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1.  New Centromere Autoantigens Identified in Systemic Sclerosis Using Centromere Protein Microarrays 
The Journal of rheumatology  2013;40(4):461-468.
To identify novel centromere protein (CENP) targets of anticentromere antibodies (ACA), and to investigate their association with clinical manifestations of systemic sclerosis (SSc).
A CENP-focused protein microarray was fabricated by spotting 14 purified CENP. These microarrays were individually incubated with 35 ACA-positive SSc sera and 20 ACA-negative healthy control samples. Newly identified CENP autoantigens with high sensitivities were selected for validation and characterization.
Statistical analysis revealed 11 CENP are potential target antigens of ACA in patients with SSc. Of them, 5 [CENP-P, CENP-Q, CENP-M (isoform I), CENP-J, and CENP-T] are novel, among which CENP-P and CENP-Q showed high sensitivities in ACA-positive SSc sera of 34.3% and 28.6%, respectively. Subsequently, 186 SSc sera (35 ACA-positives and 151 negatives), 69 ACA-positive sera from other various autoimmune diseases (primary Sjögren syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and primary biliary cirrhosis), and 31 healthy sera were assayed for the presence of anti-CENP-P and -Q autoantibodies by ELISA followed by Western blotting analysis. CENP-P and -Q autoantibodies were detected in ACA-positive sera of various disease groups; among them, SSc showed the highest detection rate. Anti-CENP-P was also found in 9 of the 151 ACA-negative sera. Analyses of the correlation with clinical information showed anti-CENP-P-positive patients had higher levels of IgG, IgA, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate among the ACA-positive cohort and were more vulnerable to renal disease in the ACA-negative patients with SSc. Regardless of ACA status, anti-CENP-P or Q-negative patients seem to be predominantly affected by interstitial lung disease.
CENP-P and CENP-Q were identified as novel ACA autoantigens by CENP microarray assays followed by validation of ELISA and Western blotting. Both of them have prognostic utility for interstitial lung disease. CENP-P was associated with renal disease in an ACA-negative cohort.
PMCID: PMC3962773  PMID: 23418382
2.  Clinical Validation of a PCR Assay for the Detection of EGFR Mutations in Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer: Retrospective Testing of Specimens from the EURTAC Trial 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89518.
The EURTAC trial demonstrated that the tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) erlotinib was superior to chemotherapy as first-line therapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) that harbor EGFR activating mutations in a predominantly Caucasian population. Based on EURTAC and several Asian trials, anti-EGFR TKIs are standard of care for EGFR mutation-positive NSCLC. We sought to validate a rapid multiplex EGFR mutation assay as a companion diagnostic assay to select patients for this therapy. Samples from the EURTAC trial were prospectively screened for EGFR mutations using a combination of laboratory-developed tests (LDTs), and tested retrospectively with the cobas EGFR mutation test (EGFR PCR test). The EGFR PCR test results were compared to the original LDT results and to Sanger sequencing, using a subset of specimens from patients screened for the trial. Residual tissue was available from 487 (47%) of the 1044 patients screened for the trial. The EGFR PCR test showed high concordance with LDT results with a 96.3% overall agreement. The clinical outcome of patients who were EGFR-mutation detected by the EGFR PCR test was very similar to the entire EURTAC cohort. The concordance between the EGFR PCR test and Sanger sequencing was 90.6%. In 78.9% of the discordant samples, the EGFR PCR test result was confirmed by a sensitive deep sequencing assay. This retrospective study demonstrates the clinical utility of the EGFR PCR test in the accurate selection of patients for anti-EGFR TKI therapy. The EGFR PCR test demonstrated improved performance relative to Sanger sequencing.
PMCID: PMC3934888  PMID: 24586842
3.  Drosophila Tempura, a Novel Protein Prenyltransferase α Subunit, Regulates Notch Signaling Via Rab1 and Rab11 
PLoS Biology  2014;12(1):e1001777.
A forward genetic screen in Drosophila looking for Notch signaling regulators identifies Tempura, a new and non-redundant protein prenyltransferase of Rab proteins.
Vesicular trafficking plays a key role in tuning the activity of Notch signaling. Here, we describe a novel and conserved Rab geranylgeranyltransferase (RabGGT)-α–like subunit that is required for Notch signaling-mediated lateral inhibition and cell fate determination of external sensory organs. This protein is encoded by tempura, and its loss affects the secretion of Scabrous and Delta, two proteins required for proper Notch signaling. We show that Tempura forms a heretofore uncharacterized RabGGT complex that geranylgeranylates Rab1 and Rab11. This geranylgeranylation is required for their proper subcellular localization. A partial dysfunction of Rab1 affects Scabrous and Delta in the secretory pathway. In addition, a partial loss Rab11 affects trafficking of Delta. In summary, Tempura functions as a new geranylgeranyltransferase that regulates the subcellular localization of Rab1 and Rab11, which in turn regulate trafficking of Scabrous and Delta, thereby affecting Notch signaling.
