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1.  Lrp4 in astrocytes modulates glutamatergic transmission 
Nature neuroscience  2016;19(8):1010-1018.
Neurotransmission requires precise control of neurotransmitter release from axon terminals. This process is regulated by glial cells; however, underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. Here we report that glutamate release in the brain is impaired in mice lacking low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 4 (Lrp4), a protein critical for neuromuscular junction formation. Electrophysiological studies indicate compromised release probability in astrocyte-specific Lrp4 knockout mice. Lrp4 mutant astrocytes suppress glutamate transmission by enhancing the release of ATP, whose levels are elevated in the hippocampus of Lrp4 mutant mice. Consequently, the mutant mice are impaired in locomotor activity and spatial memory and are resistant to seizure induction. These impairments could be ameliorated by adenosine A1 receptor antagonist. The results reveal a critical role of Lrp4, in response to agrin, in modulating astrocytic ATP release and synaptic transmission. Our study provides insight into the interaction between neurons and astrocytes for synaptic homeostasis and/or plasticity.
PMCID: PMC4961622  PMID: 27294513
2.  Androgen receptor (AR) signaling promotes RCC progression via increased endothelial cell proliferation and recruitment by modulating AKT → NF-κB → CXCL5 signaling 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:37085.
Androgen receptor (AR) signaling may promote renal cell carcinoma (RCC) progression via altered HIF-2α/VEGF signaling. However, it remains unclear whether AR signaling also promotes RCC progression by recruiting vascular endothelial cells (ECs), key players in the development of blood vessels. In our study, AR increased EC proliferation and recruitment to the tumor microenvironment and promoted RCC progression. Mechanistically, AR modulated cytokine CXCL5 expression by altering AKT → NF-κB signaling, and interruption of AKT → NF-κB → CXCL5 signaling using either specific inhibitors or siRNA suppressed AR-enhanced EC recruitment and AR-EC-promoted RCC progression. The results obtained using an in vivo mouse model and a human clinical sample survey confirmed the role of AR in promoting RCC progression through enhancement of EC proliferation and/or recruitment via altered AKT → NF-κB → CXCL5 signaling. Targeting this newly identified AR-induced AKT → NF-κB → CXCL5 pathway may facilitate the development of new therapies for slowing RCC progression.
PMCID: PMC5111066  PMID: 27848972
3.  Clinical presentations and outcomes of patients with Ebola virus disease in Freetown, Sierra Leone 
Clinical and laboratory data were collected and analysed from patients with Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Jui Government Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where patients with EVD were received and/or treated from October 1, 2014 to March 21, 2015 during the West Africa EVD outbreak.
The study admitted 285 patients with confirmed EVD and followed them up till the endpoint (recovery or death). EVD was confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR assays detecting blood Ebola virus (EBOV).
Among the 285 lab-confirmed EVD cases in Jui Government Hospital, 146 recovered and 139 died, with an overall survival rate of 51.23 %. Patients under the age of 6 years had a lower survival rate (37.50 %). Most non-survivors (79.86 %) died within 7 days after admission and the mean hospitalization time for non-survivors was 5.56 ± 6.11 days. More than half survivors (63.69 %) turned blood EBOV negative within 3 weeks after admission and the mean hospitalization time for survivors was 20.38 ± 7.58 days. High blood viral load (≥106 copies/ml) was found to be predictive of the non-survival outcome as indicated by the Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve analysis. The probability of patients’ survival was less than 15 % when blood viral load was greater than 106 copies/ml. Multivariate analyses showed that blood viral load (P = 0.005), confusion (P = 0.010), abdominal pain (P = 0.003), conjunctivitis (P = 0.035), and vomiting (P = 0.004) were factors independently associated with the outcomes of EVD patients.
Most death occurred within 1 week after admission, and patients at the age of 6 or younger had a lower survival rate. Most surviving patients turned blood EBOV negative within 1–4 weeks after admission. Factors such as high blood viral load, confusion, abdominal pain, vomiting and conjunctivitis were associated with poor prognosis for EVD patients.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40249-016-0195-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5094140  PMID: 27806732
Ebola virus disease; Ebola virus; Mortality
4.  Applying the Mini-Open Anterolateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion with Self-Anchored Stand-Alone Polyetheretherketone Cage in Lumbar Revision Surgery 
BioMed Research International  2016;2016:1758352.
The author retrospectively studied twenty-two patients who underwent revision lumbar surgeries using ALLIF with a self-anchored stand-alone polyetheretherketone (PEEK) cage. The operation time, blood loss, and perioperative complications were evaluated. Oswestry disability index (ODI) scores and visual analog scale (VAS) scores of leg and back pain were analyzed preoperatively and at each time point of postoperative follow-up. Radiological evaluation including fusion, disc height, foraminal height, and subsidence was assessed. The results showed that the ALLIF with a self-anchored stand-alone PEEK cage is safe and effective in revision lumbar surgery with minor surgical trauma, low access-related complication rates, and satisfactory clinical and radiological results.
