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1.  Air pollution and respiratory symptoms among children with asthma: Vulnerability by corticosteroid use and residence area☆ 
Information on how ambient air pollution affects susceptible populations is needed to ensure protective air quality standards.
To estimate the effect of community-level ambient particulate matter (PM) and ozone (O3) on respiratory symptoms among primarily African-American and Latino, lower-income asthmatic children living in Detroit, Michigan and to evaluate factors associated with heterogeneity in observed health effects.
A cohort of 298 children with asthma was studied prospectively from 1999 to 2002. For 14 days each season over 11 seasons, children completed a respiratory symptom diary. Simultaneously, ambient pollutant concentrations were measured at two community-level monitoring sites. Logistic regression models using generalized estimating equations were fit for each respiratory symptom in single pollutant models, looking for interactions by area or by corticosteroid use, a marker of more severe asthma. Exposures of interest were: daily concentrations of PM<10 μm, <2.5 μm, and between 10 and 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10, PM2.5, and PM10–2.5, respectively), the daily 8-hour maximum concentration of O3 (8HrPeak), and the daily 1-hour maximum concentration of O3 (1HrPeak).
Outdoor PM2.5, PM10, 8HrPeak, and 1HrPeak O3 concentrations were associated with increased odds of respiratory symptoms, particularly among children using corticosteroid medication and among children living in the southwest community of Detroit. Similar patterns of associations were not seen with PM10–2.5.
PM2.5 and O3 at levels near or below annual standard levels are associated with negative health impact in this population of asthmatic children. Variation in effects within the city of Detroit and among the subgroup using steroids emphasizes the importance of spatially refined exposure assessment and the need for further studies to elucidate mechanisms and effective risk reduction interventions.
PMCID: PMC4327853  PMID: 23273373
Asthma; Child; Community-based participatory research; Particulate matter; Ozone; Vulnerable populations
2.  Electronic Structure Engineering of Cu2O Film/ZnO Nanorods Array All-Oxide p-n Heterostructure for Enhanced Photoelectrochemical Property and Self-powered Biosensing Application 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:7882.
We have engineered the electronic structure at the interface between Cu2O and ZnO nanorods (NRs) array, through adjusting the carrier concentration of Cu2O. The electrodeposition of Cu2O at pH 11 acquired the highest carrier concentration, resulting in the largest interfacial electric field between Cu2O and ZnO, which finally led to the highest separation efficiency of photogenerated charge carriers. The optimized Cu2O/ZnO NRs array p-n heterostructures exhibited enhanced PEC performance, such as elevated photocurrent and photoconversion efficiency, as well as excellent sensing performance for the sensitive detection of glutathione (GSH) in PBS buffer even at applied bias of 0 V which made the device self-powered. Besides, the favorable selectivity, high reproducibility and extremely wide detection range, make such heterostructure a promising candidate for PEC biosensing applications, probably for the extended field of PEC water splitting or other solar photovoltaic beacons.
PMCID: PMC4298735  PMID: 25600940
3.  Causes and consequences of crossing-over evidenced via a high-resolution recombinational landscape of the honey bee 
Genome Biology  2015;16(1):15.
Social hymenoptera, the honey bee (Apis mellifera) in particular, have ultra-high crossover rates and a large degree of intra-genomic variation in crossover rates. Aligned with haploid genomics of males, this makes them a potential model for examining the causes and consequences of crossing over. To address why social insects have such high crossing-over rates and the consequences of this, we constructed a high-resolution recombination atlas by sequencing 55 individuals from three colonies with an average marker density of 314 bp/marker.
We find crossing over to be especially high in proximity to genes upregulated in worker brains, but see no evidence for a coupling with immune-related functioning. We detect only a low rate of non-crossover gene conversion, contrary to current evidence. This is in striking contrast to the ultrahigh crossing-over rate, almost double that previously estimated from lower resolution data. We robustly recover the predicted intragenomic correlations between crossing over and both population level diversity and GC content, which could be best explained as indirect and direct consequences of crossing over, respectively.
Our data are consistent with the view that diversification of worker behavior, but not immune function, is a driver of the high crossing-over rate in bees. While we see both high diversity and high GC content associated with high crossing-over rates, our estimate of the low non-crossover rate demonstrates that high non-crossover rates are not a necessary consequence of high recombination rates.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-014-0566-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4305242  PMID: 25651211
4.  Vimentin Knockdown Decreases Corneal Opacity 
Wound induced corneal fibrosis can lead to permanent visual impairment. Keratocyte activation and differentiation play a key role in fibrosis, and vimentin, a major structural type III intermediate filament, is a required component of this process. The purpose of our study was to develop a nonviral therapeutic strategy for treating corneal fibrosis in which we targeted the knockdown of vimentin.