Author Summary
Notch signaling is an evolutionarily conserved signaling pathway that regulates many developmental processes. Abnormal Notch signaling activity can lead to numerous diseases and developmental defects. To better understand the regulation of this pathway, we performed a forward genetic screen for Notch signaling components that have not been previously identified in Drosophila. Here, we report the identification of an evolutionarily conserved protein, Tempura, which is required for Notch signaling-mediated lateral inhibition and cell fate determination of external sensory organs. We show that loss of tempura leads to mistrafficking of Delta and Scabrous, two important Notch signaling components. In addition, Rab1 and Rab11, two major coordinators of vesicular trafficking, are mislocalizaed in tempura mutants. We further show that Tempura functions as a subunit of a previously uncharacterized lipid modification complex to geranylgeranylate (a type of prenylation) Rab1 and Rab11. This post-translational modification is shown to be required for the proper subcellular localization and function of these Rabs. We find that dysfunction of Rab1 causes an accumulation of Delta and Scabrous in the secretory pathway and dysfunction of Rab11 further interferes with the trafficking of Delta. In addition to the known Rab geranylgeranyltransferse, our data indicate the presence of another functionally nonredundant Rab geranylgeranyltransferse, Tempura.
PMCID: PMC3904817  PMID: 24492843
4.  MicroRNA-21 expression is associated with overall survival in patients with glioma 
Diagnostic Pathology  2013;8:200.
MicroRNA-21 has been proved to be associated with glioma proliferation and invasion; thus, we sought to clarify the clinical value of miR-21 expression in glioma tissues with WHO grade I to IV.
One hundred and fifty-two pairs of human gliomas and non-neoplastic brain tissues were evaluated using real-time PCR. The association of miR-21 expression with clinicopathological factors or the prognosis of glioma patients was also analyzed. In this study, survival analysis was performed using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox’s proportional hazards model.
MiR-21 was more greatly expressed in glioma tissues compared to the corresponding non-neoplastic brain tissues (P < 0.001). This observed high miR-21 expression was significantly associated with high pathological grades and the Karnofsky performance score of glioma patients. In addition, overall patient survival for those with low miR-21 expression was significantly longer than those patients with high miR-21 expression (P < 0.001). Moreover, multivariate Cox regression analysis indicated that miR-21 might be an independent prognostic marker for glioma patient survival.
Our data show that miR-21 may be a candidate independent marker for gliomas, especially those with high pathological grades, and this could also be a potential therapeutic target for molecular glioma therapy.
Virtual slide
The virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here:
PMCID: PMC3933412  PMID: 24326156
Glioma; MiR-21; Overall survival
5.  Exoprotein Production Correlates with Morphotype Changes of Nonmotile Shewanella oneidensis Mutants 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(7):1463-1474.
We report a previously undescribed mechanism for the rugose morphotype in Shewanella oneidensis, a research model for investigating redox transformations of environmental contaminants. Bacteria may form smooth or rugose colonies on agar plates. In general, conversion from the smooth to rugose colony morphotype is attributed to increased production of exopolysaccharide (EPS). In this work, we discovered that aflagellate S. oneidensis mutants grew into rugose colonies, whereas those with nonfunctional flagellar filaments remained smooth. EPS production was not altered in either case, but mutants with the rugose morphotype showed significantly reduced exoprotein secretion. The idea that exoproteins at a reduced level correlate with rugosity gained support from smooth suppressor strains of an aflagellate rugose fliD (encoding the capping protein) mutant, which restored the exoprotein level to the levels of the wild-type and mutant strains with a smooth morphotype. Further analyses revealed that SO1072 (a putative GlcNAc-binding protein) was one of the highly upregulated exoproteins in these suppressor strains. Most intriguingly, this study identified a compensatory mechanism of SO1072 to flagellins possibly mediated by bis-(3′-5′)-cyclic dimeric GMP.
PMCID: PMC3624527  PMID: 23335418
7.  The C8ORF38 homologue Sicily is a cytosolic chaperone for a mitochondrial complex I subunit 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2013;200(6):807-820.
Sicily, which was identified in a screen for proteins involved in neurodegeneration, interacts with cytosolic Hsp90 to chaperone the complex I subunit ND42, before its mitochondrial import.
Mitochondrial complex I (CI) is an essential component in energy production through oxidative phosphorylation. Most CI subunits are encoded by nuclear genes, translated in the cytoplasm, and imported into mitochondria. Upon entry, they are embedded into the mitochondrial inner membrane. How these membrane-associated proteins cope with the hydrophilic cytoplasmic environment before import is unknown. In a forward genetic screen to identify genes that cause neurodegeneration, we identified sicily, the Drosophila melanogaster homologue of human C8ORF38, the loss of which causes Leigh syndrome. We show that in the cytoplasm, Sicily preprotein interacts with cytosolic Hsp90 to chaperone the CI subunit, ND42, before mitochondrial import. Loss of Sicily leads to loss of CI proteins and preproteins in both mitochondria and cytoplasm, respectively, and causes a CI deficiency and neurodegeneration. Our data indicate that cytosolic chaperones are required for the subcellular transport of ND42.
PMCID: PMC3601355  PMID: 23509070
8.  Surveillance of the prevalence, antibiotic susceptibility, and genotypic characterization of invasive candidiasis in a teaching hospital in China between 2006 to 2011 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:353.
Invasive candidiasis is an important nosocomial infection associated with high mortality among immunosuppressive or critically ill patients. We described the incidence of invasive candidiasis in our hospital over 6 years and showed the antifungal susceptibility and genotypes of the isolated yeast.
