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1.  UBE3C Promotes Growth and Metastasis of Renal Cell Carcinoma via Activating Wnt/β-Catenin Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0115622.
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common primary malignancy of the kidney and one of the most lethal genitourinary malignancies. Clear-cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) has an extremely poor prognosis because of a high potential for tumor growth, vascular invasion, metastasis and recurrence. Unfortunately, the mechanism of RCC growth and metastasis is not well understood. In this report, we for the first time demonstrated ubiquitin protein ligase E3C (UBE3C) as a driving factor for RCC growth and metastasis. UBE3C expression was increased in ccRCC tissues compared with adjacent normal tissues. ccRCC patients with high UBE3C protein expression in tumors were associated with significantly worse postoperative survival. Knockdown of UBE3C expression in ACHN cells inhibited cell proliferation, migrations and invasiveness in vitro while overexpression of UBE3C in 786-O cells exerted the opposite effects. UBE3C up-regulated β-catenin protein levels and promoted β-catenin nuclear accumulation, leading to the activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signal pathway in RCC cells. Collectively, these observations suggest that UBE3C plays an important role in RCC development and progression, and UBE3C may be a novel target for prevention and treatment of ccRCC.
PMCID: PMC4319909  PMID: 25658088
2.  Aberrant expression of maternal Plk1 and Dctn3 results in the developmental failure of human in-vivo- and in-vitro-matured oocytes 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:8192.
Fertilisation is the first step in embryonic development, and dynamic changes of key genes may potentially improve assisted reproduction techniques efficiency during this process. Here, we analysed genes that were differentially expressed between oocytes and zygotes and focused on cytokinesis-related genes. Plk1 and Dctn3 were identified as showing dramatic changes in expression during fertilisation and were suggested to play a key role in inducing aneuploidy in zygotes and 8-cell embryos. Moreover, we found that maternal Plk1 and Dctn3 were expressed at lower levels in in vitro matured oocytes, which may have contributed to the high ratio of resulting embryos with abnormal Plk1 and Dctn3 expression levels, thereby reducing the developmental competence of the resulting embryos. Furthermore, the overexpression of Dctn3 can silence Plk1 expression, which suggests a potential regulation mechanism. In conclusion, our present study showed that aberrant expression of Plk1 and Dctn3 increases embryo aneuploidy and developmental failure, particularly in in vitro matured oocytes. Our results facilitate a better understanding of the effects of oocyte maternal gene expression on embryonic development and can be used to improve the outcome of assisted reproduction techniques.
PMCID: PMC4314639  PMID: 25645239
3.  Determination of royal jelly freshness by ELISA with a highly specific anti-apalbumin 1, major royal jelly protein 1 antibody*  
Major royal jelly protein 1 (MRJP1), designated apalbumin 1, has been regarded as a freshness marker of royal jelly (RJ). A MRJP1-specific peptide (IKEALPHVPIFD) identified by bioinformatics analysis of homologous members of the major royal protein family was synthesized and used to raise polyclonal anti-MRJP1 antibody (anti-SP-MRJP1 antibody). Western blot analysis showed that anti-SP-MRJP1 antibody only reacted with MRJP1 in RJ. In contrast, the previously reported antibody against recombinant MRJP1 (anti-R-MRJP1 antibody) reacted with other members of MRJP family in RJ. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using anti-SP-MRJP1 antibody demonstrated that MRJP1 content in RJ stored at 40 °C significantly degraded by 37.3%, 55.9%, 58.0%, 60.6%, 65.7%, 72.7%, and 73.1% at 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, and 49 d, respectively, when compared with MRJP1 content in fresh RJ (0 d). Optical density analysis of MRJP bands from sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) profiles demonstrated that the degradation of MRJP1, MRJP2, MRJP3, and MRJP5 in RJ was strongly and positively correlated with the period of storage (P<0.0001). Our results indicated anti-SP-MRJP1 antibody was highly specific for MRJP1, and ELISA using the antibody is a sensitive and easy-to-use method to determine the freshness and authenticity of RJ.
PMCID: PMC4322426  PMID: 25644470
Freshness; Royal jelly; Major royal jelly protein 1 (MRJP1); Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA); High specific antibody
4.  Proteins in aggregates functionally impact multiple neurodegenerative disease models by forming proteasome-blocking complexes 
Aging Cell  2014;14(1):35-48.
