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1.  A human single-domain antibody elicits potent anti-tumor activity by targeting an epitope in mesothelin close to the cancer cell surface 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2013;12(4):416-426.
Monoclonal antibodies against mesothelin are being evaluated for the treatment of mesothelioma and multiple forms of cancers, and show great promise for clinical development for solid cancers. Antibodies against mesothelin have been shown to act via immunotoxin-based inhibition of tumor growth and induction of antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC). However, complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC), considered an important additional mechanism of therapeutic antibodies against tumors, is inactive for such antibodies. Here, we used phage display antibody engineering technology and synthetic peptide screening to identify SD1, a human single-domain antibody to mesothelin. SD1 recognizes a conformational epitope at the C-terminal end (residues 539–588) of mesothelin close to the cell surface. To investigate SD1 as a potential therapeutic agent, we generated a recombinant human Fc (SD1-hFc) fusion protein. Interestingly, the SD1-hFc protein exhibits strong CDC activity, in addition to ADCC, against mesothelin-expressing tumor cells. Furthermore, it causes growth inhibition of human tumor xenografts in nude mice as a single agent. SD1 is the first human single-domain antibody targeting mesothelin-expressing tumors, shows potential as a cancer therapeutic candidate, and may improve current antibody therapy targeting mesothelin-expressing tumors.
PMCID: PMC3624043  PMID: 23371858
antibody dependent cell mediated cytotoxicity; complement-dependent cytotoxicity; mesothelin/MSLN; MORAb-009/amatuximab; phage display
2.  Graph Theoretical Analysis of Sedation's Effect on Whole Brain Functional System in School-Aged Children 
Brain Connectivity  2013;3(2):177-189.
The neurophysiological mechanism underlying sedation, especially in school-aged children, remains largely unknown. The recently emerged resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) technique, capable of delineating brain's functional interaction pattern among distributed brain areas, proves to be a unique and powerful tool to study sedation-induced brain reorganization. Based on a relatively large school-aged children population (n=28, 10.3±2.6 years, range 7–15 years) and leveraging rsfMRI and graph theoretical analysis, this study aims to delineate sedation-induced changes in brain's information transferring property from a whole brain system perspective. Our results show a global deterioration in brain's efficiency properties (p=0.0085 and 0.0018, for global and local efficiency, respectively) with a locally graded distribution featuring significant disruptions of key consciousness-related regions. Moreover, our results also indicate a redistribution of brain's information-processing hubs characterized by a right and posterior shift as consistent with the reduced level of consciousness during sedation. Overall, our findings inform a sedation-induced functional reorganization pattern in school-aged children that greatly improve our understanding of sedation's effect in children and may potentially serve as reference for future sedation-related experimental studies and clinical applications.
PMCID: PMC3634152  PMID: 23294031
children; functional connectivity; graph theory; resting state; sedation; whole brain system
3.  Progranulin-Derived Atsttrin Directly Binds to TNFRSF25 (DR3) and Inhibits TNF-Like Ligand 1A (TL1A) Activity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92743.
Atsttrin, a progranulin (PGRN)-derived molecule composed of three TNFR-binding domains of PGRN, binds to TNF receptors (TNFR) and is therapeutic against inflammatory arthritis. Here we screened the associations of Atsttrin and other members in TNFR subfamily, which led to the discovery of TNFRSF25 (DR3) as an additional Atsttrin-interacting member in TNFR family. Similar to TNFR1 and TNFR2, DR3 also directly bound to Atsttrin. The first three cysteine-rich domains (CRD) in the extracellular portion of DR3 were required for this interaction. Atsttrin inhibited the interaction between DR3 and its TNF-Like Ligand 1A (TL1A). In addition, Atsttrin inhibited TL1A-stimulated target gene expressions and neutralized TL1A-enhanced osteoclastogenesis in vitro. Furthermore, Atsttrin ameliorated the pathology in dextran sulfate sodium induced colitis. Taken together, these findings not only provide the new insights into Atsttrin's therapeutic action in inflammatory arthritis, but may also present Atsttrin as a novel biological agent for treating various types of diseases associated with TL1A/DR3 pathway.
PMCID: PMC3961393  PMID: 24651300
4.  The RpoB H481Y Rifampicin Resistance Mutation and an Active Stringent Response Reduce Virulence and Increase Resistance to Innate Immune Responses in Staphylococcus aureus 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;207(6):929-939.