The yeast species were isolated on CHROMagar Candida medium and identified using an yeast identification card, followed by analysis of the D1/D2 domain of 26S rDNA. The susceptibilities of the isolates to flucytosine, amphotericin B, fluconazole, itraconazole, and voriconazole were tested using the ATB FUNGUS 3 system, and that to caspofungin was tested using E-test strips. C. albicans was genotyped using single-strand conformation polymorphism of CAI (Candida albicans I) microsatellite DNA combined with GeneScan data.
From January 2006 to December 2011, a total of 259 isolates of invasive Candida spp. were obtained from 253 patients, among them 6 patients had multiple positive samples. Ninety-one stains were from blood and 168 from sterile fluids, accounting for 6.07% of all pathogens isolated in our hospital. Most of these strains were C. albicans (41.29% in blood/59.06% in sterile body fluids), followed by C. tropicalis (18.06%/25.72%), C. parapsilosis (17.42%/5.43%), C. glabrata (11.61%/3.99%) and other Candida spp. (11.61%/5.80%). Most Candida spp. were isolated from the ICU. The new species-specific CLSI candida MIC breakpoints were applied to these date. Resistance to fluconazole occurred in 6.6% of C. albicans isolates, 10.6% of C. tropicalis isolates and 15.0% of C. glabrata isolates. For the 136 C. albicans isolates, 54 CAI patterns were recognized. The C. albicans strains from blood or sterile body fluids showed no predominant CAI genotypes. C. albicans isolates from different samples from the same patient had the same genotype.
Invasive candidiasis has been commonly encountered in our hospital in the past 6 years, with increasing frequency of non-C. albicans. Resistance to fluconazole was highly predictive of resistance to voriconazole. CAI SSCP genotyping showed that all C. albicans strains were polymorphic. Invasive candidiasis were commonly endogenous infection.
PMCID: PMC3733982  PMID: 23899244
Invasive Candida; Epidemiology; Antifungal susceptibility; Genotyping
9.  Association between Polymorphisms of Complement Pathway Genes and Age-Related Macular Degeneration in a Chinese Population 
We assessed the association between complement pathway genes and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in a Chinese population.
In a case-control study, 165 AMD patients and 216 unrelated controls were recruited from two hospitals in central China. We selected and genotyped six single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of four complement pathway genes, including rs800292 and rs1410996 of complement H (CFH), rs9332739 of complement 2 (C2), rs4151667 of complement factor B (CFB), and rs2241394 and rs2230199 of complement 3 (C3). The associations between SNPs and AMD, adjusted by age and sex, were assessed by using logistic regression models and haplotype association analysis.
In our study, two SNPs of CFH and their haplotypes were associated significantly with AMD, and the adjusted odd ratios (ORs) were 2.45 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.25–4.79) for rs800292 (genotype GG versus AA), 2.49 (95% CI 1.24–5.00) for rs1410996 (genotype TT versus CC), and 4.45 (95% CI 2.32–8.55) for haplotype block of rs800292–rs1410996 (haplotype G–C versus A–C), respectively. The haplotype of C2/CFB also was associated significantly with AMD, and the adjusted OR was 8.86 (95% CI 1.88–41.69) for the haplotype block of rs9332739–rs4151667 (haplotype G–A versus G–T), though no relationship was found in genotype association analysis of the two SNPs of C2/CFB. With the sample size of our study, no relationship was found for AMD and the two SNPs of C3.
Gene variants in CFH and C2/CFB contribute to AMD in the Chinese population.
The association between age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and six single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at 4 complement pathway genes, including rs800292 (CFH), rs1410996 (CFH), rs4151667 (CFB), rs9332739 (C2), rs2241394 (C3), and rs2230199 (C3), were studied in a Chinese population.
PMCID: PMC3544419  PMID: 23233260
10.  A Mutation in EGF Repeat-8 of Notch Discriminates Between Serrate/Jagged and Delta Family Ligands 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2012;338(6111):1229-1232.
Notch signaling affects many developmental and cellular processes and has been implicated in congenital disorders, stroke, and numerous cancers. The Notch receptor binds its ligands Delta and Serrate and is able to discriminate between them in different contexts. However, the specific domains in Notch responsible for this selectivity are poorly defined. Through genetic screens in Drosophila, we isolated a mutation, Notchjigsaw, that affects Serrate- but not Delta-dependent signaling. Notchjigsaw carries a missense mutation in epidermal growth factor repeat-8 (EGFr-8) and is defective in Serrate binding. A homologous point mutation in mammalian Notch2 also exhibits defects in signaling of a mammalian Serrate homolog, Jagged1. Hence, an evolutionarily conserved valine in EGFr-8 is essential for ligand selectivity and provides a molecular handle to study numerous Notch-dependent signaling events.
PMCID: PMC3663443  PMID: 23197537
11.  Decrease of 5-Hydroxymethylcytosine Is Associated with Progression of Hepatocellular Carcinoma through Downregulation of TET1 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e62828.
