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1.  Study on In Vitro Anti-Tumor Activity of Bidens Bipinnata L. Extract 
We studied the in vitro anti-tumor activity of Bidens Bipinnata L. extract. MTT assay was used to investigate the inhibitory effect of different concentrations of the extracts on human hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2) cell lines and human cervical carcinoma (Hela) cell lines, and the IC50 values were calculated. The Bidens Bipinnata L. extract had different degrees of inhibitory effects on these two cells, and when exposure time was 48 h, the inhibition rate reached its peak, with IC50 values of 14.80 µg/mL and 13.50 µg/mL respectively. The Bidens Bipinnata L. extract had a good inhibitory effect on human HepG2 cell lines and Hela cell lines, and thus has certain development prospects.
PMCID: PMC3777599  PMID: 24146487
Bidens Bipinnata L.; cell culture; anti-tumor; MTT
2.  Simulated Nitrogen Deposition Reduces CH4 Uptake and Increases N2O Emission from a Subtropical Plantation Forest Soil in Southern China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93571.
To date, few studies are conducted to quantify the effects of reduced ammonium (NH4+) and oxidized nitrate (NO3−) on soil CH4 uptake and N2O emission in the subtropical forests. In this study, NH4Cl and NaNO3 fertilizers were applied at three rates: 0, 40 and 120 kg N ha−1 yr−1. Soil CH4 and N2O fluxes were determined twice a week using the static chamber technique and gas chromatography. Soil temperature and moisture were simultaneously measured. Soil dissolved N concentration in 0–20 cm depth was measured weekly to examine the regulation to soil CH4 and N2O fluxes. Our results showed that one year of N addition did not affect soil temperature, soil moisture, soil total dissolved N (TDN) and NH4+-N concentrations, but high levels of applied NH4Cl and NaNO3 fertilizers significantly increased soil NO3−-N concentration by 124% and 157%, respectively. Nitrogen addition tended to inhibit soil CH4 uptake, but significantly promoted soil N2O emission by 403% to 762%. Furthermore, NH4+-N fertilizer application had a stronger inhibition to soil CH4 uptake and a stronger promotion to soil N2O emission than NO3−-N application. Also, both soil CH4 and N2O fluxes were driven by soil temperature and moisture, but soil inorganic N availability was a key integrator of soil CH4 uptake and N2O emission. These results suggest that the subtropical plantation soil sensitively responses to atmospheric N deposition, and inorganic N rather than organic N is the regulator to soil CH4 uptake and N2O emission.
PMCID: PMC3979698  PMID: 24714387
3.  Identification of Duplication Downstream of BMP2 in a Chinese Family with Brachydactyly Type A2 (BDA2) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94201.
Brachydactyly type A2 (BDA2, MIM 112600) is characterized by the deviation and shortening of the middle phalange of the index finger and the second toe. Using genome-wide linkage analysis in a Chinese BDA2 family, we mapped the maximum candidate interval of BDA2 to a ∼1.5 Mb region between D20S194 and D20S115 within chromosome 20p12.3 and found that the pairwise logarithm of the odds score was highest for marker D20S156 (Zmax = 6.09 at θ = 0). Based on functional and positional perspectives, the bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) gene was identified as the causal gene for BDA2 in this region, even though no point mutation was detected in BMP2. Through further investigation, we identified a 4,671 bp (Chr20: 6,809,218–6,813,888) genomic duplication downstream of BMP2. This duplication was located within the linked region, co-segregated with the BDA2 phenotype in this family, and was not found in the unaffected family members and the unrelated control individuals. Compared with the previously reported duplications, the duplication in this family has a different breakpoint flanked by the microhomologous sequence GATCA and a slightly different length. Some other microhomologous nucleotides were also found in the duplicated region. In summary, our findings support the conclusions that BMP2 is the causing gene for BDA2, that the genomic location corresponding to the duplication region is prone to structural changes associated with malformation of the digits, and that this tendency is probably caused by the abundance of microhomologous sequences in the region.
PMCID: PMC3978006  PMID: 24710560
4.  Primary concomitant EGFR T790M mutation predicted worse prognosis in non-small cell lung cancer patients 
OncoTargets and therapy  2014;7:513-524.
We performed this analysis to improve the understanding of the clinicopathological characteristics and clinical outcome of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients harboring the primary epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) T790M mutation along with activating EGFR mutation.