To determine the duration of plasmid expression in corneal keratocytes, we injected a naked plasmid expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP; pCMV-GFP) into an unwounded mouse corneal stroma. We then injected pCMV-GFP or plasmids expressing small hairpin RNA in the corneal wound injury model (full-thickness corneal incision) to evaluate opacification.
GFP expression peaked between days 1 and 3 and had prominent expression for 15 days. In the corneal wound injury model, we found that the GFP-positive cells demonstrated extensive dendritic-like processes that extended to adjacent cells, whereas the vimentin knockdown model showed significantly reduced corneal opacity.
These findings suggest that a nonviral gene therapeutic approach has potential for treating corneal fibrosis and ultimately reducing scarring.
Corneal fibrosis often results from infection, surgery complications, burns and traumatic eye injury; and corneal opacification is the 2nd leading cause of worldwide blindness. Knockdown of vimentin using plasmid-mediated shRNA expression showed reduction in scarring after a full-thickness incision.
PMCID: PMC4078947  PMID: 24854859
corneal fibroblasts; corneal wound healing; keratocytes
5.  Transcriptomic and proteomic dynamics in the metabolism of a diazotrophic cyanobacterium, Cyanothece sp. PCC 7822 during a diurnal light–dark cycle 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):1185.
Cyanothece sp. PCC 7822 is an excellent cyanobacterial model organism with great potential to be applied as a biocatalyst for the production of high value compounds. Like other unicellular diazotrophic cyanobacterial species, it has a tightly regulated metabolism synchronized to the light–dark cycle. Utilizing transcriptomic and proteomic methods, we quantified the relationships between transcription and translation underlying central and secondary metabolism in response to nitrogen free, 12 hour light and 12 hour dark conditions.
By combining mass-spectrometry based proteomics and RNA-sequencing transcriptomics, we quantitatively measured a total of 6766 mRNAs and 1322 proteins at four time points across a 24 hour light–dark cycle. Photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation, and carbon storage relevant genes were expressed during the preceding light or dark period, concurrent with measured nitrogenase activity in the late light period. We describe many instances of disparity in peak mRNA and protein abundances, and strong correlation of light dependent expression of both antisense and CRISPR-related gene expression. The proteins for nitrogenase and the pentose phosphate pathway were highest in the dark, whereas those for glycolysis and the TCA cycle were more prominent in the light. Interestingly, one copy of the psbA gene encoding the photosystem II (PSII) reaction center protein D1 (psbA4) was highly upregulated only in the dark. This protein likely cannot catalyze O2 evolution and so may be used by the cell to keep PSII intact during N2 fixation. The CRISPR elements were found exclusively at the ends of the large plasmid and we speculate that their presence is crucial to the maintenance of this plasmid.
This investigation of parallel transcriptional and translational activity within Cyanothece sp. PCC 7822 provided quantitative information on expression levels of metabolic pathways relevant to engineering efforts. The identification of expression patterns for both mRNA and protein affords a basis for improving biofuel production in this strain and for further genetic manipulations. Expression analysis of the genes encoded on the 6 plasmids provided insight into the possible acquisition and maintenance of some of these extra-chromosomal elements.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-1185) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4320622  PMID: 25547186
Cyanothece; Cyanobacteria; RNA-Seq; N2 fixation; Proteomics; Butanol; CRISPR
6.  Hepatocyte Growth Factor Gene-Modified Adipose-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells Ameliorate Radiation Induced Liver Damage in a Rat Model 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114670.
