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1.  Isoflurane-induced spatial memory impairment by a mechanism independent of amyloid-beta levels and tau protein phosphorylation changes in aged rats 
Neurological research  2012;34(1):3-10.
The molecular mechanism of postoperative cognitive dysfunction is largely unknown. Isoflurane has been shown to promote Alzheimer’s disease neuropathogenesis. We set out to determine whether the effect of isoflurane on spatial memory is associated with amyloid-beta (A-beta) levels and tau phosphorylation in aged rats.
Eighteen-month-old male Sprague–Dawley rats were randomly assigned as anesthesia group (n = 31, received 1.4% isoflurane for 2 hours and had behavioral testing), training group (n = 20, received no anesthesia but had behavioral testing), and control group (n = 10, received no anesthesia and had no behavioral testing). Spatial memory was measured before and 2 days after the anesthesia by the Morris water maze. We divided the anesthesia group into an isoflurane-induced severe memory impairment group (SIG, n = 6) and a no severe memory impairment group (NSIG, n = 25), according to whether the escape latency was more than 1.96 stand deviation of that from the training group. Levels of A-beta and tau in the hippocampus were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and quantitative western blot at the end of behavioral testing.
We found that isoflurane increased the escape latency in the SIG as compared to that in the training group and NSIG without affecting swimming speed. However, there were no differences in the levels of A-beta and tau among SIG, NSIG, training, and control groups.
Isoflurane may induce spatial memory impairment through non-A-beta or tau neuropathogenesis mechanisms in aged rats.
PMCID: PMC3971391  PMID: 22196855
Amyloid-beta; Hippocampus; Isoflurane; Morris water maze; Tau
2.  Cardiac troponin I elevation with supraventricular tachycardia: two case reports and review of the literature 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7:136.
Although cardiac troponin I gives excellent accuracy in the identification of myocardial necrosis, it can also be elevated in a series of diseases other than acute coronary syndromes.
Case presentation
We present two cases of Chinese patients with a high serum troponin I level after an acute episode of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia with normal coronary arteries via angiography.
Abnormal troponin elevations can be seen in patients presenting with paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia and angiographically-normal coronary arteries. Caution is advised with the use of invasive assessments such as coronary angiography in the differential diagnosis of patients with paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia and elevated troponin levels.
PMCID: PMC3975268  PMID: 24618063
Cardiac troponin I; Acute coronary syndromes; Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia
3.  Active Contour Model Coupling with Higher Order Diffusion for Medical Image Segmentation 
Active contour models are very popular in image segmentation. Different features such as mean gray and variance are selected for different purpose. But for image with intensity inhomogeneities, there are no features for segmentation using the active contour model. The images with intensity inhomogeneities often occurred in real world especially in medical images. To deal with the difficulties raised in image segmentation with intensity inhomogeneities, a new active contour model with higher-order diffusion method is proposed. With the addition of gradient and Laplace information, the active contour model can converge to the edge of the image even with the intensity inhomogeneities. Because of the introduction of Laplace information, the difference scheme becomes more difficult. To enhance the efficiency of the segmentation, the fast Split Bregman algorithm is designed for the segmentation implementation. The performance of our method is demonstrated through numerical experiments of some medical image segmentations with intensity inhomogeneities.
PMCID: PMC3958712  PMID: 24723941
4.  NFκB-mediated CXCL1 production in spinal cord astrocytes contributes to the maintenance of bone cancer pain in mice 
Bone cancer pain (BCP) is one of the most disabling factors in patients suffering from primary bone cancer or bone metastases. Recent studies show several chemokines (for example, CCL2, CXCL10) in the spinal cord are involved in the pathogenesis of BCP. Here we investigated whether and how spinal CXCL1 contributes to BCP.
Mouse prostate tumor cell line, RM-1 cells were intramedullary injected into the femur to induce BCP. The mRNA expression of CXCL1 and CXCR2 was detected by quantitative real-time PCR. The protein expression and distribution of CXCL1, NFκB, and CXCR2 was examined by immunofluorescence staining and western blot. The effect of CXCL1 neutralizing antibody, NFκB antagonist, and CXCR2 antagonist on pain hypersensitivity was checked by behavioral testing.
