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1.  Family-based association study of ZNF533, DOCK4 and IMMP2L gene polymorphisms linked to autism in a northeastern Chinese Han population*  
Objective: A study in a Caucasian population has identified two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in ZNF533, one in DOCK4, and two in IMMP2L, which were all significantly associated with autism. They are located in AUTS1 and AUTS5, which have been identified as autism susceptibility loci in several genome-wide screens. The present study aimed to investigate whether ZNF533, DOCK4, and IMMP2L genes are also associated with autism in a northeastern Chinese Han population. Methods: We performed a similar association study using families with three individuals (one autistic child and two unaffected parents). A family-based transmission disequilibrium test (TDT) was used to analyze the results. Results: There were significant associations between autism and the two SNPs of ZNF533 gene (rs11885327: χ 2=4.5200, P=0.0335; rs1964081: χ 2=4.2610, P=0.0390) and the SNP of DOCK4 gene (rs2217262: χ 2=5.3430, P=0.0208). Conclusions: Our data suggest that ZNF533 and DOCK4 genes are linked to a predisposition to autism in the northeastern Chinese Han population.
PMCID: PMC3955913  PMID: 24599690
Autism; ZNF533; DOCK4; IMMP2L; Northeastern Chinese Han population; Single-nucleotide polymorphism
2.  GmFT4, a Homolog of FLOWERING LOCUS T, Is Positively Regulated by E1 and Functions as a Flowering Repressor in Soybean 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89030.
The major maturity gene E1 has the most prominent effect on flowering time and photoperiod sensitivity of soybean, but the pathway mediated by E1 is largely unknown. Here, we found the expression of GmFT4, a homolog of Flowering Locus T, was strongly up-regulated in transgenic soybean overexpressing E1, whereas expression of flowering activators, GmFT2a and GmFT5a, was suppressed. GmFT4 expression was strongly up-regulated by long days exhibiting a diurnal rhythm, but down-regulated by short days. Notably, the basal expression level of GmFT4 was elevated when transferred to continous light, whereas repressed when transferred to continuous dark. GmFT4 was primarily expressed in fully expanded leaves. Transcript abundance of GmFT4 was significantly correlated with that of functional E1, as well as flowering time phenotype in different cultivars. Overexpression of GmFT4 delayed the flowering time in transgenic Arabidopsis. Taken together, we propose that GmFT4 acts downstream of E1 and functions as a flowering repressor, and the balance of two antagonistic factors (GmFT4 vs GmFT2a/5a) determines the flowering time of soybean.
PMCID: PMC3929636  PMID: 24586488
3.  The Effect of Multiple Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in the Folic Acid Pathway Genes on Homocysteine Metabolism 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:560183.
Objective. To investigate the joint effects of the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of genes in the folic acid pathway on homocysteine (Hcy) metabolism. Methods. Four hundred women with normal pregnancies were enrolled in this study. SNPs were identified by MassARRAY. Serum folic acid and Hcy concentration were measured. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and support vector machine (SVM) regressions were used to analyze the joint effects of SNPs on the Hcy level. Results. SNPs of MTHFR (rs1801133 and rs3733965) were significantly associated with maternal serum Hcy level. In the different genotypes of MTHFR (rs1801133), SNPs of RFC1 (rs1051266), TCN2 (rs9606756), BHMT (rs3733890), and CBS (rs234713 and rs2851391) were linked with the Hcy level adjusted for folic acid concentration. The integrated SNPs scores were significantly associated with the residual Hcy concentration (RHC) (r = 0.247). The Hcy level was significantly higher in the group with high SNP scores than that in other groups with SNP scores of less than 0.2 (P = 0.000). Moreover, this difference was even more significant in moderate and high levels of folic acid. Conclusion. SNPs of genes in the folic acid pathway possibly affect the Hcy metabolism in the presence of moderate and high levels of folic acid.
PMCID: PMC3913508  PMID: 24524080
4.  Expression and Function of the Homeostatic Molecule Del-1 in Endothelial Cells and the Periodontal Tissue 
Developmental endothelial locus-1 (Del-1) is an endothelial cell-secreted protein that limits the recruitment of neutrophils by antagonizing the interaction between the LFA-1 integrin on neutrophils and the intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 on endothelial cells. Mice with genetic or age-associated Del-1 deficiency exhibit increased neutrophil infiltration in the periodontium resulting in inflammatory bone loss. Here we investigated additional novel mechanisms whereby Del-1 could interfere with neutrophil recruitment and inflammation. Treatment of human endothelial cells with Del-1 did not affect the expression of endothelial molecules involved in the leukocyte adhesion cascade (ICAM-1, VCAM-1, and E-selectin). Moreover, genetic or age-associated Del-1 deficiency did not significantly alter the expression of these adhesion molecules in the murine periodontium, further ruling out altered adhesion molecule expression as a mechanism whereby Del-1 regulates leukocyte recruitment. Strikingly, Del-1 inhibited ICAM-1-dependent chemokine release (CXCL2, CCL3) by neutrophils. Therefore, Del-1 could potentially suppress the amplification of inflammatory cell recruitment mediated through chemokine release by infiltrating neutrophils. Interestingly, Del-1 was itself regulated by inflammatory stimuli, which generally exerted opposite effects on adhesion molecule expression. The reciprocal regulation between Del-1 and inflammation may contribute to optimally balance the protective and the potentially harmful effects of inflammatory cell recruitment.
