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1.  Genetic Variants of TPCN2 Associated with Type 2 Diabetes Risk in the Chinese Population 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(2):e0149614.
The aim of this study was to determine whether TPCN2 genetic variants are associated with type 2 diabetes and to elucidate which variants in TPCN2 confer diabetes susceptibility in the Chinese population.
Research Design and Methods
The sample population included 384 patients with type 2 diabetes and 1468 controls. Anthropometric parameters, glycemic and lipid profiles and insulin resistance were measured. We selected 6 TPCN2 tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (rs35264875, rs267603153, rs267603154, rs3829241, rs1551305, and rs3750965). Genotypes were determined using a Sequenom MassARRAY SNP genotyping system.
Ultimately, we genotyped 3 single nucleotide polymorphisms (rs3750965, rs3829241, and rs1551305) in all individuals. There was a 5.1% higher prevalence of the rs1551305 variant allele in type 2 diabetes individuals (A) compared with wild-type homozygous individuals (G). The AA genotype of rs1551305 was associated with a higher diabetes risk (p<0.05). The distributions of rs3829241 and rs3750965 polymorphisms were not significantly different between the two groups. HOMA-%B of subjects harboring the AA genotype of rs1551305 decreased by 14.87% relative to the GG genotype.
TPCN2 plays a role in metabolic regulation, and the rs1551305 single nucleotide polymorphism is associated with type 2 diabetes risk. Future work will begin to unravel the underlying mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC4769022  PMID: 26918892
2.  Prediction of Candidate Drugs for Treating Pancreatic Cancer by Using a Combined Approach 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(2):e0149896.
Pancreatic cancer is the leading cause of death from solid malignancies worldwide. Currently, gemcitabine is the only drug approved for treating pancreatic cancer. Developing new therapeutic drugs for this disease is, therefore, an urgent need. The C-Map project has provided a wealth of gene expression data that can be mined for repositioning drugs, a promising approach to new drug discovery. Typically, a drug is considered potentially useful for treating a disease if the drug-induced differential gene expression profile is negatively correlated with the differentially expressed genes in the target disease. However, many of the potentially useful drugs (PUDs) identified by gene expression profile correlation are likely false positives because, in C-Map, the cultured cell lines to which the drug is applied are not derived from diseased tissues. To solve this problem, we developed a combined approach for predicting candidate drugs for treating pancreatic cancer. We first identified PUDs for pancreatic cancer by using C-Map-based gene expression correlation analyses. We then applied an algorithm (Met-express) to predict key pancreatic cancer (KPC) enzymes involved in pancreatic cancer metabolism. Finally, we selected candidates from the PUDs by requiring that their targets be KPC enzymes or the substrates/products of KPC enzymes. Using this combined approach, we predicted seven candidate drugs for treating pancreatic cancer, three of which are supported by literature evidence, and three were experimentally validated to be inhibitory to pancreatic cancer celllines.
PMCID: PMC4765895  PMID: 26910401
3.  Mesenchymal stem cells and their secreted molecules predominantly ameliorate fulminant hepatic failure and chronic liver fibrosis in mice respectively 
Orthotopic liver transplantation is the only effective treatment for liver failure but limited with shortage of available donor organs. Recent studies show promising results of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)-based therapies.
We systematically investigate the therapeutic effects of MSCs or MSC-conditioned medium (MSC-CM) in ameliorating fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) and chronic liver fibrosis in mice. In addition, extensive flow cytometry analysis of spleens from vehicle and MSC- and MSC-CM-treated mice was applied to reveal the alteration of inflammatory state.
In FHF model, MSCs treatment reduced remarkably the death incidents; the analysis of gross histopathology showed that control livers were soft and shrunken with extensive extravasated blood, which was gradually reduced at later time points, while MSC–treated livers showed gross pathological changes, even 24 h after MSC infusion, and hematoxylin and eosin staining revealed dramatical hepatocellular death with cytoplasmic vacuolization suppressed by MSCs treatment; flow cytometry analysis of total lymphocytes showed that macrophages (F4/80) infiltrated into control livers more than MSC-treated livers; by contrast, MSC-CM partially ameliorates FHF. In chronic liver injury model, MSC and MSC-CM both suppressed fibrogenesis and necroinflammatory, and the later was better; activation of hepatic stellate cells (α-SMA) was inhibited; glycogen synthesis and storage (indicated by periodic acid-Schiff -staining) was improved; liver regeneration (Ki67) was promoted while liver apoptosis (TUNEL) was reduced. In the in vitro, MSCs promote macrophage line RAW264.7 apoptosis and MSC-CM promotes apoptosis and inhibits proliferation of HSC line LX-2. We also found that MSCs and MSC-CM could improve spleen; MSC-CM increased levels of Th2 and Treg cells, and reduced levels of Th17 cells, whereas levels of Th1 cells were unchanged; comparatively, MSC treatment did not affect Th17 and Treg cells and only slightly alters inflammatory state; MSC and MSC-CM treatment both substantially down-regulated macrophages in the spleens.