Resected tumors from 1903 NSCLC patients were analyzed for mutation in EGFR, as well as KRAS (Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog), BRAF (v-raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B), HER2 (human epidermal growth factor 2), PIK3CA (phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase, catalytic subunit alpha), and EML4 (echinoderm microtubule associated protein like 4)–ALK (anaplastic lymphoma receptor tyrosine kinase) fusion. Fluorescence in situ hybridization was performed to define EGFR and c-MET (met proto-oncogene gene amplification. Expression of PIK3CA and p-Akt (phosphorylated protein kinase B) were tested using immunohistochemistry. Clinical and pathological data, including sex, age at diagnosis, stage, tumor differentiation, smoking history, histological subtype, relapse-free and overall survival, were further analyzed.
In all, 16 NSCLC patients were found to harbor primary EGFR T790M mutation, including 14 adenocarcinomas and two adenosquamous carcinomas, accounting for 2.04% of all the EGFR mutant cases and 0.84% of the total. No c-MET amplification was found to coexist with primary EGFR T790M. Fewer EGFR copy-number variations were found in samples harboring EGFR T790M mutations compared with those in patients with exon 19 deletions and L858R. Overall survival was significantly shorter for patients harboring EGFR T790M mutation than it was for patients with exon 19 deletions (logrank P=0.008). When taking patients harboring EGFR L858R or exon 19 deletions as one group, the overall survival was also significantly longer than that in patients with T790M mutation (logrank P=0.012). There was no significant difference in relapse-free survival among three subgroups of patients.
Our study described the clinicopathological and molecular characteristics of NSCLC patients harboring primary EGFR T790M mutations. Its value of being a predictor for worse prognosis was established. Primary EGFR T790M mutation is a rare event in NSCLC cases, but the therapeutic strategies for this subtype of patients should be precisely considered.
PMCID: PMC3979794
driver mutation; survival; clinicopathological profile; EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor; acquired resistance
5.  Distinct abnormalities of the primate prefrontal cortex caused by ionizing radiation in early or midgestation 
The Journal of comparative neurology  2013;521(5):1040-1053.
Prenatal exposure of the brain to environmental insult causes different neurological symptoms and behavioral outcomes depending on the time of exposure. To examine the cellular bases for these differences, we exposed Rhesus macaque fetuses to x-rays during early gestation (E30–E42), i.e., before the onset of corticogenesis, or in midgestation (E70–E81) when superficial cortical layers are generated. Animals were delivered at term (~E165), and the size and cellular composition of prefrontal association cortex (area 46) examined in adults, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and stereologic analysis. Both early and midgestational radiation exposure diminished the surface area and volume of area 46. However, early exposure spared cortical thickness and did not alter laminar composition, and due to higher cell density, neuron number was within the normal range. In contrast, exposure to x-rays at midgestation reduced cortical thickness, mainly due to elimination of neurons destined for the superficial layers. A cell-sparse gap, observed within layer III, was not filled by the later generated neurons destined for layer II, indicating that there is no subsequent replacement of the lost neurons. The distinct areal and laminar pathology consequent to temporally segregated irradiation is consistent with basic postulates of the radial unit hypothesis of cortical development. In addition, we show that an environmental disturbance inflicted in early gestation can induce subtle cytoarchitectonic alterations without loss of neurons, such as those observed in schizophrenia, whereas midgestational exposure causes selective elimination of neurons and cortical thinning as observed in some forms of mental retardation and fetal alcohol syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3560314  PMID: 22911497
magnetic resonance imaging; neurodevelopment; thalamocortical; schizophrenia; stereology
6.  Neural progenitor cells treated with EPO induce angiogenesis through the production of VEGF 
Recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) induces neurogenesis and angiogenesis. Using a coculture system of mouse brain endothelial cells (MBECs) and neural progenitor cells derived from the subventricular zone of adult mouse, we investigated the hypothesis that neural progenitor cells treated with rhEPO promote angiogenesis. Treatment of neural progenitor cells with rhEPO significantly increased their expression and secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and activated phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt (PI3K/Akt) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2). Selective inhibition of the Akt and ERK1/2 signaling pathways significantly attenuated the rhEPO-induced VEGF expression in neural progenitor cells. The supernatant harvested from neural progenitor cells treated with rhEPO significantly increased the capillary-like tube formation of MBECs. SU1498, a specific VEGF type-2 receptor (VEGFR2) antagonist, abolished the supernatant-enhanced angiogenesis. In addition, coculture of MBECs with neural progenitor cells treated with rhEPO substantially increased VEGFR2 mRNA and protein levels in MBECs. These in vitro results suggest that EPO enhances VEGF secretion in neural progenitor cells through activation of the PI3K/Akt and ERK1/2 signaling pathways and that neural progenitor cells treated with rhEPO upregulate VEGFR2 expression in cerebral endothelial cells, which along with VEGF secreted by neural progenitor cells promotes angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3971950  PMID: 18414495
angiogenesis; mouse brain endothelial cell; neural progenitor cell; rhEPO
7.  Activation of protease-activated receptor 2 reduces glioblastoma cell apoptosis 
The pathogenesis of glioma is unclear. The disturbance of the apoptosis process plays a critical role in glioma growth. Factors regulating the apoptosis process are to be further understood. This study aims to investigate the role of protease activated receptor-2 (PAR2) in regulation the apoptosis process in glioma cells.
