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1.  Transcriptomic and Physiological Insights into the Robustness of Long Filamentous Cells of Methanosaeta harundinacea, Prevalent in Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket Granules 
Methanosaeta spp. are widely distributed in natural environments, and their filamentous cells contribute significantly to sludge granulation and the good performance of anaerobic reactors. A previous study indicated that Methanosaeta harundinacea 6Ac displays a quorum sensing-regulated morphological transition from short to long filaments, and more acetate is channeled into methane production in long filaments, whereas more is channeled into biomass synthesis in short filaments. Here, we performed transcriptomic and physiological analysis to gain insights into active methanogenesis in long filaments of M. harundinacea 6Ac. Both RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and quantitative reverse transcription-PCR indicated that transcription of the genes involved in aceticlastic methanogenesis and energy metabolism was upregulated 1.2- to 10.3-fold in long filaments, while transcription of the genes for the methyl oxidative shunt was upregulated in short filaments. [2-13C]acetate trace experiments demonstrated that a relatively higher portion of the acetate methyl group was oxidized to CO2 in short filaments than in long filaments. The long filaments exhibited higher catalase activity and oxygen tolerance than the short ones, which is consistent with increased transcription of the oxidant-scavenging genes. Moreover, transcription of genes for cell surface structures was upregulated in the long filaments, and transmission electron microscopy revealed a thicker cell envelope in the filaments. RNA-seq determined a >2-fold upregulation of a variety of antistress genes in short filaments, like those encoding chaperones and DNA repair systems, which implies that the short filaments can be stressed. This study reveals the genetic basis for the prevalence of the long filamentous morphology of M. harundinacea cells in upflow anaerobic sludge blanket granules.
PMCID: PMC4292480  PMID: 25398869
2.  The Spatial Pattern and Interactions of Woody Plants on the Temperate Savanna of Inner Mongolia, China: The Effects of Alternating Seasonal Grazing-Mowing Regimes 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0133277.
Ulmus pumila tree-dominated temperate savanna, which is distributed widely throughout the forest-steppe ecotone on the Mongolian Plateau, is a relatively stable woody-herbaceous complex ecosystem in northern China. Relatively more attention has been paid to the degradation of typical steppe areas, whereas less focus has been placed on the succession of this typical temperate savanna under the present management regime. In this study, we established 3 sample plots 100 m×100 m in size along a gradient of fixed distances from one herder’s stationary site and then surveyed all the woody plants in these plots. A spatial point pattern analysis was employed to clarify the spatial distribution and interaction of these woody plants. The results indicated that old U. pumila trees (DBH ≥ 20 cm) showed a random distribution and that medium U. pumila trees (5 cm ≤ DBH < 20 cm) showed an aggregated distribution at a smaller scale and a random distribution at a larger scale; few or no juvenile trees (DBH < 5 cm) were present, and seedlings (without DBH) formed aggregations in all 3 plots. These findings can be explained by an alternate seasonal grazing-mowing regime (exclosure in summer, mowing in autumn and grazing in winter and spring); the shrubs in all 3 plots exist along a grazing gradient that harbors xerophytic and mesophytic shrubs. Of these shrubs, xerophytic shrubs show significant aggregation at a smaller scale (0-5.5 m), whereas mesophytic shrubs show significant aggregation at a larger scale (0-25 m), which may be the result of the dual effects of grazing pressure and climate change. Medium trees and seedlings significantly facilitate the distributions of xerophytic shrubs and compete significantly with mesophytic shrubs due to differences in water use strategies. We conclude that the implementation of an alternative grazing-mowing regime results in xerophytic shrub encroachment or existence, breaking the chain of normal succession in a U. pumila tree community in this typical temperate savanna ecosystem. This might eventually result in the degradation of the original tree-dominated savanna to a xerophytic shrub-dominated savanna.
PMCID: PMC4510874  PMID: 26196956
3.  Stress Responses of Small Heat Shock Protein Genes in Lepidoptera Point to Limited Conservation of Function across Phylogeny 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0132700.
The small heat shock protein (sHsp) family is thought to play an important role in protein refolding and signal transduction, and thereby protect organisms from stress. However little is known about sHsp function and conservation across phylogenies. In the current study, we provide a comprehensive assessment of small Hsp genes and their stress responses in the oriental fruit moth (OFM), Grapholita molesta. Fourteen small heat shock proteins of OFM clustered with related Hsps in other Lepidoptera despite a high level of variability among them, and in contrast to the highly conserved Hsp11.1. The only known lepidopteran sHsp ortholog (Hsp21.3) was consistently unaffected under thermal stress in Lepidoptera where it has been characterized. However the phylogenetic position of the sHsps within the Lepidoptera was not associated with conservation of induction patterns under thermal extremes or diapause. These findings suggest that the sHsps have evolved rapidly to develop new functions within the Lepidoptera.
