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1.  Chloromethane release from carbonaceous meteorite affords new insight into Mars lander findings 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:7010.
Controversy continues as to whether chloromethane (CH3Cl) detected during pyrolysis of Martian soils by the Viking and Curiosity Mars landers is indicative of organic matter indigenous to Mars. Here we demonstrate CH3Cl release (up to 8 μg/g) during low temperature (150–400°C) pyrolysis of the carbonaceous chondrite Murchison with chloride or perchlorate as chlorine source and confirm unequivocally by stable isotope analysis the extraterrestrial origin of the methyl group (δ2H +800 to +1100‰, δ13C −19.2 to +10‰,). In the terrestrial environment CH3Cl released during pyrolysis of organic matter derives from the methoxyl pool. The methoxyl pool in Murchison is consistent both in magnitude (0.044%) and isotope signature (δ2H +1054 ± 626‰, δ13C +43.2 ± 38.8‰,) with that of the CH3Cl released on pyrolysis. Thus CH3Cl emissions recorded by Mars lander experiments may be attributed to methoxyl groups in undegraded organic matter in meteoritic debris reaching the Martian surface being converted to CH3Cl with perchlorate or chloride in Martian soil. However we cannot discount emissions arising additionally from organic matter of indigenous origin. The stable isotope signatures of CH3Cl detected on Mars could potentially be utilized to determine its origin by distinguishing between terrestrial contamination, meteoritic infall and indigenous Martian sources.
PMCID: PMC4230006  PMID: 25394222
2.  Construction of Reference Chromosome-Scale Pseudomolecules for Potato: Integrating the Potato Genome with Genetic and Physical Maps 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2013;3(11):2031-2047.
The genome of potato, a major global food crop, was recently sequenced. The work presented here details the integration of the potato reference genome (DM) with a new sequence-tagged site marker−based linkage map and other physical and genetic maps of potato and the closely related species tomato. Primary anchoring of the DM genome assembly was accomplished by the use of a diploid segregating population, which was genotyped with several types of molecular genetic markers to construct a new ~936 cM linkage map comprising 2469 marker loci. In silico anchoring approaches used genetic and physical maps from the diploid potato genotype RH89-039-16 (RH) and tomato. This combined approach has allowed 951 superscaffolds to be ordered into pseudomolecules corresponding to the 12 potato chromosomes. These pseudomolecules represent 674 Mb (~93%) of the 723 Mb genome assembly and 37,482 (~96%) of the 39,031 predicted genes. The superscaffold order and orientation within the pseudomolecules are closely collinear with independently constructed high density linkage maps. Comparisons between marker distribution and physical location reveal regions of greater and lesser recombination, as well as regions exhibiting significant segregation distortion. The work presented here has led to a greatly improved ordering of the potato reference genome superscaffolds into chromosomal “pseudomolecules”.
PMCID: PMC3815063  PMID: 24062527
Solanaceae; genome anchoring; scaffold orientation; sequence-tagged sites; pseudomolecules; potato; genetic map; physical map
3.  Comparative Genomics Reveals Insight into Virulence Strategies of Plant Pathogenic Oomycetes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75072.
The kingdom Stramenopile includes diatoms, brown algae, and oomycetes. Plant pathogenic oomycetes, including Phytophthora, Pythium and downy mildew species, cause devastating diseases on a wide range of host species and have a significant impact on agriculture. Here, we report comparative analyses on the genomes of thirteen straminipilous species, including eleven plant pathogenic oomycetes, to explore common features linked to their pathogenic lifestyle. We report the sequencing, assembly, and annotation of six Pythium genomes and comparison with other stramenopiles including photosynthetic diatoms, and other plant pathogenic oomycetes such as Phytophthora species, Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis, and Pythium ultimum var. ultimum. Novel features of the oomycete genomes include an expansion of genes encoding secreted effectors and plant cell wall degrading enzymes in Phytophthora species and an over-representation of genes involved in proteolytic degradation and signal transduction in Pythium species. A complete lack of classical RxLR effectors was observed in the seven surveyed Pythium genomes along with an overall reduction of pathogenesis-related gene families in H. arabidopsidis. Comparative analyses revealed fewer genes encoding enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism in Pythium species and H. arabidopsidis as compared to Phytophthora species, suggesting variation in virulence mechanisms within plant pathogenic oomycete species. Shared features between the oomycetes and diatoms revealed common mechanisms of intracellular signaling and transportation. Our analyses demonstrate the value of comparative genome analyses for exploring the evolution of pathogenesis and survival mechanisms in the oomycetes. The comparative analyses of seven Pythium species with the closely related oomycetes, Phytophthora species and H. arabidopsidis, and distantly related diatoms provide insight into genes that underlie virulence.
PMCID: PMC3790786  PMID: 24124466
4.  Carbohydrate-Active Enzymes in Pythium and Their Role in Plant Cell Wall and Storage Polysaccharide Degradation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e72572.
Carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes) are involved in the metabolism of glycoconjugates, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides and, in the case of plant pathogens, in the degradation of the host cell wall and storage compounds. We performed an in silico analysis of CAZymes predicted from the genomes of seven Pythium species (Py. aphanidermatum, Py. arrhenomanes, Py. irregulare, Py. iwayamai, Py. ultimum var. ultimum, Py. ultimum var. sporangiiferum and Py. vexans) using the “CAZymes Analysis Toolkit” and “Database for Automated Carbohydrate-active Enzyme Annotation” and compared them to previously published oomycete genomes. Growth of Pythium spp. was assessed in a minimal medium containing selected carbon sources that are usually present in plants. The in silico analyses, coupled with our in vitro growth assays, suggest that most of the predicted CAZymes are involved in the metabolism of the oomycete cell wall with starch and sucrose serving as the main carbohydrate sources for growth of these plant pathogens. The genomes of Pythium spp. also encode pectinases and cellulases that facilitate degradation of the plant cell wall and are important in hyphal penetration; however, the species examined in this study lack the requisite genes for the complete saccharification of these carbohydrates for use as a carbon source. Genes encoding for xylan, xyloglucan, (galacto)(gluco)mannan and cutin degradation were absent or infrequent in Pythium spp.. Comparative analyses of predicted CAZymes in oomycetes indicated distinct evolutionary histories. Furthermore, CAZyme gene families among Pythium spp. were not uniformly distributed in the genomes, suggesting independent gene loss events, reflective of the polyphyletic relationships among some of the species.
PMCID: PMC3772060  PMID: 24069150
5.  Is Exposure to an Effective Contingency Management Intervention Associated with More Positive Provider Beliefs? 
This study empirically examined opinions of treatment providers regarding Contingency Management (CM) programs while controlling for experience with a specific efficacious CM program. In addition to empirically describing provider opinions, we examined whether the opinions of providers at the sites that implemented the CM program were more positive than those of matched providers at sites that did not implement it. Participants from 7 CM treatment sites (n = 76) and 7 matched non-participating sites (n = 69) within the same nodes of NIDA's Clinical Trials Network completed the Provider Survey of Incentives (PSI), which assesses positive and negative beliefs about incentive programs. An intent-to-treat analysis found no differences in the PSI summary scores of providers in CM program vs. matched sites, but correcting for experience with tangible incentives showed significant differences, with providers from CM sites reporting more positive opinions than those from matched sites. Some differences were found in opinions regarding costs of incentives and these generally indicated that participants from CM sites were more likely to see the costs as worthwhile. The results from the study suggest that exposing community treatment providers to incentive programs may itself be an effective strategy in prompting the dissemination of CM interventions.
PMCID: PMC3319812  PMID: 22116009
Contingency Management; Treatment Dissemination; Translational Research; Cocaine Dependence; Methamphetamine Use Disorders
6.  Soluble CD163, a Product of Monocyte/Macrophage Activation, Is Inversely Associated with Haemoglobin Levels in Placental Malaria 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64127.
In Plasmodium falciparum malaria, activation of monocytes and macrophages (monocytes/macrophages) can result in the production of various inflammatory mediators that contribute to immunopathology. Soluble CD163 (sCD163) is a specific marker of monocyte/macrophage activation typically found at increased levels during various inflammatory conditions and can be associated with poor clinical outcomes. To better understand the relationships between levels of sCD163 and clinical parameters in women with placental malaria, we measured plasma sCD163 levels in maternal peripheral and placental blood compartments at delivery and determined their correlations with birth weight and maternal haemoglobin concentrations. sCD163 levels were negatively correlated with birth weight only in the placental compartment (r = −0.145, p = 0.03) and were inversely correlated with maternal haemoglobin concentrations, both in peripheral blood (r = −0.238, p = 0.0004) and in placental blood (r = −0.259, p = 0.0001). These inverse relationships suggest a potential role for monocyte/macrophage activation in the pathogenesis of malaria in pregnancy, particularly in relation to malaria-associated anaemia.
PMCID: PMC3661483  PMID: 23717548
7.  Primary outcome indices in illicit drug dependence treatment research: systematic approach to selection and measurement of drug use end-points in clinical trials 
Addiction (Abingdon, England)  2011;107(4):694-708.
Clinical trials test the safety and efficacy of behavioral and pharmacological interventions in drug-dependent individuals. However, there is no consensus about the most appropriate outcome(s) to consider in determining treatment efficacy or on the most appropriate methods for assessing selected outcome(s). We summarize the discussion and recommendations of treatment and research experts, convened by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, to select appropriate primary outcomes for drug dependence treatment clinical trials, and in particular the feasibility of selecting a common outcome to be included in all or most trials.
A brief history of outcomes employed in prior drug dependence treatment research, incorporating perspectives from tobacco and alcohol research, is included. The relative merits and limitations of focusing on drug-taking behavior, as measured by self-report and qualitative or quantitative biological markers, are evaluated.
Drug-taking behavior, measured ideally by a combination of self-report and biological indicators, is seen as the most appropriate proximal primary outcome in drug dependence treatment clinical trials.