Age-dependent neurodegenerative diseases progressively form aggregates containing both shared components (e.g., TDP-43, phosphorylated tau) and proteins specific to each disease. We investigated whether diverse neuropathies might have additional aggregation-prone proteins in common, discoverable by proteomics. Caenorhabditis elegans expressing unc-54p/Q40::YFP, a model of polyglutamine array diseases such as Huntington's, accrues aggregates in muscle 2–6 days posthatch. These foci, isolated on antibody-coupled magnetic beads, were characterized by high-resolution mass spectrometry. Three Q40::YFP-associated proteins were inferred to promote aggregation and cytotoxicity, traits reduced or delayed by their RNA interference knockdown. These RNAi treatments also retarded aggregation/cytotoxicity in Alzheimer's disease models, nematodes with muscle or pan-neuronal Aβ1–42 expression and behavioral phenotypes. The most abundant aggregated proteins are glutamine/asparagine-rich, favoring hydrophobic interactions with other random-coil domains. A particularly potent modulator of aggregation, CRAM-1/HYPK, contributed < 1% of protein aggregate peptides, yet its knockdown reduced Q40::YFP aggregates 72–86% (P < 10−6). In worms expressing Aβ1–42, knockdown of cram-1 reduced β-amyloid 60% (P < 0.002) and slowed age-dependent paralysis > 30% (P < 10−6). In wild-type worms, cram-1 knockdown reduced aggregation and extended lifespan, but impaired early reproduction. Protection against seeded aggregates requires proteasome function, implying that normal CRAM-1 levels promote aggregation by interfering with proteasomal degradation of misfolded proteins. Molecular dynamic modeling predicts spontaneous and stable interactions of CRAM-1 (or human orthologs) with ubiquitin, and we verified that CRAM-1 reduces degradation of a tagged-ubiquitin reporter. We propose that CRAM-1 exemplifies a class of primitive chaperones that are initially protective and highly beneficial for early reproduction, but ultimately impair aggregate clearance and limit longevity.
PMCID: PMC4326912  PMID: 25510159
Alzheimer (disease); C. elegans; Huntington (disease); neurodegeneration; (protein) aggregation; proteasome
5.  Molecular mechanism of ERK dephosphorylation by striatal-enriched protein tyrosine phosphatase (STEP) 
Journal of neurochemistry  2013;128(2):315-329.
Striatal-enriched tyrosine phosphatase (STEP) is an important regulator of neuronal synaptic plasticity, and its abnormal level or activity contributes to cognitive disorders. One crucial downstream effector and direct substrate of STEP is extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK), which has important functions in spine stabilisation and action potential transmission. The inhibition of STEP activity toward phospho-ERK has the potential to treat neuronal diseases, but the detailed mechanism underlying the dephosphorylation of phospho-ERK by STEP is not known. Therefore, we examined STEP activity toward pNPP, phospho-tyrosine-containing peptides, and the full-length phospho-ERK protein using STEP mutants with different structural features. STEP was found to be a highly efficient ERK tyrosine phosphatase that required both its N-terminal regulatory region and key residues in its active site. Specifically, both KIM and KIS of STEP were required for ERK interaction. In addition to the N-terminal KIS region, S245, hydrophobic residues L249/L251, and basic residues R242/R243 located in the KIM region were important in controlling STEP activity toward phospho-ERK. Further kinetic experiments revealed subtle structural differences between STEP and HePTP that affected the interactions of their KIMs with ERK. Moreover, STEP recognised specific positions of a phospho-ERK peptide sequence through its active site, and the contact of STEP F311 with phospho-ERK V205 and T207 were crucial interactions. Taken together, our results not only provide the information for interactions between ERK and STEP, but will also help in the development of specific strategies to target STEP-ERK recognition, which could serve as a potential therapy for neurological disorders.
PMCID: PMC3947313  PMID: 24117863
ERK; phosphorylation; phosphatase; synaptic plasticity; Striatal enriched tyrosine phosphatases (STEP); neurological disorders
6.  Negative Elongation Factor Controls Energy Homeostasis in Cardiomyocytes 
Cell reports  2014;7(1):79-85.
Negative elongation factor (NELF) is known to enforce promoter-proximal pausing of RNA polymerase II (Pol II), a pervasive phenomenon observed across multicellular genomes. However, the physiological impact of NELF on tissue homeostasis remains unclear. Here, we show that whole-body conditional deletion of the B subunit of NELF (NELF-B) in adult mice results in cardiomyopathy and impaired response to cardiac stress. Tissue-specific knockout of NELF-B confirms its cell-autonomous function in cardiomyocytes. NELF directly supports transcription of those genes encoding rate-limiting enzymes in fatty acid oxidation (FAO) and the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. NELF also shares extensively transcriptional target genes with peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα), a master regulator of energy metabolism in the myocardium. Mechanistically, NELF helps stabilize the transcription initiation complex at the metabolism-related genes. Our findings strongly indicate that NELF is part of the PPARα-mediated transcription regulatory network that maintains metabolic homeostasis in cardiomyocytes.
PMCID: PMC4277258  PMID: 24656816
7.  Histone acetyltransferase inhibitor II induces apoptosis in glioma cell lines via the p53 signaling pathway 
Histone acetyltransferase (HAT) inhibitors can inhibit proliferation and induce apoptosis in cancer cell lines. The novel cell-permeable p300/CREB-binding protein (CBP)-selective HAT inhibitor HATi II can reduce histone H3 acetylation and induce chromatin condensation in HeLa cells. Here, we examined the effects and mechanism of action of HATi II in glioma cell lines.