PMCID: PMC5112305  PMID: 27885355
5.  Photochemistry and Photobiology of the Spore Photoproduct: A Fifty Year Journey 
Photochemistry and photobiology  2015;91(6):1263-1290.
Fifty years ago, a new thymine dimer was discovered as the dominant DNA photolesion in UV irradiated bacterial spores [Donnellan, J. & Setlow R. (1965) Science, 149, 308–310], which was later named the spore photoproduct (SP). Formation of SP is due to the unique environment in the spore core that features low hydration levels favoring an A-DNA conformation, high levels of calcium dipicolinate that acts as a photosensitizer, and DNA saturation with small, acid-soluble proteins that alters DNA structure and reduces side reactions. In vitro studies reveal that any of these factors alone can promote SP formation; however, SP formation is usually accompanied by the production of other DNA photolesions. Therefore, the nearly exclusive SP formation in spores is due to the combined effects of these three factors. SP photoreaction is proved to occur via a unique H-atom transfer mechanism between the two involved thymine residues. Successful incorporation of SP into an oligonucleotide has been achieved via organic synthesis, which enables structural studies that reveal minor conformational changes in the SP-containing DNA. Here, we review the progress on SP photochemistry and photobiology in the past fifty years, which indicates a very rich SP photobiology that may exist beyond endospores.
Graphical abstract
PMCID: PMC4631623  PMID: 26265564
6.  Characterization of the Verticillium dahliae Exoproteome Involves in Pathogenicity from Cotton-Containing Medium 
Verticillium wilt, caused by the Verticillium dahliae phytopathogen, is a devastating disease affecting many economically important crops. Previous studies have shown that the exoproteome of V. dahliae plays a significant role in this pathogenic process, but the components and mechanisms that underlie this remain unclear. In this study, the exoproteome of V. dahliae was induced in a cotton-containing C’zapek-Dox (CCD) medium and quantified using the high-throughput isobaric tag technique for relative and absolute quantification (iTRAQ). Results showed that the abundance of 271 secreted proteins was affected by the CCD medium, of which 172 contain typical signal peptides generally produced by the Golgi/endoplasmic reticulum (ER). These enhanced abundance proteins were predominantly enriched in carbohydrate hydrolases; 126 were classified as carbohydrate-active (CAZymes) and almost all were significantly up-regulated in the CCD medium. Results showed that CAZymes proteins 30 and 22 participate in pectin and cellulose degradation pathways, corresponding with the transcription levels of several genes encoded plant cell wall degradation enzyme activated significantly during cotton infection. In addition, targeted deletion of two pectin lyase genes (VdPL3.1 and VdPL3.3) impaired wilt virulence to cotton. This study demonstrates that the V. dahliae exoproteome plays a crucial role in the development of symptoms of wilting and necrosis, predominantly via the pathogenic mechanisms of plant cell wall degradation as part of host plant infection.
PMCID: PMC5083787  PMID: 27840627
Verticillium dahliae; exoproteome; CAZymes; plant cell wall degradation enzyme; pectinases
7.  Inhibition of Snail Family Transcriptional Repressor 2 (SNAI2) Enhances Multidrug Resistance of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(10):e0164752.
China accounts for almost half of the total number of liver cancer cases and deaths worldwide, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most primary liver cancer. Snail family transcriptional repressor 2 (SNAI2) is known as an epithelial to mesenchymal transition-inducing transcription factor that drives neoplastic epithelial cells into mesenchymal phenotype. However, the roles of endogenous SNAI2 remain controversial in different types of malignant tumors. Herein, we surprisingly identify that anchorage-independent growth, including the formation of tumor sphere and soft agar colony, is significantly increased when SNAI2 expression is inhibited by shRNAs in HCC cells. Suppression of SNAI2 suffices to up-regulate several cancer stem genes. Although unrelated to the metastatic ability, SNAI2 inhibition does increase the efflux of Hoechst 33342 and enhance multidrug resistance in vitro and in vivo. In agreement with this data, we demonstrate for the first time that decreasing SNAI2 level can transcriptionally upregulate several ATP binding cassette (ABC) transporter genes such as ABCB1. Moreover, ABC transporters’ inhibitor verapamil can rescue the multidrug resistance induced by SNAI2 inhibition. Our results implicate that SNAI2 behaves as a tumor suppressor by inhibiting multidrug resistance via suppressing ABC transporter genes in HCC cells.