PMCID: PMC3876683  PMID: 24416060
5.  Structure–activity correlations of variant forms of the B pentamer of Escherichia coli type II heat-labile enterotoxin LT-IIb with Toll-like receptor 2 binding 
Structural data for the S74D variant of the pentameric B subunit of type II heat-labile enterotoxin of Escherichia coli reveal a smaller pore opening that may explain its reduced Toll-like receptor binding affinity compared to that of the wild type enterotoxin. The explanation for the enhanced Toll-like receptor binding affinity of the S74A variant is more complex than simply being attributed to the pore opening.
The pentameric B subunit of the type II heat-labile enterotoxin of Escherichia coli (LT-IIb-B5) is a potent signaling molecule capable of modulating innate immune responses. It has previously been shown that LT-IIb-B5, but not the LT-IIb-­B5 Ser74Asp variant [LT-IIb-B5(S74D)], activates Toll-like receptor (TLR2) signaling in macrophages. Consistent with this, the LT-IIb-B5(S74D) variant failed to bind TLR2, in contrast to LT-IIb-B5 and the LT-IIb-B5 Thr13Ile [LT-IIb-B5(T13I)] and LT-IIb-B5 Ser74Ala [LT-IIb-B5(S74A)] variants, which displayed the highest binding activity to TLR2. Crystal structures of the Ser74Asp, Ser74Ala and Thr13Ile variants of LT-­IIb-B5 have been determined to 1.90, 1.40 and 1.90 Å resolution, respectively. The structural data for the Ser74Asp variant reveal that the carboxylate side chain points into the pore, thereby reducing the pore size compared with that of the wild-type or the Ser74Ala variant B pentamer. On the basis of these crystallographic data, the reduced TLR2-binding affinity of the LT-IIb-B5(S74D) variant may be the result of the pore of the pentamer being closed. On the other hand, the explanation for the enhanced TLR2-binding activity of the LT-IIb-B5(S74A) variant is more complex as its activity is greater than that of the wild-type B pentamer, which also has an open pore as the Ser74 side chain points away from the pore opening. Data for the LT-IIb-B5(T13I) variant show that four of the five variant side chains point to the outside surface of the pentamer and one residue points inside. These data are consistent with the lack of binding of the LT-IIb-B5(T13I) variant to GD1a ganglioside.
PMCID: PMC3498930  PMID: 23151625
type II heat-labile enterotoxin; LT-IIb; pentameric B subunit; Toll-like receptor signaling
6.  TRPM2 links oxidative stress to the NLRP3 inflammasome activation 
Nature communications  2013;4:1611.
Exposure to particulate crystals can induce oxidative stress in phagocytes, which triggers NLRP3 inflammasome-mediated interleukin 1β (IL-1β) secretion to initiate undesirable inflammatory responses that are associated with both autoinflammatory and metabolic diseases. Although mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) play a central role in NLRP3 inflammasome activation, how ROS signal assembly of the NLRP3 inflammasome remains elusive. Here, we identify liposomes as novel activators of NLRP3 inflammasome and further demonstrate that liposome-induced inflammasome activation also requires mitochondrial ROS. Moreover, we found that stimulation with liposomes/crystals induced ROS-dependent calcium influx via the TRPM2 channel and that macrophages deficient in TRPM2 displayed drastically impaired NLRP3 inflammasome activation and IL-1β secretion. Consistently, Trpm2−/− mice were resistant to crystal-/liposome-induced IL-1β-mediated peritonitis in vivo. Together, these results identify TRPM2 as a key player that links oxidative stress to the NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Therefore, targeting TRPM2 may be effective for the treatment of NLRP3 inflamamsome-associated inflammatory disorders.
PMCID: PMC3605705  PMID: 23511475
7.  Soluble Form of Canine Transferrin Receptor Inhibits Canine Parvovirus Infection In Vitro and In Vivo 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:172479.
