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1.  The hnRNP-Q Protein LIF2 Participates in the Plant Immune Response 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99343.
Eukaryotes have evolved complex defense pathways to combat invading pathogens. Here, we investigated the role of the Arabidopsis thaliana heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP-Q) LIF2 in the plant innate immune response. We show that LIF2 loss-of-function in A. thaliana leads to changes in the basal expression of the salicylic acid (SA)- and jasmonic acid (JA)- dependent defense marker genes PR1 and PDF1.2, respectively. Whereas the expression of genes involved in SA and JA biosynthesis and signaling was also affected in the lif2-1 mutant, no change in SA and JA hormonal contents was detected. In addition, the composition of glucosinolates, a class of defense-related secondary metabolites, was altered in the lif2-1 mutant in the absence of pathogen challenge. The lif2-1 mutant exhibited reduced susceptibility to the hemi-biotrophic pathogen Pseudomonas syringae and the necrotrophic ascomycete Botrytis cinerea. Furthermore, the lif2-1 sid2-2 double mutant was less susceptible than the wild type to P. syringae infection, suggesting that the lif2 response to pathogens was independent of SA accumulation. Together, our data suggest that lif2-1 exhibits a basal primed defense state, resulting from complex deregulation of gene expression, which leads to increased resistance to pathogens with various infection strategies. Therefore, LIF2 may function as a suppressor of cell-autonomous immunity. Similar to its human homolog, NSAP1/SYNCRIP, a trans-acting factor involved in both cellular processes and the viral life cycle, LIF2 may regulate the conflicting aspects of development and defense programs, suggesting that a conserved evolutionary trade-off between growth and defense pathways exists in eukaryotes.
PMCID: PMC4051675  PMID: 24914891
2.  Hypertensive stretch regulates endothelial exocytosis of Weibel-Palade bodies through VEGF receptor 2 signaling pathways 
Cell Research  2013;23(6):820-834.
Regulated endothelial exocytosis of Weibel-Palade bodies (WPBs), the first stage in leukocyte trafficking, plays a pivotal role in inflammation and injury. Acute mechanical stretch has been closely associated with vascular inflammation, although the precise mechanism is unknown. Here, we show that hypertensive stretch regulates the exocytosis of WPBs of endothelial cells (ECs) through VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2) signaling pathways. Stretch triggers a rapid release (within minutes) of von Willebrand factor and interleukin-8 from WPBs in cultured human ECs, promoting the interaction between leukocytes and ECs through the translocation of P-selectin to the cell membrane. We further show that hypertensive stretch significantly induces P-selectin translocation of intact ECs and enhances leukocyte adhesion both ex vivo and in vivo. Stretch-induced endothelial exocytosis is mediated via a VEGFR2/PLCγ1/calcium pathway. Interestingly, stretch also induces a negative feedback via a VEGFR2/Akt/nitric oxide pathway. Such dual effects are confirmed using pharmacological and genetic approaches in carotid artery segments, as well as in acute hypertensive mouse models. These studies reveal mechanical stretch as a potent agonist for endothelial exocytosis, which is modulated by VEGFR2 signaling. Thus, VEGFR2 signaling pathways may represent novel therapeutic targets in limiting hypertensive stretch-related inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3674392  PMID: 23609797
endothelial cells; stretch; VEGF receptor; exocytosis of Weibel-Palade bodies
3.  Preoperative Aspiration Culture for Preoperative Diagnosis of Infection in Total Hip or Knee Arthroplasty 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(11):3830-3834.
This meta-analysis evaluated preoperative aspiration culture for diagnosing prosthetic joint infection (PJI) in total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA). The pooled sensitivity and specificity were 0.72 (95% confidence interval, 0.65 to 0.78) and 0.95 (0.93 to 0.97), respectively. Subgroup analyses revealed nonsignificant worse diagnostic performance for THA than for TKA (sensitivity, 0.70 versus 0.78; specificity, 0.94 versus 0.96). Preoperative aspiration culture has moderate to high sensitivity and very high specificity for diagnosing PJI.
PMCID: PMC3889774  PMID: 23946521
4.  Laparoscopic versus Open Total Gastrectomy for Gastric Cancer: An Updated Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88753.
To expand the current knowledge on the feasibility and safety of laparoscopic total gastrectomy (LTG) for gastric cancer in comparison with open total gastrectomy (OTG).
Additional studies comparing laparoscopic versus open total gastric resection have been published, and it is necessary to update the meta-analysis of this subject.
Original articles compared LTG and OTG for gastric cancer, which published in English from January 1990 to July 2013 were searched in PubMed, Embase, and Web of Knowledge by two reviewers independently. Operative time, blood loss, harvested lymph nodes, proximal resection margin, analgesic medication, first flatus day, first oral intake, postoperative hospital stay, postoperative complications, hospital mortality, 5-year overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) were compared using STATA version 10.1.
