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1.  Suppression (but Not Reappraisal) Impairs Subsequent Error Detection: An ERP Study of Emotion Regulation's Resource-Depleting Effect 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e96339.
Past event-related potentials (ERPs) research shows that, after exerting effortful emotion inhibition, the neural correlates of performance monitoring (e.g. error-related negativity) were weakened. An undetermined issue is whether all forms of emotion regulation uniformly impair later performance monitoring. The present study compared the cognitive consequences of two emotion regulation strategies, namely suppression and reappraisal. Participants were instructed to suppress their emotions while watching a sad movie, or to adopt a neutral and objective attitude toward the movie, or to just watch the movie carefully. Then after a mood scale, all participants completed an ostensibly unrelated Stroop task, during which ERPs (i.e. error-related negativity (ERN), post-error positivity (Pe) and N450) were obtained. Reappraisal group successfully decreased their sad emotion, relative to the other two groups. Compared with participants in the control group and the reappraisal group, those who suppressed their emotions during the sad movie showed reduced ERN after error commission. Participants in the suppression group also made more errors in incongruent Stroop trials than the other two groups. There were no significant main effects or interactions of group for reaction time, Pe and N450. Results suggest that reappraisal is both more effective and less resource-depleting than suppression.
PMCID: PMC4002454  PMID: 24777113
2.  Cathepsin L Plays a Role in Quinolinic Acid-Induced NF-Κb Activation and Excitotoxicity in Rat Striatal Neurons 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75702.
The present study seeks to investigate the role of cathepsin L in glutamate receptor-induced transcription factor nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) activation and excitotoxicity in rats striatal neurons. Stereotaxic administration of the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor agonist Quinolinic acid (QA) into the unilateral striatum was used to produce the in vivo excitotoxic model. Co-administration of QA and the cathepsin L inhibitor Z-FF-FMK or 1-Naphthalenesulfonyl-IW-CHO (NaphthaCHO) was used to assess the contribution of cathepsin L to QA-induced striatal neuron death. Western blot analysis and cathepsin L activity assay were used to assess the changes in the levels of cathepsin L after QA treatment. Western blot analysis was used to assess the changes in the protein levels of inhibitor of NF-κB alpha isoform (IκB-α) and phospho-IκB alpha (p-IκBα) after QA treatment. Immunohistochemical analysis was used to detect the effects of Z-FF-FMK or NaphthaCHO on QA-induced NF-κB. Western blot analysis was used to detect the effects of Z-FF-FMK or NaphthaCHO on QA-induced IκB-α phosphorylation and degradation, changes in the levels of IKKα, p-IKKα, TP53, caspase-3, beclin1, p62, and LC3II/LC3I. The results show that QA-induced loss of striatal neurons were strongly inhibited by Z-FF-FMK or NaphthaCHO. QA-induced degradation of IκB-α, NF-κB nuclear translocation, up-regulation of NF-κB responsive gene TP53, and activation of caspase-3 was strongly inhibited by Z-FF-FMK or NaphthaCHO. QA-induced increases in beclin 1, LC3II/LC3I, and down-regulation of p62 were reduced by Z-FF-FMK or NaphthaCHO. These results suggest that cathepsin L is involved in glutamate receptor-induced NF-κB activation. Cathepsin L inhibitors have neuroprotective effects by inhibiting glutamate receptor-induced IκB-α degradation and NF-κB activation.
PMCID: PMC3779166  PMID: 24073275
3.  Differential expression and subcellular localization of Prohibitin 1 are related to tumorigenesis and progression of non-small cell lung cancer 
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for approximately 85% of all lung cancer. With a variety of biological functions, Prohibitin1 (PHB1) has been proved tumor-associated. But there are conflicting data regarding the involvement of PHB1 in tumorigenesis and few studies regarding the role of PHB1 in lung cancer. The studies reported herein used a combination of clinical observations and molecular methods to investigate the possible role of PHB1 in NSCLC tissues and cell lines. PHB1 expression was evaluated by RT-PCR, RT-qPCR, Western blotting and immunohistochemistry analysis. Flow cytometric analysis was used to determine the surface expression profiles of PHB1 in lung cell lines. The results showed that PHB1 expression were generally increased in lung cancer tissues when compared with matched noncancerous tissues and closely related with tumor differentiation and lymph node invasion. PHB1 expression levels was also increased in three lung cancer cell lines (SK-MES-1, NCI-H157 and NCI-H292) as compared with BEAS-2B cells. Moreover, there were various subcellular localization of PHB1 in different lung cancer cells and the presence of PHB1 on the surface of lung cancer cells was significantly reduced. In conclusion, PHB1 expression is increased in NSCLC and the up-regulation of PHB1 is associated with clinically aggressive phenotype. The different subcellular localization of PHB1 in NSCLC cells and the loss of the membrane-associated PHB1 probably related to the tumorigenesis and progression of NSCLC and suggests that PHB1 may play different roles in various types of NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3796231  PMID: 24133587
Prohibitin 1; up-regulation; subcellular localization; non-small cell lung cancer
4.  Treatment of radiation-induced hemorrhagic gastritis with prednisolone: A case report 
Radiation-induced gastritis is an infrequent cause of gastrointestinal bleeding. It is a serious complication arising from radiation therapy, and the standard treatment method has not been established. The initial injury is characteristically acute inflammation of gastric mucosa. We presented a 46-year-old male patient with hemorrhagic gastritis induced by external radiotherapy for metastatic retroperitoneal lymph node of hepatocellular carcinoma. The endoscopic examination showed diffuse edematous hyperemicmucosa with telangiectasias in the whole muscosa of the stomach and duodenal bulb. Multiple hemorrhagic patches with active oozing were found over the antrum. Anti-secretary therapy was initiated for hemostasis, but melena still occurred off and on. Finally, he was successfully treated by prednisolone therapy. We therefore strongly argue in favor of perdnisolone therapy to effectively treat patients with radiation-induced hemorrhagic gastritis.