The results showed that U87 cells and human glioma tissue expressed PAR2. Exposure to tryptase, or the PAR2 active peptide, increased STAT3 phosphorylation in the radiated U87 cells, reduced U87 cell apoptosis, suppressed the expression of p53 in U87 cells.
Activation of PAR2 can reduce the radiated U87 cell apoptosis via modulating the expression of p53. The results implicate that PAR2 may be a novel therapeutic target in the treatment of glioma.
PMCID: PMC3974186  PMID: 24670244
Glioma; Tryptase; Protease-activated receptor 2; Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3; p53
8.  Genetic Incorporation of Unnatural Amino Acids into Proteins in Yeast 
Unnatural amino acids can be genetically incorporated into proteins in live cells by using an orthogonal tRNA/aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase pair. Here we describe a method to efficiently express the orthogonal tRNA and synthetase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which enables unnatural amino acids to be genetically incorporated into target proteins in yeast with high efficiency. We also describe the use of a yeast strain deficient in the nonsense-mediated mRNA decay, which further increases the unnatural amino acid incorporation efficiency when a stop codon is used to encode the unnatural amino acid. These strategies will facilitate the investigation of proteins and their related biological processes in yeast by exploiting the novel properties afforded by unnatural amino acids.
PMCID: PMC3965369  PMID: 21956564
Unnatural amino acid; Yeast; Orthogonal tRNA; Orthogonal synthetase; Amber suppression; Polymerase III promoter; Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay; Green fluorescent protein
9.  Diagnostic Yield of the Light Blue Crest Sign in Gastric Intestinal Metaplasia: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92874.
The diagnostic yield of light blue crest(LBC) sign, which was observed by narrow band imaging with magnification endoscopy(NBI-ME), in detecting gastric intestinal metaplasia(IM) has shown variable results.
We aimed to assess the diagnostic value of LBC under NBI-ME for detecting gastric IM.
We performed a literature search of the Medline/PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, Science Direct and the Cochrane Library Databases; and a meta-analysis of pooled sensitivity, specificity, positive likelihood ratio, negative likelihood ratio, and SROC area under the curve, using fixed- and random-effects models, for the accuracy of LBC-based IM diagnosis.
We initially included 4 articles, but excluded 1 article to counter significant heterogeneity. When pooled, the remaining 3 articles, which included 247 patients with 721 lesions, showed the following patterns in IM diagnosis: sensitivity: 0.90 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.86–0.92); specificity: 0.90 (95% CI 0.86–0.93), positive likelihood ratio: 8.98 (95% CI 6.42–12.58), negative likelihood ratio: 0.12 (95% CI 0.09–0.16), and SROC area under the curve: 0.9560.
As the studies varied by their definitions for positive LBC, endoscopy types, biopsy protocols, race of patient cohort, and physicians' proficiency, some sample sizes were limited so that subgroup analyses could not be performed.
We concluded that observing LBC under NBI-ME is an accurate and precise means of diagnosing gastric IM.
PMCID: PMC3962461  PMID: 24658503
10.  Family-Wide Survey of miR169s and NF-YAs and Their Expression Profiles Response to Abiotic Stress in Maize Roots 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91369.
