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1.  Discrimination between adenocarcinoma and normal pancreatic ductal fluid by proteomic and glycomic analysis 
Journal of proteome research  2013;13(2):395-407.
Sensitive and specific biomarkers for pancreatic cancer are currently unavailable. The high mortality associated with adenocarcinoma of the pancreatic epithelium justifies the broadest possible search for new biomarkers that can facilitate early detection or monitor treatment efficacy. Protein glycosylation is altered in many cancers, leading many to propose that glycoproteomic changes may provide suitable biomarkers. In order to assess this possibility for pancreatic cancer, we have performed an in-depth LC-MS/MS analysis of the proteome and MSn-based characterization of the N-linked glycome of a small set of pancreatic ductal fluid obtained from normal, pancreatitis, intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN), and pancreatic adenocarcinoma patients. Our results identify a set of seven proteins that were consistently increased in cancer ductal fluid compared to normal (AMYP, PRSS1, GP2-1, CCDC132, REG1A, REG1B, and REG3A) and one protein that was consistently decreased (LIPR2). These proteins are all directly or indirectly associated with the secretory pathway in normal pancreatic cells. Validation of these changes in abundance by Western blotting revealed increased REG protein glycoform diversity in cancer. Characterization of the total N-linked glycome of normal, IPMN, and adenocarcinoma ductal fluid clustered samples into three discrete groups based on the prevalence of 6 dominant glycans. Within each group, the profiles of less prevalent glycans were able to distinguish normal from cancer on this small set of samples. Our results emphasize that individual variation in protein glycosylation must be considered when assessing the value of a glycoproteomic marker, but also indicate that glycosylation diversity across human subjects can be reduced to simpler clusters of individuals whose N-linked glycans share structural features.
doi:10.1021/pr400422g
PMCID: PMC3946306  PMID: 24328148
Pancreatic cancer; Proteomics; Biomarker; N-linked glycan; Glycomics
2.  Identification of Differentially Expressed Genes in Pituitary Adenomas by Integrating Analysis of Microarray Data 
Pituitary adenomas, monoclonal in origin, are the most common intracranial neoplasms. Altered gene expression as well as somatic mutations is detected frequently in pituitary adenomas. The purpose of this study was to detect differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and biological processes during tumor formation of pituitary adenomas. We performed an integrated analysis of publicly available GEO datasets of pituitary adenomas to identify DEGs between pituitary adenomas and normal control (NC) tissues. Gene function analysis including Gene Ontology (GO), Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway enrichment analysis, and protein-protein interaction (PPI) networks analysis was conducted to interpret the biological role of those DEGs. In this study we detected 3994 DEGs (2043 upregulated and 1951 downregulated) in pituitary adenoma through an integrated analysis of 5 different microarray datasets. Gene function analysis revealed that the functions of those DEGs were highly correlated with the development of pituitary adenoma. This integrated analysis of microarray data identified some genes and pathways associated with pituitary adenoma, which may help to understand the pathology underlying pituitary adenoma and contribute to the successful identification of therapeutic targets for pituitary adenoma.
doi:10.1155/2015/164087
PMCID: PMC4302352  PMID: 25642247
3.  SC-III3, a novel scopoletin derivative, induces cytotoxicity in hepatocellular cancer cells through oxidative DNA damage and ataxia telangiectasia-mutated nuclear protein kinase activation 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:987.
Background
Natural products from plants have been proven to be important resources of antitumor agents. In this study, we exploited the antitumor activity of (E)-3-(4-chlorophenyl)-N-(7-hydroxy-6-methoxy-2-oxo-2H-chromen-3-yl) acrylamide (SC-III3), a newly synthesized derivative of scopoletin, by in vitro and in vivo experiments.
Methods
Human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line HepG2 cells and xenograft of HepG2 cells in BALB/c nude mice were used to investigate the effects of SC-III3 on hepatocellular cancers. Cell cycle arrest and apoptosis were analyzed by flow cytometry. Cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and ATM-Chk pathway-related proteins were characterized by western blot.
Results
SC-III3 selectively inhibited the viability of HepG2 cells without significant cytotoxicity against human normal liver cells LO2. In mouse xenograft model of HepG2 cells, SC-III3 showed a marked inhibition of tumor growth in a dose-dependent manner. Cell cycle analysis revealed that SC-III3 induced cells to accumulate in S phase, which was accompanied by a marked decrease of the expressions of cyclin A, cyclin B, cyclin E and Cdk2 proteins, the crucial regulators of S phase cell cycle. SC-III3 treatment resulted in DNA breaks in HepG2 cells, which might contribute to its S phase arrest. The S arrest and the activation of ATM-Chk1/Chk2-Cdc25A-Cdk2 pathways induced by SC-III3 in HepG2 cells could be efficiently abrogated by pretreatments of either Ku55933 (an inhibitor of ATM) or UCN-01 (an inhibitor of Chk1/Chk2). The activation of p53-p21 pathway by SC-III3 was also reversed by Ku55933 treatment. SC-III3 led to significant accumulation of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), a breaker of DNA strand, in HepG2 cells but not LO2 cells. Pretreatment with N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC), a ROS scavenger, could reverse SC-III3-caused ROS accumulation, DNA damage, activation of signal pathways relevant to DNA damage, S phase arrest and cell viability decrease in HepG2 cells.
Conclusion
SC-III3 is able to efficiently inhibit the growth of hepatocellular carcinoma through inducing the generation of intracellular ROS, DNA damage and consequent S phase arrest, but lack of significant cytotoxicity against normal liver cells. This compound deserves further studies as a candidate of anticancer drugs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-987
PMCID: PMC4320555  PMID: 25527123
SC-III3; Hepatocellular cancer; ROS; DNA damage; Cell cycle arrest
4.  Association between HIF-1α C1772T/G1790A polymorphisms and cancer susceptibility: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis based on 40 case-control studies 
BMC Cancer  2014;14(1):950.
