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author:("Lu, jiangxi")
1.  Niacin Activates the PI3K/Akt Cascade via PKC- and EGFR-Transactivation-Dependent Pathways through Hydroxyl-Carboxylic Acid Receptor 2 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112310.
Niacin has been demonstrated to activate a PI3K/Akt signaling cascade to prevent brain damage after stroke and UV-induced skin damage; however, the underlying molecular mechanisms for HCA2-induced Akt activation remain to be elucidated. Using CHO-K1 cells stably expressing HCA2 and A431 cells, a human epidermoid cell line with high levels of endogenous expression of functional HCA2 receptors, we first demonstrated that niacin induced a robust Akt phosphorylation at both Thr308 and Ser473 in a time-dependent fashion, with a maximal activation at 5 min and a subsequent reduction to baseline by 30 min through HCA2, and that the activation was significantly blocked by pertussis toxin. The HCA2-mediated activation of Akt was also significantly inhibited by the PKC inhibitors GF109203x and Go6983 in both cell lines, by the PDGFR-selective inhibitor tyrphostin A9 in CHO-HCA2 cells and by the MMP inhibitor GM6001 and EGFR-specific inhibitor AG1478 in A431 cells. These results suggest that the PKC pathway and PDGFR/EGFR transactivation pathway play important roles in HCA2-mediated Akt activation. Further investigation indicated that PI3K and the Gβγ subunit were likely to play an essential role in HCA2-induced Akt activation. Moreover, Immunobloting analyses using an antibody that recognizes p70S6K1 phosphorylated at Thr389 showed that niacin evoked p70S6K1 activation via the PI3K/Akt pathway. The results of our study provide new insight into the signaling pathways involved in HCA2 activation.
PMCID: PMC4223033  PMID: 25375133
2.  Comparative bioenergetic study of neuronal and muscle mitochondria during aging 
Mitochondrial respiratory chain defects have been associated with various diseases and with normal aging, particularly in tissues with high energy demands, including brain and skeletal muscle. Tissue- specific manifestation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations and mitochondrial dysfunction are hallmarks of mitochondrial diseases although the underlying mechanisms are largely unclear. Previously, we and others have established approaches for transferring mtDNA from muscle and synaptosomes of mice at various ages to cell cultures. In this study, we carried out a comprehensive bioenergetic analysis of cells bearing mitochondria derived from young, middle-aged, and old mouse skeletal muscles and synaptosomes. Significant age-associated alterations in oxidative phosphorylation and regulation during aging were observed in cybrids carrying mitochondria from both skeletal muscle and synaptosomes. Our results also revealed that loss of oxidative phosphorylation capacity may occur at various ages in muscle and brain. These findings indicate the existence of a tissue-specific regulatory mechanism for oxidative phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC3786194  PMID: 23643721
Mitochondria; Aging; Skeletal muscle; Synaptosome; Cybrid; Free radicals
3.  Carnosine Inhibits the Proliferation of Human Gastric Cancer SGC-7901 Cells through Both of the Mitochondrial Respiration and Glycolysis Pathways 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104632.
Carnosine, a naturally occurring dipeptide, has been recently demonstrated to possess anti-tumor activity. However, its underlying mechanism is unclear. In this study, we investigated the effect and mechanism of carnosine on the cell viability and proliferation of the cultured human gastric cancer SGC-7901 cells. Carnosine treatment did not induce cell apoptosis or necrosis, but reduced the proliferative capacity of SGC-7901 cells. Seahorse analysis showed SGC-7901 cells cultured with pyruvate have active mitochondria, and depend on mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation more than glycolysis pathway for generation of ATP. Carnosine markedly decreased the absolute value of mitochondrial ATP-linked respiration, and reduced the maximal oxygen consumption and spare respiratory capacity, which may reduce mitochondrial function correlated with proliferative potential. Simultaneously, carnosine also reduced the extracellular acidification rate and glycolysis of SGC-7901 cells. Our results suggested that carnosine is a potential regulator of energy metabolism of SGC-7901 cells both in the anaerobic and aerobic pathways, and provided a clue for preclinical and clinical evaluation of carnosine for gastric cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC4130552  PMID: 25115854
4.  Down-Regulation of mir-221 and mir-222 Restrain Prostate Cancer Cell Proliferation and Migration That Is Partly Mediated by Activation of SIRT1 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98833.