PMCID: PMC5070735  PMID: 27760172
8.  Lentiviral-Mediated Overexpression of the 18 kDa Translocator Protein (TSPO) in the Hippocampal Dentate Gyrus Ameliorates LPS-Induced Cognitive Impairment in Mice 
The 18 kDa translocator protein (TSPO) is involved in the immune/inflammatory response. However, the exact role that TSPO plays in neuroinflammation-induced cognitive impairment is still elusive. The purpose of our present study was to investigate the effects of lentiviral-mediated hippocampal overexpression of the TSPO in a mouse model of LPS-induced cognitive impairment. We established a mouse cognitive impairment model using systematic daily administration of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (0.5 mg/kg). Microinjection of the dentate gyrus of the mouse with lentiviral vectors, which contained a cDNA targeting TSPO (Lv-TSPO), resulted in a significant increase in TSPO expression and allopregnanolone production. Mice treated with LPS showed cognitive deficits in the novel object recognition test and the Morris water maze test that could be ameliorated by TSPO overexpression. In addition, TSPO overexpression reversed LPS-induced microglial activation and accumulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α. Moreover, TSPO overexpression attenuated the LPS-induced impairment of hippocampal neurogenesis. Our results suggest that local overexpression of TSPO in the hippocampal dentate gyrus alleviated LPS-induced cognitive deficits, and its effects might be mediated by the attenuation of inflammatory cytokines, inhibition of microglial activation, and promotion of neurogenesis.
PMCID: PMC5068146  PMID: 27803668
neuroinflammation; TSPO; cognitive impairment; allopregnanolone; neurogenesis; hippocampus
9.  Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is highly associated with giant idiopathic esophageal ulcers in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) patients 
Objective: This study aimed to determine whether the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) exists in giant idiopathic esophageal ulcers in the patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Methods: 16 AIDS patients with a primary complaint of epigastric discomfort were examined by gastroscopy. Multiple and giant esophageal ulcers were biopsied and analyzed with pathology staining and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to determine the potential pathogenic microorganisms, including HIV, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and herpes simplex viruses (HSV). Results: HIV was detected in ulcer samples from 12 out of these 16 patients. Ulcers in 2 patients were infected with CMV and ulcers in another 2 patients were found HSV positive. No obvious cancerous pathological changes were found in these multiple giant esophageal ulcer specimens. Conclusion: HIV may be one of the major causative agents of multiple benign giant esophageal ulcers in AIDS patients.
PMCID: PMC5095340  PMID: 27830031
AIDS; esophageal ulcer; HIV; HSV; CMV; endoscopy
10.  Association of Apolipoprotein C3 Genetic Polymorphisms with the Risk of Ischemic Stroke in the Northern Chinese Han Population 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(9):e0163910.
The apolipoprotein C3 (APOC3) gene, which is a member of the APOA1/C3/A4/A5 gene cluster, plays a crucial role in lipid metabolism. Dyslipidemia is an important risk factor for ischemic stroke. In the present study, we performed a hospital-based case—control study of 895 ischemic stroke patients and 883 control subjects to examine the effects of four APOC3 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs2854116, rs2854117, rs4520 and rs5128) on the risk of ischemic stroke in a northern Chinese Han population. The SNaPshot Multiplex sequencing assay was used for SNP genotyping, and the potential association of genotype distributions and allele frequencies with ischemic stroke was analyzed statistically. Compared with the GG genotype, the CC+GC genotype of rs5128 was significantly associated with an increased risk in females (adjusted OR = 3.38, 95% CI = 1.82–6.28, P <0.01) after all of the risk factors were adjusted for with logistic regression analyses. A similar relationship was found between the rs4520 polymorphism and ischemic stroke risk in Han Chinese women. Under a recessive genetic model, the TT+TC genotypes of this variant increased ischemic stroke risk (adjusted OR = 2.05; 95% CI = 1.28–3.29; P <0.01). Haplotype analysis revealed that in males, the T-C-T-C haplotype of rs2854116-rs2854117-rs4520-rs5128 was significantly more frequent in the ischemic stroke group than in the control group (OR = 1.49, 95% CI = 1.18–1.87, P<0.01). The results of our study indicate that the APOC3 polymorphisms contribute to ischemic stroke susceptibility in females in the northern Chinese Han population.
PMCID: PMC5045204  PMID: 27690381
11.  Metabolomics Beyond Spectroscopic Databases: A Combined MS/NMR Strategy for the Rapid Identification of New Metabolites in Complex Mixtures 
Analytical chemistry  2015;87(7):3864-3870.