Background
HIF-1 (hypoxia-inducible factor 1) is a transcriptional activator that functions as a critical regulator of oxygen homeostasis. Recently, a large number of epidemiological studies have investigated the relationship between HIF-1α C1772T/G1790A polymorphisms and cancer susceptibility. However, the results remain inconclusive. Therefore, we performed a meta-analysis on all of the available case-control studies to systematically summarize the possible association.
Methods
A literature search was performed using PubMed and the Web of Science database to obtain relevant published studies. Pooled odds ratios (ORs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the relationship between HIF-1α C1772T/G1790A polymorphisms and cancer susceptibility were calculated using fixed- and random-effects models when appropriate. Heterogeneity tests, sensitivity analyses and publication bias assessments were also performed in our meta-analysis.
Results
A total of 40 studies met the inclusion criteria were included in the meta-analysis: 40 studies comprised of 10869 cases and 14289 controls for the HIF-1α C1772T polymorphism and 30 studies comprised of 7117 cases and 10442 controls for the HIF-1α G1790A polymorphism. The results demonstrated that there were significant association between the HIF-1α C1772T polymorphism and cancer susceptibility under four genetic models (TT vs. CC: OR = 1.63, 95% CI = 1.02-2.60; CT + TT vs. CC: OR = 1.15, 95% CI = 1.01-1.34; TT vs. CT + CC: OR = 2.11, 95% CI = 1.32-3.77; T vs. C: OR = 1.21, 95% CI = 1.04-1.41). Similarly, the statistically significant association between the HIF-1α G1790A polymorphism and cancer susceptibility was found to be consistently strong in all of the genetic models. Moreover, increased cancer risk was observed when the data were stratified by cancer type, ethnicity and the source of controls.
Conclusions
This meta-analysis demonstrates that both the C1772T and G1790A polymorphisms in the HIF-1α gene likely contribute to increased cancer susceptibility, especially in the Asian population and in breast cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and oral cancer. However, further research is necessary to evaluate the relationship between these polymorphisms and cancer risk.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-950) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-950
PMCID: PMC4301938  PMID: 25496056
HIF-1 gene; Polymorphism; Cancer; Susceptibility; Meta-analysis
5.  Increased Expression of Cathepsin L: A Novel Independent Prognostic Marker of Worse Outcome in Hepatocellular Carcinoma Patients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112136.
Objectives
To investigate the expression and role of Cathepsin L (CTSL) in Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tissue and cell line (MHCC-97H), and to evaluate the clinical and prognostic significance of CTSL protein in patients with HCC.
Methods
The expression of CTSL was examined in HCC tissue and MHCC-97H cells by Western-blotting, Real-time PCR and immunohistochemical staining. Cell growth curve assay and colony formation assay were used to verify the effect of CTSL on the proliferation and tumor progression ability of MHCC-97H cells. Tumor formation assay in nude mice was used to analyze the effect of CTSL on the tumorigenicity of MHCC-97H cells.
Results
The status of CTSL protein in carcinoma tissues is much higher than that in paracarcinoma tissues. The overall survival of the patients with high CTSL expression was significantly shorter than the low CTSL expression group. high CTSL expression was significantly correlated with advanced clinical staging, histological grade and tumor recurrence. In vitro experiments demonstrated that over-expression of CTSL in MHCC-97H cells promoted cell proliferation and tumor progression ability. Down-regulation of CTSL showed the opposite effects. Over-expression of CTSL increase the tumorigenicity of MHCC-97H cells by in vivo experiments. Moreover, multivariate analysis suggested that CTSL expression might be an independent prognostic indicator for the survival of HCC patients after curative surgery.
Conclusions
CTSL might involve in the development and progression of HCC as a oncogene, and thereby may be a valuable prognostic marker for HCC patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112136
PMCID: PMC4226473  PMID: 25384089
6.  MiR-451 is decreased in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and regulates autophagy by targeting TSC1 
The molecular mechanisms that drive the development of cardiac hypertrophy in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) remain elusive. Accumulated evidence suggests that microRNAs are essential regulators of cardiac remodelling. We have been suggested that microRNAs could play a role in the process of HCM. To uncover which microRNAs were changed in their expression, microRNA microarrays were performed on heart tissue from HCM patients (n = 7) and from healthy donors (n = 5). Among the 13 microRNAs that were differentially expressed in HCM, miR-451 was the most down-regulated. Ectopic overexpression of miR-451 in neonatal rat cardiomyocytes (NRCM) decreased the cell size, whereas knockdown of endogenous miR-451 increased the cell surface area. Luciferase reporter assay analyses demonstrated that tuberous sclerosis complex 1 (TSC1) was a direct target of miR-451. Overexpression of miR-451 in both HeLa cells and NRCM suppressed the expression of TSC1. Furthermore, TSC1 was significantly up-regulated in HCM myocardia, which correlated with the decreased levels of miR-451. As TSC1 is a known positive regulator of autophagy, we examined the role of miR-451 in the regulation of autophagy. Overexpression of miR-451 in vitro inhibited the formation of the autophagosome. Conversely, miR-451 knockdown accelerated autophagosome formation. Consistently, an increased number of autophagosomes was observed in HCM myocardia, accompanied by up-regulated autophagy markers, and the lipidated form of LC3 and Beclin-1. Taken together, our findings indicate that miR-451 regulates cardiac hypertrophy and cardiac autophagy by targeting TSC1. The down-regulation of miR-451 may contribute to the development of HCM and may be a potential therapeutic target for this disease.
doi:10.1111/jcmm.12380
PMCID: PMC4224559  PMID: 25209900
hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; microRNA-451; tuberous sclerosis complex 1; autophagy; microRNAs microarray
7.  Increased incidence of head and neck cancer in liver transplant recipients: a meta-analysis 
BMC Cancer  2014;14(1):776.