We conclude that the most appropriate outcome will vary as a function of salient variables inherent in the clinical trial, such as the type of intervention, its target, treatment goals (e.g. abstinence or reduction of use) and the perspective being taken (e.g. researcher, clinical program, patient, society). It is recommended that a decision process, based on such trial variables, be developed to guide the selection of primary and secondary outcomes as well as the methods to assess them.
PMCID: PMC3537825  PMID: 21781202
Clinical trials; drug dependence; end-points; primary outcome; self-report; toxicology; treatment research
8.  Development of Transcriptomic Resources for Interrogating the Biosynthesis of Monoterpene Indole Alkaloids in Medicinal Plant Species 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52506.
The natural diversity of plant metabolism has long been a source for human medicines. One group of plant-derived compounds, the monoterpene indole alkaloids (MIAs), includes well-documented therapeutic agents used in the treatment of cancer (vinblastine, vincristine, camptothecin), hypertension (reserpine, ajmalicine), malaria (quinine), and as analgesics (7-hydroxymitragynine). Our understanding of the biochemical pathways that synthesize these commercially relevant compounds is incomplete due in part to a lack of molecular, genetic, and genomic resources for the identification of the genes involved in these specialized metabolic pathways. To address these limitations, we generated large-scale transcriptome sequence and expression profiles for three species of Asterids that produce medicinally important MIAs: Camptotheca acuminata, Catharanthus roseus, and Rauvolfia serpentina. Using next generation sequencing technology, we sampled the transcriptomes of these species across a diverse set of developmental tissues, and in the case of C. roseus, in cultured cells and roots following elicitor treatment. Through an iterative assembly process, we generated robust transcriptome assemblies for all three species with a substantial number of the assembled transcripts being full or near-full length. The majority of transcripts had a related sequence in either UniRef100, the Arabidopsis thaliana predicted proteome, or the Pfam protein domain database; however, we also identified transcripts that lacked similarity with entries in either database and thereby lack a known function. Representation of known genes within the MIA biosynthetic pathway was robust. As a diverse set of tissues and treatments were surveyed, expression abundances of transcripts in the three species could be estimated to reveal transcripts associated with development and response to elicitor treatment. Together, these transcriptomes and expression abundance matrices provide a rich resource for understanding plant specialized metabolism, and promotes realization of innovative production systems for plant-derived pharmaceuticals.
PMCID: PMC3530497  PMID: 23300689
9.  Identifying and Aligning Expectations in a Mentoring Relationship 
The mentoring relationship between a scholar and their primary mentor is a core feature of research training. Anecdotal evidence suggests this relationship is adversely affected when scholar and mentor expectations are not aligned. We examined three questions: (1) What is the value in assuring that the expectations of scholars and mentors are mutually identified and aligned? (2) What types of programmatic interventions facilitate this process? (3) What types of expectations are important to identify and align? We addressed these questions through a systematic literature review, focus group interviews of mentors and scholars, a survey of Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) KL2 program directors, and review of formal programmatic mechanisms used by KL2 programs. We found broad support for the importance of identifying and aligning the expectations of scholars and mentors and evidence that mentoring contracts, agreements, and training programs facilitate this process. These tools focus on aligning expectations with respect to the scholar’s research, education, professional development and career advancement as well as support, communication, and personal conduct and interpersonal relations. Research is needed to assess test the efficacy of formal alignment activities.
PMCID: PMC3476480  PMID: 22212226
mentors; mentoring; career development; faculty development; staff development
10.  Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor is a key mediator in experimental osteoarthritis pain and disease development 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(5):R199.
Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) has been shown to be important in the development of inflammatory models of rheumatoid arthritis and there is encouraging data that its blockade may have clinical relevance in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The aims of the current study were to determine whether GM-CSF may also be important for disease and pain development in a model of osteoarthritis.
The role of GM-CSF was investigated using the collagenase-induced instability model of osteoarthritis. We studied both GM-CSF-/- mice and wild-type (C57BL/6) mice treated prophylactically or therapeutically with a monoclonal antibody to GM-CSF. Disease development (both early and late) was evaluated by histology and knee pain development was measured by assessment of weight distribution.
In the absence of GM-CSF, there was less synovitis and matrix metalloproteinase-mediated neoepitope expression at week 2 post disease induction, and less cartilage damage at week 6. GM-CSF was absolutely required for pain development. Therapeutic neutralization of GM-CSF not only abolished the pain within 3 days but also led to significantly reduced cartilage damage.
GM-CSF is key to the development of experimental osteoarthritis and its associated pain. Importantly, GM-CSF neutralization by a therapeutic monoclonal antibody-based protocol rapidly and completely abolished existing arthritic pain and suppressed the degree of arthritis development. Our results suggest that it would be worth exploring the importance of GM-CSF for pain and disease in other osteoarthritis models and perhaps clinically for this form of arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3580511  PMID: 22995428
11.  Hypoxia Enhances the Proliferative Response of Macrophages to CSF-1 and Their Pro-Survival Response to TNF 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45853.