Liver damage caused by radiotherapy is associated with a high mortality rate, but no established treatment exists. Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADSCs) are capable of migration to injured tissue sites, where they aid in the repair of the damage. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is critical for damage repair due to its anti-apoptotic, anti-fibrotic and cell regeneration-promoting effects. This study was performed to investigate the therapeutic effects of HGF-overexpressing ADSCs on radiation-induced liver damage (RILD). ADSCs were infected with a lentivirus encoding HGF and HGF-shRNA. Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats received 60Gy of irradiation to induce liver injury and were immediately given either saline, ADSCs, ADSCs + HGF or ADSCs + shHGF. Two days after irradiation, a significant reduction in apoptosis was observed in the HGF-overexpressing ADSC group compared with the RILD group, as assessed by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining. Scanning electron microscopy showed chromatin condensation after irradiation, which was ameliorated in the group that received ADSCs and was reversed in the group that received HGF-overexpressing ADSCs. HGF-overexpressing ADSCs ameliorated radiation- induced liver fibrosis through down regulation of α-SMA and fibronectin. Hepatocyte regeneration was significantly improved in rats treated with ADSCs compared with rats from the RILD group), as assessed by Ki-67 immunohistochemistry. Rats that received HGF-overexpressing ADSCs showed an even greater level of hepatocyte regeneration. HGF-overexpressing ADSCs completely blocked the radiation-induced increase in the enzymes ALT and AST. The effect of mitigating RILD was compromised in the ADSC + shHGF group compared with the ADSC group. Altogether, these results suggest that HGF-overexpressing ADSCs can significantly improve RILD in a rat model, which may serve as a valuable therapeutic alternative.
PMCID: PMC4264768  PMID: 25501583
7.  The Uptake Hydrogenase in the Unicellular Diazotrophic Cyanobacterium Cyanothece sp. Strain PCC 7822 Protects Nitrogenase from Oxygen Toxicity 
Journal of Bacteriology  2014;196(4):840-849.
Cyanothece sp. strain PCC 7822 is a unicellular, diazotrophic cyanobacterium that can produce large quantities of H2 when grown diazotrophically. This strain is also capable of genetic manipulations and can represent a good model for improving H2 production from cyanobacteria. To this end, a knockout mutation was made in the hupL gene (ΔhupL), and we determined how this would affect the amount of H2 produced. The ΔhupL mutant demonstrated virtually no nitrogenase activity or H2 production when grown under N2-fixing conditions. To ensure that this mutation only affected the hupL gene, a complementation strain was constructed readily with wild-type properties; this indicated that the original insertion was only in hupL. The mutant had no uptake hydrogenase activity but had increased bidirectional hydrogenase (Hox) activity. Western blotting and immunocytochemistry under the electron microscope indicated that the mutant had neither HupL nor NifHDK, although the nif genes were transcribed. Interestingly, biochemical analysis demonstrated that both HupL and NifH could be membrane associated. The results indicated that the nif genes were transcribed but that NifHDK was either not translated or was translated but rapidly degraded. We hypothesized that the Nif proteins were made but were unusually susceptible to O2 damage. Thus, we grew the mutant cells under anaerobic conditions and found that they grew well under N2-fixing conditions. We conclude that in unicellular diazotrophs, like Cyanothece sp. strain PCC 7822, the HupLS complex helps remove oxygen from the nitrogenase, and that this is a more important function than merely oxidizing the H2 produced by the nitrogenase.
PMCID: PMC3911175  PMID: 24317398
8.  A mechanically stabilized receptor–ligand flex-bond important in the vasculature 
Nature  2010;466(7309):992-995.
Haemostasis in the arteriolar circulation mediated by von Willebrand factor (VWF) binding to platelets is an example of an adhesive interaction that must withstand strong hydrodynamic forces acting on cells. VWF is a concatenated, multifunctional protein that has binding sites for platelets as well as subendothelial collagen1,2. Binding of the A1 domain in VWF to the glycoprotein Ib a subunit (GPIba) on the surface of platelets mediates crosslinking of platelets to one another and the formation of a platelet plug for arterioles3,4. The importance of VWF is illustrated by its mutation in von Willebrand disease, a bleeding diathesis1. Here, we describe a novel mechanochemical specialization of the A1–GPIbα bond for force-resistance. We have developed a method that enables, for the first time, repeated measurements of the binding and unbinding of a receptor and ligand in a single molecule (ReaLiSM). We demonstrate two states of the receptor-ligand bond, that is, a flex-bond. One state is seen at low force; a second state begins to engage at 10 pN with a ∼20-fold longer lifetime and greater force resistance. The lifetimes of the two states, how force exponentiates lifetime, and the kinetics of switching between the two states are all measured. For the first time, single-molecule measurements on this system are in agreement with bulk phase measurements. The results have important implications not only for how platelets bound to VWF are able to resist force to plug arterioles, but also how increased flow activates platelet plug formation.
PMCID: PMC4117310  PMID: 20725043
9.  Neuropilin-2 promotes extravasation and metastasis by interacting with endothelial α5 integrin 
Cancer research  2013;73(14):4579-4590.