Both MSCs and MSC-CM exert therapeutic effects by acting on various key cells during the pathogenesis of FHF and chronic fibrosis, stimulating hepatocyte proliferation and suppressing apoptosis, down-regulating infiltrating macrophages, converting CD4+ T lymphocyte system into an anti-inflammatory state, and facilitating hepatic stellate cell death.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12967-016-0792-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4746907  PMID: 26861623
Liver failure; MSC-CM; Hepatic stellate cells; Macrophages; CD4+ T cells
4.  Protein-repellent and antibacterial dental composite to inhibit biofilms and caries 
Journal of dentistry  2014;43(2):225-234.
Biofilm acids contribute to secondary caries, which is a main reason for dental restoration failures. The objectives of this study were to: (1) develop a protein-repellent and antibacterial composite, and (2) investigate the effects of combining 2-methacryloyloxyethyl phosphorylcholine (MPC) with quaternary ammonium dimethylaminohexadecyl methacrylate (DMAHDM) on composite mechanical properties and biofilm response for the first time.
MPC, DMAHDM and glass particles were mixed into a dental resin composite. Mechanical properties were measured in three-point flexure. Protein adsorption onto the composites was measured by a micro bicinchoninic acid method. A human saliva microcosm model was used to grow biofilms on composites. Colony-forming unit (CFU) counts, live/dead assay, metabolic activity, and lactic acid production of biofilms were determined.
Incorporation of 3% MPC and 1.5% DMAHDM into composite achieved protein-repellent and antibacterial capabilities without compromising the mechanical properties. Composite with 3% MPC + 1.5% DMAHDM had protein adsorption that was 1/10 that of a commercial composite (p < 0.05). The composite with 3% MPC + 1.5% DMAHDM had much greater reduction in biofilm growth than using MPC or DMAHDM alone (p < 0.05). Biofilm CFU counts on composite with 3% MPC + 1.5% DMAHDM were more than three orders of magnitude lower than that of commercial control.
Dental composite with a combination of strong protein-repellent and antibacterial capabilities was developed for the first time. Composite with MPC and DMAHDM greatly reduced biofilm activity and is promising to inhibit secondary caries. The dual agents of MPC plus DMAHDM may have wide applicability to other dental materials.
PMCID: PMC4321720  PMID: 25478889
Resin composite; protein repellent; antibacterial property; mechanical property; human saliva microcosm biofilm; caries inhibition
5.  Antioxidant and functional properties of tea protein as affected by the different tea processing methods 
The Box-Behnken design combined with response surface methodology was used to optimize alkali extraction of protein from tea. Three independent extraction variables (extraction time: X1; extraction temperature: X2; alkali concentration: X3) were evaluated. The antioxidant and functional properties of tea protein as affected by different tea processing were compared. The optimum conditions were: extraction time of 85 min, extraction temperature of 80 °C, and alkali concentration of 0.15 M. Under such conditions, the predicted maximum protein extracted yield was 20.73 %, which coincided with the experimental values. Three kinds of tea protein showed good antioxidant and functional properties. Tea processing method had a significant impact on the properties of tea protein. Protein from oolong tea showed the best properties and it might be used as a good source of potential antioxidant and additives in food industry.
PMCID: PMC4325062  PMID: 25694682
Tea protein; Extraction; Response surface methodology; Antioxidant; Functional properties
6.  RNA: An Expanding View of Function and Evolution 
Evolutionary Bioinformatics Online  2016;11(Suppl 1):77-79.
PMCID: PMC4714651  PMID: 26798208
7.  MicroRNA-26a suppresses epithelial-mesenchymal transition in human hepatocellular carcinoma by repressing enhancer of zeste homolog 2 
Our previous study reported that microRNA-26a (miR-26a) inhibited tumor progression by inhibiting tumor angiogenesis and intratumoral macrophage infiltration in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The direct roles of miR-26a on tumor cell invasion remain poorly understood. In this study, we aim to explore the mechanism of miR-26a in modulating epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in HCC.
