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1.  Psr is involved in regulation of glucan production, and double deficiency of BrpA and Psr is lethal in Streptococcus mutans 
Microbiology  2013;159(Pt 3):493-506.
Streptococcus mutans, the primary causative agent of dental caries, contains two paralogues of the LytR-CpsA-Psr family proteins encoded by brpA and psr, respectively. Previous studies have shown that BrpA plays an important role in cell envelope biogenesis/homeostasis and affects stress responses and biofilm formation by Strep. mutans, traits critical to cariogenicity of this bacterium. In this study, a Psr-deficient mutant, TW251, was constructed. Characterization of TW251 showed that deficiency of Psr did not have any major impact on growth rate. However, when subjected to acid killing at pH 2.8, the survival rate of TW251 was decreased dramatically compared with the parent strain UA159. In addition, TW251 also displayed major defects in biofilm formation, especially during growth with sucrose. When compared to UA159, the biofilms of TW251 were mainly planar and devoid of extracellular glucans. Real-time-PCR and Western blot analyses revealed that deficiency of Psr significantly decreased the expression of glucosyltransferase C, a protein known to play a major role in biofilm formation by Strep. mutans. Transmission electron microscopy analysis showed that deficiency of BrpA caused alterations in cell envelope and cell division, and the most significant defects were observed in TW314, a Psr-deficient and BrpA-down mutant. No such effects were observed with Psr mutant TW251 under similar conditions. These results suggest that while there are similarities in functions between BrpA and Psr, distinctive differences also exist between these two paralogues. Like Bacillus subtilis but different from Staphylococcus aureus, a functional BrpA or Psr is required for viability in Strep. mutans.
PMCID: PMC3709821  PMID: 23288544
2.  DiME: A Scalable Disease Module Identification Algorithm with Application to Glioma Progression 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e86693.
Disease module is a group of molecular components that interact intensively in the disease specific biological network. Since the connectivity and activity of disease modules may shed light on the molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis and disease progression, their identification becomes one of the most important challenges in network medicine, an emerging paradigm to study complex human disease. This paper proposes a novel algorithm, DiME (Disease Module Extraction), to identify putative disease modules from biological networks. We have developed novel heuristics to optimise Community Extraction, a module criterion originally proposed for social network analysis, to extract topological core modules from biological networks as putative disease modules. In addition, we have incorporated a statistical significance measure, B-score, to evaluate the quality of extracted modules. As an application to complex diseases, we have employed DiME to investigate the molecular mechanisms that underpin the progression of glioma, the most common type of brain tumour. We have built low (grade II) - and high (GBM) - grade glioma co-expression networks from three independent datasets and then applied DiME to extract potential disease modules from both networks for comparison. Examination of the interconnectivity of the identified modules have revealed changes in topology and module activity (expression) between low- and high- grade tumours, which are characteristic of the major shifts in the constitution and physiology of tumour cells during glioma progression. Our results suggest that transcription factors E2F4, AR and ETS1 are potential key regulators in tumour progression. Our DiME compiled software, R/C++ source code, sample data and a tutorial are available at
PMCID: PMC3921127  PMID: 24523864
3.  Parametrically Amplified Bright-state Polariton of Four- and Six-wave Mixing in an Optical Ring Cavity 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:3619.
We report experimental studies of bright-state polaritons of four-wave mixing (FWM) and six-wave mixing (SWM) signals through cascade nonlinear optical parametric amplification processes in an atom-cavity composite system for the first time. Also, the coexisting cavity transmission modes of parametrically amplified FWM and SWM signals are observed. Finally, electromagnetically induced absorption by the FWM cavity modes in the probe beam is investigated. The investigations can find potential applications in multi-channel narrow-band long-distance quantum communication.
PMCID: PMC3885996  PMID: 24401795
4.  Dynamic intrinsic optical signal monitoring of electrically stimulated inner retinal neural response 
Journal of modern optics  2012;59(11):10.1080/09500340.2012.687464.
Dynamic monitoring of stimulus-evoked inner neural response is important for functional validation of stimulation protocols of retinal prosthetic devices. In this paper, we demonstrate label-free intrinsic optical signal (IOS) imaging of electrically stimulated inner neural response in freshly isolated mouse retinas. While single-pulse stimulation evoked rapid IOS within 20 ms, pulse-train stimulation indicated that the fast IOS response can follow frequency stimulation up to at least 8 Hz. Fast IOS imaging promises a noninvasive method for high resolution examination of electrically evoked retinal response, without artifact contamination of electrical stimulus.
