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1.  Sperm DNA oxidative damage and DNA adducts 
The objective of this study was to investigate DNA damage and adducts in sperm from coke oven workers who have been exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. A longitudinal study was conducted with repeated measurements during spermatogenesis. Coke-oven workers (n=112) from a coke-oven plant served the PAH-exposed group, while administrators and security personnel (n=67) served the control. Routine semen parameters (concentration, motility, vitality, and morphology) were analyzed simultaneously; the assessment of sperm DNA integrity endpoints included DNA fragmentation, bulky DNA adducts, and 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-oxo-dGuo). The degree of sperm DNA fragmentation was measured using the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end-labeling (TUNEL) assay and sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA). The PAH-exposed group had a significant increase in bulky DNA adducts and 8-oxo-dGuo compared to the control subjects (Ps = 0.002 and 0.045, respectively). Coke oven workers' percentages of DNA fragmentation and denaturation from the PAH-exposed group were not significantly different from those of the control subjects (Ps = 0.232 and 0.245, respectively). Routine semen parameters and DNA integrity endpoints were not correlated. Concentrations of 8-oxo-dGuo were positively correlated with percentages of DNA fragmentation measured by both TUNEL and SCSA (Ps = 0.045 and 0.034, respectively). However, the concentrations of 8-oxo-dGuo and percentages of DNA fragmentation did not correlate with concentrations of bulky DNA adducts. In summary, coke oven workers with chronic exposure to PAHs experienced decreased sperm DNA integrity. Oxidative stress could contribute to the degree of DNA fragmentation. Bulky DNA adducts may be independent of the formation of DNA fragmentation and oxidative adducts in sperm. Monitoring sperm DNA integrity is recommended as a part of the process of assessing the impact of occupational and environmental toxins on sperm.
PMCID: PMC4680842  PMID: 26653986
DNA integrity; DNA fragmentation; bulky DNA adducts; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; semen quality
2.  Identification of CiaR Regulated Genes That Promote Group B Streptococcal Virulence and Interaction with Brain Endothelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(4):e0153891.
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a major causative agent of neonatal meningitis due to its ability to efficiently cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and enter the central nervous system (CNS). It has been demonstrated that GBS can invade human brain microvascular endothelial cells (hBMEC), a primary component of the BBB; however, the mechanism of intracellular survival and trafficking is unclear. We previously identified a two component regulatory system, CiaR/H, which promotes GBS intracellular survival in hBMEC. Here we show that a GBS strain deficient in the response regulator, CiaR, localized more frequently with Rab5, Rab7 and LAMP1 positive vesicles. Further, lysosomes isolated from hBMEC contained fewer viable bacteria following initial infection with the ΔciaR mutant compared to the WT strain. To characterize the contribution of CiaR-regulated genes, we constructed isogenic mutant strains lacking the two most down-regulated genes in the CiaR-deficient mutant, SAN_2180 and SAN_0039. These genes contributed to bacterial uptake and intracellular survival. Furthermore, competition experiments in mice showed that WT GBS had a significant survival advantage over the Δ2180 and Δ0039 mutants in the bloodstream and brain.
PMCID: PMC4839699  PMID: 27100296
3.  Fluoxetine regulates mTOR signalling in a region-dependent manner in depression-like mice 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:16024.
Previous studies have demonstrated that the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway has an important role in ketamine-induced, rapid antidepressant effects despite the acute administration of fluoxetine not affecting mTOR phosphorylation in the brain. However, the effects of long-term fluoxetine treatment on mTOR modulation have not been assessed to date. In the present study, we examined whether fluoxetine, a type of commonly used antidepressant agent, alters mTOR signaling following chronic administration in different brain regions, including the frontal cortex, hippocampus, amygdala and hypothalamus. We also investigated whether fluoxetine enhanced synaptic protein levels in these regions via the activation of the mTOR signaling pathway and its downstream regulators, p70S6K and 4E-BP-1. The results indicated that chronic fluoxetine treatment attenuated the chronic, unpredictable, mild stress (CUMS)-induced mTOR phosphorylation reduction in the hippocampus and amygdala of mice but not in the frontal cortex or the hypothalamus. Moreover, the CUMS-decreased PSD-95 and synapsin I levels were reversed by fluoxetine, and these effects were blocked by rapamycin only in the hippocampus. In conclusion, our findings suggest that chronic treatment with fluoxetine can induce synaptic protein expression by activating the mTOR signaling pathway in a region-dependent manner and mainly in the hippocampus.
