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1.  Kif2a regulates spindle organization and cell cycle progression in meiotic oocytes 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:38574.
Kif2a is a member of the Kinesin-13 microtubule depolymerases. Here, we report the expression, subcellular localization and functions of Kif2a during mouse oocyte meiotic maturation. Immunoblotting analysis showed that Kif2a was gradually increased form GV to the M I stages, and then decreased slightly at the M II stage. Confocal microscopy identified that Kif2a localized to the meiotic spindle, especially concentrated at the spindle poles and inner centromeres in metaphase and translocated to the midbody at telophase. Kif2a depletion by siRNA microinjection generated severely defective spindles and misaligned chromosomes, reduced microtubule depolymerization, which led to significant pro-M I/M Iarrest and failure of first polar body (PB1) extrusion. Kif2a-depleted oocytes were also defective in spindle pole localization of γ-tubulin and showed spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) protein Bub3 at the kinetochores even after 10 hr extended culture. These results demonstrate that Kif2a may act as a microtubule depolymerase, regulating microtubule dynamics, spindle assembly and chromosome congression, and thus cell cycle progression during mouse oocyte meiotic maturation.
PMCID: PMC5171826  PMID: 27991495
2.  Evolution and Variation of the SARS-CoV Genome 
Knowledge of the evolution of pathogens is of great medical and biological significance to the prevention, diagnosis, and therapy of infectious diseases. In order to understand the origin and evolution of the SARS-CoV (severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated coronavirus), we collected complete genome sequences of all viruses available in GenBank, and made comparative analyses with the SARS-CoV. Genomic signature analysis demonstrates that the coronaviruses all take the TGTT as their richest tetranucleotide except the SARS-CoV. A detailed analysis of the forty-two complete SARS-CoV genome sequences revealed the existence of two distinct genotypes, and showed that these isolates could be classified into four groups. Our manual analysis of the BLASTN results demonstrates that the HE (hemagglutinin-esterase) gene exists in the SARS-CoV, and many mutations made it unfamiliar to us.
PMCID: PMC5172238  PMID: 15629034
SARS; SARS-CoV; motif frequency profile; genomic signature; Chaos Game Representation; PUP
3.  The Structural Characterization and Antigenicity of the S Protein of SARS-CoV 
The corona-like spikes or peplomers on the surface of the virion under electronic microscope are the most striking features of coronaviruses. The S (spike) protein is the largest structural protein, with 1,255 amino acids, in the viral genome. Its structure can be divided into three regions: a long N-terminal region in the exterior, a characteristic transmembrane (TM) region, and a short C-terminus in the interior of a virion. We detected fifteen substitutions of nucleotides by comparisons with the seventeen published SARS-CoV genome sequences, eight (53.3%) of which are non-synonymous mutations leading to amino acid alternations with predicted physiochemical changes. The possible antigenic determinants of the S protein are predicted, and the result is confirmed by ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) with synthesized peptides. Another profound finding is that three disulfide bonds are defined at the C-terminus with the N-terminus of the E (envelope) protein, based on the typical sequence and positions, thus establishing the structural connection with these two important structural proteins, if confirmed. Phylogenetic analysis reveals several conserved regions that might be potent drug targets.
PMCID: PMC5172354  PMID: 15626341
SARS; coronavirus; the S protein; structure; antigenicity
4.  Genome-wide investigation and expression analyses of the pentatricopeptide repeat protein gene family in foxtail millet 
BMC Genomics  2016;17:840.
Pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) proteins are encoded by a large gene family of approximately 450 members in Arabidopsis and 477 in rice, which characterized by tandem repetitions of a degenerate 35 amino acid characteristic sequence motifs. A large majority of the PPR genes in the higher plants are localized in organelles. Their functions remain as yet largely unknown. The majority of characterized PPR proteins have been found to function in modulating the expression plastid and mitochondrial genes in plants.
Here, a genome-wide identification and comparison of the PPR genes from 5 organisms was performed, including the moss Physcomitrella patens, the lycophyte Selaginella moellendorffii, the eudicot Arabidopsis, and the monocots rice and foxtail millet. It appears that the expansion of this gene family prior to the divergence of the euphyllophytes and the lycophytes in land plants. The duplication and divergence rates of the foxtail millet PPR genes (SiPPRs) showed that the expansion period of this gene family around 400 Mya, and indicated that genome segmental duplication was very likely the primary mechanism underlying the expansion of the PPR gene family in vascular plants. An analysis of a complete set of SiPPR genes/proteins that included classification, chromosomal location, orthologous relationships, duplication analysis, and auxiliary motifs is presented. Expression analysis of the SiPPR genes under stress conditions revealed that the expression of 24 SiPPR genes was responsive to abiotic stress. Subcellular localization analysis of 11 PPR proteins indicated that 5 proteins were localized to chloroplasts, that 4 were localized to mitochondria, and that 2 were localized to the cytoplasm.