PMCID: PMC3882170  PMID: 24403725
intrinsic optical signal; retinal function; retinal prosthesis; ganglion cell
5.  Targeting Truncated Retinoid X Receptor-α by CF31 induces TNFα-dependent apoptosis 
Cancer research  2012;73(1):307-318.
A truncated version of retinoid X receptor-α, tRXRα, promotes cancer cell survival by activating the PI3K/AKT pathway. However, targeting the tRXRα-mediated survival pathway for cancer treatment remains to be explored. We report here our identification of a new natural product molecule, CF31, a xanthone isolated from Cratoxylum formosum ssp. Pruniflorum, and the biological evaluation of its regulation of the tRXRα-mediated PI3K/AKT pathway. CF31 binds RXRα and its binding results in inhibition of RXRα transactivation. Through RXRα mutational analysis and computational studies, we show that Arg316 of RXRα, known to form salt bridges with certain RXRα ligands such as 9-cis-retinoic acid (9-cis-RA), is not required for the antagonist effect of CF31, demonstrating a distinct binding mode. Evaluation of several CF31 analogs suggests that the antagonist effect is mainly attributed to an interference with Leu451 of helix H12 in RXRα. CF31 is a potent inhibitor of AKT activation in various cancer cell lines. When combined with TNFα, it suppresses TNFα activation of AKT by inhibiting TNFα-induced tRXRα interaction with the p85α regulatory subunit of PI3K. CF31 inhibition of TNFα activation of AKT also results in TNFα-dependent activation of caspase-8 and apoptosis. Together, our results demonstrate that CF31 is an effective converter of TNFα signaling from survival to death by targeting tRXRα in a unique mode and suggest that identification of a natural product that targets an RXR-mediated cell survival pathway that regulates PI3K/Akt may offer a new therapeutic strategy to kill cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3537848  PMID: 23151904
retinoid X receptor; CF31; AKT; TNFα; cancer; apoptosis
6.  Functional imaging of glucose-evoked rat islet activities using transient intrinsic optical signals 
Journal of modern optics  2012;59(9):10.1080/09500340.2012.674564.
We demonstrate intrinsic optical signal (IOS) imaging of intact rat islet, which consists of many endocrine cells working together. A near-infrared digital microscope was employed for optical monitoring of islet activities evoked by glucose stimulation. Dynamic NIR images revealed transient IOS responses in the islet activated by low-dose (2.75mM) and high-dose (5.5mM) glucose stimuli. Comparative experiments and quantitative analysis indicated that both glucose metabolism and calcium/insulin dynamics might contribute to the observed IOS responses. Further investigation of the IOS imaging technology may provide a high resolution method for ex vivo functional examination of the islet, which is important for advanced study of diabetes associated islet dysfunctions and for improved quality control of donor islets for transplantation.
PMCID: PMC3867949  PMID: 24363496
intrinsic optical signal; functional imaging; rat islet; glucose stimulation
7.  Clinical effects and complications of TIPS for portal hypertension due to cirrhosis: A single center 
AIM: To determine the clinical effects and complications of transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) for portal hypertension due to cirrhosis.
METHODS: Two hundred and eighty patients with portal hypertension due to cirrhosis who underwent TIPS were retrospectively evaluated. Portal trunk pressure was measured before and after surgery. The changes in hemodynamics and the condition of the stent were assessed by ultrasound and the esophageal and fundic veins observed endoscopically.
RESULTS: The success rate of TIPS was 99.3%. The portal trunk pressure was 26.8 ± 3.6 cmH2O after surgery and 46.5 ± 3.4 cmH2O before surgery (P < 0.01). The velocity of blood flow in the portal vein increased. The internal diameters of the portal and splenic veins were reduced. The short-term hemostasis rate was 100%. Esophageal varices disappeared completely in 68% of patients and were obviously reduced in 32%. Varices of the stomach fundus disappeared completely in 80% and were obviously reduced in 20% of patients. Ascites disappeared in 62%, were markedly reduced in 24%, but were still apparent in 14% of patients. The total effective rate of ascites reduction was 86%. Hydrothorax completely disappeared in 100% of patients. The incidence of post-operative stent stenosis was 24% at 12 mo and 34% at 24 mo. The incidence of post-operative hepatic encephalopathy was 12% at 3 mo, 17% at 6 mo and 19% at 12 mo. The incidence of post-operative recurrent hemorrhage was 9% at 12 mo, 19% at 24 mo and 35% at 36 mo. The cumulative survival rate was 86% at 12 mo, 81% at 24 mo, 75% at 36 mo, 57% at 48 mo and 45% at 60 mo.