Studies have shown that miR-221 and miR-222 are deregulated in many cancers, including prostate cancer. Nevertheless, the biological role and the underlying mechanisms of miR-221 and miR-222 in the pathogenesis of androgen-independent prostate cancer are still not clear. The proliferation, apoptosis, cell cycle distinction, and migration capacity of prostate cells were determined following transfection of miR-221 or miR-222 inhibitor. The biological impact and regulation of SIRT1 on prostate cancer cells were investigated. MiR-221 and miR-222 were highly expressed in PC-3 cells compared with in LNCap cells. After miR-221 or miR-222 expression was inhibited, the proliferation and migration rates of PC-3 cells decreased and the apoptosis rate increased. Moreover, SIRT1 protein was up-regulated in cells after they were transfected with miR-221 or miR-222 inhibitor. Cells transfected with siSIRT1 showed increased migration and a decreased apoptosis rate, but there was no significant effect on cell proliferation compared with the controls. There was a negative correlation between miR-221 or miR-222 and SIRT1, but no direct target relationship was identified. These data demonstrate that miR-221 and miR-222 are highly expressed in PC-3 cells. Their inhibition leads to reduced cell proliferation and migration and increased apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. These effects are potentially mediated by up-regulation of SIRT1.
PMCID: PMC4043919  PMID: 24892674
5.  Role of mtDNA Haplogroups in the Prevalence of Knee Osteoarthritis in a Southern Chinese Population 
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been implicated in various human degenerative diseases. However, the role of mtDNA in Osteoarthritis (OA) is less known. To investigate whether mtDNA haplogroups contribute to the prevalence of knee OA, we have carried out a comprehensive case-control study on 187 knee OA patients and 420 geographically matched controls in southern China. OA patients were classified on the Kellgren/Lawrence scale from two to four for the disease severity study and the data were analyzed by adjusting for age and sex. We found that patients with haplogroup G (OR = 3.834; 95% CI 1.139, 12.908; p = 0.03) and T16362C (OR = 1.715; 95% CI 1.174, 2.506; p = 0.005) exhibited an increased risk of OA occurrence. Furthermore, patients carrying haplogroup G had a higher severity progression of knee OA (OR = 10.870; 95% CI 1.307, 90.909; p = 0.007). On the other hand, people with haplogroup B/B4 (OR = 0.503; 95% CI 0.283, 0.893; p = 0.019)/(OR = 0.483; 95% CI 0.245, 0.954; p = 0.036) were less susceptible for OA occurrence. Interestingly, we found OA patients also exhibited a general increase in mtDNA content. Our study indicates that the mtDNA haplogroup plays a role in modulating OA development.
PMCID: PMC3958873  PMID: 24534808
mitochondria; haplogroup; osteoarthritis; copy number
6.  Five New CRF07_BC Near Full-Length Sequences Isolated from Sichuan, China 
The main heroine traffic from Yunnan province to the Xinjiang Autonomous Region is believed to initiate the transmission of CRF07_BC which is the predominant strain in intravenous drug users (IDUs) in China. However, the great distances between Yunnan and Xinjiang lead to an unclear and elusive diffusion process of CRF07_BC due to the absence of an important middle site such as Sichuan province. Moreover, in recent years the rapidly increasing infection rate among IDUs in the Liangshan region of Sichuan made it necessary to characterize the genetic character of the circulating strain of Sichuan IDUs. In this study, we characterized the genetic character of seven newly isolated CRF07_BC genomes (five from Sichuan and two from Xinjiang) and analyzed the transmission linkage among strains from IDUs in different regions. By conducting Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) analysis and reconstruction of neighbor-joining trees and maximum-likelihood trees, our results revealed the genetic variation and important role of Sichuan-derived CRF07_BC strains during the transmission of CRF07_BC.