Our results contribute to a more comprehensive understanding the roles of PPR proteins and will be useful in the prioritization of particular PPR proteins for subsequent functional validation studies in foxtail millet.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-016-3184-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5084403  PMID: 27793078
Foxtail millet; Pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) proteins; Genome segmental duplication; Phylogenesis; Responsive mechanism; Subcellular localization
6.  MicroRNA-27a Inhibits Cell Migration and Invasion of Fibroblast-Like Synoviocytes by Targeting Follistatin-Like Protein 1 in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Molecules and Cells  2016;39(8):611-618.
Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) with aberrant expression of microRNA (miRNA) are critical pathogenic regulators in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Previous studies have found that overexpression or silencing of miRNA can contribute to the development of miRNA-based therapeutics in arthritis models. In this study, we explored the effects of miR-27a on cell migration and invasion in cultured FLS from RA patients. We found that miR-27a was markedly downregulated in the serum, synovial tissue, and FLS of RA patients. Meanwhile, the expression of follistatin-like protein 1 (FSTL1) was upregulated, which suggests that FSTL1 plays a key role in RA development. The results of a Transwell assay showed that miR-27a inhibited FLS migration and invasion. However, miR-27a inhibition promoted the migration and invasion of FLS. In addition, the down-regulated expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP2, MMP9, and MMP13) and Rho family proteins (Rac1, Cdc42, and RhoA) was detected after treatment with miR-27a in RA-FLS by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR and western blot analysis. Then, a luciferase reporter assay validated that miR-27a targeted the 3-untranslated region (3′-UTR) of FSTL1. Moreover, miR-27a caused a significant decrease of FSTL1. In addition, the expression of TLR4 and NFκB was inhibited by miR-27a but increased by FSTL1 overexpression. In conclusion, we found that miR-27a inhibited cell migration and invasion of RA-FLS by targeting FSTL1 and restraining the TLR4/NFκB pathway.
PMCID: PMC4990753  PMID: 27498552
fibroblast-like synoviocyte; follistatin-like protein 1; microRNA; rheumatoid arthritis
7.  iHyd-PseCp: Identify hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine in proteins by incorporating sequence-coupled effects into general PseAAC 
Oncotarget  2016;7(28):44310-44321.
Protein hydroxylation is a posttranslational modification (PTM), in which a CH group in Pro (P) or Lys (K) residue has been converted into a COH group, or a hydroxyl group (−OH) is converted into an organic compound. Closely associated with cellular signaling activities, this type of PTM is also involved in some major diseases, such as stomach cancer and lung cancer. Therefore, from the angles of both basic research and drug development, we are facing a challenging problem: for an uncharacterized protein sequence containing many residues of P or K, which ones can be hydroxylated, and which ones cannot? With the explosive growth of protein sequences in the post-genomic age, the problem has become even more urgent. To address such a problem, we have developed a predictor called iHyd-PseCp by incorporating the sequence-coupled information into the general pseudo amino acid composition (PseAAC) and introducing the “Random Forest” algorithm to operate the calculation. Rigorous jackknife tests indicated that the new predictor remarkably outperformed the existing state-of-the-art prediction method for the same purpose. For the convenience of most experimental scientists, a user-friendly web-server for iHyd-PseCp has been established at, by which users can easily obtain their desired results without the need to go through the complicated mathematical equations involved.
PMCID: PMC5190098  PMID: 27322424
PTMs; hydroxyproline; hydroxylysine; sequence-coupling model; general PseAAC
8.  Drought-responsive WRKY transcription factor genes TaWRKY1 and TaWRKY33 from wheat confer drought and/or heat resistance in Arabidopsis 
BMC Plant Biology  2016;16:116.
Drought stress is one of the major causes of crop loss. WRKY transcription factors, as one of the largest transcription factor families, play important roles in regulation of many plant processes, including drought stress response. However, far less information is available on drought-responsive WRKY genes in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), one of the three staple food crops.
Forty eight putative drought-induced WRKY genes were identified from a comparison between de novo transcriptome sequencing data of wheat without or with drought treatment. TaWRKY1 and TaWRKY33 from WRKY Groups III and II, respectively, were selected for further investigation. Subcellular localization assays revealed that TaWRKY1 and TaWRKY33 were localized in the nuclei in wheat mesophyll protoplasts. Various abiotic stress-related cis-acting elements were observed in the promoters of TaWRKY1 and TaWRKY33. Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) analysis showed that TaWRKY1 was slightly up-regulated by high-temperature and abscisic acid (ABA), and down-regulated by low-temperature. TaWRKY33 was involved in high responses to high-temperature, low-temperature, ABA and jasmonic acid methylester (MeJA). Overexpression of TaWRKY1 and TaWRKY33 activated several stress-related downstream genes, increased germination rates, and promoted root growth in Arabidopsis under various stresses. TaWRKY33 transgenic Arabidopsis lines showed lower rates of water loss than TaWRKY1 transgenic Arabidopsis lines and wild type plants during dehydration. Most importantly, TaWRKY33 transgenic lines exhibited enhanced tolerance to heat stress.