DNA methylation is an important epigenetic modification and is frequently altered in cancer. Convert of 5-methylcytosine (5 mC) to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5 hmC) by ten-eleven translocation (TET) family enzymes plays important biological functions in embryonic stem cells, development, aging and disease. Recent reports showed that level of 5 hmC was altered in various types of cancers. However, the change of 5 hmC level in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and association with clinical outcome were not well defined. Here, we reported that level of 5 hmC was decreased in HCC tissues, as compared with non-tumor tissues. Clincopathological analysis showed the decreased level of 5 hmC in HCC was associated with tumor size, AFP level and poor overall survival. We also found that the decreased level of 5 hmC in non-tumor tissues was associated with tumor recurrence in the first year after surgical resection. In an animal model with carcinogen DEN-induced HCC, we found that the level of 5 hmC was gradually decreased in the livers during the period of induction. There was further reduction of 5 hmC in tumor tissues when tumors were developed. In contrast, level of 5 mC was increased in HCC tissues and the increased 5 mC level was associated with capsular invasion, vascular thrombosis, tumor recurrence and overall survival. Furthermore, our data showed that expression of TET1, but not TET2 and TET3, was downregulated in HCC. Taken together, our data indicated 5 hmC may be served as a prognostic marker for HCC and the decreased expression of TET1 is likely one of the mechanisms underlying 5 hmC loss in HCC.
PMCID: PMC3650038  PMID: 23671639
12.  Analytic performance studies and clinical reproducibility of a real-time PCR assay for the detection of epidermal growth factor receptor gene mutations in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue specimens of non-small cell lung cancer 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:210.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutations identify patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have a high likelihood of benefiting from treatment with anti-EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Sanger sequencing is widely used for mutation detection but can be technically challenging, resulting in longer turn-around-time, with limited sensitivity for low levels of mutations. This manuscript details the technical performance verification studies and external clinical reproducibility studies of the cobas EGFR Mutation Test, a rapid multiplex real-time PCR assay designed to detect 41 mutations in exons 18, 19, 20 and 21.
The assay’s limit of detection was determined using 25 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue (FFPET)-derived and plasmid DNA blends. Assay performance for a panel of 201 specimens was compared against Sanger sequencing with resolution of discordant specimens by quantitative massively parallel pyrosequencing (MPP). Internal and external reproducibility was assessed using specimens tested in duplicate by different operators, using different reagent lots, instruments and at different sites. The effects on the performance of the cobas EGFR test of endogenous substances and nine therapeutic drugs were evaluated in ten FFPET specimens. Other tests included an evaluation of the effects of necrosis, micro-organisms and homologous DNA sequences on assay performance, and the inclusivity of the assay for less frequent mutations.
A >95% hit rate was obtained in blends with >5% mutant alleles, as determined by MPP analysis, at a total DNA input of 150 ng. The overall percent agreement between Sanger sequencing and the cobas test was 96.7% (negative percent agreement 97.5%; positive percent agreement 95.8%). Assay repeatability was 98% when tested with two operators, instruments, and reagent lots. In the external reproducibility study, the agreement was > 99% across all sites, all operators and all reagent lots for 11/12 tumors tested. Test performance was not compromised by endogenous substances, therapeutic drugs, necrosis up to 85%, and common micro-organisms. All of the assessed less common mutations except one (exon 19 deletion mutation 2236_2248 > AGAC) were detected at a similar DNA input level as that for the corresponding predominant mutation.
The cobas EGFR Mutation Test is a sensitive, accurate, rapid, and reproducible assay.
PMCID: PMC3660201  PMID: 23621958
EGFR mutation testing; Molecular diagnostics; Companion diagnostics; Non-small cell lung cancer; Analytical validation; Reproducibility
13.  Hyperthermia-Induced NDRG2 Upregulation Inhibits the Invasion of Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma via Suppressing ERK1/2 Signaling Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61079.
Hyperthermia (HT) has been proven to be able to alter the invasion capacity of cancer cells. However, the detailed mechanisms responsible for the anti-metastasis effects of HT have not been elucidated. N-myc downstream-regulated gene 2 (NDRG2), as a member of the NDRG family, has been suggested to be highly responsive to various stresses and is associated with tumor suppression. The present study aimed to investigate the biological role of NDRG2 in the invasion of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells exposed to HT. We found that NDRG2 could be induced by HT at 45°C. In addition, NDRG2 overexpression inhibited the expression of matrix metallo proteinases-2 (MMP-2) and MMP-9 as well as the invasion of HCC cells, whereas knockingdown NDRG2 reversed the anti-invasion effect of HT in vivo. Further investigation revealed that the phosphorylation level of ERK1/2, but not that of JNK and p38MAPK, was reduced in NDRG2 overexpressing cells. Moreover, the knockdown of NDRG2 expression resulted in increased cell invasion, which was rescued by treating the HepG2 cells with the ERK1/2 inhibitor PD98059, but not with the p38MAPK inhibitor SB203580 or the JNK inhibitor SP600125. Finally, the synergistic cooperation of HT at 43°C and NDRG2 expression effectively reduced cytotoxicity and promoted the anti-invasion effect of HT at 45°C. Taken together, these data suggest that NDRG2 can be induced by HT and that it mediates the HT-caused inhibition of invasion in HCC cells by suppressing the ERK1/2 signaling pathway. The combined application of constitutive NDRG2 expression with HT may yield an optimized therapeutic benefit.