Cell viability was assessed using the CCK-8 assay. Cell cycle analysis was performed using flow cytometry. Apoptosis was evaluated using Annexin V staining and flow cytometry, Hoechst 33342 staining and the TUNEL assay. Expression and cleavage of caspase-3, caspase-9 and poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) were assessed by Western blotting. Statistical analysis was performed using two-tailed Student’s t-tests. The gene expression profiles of U251 glioma cells treated with HATi II or DMSO were analyzed using the Arraystar Human 8 x 60 K LncRNA/mRNA expression array; data was analyzed using MEV (Multi Experiment View) cluster software. Datasets representing genes with altered expression profiles (≥2-fold) derived from the cluster analyses were subjected to gene ontology and pathway analysis.
HATi II inhibited the proliferation of U251, U87, HS683 and SHG44 cells in a dose-dependent manner. HATi II induced cell cycle arrest at the G2/M phase, and induced significant levels of apoptosis, apoptotic body formation and DNA fragmentation in HATi II-treated U251 and SHG44 cells. HATi II induced cleavage of caspase-3, caspase-9 and PARP in U251 and SHG44 cells. In HATi II-treated U251 cells, 965 genes were upregulated, 984 genes were downregulated and 3492/33327 lncRNAs were differentially expressed. GO analysis showed the differentially expressed genes with known functions are involved in a variety of processes; alcoholism, p53 signaling pathway, cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction and transcriptional mis-regulation in cancer were the four most significant pathways. Upregulation of p53 signaling pathway-related genes in HATi II-treated cells was confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR and Western blotting.
HATi II inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis via the caspase-dependent pathway in human glioma cell lines, possibly by activating the p53 signaling pathway. HATi II deserves further investigation as a novel treatment for glioma.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13046-014-0108-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4321714  PMID: 25523932
HATi II; Glioma; Apoptosis; LncRNA/mRNA; p53 signaling pathway
8.  Elevation of serum apelin-13 associated with proliferative diabetic retinopathy in type 2 diabetic patients 
To compare apelin-13, a ligand of G-protein-coupled receptor which has been shown to be involved in retinal angiogenesis, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) serum levels in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) with or without retinopathy, and to investigate the relationship between the serum concentration of apelin-13 and diabetes retinopathy.
Sixty-nine patients with T2DM were enrolled. Of the 69 patients, 16 had proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR group), 23 had non-PDR (NPDR group) and 30 had no retinopathy (T2DM group). Subjects' information, including demographics, medical history, and use of medications were recorded. Their serum samples were collected for measuring the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), serum lipid and glycosylated hemoglobin. Apelin-13 and VEGF serum levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Kruskal-Wallis test and one-way ANOVA were used to compare the differences among these groups. Chi-square test was used to assess categorical variables. Correlations between variables were investigated by Spearman rho correlation test and stepwise regression analysis. All statistical analyses were performed through SPSS 17.0 software.
Sex, age, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, CRP, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) have no significantly difference in the three groups. Serum level of apelin-13 was significantly elevated in PDR group as compared with T2DM group (P=0.041). Differences of VEGF serum concentration in the three groups were statistically significant (P=0.007, P=0.007 and P<0.001, respectively). Spearman rho correlation test showed that serum apelin-13 was positively correlated with BMI, serum triglycerides, VEGF, but not with age, duration of diabetes, blood pressure, CRP, HbA1c and total-cholesterol. Stepwise regression analysis showed that BMI also significantly associated with serum apelin-13 (P=0.002), while VEGF and serum triglycerides were irrelevant.
This study elucidated a positive association of apelin-13 serum level with PDR, but not with VEGF. Apelin-13 may influence the promotion of PDR but unrelated with VEGF.
PMCID: PMC4270990  PMID: 25540748
diabetic retinopathy; apelin-13; vascular endothelial growth factor
9.  Dacarbazine Combined Targeted Therapy versus Dacarbazine Alone in Patients with Malignant Melanoma: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e111920.
Malignant melanoma is the most aggressive and deadly form of skin cancer. Dacarbazine (DTIC) has been the approved first-line treatment for metastatic melanoma in routine clinical practice. However, response rates with single-agent DTIC are low. The objective of this study was to compare the efficacy and safety of DTIC with or without placebo and DTIC-based combination therapies in patients with advanced metastatic melanoma.
We searched from electronic databases such as The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EBSCO, EMBASE, Ovid, CNKI, and CBMDisc from 2003 to 2013. The primary outcome measures were overall response and 1-year survival, and the secondary outcome measurements were adverse events.