The functional roles highlight the importance of WRKYs in stress response.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-016-0806-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4877946  PMID: 27215938
Drought tolerance; WRKY transcription factor; Stress response mechanisms; Thermotolerance; Triticum aestivum
9.  LVTree Viewer: An Interactive Display for the All-Species Living Tree Incorporating Automatic Comparison with Prokaryotic Systematics 
We describe an interactive viewer for the All-Species Living Tree (LVTree). The viewer incorporates treeing and lineage information from the ARB-SILVA website. It allows collapsing the tree branches at different taxonomic ranks and expanding the collapsed branches as well, keeping the overall topology of the tree unchanged. It also enables the user to observe the consequence of trial lineage modifications by re-collapsing the tree. The system reports taxon statistics at all ranks automatically after each collapsing and re-collapsing. These features greatly facilitate the comparison of the 16S rRNA sequence phylogeny with prokaryotic taxonomy in a taxon by taxon manner. In view of the fact that the present prokaryotic systematics is largely based on 16S rRNA sequence analysis, the current viewer may help reveal discrepancies between phylogeny and taxonomy. As an application, we show that in the latest release of LVTree, based on 11,939 rRNA sequences, as few as 24 lineage modifications are enough to bring all but two phyla (Proteobacteria and Firmicutes) to monophyletic clusters.
PMCID: PMC4880948  PMID: 27018315
Archaea and Bacteria; 16S rRNA phylogeny; Monophyly; Collapsing and expanding a tree; Lineage modifications
10.  Bisphosphonates can prevent recurrent hip fracture and reduce the mortality in osteoporotic patient with hip fracture: A meta-analysis 
This meta-analysis was conducted to investigate the efficacy of bisphosphonates for preventing recurrent hip fracture and reducing the mortality of elderly patient with hip fracture.
The databases of Pubmed, Embase and Cochrane Library were searched. All randomized or prospective matched controlled trials that assessed the efficacy of bisphosphonate for elderly patients with hip fracture were included. Two researchers independently extracted data of the included articles and assessed the methodological quality which was assessed based on Jadad scoring system or Newcastle-Ottawa scale. The second hip fracture incidence, mortality and complications were compared between bisphosphonates and control groups.
Four studies including 3088 patients were included. Results showed that there were significant difference of second hip fracture (P<0.05) and mortality (P<0.05) between bisphosphonates group and control group. While no significant intergroup difference were observed for all complications.
Bisphosphonates can prevent subsequent hip fracture, reduce the mortality, and does not increase the overall complications in elderly patients with hip fracture.
PMCID: PMC4859053  PMID: 27182270
Bisphosphonate; Osteoporosis; Hip fracture
11.  MicroRNA-16 suppresses the activation of inflammatory macrophages in atherosclerosis by targeting PDCD4 
Programmed cell death 4 (PDCD4) is involved in a number of bioprocesses, such as apoptosis and inflammation. However, its regulatory mechanisms in atherosclerosis remain unclear. In this study, we investigated the role and mechanisms of action of PDCD4 in high-fat diet-induced atherosclerosis in mice and in foam cells (characteristic pathological cells in atherosclerotic lesions) derived from ox-LDL-stimulated macrophages. MicroRNA (miR)-16 was predicted to bind PDCD4 by bioinformatics analysis. In the mice with atherosclerosis and in the foam cells, PDCD4 protein expression (but not the mRNA expression) was enhanced, while that of miR-16 was reduced. Transfection with miR-16 mimic decreased the activity of a luciferase reporter containing the 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR) of PDCD4 in the macrophage-derived foam cells. Conversely, treatment with miR-16 inhibitor enhanced the luciferase activity. However, by introducing mutations in the predicted binding site located in the 3′UTR of PDCD4, the miR-16 mimic and inhibitor were unable to alter the level of PDCD4, suggesting that miR-16 is a direct negative regulator of PDCD4 in atherosclerosis. Furthermore, transfection wtih miR-16 mimic and siRNA targeting PDCD4 suppressed the secretion and mRNA expression of pro-inflammatory factors, such as interleukin (IL)-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), whereas it enhanced the secretion and mRNA expression of the anti-inflammatory factor, IL-10. Treatment with miR-16 inhibitor exerted the opposite effects. In addition, the phosphorylation of p38 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) expression were altered by miR-16. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that the targeting of PDCD4 by miR-16 may suppress the activation of inflammatory macrophages though mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and NF-κB signaling in atherosclerosis; thus, PDCD4 may prove to be a potential therapeutic target in the treatment of atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC4790696  PMID: 26936421
microRNA-16; programmed cell death 4; atherosclerosis; inflammatory response; mitogen-activated protein kinase and nuclear factor-κB signaling
12.  Irbesartan Ameliorates Diabetic Nephropathy by Suppressing the RANKL-RANK-NF-κB Pathway in Type 2 Diabetic db/db Mice 
Mediators of Inflammation  2016;2016:1405924.
The receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) and its receptor RANK are overexpressed in focal segmental glomerular sclerosis (FSGS), IgA nephropathy (IgAN), and membranous nephropathy (MN). However, the expression and the potential roles of RANKL and RANK in diabetic nephropathy (DN) remain unclear. Irbesartan (Irb) has beneficial effects against diabetes-induced renal damage, but its mechanisms are poorly understood. Our present study investigated the effects of Irb in DN and whether the renal protective effects of Irb are mediated by RANKL/RANK and the downstream NF-κB pathway in db/db mice. Our results showed that db/db mice revealed severe metabolic abnormalities, renal dysfunction, podocyte injury, and increased MCP-1; these symptoms were reversed by Irb. At the molecular level, RANKL and RANK were overexpressed in the kidneys of db/db mice and Irb downregulated RANKL and RANK and inhibited the downstream NF-κB pathway. Our study suggests that Irb can ameliorate DN by suppressing the RANKL-RANK-NF-κB pathway.
PMCID: PMC4736580  PMID: 26880862
13.  The E-Subgroup Pentatricopeptide Repeat Protein Family in Arabidopsis thaliana and Confirmation of the Responsiveness PPR96 to Abiotic Stresses 
Pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) proteins are extensive in all eukaryotes. Their functions remain as yet largely unknown. Mining potential stress responsive PPRs, and checking whether known PPR editing factors are affected in the stress treatments. It is beneficial to elucidate the regulation mechanism of PPRs involved in biotic and abiotic stress. Here, we explored the characteristics and origin of the 105 E subgroup PPRs in Arabidopsis thaliana. Phylogenetic analysis categorized the E subgroup PPRs into five discrete groups (Cluster I to V), and they may have a common origin in both A. thaliana and rice. An in silico expression analysis of the 105 E subgroup PPRs in A. thaliana was performed using available microarray data. Thirty-four PPRs were differentially expressed during A. thaliana seed imbibition, seed development stage(s), and flowers development processes. To explore potential stress responsive PPRs, differential expression of 92 PPRs was observed in A. thaliana seedlings subjected to different abiotic stresses. qPCR data of E subgroup PPRs under stress conditions revealed that the expression of 5 PPRs was responsive to abiotic stresses. In addition, PPR96 is involved in plant responses to salt, abscisic acid (ABA), and oxidative stress. The T-DNA insertion mutation inactivating PPR96 expression results in plant insensitivity to salt, ABA, and oxidative stress. The PPR96 protein is localized in the mitochondria, and altered transcription levels of several stress-responsive genes under abiotic stress treatments. Our results suggest that PPR96 may important function in a role connecting the regulation of oxidative respiration and environmental responses in A. thaliana.
PMCID: PMC5136568  PMID: 27994613
Arabidopsis thaliana; pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) proteins; microarray analysis; seed imbibition; seed development stage(s); flower development processes; mitochondria; abiotic stresses
14.  Cep55 regulates spindle organization and cell cycle progression in meiotic oocyte 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:16978.
Cep55 is a relatively novel member of the centrosomal protein family. Here, we show that Cep55 is expressed in mouse oocytes from the germinal vesicle (GV) to metaphase II (MII) stages. Immuostaining and confocal microscopy as well as time lapse live imaging after injection of mRNA encoding fusion protein of Cep55 and GFP identified that Cep55 was localized to the meiotic spindle, especially to the spindle poles at metaphase, while it was concentrated at the midbody in telophase in meiotic oocytes. Knockdown of Cep55 by specific siRNA injection caused the dissociation of γ-tubulin from the spindle poles, resulting in severely defective spindles and misaligned chromosomes, leading to metaphase I arrest and failure of first polar body (PB1) extrusion. Correspondingly, cyclin B accumulation and spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) activation were observed in Cep55 knockdown oocytes. Our results suggest that Cep55 may act as an MTOC-associated protein regulating spindle organization, and thus cell cycle progression during mouse oocyte meiotic maturation.
PMCID: PMC4652202  PMID: 26582107
15.  High-Resolution Analyses of Human Leukocyte Antigens Allele and Haplotype Frequencies Based on 169,995 Volunteers from the China Bone Marrow Donor Registry Program 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(9):e0139485.
Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is a widely used and effective therapy for hematopoietic malignant diseases and numerous other disorders. High-resolution human leukocyte antigen (HLA) haplotype frequency distributions not only facilitate individual donor searches but also determine the probability with which a particular patient can find HLA-matched donors in a registry. The frequencies of the HLA-A, -B, -C, -DRB1, and -DQB1 alleles and haplotypes were estimated among 169,995 Chinese volunteers using the sequencing-based typing (SBT) method. Totals of 191 HLA-A, 244 HLA-B, 146 HLA-C, 143 HLA-DRB1 and 47 HLA-DQB1 alleles were observed, which accounted for 6.98%, 7.06%, 6.46%, 9.11% and 7.91%, respectively, of the alleles in each locus in the world (IMGT 3.16 Release, Apr. 2014). Among the 100 most common haplotypes from the 169,995 individuals, nine distinct haplotypes displayed significant regionally specific distributions. Among these, three were predominant in the South China region (i.e., the 20th, 31st, and 81sthaplotypes), another three were predominant in the Southwest China region (i.e., the 68th, 79th, and 95th haplotypes), one was predominant in the South and Southwest China regions (the 18th haplotype), one was relatively common in the Northeast and North China regions (the 94th haplotype), and one was common in the Northeast, North and Northwest China (the 40th haplotype). In conclusion, this is the first to analyze high-resolution HLA diversities across the entire country of China, based on a detailed and complete data set that covered 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities. Specifically, we also evaluated the HLA matching probabilities within and between geographic regions and analyzed the regional differences in the HLA diversities in China. We believe that the data presented in this study might be useful for unrelated HLA-matched donor searches, donor registry planning, population genetic studies, and anthropogenesis studies.
PMCID: PMC4589403  PMID: 26421847
16.  Intracoronary infusion of Wharton’s jelly-derived mesenchymal stem cells in acute myocardial infarction: double-blind, randomized controlled trial 
BMC Medicine  2015;13:162.
The use of adult stem cells is limited by the quality and quantity of host stem cells. It has been demonstrated that Wharton’s jelly–derived mesenchymal stem cells (WJMSCs), a primitive stromal population, could integrate into ischemic cardiac tissues and significantly improve heart function. In this randomized, controlled trial, our aim was to assess the safety and efficacy of intracoronary WJMSCs in patients with ST-elevation acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
In a multicenter trial, 116 patients with acute ST-elevation MI were randomly assigned to receive an intracoronary infusion of WJMSCs or placebo into the infarct artery at five to seven days after successful reperfusion therapy. The primary endpoint of safety: the incidence of adverse events (AEs) within 18 months, was monitored and quantified. The endpoint of efficacy: the absolute changes in myocardial viability and perfusion of the infarcted region from baseline to four months, global left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) from baseline to 18 months were measured using F-18-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission computed tomography (F-18-FDG-PET) and 99mTc-sestamibi single-photon emission computed tomography (99mTc-SPECT), and two-dimensional echocardiography, respectively.
During 18 months follow-up, AEs rates and laboratory tests including tumor, immune, and hematologic indexes were not different between the two groups. The absolute increase in the myocardial viability (PET) and perfusion within the infarcted territory (SPECT) was significantly greater in the WJMSC group [6.9 ± 0.6 % (95 %CI, 5.7 to 8.2)] and [7.1 ± 0.8 % (95 %CI, 5.4 to 8.8) than in the placebo group [3.3 ± 0.7 % (95 %CI, 1.8 to 4.7), P <0.0001] and 3.9 ± 0.6(95 %CI, 2.8 to 5.0), P = 0.002] at four months. The absolute increase in the LVEF at 18 months in the WJMSC group was significantly greater than that in the placebo group [7.8 ± 0.9 (6.0 to approximately 9.7) vs. 2.8 ± 1.2 (0.4 to approximately 5.1), P = 0.001]. Concomitantly, the absolute decreases in LV end-systolic volumes and end-diastolic volumes at 18 months in the WJMSC group were significantly greater than those in the placebo group (P = 0.0004, P = 0.004, respectively).
Intracoronary infusion of WJMSCs is safe and effective in patients with AMI, providing clinically relevant therapy within a favorable time window. This study encourages additional clinical trials to determine whether WJMSCs may serve as a novel alternative to BMSCs for cardiac stem cell-based therapy.
Trial registration
Clinical Trials NCT01291329 (02/05/2011).
PMCID: PMC4499169  PMID: 26162993
Myocardial infarction; Mesenchymal stem cells; Wharton’s jelly of umbilical cord
17.  Testin on Atherosclerosis in Rabbits 
Chinese Medical Journal  2015;128(12):1662-1665.
