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1.  Identification of Sensitive Serum microRNA Biomarkers for Radiation Biodosimetry 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57603.
Exposure to ionizing radiation through environmental, occupational or a nuclear reactor accident such as the recent Fukushima Daiichi incident often results in major consequences to human health. The injury caused by radiation can manifest as acute radiation syndromes within weeks in organs with proliferating cells such as hematopoietic and gastrointestinal systems. Cancers, fibrosis and degenerative diseases are also reported in organs with differentiated cells, months or years later. Studies conducted on atom bomb survivors, nuclear reactor workers and animal models have shown a direct correlation of these effects with the absorbed dose. Physical dosimeters and the available radio-responsive biologics in body fluids, whose responses are rather indirect, have limitations to accurately evaluate the extent of post exposure damage. We have used an amplification-free, hybridization based quantitative assay utilizing the nCounter multiplex platform developed by nanoString Technologies to compare the levels of over 600 miRNAs in serum from mice irradiated at a range of 1 to 12 Gy at 24 and 48 hr time points. Development of a novel normalization strategy using multiple spike-in oligonucleotides allowed accurate measurement of radiation dose and time dependent changes in serum miRNAs. The response of several evolutionarily conserved miRNAs abundant in serum, were found to be robust and sensitive in the dose range relevant for medical triage and in patients who receive total body radiation as preparative regimen for bone marrow transplantation. Notably, miRNA-150, abundant in lymphocytes, exhibited a dose and time dependent decrease in serum, which we propose as a sensitive marker indicative of lymphocyte depletion and bone marrow damage. Our study has identified several markers useful for evaluation of an individual’s response by minimally invasive methods, relevant to triage in case of a radiation accident and evaluation of toxicity and response during and after therapeutic radiation.
PMCID: PMC3581493  PMID: 23451251
Cancer research  2010;70(7):2789-2798.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with polygenetic disorders, such as breast cancer (BC), can create, destroy or modify microRNA (miRNA) binding sites; however, the extent to which SNPs interfere with miRNA gene regulation and affect cancer susceptibility remains largely unknown. We hypothesize that disruption of miRNA target binding by SNPsis a widespread mechanism relevant to cancer susceptibility. In order to test this, we analyzed SNPs known to be associated with BC risk, in silico and in vitro, for their ability to modify miRNA binding sites and miRNA gene regulation and referred to these as target SNPs. We identified rs1982073-TGFB1 and rs1799782-XRCC1 as target SNPs, whose alleles could modulate gene expression by differential interaction with miR-187 and miR-138, respectively. Genome-wide bioinformatics analysis predicted approximately 64% of transcribed SNPs as target SNPs that can modify (increase/decrease) the binding energy of putative miRNA::mRNA duplexes by over 90%. To assess whether target SNPs are implicated in BC susceptibility, we conducted a case-control population study and observed that germline occurrence of rs799917-BRCA1 and rs334348-TGFR1, significantly varies among populations with different risks of developing BC. Luciferase activity of target SNPs allelic variants and protein levels in cancer cell lines with different genotypes showed differential regulation of target genes following over-expression of the two interacting miRNAs (miR-638 and miR-628-5p). Therefore, we propose that transcribed target SNPs alter miRNA gene regulation and consequently protein expression, contributing to the likelihood of cancer susceptibility, by a novel mechanism of subtle gene regulation.
PMCID: PMC2853025  PMID: 20332227
Single nucleotide polymorphism; microRNAs; mRNA; BC; tumor susceptibility
3.  MPromDb update 2010: an integrated resource for annotation and visualization of mammalian gene promoters and ChIP-seq experimental data 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(Database issue):D92-D97.
MPromDb (Mammalian Promoter Database) is a curated database that strives to annotate gene promoters identified from ChIP-seq results with the goal of providing an integrated resource for mammalian transcriptional regulation and epigenetics. We analyzed 507 million uniquely aligned RNAP-II ChIP-seq reads from 26 different data sets that include six human cell-types and 10 distinct mouse cell/tissues. The updated MPromDb version consists of computationally predicted (novel) and known active RNAP-II promoters (42 893 human and 48 366 mouse promoters) from various data sets freely available at NCBI GEO database. We found that 36% and 40% of protein-coding genes have alternative promoters in human and mouse genomes and ∼40% of promoters are tissue/cell specific. The identified RNAP-II promoters were annotated using various known and novel gene models. Additionally, for novel promoters we looked into other evidences—GenBank mRNAs, spliced ESTs, CAGE promoter tags and mRNA-seq reads. Users can search the database based on gene id/symbol, or by specific tissue/cell type and filter results based on any combination of tissue/cell specificity, Known/Novel, CpG/NonCpG, and protein-coding/non-coding gene promoters. We have also integrated GBrowse genome browser with MPromDb for visualization of ChIP-seq profiles and to display the annotations. The current release of MPromDb can be accessed at
PMCID: PMC3013732  PMID: 21097880
4.  Mapping of long-range associations throughout the fission yeast genome reveals global genome organization linked to transcriptional regulation 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(22):8164-8177.
We have comprehensively mapped long-range associations between chromosomal regions throughout the fission yeast genome using the latest genomics approach that combines next generation sequencing and chromosome conformation capture (3C). Our relatively simple approach, referred to as enrichment of ligation products (ELP), involves digestion of the 3C sample with a 4 bp cutter and self-ligation, achieving a resolution of 20 kb. It recaptures previously characterized genome organizations and also identifies new and important interactions. We have modeled the 3D structure of the entire fission yeast genome and have explored the functional relationships between the global genome organization and transcriptional regulation. We find significant associations among highly transcribed genes. Moreover, we demonstrate that genes co-regulated during the cell cycle tend to associate with one another when activated. Remarkably, functionally defined genes derived from particular gene ontology groups tend to associate in a statistically significant manner. Those significantly associating genes frequently contain the same DNA motifs at their promoter regions, suggesting that potential transcription factors binding to these motifs are involved in defining the associations among those genes. Our study suggests the presence of a global genome organization in fission yeast that is functionally similar to the recently proposed mammalian transcription factory.
PMCID: PMC3001101  PMID: 21030438
5.  Genome-wide mapping of RNA Pol-II promoter usage in mouse tissues by ChIP-seq 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(1):190-201.
Alternative promoters that are differentially used in various cellular contexts and tissue types add to the transcriptional complexity in mammalian genome. Identification of alternative promoters and the annotation of their activity in different tissues is one of the major challenges in understanding the transcriptional regulation of the mammalian genes and their isoforms. To determine the use of alternative promoters in different tissues, we performed ChIP-seq experiments using antibody against RNA Pol-II, in five adult mouse tissues (brain, liver, lung, spleen and kidney). Our analysis identified 38 639 Pol-II promoters, including 12 270 novel promoters, for both protein coding and non-coding mouse genes. Of these, 6384 promoters are tissue specific which are CpG poor and we find that only 34% of the novel promoters are located in CpG-rich regions, suggesting that novel promoters are mostly tissue specific. By identifying the Pol-II bound promoter(s) of each annotated gene in a given tissue, we found that 37% of the protein coding genes use alternative promoters in the five mouse tissues. The promoter annotations and ChIP-seq data presented here will aid ongoing efforts of characterizing gene regulatory regions in mammalian genomes.
PMCID: PMC3017616  PMID: 20843783

Results 1-5 (5)