Nine randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving 2,481 patients were included in the meta-analysis. DTIC-based combination therapies was superior to DTIC alone in overall response (combined risk ratio [RR]  = 1.60, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.27–2.01) and 1-year survival (combined RR = 1.26, 95% CI: 1.14–1.39). Patients with DTIC-based combination therapies had higher incidence of adverse events including nausea (combined RR = 1.23, 95% CI: 1.10–1.36), vomiting (combined RR = 1.73, 95% CI: 1.41–2.12) and neutropenia (combined RR = 1.75, 95% CI: 1.42–2.16) compared to the group for DTIC alone.
These data suggested that DTIC-based combination therapies could moderately improve the overall response and the 1-year survival but increased the incidence of adverse events. Further large-scale, high-quality, placebo-controlled, double-blind trials are needed to confirm this conclusion.
PMCID: PMC4263472  PMID: 25502446
10.  Aneuploidy and chromosomal instability: a vicious cycle driving cellular evolution and cancer genome chaos 
Cancer metastasis reviews  2013;32(0):10.1007/s10555-013-9436-6.
Aneuploidy and chromosomal instability frequently co-exist, and aneuploidy is recognized as a direct outcome of chromosomal instability. However, chromosomal instability is widely viewed as a consequence of mutations in genes involved in DNA replication, chromosome segregation and cell cycle checkpoints. Telomere attrition and presence of extra centrosomes have also been recognized as causative for errors in genomic transmission. Here, we examine recent studies suggesting that aneuploidy itself can be responsible for the procreation of chromosomal instability. Evidence from both yeast and mammalian experimental models suggest that changes in chromosome copy number can cause changes in dosage of the products of many genes located on aneuploid chromosomes. These effects on gene expression can alter the balanced stoichiometry of various protein complexes, causing perturbations of their functions. Therefore, phenotypic consequences of aneuploidy will include chromosomal instability if the balanced stoichiometry of protein machineries responsible for accurate chromosome segregation is affected enough to perturb the function. The degree of chromosomal instability will depend on specific karyotypic changes, which may be due to dosage imbalances of specific genes or lack of scaling between chromosome segregation load and the capacity of the mitotic system. We propose that the relationship between aneuploidy and chromosomal instability can be envisioned as a “vicious cycle”, where aneuploidy potentiates chromosomal instability leading to further karyotype diversity in the affected population.
PMCID: PMC3825812  PMID: 23709119
11.  Approaches to genotyping individual miracidia of Schistosoma japonicum 
Parasitology research  2013;112(12):10.1007/s00436-013-3587-9.
Molecular genetic tools are needed to address questions as to the source and dynamics of transmission of the human blood fluke Schistosoma japonicum in regions where human infections have re-emerged, and to characterize infrapopulations in individual hosts. The life-stage that interests us as a target for collecting genotypic data is the miracidium, a very small larval stage that consequently yields very little DNA for analysis. Here, we report the successful development of a multiplex format permitting genotyping of 17 microsatellite loci in four sequential multiplex reactions using a single miracidium held on a Whatman Classic FTA indicating card. This approach was successful after short storage periods, but after long storage (>4 years) considerable difficulty was encountered in multiplex genotyping, necessitating the use of whole genome amplification (WGA) methods. WGA applied to cards stored for long periods of time resulted in sufficient DNA for accurate and repeatable genotyping. Trials and tests of these methods, as well as application to some field-collected samples, are reported, along with discussion of the potential insights to be gained from such techniques. These include recognition of sibships among miracidia from a single host, and inference of the minimum number of worm pairs that might be present in a host.
PMCID: PMC3834234  PMID: 24013341
China; miracidia; FTA; multiplexing; microsatellites; Schistosoma japonicum
12.  The T-box transcription factor Brachyury promotes renal interstitial fibrosis by repressing E-cadherin expression 
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) induced by TGF-β1 is one of well-recognized factors contributing to renal fibrosis. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms of EMT are not fully understood. Brachyury, an evolutionarily conserved transcription factor, was recently identified as an important factor promoting EMT in human carcinoma cell lines. There is no evidence that Brachyury is involved in renal tubular EMT.
Our results demonstrated that Brachyury was prominently induced in TGF-β1-treated human proximal tubular epithelial (HK-2) cells and that this induction was accompanied by changes characteristic of EMT. Blockage of Brachyury expression by short interfering RNA (siRNA) in HK-2 cells effectively reversed the TGF-β1-induced EMT phenotype. Brachyury induction repressed E-cadherin transcription; the E-cadherin promoter contains a Brachyury binding site, and decreased expression of E-cadherin occurred in Brachyury-overexpressing cells when they were transfected with reporter constructs using the promoter. This effect was partially mediated by Slug and Snail, as knockdown of Snail and Slug by siRNA effectively reversed Brachyury-mediated EMT and partially restored E–cadherin expression. The expression of Brachyury also presented in a rat model of obstructive nephropathy and in tubulointerstitial fibrosis tissues of IgA nephropathy, suggesting that it may have a role in EMT and renal fibrosis in vivo.
Our results demonstrate for the first time that Brachyury plays an important role in regulating TGF-β1–mediated renal EMT and could be an attractive target for progression of renal disease therapies.