Previous studies have identified miR169/NF-YA modules are important regulators of plant development and stress responses. Currently, reported genome sequence data offers an opportunity for global characterization of miR169 and NF-YA genes, which may provide insights into the molecular mechanisms of the miR169/NF-YA modules in maize. In our study, fourteen NF-YA transcription factors with conserved domains were identified based on maize genome loci. The miR169 gene family has 18 members that generate 10 mature products, and 8 of these mature miR169 members could target 7 of 14 ZmNF-YA genes in maize. The seven ZmNF-YA proteins were localized to the nucleus while lacked transcriptional activity. We investigated the expression patterns of the zma-miR169 members and their targeted ZmNF-YA genes in maize roots treated by drought stress (polyethylene glycol, PEG), hormone stress (abscisic acid, ABA), and salt stress (NaCl). The zma-miR169 family members were downregulated in short term (0∼48 h) and generally upregulated over the long term (15 days) in response to the three abiotic stress conditions. Most of the targeted ZmNF-YA genes exhibited a reverse correlation with zma-miR169 gene expression over both the short term and long term. Maize root elongation was promoted by PEG and ABA but repressed by NaCl over the long term. Apparently, ZmNF-YA14 expression perfectly matched the zma-miR169 expression and corresponded to root growth reversely.
PMCID: PMC3954700  PMID: 24633051
11.  Complete Genome Sequence of Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense MSR-1 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(2):e00171-14.
We report the complete genomic sequence of Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense MSR-1 (DSM 6361), a type strain of the genus Magnetospirillum belonging to the Alphaproteobacteria. Compared to the reported draft sequence, extensive rearrangements and differences were found, indicating high genomic flexibility and “domestication” by accelerated evolution of the strain upon repeated passaging.
PMCID: PMC3953193  PMID: 24625872
12.  Expression of fluorescent cyclotides using protein trans-splicing for easy monitoring of cyclotide-protein interactions** 
PMCID: PMC3767473  PMID: 23322720
Circular proteins; cyclotides; unnatural amino acids; click chemistry; protein engineering; protein splicing; nonsense codon suppressor tRNA
13.  GSK3β Overexpression Indicates Poor Prognosis and Its Inhibition Reduces Cell Proliferation and Survival of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91231.
Glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta (GSK3β) is centrally involved in diverse cellular processes, including proliferation and apoptosis. This study aimed to investigate the influence of GSK3β expression on the prognosis of human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and the effects of GSK3β inhibition in NSCLC cell lines.
Immunohistochemical and western blot assays were used to evaluate the GSK3β expression level in human NSCLC tissues. Lentiviral RNA interference was performed to inhibit the expression of GSK3β in the A549, H292, H1299 and SK-MES-1 cell lines. Cell survival, apoptosis and motility were evaluated in vivo and in vitro.
The levels of GSK3β were greater in NSCLC tissues (n = 211) than in control tissues (n = 194) (P<0.001). The 5-year follow-up analysis showed that positive GSK3β expression was indicative of poor prognosis (P = 0.006). Furthermore, knockdown of GSK3β in NSCLC cell lines suppressed cell proliferation, arrested tumor cells in G0/G1 phase, induced apoptosis and reduced cell motility. A xenograft model showed that the deregulation of GSK3β attenuated tumorigenesis, as confirmed by reduced cell proliferation based on Ki-67 and significantly increased apoptotic cell death. The inhibition of GSK3β had inconsistent effects on the expression of β-catenin, depending on the cell type examined.
Aberrant expression of GSK3β serves as an independent marker of poor prognosis for NSCLC. The inhibition of GSK3β suppressed tumorigenesis by attenuating cell proliferation, increasing apoptosis and restraining cell motility. These results identify GSK3β as a tumor promoter and a potential therapeutic target in NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3949982  PMID: 24618715
14.  A Galectin from the Kuruma Shrimp (Marsupenaeus japonicus) Functions as an Opsonin and Promotes Bacterial Clearance from Hemolymph 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91794.