PMCID: PMC3544049  PMID: 23326152
Hemorrhagic gastritis; Radiation; Prednisolone; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Gastrointestinal bleeding
5.  Genome-Wide Identification of MAPKK and MAPKKK Gene Families in Tomato and Transcriptional Profiling Analysis during Development and Stress Response 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e103032.
Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades have important functions in plant growth, development, and response to various stresses. The MAPKK and MAPKKK gene families in tomato have never been systematically analyzed. In this study, we performed a genome-wide analysis of the MAPKK and MAPKKK gene families in tomato and identified 5 MAPKK genes and 89 MAPKKK genes. Phylogenetic analyses of the MAPKK and MAPKKK gene families showed that all the MAPKK genes formed four groups (groups A, B, C, and D), whereas all the MAPKKK genes were classified into three subfamilies, namely, MEKK, RAF, and ZIK. Evolutionary analysis showed that whole genome or chromosomal segment duplications were the main factors responsible for the expansion of the MAPKK and MAPKKK gene families in tomato. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR analysis showed that the majority of MAPKK and MAPKKK genes were expressed in all tested organs with considerable differences in transcript levels indicating that they might be constitutively expressed. However, the expression level of most of these genes changed significantly under heat, cold, drought, salt, and Pseudomonas syringae treatment. Furthermore, their expression levels exhibited significant changes in response to salicylic acid and indole-3-acetic acid treatment, implying that these genes might have important roles in the plant hormone network. Our comparative analysis of the MAPKK and MAPKKK families would improve our understanding of the evolution and functional characterization of MAPK cascades in tomato.
PMCID: PMC4103895  PMID: 25036993
6.  Oral Microbiota Distinguishes Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Pediatric Hosts from Healthy Populations 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102116.
In leukemia, oral manifestations indicate aberrations in oral microbiota. Microbiota structure is determined by both host and environmental factors. In human hosts, how health status shapes the composition of oral microbiota is largely unknown. Taking advantage of advances in high-throughput sequencing, we compared the composition of supragingival plaque microbiota of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) pediatric patients with healthy controls. The oral microbiota of leukemia patients had lower richness and less diversity compared to healthy controls. Microbial samples clustered into two major groups, one of ALL patients and another of healthy children, with different structure and composition. Abundance changes of certain taxa including the Phylum Firmicutes, the Class Bacilli, the Order Lactobacillales, the Family Aerococcaceae and Carnobacteriaceae, as well as the Genus Abiotrophia and Granulicatella were associated with leukemia status. ALL patients demonstrated a structural imbalance of the oral microbiota, characterized by reduced diversity and abundance alterations, possibly involved in systemic infections, indicating the importance of immune status in shaping the structure of oral microbiota.
PMCID: PMC4099009  PMID: 25025462
7.  Lipid levels in serum and cancerous tissues of colorectal cancer patients 
AIM: To investigate the correlations between lipid metabolism disorder and the occurrence and development of colorectal cancer by monitoring the alterations in lipid levels in cancerous tissue and serum in patients with colorectal cancer.
METHODS: The levels of total and free cholesterol (TCH and FCH), triglycerides (TG), low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C), high density lipoprotein- cholesterol (HDL-C), apolipoprotein A1 (ApoA-1) and ApoB in serum of 206 patients with colorectal cancer, 70 patients with benign colorectal disease and 300 healthy participants, and in the cancerous tissue and paracancerous tissue of 152 patients with colorectal cancer were measured with an Olympus 600 auto-biochemical analyzer. The obtained data were statistically analyzed.