PMCID: PMC3632536  PMID: 23630579
14.  rILYd4, a Human CD59 Inhibitor Enhances Complement Dependent Cytotoxicity of Ofatumumab against Rituximab-resistant B-cell Lymphoma Cells and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia 
Ofatumumab (OFA) is an anti-CD20 antibody recently approved for treatment of fludarabine and alemtuzumab refractory chronic lymphocytic lymphomia (CLL); it mediates much stronger complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) than Rituximab (RTX). Human CD59, a key membrane complement regulator that inhibits CDC, is highly expressed in B-cell malignancies and its up-regulation is an important determinant of the sensitivity of B-cell malignancies to RTX treatment. Previously, we have demonstrated that the potent CD59 inhibitor rILYd4 sensitizes RTX-resistant lymphoma cells to RTX-mediated CDC. Here, we further investigated whether rILYd4 can sensitize B-cell malignancies to OFA-mediated CDC and whether either OFA-mediated CDC or rILYd4-enhanced OFA-mediated CDC correlates with CD20 or CD59 expression, known biomarkers involved in RTX activity.
Experimental Design
RTX-resistant cell lines and primary CLL cells were used to investigate the antitumor efficacy of the combination of rILYd4 with OFA or RTX. Propidium iodide staining or Alamar blue assay were employed to evaluate the CDC effect. The levels of CD20 and CD59 on the cell membrane were analyzed by flow cytometry.
rILYd4 enhanced CDC effects mediated by OFA or RTX on RTX-resistant lymphoma cells and primary CLL cells in vitro. The sensitivity to CDC effects mediated by OFA positively correlated with the ratio of CD20/CD59 and negatively correlated with CD59 levels on CLL cells. The degree to which rILYd4 enhanced CDC correlated positively with the CD59 levels on CLL cells.
These data suggest that rILYd4 may enhance the anti-cancer activity of OFA and RTX in B-cell malignancies that have relapsed after prior antibody-based therapies.
PMCID: PMC3622251  PMID: 21918174
Ofatumumab; Rituximab; Complement; CD59; Intermedilysin; chronic lymphocytic leukemia
15.  A Prescribed Chinese Herbal Medicine Improves Glucose Profile and Ameliorates Oxidative Stress in Goto-Kakisaki Rats Fed with High Fat Diet 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60262.
Oxidative stress (OS) plays a role in hyperglycemia induced islet β cell dysfunction, however, studies on classic anti-oxidants didn’t show positive results in treating diabetes. We previously demonstrated that the prescribed Chinese herbal medicine preparation “Qing Huo Yi Hao” (QHYH) improved endothelial function in type 2 diabetic patients. QHYH protected endothelial cells from high glucose-induced damages by scavenging superoxide anion and reducing production of reactive oxygen species. Its active component protected C2C12 myotubes against palmitate-induced oxidative damage and mitochondrial dysfunction. In the present study, we investigated whether QHYH protected islet β cell function exacerbated by high fat diet (HFD) in hyperglycemic GK rats. 4-week-old male rats were randomly divided into high HFD feeding group (n = 20) and chow diet feeding group (n = 10). Each gram of HFD contained 4.8 kcal of energy, 52% of which from fat. Rats on HFD were further divided into 2 groups given either QHYH (3 ml/Kg/d) or saline through gastric tube. After intervention, serum glucose concentrations were monitored; IPGTTs were performed without anesthesia on 5 fasting rats randomly chosen from each group on week 4 and 16. Serum malondialdehyde (MDA) concentrations and activities of serum antioxidant enzymes were measured on week 4 and 16. Islet β cell mass and OS marker staining was done by immunohistochemistry on week 16. QHYH prevented the exacerbation of hyperglycemia in HFD feeding GK rats for 12 weeks. On week 16, it improved the exacerbated glucose tolerance and prevented the further loss of islet β cell mass induced by HFD. QHYH markedly decreased serum MDA concentration, increased serum catalase (CAT) and SOD activities on week 4. However, no differences of serum glucose concentration or OS were observed on week 16. We concluded that QHYH decreased hyperglycemia exacerbated by HFD in GK rats by improving β cell function partly via its antioxidant effect.
PMCID: PMC3614962  PMID: 23565214
16.  Sequencing and Comparative Analysis of the Straw Mushroom (Volvariella volvacea) Genome 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58294.
Volvariella volvacea, the edible straw mushroom, is a highly nutritious food source that is widely cultivated on a commercial scale in many parts of Asia using agricultural wastes (rice straw, cotton wastes) as growth substrates. However, developments in V. volvacea cultivation have been limited due to a low biological efficiency (i.e. conversion of growth substrate to mushroom fruit bodies), sensitivity to low temperatures, and an unclear sexuality pattern that has restricted the breeding of improved strains. We have now sequenced the genome of V. volvacea and assembled it into 62 scaffolds with a total genome size of 35.7 megabases (Mb), containing 11,084 predicted gene models. Comparative analyses were performed with the model species in basidiomycete on mating type system, carbohydrate active enzymes, and fungal oxidative lignin enzymes. We also studied transcriptional regulation of the response to low temperature (4°C). We found that the genome of V. volvacea has many genes that code for enzymes, which are involved in the degradation of cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectin. The molecular genetics of the mating type system in V. volvacea was also found to be similar to the bipolar system in basidiomycetes, suggesting that it is secondary homothallism. Sensitivity to low temperatures could be due to the lack of the initiation of the biosynthesis of unsaturated fatty acids, trehalose and glycogen biosyntheses in this mushroom. Genome sequencing of V. volvacea has improved our understanding of the biological characteristics related to the degradation of the cultivating compost consisting of agricultural waste, the sexual reproduction mechanism, and the sensitivity to low temperatures at the molecular level which in turn will enable us to increase the industrial production of this mushroom.