Canine parvovirus (CPV) disease is an acute, highly infectious disease threatening the dog-raising industry. So far there are no effective therapeutic strategies to control this disease. Although the canine transferrin receptor (TfR) was identified as a receptor for CPV infection, whether extracellular domain of TfR (called soluble TfR (sTfR)) possesses anti-CPV activities remains elusive. Here, we used the recombinant sTfR prepared from HEK293T cells with codon-optimized gene structure to investigate its anti-CPV activity both in vitro and in vivo. Our results indicated that codon optimization could significantly improve sTfR expression in HEK293T cells. The prepared recombinant sTfR possessed a binding activity to both CPV and CPV VP2 capsid proteins and significantly inhibited CPV infection of cultured feline F81 cells and decreased the mortality of CPV-infected dogs, which indicates that the sTfR has the anti-CPV activity both in vitro and in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3780538  PMID: 24089666
8.  Polyethyleneimine Mediated DNA Transfection in Schistosome Parasites and Regulation of the WNT Signaling Pathway by a Dominant-Negative SmMef2 
Schistosomiasis is a serious global problem and the second most devastating parasitic disease following malaria. Parasitic worms of the genus Schistosoma are the causative agents of schistosomiasis and infect more than 240 million people worldwide. The paucity of molecular tools to manipulate schistosome gene expression has made an understanding of genetic pathways in these parasites difficult, increasing the challenge of identifying new potential drugs for treatment. Here, we describe the use of a formulation of polyethyleneimine (PEI) as an alternative to electroporation for the efficacious transfection of genetic material into schistosome parasites. We show efficient expression of genes from a heterologous CMV promoter and from the schistosome Sm23 promoter. Using the schistosome myocyte enhancer factor 2 (SmMef2), a transcriptional activator critical for myogenesis and other developmental pathways, we describe the development of a dominant-negative form of the schistosome Mef2. Using this mutant, we provide evidence that SmMef2 may regulate genes in the WNT pathway. We also show that SmMef2 regulates its own expression levels. These data demonstrate the use of PEI to facilitate effective transfection of nucleic acids into schistosomes, aiding in the study of schistosome gene expression and regulation, and development of genetic tools for the characterization of molecular pathways in these parasites.
Author Summary
Schistosomiasis is a global disease infecting more than 240 million people worldwide and is ranked second only to malaria in global health importance. The causative agents of human schistosomiasis are parasitic worms that ingest red blood cells and can live for decades producing hundreds of eggs daily. There is one primary drug for treatment of schistosomiasis, but its use for over 30 years has raised concern over the development of drug resistance and thus created a need for new drugs. A challenge to the rational development of effective antischistosomals has been the difficulty in manipulating schistosome gene expression, and thus a limitation in our understanding of schistosome gene function. Here, we present a new and straightforward method for inserting genes into schistosomes and expressing them. In addition, to our knowledge we provide the first example of dominant negative gene expression to modify transcriptional regulation using a molecular genetics approach to study this globally important parasite.
PMCID: PMC3723562  PMID: 23936566
9.  Two-Dimensional β-MnO2 Nanowire Network with Enhanced Electrochemical Capacitance 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:2193.
Conventional crystalline β-MnO2 usually exhibits poor electrochemical activities due to the narrow tunnels in its rutile-type structure. In this study, we synthesized a novel 2D β-MnO2 network with long-range order assembled by β-MnO2 nanowires and demonstrated that the novel 2D β-MnO2 network exhibits enhanced electrochemical performances. The 2D network is interwoven by crossed uniform β-MnO2 nanowires and the angle between the adjacent nanowires is about 60°. Such a novel structure makes efficient contact of β-MnO2 with electrolyte during the electrochemical process, decreases the polarization of the electrode and thus increases the discharge capacity and high-rate capability. The specific capacitance of the obtained 2D β-MnO2 network is 453.0 F/g at a current density of 0.5 A/g.
PMCID: PMC3709167  PMID: 23846740
10.  Identifying Parameters to Distinguish Non-Diabetic Renal Diseases from Diabetic Nephropathy in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64184.
Renal injuries in patients with diabetes include diabetic nephropathy (DN) and non-diabetic renal diseases (NDRD). The value of a clinical diagnosis of DN and NDRD remains inconclusive. We conducted a meta-analysis of the literature to identify predictive factors of NDRD and to compare the clinical characteristics of DN and NDRD for differential diagnosis.
We searched PubMed (1990 to January 2012), Embase (1990 to February 2009), and CNKI (1990 to January 2012) to identify studies that enrolled patients with DN and NDRD. Then, the quality of the studies was assessed, and data were extracted. The results were summarized as odds ratios (ORs) for dichotomous outcomes and weighted mean differences (WMDs) for continuous outcomes.