PMCID: PMC4261244  PMID: 25433496
TGF-β1; Brachyury; E-cadherin; Renal fibrosis
13.  Expressions of MUC1 and vascular endothelial growth factor mRNA in blood are biomarkers for predicting efficacy of gefitinib treatment in non-small cell lung cancer 
BMC Cancer  2014;14(1):848.
Gefitinib, an EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitor, significantly improve prognosis in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The aim of this study was to evaluate the usefulness of MUC1 and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) mRNA expression in peripheral blood as means of predicting benefit from gefitinib therapy in NSCLC patients.
MUC1 and VEGF mRNA expressions were detected in peripheral blood of 66 patients with advanced NSCLC before (B0) and 4 weeks after treatment (B4w) with gefitinib, using real-time quantitative-PCR assay. Correlations between blood MUC1 and VEGF mRNA expression at B0 and B4w and the response to gefitinib treatment and survival were analyzed.
Blood levels of MUC1 and VEGF mRNA at B0 and at B4w were significantly higher in patients with progressive disease than in those with partial response and stable disease. Furthermore, blood MUC1 and VEGF mRNA positivity at two time points were strongly associated with shorter progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) (P = 0.005 and P = 0.008 at B0, and P < 0.001 and P = 0.001 at B4w, respectively, for MUC1; P = 0.004 and P = 0.009 at B0, and P = 0.001 and P < 0.001 at B4w, respectively, for VEGF). Multivariate analyses demonstrated that blood MUC1 and VEGF mRNA positivity at B0 and B4w were independent factors for predicting worse PFS and OS.
MUC1 and VEGF mRNA positivity in blood seem to be indicators of unfavorable response and poor PFS and OS in patients with advanced NSCLC treated with gefitinib and may be promising noninvasive and repeatable markers for predicting efficacy of gefitinib treatment.
PMCID: PMC4246503  PMID: 25410981
Non-small cell lung cancer; Gefitinib; MUC1; Vascular endothelial growth factor; Treatment response; Survival
14.  Symmetry breaking and polarity establishment during mouse oocyte maturation 
Mammalian oocyte meiosis encompasses two rounds of asymmetric divisions to generate a totipotent haploid egg and, as by-products, two small polar bodies. Two intracellular events, asymmetric spindle positioning and cortical polarization, are critical to such asymmetric divisions. Actin but not microtubule cytoskeleton has been known to be directly involved in both events. Recent work has revealed a positive feedback loop between chromosome-mediated cortical activation and the Arp2/3-orchestrated cytoplasmic streaming that moves chromosomes. This feedback loop not only maintains meiotic II spindle position during metaphase II arrest, but also brings about symmetry breaking during meiosis I. Prior to an Arp2/3-dependent phase of fast movement, meiotic I spindle experiences a slow and non-directional first phase of migration driven by a pushing force from Fmn2-mediated actin polymerization. In addition to illustrating these molecular mechanisms, mathematical simulations are presented to elucidate mechanical properties of actin-dependent force generation in this system.
PMCID: PMC3785956  PMID: 24062576
symmetry breaking; polarity establishment; spindle migration; actin dynamics
15.  Rapid Detection and Differentiation of Clonorchis sinensis and Opisthorchis viverrini Using Real-Time PCR and High Resolution Melting Analysis 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:893981.
Clonorchis sinensis and Opisthorchis viverrini are both important fish-borne pathogens, causing serious public health problem in Asia. The present study developed an assay integrating real-time PCR and high resolution melting (HRM) analysis for the specific detection and rapid identification of C. sinensis and O. viverrini. Primers targeting COX1 gene were highly specific for these liver flukes, as evidenced by the negative amplification of closely related trematodes. Assays using genomic DNA extracted from the two flukes yielded specific amplification and their identity was confirmed by sequencing, having the accuracy of 100% in reference to conventional methods. The assay was proved to be highly sensitive with a detection limit below 1 pg of purified genomic DNA, 5 EPG, or 1 metacercaria of C. sinensis. Moreover, C. sinensis and O. viverrini were able to be differentiated by their HRM profiles. The method can reduce labor of microscopic examination and the contamination of agarose electrophoresis. Moreover, it can differentiate these two flukes which are difficult to be distinguished using other methods. The established method provides an alternative tool for rapid, simple, and duplex detection of C. sinensis and O. viverrini.
PMCID: PMC4217323  PMID: 25386621
16.  Pulsed radiofrequency to the great occipital nerve for the treatment of intractable postherpetic itch: a case report 
A patient with intractable postherpetic itch lasting for 1 year was reported. The itch was mainly from the left vertex, frontal and ophthalmic regions and extended to the left neck area. The patient had negative response to the ophthalmic nerve block. Under the initial positive response to the great occipital nerve block, pulsed radiofrequency (PRF) was performed on the position of the great occipital nerve. After 4 months treatment, the itch was completely vanished. This case study demonstrates the effectiveness of PRF for intractable postherpetic itch originating in the head and neck. However, more samples needed to verify this management.