PMCID: PMC4511463  PMID: 26196395
4.  Glycol chitosan incorporated retinoic acid chlorochalcone (RACC) nanoparticles in the treatment of Osteosarcoma 
Osteosarcoma is the most common of all the bone malignancies and accounts for 30-80 % of the primary skeletal sarcomas. The overall survival rate of patients with osteosarcoma is < 20 % suggesting poor prognosis.
The present study demonstrates the effect of retinoic acid chlorochalcone (RACC) incorporated glycol chitosan (GC) nanoparticle transfection in osteosarcoma cells. MG-63 and Saos-2 osteosarcoma cells were transfected with various concentrations of RACC-incorporated GC nanoparticle for 24 h. The effect on cell proliferation, Ezh2 expression, apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, cell migration and invasiveness, Akt phosphorylation and local tumour growth and metastases were studied.
MG-63 and Saos-2 osteosarcoma cells on RACC-incorporated GC nanoparticle transfection for 24 h showed a concentration-dependent inhibition of cell proliferation. Of the various concentrations of RACC tested, the effective concentration started from 5 μM with an IC50 of 20 μM. Wound healing assay also showed that RACC-incorporated GC nanoparticles inhibited migration of tumor cells more effectively compared to the parent RA. RACC transfection resulted in inhibition of cell proliferation, Ezh2 expression inhibition, apoptosis through mitochondrial pathway by decrease in membrane potential and release of cytochrome c and cell cycle arrest in the G0/G1 phase. The invasiveness of cells treated with 5 and 20 μM RACC was decreased by 49 and 76 % respectively, compared to the control. RACC-treated mice showed significantly lower number of metastases compared to that in the control mice.
Thus, RACC-incorporated glycol chitosan nanoparticle strategy can be promising for the treatment of osteosarcoma.
PMCID: PMC4501080  PMID: 26170203
Osteosarcoma; Membrane potential; Migration; Inhibition; Glycol chitosan
5.  Homoharringtonine induces apoptosis and inhibits STAT3 via IL-6/JAK1/STAT3 signal pathway in Gefitinib-resistant lung cancer cells 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:8477.
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are mostly used in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treatment. Unfortunately, treatment with Gefitinib for a period of time will result in drug resistance and cause treatment failure in clinic. Therefore, exploring novel compounds to overcome this resistance is urgently required. Here we investigated the antitumor effect of homoharringtonine (HHT), a natural compound extracted from Cephalotaxus harringtonia, on Gefitinib-resistant NSCLC cell lines in vitro and in vivo. NCI-H1975 cells with EGFR T790M mutation are more sensitive to HHT treatment compared with that of A549 cells with wild type EGFR. HHT inhibited cells growth, cell viability and colony formation, as well as induced cell apoptosis through mitochondria pathway. Furthermore, we explored the mechanism of HHT inhibition on NSCLC cells. Higher level of interleukin-6 (IL-6) existed in lung cancer patients and mutant EGFR and TGFβ signal requires the upregulation of IL-6 through the gp130/JAK pathway to overactive STAT3, an oncogenic protein which has been considered as a potential target for cancer therapy. HHT reversiblely inhibited IL-6-induced STAT3 Tyrosine 705 phosphorylation and reduced anti-apoptotic proteins expression. Gefitinib-resistant NSCLC xenograft tests also confirmed the antitumor effect of HHT in vivo. Consequently, HHT has the potential in Gefitinib-resistant NSCLC treatment.