PMCID: PMC4629199  PMID: 26522512
4.  TRB3 links insulin/IGF to tumour promotion by interacting with p62 and impeding autophagic/proteasomal degradations 
Nature Communications  2015;6:7951.
High insulin/IGF is a biologic link between diabetes and cancers, but the underlying molecular mechanism remains unclear. Here we report a previously unrecognized tumour-promoting mechanism for stress protein TRB3, which mediates a reciprocal antagonism between autophagic and proteasomal degradation systems and connects insulin/IGF to malignant promotion. We find that several human cancers express higher TRB3 and phosphorylated insulin receptor substrate 1, which correlates negatively with patient's prognosis. TRB3 depletion protects against tumour-promoting actions of insulin/IGF and attenuates tumour initiation, growth and metastasis in mice. TRB3 interacts with autophagic receptor p62 and hinders p62 binding to LC3 and ubiquitinated substrates, which causes p62 deposition and suppresses autophagic/proteasomal degradation. Several tumour-promoting factors accumulate in cancer cells to support tumour metabolism, proliferation, invasion and metastasis. Interrupting TRB3/p62 interaction produces potent antitumour efficacies against tumour growth and metastasis. Our study opens possibility of targeting this interaction as a potential novel strategy against cancers with diabetes.
High insulin/IGF is a biologic link between diabetes and cancer. Here, the authors show a tumour promoting mechanism for stress protein TRB3 which mediates a reciprocal antagonism between autophagic and proteasomal degradation systems and connects insulin/IGF to malignant promotion.
PMCID: PMC4557121  PMID: 26268733
5.  Management of rheumatoid arthritis in People’s Republic of China – focus on tocilizumab and patient considerations 
The prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is 0.19%–0.41% in Chinese population. RA exerts profound influence on health-related quality of life (HRQoL), which imposed huge burdens on patients physically, mentally, and economically. As a developing country, People’s Republic of China faces enormous challenges in management of RA. Conventional-synthesized disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (csDMARDs) remain the most selective therapeutic options for RA in People’s Republic of China owing to their affordable price and fair efficacy as well as tolerability. Unfortunately, there are substantial RA patients who are poor responders to csDMARDs, even to subsequently combined therapy with tumor necrosis factor antagonist (anti-TNF). Tocilizumab (TCZ) has been approved as a subsequent-line biological agent in patients with moderate-to-severe RA worldwide including People’s Republic of China. TCZ is the first biological agent approved for the treatment of RA inhibiting interlukin-6 (IL-6) by blocking both membrane-bound and soluble IL-6 receptors. Open-label studies in real-life practice and strictly controlled clinical trials demonstrated its high efficacy and safety profile in treatment of patients with RA who have inadequate responses to csDMARDs and anti-TNF. HRQoL of RA patients was improved in various measurements. TCZ was associated with 1.2 times the risk of adverse events, such as infections, dyslipidemia, and hepatic transaminases elevation, compared with pooled placebo. A relatively long half-life allowing for monthly intravenous administration and a newly developed subcutaneous injection make TCZ more acceptable. However, data are not enough so far comparing TCZ to anti-TNF. Lack of evidence in Chinese patients and high cost of TCZ limit its prescription in People’s Republic of China being a developing country. Further clinical trials and post-marketing surveillance may offer a comprehensive assessment of patient satisfaction and acceptability, which may help us define the optimal role for TCZ in therapeutic strategy.
PMCID: PMC4435442  PMID: 25999757
rheumatoid arthritis; IL-6; tocilizumab; People’s Republic of China; health-related quality of life
6.  Identification of a Group B Streptococcal Fibronectin Binding Protein, SfbA, That Contributes to Invasion of Brain Endothelium and Development of Meningitis 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(6):2276-2286.