A novel strategy is introduced that combines high-resolution mass spectrometry (MS) with NMR for the identification of unknown components in complex metabolite mixtures encountered in metabolomics. The approach first identifies the chemical formulas of the mixture components from accurate masses by MS and then generates all feasible structures (structural manifold) that are consistent with these chemical formulas. Next, NMR spectra of each member of the structural manifold are predicted and compared with the experimental NMR spectra in order to identify the molecular structures that match the information obtained from both the MS and NMR techniques. This combined MS/NMR approach was applied to E. coli extract where the approach correctly identified a wide range of different types of metabolites, including amino acids, nucleic acids, polyamines, nucleosides and carbohydrate conjugates. This makes this approach, which is termed SUMMIT MS/NMR, well suited for high-throughput applications for the discovery of new metabolites in biological and biomedical mixtures overcoming the need of experimental MS and NMR metabolite databases.
Graphical Abstract
PMCID: PMC5035699  PMID: 25674812
12.  Characterization of a knock-in mouse model of the homozygous p.V37I variant in Gjb2 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:33279.
The homozygous p.V37I variant in GJB2 is prevalent in East and Southeast Asians and may lead to mild-to-moderate hearing loss with reduced penetrance. To investigate the pathogenic mechanism underlying this variant, we generated a knock-in mouse model of homozygous p.V37I by an embryonic stem cell gene targeting method. Auditory brainstem response test showed that the knock-in mice developed progressive, mild-to-moderate hearing loss over the first 4–9 months. Overall no significant developmental and morphological abnormality was observed in the knock-in mouse cochlea, while confocal immunostaining and electron microscopic scanning revealed minor loss of the outer hair cells. Gene expression microarray analysis identified 105 up-regulated and 43 down-regulated genes in P5 knock-in mouse cochleae (P < 0.05 adjusted by the Benjamini & Hochberg method), among which four top candidate genes with the highest fold-changes or implication to deafness Fcer1g, Nnmt and Lars2 and Cuedc1 were verified by quantitative real-time PCR. Our study demonstrated that the homozygous p.V37I knock-in mouse modeled the hearing phenotype of the human patients and can serve as a useful animal model for further studies. The differentially expressed genes identified in this study may shed new insights into the understanding of the pathogenic mechanism and the phenotypic modification of homozygous p.V37I.
PMCID: PMC5020688  PMID: 27623246
13.  The Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK signaling pathway and its role in the occurrence and development of HCC 
Oncology Letters  2016;12(5):3045-3050.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common tumor worldwide and has a very poor prognosis. Its occurrence has been on the increase in recent years. Surgical resection and liver transplantation are the primary methods of treatment for HCC patients, but can only be applied to 15% of patients. The median survival time of unresectable or metastasizing HCC patients is only a few months. Existing systemic treatment methods are not effective for advanced HCC patients and a new method of treatment is needed for these patients. It has been established that the HCC occurs in multiple stages, however, the pathogenesis at a molecular level is not clear and many key factors are yet to be determined. In the past 30 years, it has become evident that the Ras/Raf/MEK/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway plays a significant role in the occurrence and development of HCC. This review focused on the association between the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK signaling pathway and HCC.
PMCID: PMC5103898  PMID: 27899961
hepatocellular carcinoma; Ras; Raf; MEK; extracellular signal-regulated kinase
14.  125I Seed Permanent Implantation as a Palliative Treatment for Stage III and IV Hypopharyngeal Carcinoma 
The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility and safety of percutaneous 125I seed permanent implantation for advanced hypopharyngeal carcinoma from toxicity, tumor response, and short-term outcome.
125I seeds implant procedures were performed under computed tomography for 34 patients with advanced hypopharyngeal carcinoma. We observed the local control rate, overall survival, and acute or late toxicity rate.
In the 34 patients (stage III, n=6; stage IV, n=28), the sites of origin were pyriform sinus (n=29) and postcricoid area (n=5). All patients also received one to four cycles of chemotherapy after seed implantation. The post-plan showed that the actuarial D90 of 125I seeds ranged from 90 to 158 Gy (median, 127 Gy). The mean follow-up was 12.3 months (range, 3.4 to 43.2 months). The local control was 2.1–31.0 months with a median of 17.7 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 13.4 to 22.0 months). The 1-, 2-, and 3-year local controls were 65.3%, 28.6%, and 9.5% respectively. Twelve patients (35%) died of local recurrence, fourteen patients (41%) died of distant metastases, and three patients (9%) died of recurrence and metastases at the same time. Five patients (15%) still survived to follow-up. At the time of analysis, the median survival time was 12.5 months (95% CI, 9.5 to 15.4 months). The 1-, 2-, and 3-year overall survival rates were 55.2%, 20.3%, and 10.9%, respectively. Five patients (15%) experienced grade 3 toxic events and nine patients (26%) have experienced grade 2 toxic events.