PMCID: PMC3602538  PMID: 23526973
17.  Intrarenal resistance index for the assessment of acute renal injury in a rat liver transplantation model 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:55.
Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a common complication after liver transplantation (LT) and associated with a high mortality. The renal resistive index (RI) is used to assess early renal function impairment in critical care patients. However, limited data are available concerning changes of renal RI and the development of AKI early after reperfusion. We approached to investigate the changes of renal RI and AKI after reperfusion in a rat liver transplantation model.
Rats were randomly divided into sham group or LT group. Ten rats in each group were used for the hemodynamic study and twenty for Doppler measurements during the procedure. Ten rats were sacrificed 30 min or 2 h after the reperfusion. We harvested kidneys, serum and urine for further analysis of the renal function.
The intrarenal RI increased significantly in the anhepatic stage and decreased significantly after the reperfusion in the LT group compared with sham group (P < 0.05). AKI was seen after the reperfusion in the LT group. No correlation was noted between the RI and renal function parameters 30 min after reperfusion.
The intrarenal RI increased significantly during the anhepatic stage, and decreased significantly early after the reperfusion. Intrarenal RI was unable to assess renal function in a rat liver transplantation model.
PMCID: PMC3599562  PMID: 23453043
Liver transplantation; Doppler sonography; Renal function; Resistive index; Cys; NGAL
18.  Dickkopf-1 as a Novel Predictor Is Associated with Risk Stratification by GRACE Risk Scores for Predictive Value in Patients with Acute Coronary Syndrome: A Retrospective Research 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54731.
Dickkopf-1 (DKK-1), a major regulator of the Wnt pathway, plays an important role in cardiovascular disease. However, no study has evaluated the association of DKK-1 and acute coronary syndrome (ACS). We investigated this association and whether the Global Registry of Acute Coronary Events (GRACE) hospital-discharge risk score predicting major adverse cardiac events (MACE) can be improved by adding the DKK-1 value.
We enrolled 291 patients (46 with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction [STEMI] and 245 with non-ST elevated ACS [NSTE-ACS]) who were divided into groups by tertiles of baseline plasma DKK-1 level measured by ELISA. The GRACE risk score was calculated and predictive value alone and together with DKK-1 and/or high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) level were assessed, respectively.
Compared with patients with NSTE-ACS, those with STEMI had higher plasma DKK-1 level at baseline (P = 0.006). Plasma DKK-1 level was correlated with hs-CRP level (r = 0.295, P<0.001) and was greater with high than intermediate or low GRACE scores (P = 0.002 and P<0.001, respectively). We found 44 (15.1%) MACEs during a median 2-year follow-up. DKK-1 levels were higher for patients with than without events (P<0.001). The rate of MACE increased with increasing DKK-1 level (P<0.001). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for GRACE score with MACE was 0.524 and improved to 0.791 with the addition of hs-CRP level, 0.775 with the addition of DKK-1 level and 0.847 with both values added.
DKK-1 is an independent predictor of long-term MACE of patients with ACS. The long-term predictive ability of post-discharge GRACE score may be enhanced by adding DKK-1 level.
PMCID: PMC3554648  PMID: 23359112
19.  ADAM17 Mediates MMP9 Expression in Lung Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e51701.
The purposes were to study the role of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α/nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) signaling in matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) expression in A549 cells and to investigate the effects of lentivirus-mediated RNAi targeting of the disintegrin and metalloproteinase 17 (ADAM17) gene on LPS-induced MMP9 expression. MMP9 expression induced by LPS in A549 cells was significantly increased in a dose- and time-dependent manner (p<0.05). Pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate (PDTC) and a TNFR1 blocking peptide (TNFR1BP) significantly inhibited LPS-induced MMP9 expression in A549 cells (p<0.05). TNFR1BP significantly inhibited LPS-induced TNF-α production (p<0.05). Both PDTC and TNFR1BP significantly inhibited the phosphorylation of IκBα and expression of phosphorylation p65 protein in response to LPS (p<0.05), and the level of IκBα in the cytoplasm was significantly increased (p<0.05). Lentivirus mediated RNA interference (RNAi) significantly inhibited ADAM17 expression in A549 cells. Lentivirus-mediated RNAi targeting of ADAM17 significantly inhibited TNF-α production in the supernatants (p<0.05), whereas the level of TNF-α in the cells was increased (p<0.05). Lentiviral ADAM17 RNAi inhibited MMP9 expression, IκBα phosphorylation and the expression of phosphorylation p65 protein in response to LPS (p<0.05). PDTC significantly inhibited the expression of MMP9 and the phosphorylation of IκBα, as well as the expression of phosphorylation p65 protein in response to TNF-α (p<0.05). Lentiviral RNAi targeting of ADAM17 down-regulates LPS-induced MMP9 expression in lung epithelial cells via inhibition of TNF-α/NF-κB signaling.
PMCID: PMC3544892  PMID: 23341882
20.  Crag Is a GEF for Rab11 Required for Rhodopsin Trafficking and Maintenance of Adult Photoreceptor Cells 
PLoS Biology  2012;10(12):e1001438.
Transport of newly synthesized Rhodopsin upon light stimulation in adult Drosophila photoreceptors is mediated by a Crag/Rab11-dependent vesicular trafficking process.