PMCID: PMC3537321  PMID: 22931113
7.  Competition of zinc ion for the [2Fe–2S] cluster binding site in the diabetes drug target protein mitoNEET 
Human mitochondrial protein mitoNEET is a novel target of type II diabetes drug pioglitazone, and contains a redox active [2Fe–2S] cluster that is hosted by a unique ligand arrangement of three cysteine and one histidine residues. Here we report that zinc ion can compete for the [2Fe–2S] cluster binding site in human mitoNEET and potentially modulate the physiological function of mitoNEET. When recombinant mitoNEET is expressed in Escherichia coli cells grown in M9 minimal media, purified mitoNEET contains very little or no iron–sulfur clusters. Addition of exogenous iron or zinc ion in the media produces mitoNEET bound with a [2Fe–2S] cluster or zinc, respectively. Mutations of the amino acid residues that hosting the [2Fe–2S] cluster in mitoNEET diminish the zinc binding activity, indicating that zinc ion and the [2Fe–2S] cluster may share the same binding site in mitoNEET. Finally, excess zinc ion effectively inhibits the [2Fe–2S] cluster assembly in mitoNEET in E. coli cells, suggesting that zinc ion may impede the function of mitoNEET by blocking the [2Fe–2S] cluster assembly in the protein.
PMCID: PMC3822609  PMID: 22945239
Human mitoNEET; Type II diabetes drug pioglitazone; Iron–sulfur cluster; Zinc binding
8.  Down-Regulating Overexpressed Human Lon in Cervical Cancer Suppresses Cell Proliferation and Bioenergetics 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81084.
The human mitochondrial ATP-dependent Lon protease functions in regulating the metabolism and quality control of proteins and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). However, the role of Lon in cancer is not well understood. Therefore, this study was undertaken to investigate the importance of Lon in cervical cancer cells from patients and in established cell lines. Microarray analysis from 30 cancer and 10 normal cervical tissues were analyzed by immunohistochemistry for Lon protein levels. The expression of Lon was also examined by immunoblotting 16 fresh cervical cancer tissues and their respective non-tumor cervical tissues. In all cases, Lon expression was significantly elevated in cervical carcinomas as compared to normal tissues. Augmented Lon expression in tissue microarrays did not vary between age, tumor-node-metastasis grades, or lymph node metastasis. Knocking down Lon in HeLa cervical cancer cells by lentivrial transduction resulted in a substantial decrease in both mRNA and protein levels. Such down-regulation of Lon expression significantly blocked HeLa cell proliferation. In addition, knocking down Lon resulted in decreased cellular bioenergetics as determined by measuring aerobic respiration and glycolysis using the Seahorse XF24 extracellular flux analyzer. Together, these data demonstrate that Lon plays a potential role in the oncogenesis of cervical cancer, and may be a useful biomarker and target in the treatment of cervical cancer. Lon; immunohistochemistry; cervical cancer; cell proliferation; cellular bioenergetics.
PMCID: PMC3834287  PMID: 24260536
9.  Self-assembled HCV core virus-like particles targeted and inhibited tumor cell migration and invasion 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2013;8(1):401.
We used a baculovirus expression system to express fusion proteins of HCV core, RGD (Arg-Gly-Asp) peptide, and IFN-α2a fragments in Sf9 cells. Western blotting and electron microscopy demonstrate that HCV core, peptides RGD, and IFN-α2a fusion proteins assemble into 30 to 40 nm nano-particles (virus-like particles, VLPs). Xenograft assays show that VLPs greatly reduced tumor volume and weight with regard to a nontreated xenograft. Migration and invasion results show that VLPs can inhibit the migration and invasion of the breast cancer cells MDA-MB231. This study will provide theoretical and experimental basis for the establishment of safe and effective tumor-targeted drug delivery systems and clinical application of VLPs carrying cell interacting cargo.
PMCID: PMC3856463  PMID: 24074276
HCV core; Virus-like particles; VLPs; Tumor specificity; Migration; Invasion
10.  Kallikrein Transduced Mesenchymal Stem Cells Protect against Anti-GBM Disease and Lupus Nephritis by Ameliorating Inflammation and Oxidative Stress 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67790.