PMCID: PMC4499885  PMID: 26166037
6.  Combined Troponin I Ser-150 and Ser-23/24 Phosphorylation Sustains Thin Filament Ca2+ Sensitivity and Accelerates Deactivation in an Acidic Environment* 
The binding of Ca2+ to troponin C (TnC) in the troponin complex is a critical step regulating the thin filament, the actin-myosin interaction and cardiac contraction. Phosphorylation of the troponin complex is a key regulatory mechanism to match cardiac contraction to demand. Here we demonstrate phosphorylation of the troponin I (TnI) subunit is simultaneously increased at Ser-150 and Ser-23/24 during in vivo myocardial ischemia. Myocardial ischemia decreases intracellular pH resulting in depressed binding of Ca2+ to TnC and impaired contraction. To determine the pathological relevance of simultaneous TnI phosphorylation we measured individual TnI Ser-150 (S150D), Ser-23/24 (S23/24D) and combined (S23/24/150D) pseudo-phosphorylation effects on thin filament regulation at acidic pH similar to that in myocardial ischemia. Results demonstrate that while acidic pH decreased thin filament Ca2+ binding to TnC regardless of TnI composition, TnI S150D attenuated this decrease rendering it similar to non-phosphorylated TnI at normal pH. The dissociation of Ca2+ from TnC was unaltered by pH such that TnI S150D remained slow, S23/24D remained accelerated and the combined S23/24/150D remained accelerated. This effect of the combined TnI Ser-150 and Ser-23/24 pseudo-phosphorylation to maintain Ca2+ binding while accelerating Ca2+ dissociation represents the first post-translational modification of troponin by phosphorylation to both accelerate thin filament deactivation and maintain Ca2+ sensitive activation. These data suggest TnI Ser-150 phosphorylation attenuation of the pH-dependent decrease in Ca2+ sensitivity and its combination with Ser-23/24 phosphorylation to maintain accelerated thin filament deactivation may impart an adaptive role to preserve contraction during acidic ischemia pH without slowing relaxation.
PMCID: PMC4075059  PMID: 24657721
Cardiac troponin I; thin filament deactivation; acidosis; phosphorylation
7.  Perturbation in the Conserved Methyltransferase-Polymerase Interface of Flavivirus NS5 Differentially Affects Polymerase Initiation and Elongation 
Journal of Virology  2014;89(1):249-261.
The flavivirus NS5 is a natural fusion of a methyltransferase (MTase) and an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP). Analogous to DNA-dependent RNA polymerases, the NS5 polymerase initiates RNA synthesis through a de novo mechanism and then makes a transition to a processive elongation phase. However, whether and how the MTase affects polymerase activities through intramolecular interactions remain elusive. By solving the crystal structure of the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) NS5, we recently identified an MTase-RdRP interface containing a set of six hydrophobic residues highly conserved among flaviviruses. To dissect the functional relevance of this interface, we made a series of JEV NS5 constructs with mutations of these hydrophobic residues and/or with the N-terminal first 261 residues and other residues up to the first 303 residues deleted. Compared to the wild-type (WT) NS5, full-length NS5 variants exhibited consistent up- or downregulation of the initiation activities in two types of polymerase assays. Five representative full-length NS5 constructs were then tested in an elongation assay, from which the apparent single-nucleotide incorporation rate constant was estimated. Interestingly, two constructs exhibited different elongation kinetics from the WT NS5, with an effect rather opposite to what was observed at initiation. Moreover, constructs with MTase and/or the linker region (residues 266 to 275) removed still retained polymerase activities, albeit at overall lower levels. However, further removal of the N-terminal extension (residues 276 to 303) abolished regular template-directed synthesis. Together, our data showed that the MTase-RdRP interface is relevant in both polymerase initiation and elongation, likely with different regulation mechanisms in these two major phases of RNA synthesis.
IMPORTANCE The flavivirus NS5 is very unique in having a methyltransferase (MTase) placed on the immediate N terminus of its RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP). We recently solved the crystal structure of the full-length NS5, which revealed a conserved interface between MTase and RdRP. Building on this discovery, here we carried out in vitro polymerase assays to address the functional relevance of the interface interactions. By explicitly probing polymerase initiation and elongation activities, we found that perturbation in the MTase-RdRP interface had different impacts on different phases of synthesis, suggesting that the roles and contribution of the interface interactions may change upon phase transitions. By comparing the N-terminal-truncated enzymes with the full-length NS5, we collected data to indicate the indispensability to regular polymerase activities of a region that was functionally unclarified previously. Taken together, we provide biochemical evidence and mechanistic insights for the cross talk between the two enzyme modules of flavivirus NS5.
PMCID: PMC4301151  PMID: 25320292
8.  The Genetic Deletion of 6q21 and PRDM1 and Clinical Implications in Extranodal NK/T Cell Lymphoma, Nasal Type 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:435423.
