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1.  Neurotropin Suppresses Inflammatory Cytokine Expression and Cell Death through Suppression of NF-κB and JNK in Hepatocytes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114071.
Inflammatory response and cell death in hepatocytes are hallmarks of chronic liver disease, and, therefore, can be effective therapeutic targets. Neurotropin® (NTP) is a drug widely used in Japan and China to treat chronic pain. Although NTP has been demonstrated to suppress chronic pain through the descending pain inhibitory system, the action mechanism of NTP remains elusive. We hypothesize that NTP functions to suppress inflammatory pathways, thereby attenuating disease progression. In the present study, we investigated whether NTP suppresses inflammatory signaling and cell death pathways induced by interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) in hepatocytes. NTP suppressed nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) activation induced by IL-1β and TNFα assessed by using hepatocytes isolated from NF-κB-green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter mice and an NF-κB-luciferase reporter system. The expression of NF-κB target genes, Il6, Nos2, Cxcl1, ccl5 and Cxcl2 induced by IL-1β and TNFα was suppressed after NTP treatment. We also found that NTP suppressed the JNK phosphorylation induced by IL-1β and TNFα. Because JNK activation contributes to hepatocyte death, we determined that NTP treatment suppressed hepatocyte death induced by IL-1β and TNFα in combination with actinomycin D. Taken together, our data demonstrate that NTP attenuates IL-1β and TNFα-mediated inflammatory cytokine expression and cell death in hepatocytes through the suppression of NF-κB and JNK. The results from the present study suggest that NTP may become a preventive or therapeutic strategy for alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in which NF-κB and JNK are thought to take part.
PMCID: PMC4254918  PMID: 25470242
2.  The Over-Expression of Two Transcription Factors, ABS5/bHLH30 and ABS7/MYB101, Leads to Upwardly Curly Leaves 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107637.
Proper leaf development is essential for plant growth and development, and leaf morphogenesis is under the control of intricate networks of genetic and environmental cues. We are interested in dissecting these regulatory circuits genetically and report here the isolation of two Arabidopsis dominant mutants, abnormal shoot5-1D (abs5-1D) and abs7-1D identified through activation tagging screens. Both abs5-1D and abs7-1D display an intriguing upwardly curly leaf phenotype. Molecular cloning showed that the elevated expression of a bHLH transcription factor ABS5/T5L1/bHLH30 or a MYB transcription factor ABS7/MYB101 is the cause for the abnormal leaf phenotypes found in abs5-1D or abs7-1D, respectively. Protoplast transient expression assays confirmed that both ABS5/T5L1 and ABS7/MYB101 are targeted to the nucleus. Interestingly, the expression domains of auxin response reporter DR5::GUS were abnormal in leaves of abs5-1D and ABS5/T5L1 over-expression lines. Moreover, cotyledon venation analysis showed that more areoles and free-ending veins are formed in abs5-1D. We found that the epidermis-specific expressions of ABS5/T5L1 or ABS7/MYB101 driven by the Arabidopsis Meristem Layer 1 promoter (PAtML1) were sufficient to recapitulate the curly leaf phenotype of abs5-1D or abs7-1D. In addition, PAtML1::ABS5 lines exhibited similar changes in DR5::GUS expression patterns as those found in 35S-driven ABS5/T5L1 over-expression lines. Our work demonstrated that enhanced expressions of two transcription factors, ABS5/T5L1 and ABS7/MYB101, are able to alter leaf lamina development and reinforce the notion that leaf epidermis plays critical roles in regulating plant organ morphogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4182325  PMID: 25268707
4.  The Role of Janus Kinase (JAK)-3 in Regulating Toll-Like Receptor-Mediated Inflammatory Cytokine Production in Innate Immune Cells 