RESULTS: Serum FCH level was significantly higher (1.9 ± 0.4 mmol/L vs 1.3 ± 0.3 mmol/L, 1.9 ± 0.4 mmol/L vs 1.2 ± 0.4 mmol/L, P < 0.05), whereas serum levels of TCH, LDL-C, ApoA-I and ApoB were significantly lower in patients with colorectal cancer than in patients with benign colorectal disease and healthy controls. The levels of FCH and TG in cancerous tissue were significantly lower (14.5 ± 9.6 μmol/g vs 19.3 ± 13.9 μmol/g, P < 0.05; 16.3 ± 19.8 μmol/g vs 44.1 ± 38.1 μmol/g, P < 0.05), whereas HDL-C level was significantly higher (7.9 ± 4.5 μmol/g vs 5.7 ± 3.9 μmol/g, P < 0.01) in cancerous tissue than in paracancerous tissue. The levels of TCH and TG in serum and the levels of TCH and HDL-C in cancerous tissue in patients with colorectal cancer were significantly correlated with TNM stage. The levels of TCH and LDL-C in serum were significantly lower, whereas HDL-C level in cancerous tissue was significantly higher in patients with lymph node metastasis than in patients without lymph node metastasis. The levels of TCH, FCH, TG, HDL-C and LDL-C in cancerous tissue were not significantly different from those in paracancerous tissue. The serum levels of FCH and TG were significantly higher, whereas serum HDL-C levels were significantly lower in patients with rectum cancer than in patients with colon cancer.
CONCLUSION: The disordered and abnormally altered levels of lipids in cancerous tissue and serum of patients with colorectal cancer may be correlated with the occurrence and development of colorectal cancer.
PMCID: PMC4093716  PMID: 25024621
Colorectal cancer; Correlation; Lipid level; Occurrence; Progression
8.  Pancreatic Insulin-Producing Cells Differentiated from Human Embryonic Stem Cells Correct Hyperglycemia in SCID/NOD Mice, an Animal Model of Diabetes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102198.
Human pancreatic islet transplantation is a prospective curative treatment for diabetes. However, the lack of donor pancreases greatly limits this approach. One approach to overcome the limited supply of donor pancreases is to generate functional islets from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), a cell line with unlimited proliferative capacity, through rapid directed differentiation. This study investigated whether pancreatic insulin-producing cells (IPCs) differentiated from hESCs could correct hyperglycemia in severe combined immunodeficient (SCID)/non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice, an animal model of diabetes.
We generated pancreatic IPCs from two hESC lines, YT1 and YT2, using an optimized four-stage differentiation protocol in a chemically defined culture system. Then, about 5–7×106 differentiated cells were transplanted into the epididymal fat pad of SCID/NOD mice (n = 20). The control group were transplanted with undifferentiated hESCs (n = 6). Graft survival and function were assessed using immunohistochemistry, and measuring serum human C-peptide and blood glucose levels.
The pancreatic IPCs were generated by the four-stage differentiation protocol using hESCs. About 17.1% of differentiated cells expressed insulin, as determined by flow cytometry. These cells secreted insulin/C-peptide following glucose stimulation, similarly to adult human islets. Most of these IPCs co-expressed mature β cell-specific markers, including human C-peptide, GLUT2, PDX1, insulin, and glucagon. After implantation into the epididymal fat pad of SCID/NOD mice, the hESC-derived pancreatic IPCs corrected hyperglycemia for ≥8 weeks. None of the animals transplanted with pancreatic IPCs developed tumors during the time. The mean survival of recipients was increased by implanted IPCs as compared to implanted undifferentiated hESCs (P<0.0001).
The results of this study confirmed that human terminally differentiated pancreatic IPCs derived from hESCs can correct hyperglycemia in SCID/NOD mice for ≥8 weeks.
PMCID: PMC4092102  PMID: 25009980
9.  Exploring the stability of long intergenic non-coding RNA in K562 cells by comparative studies of RNA-Seq datasets 
Biology Direct  2014;9:15.
The stability of long intergenic non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) that possess tissue/cell-specific expression, might be closely related to their physiological functions. However, the mechanism associated with stability of lincRNA remains elusive. In this study, we try to study the stability of lincRNA in K562 cells, an important model cell, through comparing two K562 transcriptomes which are obtained from ENCODE Consortium and our sequenced RNA-Seq dataset (PH) respectively.
By lincRNAs analysis pipeline, 1804 high-confidence lincRNAs involving 1564 annotated lincRNAs and 240 putative novel lincRNAs were identified in PH, and 1587 high-confidence lincRNAs including 1429 annotated lincRNAs and 158 putative novel lincRNAs in ENCODE. There are 1009 unique lincRNAs in PH, 792 unique lincRNAs were in ENCODE, and 795 overlapping lincRNAs in both datasets. The analysis of differences in minimum free energy distribution and lincRNA half-life showed that a large proportion of overlapping lincRNAs were more stable than the unique lincRNAs. Most lincRNAs were more unstable than protein-coding RNAs through comparing their minimum free energy.
Identification of overlapping and unique lincRNAs can be helpful to classify the stability of lincRNAs. Our results suggest that overlapping lincRNAs (relatively stable linRNAs) and unique lincRNAs (relatively unstable lincRNAs) might be involved in different cellular processes.
This article has been reviewed by Prof. Oliviero Carugo, Dr. Alistair Forrest and Prof. Manju Bansal.
