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1.  Cloning of Gossypium hirsutum Sucrose Non-Fermenting 1-Related Protein Kinase 2 Gene (GhSnRK2) and Its Overexpression in Transgenic Arabidopsis Escalates Drought and Low Temperature Tolerance 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112269.
The molecular mechanisms of stress tolerance and the use of modern genetics approaches for the improvement of drought stress tolerance have been major focuses of plant molecular biologists. In the present study, we cloned the Gossypium hirsutum sucrose non-fermenting 1-related protein kinase 2 (GhSnRK2) gene and investigated its functions in transgenic Arabidopsis. We further elucidated the function of this gene in transgenic cotton using virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) techniques. We hypothesized that GhSnRK2 participates in the stress signaling pathway and elucidated its role in enhancing stress tolerance in plants via various stress-related pathways and stress-responsive genes. We determined that the subcellular localization of the GhSnRK2-green fluorescent protein (GFP) was localized in the nuclei and cytoplasm. In contrast to wild-type plants, transgenic plants overexpressing GhSnRK2 exhibited increased tolerance to drought, cold, abscisic acid and salt stresses, suggesting that GhSnRK2 acts as a positive regulator in response to cold and drought stresses. Plants overexpressing GhSnRK2 displayed evidence of reduced water loss, turgor regulation, elevated relative water content, biomass, and proline accumulation. qRT-PCR analysis of GhSnRK2 expression suggested that this gene may function in diverse tissues. Under normal and stress conditions, the expression levels of stress-inducible genes, such as AtRD29A, AtRD29B, AtP5CS1, AtABI3, AtCBF1, and AtABI5, were increased in the GhSnRK2-overexpressing plants compared to the wild-type plants. GhSnRK2 gene silencing alleviated drought tolerance in cotton plants, indicating that VIGS technique can certainly be used as an effective means to examine gene function by knocking down the expression of distinctly expressed genes. The results of this study suggested that the GhSnRK2 gene, when incorporated into Arabidopsis, functions in positive responses to drought stress and in low temperature tolerance.
PMCID: PMC4231032  PMID: 25393623
2.  Prevalence and Trends of the Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms Epidemic in General Population - A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81260.
To conduct a meta-analysis assessing the prevalence and trends of the abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) epidemic in general population.
Studies that reported prevalence rates of AAA from the general population were identified through MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, and reference lists for the period between 1988 and 2013. Studies were included if they reported prevalence rates of AAA in general population from the community. In stratified analyses possible sources of bias, including areas difference, age, gender and diameter of aneurysms were examined. Publication bias was assessed with Egger's test method.
56 studies were identified. The overall pooled prevalence of AAA was 4.8% (4.3%, 5.3%). Stratified analyses showed the following results, areas difference: America 2.2% (2.2%, 2.2%), Europe 2.5% (2.4%, 2.5%), Australia 6.7% (6.5%, 7.0%), Asia 0.5% (0.3%, 0.7%); gender difference: male 6.0% (5.3%, 6.7%), female 1.6% (1.2%, 1.9%); age difference: 55–64years 1.3% (1.2%, 1.5%), 65–74 years 2.8% (2.7%, 2.9%), 75–84 years1.2%(1.1%, 1.3%), ≥85years0.6% (0.4%, 0.7%); aortic diameters difference: 30–39 mm, 3.3% (2.8%, 3.9%), 40–49 mm,0.7% (0.4%,1.0%), ≥50 mm, 0.4% (0.3%, 0.5%). The prevalence of AAA has decreased in Europe from 1988 to 2013. Hypertension, smoking, coronary artery disease, dyslipidemia, respiratory disease, cerebrovascular disease, claudication and renal insufficiency were risk factors for AAA in Europe.
AAA is common in general population. The prevalence of AAA is higher in Australia than America and Europe. The pooled prevalence in western countries is higher than the Asia. Future research requires a larger database on the epidemiology of AAA in general population.