The occurrence of mutations in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) during persistent infection leads to antimicrobial resistance but may also impact host-pathogen interactions. Here, we investigate the host-pathogen consequences of 2 mutations arising in clinical MRSA during persistent infection: RpoB H481Y, which is linked to rifampicin resistance, and RelA F128Y, which is associated with an active stringent response. Allelic exchange experiments showed that both mutations cause global transcriptional changes, leading to upregulation of capsule production, with attenuated virulence in a murine bacteremia model and reduced susceptibility to both antimicrobial peptides and whole-blood killing. Disruption of capsule biosynthesis reversed these impacts on innate immune function. These data clearly link MRSA persistence and reduced virulence to the same mechanisms that alter antimicrobial susceptibility. Our study highlights the wider consequences of suboptimal antimicrobial use, where drug resistance and immune escape mechanisms coevolve, thus increasing the likelihood of treatment failure.
PMCID: PMC3633451  PMID: 23255563
Staphylococcus aureus; antibiotic resistance; virulence; persistence
5.  Recognition of self and altered self by T cells in autoimmunity and allergy 
Protein & cell  2013;4(1):8-16.
T cell recognition of foreign peptide antigen and tolerance to self peptides is key to the proper function of the immune system. Usually, in the thymus T cells that recognize self MHC + self peptides are deleted and those with the potential to recognize self MHC + foreign peptides are selected to mature. However there are exceptions to these rules. Autoimmunity and allergy are two of the most common immune diseases that can be related to recognition of self. Many genes work together to lead to autoimmunity. Of those, particular MHC alleles are the most strongly associated, reflecting the key importance of MHC presentation of self peptides in autoimmunity. T cells specific for combinations of self MHC and self peptides may escape thymus deletion, and thus be able to drive autoimmunity, for several reasons: the relevant self peptide may be presented at low abundance in the thymus but at high level in particular peripheral tissues; the relevant self peptide may bind to MHC in an unusual register, not present in the thymus but apparent elsewhere; finally the relevant self peptide may be post translationally modified in a tissue specific fashion. In some types of allergy, the peptide + MHC combination may also be fully derived from self. However the combination in question may be modified by the presence of other ligands, such as small drug molecules or metal ions. Thus these types of allergies may act like the post translationally modified peptides involved some types of autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC3951410  PMID: 23307779
altered self; neoantigen; antigen presenting; T cell recognition; autoimmunity; allergy; diabetes; dermatitis; drug hypersensitivity
6.  Contributions of epithelial-mesenchymal transition and cancer stem cells to the development of castration resistance of prostate cancer 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:55.
An important clinical challenge in prostate cancer therapy is the inevitable transition from androgen-sensitive to castration-resistant and metastatic prostate cancer. Albeit the androgen receptor (AR) signaling axis has been targeted, the biological mechanism underlying the lethal event of androgen independence remains unclear. New emerging evidences indicate that epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cancer stem cells (CSCs) play crucial roles during the development of castration-resistance and metastasis of prostate cancer. Notably, EMT may be a dynamic process. Castration can induce EMT that may enhance the stemness of CSCs, which in turn results in castration-resistance and metastasis. Reverse of EMT may attenuate the stemness of CSCs and inhibit castration-resistance and metastasis. These prospective approaches suggest that therapies target EMT and CSCs may cast a new light on the treatment of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) in the future. Here we review recent progress of EMT and CSCs in CRPC.
PMCID: PMC3975176  PMID: 24618337
Castration-resistant; Prostate cancer; Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; Cancer stem cells; Signaling pathways
7.  The Synchronization within and Interaction between the Default and Dorsal Attention Networks in Early Infancy 
Cerebral Cortex (New York, NY)  2012;23(3):594-603.
An anticorrelated interaction between the dorsal attention and the default-mode networks has been observed, although how these 2 networks establish such relationship remains elusive. Behavioral studies have reported the emergence of attention and default network–related functions and a preliminary competing relationship between them at early infancy. This study attempted to test the hypothesis—resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging will demonstrate not only improved network synchronization of the dorsal attention and the default networks, respectively, during the first 2 years of life but also an anticorrelated network interaction pattern between the 2 networks at 1 year which will be further enhanced at 2 years old. Our results demonstrate that both networks start from an isolated region in neonates but evolve to highly synchronized networks at 1 year old. Paralleling the individual network maturation process, the anticorrelated behaviors are absent at birth but become apparent at 1 year and are further enhanced during the second year of life. Our studies elucidate not only the individual maturation process of the dorsal attention and default networks but also offer evidence that the maturation of the individual networks may be needed prior exhibiting the adult-like interaction patterns between the 2 networks.
PMCID: PMC3563337  PMID: 22368080
anticorrelation; brain development; fMRI; functional connectivity; resting state
8.  In Vivo Suppression of MiR-24 Prevents the Transition toward Decompensated Hypertrophy in Aortic-constricted Mice 
Circulation research  2013;112(4):601-605.