6q21 genetic deletion has been frequently detected in extranodal NK/T cell lymphoma, nasal type (EN-NK/T-NT), and PRDM1 is considered as candidate gene. However, direct detection of PRDM1 deletion has not been well documented. We investigated genetic alterations of 6q21 and PRDM1 in 43 cases of EN-NK/T-NT and cell lines by FISH. PRDM1 expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry and Western blot. The correlation between genetic alteration and PRDM1 expression and the significance in clinic-pathologic were analyzed. Heterozygous deletion of 6q21 and/or PRDM1 was observed in 24 of 43 cases (55.81%) of EN-NK/T-NT including 16 cases (37.21%) for 6q21 deletion and 19 cases (44.19%) for PRDM1 deletion. Similarly, heterozygous codeletion of 6q21 and PRDM1 was identified in NK92 and NKL cells. The heterozygous deletion of 6q21 and/or PRDM1 was correlated with PRDM1 expression. However, genetic deletion of 6q21 and/or PRDM1 was not correlated with clinicopathological features of EN-NK/T-NT, while PRDM1 expression showed positive effect on the outcome of patients as those as disease site, B symptom, and clinical stage. Thus, heterozygous deletion of 6q21 and/or PRDM1 was frequently detected in EN-NK/T-NT and correlated with downregulation of PRDM1. But the prognostic role of genetic deletion needs to be further evaluated in larger cohort.
PMCID: PMC4499638  PMID: 26221594
9.  Acute Interstitial Nephritis Following Multiple Asian Giant Hornet Stings 
Patient: Male, 42
Final Diagnosis: Acute interstitial nephritis
Symptoms: Difficulty breathing • headache • numbness • oliguria
Medication: Methylprednisolone
Clinical Procedure: Plasma exchange
Specialty: Nephrology
Rare disease
The Asian giant hornet is the largest wasp species in the world. Its stings can cause acute interstitial nephritis and acute renal failure. From July to October, 2013, Asian giant hornet attacks have killed 42 people and injured 1675 people with their powerful venomous stings in Hanzhong, Ankang, and Shangluo, three cities in the southern part of Shaanxi Province, China.
Case Report:
We report here a case of a 42-year-old man with acute interstitial nephritis following multiple Asian giant hornet stings. On admission, the patient had difficulty breathing, headache, and numbness in both limbs (arm and leg). He was treated in the Emergency Department and Department of Nephrology with plasma exchange and dialysis within 24 hours after being stung. A kidney biopsy revealed acute interstitial nephritis with interstitial infiltrations of eosinophils and lymphocytes. After intensive treatment, his liver function recovered within 10 days. Along with oral methylprednisolone, his renal function recovered 1 month later.
This case shows that acute interstitial nephritis happens several days after being stung. Since the number of deaths in southern Shaanxi province is much higher than other places, our report draws the attention of fellow clinicians to the acute interstitial nephritis following multiple Asian giant hornet stings.
PMCID: PMC4479185  PMID: 26076055
Acute Kidney Injury; Methylprednisolone; Wasp Venoms
10.  Revisiting Protocols for the NMR Analysis of Bacterial Metabolomes 
Journal of integrated OMICS  2013;3(2):120-137.
Over the past decade, metabolomics has emerged as an important technique for systems biology. Measuring all the metabolites in a biological system provides an invaluable source of information to explore various cellular processes, and to investigate the impact of environmental factors and genetic modifications. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is an important method routinely employed in metabolomics. NMR provides comprehensive structural and quantitative information useful for metabolomics fingerprinting, chemometric analysis, metabolite identification and metabolic pathway construction. A successful metabolomics study relies on proper experimental protocols for the collection, handling, processing and analysis of metabolomics data. Critically, these protocols should eliminate or avoid biologically-irrelevant changes to the metabolome. We provide a comprehensive description of our NMR-based metabolomics procedures optimized for the analysis of bacterial metabolomes. The technical details described within this manuscript should provide a useful guide to reliably apply our NMR-based metabolomics methodology to systems biology studies.