17 studies were selected in this analysis, which included a total of 2313 patients (955 in LTG and 1358 in OTG). LTG showed longer operative time, less blood loss, fewer analgesic uses, earlier passage of flatus, quicker resumption of oral intake, earlier hospital discharge, and reduced postoperative morbidity. The number of harvested lymph nodes, proximal resection margin, hospital mortality, 5-year OS and DFS were similar.
LTG had the benefits of less blood loss, less postoperative pain, quicker bowel function recovery, shorter hospital stay and lower postoperative morbidity, at the price of longer operative time. There were no statistical differences in lymph node dissection, resection margin, hospital mortality, and long-term outcomes, which indicated the similar oncological safety with OTG. A positive trend was indicated towards LTG. So LTG can be performed as an alternative to OTG by the experienced surgeons in high-volume centers. Whereas, due to the relative small sample size of long-term outcomes and lack of randomized control trials, more studies are required.
PMCID: PMC3928285  PMID: 24558421
5.  Inhibition of HSP90 attenuates porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus production in vitro 
Virology Journal  2014;11:17.
Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) infection leads to substantial economic losses to the swine industry worldwide. However, no effective countermeasures exist to combat this virus infection so far. The most common antiviral strategy relies on directly inhibiting viral proteins. However, this strategy invariably leads to the emergence of drug resistance due to the error-prone nature of viral ploymerase. Targeting cellular proteins required for viral infection for developing new generation of antivirals is gaining concern. Recently, heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) was found to be an important host factor for the replication of multiple viruses and the inhibition of HSP90 showed significant antiviral effects. It is thought that the inhibition of HSP90 could be a promising broad-range antiviral approach. However, the effects of HSP90 inhibition on PRRSV infection have not been evaluated. In the current research, we tried to inhibit HSP90 and test whether the inhibition affect PRRSV infection.
We inhibit the function of HSP90 with two inhibitors, geldanamycin (GA) and 17- allylamono-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG), and down-regulated the expression of endogenous HSP90 with specific small-interfering RNAs (siRNAs). Cell viability was measured with alamarBlue. The protein level of viral N was determined by western blotting and indirect immunofluorescence (IFA). Besides, IFA was employed to examine the level of viral double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). The viral RNA copy number and the level of IFN-β mRNA were determined by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR).
Our results indicated that both HSP90 inhibitors showed strong anti-PRRSV activity. They could reduce viral production by preventing the viral RNA synthesis. These inhibitory effects were not due to the activation of innate interferon response. In addition, we observed that individual knockdown targeting HSP90α or HSP90β did not show dramatic inhibitory effect. Combined knockdown of these two isoforms was required to reduce viral infection.
Our results shed light on the possibility of developing potential therapeutics targeting HSP90 against PRRSV infection.
PMCID: PMC3942275  PMID: 24490822
Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus; PRRSV; HSP90; Geldanamycin; 17-AAG; Antiviral
6.  Epigenetic Alterations at Genomic Loci Modified by Gene Targeting in Arabidopsis thaliana 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e85383.
Gene Targeting (GT) is the integration of an introduced vector into a specific chromosomal site, via homologous recombination. It is considered an effective tool for precise genome editing, with far-reaching implications in biological research and biotechnology, and is widely used in mice, with the potential of becoming routine in many species. Nevertheless, the epigenetic status of the targeted allele remains largely unexplored. Using GT-modified lines of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, we show that the DNA methylation profile of the targeted locus is changed following GT. This effect is non-directional as methylation can be either completely lost, maintained with minor alterations or show instability in the generations subsequent to GT. As DNA methylation is known to be involved in several cellular processes, GT-related alterations may result in unexpected or even unnoticed perturbations. Our analysis shows that GT may be used as a new tool for generating epialleles, for example, to study the role of gene body methylation. In addition, the analysis of DNA methylation at the targeted locus may be utilized to investigate the mechanism of GT, many aspects of which are still unknown.
PMCID: PMC3873452  PMID: 24386472
7.  Enhancing the Laccase Production and Laccase Gene Expression in the White-Rot Fungus Trametes velutina 5930 with Great Potential for Biotechnological Applications by Different Metal Ions and Aromatic Compounds 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79307.
Laccase is useful for various biotechnological and industrial applications. The white-rot fungus Trametes velutina 5930 and its laccase, isolated from the Shennongjia Nature Reserve in China by our laboratory, has great potential for practical application in environmental biotechnology. However, the original level of laccase produced by Trametes velutina 5930 was relatively low in the absence of any inducer. Therefore, in order to enhance the laccase production by Trametes velutina 5930 and make better use of this fungus in the field of environmental biotechnology, the regulation of laccase production and laccase gene expression in Trametes velutina 5930 were investigated in this study. Different metal ions such as Cu2+ and Fe2+ could stimulate the laccase synthesis and laccase gene transcription in Trametes velutina 5930. Some aromatic compounds structurally related to lignin, such as tannic acid, syringic acid, cinnamic acid, gallic acid and guaiacol, could also enhance the level of laccase activity and laccase gene transcription. We also found that there existed a positive synergistic effect of aromatic compound and metal ion on the laccase production and laccase gene transcription in Trametes velutina 5930. Taken together, our study may contribute to the improvement of laccase productivity by Trametes velutina 5930.