This review shows relatively low toxicity for interstitial 125I seed implantation in the patients with advanced stage hypopharyngeal cancer. The high local control results suggest that 125I seed brachytherapy implant as a salvage or palliative treatment for advanced hypopharyngeal carcinoma merit further investigation.
PMCID: PMC4996106  PMID: 27440132
Hypopharyngeal Neoplasms; Brachytherapy; Palliative Care
15.  Discovery of Novel Bacterial Cell-Penetrating Phylloseptins in Defensive Skin Secretions of the South American Hylid Frogs, Phyllomedusa duellmani and Phyllomedusa coelestis 
Toxins  2016;8(9):255.
Phylloseptin (PS) peptides, derived from South American hylid frogs (subfamily Phyllomedusinae), have been found to have broad-spectrum antimicrobial activities and relatively low haemolytic activities. Although PS peptides have been identified from several well-known and widely-distributed species of the Phyllomedusinae, there remains merit in their study in additional, more obscure and specialised members of this taxon. Here, we report the discovery of two novel PS peptides, named PS-Du and PS-Co, which were respectively identified for the first time and isolated from the skin secretions of Phyllomedusa duellmani and Phyllomedusa coelestis. Their encoding cDNAs were cloned, from which it was possible to deduce the entire primary structures of their biosynthetic precursors. Reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) and tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) analyses were employed to isolate and structurally-characterise respective encoded PS peptides from skin secretions. The peptides had molecular masses of 2049.7 Da (PS-Du) and 1972.8 Da (PS-Co). They shared typical N-terminal sequences and C-terminal amidation with other known phylloseptins. The two peptides exhibited growth inhibitory activity against E. coli (NCTC 10418), as a standard Gram-negative bacterium, S. aureus (NCTC 10788), as a standard Gram-positive bacterium and C. albicans (NCPF 1467), as a standard pathogenic yeast, all as planktonic cultures. Moreover, both peptides demonstrated the capability of eliminating S. aureus biofilm.
PMCID: PMC5037481  PMID: 27589802
amphibian; phylloseptin; antimicrobial; peptide; biofilm; membrane permeability
16.  The Finite Element Analysis for a Mini-Conductance Probe in Horizontal Oil-Water Two-Phase Flow 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2016;16(9):1352.
Oil-water two-phase flow is widespread in petroleum industry processes. The study of oil-water two-phase flow in horizontal pipes and the liquid holdup measurement of oil-water two-phase flow are of great importance for the optimization of the oil production process. This paper presents a novel sensor, i.e., a mini-conductance probe (MCP) for measuring pure-water phase conductivity of oil-water segregated flow in horizontal pipes. The MCP solves the difficult problem of obtaining the pure-water correction for water holdup measurements by using a ring-shaped conductivity water-cut meter (RSCWCM). Firstly, using the finite element method (FEM), the spatial sensitivity field of the MCP is investigated and the optimized MCP geometry structure is determined in terms of the characteristic parameters. Then, the responses of the MCP for the oil-water segregated flow are calculated, and it is found that the MCP has better stability and sensitivity to the variation of water-layer thickness in the condition of high water holdup and low flow velocity. Finally, the static experiments for the oil-water segregated flow were carried out and a novel calibration method for pure-water phase conductivity measurements was presented. The validity of the pure-water phase conductivity measurement with segregated flow in horizontal pipes was verified by experimental results.
PMCID: PMC5038630  PMID: 27563907
horizontal oil-water segregated flow; mini-conductance probe (MCP); finite element method (FEM); sensitivity field; design and geometry optimization; pure-water phase conductivity measurement
17.  TAK1 regulates caspase 8 activation and necroptotic signaling via multiple cell death checkpoints 
Cell Death & Disease  2016;7(9):e2381-.
Necroptosis has emerged as a new form of programmed cell death implicated in a number of pathological conditions such as ischemic injury, neurodegenerative disease, and viral infection. Recent studies indicate that TGFβ-activated kinase 1 (TAK1) is nodal regulator of necroptotic cell death, although the underlying molecular regulatory mechanisms are not well defined. Here we reported that TAK1 regulates necroptotic signaling as well as caspase 8-mediated apoptotic signaling through both NFκB-dependent and -independent mechanisms. Inhibition of TAK1 promoted TNFα-induced cell death through the induction of RIP1 phosphorylation/activation and necrosome formation. Further, inhibition of TAK1 triggered two caspase 8 activation pathways through the induction of RIP1-FADD-caspase 8 complex as well as FLIP cleavage/degradation. Mechanistically, our data uncovered an essential role for the adaptor protein TNF receptor-associated protein with death domain (TRADD) in caspase 8 activation and necrosome formation triggered by TAK1 inhibition. Moreover, ablation of the deubiqutinase CYLD prevented both apoptotic and necroptotic signaling induced by TAK1 inhibition. Finally, blocking the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway prevented the degradation of key pro-survival signaling proteins and necrosome formation. Thus, we identified new regulatory mechanisms underlying the critical role of TAK1 in cell survival through regulation of multiple cell death checkpoints. Targeting key components of the necroptotic pathway (e.g., TRADD and CYLD) and the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway may represent novel therapeutic strategies for pathological conditions driven by necroptosis.