PMCID: PMC3846841  PMID: 24312543
3.  Skull metastasis revealing a papillary thyroid carcinoma 
Although thyroid carcinoma is a relatively common form of malignancy, metastatic spread to the skull is rare. Here, we report a case of papillary thyroid carcinoma with frontal and parietal metastasis. A 61-year-old Chinese woman presented with a one year history of a growing mass on the center of the frontal and parietal bone, initially thought to be meningioma. Biopsy of the skull base mass after intracalvarium excision, indicated a tumor of thyroid origin. One month later the patient underwent a total thyroidectomy. Pathological examination confirmed a diagnosis of papillary thyroid carcinoma with frontal and parietal bone metastasis. Based on this experience, the key to successful management of the skull metastasis of thyroid carcinoma is prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Skull metastasis should be considered at the outset of the clinical course of papillary thyroid cancer. To facilitate this, patients should be meticulously investigated by a multidisciplinary team to improve quality of life.
PMCID: PMC3828433  PMID: 24255586
Papillary thyroid carcinoma; frontal skull metastasis; diagnosis; treatment
4.  Biofilms and Inflammation in Chronic Wounds 
Advances in Wound Care  2013;2(7):389-399.
The incidence, cost, morbidity, and mortality associated with non-healing of chronic skin wounds are dramatic. With the increasing numbers of people with obesity, chronic medical conditions, and an increasing life expectancy, the healthcare cost of non-healing ulcers has recently been estimated at $25 billion annually in the United States. The role played by bacterial biofilm in chronic wounds has been emphasized in recent years, particularly in the context of the prolongation of the inflammatory phase of repair.
Recent Advances
Rapid high-throughput genomic approaches have revolutionized the ability to identify and quantify microbial organisms from wounds. Defining bacterial genomes and using genetic approaches to knock out specific bacterial functions, then studying bacterial survival on cutaneous wounds is a promising strategy for understanding which genes are essential for pathogenicity.
Critical Issues
When an animal sustains a cutaneous wound, understanding mechanisms involved in adaptations by bacteria and adaptations by the host in the struggle for survival is central to development of interventions that favor the host.
Future Directions
Characterization of microbiomes of clinically well characterized chronic human wounds is now under way. The use of in vivo models of biofilm-infected cutaneous wounds will permit the study of the mechanisms needed for biofilm formation, persistence, and potential synergistic interactions among bacteria. A more complete understanding of bacterial survival mechanisms and how microbes influence host repair mechanisms are likely to provide targets for chronic wound therapy.
PMCID: PMC3763221  PMID: 24527355
5.  Identification of Differential Gene Expression Profiles in Placentas from Preeclamptic Pregnancies Versus Normal Pregnancies by DNA Microarrays 
The purpose of this study was to perform a comprehensive analysis of gene expression profiles in placentas from preeclamptic pregnancies versus normal placentas. Placental tissues were obtained immediately after delivery from women with normal pregnancies (n=6) and patients with preeclampsia (n=6). The gene expression profile was assessed by oligonucleotide-based DNA microarrays and validated by quantitative real-time RT-PCR. Functional relationships and canonical pathways/networks of differentially-expressed genes were evaluated by GeneSpring™ GX 11.0 software, and ingenuity pathways analysis (IPA). A total of 939 genes were identified that differed significantly in expression: 483 genes were upregulated and 456 genes were downregulated in preeclamptic placentas compared with normal placentas (fold change ≥2 and p<0.05 by unpaired t-test corrected with Bonferroni multiple testing). The IPA revealed that the primary molecular functions of these genes are involved in cellular function and maintenance, cellular development, cell signaling, and lipid metabolism. Pathway analysis provided evidence that a number of biological pathways, including Notch, Wnt, NF-κB, and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling pathways, were aberrantly regulated in preeclampsia. In conclusion, our microarray analysis represents a comprehensive list of placental gene expression profiles and various dysregulated signaling pathways that are altered in preeclampsia. These observations may provide the basis for developing novel predictive, diagnostic, and prognostic biomarkers of preeclampsia to improve reproductive outcomes and reduce the risk for subsequent cardiovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC3369279  PMID: 22702245
6.  Time Course Study of Delayed Wound Healing in a Biofilm-Challenged Diabetic Mouse Model 
Wound Repair and Regeneration  2012;20(3):342-352.