During the transition from compensated hypertrophy to heart failure, the signaling between L-type Ca2+ channels (LCCs) in the cell membrane/T-tubules (TTs) and ryanodine receptors (RyRs) in the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) becomes defective, partially due to the decreased expression of a TT-SR anchoring protein, junctophilin-2 (JP2). MiR-24, a JP2 suppressing microRNA, is up-regulated in hypertrophied and failing cardiomyocytes.
To test whether miR-24 suppression can protect the structural and functional integrity of LCC-RyR signaling in hypertrophied cardiomyocytes.
Methods and Results
In vivo silencing of miR-24 by a specific antagomir in an aorta-constricted mouse model effectively prevented the degradation of heart contraction but not ventricular hypertrophy. Electrophysiology and confocal imaging studies showed that antagomir treatment prevented the decreases in LCC-RyR signaling fidelity/efficiency and whole-cell Ca2+ transients. Further studies showed that antagomir treatment stabilized JP2 expression and protected the ultrastructure of TT-SR junctions from disruption.
MiR-24 suppression prevented the transition from compensated hypertrophy to decompensated hypertrophy, providing a potential strategy for early treatment against heart failure.
PMCID: PMC3622206  PMID: 23307820
Hypertrophy; remodeling heart failure; myocardial contraction; Ca2+ signaling; hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
9.  Comparisons of Costs between Black Caribbean and White British Patients with Advanced Multiple Sclerosis in the UK 
Background. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is now more common among black and minority ethnic groups in the UK but little is known about the costs of care amongst different ethnic groups. Objective. This study examined and compared service use and costs for people severely affected with MS from Black Caribbean (BC) and White British (WB) backgrounds in the UK and identified predictors of cost for both groups. Method. Population-based cross-sectional study of 43 BC and 43 WB patients with MS (EDSS ≥ 6) and their informal caregivers recruited from an MS service in southeast London. Interviews collected data on health and social service use and informal care support. Costs were calculated using UK unit cost data. Using regression analyses we compared costs between the ethnic groups and identified possible predictors of cost. Results. The mean (SD) costs for the WB and BC groups were £25,778 (£39,387) and £23,186 (£30,433), respectively. Results identified no significant difference in total cost between the two ethnic groups. The EDSS score alone was a significant predictor of cost. Conclusion. Similar costs between ethnic groups indicate that with regard to this MS service and geographical area, access to care was not affected by ethnicity.
PMCID: PMC3932720  PMID: 24649365
10.  Structural and Diffusion Property Alterations in Unaffected Siblings of Patients with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85663.
Disrupted white matter integrity and abnormal cortical thickness are widely reported in the pathophysiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, the relationship between alterations in white matter connectivity and cortical thickness in OCD is unclear. In addition, the heritability of this relationship is poorly understood. To investigate the relationship of white matter microstructure with cortical thickness, we measure fractional anisotropy (FA) of white matter in 30 OCD patients, 19 unaffected siblings and 30 matched healthy controls. Then, we take those regions of significantly altered FA in OCD patients compared with healthy controls to perform fiber tracking. Next, we calculate the fiber quantity in the same tracts. Lastly, we compare cortical thickness in the target regions of those tracts. Patients with OCD exhibited decreased FA in cingulum, arcuate fibers near the superior parietal lobule, inferior longitudinal fasciculus near the right superior temporal gyrus and uncinate fasciculus. Siblings showed reduced FA in arcuate fibers near the superior parietal lobule and anterior limb of internal capsule. Significant reductions in both fiber quantities and cortical thickness in OCD patients and their unaffected siblings were also observed in the projected brain areas when using the arcuate fibers near the left superior parietal lobule as the starting points. Reduced FA in the left superior parietal lobule was observed not only in patients with OCD but also in their unaffected siblings. Originated from the superior parietal lobule, the number of fibers was also found to be decreased and the corresponding cortical regions were thinner relative to controls. The linkage between disrupted white matter integrity and the abnormal cortical thickness may be a vulnerability marker for OCD.
PMCID: PMC3904847  PMID: 24489665
11.  Combining metabolomics and transcriptomics to characterize tanshinone biosynthesis in Salvia miltiorrhiza 
BMC Genomics  2014;15:73.
Plant natural products have been co-opted for millennia by humans for various uses such as flavor, fragrances, and medicines. These compounds often are only produced in relatively low amounts and are difficult to chemically synthesize, limiting access. While elucidation of the underlying biosynthetic processes might help alleviate these issues (e.g., via metabolic engineering), investigation of this is hindered by the low levels of relevant gene expression and expansion of the corresponding enzymatic gene families. However, the often-inducible nature of such metabolic processes enables selection of those genes whose expression pattern indicates a role in production of the targeted natural product.