Twenty-six relevant studies with 2,322 patients were included. The meta-analysis showed that the absence of diabetic retinopathy (DR) predicts NDRD (OR, 0.15; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.09–0.26, p<0.00001). A shorter duration of diabetes mellitus (DM) also predicted NDRD (weighted mean difference, −34.67; 95% CI, −45.23–−24.11, p<0.00001). The levels of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1C%), blood pressure (BP), and total cholesterol were lower in patients with NDRD, whereas triglycerides and body mass index were higher. Other clinical parameters, including age, 24-h urinary protein excretion, serum creatinine, creatinine clearance, blood urea nitrogen, and glomerular filtration rate were not different between patients with NDRD and DN.
We identified that the absence of DR, shorter duration of DM, lower HbA1C, and lower BP may help to distinguish NDRD from DN in patients with diabetes. This could assist clinicians in making a safe and sound diagnosis and lead to more effective treatments.
PMCID: PMC3653878  PMID: 23691167
11.  Pathogenic microbes and community service through manipulation of innate immunity 
The periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis undermines major components of innate immunity, such as complement, Toll-like receptors (TLR), and their crosstalk pathways. At least in principle, these subversive activities could promote the adaptive fitness of the entire periodontal biofilm community. In this regard, the virulence factors responsible for complement and TLR exploitation (gingipain enzymes, atypical lipopolysaccharide molecules, and fimbriae) are released as components of readily diffusible membrane vesicles, which can thus become available to other biofilm organisms. This review summarizes important immune subversive tactics of P. gingivalis which might enable it to exert a supportive impact on the oral microbial community.
PMCID: PMC3214273  PMID: 21948363
12.  A Low-Abundance Biofilm Species Orchestrates Inflammatory Periodontal Disease through the Commensal Microbiota and the Complement Pathway 
Cell host & microbe  2011;10(5):497-506.
Porphyromonas gingivalis is a low-abundance oral anaerobic bacterium implicated in periodontitis, a polymicrobial inflammatory disease, and the associated systemic conditions. However, the mechanism by which P. gingivalis contributes to inflammation and disease has remained elusive. Here we show that P. gingivalis, at very low colonization levels, triggers changes to the amount and composition of the oral commensal microbiota leading to inflammatory periodontal bone loss. The commensal microbiota and the complement pathway were both required for P. gingivalis-induced bone loss as germ-free mice or conventionally raised C3a and C5a receptor deficient mice did not develop bone loss after inoculation with P. gingivalis. These findings demonstrate that a single, low-abundance species can disrupt host-microbial homeostasis to cause inflammatory disease. The identification and targeting of similar low-abundance pathogens with community-wide impact may be important for treating inflammatory diseases of polymicrobial etiology.
PMCID: PMC3221781  PMID: 22036469
13.  The leukocyte integrin antagonist Del-1 inhibits IL-17–mediated inflammatory bone loss 
Nature immunology  2012;13(5):465-473.
Aging is linked to increased susceptibility to chronic inflammatory diseases several of which, including periodontitis, involve neutrophil-mediated tissue injury. Here, we found that aging-associated periodontitis was accompanied by diminished expression of Del-1 (EDIL3), an endogenous inhibitor of LFA-1 integrin-dependent neutrophil adhesion, and by a reciprocal increase in IL-17 expression. Consistently, IL-17 inhibited gingival endothelial cell expression of Del-1, thereby promoting LFA-1-dependent neutrophil recruitment. Young Del-1-deficient mice developed spontaneous periodontitis featuring excessive neutrophil infiltration and IL-17 expression; disease was prevented in Del-1–LFA-1 and Del-1–IL-17 receptor double-deficient mice. Locally administered Del-1 inhibited IL-17 production, neutrophil accumulation, and bone loss. Therefore, Del-1 suppresses LFA-1-dependent neutrophil recruitment and IL-17-triggered inflammatory pathology and may thus be a promising therapeutic for inflammatory diseases.
PMCID: PMC3330141  PMID: 22447028
14.  Multimodality Approaches to Treat Hypoxic Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) Microenvironment 
Genes & Cancer  2012;3(2):141-151.