PMCID: PMC5059887  PMID: 27685625
18.  Identification of a stable major-effect QTL (Parth 2.1) controlling parthenocarpy in cucumber and associated candidate gene analysis via whole genome re-sequencing 
BMC Plant Biology  2016;16(1):182.
Parthenocarpy is an important trait for yield and quality in many plants. But due to its complex interactions with genetic and physiological factors, it has not been adequately understood and applied to breeding and production. Finding novel and effective quantitative trait loci (QTLs) is a critical step towards understanding its genetic mechanism. Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) is a typical parthenocarpic plant but the QTLs controlling parthenocarpy in cucumber were not mapped on chromosomes, and the linked markers were neither user-friendly nor confirmed by previous studies. Hence, we conducted a two-season QTL study of parthenocarpy based on the cucumber genome with 145 F2:3 families derived from a cross between EC1 (a parthenocarpic inbred line) and 8419 s-1 (a non-parthenocarpic inbred line) in order to map novel QTLs. Whole genome re-sequencing was also performed both to develop effective linked markers and to predict candidate genes.
A genetic linkage map, employing 133 Simple Sequence Repeats (SSR) markers and nine Insertion/Deletion (InDel) markers spanning 808.1 cM on seven chromosomes, was constructed from an F2 population. Seven novel QTLs were identified on chromosomes 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7. Parthenocarpy 2.1 (Parth2.1), a QTL on chromosome 2, was a major-effect QTL with a logarithm of odds (LOD) score of 9.0 and phenotypic variance explained (PVE) of 17.0 % in the spring season and with a LOD score of 6.2 and PVE of 10.2 % in the fall season. We confirmed this QTL using a residual heterozygous line97-5 (RHL97-5). Effectiveness of linked markers of the Parth2.1 was validated in F3:4 population and in 21 inbred lines. Within this region, there were 57 genes with nonsynonymous SNPs/InDels in the coding sequence. Based on further combined analysis with transcriptome data between two parents, CsARF19, CsWD40, CsEIN1, CsPPR, CsHEXO3, CsMDL, CsDJC77 and CsSMAX1 were predicted as potential candidate genes controlling parthenocarpy.
A major-effect QTL Parth2.1 and six minor-effect QTLs mainly contribute to the genetic architecture of parthenocarpy in cucumber. SSR16226 and Indel-T-39 can be used in marker-assisted selection (MAS) of cucumber breeding. Whole genome re-sequencing enhances the efficiency of polymorphic marker development and prediction of candidate genes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-016-0873-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4995632  PMID: 27553196
Parthenocarpy; Cucumber; QTL; Re-sequencing; Candidate genes
19.  B-cell-specific Moloney murine leukemia virus integration site 1: potential stratification factor and therapeutic target for epithelial ovarian cancer 
OncoTargets and therapy  2016;9:5203-5208.
Epithelial ovarian cancer, a vexing challenge for clinical management, still lacks biomarkers for early diagnosis, precise stratification, and prognostic evaluation of patients. B-cell-specific Moloney murine leukemia virus integration site 1 (BMI1), a member of the polycomb group of proteins, engages in diverse cellular processes, including proliferation, differentiation, senescence, and stem cell renewal. In addition, BMI1, as a cancer stem-cell marker, participates in tumorigenesis through various pathways. Rewardingly, recent studies have also revealed a relationship between BMI1 expression and the clinical grade/stage, therapy response, and survival outcome in a majority of human malignancies, including epithelial ovarian cancer. Therefore, BMI1 might serve as a potential stratification factor and treatment target for epithelial ovarian cancer, pending evidence from further investigations.
PMCID: PMC5001671  PMID: 27578986
B-cell-specific Moloney murine leukemia virus integration site 1 (BMI1); epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC); molecular marker; treatment target; cancer stem-cell; tumor heterogeneity
20.  MtDNA analysis reveals enriched pathogenic mutations in Tibetan highlanders 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:31083.