Background
It is unclear whether liver transplantation is associated with an increased incidence of post-transplant head and neck cancer. This comprehensive meta-analysis evaluated the association between liver transplantation and the risk of head and neck cancer using data from all available studies.
Methods
PubMed and Web of Science were systematically searched to identify all relevant publications up to March 2014. Standardized incidence ratio (SIR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for risk of head and neck cancer in liver transplant recipients were calculated. Tests for heterogeneity, sensitivity, and publishing bias were also performed.
Result
Of the 964 identified articles, 10 were deemed eligible. These studies included data on 56,507 patients with a total follow-up of 129,448.9 patient-years. SIR for head and neck cancer was 3.836-fold higher (95% CI 2.754–4.918, P = 0.000) in liver transplant recipients than in the general population. No heterogeneity or publication bias was observed. Sensitivity analysis indicated that omission of any of the studies resulted in an SIR for head and neck cancer between 3.488 (95% CI: 2.379–4.598) and 4.306 (95% CI: 3.020–5.592).
Conclusions
Liver transplant recipients are at higher risk of developing head and neck cancer than the general population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-776
PMCID: PMC4213464  PMID: 25338638
Liver transplantation; Head and neck cancer; Standardized incidence ratio; Meta-analysis
8.  Evidence of the presence of amyloid substance in the blood of familial amyloidotic polyneuropathy patients with ATTR Val30Met mutation 
Transthyretin (TTR) is a major amyloid fibril protein found in patients with familial amyloidotic polynuropathy (FAP) and senile systemic amyloidosis (SSA). Mainly synthesized in the live, TTR is transferred in the form of tetramer bound with thyroxine, retinol-binding protein (RBP) and lipoprotein in the blood. The aim of this study was to demonstrate the presence of amyloid substances in the blood by investigated the hemocoelom amyloid in different tissue sections from autopsies such as brain, kidney, heart and aorta arch tissue. Congo red staining was employed following by application of polarized light examination, to verify the presence of amyloid deposition in the tissues. Immunohistochemical staining was then performed to identify the specific type of amyloid deposition. Matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization/time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF/MS) was also used to analyze TTR mutation in FAP patients. All subjects were FAP ATTR Val30Met patients. In FAP patients, TTR amyloid deposition was found mainly in the tunica intima of the aortic arch. Interestingly, amyloid substance was found in the blood of FAP patient. Our results suggest that amyloid substance was present in the blood of FAP ATTR Val30Met patients.
PMCID: PMC4270544  PMID: 25550818
Amyloid; transthyretin; familial amyloidtic polynuropathy; immunohistochemistry; Congo red staining
9.  A pan-inhibitor of DASH family enzymes induces immune-mediated regression of murine sarcoma and is a potent adjuvant to dendritic cell vaccination and adoptive T-cell therapy 
Journal of immunotherapy (Hagerstown, Md. : 1997)  2013;36(8):10.1097/CJI.0b013e3182a80213.
Current multimodality therapy consisting of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation will fail in approximately 40% of patients with pediatric sarcomas and results in substantial long-term morbidity in those who are cured. Immunotherapeutic regimens for the treatment of solid tumors typically generate antigen-specific responses too weak to overcome considerable tumor burden and tumor suppressive mechanisms and are in need of adjuvant assistance. Previous work suggests that inhibitors of DASH (Dipeptidyl peptidase IV activity and/or structural homologues) enzymes can mediate tumor regression via immune-mediated mechanisms. Here we demonstrate that the DASH inhibitor, ARI-4175, can induce regression and eradication of well-established solid tumors, both as a single agent and as an adjuvant to a dendritic cell (DC) vaccine and adoptive cell therapy (ACT) in mice implanted with the M3-9-M rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) cell line. Treatment with effective doses of ARI-4175 correlated with recruitment of myeloid (CD11b+) cells, particularly myeloid dendritic cells (DCs), to secondary lymphoid tissues and with reduced frequency of intratumoral monocytic (CD11b+Ly6-ChiLy6-Glo) myeloid-derived suppressor cells. In immunocompetent mice, combining ARI-4175 with a DC vaccine or ACT with tumor-primed T cells produced significant improvements in tumor responses against well-established M3-9-M tumors. In M3-9-M-bearing immunodeficient (Rag1-/-) mice, ACT combined with ARI-4175 produced greater tumor responses and significantly improved survival compared to either treatment alone. These studies warrant the clinical investigation of ARI-4175 for treatment of sarcomas and other malignancies particularly as an adjuvant to tumor vaccines and ACT.
doi:10.1097/CJI.0b013e3182a80213
PMCID: PMC3852174  PMID: 23994886
10.  Clostridium difficile carriage in hospitalized cancer patients: a prospective investigation in eastern China 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14(1):523.
Background
Clostridium difficile carriage has been considered as a potential source for the deadly infection, but its role in cancer patients is still unclear. We aimed to identify the clinical and immunological factors that are related to C. difficile carriage in Chinese cancer patients.
Methods
A total of 400 stool samples were collected from cancer patients who received chemotherapy in three hospitals of eastern China. Bacterial genomic DNA was extracted and two toxin genes (tcdA and tcdB) were detected. PCR ribotyping was performed using capillary gel electrophoresis. Concentrations of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) and interleukin-10 (IL-10) were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kits.