Previously we have shown that kallikreins (klks) play a renoprotective role in nephrotoxic serum induced nephritis. In this study, we have used mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as vehicles to deliver klks into the injured kidneys and have measured their therapeutic effect on experimental antibody induced nephritis and lupus nephritis. Human KLK-1 (hKLK1) gene was transduced into murine MSCs using a retroviral vector to generate a stable cell line, hKLK1-MSC, expressing high levels of hKLK1. 129/svj mice subjected to anti-GBM induced nephritis were transplanted with 106 hKLK1-MSCs and hKLK1 expression was confirmed in the kidneys. Compared with vector-MSCs injected mice, the hKLK1-MSCs treated mice showed significantly reduced proteinuria, blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and ameliorated renal pathology. Using the same strategy, we treated lupus-prone B6.Sle1.Sle3 bicongenic mice with hKLK1-MSCs and demonstrated that hKLK1-MSCs delivery also attenuated lupus nephritis. Mechanistically, hKLK1-MSCs reduced macrophage and T-lymphocyte infiltration into the kidney by suppressing the expression of inflammation cytokines. Moreover, hKLK1 transduced MSCs were more resistant to oxidative stress-induced apoptosis. These findings advance genetically modified MSCs as potential gene delivery tools for targeting therapeutic agents to the kidneys in order to modulate inflammation and oxidative stress in lupus nephritis.
PMCID: PMC3720854  PMID: 23935844
11.  Mitochondrial Common Deletion, a Potential Biomarker for Cancer Occurrence, Is Selected against in Cancer Background: A Meta-Analysis of 38 Studies 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67953.
Mitochondrial dysfunction has been long proposed to play a major role in tumorigenesis. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations, especially the mtDNA 4,977 bp deletion has been found in patients of various types of cancer. In order to comprehend the mtDNA 4,977 bp deletion status in various cancer types, we performed a meta-analysis composed of 33 publications, in which a total of 1613 cancer cases, 1516 adjacent normals and 638 healthy controls were included. When all studies were pooled, we found that cancerous tissue carried a lower mtDNA 4,977 bp deletion frequency than adjacent non-cancerous tissue (OR = 0.43, 95% CI = 0.20–0.92, P = 0.03 for heterogeneity test, I2 = 91.5%) among various types of cancer. In the stratified analysis by cancer type the deletion frequency was even lower in tumor tissue than in adjacent normal tissue of breast cancer (OR = 0.19, 95% CI = 0.06–0.61, P = 0.005 for heterogeneity test, I2 = 82.7%). Interestingly, this observation became more significant in the stratified studies with larger sample sizes (OR = 0.70, 95% CI = 0.58–0.86, P = 0.0005 for heterogeneity test, I2 = 95.1%). Furthermore, when compared with the normal tissue from the matched healthy controls, increased deletion frequencies were observed in both adjacent non-cancerous tissue (OR = 3.02, 95% CI = 2.13–4.28, P<0.00001 for heterogeneity test, I2 = 53.7%), and cancerous tissue (OR = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.04–1.77, P = 0.02 for heterogeneity test, I2 = 83.5%). This meta-analysis suggests that the mtDNA 4,977 bp deletion is often found in cancerous tissue and thus has the potential to be a biomarker for cancer occurrence in the tissue, but at the same time being selected against in various types of carcinoma tissues. Larger and better-designed studies are still warranted to confirm these findings.
PMCID: PMC3701633  PMID: 23861839
12.  Differential requirement of RasGRP1 for γδ T cell development and activation 
γδ T cells (γδT) belong to a distinct T cell lineage that performs immune functions different from αβ T cells (αβT). Previous studies have established that Erk1/2 MAPKs are critical for positive selection of αβT cells. Additional evidence also suggests that elevated Erk1/2 activity promotes γδT cell generation. RasGRP1, a guanine nucleotide releasing factor for Ras, plays an important role in positive selection of αβT cells by activating the Ras-Erk1/2 pathway. In this report, we demonstrate that RasGRP1 is critical for TCR-induced Erk1/2 activation in γδT cells but exerts different roles for γδT cell generation and activation. Deficiency of RasGRP1 does not obviously affect γδT cell numbers in the thymus but leads to increased γδT cells, particularly CD4−CD8+ γδT cells, in the peripheral lymphoid organs. The virtually unhindered γδT cell development in the RasGRP1−/− thymus proved to be cell intrinsic, while the increase in CD8+ γδT cells is caused by non-cell-intrinsic mechanisms. Our data provides genetic evidence that decreased Erk1/2 activation in the absence of RasGRP1 is compatible for γδT cell generation. Although RasGRP1 is dispensable for γδT cell generation, RasGRP1-deficient γδT cells are defective in proliferation following TCR stimulation. Additionally, RasGRP1-deficient γδT cells are impaired to produce IL-17 but not IFNγ. Together, these observations have revealed that RasGRP1 plays differential roles for γδ and αβ T cell development but is critical for γδT cell proliferation and production of IL-17.