PMCID: PMC3823595  PMID: 24244475
8.  Natural Antioxidant-Isoliquiritigenin Ameliorates Contractile Dysfunction of Hypoxic Cardiomyocytes via AMPK Signaling Pathway 
Mediators of Inflammation  2013;2013:390890.
Isoliquiritigenin (ISL), a simple chalcone-type flavonoid, is derived from licorice compounds and is mainly present in foods, beverages, and tobacco. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) is a critical factor involved in modulating cardiac stress response signaling during ischemia and reperfusion. We hypothesize that ISL as a natural antioxidant may protect heart against ischemic injury via modulating cellular redox status and regulating cardioprotective signaling pathways. The fluorescent probe H2DCFDA was used to measure the level of intracellular ROS. The glucose uptake was determined by 2-deoxy-D-glucose-3H accumulation. The IonOptix System measured the contractile function of isolated cardiomyocytes. The results demonstrated that ISL treatment markedly ameliorated cardiomyocytes contractile dysfunction caused by hypoxia. ISL significantly stimulated cardioprotective signaling, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathways. The ROS fluorescent probe H2DCFDA determination indicated that ISL significantly reduced cardiac ROS level during hypoxia/reoxygenation. Moreover, ISL reduced the mitochondrial potential (Δψ) of isolated mouse cardiomyocytes. Taken together, ISL as a natural antioxidant demonstrated the cardioprotection against ischemic injury that may attribute to the activation of AMPK and ERK signaling pathways and balance of cellular redox status.
PMCID: PMC3791876  PMID: 24163504
9.  The effect of Shenmai injection on the proliferation of Rat airway smooth muscle cells in asthma and underlying mechanism 
Over-proliferation of airway smooth muscle cell (ASMC) is one of the important contributors to airway remodeling in asthma. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of Shenmai injection (SMI) on the proliferation of the rat ASMC in asthma.
Rats were randomly divided into three groups: the control group, the asthma group, and the SMI treatment group. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunocytochemistry staining were used to detect the mRNA and protein expression of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) in rat ASMC respectively. Intracellular Ca2+ concentration ( [Ca2+]i ) in rat ASMC were measured with Fluo-3/AM by confocal microscopy. The proliferation was detected by MTT assay.
Compared with the control group, the asthma group showed an increased expression of TRPV1 and [Ca2+]i in rat ASMC. The expression of PCNA and absorbance of MTT assay in asthma rat ASMC was also significantly increased. SMI could significantly decrease the expression of TRPV1 channel and [Ca2+]i in the asthmatic rat ASMC. Furthermore, the expression of PCNA and absorbance of MTT assay in asthmatic rat ASMC was significantly reduced after SMI treatment.
SMI may prevent asthma-induced ASMC over-proliferation probably by inhibiting the expression of TRPV1 channel, which regulates the intracellular calcium concentration.
PMCID: PMC3849921  PMID: 24010863
Shenmai injection (SMI); Transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1); Airway smooth muscle cells (ASMC); Intracellular calcium; Airway remodeling
10.  Tissue-Specific Epigenetic Modifications in Root Apical Meristem Cells of Hordeum vulgare 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69204.
Epigenetic modifications of chromatin structure are essential for many biological processes, including growth and reproduction. Patterns of DNA and histone modifications have recently been widely studied in many plant species, although there is virtually no data on the spatial and temporal distribution of epigenetic markers during plant development. Accordingly, we have used immunostaining techniques to investigate epigenetic modifications in the root apical meristem of Hordeum vulgare. Histone H4 acetylation (H4K5ac), histone H3 dimethylation (H3K4me2, H3K9me2) and DNA methylation (5mC) patterns were established for various root meristem tissues. Distinct levels of those modifications were visualised in the root cap, epidermis, cortex and vascular tissues. The lateral root cap cells seem to display the highest level of H3K9me2 and 5mC. In the epidermis, the highest level of 5mC and H3K9me2 was detected in the nuclei from the boundary of the proximal meristem and the elongation zone, while the vascular tissues were characterized by the highest level of H4K5ac. Some of the modified histones were also detectable in the cytoplasm in a highly tissue-specific manner. Immunolocalisation of epigenetic modifications of chromatin carried out in this way, on longitudinal or transverse sections, provides a unique topographic context within the organ, and will provide some answers to the significant biological question of tissue differentiation processes during root development in a monocotyledon plant species.
PMCID: PMC3729647  PMID: 23935955
11.  A Wheat WRKY Transcription Factor TaWRKY10 Confers Tolerance to Multiple Abiotic Stresses in Transgenic Tobacco 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65120.