In chronic inflammatory lesions there are increased numbers of macrophages with a possible contribution of enhanced survival/proliferation due, for example, to cytokine action; such lesions are often hypoxic. Prior studies have found that culture in low oxygen can promote monocyte/macrophage survival. We show here, using pharmacologic inhibitors, that the hypoxia-induced pro-survival response of macrophages exhibits a dependence on PI3-kinase and mTOR activities but surprisingly is suppressed by Akt and p38 MAPK activities. It was also found that in hypoxia at CSF-1 concentrations, which under normoxic conditions are suboptimal for macrophage proliferation, macrophages can proliferate more strongly with no evidence for alteration in CSF-1 receptor degradation kinetics. TNF promoted macrophage survival in normoxic conditions with an additive effect in hypoxia. The enhanced hypoxia-dependent survival and/or proliferation of macrophages in the presence of CSF-1 or TNF may contribute to their elevated numbers at a site of chronic inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3446916  PMID: 23029275
12.  Development of a Large SNP Genotyping Array and Generation of High-Density Genetic Maps in Tomato 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40563.
The concurrent development of high-throughput genotyping platforms and next generation sequencing (NGS) has increased the number and density of genetic markers, the efficiency of constructing detailed linkage maps, and our ability to overlay recombination and physical maps of the genome. We developed an array for tomato with 8,784 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) mainly discovered based on NGS-derived transcriptome sequences. Of the SNPs, 7,720 (88%) passed manufacturing quality control and could be scored in tomato germplasm. The array was used to generate high-density linkage maps for three interspecific F2 populations: EXPEN 2000 (Solanum lycopersicum LA0925 x S. pennellii LA0716, 79 individuals), EXPEN 2012 (S. lycopersicum Moneymaker x S. pennellii LA0716, 160 individuals), and EXPIM 2012 (S. lycopersicum Moneymaker x S. pimpinellifolium LA0121, 183 individuals). The EXPEN 2000-SNP and EXPEN 2012 maps consisted of 3,503 and 3,687 markers representing 1,076 and 1,229 unique map positions (genetic bins), respectively. The EXPEN 2000-SNP map had an average marker bin interval of 1.6 cM, while the EXPEN 2012 map had an average bin interval of 0.9 cM. The EXPIM 2012 map was constructed with 4,491 markers (1,358 bins) and an average bin interval of 0.8 cM. All three linkage maps revealed an uneven distribution of markers across the genome. The dense EXPEN 2012 and EXPIM 2012 maps showed high levels of colinearity across all 12 chromosomes, and also revealed evidence of small inversions between LA0716 and LA0121. Physical positions of 7,666 SNPs were identified relative to the tomato genome sequence. The genetic and physical positions were mostly consistent. Exceptions were observed for chromosomes 3, 10 and 12. Comparing genetic positions relative to physical positions revealed that genomic regions with high recombination rates were consistent with the known distribution of euchromatin across the 12 chromosomes, while very low recombination rates were observed in the heterochromatic regions.
PMCID: PMC3393668  PMID: 22802968
13.  Early Cardiac Allograft Vasculopathy: Are the Viruses to Blame? 
Case Reports in Medicine  2012;2012:734074.
This paper describes a case of early (7 months after transplant) cardiac allograft vasculopathy. This-43-year-old (CMV positive, EBV negative) female patient underwent an orthotopic heart transplant with a (CMV negative, EBV positive) donor heart. She had a history of herpes zoster infection and postherpetic neuralgia in the past. The patient's panel reactive antibodies had been almost undetectable on routine surveillance testing, and her surveillance endomyocardial biopsies apart from a few episodes of mild-to-moderate acute cellular rejection (treated adequately with steroids) never showed any evidence of humoral rejection. The postoperative course was complicated by multiple admissions for upper respiratory symptoms, and the patient tested positive for entero, rhino, and coronaviruses serologies. During her last admission (seven months postoperatively) the patient developed mild left ventricular dysfunction with an ejection fraction of 40%. The patient's endomyocardial biopsy done at that time revealed concentric intimal proliferation and inflammation resulting in near-total luminal occlusion in the epicardial and the intramyocardial coronary vessels, suggestive of graft vasculopathy with no evidence of rejection, and the patient had a fatal ventricular arrhythmia.
PMCID: PMC3369528  PMID: 22701124
14.  Integration of Two Diploid Potato Linkage Maps with the Potato Genome Sequence 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e36347.