Metastasis, the leading cause of cancer death, requires tumor cell intravasation, migration through the bloodstream, arrest within capillaries, and extravasation to invade distant tissues. Few mechanistic details have been reported thus far regarding the extravasation process or re-entry of circulating tumor cells at metastatic sites. Here, we demonstrate that neuropilin-2 (NRP-2), a multi-functional non-kinase receptor for semaphorins, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and other growth factors, expressed on cancer cells interacts with α5 integrin on endothelial cells to mediate vascular extravasation and metastasis in zebrafish and murine xenograft models of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and pancreatic adenocarcinoma. In tissue from RCC patients, NRP-2 expression is positively correlated with tumor grade and highest in metastatic tumors. In a prospectively acquired cohort of patients with pancreatic cancer, high NRP-2 expression co-segregated with poor prognosis. Through biochemical approaches as well as Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), we describe a unique mechanism through which NRP-2 expressed on cancer cells interacts with α5 integrin on endothelial cells to mediate vascular adhesion and extravasation. Taken together, our studies reveal a clinically significant role of NRP-2 in cancer cell extravasation and promotion of metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3774599  PMID: 23689123
Neuropilin; metastasis; integrin; renal cell carcinoma; pancreatic cancer; endothelial cells; adhesion; extravasation
10.  Radial Scars and Subsequent Breast Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102503.
The relationship between radial scars and breast cancer is unclear, as the results of different studies are inconsistent. We aim to solve the controversy and assess the breast cancer risk of radial scars.
Case-control or cohort studies about radial scars and breast cancer risk published in PubMed, Web of Science and the Cochrane Library from 2000 to 2013 were searched. Heterogeneity for the eligible data was assessed and a pooled odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) was calculated.
Five observational studies involving 2521 cases and 20290 controls were included in our study. From pooled analysis, radial scars were found to have a 1.33 fold increased risk of breast cancer, but which was not significant (P = 0.138). Sample size contributed to heterogeneity. In subgroup analysis, the results pooled from studies with sample size >2000 show that presence of radial scars was associated with 1.6 times breast cancer risk compared to absence of radial scars. Radial scars increased the risk of breast cancer among women with proliferative disease without atypia, but no significant association between radial scars and carcinoma was noted among women with atypical hyperplasia.
Radial scars tend to be associated with an increased breast cancer risk. Radial scars should be considered among women with proliferative disease without atypia, while atypical hyperplasia is still the primary concern among women with both radial scars and atypical hyperplasia.
PMCID: PMC4097058  PMID: 25019286
11.  Presurgical Corticosteroid Treatment Improves Corneal Transplant Survival in Mice 
Cornea  2013;32(12):1591-1598.
To examine the effects of presurgical corticosteroid treatment for normal-risk penetrating keratoplasty (NRPK), high-risk penetrating keratoplasty (HRPK), and high-risk penetrating keratoplasty plus lensectomy.
We used 3 corneal transplantation models (NRPK, HRPK, and high-risk penetrating keratoplasty plus lensectomy). For each model, we tried to compare the effect of corticosteroid treatment according to different timetables as follows: The first trial began with a corticosteroid injection given 2 weeks before the PK and continued until 4 weeks after the PK (group 1). The second trial started with a corticosteroid injection given on the day of the PK and continued for 4 weeks after the PK (group 2). The third trial started with a corticosteroid injection administered on the day of the PK and continued for 8 weeks after the PK (group 3). After harvesting and immunostaining of corneas, graft survival, neovascularization (NV), and lymphangiogenesis (LY) were compared among the groups. A P value <0.05 was considered as being statistically significant.
With respect to graft survival, group 1 had improved graft survival compared with that of group 3 in the HRPK model (P = 0.025). In all the 3 PK models, groups 2 and 3 demonstrated a similar graft survival (P > 0.05). With respect to NV and LY, in NRPK, group 1 showed less NV than did group 2 (P < 0.001) and group 3 (P = 0.016). In HRPK, group 1 also demonstrated less NV and LY than did group 3 (P = 0.045 and 0.044, respectively).
The initiation time point of the corticosteroid treatment is important for graft survival. Corticosteroid pretreatment is an effective means to increase graft survival for HRPK and to decrease NV and LY for both NRPK and HRPK.