Rhodopsins (Rhs) are light sensors, and Rh1 is the major Rh in the Drosophila photoreceptor rhabdomere membrane. Upon photoactivation, a fraction of Rh1 is internalized and degraded, but it remains unclear how the rhabdomeric Rh1 pool is replenished and what molecular players are involved. Here, we show that Crag, a DENN protein, is a guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rab11 that is required for the homeostasis of Rh1 upon light exposure. The absence of Crag causes a light-induced accumulation of cytoplasmic Rh1, and loss of Crag or Rab11 leads to a similar photoreceptor degeneration in adult flies. Furthermore, the defects associated with loss of Crag can be partially rescued with a constitutive active form of Rab11. We propose that upon light stimulation, Crag is required for trafficking of Rh from the trans-Golgi network to rhabdomere membranes via a Rab11-dependent vesicular transport.
Author Summary
Animals sense light through receptors called Rhodopsins. These proteins are typically localized to stacked membranes in photoreceptors. In flies, upon light exposure, Rhodopsin undergoes conformational changes and becomes active as metarhodopsin. Metarhodopsin then initiates a signaling cascade that activates the photoreceptor cell. To deactivate the light response, metarhodopsin is converted back into Rhodopsin by absorption of another photon of light. Under certain conditions, metarhodopsin cannot be converted back to Rhodopsin, and it is then endocytosed and degraded. Rhodopsin then needs to be synthesized and delivered back to the membrane stacks. Here, we show that the Calmodulin-binding protein Crag is required for the delivery of newly made Rhodopsin to the membrane stacks. Loss of Crag leads to the accumulation of Rhodopsin in the cytosol, followed by shrinkage of membrane stack volume, and, eventually, photoreceptor cell degeneration. We also show that Crag activates a target protein, Rab11, which mediates the vesicular transport of Rhodospin to the membrane. Finally, we document that the human homolog of Crag, DENND4A, is able to rescue the loss of Crag in flies, suggesting that DENND4A functions in a similar process in vertebrates.
PMCID: PMC3514319  PMID: 23226104
21.  FlyExpress: visual mining of spatiotemporal patterns for genes and publications in Drosophila embryogenesis 
Bioinformatics  2011;27(23):3319-3320.
Summary: Images containing spatial expression patterns illuminate the roles of different genes during embryogenesis. In order to generate initial clues to regulatory interactions, biologists frequently need to know the set of genes expressed at the same time at specific locations in a developing embryo, as well as related research publications. However, text-based mining of image annotations and research articles cannot produce all relevant results, because the primary data are images that exist as graphical objects. We have developed a unique knowledge base (FlyExpress) to facilitate visual mining of images from Drosophila melanogaster embryogenesis. By clicking on specific locations in pictures of fly embryos from different stages of development and different visual projections, users can produce a list of genes and publications instantly. In FlyExpress, each queryable embryo picture is a heat-map that captures the expression patterns of more than 4500 genes and more than 2600 published articles. In addition, one can view spatial patterns for particular genes over time as well as find other genes with similar expression patterns at a given developmental stage. Therefore, FlyExpress is a unique tool for mining spatiotemporal expression patterns in a format readily accessible to the scientific community.
PMCID: PMC3223365  PMID: 21994220
22.  Comparison of KRAS/BRAF mutations between primary tumors and serum in colorectal cancer: Biological and clinical implications 
Oncology Letters  2012;5(1):249-254.
In colorectal cancer (CRC), KRAS and BRAF mutations in primary tumors are associated with resistance to anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (anti-EGFR)-based therapies. However, the correlation between KRAS/BRAF mutation in primary tumors and serum has not been well studied. To evaluate the degree of concordance of KRAS/BRAF mutations between the primary tumors and the matched serum samples in CRC, serum and tumor tissues were collected from 115 patients with CRC and KRAS/BRAF mutations were examined by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and direct sequencing. BRAF mutations were present in 3.5% (4/115) of the primary tumor tissue samples and 0.87% (1/115) of the serum samples. In the 4 primary tumors with BRAF mutations, identical mutations were not observed in the corresponding serum samples (κ=−0.016). KRAS mutations were observed in 32.2% (37/115) of the primary tumors and 11.3% (13/115) of the serum samples. Of the 37 tumor cases with KRAS mutations, 9 had identical mutations in the corresponding serum sample, with a concordance rate of 24.3% (9/37). Discordance was observed in 32 (27.8%) patients. The concordance between KRAS mutations in the primary tumors and KRAS mutations in the matched serums was low (κ=0.231). The results of the present study suggest that the possibility of differences in the mutational status of KRAS/BRAF between primary tumors and matched serum samples should be considered when patients are selected for anti-EGFR-based therapies.
PMCID: PMC3525490  PMID: 23255930
colorectal cancer; cetuximab; KRAS; BRAF; serum
23.  BVT.2733, a Selective 11β-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1 Inhibitor, Attenuates Obesity and Inflammation in Diet-Induced Obese Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40056.
Inhibition of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) is being pursued as a new therapeutic approach for the treatment of obesity and metabolic syndrome. Therefore, there is an urgent need to determine the effect of 11β-HSD1 inhibitor, which suppresses glucocorticoid action, on adipose tissue inflammation. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of BVT.2733, a selective 11β-HSD1 inhibitor, on expression of pro-inflammatory mediators and macrophage infiltration in adipose tissue in C57BL/6J mice.