To facilitate genome-guided breeding in potato, we developed an 8303 Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) marker array using potato genome and transcriptome resources. To validate the Infinium 8303 Potato Array, we developed linkage maps from two diploid populations (DRH and D84) and compared these maps with the assembled potato genome sequence. Both populations used the doubled monoploid reference genotype DM1-3 516 R44 as the female parent but had different heterozygous diploid male parents (RH89-039-16 and 84SD22). Over 4,400 markers were mapped (1,960 in DRH and 2,454 in D84, 787 in common) resulting in map sizes of 965 (DRH) and 792 (D84) cM, covering 87% (DRH) and 88% (D84) of genome sequence length. Of the mapped markers, 33.5% were in candidate genes selected for the array, 4.5% were markers from existing genetic maps, and 61% were selected based on distribution across the genome. Markers with distorted segregation ratios occurred in blocks in both linkage maps, accounting for 4% (DRH) and 9% (D84) of mapped markers. Markers with distorted segregation ratios were unique to each population with blocks on chromosomes 9 and 12 in DRH and 3, 4, 6 and 8 in D84. Chromosome assignment of markers based on linkage mapping differed from sequence alignment with the Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium (PGSC) pseudomolecules for 1% of the mapped markers with some disconcordant markers attributable to paralogs. In total, 126 (DRH) and 226 (D84) mapped markers were not anchored to the pseudomolecules and provide new scaffold anchoring data to improve the potato genome assembly. The high degree of concordance between the linkage maps and the pseudomolecules demonstrates both the quality of the potato genome sequence and the functionality of the Infinium 8303 Potato Array. The broad genome coverage of the Infinium 8303 Potato Array compared to other marker sets will enable numerous downstream applications.
PMCID: PMC3338666  PMID: 22558443
15.  mRNA-Seq Analysis of the Pseudoperonospora cubensis Transcriptome During Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) Infection 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35796.
Pseudoperonospora cubensis, an oomycete, is the causal agent of cucurbit downy mildew, and is responsible for significant losses on cucurbit crops worldwide. While other oomycete plant pathogens have been extensively studied at the molecular level, Ps. cubensis and the molecular basis of its interaction with cucurbit hosts has not been well examined. Here, we present the first large-scale global gene expression analysis of Ps. cubensis infection of a susceptible Cucumis sativus cultivar, ‘Vlaspik’, and identification of genes with putative roles in infection, growth, and pathogenicity. Using high throughput whole transcriptome sequencing, we captured differential expression of 2383 Ps. cubensis genes in sporangia and at 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 days post-inoculation (dpi). Additionally, comparison of Ps. cubensis expression profiles with expression profiles from an infection time course of the oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans on Solanum tuberosum revealed similarities in expression patterns of 1,576–6,806 orthologous genes suggesting a substantial degree of overlap in molecular events in virulence between the biotrophic Ps. cubensis and the hemi-biotrophic P. infestans. Co-expression analyses identified distinct modules of Ps. cubensis genes that were representative of early, intermediate, and late infection stages. Collectively, these expression data have advanced our understanding of key molecular and genetic events in the virulence of Ps. cubensis and thus, provides a foundation for identifying mechanism(s) by which to engineer or effect resistance in the host.
PMCID: PMC3335787  PMID: 22545137
16.  Expression Profiling of Cucumis sativus in Response to Infection by Pseudoperonospora cubensis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34954.
The oomycete pathogen, Pseudoperonospora cubensis, is the causal agent of downy mildew on cucurbits, and at present, no effective resistance to this pathogen is available in cultivated cucumber (Cucumis sativus). To better understand the host response to a virulent pathogen, we performed expression profiling throughout a time course of a compatible interaction using whole transcriptome sequencing. As described herein, we were able to detect the expression of 15,286 cucumber genes, of which 14,476 were expressed throughout the infection process from 1 day post-inoculation (dpi) to 8 dpi. A large number of genes, 1,612 to 3,286, were differentially expressed in pair-wise comparisons between time points. We observed the rapid induction of key defense related genes, including catalases, chitinases, lipoxygenases, peroxidases, and protease inhibitors within 1 dpi, suggesting detection of the pathogen by the host. Co-expression network analyses revealed transcriptional networks with distinct patterns of expression including down-regulation at 2 dpi of known defense response genes suggesting coordinated suppression of host responses by the pathogen. Comparative analyses of cucumber gene expression patterns with that of orthologous Arabidopsis thaliana genes following challenge with Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis revealed correlated expression patterns of single copy orthologs suggesting that these two dicot hosts have similar transcriptional responses to related pathogens. In total, the work described herein presents an in-depth analysis of the interplay between host susceptibility and pathogen virulence in an agriculturally important pathosystem.
PMCID: PMC3335828  PMID: 22545095
17.  Alternative Splicing of a Multi-Drug Transporter from Pseudoperonospora cubensis Generates an RXLR Effector Protein That Elicits a Rapid Cell Death 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34701.