Bacterial biofilm has been shown to play a role in delaying wound healing of chronic wounds, a major medical problem that results in significant healthcare burden. A reproducible animal model could be very valuable for studying the mechanism and management of chronic wounds. Our previous work demonstrated that Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PAO1) biofilmchallenge on wounds in diabetic (db/db) mice significantly delayed wound healing. In this wound time course study, we further characterize the bacterial burden, delayed wound healing and certain aspects of the host inflammatory response in the PAO1 biofilm-challenged db/db mouse model. PAO1 biofilms were transferred onto 2 day old wounds created on the dorsal surface of db/db mice. Control wounds without biofilm-challenge healed by 4 weeks, consistent with previous studies; none of the biofilm-challenged wounds healed by 4 weeks; 64% of the biofilm-challenged wounds healed by 6 weeks; and all of the biofilm-challenged wounds healed by 8 weeks. During the wound healing process, P. aeruginosa were gradually cleared from the wounds while the presence of S. aureus (part of the normal mouse skin flora) increased. Scabs from all unhealed wounds contained 107 P. aeruginosa, which was 100 fold higher than the counts isolated from wound beds (i.e. 99% of the P. aeruginosa was in the scab). Histology and genetic analysis showed proliferative epidermis, deficient vascularization and increased inflammatory cytokines. Hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) expression increased 3 fold in 4 week wounds. In summary, our study demonstrates that biofilm-challenged wounds typically heal in approximately 6 weeks, at least 2 weeks longer than non biofilm-challenged normal wounds. These data suggest that this delayed wound healing model enables the in vivo study of bacterial biofilm responses to host defenses and the effects of biofilms on host wound healing pathways. It may also be used to test anti-biofilm strategies the treatment of chronic wounds.
PMCID: PMC3349451  PMID: 22564229
Pseudomonas aeruginosa; biofilm; wound infection; keratinocytes; inflammatory response; gene expression
7.  Cutaneous and inflammatory response to long-term percutaneous implants of sphere-templated porous/solid poly(HEMA) and silicone in Mice 
This study investigates mouse cutaneous responses to long-term percutaneously implanted rods surrounded by sphere-templated porous biomaterials engineered to mimic medical devices surrounded by a porous cuff. We hypothesized that keratinocytes would migrate through the pores and stop, permigrate, or marsupialize along the porous/solid interface. Porous/solid-core poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) [poly(HEMA)] and silicone rods were implanted in mice for 14 days, 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months. Implants with surrounding tissue were analyzed (immuno)histochemically by light microscopy. Poly(HEMA)/skin implants yielded better morphologic data than silicone implants. Keratinocytes at the poly(HEMA) interface migrated in two different directions. “Ventral” keratinocytes contiguous with the dermal-epidermal junction migrated into the outermost pores, forming an integrated collar surrounding the rods. ”Dorsal” keratinocytes appearing to emanate from the differentiated epithelial layer, extended upward along and into the exterior portion of the rod, forming an integrated sheath. Leukocytes persisted in poly(HEMA) and silicone pores for the duration of the study. Vascular and collagen networks within the poly(HEMA) pores matured as a function of time up to 3 months implantation. Nerves were not observed within the pores. Poly(HEMA) underwent morphological changes by 6 months of implantation. Marsupialization, foreign body encapsulation and infection were not observed in any implants.