Results
Eighty-two (20.5%) samples were confirmed to be C. difficile-positive and positive for tpi, tcdA, and tcdB genes. The C. difficile-positive rates in patients with diarrhea and no diarrhea were 35% and 19.7%, respectively (p = 0.09). Patients who were younger than 50 years old and were hospitalized for at least 10 days had a C. difficile-positive rate as high as 35%. In contrast, patients who were older than 50 years old and were hospitalized for less than 10 days had a C. difficile-positive rate of only 12.7% (p = 0.0009). No association was found between C. difficile carriage and chemotherapy regimen, antibiotic drug use, or immunosuppressive mediators, such as prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β), or interleukin-10 (IL-10). Twelve ribotypes of C. difficile were identified, but none of them belonged to ribotype 027.
Conclusions
We conclude that younger patients and those with longer hospitalization stays may be more prone to C. difficile carriage. Studies of larger populations are warranted to clarify the exact role of C. difficile carriage in hospitalized cancer patients in China.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-523
PMCID: PMC4261591  PMID: 25267108
Clostridium difficile; Carriage; Age; Hospitalization days
11.  Oxymatrine Improves Intestinal Epithelial Barrier Function Involving NF-κB-Mediated Signaling Pathway in CCl4-Induced Cirrhotic Rats 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e106082.
Accumulating evidence suggests that intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction plays an important role in the pathogenesis of hepatic cirrhosis and its complications such as gastrointestinal injury and hepatic encephalopathy. To date, there is no cure for cirrhosis-associated intestinal mucosal lesion and ulcer. This study aimed to investigate the effect of oxymatrine on intestinal epithelial barrier function and the underlying mechanism in carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced cirrhotic rats. Thirty CCl4-induced cirrhotic rats were randomly divided into treatment group, which received oxymatrine treatment (63 mg/kg), and non-treatment group, which received the same dose of 5% glucose solution (vehicle). The blank group (n = 10 healthy rats) received no treatment. Terminal ileal samples were collected for histopathological examination. The expression level of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) p65 in ileal tissue was evaluated by immunohistochemistry. The gene and protein expression levels of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin 6 (IL-6) in ileal tissues were analyzed by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), respectively. Additionally, plasma endotoxin level was determined. In comparison to the blank group, a significant alteration in the morphology of intestinal mucosal villi in the non-treatment group was observed. The intestinal mucosal villi were atrophic, shorter, and fractured, and inflammatory cells were infiltrated into the lamina propria and muscular layer. Besides, serious swell of villi and loose structure of mucous membrane were observed. Oxymatrine reversed the CCl4-induced histological changes and restored intestinal barrier integrity. Moreover, oxymatrine reduced the protein expression level of NF-κB p65, TNF-α, and IL-6, which were elevated in the vehicle-treated group. In addition, the serum endotoxin level was significantly decreased after oxymatrine treatment in CCl4-induced cirrhotic rats. The results indicate that oxymatrine improves intestinal barrier function via NF-κB-mediated signaling pathway and may be used as a new protecting agent for cirrhosis-associated intestinal mucosal damage.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106082
PMCID: PMC4149463  PMID: 25171482
12.  Association Between the XRCC6 Promoter rs2267437 Polymorphism and Cancer Risk: Evidence Based on the Current Literature 
Background: Increasing evidence suggests that the DNA repair gene XRCC6 (Ku70) may be critically involved in the aetiology of the human carcinogenesis. Many studies have investigated the association between the rs2267437 polymorphism and cancer susceptibility. However, the results of these studies have been controversial. This meta-analysis was conducted to quantitatively summarize the evidence for a relationship between the rs2267437 polymorphism and cancer risk. Methods: Electronic databases, including PUBMED and EMBASE, were searched for publications that met the inclusion criteria. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated to evaluate the strength of the association between the XRCC6 promoter rs2267437 polymorphism and cancer risk in a fixed-effects model (the Mantel-Haenszel method) or a random-effects model (the DerSimonian and Laird method), as appropriate. Results: A total of 13 case–control studies, involving 3675 cases and 4247 controls, investigating the XRCC6 rs2267437 polymorphism and cancer susceptibility were identified for the meta-analysis. The pooled analysis showed that there is a significant relationship between the XRCC6 rs2267437 polymorphism and cancer susceptibility (GG vs. CC: OR=1.28, 95% CI=1.03–1.60). Subgroup analyses based on the cancer type, ethnicity, and source of the controls were also performed, and these results indicated that the XRCC6 promoter rs2267437 polymorphism was associated with cancer risk in breast cancer studies (GG vs. CC: OR=1.79, 95% CI=1.25–2.56; GG vs. CG+CC: OR=1.40, 95% CI=1.01–1.95), in Asian populations (GG vs. CC: OR=1.33, 95% CI=1.01–1.74) and in population-based studies (GG vs. CC: OR=1.57, 95% CI=1.12–2.22; CG vs. CC: OR=1.35, 95% CI=1.11–1.64; GG+CG vs. CC: OR=1.37, 95% CI=1.14–1.65). Conclusion: This meta-analysis suggests that the XRCC6 rs2267437 polymorphism may affect breast cancer susceptibility and increase the risk of cancer in Asian populations and in the general population. It is critical that further large-scale and well-designed studies be conducted to confirm the association between the rs2267437 genotype and cancer risk.
doi:10.1089/gtmb.2013.0083
PMCID: PMC3732414  PMID: 23745766
13.  Optimized Spatial Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation in China: A Systematic Conservation Planning Perspective 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e103783.