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is currently the leading cause of neonatal meningitis. This is due to its ability to survive and multiply in the bloodstream and interact with specialized human brain microvascular endothelial cells (hBMEC), which constitute the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The exact mechanism(s) of GBS-BBB penetration is still largely unknown. We and others have shown that GBS interacts with components of the extracellular matrix. In this study, we demonstrate that GBS of representative serotypes binds immobilized and cell surface fibronectin and identify a putative fibronectin binding protein, streptococcal fibronectin binding protein A (SfbA). Allelic replacement of sfbA in the GBS chromosome resulted in a significant decrease in ability to bind fibronection and invade hBMEC compared with the wild-type (WT) parental strain. Expression of SfbA in the noninvasive strain Lactococcus lactis was sufficient to promote fibronectin binding and hBMEC invasion. Furthermore, the addition of an antifibronectin antibody or an RGD peptide that blocks fibronectin binding to integrins significantly reduced invasion of the WT but not the sfbA-deficient mutant strain, demonstrating the importance of an SfbA-fibronectin-integrin interaction for GBS cellular invasion. Using a murine model of GBS meningitis, we also observed that WT GBS penetrated the brain and established meningitis more frequently than did the ΔsfbA mutant strain. Our data suggest that GBS SfbA plays an important role in bacterial interaction with BBB endothelium and the pathogenesis of streptococcal meningitis.
PMCID: PMC4019170  PMID: 24643538
7.  Analysis of Two-Component Systems in Group B Streptococcus Shows That RgfAC and the Novel FspSR Modulate Virulence and Bacterial Fitness 
mBio  2014;5(3):e00870-14.
Group B Streptococcus (GBS), in the transition from commensal organisms to pathogens, will encounter diverse host environments and, thus, require coordinated control of the transcriptional responses to these changes. This work was aimed at better understanding the role of two-component signal transduction systems (TCS) in GBS pathophysiology through a systematic screening procedure. We first performed a complete inventory and sensory mechanism classification of all putative GBS TCS by genomic analysis. Five TCS were further investigated by the generation of knockout strains, and in vitro transcriptome analysis identified genes regulated by these systems, ranging from 0.1% to 3% of the genome. Interestingly, two sugar phosphotransferase systems appeared to be differentially regulated in the TCS-16 knockout strain (TCS loci were numbered in order of their appearance on the chromosome), suggesting an involvement in monitoring carbon source availability. High-throughput analysis of bacterial growth on different carbon sources showed that TCS-16 was necessary for the growth of GBS on fructose-6-phosphate. Additional transcriptional analysis provided further evidence for a stimulus-response circuit where extracellular fructose-6-phosphate leads to autoinduction of TCS-16, with concomitant dramatic upregulation of the adjacent operon, which encodes a phosphotransferase system. The TCS-16-deficient strain exhibited decreased persistence in a model of vaginal colonization. All mutant strains were also characterized in a murine model of systemic infection, and inactivation of TCS-17 (also known as RgfAC) resulted in hypervirulence. Our data suggest a role for the previously unknown TCS-16, here named FspSR, in bacterial fitness and carbon metabolism during host colonization, and the data also provide experimental evidence for TCS-17/RgfAC involvement in virulence.
Two-component systems have been evolved by bacteria to detect environmental changes, and they play key roles in pathogenicity. A comprehensive analysis of TCS in GBS has not been performed previously. In this work, we classify 21 TCS and present evidence for the involvement of two specific TCS in GBS virulence and colonization in vivo. Although pinpointing specific TCS stimuli is notoriously difficult, we used a combination of techniques to identify two systems with different effects on GBS pathogenesis. For one of the systems, we propose that fructose-6-phosphate, a metabolite in glycolysis, is sufficient to induce a regulatory response involving a sugar transport system. Our catalogue and classification of TCS may guide further studies into the role of TCS in GBS pathogenicity and biology.
PMCID: PMC4030450  PMID: 24846378
8.  Genetic variant in IL33 is associated with susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2014;16(2):R105.
Interleukin (IL)-33 is a proinflammatory cytokine contributing to the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The gene encoding IL-33 may serve as a genetic factor and be associated with the risk of RA. To investigate the potential association between IL33 and RA, we performed a case–control study based on Chinese Han population.
A three-stage case–control study was performed. Two tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs7044343 and rs10975514), mapping to the IL33 gene, were first genotyped in the discovery population. We further genotyped rs7044343 and rs10975514 in the validation and replication population. The associations between the two tag SNPs and phenotypic subgroups of RA and levels of serum IL-33 were assessed with a logistic regression model.