The expression of TES, a novel tumor suppressor gene, is found to be down-regulated in the left anterior descending aorta of patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) compared with non-CAD subjects. This study aimed to investigate the expression of TES during the development of atherosclerosis in rabbits.
Thirty-two New Zealand rabbits were randomly divided into a normal diet (ND) and high-fat diet (HFD) groups. Body weight and serum lipid levels were measured at 0, 4, and 12 weeks after diet treatment. The degree of atherosclerosis in thoracic aortas was analyzed by histological examinations. The expression of Testin in the tissue samples was inspected via immunohistochemical and immunofluorescence confocal microscopy. Real time-polymerase chain reaction and Western blot analysis were performed to evaluate the expression of TES/Testin at mRNA and protein levels in the aortic tissues.
After 12 weeks postenrollment, rabbits in HFD group had a higher level of serum lipids and atherosclerotic plaque compared to ND group (P < 0.05). Testin expression was detected at high levels in the endothelium and a weak expression on the subendothelium area. The expression of TES mRNA was markedly reduced by 10-fold in the aortic tissues in the HFD group compared with the ND group (P = 0.015), and the protein level was also significantly decreased in the HFD group (P < 0.05).
Reduced TES/Testin expression is associated with the development of atherosclerosis, implicating a potentially important role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC4733733  PMID: 26063370
Atherosclerosis; Rabbit; Testin
18.  Aiolos Promotes Anchorage Independence by Silencing p66Shc Transcription in Cancer Cells 
Cancer cell  2014;25(5):575-589.
Anchorage of tissue cells to their physical environment is an obligate requirement for survival which is lost in mature hematopoietic and in transformed epithelial cells. Here we find that a lymphocyte lineage-restricted transcription factor, Aiolos, is frequently expressed in lung cancers and predicts markedly reduced patient survival. Aiolos decreases expression of a large set of adhesion-related genes, disrupting cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions. Aiolos also reconfigures chromatin structure within the SHC1 gene, causing isoform-specific silencing of the anchorage reporter p66Shc and blocking anoikis in vitro and in vivo. In lung cancer tissues and single cells, p66Shc expression inversely correlates with that of Aiolos. Together, these findings suggest that Aiolos functions as an epigenetic driver of lymphocyte mimicry in metastatic epithelial cancers.
PMCID: PMC4070880  PMID: 24823637
19.  Inhibition of Calpain Prevents Manganese-Induced Cell Injury and Alpha-Synuclein Oligomerization in Organotypic Brain Slice Cultures 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0119205.
Overexposure to manganese has been known to promote alpha-synuclein oligomerization and enhance cellular toxicity. However, the exact mechanism of Mn-induced alpha-synuclein oligomerization is unclear. To explore whether alpha-synuclein oligomerization was associated with the cleavage of alpha-synuclein by calpain, we made a rat brain slice model of manganism and pretreated slices with calpain inhibitor II, a cell-permeable peptide that restricts the activity of calpain. After slices were treated with 400 μM Mn for 24 h, there were significant increases in the percentage of apoptotic cells, lactate dehydrogenase release, intracellular [Ca2+]i, calpain activity, and the mRNA and protein expression of calpain 1 and alpha-synuclein. Moreover, the number of C- and N-terminal fragments of alpha-synuclein and the amount of alpha-synuclein oligomerization also increased. These results also showed that calpain inhibitor II pretreatment could reduce Mn-induced nerve cell injury and alpha-synuclein oligomerization. Additionally, there was a significant decrease in the number of C- and N-terminal fragments of alpha-synuclein in calpain inhibitor II-pretreated slices. These findings revealed that Mn induced the cleavage of alpha-synuclein protein via overactivation of calpain and subsequent alpha-synuclein oligomerization in cultured slices. Moreover, the cleavage of alpha-synuclein by calpain 1 is an important signaling event in Mn-induced alpha-synuclein oligomerization.
PMCID: PMC4355489  PMID: 25756858
20.  Phylogeny and Taxonomy of Archaea: A Comparison of the Whole-Genome-Based CVTree Approach with 16S rRNA Sequence Analysis 
Life  2015;5(1):949-968.
A tripartite comparison of Archaea phylogeny and taxonomy at and above the rank order is reported: (1) the whole-genome-based and alignment-free CVTree using 179 genomes; (2) the 16S rRNA analysis exemplified by the All-Species Living Tree with 366 archaeal sequences; and (3) the Second Edition of Bergey’s Manual of Systematic Bacteriology complemented by some current literature. A high degree of agreement is reached at these ranks. From the newly proposed archaeal phyla, Korarchaeota, Thaumarchaeota, Nanoarchaeota and Aigarchaeota, to the recent suggestion to divide the class Halobacteria into three orders, all gain substantial support from CVTree. In addition, the CVTree helped to determine the taxonomic position of some newly sequenced genomes without proper lineage information. A few discrepancies between the CVTree and the 16S rRNA approaches call for further investigation.