By addressing several key features overlooked in previous studies, i.e. human disturbance, integration of ecosystem- and species-level conservation features, and principles of complementarity and representativeness, we present the first national-scale systematic conservation planning for China to determine the optimized spatial priorities for biodiversity conservation. We compiled a spatial database on the distributions of ecosystem- and species-level conservation features, and modeled a human disturbance index (HDI) by aggregating information using several socioeconomic proxies. We ran Marxan with two scenarios (HDI-ignored and HDI-considered) to investigate the effects of human disturbance, and explored the geographic patterns of the optimized spatial conservation priorities. Compared to when HDI was ignored, the HDI-considered scenario resulted in (1) a marked reduction (∼9%) in the total HDI score and a slight increase (∼7%) in the total area of the portfolio of priority units, (2) a significant increase (∼43%) in the total irreplaceable area and (3) more irreplaceable units being identified in almost all environmental zones and highly-disturbed provinces. Thus the inclusion of human disturbance is essential for cost-effective priority-setting. Attention should be targeted to the areas that are characterized as moderately-disturbed, <2,000 m in altitude, and/or intermediately- to extremely-rugged in terrain to identify potentially important regions for implementing cost-effective conservation. We delineated 23 primary large-scale priority areas that are significant for conserving China's biodiversity, but those isolated priority units in disturbed regions are in more urgent need of conservation actions so as to prevent immediate and severe biodiversity loss. This study presents a spatially optimized national-scale portfolio of conservation priorities – effectively representing the overall biodiversity of China while minimizing conflicts with economic development. Our results offer critical insights for current conservation and strategic land-use planning in China. The approach is transferable and easy to implement by end-users, and applicable for national- and local-scale systematic conservation prioritization practices.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103783
PMCID: PMC4114974  PMID: 25072933
14.  Transthyretin as a potential biomarker for the differential diagnosis between lung cancer and lung infection 
Biomedical Reports  2014;2(5):765-769.
Satisfactory biomarkers for screening and early diagnosis of lung cancer remain scarce and require further investigation. The aim of the present study was to examine the changes of the biochemical and protein composition in the serum and pleural effusion from lung cancer and lung infection (bacterial pneumonia) patients. A total of 92 patients with lung cancer, 38 with bacterial pneumonia and 42 healthy controls were enrolled in the study. The serum levels of cholesterol, apolipoprotein A and transthyretin (TTR) in the lung cancer patients were higher than that of the lung infection patients (P<0.05). The levels of TTR were higher, whereas the activity of adenosine deaminase (ADA) was lower in the pleural effusion from the lung cancer patients compared to the lung infection patients (P<0.05). Furthermore, the pleural effusion/serum TTR ratios in the lung cancer patients were higher, whereas the ratios of ADA were lower (P<0.05). By matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry analysis, four major peaks corresponding to native TTR, Sul-TTR, Cys-TTR and Cysgly-TTR were observed in the serum of the lung cancer and lung infection patients. A significant increase was found in the proportion of Cysgly-TTR in the pleural effusion from the patients with lung cancer. The data indicated that a combination of pleural effusion/serum TTR ratios and modified TTR may be beneficial for the differential diagnosis between lung cancer and lung infection.
doi:10.3892/br.2014.313
PMCID: PMC4106510  PMID: 25054025
transthyretin; lung cancer; lung infection; pleural effusion; matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry
15.  Theranostic nanoparticles based on bioreducible polyethylenimine-coated iron oxide for reduction-responsive gene delivery and magnetic resonance imaging 
Theranostic nanoparticles based on superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) have a great promise for tumor diagnosis and gene therapy. However, the availability of theranostic nanoparticles with efficient gene transfection and minimal toxicity remains a big challenge. In this study, we construct an intelligent SPIO-based nanoparticle comprising a SPIO inner core and a disulfide-containing polyethylenimine (SSPEI) outer layer, which is referred to as a SSPEI-SPIO nanoparticle, for redox-triggered gene release in response to an intracellular reducing environment. We reveal that SSPEI-SPIO nanoparticles are capable of binding genes to form nano-complexes and mediating a facilitated gene release in the presence of dithiothreitol (5–20 mM), thereby leading to high transfection efficiency against different cancer cells. The SSPEI-SPIO nanoparticles are also able to deliver small interfering RNA (siRNA) for the silencing of human telomerase reverse transcriptase genes in HepG2 cells, causing their apoptosis and growth inhibition. Further, the nanoparticles are applicable as T2-negative contrast agents for magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of a tumor xenografted in a nude mouse. Importantly, SSPEI-SPIO nanoparticles have relatively low cytotoxicity in vitro at a high concentration of 100 μg/mL. The results of this study demonstrate the utility of a disulfide-containing cationic polymer-decorated SPIO nanoparticle as highly potent and low-toxic theranostic nano-system for specific nucleic acid delivery inside cancer cells.
doi:10.2147/IJN.S61463
PMCID: PMC4099417  PMID: 25045265
nanoparticles; SSPEI; hTERT; disulfide; RNA interference; tumor; MR imaging
16.  Comprehensive analysis of cystatin family genes suggests their putative functions in sexual reproduction, embryogenesis, and seed formation 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(17):5093-5107.
Summary
The survey of expression patterns, biochemical characters, and intracellular localizations of cystatins in tobacco reveals their widespread roles in gamete development, embryogenesis, and seed formation.