In the discovery population, the CC genotype of rs7044343 was associated with RA patients (odds ratio (OR) = 0.777, 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.611 to 0.988; P = 0.040). After anti-citrullinated peptide antibody (ACPA) stratification, the CC genotype of rs7044343 was also shown to be a protective genotype in RA without ACPA (OR = 0.610; 95% CI, 0.379 to 0.982; P = 0.042). In the validation population and replication population, the association between rs7044343 and RA, especially ACPA-negative RA, was still significant. A meta-analysis of discovery, validation, and replication panels confirmed the association between CC genotype of rs7044343 and RA (Pcombined = 0.0004; ORcombined = 0.77; 95% CI, 0.67 to 0.89). No evidence was found for heterogeneity between three sample sets (Phet = 0.99; I2 = 0%). Similar results were also obtained in ACPA-negative RA (Pcombined = 0.0002; ORcombined = 0.57; 95% CI, 0.43 to 0.77). No association was detected between rs10975514 polymorphism and RA susceptibility in the discovery and validation population. The serum levels of IL-33 were significantly lower in the patients with the rs7044343 CC genotype.
The CC genotype of rs7044343 in IL33 is associated with RA patients and downregulates IL-33 expression in RA.
PMCID: PMC4075243  PMID: 24779919
9.  Antilymphocyte Antibodies in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Association with Disease Activity and Lymphopenia 
Journal of Immunology Research  2014;2014:672126.
Purpose. We analyzed the prevalence, clinical correlation, and the functional significance of ALA in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Methods. ALA IgG was detected by indirect immunofluorescence in the serum of 130 SLE patients, 75 patients with various rheumatic diseases, and 45 healthy controls (HC). Results. The sensitivity and specificity of ALA IgG in SLE were 42.3% and 96.7%, respectively. ALA was observed in 55.6% (50/90) of patients with lymphopenia, which was significantly higher than in patients with normal lymphocytes (5/40, 12.5%; P < 0.001). Patients with active SLE showed higher ALA positivity (60.9%) than those with inactive disease (24.2%; χ2 = 17.925; P < 0.001). ALA correlated significantly with hypocomplementemia, anti-dsDNA antibodies, and higher SLEDAI scores. The incidences of ALA in SLE patients who were seronegative for anti-dsDNA, anti-Sm, or both antibodies were 32.9% (26/79), 41.0% (43/105), and 32.4% (22/68), respectively. The ALA-positive group also had higher incidences of neuropsychiatric SLE (NPSLE) and lupus nephritis (LN). In multivariate analyses, ALA was independently associated with lymphopenia, higher SLEDAI scores, and increased risk for LN. ALA titers significantly decreased as clinical disease was ameliorated following treatment. Conclusions. ALA occurred more frequently in patients with active SLE and was independently associated with lymphopenia, disease activity, and LN.
PMCID: PMC4016860  PMID: 24860837
11.  Conserved and variable structural elements in the 5′ untranslated region of two hypoviruses from the filamentous fungus Cryphonectria parasitica 
Virus research  2011;161(2):10.1016/j.virusres.2011.07.023.
Virulence-attenuating viruses (hypoviruses) of the filamentous fungus Cryphonectria parasitica, the causative agent of chestnut blight, have become a premier model for understanding the molecular biology of mycoviruses. However, a major gap exists in current understanding of structure and function of the untranslated regions (UTRs) of the hypovirus RNA genome, despite considerable evidence that secondary and tertiary UTR structure plays a crucial role in the control of translation and genome replication in other systems. In this study we have used structure prediction software coupled with RNase digestion studies to develop validated structural models for the 5′ UTRs of the two best-characterized members of the Hypoviridae, CHV1-EP713 and CHV1-Euro7. These two hypovirus strains exhibit significant variation in virulence attenuation despite sharing >90 % sequence identity. Our models reveal highly structured regions in the 5′ UTR of both strains, with numerous stem-loops suggestive of internal ribosome entry sites. However, considerable differences in the size and complexity of structural elements exist between the two strains. These data will guide future, mutagenesis-based studies of the structural requirements for hypovirus genome replication and translation.