CONCLUSION: TIPS can effectively lower portal hypertension due to cirrhosis. It is significantly effective for hemorrhage of the digestive tract due to rupture of esophageal and fundic veins and for ascites and hydrothorax caused by portal hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3848158  PMID: 24307804
Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt; Cirrhosis; Portal hypertension; Therapeutic effect; Complication
8.  The Cross-Neutralizing Activity of Enterovirus 71 Subgenotype C4 Vaccines in Healthy Chinese Infants and Children 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79599.
EV71 is one of major etiologic causes of hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) and leads to severe neurological complications in young children and infants. Recently inactivated EV71 vaccines have been developed by five manufactures and clinically show good safety and immunogenicity. However, the cross-neutralizing activity of these vaccines remains unclear, and is of particular interest because RNA recombination is seen more frequently in EV71 epidemics.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this post-hoc study, sera from a subset of 119 infants and children in two clinical trials of EV71 subgenotype C4 vaccines ( Identifier: NCT01313715 and NCT01273246), were detected for neutralizing antibody (NTAb) titres with sera from infected patients as controls. Cytopathogenic effect method was employed to test NTAb against EV71 subgenotype B4, B5, C2, C4 and C5, which were prominent epidemic strains worldwide over the past decade. To validate the accuracy of the results, ELISpot assay was employed in parallel to detect NTAb in all the post-vaccine sera. After two-dose vaccination, 49 out of 53 participants in initially seronegative group and 52 out of 53 participants in initially seropositive group showed less than 4-fold differences in NTAb titers against five EV71 strains, whereas corresponding values among sera from pediatric patients recovering from EV71-induced HFMD and subclinically infected participants were 8/8 and 41/43, respectively. The geometric mean titers of participants against five subgenotypes EV71 all grew significantly after vaccinations, irrespective of the baseline NTAb titer. The relative fold increase in antibody titers (NTAb-FI) against B4, B5, C2, and C5 displayed a positive correlation to the NTAb-FI against C4.
The results demonstrated broad cross-neutralizing activity induced by two C4 EV71 vaccines in healthy Chinese infants and children. However, the degree of induced cross-protective immunity, and the potential escape evolution for EV71 still need to be monitored and researched in future for these new vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3834186  PMID: 24260259
9.  In vivo Optical Coherence Tomography of Light-Driven Melanosome Translocation in Retinal Pigment Epithelium 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:2644.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) may revolutionize fundamental investigation and clinical management of age-related macular degeneration and other eye diseases. However, quantitative OCT interpretation is hampered due to uncertain sub-cellular correlates of reflectivity in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and photoreceptor. The purpose of this study was twofold: 1) to test OCT correlates in the RPE, and 2) to demonstrate the feasibility of longitudinal OCT monitoring of sub-cellular RPE dynamics. A high resolution OCT was constructed to achieve dynamic imaging of frog eyes, in which light-driven translocation of RPE melanosomes occurred within the RPE cell body and apical processes. Comparative histological examination of dark- and light-adapted eyes indicated that the RPE melanin granule, i.e., melanosome, was a primary OCT correlate. In vivo OCT imaging of RPE melanosomes opens the opportunity for quantitative assessment of RPE abnormalities associated with disease, and enables longitudinal investigation of RPE kinetics correlated with visual function.
PMCID: PMC3770963  PMID: 24025778
10.  Super-resolution scanning laser microscopy through virtually structured detection 
Biomedical Optics Express  2013;4(9):1673-1682.
High resolution microscopy is essential for advanced study of biological structures and accurate diagnosis of medical diseases. The spatial resolution of conventional microscopes is light diffraction limited. Structured illumination has been extensively explored to break the diffraction limit in wide field light microscopy. However, deployable application of the structured illumination in scanning laser microscopy is challenging due to the complexity of the illumination system and possible phase errors in sequential illumination patterns required for super-resolution reconstruction. We report here a super-resolution scanning laser imaging system which employs virtually structured detection (VSD) to break the diffraction limit. Without the complexity of structured illumination, VSD provides an easy, low-cost and phase-artifact free strategy to achieve super-resolution in scanning laser microscopy.
PMCID: PMC3771838  PMID: 24049688
(100.6640) Superresolution; (110.3080) Infrared imaging; (170.3880) Medical and biological imaging; (180.5810) Scanning microscopy
11.  Progress on the research and development of inactivated EV71 whole-virus vaccines 
Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics  2013;9(8):1701-1705.