Cystatins are tightly bound and reversible inhibitors of cysteine proteases in C1A and C13 peptidase families, which have been identified in several species and shown to function in vegetative development and response to biotic/abiotic stresses in plants. Recent work revealed their critical role in regulating programmed cell death during embryogenesis in tobacco and suggested their more comprehensive roles in the process of sexual plant reproduction, although little is known about cystatin family genes in the processes. Here, 10 cystatin family genes in Nicotiana tabacum were identified using an expressed sequence tag (EST)-based gene clone strategy. Analysis of their biochemical properties showed that nine of them have the potency to inhibit the activities of both commercial cathepsin L-like proteases and extracted cysteine proteases from seeds, but with different K i values depending on the types of proteases and the developmental stages of the seed tested. This suggests that cystatin-dependent cathepsin L-like proteolytic pathways are probably important for early seed development. Comprehensive expression profile analysis revealed that cystatin family genes showed manifold variations in their transcription levels in different plant cell types, including the sperm, egg, and zygote, especially in the embryo and seed at different developmental stages. More interestingly, intracellular localization analysis of each cystatin revealed that most members of cystatin families are recognized as secretory proteins with signal peptides that direct them to the endoplasmic reticulum. These results suggest their widespread roles in cell fate determination and cell–cell communication in the process of sexual reproduction, especially in gamete and embryo development, as well as in seed formation.
doi:10.1093/jxb/eru274
PMCID: PMC4144781  PMID: 24996653
Cathepsin L-like proteases; cystatin; embryogenesis; seed development; sexual reproduction; tobacco.
17.  Sequential treatment of icotinib after first-line pemetrexed in advanced lung adenocarcinoma with unknown EGFR gene status 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2014;6(7):958-964.
Background
In non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the well-developed epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is an important therapeutic target. EGFR activating gene mutations have been proved strongly predictive of response to EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) in NSCLC. However, both in daily clinical practice and clinical trials, patients with unknown EGFR gene status (UN-EGFR-GS) are very common. In this study, we assessed efficacy and tolerability of sequential treatment of first-line pemetrexed followed by icotinib in Chinese advanced lung adenocarcinoma with UN-EGFR-GS.
Patients and methods
We analyzed 38 patients with advanced lung adenocarcinoma with UN-EGFR-GS treated with first-line pemetrexed-based chemotherapy followed by icotinib as maintenance or second-line therapy.
Results
The response rates to pemetrexed and icotinib were 21.1% and 42.1%, respectively. The median overall survival was 27.0 months (95% CI, 19.7-34.2 months). The 12-month overall survival probability was 68.4%. The most common toxicities observed in icotinib phase were rashes, diarrheas, and elevated aminotransferase. Subgroup analysis indicated that the overall survival is correlated with response to icotinib.
Conclusions
The sequence of first-line pemetrexed-based chemotherapy followed by icotinib treatment is a promising option for advanced lung adenocarcinoma with UN-EGFR-GS in China.
doi:10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2014.07.18
PMCID: PMC4120162  PMID: 25093093
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR); tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI); chemotherapy
18.  Effects of oxysophoridine on amino acids after cerebral ischemic injury in mice 
Background:
Our previous studies demonstrated that oxysophoridine (OSR) had neuroprotective effects on mice through antioxidant and anti-apoptotic mechanisms. In this study, we investigated whether OSR could influence the release of amino acids in ischemic mice brains.
Materials and Methods:
Male ICR mice were scheduled to undergo 2 h middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) and 24 h reperfusion. Before MCAO, mice in corresponding groups were intraperitoneally injected with OSR (62.5, 125 and 250 mg/kg) for seven successive days. After reperfusion, neurological scores were estimated, infarct volume and the brain water content were assessed. The levels of glutamate (Glu), aspartate (Asp), γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and Glycine (Gly) were measured by amino acid analyzer.
Results:
OSR significantly decreased neurological scores, reduced infarct volume and the brain water content. After treatment with OSR of 250 mg/kg, the contents of Glu, Asp, GABA and Gly in mice brains could maintain at a normal level compared with MCAO group mice. The Glu/GABA ratio was significantly decreased in OSR group mice.
Conclusion:
These findings indicate that OSR has a protective effect on cerebral ischemic injury and helps to maintain the amino acids homeostasis after reperfusion for a long time.
doi:10.4103/0972-2327.138513
PMCID: PMC4162019  PMID: 25221402
Amino acids homeostasis; cerebral ischemic injury; excitatory amino acids; inhibitory amino acids; oxysophoridine
19.  Association of interferon regulatory factor 4 gene polymorphisms rs12203592 and rs872071 with skin cancer and haematological malignancies susceptibility: a meta-analysis of 19 case–control studies 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:410.
Background
Research has indicated that the rs12203592 and rs872071 interferon regulatory factor 4 (IRF4) gene polymorphisms correlate with the risk of cancer, especially skin cancer and haematological malignancies, but the results remain controversial. To understand better the effects of these two polymorphisms on skin cancer and haematological malignancies susceptibility, a cumulative meta-analysis was performed.
Methods
We conducted a search using the PubMed and Web of Science databases for relevant case-control studies published before April 2014. Summary odds ratios (ORs) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using fixed- or random-effects models where appropriate. Heterogeneity test, publication bias test, and sensitivity analysis were also performed.
Results
In total, 11 articles comprised of 19 case–control studies were identified; five focused on the rs12203592 polymorphism with 7,992 cases and 8,849 controls, and six were on the rs872071 polymorphism with 3108 cases and 8300 controls. As for rs12203592, a significant correlation with overall skin cancer and haematological malignancies risk was found with the homozygote comparison model (OR = 1.566, 95% CI 1.087-2.256) and recessive model (OR = 1.526, 95% CI 1.107-2.104). For rs872071, a significantly elevated haematological malignancies risk was observed in all genetic models (homozygote comparison: OR = 1.805, 95% CI 1.402-2.323; heterozygote comparison: OR = 1.427, 95% CI 1.203-1.692; dominant: OR = 1.556, 95% CI 1.281-1.891; recessive: OR = 1.432, 95% CI 1.293-1.587; additive: OR = 1.349, 95% CI 1.201-1.515). Similarly, increased skin cancer and haematological malignancies risk was also identified after stratification of the SNP data by cancer type, ethnicity and source of controls for both polymorphisms.