In vitro cell morphology and cell migration were compared between the hepatoma cell lines HCCLM3 and HepG2, which were established in the previous study. Overexpression and down-regulation of miR-26a were induced in these cell lines, and Western blot and immunofluorescence assays were used to detect the expression of EMT markers. Xenograft nude mouse models were used to observe tumor growth and pulmonary metastasis. Immunohistochemical assays were conducted to study the relationships between miR-26a expression and enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) and E-cadherin expression in human HCC samples.
Down-regulation of miR-26a in HCCLM3 and HepG2 cells resulted in an EMT-like cell morphology and high motility in vitro and increased in tumor growth and pulmonary metastasis in vivo. Through down-regulation of EZH2 expression and up-regulation of E-cadherin expression, miR-26a inhibited the EMT process in vitro and in vivo. Luciferase reporter assay showed that miR-26a directly interacted with EZH2 messenger RNA (mRNA). Furthermore, the expression of miR-26a was positively correlated with E-cadherin expression and inversely correlated with EZH2 expression in human HCC tissue.
miR-26a inhibited the EMT process in HCC by down-regulating EZH2 expression.
PMCID: PMC4702409  PMID: 26733151
microRNA-26a (miR-26a); Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2); Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)
8.  CTA Characteristics of the Circle of Willis and Intracranial Aneurysm in a Chinese Crowd with Family History of Stroke 
BioMed Research International  2016;2016:1743794.
Background and Purpose. The vascular morphology in crowd with family history of stroke remains unclear. The present study clarified the characteristics of the intracranial vascular CoW and prevalence of intracranial aneurysms in subjects with family history of stroke. Methods. A stratified cluster, random sampling method was used for subjects with family history of stroke among rural residents in Jixian, Tianjin, China. All the subjects underwent a physical examination, head computed tomography (CT) scan, and cephalic and cervical computed tomography angiography (CTA) scan. Anatomic variations in the Circle of Willis and cerebrovascular disease in this population were analyzed. Results. In the crowd with similar living environment, stable genetic background, and family history of stroke and without obvious nerve function impairment (1) hypoplasia or absence of A1 segment was significantly different in gender (male versus female: 9.8% versus 18.8%, p = 0.031), especially the right-side A1 (male versus female: 5.9% versus 16.4%, p = 0.004). (2) Hypoplasia or absence of bilateral posterior communicating arteries was more common in men than women (58.2% versus 45.3%, p = 0.032). Unilateral fetal posterior cerebral artery was observed more often in women than men (17.2% versus 8.5%, p = 0.028). (3) The percentage of subjects with incomplete CoW did not increase significantly with age. Compared to healthy Chinese people, the crowd had a higher percentage of incomplete CoW (p < 0.001). (4) No obvious correlation between risk factors and CoW was found. (5) The prevalence of aneurysm was 10.3% in the special crowd. Conclusions. The certain variations of CoW showed significant relation to gender, but not to age in people with family history of stroke. The incomplete circle may be a dangerous factor that is independent of common risk factors for stroke and tend to lead to cerebral ischemia in the crowd with family history of stroke. The prevalence of intracranial aneurysm is comparatively high in the present subjects compared to other people.
PMCID: PMC4736327  PMID: 26881211
9.  The prognostic value of clinical and pathologic features in nonmetastatic operable male breast cancer 
Asian Journal of Andrology  2015;18(1):90-95.
Compared with female breast cancer, male breast cancer is a rare disease, and the relationship between clinical/pathologic features and prognosis is controversial, or even largely unknown. In this study, we performed a retrospective analysis using clinical and pathologic data from 109 nonmetastatic operable male breast cancer patients treated from January 1996 to December 2011 at Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital. Log-rank test showed that lower tumor stage, no lymph node involvement, and positive estrogen/progesterone receptor status were good predictors of both disease-free survival and overall survival on univariate analysis. However, hormonotherapy is only a good predictive factor of disease-free survival, and not of overall survival. In addition, based on a Cox proportional hazard regression model, only lymph node involvement, and estrogen/progesterone receptor status were statistically significant predictive factors on multivariate analysis. Our results demonstrated that although adjuvant systemic therapy is used extensively in male breast cancer patients and prognosis has improved over the last few decades, lymph node involvement, and estrogen/progesterone receptor status are still the most important prognostic factors. A prospective multi-center study with a larger sample size is urgently needed to further understand male breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC4736363  PMID: 25994649
breast neoplasms; clinical/pathologic features; male; prognosis
10.  Attitudes towards Advance Care Planning and Healthcare Autonomy among Community-Dwelling Older Adults in Beijing, China 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:453932.