PMCID: PMC4390887  PMID: 25789552
Archaea; phylogeny and taxonomy; 16S rRNA analysis; whole-genome comparison; alignment free; CVTree
21.  A G-Protein β Subunit, AGB1, Negatively Regulates the ABA Response and Drought Tolerance by Down-Regulating AtMPK6-Related Pathway in Arabidopsis 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(1):e0116385.
Heterotrimeric G-proteins are versatile regulators involved in diverse cellular processes in eukaryotes. In plants, the function of G-proteins is primarily associated with ABA signaling. However, the downstream effectors and the molecular mechanisms in the ABA pathway remain largely unknown. In this study, an AGB1 mutant (agb1-2) was found to show enhanced drought tolerance, indicating that AGB1 might negatively regulate drought tolerance in Arabidopsis. Data showed that AGB1 interacted with protein kinase AtMPK6 that was previously shown to phosphorylate AtVIP1, a transcription factor responding to ABA signaling. Our study found that transcript levels of three ABA responsive genes, AtMPK6, AtVIP1 and AtMYB44 (downstream gene of AtVIP1), were significantly up-regulated in agb1-2 lines after ABA or drought treatments. Other ABA-responsive and drought-inducible genes, such as RD29A (downstream gene of AtMYB44), were also up-regulated in agb1-2 lines. Furthermore, overexpression of AtVIP1 resulted in hypersensitivity to ABA at seed germination and seedling stages, and significantly enhanced drought tolerance in transgenic plants. These results suggest that AGB1 was involved in the ABA signaling pathway and drought tolerance in Arabidopsis through down-regulating the AtMPK6, AtVIP1 and AtMYB44 cascade.
PMCID: PMC4312036  PMID: 25635681
22.  The soybean GmDi19-5 interacts with GmLEA3.1 and increases sensitivity of transgenic plants to abiotic stresses 
Drought-induced (Di19) proteins played important roles in plant growth, development, and abiotic stress responses. In the present study, a total of seven Di19 genes were identified in soybean. Each soybean Di19 gene showed specific responses to salt, drought, oxidative, and ABA stresses based on expression profiles. With a relatively higher transcript level among Di19 members under four stress treatments, GmDi19-5 was selected for detailed analysis. Inhibitor assays revealed that ABA inhibitor (Fluridone) or H2O2 inhibitor (DMTU) was involved in the drought- or salt-induced transcription of GmDi19-5. The GUS activity driven by the GmDi19-5 promoter was induced by salt, PEG, ABA, and MV treatments and tended to be accumulated in the vascular bundles and young leaves. A subcellular localization assay showed that GmDi19-5 protein localized in the nucleus. Further investigation showed that GmDi19-5 protein was involved in the interaction with GmLEA3.1. Overexpression of GmDi19-5 increased sensitivity of transgenic Arabidopsis plants to salt, drought, oxidative, and ABA stresses and regulated expression of several ABA/stress-associated genes. This present investigation showed that GmDi19-5 functioned as a negative factor under abiotic stresses and was involved in ABA and SOS signaling pathway by altering transcription of stress-associated genes.
PMCID: PMC4371698  PMID: 25852726
Di19 protein; genome-wide analysis; stress response; functional identification; protein interaction; Glycine max
23.  Foxtail Millet NF-Y Families: Genome-Wide Survey and Evolution Analyses Identified Two Functional Genes Important in Abiotic Stresses 
It was reported that Nuclear Factor Y (NF-Y) genes were involved in abiotic stress in plants. Foxtail millet (Setaria italica), an elite stress tolerant crop, provided an impetus for the investigation of the NF-Y families in abiotic responses. In the present study, a total of 39 NF-Y genes were identified in foxtail millet. Synteny analyses suggested that foxtail millet NF-Y genes had experienced rapid expansion and strong purifying selection during the process of plant evolution. De novo transcriptome assembly of foxtail millet revealed 11 drought up-regulated NF-Y genes. SiNF-YA1 and SiNF-YB8 were highly activated in leaves and/or roots by drought and salt stresses. Abscisic acid (ABA) and H2O2 played positive roles in the induction of SiNF-YA1 and SiNF-YB8 under stress treatments. Transient luciferase (LUC) expression assays revealed that SiNF-YA1 and SiNF-YB8 could activate the LUC gene driven by the tobacco (Nicotiana tobacam) NtERD10, NtLEA5, NtCAT, NtSOD, or NtPOD promoter under normal or stress conditions. Overexpression of SiNF-YA1 enhanced drought and salt tolerance by activating stress-related genes NtERD10 and NtCAT1 and by maintaining relatively stable relative water content (RWC) and contents of chlorophyll, superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), catalase (CAT) and malondialdehyde (MDA) in transgenic lines under stresses. SiNF-YB8 regulated expression of NtSOD, NtPOD, NtLEA5, and NtERD10 and conferred relatively high RWC and chlorophyll contents and low MDA content, resulting in drought and osmotic tolerance in transgenic lines under stresses. Therefore, SiNF-YA1 and SiNF-YB8 could activate stress-related genes and improve physiological traits, resulting in tolerance to abiotic stresses in plants. All these results will facilitate functional characterization of foxtail millet NF-Ys in future studies.