We found both in vitro and in vivo that survival of NSCLC cells in a hypoxic microenvironment requires Notch-1 signaling. A hypoxic tumor environment represents a problem for NSCLC treatment because it plays a critical role in cancer resistance to chemotherapy, tumor recurrence, and metastasis. Here we targeted hypoxic tumor tissue in an orthotopic NSCLC model. We inhibited the Notch-1/IGF-1R/Akt-1 axis using 3 agents: a γ-secretase inhibitor or GSI (MRK-003), a fully humanized antibody against the human IGF-1R (MK-0646), and a pan-Akt inhibitor (MK-2206), alone or in various combinations including therapeutics currently in clinical use. All treatments but Akt inhibition significantly prolonged the median survival of mice compared with controls. GSI treatment caused specific cell death of hypoxic tumors. Tumors excised from mice displayed a significant reduction of markers of hypoxia. Moreover, GSI treatment caused reduced metastasis to the liver and brain. MK-0646 was not specific to a hypoxic tumor environment but substantially increased the median survival of treated mice compared with controls. NSCLC cells evaded MK-0646 treatment by specifically overactivating EGF-R both in vivo and in 5 cell lines in vitro. This phenomenon is achieved at the level of protein stability. MK-0646 treatment caused increased erlotinib sensitivity in NSCLC cells poorly responsive to it. Sequential treatment with MK-0646 followed by erlotinib prolonged median survival of mice significantly. When the 2 drugs were administered simultaneously, no survival benefit was observed, and this combination therapy proved less effective than MK-0646 used as single agent. Our data offer novel information that may provide insights for the planning of clinical trials in humans, likely for maintenance therapy of NSCLC patients.
PMCID: PMC3463922  PMID: 23050046
notch signaling; insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor signaling; tumor hypoxia
15.  The C5a receptor impairs IL-12–dependent clearance of Porphyromonas gingivalis and is required for induction of periodontal bone loss1 
The C5a anaphylatoxin receptor (C5aR; CD88) is activated as part of the complement cascade and exerts important inflammatory, antimicrobial and regulatory functions, at least in part, via crosstalk with TLRs. However, the periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis can control C5aR activation by generating C5a through its own C5 convertase-like enzymatic activity. Here we show that P. gingivalis uses this mechanism to proactively and selectively inhibit TLR2-induced IL-12p70, whereas the same pathogen-instigated C5aR-TLR2 crosstalk upregulates other inflammatory and bone-resorptive cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α). In vivo, the ability of P. gingivalis to manipulate TLR2 activation via the C5a-C5aR axis allowed it to escape IL-12p70-dependent immune clearance and to cause inflammatory bone loss in a murine model of experimental periodontitis. In the latter regard, C5aR-deficient or TLR2-deficient mice were both resistant to periodontal bone loss, in stark contrast to wild-type controls, which is consistent with the interdependent interactions of C5aR and TLR2 in P. gingivalis immune evasion and induction of bone-resorptive cytokines. In conclusion, P. gingivalis targets C5aR to promote its adaptive fitness and cause periodontal disease. Given the current availability of safe and effective C5aR antagonists, pharmacological blockade of C5aR could act therapeutically in human periodontitis and reduce associated systemic risks.
PMCID: PMC3075594  PMID: 21149611
rodent (models); bacterial (infections); monocytes/macrophages; complement; inflammation
16.  Long-circulating delivery of bioactive polysaccharide from radix ophiopogonis by PEGylation 
Radix ophiopogonis polysaccharide (ROP) has been found to be effective against myocardial ischemia. One of main problems with its use is its short in-vivo half-life, which makes the development of an effective delivery system necessary. To achieve better therapeutic effects and patient compliance by prolonging its retention in plasma and increasing its distribution in targets, ROP was PEGylated (PEG, polyethylene glycol) in this study.
Through a moderate coupling reaction between hydroxyl-activated ROP and amino-terminated methoxy-PEG (mPEG) (30 or 40 kDa), together with a greater than 1 molar ratio of ROP to mPEG in reaction, long-circulating and potentially bioactive PEGylated ROPs, with PEG grafting number of ~1.0, were prepared, characterized, and the pharmacokinetics evaluated.
Relative to ROP, whose half-life was approximately 0.7 hours, the two conjugates prepared, following intravenous administration, showed markedly prolonged retention in systemic circulation with half-lives in blood of 78.4 and 88.3 hours, respectively. When given subcutaneously, their in-vivo mean residence times were further markedly prolonged by the slow absorption phase. They were found to be well absorbed after subcutaneous administration, with absolute bioavailability being 75.4% and 43.9%, respectively.
With apparent molecular masses not exceeding 43 kDa, the conjugates prepared have been and will be demonstrated to have prominent advantages for ROP delivery, such as: the good absorption following subcutaneous, intramuscular, or other ways of administration; the effective utilization of the enhanced permeability and retention effect caused by ischemia; and the rapid diffusion within target tissues.
PMCID: PMC3224713  PMID: 22131832
radix ophiopogonis polysaccharide; polyethylene glycol; conjugation; pharmacokinetics
17.  Periodontal inflammation and bone loss in aged mice 
Journal of periodontal research  2010;45(4):574-578.