Intramedullary injection of RM-1 cells into the femur induced cortical bone damage and persistent (>21 days) mechanical allodynia and heat hyperalgesia. Tumor cell inoculation also produced CXCL1 upregulation in activated astrocytes in the spinal cord for more than 21 days. Inhibition of CXCL1 by intrathecal administration of CXCL1 neutralizing antibody at 7 days after inoculation attenuated mechanical allodynia and heat hyperalgesia. In cultured astrocytes, TNF-α induced robust CXCL1 expression, which was dose-dependently decreased by NFκB inhibitor. Furthermore, inoculation induced persistent NFκB phosphorylation in spinal astrocytes. Intrathecal injection of NFκB inhibitor attenuated BCP and reduced CXCL1 increase in the spinal cord. Finally, CXCR2, the primary receptor of CXCL1, was upregulated in dorsal horn neurons after inoculation. Inhibition of CXCR2 by its selective antagonist SB225002 attenuated BCP.
NFκB mediates CXCL1 upregulation in spinal astrocytes in the BCP model. In addition, CXCL1 may be released from astrocytes and act on CXCR2 on neurons in the spinal cord and be involved in the maintenance of BCP. Inhibition of the CXCL1 signaling may provide a new therapy for BCP management.
PMCID: PMC3941254  PMID: 24580964
Bone cancer pain; Chemokines; CXCL1; CXCR2; NFκB; Astrocytes; Astroglia-neuron interaction
5.  Heterogeneity of Li-Fraumeni Syndrome links to unequal gain-of-function effects of p53 mutations 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4223.
Mutations of p53 cause not only loss of wild-type function but also gain of novel oncogenic functions (GOF). Accumulating evidence suggest that p53 hotspot mutations may confer different types and magnitudes of GOF. Here we add support to the heterogeneity of mutant p53 GOF by showing their unequal association with early tumor onset and spectrum of tumor types. We stratified Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) patients according to carried p53 mutations using data from the updated p53 germline mutation database. When compared to loss-of-function nonsense mutations, the R282 GOF mutation associated with significantly earlier onset, while the G245 mutation displayed later onset. The R175, Y220, R248, R282 and nonsense mutations showed preferential distribution in certain cancer types, which varied in the age of onset. Multivariate COX regression model adjusting for cancer types and patient sex suggested that nonsense and G245 mutations had lower risk than R248 for early onset, suggesting unequal strengths of mutant GOF effects. Our results suggest that Li-Fraumeni syndrome can be subdivided into subtypes linking to unequal GOF effects of p53 mutations. These findings have potential implications in the prevention, early detection and targeted treatment of LFS tumors.
PMCID: PMC3936234  PMID: 24573247
6.  Detecting and tracking nosocomial methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus using a microfluidic SERS biosensor 
Analytical chemistry  2013;85(4):2320-2327.
Rapid detection and differentiation of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is critical for the early diagnosis of difficult-to-treat nosocomial and community acquired clinical infections and improved epidemiological surveillance. We developed a microfluidics chip coupled with surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) spectroscopy (532 nm) “lab-on-a-chip” system to rapidly detect and differentiate methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA) and MRSA using clinical isolates from China and the United States. A total of 21 MSSA isolates and 37 MRSA isolates recovered from infected humans were first analyzed by using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). The mecA gene, which refers resistant to methicillin, was detected in all the MRSA isolates and different allelic profiles were identified assigning isolates as either previously identified or novel clones. A total of 17,400 SERS spectra of the 58 S. aureus isolates were collected within 3.5 hours using this optofluidic platform. Intra- and inter-laboratory spectral reproducibility yielded a differentiation index value of 3.43 to 4.06 and demonstrated the feasibility of using this optofluidic system at different laboratories for bacterial identification. A global SERS-based dendrogram model for MRSA and MSSA identification and differentiation to the strain level was established and cross-validated (Simpson index of diversity of 0.989) and had an average recognition rate of 95% for S. aureus isolates associated with a recent outbreak in China. SERS typing correlated well with MLST indicating that it has high sensitivity and selectivity and would be suitable for determining the origin and possible spread of MRSA. A SERS-based partial least-squares regression model could quantify the actual concentration of a specific MRSA isolate in a bacterial mixture at levels from 5 to 100% (regression coefficient, > 0.98; residual prediction deviation, >10.05). This optofluidic platform has advantages over traditional genotyping for ultrafast, automated and reliable detection and epidemiological surveillance of bacterial infections.
