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1.  Accurate Multiplexed Proteomics at the MS2 Level Using the Complement Reporter Ion Cluster 
Analytical chemistry  2012;84(21):9214-9221.
Isobaric labeling strategies, such as isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ) or tandem mass tags (TMT), have promised to dramatically increase the power of quantitative proteomics. However, when applied to complex mixtures, both the accuracy and precision are undermined by interfering peptide ions that coisolate and cofragment with the target peptide. Additional gas-phase isolation steps, such as proton-transfer ion–ion reactions (PTR) or higher-order MS3 scans, can almost completely eliminate this problem. Unfortunately, these methods come at the expense of decreased acquisition speed and sensitivity. Here we present a method that allows accurate quantification of TMT-labeled peptides at the MS2 level without additional ion purification. Quantification is based on the fragment ion cluster that carries most of the TMT mass balance. In contrast to the use of low m/z reporter ions, the localization of these complement TMT (TMTC) ions in the spectrum is precursor-specific; coeluting peptides do not generally affect the measurement of the TMTC ion cluster of interest. Unlike the PTR or MS3 strategies, this method can be implemented on a wide range of high-resolution mass spectrometers like the quadrupole Orbitrap instruments (QExactive). A current limitation of the method is that the efficiency of TMTC ion formation is affected by both peptide sequence and peptide ion charge state; we discuss potential routes to overcome this problem. Finally, we show that the complement reporter ion approach allows parallelization of multiplexed quantification and therefore holds the potential to multiply the number of distinct peptides that can be quantified in a given time frame.
PMCID: PMC3771681  PMID: 23098179
2.  Vascular Disrupting Agent Drug Classes Differ in Effects on the Cytoskeleton 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40177.
Vascular disrupting agents (VDAs), anti-cancer drugs that target established tumor blood vessels, fall into two main classes: microtubule targeting drugs, exemplified by combretastatin A4 (CA4), and flavonoids, exemplified by 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA). Both classes increase permeability of tumor vasculature in mouse models, and DMXAA in particular can cause massive tumor necrosis. The molecular target of CA4 is clearly microtubules. The molecular target(s) of DMXAA remains unclear. It is thought to promote inflammatory signaling in leukocytes, and has been assumed to not target microtubules, though it is not clear from the literature how carefully this assumption has been tested. An earlier flavone analog, flavone acetic acid, was reported to promote mitotic arrest suggesting flavones might possess anti-microtubule activity, and endothelial cells are sensitive to even mild disruption of microtubules. We carefully investigated whether DMXAA directly affects the microtubule or actin cytoskeletons of endothelial cells by comparing effects of CA4 and DMXAA on human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) using time-lapse imaging and assays for cytoskeleton integrity. CA4 caused retraction of the cell margin, mitotic arrest and microtubule depolymerization, while DMXAA, up to 500 µM, showed none of these effects. DMXAA also had no effect on pure tubulin nucleation and polymerization, unlike CA4. We conclude that DMXAA exhibits no direct anti-microtubule action and thus cleanly differs from CA4 in its mechanism of action at the molecular level.
PMCID: PMC3404093  PMID: 22848372
3.  Genome sequencing reveals insights into physiology and longevity of the naked mole rat 
Nature  2011;479(7372):223-227.
The naked mole rat (NMR, Heterocephalus glaber) is a strictly subterranean, extraordinarily long-lived eusocial mammal1. Although the size of a mouse, its maximum lifespan exceeds 30 years and makes this animal the longest living rodent. NMRs show negligible senescence, no age-related increase in mortality, and high fecundity until death2. In addition to delayed aging, NMRs are resistant to both spontaneous cancer and experimentally induced tumorigenesis3,4. NMRs pose a challenge to the theories that link aging, cancer and redox homeostasis. Although characterized by significant oxidative stress5, the NMR proteome does not show age-related susceptibility to oxidative damage nor increased ubiquitination6. NMRs naturally reside in large colonies with a single breeding female, the “queen,” who suppresses the sexual maturity of her subordinates11. NMRs also live in full darkness, at low oxygen and high carbon dioxide concentrations7, and are unable to sustain thermogenesis8 nor feel certain types of pain9,10. Here we report sequencing and analysis of the NMR genome, which revealed unique genome features and molecular adaptations consistent with cancer resistance, poikilothermy, hairlessness, altered visual function, circadian rhythms and taste sensing, and insensitivity to low oxygen. This information provides insights into NMR’s exceptional longevity and capabilities to live in hostile conditions, in the dark and at low oxygen. The extreme traits of NMR, together with the reported genome and transcriptome information, offer unprecedented opportunities for understanding aging and advancing many other areas of biological and biomedical research.
PMCID: PMC3319411  PMID: 21993625
4.  Mapping gene expression in two Xenopus species: evolutionary constraints and developmental flexibility 
Developmental cell  2011;20(4):483-496.