Objectives. To investigate the preferences of ACP and healthcare autonomy in community-dwelling older Chinese adults. Methods. A community-based cross-sectional study was conducted with older adults living in the residential estate of Chaoyang District, Beijing. Results. 900 residents were enrolled. 80.9% of them wanted to hear the truth regarding their own condition from the physician; 52.4% preferred to make their own healthcare decisions. Only 8.9% of them preferred to endure life-prolonging interventions when faced with irreversible conditions. 78.3% of the respondents had not heard of an ACP; only 39.4% preferred to document in an ACP. Respondents with higher education had significantly higher proportion of having heard of an ACP, as well as preferring to document in an ACP, compared to those with lower education. Those aged <70 years had higher proportion of having heard of an ACP, as well as refusing life-prolonging interventions when faced with irreversible conditions, compared to those aged ≥70 years. Conclusions. Although the majority of community-dwelling older Chinese adults appeared to have healthcare autonomy and refuse life-prolonging interventions in terms of end-of-life care, a low level of “Planning ahead” awareness and preference was apparent. Age and education level may be the influential factors.
PMCID: PMC4706851  PMID: 26858955
11.  Controllable Fabrication and Optical Properties of Uniform Gadolinium Oxysulfate Hollow Spheres 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:17934.
Uniform gadolinium oxysulfate (Gd2O2SO4) hollow spheres were successfully fabricated by calcination of corresponding Gd-organic precursor obtained via a facile hydrothermal process. The Gd2O2SO4 hollow spheres have a mean diameter of approximately 550 nm and shell thickness in the range of 30–70 nm. The sizes and morphologies of as-prepared Gd2O2SO4 hollow spheres could be deliberately controlled by adjusting the experimental parameters. Eu-doped Gd2O2SO4 hollow spheres have also been prepared for the property modification and practical applications. The structure, morphology, and properties of as-prepared products were characterized by XRD, TEM, HRTEM, SEM and fluorescence spectrophotometer. Excited with ultraviolet (UV) pump laser, successful downconversion (DC) could be achieved for Eu-doped Gd2O2SO4 hollow spheres.
PMCID: PMC4680860  PMID: 26671661
12.  Congruent Deep Relationships in the Grape Family (Vitaceae) Based on Sequences of Chloroplast Genomes and Mitochondrial Genes via Genome Skimming 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(12):e0144701.
Vitaceae is well-known for having one of the most economically important fruits, i.e., the grape (Vitis vinifera). The deep phylogeny of the grape family was not resolved until a recent phylogenomic analysis of 417 nuclear genes from transcriptome data. However, it has been reported extensively that topologies based on nuclear and organellar genes may be incongruent due to differences in their evolutionary histories. Therefore, it is important to reconstruct a backbone phylogeny of the grape family using plastomes and mitochondrial genes. In this study, next-generation sequencing data sets of 27 species were obtained using genome skimming with total DNAs from silica-gel preserved tissue samples on an Illumina HiSeq 2500 instrument. Plastomes were assembled using the combination of de novo and reference genome (of V. vinifera) methods. Sixteen mitochondrial genes were also obtained via genome skimming using the reference genome of V. vinifera. Extensive phylogenetic analyses were performed using maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods. The topology based on either plastome data or mitochondrial genes is congruent with the one using hundreds of nuclear genes, indicating that the grape family did not exhibit significant reticulation at the deep level. The results showcase the power of genome skimming in capturing extensive phylogenetic data: especially from chloroplast and mitochondrial DNAs.
PMCID: PMC4682771  PMID: 26656830
13.  Association between the proportion of dominant follicles and oocyte developmental competence 
To explore the optimal timing for hCG triggering by investigating the impact of different proportion of dominant follicles on the oocyte developmental competence.
One hundred ninety-eight infertile women were divided into three groups according to the proportion of dominant follicles on hCG day: (1) low: <15 % (n = 66); (2) middle: 15–27 % (n = 66); (3) high: >27 % (n = 66). The grouping criteria were the bottom and top tertiles of the proportion of dominant follicles.