The prevalence of diseases caused by EV71 infection has become a serious public health problem in the Western Pacific region. Due to a lack of effective treatment options, controlling EV71 epidemics has mainly focused on the research and development (R&D) of EV71 vaccines. Thus far, five organizations have completed pre-clinical studies focused on the development of inactivated EV71 whole-virus vaccines, including vaccine strain screening, process optimization, safety and immunogenicity evaluation, and are in different stages of clinical trials. Among these organizations, three companies in Mainland China [Beijing Vigoo Biological Co., Ltd. (Vigoo), Sinovac Biotech Ltd. (Sinovac) and Institute of Medical Biology, Chinese Academy of Medical Science (CAMS)] have recently completed Phase III trials for the vaccines they developed. In addition, the other two vaccines, developed by National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) of Taiwan and Inviragen Pte., Ltd (Inviragen), of Singapore, have also completed Phase I clinical trials. Published clinical trial results indicate that the inactivated EV71 vaccines have good safety and immunogenicity in the target population (infants) and confer a relatively high rate of protection against EV71 infection-related diseases. The results of clinical trials suggest a promising future for the clinical use of EV71 vaccines. Here, we review and highlight the recent progress on the R&D of inactivated EV71 whole-virus vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3906269  PMID: 23744508
enterovirus 71; hand-foot-mouth diseases (HFMD); inactivated whole-virus vaccine; immunogenicity; protective effect; standard
12.  Development and Evaluation of a Pseudovirus-Luciferase Assay for Rapid and Quantitative Detection of Neutralizing Antibodies against Enterovirus 71 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e64116.
The level of neutralizing antibodies (NtAb) induced by vaccine inoculation is an important endpoint to evaluate the efficacy of EV71 vaccine. In order to evaluate the efficacy of EV71 vaccine, here, we reported the development of a novel pseudovirus system expression firefly luciferase (PVLA) for the quantitative measurement of NtAb. We first evaluated and validated the sensitivity and specificity of the PVLA method. A total of 326 serum samples from an epidemiological survey and 144 serum specimens from 3 clinical trials of EV71 vaccines were used, and the level of each specimen's neutralizing antibodies (NtAb) was measured in parallel using both the conventional CPE-based and PVLA-based assay. Against the standard neutralization assay based on the inhibition of the cytopathic effect (CPE), the sensitivity and specificity of the PVLA method are 98% and 96%, respectively. Then, we tested the potential interference of NtAb against hepatitis A virus, Polio-I, Polio-II, and Polio-III standard antisera (WHO) and goat anti-G10/CA16 serum, the PVLA based assay showed no cross-reactivity with NtAb against other specific sera. Importantly, unlike CPE based method, no live replication-competent EV71 is used during the measurement. Taken together, PVLA is a rapid and specific assay with higher sensitivity and accuracy. It could serve as a valuable tool in assessing the efficacy of EV71 vaccines in clinical trials and disease surveillance in epidemiology studies.
PMCID: PMC3673970  PMID: 23755115
13.  In Vivo Confocal Intrinsic Optical Signal Identification of Localized Retinal Dysfunction 
The purposes of this study were to investigate the physiological mechanism of stimulus-evoked fast intrinsic optical signals (IOSs) recorded in dynamic confocal imaging of the retina, and to demonstrate the feasibility of in vivo confocal IOS mapping of localized retinal dysfunctions.
A rapid line-scan confocal ophthalmoscope was constructed to achieve in vivo confocal IOS imaging of frog (Rana pipiens) retinas at cellular resolution. In order to investigate the physiological mechanism of confocal IOS, comparative IOS and electroretinography (ERG) measurements were made using normal frog eyes activated by variable-intensity stimuli. A dynamic spatiotemporal filtering algorithm was developed to reject the contamination of hemodynamic changes on fast IOS recording. Laser-injured frog eyes were employed to test the potential of confocal IOS mapping of localized retinal dysfunctions.
Comparative IOS and ERG experiments revealed a close correlation between the confocal IOS and retinal ERG, particularly the ERG a-wave, which has been widely used to evaluate photoreceptor function. IOS imaging of laser-injured frog eyes indicated that the confocal IOS could unambiguously detect localized (30 μm) functional lesions in the retina before a morphological abnormality is detectable.
The confocal IOS predominantly results from retinal photoreceptors, and can be used to map localized photoreceptor lesion in laser-injured frog eyes. We anticipate that confocal IOS imaging can provide applications in early detection of age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, and other retinal diseases that can cause pathological changes in the photoreceptors.
This study investigated the physiological mechanism of stimulus-evoked fast intrinsic optical signal (IOS) recorded in dynamic confocal imaging of the retina, and demonstrated the feasibility of in vivo confocal IOS mapping of localized retinal dysfunctions.