Background and objective
Young mice do not develop measurable periodontal bone loss, unless heavily infected with human periodontal pathogens. However, mice with genetically altered immune system are unable to control their own oral flora and develop periodontitis early in life. Based on the potential of the indigenous oral microbiota to cause periodontitis, we hypothesized that normal mice may ultimately develop inflammatory periodontal bone loss, i.e., as a function of age. If confirmed, this could serve as an aging model of chronic periodontitis.
Materials and methods
Periodontal bone levels were measured as the distance from the cementoenamel junction (CEJ) to the alveolar bone crest (ABC), in young (8-10 weeks of age), old (≥ 18 months of age), and mice of intermediate ages. Differential expression of inflammatory mediators in the gingivae of young and old mice was determined by quantitative real-time PCR.
In comparison to young mice, old mice displayed significantly (p < 0.05) increased periodontal bone loss, accompanied by elevated expression of proinflammatory cytokines (interleukin-1β, tumor necrosis factor-α, and interleukin-17A) and innate immune receptors involved in the induction or amplification of inflammation (Toll-like receptor 2, CD14, CD11b, CD18, complement C5a receptor, and triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells-3).
Mice develop naturally-induced periodontal bone loss as a function of age. This aging model of periodontitis represents a genuinely chronic model to study mechanisms of periodontal tissue destruction.
PMCID: PMC2894296  PMID: 20337897
Animal model; Alveolar bone; Chronic periodontitis; Inflammation; Innate immunology
18.  Genetic Loci Associated with Plasma Phospholipid n-3 Fatty Acids: A Meta-Analysis of Genome-Wide Association Studies from the CHARGE Consortium 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(7):e1002193.
Long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) can derive from diet or from α-linolenic acid (ALA) by elongation and desaturation. We investigated the association of common genetic variation with plasma phospholipid levels of the four major n-3 PUFAs by performing genome-wide association studies in five population-based cohorts comprising 8,866 subjects of European ancestry. Minor alleles of SNPs in FADS1 and FADS2 (desaturases) were associated with higher levels of ALA (p = 3×10−64) and lower levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, p = 5×10−58) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA, p = 4×10−154). Minor alleles of SNPs in ELOVL2 (elongase) were associated with higher EPA (p = 2×10−12) and DPA (p = 1×10−43) and lower docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, p = 1×10−15). In addition to genes in the n-3 pathway, we identified a novel association of DPA with several SNPs in GCKR (glucokinase regulator, p = 1×10−8). We observed a weaker association between ALA and EPA among carriers of the minor allele of a representative SNP in FADS2 (rs1535), suggesting a lower rate of ALA-to-EPA conversion in these subjects. In samples of African, Chinese, and Hispanic ancestry, associations of n-3 PUFAs were similar with a representative SNP in FADS1 but less consistent with a representative SNP in ELOVL2. Our findings show that common variation in n-3 metabolic pathway genes and in GCKR influences plasma phospholipid levels of n-3 PUFAs in populations of European ancestry and, for FADS1, in other ancestries.
Author Summary
Circulating long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) derive from fatty fish or from the conversion of the plant n-3 PUFA by elongation and desaturation. We looked for common genetic markers throughout the genome that might influence plasma phospholipid levels of the four major n-3 PUFAs in five large studies and pooled the results. We found that levels of all four n-3 PUFAs were associated with genetic markers in known desaturation and elongation genes. We also found evidence that conversion of the plant n-3 PUFA to longer chain n-3 PUFAs is less effective in people with certain desaturation-gene markers, which could be important for people who do not eat fish. We also found a marker in a gene involved in glucose metabolism, called the glucokinase regulator, to be associated with one intermediate n-3 PUFA. Some of these findings were seen across multiple race/ethnicities. Overall, these results have implications for how genes and the environment interact to influence circulating levels of fatty acids.
PMCID: PMC3145614  PMID: 21829377
19.  Enhanced antigen uptake by dendritic cells induced by the B pentamer of the type II heat-labile enterotoxin LT-IIa requires engagement of TLR2 
Vaccine  2010;28(21):3696-3705.