PMCID: PMC4465129  PMID: 26078915
NMR; metabolomics; chemometrics; Staphylococcus; Mycobacterium; bacteria
11.  Anti-N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor encephalitis in a patient with a 7-year history of being diagnosed as schizophrenia: complexities in diagnosis and treatment 
Anti-N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) encephalitis is a form of autoimmune encephalitis associated with antibodies against the NR1 subunits of NMDARs. Although new-onset acute prominent psychotic syndromes in patients with NMDAR encephalitis have been well documented, there is a lack of case studies on differential diagnosis and treatment of anti-NMDAR encephalitis after a long-term diagnostic history of functional psychotic disorders. The present study reports an unusual case of anti-NMDAR encephalitis. The patient had been diagnosed with schizophrenia 7 years earlier, and was currently hospitalized for acute-onset psychiatric symptoms. The diagnosis became unclear when the initial psychosis was confounded with considerations of other neurotoxicities (such as neuroleptic malignant syndrome). Finally, identification of specific immunoglobulin G NR1 autoantibodies in the cerebrospinal fluid and greater effectiveness of immunotherapy over antipsychotics alone (which has been well documented in anti-NMDAR encephalitis) indicated the diagnosis of anti-NMDAR encephalitis in this case. Based on the available evidence, however, the relationship between the newly diagnosed anti-NMDAR encephalitis and the seemingly clear, long-term history of schizophrenia in the preceding 7 years is uncertain. This case report illustrates that psychiatrists should consider anti-NMDAR encephalitis and order tests for specific immunoglobulin G NR1 autoantibodies in patients presenting with disorientation, disturbance of consciousness, cognitive deficit, dyskinesia, autonomic disturbance, or rapid deterioration, even with a seemingly clear history of a psychiatric disorder and no specific findings on routine neuroimaging, electroencephalography, or cerebrospinal fluid tests in the early stage of the illness.
PMCID: PMC4468991  PMID: 26089673
anti-N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor encephalitis; schizophrenia; differential diagnosis; treatment
12.  A Metagenomic Survey of Viral Abundance and Diversity in Mosquitoes from Hubei Province 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0129845.
Mosquitoes as one of the most common but important vectors have the potential to transmit or acquire a lot of viruses through biting, however viral flora in mosquitoes and its impact on mosquito-borne disease transmission has not been well investigated and evaluated. In this study, the metagenomic techniquehas been successfully employed in analyzing the abundance and diversity of viral community in three mosquito samples from Hubei, China. Among 92,304 reads produced through a run with 454 GS FLX system, 39% have high similarities with viral sequences belonging to identified bacterial, fungal, animal, plant and insect viruses, and 0.02% were classed into unidentified viral sequences, demonstrating high abundance and diversity of viruses in mosquitoes. Furthermore, two novel viruses in subfamily Densovirinae and family Dicistroviridae were identified, and six torque tenosus virus1 in family Anelloviridae, three porcine parvoviruses in subfamily Parvovirinae and a Culex tritaeniorhynchus rhabdovirus in Family Rhabdoviridae were preliminarily characterized. The viral metagenomic analysis offered us a deep insight into the viral population of mosquito which played an important role in viral initiative or passive transmission and evolution during the process.
PMCID: PMC4452694  PMID: 26030271
13.  Atrazine Causes Autophagy- and Apoptosis-Related Neurodegenerative Effects in Dopaminergic Neurons in the Rat Nigrostriatal Dopaminergic System 
Atrazine (2-chloro-4-ethytlamino-6-isopropylamine-1,3,5-triazine; ATR) is widely used as a broad-spectrum herbicide. Animal studies have demonstrated that ATR exposure can cause cell death in dopaminergic neurons. The molecular mechanisms underlying ATR-induced neuronal cell death, however, are unknown. In this study, we investigated the autophagy and apoptosis induced by ATR in dopaminergic neurons in vivo. Wistar rats were administered with ATR at doses of 10, 50 and 100 mg/kg body weight by oral gavage for three months. In terms of histopathology, the expression of autophagy- and apoptosis-related genes as well as proteins related to the Beclin-1/B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) autophagy and apoptosis pathways were examined in the rat nigrostriatal dopaminergic system. We observed degenerative micromorphology indicative of neuronal apoptosis and mitochondrial autophagy by electron microscopy in ATR-exposed rat striatum. The rat ventral mesencephalon in the ATR-exposed groups also showed increased expression of Beclin-1, LC3-II, Bax and Caspase-9, and decreased expression of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), Bcl-xl and Bcl-2. These findings indicate that ATR may induce autophagy- and apoptosis-related changes in doparminergic neurons. Furthermore, this induction may be regulated by the Beclin-1 and Bcl-2 autophagy and apoptosis pathways, and this may help to better understand the mechanism underlying the neurotoxicity of ATR.