PMCID: PMC3522438  PMID: 23150616
14.  Comparative intrinsic optical signal imaging of wild-type and mutant mouse retinas 
Optics Express  2012;20(7):7646-7654.
Functional measurement is important for retinal study and disease diagnosis. Transient intrinsic optical signal (IOS) response, tightly correlated with functional stimulation, has been previously detected in normal retinas. In this paper, comparative IOS imaging of wild-type (WT) and rod-degenerated mutant mouse retinas is reported. Both 2-month and 1-year-old mice were measured. In 2-month-old mutant mice, time course and peak value of the stimulus-evoked IOS were significantly delayed (relative to stimulus onset) and reduced, respectively, compared to age matched WT mice. In 1-year-old mutant mice, stimulus-evoked IOS was totally absent. However, enhanced spontaneous IOS responses, which might reflect inner neural remodeling in diseased retina, were observed in both 2-month and 1-year-old mutant retinas. Our experiments demonstrate the potential of using IOS imaging for noninvasive and high resolution identification of disease-associated retinal dysfunctions. Moreover, high spatiotemporal resolution IOS imaging may also lead to advanced understanding of disease-associated neural remodeling in the retina.
PMCID: PMC3387536  PMID: 22453443
(170.2655) Functional monitoring and imaging; (170.4580) Optical diagnostics for medicine; (170.3880) Medical and biological imaging; (330.5380) Physiology
15.  Fast access and early ligation of the renal pedicle significantly facilitates retroperitoneal laparoscopic radical nephrectomy procedures: modified laparoscopic radical nephrectomy 
The objective of this study was to develop a modified retroperitoneal laparoscopic nephrectomy and compare its results with the previous technique.
One hundred retroperitoneal laparoscopic nephrectomies were performed from February 2007 to October 2011. The previous technique was performed in 60 cases (Group 1). The modified technique (n = 40) included fast access to the renal pedicle according to several anatomic landmarks and early ligation of renal vessels (Group 2). The mean operation time, mean blood loss, duration of hospital stay conversion rate and complication rate were compared between the groups.
No significant differences were detected regarding mean patient age, mean body mass index, and tumor size between the two groups (P >0.05). The mean operation time was 59.5 ± 20.0 and 39.5 ± 17.5 minutes, respectively, in Groups 1 and 2 (P <0.001). The mean intraoperative blood loss was 147 ± 35 and 100 ± 25 ml, respectively, in Groups 1 and 2 (P <0.001). No significant differences were detected regarding the conversion rate and the complication rate between the two groups (P >0.05).
Early ligature using fast access to the renal vessels during retroperitoneal laparoscopic radical nephrectomy contributed to less operation time and intraoperative blood loss compared with the previous technique. In addition, the modified technique permits the procedure to be performed following the principles of open radical nephrectomy.
PMCID: PMC3565935  PMID: 23363489
Retroperitoneal laparoscopic nephrectomy; Technical modification; Operation time; Experience; Surgical outcomes
16.  Significant Association of Glutathione S-Transferase T1 Null Genotype with Prostate Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis of 26,393 Subjects 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53700.
Recent studies on the association between Glutathione S-transferase T1 (GSTT1) polymorphism and risk of prostate cancer showed inconclusive results. To clarify this possible association, we conducted a meta-analysis of published studies.
Data were collected from the following electronic databases: Pubmed, Embase, and Chinese Biomedical Database (CBM). The odds ratio (OR) and its 95% confidence interval (95%CI) was used to assess the strength of the association. We summarized the data on the association between GSTT1 null genotype and risk of prostate cancer in the overall population, and performed subgroup analyses by ethnicity, adjusted ORs, and types of controls.
Ultimately, a total of 43 studies with a total of 26,393 subjects (9,934 cases and 16,459 controls) were eligible for meta-analysis. Overall, there was a significant association between GSTT1 null genotype and increased risk of prostate cancer (OR = 1.14, 95%CI 1.01–1.29, P = 0.034). Meta-analysis of adjusted ORs also showed a significant association between GSTT1 null genotype and increased risk of prostate cancer (OR = 1.34, 95%CI 1.09–1.64, P = 0.006). Similar results were found in the subgroup analyses by ethnicity and types of controls.
This meta-analysis demonstrates that GSTT1 null genotype is associated with prostate cancer susceptibility, and GSTT1 null genotype contributes to increased risk of prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC3554715  PMID: 23365641
17.  Simultaneous Quantification of Flavonol Glycosides, Terpene Lactones, Biflavones, Proanthocyanidins, and Ginkgolic Acids in Ginkgo biloba Leaves from Fruit Cultivars by Ultrahigh-Performance Liquid Chromatography Coupled with Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometry 
BioMed Research International  2012;2013:582591.