Tibetan highlanders, including Tibetans, Monpas, Lhobas, Dengs and Sherpas, are considered highly adaptive to severe hypoxic environments. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) might be important in hypoxia adaptation given its role in coding core subunits of oxidative phosphorylation. In this study, we employed 549 complete highlander mtDNA sequences (including 432 random samples) to obtain a comprehensive view of highlander mtDNA profile. In the phylogeny of a total of 36,914 sequences, we identified 21 major haplogroups representing founding events of highlanders, most of which were coalesced in 10 kya. Through founder analysis, we proposed a three-phase model of colonizing the plateau, i.e., pre-LGM Time (30 kya, 4.68%), post-LGM Paleolithic Time (16.8 kya, 29.31%) and Neolithic Time (after 8 kya, 66.01% in total). We observed that pathogenic mutations occurred far more frequently in 22 highlander-specific lineages (five lineages carrying two pathogenic mutations and six carrying one) than in the 6,857 haplogroups of all the 36,914 sequences (P = 4.87 × 10−8). Furthermore, the number of possible pathogenic mutations carried by highlanders (in average 3.18 ± 1.27) were significantly higher than that in controls (2.82 ± 1.40) (P = 1.89 × 10−4). Considering that function-altering and pathogenic mutations are enriched in highlanders, we therefore hypothesize that they may have played a role in hypoxia adaptation.
PMCID: PMC4976311  PMID: 27498855
21.  A practical community-based response strategy to interrupt Ebola transmission in sierra Leone, 2014–2015 
The Ebola virus disease spread rapidly in West Africa in 2014, leading to the loss of thousands of lives. Community engagement was one of the key strategies to interrupt Ebola transmission, and practical community level measures needed to be explored in the field and tailored to the specific context of communities.
First, community-level education on Ebola virus disease (EVD) prevention was launched for the community’s social mobilizers in six districts in Sierra Leone beginning in November 2014. Then, from January to May of 2015, in three pilot communities, local trained community members were organized to engage in implementation of EVD prevention and transmission interruption measures, by involving them in alert case report, contact tracing, and social mobilization. The epidemiological indicators of transmission interruption in three study communities were evaluated.
A total of 6 016 community social mobilizers from 185 wards were trained by holding 279 workshops in the six districts, and EVD message reached an estimated 631 680 residents. In three pilot communities, 72 EVD alert cases were reported, with 70.8 % of them detected by trained local community members, and 14 EVD cases were finally identified. Contact tracing detected 64.3 % of EVD cases. The median duration of community infectivity for the cases was 1 day. The secondary attack rate was 4.2 %, and no third generation of infection was triggered. No health worker was infected, and no unsafe burial and noncompliance to EVD control measures were recorded. The community-based measures were modeled to reduce 77 EVD cases, and the EVD-free goal was achieved four months earlier in study communities than whole country of Sierra Leone.
The community-based strategy of social mobilization and community engagement was effective in case detection and reducing the extent of Ebola transmission in a country with weak health system. The successfully practical experience to reduce the risk of Ebola transmission in the community with poor resources would potentially be helpful for the global community to fight against the EVD and the other diseases in the future.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40249-016-0167-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4974705  PMID: 27491387
Ebola virus disease; Community engagement; Health education; Outbreak control
22.  Association between TLR4 and PTEN Involved in LPS-TLR4 Signaling Response 
BioMed Research International  2016;2016:6083178.
In this study, we explored the potential mechanisms of how PTEN regulating LPS induced TLR4 signaling pathway. The initial findings from ELISA demonstrate that PTEN influences TNF-α secretion by its lipid phosphatase activity. Subsequently, western blot, immunoprecipitation assay, and immunofluorescence were performed to explore the activation process of PTEN by stimulation with LPS. As early as 20 minutes after LPS stimulation, reduced phosphorylation of PTEN was found obviously. Accordingly, the whole cell-scattered PTEN translocated towards the cell membrane 20 minutes after stimulating with LPS. Moreover, the weak physical association between PTEN and TLR4 in resting RAW264.7 cells increased gradually after the stimulation of LPS. Furthermore, our study showed PTEN decreased LPS-induced Akt activity and upregulated NF-κB-dependent gene transcription, identifying indirectly that the PTEN could regulate the activation of NF-κB by its downstream Akt kinase. In summary, our study illustrates the potential signal transduction process of PTEN while stimulated by LPS: by increasing the association of TLR4, PTEN recruits to its phosphoinositide substrate PI(3,4,5)P3 located on the cell membrane and exerts its dephosphorylated function and subsequently depresses the activity of downstream molecule Akt and results in activation of NF-κB, followed by the secretion of inflammatory mediators TNF-α.
PMCID: PMC4985570  PMID: 27563672
23.  Characterization of the Sweet Taste Receptor Tas1r2 from an Old World Monkey Species Rhesus Monkey and Species-Dependent Activation of the Monomeric Receptor by an Intense Sweetener Perillartine 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(8):e0160079.