PMCID: PMC3382004  PMID: 22623331
13.  The 12S rRNA A1555G mutation in the mitochondrial haplogroup D5a is responsible for maternally inherited hypertension and hearing loss in two Chinese pedigrees 
We reported here clinical, genetic evaluations and molecular analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in two Han Chinese families carrying the known mitochondrial 12S rRNA A1555G mutation. In contrast with the previous data that hearing loss as a sole phenotype was present in the maternal lineage of other families carrying the A1555G mutation, matrilineal relatives among these two Chinese families exhibited both hearing loss and hypertension. Of 21 matrilineal relatives, 9 subjects exhibited both hearing loss and hypertension, 2 individuals suffered from only hypertension and 1 member had only hearing loss. The average age at onset of hypertension in the affected matrilineal relatives of these families was 60 and 46 years, respectively, whereas those of hearing loss in these two families were 33 and 55 years, respectively. Molecular analysis of their mtDNA identified distinct sets of variants belonging to the Eastern Asian haplogroup D5a. In contrast, the A1555G mutation occurred among other mtDNA haplogroups D, B, R, F, G, Y, M and N, respectively. Our data further support that the A1555G mutation is necessary but by itself insufficient to produce the clinical phenotype. The other modifiers are responsible for the phenotypic variability of matrilineal relatives within and among these families carrying the A1555G mutation. Our investigation provides the first evidence that the 12S rRNA A1555G mutation leads to both of hearing loss and hypertension. Thus, our findings may provide the new insights into the understanding of pathophysiology and valuable information for management and treatment of maternally inherited hearing loss and hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3355256  PMID: 22317974
hypertension; deafness; mitochondrion; 12S rRNA; maternal inheritance
14.  Correction: An Aptamer-Based Biosensor for Colorimetric Detection of Escherichia coli O157:H7 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):10.1371/annotation/c8ed61a9-dcbf-4e20-8525-9da07ec92517.
PMCID: PMC3656162
15.  Functional Investigation of NCI-H460-Inducible Myofibroblasts on the Chemoresistance to VP-16 with a Microfluidic 3D Co-Culture Device 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61754.
Fibroblasts, the major cell type in tumor stroma, are essential for tumor growth and survival, and represent an important therapeutic target for cancers. Here we presented a microfluidic co-culture device in which the three-dimensional (3D) matrix was employed to reconstruct an in vivo-like fibroblast-tumor cell microenvironment for investigation of the role of myofibroblasts induced by lung cancer cells in the chemoresistance to VP-16. Composed of a double-layer chip and an injection pump, the device houses fibroblasts and lung cancer cells co-cultured in 3D matrix and 2D mode to induce fibroblasts to become myofibroblasts with the supplement of the medium continuously. With this device, we verified that the cytokines secreted by lung cancer cells could effectively transform the fibroblasts into myofibroblasts. Moreover, compared to fibroblasts, the myofibroblasts showed higher resistance to anticancer drug VP-16. We also demonstrated that this kind of acquired resistance in myofibroblasts was associated with the expression of Glucose-regulated protein 78 (GP78). We concluded that this device allows for the assay to characterize various cellular events in a single device sequentially, facilitating a better understanding of the interactions among heterotypic cells in a sophisticated microenvironment.
PMCID: PMC3629031  PMID: 23613925
16.  The protective effect and underlying mechanism of metformin on neointima formation in fructose-induced insulin resistant rats 
Insulin resistance is strongly associated with the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, the underlying mechanisms linking insulin resistance and the development of atherosclerosis have not been fully elucidated. Moreover, the protective effect of antihyperglycemic agent, metformin, is not fully understood. This study investigated the protective effects and underlying mechanisms of metformin in balloon-injury induced stenosis in insulin resistant rats.
After 4 weeks high fructose diet, rats received balloon catheter injury on carotid arteries and were sacrificed at 1 and 4 weeks post injury. Biochemical, histological, and molecular changes were investigated.