WRKY transcription factors are reported to be involved in defense regulation, stress response and plant growth and development. However, the precise role of WRKY transcription factors in abiotic stress tolerance is not completely understood, especially in crops. In this study, we identified and cloned 10 WRKY genes from genome of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). TaWRKY10, a gene induced by multiple stresses, was selected for further investigation. TaWRKY10 was upregulated by treatment with polyethylene glycol, NaCl, cold and H2O2. Result of Southern blot indicates that the wheat genome contains three copies of TaWRKY10. The TaWRKY10 protein is localized in the nucleus and functions as a transcriptional activator. Overexpression of TaWRKY10 in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) resulted in enhanced drought and salt stress tolerance, mainly demonstrated by the transgenic plants exhibiting of increased germination rate, root length, survival rate, and relative water content under these stress conditions. Further investigation showed that transgenic plants also retained higher proline and soluble sugar contents, and lower reactive oxygen species and malonaldehyde contents. Moreover, overexpression of the TaWRKY10 regulated the expression of a series of stress related genes. Taken together, our results indicate that TaWRKY10 functions as a positive factor under drought and salt stresses by regulating the osmotic balance, ROS scavenging and transcription of stress related genes.
PMCID: PMC3677898  PMID: 23762295
12.  Genome-Wide Identification, Phylogenetic and Co-Expression Analysis of OsSET Gene Family in Rice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65426.
SET domain is responsible for the catalytic activity of histone lysine methyltransferases (HKMTs) during developmental process. Histone lysine methylation plays a crucial and diverse regulatory function in chromatin organization and genome function. Although several SET genes have been identified and characterized in plants, the understanding of OsSET gene family in rice is still very limited.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study, a systematic analysis was performed and revealed the presence of at least 43 SET genes in rice genome. Phylogenetic and structural analysis grouped SET proteins into five classes, and supposed that the domains out of SET domain were significant for the specific of histone lysine methylation, as well as the recognition of methylated histone lysine. Based on the global microarray, gene expression profile revealed that the transcripts of OsSET genes were accumulated differentially during vegetative and reproductive developmental stages and preferentially up or down-regulated in different tissues. Cis-elements identification, co-expression analysis and GO analysis of expression correlation of 12 OsSET genes suggested that OsSET genes might be involved in cell cycle regulation and feedback.
This study will facilitate further studies on OsSET family and provide useful clues for functional validation of OsSETs.
PMCID: PMC3676427  PMID: 23762371
13.  Expression of the Laccase Gene from a White Rot Fungus in Pichia pastoris Can Enhance the Resistance of This Yeast to H2O2-Mediated Oxidative Stress by Stimulating the Glutathione-Based Antioxidative System 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(16):5845-5854.
Laccase is a copper-containing polyphenol oxidase that has great potential in industrial and biotechnological applications. Previous research has suggested that fungal laccase may be involved in the defense against oxidative stress, but there is little direct evidence supporting this hypothesis, and the mechanism by which laccase protects cells from oxidative stress also remains unclear. Here, we report that the expression of the laccase gene from white rot fungus in Pichia pastoris can significantly enhance the resistance of yeast to H2O2-mediated oxidative stress. The expression of laccase in yeast was found to confer a strong ability to scavenge intracellular H2O2 and to protect cells from lipid oxidative damage. The mechanism by which laccase gene expression increases resistance to oxidative stress was then investigated further. We found that laccase gene expression in Pichia pastoris could increase the level of glutathione-based antioxidative activity, including the intracellular glutathione levels and the enzymatic activity of glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase. The transcription of the laccase gene in Pichia pastoris was found to be enhanced by the oxidative stress caused by exogenous H2O2. The stimulation of laccase gene expression in response to exogenous H2O2 stress further contributed to the transcriptional induction of the genes involved in the glutathione-dependent antioxidative system, including PpYAP1, PpGPX1, PpPMP20, PpGLR1, and PpGSH1. Taken together, these results suggest that the expression of the laccase gene in Pichia pastoris can enhance the resistance of yeast to H2O2-mediated oxidative stress by stimulating the glutathione-based antioxidative system to protect the cell from oxidative damage.
PMCID: PMC3406150  PMID: 22706050
14.  Widespread splicing changes in human brain development and aging 
Human brain transcriptome analysis revealed widespread age-related splicing changes in the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum. While most of the splicing changes take place in development, approximately one-third of them extends into aging.
More than one-third of genes expressed in the human brain change splicing with age.Approximately 30% of observed splicing changes occur in aging.Age-related splicing patterns are largely conserved between the human and macaque brains.High frequency of intron retention events suggests the role of nonsense-mediated decay in age-related gene expression regulation.
While splicing differences between tissues, sexes and species are well documented, little is known about the extent and the nature of splicing changes that take place during human or mammalian development and aging. Here, using high-throughput transcriptome sequencing, we have characterized splicing changes that take place during whole human lifespan in two brain regions: prefrontal cortex and cerebellum. Identified changes were confirmed using independent human and rhesus macaque RNA-seq data sets, exon arrays and PCR, and were detected at the protein level using mass spectrometry. Splicing changes across lifespan were abundant in both of the brain regions studied, affecting more than a third of the genes expressed in the human brain. Approximately 15% of these changes differed between the two brain regions. Across lifespan, splicing changes followed discrete patterns that could be linked to neural functions, and associated with the expression profiles of the corresponding splicing factors. More than 60% of all splicing changes represented a single splicing pattern reflecting preferential inclusion of gene segments potentially targeting transcripts for nonsense-mediated decay in infants and elderly.