The role of Janus kinase (JAK)-3 in TLR-mediated innate immune responses is poorly understood, although the suppressive function of JAK3 inhibition in adaptive immune response has been well studied. In this study, we found that JAK3 inhibition enhanced TLR-mediated immune responses by differentially regulating pro- and anti- inflammatory cytokine production in innate immune cells. Specifically, JAK3 inhibition by pharmacological inhibitors or specific siRNA, or JAK3 gene knockout resulted in an increase in TLR-mediated production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, while concurrently decreasing the production of IL-10. Inhibition of JAK3 suppressed phosphorylation of PI3 kinase downstream effectors including Akt, mTORC1, GSK3β and CREB. Constitutive activation of Akt or inhibition of GSK3β abrogated the capability of JAK3 inhibition to enhance pro-inflammatory cytokines and suppress IL-10 production. In contrast, inhibition of PI3K enhanced this regulatory ability of JAK3 in LPS stimulated monocytes. At the transcriptional level, JAK3 knockout lead to the increased phosphorylation of STATs that could be attenuated by neutralization of de novo inflammatory cytokines. JAK3 inhibition exhibited a GSK3 activity-dependent ability to enhance phosphorylation levels and DNA binding of NF-κB p65. Moreover, JAK3 inhibition correlated with an increased CD4+ T cell response. Additionally, higher neutrophil infiltration, IL-17 expression, and intestinal epithelium erosion were observed in JAK3 knockout mice. These findings demonstrate the negative regulatory function of JAK3, and elucidate the signaling pathway by which JAK3 differentially regulates TLR-mediated inflammatory cytokine production in innate immune cells.
PMCID: PMC3720823  PMID: 23797672
JAK3; PI3K; GSK3; TLR4; Inflammatory cytokines
5.  Acceleration of Biliary Cholesterol Secretion Restores Glycemic Control and Alleviates Hypertriglyceridemia in Obese db/db Mice 
Recent studies support a role for cholesterol in the development of obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Mice lacking the ABCG5 ABCG8 (G5G8) sterol transporter have reduced biliary cholesterol secretion and are more susceptible to steatosis, hepatic insulin resistance, and loss of glycemic control when challenged with a high-fat diet. We hypothesized that accelerating G5G8-mediated biliary cholesterol secretion would correct these phenotypes in obese mice.
Approach and Results
Obese (db/db) male and their lean littermates were administered a cocktail of control adenovirus or adenoviral vectors encoding ABCG5 and ABCG8 (AdG5G8). Three days after viral administration, measures of lipid and glucose homeostasis were determined, and tissues were collected for biochemical analyses. AdG5G8 increased biliary cholesterol and fecal sterol elimination. Fasting glucose and triglycerides declined, and glucose tolerance improved in obese mice expressing G5G8 compared with mice receiving control adenovirus. These changes were associated with a reduction in phosphorylated eukaryotic initiation factor 2α and c-Jun N-terminal kinase in liver, suggesting alleviation of endoplasmic reticulum stress. Phosphorylated insulin receptor and protein kinase B were increased, indicating restored hepatic insulin signaling. However, there was no reduction in hepatic triglycerides after the 3-day treatment period.
Accelerating biliary cholesterol secretion restores glycemic control and reduces plasma triglycerides in obese db/db mice.
PMCID: PMC4096285  PMID: 24202306
bile; cholesterol; insulin resistance; liver steatosis; obesity
6.  Zinc Regulates Meiotic Resumption in Porcine Oocytes via a Protein Kinase C-Related Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102097.
Zinc is an extremely important trace element that plays important roles in several biological processes. However, the function of zinc in meiotic division of porcine oocytes is unknown. In this study, we investigated the role of zinc during meiotic resumption in in vitro matured porcine oocytes. During meiotic division, a massive release of zinc was observed. The level of free zinc in the cytoplasm significantly increased during maturation. Depletion of zinc using N, N, N′, N′-tetrakis (2-pyridylmethyl) ethylenediamine (TPEN), a Zn2+ chelator, blocked meiotic resumption in a dose dependent manner. The level of phosphorylated mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) and p34cdc2 kinase activity were reduced when zinc was depleted. Moreover, zinc depletion reduced the levels of phosphorylated protein kinase C (PKC) substrates in a dose dependent manner. Real-time PCR analysis showed that expression of the MAPK- and maturation promoting factor related genes C-mos, CyclinB1, and Cdc2 was downregulated following zinc depletion. Treatment with the PKC agonist phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) increased phosphorylation of PKC substrates and MAPK and increased p34cdc2 kinase activity. This rescued the meiotic arrest, even in the presence of TPEN. Activation of PKC by PMA increased the level of zinc in the cytoplasm. These data demonstrate that zinc is required for meiotic resumption in porcine oocytes, and this appears to be regulated via a PKC related pathway.