PMCID: PMC4490505  PMID: 26075868
atrazine; autophagy; apoptosis; neurotoxicity; wistar rats; dopaminergic neuron
14.  Amyloid β Oligomeric Species Present in the Lag Phase of Amyloid Formation 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0127865.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD)-associated amyloid β peptide (Aβ) is one of the main actors in AD pathogenesis. Aβ is characterized by its high tendency to self-associate, leading to the generation of oligomers and amyloid fibrils. The elucidation of pathways and intermediates is crucial for the understanding of protein assembly mechanisms in general and in conjunction with neurodegenerative diseases, e.g., for the identification of new therapeutic targets. Our study focused on Aβ42 and its oligomeric assemblies in the lag phase of amyloid formation, as studied by sedimentation velocity (SV) centrifugation. The assembly state of Aβ during the lag phase, the time required by an Aβ solution to reach the exponential growth phase of aggregation, was characterized by a dominant monomer fraction below 1 S and a population of oligomeric species between 4 and 16 S. From the oligomer population, two major species close to a 12-mer and an 18-mer with a globular shape were identified. The recurrence of these two species at different initial concentrations and experimental conditions as the smallest assemblies present in solution supports the existence of distinct, energetically favored assemblies in solution. The sizes of the two species suggest an Aβ42 aggregation pathway that is based on a basic hexameric building block. The study demonstrates the potential of SV analysis for the evaluation of protein aggregation pathways.
PMCID: PMC4449029  PMID: 26024352
15.  Regulatory Network Decoded from Epigenomes of Surface Ectoderm-Derived Cell Types 
Nature communications  2014;5:5442.
Developmental history shapes the epigenome and biological function of differentiated cells. Epigenomic patterns have been broadly attributed to the three embryonic germ layers. Here we investigate how developmental origin influences epigenomes. We compare key epigenomes of cell types derived from surface ectoderm (SE), including keratinocytes and breast luminal and myoepithelial cells, against neural crest-derived melanocytes and mesoderm-derived dermal fibroblasts to identify SE differentially methylated regions (SE-DMRs). DNA methylomes of neonatal keratinocytes share many more DMRs with adult breast luminal and myoepithelial cells than with melanocytes and fibroblasts from the same neonatal skin. This suggests that SE origin contributes to DNA methylation patterning, while shared skin tissue environment has limited effect on epidermal keratinocytes. Hypomethylated SE-DMRs are in proximity to genes with SE relevant functions. They are also enriched for enhancer- and promoter-associated histone modifications in SE-derived cells, and for binding motifs of transcription factors important in keratinocyte and mammary gland biology. Thus, epigenomic analysis of cell types with common developmental origin reveals an epigenetic signature that underlies a shared gene regulatory network.
PMCID: PMC4385735  PMID: 25421844
16.  Air pollution and adverse cardiac remodeling: clinical effects and basic mechanisms 
Exposure to air pollution has long been known to trigger cardiovascular events, primarily through activation of local and systemic inflammatory pathways that affect the vasculature. Detrimental effects of air pollution exposure on heart failure and cardiac remodeling have also been described in human populations. Recent studies in both human subjects and animal models have provided insights into the basic physiological, cellular and molecular mechanisms that play a role in adverse cardiac remodeling. This review will give a brief overview of the relationship between air pollution and cardiovascular disease, describe the clinical effects of air pollution exposure on cardiac remodeling, describe the basic mechanisms that affect remodeling as described in human and animal systems and will discuss future areas of investigation.
PMCID: PMC4438225  PMID: 26042051
air pollution; diesel exhaust particulates; cardiac remodeling; cardiac hypertrophy; heart failure
17.  Metabolic oxygen consumption measurement with a single-cell biosensor after particle microbeam irradiation 
A noninvasive, self-referencing biosensor/probe system has been integrated into the Columbia University Radiological Research Accelerator Facility Microbeam II end station. A single-cell oxygen consumption measurement has been conducted with this type of oxygen probe in 37°C Krebs–Ringer Bicarbonate buffer immediately before and after a single-cell microbeam irradiation. It is the first such measurement made for a microbeam irradiation, and a six fold increment of oxygen flux induced during a 15-s period of time has been observed following radiation exposure. The experimental procedure and the results are discussed.
PMCID: PMC4437628  PMID: 25335641
Ionizing radiation; Microbeam; Bystander effect; Biosensor; Radiation sensitivity
18.  Fluorescence-Enabled Electrochemical Microscopy with Dihydroresorufin as a Fluorogenic Indicator 
Analytical Chemistry  2014;86(12):6040-6048.