PMCID: PMC3564255  PMID: 23340839
alternative splicing; brain; development; human; RNA-seq
15.  Mediator Subunit18 Controls Flowering Time and Floral Organ Identity in Arabidopsis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53924.
Mediator is a conserved multi-protein complex that plays an important role in regulating transcription by mediating interactions between transcriptional activator proteins and RNA polymerase II. Much evidence exists that Mediator plays a constitutive role in the transcription of all genes transcribed by RNA polymerase II. However, evidence is mounting that specific Mediator subunits may control the developmental regulation of specific subsets of RNA polymerase II-dependent genes. Although the Mediator complex has been extensively studied in yeast and mammals, only a few reports on Mediator function in flowering time control of plants, little is known about Mediator function in floral organ identity. Here we show that in Arabidopsis thaliana, MEDIATOR SUBUNIT 18 (MED18) affects flowering time and floral organ formation through FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) and AGAMOUS (AG). A MED18 loss-of-function mutant showed a remarkable syndrome of later flowering and altered floral organ number. We show that FLC and AG mRNA levels and AG expression patterns are altered in the mutant. Our results support parallels between the regulation of FLC and AG and demonstrate a developmental role for Mediator in plants.
PMCID: PMC3543355  PMID: 23326539
16.  Spreading of Heterochromatin Is Limited to Specific Families of Maize Retrotransposons 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(12):e1003127.
Transposable elements (TEs) have the potential to act as controlling elements to influence the expression of genes and are often subject to heterochromatic silencing. The current paradigm suggests that heterochromatic silencing can spread beyond the borders of TEs and influence the chromatin state of neighboring low-copy sequences. This would allow TEs to condition obligatory or facilitated epialleles and act as controlling elements. The maize genome contains numerous families of class I TEs (retrotransposons) that are present in moderate to high copy numbers, and many are found in regions near genes, which provides an opportunity to test whether the spreading of heterochromatin from retrotransposons is prevalent. We have investigated the extent of heterochromatin spreading into DNA flanking each family of retrotransposons by profiling DNA methylation and di-methylation of lysine 9 of histone 3 (H3K9me2) in low-copy regions of the maize genome. The effects of different retrotransposon families on local chromatin are highly variable. Some retrotransposon families exhibit enrichment of heterochromatic marks within 800–1,200 base pairs of insertion sites, while other families exhibit very little evidence for the spreading of heterochromatic marks. The analysis of chromatin state in genotypes that lack specific insertions suggests that the heterochromatin in low-copy DNA flanking retrotransposons often results from the spreading of silencing marks rather than insertion-site preferences. Genes located near TEs that exhibit spreading of heterochromatin tend to be expressed at lower levels than other genes. Our findings suggest that a subset of retrotransposon families may act as controlling elements influencing neighboring sequences, while the majority of retrotransposons have little effect on flanking sequences.
Author Summary
Transposable elements comprise a substantial portion of many eukaryotic genomes. These mobile fragments of DNA can directly mutate genes through insertions into coding regions but may also affect the gene regulation through nearby insertions. There is evidence that the majority of transposable elements are epigenetically silenced, and in some cases this silencing may spread to neighboring sequences. This spreading of heterochromatin could create a significant fitness tradeoff between transposon silencing and gene expression. The maize genome has a complex organization with many genes flanked by retrotransposons, providing an opportunity to study the interaction of retrotransposons and genes. To survey the prevalence of heterochromatin spreading associated with different retrotransposon families, we profiled the spread of heterochromatin into nearby low copy sequences for 150 high copy retrotransposon families. While many retrotransposons exhibit little to no spreading of heterochromatin, there are some retrotransposon families that do exhibit spreading. Genes located near retrotransposons that spread heterochromatin have lower expression levels. The families of retrotransposons that spread heterochromatin marks to nearby low-copy sequences may have increased fitness costs for the host genome due to their suppression of genes located near insertions.
PMCID: PMC3521669  PMID: 23271981
17.  Bone Marrow Vaccination: A Novel Approach to Enhance Antigen Specific Antitumor Immunity 
Vaccine  2011;29(47):8599-8605.
Bone marrow (BM) serves as a reservoir for a unique population of memory T cells with strong effector properties that make them ideal target for cancer immunotherapy strategies. However, direct vaccination and priming of T cells within the BM of the host has never been investigated. This study evaluates the specific immune response induced via a new method of direct intra-bone marrow (IBM) vaccinations in an animal model of human papillomavirus-associated cancer. We found that IBM vaccinations with the class I HPV-16 E7 epitope induce large numbers of activated, IFN-γ-producing E7-specific lymphocytes in the BM. In prophylactic tumor challenge experiments, direct intra-BM vaccination was found to be protective against tumor formation for 80% of the mice. In the therapeutic setting, IBM vaccination induced tumor regression in 3 of 10 vaccinated mice and delayed tumor growth in the remaining animals. Finally, adoptive transfer of BM cells from IBM vaccinated mice to naïve animals conferred complete protection against tumor growth. These data demonstrate the capacity of direct IBM vaccination to induce potent antigen-specific immunity resulting in protection from tumor growth in an animal model. Specifically targeting BM T cells with vaccines may improve responses to cancer immunotherapy and offer important clinical advantages, especially in the setting of bone marrow malignancies.
