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1.  Customizable PCR-microplate array for differential identification of multiple pathogens 
Journal of food protection  2013;76(11):1948-1957.
Customizable PCR-microplate arrays were developed for the rapid identification of Francisella tularensis subsp. tularensis, Salmonella Typhi, Shigella dysenteriae, Yersinia pestis, Vibrio cholerae Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella Typhimurium, Salmonella Saintpaul, Francisella tularensis subsp. novicida, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. Previously, we identified highly specific primers targeting each of the pathogens above. Here, we report the development of customizable PCR-microplate arrays for simultaneous identification of the pathogens using the primers. A mixed aliquot of genomic DNA from 38 different strains was used to validate three PCR-microplate array formats. Identical PCR conditions were used to run all the samples on the three formats. Results show specific amplifications on all the three custom plates. In a preliminary test to evaluate the sensitivity of these assays in laboratory-inoculated samples, detection limits as low as 9 cfu/g/ml S. Typhimurium were obtained from beef hot dog, and 78 cfu/ml from milk. Such microplate arrays could serve as valuable tools for initial identification or secondary confirmation of these pathogens.
doi:10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-13-153
PMCID: PMC4269242  PMID: 24215700
foodborne pathogen; biothreat agents; PCR-microplate; molecular pathogen detection
2.  Simultaneous, specific and real-time detection of biothreat and frequently encountered food-borne pathogens 
Journal of food protection  2012;75(4):660-670.
The bacterial genera Escherichia, Salmonella, Shigella, Vibrio, Yersinia and Francisella include important food safety and biothreat agents causing food-related and other human illnesses worldwide. We aimed to develop rapid methods with the capability to simultaneously and differentially detect all six pathogens in one run. Our initial experiments to use previously reported sets of primers revealed non-specificity of some of the sequences when tested against a broader array of pathogens, or proved not optimal for simultaneous detection parameters. By extensive mining of the whole genome and protein databases of diverse closely and distantly related bacterial species and strains, we have identified unique genome regions, which we utilized to develop a detection platform. Twelve of the specific genomic targets we have identified to design the primers in F. tularensis ssp. tularensis, F. tularensis ssp. novicida, S. dysentriae, S. typhimurium, V. cholera, Y. pestis, and Y. pseudotuberculosis contained either hypothetical or putative proteins, the functions of which have not been clearly defined. Corresponding primer sets were designed from the target regions for use in real-time PCR assays to detect specific biothreat pathogens at species or strain levels. The primer sets were first tested by in-silico PCR against whole genome sequences of different species, sub-species, or strains and then by in vitro PCR against genomic DNA preparations from 23 strains representing six biothreat agents (E.coli O157:H7 strain EDL 933, Shigella dysentriae, Salmonella typhi, Francisella tularensis ssp. tularensis, Vibrio cholera, and Yersinia pestis) and six foodborne pathogens (Salmonella typhimurium, Salmonella saintpaul, Shigella sonnei, Francisella novicida, Vibrio parahemolytica and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis). Each pathogen was specifically identifiable at the genus and species levels. Sensitivity assays performed using purified DNA showed the lowest detection limit of 640 fg DNA/µl for F. tularensis. A preliminary test done to detect Shigella organisms in a milk matrix showed that 6–60 colony forming units of the bacterium per milliliter of milk could be detected in about an hour. Therefore, we have developed a platform to simultaneously detect foodborne pathogen and biothreat agents specifically and in real-time. Such a platform could enable rapid detection or confirmation of contamination by these agents.
doi:10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-11-480
PMCID: PMC3524339  PMID: 22488053
Biothreat agents; PCR; food-borne pathogens
3.  Effects of orange juice pH on survival, urease activity and DNA profiles of Yersinia enterocolitica and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis stored at 4 degree C 
Journal of food safety  2011;31(4):487-496.
The objective of this study was to determine the survival, growth rate and possible cellular adaptation mechanisms of Y. pseudotuberculosis and Y. enterocolitica in orange juice under different pH conditions. Yersinia was inoculated in orange juice with adjusted pH levels of 3.9, 4.0, and 7.0 and stored at 4 C for 3, 24, 72 and 168 hours (h). The inter-and intra-species variation is significant to the pH and time of incubation variables (p<0.05). At 3.9 pH the CFU (colony forming units) count decreased significantly.