PMCID: PMC3837689  PMID: 21884737
mycovirus; secondary structure; Cryphonectria parasitica; hypovirus; Mfold; RNA virus
12.  Increased IL-33 in Synovial Fluid and Paired Serum Is Associated with Disease Activity and Autoantibodies in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Objectives. IL-33, a newly found cytokine which is involved in joint inflammation, could be blocked by a decoy receptor—sST2. The expression and correlation of IL-33 and sST2 in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are of great interest. Methods. Synovial fluid (SF) was obtained from 120 RA and 30 osteoarthritis (OA) patients, and paired sera were collected from 54 of these RA patients. The levels of IL-33 and sST2 were measured by ELISA. Results. SF IL-33 was significantly higher in RA than in OA, which was correlated with disease activity score 28, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, rheumatoid factor (RF)-IgM, RF-IgG, glucose phosphate isomerase (GPI), and immunoglobulin. Serum IL-33 was correlated positively with SF IL-33 in RA. Furthermore, it was correlated with RF-IgM and GPI. sST2 was partly detectable in RA (13 out of 54, 24.1%), while not in OA. Serum sST2 in RA had no significant correlation with serum IL-33 or SF IL-33. However, SFs from both RA and OA patients did not express sST2. Conclusions. This study supported that IL-33 played an important role in the local pathogenesis of RA. Considering the tight correlation between IL-33 and clinical features, it may become a new target of local treatment.
PMCID: PMC3782822  PMID: 24106520
13.  Correction: Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1α and Interleukin 33 Form a Regulatory Circuit to Perpetuate the Inflammation in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):10.1371/annotation/f61a5d49-25e7-47ce-8509-6478df526886.
PMCID: PMC3758480
14.  Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1α and Interleukin 33 Form a Regulatory Circuit to Perpetuate the Inflammation in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72650.
Hyperplasia of synovial fibroblasts, infiltration with inflammatory cytokines, and tissue hypoxia are the major characteristics of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Interleukin 33 (IL-33) is a newly identified inflammatory cytokine exacerbating the disease severity of RA. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) showed increased expression in RA synovium and could regulate a number of inflammatory cytokine productions. Nevertheless, its correlation with IL-33 remains largely unknown. Here, we showed that elevated levels of IL-33 were demonstrated in RA patient synovial fluids, with upregulated expression of HIF-1α and IL-33 in the synovial fibroblasts. Knocking down HIF-1α compromised IL-33 expression in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RASF), while enforcing HIF-1α expression in RASF substantially upregulated IL-33 levels. HIF-1α promoted the activation of the signalling pathways controlling IL-33 production, particularly the p38 and ERK pathways. Moreover, we showed for the first time that IL-33 in turn could induce more HIF-1α expression in RASF, thus forming a HIF-1α/IL-33 regulatory circuit that would perpetuate the inflammatory process in RA. Targeting this pathological pathway and HIF-1α may provide new therapeutic strategies for overcoming the persistent and chronic inflammatory disease.
PMCID: PMC3744448  PMID: 23967327
15.  Human and Methodological Sources of Variability in the Measurement of Urinary 8-Oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′-deoxyguanosine 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2013;18(18):2377-2391.
Aims: Urinary 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG) is a widely used biomarker of oxidative stress. However, variability between chromatographic and ELISA methods hampers interpretation of data, and this variability may increase should urine composition differ between individuals, leading to assay interference. Furthermore, optimal urine sampling conditions are not well defined. We performed inter-laboratory comparisons of 8-oxodG measurement between mass spectrometric-, electrochemical- and ELISA-based methods, using common within-technique calibrants to analyze 8-oxodG-spiked phosphate-buffered saline and urine samples. We also investigated human subject- and sample collection-related variables, as potential sources of variability. Results: Chromatographic assays showed high agreement across urines from different subjects, whereas ELISAs showed far more inter-laboratory variation and generally overestimated levels, compared to the chromatographic assays. Excretion rates in timed ‘spot’ samples showed strong correlations with 24 h excretion (the ‘gold’ standard) of urinary 8-oxodG (rp 0.67–0.90), although the associations were weaker for 8-oxodG adjusted for creatinine or specific gravity (SG). The within-individual excretion of 8-oxodG varied only moderately between days (CV 17% for 24 h excretion and 20% for first void, creatinine-corrected samples). Innovation: This is the first comprehensive study of both human and methodological factors influencing 8-oxodG measurement, providing key information for future studies with this important biomarker. Conclusion: ELISA variability is greater than chromatographic assay variability, and cannot determine absolute levels of 8-oxodG. Use of standardized calibrants greatly improves intra-technique agreement and, for the chromatographic assays, importantly allows integration of results for pooled analyses. If 24 h samples are not feasible, creatinine- or SG-adjusted first morning samples are recommended. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 18, 2377–2391.