Here, we combine metabolomics and transcriptomics to investigate the inducible biosynthesis of the bioactive diterpenoid tanshinones from the Chinese medicinal herb, Salvia miltiorrhiza (Danshen). Untargeted metabolomics investigation of elicited hairy root cultures indicated that tanshinone production was a dominant component of the metabolic response, increasing at later time points. A transcriptomic approach was applied to not only define a comprehensive transcriptome (comprised of 20,972 non-redundant genes), but also its response to induction, revealing 6,358 genes that exhibited differential expression, with significant enrichment for up-regulation of genes involved in stress, stimulus and immune response processes. Consistent with our metabolomics analysis, there appears to be a slower but more sustained increased in transcript levels of known genes from diterpenoid and, more specifically, tanshinone biosynthesis. Among the co-regulated genes were 70 transcription factors and 8 cytochromes P450, providing targets for future investigation.
Our results indicate a biphasic response of Danshen terpenoid metabolism to elicitation, with early induction of sesqui- and tri- terpenoid biosynthesis, followed by later and more sustained production of the diterpenoid tanshinones. Our data provides a firm foundation for further elucidation of tanshinone and other inducible natural product metabolism in Danshen.
PMCID: PMC3913955  PMID: 24467826
12.  Managing Cancer Pain at the End of Life with Multiple Strong Opioids: A Population-Based Retrospective Cohort Study in Primary Care 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e79266.
End-of-life cancer patients commonly receive more than one type of strong opioid. The three-step analgesic ladder framework of the World Health Organisation (WHO) provides no guidance on multiple opioid prescribing and there is little epidemiological data available to inform practice. This study aims to investigate the time trend of such cases and the associated factors.
Strong opioid prescribing in the last three months of life of cancer patients were extracted from the General Practice Research Database (GPRD). The outcome variable was the number of different types of prescribed non-rescue doses of opioids (1 vs 2–4, referred to as a complex case). Associated factors were evaluated using prevalence ratios (PR) derived from multivariate log-binomial model, adjusting for clustering effects and potential confounding variables.
Overall, 26.4% (95% CI: 25.6–27.1%) of 13,427 cancer patients (lung 41.7%, colorectal 19.1%, breast 18.6%, prostate 15.5%, head and neck 5.0%) were complex cases. Complex cases increased steadily over the study period (1.02% annually, 95%CI: 0.42–1.61%, p = 0.048) but with a small dip (7.5% reduction, 95%CI: −0.03 to 17.8%) around the period of the Shipman case, a British primary care doctor who murdered his patients with opioids. The dip significantly affected the correlation of the complex cases with persistent increasing background opioid prescribing (weighted correlation coefficients pre-, post-Shipman periods: 0.98(95%CI: 0.67–1.00), p = 0.011; 0.14 (95%CI: −0.85 to 0.91), p = 0.85). Multivariate adjusted analysis showed that the complex cases were predominantly associated with year of death (PRs vs 2000: 1.05–1.65), not other demographic and clinical factors except colorectal cancer (PR vs lung cancer: 1.24, 95%CI: 1.12–1.37).
These findings suggest that prescribing behaviour, rather than patient factors, plays an important role in multiple opioid prescribing at the end of life; highlighting the need for training and education that goes beyond the well-recognised WHO approach for clinical practitioners.
PMCID: PMC3903468  PMID: 24475016
13.  Adverse Effects from Clenbuterol and Ractopamine on Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the Underlying Mechanism 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85482.
In the present study, we used Caenorhabditis elegans assay system to investigate in vivo toxicity from clentuberol and ractopamine and the possible underlying mechanism. Both acute and prolonged exposures to clentuberol or ractopamine decreased brood size and locomotion behavior, and induced intestinal autofluorescence and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Although acute exposure to the examined concentrations of clentuberol or ractopamine did not induce lethality, prolonged exposure to 10 µg/L of clentuberol and ractopamine reduced lifespan. At relatively high concentrations, ractopamine exhibited more severe toxicity than clentuberol on nematodes. Overexpression of sod-2 gene encoding a Mn-SOD to prevent induction of oxidative stress effectively inhibited toxicity from clentuberol or ractopamine. Besides oxidative stress, we found that clentuberol might reduce lifespan through influencing insulin/IGF signaling pathway; however, ractopamine might reduce lifespan through affecting both insulin/IGF signaling pathway and TOR signaling pathway. Ractopamine more severely decreased expression levels of daf-16, sgk-1, skn-1, and aak-2 genes than clentuberol, and increased expression levels of daf-2 and age-1 genes at the examined concentration. Therefore, the C. elegans assay system may be useful for assessing the possible toxicity from weight loss agents, and clentuberol and ractopamine may induce toxicity through different molecular mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3897430  PMID: 24465573
14.  ADAM-12 as a Diagnostic Marker for the Proliferation, Migration and Invasion in Patients with Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85936.