PMCID: PMC3506026  PMID: 22359383
8.  Phage Display against Corneal Epithelial Cells Produced Bioactive Peptides That Inhibit Aspergillus Adhesion to the Corneas 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33578.
Dissection of host-pathogen interactions is important for both understanding the pathogenesis of infectious diseases and developing therapeutics for the infectious diseases like various infectious keratitis. To enhance the knowledge about pathogenesis infectious keratitis, a random 12-mer peptide phage display library was screened against cultured human corneal epithelial cells (HCEC). Fourteen sequences were obtained and BLASTp analysis showed that most of their homologue counterparts in GenBank were for defined or putative proteins in various pathogens. Based on known or predicted functions of the homologue proteins, ten synthetic peptides (Pc-A to Pc-J) were measured for their affinity to bind cells and their potential efficacy to interfere with pathogen adhesion to the cells. Besides binding to HCEC, most of them also bound to human corneal stromal cells and umbilical endothelial cells to different extents. When added to HCEC culture, the peptides induced expression of MyD88 and IL-17 in HCEC, and the stimulated cell culture medium showed fungicidal potency to various extents. While peptides Pc-C and Pc-E inhibited Aspergillus fumigatus (A.f) adhesion to HCEC in a dose-dependent manner, the similar inhibition ability of peptides Pc-A and Pc-B required presence of their homologue ligand Alb1p on A.f. When utilized in an eyeball organ culture model and an in vivo A.f keratitis model established in mouse, Pc-C and Pc-E inhibited fungal adhesion to corneas, hence decreased corneal disruption caused by inflammatory infiltration. Affinity pull-down of HCEC membrane proteins with peptide Pc-C revealed several molecules as potential receptors for this peptide. In conclusion, besides proving that phage display-selected peptides could be utilized to interfere with adhesion of pathogens to host cells, hence could be exploited for managing infectious diseases including infectious keratitis, we also proposed that the phage display technique and the resultant peptides could be used to explore host-pathogen interactions at molecular levels.
PMCID: PMC3299800  PMID: 22428072
9.  Delayed Wound Healing in Diabetic (db/db) Mice with Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilm Challenge – A Model for the Study of Chronic Wounds 
Chronic wounds are a major clinical problem that leads to considerable morbidity and mortality. We hypothesized that an important factor in the failure of chronic wounds to heal was the presence of microbial biofilm resistant to antibiotics and protected from host defenses. A major difficulty in studying chronic wounds is the absence of suitable animal models. The goal of this study was to create a reproducible chronic wound model in diabetic mice by application of bacterial biofilm. Six millimeter punch biopsy wounds were created on the dorsal surface of diabetic (db/db) mice, subsequently challenged with Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PAO1) biofilms two days post-wounding, and covered with semi-occlusive dressings for two weeks. Most of the control wounds were epithelialized by 28 days post-wounding. In contrast, none of biofilm challenged wounds were closed. Histological analysis showed extensive inflammatory cell infiltration, tissue necrosis and epidermal hyperplasia adjacent to challenged wounds- all indicators of an inflammatory non-healing wound. Quantitative cultures and transmission electron microscopy demonstrated that the majority of bacteria were in the scab above the wound bed rather than in the wound tissue. The model was reproducible, allowed localized cutaneous wound infections without high mortality and demonstrated delayed wound healing following biofilm challenge. This model may provide an approach to study the role of microbial biofilms in chronic wounds as well as the effect of specific biofilm therapy on wound healing.
PMCID: PMC2939909  PMID: 20731798
wound matrix; bacteria; scab; immunohistology; electron microscopy
10.  Sex dependent regulation of osteoblast response to implant surface properties by systemic hormones 
Osseointegration depends on the implant surface, bone quality and the local and systemic host environment, which can differ in male and female patients. This study was undertaken in order to determine if male and female cells respond differently to titanium surfaces that have micron-scale roughness and if interactions of calciotropic hormones [1α,25(OH)2D3 and 17β-oestradiol (E2)] and microstructured surfaces on osteoblasts are sex dependent.