PMCID: PMC4096513  PMID: 25019390
7.  TAK1-mediated autophagy and fatty acid oxidation prevent hepatosteatosis and tumorigenesis 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(8):3566-3578.
The MAP kinase kinase kinase TGFβ-activated kinase 1 (TAK1) is activated by TLRs, IL-1, TNF, and TGFβ and in turn activates IKK-NF-κB and JNK, which regulate cell survival, growth, tumorigenesis, and metabolism. TAK1 signaling also upregulates AMPK activity and autophagy. Here, we investigated TAK1-dependent regulation of autophagy, lipid metabolism, and tumorigenesis in the liver. Fasted mice with hepatocyte-specific deletion of Tak1 exhibited severe hepatosteatosis with increased mTORC1 activity and suppression of autophagy compared with their WT counterparts. TAK1-deficient hepatocytes exhibited suppressed AMPK activity and autophagy in response to starvation or metformin treatment; however, ectopic activation of AMPK restored autophagy in these cells. Peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor α (PPARα) target genes and β-oxidation, which regulate hepatic lipid degradation, were also suppressed in hepatocytes lacking TAK1. Due to suppression of autophagy and β-oxidation, a high-fat diet challenge aggravated steatohepatitis in mice with hepatocyte-specific deletion of Tak1. Notably, inhibition of mTORC1 restored autophagy and PPARα target gene expression in TAK1-deficient livers, indicating that TAK1 acts upstream of mTORC1. mTORC1 inhibition also suppressed spontaneous liver fibrosis and hepatocarcinogenesis in animals with hepatocyte-specific deletion of Tak1. These data indicate that TAK1 regulates hepatic lipid metabolism and tumorigenesis via the AMPK/mTORC1 axis, affecting both autophagy and PPARα activity.
PMCID: PMC4109552  PMID: 24983318
8.  n-3 and n-6 Fatty acids are independently associated with lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
The British journal of nutrition  2013;110(9):1664-1671.
Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) is an independent risk factor for CVD and has been proposed as a marker of vascular inflammation. Polyunsaturated n-3 fatty acids (FA) and several n-6 FA are known to suppress inflammation and may influence Lp-PLA2 mass and activity. The associations of n-3 and n-6 plasma FA with Lp-PLA2 mass and activity were analysed using linear regression analysis in 2246 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis; statistical adjustments were made to control for body mass, inflammation, lipids, diabetes, and additional clinical and demographic factors. Lp-PLA2 mass and activity were significantly lower in participants with the higher n-3 FA EPA (β = −4·72, P<0·001; β = −1·53; P=0·023) and DHA levels (β = −4·47, β = −1·87; both P<0·001). Those in the highest quintiles of plasma EPA and DHA showed 12·71 and 19·15 ng/ml lower Lp-PLA2 mass and 5·7 and 8·90 nmol/min per ml lower Lp-PLA2 activity than those in the first quintiles, respectively. In addition, lower Lp-PLA2 mass and activity were associated with higher levels of n-6 arachidonic acid (β = −1·63, β = −1·30; both P<0·001), while γ-linolenic acid was negatively associated with activity (β = −27·7, P=0·027). Lp-PLA2 mass was significantly higher in participants with greater plasma levels of n-6 linoleic (β = 0·828, P=0·011) and dihomo-γ-linolenic acids (β = 4·17, P=0·002). Based on their independent associations with Lp-PLA2 mass and activity, certain n-3 and n-6 FA may have additional influences on CVD risk. Intervention studies are warranted to assess whether these macronutrients may directly influence Lp-PLA2 expression or activity.