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is highly aggressive and is characterized by malignant metastasis. Approximately 90% of patients die due to extensive metastasis. The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a natural barrier that can prevent cellular invasion and metastasis. Therefore, degradation of the ECM must take place in order for extensive metastasis to occur. A disintegrin and metalloprotease (ADAM) is a multi-domain protease that plays an important role in tumorigenesis, as well as tumor development, invasion and metastasis. However, there have been few reports on the expression and role of ADAMs in SCLC. In the current study, the expression and role of ADAMs in SCLC proliferation, invasion and metastasis was investigated. A total of 150 SCLC tissue samples were examined by immunohistochemistry for ADAMs expression. ADAM-12 was found to be abundantly expressed in 72.67% samples and other ADAMs were found to be expressed in 10% to 40% of samples. ADAM-12 levels in serum and urine, from 70 SCLC patients and 40 normal controls, were also measured using ELISA. ADAM-12 expression was significantly higher in SCLC patients than in healthy controls and in patients with extensive disease compared to those with more limited disease. Silencing the expression of ADAM-12 in H1688 cells through the use of specific siRNA significantly reduced cellular proliferation, invasion and metastasis. Supplementing the expression of ADAM-12-L or -S in H345 cells, significantly enhanced cellular proliferation, invasion and metastasis. Animal models with metastatic SCLC also exhibited increased expression of ADAM-12 along with enhanced invasion and metastasis. In brief, ADAM-12 is an independent prognostic factor and diagnostic marker, and is involved in the proliferation, invasion and metastasis of SCLC.
PMCID: PMC3897605  PMID: 24465799
15.  Decreased Vancomycin Susceptibility in Staphylococcus aureus Caused by IS256 Tempering of WalKR Expression 
Vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus (VISA) strains often arise by mutations in the essential two-component regulator walKR; however their impact on walKR function has not been definitively established. Here, we investigated 10 MRSA strains recovered serially after exposure of vancomycin-susceptible S. aureus (VSSA) JKD6009 to simulated human vancomycin dosing regimens (500 mg to 4,000 mg every 12 h) using a 10-day hollow fiber infection model. After continued exposure to the vancomycin regimens, two isolates displayed reduced susceptibility to both vancomycin and daptomycin, developing independent IS256 insertions in the walKR 5′ untranslated region (5′ UTR). Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) revealed a 50% reduction in walKR gene expression in the IS256 mutants compared to the VSSA parent. Green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter analysis, promoter mapping, and site-directed mutagenesis confirmed these findings and showed that the IS256 insertions had replaced two SigA-like walKR promoters with weaker, hybrid promoters. Removal of IS256 reverted the phenotype to VSSA, showing that reduced expression of WalKR did induce the VISA phenotype. Analysis of selected WalKR-regulated autolysins revealed upregulation of ssaA but no change in expression of sak and sceD in both IS256 mutants. Whole-genome sequencing of the two mutants revealed an additional IS256 insertion within agrC for one mutant, and we confirmed that this mutation abolished agr function. These data provide the first substantial analysis of walKR promoter function and show that prolonged vancomycin exposure can result in VISA through an IS256-mediated reduction in walKR expression; however, the mechanisms by which this occurs remain to be determined.
PMCID: PMC3697332  PMID: 23629723
16.  A Strapdown Interial Navigation System/Beidou/Doppler Velocity Log Integrated Navigation Algorithm Based on a Cubature Kalman Filter 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2014;14(1):1511-1527.
The integrated navigation system with strapdown inertial navigation system (SINS), Beidou (BD) receiver and Doppler velocity log (DVL) can be used in marine applications owing to the fact that the redundant and complementary information from different sensors can markedly improve the system accuracy. However, the existence of multisensor asynchrony will introduce errors into the system. In order to deal with the problem, conventionally the sampling interval is subdivided, which increases the computational complexity. In this paper, an innovative integrated navigation algorithm based on a Cubature Kalman filter (CKF) is proposed correspondingly. A nonlinear system model and observation model for the SINS/BD/DVL integrated system are established to more accurately describe the system. By taking multi-sensor asynchronization into account, a new sampling principle is proposed to make the best use of each sensor's information. Further, CKF is introduced in this new algorithm to enable the improvement of the filtering accuracy. The performance of this new algorithm has been examined through numerical simulations. The results have shown that the positional error can be effectively reduced with the new integrated navigation algorithm. Compared with the traditional algorithm based on EKF, the accuracy of the SINS/BD/DVL integrated navigation system is improved, making the proposed nonlinear integrated navigation algorithm feasible and efficient.
PMCID: PMC3926623  PMID: 24434842
integrated navigation; Beidou; Cubature Kalman filter; asynchronous; information fusion
17.  Cytokeratin 18 Is Not Required for Morphogenesis of Developing Prostates but Contributes to Adult Prostate Regeneration 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:576472.