The gonadotropin dosage, duration and maximum follicle diameter in the low proportion group were lower than those in the middle and high proportion groups. Oocyte maturation and the abnormal fertilization rate in the low proportion group were lower than those in the middle and high proportion groups. The normal fertilization rate did not differ among the three groups. The cleavage rate and number of transferable embryos in the low proportion group were significantly higher than those in the high proportion group. The high-quality embryo rate, implantation rate, and pregnancy rate in the low proportion group were significantly higher than those in the middle and high proportion groups.
A high proportion of dominant follicles are closely associated with impaired oocyte developmental competence and low pregnancy rate. These findings suggest that follicular overgrowth induced by delayed hCG triggering may undermine oocyte developmental competence and the proportion of dominant follicles may be a potential parameters for hCG triggering.
PMCID: PMC4250452  PMID: 25227692
Ovarian stimulation; hCG triggering; Oocyte quality; Pregnancy outcome
14.  Naringin Alleviates Diabetic Kidney Disease through Inhibiting Oxidative Stress and Inflammatory Reaction 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(11):e0143868.
Naringin, a flavanone glycoside extracted from Citrus grandis Osbeck, has a wide range of pharmacological effects. In the present study we aimed at demonstrating the protective effect of naringin against diabetic kidney disease (DKD) and elucidating its possible molecular mechanism underlying. The beneficial effect of naringin was assessed in rats with streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes and high glucose-induced HBZY-1 cells. According to our results, first we found that naringin relieved kidney injury, improved renal function and inhibited collagen formation and renal interstitial fibrosis. Second, we confirmed that naringin restrained oxidative stress by activating Nrf2 antioxidant pathway. Moreover, the results suggested that naringin significantly resisted inflammatory reaction by inhibiting NF- κ B signaling pathway. Taken together, our results demonstrate that naringin effectively alleviates DKD, which provide theoretical basis for naringin clinically used to treatment of DKD.
PMCID: PMC4664292  PMID: 26619044
15.  Identification of biomechanical force as a novel inducer of epithelial-mesenchymal transition features in mechanical stretched skin 
Biomechanical cues of the microenvironment are recognized as potent regulators of cell behaviors. Skin regeneration induced by tissue expansion has been confirmed by results of experimental and clinical studies. However, it is still unknown whether skin regeneration induced by mechanical factor is the same biological process as skin morphogenesis during embryonic development. In order to explore the potential role of biomechanical force (BioF) in skin regeneration and whether epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is induced by BioF, continuous mechanical tension (CMT) at 10% elongation was applied to human keratinocytes in vitro for 12, 24, 48 and 72 hours. Cell proliferation and differentiation were analyzed, including the expression of markers of EMT: vimentin, FSP1, E-cadherin and N-cadherin. Normal and mechanical stretched skin specimens collected from mice were examined by immunofluorescence analysis and RT-PCR. We found that BioF promoted the proliferation and inhibited differentiation of keratinocytes in vitro. The expression of markers of EMT vimentin, FSP1, E-cadherin and N-cadherin were transiently up-regulated by BioF. Keratinocytes activation, epidermal thickening and EMT features were also observed in the stretched epidermis of mice, compared to normal mice. Furthermore, the mechanism of BioF induced EMT was found to be the enhanced autocrine effect of TNF-α, in part, and direct activation of the NF-κB pathway. Collectively, BioF promoted the proliferation of keratinocytes by transiently inducing some EMT features. BioF, as a vital biomechanical cue of the microenvironment of skin, was identified to be a novel inducer of EMT, regulating keratinocytes’ proliferation, differentiation and homeostasis of skin tissue.
PMCID: PMC4697699  PMID: 26807167
Biomechanical; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; skin expansion; skin regeneration
16.  Gut mucosal microbiome across stages of colorectal carcinogenesis 
Nature Communications  2015;6:8727.
Gut microbial dysbiosis contributes to the development of colorectal cancer (CRC). Here we catalogue the microbial communities in human gut mucosae at different stages of colorectal tumorigenesis. We analyse the gut mucosal microbiome of 47 paired samples of adenoma and adenoma-adjacent mucosae, 52 paired samples of carcinoma and carcinoma-adjacent mucosae and 61 healthy controls. Probabilistic partitioning of relative abundance profiles reveals that a metacommunity predominated by members of the oral microbiome is primarily associated with CRC. Analysis of paired samples shows differences in community configurations between lesions and the adjacent mucosae. Correlations of bacterial taxa indicate early signs of dysbiosis in adenoma, and co-exclusive relationships are subsequently more common in cancer. We validate these alterations in CRC-associated microbiome by comparison with two previously published data sets. Our results suggest that a taxonomically defined microbial consortium is implicated in the development of CRC.