PMCID: PMC4060439  PMID: 23551952
Fatty acids; n-3; Atherosclerosis; Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase; Lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2
9.  Evaluation of Schistosome Promoter Expression for Transgenesis and Genetic Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98302.
Schistosome worms of the genus Schistosoma are the causative agents of schistosomiasis, a devastating parasitic disease affecting more than 240 million people worldwide. Schistosomes have complex life cycles, and have been challenging to manipulate genetically due to the dearth of molecular tools. Although the use of gene overexpression, gene knockouts or knockdowns are straight-forward genetic tools applied in many model systems, gene misexpression and genetic manipulation of schistosome genes in vivo has been exceptionally challenging, and plasmid based transfection inducing gene expression is limited. We recently reported the use of polyethyleneimine (PEI) as a simple and effective method for schistosome transfection and gene expression. Here, we use PEI-mediated schistosome plasmid transgenesis to define and compare gene expression profiles from endogenous and nonendogenous promoters in the schistosomula stage of schistosomes that are potentially useful to misexpress (underexpress or overexpress) gene product levels. In addition, we overexpress schistosome genes in vivo using a strong promoter and show plasmid-based misregulation of genes in schistosomes, producing a clear and distinct phenotype- death. These data focus on the schistosomula stage, but they foreshadow strong potential for genetic characterization of schistosome molecular pathways, and potential for use in overexpression screens and drug resistance studies in schistosomes using plasmid-based gene expression.
PMCID: PMC4032330  PMID: 24858918
10.  APOE genotype modifies the association between plasma measured omega-3 fatty acids and plasma lipids in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Atherosclerosis  2013;228(1):181-187.
The benefits of fish oil fatty acids eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acids (DHA) on plasma lipid profiles have been inconsistent but may partially depend on individual Apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotypes. We aimed to determine whether APOE genotype modifies the association of lipid profile characteristics with plasma EPA and DHA levels.
APOE genotype was determined in this cross-sectional analysis of 2340 Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) participants. Relative plasma phospholipid EPA and DHA levels, plasma lipids, and lipoprotein subclass particle sizes and concentrations were measured.
Significant gene-EPA interactions were found with HDL-C, and particle concentrations of large and total HDL (pinteraction = 0.0002, 0.006, and 0.007, respectively). The above lipid targets were positively associated with EPA in the E2 groups, whereas negative trends were observed among the E4 participants. Gene-DHA interactions were noted for small LDL particle concentrations alone (pinteraction = 0.01), where a positive trend was found among E4 but not E2 or E3 participants.
These results indicate a significant contribution of the APOE genotype to the EPA-lipid profile relationship; however, the results do not explain the differences in previous findings regarding LDL-C, triglycerides or total cholesterol. Future investigators examining the effects of EPA on HDL-C or lipoprotein characteristics may consider including APOE genotype in their analyses.