Conclusions
Our meta-analysis indicated that the rs12203592 and rs872071 IRF4 gene polymorphisms are associated with individual susceptibility to skin cancer and haematological malignancies. Moreover, the effect of the rs12203592 polymorphism on skin cancer risk was particularly prominent among Caucasians. Further functional research should be performed to validate the association.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-410
PMCID: PMC4059085  PMID: 24906573
Meta-analysis; IRF4; Interferon regulatory factor 4; Polymorphisms; rs12203592; rs872071; Cancer risk
20.  Quercetin induces HepG2 cell apoptosis by inhibiting fatty acid biosynthesis 
Oncology Letters  2014;8(2):765-769.
Quercetin can inhibit the growth of cancer cells with the ability to act as a ‘chemopreventer’. Its cancer-preventive effect has been attributed to various mechanisms, including the induction of cell-cycle arrest and/or apoptosis, as well as its antioxidant functions. Quercetin can also reduce adipogenesis. Previous studies have shown that quercetin has potent inhibitory effects on animal fatty acid synthase (FASN). In the present study, activity of quercetin was evaluated in human liver cancer HepG2 cells. Intracellular FASN activity was calculated by measuring the absorption of NADPH via a spectrophotometer. MTT assay was used to test the cell viability, immunoblot analysis was performed to detect FASN expression levels and the apoptotic effect was detected by Hoechst 33258 staining. In the present study, it was found that quercetin could induce apoptosis in human liver cancer HepG2 cells with overexpression of FASN. This apoptosis was accompanied by the reduction of intracellular FASN activity and could be rescued by 25 or 50 μM exogenous palmitic acids, the final product of FASN-catalyzed synthesis. These results suggested that the apoptosis induced by quercetin was via the inhibition of FASN. These findings suggested that quercetin may be useful for preventing human liver cancer.
doi:10.3892/ol.2014.2159
PMCID: PMC4081423  PMID: 25009654
quercetin; cancer; fatty acid synthase; HepG2 cells; apoptosis
21.  A pH and Redox Dual Responsive 4-Arm Poly(ethylene glycol)-block-poly(disulfide histamine) Copolymer for Non-Viral Gene Transfection in Vitro and in Vivo 
A novel 4-arm poly(ethylene glycol)-b-poly(disulfide histamine) copolymer was synthesized by Michael addition reaction of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) vinyl sulfone and amine-capped poly(disulfide histamine) oligomer, being denoted as 4-arm PEG-SSPHIS. This copolymer was able to condense DNA into nanoscale polyplexes (<200 nm in average diameter) with almost neutral surface charge (+(5–10) mV). Besides, these polyplexes were colloidal stable within 4 h in HEPES buffer saline at pH 7.4 (physiological environment), but rapidly dissociated to liberate DNA in the presence of 10 mM glutathione (intracellular reducing environment). The polyplexes also revealed pH-responsive surface charges which markedly increased with reducing pH values from 7.4–6.3 (tumor microenvironment). In vitro transfection experiments showed that polyplexes of 4-arm PEG-SSPHIS were capable of exerting enhanced transfection efficacy in MCF-7 and HepG2 cancer cells under acidic conditions (pH 6.3–7.0). Moreover, intravenous administration of the polyplexes to nude mice bearing HepG2-tumor yielded high transgene expression largely in tumor rather other normal organs. Importantly, this copolymer and its polyplexes had low cytotoxicity against the cells in vitro and caused no death of the mice. The results of this study indicate that 4-arm PEG-SSPHIS has high potential as a dual responsive gene delivery vector for cancer gene therapy.
doi:10.3390/ijms15059067
PMCID: PMC4057775  PMID: 24853287
poly(disulfide histamine); pH targeting; gene delivery; pH-responsive; cancer cells
22.  ‘Druggable’ alterations detected by Ion Torrent in metastatic colorectal cancer patients 
Oncology Letters  2014;7(6):1761-1766.
The frequency and poor prognosis of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) emphasizes the requirement for improved biomarkers for use in the treatment and prognosis of mCRC. In the present study, somatic variants in exonic regions of key cancer genes were identified in mCRC patients. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues obtained by biopsy of the metastases of mCRC patients were collected, and the DNA was extracted and sequenced using the Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine. For the targeted amplification of known cancer genes, the Ion AmpliSeq™ Cancer Panel, which is designed to detect 739 Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer (COSMIC) mutations in 604 loci from 46 oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes using as little as 10 ng of input DNA, was used. The sequencing results were then analyzed using the Ampliseq™ Variant Caller plug-in within the Ion Torrent Suite software. In addition, Ingenuity Pathway software was used to perform a pathway analysis. The Cox regression analysis was also conducted to investigate the potential correlation between alteration numbers and clinical factors, including response rate, disease-free survival and overall survival. Among 10 specimens, 65 genetic alterations were identified in 24 genes following the exclusion of germline mutations using the SNP database, whereby 41% of the alterations were also present in the COSMIC database. No clinical factors were found to significantly correlate with the alteration numbers in the patients by statistical analysis. However, pathway analysis identified ‘colorectal cancer metastasis signaling’ as the most commonly mutated canonical pathway. This analysis further revealed mutated genes in the Wnt, phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β/SMAD signaling pathways. Notably, 11 genes, including the expected APC, BRAF, KRAS, PIK3CA and TP53 genes, were mutated in at least two samples. Notably, 90% (9/10) of mCRC patients harbored at least one ‘druggable’ alteration (range, 1–6 alterations) that has been linked to a clinical treatment option or is currently being investigated in clinical trials of novel targeted therapies. These results indicated that DNA sequencing of key oncogenes and tumor suppressors enables the identification of ‘druggable’ alterations for individual colorectal cancer patients.
doi:10.3892/ol.2014.2047
PMCID: PMC4049685  PMID: 24932229
druggable alterations; Ion Torrrent; metastasic colorectal cancer; formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded
23.  Autologous Tumor Lysate-Pulsed Dendritic Cell Immunotherapy with Cytokine-Induced Killer Cells Improves Survival in Gastric and Colorectal Cancer Patients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93886.