Plasma levels of glucose, insulin, total cholesterol, triglyceride, free fatty acids, and methylglyoxal were highly increased in fructose-induced insulin resistant rats and treatment with metformin significantly improved this metabolic profile. The neointimal formation of the carotid arteries was enhanced, and treatment with metformin markedly attenuated neointimal hyperplasia. A significant reduction in BrdU-positive cells in the neointima was observed in the metformin-treated group (P < 0.01). Insulin signaling pathways were inhibited in insulin resistant rats while treatment with metformin enhanced the expression of insulin signaling pathways. Increased expression of JNK and NFKB was suppressed following metformin treatment. Vasoreactivity was impaired while treatment with metformin attenuated phenylephrine-induced vasoconstriction and enhanced methacholine-induced vasorelaxation of the balloon injured carotid arteries in insulin resistant rats.
The balloon-injury induced neointimal formation of the carotid arteries is enhanced by insulin resistance. Treatment with metformin significantly attenuates neointimal hyperplasia through inhibition of smooth muscle cell proliferation, migration, and inflammation as well as by improvement of the insulin signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3642024  PMID: 23561047
Neointimal hyperplasia; Insulin resistance; Methylglyoxal; Metformin; Rat
17.  The chemically driven phase transformation in a memristive abacus capable of calculating decimal fractions 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:1230.
The accurate calculation of decimal fractions is still a challenge for the binary-coded computations that rely on von Neumann paradigm. Here, we report a kind of memristive abacus based on synaptic Ag-Ge-Se device, in which the memristive long-term potentiation and depression are caused by a chemically driven phase transformation. The growth and the rupture of conductive Ag2Se dendrites are confirmed via in situ transmission electron microscopy. By detecting the change in memristive synaptic weight, the quantity of input signals applied onto the device can be “counted”. This makes it possible to achieve the functions of abacus that is basically a counting frame. We demonstrate through experimental studies that this kind of memristive abacus can calculate decimal fractions in the light of the abacus algorithms. This approach opens up a new route to do decimal arithmetic in memristive devices without encoding binary-coded decimal.
PMCID: PMC3565167  PMID: 23390580
18.  An Aptamer-Based Biosensor for Colorimetric Detection of Escherichia coli O157:H7 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48999.
An aptamer based biosensor (aptasensor) was developed and evaluated for rapid colorimetric detection of Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The aptasensor was assembled by modifying the truncated lipopolysaccharides (LPS)-binding aptamer on the surface of nanoscale polydiacetylene (PDA) vesicle using peptide bonding between the carboxyl group of the vesicle and the amine group of the aptamer. Molecular recognition between E. coli O157:H7 and aptamer at the interface of the vesicle lead to blue-red transition of PDA which was readily visible to the naked eyes and could be quantified by colorimetric responses (CR). Confocal laser scanning microscope (CLSM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was used to confirm the specific interactions between the truncated aptamer and E. coli O157:H7. The aptasensor could detect cellular concentrations in a range of 104∼ 108 colony-forming units (CFU)/ml within 2 hours and its specificity was 100% for detection of E. coli O157:H7. Compared with the standard culture method, the correspondent rate was 98.5% for the detection of E. coli O157:H7 on 203 clinical fecal specimens with our aptasensor.
The new aptasensor represents a significant advancement in detection capabilities based on the combination of nucleic acid aptamer with PDA vesicle, and offers a specific and convenient screening method for the detection of pathogenic bacteria. This technic could also be applied in areas from clinical analysis to biological terrorism defense, especially in low-resource settings.
PMCID: PMC3492178  PMID: 23145045
19.  Critical roles of RasGRP1 for invariant natural killer T cell development 
The invariant NKT (iNKT) cell lineage contains CD4+ and CD4- subsets. The mechanisms that control such subset differentiation and iNKT cell maturation in general have not been fully understood. RasGRP1, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for T cell receptor-induced activation of the Ras-Erk1/2 pathway, is critical for conventional αβ T cell development but dispensable for generating regulatory T cells. Its role in iNKT cells has been unknown. Here we report severe decreases of iNKT cells in RasGRP1-/- mice through cell intrinsic mechanisms. In the remaining iNKT cells in RasGRP1-/- mice, there is a selective absence of the CD4+ subset. Furthermore, RasGRP1-/- iNKT cells are defective in T cell receptor induced proliferation in vitro. These observations establish that RasGRP1 is not only important for early iNKT cell development, but also for the generation/maintenance of the CD4+ iNKT cells. Our data provides genetic evidence that the CD4+ and CD4- iNKT cells are distinct sub-lineages with differential signaling requirements for their development.