Galectins are a lectin family characterized by a conserved sequence motif in the carbohydrate recognition domain, which preferential binds to galactosyl moieties. However, few studies about the biological roles of galectins in invertebrates have been reported except for the galectin (CvGal1) from the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica. Furthermore, galectins have been described in only a few crustacean species, and no functional studies have been reported so far. In this study, we identified and functionally characterized a galectin from the kuruma shrimp Marsupenaeus japonicus, which we designated MjGal. Upon Vibrio anguillarum challenge, expression of MjGal was up-regulated mostly in hemocytes and hepatopancreas, and the protein bound to both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria through the recognition of lipoteichoic acid (LTA) or lipopolysaccharide (LPS), respectively. By also binding to the shrimp hemocyte surface, MjGal functions as an opsonin for microbial pathogens, promoting their phagocytosis. Further, as shown by RNA interference, MjGal participates in clearance of bacteria from circulation, and thereby contributes to the shrimp’s immune defense against infectious challenge. Elucidation of functional and mechanistic aspects of shrimp immunity will enable the development of novel strategies for intervention in infectious diseases currently affecting the shrimp farming industry worldwide.
PMCID: PMC3950279  PMID: 24618590
15.  Phosphodiesterase 3/4 Inhibitor Zardaverine Exhibits Potent and Selective Antitumor Activity against Hepatocellular Carcinoma Both In Vitro and In Vivo Independently of Phosphodiesterase Inhibition 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90627.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth common malignancy worldwide and the third leading cause of cancer-related death. Targeted therapies for HCC are being extensively developed with the limited success of sorafinib. In the present study, we investigated the potential antitumor activity of zardaverine, a dual-selective phosphodiesterase (PDE) 3/4 inhibitor in HCC cells both in vitro and in vivo. Although all zardaverine, PDE3 inhibitor trequinsin and PDE4 inhibitor rolipram increased intracellular cAMP levels through inhibiting PDE activity, only zardaverine significantly and selectively inhibited the proliferation of certain HCC cells, indicating that the antitumor activity of zardaverine is independent of PDE3/4 inhibition and intracellular cAMP levels. Further studies demonstrated that zardaverine induced G0/G1 phase cell cycle arrest of sensitive HCC cells through dysregulating cell cycle-associated proteins, including Cdk4, Cdk6, Cdk2, Cyclin A, Cyclin E, p21 and Rb. Notably, Rb expression was reversely related to the cell sensitivity to zardaverine. The present findings indicate that zardaverine may have potential as targeted therapies for some HCC, and the likely mechanism of action underlying its selective antitumor activity may be related to its regulation of Rb or Rb-associated signaling in cell cycles.
PMCID: PMC3944092  PMID: 24598942
16.  Rapid Differentiation of Cryptic Species within Cryptococcus gattii by a Duplex PCR Assay 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(9):3110-3112.
Cryptococcus gattii consists of four cryptic species, VGI, VGII, VGIII, and VGIV. Herein, a duplex PCR assay using two primer pairs targeting the vacuolar membrane gene and the intergenic spacer region was developed. It successfully distinguished the cryptic species according to the distinct size of the amplicons.
PMCID: PMC3754660  PMID: 23824773
17.  Chemokines and Their Receptors Are Key Players in the Orchestra That Regulates Wound Healing 
Advances in Wound Care  2013;2(7):327-347.
Normal wound healing progresses through a series of overlapping phases, all of which are coordinated and regulated by a variety of molecules, including chemokines. Because these regulatory molecules play roles during the various stages of healing, alterations in their presence or function can lead to dysregulation of the wound-healing process, potentially leading to the development of chronic, nonhealing wounds.
Recent Advances
A discovery that chemokines participate in a variety of disease conditions has propelled the study of these proteins to a level that potentially could lead to new avenues to treat disease. Their small size, exposed termini, and the fact that their only modifications are two disulfide bonds make them excellent targets for manipulation. In addition, because they bind to G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), they are highly amenable to pharmacological modulation.
Critical Issues
Chemokines are multifunctional, and in many situations, their functions are highly dependent on the microenvironment. Moreover, each specific chemokine can bind to several GPCRs to stimulate the function, and both can function as monomers, homodimers, heterodimers, and even oligomers. Activation of one receptor by any single chemokine can lead to desensitization of other chemokine receptors, or even other GPCRs in the same cell, with implications for how these proteins or their receptors could be used to manipulate function.
Future Directions
Investment in better understanding of the functions of chemokines and their receptors in a local context can reveal new ways for therapeutic intervention. Understanding how different chemokines can activate the same receptor and vice versa could identify new possibilities for drug development based on their heterotypic interactions.