PMCID: PMC4086307  PMID: 24005616
corticosteroid pretreatment; angiogenesis; penetrating keratoplasty
12.  TCF7L2 Variation and Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy 
Diabetes  2013;62(7):2613-2617.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) is the most severe vision-threatening complication of diabetes. For investigation of genetic association between TCF7L2 and PDR in Caucasian type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and its functional consequences, 383 T2DM patients with PDR (T2DM-PDR) and 756 T2DM patients without diabetic retinopathy (T2DM–no DR) were genotyped with rs7903146 in TCF7L2. We found that risk allele (T) frequency of rs7903146 was significantly higher in T2DM-PDR patients (allelic P = 2.52E-04). In lymphoblastoid cells induced to undergo endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress by treatment of tunicamycin, higher fold change of TCF7L2 and VEGFA mRNA levels were observed in rs7903146-TT cells than in rs7903146-CC cells (P = 0.02 for TCF7L2; P = 0.004 for VEGFA), suggesting that ER stress plays a role in PDR pathogenesis. Silencing TCF7L2 resulted in decreased mRNA levels of both TCF7L2 and VEGFA (P < 0.001). Retinas of oxygen-induced retinopathy mice (a model for PDR) had higher TCF7L2 and VEGFA mRNA levels than those of controls (P = 2.9E-04 for TCF7L2; P = 1.9E-07 for VEGFA). Together, data from our study show that TCF7L2-rs7903146 is associated with PDR in Caucasian T2DM and suggest that TCF7L2 promotes pathological retinal neovascularization via ER stress–dependent upregulation of VEGFA.
PMCID: PMC3712060  PMID: 23434931
13.  SIRT1 pathway dysregulation in the smoke-exposed airway epithelium and lung tumor tissue 
Cancer research  2012;72(22):5702-5711.
Cigarette smoke produces a molecular “field of injury” in epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract. However, the specific signaling pathways that are altered in the airway of smokers and the signaling processes responsible for the transition from smoking-induced airway damage to lung cancer remain unknown. In this study, we use a genomic approach to study the signaling processes associated with tobacco smoke exposure and lung cancer. First, we developed and validated pathway-specific gene expression signatures in bronchial airway epithelium that reflect activation of signaling pathways relevant to tobacco-exposure including ATM, BCL2, GPX1, NOS2, IKBKB, and SIRT1. Using these profiles and four independent gene expression datasets, we found that SIRT1 activity is significantly up-regulated in cytologically normal bronchial airway epithelial cells from active smokers compared to non-smokers. In contrast, this activity is strikingly down-regulated in non-small cell lung cancer. This pattern of signaling modulation was unique to SIRT1, and down-regulation of SIRT1 activity is confined to tumors from smokers. Decreased activity of SIRT1 was validated using genomic analyses of mouse models of lung cancer and biochemical testing of SIRT1 activity in patient lung tumors. Together, our findings indicate a role of SIRT1 in response to smoke and a potential role in repressing lung cancer. Further, our findings suggest that the airway gene-expression signatures derived in this study can provide novel insights into signaling pathways altered in the “field of inury” induced by tobacco smoke and thus may impact strategies for prevention of tobacco-related lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC4053174  PMID: 22986747
14.  A Dynamic Bronchial Airway Gene Expression Signature of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Lung Function Impairment 
Rationale: Molecular phenotyping of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been impeded in part by the difficulty in obtaining lung tissue samples from individuals with impaired lung function.
Objectives: We sought to determine whether COPD-associated processes are reflected in gene expression profiles of bronchial airway epithelial cells obtained by bronchoscopy.
Methods: Gene expression profiling of bronchial brushings obtained from 238 current and former smokers with and without COPD was performed using Affymetrix Human Gene 1.0 ST Arrays.
Measurements and Main Results: We identified 98 genes whose expression levels were associated with COPD status, FEV1% predicted, and FEV1/FVC. In silico analysis identified activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) as a potential transcriptional regulator of genes with COPD-associated airway expression, and ATF4 overexpression in airway epithelial cells in vitro recapitulates COPD-associated gene expression changes. Genes with COPD-associated expression in the bronchial airway epithelium had similarly altered expression profiles in prior studies performed on small-airway epithelium and lung parenchyma, suggesting that transcriptomic alterations in the bronchial airway epithelium reflect molecular events found at more distal sites of disease activity. Many of the airway COPD-associated gene expression changes revert toward baseline after therapy with the inhaled corticosteroid fluticasone in independent cohorts.
Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate a molecular field of injury throughout the bronchial airway of active and former smokers with COPD that may be driven in part by ATF4 and is modifiable with therapy. Bronchial airway epithelium may ultimately serve as a relatively accessible tissue in which to measure biomarkers of disease activity for guiding clinical management of COPD.
PMCID: PMC3707363  PMID: 23471465
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; gene expression profiling; biologic markers
15.  Targeted Intraceptor Nanoparticle Therapy Reduces Angiogenesis and Fibrosis in Primate & Murine Macular Degeneration 
ACS nano  2013;7(4):3264-3275.