PMCID: PMC3578299  PMID: 23327644
MRSA; microfluidics; Raman spectroscopy; chemometrics
7.  Discovery and Evaluation of Novel Inhibitors of Mycobacterium Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase B from the 6-Hydroxy-Benzofuran-5-Carboxylic Acid Scaffold 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2013;56(3):832-842.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) protein tyrosine phosphatase B (mPTPB) is a virulence factor secreted by the pathogen and mediates mycobacterial survival in macrophages by targeting host cell immune responses. Consequently, mPTPB represents an exciting new target to combat TB infection. We describe a medicinal chemistry-oriented approach that transforms a benzofuran salicylic acid scaffold into a highly potent (IC50 = 38 nM) and selective mPTPB inhibitor (>50 fold against a large panel of PTPs). Importantly, the inhibitor is capable of reversing the altered host immune responses induced by the bacterial phosphatase and restoring the macrophage’s full capacity to secrete IL-6 and undergo apoptosis in response to IFN-γ stimulation, validating the concept that chemical inhibition of mPTPB may be therapeutically useful for novel TB treatment. The study further demonstrates that bicyclic salicylic acid pharmacophores can be used to deliver PTP inhibitors with high potency, selectivity, and cellular efficacy.
PMCID: PMC3574584  PMID: 23305444
8.  Brucella BioR Regulator Defines a Complex Regulatory Mechanism for Bacterial Biotin Metabolism 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(15):3451-3467.
The enzyme cofactor biotin (vitamin H or B7) is an energetically expensive molecule whose de novo biosynthesis requires 20 ATP equivalents. It seems quite likely that diverse mechanisms have evolved to tightly regulate its biosynthesis. Unlike the model regulator BirA, a bifunctional biotin protein ligase with the capability of repressing the biotin biosynthetic pathway, BioR has been recently reported by us as an alternative machinery and a new type of GntR family transcriptional factor that can repress the expression of the bioBFDAZ operon in the plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens. However, quite unusually, a closely related human pathogen, Brucella melitensis, has four putative BioR-binding sites (both bioR and bioY possess one site in the promoter region, whereas the bioBFDAZ [bio] operon contains two tandem BioR boxes). This raised the question of whether BioR mediates the complex regulatory network of biotin metabolism. Here, we report that this is the case. The B. melitensis BioR ortholog was overexpressed and purified to homogeneity, and its solution structure was found to be dimeric. Functional complementation in a bioR isogenic mutant of A. tumefaciens elucidated that Brucella BioR is a functional repressor. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays demonstrated that the four predicted BioR sites of Brucella plus the BioR site of A. tumefaciens can all interact with the Brucella BioR protein. In a reporter strain that we developed on the basis of a double mutant of A. tumefaciens (the ΔbioR ΔbioBFDA mutant), the β-galactosidase (β-Gal) activity of three plasmid-borne transcriptional fusions (bioBbme-lacZ, bioYbme-lacZ, and bioRbme-lacZ) was dramatically decreased upon overexpression of Brucella bioR. Real-time quantitative PCR analyses showed that the expression of bioBFDA and bioY is significantly elevated upon removal of bioR from B. melitensis. Together, we conclude that Brucella BioR is not only a negative autoregulator but also a repressor of expression of bioY and bio operons that separately function in biotin transport and the biosynthesis pathway.
PMCID: PMC3719536  PMID: 23729648
9.  Oral Administration of Live Exopolysaccharide-Producing Pediococcus parvulus, but Not Purified Exopolysaccharide, Suppressed Enterobacteriaceae without Affecting Bacterial Diversity in Ceca of Mice 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(16):5030-5037.
Growing evidence indicates that the gut microbiota could have an important role in the development of diet- and lifestyle-induced diseases. It has been shown that modulation of the gut microbiota by means of probiotics and prebiotics could improve host health. An oat-based product fermented by the exopolysaccharide (EPS)-producing organism Pediococcus parvulus 2.6 has been reported to have a bifidogenic effect. To find out whether the effect could be attributed to the EPS or the bacterium, mice were fed a diet supplemented with 2% purified EPS or 108 CFU/g of live P. parvulus 2.6 for 6 weeks. Both supplementations altered the gut microbiota composition but in different directions. Purified EPS not only significantly lowered the microbial diversity (P < 0.001) but decreased the bifidobacterial population (P = 0.01). In contrast, the live EPS-producing bacterium P. parvulus 2.6 antagonized Enterobacteriaceae without disturbing the homeostasis of the cecal microbiota.