PMCID: PMC3200474  PMID: 21951877
Vaccination; Bone Marrow; memory T cells; HPV
18.  TamiR159 Directed Wheat TaGAMYB Cleavage and Its Involvement in Anther Development and Heat Response 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48445.
In Arabidopsis and rice, miR159-regulated GAMYB-like family transcription factors function in flower development and gibberellin (GA) signaling in cereal aleurone cells. In this study, the involvement of miR159 in the regulation of its putative target TaGAMYB and its relationship to wheat development were investigated. First, we demonstrated that cleavage of TaGAMYB1 and TaGAMYB2 was directed by miR159 using 5′-RACE and a transient expression system. Second, we overexpressed TamiR159, TaGAMYB1 and mTaGAMYB1 (impaired in the miR159 binding site) in transgenic rice, revealing that the accumulation in rice of mature miR159 derived from the precursor of wheat resulted in delayed heading time and male sterility. In addition, the number of tillers and primary branches in rice overexpressing mTaGAMYB1 increased relative to the wild type. Our previous study reported that TamiR159 was downregulated after two hours of heat stress treatment in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Most notably, the TamiR159 overexpression rice lines were more sensitive to heat stress relative to the wild type, indicating that the downregulation of TamiR159 in wheat after heat stress might participate in a heat stress-related signaling pathway, in turn contributing to heat stress tolerance.
PMCID: PMC3486836  PMID: 23133634
19.  Interleukin-7 inhibits tumor-induced CD27−CD28− suppressor T-cells: implications for cancer immunotherapy 
We have previously reported that many types of tumors are able to induce changes in human T cells that lead to the acquisition of suppressive function as well as phenotypic alterations resembling those found in senescent T cells. In the present study we find a role for IL-7 in protecting T cells from these changes, and further define involved signaling pathways.
Experimental Design
We evaluated the ability of IL-7 treatment to prevent the gain of suppressive function and phenotypic alterations in human T cells after a short co-culture with tumor cells in vitro. We then used inhibitors of components of the PI3K/AKT pathway and siRNA knock-down of Mcl-1 and Bim to evaluate the role of these signaling pathways in IL-7 protection.
We found that IL-7 inhibits CD27/CD28 loss and maintains proliferative capacity, IL-2 production, and reduced suppressive function. IL-7’s protective ability depended on activation of the PI3K/AKT pathway, which inhibited activation of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) which subsequently prevented the phosphorylation and loss of Mcl-1. We further demonstrated a key role for Mcl-1 in that its knock-down or inhibition abrogated the effects of IL-7. Additionally, knock-down of the Mcl-1 binding partner and pro-apoptotic protein Bim protected T cells from these dysfunctional alterations.
These observations confirm the role for Bcl-2 family members in cytokine signaling, and suggest that IL-7 treatment in combination with other immunotherapies could lead to new clinical strategies to maintain normal T cell function and reduce tumor-induced generation of dysfunctional and suppressor T cells.
PMCID: PMC3149850  PMID: 21712448
Interleukin-7; tumor immunology; immunosuppression; Mcl-1; immunotherapy
20.  The Dynamic Changes of DNA Methylation and Histone Modifications of Salt Responsive Transcription Factor Genes in Soybean 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41274.
Epigenetic modification contributes to the regulation of gene expression and plant development under salinity stress. Here we describe the identification of 49 soybean transcription factors by microarray analysis as being inducible by salinity stress. A semi-quantitative RT-PCR-based expression assay confirmed the salinity stress inducibility of 45 of these 49 transcription factors, and showed that ten of them were up-regulated when seedlings were exposed to the demethylation agent 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine. Salinity stress was shown to affect the methylation status of four of these ten transcription factors (one MYB, one b-ZIP and two AP2/DREB family members) using a combination of bisulfite sequencing and DNA methylation-sensitive DNA gel blot analysis. ChIP analysis indicated that the activation of three of the four DNA methylated transcription factors was correlated with an increased level of histone H3K4 trimethylation and H3K9 acetylation, and/or a reduced level of H3K9 demethylation in various parts of the promoter or coding regions. Our results suggest a critical role for some transcription factors' activation/repression by DNA methylation and/or histone modifications in soybean tolerance to salinity stress.
PMCID: PMC3399865  PMID: 22815985
21.  Genome-Wide Identification of Polycomb Target Genes Reveals a Functional Association of Pho with Scm in Bombyx mori 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34330.
Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are evolutionarily conserved chromatin modifiers and act together in three multimeric complexes, Polycomb repressive complex 1 (PRC1), Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), and Pleiohomeotic repressive complex (PhoRC), to repress transcription of the target genes. Here, we identified Polycomb target genes in Bombyx mori with holocentric centromere using genome-wide expression screening based on the knockdown of BmSCE, BmESC, BmPHO, or BmSCM gene, which represent the distinct complexes. As a result, the expressions of 29 genes were up-regulated after knocking down 4 PcG genes. Particularly, there is a significant overlap between targets of BmPho (331 out of 524) and BmScm (331 out of 532), and among these, 190 genes function as regulator factors playing important roles in development. We also found that BmPho, as well as BmScm, can interact with other Polycomb components examined in this study. Further detailed analysis revealed that the C-terminus of BmPho containing zinc finger domain is involved in the interaction between BmPho and BmScm. Moreover, the zinc finger domain in BmPho contributes to its inhibitory function and ectopic overexpression of BmScm is able to promote transcriptional repression by Gal4-Pho fusions including BmScm-interacting domain. Loss of BmPho expression causes relocalization of BmScm into the cytoplasm. Collectively, we provide evidence of a functional link between BmPho and BmScm, and propose two Polycomb-related repression mechanisms requiring only BmPho associated with BmScm or a whole set of PcG complexes.
PMCID: PMC3317521  PMID: 22485166
22.  Relationship between the Composition of Flavonoids and Flower Colors Variation in Tropical Water Lily (Nymphaea) Cultivars 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34335.
Water lily, the member of the Nymphaeaceae family, is the symbol of Buddhism and Brahmanism in India. Despite its limited researches on flower color variations and formation mechanism, water lily has background of blue flowers and displays an exceptionally wide diversity of flower colors from purple, red, blue to yellow, in nature. In this study, 34 flavonoids were identified among 35 tropical cultivars by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with photodiode array detection (DAD) and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS). Among them, four anthocyanins: delphinidin 3-O-rhamnosyl-5-O-galactoside (Dp3Rh5Ga), delphinidin 3-O-(2″-O-galloyl-6″-O-oxalyl-rhamnoside) (Dp3galloyl-oxalylRh), delphinidin 3-O-(6″-O-acetyl-β-glucopyranoside) (Dp3acetylG) and cyanidin 3- O-(2″-O-galloyl-galactopyranoside)-5-O-rhamnoside (Cy3galloylGa5Rh), one chalcone: chalcononaringenin 2′-O-galactoside (Chal2′Ga) and twelve flavonols: myricetin 7-O-rhamnosyl-(1→2)-rhamnoside (My7RhRh), quercetin 7-O-galactosyl-(1→2)-rhamnoside (Qu7GaRh), quercetin 7-O-galactoside (Qu7Ga), kaempferol 7-O-galactosyl-(1→2)-rhamnoside (Km7GaRh), myricetin 3-O-galactoside (My3Ga), kaempferol 7-O-galloylgalactosyl-(1→2)-rhamnoside (Km7galloylGaRh), myricetin 3-O-galloylrhamnoside (My3galloylRh), kaempferol 3-O-galactoside (Km3Ga), isorhamnetin 7-O-galactoside (Is7Ga), isorhamnetin 7-O-xyloside (Is7Xy), kaempferol 3-O-(3″-acetylrhamnoside) (Km3-3″acetylRh) and quercetin 3-O-acetylgalactoside (Qu3acetylGa) were identified in the petals of tropic water lily for the first time. Meanwhile a multivariate analysis was used to explore the relationship between pigments and flower color. By comparing, the cultivars which were detected delphinidin 3-galactoside (Dp3Ga) presented amaranth, and detected delphinidin 3′-galactoside (Dp3′Ga) presented blue. However, the derivatives of delphinidin and cyanidin were more complicated in red group. No anthocyanins were detected within white and yellow group. At the same time a possible flavonoid biosynthesis pathway of tropical water lily was presumed putatively. These studies will help to elucidate the evolution mechanism on the formation of flower colors and provide theoretical basis for outcross breeding and developing health care products from this plant.
PMCID: PMC3317528  PMID: 22485167
23.  Quantitative Analysis of miRNA Expression in Seven Human Foetal and Adult Organs 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28730.
miRNAs have been found to repress gene expression at posttranscriptional level in cells. Studies have shown that expression of miRNAs is tissue-specific and developmental-stage-specific. The mechanism behind this could be explained by miRNA pathways. In this study, totally 54 miRNAs were analysed in 7 matched human foetal and adult organs (brain, colon, heart, kidney, liver, lung and spleen) using real-time PCR. Quantitative analysis showed that a big proportion of the 54 miRNAs have higher general expression in the organs of the foetal period than the adult period, with the exception of the heart. The miRNA gene promoter methylation level in the adult stages was higher than in the foetal stages. Moreover, there is a high general expression level of several miRNAs in both stages of brain, kidney, liver, lung and spleen, but not seen in colon and heart. Our results indicate that the miRNAs may play a bigger role in the foetal stage than the adult stage of brain, colon, kidney, liver, lung and spleen. The majority of the miRNAs analysed may play an important role in the growth and development of brain, kidney, liver, lung and spleen. However, a minority of the miRNAs may be functional in colon and heart.