PMCID: PMC3212869  PMID: 21957144
20.  Escherichia coli topoisomerase I is an iron and zinc binding protein 
Escherichia coli topoisomerase I (TopA) cleaves and rejoins one strand of double-stranded DNA to relax the negatively supercoiled DNA. Structurally, TopA contains an N-terminal catalytic fragment and a C-terminal zinc-binding region that is required for relaxation of the negatively supercoiled DNA. Here we report that E. coli TopA is an iron and zinc binding protein. The UV–Vis absorption measurements and metal content analyses reveal that TopA purified from E. coli cells grown in the rich LB medium contains both iron and zinc. However, TopA purified from E. coli cells grown in the M9 minimal medium has negligible amounts of zinc or iron and no topoisomerase activity. Nevertheless, supplement of exogenous zinc or iron in E. coli cells grown in the M9 minimal medium produces the zinc- or iron-bound TopA, respectively. Whereas the zinc-bound TopA is fully active to relax the negatively super-coiled DNA, the iron-bound TopA has little or no enzyme activity. Furthermore, excess iron in the M9 minimal medium is able to compete with the zinc binding in TopA in E. coli cells and attenuate the topoisomerase activity, suggesting that E. coli TopA may be modulated by iron and zinc binding in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3123405  PMID: 21347852
Topoisomerase I; Zinc; Iron; Metalloprotein
21.  Characterization of Human Coronavirus Etiology in Chinese Adults with Acute Upper Respiratory Tract Infection by Real-Time RT-PCR Assays 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38638.
In addition to SARS associated coronaviruses, 4 non-SARS related human coronaviruses (HCoVs) are recognized as common respiratory pathogens. The etiology and clinical impact of HCoVs in Chinese adults with acute upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) needs to be characterized systematically by molecular detection with excellent sensitivity.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study, we detected 4 non-SARS related HCoV species by real-time RT-PCR in 981 nasopharyngeal swabs collected from March 2009 to February 2011. All specimens were also tested for the presence of other common respiratory viruses and newly identified viruses, human metapneumovirus (hMPV) and human bocavirus (HBoV). 157 of the 981 (16.0%) nasopharyngeal swabs were positive for HCoVs. The species detected were 229E (96 cases, 9.8%), OC43 (42 cases, 4.3%), HKU1 (16 cases, 1.6%) and NL63 (11 cases, 1.1%). HCoV-229E was circulated in 21 of the 24 months of surveillance. The detection rates for both OC43 and NL63 were showed significantly year-to-year variation between 2009/10 and 2010/11, respectively (P<0.001 and P = 0.003), and there was a higher detection frequency of HKU1 in patients aged over 60 years (P = 0.03). 48 of 157(30.57%) HCoV positive patients were co-infected. Undifferentiated human rhinoviruses and influenza (Flu) A were the most common viruses detected (more than 35%) in HCoV co-infections. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human parainfluenza virus (PIV) and HBoV were detected in very low rate (less than 1%) among adult patients with URTI.
All 4 non-SARS-associated HCoVs were more frequently detected by real-time RT-PCR assay in adults with URTI in Beijing and HCoV-229E led to the most prevalent infection. Our study also suggested that all non-SARS-associated HCoVs contribute significantly to URTI in adult patients in China.
PMCID: PMC3376151  PMID: 22719912
22.  Correction: Etiology and Clinical Characterization of Respiratory Virus Infections in Adult Patients Attending an Emergency Department in Beijing 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):10.1371/annotation/037611b5-b1fc-40a0-86f3-c9e65a9b90f5.
PMCID: PMC3378673
23.  Reduction of Mitoferrin Results in Abnormal Development and Extended Lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29666.