Cytokeratin 18 (CK18) is a key component of keratin-containing intermediate filaments and has long been used as a classic luminal cell marker in prostatic tissue. However, the in vivo function of CK18 in prostate is not known so far. We reported in this study, unexpectedly, that deletion of CK18 in a mouse model did not affect the morphological or the histological structures of adult prostate, as the CK18 knockout prostate displayed a normal glandular ductal structure, branching pattern, and composition of both luminal and basal cells. However, CK18 loss compromised the regenerative tubular branching in dorsolateral prostate after castration and androgen replacement. Therefore, in contrast to its importance as luminal cell marker, CK18 is dispensable for the prostate morphogenesis but contributes to adult prostate regeneration.
PMCID: PMC3929997  PMID: 24672777
18.  MUC5B Promoter Polymorphism and Interstitial Lung Abnormalities 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;368(23):2192-2200.
A common promoter polymorphism (rs35705950) in MUC5B, the gene encoding mucin 5B, is associated with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. It is not known whether this polymorphism is associated with interstitial lung disease in the general population.
We performed a blinded assessment of interstitial lung abnormalities detected in 2633 participants in the Framingham Heart Study by means of volumetric chest computed tomography (CT). We evaluated the relationship between the abnormalities and the genotype at the rs35705950 locus.
Of the 2633 chest CT scans that were evaluated, interstitial lung abnormalities were present in 177 (7%). Participants with such abnormalities were more likely to have shortness of breath and chronic cough and reduced measures of total lung and diffusion capacity, as compared with participants without such abnormalities. After adjustment for covariates, for each copy of the minor rs35705950 allele, the odds of interstitial lung abnormalities were 2.8 times greater (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.0 to 3.9; P<0.001), and the odds of definite CT evidence of pulmonary fibrosis were 6.3 times greater (95% CI, 3.1 to 12.7; P<0.001). Although the evidence of an association between the MUC5B genotype and interstitial lung abnormalities was greater among participants who were older than 50 years of age, a history of cigarette smoking did not appear to influence the association.
The MUC5B promoter polymorphism was found to be associated with interstitial lung disease in the general population. Although this association was more apparent in older persons, it did not appear to be influenced by cigarette smoking. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others; number, NCT00005121.)
PMCID: PMC3747636  PMID: 23692170
19.  Cardiac resynchronization sensitizes the sarcomere to calcium by reactivating GSK-3β 
Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), the application of biventricular stimulation to correct discoordinate contraction, is the only heart failure treatment that enhances acute and chronic systolic function, increases cardiac work, and reduces mortality. Resting myocyte function also increases after CRT despite only modest improvement in calcium transients, suggesting that CRT may enhance myofilament calcium responsiveness. To test this hypothesis, we examined adult dogs subjected to tachypacing-induced heart failure for 6 weeks, concurrent with ventricular dyssynchrony (HFdys) or CRT. Myofilament force-calcium relationships were measured in skinned trabeculae and/or myocytes. Compared with control, maximal calcium-activated force and calcium sensitivity declined globally in HFdys; however, CRT restored both. Phosphatase PP1 induced calcium desensitization in control and CRT-treated cells, while HFdys cells were unaffected, implying that CRT enhances myofilament phosphorylation. Proteomics revealed phosphorylation sites on Z-disk and M-band proteins, which were predicted to be targets of glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β). We found that GSK-3β was deactivated in HFdys and reactivated by CRT. Mass spectrometry of myofilament proteins from HFdys animals incubated with GSK-3β confirmed GSK-3β–dependent phosphorylation at many of the same sites observed with CRT. GSK-3β restored calcium sensitivity in HFdys, but did not affect control or CRT cells. These data indicate that CRT improves calcium responsiveness of myofilaments following HFdys through GSK-3β reactivation, identifying a therapeutic approach to enhancing contractile function.
PMCID: PMC3871225  PMID: 24292707
20.  Effects of atorvastatin loading prior to primary percutaneous coronary intervention on endothelial function and inflammatory factors in patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction 
Previous studies have demonstrated the beneficial effect of statin loading prior to elective and early percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), in which the ‘pleiotropic effects’ of statins may contribute to these clinical benefits. The aim of the present study was to examine the potential effects of atorvastatin loading prior to primary PCI on coronary endothelial function and inflammatory factors in patients with acute ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). A total of 60 patients with STEMI were randomized into three groups: Loading dose (80 mg atorvastatin prior to PCI; n=20), regular dose (20 mg atorvastatin prior to PCI; n=20) and control (without atorvastatin prior to PCI; n=20). The plasma samples were collected prior to, and immediately, 6 and 24 h after PCI in all the patients. The plasma concentrations of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), nitric oxide (NO), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) were examined using ELISA. The plasma eNOS levels immediately and 24 h after PCI were significantly higher in the regular dose group compared with the other groups. However, there were no significant differences in the plasma eNOS concentration prior to and 6 h after PCI, or in the plasma NO concentration at any of the time-points among the three groups. The plasma IL-6 levels prior to PCI were significantly lower in the loading dose group compared with the other groups; however, there were no significant differences in the plasma concentration of IL-6 following PCI or in the concentrations of TNF-α and ICAM-1 at any of the time-points among the three groups. In conclusion, atorvastatin loading in patients with STEMI undergoing primary PCI may not have protective effects on endothelial function and the inflammatory reaction.