PMCID: PMC3754715  PMID: 23770909
10.  Inactivation of SAG/RBX2 E3 ubiquitin ligase suppresses KrasG12D-driven lung tumorigenesis  
Cullin-RING ligases (CRLs) are a family of E3 ubiquitin ligase complexes that rely on either RING-box 1 (RBX1) or sensitive to apoptosis gene (SAG), also known as RBX2, for activity. RBX1 and SAG are both overexpressed in human lung cancer; however, their contribution to patient survival and lung tumorigenesis is unknown. Here, we report that overexpression of SAG, but not RBX1, correlates with poor patient prognosis and more advanced disease. We found that SAG is overexpressed in murine KrasG12D-driven lung tumors and that Sag deletion suppressed lung tumorigenesis and extended murine life span. Using cultured lung cancer cells, we showed that SAG knockdown suppressed growth and survival, inactivated both NF-κB and mTOR pathways, and resulted in accumulation of tumor suppressor substrates, including p21, p27, NOXA, and BIM. Importantly, growth suppression by SAG knockdown was partially rescued by simultaneous knockdown of p21 or the mTOR inhibitor DEPTOR. Treatment with MLN4924, a small molecule inhibitor of CRL E3s, also inhibited the formation of KrasG12D-induced lung tumors through a similar mechanism involving inactivation of NF-κB and mTOR and accumulation of tumor suppressor substrates. Together, our results demonstrate that Sag is a Kras-cooperating oncogene that promotes lung tumorigenesis and suggest that targeting SAG-CRL E3 ligases may be an effective therapeutic approach for Kras-driven lung cancers.
PMCID: PMC3904615  PMID: 24430184
11.  Tunable nonlinear optical properties in nanocrystalline Si/SiO2 multilayers under femtosecond excitation 
The nonlinear optical properties of nanocrystalline-Si/SiO2 (nc-Si/SiO2) multilayers have been investigated through Z-scan technique by using a Ti-sapphire laser with 50-fs pulse duration at 800 nm as a pump laser. It is interesting to note that with increasing the annealing temperature to make the sample change from amorphous phase to nanocrystalline state, the nonlinear absorption turns the reverse saturation absorption into saturation absorption while the nonlinear optical refraction is also changed simultaneously from self-defocusing to self-focusing. We propose that the localized states at the nc-Si/SiO2 interfaces play the key role in the observed switching behaviors. Our results demonstrate that the tunable optical nonlinearities can be achieved by controlling the microstructures of nc-Si, which can be used as engineering different nonlinear optical devices.
PMCID: PMC3896739  PMID: 24423198
Optical nonlinearities; Nanocrystalline Si; Multilayers; Interface state; 42.65.-k; 42.65.Jx; 42.65.Pc
12.  Correction: Asymptomatic Polyvascular Abnormalities in Community (APAC) Study in China: Objectives, Design and Baseline Characteristics 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):10.1371/annotation/0b52d557-24d9-4b49-a5a4-75f32b117afc.
PMCID: PMC3888476
13.  Origins and Evolution of WUSCHEL-Related Homeobox Protein Family in Plant Kingdom 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:534140.
WUSCHEL-related homeobox (WOX) is a large group of transcription factors specifically found in plants. WOX members contain the conserved homeodomain essential for plant development by regulating cell division and differentiation. However, the evolutionary relationship of WOX members in plant kingdom remains to be elucidated. In this study, we searched 350 WOX members from 50 species in plant kingdom. Linkage analysis of WOX protein sequences demonstrated that amino acid residues 141–145 and 153–160 located in the homeodomain are possibly associated with the function of WOXs during the evolution. These 350 members were grouped into 3 clades: the first clade represents the conservative WOXs from the lower plant algae to higher plants; the second clade has the members from vascular plant species; the third clade has the members only from spermatophyte species. Furthermore, among the members of Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa, we observed ubiquitous expression of genes in the first clade and the diversified expression pattern of WOX genes in distinct organs in the second clade and the third clade. This work provides insight into the origin and evolutionary process of WOXs, facilitating their functional investigations in the future.
PMCID: PMC3913392  PMID: 24511289
14.  5-Hydroxy Indoles by Intramolecular Alkynol-Furan Diels-Alder Cycloaddition‡ 
The Journal of organic chemistry  2012;78(1):167-174.
A convergent approach provides a convenient access to synthetically and biologically useful 3,4-disubstituted 5-hydroxy indoles. The one-pot procedure uses microwave heating to initiate an intramolecular [4+2]-cycloaddition of an alkynol segment onto a furan followed by a fragmentation, aromatization and N-Boc deprotection cascade. Yields range from 15-75%, with aromatic substituents providing better conversions. 4-Trimethylsilylated analogs undergo a 1,3-silatropic rearrangement to give the O-TMS ethers.