PMCID: PMC4094694  PMID: 24996425
RNA Sequencing (RNA-Seq); Long intergenic non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs); K562; RNA stability
10.  Antiviral Activity of (+)-Rutamarin against Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus by Inhibition of the Catalytic Activity of Human Topoisomerase II 
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is an etiological agent of several AIDS-associated malignancies, including Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), and multicentric Castleman's disease (MCD). Its lytic replication cycle has been proven to be critical for the pathogenesis of KSHV-associated diseases. In KS lesions, lytic viral replication, production of virion particles, and reinfection of endothelial cells are essential to sustain the population of infected cells that otherwise would be quickly lost as spindle cells divide. Thus, antivirals that block KSHV replication could be a strategy in the treatment of KSHV-associated diseases. However, there is no effective anti-KSHV drug currently available. Our previous work showed that human topoisomerase II (Topo II) is indispensable for KSHV lytic replication and is suggested to be an effective target for antiviral drugs. Here, we report the discovery and characterization of a novel catalytic inhibitor of human Topo IIα, namely, (+)-rutamarin. The binding mode of (+)-rutamarin to the ATPase domain of human Topo IIα was established by docking and validated by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. More importantly, (+)-rutamarin efficiently inhibits KSHV lytic DNA replication in BCBL-1 cells with a half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 1.12 μM and blocks virion production with a half-maximal antiviral effective concentration (EC50) of 1.62 μM. It possesses low cytotoxicity, as indicated by the selectivity index (SI) of 84.14. This study demonstrated great potential for (+)-rutamarin to become an effective drug for treatment of human diseases associated with KSHV infection.
PMCID: PMC3910736  PMID: 24295975
11.  Autographa californica Nucleopolyhedrovirus Ac76: a Dimeric Type II Integral Membrane Protein That Contains an Inner Nuclear Membrane-Sorting Motif 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(2):1090-1103.
Our previous study showed that the Autographa californica Nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcMNPV) ac76 gene is essential for both budded virion (BV) and occlusion-derived virion (ODV) development. More importantly, deletion of ac76 affects intranuclear microvesicle formation. However, the exact role by which ac76 affects virion morphogenesis remains unknown. In this report, we characterized the expression, distribution, and topology of Ac76 to further understand the functional role of Ac76 in virion morphogenesis. Ac76 contains an α-helical transmembrane domain, and phase separation showed that it was an integral membrane protein. In AcMNPV-infected cells, Ac76 was detected as a stable dimer that was resistant to SDS and thermal denaturation, and only a trace amount of monomer was detected. A coimmunoprecipitation assay demonstrated the dimerization of Ac76 by high-affinity self-association. Western blot analyses of purified virions and their nucleocapsid and envelope fractions showed that Ac76 was associated with the envelope fractions of both BVs and ODVs. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed that Ac76 was localized to the plasma membrane, endoplasmic reticulum (ER), nuclear membrane, intranuclear microvesicles, and ODV envelope. Amino acids 15 to 48 of Ac76 were identified as an atypical inner nuclear membrane-sorting motif because it was sufficient to target fusion proteins to the ER and nuclear membrane in the absence of viral infection and to the intranuclear microvesicles and ODV envelope during infection. Topology analysis of Ac76 by selective permeabilization showed that Ac76 was a type II integral membrane protein with an N terminus exposed to the cytosol and a C terminus hidden in the ER lumen.
PMCID: PMC3911639  PMID: 24198428
12.  Three-Dimensional Structures of the Spatiotemporal Nonlinear Schrödinger Equation with Power-Law Nonlinearity in PT-Symmetric Potentials 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e100484.
The spatiotemporal nonlinear Schrödinger equation with power-law nonlinearity in -symmetric potentials is investigated, and two families of analytical three-dimensional spatiotemporal structure solutions are obtained. The stability of these solutions is tested by the linear stability analysis and the direct numerical simulation. Results indicate that solutions are stable below some thresholds for the imaginary part of -symmetric potentials in the self-focusing medium, while they are always unstable for all parameters in the self-defocusing medium. Moreover, some dynamical properties of these solutions are discussed, such as the phase switch, power and transverse power-flow density. The span of phase switch gradually enlarges with the decrease of the competing parameter k in -symmetric potentials. The power and power-flow density are all positive, which implies that the power flow and exchange from the gain toward the loss domains in the cell.
PMCID: PMC4077705  PMID: 24983624
13.  Ginseng Rb Fraction Protects Glia, Neurons and Cognitive Function in a Rat Model of Neurodegeneration 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e101077.
