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1.  Proviral Integration Site for Moloney Murine Leukemia Virus (PIM) Kinases Promote Human T Helper 1 Cell Differentiation* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;288(5):3048-3058.
Background: T helper (Th) cell differentiation is a complex process regulated by multiple factors.
Results: PIM kinases promote Th1 differentiation through regulating the expression of genes important for this process.
Conclusion: PIM kinases were identified as new regulators of Th1 cell differentiation.
Significance: This study provides new insights into the mechanisms controlling Th cell differentiation.
The differentiation of human primary T helper 1 (Th1) cells from naïve precursor cells is regulated by a complex, interrelated signaling network. The identification of factors regulating the early steps of Th1 cell polarization can provide important insight in the development of therapeutics for many inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The serine/threonine-specific proviral integration site for Moloney murine leukemia virus (PIM) kinases PIM1 and PIM2 have been implicated in the cytokine-dependent proliferation and survival of lymphocytes. We have established that the third member of this family, PIM3, is also expressed in human primary Th cells and identified a new function for the entire PIM kinase family in T lymphocytes. Although PIM kinases are expressed more in Th1 than Th2 cells, we demonstrate here that these kinases positively influence Th1 cell differentiation. Our RNA interference results from human primary Th cells also suggest that PIM kinases promote the production of IFNγ, the hallmark cytokine produced by Th1 cells. Consistent with this, they also seem to be important for the up-regulation of the critical Th1-driving factor, T box expressed in T cells (T-BET), and the IL-12/STAT4 signaling pathway during the early Th1 differentiation process. In summary, we have identified PIM kinases as new regulators of human primary Th1 cell differentiation, thus providing new insights into the mechanisms controlling the selective development of human Th cell subsets.
PMCID: PMC3561529  PMID: 23209281
Differentiation; Gene Regulation; Immunology; siRNA; T Cell; Kinase
2.  SNP-Based Typing: A Useful Tool to Study Bordetella pertussis Populations 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20340.
To monitor changes in Bordetella pertussis populations, mainly two typing methods are used; Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) and Multiple-Locus Variable-Number Tandem Repeat Analysis (MLVA). In this study, a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) typing method, based on 87 SNPs, was developed and compared with PFGE and MLVA. The discriminatory indices of SNP typing, PFGE and MLVA were found to be 0.85, 0.95 and 0.83, respectively. Phylogenetic analysis, using SNP typing as Gold Standard, revealed false homoplasies in the PFGE and MLVA trees. Further, in contrast to the SNP-based tree, the PFGE- and MLVA-based trees did not reveal a positive correlation between root-to-tip distance and the isolation year of strains. Thus PFGE and MLVA do not allow an estimation of the relative age of the selected strains. In conclusion, SNP typing was found to be phylogenetically more informative than PFGE and more discriminative than MLVA. Further, in contrast to PFGE, it is readily standardized allowing interlaboratory comparisons. We applied SNP typing to study strains with a novel allele for the pertussis toxin promoter, ptxP3, which have a worldwide distribution and which have replaced the resident ptxP1 strains in the last 20 years. Previously, we showed that ptxP3 strains showed increased pertussis toxin expression and that their emergence was associated with increased notification in the Netherlands. SNP typing showed that the ptxP3 strains isolated in the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe formed a monophyletic branch which recently diverged from ptxP1 strains. Two predominant ptxP3 SNP types were identified which spread worldwide. The widespread use of SNP typing will enhance our understanding of the evolution and global epidemiology of B. pertussis.
PMCID: PMC3103551  PMID: 21647370
3.  Effect of Vaccination on Bordetella pertussis Strains, China 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2010;16(11):1695-1701.
Strains in China may differ from those in countries that have long histories of high vaccination coverage.
Whole-cell pertussis vaccine was introduced in China in the early 1960s. We used standard typing methods to compare 96 Bordetella pertussis isolates collected before and after introduction of vaccination, during 1953–2005. The following vaccine-type alleles of the pertussis toxin (ptx) gene were characteristic for all prevaccination strains: ptxA2, ptxA3, and ptxA4. The shift to ptxA1 occurred since 1963. All isolates collected since 1983 contained ptxA1. Pertactin (prn) allele 1, prn1, was predominant, although prn2 and prn3 have been detected since 2000. Serotypes fimbriae (Fim) 2 and Fim2,3 were found in all isolates collected before 1986. During 1997–2005, Fim3 became prevalent. Although changes in electrophoresis profiles over time were observed, the predominant profiles during 1997–2005 resembled those during the prevaccine era and those found in Europe before the 1990s. B. pertussis strains in China may differ from those in countries that have a long history of high vaccine coverage.
PMCID: PMC3294513  PMID: 21029526
China; Bordetella pertussis; whooping cough; pertussis; incidence; vaccination; genotyping; PFGE; bacteria; research
4.  Comparative Genomics of Bordetella pertussis Reveals Progressive Gene Loss in Finnish Strains 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(9):e904.
Bordetella pertussis is a Gram-negative bacterium that infects the human respiratory tract and causes pertussis or whooping cough. The disease has resurged in many countries including Finland where the whole-cell pertussis vaccine has been used for more than 50 years. Antigenic divergence has been observed between vaccine strains and clinical isolates in Finland. To better understand genome evolution in B. pertussis circulating in the immunized population, we developed an oligonucleotide-based microarray for comparative genomic analysis of Finnish strains isolated during the period of 50 years.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The microarray consisted of 3,582 oligonucleotides (70-mer) and covered 94% of 3,816 ORFs of Tohama I, the strain of which the genome has been sequenced [1]. Twenty isolates from 1953 to 2004 were studied together with two Finnish vaccine strains and two international reference strains. The isolates were selected according to their characteristics, e.g. the year and place of isolation and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis profiles. Genomic DNA of the tested strains, along with reference DNA of Tohama I strain, was labelled and hybridized. The absence of genes as established with microarrays, was confirmed by PCR. Compared with the Tohama I strain, Finnish isolates lost 7 (8.6 kb) to 49 (55.3 kb) genes, clustered in one to four distinct loci. The number of lost genes increased with time, and one third of lost genes had functions related to inorganic ion transport and metabolism, or energy production and conversion. All four loci of lost genes were flanked by the insertion sequence element IS481.
Our results showed that the progressive gene loss occurred in Finnish B. pertussis strains isolated during a period of 50 years and confirmed that B. pertussis is dynamic and is continuously evolving, suggesting that the bacterium may use gene loss as one strategy to adapt to highly immunized populations.
PMCID: PMC1975675  PMID: 17878939

Results 1-4 (4)