PMCID: PMC3684082  PMID: 23136970
15.  Advanced Oxidation Protein Products Activate Intrarenal Renin–Angiotensin System via a CD36-Mediated, Redox-Dependent Pathway 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2013;18(1):19-35.
Aims: Activation of intrarenal renin–angiotensin system (RAS) has a detrimental effect on the progression of chronic kidney diseases (CKDs), although the regulation of intrarenal RAS remains unclear. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the role of advanced oxidation protein products (AOPPs) in intrarenal RAS activation. Results: AOPPs upregulated the expression of almost all components of RAS and increased activity of angiotensin-converting enzyme in cultured proximal tubular epithelial cells. The triggering effect of AOPP-albumin was 100-times stronger than that of unmodified albumin. The effect of AOPP-albumin was mainly mediated by a CD36-dependent, redox-sensitive signaling involving activation of protein kinase Cα, NADPH oxidase, and nuclear factor-κB/activation protein-1. Chronic AOPP–albumin loading in unilateral nephrectomy rats resulted in deposition of AOPPs in renal tubular cells accompanied with local RAS activation and functional perturbations such as increase in urinary albumin excretion. Accumulation of AOPPs was also detected in human renal tubular cells and correlated with expression of angiotensin II in renal biopsies from 19 patients with IgA nephropathy. Innovation and Conclusion: This study demonstrated for the first time that AOPPs modified albumin functions as a strong trigger of intrarenal RAS via a CD36-mediated, redox-dependent pathway. Given the fact that accumulation of AOPPs is prevalent in diabetes and CKD, targeting AOPPs could be a strategy for the therapeutic intervention of CKD. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 18, 19–35.
PMCID: PMC3503474  PMID: 22662869
16.  Lin28 regulates BMP4 and functions with Oct4 to affect ovarian tumor microenvironment 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(1):88-97.
Emerging evidence suggests that the tumor microenvironment plays a critical role in regulating cancer stem cells (CSCs) and tumor progression through both autocrine and paracrine signaling. Elevated production of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) from human ovarian cancer cells and stroma has been shown to increase CSC proliferation and tumor growth. Here, we report that Lin28, a stem cell factor, binds to BMP4 mRNA in epithelial ovarian carcinoma cells, thereby promoting BMP4 expression at the post-transcriptional level. As co-expression of Lin28 and Oct4 (another stem cell factor) has been implicated in ovarian cancer CSCs, we also determined that high levels of Lin28 are associated with an unfavorable prognosis when co-expressed with high levels of Oct4. Together, these findings uncover a new level of regulation of BMP4 expression and imply a novel Lin28/Oct4/BMP4-mediated mechanism of regulating ovarian tumor cell growth, thus holding potential for the development of new strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC3570521  PMID: 23255092
BMP4; Lin28/Oct4; ovarian cancer; posttranscriptional; tumor microenvironment
17.  Asymptomatic Polyvascular Abnormalities in Community (APAC) Study in China: Objectives, Design and Baseline Characteristics 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84685.
The population-based “Asymptomatic Polyvascular Abnormalities in Community (APAC) Study was designed to examine prevalence and associations of asymptomatic polyvascular abnormalities (APA) in a general population. In this report, the objectives, design and baseline data of the APAC study are described.
The study included 5,440 participants (40.1% women) with an age of 40+ years who were randomly selected from the population of the Kailuan Study which included 101,510 employees and retirees of the Kailuan Co. Ltd, a large coal mine industry located in Tangshan, Hebei, China. Exclusion criteria were previous cerebral stroke, transient ischemic attacks and coronary heart disease. In 2010 and 2011, information on potential cardiovascular risk factors was collected and all participants underwent transcranial Doppler sonography, measurement of the ankle brachial index, and bilateral carotid duplex sonography. In a first follow-up examination in 2012/2013, retinal photography and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography were additionally performed. In a planned long-term follow-up, data from clinical examinations and laboratory tests and the occurrence of cardiovascular or cerebrovascular events will be collected to build up a predicting model for the risk of ischemic events.
At baseline, mean age of the participants was 55.2±11.8 years, and men showed a significantly (P<0.001) higher prevalence of arterial hypertension (55.5% vs. 36.5%) and hyperlipidemia (50.7% vs. 46.0%) and a higher blood homocysteine concentration (18.68±10.28µmol/L versus 11.69±6.40µmol/L).