The loss and injury of neurons play an important role in the onset of various neurodegenerative diseases, while both microgliosis and astrocyte loss or dysfunction are significant causes of neuronal degeneration. Previous studies have suggested that an extract enriched panaxadiol saponins from ginseng has more neuroprotective potential than the total saponins of ginseng. The present study investigated whether a fraction of highly purified panaxadiol saponins (termed as Rb fraction) was protective for both glia and neurons, especially GABAergic interneurons, against kainic acid (KA)-induced excitotoxicity in rats. Rats received Rb fraction at 30 mg/kg (ip), 40 mg/kg (ip or saline followed 40 min later by an intracerebroventricular injection of KA. Acute hippocampal injury was determined at 48 h after KA, and impairment of hippocampus-dependent learning and memory as well as delayed neuronal injury was determined 16 to 21 days later. KA injection produced significant acute hippocampal injuries, including GAD67-positive GABAergic interneuron loss in CA1, paralbumin (PV)-positive GABAergic interneuron loss, pyramidal neuron degeneration and astrocyte damage accompanied with reactive microglia in both CA1 and CA3 regions of the hippocampus. There was also a delayed loss of GAD67-positive interneurons in CA1, CA3, hilus and dentate gyrus. Microgliosis also became more severe 21 days later. Accordingly, KA injection resulted in hippocampus-dependent spatial memory impairment. Interestingly, the pretreatment with Rb fraction at 30 or 40 mg/kg significantly protected the pyramidal neurons and GABAergic interneurons against KA-induced acute excitotoxicity and delayed injury. Rb fraction also prevented memory impairments and protected astrocytes from KA-induced acute excitotoxicity. Additionally, microglial activation, especially the delayed microgliosis, was inhibited by Rb fraction. Overall, this study demonstrated that Rb fraction protected both astrocytes and neurons, especially GABAergic interneurons, and maintained microglial homeostasis against KA-induced excitotoxicity. Therefore, Rb fraction has the potential to prevent and treat neurodegenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC4074135  PMID: 24971630
14.  Reversal of Muscle Atrophy by Zhimu-Huangbai Herb-Pair via Akt/mTOR/FoxO3 Signal Pathway in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100918.
Skeletal muscle atrophy is one of the serious complications of diabetes. Zhimu-Huangbai herb-pair (ZB) is widely used in Chinese traditional medicine formulas for treating Xiaoke (known as diabetes) and its complications. However, the effect of ZB on reversal of muscle atrophy and the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. In this research, we investigated the effect and possible mechanisms of ZB on skeletal muscle atrophy in diabetic mice. Animal model of diabetic muscle atrophy was developed by high fat diet (HFD) feeding plus streptozotocin (STZ) injection. After oral adminstration of ZB for 6 weeks, the effects of ZB on reversal of muscle atrophy and the underlying mechanisms were evaluated by biochemical, histological and western blot methods. The skeletal muscle weight, strength, and cross-sectional area of diabetic mice were significantly increased by ZB treatment. Biochemical results showed that ZB treatment reduced the serum glucose level, and elevated the serum insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and insulin levels significantly compared with untreated diabetic group. The western blot results showed that ZB activated the mTOR signal pathway, shown as increased phosphorylations (p-) of Akt, mTOR, Raptor, S6K1 and reduced Foxo3 expression compared with the model group. ZB could reverse muscle atrophy in diabetic mice. This may be through activation of mTOR signaling pathway that promotes protein synthesis, and inactivation foxo3 protein that inhibits protein degradation. These findings suggested that ZB may be considered as a potential candidate drug in treatment of diabetic muscle atrophy.
PMCID: PMC4072704  PMID: 24968071
15.  Protective effects of naringenin eye drops on N-methyl-N-nitrosourea-induced photoreceptor cell death in rats 
To investigate the effects of naringenin eye drops on N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU)-induced photoreceptor cell death in rats.
Photoreceptor cell death was induced by single intraperitoneal injection of MNU (60 mg/kg) in rats. Both eyes of all animals were instilled with one drop of vehicle, 0.5% or 1.0% naringenin eye drops three times per day from 7d before to 17d after MNU injection. Effects of naringenin on MNU-induced photoreceptor cell death were evaluated by electrophysiological and histological analysis.
Flash electroretinography (FERG) and oscillatory potentials (OPs) recordings showed that the vehicle control group had remarkable reduction of amplitudes and prolongation of latency times. FERG and OPs responses were significantly reversed in MNU-induced rats treated with 0.5% or 1.0% naringenin eye drops compared with the vehicle control. The retinal morphological results showed that naringenin dose-dependently preserved the outer nuclear layer, outer retina and total retina.
These results indicate that topical treatment with naringenin eye drops prevented retinal neurons from MNU-induced structural and functional damages.
PMCID: PMC4067647  PMID: 24967179
naringenin; N-methyl-N-nitrosourea; photoreceptor cell death; retinitis pigmentosa
16.  Nonenzymatic assembly of branched polyubiquitin chains for structural and biochemical studies 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2013;21(12):3421-3429.