Gastric and colorectal cancers (GC and CRC) have poor prognosis and are resistant to chemo- and/or radiotherapy. In the present study, the prophylactic effects of dendritic cell (DC) vaccination are evaluated on disease progression and clinical benefits in a group of 54 GC and CRC patients treated with DC immunotherapy combined with cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells after surgery with or without chemo-radiotherapy. DCs were prepared from the mononuclear cells isolated from patients using IL-2/GM-CSF and loaded with tumor antigens; CIK cells were prepared by incubating peripheral blood lymphocytes with IL-2, IFN-γ, and CD3 antibodies. The DC/CIK therapy started 3 days after low-dose chemotherapy and was repeated 3–5 times in 2 weeks as one cycle with a total of 188.3±79.8×106 DCs and 58.8±22.3×108 CIK cells. Cytokine levels in patients' sera before and after treatments were measured and the follow-up was conducted for 98 months to determine disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS). The results demonstrate that all cytokines tested were elevated with significantly higher levels of IFN-γ and IL-12 in both GC and CRC cohorts of DC/CIK treated patients. By Cox regression analysis, DC/CIK therapy reduced the risk of post-operative disease progression (p<0.01) with an increased OS (<0.01). These results demonstrate that in addition to chemo- and/or radiotherapy, DC/CIK immunotherapy is a potential effective approach in the control of tumor growth for post-operative GC and CRC patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093886
PMCID: PMC3974849  PMID: 24699863
24.  Cross-sectional study of the relationship of peripheral blood cell profiles with severity of infection by adenovirus type 55 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:147.
Background
The immunologic profiles of patients with human adenovirus serotype 55 (HAdV-55) infections were characterized in subjects diagnosed with silent infections (n = 30), minor infections (n = 27), severe infections (n = 34), and healthy controls (n = 30) during a recent outbreak among Chinese military trainees.
Methods
Blood was sampled at the disease peak and four weeks later, and samples were analyzed to measure changes in leukocyte and platelet profiles in patients with different severities of disease. Differential lymphocyte subsets and cytokine profiles were measured by flow cytometry and Luminex xMAP®, and serum antibodies were analyzed by ELISA and immunofluorescence staining.
Results
Patients with severe HAdV infections had higher proportions of neutrophils and reduced levels of lymphocytes (p < 0.005 for both). Patients with minor and severe infections had significantly lower platelet counts (p < 0.005 for both) than those with silent infections. The silent and minor infection groups had higher levels of dendritic cells than the severe infection group. Relative to patients with silent infections, patients with severe infections had significantly higher levels of IL-17+CD4+ cells, decreased levels of IL-17+CD8+ cells, and higher levels of IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-10, and IFN-α2 (p < 0.001 for all comparisons).
Conclusions
Patients with different severities of disease due to HAdV-55 infection had significantly different immune responses. These data provide an initial step toward the identification of patients at risk for more severe disease and the development of treatments against HAdV-55 infection.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-147
PMCID: PMC4000060  PMID: 24646014
Infectious diseases; Adenovirus; Immunopathology; Outbreak
25.  Construction of Recombinant Marek's Disease Virus (rMDV) Co-Expressing AIV-H9N2-NA and NDV-F Genes under Control of MDV's Own Bi-Directional Promoter 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90677.
To qualitatively analyze and evaluate a bi-directional promoter transcriptional function in both transient and transgenic systems, several different plasmids were constructed and recombinant MDV type 1 strain GX0101 was developed to co-express a Neuraminidase (NA) gene from Avian Influenza Virus H9N2 strain and a Fusion (F) gene from the Newcastle disease virus (NDV). The two foreign genes, NDV-F gene and AIV-NA gene, were inserted in the plasmid driven in each direction by the bi-directional promoter. To test whether the expression of pp38/pp24 heterodimers are the required activators for the expression of the foreign genes, the recombinant plasmid pPpp38-NA/1.8kb-F containing expression cassette for the two foreign genes was co-transfected with a pp38/pp24 expression plasmid, pBud-pp38-pp24, in chicken embryo fibroblast (CEF) cells. Alternatively, plasmid pPpp38-NA/1.8kb-F was transfected in GX0101-infected CEFs where the viral endogenous pp38/pp24 were expressed via virus infection. The expression of both foreign genes was activated by pp38/pp24 dimers either via virus infection, or co-expression. The CEFs transfected with pPpp38-NA/1.8kb-F alone had no expression. We chose to insert the expression cassette of Ppp38-NA/1.8kb-F in the non-essential region of GX0101ΔMeq US2 gene, and formed a new rMDV named MZC13NA/F through homologous recombination. Indirect fluorescence antibody (IFA) test, ELISA and Western blot analyses indicated that F and NA genes were expressed simultaneously under control of the bi-directional promoter, but in opposite directions. The data also indicated the activity of the promoter in the 1.8-kb mRNA transcript direction was higher than that in the direction for the pp38 gene. The expression of pp38/pp24 dimers either via co-tranfection of the pBud-pp38-pp24 plasmid, or by GX0101 virus infection were critical to activate the bi-directional promoter for expression of two foreign genes in both directions. Therefore, the confirmed function of the bi-directional promoter provides better feasibilities to insert multiple foreign genes in MDV genome based vectors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090677
PMCID: PMC3944216  PMID: 24599338

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