Pseudoperonospora cubensis, an obligate oomycete pathogen, is the causal agent of cucurbit downy mildew, a foliar disease of global economic importance. Similar to other oomycete plant pathogens, Ps. cubensis has a suite of RXLR and RXLR-like effector proteins, which likely function as virulence or avirulence determinants during the course of host infection. Using in silico analyses, we identified 271 candidate effector proteins within the Ps. cubensis genome with variable RXLR motifs. In extending this analysis, we present the functional characterization of one Ps. cubensis effector protein, RXLR protein 1 (PscRXLR1), and its closest Phytophthora infestans ortholog, PITG_17484, a member of the Drug/Metabolite Transporter (DMT) superfamily. To assess if such effector-non-effector pairs are common among oomycete plant pathogens, we examined the relationship(s) among putative ortholog pairs in Ps. cubensis and P. infestans. Of 271 predicted Ps. cubensis effector proteins, only 109 (41%) had a putative ortholog in P. infestans and evolutionary rate analysis of these orthologs shows that they are evolving significantly faster than most other genes. We found that PscRXLR1 was up-regulated during the early stages of infection of plants, and, moreover, that heterologous expression of PscRXLR1 in Nicotiana benthamiana elicits a rapid necrosis. More interestingly, we also demonstrate that PscRXLR1 arises as a product of alternative splicing, making this the first example of an alternative splicing event in plant pathogenic oomycetes transforming a non-effector gene to a functional effector protein. Taken together, these data suggest a role for PscRXLR1 in pathogenicity, and, in total, our data provide a basis for comparative analysis of candidate effector proteins and their non-effector orthologs as a means of understanding function and evolutionary history of pathogen effectors.
PMCID: PMC3320632  PMID: 22496844
18.  Low-Dose Rituximab Therapy for Antibody-Mediated Rejection in a Highly Sensitized Heart-Transplant Recipient 
Texas Heart Institute Journal  2012;39(6):901-905.
Antibody-mediated rejection is the B-cell–mediated production of immunoglobulin G antibody against the transplanted heart. The currently available therapies for antibody-mediated rejection have had marginal success, and chronic manifestations of rejection can result in an increased risk of graft vasculopathy and perhaps require repeat transplantation. Rituximab, a monoclonal antibody directed against the CD20 receptor of B-lymphocytes and approved as therapy for lymphoma, can be used in heart-transplant patients for the management of antibody-mediated rejection.
We present the case of a 52-year-old woman with high allosensitization (pre-transplantation panel reactive antibody level, 72%) who underwent successful orthotopic heart transplantation. Postoperatively, her acute antibody-mediated rejection with concomitant cellular rejection was successfully treated with low-dose rituximab. The patient died 5 months later because of multiple other medical problems. The present case suggests a role for low-dose rituximab as therapy for antibody-mediated rejection in heart-transplant patients.
PMCID: PMC3528252  PMID: 23304051
Antibodies, monoclonal/therapeutic use; antigens, CD20/immunology; B-lymphocytes/immunology; graft rejection/drug therapy; heart transplantation/pathology; HLA antigens/immunology; immunity, humoral/physiology/therapy; immunoglobulins, intravenous/metabolism; plasmapheresis; rituximab; time factors
19.  The Comprehensive Phytopathogen Genomics Resource: a web-based resource for data-mining plant pathogen genomes 
The Comprehensive Phytopathogen Genomics Resource (CPGR) provides a web-based portal for plant pathologists and diagnosticians to view the genome and trancriptome sequence status of 806 bacterial, fungal, oomycete, nematode, viral and viroid plant pathogens. Tools are available to search and analyze annotated genome sequences of 74 bacterial, fungal and oomycete pathogens. Oomycete and fungal genomes are obtained directly from GenBank, whereas bacterial genome sequences are downloaded from the A Systematic Annotation Package (ASAP) database that provides curation of genomes using comparative approaches. Curated lists of bacterial genes relevant to pathogenicity and avirulence are also provided. The Plant Pathogen Transcript Assemblies Database provides annotated assemblies of the transcribed regions of 82 eukaryotic genomes from publicly available single pass Expressed Sequence Tags. Data-mining tools are provided along with tools to create candidate diagnostic markers, an emerging use for genomic sequence data in plant pathology. The Plant Pathogen Ribosomal DNA (rDNA) database is a resource for pathogens that lack genome or transcriptome data sets and contains 131 755 rDNA sequences from GenBank for 17 613 species identified as plant pathogens and related genera.
Database URL:
PMCID: PMC3225079  PMID: 22120664
20.  Single nucleotide polymorphism discovery in elite north american potato germplasm 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:302.
Current breeding approaches in potato rely almost entirely on phenotypic evaluations; molecular markers, with the exception of a few linked to disease resistance traits, are not widely used. Large-scale sequence datasets generated primarily through Sanger Expressed Sequence Tag projects are available from a limited number of potato cultivars and access to next generation sequencing technologies permits rapid generation of sequence data for additional cultivars. When coupled with the advent of high throughput genotyping methods, an opportunity now exists for potato breeders to incorporate considerably more genotypic data into their decision-making.
To identify a large number of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in elite potato germplasm, we sequenced normalized cDNA prepared from three commercial potato cultivars: 'Atlantic', 'Premier Russet' and 'Snowden'. For each cultivar, we generated 2 Gb of sequence which was assembled into a representative transcriptome of ~28-29 Mb for each cultivar. Using the Maq SNP filter that filters read depth, density, and quality, 575,340 SNPs were identified within these three cultivars. In parallel, 2,358 SNPs were identified within existing Sanger sequences for three additional cultivars, 'Bintje', 'Kennebec', and 'Shepody'. Using a stringent set of filters in conjunction with the potato reference genome, we identified 69,011 high confidence SNPs from these six cultivars for use in genotyping with the Infinium platform. Ninety-six of these SNPs were used with a BeadXpress assay to assess allelic diversity in a germplasm panel of 248 lines; 82 of the SNPs proved sufficiently informative for subsequent analyses. Within diverse North American germplasm, the chip processing market class was most distinct, clearly separated from all other market classes. The round white and russet market classes both include fresh market and processing cultivars. Nevertheless, the russet and round white market classes are more distant from each other than processing are from fresh market types within these two groups.
