced Platelet Activation by Glycoprotein Mediated HS1 Phosphorylation Interference 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83112.
In recent years, it has been discovered that septic patients display coagulation abnormalities. Platelets play a major role in the coagulation system. Studies have confirmed that carbon monoxide (CO) has important cytoprotective and anti-inflammatory function. However, whether CO could alter abnormal activation of platelets and coagulation and thereby reduce the incidence of mortality during sepsis has not been defined. In this report, we have used CO-releasing molecules (CORM-2) to determine whether CO inhibits LPS-induced abnormal activation of platelets and have explored the potential mechanisms. LPS was used to induce activation of platelets in vitro, which were purified from the peripheral venous blood of healthy adult donors. CORM-2 was applied as a potential therapeutic agent. CORM-2 preconditioning and delayed treatment were also studied. We found that in the LPS groups, the function of platelets such as spreading, aggregation, and release were enhanced abnormally. By contrast, the platelets in the CORM-2 group were gently activated. Further studies showed that the expression of platelet membrane glycoproteins increased in the LPS group. Coincidently, both hematopoietic lineage cell-specific protein 1 and its phosphorylated form also increased dramatically. These phenomena were less dramatically seen in the CORM-2 groups. Taken together, we conclude that during LPS stimulation, platelets were abnormally activated, and this functional state may be associated with the signal that is transmitted between membrane glycoproteins and HS1. CORM-released CO suppresses the abnormal activation of platelets by interfering with glycoprotein-mediated HS1 phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC3869782  PMID: 24376647
24.  Functional imaging of glucose-evoked rat islet activities using transient intrinsic optical signals 
Journal of modern optics  2012;59(9):10.1080/09500340.2012.674564.
We demonstrate intrinsic optical signal (IOS) imaging of intact rat islet, which consists of many endocrine cells working together. A near-infrared digital microscope was employed for optical monitoring of islet activities evoked by glucose stimulation. Dynamic NIR images revealed transient IOS responses in the islet activated by low-dose (2.75mM) and high-dose (5.5mM) glucose stimuli. Comparative experiments and quantitative analysis indicated that both glucose metabolism and calcium/insulin dynamics might contribute to the observed IOS responses. Further investigation of the IOS imaging technology may provide a high resolution method for ex vivo functional examination of the islet, which is important for advanced study of diabetes associated islet dysfunctions and for improved quality control of donor islets for transplantation.
PMCID: PMC3867949  PMID: 24363496
intrinsic optical signal; functional imaging; rat islet; glucose stimulation
25.  Efficiency of trans-ethnic genome-wide meta-analysis and fine-mapping 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2012;20(12):1300-1307.
Genome-wide association studies have seen unprecedented success in identifying genetic loci that correlate with disease susceptibility and severity. Early phases of these studies have predominantly been performed in the Caucasian populations. The next phase in medical genetics is to extend the exploration across genetically diverse populations to leverage on larger sample sizes for locating smaller effects that may be present in most human populations. However, discoveries from these studies do not actually reveal the underlying functional changes to the human genome, but only point to broad regions stipulated by the extent of linkage disequilibrium (LD). Fine-mapping the functional variants can, however, be hampered by extensive LD, which can yield multiple perfect surrogates that are not distinguishable from the underlying causal variants, although several studies have illustrated the value of relying on multiple genetically diverse populations to narrow the candidate regions where the functional variants can be found in. Here, we explore the efficiency of trans-ethnic meta-analysis in discovering genetic association and in fine-mapping the causal variants by asking: are there any population diversity metrics that will be useful for: (i) identifying the populations or genomic regions where meta-analysis are likely to be more successful for discovering associations?; (ii) identifying the populations or loci to perform deep targeted sequencing for the purpose of fine-mapping causal variants? Our results indicate that simple metrics like the FST or the population specificity of haplotypes are useful in trans-ethnic meta-analyses, while the degree of haplotype sharing and LD variation are informative of the efficiency in trans-ethnic fine-mapping.
PMCID: PMC3499741  PMID: 22617345
linkage disequilibrium; genome-wide association study; meta-analysis; fine-mapping

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