Monthly intraocular injections are widely used to deliver protein-based drugs that cannot cross the blood-retina barrier for the treatment of leading blinding diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This invasive treatment carries significant risks, including bleeding, pain, infection, and retinal detachment. Further, current therapies are associated with a rate of retinal fibrosis and geographic atrophy significantly higher than that which occurs in the described natural history of AMD. A novel therapeutic strategy which improves outcomes in a less invasive manner, reduces risk, and provides long-term inhibition of angiogenesis and fibrosis is a felt medical need. Here we show that a single intravenous injection of targeted, biodegradable nanoparticles delivering a recombinant Flt23k intraceptor plasmid homes to neovascular lesions in the retina and regresses CNV in primate and murine AMD models. Moreover, this treatment suppressed subretinal fibrosis, which is currently not addressed by clinical therapies. Murine vision, as tested by OptoMotry©, significantly improved with nearly 40% restoration of visual loss induced by CNV. We found no evidence of ocular or systemic toxicity from nanoparticle treatment. These findings offer a nanoparticle-based platform for targeted, vitreous-sparing, extended-release, nonviral gene therapy.
PMCID: PMC3634882  PMID: 23464925
nanoparticles; gene delivery; choroidal neovascularization models; anti-VEGF therapy; angiogenesis
16.  Novel mutations of the RS1 gene in a cohort of Chinese families with X-linked retinoschisis 
Molecular Vision  2014;20:132-139.
X-linked retinoschisis is a retinal dystrophy caused by mutations in the RS1 gene in Xp22.1. These mutations lead to schisis (splitting) of the neural retina and subsequent reduction in visual acuity in affected men (OMIM # 312700). The aim of this study was to identify the RS1 gene mutations in a cohort of Chinese patients with X-linked retinoschisis, and to describe the associated phenotypes.
Patients and unaffected individuals from 16 unrelated families underwent detailed ophthalmic examinations. After informed consent was obtained, genomic DNA was extracted from the venous blood of all participants. All exons including the exon-intron boundaries of the RS1 gene, were amplified by PCR and the products were analyzed by direct sequencing. Long-range PCR followed by DNA sequencing was used to define the breakpoints of the large deletion.
Sixteen male individuals from 16 families were diagnosed with retinoschisis by clinical examination. The median age at review was 13.2 years (range: 5–34 years); the median best-corrected visual acuity upon review was 0.26 (range 0.02–1.0). Foveal schisis was found in 82.8% of the eyes (24/29) while peripheral schisis was present in 27.5% of the eyes (8/29). Sequencing of the RS1 gene identified 16 mutations, nine of which were novel. The mutations included eight missense mutations, all located in exons 4–6 (50.0%), two nonsense mutations (12.5%), four small deletions or insertions (25.0%), one splice site mutation (6.25%), and one large genomic deletion that included exon1 (6.25%).
The mutations found in our study broaden the spectrum of RS1 mutations. The identification of the specific mutation in each pedigree will allow future determination of female carrier status for genetic counseling purposes.
PMCID: PMC3913487  PMID: 24505212
17.  Upregulation of regulator of G-protein signaling 2 in the sclera of a form deprivation myopic animal model 
Molecular Vision  2014;20:977-987.
Scleral remodeling is an important mechanism underlying the development of myopia. Atropine, an antagonist of G protein-coupled muscarinic receptors, is currently used as an off-label treatment for myopia. Regulator of G-protein signaling 2 (RGS2) functions as an intracellular selective inhibitor of muscarinic receptors. In this study we measured scleral RGS2 expression and scleral remodeling in an animal model of myopia in the presence or absence of atropine treatment.
Guinea pigs were assigned to four groups: normal (free of form deprivation), form deprivation myopia (FDM) for 4 weeks, FDM treated with saline, and FDM treated with atropine. Biometric measurements were then performed. RGS2 expression levels and scleral remodeling, including scleral thickness and collagen type I expression, were compared among the four groups.
Compared with normal eyes and contralateral control eyes, the FDM eyes had the most prominent changes in refraction, axial length, and scleral remodeling, indicating myopia. There was no significant difference between control and normal eyes. Hematoxylin and eosin staining showed that the scleral thickness was significantly thinner in the posterior pole region of FDM eyes compared to normal eyes. Real-time PCR and western blot analysis showed a significant decrease in posterior scleral collagen type I mRNA and protein expression in the FDM eyes compared to the normal eyes. The FDM eyes also had increased levels of RGS2 mRNA and protein expression in the sclera. Atropine treatment attenuated the FDM-induced changes in refraction, axial length, and scleral remodeling. Interestingly, atropine treatment significantly increased collagen type I mRNA expression but decreased RGS2 mRNA and protein expression in the sclera of the FDM eyes.