PMCID: PMC3640761  PMID: 23466070
APOE genotype; eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA); docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); plasma lipids; lipoproteins
11.  Oestrogen receptor-mediated expression of Olfactomedin 4 regulates the progression of endometrial adenocarcinoma 
Endometrial adenocarcinoma is the most common tumour of the female genital tract in developed countries, and oestrogen receptor (ER) signalling plays a pivotal role in its pathogenesis. When we used bioinformatics tools to search for the genes contributing to gynecological cancers, the expression of Olfactomedin 4 (OLFM4) was found by digital differential display to be associated with differentiation of endometrial adenocarcinoma. Aberrant expression of OLFM4 has been primarily reported in tumours of the digestive system. The mechanism of OLFM4 in tumuorigenesis is elusive. We investigated OLFM4 expression in endometrium, analysed the association of OLFM4 with ER signalling in endometrial adenocarcinoma, and examined the roles of OLFM4 in endometrial adenocarcinoma. Expression of OLFM4 was increased during endometrial carcinogenesis, linked to the differentiation of endometrioid adenocarcinoma, and positively related to the expression of oestrogen receptor-α (ERα) and progesterone receptor. Moreover, ERα-mediated signalling regulated expression of OLFM4, and knockdown of OLFM4 enhanced proliferation, migration and invasion of endometrial carcinoma cells. Down-regulation of OLFM4 was associated with decreased cumulative survival rate of patients with endometrioid adenocarcinoma. Our data suggested that impairment of ERα signal-mediated OLFM4 expression promoted the malignant progression of endometrioid adenocarcinoma, which may have significance for the therapy of this carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC4119392  PMID: 24495253
olfactomedin 4 (OLFM4); endometrial adenocarcinoma; gynecological cancer; oestrogen receptor (ER); endometrial hyperplasia
12.  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
13.  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
14.  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
15.  Copy number variation in Han Chinese individuals with autism spectrum disorder 
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of neurodevelopmental conditions with a demonstrated genetic etiology. Rare (<1% frequency) copy number variations (CNVs) account for a proportion of the genetic events involved, but the contribution of these events in non-European ASD populations has not been well studied. Here, we report on rare CNVs detected in a cohort of individuals with ASD of Han Chinese background.
DNA samples were obtained from 104 ASD probands and their parents who were recruited from Harbin, China. Samples were genotyped on the Affymetrix CytoScan HD platform. Rare CNVs were identified by comparing data with 873 technology-matched controls from Ontario and 1,235 additional population controls of Han Chinese ethnicity.
Of the probands, 8.6% had at least 1 de novo CNV (overlapping the GIGYF2, SPRY1, 16p13.3, 16p11.2, 17p13.3-17p13.2, DMD, and NAP1L6 genes/loci). Rare inherited CNVs affected other plausible neurodevelopmental candidate genes including GRID2, LINGO2, and SLC39A12. A 24-kb duplication was also identified at YWHAE, a gene previously implicated in ASD and other developmental disorders. This duplication is observed at a similar frequency in cases and in population controls and is likely a benign Asian-specific copy number polymorphism.
Our findings help define genomic features relevant to ASD in the Han Chinese and emphasize the importance of using ancestry-matched controls in medical genetic interpretations.
PMCID: PMC4147384  PMID: 25170348
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD); Copy number variations (CNVs); Microarray diagnostic testing; Han Chinese
16.  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
17.  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
18.  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
19.  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
20.  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
21.  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
22.  Chemical kinetic simulation of kerosene combustion in an individual flame tube 
Journal of Advanced Research  2013;5(3):357-366.
The use of detailed chemical reaction mechanisms of kerosene is still very limited in analyzing the combustion process in the combustion chamber of the aircraft engine. In this work, a new reduced chemical kinetic mechanism for fuel n-decane, which selected as a surrogate fuel for kerosene, containing 210 elemental reactions (including 92 reversible reactions and 26 irreversible reactions) and 50 species was developed, and the ignition and combustion characteristics of this fuel in both shock tube and flat-flame burner were kinetic simulated using this reduced reaction mechanism. Moreover, the computed results were validated by experimental data. The calculated values of ignition delay times at pressures of 12, 50 bar and equivalence ratio is 1.0, 2.0, respectively, and the main reactants and main products mole fractions using this reduced reaction mechanism agree well with experimental data. The combustion processes in the individual flame tube of a heavy duty gas turbine combustor were simulated by coupling this reduced reaction mechanism of surrogate fuel n-decane and one step reaction mechanism of surrogate fuel C12H23 into the computational fluid dynamics software. It was found that this reduced reaction mechanism is shown clear advantages in simulating the ignition and combustion processes in the individual flame tube over the one step reaction mechanism.
PMCID: PMC4294751
Reduced reaction mechanism; Surrogate fuel; n-decane; Simulation; Combustion; Individual flame tube
23.  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
24.  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
25.  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

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