PMCID: PMC4687410  PMID: 26734043
NF-Y transcription factor; evolution analysis; induced mechanism; gene regulation; physiological trait; drought tolerance; Setaria italica
24.  Genome-wide analysis of the Hsf family in soybean and functional identification of GmHsf-34 involvement in drought and heat stresses 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):1009.
High temperature affects organism growth and metabolic activity. Heat shock transcription factors (Hsfs) are key regulators in heat shock response in eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Under high temperature conditions, Hsfs activate heat shock proteins (Hsps) by combining with heat stress elements (HSEs) in their promoters, leading to defense of heat stress. Since the first plant Hsf gene was identified in tomato, several plant Hsf family genes have been thoroughly characterized. Although soybean (Glycine max), an important oilseed crops, genome sequences have been available, the Hsf family genes in soybean have not been characterized accurately.
We analyzed the Hsf genetic structures and protein function domains using the GSDS, Pfam, SMART, PredictNLS, and NetNES online tools. The genome scanning of dicots (soybean and Arabidopsis) and monocots (rice and maize) revealed that the whole-genome replication occurred twice in soybean evolution. The plant Hsfs were classified into 3 classes and 16 subclasses according to protein structure domains. The A8 and B3 subclasses existed only in dicots and the A9 and C2 occurred only in monocots. Thirty eight soybean Hsfs were systematically identified and grouped into 3 classes and 12 subclasses, and located on 15 soybean chromosomes. The promoter regions of the soybean Hsfs contained cis-elements that likely participate in drought, low temperature, and ABA stress responses. There were large differences among Hsfs based on transcriptional levels under the stress conditions. The transcriptional levels of the A1 and A2 subclass genes were extraordinarily high. In addition, differences in the expression levels occurred for each gene in the different organs and at the different developmental stages. Several genes were chosen to determine their subcellular localizations and functions. The subcellular localization results revealed that GmHsf-04, GmHsf-33, and GmHsf-34 were located in the nucleus. Overexpression of the GmHsf-34 gene improved the tolerances to drought and heat stresses in Arabidopsis plants.
This present investigation of the quantity, structural features, expression characteristics, subcellular localizations, and functional roles provides a scientific basis for further research on soybean Hsf functions.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-1009) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4253008  PMID: 25416131
Hsfs; Genome-wide identification; Expression pattern; Subcellular localization; Functional identification; Soybean
25.  A Soybean C2H2-Type Zinc Finger Gene GmZF1 Enhanced Cold Tolerance in Transgenic Arabidopsis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109399.
Zinc finger proteins were involved in response to different environmental stresses in plant species. A typical Cys2/His2-type (C2H2-type) zinc finger gene GmZF1 from soybean was isolated and was composed of 172 amino acids containing two conserved C2H2-type zinc finger domains. Phylogenetic analysis showed that GmZF1 was clustered on the same branch with six C2H2-type ZFPs from dicotyledonous plants excepting for GsZFP1, and distinguished those from monocotyledon species. The GmZF1 protein was localized at the nucleus, and has specific binding activity with EP1S core sequence, and nucleotide mutation in the core sequence of EPSPS promoter changed the binding ability between GmZF1 protein and core DNA element, implying that two amino acid residues, G and C boxed in core sequence TGACAGTGTCA possibly play positive regulation role in recognizing DNA-binding sites in GmZF1 proteins. High accumulation of GmZF1 mRNA induced by exogenous ABA suggested that GmZF1 was involved in an ABA-dependent signal transduction pathway. Over-expression of GmZF1 significantly improved the contents of proline and soluble sugar and decreased the MDA contents in the transgenic lines exposed to cold stress, indicating that transgenic Arabidopsis carrying GmZF1 gene have adaptive mechanisms to cold stress. Over-expression of GmZF1 also increased the expression of cold-regulated cor6.6 gene by probably recognizing protein-DNA binding sites, suggesting that GmZF1 from soybean could enhance the tolerance of Arabidopsis to cold stress by regulating expression of cold-regulation gene in the transgenic Arabidopsis.
PMCID: PMC4186855  PMID: 25286048

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