PMCID: PMC4238490  PMID: 25419389
Postherpetic itch; pulse radiofrequency; great occipital nerve
17.  Down-regulation of PTEN by HCV core protein through activating nuclear factor-κB 
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) core protein is an important causative agent in HCV related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Tumor suppressor gene PTEN appears to act in the liver at the crossroad of processes controlling cell proliferation. In this study we investigated the effect of the HCV core protein on the PTEN pathway in hepatocarcinogenesis. The HCV core was transfected stably into HepG2 cell. The effect of HCV core on cell proliferation and viability were detected by 3-(4, 5)-dimethylthiahiazo-(-z-y1)-3, 5-di-phenytetrazoliumromide (MTT) assay, clonogenic survival assay and Fluorescence Activating Cell Sorter (FACS) analysis. The expressions of PTEN were detected by real time RT-PCR and/or Western blot analysis, also the mechanism of down-regulation of PTEN was explored by western blot, luciferase assay and RNA interference. We found the HCV core promoted cell proliferation, survival and G2/M phase accumulation. It downregulated PTEN at mRNA and protein level and activated PTEN downstream gene Akt accompanied with NF-κB activation. Furthermore, the inhibition of HCV core by its specific shRNAs decreased the effect of growth promotion and G2/M phase arrest, inhibited the expression of nuclear p65 and increased PTEN expression. The activity of PTEN was restored when treated with NF-κB inhibitor PDTC. By luciferase assay we found that NF-κB inhibited PTEN promoter transcription activity directly in HCV core cells, while PDTC was contrary. Our study suggests that HCV proteins could modulate PTEN by activating NF-κB. Furthermore strategies designed to restore the expression of PTEN may be promising therapies for preventing HCV dependent hepatocarcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4270593  PMID: 25550771
Core protein; hepatocellular carcinoma; hepatitis C virus; PTEN
18.  Serum Response Factor Accelerates the High Glucose-Induced Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) via Snail Signaling in Human Peritoneal Mesothelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e108593.
Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) induced by glucose in human peritoneal mesothelial cells (HPMCs) is a major cause of peritoneal membrane (PM) fibrosis and dysfunction.
To investigate serum response factor (SRF) impacts on EMT-derived fibrosis in PM, we isolated HPMCs from the effluents of patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) to analyze alterations during peritoneal dialysis (PD) and observe the response of PM to SRF in a rat model.
Our results demonstrated the activation and translocation of SRF into the nuclei of HPMCs under extensive periods of PD. Accordingly, HPMCs lost their epithelial morphology with a decrease in E-cadherin expression and an increase in α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression, implying a transition in phenotype. PD with 4.25% glucose solution significantly induced SRF up-regulation and increased peritoneal thickness. In immortal HPMCs, high glucose (HG, 60 mmol/L) stimulated SRF overexpression in transformed fibroblastic HPMCs. SRF-siRNA preserved HPMC morphology, while transfection of SRF plasmid into HPMCs caused the opposite effects. Evidence from electrophoretic mobility shift, chromatin immunoprecipitation and reporter assays further supported that SRF transcriptionally regulated Snail, a potent inducer of EMT, by directly binding to its promoter.
Our data suggested that activation of SRF/Snail pathway might contribute to the progressive PM fibrosis during PD.
PMCID: PMC4193747  PMID: 25303231
19.  Speckle tracking echocardiography in the diagnosis of early left ventricular systolic dysfunction in type II diabetic mice 
The leptin receptor-deficient db/db mouse is a well-established type II diabetes animal model used to investigate diabetic cardiomyopathy. Previous reports have documented diabetic cardiomyopathy is accompanied by cardiac structural and functional abnormalities. To better elucidate early or subtle changes in cardiac performance in db/db mice, we used speckle tracking echocardiography to assess systolic myocardial strain in vivo with diabetic db/db mice in order to study early changes of left ventricle contractile function in type II diabetes model.
Male diabetic db/db mice and age-matched control mice from C57BL/6J strain at 8,12 and 16 weeks of age were subjected to echocardiography. At the midpapillary level in the parasternal left ventricular short-axis view, end diastolic and systolic left ventricular diameter, interventricular septal thickness and posterior wall thicknesses, ejection fraction, fractional shortening were determined by M-mode echocardiography. Using speckle-tracking based strain analysis of two-dimensional echocardiographic images acquired from the parasternal short-axis views at the mid-papillary level, systolic global radial and circumferential strain values were analyzed.
There was no significant difference in interventricular septal thickness, posterior wall thicknesses, end diastolic and systolic left ventricular diameter, ejection fraction and fractional shortening between db/db and age-matched control mice at 8,12 or 16 weeks of age (P > 0.05). At 8 and 12 weeks of age, there was no significant difference in left ventricular radial strain and circumferential strain between db/db mice and age-matched controls (P > 0.05). But at 16 weeks of age, the left ventricular radial strain and circumferential strain in db/db mice were lower than in control mice (P < 0.01).