PMCID: PMC3842890  PMID: 24587971
18.  Epigenetic silencing of miR-375 induces trastuzumab resistance in HER2-positive breast cancer by targeting IGF1R 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:134.
Resistance to humanized monoclonal erbB2/HER2 antibody, trastuzumab (Herceptin), has become a pivotal obstacle for targeted therapy of HER2-positive breast cancers. The activation of alternative growth factor receptors, in particular, the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R), represents a common feature of trastuzumab-refractory cells; however, the underlying mechanism remains elusive.
Trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer SKBr-3 cells were generated by long-term in vitro culture of SKBr-3 cells in the presence of trastuzumab. Among the differentially expressed microRNAs (miRNAs) screened by microarray analysis, candidate miRNA(s) predicted to target IGF1R was studied for its role in conferring trastuzumab resistance. The mechanism underlying decreased expression of IGF1R-targeted miRNA in refractory cells was also addressed.
miR-375, which was downregulated and predicted to target IGF1R in trastuzumab-resistant HER2-positive breast cancer cells, could indeed inhibit the cellular luciferase activity in a reporter construct containing the 3′-UTR of IGF1R. Overexpression of miR-375 restored the sensitivity of cells to trastuzumab, while inhibition of miR-375 conferred trastuzumab resistance on HER2-positive breast cancer cells. Blockade of DNA methylation and histone deacetylation restored the expression of miR-375 in trastuzumab-resistant cells. A reverse correlation between the levels of miR-375 and IGF1R was validated in clinical breast cancers.
Epigenetic silencing of miR-375 causes the upregulation of IGF1R, which at least partially underlies trastuzumab resistance of breast cancer cells. Our study has implications for miR-375 as a potential target in combination with trastuzumab for treating HER2-positive breast cancers.
PMCID: PMC3974046  PMID: 24571711
miR-375; Insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor; Trastuzumab resistance; erbB2/HER2; Breast cancer
19.  Mutation accumulation and fitness in mutator subpopulations of Escherichia coli 
Biology Letters  2013;9(1):20120961.
Bacterial populations in clinical and laboratory settings contain a significant proportion of mutants with elevated mutation rates (mutators). Mutators have a particular advantage when multiple beneficial mutations are needed for fitness, as in antibiotic resistance. Nevertheless, high mutation rates potentially lead to increasing numbers of deleterious mutations and subsequently to the decreased fitness of mutators. To test how fitness changed with mutation accumulation, genome sequencing and fitness assays of nine Escherichia coli mutY mutators were undertaken in an evolving chemostat population at three time points. Unexpectedly, the fitness in members of the mutator subpopulation became constant despite a growing number of mutations over time. To test if the accumulated mutations affected fitness, we replaced each of the known beneficial mutations with wild-type alleles in a mutator isolate. We found that the other 25 accumulated mutations were not deleterious. Our results suggest that isolates with deleterious mutations are eliminated by competition in a continuous culture, leaving mutators with mostly neutral mutations. Interestingly, the mutator–non-mutator balance in the population reversed after the fitness plateau of mutators was reached, suggesting that the mutator–non-mutator ratio in populations has more to do with competition between members of the population than the accumulation of deleterious mutations.
PMCID: PMC3565518  PMID: 23221876
bacterial genomics; experimental evolution; mutators
20.  Repair of Microdamage in Osteonal Cortical Bone Adjacent to Bone Screw 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89343.
Up to date, little is known about the repair mode of microdamage in osteonal cortical bone resulting from bone screw implantation. In this study, self-tapping titanium cortical bone screws were inserted into the tibial diaphyses of 24 adult male rabbits. The animals were sacrificed at 1 day, 2 weeks, 1 month and 2 months after surgery. Histomorphometric measurement and confocal microscopy were performed on basic fuchsin stained bone sections to examine the morphological characteristics of microdamage, bone resorption activity and spatial relationship between microdamage and bone resorption. Diffuse and linear cracks were coexisted in peri-screw bone. Intracortical bone resorption was significantly increased 2 weeks after screw installation and reach to the maximum at 1 month. There was no significant difference in bone resorption between 1-month and 2-months groups. Microdamage was significantly decreased within 1 month after surgery. Bone resorption was predisposed to occur in the region of <100 µm from the bone-screw interface, where had extensive diffuse damage mixed with linear cracks. Different patterns of resorption cavities appeared in peri-screw bone. These data suggest that 1) the complex microdamage composed of diffuse damage and linear cracks is a strong stimulator for initiating targeted bone remodeling; 2) bone resorption activities taking place on the surfaces of differently oriented Haversian and Volkmann canals work in a team for the repair of extensive microdamage; 3) targeted bone remodeling is a short-term reaction to microdamage and thereby it may not be able to remove all microdamage resulting from bone screw insertion.