Polymeric chains of a small protein ubiquitin are involved in regulation of nearly all vital processes in eukaryotic cells. Elucidating the signaling properties of polyubiquitin requires the ability to make these chains in vitro. In recent years, chemical and chemical-biology tools have been developed that produce fully natural isopeptide-linked polyUb chains with no need for linkage-specific ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes. These methods produced unbranched chains (in which no more than one lysine per ubiquitin is conjugated to another ubiquitin). Here we report a nonenzymatic method for the assembly of fully natural isopeptide-linked branched polyubiquitin chains. This method is based on the use of mutually orthogonal removable protecting groups (e.g., Boc- and Alloc-) on lysines combined with an Ag-catalyzed condensation reaction between a C-terminal thioester on one ubiquitin and a specific ε-amine on another ubiquitin, and involves genetic incorporation of more than one Lys(Boc) at the desired linkage positions in the ubiquitin sequence. We demonstrate our method by making a fully natural branched tri-ubiquitin containing isopeptide linkages via Lys11 and Lys33, and a 15N-enriched proximal ubiquitin, which enabled monomer-specific structural and dynamical studies by NMR. Furthermore, we assayed disassembly of branched and unbranched tri-ubiquitins as well as control di-ubiquitins by the yeast proteasome-associated deubiquitinase Ubp6. Our results show that Ubp6 can recognize and disassemble a branched polyubiquitin, wherein cleavage preferences for individual linkages are retained. Our spectroscopic and functional data suggest that, at least for the chains studied here, the isopeptide linkages are effectively independent of each other. Together with our method for nonenzymatic assembly of unbranched polyubiquitin, these developments now provide tools for making fully natural polyubiquitin chains of essentially any type of linkage and length.
PMCID: PMC3665622  PMID: 23557636
ubiquitin; polyubiquitin; branched chain; isopeptide bond; unnatural amino acids; deubiquitination
17.  Laparoendoscopic single-site distal pancreatectomy in pigs 
AIM: To explore the technique for laparoendoscopic single-site distal pancreatectomy.
METHODS: Laparoendoscopic single-site spleen-preserving distal pancreatectomy was performed in pigs using a novel flexible multichannel port, a curved laparoscopic multifunctional operative device and a fish hook retractor, which provided a favorable operative field.
RESULTS: Six pigs were involved in this study, and five survived the procedure. The first animal died following injury to the superior mesenteric vein and uncontrolled intraoperative bleeding. Except for this failure, the mean operative time was 155 min (range: 102-236 min). A steep learning curve was observed in the study, with a mean operative time of 177 min in the first two operations vs 134 min in the last three operations. The mean blood loss was 50 mL, and the postoperative course was uneventful. The animals were sacrificed three weeks after the procedures, and no pancreatic leakage or abdominal infection was found macroscopically.
CONCLUSION: Laparoendoscopic single-site distal pancreatectomy is a safe and feasible procedure and can be implemented in humans in selected cases at qualified surgical centers.
PMCID: PMC4051927  PMID: 24944478
Laparoendoscopic single-site surgery; LESS; Pancreatectomy; Fish hook retraction; Curved laparoscopic multifunctional operative device
18.  Development and Evaluation of Small Peptidomimetic Ligands to Protease-Activated Receptor-2 (PAR2) through the Use of Lipid Tethering 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99140.
Protease-activated receptor-2 (PAR2) is a G-Protein Coupled Receptor (GPCR) activated by proteolytic cleavage to expose an attached, tethered ligand (SLIGRL). We evaluated the ability for lipid-tethered-peptidomimetics to activate PAR2 with in vitro physiological and Ca2+ signaling assays to determine minimal components necessary for potent, specific and full PAR2 activation. A known PAR2 activating compound containing a hexadecyl (Hdc) lipid via three polyethylene glycol (PEG) linkers (2at-LIGRL-PEG3-Hdc) provided a potent agonist starting point (physiological EC50 = 1.4 nM; 95% CI: 1.2–2.3 nM). In a set of truncated analogs, 2at-LIGR-PEG3-Hdc retained potency (EC50 = 2.1 nM; 1.3–3.4 nM) with improved selectivity for PAR2 over Mas1 related G-protein coupled receptor type C11, a GPCR that can be activated by the PAR2 peptide agonist, SLIGRL-NH2. 2at-LIG-PEG3-Hdc was the smallest full PAR2 agonist, albeit with a reduced EC50 (46 nM; 20–100 nM). 2at-LI-PEG3-Hdc retained specific activity for PAR2 with reduced EC50 (310 nM; 260–360 nM) but displayed partial PAR2 activation in both physiological and Ca2+ signaling assays. Further truncation (2at-L-PEG3-Hdc and 2at-PEG3-Hdc) eliminated in vitro activity. When used in vivo, full and partial PAR2 in vitro agonists evoked mechanical hypersensitivity at a 15 pmole dose while 2at-L-PEG3-Hdc lacked efficacy. Minimum peptidomimetic PAR2 agonists were developed with known heterocycle substitutes for Ser1 (isoxazole or aminothiazoyl) and cyclohexylalanine (Cha) as a substitute for Leu2. Both heterocycle-tetrapeptide and heterocycle-dipeptides displayed PAR2 specificity, however, only the heterocycle-tetrapeptides displayed full PAR2 agonism. Using the lipid-tethered-peptidomimetic approach we have developed novel structure activity relationships for PAR2 that allows for selective probing of PAR2 function across a broad range of physiological systems.