The genotype data generated in this study, albeit limited in number, has revealed distinct relationships among the market classes of potato. The SNPs identified in this study will enable high-throughput genotyping of germplasm and populations, which in turn will enable more efficient marker-assisted breeding efforts in potato.
PMCID: PMC3128068  PMID: 21658273
21.  Macrophage Activation and Differentiation Signals Regulate Schlafen-4 Gene Expression: Evidence for Schlafen-4 as a Modulator of Myelopoiesis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e15723.
The ten mouse and six human members of the Schlafen (Slfn) gene family all contain an AAA domain. Little is known of their function, but previous studies suggest roles in immune cell development. In this report, we assessed Slfn regulation and function in macrophages, which are key cellular regulators of innate immunity.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Multiple members of the Slfn family were up-regulated in mouse bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMM) by the Toll-like Receptor (TLR)4 agonist lipopolysaccharide (LPS), the TLR3 agonist Poly(I∶C), and in disease-affected joints in the collagen-induced model of rheumatoid arthritis. Of these, the most inducible was Slfn4. TLR agonists that signal exclusively through the MyD88 adaptor protein had more modest effects on Slfn4 mRNA levels, thus implicating MyD88-independent signalling and autocrine interferon (IFN)-β in inducible expression. This was supported by the substantial reduction in basal and LPS-induced Slfn4 mRNA expression in IFNAR-1−/− BMM. LPS causes growth arrest in macrophages, and other Slfn family genes have been implicated in growth control. Slfn4 mRNA levels were repressed during macrophage colony-stimulating factor (CSF-1)-mediated differentiation of bone marrow progenitors into BMM. To determine the role of Slfn4 in vivo, we over-expressed the gene specifically in macrophages in mice using a csf1r promoter-driven binary expression system. Transgenic over-expression of Slfn4 in myeloid cells did not alter macrophage colony formation or proliferation in vitro. Monocyte numbers, as well as inflammatory macrophages recruited to the peritoneal cavity, were reduced in transgenic mice that specifically over-expressed Slfn4, while macrophage numbers and hematopoietic activity were increased in the livers and spleens.
Slfn4 mRNA levels were up-regulated during macrophage activation but down-regulated during differentiation. Constitutive Slfn4 expression in the myeloid lineage in vivo perturbs myelopoiesis. We hypothesise that the down-regulation of Slfn4 gene expression during macrophage differentiation is a necessary step in development of this lineage.
PMCID: PMC3017543  PMID: 21249125
22.  Urokinase-type plasminogen activator and arthritis progression: contrasting roles in systemic and monoarticular arthritis models 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(5):R199.
Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (u-PA) has been implicated in tissue destruction/remodeling. The absence of u-PA results in resistance of mice to systemic immune complex-driven arthritis models; monoarticular arthritis models involving an intra-articular (i.a.) antigen injection, on the other hand, develop more severe arthritis in its absence. The aims of the current study are to investigate further these contrasting roles that u-PA can play in the pathogenesis of inflammatory arthritis and to determine whether u-PA is required for the cartilage and bone destruction associated with disease progression.
To determine how the different pathogenic mechanisms leading to arthritis development in the different models may explain the contrasting requirement for u-PA, the systemic, polyarticular, immune complex-driven K/BxN arthritis model was modified to include an i.a. injection of saline as a local trauma in u-PA-/- mice. This modified model and the antigen-induced arthritis (AIA) model were also used in u-PA-/- mice to determine the requirement for u-PA in joint destruction. Disease severity was determined by clinical and histologic scoring. Fibrin(ogen) staining and the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-generated neoepitope DIPEN staining were performed by immunohistochemistry. Gene expression of inflammatory and destructive mediators was measured in joint tissue by quantitative PCR.
In our modified arthritis model, u-PA-/- mice went from being resistant to arthritis development following K/BxN serum transfer to being susceptible following the addition of an i.a. injection of saline. u-PA-/- mice also developed more sustained AIA compared with C57BL/6 mice, including reduced proteoglycan levels and increased bone erosions, fibrin(ogen) deposition and DIPEN expression. Synovial gene expression of the proinflammatory mediators (TNF and IL-1β), aggrecanases (ADAMTS-4 and -5) and MMPs (MMP3 and MMP13) were all sustained over time following AIA induction in u-PA-/- mice compared with C57BL/6 mice.
We propose that u-PA has a protective role in arthritis models with 'wound healing-like' processes following local trauma, possibly through u-PA/plasmin-mediated fibrinolysis, but a deleterious role in systemic models that are critically dependent on immune complex formation and complement activation. Given that cartilage proteoglycan loss and bone erosions were present and sustained in u-PA-/- mice with monoarticular arthritis, it is unlikely that u-PA/plasmin-mediated proteolysis is contributing directly to this tissue destruction/remodeling.