Methodology/Principal Findings
C57BL/6J mice were fed with a normal chow diet (NC) or high fat diet (HFD). HFD treated mice were then administrated with BVT.2733 (HFD+BVT) or vehicle (HFD) for four weeks. Mice receiving BVT.2733 treatment exhibited decreased body weight and enhanced glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity compared to control mice. BVT.2733 also down-regulated the expression of inflammation-related genes including monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and the number of infiltrated macrophages within the adipose tissue in vivo. Pharmacological inhibition of 11β-HSD1 and RNA interference against 11β-HSD1 reduced the mRNA levels of MCP-1 and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in cultured J774A.1 macrophages and 3T3-L1 preadipocyte in vitro.
These results suggest that BVT.2733 treatment could not only decrease body weight and improve metabolic homeostasis, but also suppress the inflammation of adipose tissue in diet-induced obese mice. 11β-HSD1 may be a very promising therapeutic target for obesity and associated disease.
PMCID: PMC3388048  PMID: 22768329
24.  Hyperproduction of poly(4-hydroxybutyrate) from glucose by recombinant Escherichia coli 
Poly(4-hydroxybutyrate) [poly(4HB)] is a strong thermoplastic biomaterial with remarkable mechanical properties, biocompatibility and biodegradability. However, it is generally synthesized when 4-hydroxybutyrate (4HB) structurally related substrates such as γ-butyrolactone, 4-hydroxybutyrate or 1,4-butanediol (1,4-BD) are provided as precursor which are much more expensive than glucose. At present, high production cost is a big obstacle for large scale production of poly(4HB).
Recombinant Escherichia coli strain was constructed to achieve hyperproduction of poly(4-hydroxybutyrate) [poly(4HB)] using glucose as a sole carbon source. An engineering pathway was established in E. coli containing genes encoding succinate degradation of Clostridium kluyveri and PHB synthase of Ralstonia eutropha. Native succinate semialdehyde dehydrogenase genes sad and gabD in E. coli were both inactivated to enhance the carbon flux to poly(4HB) biosynthesis. Four PHA binding proteins (PhaP or phasins) including PhaP1, PhaP2, PhaP3 and PhaP4 from R. eutropha were heterologously expressed in the recombinant E. coli, respectively, leading to different levels of improvement in poly(4HB) production. Among them PhaP1 exhibited the highest capability for enhanced polymer synthesis. The recombinant E. coli produced 5.5 g L-1 cell dry weight containing 35.4% poly(4HB) using glucose as a sole carbon source in a 48 h shake flask growth. In a 6-L fermentor study, 11.5 g L-1 cell dry weight containing 68.2% poly(4HB) was obtained after 52 h of cultivation. This was the highest poly(4HB) yield using glucose as a sole carbon source reported so far. Poly(4HB) was structurally confirmed by gas chromatographic (GC) as well as 1H and 13C NMR studies.
Significant level of poly(4HB) biosynthesis from glucose can be achieved in sad and gabD genes deficient strain of E. coli JM109 harboring an engineering pathway encoding succinate degradation genes and PHB synthase gene, together with expression of four PHA binding proteins PhaP or phasins, respectively. Over 68% poly(4HB) was produced in a fed-batch fermentation process, demonstrating the feasibility for enhanced poly(4HB) production using the recombinant strain for future cost effective commercial development.
PMCID: PMC3527305  PMID: 22550959
Poly(4HB); PHB; Polyhydroxyalkanoates; PhaP; 4-hydroxybutyrate; Escherichia coli; Metabolic engineering; Synthetic biology
25.  Diazoxide attenuates ischemia/reperfusion injury via upregulation of heme oxygenase-1 after liver transplantation in rats 
AIM: To evaluate the effects of diazoxide on ischemia/reperfusion (I/R)-injured hepatocytes and further elucidate its underlying mechanisms.
METHODS: Male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomized (8 for donor and recipient per group) into five groups: I/R group (4 h of liver cold ischemia followed by 6 h of reperfusion); heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) small interfering RNA (siRNA) group (injection of siRNA via donor portal vein 48 h prior to harvest); diazoxide (DZ) group (injection of DZ via donor portal vein 10 min prior to harvest); HO-1 siRNA + DZ group; and siRNA control group. Blood and liver samples were collected at 6 h after reperfusion. The mRNA expressions and protein levels of HO-1 were determined by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and Western blotting, and tissue morphology was examined by light and transmission electron microscopy. Serum transaminases level and cytokines concentration were also measured.
RESULTS: We observed that a significant reduction of HO-1 mRNA and protein levels in HO-1 siRNA and HO-1 siRNA + DZ group when compared with I/R group, while the increases were prominent in the DZ group. Light and transmission electron microscopy indicated severe disruption of tissue with lobular distortion and mitochondrial cristae damage in the HO-1 siRNA and HO-1 siRNA + DZ groups compared with DZ group. Serum alanine aminotransferase, aspartate transaminase, tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-6 levels increased in the HO-1 siRNA and HO-1 siRNA + DZ groups, and decreased in the DZ group.
CONCLUSION: The protective effect of DZ may be induced by upregulation of HO-1. By inhibiting expression of HO-1, this protection pretreated with DZ was abolished.
PMCID: PMC3332289  PMID: 22553400
Ischemia/reperfusion injury; Diazoxide; Heme oxygenase-1; Liver transplantation; Rat

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