PMCID: PMC4057235  PMID: 24927179
19.  dbCerEx: A Web-Based Database for the Analysis of Cervical Cancer Transcriptomes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99834.
Cervical cancers are ranked the second-most hazardous ailments among women worldwide. In the past two decades, microarray technologies have been applied to study genes involved in malignancy progress. However, in most of the published microarray studies, only a few genes were reported leaving rather a large amount of data unused. Also, RNA-Seq data has become more standard for transcriptome analysis and is widely applied in cancer studies. There is a growing demand for a tool to help the experimental researchers who are keen to explore cervical cancer gene therapy, but lack computer expertise to access and analyze the high throughput gene expression data.
The dbCerEx database is designed to retrieve and process gene expression data from cervical cancer samples. It includes the genome wide expression profiles of cervical cancer samples, as well as a web utility to cluster genes with similar expression patterns. This feature will help researchers conduct further research to uncover novel gene functions.
The dbCerEx database is freely available for non-commercial use at, and will be updated and integrated with more features as needed.
PMCID: PMC4053392  PMID: 24918550
20.  EGFR potentiates MCM7-mediated DNA replication through tyrosine phosphorylation of Lyn kinase in human cancers 
Cancer cell  2013;23(6):796-810.
EGFR initiates a signaling cascade that leads to DNA synthesis and cell proliferation, but its role in regulating DNA replication licensing is unclear. Here, we show that activated EGFR phosphorylates the p56 isoform of Lyn, p56Lyn, at Y32, which then phosphorylates MCM7, a licensing factor critical for DNA replication, at Y600 to increase its association with other MCM complex proteins, thereby promoting DNA synthesis complex assembly and cell proliferation. Both p56Lyn Y32 and MCM7 Y600 phosphorylation are enhanced in proliferating cells and correlated with poor survival of breast cancer patients. These results establish a signaling cascade in which EGFR enhances MCM7 phosphorylation and DNA replication through Lyn phosphorylation in human cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3703149  PMID: 23764002
21.  Exendin-4 Pretreated Adipose Derived Stem Cells Are Resistant to Oxidative Stress and Improve Cardiac Performance via Enhanced Adhesion in the Infarcted Heart 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99756.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS), which were largely generated after myocardial ischemia, severely impaired the adhesion and survival of transplanted stem cells. In this study, we aimed to determine whether Exendin-4 pretreatment could improve the adhesion and therapeutic efficacy of transplanted adipose derived stem cells (ADSCs) in ischemic myocardium. In vitro, H2O2 was used to provide ROS environments, in which ADSCs pretreated with Exendin-4 were incubated. ADSCs without pretreatment were used as control. Then, cell adhesion and viability were analyzed with time. Compared with control ADSCs, Exendin-4 treatment significantly increased the adhesion of ADSCs in ROS environment, while reduced intracellular ROS and cell injury as determined by dihydroethidium (DHE) staining live/Dead staining, lactate dehydrogenase-release assay and MTT assay. Western Blotting demonstrated that ROS significantly decreased the expression of adhesion-related integrins and integrin-related focal adhesion proteins, which were significantly reversed by Exendin-4 pretreatment and followed by decreases in caspase-3, indicating that Exendin-4 may facilitate cell survival through enhanced adhesion. In vivo, myocardial infarction (MI) was induced by the left anterior descending artery ligation in SD rats. Autologous ADSCs with or without Exendin-4 pretreatment were injected into the border area of infarcted hearts, respectively. Multi-techniques were used to assess the beneficial effects after transplantation. Longitudinal bioluminescence imaging and histological staining revealed that Exendin-4 pretreatment enhanced the survival and differentiation of engrafted ADSCs in ischemic myocardium, accompanied with significant benefits in cardiac function, matrix remodeling, and angiogenesis compared with non-pretreated ADSCs 4 weeks post-transplantation. In conclusion, transplantation of Exendin-4 pretreated ADSCs significantly improved cardiac performance and can be an innovative approach in the clinical perspective.
PMCID: PMC4051823  PMID: 24915574
22.  Molecular Packing and Electronic Processes in Amorphous-like Polymer Bulk Heterojunction Solar Cells with Fullerene Intercalation 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:5211.
The interpenetrating morphology formed by the electron donor and acceptor materials is critical for the performance of polymer:fullerene bulk heterojunction (BHJ) photovoltaic (PV) cells. In this work we carried out a systematic investigation on a high PV efficiency (>6%) BHJ system consisting of a newly developed 5,6-difluorobenzo[c]125 thiadiazole-based copolymer, PFBT-T20TT, and a fullerene derivative. Grazing incidence X-ray scattering measurements reveal the lower-ordered nature of the BHJ system as well as an intermixing morphology with intercalation of fullerene molecules between the PFBT-T20TT lamella. Steady-state and transient photo-induced absorption spectroscopy reveal ultrafast charge transfer (CT) at the PFBT-T20TT/fullerene interface, indicating that the CT process is no longer limited by exciton diffusion. Furthermore, we extracted the hole mobility based on the space limited current (SCLC) model and found that more efficient hole transport is achieved in the PFBT-T20TT:fullerene BHJ as compared to pure PFBT-T20TT, showing a different trend as compared to the previously reported highly crystalline polymer:fullerene blend with a similar intercalation manner. Our study correlates the fullerene intercalated polymer lamella morphology with device performance and provides a coherent model to interpret the high photovoltaic performance of some of the recently developed weakly-ordered BHJ systems based on conjugated polymers with branched side-chain.