On the basis of liquid chromatography coupled with triple quadrupole mass spectrometry working in multiple reaction monitoring mode, an analytical method has been established to simultaneously determine flavonol glycosides, terpene lactones, biflavones, proanthocyanidins, and ginkgolic acids in Ginkgo biloba leaves. Chromatographic separation was carried out on an Acquity BEH C18 column (100 mm × 2.1 mm, 1.7 μm) with gradient elution of acetonitrile and 0.10% formic acid (v/v) at a flow rate of 0.4 mL/min, and column temperature 30°C. The developed method was validated in terms of linearity, accuracy, precision, stability, and sensitivity. The optimized method was successfully applied to analyze twenty-two G. biloba leaf samples of fruit cultivars collected from different places in China. Furthermore, hierarchical clustering analysis (HCA) was performed to evaluate and classify the samples according to the contents of the twenty-four chemical constituents. All of the results demonstrated that the developed method was useful for the overall evaluation of the quality of G. biloba leaves, and this study was also helpful for the comprehensive utilization and development of G. biloba resources.
PMCID: PMC3591186  PMID: 23533996
18.  Inhibition of β-catenin Signaling by Nongenomic Action of Orphan Nuclear Receptor Nur77 
Oncogene  2011;31(21):2653-2667.
Dysregulation of β-catenin turnover due to mutations of its regulatory proteins including APC and p53 is implicated in the pathogenesis of cancer. Thus, intensive effort is being made to search for alternative approaches to reduce abnormally activated β-catenin in cancer cells. Nur77, an orphan member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, plays a role in the growth and apoptosis of cancer cells. Here, we reported that Nur77 could inhibit transcriptional activity of β-catenin by inducing β-catenin degradation via proteasomal degradation pathway that is GSK3β and Siah-1 independent. Nur77 induction of β-catenin degradation required both the N-terminal region of Nur77, which was involved in Nur77 ubiquitination, and the C-terminal region, which was responsible for β-catenin binding. Nur77/ΔDBD, a Nur77 mutant lacking its DNA-binding domain, resided in the cytoplasm, interacted with β-catenin, and induced β-catenin degradation, demonstrating that Nur77-mediated β-catenin degradation was independent of its DNA-binding and transactivation and might occur in the cytoplasm. In addition, we reported our identification of two digitalis-like compounds (DLCs), H-9 and ATE-i2-b4, which potently induced Nur77 expression and β-catenin degradation in SW620 colon cancer cells expressing mutant APC protein in vitro and in animals. DLC-induced Nur77 protein was mainly found in the cytoplasm, and inhibition of Nur77 nuclear export by the CRM1-dependent nuclear export inhibitor leptomycin B or Jun N-terminal kinase inhibitor prevented the effect of DLC on inducing β-catenin degradation. Together, our results demonstrate that β-catenin can be degraded by cytoplasmic Nur77 through their interaction and identify H-9 and ATE-i2-b4 as potent activators of the Nur77-mediated pathway for β-catenin degradation.
PMCID: PMC3257393  PMID: 21986938
Nur77; β-catenin; Nongenomic; Cardenolide; Cancer
19.  Statins as potential therapeutic drug for asthma? 
Respiratory Research  2012;13(1):108.
Statins are lipid-lowering agents that also exhibit pleiotropic effects in decreasing oxidative stress and inflammation. There have been several published studies reporting the use of statins in the treatment of asthma patients, but their results are not consistent. The aim of this study is to determine whether statins are beneficial for asthma administration, and explore the potential covariables that may affect their clinical effectiveness.
A systematic literature search was performed in PubMed, Embase and Cochrane Center Register of Controlled Trials from inception to September 2012. Randomized controlled trials (RCT), retrospective studies and controlled clinical trials which reported the use of statins in the treatment of asthma patients were eligible. Quality evaluation was conducted for RCT using Jadad criteria.
A total of 18 articles were included. In our study, we found no conclusive evidence to demonstrate that statins could enhance the lung function in asthmatics, although, they may reduce airway inflammation. Additionally, the results were not consistent across studies with respect to symptoms, quality of life, maintenance medication, asthma hospitalization/emergency department (ED) visits.
Statins may reduce airway inflammation in asthmatics, without having a significant effect on lung function. Further large sample and multicenter clinical trials are needed to confirm this and to see if there are more responsive phenotypes of asthma.
PMCID: PMC3545889  PMID: 23176705
Statins; Asthma; Anti-inflammatory; Lung function
20.  A Neonatal Mouse Model of Coxsackievirus A16 for Vaccine Evaluation 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(22):11967-11976.