Changes in gene expression are thought to be important for morphological evolution, though little is known about the nature or magnitude of the differences. Here we examine Xenopus laevis and Xenopus tropicalis, two amphibians with very similar development, and ask how their transcriptomes compare. Despite separation for ~30–90 million years there is strong conservation in gene expression in the vast majority of the expressed orthologs. Significant changes occur in the level of gene expression but changes in the timing of expression (heterochrony) were much less common. Differences in level were concentrated in the earliest embryonic stages. Changes in timing were prominently found in pathways that respond to selective features of the environment. We propose that different evolutionary rates across developmental stages may be explained by the stabilization of cell fate determination in the later stages.
PMCID: PMC3118554  PMID: 21497761
5.  Remodeling of the Metabolome during Early Frog Development 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e16881.
A rapid series of synchronous cell divisions initiates embryogenesis in many animal species, including the frog Xenopus laevis. After many of these cleavage cycles, the nuclear to cytoplasmic ratio increases sufficiently to somehow cause cell cycles to elongate and become asynchronous at the mid-blastula transition (MBT). We have discovered that an unanticipated remodeling of core metabolic pathways occurs during the cleavage cycles and the MBT in X.laevis, as evidenced by widespread changes in metabolite abundance. While many of the changes in metabolite abundance were consistently observed, it was also evident that different female frogs laid eggs with different levels of at least some metabolites. Metabolite tracing with heavy isotopes demonstrated that alanine is consumed to generate energy for the early embryo. dATP pools were found to decline during the MBT and we have confirmed that maternal pools of dNTPs are functionally exhausted at the onset of the MBT. Our results support an alternative hypothesis that the cell cycle lengthening at the MBT is triggered not by a limiting maternal protein, as is usually proposed, but by a decline in dNTP pools brought about by the exponentially increasing demands of DNA synthesis.
PMCID: PMC3035664  PMID: 21347444
7.  Effects of temperature on gene expression in embryos of the coral Montastraea faveolata 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:627.
Coral reefs are expected to be severely impacted by rising seawater temperatures associated with climate change. This study used cDNA microarrays to investigate transcriptional effects of thermal stress in embryos of the coral Montastraea faveolata. Embryos were exposed to 27.5°C, 29.0°C, and 31.5°C directly after fertilization. Differences in gene expression were measured after 12 and 48 hours.
Analysis of differentially expressed genes indicated that increased temperatures may lead to oxidative stress, apoptosis, and a structural reconfiguration of the cytoskeletal network. Metabolic processes were downregulated, and the action of histones and zinc finger-containing proteins may have played a role in the long-term regulation upon heat stress.
Embryos responded differently depending on exposure time and temperature level. Embryos showed expression of stress-related genes already at a temperature of 29.0°C, but seemed to be able to counteract the initial response over time. By contrast, embryos at 31.5°C displayed continuous expression of stress genes. The genes that played a role in the response to elevated temperatures consisted of both highly conserved and coral-specific genes. These genes might serve as a basis for research into coral-specific adaptations to stress responses and global climate change.
PMCID: PMC2807443  PMID: 20030803
8.  Resveratrol delays age-related deterioration and mimics transcriptional aspects of dietary restriction without extending lifespan 
Cell metabolism  2008;8(2):157-168.
A small molecule that safely mimics the ability of dietary restriction (DR) to delay age-related diseases in laboratory animals is greatly sought after. We and others have shown that resveratrol mimics effects of DR in lower organisms. In mice, we find that resveratrol induces gene expression patterns in multiple tissues that parallel those induced by DR and every-other-day feeding. Moreover, resveratrol-fed elderly mice show a marked reduction in signs of aging including reduced albuminuria, decreased inflammation and apoptosis in the vascular endothelium, increased aortic elasticity, greater motor coordination, reduced cataract formation, and preserved bone mineral density. However, mice fed a standard diet did not live longer when treated with resveratrol beginning at 12 months of age. Our findings indicate that resveratrol treatment has a range of beneficial effects in mice but does not increase the longevity of ad libitum-fed animals when started mid-life.
PMCID: PMC2538685  PMID: 18599363
9.  Rapidly Retargetable Approaches to De-identification in Medical Records 
This paper describes a successful approach to de-identification that was developed to participate in a recent AMIA-sponsored challenge evaluation.
Our approach focused on rapid adaptation of existing toolkits for named entity recognition using two existing toolkits, Carafe and LingPipe.
The “out of the box” Carafe system achieved a very good score (phrase F-measure of 0.9664) with only four hours of work to adapt it to the de-identification task. With further tuning, we were able to reduce the token-level error term by over 36% through task-specific feature engineering and the introduction of a lexicon, achieving a phrase F-measure of 0.9736.
We were able to achieve good performance on the de-identification task by the rapid retargeting of existing toolkits. For the Carafe system, we developed a method for tuning the balance of recall vs. precision, as well as a confidence score that correlated well with the measured F-score.
PMCID: PMC1975794  PMID: 17600096

Results 1-9 (9)