The present study shows that speckle tracking echocardiography can be used to evaluate cardiac functional alterations in mouse models of cardiovascular disease. Radial and circumferential strain are more sensitive and can be used for detection of early left ventricular contractile dysfunction in db/db type II diabetic mice.
PMCID: PMC4197287  PMID: 25292177
Diabetic cardiomyopathy; db/db mice; Echocardiography; Strain; Cardiac function
20.  Effect of mTOR Inhibitors in Nude Mice with Endometrial Carcinoma and Variable PTEN Expression Status 
The aim of this study was to investigate the sensitivity to rapamycin of endometrial cancer cells with different phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN) expression to understand the mechanism of resistance to mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors in the treatment of endometrial cancer.
Twenty specific pathogen-free female BALB/c mice received transplants of either HEC-1A (PTEN-positive) or Ishikawa (PTEN-negative) cells. Mice in the treatment group were injected intraperitoneally once a week for 4 consecutive weeks. The control group was injected weekly with phosphate buffer saline (PBS) for 4 consecutive weeks. Tumor volume, tumor mass, growth curves, and inhibition rate were measured, after which the mice were killed.
Both tumor growth rate and size were slower in the treatment group than in the control group for all mice that received transplants of either HEC-1A or Ishikawa cells. The tumor inhibition rates in the treatment group were 48.1% and 67.1% in mice transplanted with HEC-1A and Ishikawa cells, respectively.
The inhibitory effects of rapamycin were enhanced in PTEN-negative Ishikawa tumor cells compared with PTEN-positive HEC-1A cells, which could explain the reduced effect of rapalogues in some endometrial cancer patients and help to understand the mechanism of resistance to this drug.
PMCID: PMC4189716  PMID: 25266877
Endometrial Neoplasms; PTEN Phosphohydrolase; Receptor; Epidermal Growth Factor; TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
21.  Prevalence and predictors of metabolic abnormalities in Chinese women with PCOS: a cross- sectional study 
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition estimated to affect 5.61% of Chinese women of reproductive age, but little is known about the prevalence and predictors in Chinese PCOS patients. This study aimed to determine the prevalence and predictors of the metabolic abnormalities in Chinese women with and without PCOS.
A large-scale national epidemiological investigation was conducted in reproductive age women (19 to 45 years) across China. 833 reproductive aged PCOS women, who participated in the healthcare screening, were recruited from ten provinces in China. Clinical history, ultrasonographic exam (ovarian follicle), hormonal and metabolic parameters were the main outcome measures.
The prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) as compared in PCOS and non-PCOS women from community were 18.2% vs 14.7%, and IR (insulin resistance) were 14.2% vs 9.3% (p < 0.001) respectively. After adjusting for age, the indicators (central obesity, hypertension, fasting insulin, SHBG, dyslipinaemia) for metabolic disturbances were significantly higher in PCOS than in non-PCOS groups. Using multivariate logistic regression, central obesity and FAI were risk factors, while SHBG was a protective factor on the occurrence of Mets and IR in PCOS women (OR: 1.132, 1.105 and 0.995).
The risk factors of the metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance were BMI and FAI for PCOS women, respectively. The decrease of SHBG level was also a risk factor for insulin resistance in both PCOS and metabolic disturbance.
PMCID: PMC4171713  PMID: 25223276
Prevalence; Predictor; Metabolic abnormalities; PCOS; Community
22.  Silencing of WISP3 suppresses gastric cancer cell proliferation and metastasis and inhibits Wnt/β-catenin signaling 
CCN6/Wnt1-inducible signaling protein-3 (CCN6/WISP3) is a cysteine-rich protein that belongs to the CCN (Cyr61, CTGF, Nov) family of matricellular proteins, which are often dysregulated in cancers. However, the functional role and clinical significance of WISP3 in gastric cancer remain unclear. In this study, we found that silencing of WISP3 suppressed gastric cancer cell proliferation, migration and invasion. Cell adhesion to collagens (collagen I and IV), but not to fibronectin, were significantly inhibited by silencing of WISP3. Furthermore, silencing of WISP3 prevented β-catenin transferring from cell cytoplasm to nuclear, and suppressed canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling and its downstream target genes, cyclin D1 and TCF-4. By immunohistochemical analysis of 379 patients, we found that the expression of WISP3 is closely associated with gastric cancer size and tumor invasion, and indicates a poor prognosis in both test cohort (253 patients) and validation cohort (126 patients). Moreover, the expression of WISP3 was positively correlated with the expression of cyclin D1 and TCF-4 in gastric cancer tissues. Taken together, our data suggests that WISP3 might be a promising prognostic factor and WISP3-Wnt/β-catenin axis may be a new therapeutic target for the intervention of gastric cancer growth and metastasis.