PMCID: PMC3671631  PMID: 23198723
16.  The History and Advances of Reversible Terminators Used in New Generations of Sequencing Technology 
DNA sequencing using reversible terminators, as one sequencing by synthesis strategy, has garnered a great deal of interest due to its popular application in the second-generation high-throughput DNA sequencing technology. In this review, we provided its history of development, classification, and working mechanism of this technology. We also outlined the screening strategies for DNA polymerases to accommodate the reversible terminators as substrates during polymerization; particularly, we introduced the “REAP” method developed by us. At the end of this review, we discussed current limitations of this approach and provided potential solutions to extend its application.
PMCID: PMC4357665  PMID: 23414612
DNA polymerases; Sequencing technology; Modified nucleotide; Primer extension; Reversible terminator; Sequencing by synthesis
17.  Binding of Glycoprotein Srr1 of Streptococcus agalactiae to Fibrinogen Promotes Attachment to Brain Endothelium and the Development of Meningitis 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(10):e1002947.
The serine-rich repeat glycoprotein Srr1 of Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS) is thought to be an important adhesin for the pathogenesis of meningitis. Although expression of Srr1 is associated with increased binding to human brain microvascular endothelial cells (hBMEC), the molecular basis for this interaction is not well defined. We now demonstrate that Srr1 contributes to GBS attachment to hBMEC via the direct interaction of its binding region (BR) with human fibrinogen. When assessed by Far Western blotting, Srr1 was the only protein in GBS extracts that bound fibrinogen. Studies using recombinant Srr1-BR and purified fibrinogen in vitro confirmed a direct protein-protein interaction. Srr1-BR binding was localized to amino acids 283–410 of the fibrinogen Aα chain. Structural predictions indicated that the conformation of Srr1-BR is likely to resemble that of SdrG and other related staphylococcal proteins that bind to fibrinogen through a “dock, lock, and latch” mechanism (DLL). Deletion of the predicted latch domain of Srr1-BR abolished the interaction of the BR with fibrinogen. In addition, a mutant GBS strain lacking the latch domain exhibited reduced binding to hBMEC, and was significantly attenuated in an in vivo model of meningitis. These results indicate that Srr1 can bind fibrinogen directly likely through a DLL mechanism, which has not been described for other streptococcal adhesins. This interaction was important for the pathogenesis of GBS central nervous system invasion and subsequent disease progression.
Author Summary
Streptococcus agalactiae (Group B streptococcus, GBS) is a leading cause of meningitis in newborns and infants. This life-threatening infection of the brain and surrounding tissues continues to result in a high incidence of morbidity and mortality, despite antibiotic therapy. A key factor in disease production is the ability of this organism to invade the central nervous system, via the bloodstream. We now report that a GBS surface protein called Srr1 binds fibrinogen, a major protein in human blood. This interaction enhances the attachment of GBS to brain vascular endothelial cells, and contributes to the development of meningitis. A mutation in Srr1 that specifically disrupted binding to fibrinogen significantly reduced GBS attachment to brain endothelium, and markedly reduced virulence in an in vivo model of GBS disease. These studies have identified a new mechanism by which Srr1 contributes to GBS invasion of the central nervous system and may provide a basis for novel therapies targeting Srr1 binding.
PMCID: PMC3464228  PMID: 23055927
18.  Therapeutic potential of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(6):R210.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a T-cell-mediated systemic autoimmune disease, characterized by synovium inflammation and articular destruction. Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) could be effective in the treatment of several autoimmune diseases. However, there has been thus far no report on umbilical cord (UC)-MSCs in the treatment of RA. Here, potential immunosuppressive effects of human UC-MSCs in RA were evaluated.
The effects of UC-MSCs on the responses of fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) and T cells in RA patients were explored. The possible molecular mechanism mediating this immunosuppressive effect of UC-MSCs was explored by addition of inhibitors to indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), Nitric oxide (NO), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1) and interleukin 10 (IL-10). The therapeutic effects of systemic infusion of human UC-MSCs on collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) in a mouse model were explored.