The APAC is the first study to prospectively evaluate the relationship between intracranial arterial stenosis, retinal nerve fiber layer changes, retinal microvascular signs, and the eventual development of cerebrovascular or cardiovascular events.
PMCID: PMC3873465  PMID: 24386406
18.  Aurora kinase A inhibition-induced autophagy triggers drug resistance in breast cancer cells 
Autophagy  2012;8(12):1798-1810.
We have previously shown that elevated expression of mitotic kinase aurora kinase A (AURKA) in cancer cells promotes the development of metastatic phenotypes and is associated clinically with adverse prognosis. Here, we first revealed a clinically positive correlation between AURKA and autophagy-associated protein SQSTM1 in breast cancer and further demonstrated that AURKA regulated SQSTM1 through autophagy. Indeed, depletion by siRNA or chemical inhibition of AURKA by the small molecule VX-680 increased both the level of microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3-II (LC3-II) and the number of autophagosomes, along with decreased SQSTM1. Conversely, overexpression of AURKA inhibited autophagy, as assessed by decreased LC3-II and increased SQSTM1 either upon nutrient deprivation or normal conditions. In addition, phosphorylated forms of both RPS6KB1 and mechanistic target of rapamycin (MTOR) were elevated by overexpression of AURKA whereas they were suppressed by depletion or inhibition of AURKA. Moreover, inhibition of MTOR by PP242, an inhibitor of MTOR complex1/2, abrogated the changes in both LC3-II and SQSTM1 in AURKA-overexpressing BT-549 cells, suggesting that AURKA-suppressed autophagy might be associated with MTOR activation. Lastly, repression of autophagy by depletion of either LC3 or ATG5, sensitized breast cancer cells to VX-680-induced apoptosis. Similar findings were observed in cells treated with the autophagy inhibitors chloroquine (CQ) and bafilomycin A1 (BAF). Our data thus revealed a novel role of AURKA as a negative regulator of autophagy, showing that AURKA inhibition induced autophagy, which may represent a novel mechanism of drug resistance in apoptosis-aimed therapy for breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3541289  PMID: 23026799
AURKA; SQSTM1; autophagy; breast cancer; MTOR; apoptosis
19.  Altered Transcriptome of the B. melitensis Vaccine Candidate 16MΔvjbR, Implications for Development of Genetically Marked Live Vaccine 
Indian Journal of Microbiology  2012;52(4):575-580.
The VjbR protein induced antibody responses in both human and animal brucellosis, and the vjbR mutant 16MΔvjbR is an ideal vaccine candidate because of the feasibility of using the VjbR as diagnostic antigen. To further characterize this vaccine candidate and provide information for vaccine development, in the present study, a whole genome DNA microarray of 16M were used to compare the transcriptome of the vjbR mutant to that of the wild type strains. A total of 126 genes were greatly differentially expressed in the vjbR mutant. A great proportion of virB and flagellar genes were differentially expressed in the vjbR mutant, implying that the vjbR regulate expression of virulence genes by sensing intracellular environments. Interestingly, the virB genes are regulated by the vjbR in independent manners as shown by their different fold changes and transcription abundances. A number of genes involved in translation, stress response, amino acid transport and metabolism, cell wall/membrane biogenesis, energy production and conversion, translation were differentially expressed. The vjbR mutant showed increased sensitivity to stresses of nutrition limitation, oxidative stress and acidification, and decreased survival in macrophage and mice, being consistent with its transcription profiles. These results indicated that the quorum sensing regulator vjbR could sense intracellular environments and response to them by regulate expression of virulence genes and other intracellular survival related genes, and therefore contribute to Brucella survival in host cells. This also provided direct evidence for the rational vaccine design by using antigenic global regulator for future development of genetically marked vaccine for brucellosis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12088-012-0293-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3516643  PMID: 24293713
Brucella; vjbR; Transcriptome; Genetically marked live vaccine
20.  Simultaneous, single particle, magnetization and size measurements of micron sized, magnetic particles 
Single particle magnetization and size measurements of micron and nano sized, magnetic particles were made using a previously described device referred to as Cell Tracking Velocimetry, CTV. Three types of commercially available, and commonly used, magnetic particles were studied in this report. While the CTV instrument provides individual particles measurements, the average magnetization and size measurements were found to have reasonable agreements with reported values from instruments which measure bulk values. In addition, the CTV instrument, using electromagnets, can also determine magnetization curves, which also proved to have reasonable agreement with other published studies. Given that magnetic separation and analysis technology is dependent on the quality of the magnetic particles used, studies such as this one using CTV provide not only average data, but also provides information with respect to the distribution of the properties such as magnetization and size. For example, the spread of the data in magnetic and settling velocities were found to be predominately due to the size distribution of the analyzed particles.