Recently, we introduced a new electrochemical imaging technique called fluorescence-enabled electrochemical microscopy (FFEM). The central idea of FEEM is that a closed bipolar electrode is utilized to electrically couple a redox reaction of interest to a complementary fluorogenic reaction converting an electrochemical signal into a fluorescent signal. This simple strategy enables one to use fluorescence microscopy to observe conventional electrochemical processes on very large electrochemical arrays. The initial demonstration of FEEM focused on the use of a specific fluorogenic indicator, resazurin, which is reduced to generate highly fluorescent resorufin. The use of resazurin has enabled the study of analyte oxidation reactions, such as the oxidation of dopamine and H2O2. In this report, we extend the capability of FEEM to the study of cathodic reactions using a new fluorogenic indicator, dihydroresorufin. Dihydroresorufin is a nonfluorescent molecule, which can be electrochemically oxidized to generate resorufin. The use of dihydroresorufin has enabled us to study a series of reducible analyte species including Fe(CN)63– and Ru(NH3)63+. Here we demonstrate the correlation between the simultaneously recorded fluorescence intensity of resorufin and electrochemical oxidation current during potential sweep experiments. FEEM is used to quantitatively detect the reduction of ferricyanide down to a concentration of approximately 100 μM on a 25 μm ultramicroelectrode. We also demonstrate that dihydroresorufin, as a fluorogenic indicator, gives an improved temporal response and significantly decreases diffusional broadening of the signal in FEEM as compared to resazurin.
PMCID: PMC4066899  PMID: 24870955
19.  Ribosome binding site libraries and pathway modules for shikimic acid synthesis with Corynebacterium glutamicum 
The shikimic acid (SA) pathway is a fundamental route to synthesize aromatic building blocks for cell growth and metabolic processes, as well as for fermentative production of various aromatic compounds. Genes encoding enzymes of SA pathway are not continuous on genome and they are differently regulated.
In this study, efforts were made to construct continuous genetic modules of SA pathway that are regulated by a same Ptac promoter. Firstly, aro genes [aroG (NCgl2098), aroB (NCgl1559), aroD (NCgl0408) and aroE (NCgl1567)] from Corynebacterium glutamicum and ribosome binding site (RBS) libraries that were tailored for the above genes were obtained, and the strength of each RBS in the 4 libraries was quantified. Secondly, 9 genetic modules were built up from the RBS libraries, a previously characterized ribozyme insulator (RiboJ) and transcriptional promoter (Ptac) and terminator, and aroG, aroB, aroD and aroE. The functionality and efficiency of the constructed genetic modules were evaluated in C. glutamicum by determination of SA synthesis. Results showed that C. glutamicum RES167ΔaroK carrying a genetic module produced 4.3 g/L of SA, which was 54 folds higher compared to that of strain RES167ΔaroK (80 mg/L, without the genetic module) during fermentation in 250-mL flasks. The same strain produced 7.4, and 11.3 g/L of SA during 5-L batch and fed-batch fermentations, respectively, which corresponding to SA molar yields of 0.39 and 0.24 per mole sucrose consumption.
These results demonstrated that the constructed SA pathway modules are effective in increasing SA synthesis in C. glutamicum, and they might be useful for fermentative production of aromatic compounds derived from SA pathway.
PMCID: PMC4453273  PMID: 25981633
Shikimic acid pathway; Corynebacterium glutamicum; Shikimate production; Synthetic biology; Genetic modules; Ribosome binding site (RBS)
20.  Effect of Metabolic Syndrome on Mitsugumin 53 Expression and Function 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0124128.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors, such as obesity, insulin resistance, and hyperlipidemia that increases the individual’s likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases. Patients inflicted with metabolic disorders also suffer from tissue repair defect. Mitsugumin 53 (MG53) is a protein essential to cellular membrane repair. It facilitates the nucleation of intracellular vesicles to sites of membrane disruption to create repair patches, contributing to the regenerative capacity of skeletal and cardiac muscle tissues upon injury. Since individuals suffering from metabolic syndrome possess tissue regeneration deficiency and MG53 plays a crucial role in restoring membrane integrity, we studied MG53 activity in mice models exhibiting metabolic disorders induced by a 6 month high-fat diet (HFD) feeding. Western blotting showed that MG53 expression is not altered within the skeletal and cardiac muscles of mice with metabolic syndrome. Rather, we found that MG53 levels in blood circulation were actually reduced. This data directly contradicts findings presented by Song et. al that indict MG53 as a causative factor for metabolic syndrome (Nature 494, 375-379). The diminished MG53 serum level observed may contribute to the inadequate tissue repair aptitude exhibited by diabetic patients. Furthermore, immunohistochemical analyses reveal that skeletal muscle fibers of mice with metabolic disorders experience localization of subcellular MG53 around mitochondria. This clustering may represent an adaptive response to oxidative stress resulting from HFD feeding and may implicate MG53 as a guardian to protect damaged mitochondria. Therapeutic approaches that elevate MG53 expression in serum circulation may be a novel method to treat the degenerative tissue repair function of diabetic patients.