PMCID: PMC3930719  PMID: 24586702
21.  Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors Enhance the Permeability of the Mouse Blood-brain Barrier 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e86407.
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) impedes entry of many drugs into the brain, limiting clinical efficacy. A safe and efficient method for reversibly increasing BBB permeability would greatly facilitate central nervous system (CNS) drug delivery and expand the range of possible therapeutics to include water soluble compounds, proteins, nucleotides, and other large molecules. We examined the effect of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) on BBB permeability in Kunming (KM) mice. Human VEGF165 was administered to treatment groups at two concentrations (1.6 or 3.0 µg/mouse), while controls received equal-volume saline. Changes in BBB permeability were measured by parenchymal accumulation of the contrast agent Gd-DTPA as assessed by 7 T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Mice were then injected with Evans blue, sacrificed 0.5 h later, and perfused transcardially. Brains were removed, fixed, and sectioned for histological study. Both VEGF groups exhibited a significantly greater signal intensity from the cerebral cortex and basal ganglia than controls (P<0.001). Evans blue fluorescence intensity was higher in the parenchyma and lower in the cerebrovasculature of VEGF-treated animals compared to controls. No significant brain edema was observed by diffusion weighted MRI (DWI) or histological staining. Exogenous application of VEGF can increase the permeability of the BBB without causing brain edema. Pretreatment with VEGF may be a feasible method to facilitate drug delivery into the CNS.
PMCID: PMC3925082  PMID: 24551038
22.  AcT-2: A Novel Myotropic and Antimicrobial Type 2 Tryptophyllin from the Skin Secretion of the Central American Red-Eyed Leaf Frog, Agalychnis callidryas 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:158546.
Tryptophyllins are a diverse family of amphibian peptides originally found in extracts of phyllomedusine frog skin by chemical means. Their biological activities remain obscure. Here we describe the isolation and preliminary pharmacological characterization of a novel type 2 tryptophyllin, named AcT-2, from the skin secretion of the red-eyed leaf frog, Agalychnis callidryas. The peptide was initially identified during smooth muscle pharmacological screening of skin secretion HPLC fractions and the unique primary structure—GMRPPWF-NH2—was established by both Edman degradation and electrospray MS/MS fragmentation sequencing. A. cDNA encoding the biosynthetic precursor of AcT-2 was successfully cloned from a skin secretion-derived cDNA library by means of RACE PCR and this contained an open-reading frame consisting of 62 amino acid residues with a single AcT-2 encoding sequence located towards the C-terminus. A synthetic replicate of AcT-2 was found to relax arterial smooth muscle (EC50 = 5.1 nM) and to contract rat urinary bladder smooth muscle (EC50 = 9.3 μM). The peptide could also inhibit the growth of the microorganisms, Staphylococcus aureus, (MIC = 256 mg/L) Escherichia coli (MIC = 512 mg/L), and Candida albicans (128 mg/L). AcT-2 is thus the first amphibian skin tryptophyllin found to possess both myotropic and antimicrobial activities.
PMCID: PMC3947715
23.  MiR-200a inhibits epithelial-mesenchymal transition of pancreatic cancer stem cell 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:85.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers, and the aggressiveness of pancreatic cancer is in part due to its intrinsic and extrinsic drug resistance characteristics, which are also associated with the acquisition of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Increasing evidence suggests that EMT-type cells share many biological characteristics with cancer stem-like cells. And miR-200 has been identified as a powerful regulator of EMT.
Cancer Stem Cells (CSCs) of human pancreatic cancer cell line PANC-1 were processed for CD24, CD44 and ESA multi-colorstaining, and sorted out on a BD FACS Aria II machine. RT-qPCR was performed using the miScript PCR Kit to assay the expression of miR-200 family. In order to find the role of miR-200a in the process of EMT, miR-200a mimic was transfected to CSCs.