In vitro, UC-MSCs were capable of inhibiting proliferation of FLSs from RA patients, via IL-10, IDO and TGF-β1. Furthermore, the invasive behavior and IL-6 secretion of FLSs were also significantly suppressed. On the other hand, UC-MSCs induced hyporesponsiveness of T cells mediated by PGE2, TGF-β1 and NO and UC-MSCs could promote the expansion of CD4+ Foxp3+ regulatory T cells from RA patients. More importantly, systemic infusion of human UC-MSCs reduced the severity of CIA in a mouse model. Consistently, there were reduced levels of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines (TNF-α, IL-6 and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1) and increased levels of the anti-inflammatory/regulatory cytokine (IL-10) in sera of UC-MSCs treated mice. Moreover, such treatment shifted Th1/Th2 type responses and induced Tregs in CIA.
In conclusion, human UC-MSCs suppressed the various inflammatory effects of FLSs and T cells of RA in vitro, and attenuated the development of CIA in vivo, strongly suggesting that UC-MSCs might be a therapeutic strategy in RA. In addition, the immunosuppressive activitiy of UC-MSCs could be prolonged by the participation of Tregs.
PMCID: PMC3046518  PMID: 21080925
19.  Common Virulence Factors and Genetic Relationships between O18:K1:H7 Escherichia coli Isolates of Human and Avian Origin 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;44(10):3484-3492.
Extraintestinal pathogenic (ExPEC) Escherichia coli strains of serotype O18:K1:H7 are mainly responsible for neonatal meningitis and sepsis in humans and belong to a limited number of closely related clones. The same serotype is also frequently isolated from the extraintestinal lesions of colibacillosis in poultry, but it is not well known to what extent human and avian strains of this particular serotype are related. Twenty-two ExPEC isolates of human origin and 33 isolates of avian origin were compared on the basis of their virulence determinants, lethality for chicks, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns, and classification in the main phylogenetic groups. Both avian and human isolates were lethal for chicks and harbored similar virulence genotypes. A major virulence pattern, identified in 75% of the isolates, was characterized by the presence of F1 variant fimbriae; S fimbriae; IbeA; the aerobactin system; and genomic fragments A9, A12, D1, D7, D10, and D11 and by the absence of P fimbriae, F1C fimbriae, Afa adhesin, and CNF1. All but one of the avian and human isolates also belonged to major phylogenetic group B2. However, various subclonal populations could be distinguished by PFGE in relation to animal species and geographical origin. These results demonstrate that very closely related clones can be recovered from extraintestinal infections in humans and chickens and suggest that avian pathogenic E. coli isolates of serotype O18:K1:H7 are potential human pathogens.
PMCID: PMC1594794  PMID: 17021071
20.  Immunohistochemical assessment of angiogenesis in hepatocellular carcinoma and surrounding cirrhotic liver tissues 
AIM: To investigate whether vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was over-expressed in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or in surrounding cirrhotic liver tissues.
METHODS: Immunohistochemistry was performed to investigate the expression of VEGF proteins in HCC tissues from 105 consecutive patients undergoing curative resection for HCC. The immunostaining results and related clinicopathologic materials were analyzed with statistical methods. Kaplan–Meier method was used to calculate survival curves, and Log-rank test was performed to compare differences in survival rates of the patients with positive HCC staining and negative VEGF.
RESULTS: VEGF-positive expression was found in 72 of 105 HCC patients (68.6%). Capsular infiltration (P = 0.005), vascular invasion (P = 0.035) and intrahepatic metastasis (P = 0.008) were observed more frequently in patients with VEGF-positive expression than in those with VEGF-negative expression. Kaplan–Meier curves showed that VEGF-positive expression was associated with a shorter overall survival (P = 0.014). VEGF-positive expression was found in 47 of tissues 68 HCC (69.1%), and VEGF-positive expression was found in 54 of 68 surrounding cirrhotic liver tissues (79.4%). VEGF-positive expression was significantly higher in surrounding cirrhotic liver tissues than in HCC (P = 0.017).
CONCLUSION: VEGF may play an important role in the angiogenesis and prognosis of HCC, as well as in the angiogenesis of liver cirrhosis.
PMCID: PMC4250785  PMID: 15742396
Angiogenesis; Vascular endothelial growth factor; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Surrounding cirrhotic liver tissues

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