The potent mucosal adjuvant properties of the type II heat-labile enterotoxin LT-IIa of Escherichia coli are dependent upon binding of the B pentamer of the enterotoxin (LT-IIa-B5) to ganglioside receptors on immunocompetent cells. To evaluate the immunomodulatory activities of LT-IIa-B5, in vitro experiments employing bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BMDC) were performed. Uptake of OVA-FITC, a model antigen (Ag), was enhanced by treatment of BMDC with LT-IIa-B5, but not by treatment of cells with the B pentamer of cholera toxin (CTB). Expression of co-stimulatory molecules (CD40, CD80, CD86, and MHC-II) and cytokines (IL-12p40, TNF-α, and IFN-γ) was increased in BMDC treated with LT-IIa-B5. The capacity of LT-IIa-B5 to enhance Ag uptake and to induce expression of co-stimulatory receptors and cytokines by BMDC was dependent upon expression of TLR2 by the cell. Increased Ag uptake induced by LT-IIa-B5 was correlated with increased Ag-specific proliferation of CD4+ T cells in an in vitro syngeneic DO11.10 CD4+ T cell proliferation assay. These experiments confirm that LT-IIa-B5 exhibits potent immunomodulatory properties which may be exploitable as a non-toxic mucosal adjuvant.
PMCID: PMC2862118  PMID: 20332049
TLR2; adjuvant; antigen uptake
20.  Expression-Based In Silico Screening of Candidate Therapeutic Compounds for Lung Adenocarcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e14573.
Lung adenocarcinom (AC) is the most common form of lung cancer. Currently, the number of medical options to deal with lung cancer is very limited. In this study, we aimed to investigate potential therapeutic compounds for lung adenocarcinoma based on integrative analysis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The candidate therapeutic compounds were identified in a two-step process. First, a meta-analysis of two published microarray data was conducted to obtain a list of 343 differentially expressed genes specific to lung AC. In the next step, expression profiles of these genes were used to query the Connectivity-Map (C-MAP) database to identify a list of compounds whose treatment reverse expression direction in various cancer cells. Several compounds in the categories of HSP90 inhibitor, HDAC inhibitor, PPAR agonist, PI3K inhibitor, passed our screening to be the leading candidates. On top of the list, three HSP90 inhibitors, i.e. 17-AAG (also known as tanespimycin), monorden, and alvespimycin, showed significant negative enrichment scores. Cytotoxicity as well as effects on cell cycle regulation and apoptosis were evaluated experimentally in lung adenocarcinoma cell line (A549 or GLC-82) with or without treatment with 17-AAG. In vitro study demonstrated that 17-AAG alone or in combination with cisplatin (DDP) can significantly inhibit lung adenocarcinoma cell growth by inducing cell cycle arrest and apoptosis.
We have used an in silico screening to identify compounds for treating lung cancer. One such compound 17-AAG demonstrated its anti-lung AC activity by inhibiting cell growth and promoting apoptosis and cell cycle arrest.
PMCID: PMC3024967  PMID: 21283735
21.  Heat-labile Enterotoxins as Adjuvants or Anti-Inflammatory Agents 
Immunological investigations  2010;39(4-5):449-467.
Escherichia coli and Vibrio cholerae produce structurally related AB5-type heat-labile enterotoxins which are classified into two major types. The Type I subfamily includes cholera toxin and E. coli LT-I, whereas the Type II subfamily comprises LT-IIa and LT-IIb. In addition to their roles in microbial pathogenesis, the enterotoxins are widely and intensively studied for their exceptionally strong adjuvant and immunomodulatory activities, which are not necessarily dependent upon their abilities to elevate intracellular cAMP levels. Despite general structural similarities, these molecules, in intact or derivative form, display notable differences in their interactions with gangliosides or Toll-like receptors. This divergence results in differential immune response outcomes, the underlying mechanisms of which remain largely uncharacterized. Whereas the study of these molecules has been pivotal in understanding basic mechanisms of immune regulation, a formidable challenge is to dissociate toxicity from useful properties that can be exploited in vaccine development or for the treatment of autoimmune inflammatory diseases.
PMCID: PMC2819675  PMID: 20461887
22.  Differential virulence and innate immune interactions of Type I and II fimbrial genotypes of Porphyromonas gingivalis 
Oral microbiology and immunology  2009;24(6):478-484.
The fimA-encoded fimbriae of the periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis display genetic diversity. Type I fimbriated P. gingivalis (Pg-I) has been most widely studied at the molecular level, whereas Pg-II is the most frequent isolate from severe periodontitis.
To investigate virulence differences between Types I and II fimbriae, we examined strains 33277 (Pg-I) and OMZ314 (Pg-II), reciprocal swap mutants (i.e., expressing the heterologous fimbrial type), and their respective FimA-deficient derivatives. These organisms were tested in a mouse periodontitis model and in interactions with mouse macrophages, a cell type that plays important roles in chronic infections.
Strain 33277 induced significantly more periodontal bone loss than OMZ314, and substitution of Type II fimbriae with Type I in OMZ314 resulted in a more virulent strain than the parent organism. However, the presence of Type II fimbriae was associated with increased proinflammatory and invasive activities in macrophages.