PMCID: PMC3433070  PMID: 22962515
Magnetophoretic mobility; particle settling velocity; particle magnetic velocity; cell tracking velocimetry; magnetization
21.  Progranulin Does Not Bind Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) Receptors and Is Not a Direct Regulator of TNF-Dependent Signaling or Bioactivity in Immune or Neuronal Cells 
Progranulin (PGRN) is a secreted glycoprotein expressed in neurons and glia that is implicated in neuronal survival on the basis that mutations in the GRN gene causing haploinsufficiency result in a familial form of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Recently, a direct interaction between PGRN and tumor necrosis factor receptors (TNFR I/II) was reported and proposed to be a mechanism by which PGRN exerts anti-inflammatory activity, raising the possibility that aberrant PGRN–TNFR interactions underlie the molecular basis for neuroinflammation in frontotemporal lobar degeneration pathogenesis. Here, we report that we find no evidence for a direct physical or functional interaction between PGRN and TNFRs. Using coimmunoprecipitation and surface plasmon resonance (SPR) we replicated the interaction between PGRN and sortilin and that between TNF and TNFRI/II, but not the interaction between PGRN and TNFRs. Recombinant PGRN or transfection of a cDNA encoding PGRN did not antagonize TNF-dependent NFκB, Akt, and Erk1/2 pathway activation; inflammatory gene expression; or secretion of inflammatory factors in BV2 microglia and bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs). Moreover, PGRN did not antagonize TNF-induced cytotoxicity on dopaminergic neuroblastoma cells. Last, co-addition or pre-incubation with various N- or C-terminal-tagged recombinant PGRNs did not alter lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammatory gene expression or cytokine secretion in any cell type examined, including BMDMs from Grn+/− or Grn−/− mice. Therefore, the neuroinflammatory phenotype associated with PGRN deficiency in the CNS is not a direct consequence of the loss of TNF antagonism by PGRN, but may be a secondary response by glia to disrupted interactions between PGRN and Sortilin and/or other binding partners yet to be identified.
PMCID: PMC3707136  PMID: 23699531
22.  Potentiation of the Effect of Thiazide Derivatives by Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors: Molecular Mechanisms and Potential Clinical Implications 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79327.
Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (CAI) are mild diuretics, hence not widely used in fluid overloaded states. They are however the treatment of choice for certain non-kidney conditions. Thiazides, specific inhibitors of Na-Cl cotransport (NCC), are mild agents and the most widely used diuretics in the world for control of mild hypertension.
In addition to inhibiting the salt reabsorption in the proximal tubule, CAIs down-regulate pendrin, therefore leaving NCC as the major salt absorbing transporter in the distal nephron, and hence allowing for massive diuresis by the inhibitors of NCC in the setting of increased delivery of salt from the proximal tubule.
Experimental Protocols and Results
Daily treatment of rats with acetazolamide (ACTZ), a known CAI, for 10 days caused mild diuresis whereas daily treatment with hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) for 4 days caused hardly any diuresis. However, treatment of rats that were pretreated with ACTZ for 6 days with a combination of ACTZ plus HCTZ for 4 additional days increased the urine output by greater than 2 fold (p<0.001, n = 5) compared to ACTZ-treated animals. Sodium excretion increased by 80% in the ACTZ plus HCTZ group and animals developed significant volume depletion, metabolic alkalosis and pre-renal failure. Molecular studies demonstrated ∼75% reduction in pendrin expression by ACTZ. The increased urine output in ACTZ/HCTZ treated rats was associated with a significant reduction in urine osmolality and reduced membrane localization of AQP-2 (aquaporin2).
These results indicate that ACTZ down-regulates pendrin expression and leaves NCC as the major salt absorbing transporter in the distal nephron in the setting of increased delivery of salt from the proximal tubule. Despite being considered mild agents individually, we propose that the combination of ACTZ and HCTZ is a powerful diuretic regimen.
PMCID: PMC3832474  PMID: 24260196
23.  Autophagic Protein Beclin 1 Serves as an Independent Positive Prognostic Biomarker for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80338.