Changes in gut microbial communities contribute to the development of colorectal cancer. Here, the authors analyse the gut mucosal microbiome of patients and healthy subjects and identify distinct microbial consortia associated with different stages of colorectal cancer tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC4640069  PMID: 26515465
17.  Inhibition of HMGB1 release via salvianolic acid B-mediated SIRT1 up-regulation protects rats against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:16013.
The inflammatory mediator high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). However, the regulation of HMGB1 in NAFLD, particularly through sirtuin 1 (SIRT1), remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the role of SIRT1-mediated inhibition of HMGB1 release in NAFLD and the effect of salvianolic acid B (SalB), which is a water-soluble phenolic acid extracted from Radix Salvia miltiorrhiza, on NAFLD through SIRT1/HMGB1 signaling. In vivo, SalB treatment significantly attenuated high-fat diet (HFD)-induced liver damage, hepatic steatosis, and inflammation. Importantly, SalB significantly inhibited HMGB1 nuclear translocation and release, accompanied by SIRT1 elevation. In HepG2 cells, palmitic acid (PA)-induced pro-inflammatory cytokines release were blocked by HMGB1 small interfering RNA (siRNA) transfection. Moreover, pharmacological SIRT1 inhibition by Ex527 induced HMGB1 translocation and release, whereas SIRT1 activation by resveratrol or SalB reversed this trend. SIRT1 siRNA abrogated the SalB-mediated inhibition of HMGB1 acetylation and release, suggesting that SalB-mediated protection occurs by SIRT1 targeting HMGB1 for deacetylation. We are the first to demonstrate that the SIRT1/HMGB1 pathway is a key therapeutic target for controlling NAFLD inflammation and that SalB confers protection against HFD- and PA-induced hepatic steatosis and inflammation through SIRT1-mediated HMGB1 deacetylation.
PMCID: PMC4630617  PMID: 26525891
18.  Trastuzumab resistance induces EMT to transform HER2+ PTEN− to a triple negative breast cancer that requires unique treatment options 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:15821.
Although trastuzumab is an effective treatment in early stage HER2+ breast cancer the majority of advanced HER2+ breast cancers develop trastuzumab resistance, especially in the 40% of breast cancers with loss of PTEN. However, HER2+ breast cancer patients continue to receive trastuzumab regardless PTEN status and the consequence of therapy in these patients is unknown. We demonstrate that continued use of trastuzumab in HER2+ cells with loss of PTEN induces the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and transform HER2+ to a triple negative breast cancer. These transformed cells exhibited mesenchymal morphology and gene expression markers, while parent HER2+ cells showed epithelial morphology and markers. The transformed cells exhibited loss of dependence on ERBB family signaling (such as HER2, HER3, HER4, BTC, HRG, EGF) and reduced estrogen and progesterone receptors. Continued use of trastuzumab in HER2+ PTEN− cells increased the frequency of cancer stem cells (CSCs) and metastasis potential. Strikingly, parental HER2+ cells and transformed resistant cells respond to treatment differently. Transformed resistant cells were sensitive to chemical probe (sulforaphane) through inhibition of IL-6/STAT3/NF-κB positive feedback loop whereas parental HER2+ cells did not respond. This data suggests that trastuzumab resistance in HER2+ PTEN− breast cancer induces EMT and subtype switching, which requires unique treatment options.
PMCID: PMC4629137  PMID: 26522776
19.  Prodrug AST-003 Improves the Therapeutic Index of the Multi-Targeted Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Sunitinib 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(10):e0141395.
Patients have responded well to the multi-targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) Sunitinib in the clinic. But the severe toxic side effects associated with Sunitinib limit its therapeutic index. To improve the therapeutic index of Sunitinib, a prodrug strategy was employed to modify Sunitinib. The inactive prodrug AST-003 can be converted to Sunitinib in vitro and in vivo. Compared with Sunitinib, AST-003 has unique biochemical, cellular and pharmacokinetic properties with improved tolerability in mice and yield higher efficacy in tumor xenograft models. This prodrug strategy may constitute a novel paradigm to improve the therapeutic index of Sunitinib and other TKI or anti-angiogenesis drugs in general.
