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1.  Comparative Analysis of Human γD-Crystallin Aggregation under Physiological and Low pH Conditions 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112309.
Cataract, a major cause of visual impairment worldwide, is the opacification of the eye’s crystalline lens due to aggregation of the crystallin proteins. The research reported here is aimed at investigating the aggregating behavior of γ-crystallin proteins in various incubation conditions. Thioflavin T binding assay, circular dichroism spectroscopy, 1-anilinonaphthalene-8-sulfonic acid fluorescence spectroscopy, intrinsic (tryptophan) fluorescence spectroscopy, light scattering, and electron microscopy were used for structural characterization. Molecular dynamics simulations and bioinformatics prediction were performed to gain insights into the γD-crystallin mechanisms of fibrillogenesis. We first demonstrated that, except at pH 7.0 and 37°C, the aggregation of γD-crystallin was observed to be augmented upon incubation, as revealed by turbidity measurements. Next, the types of aggregates (fibrillar or non-fibrillar aggregates) formed under different incubation conditions were identified. We found that, while a variety of non-fibrillar, granular species were detected in the sample incubated under pH 7.0, the fibrillogenesis of human γD-crystallin could be induced by acidic pH (pH 2.0). In addition, circular dichroism spectroscopy, 1-anilinonaphthalene-8-sulfonic acid fluorescence spectroscopy, and intrinsic fluorescence spectroscopy were used to characterize the structural and conformational features in different incubation conditions. Our results suggested that incubation under acidic condition led to a considerable change in the secondary structure and an enhancement in solvent-exposure of the hydrophobic regions of human γD-crystallin. Finally, molecular dynamics simulations and bioinformatics prediction were performed to better explain the differences between the structures and/or conformations of the human γD-crystallin samples and to reveal potential key protein region involved in the varied aggregation behavior. Bioinformatics analyses revealed that the initiation of amyloid formation of human γD-crystallin may be associated with a region within the C-terminal domain. We believe the results from this research may contribute to a better understanding of the possible mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of senile nuclear cataract.
PMCID: PMC4229192  PMID: 25389780
2.  Carnosine's Effect on Amyloid Fibril Formation and Induced Cytotoxicity of Lysozyme 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81982.
Carnosine, a common dipeptide in mammals, has previously been shown to dissemble alpha-crystallin amyloid fibrils. To date, the dipeptide's anti-fibrillogensis effect has not been thoroughly characterized in other proteins. For a more complete understanding of carnosine's mechanism of action in amyloid fibril inhibition, we have investigated the effect of the dipeptide on lysozyme fibril formation and induced cytotoxicity in human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells. Our study demonstrates a positive correlation between the concentration and inhibitory effect of carnosine against lysozyme fibril formation. Molecular docking results show carnosine's mechanism of fibrillogenesis inhibition may be initiated by binding with the aggregation-prone region of the protein. The dipeptide attenuates the amyloid fibril-induced cytotoxicity of human neuronal cells by reducing both apoptotic and necrotic cell deaths. Our study provides solid support for carnosine's amyloid fibril inhibitory property and its effect against fibril-induced cytotoxicity in SH-SY5Y cells. The additional insights gained herein may pave way to the discovery of other small molecules that may exert similar effects against amyloid fibril formation and its associated neurodegenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC3859581  PMID: 24349167
3.  BRD4 Short Isoform Interacts with RRP1B, SIPA1 and Components of the LINC Complex at the Inner Face of the Nuclear Membrane 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80746.
Recent studies suggest that BET inhibitors are effective anti-cancer therapeutics. Here we show that BET inhibitors are effective against murine primary mammary tumors, but not pulmonary metastases. BRD4, a target of BET inhibitors, encodes two isoforms with opposite effects on tumor progression. To gain insights into why BET inhibition was ineffective against metastases the pro-metastatic short isoform of BRD4 was characterized using mass spectrometry and cellular fractionation. Our data show that the pro-metastatic short isoform interacts with the LINC complex and the metastasis-associated proteins RRP1B and SIPA1 at the inner face of the nuclear membrane. Furthermore, histone binding arrays revealed that the short isoform has a broader acetylated histone binding pattern relative to the long isoform. These differential biochemical and nuclear localization properties revealed in our study provide novel insights into the opposing roles of BRD4 isoforms in metastatic breast cancer progression.
PMCID: PMC3834312  PMID: 24260471
4.  The discovery of potential acetylcholinesterase inhibitors: A combination of pharmacophore modeling, virtual screening, and molecular docking studies 
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia characterized by progressive cognitive impairment in the elderly people. The most dramatic abnormalities are those of the cholinergic system. Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) plays a key role in the regulation of the cholinergic system, and hence, inhibition of AChE has emerged as one of the most promising strategies for the treatment of AD.