PMCID: PMC3237490  PMID: 22194897
24.  MicroRNA-Driven Developmental Remodeling in the Brain Distinguishes Humans from Other Primates 
PLoS Biology  2011;9(12):e1001214.
Comparison of human, chimpanzee, and macaque brain transcriptomes reveals a significant developmental remodeling in the human prefrontal cortex, potentially shaped by microRNA.
While multiple studies have reported the accelerated evolution of brain gene expression in the human lineage, the mechanisms underlying such changes are unknown. Here, we address this issue from a developmental perspective, by analyzing mRNA and microRNA (miRNA) expression in two brain regions within macaques, chimpanzees, and humans throughout their lifespan. We find that constitutive gene expression divergence (species differences independent of age) is comparable between humans and chimpanzees. However, humans display a 3–5 times faster evolutionary rate in divergence of developmental patterns, compared to chimpanzees. Such accelerated evolution of human brain developmental patterns (i) cannot be explained by life-history changes among species, (ii) is twice as pronounced in the prefrontal cortex than the cerebellum, (iii) preferentially affects neuron-related genes, and (iv) unlike constitutive divergence does not depend on cis-regulatory changes, but might be driven by human-specific changes in expression of trans-acting regulators. We show that developmental profiles of miRNAs, as well as their target genes, show the fastest rates of human-specific evolutionary change, and using a combination of computational and experimental methods, we identify miR-92a, miR-454, and miR-320b as possible regulators of human-specific neural development. Our results suggest that different mechanisms underlie adaptive and neutral transcriptome divergence, and that changes in the expression of a few key regulators may have been a major driving force behind rapid evolution of the human brain.
Author Summary
Species evolution is often depicted as a slow and continuous process punctuated by rapid changes. One example of the latter is the evolution of human cognition–emergence of an exceedingly complex phenotype within a few million years. What genetic mechanisms might have driven this process? Nearly 40 years ago, it was proposed that human-specific gene expression changes, rather than changes in protein sequence, might underlie human cognitive evolution. Here we compare gene expression throughout postnatal brain development in humans, chimpanzees, and macaques. We find that simple changes in gene expression levels, plausibly driven by mutations in cis-regulatory elements, accumulate at similar rates in all three evolutionary lineages. What sharply distinguishes humans from other species is change in the timing and shape of developmental expression patterns. This is particularly pronounced in the prefrontal cortex, where 4-fold more genes show more human-specific developmental changes than chimpanzee-specific ones. Notably, our results indicate that this massive developmental remodeling of the human cortex, which affects hundreds of genes, might be driven by expression changes of only a few key regulators, such as microRNAs. Genes affected by this remodeling are preferentially associated with neural activity, thereby suggesting a link to the evolution of human cognition.
PMCID: PMC3232219  PMID: 22162950
25.  MicroRNA Expression and Regulation in Human, Chimpanzee, and Macaque Brains 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(10):e1002327.
Among other factors, changes in gene expression on the human evolutionary lineage have been suggested to play an important role in the establishment of human-specific phenotypes. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these expression changes are largely unknown. Here, we have explored the role of microRNA (miRNA) in the regulation of gene expression divergence among adult humans, chimpanzees, and rhesus macaques, in two brain regions: prefrontal cortex and cerebellum. Using a combination of high-throughput sequencing, miRNA microarrays, and Q-PCR, we have shown that up to 11% of the 325 expressed miRNA diverged significantly between humans and chimpanzees and up to 31% between humans and macaques. Measuring mRNA and protein expression in human and chimpanzee brains, we found a significant inverse relationship between the miRNA and the target genes expression divergence, explaining 2%–4% of mRNA and 4%–6% of protein expression differences. Notably, miRNA showing human-specific expression localize in neurons and target genes that are involved in neural functions. Enrichment in neural functions, as well as miRNA–driven regulation on the human evolutionary lineage, was further confirmed by experimental validation of predicted miRNA targets in two neuroblastoma cell lines. Finally, we identified a signature of positive selection in the upstream region of one of the five miRNA with human-specific expression, miR-34c-5p. This suggests that miR-34c-5p expression change took place after the split of the human and the Neanderthal lineages and had adaptive significance. Taken together these results indicate that changes in miRNA expression might have contributed to evolution of human cognitive functions.
Author Summary
Humans are remarkably similar to apes and monkeys on the genome sequence level but remain remarkably distinct with respect to cognitive abilities. How could human cognition evolve within such a short evolutionary time? Among many hypotheses, evolution in expression of a few key regulators affecting hundreds of their target genes was proposed as one possible solution. Here, we tested this notion by studying expression divergence of a specific type of regulatory RNA, microRNA (miRNA), and its effect on gene expression profiles in brains of humans, chimpanzees, and rhesus macaques. Our results indicate that changes in miRNA expression have played a considerable role in the establishment of gene expression divergence between human brains and brains of non-human primates at both mRNA and protein expression levels. Furthermore, we find indications that some of the human-specific gene expression profiles caused by miRNA expression divergence might be associated with evolution of human-specific functions.
PMCID: PMC3192836  PMID: 22022286

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