Pancreatic cancer cells with EMT phenotype displayed stem-like cell features characterized by the expression of cell surface markers CD24, CD44 and epithelial-specific antigen (ESA), which was associated with decreased expression of miR-200a. Moreover, overexpression of miR-200a was resulted in down-regulation of N-cadherin, ZEB1 and vimentin, but up-regulation of E-cadherin. In addition, miR-200a overexpression inhibited cell migration and invasion in CSCs.
In our study, we found that miR-200a played an important role in linking the characteristics of cancer stem-like cells with EMT-like cell signatures in pancreatic cancer. Selective elimination of cancer stem-like cells by reversing the EMT phenotype to mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) phenotype using novel agents would be useful for prevention and/or treatment of pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC3923443  PMID: 24521357
CSC; EMT; Pancreatic cancer; miR-200a
24.  PIK3CA Mutations Frequently Coexist with EGFR/KRAS Mutations in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and Suggest Poor Prognosis in EGFR/KRAS Wildtype Subgroup 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88291.
PIK3CA gene encoding a catalytic subunit of the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) is mutated and/or amplified in various neoplasia, including lung cancer. Here we investigated PIK3CA gene alterations, the expression of core components of PI3K pathway, and evaluated their clinical importance in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Materials and methods
Oncogenic mutations/rearrangements in PIK3CA, EGFR, KRAS, HER2, BRAF, AKT1 and ALK genes were detected in tumors from 1117 patients with NSCLC. PIK3CA gene copy number was examined by fluorescent in situ hybridization and the expression of PI3K p110 subunit alpha (PI3K p110α), p-Akt, mTOR, PTEN was determined by immunohistochemistry in PIK3CA mutant cases and 108 patients without PIK3CA mutation.
PIK3CA mutation was found in 3.9% of squamous cell carcinoma and 2.7% of adenocarcinoma. Among 34 PIK3CA mutant cases, 17 tumors harbored concurrent EGFR mutations and 4 had KRAS mutations. PIK3CA mutation was significantly associated with high expression of PI3K p110α (p<0.0001), p-Akt (p = 0.024) and mTOR (p = 0.001), but not correlated with PIK3CA amplification (p = 0.463). Patients with single PIK3CA mutation had shorter overall survival than those with PIK3CA-EGFR/KRAS co-mutation or wildtype PIK3CA (p = 0.004). A significantly worse survival was also found in patients with PIK3CA mutations than those without PIK3CA mutations in the EGFR/KRAS wildtype subgroup (p = 0.043)
PIK3CA mutations frequently coexist with EGFR/KRAS mutations. The poor prognosis of patients with single PIK3CA mutation in NSCLC and the prognostic value of PIK3CA mutation in EGFR/KRAS wildtype subgroup suggest the distinct mutation status of PIK3CA gene should be determined for individual therapeutic strategies in NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3922761  PMID: 24533074
25.  Alternative splicing during Arabidopsis flower development results in constitutive and stage-regulated isoforms 
Alternative splicing (AS) is a process in eukaryotic gene expression, in which the primary transcript of a multi-exon gene is spliced into two or more different mature transcripts, thereby increasing proteome diversity. AS is often regulated differentially between different tissues or developmental stages. Recent studies suggested that up to 60% of intron-containing genes in Arabidopsis thaliana undergo AS. Yet little is known about this complicated and important process during floral development. To investigate the preferential expression of different isoforms of individual alternatively spliced genes, we used high throughput RNA-Seq technology to explore the transcriptomes of three floral development stages of Arabidopsis thaliana and obtained information of various AS events. We identified approximately 24,000 genes that were expressed at one or more of these stages, and found that nearly 25% of multi-exon genes had two or more spliced variants. This is less frequent than the previously reported 40–60% for multiple organs and stages of A. thaliana, indicating that many genes expressed in floral development function with a single predominant isoform. On the other hand, 1716 isoforms were differentially expressed between the three stages, suggesting that AS might still play important roles in stage transition during floral development. Moreover, 337 novel transcribed regions were identified and most of them have a single exon. Taken together, our analyses provide a comprehensive survey of AS in floral development and facilitate further genomic and genetic studies.
PMCID: PMC3921568  PMID: 24575124
alternative splicing; floral development; RNA-Seq; stage transition; novel transcribed regions

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