The inverse relationship between proinflammatory potential and ability to cause experimental periodontitis may suggest that an aggressive phenotype could provoke a host response that would compromise the persistence of the pathogen.
PMCID: PMC2883777  PMID: 19832800
23.  Notch-1 stimulates survival of lung adenocarcinoma cells during hypoxia by activating the IGF-1R pathway 
Oncogene  2010;29(17):2488-2498.
Hypoxic microenvironment supports cancer stem cell survival, causes poor response to anticancer therapy and tumor recurrence. Inhibition of Notch-1 signaling in adenocarcinoma of the lung (ACL) cells causes apoptosis specifically under hypoxia. Here we found that Akt-1 activation is a key mediator of Notch-1 pro-survival effects under hypoxia. Notch-1 activates Akt-1 through repression of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) expression and induction of the Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 Receptor (IGF-1R). The latter seems to be the major determinant of Akt-1 stimulation, since Notch-1 signaling affects Akt-1 activation in PTEN−/− ACL cells. Both downregulation of Insulin Receptor Substrate 1 (IRS-1) and dominant-negative IGF-1R sensitized ACL cells to γ-secretase inhibitor (GSI)-induced apoptosis. Conversely, overexpression of IGF-1R protected ACL cells from GSI toxicity. Inhibition of Notch-1 caused reduced IGF-1R expression, while forced Notch-1 expression yielded opposite effects. ChIP experiments suggested Notch-1 direct regulation of the IGF-1R promoter. Experiments in which human ACL cells were injected in mice confirmed elevated and specific co-expression of Notch-1IC, IGF-1R and pAkt-1 in hypoxic tumor areas.
Our data provide a mechanistic explanation for Notch-1 mediated pro-survival function in hypoxic ACL tumor microenvironment. The results identify additional targets that may synergize with Notch-1 inhibition for ACL treatment.
PMCID: PMC2861728  PMID: 20154720
Notch signaling; lung cancer; hypoxia; IGF-1R; cancer cell survival
24.  Microbial Hijacking of Complement–Toll-like Receptor Crosstalk* 
Science signaling  2010;3(109):ra11.
Recent evidence suggests that complement and Toll-like receptors (TLRs) crosstalk to coordinate innate immunity. We report a novel immune subversion mechanism involving microbial exploitation of the ability of complement and TLRs for communication. Porphyromonas gingivalis, a major oral and systemic pathogen expressing complement C5 convertase-like activity, was shown to synergize with C5a for cAMP elevation resulting in macrophage immunosuppression and enhanced pathogen survival in vitro and in vivo. The cAMP synergy strictly required TLR2 signaling and a pertussis toxin- and thapsigargin-sensitive C5a receptor pathway, whereas protein kinase A and glycogen synthase kinase-3β acted as downstream effectors. Antagonistic blockade of the C5a receptor abrogated this evasive strategy and may thus have important therapeutic implications in periodontitis and atherosclerosis, where P. gingivalis is implicated. This first demonstration of complement-TLR crosstalk for immunosuppressive cAMP signaling indicates that pathogens may not simply undermine complement and/or TLRs as separate entities, but may also exploit their crosstalk pathways.
PMCID: PMC2824906  PMID: 20159852
25.  Age-related alterations in innate immune receptor expression and ability of macrophages to respond to pathogen challenge in vitro 
The impact of ageing in innate immunity is poorly understood. Studies in the mouse model have described altered innate immune functions in aged macrophages, although these were not generally linked to altered expression of receptors or regulatory molecules. Moreover, the influence of ageing in the expression of these molecules has not been systematically examined. We investigated age-dependent expression differences in selected Toll-like and other pattern-recognition receptors, receptors involved in inflammatory amplification, and in transmembrane and intracellular regulators of inflammatory signaling. Young and aged macrophages were examined under resting conditions or upon activation with Porphyromonas gingivalis, a major pathogen in periodontal disease, the prevalence and severity of which increase in old age. We detected a limited number of age-dependent alterations, involving both reduction and increase of immune activity. Interestingly, surface expression of receptors that amplify inflammation (C5a anaphylatoxin receptor and triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells [TREM]-1) was elevated in aged macrophages. No significant age-dependent differences were observed regarding the phagocytosis and intracellular killing of P. gingivalis, consistent with lack of significant changes in phagocytic receptor expression and induction of antimicrobial molecules. Therefore, at least at the cellular level, certain aspects of innate immune function may not necessarily decline with age.
PMCID: PMC2717634  PMID: 19559723
Innate immunity; macrophages; pattern-recognition receptors; ageing

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