Osteoblasts from 6-week old Sprague-Dawley rats were cultured on tissue culture polystyrene (TCPS) or on titanium (Ti) disks with two different surface topographies, a smooth pretreated (PT) surface and a coarse grit-blasted/acid-etched (SLA) surface, and treated with 1α,25(OH)2D3, E2, or E2 conjugated to bovine serum albumin (E2-BSA).
Male and female cells responded similarly to Ti microstructure with respect to cell number and levels of osteocalcin, transforming growth factor-β1, osteoprotegerin and prostaglandin E2 in their conditioned media, exhibiting a more differentiated phenotype on SLA than on PT or TCPS. E2 and E2-BSA increased differentiation and local factor production, an effect that was microstructure dependent and found only in female osteoblasts. 1α,25(OH)2D3 increased osteoblast differentiation and local factor production in female and male cells, but the effect was more robust in male cells.
Male and female rat osteoblasts respond similarly to surface microstructure but exhibit sexual dimorphism in substrate-dependent responses to systemic hormones. Oestrogen affected only female cells while 1α,25(OH)2D3 had a greater effect on male cells. These results suggest that successful osseointegration in males and females may depend on the implant surface design and correct levels of calciotropic hormones.
PMCID: PMC3010104  PMID: 21208469
11.  A novel anti-virulence gene revealed by proteomic analysis in Shigella flexneri 2a 
Proteome Science  2010;8:30.
Shigella flexneri is a gram-negative, facultative pathogen that causes the majority of communicable bacterial dysenteries in developing countries. The virulence factors of S. flexneri have been shown to be produced at 37 degrees C but not at 30 degrees C. To discover potential, novel virulence-related proteins of S. flexneri, we performed differential in-gel electrophoresis (DIGE) analysis to measure changes in the expression profile that are induced by a temperature increase.
The ArgT protein was dramatically down-regulated at 37 degrees C. In contrast, the ArgT from the non-pathogenic E. coli did not show this differential expression as in S. flexneri, which suggested that argT might be a potential anti-virulence gene. Competitive invasion assays in HeLa cells and in BALB/c mice with argT mutants were performed, and the results indicated that the over-expression of ArgTY225D would attenuate the virulence of S. flexneri. A comparative proteomic analysis was subsequently performed to investigate the effects of ArgT in S. flexneri at the molecular level. We show that HtrA is differentially expressed among different derivative strains.
Gene argT is a novel anti-virulence gene that may interfere with the virulence of S. flexneri via the transport of specific amino acids or by affecting the expression of the virulence factor, HtrA.
PMCID: PMC2904734  PMID: 20540790
12.  Production of enterodiol from defatted flaxseeds through biotransformation by human intestinal bacteria 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:115.
The effects of enterolignans, e.g., enterodiol (END) and particularly its oxidation product, enterolactone (ENL), on prevention of hormone-dependent diseases, such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, hyperlipemia, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and menopausal syndrome, have attracted much attention. To date, the main way to obtain END and ENL is chemical synthesis, which is expensive and inevitably leads to environmental pollution. To explore a more economic and eco-friendly production method, we explored biotransformation of enterolignans from precursors contained in defatted flaxseeds by human intestinal bacteria.
We cultured fecal specimens from healthy young adults in media containing defatted flaxseeds and detected END from the culture supernatant. Following selection through successive subcultures of the fecal microbiota with defatted flaxseeds as the only carbon source, we obtained a bacterial consortium, designated as END-49, which contained the smallest number of bacterial types still capable of metabolizing defatted flaxseeds to produce END. Based on analysis with pulsed field gel electrophoresis, END-49 was found to consist of five genomically distinct bacterial lineages, designated Group I-V, with Group I strains dominating the culture. None of the individual Group I-V strains produced END, demonstrating that the biotransformation of substrates in defatted flaxseeds into END is a joint work by different members of the END-49 bacterial consortium. Interestingly, Group I strains produced secoisolariciresinol, an important intermediate of END production; 16S rRNA analysis of one Group I strain established its close relatedness with Klebsiella. Genomic analysis is under way to identify all members in END-49 involved in the biotransformation and the actual pathway leading to END-production.