To evaluate vaccine efficacy in protecting against coxsackievirus A16 (CA16), which causes human hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD), we established the first neonatal mouse model. In this article, we report data concerning CA16-induced pathological changes, and we demonstrate that anti-CA16 antibody can protect mice against lethal challenge and that the neonatal mouse model could be used to evaluate vaccine efficacy. To establish a mouse model, a BJCA08/CA16 strain (at 260 50% lethal doses [LD50]) was isolated from a patient and used to intracerebrally (i.c.) inoculate neonatal mice. The infection resulted in wasting, hind-limb paralysis, and even death. Pathological examination and immunohistochemistry (IHC) staining indicated that BJCA08 had a strong tropism to muscle and caused severe necrosis in skeletal and cardiac muscles. We then found that BJCA08 pretreated with goat anti-G10/CA16 serum could significantly lose its lethal effect in neonatal mice. When the anti-G10 serum was intraperitoneally (i.p.) injected into the neonatal mice and, within 1 h, the same mice were intracerebrally inoculated with BJCA08, there was significant passive immunization protection. In a separate experiment, female mice were immunized with formaldehyde-inactivated G10/CA16 and BJCA08/CA16 and then allowed to mate 1 h after the first immunization. We found that there was significant protection against BJCA08 for neonatal mice born to the immunized dams. These data demonstrated that anti-CA16 antibody may block virus invasion and protect mice against lethal challenge, and that the neonatal mouse model was a viable tool for evaluating vaccine efficacy.
PMCID: PMC3486452  PMID: 22951825
21.  Sarcandra glabra Extract Reduces the Susceptibility and Severity of Influenza in Restraint-Stressed Mice 
Sarcandra glabra, as a type of “antipyretic-detoxicate drugs”, has always been widely used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The Sarcandra glabra extract (SGE) is applied frequently as anti-inflammatory and anti-infectious drug in folk medicine. However, relative experiment data supporting this effective clinical consequence was limited. In order to mimic the physiological conditions of the susceptible population, we employed restraint stress mouse model to investigate the effect of SGE against influenza. Mice were infected with influenza virus three days after restraint, while SGE was orally administrated for 10 consecutive days. Body weight, morbidity, and mortality were recorded daily. Histopathologic changes, susceptibility genes expressions and inflammatory markers in lungs were determined. Our results showed that restraint stress significantly increased susceptibility and severity of influenza virus. However, oral administration of SGE could reduce morbidity, mortality and significantly prolonged survival time. The results further showed that SGE had a crucial effect on improving susceptibility markers levels to recover the balance of host defense system and inhibiting inflammatory cytokines levels through down-regulation of NF-κB protein expression to ameliorate the lung injury. These data showed that SGE reduced the susceptibility and severity of influenza.
PMCID: PMC3511833  PMID: 23227098
22.  Comparative Analysis of the Immunogenicity and Protective Effects of Inactivated EV71 Vaccines in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46043.
Enterovirus 71 (EV71) is the major causative agent of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). Three inactivated EV71 whole-virus vaccines of different strains developed by different manufacturers in mainland China have recently entered clinical trials. Although several studies on these vaccines have been published, a study directly comparing the immunogenicity and protective effects among them has not been carried out, which makes evaluating their relative effectiveness difficult. Thus, properly comparing newly developed vaccines has become a priority, especially in China.
Methods and Findings
This comparative immunogenicity study was carried out on vaccine strains (both live and inactivated), final container products (FCPs) without adjuvant, and corresponding FCPs containing adjuvant (FCP-As) produced by three manufacturers. These vaccines were evaluated by neutralizing antibody (NAb) responses induced by the same or different dosages at one or multiple time points post-immunization. The protective efficacy of the three vaccines was also determined in one-day-old ICR mice born to immunized female mice. Survival rates were observed in these suckling mice after challenge with 20 LD50 of EV71/048M3C2. Three FCP-As, in a dose of 200 U, generated nearly 100% NAb positivity rates and similar geometric mean titers (GMTs), especially at 14–21 days post-inoculation. However, the dynamic NAb responses were different among three vaccine strains or three FCPs. The FCP-As at the lowest dose used in clinical trials (162 U) showed good protective effects in suckling mice against lethal challenge (90–100% survival), while the ED50 of NAb responses and protective effects varied among three FCP-As.
These studies establish a standard method for measuring the immunogenicity of EV71 vaccines in mice. The data generated from our mouse model study indicated a clear dose-response relationship, which is important for vaccine quality control and assessment, especially for predicting protective efficacy in humans when combined with future clinical trial results.