PMCID: PMC4626378  PMID: 26513662
20.  MicroRNA-99a inhibits tumor aggressive phenotypes through regulating HOXA1 in breast cancer cells 
Oncotarget  2015;6(32):32737-32747.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are key regulators of tumor progression. Based on microarray data, we identified miR-99a as a potential tumor suppressor in breast cancer. Expression of miR-99a is frequently down-regulated in breast cancer tissues relative to normal breast tissues. Reduced miR-99a expression was highly associated with lymph node metastasis and shorter overall survival of patients with breast cancer. Gain- and loss-of-function studies revealed that, miR-99a significantly inhibits breast cancer cell proliferation, migration, and invasion. An integrated bioinformatics analysis identified HOXA1 mRNA as the direct functional target of miR-99a, and this regulation was confirmed by luciferase reporter assay. Furthermore, we showed for the first time that HOXA1 expression is elevated in breast cancer tissues. Knockdown of HOXA1 significantly inhibited breast cancer cell proliferation, migration and invasion, and restoration of HOXA1 partially rescued the inhibitory effect of miR-99a in breast cancer cells. Collectively, our data indicate that miR-99a plays a tumor-suppressor role in the development of breast cancer, and could serve as a potential therapeutic target for breast cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC4741726  PMID: 26417931
MiR-99a; HOXA1; breast cancer; proliferation; invasion
21.  Naringenin attenuates pressure overload-induced cardiac hypertrophy 
Cardiac hypertrophy is characterized by abnormal enlargement of cardiomyocytes and disproportionate accumulation of extracellular interstitial fibrosis, which are major predictors of the development of coronary artery disease and heart failure. Naringenin is a bitter principle component of grapefruit that has numerous pharmacological effects, including anti-inflammatory, hypolipidemic, antithrombotic and antiatherogenic properties. In order to investigate whether naringenin is able to exert a protective effect against cardiac hypertrophy induced by pressure overload, aortic banding (AB) was performed to induce cardiac hypertrophy in mice, and naringenin was administered for 7 weeks. A total of 60 mice were allocated into four groups: Sham + vehicle, AB + vehicle, sham + naringenin and AB + naringenin. Naringenin treatment attenuated cardiac dysfunction, as indicated by the results of echocardiography and catheter-based measurements at 8 weeks post-surgery. The extent of cardiac hypertrophy was assessed by the heart weight/body weight, heart weight/tibial length and lung weight/body weight ratios, in addition to the cardiomyocyte cross-sectional area and the mRNA expression levels of hypertrophic maker, all of which were mitigated by naringenin administration. Naringenin also inhibited the expression of transforming growth factor-β1, connective tissue growth factor, collagen Iα and collagen IIIα, and attenuated interstitial fibrosis. In addition, naringenin downregulated the activation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (Akt) signaling pathways. In conclusion, naringenin attenuated cardiac hypertrophy and interstitial fibrosis, in addition to improving left ventricular function in pressure-overloaded mice. The cardioprotective effect exerted by naringenin may be associated with the inhibition of PI3K/Akt, ERK and JNK signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC4665326  PMID: 26668617
cardiac hypertrophy; naringenin; aortic banding; pharmacology
22.  STRA6 is critical for cellular vitamin A uptake and homeostasis 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(20):5402-5417.