PMCID: PMC3881059  PMID: 24396397
ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction; primary percutaneous coronary intervention; atorvastatin; endothelial function; inflammatory reaction
21.  Novel Immunocytokine IL12-SS1 (Fv) Inhibits Mesothelioma Tumor Growth in Nude Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81919.
Mesothelin is a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored glycoprotein that is highly expressed on the cell surface of malignant mesothelioma. Monoclonal antibodies against mesothelin are being evaluated for the treatment of mesothelioma. Immunocytokines represent a novel class of armed antibodies. To provide an alternative approach to current mesothelin-targeted antibody therapies, we have developed a novel immunocytokine based on interleukin-12 (IL12) and the SS1 Fv specific for mesothelin. IL12 possesses potent anti-tumor activity in a wide variety of solid tumors. The newly-developed recombinant immunocytokine, IL12-SS1 (Fv), was produced in insect cells using a baculovirus-insect cell expression system. The SS1 single-chain Fv was fused to the C terminus of the p35 subunit of IL12 through a short linker (GSADGG). The single-chain IL12-SS1 (Fv) immunocytokine bound native mesothelin proteins on malignant mesothelioma (NCI-H226) and ovarian (OVCAR-3) cells as well as recombinant mesothelin on A431/H9 cells. The immunocytokine retained sufficient bioactivity of IL12 and significantly inhibited human malignant mesothelioma (NCI-H226) grown in the peritoneal cavity of nude mice and showed comparable anti-tumor activity to that of the SS1P immunotoxin. IL12-SS1 (Fv) is the first reported immunocytokine to mesothelin-positive tumors and may be an attractive addition to mesothelin-targeted cancer therapies.
PMCID: PMC3829959  PMID: 24260587
22.  Beneficial Effects of Schisandrin B on the Cardiac Function in Mice Model of Myocardial Infarction 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79418.
The fruit of Schisandra chinensis has been used in the traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Accumulating evidence suggests that Schisandrin B (Sch B) has cardioprotection effect on myocardial ischemia in vitro. However, it is unclear whether Sch B has beneficial effects on continuous myocardial ischemia in vivo. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether Sch B could improve cardiac function and attenuate myocardial remodeling after myocardial infarction (MI) in mice. Mice model of MI was established by permanent ligation of the left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery. Then the MI mice were randomly treated with Sch B or vehicle alone. After treatment for 3 weeks, Sch B could increase survival rate, improve heart function and decrease infarct size compared with vehicle. Moreover, Sch B could down-regulate some inflammatory cytokines, activate eNOS pathway, inhibit cell apoptosis, and enhance cell proliferation. Further in vitro study on H9c2 cells showed similar effects of Sch B on prevention of hypoxia-induced inflammation and cell apoptosis. Taken together, our results demonstrate that Sch B can reduce inflammation, inhibit apoptosis, and improve cardiac function after ischemic injury. It represents a potential novel therapeutic approach for treatment of ischemic heart disease.
PMCID: PMC3832629  PMID: 24260217
23.  Identification of Ochratoxin A Producing Fungi Associated with Fresh and Dry Liquorice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78285.