PMCID: PMC3460965  PMID: 23029378
23.  The Redox-Sensing Regulator Rex Modulates Central Carbon Metabolism, Stress Tolerance Response and Biofilm Formation by Streptococcus mutans 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44766.
The Rex repressor has been implicated in regulation of central carbon and energy metabolism in Gram-positive bacteria. We have previously shown that Streptococcus mutans, the primary causative agent of dental caries, alters its transcriptome upon Rex-deficiency and renders S. mutans to have increased susceptibility to oxidative stress, aberrations in glucan production, and poor biofilm formation. In this study, we showed that rex in S. mutans is co-transcribed as an operon with downstream guaA, encoding a putative glutamine amidotransferase. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays showed that recombinant Rex bound promoters of target genes avidly and specifically, including those down-regulated in response to Rex-deficiency, and that the ability of recombinant Rex to bind to selected promoters was modulated by NADH and NAD+. Results suggest that Rex in S. mutans can function as an activator in response to intracellular NADH/NAD+ level, although the exact binding site for activator Rex remains unclear. Consistent with a role in oxidative stress tolerance, hydrogen peroxide challenge assays showed that the Rex-deficient mutant, TW239, and the Rex/GuaA double mutant, JB314, were more susceptible to hydrogen peroxide killing than the wildtype, UA159. Relative to UA159, JB314 displayed major defects in biofilm formation, with a decrease of more than 50-fold in biomass after 48-hours. Collectively, these results further suggest that Rex in S. mutans regulates fermentation pathways, oxidative stress tolerance, and biofilm formation in response to intracellular NADH/NAD+ level. Current effort is being directed to further investigation of the role of GuaA in S. mutans cellular physiology.
PMCID: PMC3441419  PMID: 23028612
24.  Comparative intrinsic optical signal imaging of wild-type and mutant mouse retinas 
Optics Express  2012;20(7):7646-7654.
Functional measurement is important for retinal study and disease diagnosis. Transient intrinsic optical signal (IOS) response, tightly correlated with functional stimulation, has been previously detected in normal retinas. In this paper, comparative IOS imaging of wild-type (WT) and rod-degenerated mutant mouse retinas is reported. Both 2-month and 1-year-old mice were measured. In 2-month-old mutant mice, time course and peak value of the stimulus-evoked IOS were significantly delayed (relative to stimulus onset) and reduced, respectively, compared to age matched WT mice. In 1-year-old mutant mice, stimulus-evoked IOS was totally absent. However, enhanced spontaneous IOS responses, which might reflect inner neural remodeling in diseased retina, were observed in both 2-month and 1-year-old mutant retinas. Our experiments demonstrate the potential of using IOS imaging for noninvasive and high resolution identification of disease-associated retinal dysfunctions. Moreover, high spatiotemporal resolution IOS imaging may also lead to advanced understanding of disease-associated neural remodeling in the retina.
PMCID: PMC3387536  PMID: 22453443
25.  Retrospective Study of the Incidence of HFMD and Seroepidemiology of Antibodies against EV71 and CoxA16 in Prenatal Women and Their Infants 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37206.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) has been emerging as an important public problem over the past few decades, especially in Asian and Pacific regions. A national program on EV71 vaccine development against HFMD was initiated in China, in 2008, which called for a need for seroepidemiological study for the target population.
Methodology/Principal Findings
This was a retrospective study conducted in Jiangsu Province, in October, 2010. We measured the neutralizing antibodies against EV71 and CoxA16 in a cohort of infants aged of 2, 7, 12, and 27–38 months and their mothers just before delivery. Series sera samples from 975 infants and 555 mothers were collected and analyzed. Questionnaires on the history of HFMD were completed in the survey. A total of 143 HFMD cases were collected, but only 11.2% were reported to the National Infectious Disease Information Management System. The level of maternal antibody titers decreased dramatically during the first 7 month and remained at a relatively low level thereafter. But it increased significantly from month 12 to months 27–38. The accumulate incidence density of HFMD demonstrated a significant increase after 14 months of age, resulting in a accumulate incidence density of 50.8/1000 person-years in survey period. Seropositivity of EV71 antibody in infants at the age of 2 months seems to demonstrate a protective effect against HFMD.
Conclusions and Significance
High seropositive rate of EV71 and CoxA16 antibody was found in prenatal women in mainland China, and there is a need to enhance the HFMD case management and the current surveillance system. We suggest that infants aged between 6 to 14 months should have the first priority to receive EV71 vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3360679  PMID: 22662137

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