PMCID: PMC2991036  PMID: 20973954
23.  Genome sequence of the necrotrophic plant pathogen Pythium ultimum reveals original pathogenicity mechanisms and effector repertoire 
Genome Biology  2010;11(7):R73.
Pythium ultimum is a ubiquitous oomycete plant pathogen responsible for a variety of diseases on a broad range of crop and ornamental species.
The P. ultimum genome (42.8 Mb) encodes 15,290 genes and has extensive sequence similarity and synteny with related Phytophthora species, including the potato blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans. Whole transcriptome sequencing revealed expression of 86% of genes, with detectable differential expression of suites of genes under abiotic stress and in the presence of a host. The predicted proteome includes a large repertoire of proteins involved in plant pathogen interactions, although, surprisingly, the P. ultimum genome does not encode any classical RXLR effectors and relatively few Crinkler genes in comparison to related phytopathogenic oomycetes. A lower number of enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism were present compared to Phytophthora species, with the notable absence of cutinases, suggesting a significant difference in virulence mechanisms between P. ultimum and more host-specific oomycete species. Although we observed a high degree of orthology with Phytophthora genomes, there were novel features of the P. ultimum proteome, including an expansion of genes involved in proteolysis and genes unique to Pythium. We identified a small gene family of cadherins, proteins involved in cell adhesion, the first report of these in a genome outside the metazoans.
Access to the P. ultimum genome has revealed not only core pathogenic mechanisms within the oomycetes but also lineage-specific genes associated with the alternative virulence and lifestyles found within the pythiaceous lineages compared to the Peronosporaceae.
PMCID: PMC2926784  PMID: 20626842
24.  Extracellular ATP 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2009;4(11):1078-1080.
Living organisms acquire or synthesize high energy molecules, which they frugally conserve and use to meet their cellular metabolic demands. Therefore, it is surprising that ATP, the most accessible and commonly utilized chemical energy carrier, is actively secreted to the extracellular matrix of cells. It is now becoming clear that in plants this extracellular ATP (eATP) is not wasted, but harnessed at the cell surface to signal across the plasma membrane of the secreting cell and neighboring cells to cxontrol gene expression and influence plant development. Identification of the gene/protein networks regulated by eATP-mediated signaling should provide insight into the physiological roles of eATP in plants. By disrupting eATP-mediated signaling, we have identified pathogen defense genes as part of the eATP-regulated gene circuitry, leading us to the discovery that eATP is a negative regulator of pathogen defense in plants.1 Previously, we reported that eATP is a key signal molecule that modulates programmed cell death in plants.2 A complex picture is now emerging, in which eATP-mediated signaling cross-talks with signaling mediated by the major plant defense hormone, salicylic acid, in the regulation of pathogen defense and cell death.
PMCID: PMC2819519  PMID: 20009563
extracellular ATP; pathogen defense; cell death; salicylic acid; tobacco
25.  Urokinase-type plasminogen activator and arthritis progression: role in systemic disease with immune complex involvement 
Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (u-PA) has been implicated in fibrinolysis, cell migration, latent cytokine activation, cell activation, T-cell activation, and tissue remodeling, all of which are involved in the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Previously, u-PA has been reported to play a protective role in monoarticular arthritis models involving mBSA as the antigen, but a deleterious role in the systemic polyarticular collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) model. The aim of the current study is to determine how u-PA might be acting in systemic arthritis models.
The CIA model and bone marrow chimeras were used to determine the cellular source of u-PA required for the arthritis development. Gene expression of inflammatory and destructive mediators was measured in joint tissue by quantitiative PCR and protein levels by ELISA. The requirement for u-PA in the type II collagen mAb-induced arthritis (CAIA) and K/BxN serum transfer arthritis models was determined using u-PA-/- mice. Neutrophilia was induced in the peritoneal cavity using either ovalbumin/anti-ovalbumin or the complement component C5a.
u-PA from a bone marrow-derived cell was required for the full development of CIA. The disease in u-PA-/- mice reconstituted with bone marrrow from C57BL/6 mice was indistinguishable from that in C57BL/6 mice, in terms of clincal score, histologic features, and protein and gene expression of key mediators. u-PA-/- mice were resistant to both CAIA and K/BxN serum transfer arthritis development. u-PA-/- mice developed a reduced neutrophilia and chemokine production in the peritoneal cavity following ovalbumin/anti-ovalbumin injection; in contrast, the peritoneal neutrophilia in response to C5a was u-PA independent.
u-PA is required for the full development of systemic arthritis models involving immune complex formation and deposition. The cellular source of u-PA required for CIA is bone marrow derived and likely to be of myeloid origin. For immune complex-mediated peritonitis, and perhaps some other inflammatory responses, it is suggested that the u-PA involvement may be upstream of C5a signaling.
PMCID: PMC2888184  PMID: 20196869

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