Biotransformation is a very economic, efficient and environmentally friendly way of mass-producing enterodiol from defatted flaxseeds.
PMCID: PMC2865466  PMID: 20398397
13.  Cloning and Comparative Studies of Seaweed Trehalose-6-Phosphate Synthase Genes 
Marine Drugs  2010;8(7):2065-2079.
The full-length cDNA sequence (3219 base pairs) of the trehalose-6-phosphate synthase gene of Porphyra yezoensis (PyTPS) was isolated by RACE-PCR and deposited in GenBank (NCBI) with the accession number AY729671. PyTPS encodes a protein of 908 amino acids before a stop codon, and has a calculated molecular mass of 101,591 Daltons. The PyTPS protein consists of a TPS domain in the N-terminus and a putative TPP domain at the C-terminus. Homology alignment for PyTPS and the TPS proteins from bacteria, yeast and higher plants indicated that the most closely related sequences to PyTPS were those from higher plants (OsTPS and AtTPS5), whereas the most distant sequence to PyTPS was from bacteria (EcOtsAB). Based on the identified sequence of the PyTPS gene, PCR primers were designed and used to amplify the TPS genes from nine other seaweed species. Sequences of the nine obtained TPS genes were deposited in GenBank (NCBI). All 10 TPS genes encoded peptides of 908 amino acids and the sequences were highly conserved both in nucleotide composition (>94%) and in amino acid composition (>96%). Unlike the TPS genes from some other plants, there was no intron in any of the 10 isolated seaweed TPS genes.
PMCID: PMC2920543  PMID: 20714424
comparative genomics of TPS genes; gene cloning; RACE-PCR; seaweed; trehalose-6-phosphate synthase gene
14.  Beta-1 Integrins Mediate Substrate Dependent Effects of 1α,25(OH)2D3 on Osteoblasts 
Surface microroughness increases osteoblast differentiation and enhances responses of osteoblasts to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3]. β1 integrin expression is increased in osteoblasts grown on Ti substrates with rough microarchitecture, and it is regulated by 1α,25(OH)2D3 in a surface-dependent manner, suggesting that it has a role in mediating osteoblast response. Here, we silenced β1 expression in MG63 human osteoblast-like cells using small interfering RNA (siRNA) and examined the responses of the β1-silenced osteoblasts to surface microtopography and 1α,25(OH)2D3. MG63 cells were also treated with two different monoclonal antibodies to human β1 to block ligand binding. β1-silenced MG63 cells grown on a tissue culture plastic had reduced alkaline phosphatase activity and levels of osteocalcin, transforming growth factor β1, prostaglandin E2, and osteoprotegerin in comparison with control cells. Moreover, β1-silencing inhibited the effects of surface roughness on these parameters and partially inhibited effects of 1α,25(OH)2D3. Anti β1 antibody AIIB2 had no significant effect on cell number and osteocalcin, but decreased alkaline phosphatase; MAB2253Z decreased cell number and alkaline phosphatase and increased osteocalcin in a dose-dependent manner. Effects of 1α,25(OH)2D3 on cell number and alkaline phosphatase were reduced and effects on osteocalcin were increased. These findings indicate that β1 plays a major and complex role in osteoblastic differentiation modulated by either surface microarchitecture or 1α,25(OH)2D3. The results also show that β1 mediates, in part, the synergistic effects of surface roughness and 1α,25(OH)2D3.
PMCID: PMC2689367  PMID: 17317155
1α; 25(OH)2D3; β1 integrin subunit; Ti surface roughness; osteoblasts

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