Iron is essential for organisms. It is mainly utilized in mitochondria for biosynthesis of iron-sulfur clusters, hemes and other cofactors. Mitoferrin 1 and mitoferrin 2, two homologues proteins belonging to the mitochondrial solute carrier family, are required for iron delivery into mitochondria. Mitoferrin 1 is highly expressed in developing erythrocytes which consume a large amount of iron during hemoglobinization. Mitoferrin 2 is ubiquitously expressed, whose functions are less known. Zebrafish with mitoferrin 1 mutation show profound hypochromic anaemia and erythroid maturation arrests, and yeast with defects in MRS3/4, the counterparts of mitoferrin 1/2, has low mitochondrial iron levels and grows poorly by iron depletion. Mitoferrin 1 expression is up-regulated in yeast and mouse models of Fiedreich's ataxia disease and in human cell culture models of Parkinson disease, suggesting its involvement in the pathogenesis of diseases with mitochondrial iron accumulation. In this study we found that reduced mitoferrin levels in C. elegans by RNAi treatment causes pleiotropic phenotypes such as small body size, reduced fecundity, slow movement and increased sensitivity to paraquat. Despite these abnormities, lifespan was increased by 50% to 80% in N2 wild type strain, and in further studies using the RNAi sensitive strain eri-1, more than doubled lifespan was observed. The pathways or mechanisms responsible for the lifespan extension and other phenotypes of mitoferrin RNAi worms are worth further study, which may contribute to our understanding of aging mechanisms and the pathogenesis of iron disorder related diseases.
PMCID: PMC3256167  PMID: 22253756
24.  High-Throughput Functional MicroRNAs Profiling by Recombinant AAV-Based MicroRNA Sensor Arrays 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29551.
microRNAs (miRNAs) are small and non-coding RNAs which play critical roles in physiological and pathological processes. A number of methods have been established to detect and quantify miRNA expression. However, method for high-throughput miRNA function detection is still lacking.
Principal Findings
We describe an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector-based microRNA (miRNA) sensor (Asensor) array for high-throughput functional miRNA profiling. Each Asensor contains a Gaussia luciferase (Gluc) and a firefly luciferase (Fluc) expression cassette to sense functional miRNA and to serve as an internal control respectively. Using this array, we acquired functional profiles of 115 miRNAs for 12 cell lines and found “functional miRNA signatures” for several specific cell lines. The activities of specific miRNAs including the let-7 family, miR-17-92 cluster, miR-221, and miR-222 in HEK 293 cells were compared with their expression levels determined by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (QRT-PCR). We also demonstrate two other practical applications of the array, including a comparison of the miRNA activity between HEK293 and HEK293T cells and the ability to monitor miRNA activity changes in K562 cells treated with 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA).
Our approach has potential applications in the identification of cell types, the characterization of biological and pathological processes, and the evaluation of responses to interventions.
PMCID: PMC3252342  PMID: 22242174
25.  In vivo Evidence for the Iron Binding Activity of an Iron-Sulfur Cluster Assembly Protein IscA in Escherichia coli 
The Biochemical journal  2010;432(3):429-436.
IscA is a key member of the iron-sulfur cluster assembly machinery in prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms; however, the physiological function of IscA still remains elusive. Here we report the in vivo evidence demonstrating the iron binding activity of IscA in Escherichia coli cells. Supplement of exogenous iron (1μM) in the M9 minimal medium is sufficient to maximize the iron binding in IscA expressed in E. coli cells under aerobic growth conditions. In contrast, IscU, an iron-sulfur cluster assembly scaffold protein, or CyaY, a bacterial frataxin homologue, fails to bind any iron in E. coli cells under the same experimental conditions. Interestingly, the strong iron binding activity of IscA is greatly diminished in E. coli cells under anaerobic growth conditions. Additional studies reveal that oxygen in medium promotes the iron binding in IscA and that the iron binding in IscA in turn prevents formation of biologically inaccessible ferric hydroxide under aerobic conditions. Consistent with the differential iron binding activity of IscA under aerobic and anaerobic conditions, we find that IscA and its paralog SufA are essential for the iron-sulfur cluster assembly in E. coli cells under aerobic growth conditions but not under anaerobic growth conditions. The results provide the in vivo evidence that IscA may act as an iron chaperone for the biogenesis of iron-sulfur clusters in E. coli cells under aerobic conditions.
PMCID: PMC2992610  PMID: 20942799
Iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis; human IscA homologue; intracellular iron content

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