In this study, we suggest a workflow for the identification and prioritization of potential compounds targeted against AChE. In order to elucidate the essential structural features for AChE, three-dimensional pharmacophore models were constructed using Discovery Studio 2.5.5 (DS 2.5.5) program based on a set of known AChE inhibitors.
The best five-features pharmacophore model, which includes one hydrogen bond donor and four hydrophobic features, was generated from a training set of 62 compounds that yielded a correlation coefficient of R = 0.851 and a high prediction of fit values for a set of 26 test molecules with a correlation of R2 = 0.830. Our pharmacophore model also has a high Güner-Henry score and enrichment factor. Virtual screening performed on the NCI database obtained new inhibitors which have the potential to inhibit AChE and to protect neurons from Aβ toxicity. The hit compounds were subsequently subjected to molecular docking and evaluated by consensus scoring function, which resulted in 9 compounds with high pharmacophore fit values and predicted biological activity scores. These compounds showed interactions with important residues at the active site.
The information gained from this study may assist in the discovery of potential AChE inhibitors that are highly selective for its dual binding sites.
PMCID: PMC3036604  PMID: 21251245
5.  Proteomics, pathway array and signaling network-based medicine in cancer 
Cell Division  2009;4:20.
Cancer is a multifaceted disease that results from dysregulated normal cellular signaling networks caused by genetic, genomic and epigenetic alterations at cell or tissue levels. Uncovering the underlying protein signaling network changes, including cell cycle gene networks in cancer, aids in understanding the molecular mechanism of carcinogenesis and identifies the characteristic signaling network signatures unique for different cancers and specific cancer subtypes. The identified signatures can be used for cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and personalized treatment. During the past several decades, the available technology to study signaling networks has significantly evolved to include such platforms as genomic microarray (expression array, SNP array, CGH array, etc.) and proteomic analysis, which globally assesses genetic, epigenetic, and proteomic alterations in cancer. In this review, we compared Pathway Array analysis with other proteomic approaches in analyzing protein network involved in cancer and its utility serving as cancer biomarkers in diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic target identification. With the advent of bioinformatics, constructing high complexity signaling networks is possible. As the use of signaling network-based cancer diagnosis, prognosis and treatment is anticipated in the near future, medical and scientific communities should be prepared to apply these techniques to further enhance personalized medicine.
PMCID: PMC2780394  PMID: 19863813
6.  Detection and Toxin Typing of Clostridium perfringens in Formalin-Fixed, Paraffin-Embedded Tissue Samples by PCR▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2008;47(3):807-810.
Since current microbiology methods are not suitable to detect Clostridium perfringens in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue samples, we developed a PCR assay to detect toxin-encoding genes and the 16S rRNA gene of C. perfringens. We successfully detected and genotyped C. perfringens in tissue sections from two autopsy cases.
PMCID: PMC2650962  PMID: 19109478
8.  Use of Ramification Amplification Assay for Detection of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Other E. coli Shiga Toxin-Producing Strains 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(12):6086-6090.
Escherichia coli O157:H7 and other Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) strains are important human pathogens that are mainly transmitted through the food chain. These pathogens have a low infectious dose and may cause life-threatening illnesses. However, detection of this microorganism in contaminated food or a patient's stool specimens presents a diagnostic challenge because of the low copy number in the sample. Often, a more sensitive nucleic acid amplification method, such as PCR, is required for rapid detection of this microorganism. Ramification amplification (RAM) is a recently introduced isothermal DNA amplification technique that utilizes a circular probe for target detection and achieves exponential amplification through the mechanism of primer extension, strand displacement, and ramification. In this study, we synthesized a circular probe specific for the Shiga toxin 2 gene (stx2). Our results showed that as few as 10 copies of stx2 could be detected, indicating that the RAM assay was as sensitive as conventional PCR. We further tested 33 isolates of E coli O157:H7, STEC, Shigella dysenteriae, and nonpathogenic E. coli by RAM assay. Results showed that all 27 STEC isolates containing the stx2 gene were identified by RAM assay, while S. dysenteriae and nonpathogenic E. coli isolates were undetected. The RAM results were 100% in concordance with those of PCR. Because of its simplicity and isothermal amplification, the RAM assay could be a useful method for detecting STEC in food and human specimens.
PMCID: PMC1317159  PMID: 16333102

Results 1-8 (8)