Vitamin A must be adequately distributed within the body to maintain the functions of retinoids in the periphery and chromophore production in the eyes. Blood transport of the lipophilic vitamin is mediated by the retinol-binding protein, RBP4. Biochemical evidence suggests that cellular uptake of vitamin A from RBP4 is facilitated by a membrane receptor. This receptor, identified as the Stimulated by retinoic acid gene 6 (Stra6) gene product, is highly expressed in epithelia that constitute blood–tissue barriers. Here we established a Stra6 knockout mouse model to analyze the metabolic basis of vitamin A homeostasis in peripheral tissues. These mice were viable when bred on diets replete in vitamin A, but evidenced markedly reduced levels of ocular retinoids. Ophthalmic imaging and histology revealed malformations in the choroid and retinal pigmented epithelium, early cone photoreceptor cell death, and reduced lengths of rod outer segments. Similar to the blood–retina barrier in the RPE, vitamin A transport through the blood–cerebrospinal fluid barrier in the brain's choroid plexus was impaired. Notably, treatment with pharmacological doses of vitamin A restored vitamin A transport across these barriers and rescued the vision of Stra6−/− mice. Furthermore, under conditions mimicking vitamin A excess and deficiency, our analyses revealed that STRA6-mediated vitamin A uptake is a regulated process mandatory for ocular vitamin A uptake when RBP4 constitutes the only transport mode in vitamin A deficiency. These findings identifying STRA6 as a bona fide vitamin A transporter have important implications for disease states associated with impaired blood vitamin A homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC4168826  PMID: 24852372
23.  Evaluation of neck circumference as a predictor of central obesity and insulin resistance in Chinese adults 
Objectives: To evaluate whether neck circumference (NC) could be used as a valid and effective method for identifying obesity and insulin resistance (IR) in Chinese adults. Methods: A total of 3307 adults aged 20-65 years were randomly recruited from two communities of Tongzhou, Beijing. Height, weight, waist circumference (WC), hip circumference (HC), neck circumference (NC), blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose (FPG), fasting serum insulin (FINS), total cholesterol (TC), serum triglyceride (TG), High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and Urinary albumin (UAlb) were measured. Pearson correlation coefficient was used to explore the relationship between NC and other measurements. Furthermore, the best cutoff values of NC for central obesity identification were determined by applying the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis. Results: NC correlated positively with BMI, SBP and WC In both sexes. Both WC and NC correlated significantly positively with IR. A positive correlation between NC and FPG as well as a negative correlation between NC and HDL were found in obese men. NC≥38.5 cm for men and ≥34.5 cm for women were determined to be the best cutoff levels for identifying subjects with central obesity, with 82.9% accuracy for men and 79.9% accuracy for women. Conclusions: NC correlated positively with BMI and WC in both genders, indicating that NC could be used as a valid marker for both overall obesity and central obesity. In addition, measuring NC was shown to be a useful test for IR identification. Large number of NC is suggested to be associated with high risk of developing metabolic disorders, such as diabetes and dyslipidemia.
PMCID: PMC4694440  PMID: 26770540
Neck circumference; predictor; central obesity; insulin resistance
24.  The antiviral drug ganciclovir does not inhibit microglial proliferation and activation 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:14935.
Ganciclovir is effective in the treatment of human infections with viruses of the Herpesviridae family. Beside antiviral properties, recently ganciclovir was described to inhibit microglial proliferation and disease severity of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, an inflammatory model of multiple sclerosis. Microglial activation and proliferation are main characteristics of neuroinflammatory CNS diseases and inhibition of microglial functions might be beneficial in autoimmune diseases, or detrimental in infectious diseases. The objective of this study was to determine potential inhibitory effects of ganciclovir in three different murine animal models of CNS neuroinflammation in which microglia play an important role: Theiler´s murine encephalomyelitis, the cuprizone model of de- and remyelination, and the vesicular stomatitis virus encephalitis model. In addition, in vitro experiments with microglial cultures were performed to test the hypothesis that ganciclovir inhibits microglial proliferation. In all three animal models, neither microglial proliferation or recruitment nor disease activity was changed by ganciclovir. In vitro experiments confirmed that microglial proliferation was not affected by ganciclovir. In conclusion, our results show that the antiviral drug ganciclovir does not inhibit microglial activation and proliferation in the murine CNS.
PMCID: PMC4597339  PMID: 26447351
25.  Functional characterization of an invertase inhibitor gene involved in sucrose metabolism in tomato fruit*  
In this study, we produced tomato plants overexpressing an invertase inhibitor gene (Sly-INH) from tomato, using a simple and efficient transient transformation system. Compared with control plants, the expression of Sly-INH was highly upregulated in Sly-INH overexpressing plants, as indicated by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Physiological analysis revealed that Sly-INH inhibited the activity of cell wall invertase (CWIN), which increased sugar accumulation in tomato fruit. Furthermore, Sly-INH mediated sucrose metabolism by regulating CWIN activity. Our results suggest that invertase activity is potentially regulated by the Sly-INH inhibitor at the post-translational level, and they demonstrate that the transient transformation system is an effective method for determining the functions of genes in tomato.
PMCID: PMC4609536  PMID: 26465132
Invertase inhibitor; Fruit development; Transient transformation system; Solanum lycopersicum; Overexpression

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