PMCID: PMC4230117  PMID: 25400723
WISP3; gastric cancer cell; proliferation; invasion; canonical Wnt signaling
23.  A Systematic Investigation of Computation Models for Predicting Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e105889.
Early and accurate identification of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) is critically important for drug development and clinical safety. Computer-aided prediction of ADRs has attracted increasing attention in recent years, and many computational models have been proposed. However, because of the lack of systematic analysis and comparison of the different computational models, there remain limitations in designing more effective algorithms and selecting more useful features. There is therefore an urgent need to review and analyze previous computation models to obtain general conclusions that can provide useful guidance to construct more effective computational models to predict ADRs.
Principal Findings
In the current study, the main work is to compare and analyze the performance of existing computational methods to predict ADRs, by implementing and evaluating additional algorithms that have been earlier used for predicting drug targets. Our results indicated that topological and intrinsic features were complementary to an extent and the Jaccard coefficient had an important and general effect on the prediction of drug-ADR associations. By comparing the structure of each algorithm, final formulas of these algorithms were all converted to linear model in form, based on this finding we propose a new algorithm called the general weighted profile method and it yielded the best overall performance among the algorithms investigated in this paper.
Several meaningful conclusions and useful findings regarding the prediction of ADRs are provided for selecting optimal features and algorithms.
PMCID: PMC4152017  PMID: 25180585
24.  Effect of ERK1/2 Signaling Pathway in Electro-Acupuncture – Mediated Up-Regulation of Heme Oxygenase-1 in Lungs of Rabbits with Endotoxic Shock 
The anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory activities of electro-acupuncture (EA), a traditional clinical method, are widely accepted, but its mechanisms are not yet well defined. In this study, we investigated the role of extracellular signal-regulated kinases1/2 (ERK1/2) pathways on electro-acupuncture – mediated up-regulation of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) in rabbit lungs injured by LPS-induced endotoxic shock.
Seventy rabbits were randomly divided into 7 groups: group C, group M, group D, group SEAM, group EAM, group EAMPD, and group PD98059. Male New England white rabbits were given EA treatment on both sides once a day on days 1–5, and then received LPS to replicate the experimental model of injured lung induced by endotoxic shock. Then, they were killed by exsanguination at 6 h after LPS administration. The blood samples were collected for serum examination, and the lungs were removed for pathology examination, determination of wet-to-dry weight ratio, MDA content, SOD activity, serum tumor necrosis factor-α, determination of HO-1 protein and mRNA expression, and determination of ERK1/2 protein.
The results revealed that after EA treatment, expression of HO-1and ERK1/2 was slightly increased compared to those in other groups, accompanied with less severe lung injury as indicated by lower index of lung injury score, lower wet-to-dry weight ratio, MDA content, and serum tumor necrosis factor-α levels, and greater SOD activity (p<0.05 for all). After pretreatment with ERK1/2 inhibitor PD98059, the effect of EA treatment and expression of HO-1 were suppressed (p<0.05 for all).
After electro-acupuncture stimulation at ST36 and BL13, severe lung injury during endotoxic shock was attenuated. The mechanism may be through up-regulation of HO-1, mediated by the signal transductions of ERK1/2 pathways. Thus, the regulation of ERK1/2 pathways via electro-acupuncture may be a therapeutic strategy for endotoxic shock.
PMCID: PMC4144948  PMID: 25139460
Acupuncture; Acute Lung Injury; Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1
25.  Gene-based SNP discovery and genetic mapping in pea 
Key message
Gene-based SNPs were identified and mapped in pea using five recombinant inbred line populations segregating for traits of agronomic importance.
Pea (Pisum sativum L.) is one of the world’s oldest domesticated crops and has been a model system in plant biology and genetics since the work of Gregor Mendel. Pea is the second most widely grown pulse crop in the world following common bean. The importance of pea as a food crop is growing due to its combination of moderate protein concentration, slowly digestible starch, high dietary fiber concentration, and its richness in micronutrients; however, pea has lagged behind other major crops in harnessing recent advances in molecular biology, genomics and bioinformatics, partly due to its large genome size with a large proportion of repetitive sequence, and to the relatively limited investment in research in this crop globally. The objective of this research was the development of a genome-wide transcriptome-based pea single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) marker platform using next-generation sequencing technology. A total of 1,536 polymorphic SNP loci selected from over 20,000 non-redundant SNPs identified using deep transcriptome sequencing of eight diverse Pisum accessions were used for genotyping in five RIL populations using an Illumina GoldenGate assay. The first high-density pea SNP map defining all seven linkage groups was generated by integrating with previously published anchor markers. Syntenic relationships of this map with the model legume Medicago truncatula and lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) maps were established. The genic SNP map establishes a foundation for future molecular breeding efforts by enabling both the identification and tracking of introgression of genomic regions harbouring QTLs related to agronomic and seed quality traits.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00122-014-2375-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4180032  PMID: 25119872

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