Sweet state is a basic physiological sensation of humans and other mammals which is mediated by the broadly acting sweet taste receptor-the heterodimer of Tas1r2 (taste receptor type 1 member 2) and Tas1r3 (taste receptor type 1 member 3). Various sweeteners interact with either Tas1r2 or Tas1r3 and then activate the receptor. In this study, we cloned, expressed and functionally characterized the taste receptor Tas1r2 from a species of Old World monkeys, the rhesus monkey. Paired with the human TAS1R3, it was shown that the rhesus monkey Tas1r2 could respond to natural sugars, amino acids and their derivates. Furthermore, similar to human TAS1R2, rhesus monkey Tas1r2 could respond to artificial sweeteners and sweet-tasting proteins. However, the responses induced by rhesus monkey Tas1r2 could not be inhibited by the sweet inhibitor amiloride. Moreover, we found a species-dependent activation of the Tas1r2 monomeric receptors of human, rhesus monkey and squirrel monkey but not mouse by an intense sweetener perillartine. Molecular modeling and sequence analysis indicate that the receptor has the conserved domains and ligand-specific interactive residues, which have been identified in the characterized sweet taste receptors up to now. This is the first report of the functional characterization of sweet taste receptors from an Old World monkey species.
PMCID: PMC4968786  PMID: 27479072
24.  SPAG9 is overexpressed in osteosarcoma, and regulates cell proliferation and invasion through regulation of JunD 
Oncology Letters  2016;12(4):2674-2679.
Sperm-associated antigen 9 (SPAG9) is a recently characterized oncoprotein that is considered to be involved in several forms of malignant tumor. However, its biological function and expression pattern in human osteosarcoma have not yet been elucidated. In the present study, SPAG9 expression was analyzed in 58 cases of human osteosarcoma by immunohistochemistry. The results demonstrated that SPAG9 was overexpressed in 63.8% (37/58) of osteosarcoma tissues, while normal bone tissues exhibited negative SPAG9 expression. SPAG9 small interfering RNA was employed in the U2OS cell line, which has high endogenous expression, and SPAG9 transfection was performed in the MG63 cell line, which has low endogenous expression. MTT and Matrigel invasion assays demonstrated that SPAG-9-knockdown significantly reduced U2OS cell invasion and proliferation, while SPAG9 transfection enhanced MG63 cell proliferation and invasion. Furthermore, it was observed that SPAG9 positively regulated cyclin D1, phosphorylated-c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) and JunD expression. Treatment with the JNK inhibitor, SP600125, abolished the upregulatory effect of SPAG9 on JunD. Taken together, the present study identified SPAG9 as a critical oncoprotein involved in osteosarcoma proliferation and invasion, possibly functioning through JNK-JunD signaling.
PMCID: PMC5038829  PMID: 27698841
SPAG9; osteosarcoma; proliferation; invasion; JunD
25.  Real-time HER2 status detected on circulating tumor cells predicts different outcomes of anti-HER2 therapy in histologically HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer patients 
BMC Cancer  2016;16:526.
This study was initiated to investigate the difference in HER2 status between tumor tissue and circulating tumor cells (CTCs), as well as the predictive value of CTC HER2 status for predicting the outcomes of anti-HER2 therapy in histologically HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients.
HER2 expression on CTCs was detected using a CellSearch system within 7 days before a new line of anti-HER2 therapy was begun. According to the criterion proposed in our previous report, patients were defined as CTC HER2-positive or -negative. After close follow-up, the correlation between CTC HER2 status and the outcome of the treatment was evaluated by statistical analysis.
CTCs were detected in 57.4 % (58/101) of the patients. Notably, 62.1 % (36/58) of these patients had an inconsistent HER2 status between their tissue and CTCs. The discordant rate may correlate with the time interval between histological and CTC HER2 testing and is more likely to occur in the subgroup of patients with an interval of > 1 year than in those with an interval < 1 year (70.7 % vs. 41.2 %, P = 0.043). For PFS, positive HER2 status on CTCs was shown to be a valuable predictor, both in univariate (HR = 0.321, 95%CI, 0.156–0.62, P = 0.0011) and multivariate (HR = 0.383, 95%CI, 0.166–0.831, P = 0.019) Cox regression analysis. Meanwhile, Kaplan-Meier survival curves revealed that the median PFS of CTC HER2-positive patients was significantly longer than CTC HER2-negative ones (8.5 vs. 3.5 months, P < 0.001).
HER2 status on CTCs was different from that of tumor tissues and predicted a different outcome of the patients’ anti-HER2 therapy. This difference may be correlated with the time interval between tissue and CTC HER2 testing, indicating the necessity of real-time HER2 analysis for histologically HER2-positive MBC patients.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12885-016-2578-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4960713  PMID: 27456503
Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs); Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 (HER2); Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC); Anti-HER2 therapy; Real-time HER2 status

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