We identified a significant RGS2 upregulation and collagen type I downregulation in the sclera of FDM eyes, which could be partially attenuated by atropine treatment. Our data suggest that targeting dysregulated RGS2 may provide a novel strategy for development of therapeutic agents to suppress myopia progression.
PMCID: PMC4087119  PMID: 25018620
18.  Correction: Diabetic Patients Could Do As Well as Non-Diabetic Patients without Inflammation on Peritoneal Dialysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):10.1371/annotation/db652343-0b20-489f-8e7f-d23b13219b88.
PMCID: PMC4102328
19.  Exhaustion of Racing Sperm in Nature-Mimicking Microfluidic Channels During Sorting 
Small (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany)  2013;9(20):10.1002/smll.201300020.
PMCID: PMC3821799  PMID: 23677651
sperm exhaustion; motility; naturally inspired biodesign; sperm sorting; microfluidic sorting; fertility
20.  Diabetic Patients Could Do As Well as Non-Diabetic Patients without Inflammation on Peritoneal Dialysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80486.
Diabetic patients on peritoneal dialysis (PD) have lower survival and are more likely complicated with inflammation than their non-diabetic counterparts. Here, we explored the interaction effects between diabetes and inflammation on the survival of PD patients.
Overall, 2,264 incident patients were enrolled from a retrospective cohort study in China. Patients were grouped according to the baseline levels of high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP, ≤3 mg/L or >3 mg/L) or serum albumin (SA, ≥38 g/L or <38 g/L). Then, several multivariable adjusted stratified Cox regression models were constructed for these groups to explore the predicted role of diabetes on all-cause or cardiovascular death under inflammatory or non-inflammatory conditions.
Diabetics on PD were more likely to have inflammation than non-diabetics on PD, and they presented with elevated hsCRP (52.7% vs. 47.3%, P = 0.03) or decreased SA (77.9% vs. 62.7%, P < 0.001) levels. After stratification by size of center and controlling for confounding factors, diabetes was found to predict all-cause death in patients with hsCRP >3 mg/L or SA <38 g/L but not in patients with hsCRP ≤3 mg/L or SA ≥38 g/L. Similarly, the presence of diabetes was an indication of cardiovascular death in patients with hsCRP >3 mg/L or SA <38 g/L. However, if further adjusted by baseline cardiovascular disease, the predicted role of diabetes on death related to cardiovascular disease in patients with SA <38 g/L disappeared.
Diabetic patients could do as well as non-diabetic patients without inflammation on peritoneal dialysis. Active strategies should be implemented to improve inflammation status in diabetic patients on PD.
PMCID: PMC3832492  PMID: 24260402
21.  Lensless imaging for simultaneous microfluidic sperm monitoring and sorting†‡ 
Lab on a chip  2011;11(15):10.1039/c1lc20236g.
5.3 million American couples of reproductive age (9%) are affected by infertility, among which male factors account for up to 50% of cases, which necessitates the identification of parameters defining sperm quality, including sperm count and motility. In vitro fertilization (IVF) with or without intra cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) has become the most widely used assisted reproductive technology (ART) in modern clinical practice to overcome male infertility challenges. One of the obstacles of IVF and ICSI lies in identifying and isolating the most motile and presumably healthiest sperm from semen samples that have low sperm counts (oligozoospermia) and/or low sperm motility (oligospermaesthenia). Microfluidic systems have shown potential to sort sperm with flow systems. However, the small field of view (FOV) of conventional microscopes commonly used to image sperm motion presents challenges in tracking a large number of sperm cells simultaneously. To address this challenge, we have integrated a lensless charge-coupled device (CCD) with a microfluidic chip to enable wide FOV and automatic recording as the sperm move inside a microfluidic channel. The integrated system enables the sorting and tracking of a population of sperm that have been placed in a microfluidic channel. This channel can be monitored in both horizontal and vertical configuration similar to a swim-up column method used clinically. Sperm motilities can be quantified by tracing the shadow paths for individual sperm. Moreover, as the sperm are sorted by swimming from the inlet towards the outlet of a microfluidic channel, motile sperm that reach the outlet can be extracted from the channel at the end of the process. This technology can lead to methods to evaluate each sperm individually in terms of motility response in a wide field of view, which could prove especially useful, when working with oligozoospermic or oligospermaesthenic samples, in which the most motile sperm need to be isolated from a pool of small number of sperm.