The presence of fungi on liquorice could contaminate the crop and result in elevated levels of mycotoxin. In this study, the mycobiota associated with fresh and dry liquorice was investigated in 3 producing regions of China. Potential toxigenic fungi were tested for ochratoxin A (OTA) and aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) production using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry. Based on a polyphasic approach using morphological characters, β-tubulin and RNA polymerase II second largest subunit gene phylogeny, a total of 9 genera consisting of 22 fungal species were identified, including two new Penicillium species (Penicillium glycyrrhizacola sp. nov. and Penicillium xingjiangense sp. nov.). The similarity of fungal communities associated with fresh and dry liquorice was low. Nineteen species belonging to 8 genera were detected from fresh liquorice with populations affiliated with P. glycyrrhizacola, P. chrysogenum and Aspergillus insuetus comprising the majority (78.74%, 33.33% and 47.06% of total) of the community from Gansu, Ningxia and Xinjiang samples, respectively. In contrast, ten species belonging to 4 genera were detected from dry liquorice with populations affiliated with P. chrysogenum, P. crustosum and Aspergillus terreus comprising the majority (64.00%, 52.38% and 90.91% of total) of the community from Gansu, Ningxia and Xinjiang samples, respectively. Subsequent LC/MS/MS analysis indicated that 5 fungal species were able to synthesize OTA in vitro including P. chrysogenum, P. glycyrrhizacola, P. polonicum, Aspergillus ochraceus and A. westerdijkiae, the OTA concentration varied from 12.99 to 39.03 µg/kg. AFB1 was absent in all tested strains. These results demonstrate the presence of OTA producing fungi on fresh liquorice and suggest that these fungi could survive on dry liquorice after traditional sun drying. Penicillium chrysogenum derived from surrounding environments is likely to be a stable contributor to high OTA level in liquorice. The harvesting and processing procedure needs to be monitored in order to keep liquorice free of toxigenic fungi.
PMCID: PMC3804526  PMID: 24205182
24.  Genetic Variation and Combining Ability Analysis of Bruising Sensitivity in Agaricus bisporus 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76826.
Advanced button mushroom cultivars that are less sensitive to mechanical bruising are required by the mushroom industry, where automated harvesting still cannot be used for the fresh mushroom market. The genetic variation in bruising sensitivity (BS) of Agaricus bisporus was studied through an incomplete set of diallel crosses to get insight in the heritability of BS and the combining ability of the parental lines used and, in this way, to estimate their breeding value. To this end nineteen homokaryotic lines recovered from wild strains and cultivars were inter-crossed in a diallel scheme. Fifty-one successful hybrids were grown under controlled conditions, and the BS of these hybrids was assessed. BS was shown to be a trait with a very high heritability. The results also showed that brown hybrids were generally less sensitive to bruising than white hybrids. The diallel scheme allowed to estimate the general combining ability (GCA) for each homokaryotic parental line and to estimate the specific combining ability (SCA) of each hybrid. The line with the lowest GCA is seen as the most attractive donor for improving resistance to bruising. The line gave rise to hybrids sensitive to bruising having the highest GCA value. The highest negative SCA possibly indicates heterosis effects for resistance to bruising. This study provides a foundation for estimating breeding value of parental lines to further study the genetic factors underlying bruising sensitivity and other quality-related traits, and to select potential parental lines for further heterosis breeding. The approach of studying combining ability in a diallel scheme was used for the first time in button mushroom breeding.
PMCID: PMC3792865  PMID: 24116171
25.  Progression, Symptoms and Psychosocial Concerns among Those Severely Affected by Multiple Sclerosis: A Mixed-Methods Cross-Sectional Study of Black Caribbean and White British People 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75431.
Multiple sclerosis is now more common among minority ethnic groups in the UK but little is known about their experiences, especially in advanced stages. We examine disease progression, symptoms and psychosocial concerns among Black Caribbean (BC) and White British (WB) people severely affected by MS.
Mixed methods study of 43 BC and 43 WB people with MS (PwMS) with an Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) ≥6 involving data from in clinical records, face-to-face structured interviews and a nested-qualitative component. Progression Index (PI) and Multiple Sclerosis Severity Score (MSSS) were calculated. To control for selection bias, propensity scores were derived for each patient and adjusted for in the comparative statistical analysis; qualitative data were analysed using the framework approach.
Median EDSS for both groups was (6.5; range: 6.0–9.0). Progression Index (PI) and Multiple Sclerosis Severity Score (MSSS) based on neurological assessment of current EDSS scores identified BC PwMS were more likely to have aggressive disease (PI F = 4.04, p = 0.048, MSSS F = 10.30, p<0.001). Patients’ reports of the time required to reach levels of functional decline equivalent to different EDSS levels varied by group; EDSS 4: BC 2.7 years v/s WB 10.2 years (U = 258.50, p = 0.013), EDSS 6∶6.1 years BC v/s WB 12.7 years (U = 535.500, p = 0.011), EDSS 8: BC 8.7 years v/s WB 10.2 years. Both groups reported high symptom burden. BC PwMS were more cognitively impaired than WB PwMS (F = 9.65, p = 0.003). Thematic analysis of qualitative interviews provides correspondence with quantitative findings; more BC than WB PwMS referred to feelings of extreme frustration and unresolved loss/confusion associated with their rapidly advancing disease. The interviews also reveal the centrality, meanings and impact of common MS-related symptoms.
Delays in diagnosis should be avoided and more frequent reviews may be justified by healthcare services. Culturally acceptable interventions to better support people who perceive MS as an assault on identity should be developed to help them achieve normalisation and enhance self-identity.
PMCID: PMC3788806  PMID: 24098384

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