At pH 3.9 and 4.0, Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis survived for at least 30 days and 15 days, respectively. Yersinia that survived under low pH in orange juice revealed enhanced urease activity within 12 h of incubation. The attachment gene (ail) could not be detected by PCR in Y. enterocolitica from undiluted sample incubated for 24 h or longer. Moreover, the FesI-restriction profile was altered when Y. pseudotuberculosis was stored at pH 4.0 orange juice for 7 days. These results indicate that Yersinia could survive and grow at low pH and the survival mechanisms could also enable the bacteria to survive the stomach pH barrier to cause enteric infection.
doi:10.1111/j.1745-4565.2011.00325.x
PMCID: PMC3212038  PMID: 22081735
4.  Ruta Graveolens Extract Induces DNA Damage Pathways and Blocks Akt Activation to Inhibit Cancer Cell Proliferation and Survival 
Anticancer research  2011;31(1):233-241.
Background
Ruta graveolens is a medicinal herb that has been used for centuries against various ailments. This study examined the anticancer properties of the herb using cancer cell lines.
Materials and Methods
Methanolic extract of R. graveolens was tested on colon, breast and prostate cancer cells. Viability, cell cycle profiles, clonogenicity and capase activation were measured. Induction and subcellular localizations of p53, 53BP1 and γ-H2AX proteins were examined.
Results
the extract dose-dependently decreased the viability and the clonogenicity of treated cells and induced G2/M arrest, aberrant mitoses, and caspase-3 activation. It also induced the p53 pathway and focal concentration of the DNA damage response proteins 53BP1 and γ-H2AX. Moreover, the levels of phospho-Akt and cyclin B1 were reduced by treatment, whereas only cyclin B1 was reduced in normal dermal fibroblasts.
Conclusion
R. graveolens extract contains bioactive compounds which, independently of known photoactivatable mechanisms, potently inhibit cancer cell proliferation and survival through multiple targets.
PMCID: PMC3124362  PMID: 21273604
Medicinal herb; bioactivity; p53 pathway; apoptosis
5.  The flavonoid quercetin transiently inhibits the activity of taxol and nocodazole through interference with the cell cycle 
Nutrition and cancer  2010;62(8):1025-1035.
Quercetin is a flavonoid with anticancer properties. In this study, we examined the effects of quercetin on cell cycle, viability and proliferation of cancer cells, either singly or in combination with the microtubule-targeting drugs taxol and nocodazole. Although quercetin induced cell death in a dose dependent manner, 12.5-50μM quercetin inhibited the activity of both taxol and nocodazole to induce G2/M arrest in various cell lines. Quercetin also partially restored drug-induced loss in viability of treated cells for up to 72 hours. This antagonism of microtubule-targeting drugs was accompanied by a delay in cell cycle progression and inhibition of the buildup of cyclin-B1 at the microtubule organizing center of treated cells. However, quercetin did not inhibit the microtubule targeting of taxol or nocodazole. Despite the short-term protection of cells by quercetin, colony formation and clonogenicity of HCT116 cells were still suppressed by quercetin or quercetin-taxol combination. The status of cell adherence to growth matrix was critical in determining the sensitivity of HCT116 cells to quercetin. We conclude that while long-term exposure of cancer cells to quercetin may prevent cell proliferation and survival, the interference of quercetin with cell cycle progression diminishes the efficacy of microtubule-targeting drugs to arrest cells at G2/M.
doi:10.1080/01635581.2010.492087
PMCID: PMC3021775  PMID: 21058190
quercetin; cell cycle; taxol; nocodazole; drug-diet interaction; flavonoid
6.  Early Growth Response Gene 1–mediated Apoptosis Is Essential for Transforming Growth Factor β1–induced Pulmonary Fibrosis 
Fibrosis and apoptosis are juxtaposed in pulmonary disorders such as asthma and the interstitial diseases, and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 has been implicated in the pathogenesis of these responses. However, the in vivo effector functions of TGF-β1 in the lung and its roles in the pathogenesis of these responses are not completely understood. In addition, the relationships between apoptosis and other TGF-β1–induced responses have not been defined. To address these issues, we targeted bioactive TGF-β1 to the murine lung using a novel externally regulatable, triple transgenic system. TGF-β1 produced a transient wave of epithelial apoptosis that was followed by mononuclear-rich inflammation, tissue fibrosis, myofibroblast and myocyte hyperplasia, and septal rupture with honeycombing. Studies of these mice highlighted the reversibility of this fibrotic response. They also demonstrated that a null mutation of early growth response gene (Egr)-1 or caspase inhibition blocked TGF-β1–induced apoptosis. Interestingly, both interventions markedly ameliorated TGF-β1–induced fibrosis and alveolar remodeling. These studies illustrate the complex effects of TGF-β1 in vivo and define the critical role of Egr-1 in the TGF-β1 phenotype. They also demonstrate that Egr-1–mediated apoptosis is a prerequisite for TGF-β1–induced fibrosis and remodeling.
doi:10.1084/jem.20040104
PMCID: PMC2211975  PMID: 15289506
asthma; pulmonary fibrosis; fibrosis reversibility; airway remodeling

Results 1-6 (6)