PMCID: PMC3812937  PMID: 21677993
22.  Correction: Transcriptome Analysis of Barbarea vulgaris Infested with Diamondback Moth (Plutella xylostella) Larvae 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):10.1371/annotation/83c5e6a5-2633-46d8-b138-2ac1f0f2706a.
PMCID: PMC3788145
23.  Functional requirements driving the gene duplication in 12 Drosophila species 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:555.
Gene duplication supplies the raw materials for novel gene functions and many gene families arisen from duplication experience adaptive evolution. Most studies of young duplicates have focused on mammals, especially humans, whereas reports describing their genome-wide evolutionary patterns across the closely related Drosophila species are rare. The sequenced 12 Drosophila genomes provide the opportunity to address this issue.
In our study, 3,647 young duplicate gene families were identified across the 12 Drosophila species and three types of expansions, species-specific, lineage-specific and complex expansions, were detected in these gene families. Our data showed that the species-specific young duplicate genes predominated (86.6%) over the other two types. Interestingly, many independent species-specific expansions in the same gene family have been observed in many species, even including 11 or 12 Drosophila species. Our data also showed that the functional bias observed in these young duplicate genes was mainly related to responses to environmental stimuli and biotic stresses.
This study reveals the evolutionary patterns of young duplicates across 12 Drosophila species on a genomic scale. Our results suggest that convergent evolution acts on young duplicate genes after the species differentiation and adaptive evolution may play an important role in duplicate genes for adaption to ecological factors and environmental changes in Drosophila.
PMCID: PMC3751352  PMID: 23945147
Young duplication; Environmental factor; Convergent evolution; Adaptive evolution
24.  Antifungal cyclic peptides from the marine sponge Microscleroderma herdmani 
Screening natural product extracts from the National Cancer Institute Open Repository for antifungal discovery afforded hits for bioassay-guided fractionation. Using LC–MS analysis to generate chemical structure information on potentially active compounds, two new cyclic hexapeptides, microsclerodermins J (1) and K (2), were isolated from the deep-water sponge Microscleroderma herdmani, along with microsclerodermins A (3) and B (4), previously isolated from an unidentified Microscleroderma species. The structures of the new compounds were elucidated by spectroscopic analysis and chemical methods. In vitro antifungal testing showed that the four compounds possessed strong activities against the opportunistic fungal pathogens Candida albicans, Candida glabrata, Candida krusei, Cryptococcus neoformans, and Aspergillus fumigatus.
PMCID: PMC3738201  PMID: 23936761
antifungal; microsclerodermins; Microscleroderma herdmani; opportunistic fungal pathogens
25.  Proteome Analyses of Strains ATCC 51142 and PCC 7822 of the Diazotrophic Cyanobacterium Cyanothece sp. under Culture Conditions Resulting in Enhanced H2 Production 
Cultures of the cyanobacterial genus Cyanothece have been shown to produce high levels of biohydrogen. These strains are diazotrophic and undergo pronounced diurnal cycles when grown under N2-fixing conditions in light-dark cycles. We seek to better understand the way in which proteins respond to these diurnal changes, and we performed quantitative proteome analysis of Cyanothece sp. strains ATCC 51142 and PCC 7822 grown under 8 different nutritional conditions. Nitrogenase expression was limited to N2-fixing conditions, and in the absence of glycerol, nitrogenase gene expression was linked to the dark period. However, glycerol induced expression of nitrogenase during part of the light period, together with cytochrome c oxidase (Cox), glycogen phosphorylase (Glp), and glycolytic and pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) enzymes. This indicated that nitrogenase expression in the light was facilitated via higher levels of respiration and glycogen breakdown. Key enzymes of the Calvin cycle were inhibited in Cyanothece ATCC 51142 in the presence of glycerol under H2-producing conditions, suggesting a competition between these sources of carbon. However, in Cyanothece PCC 7822, the Calvin cycle still played a role in cofactor recycling during H2 production. Our data comprise the first comprehensive profiling of proteome changes in Cyanothece PCC 7822 and allow an in-depth comparative analysis of major physiological and biochemical processes that influence H2 production in both strains. Our results revealed many previously uncharacterized proteins that may play a role in nitrogenase activity and in other metabolic pathways and may provide suitable targets for genetic manipulation that would lead to improvement of large-scale H2 production.
PMCID: PMC3568600  PMID: 23204418

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