PMCID: PMC4048884  PMID: 24909640
23.  Morphology, Structure and Function Characterization of PEI Modified Magnetic Nanoparticles Gene Delivery System 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98919.
Modified magnetic nanoparticles are used as non-viral gene carriers in biological applications. To achieve successful gene delivery, it is critical that nanoparticles effectually assemble with nucleic acids. However, relatively little work has been conducted on the assemble mechanisms between nanoparticles and DNA, and its effects on transfection efficiency. Using biophysical and biochemical characterization, along with Atomic force microscopy (AFM) and Transmission electron microscopy (TEM), we investigate the morphologies, assembling structures and gene delivering abilities of the PEI modified magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) gene delivery system. In this gene delivery system, MNP/DNA complexes are formed via binding of DNA onto the surface of MNPs. MNPs are favorable to not only increase DNA concentration but also prevent DNA degradation. Magnetofection experiments showed that MNPs has low cytotoxicity and introduces highly stable transfection in mammalian somatic cells. In addition, different binding ratios between MNPs and DNA result in various morphologies of MNP/DNA complexes and have an influence on transfection efficiency. Dose–response profile indicated that transfection efficiency positively correlate with MNP/DNA ratio. Furthermore, intracellular tracking demonstrate that MNPs move though the cell membranes, deliver and release exogenous DNA into the nucleus.
PMCID: PMC4049641  PMID: 24911360
24.  Regeneration of Solanum nigrum by Somatic Embryogenesis, Involving Frog Egg-Like Body, a Novel Structure 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98672.
A new protocol was established for the regeneration of Solanum nigrum by frog egg-like bodies (FELBs), which are novel somatic embryogenesis (SE) structures induced from the root, stem, and leaf explants. The root, stem, and leaf explants (93.33%, 85.10%, and 100.00%, respectively) were induced to form special embryonic calli on Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium containing 1.0 mg/L 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, under dark condition. Further, special embryonic calli from the root, stem, and leaf explants (86.97%, 83.30%, and 99.47%, respectively) were developed into FELBs. Plantlets of FELBs from the three explants were induced in vitro on MS medium supplemented with 5.0 mg/L 6-benzylaminopurine and 0.1 mg/L gibberellic acid, and 100.00% plantlet induction rates were noted. However, plantlet induction in vivo on MS medium supplemented with 20 mg/L thidiazuron showed rates of 38.63%, 15.63%, and 61.30% for the root, stem, and leaf explants, respectively, which were lower than those of the in vitro culture. Morphological and histological analyses of FELBs at different development stages revealed that they are a novel type of SE structure that developed from the mesophyll (leaf) or cortex (stem and root) cells of S. nigrum.
PMCID: PMC4045584  PMID: 24896090
25.  In situ Growth of NixCu1-x Alloy Nanocatalysts on Redox-reversible Rutile (Nb,Ti)O4 Towards High-Temperature Carbon Dioxide Electrolysis 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:5156.
In this paper, we report the in situ growth of NixCu1-x (x = 0, 0.25, 0.50, 0.75 and 1.0) alloy catalysts to anchor and decorate a redox-reversible Nb1.33Ti0.67O4 ceramic substrate with the aim of tailoring the electrocatalytic activity of the composite materials through direct exsolution of metal particles from the crystal lattice of a ceramic oxide in a reducing atmosphere at high temperatures. Combined analysis using XRD, SEM, EDS, TGA, TEM and XPS confirmed the completely reversible exsolution/dissolution of the NixCu1-x alloy particles during the redox cycling treatments. TEM results revealed that the alloy particles were exsolved to anchor onto the surface of highly electronically conducting Nb1.33Ti0.67O4 in the form of heterojunctions. The electrical properties of the nanosized NixCu1-x/Nb1.33Ti0.67O4 were systematically investigated and correlated to the electrochemical performance of the composite electrodes. A strong dependence of the improved electrode activity on the alloy compositions was observed in reducing atmospheres at high temperatures. Direct electrolysis of CO2 at the NixCu1-x/Nb1.33Ti0.67O4 composite cathodes was investigated in solid-oxide electrolysers. The CO2 splitting rates were observed to be positively correlated with the Ni composition; however, the Ni0.75Cu0.25 combined the advantages of metallic nickel and copper and therefore maximised the current efficiencies.
PMCID: PMC4042123  PMID: 24889679

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