Beclin 1, a key regulator of autophagy, has been found to be aberrantly expressed in a variety of human malignancies. Herein, we employed immunohistochemistry (IHC) to detect the protein expression of Beclin 1 in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and paired normal adjacent lung tissues, and analyzed its clinicopathological/prognostic significance in NSCLC. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was utilized to determine a cutoff point (>2 VS. ≤2) for Beclin 1 expression in a training set (n = 105). For validation, the ROC-derived cutoff value was subjected to analysis of the association of Beclin 1 with patients’ clinical characteristics and outcome in a testing set (n = 111) and the overall patient cohort (n = 216). Our data showed that Beclin 1 was significantly lower in NSCLC tissues compared with the adjacent normal tissues, negatively associating with tumor recurrence rate (65.8% VS 32.3%; p < 0.001). In the testing set and the overall patient cohort, low expression of Beclin 1 showed significantly inferior overall survival (OS) (p < 0.001) and progression-free survival (PFS) (p < 0.001) compared to high expression of Beclin 1. In the testing set and the overall patient cohort, the median duration of OS for patients with high and low expression of Beclin 1 was 108 VS. 24.5 months (p < 0.001) and 108 VS. 28 months (p < 0.001), respectively. Furthermore, low expression of Beclin 1 was also a poor prognostic factor within each stage of NSCLC patients. Multivariate analysis identified that Beclin 1 was an independent prognostic factor for NSCLC. Our findings in the present study provided evidence that Beclin 1 may thus emerge as an independent prognostic biomarker in this tumor entity in the future.
PMCID: PMC3829868  PMID: 24260370
24.  High-Fat Diet Reduces the Formation of Butyrate, but Increases Succinate, Inflammation, Liver Fat and Cholesterol in Rats, while Dietary Fibre Counteracts These Effects 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80476.
Obesity is linked to type 2 diabetes and risk factors associated to the metabolic syndrome. Consumption of dietary fibres has been shown to have positive metabolic health effects, such as by increasing satiety, lowering blood glucose and cholesterol levels. These effects may be associated with short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), particularly propionic and butyric acids, formed by microbial degradation of dietary fibres in colon, and by their capacity to reduce low-grade inflammation.
To investigate whether dietary fibres, giving rise to different SCFAs, would affect metabolic risk markers in low-fat and high-fat diets using a model with conventional rats for 2, 4 and 6 weeks.
Material and Methods
Conventional rats were administered low-fat or high-fat diets, for 2, 4 or 6 weeks, supplemented with fermentable dietary fibres, giving rise to different SCFA patterns (pectin – acetic acid; guar gum – propionic acid; or a mixture – butyric acid). At the end of each experimental period, liver fat, cholesterol and triglycerides, serum and caecal SCFAs, plasma cholesterol, and inflammatory cytokines were analysed. The caecal microbiota was analysed after 6 weeks.
Results and Discussion
Fermentable dietary fibre decreased weight gain, liver fat, cholesterol and triglyceride content, and changed the formation of SCFAs. The high-fat diet primarily reduced formation of SCFAs but, after a longer experimental period, the formation of propionic and acetic acids recovered. The concentration of succinic acid in the rats increased in high-fat diets with time, indicating harmful effect of high-fat consumption. The dietary fibre partly counteracted these harmful effects and reduced inflammation. Furthermore, the number of Bacteroides was higher with guar gum, while noticeably that of Akkermansia was highest with the fibre-free diet.
PMCID: PMC3827442  PMID: 24236183
25.  Transcriptional Pausing Controls A Rapid Antiviral Innate Immune Response In Drosophila 
Cell host & microbe  2012;12(4):531-543.
Innate immune responses are characterized by precise gene expression whereby gene subsets are temporally induced to limit infection, although the mechanisms involved are incompletely understood. We show that antiviral immunity in Drosophila requires the transcriptional pausing pathway, including Negative Elongation Factor (NELF) that pauses RNA Polymerase II (Pol II) and Positive Elongation Factor b (P-TEFb), which releases paused Pol II to produce full length transcripts. We identify a set of genes that is rapidly transcribed upon arbovirus infection, including components of antiviral pathways (RNA silencing, autophagy, JAK/STAT, Toll, and Imd) and various Toll receptors. Many of these genes require P-TEFb for expression and exhibit pausing-associated chromatin features. Furthermore, transcriptional pausing is critical for antiviral immunity in insects, as NELF and P-TEFb are required to restrict viral replication in adult flies and vector mosquito cells. Thus, transcriptional pausing primes virally-induced genes to facilitate rapid gene induction and robust antiviral responses.
PMCID: PMC3479682  PMID: 23084920

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