PMCID: PMC4423930  PMID: 25950605
21.  Ly108 Expression Distinguishes Subsets of invariant NKT cells that Help Autoantibody Production and Secrete IL-21 from those that Secrete IL-17 in Lupus Prone NZB/W Mice 
Journal of autoimmunity  2014;50:87-98.
Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by anti-nuclear antibodies in humans and genetically susceptible NZB/W mice that can cause immune complex glomerulonephritis. T cells contribute to lupus pathogenesis by secreting pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-17, and by interacting with B cells and secreting helper factors such as IL-21 that promote production of IgG autoantibodies. In the current study, we determined whether purified NKT cells or far more numerous conventional non-NKT cells in the spleen of NZB/W female mice secrete IL-17 and/or IL-21 after TCR activation in vitro, and provide help for spontaneous IgG autoantibody production by purified splenic CD19+ B cells. Whereas invariant NKT cells secreted large amounts of IL-17 and IL-21, and helped B cells, non-NKT cells did not. The subset of IL-17 secreting NZB/W NKT cells expressed the Ly108loCD4−NK1.1− phenotype, whereas the IL-21 secreting subset expressed the Ly108hiCD4+NK1.1− phenotype and helped B cells secrete a variety of IgG anti-nuclear antibodies. α-galactocylceramide enhanced the helper activity of NZB/W and B6.Sle1b NKT cells for IgG autoantibodiy secretion by syngeneic B cells. In conclusion, different subsets of iNKT cells from mice with genetic susceptibility to lupus can contribute to pathogenesis by secreting pro-inflammatory cytokines and helping autoantibody production.
PMCID: PMC4002579  PMID: 24508410
Natural Killer T cells; Systemic lupus erythematosus; autoantibodies; IL-17; IL-21
Journal of dentistry  2014;42(5):626-635.
We recently demonstrated a significant correlation between enamel delamination and tooth-level radiation dose in oral cancer patients. Since radiation can induce the synthesis and activation of matrix metalloproteinases, we hypothesized that irradiated teeth may contain active matrix metalloproteinases.
Materials and Methods
Extracted teeth from oral cancer patients treated with radiotherapy and from healthy subjects were compared. Extracted mature third molars from healthy subjects were irradiated in vitro and/or incubated for 0 to 6 months at 37°C. All teeth were then pulverized, extracted, and extracts subjected to proteomic and enzymatic analyses.
Screening of irradiated crown extracts using mass spectrometry identified MMP-20 (enamelysin) which is expressed developmentally in dentin and enamel but believed to be removed prior to tooth eruption. MMP-20 was composed of catalytically active forms at Mr=43, 41, 24 and 22 kDa and was immunolocalized predominantly to the morphological dentin enamel junction. The proportion of different sized MMP-20 forms changed with incubation and irradiation. While the pattern was not altered directly by irradiation of healthy teeth with 70 G, subsequent incubation at 37°C for 3–6 months with or without prior irradiation caused the proportion of Mr=24–22 kDa MMP-20 bands to increase dramatically. Extracts of teeth from oral cancer patients who received >70 Gy radiation also contained relatively more 24 and 22 kDa MMP-20 than those of healthy age-related teeth.
MMP-20 is a radiation-resistant component of mature tooth crowns enriched in the dentin-enamel. We speculate that MMP-20 catalyzed degradation of organic matrix at this site could lead to enamel delamination associated with oral cancer radiotherapy.
PMCID: PMC4326248  PMID: 24607847
dentin-enamel junction; matrix metalloproteinase-20; human tooth crown; radiotherapy; oral cancer
23.  ERK kinase phosphorylates and destabilizes the tumor suppressor FBW7 in pancreatic cancer 
Cell Research  2015;25(5):561-573.
F-box and WD repeat domain-containing 7 (FBW7) is the substrate recognition component of the Skp1-Cul1-F-box (SCF) ubiquitin ligase complex and functions as a major tumor suppressor by targeting various oncoproteins for degradation. Genomic deletion or mutation of FBW7 has frequently been identified in many human cancers but not in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Thus it is important to know how the tumor suppressive function of FBW7 is impaired in pancreatic cancer. In this study, we first observed that low FBW7 expression correlated significantly with ERK activation in pancreatic cancer clinical samples, primarily due to KRAS mutations in pancreatic cancer. We further showed that ERK directly interacted with FBW7 and phosphorylated FBW7 at Thr205, which sequentially promoted FBW7 ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. Furthermore, the phospho-deficient T205A FBW7 mutant is resistant to ERK activation and could significantly suppress pancreatic cancer cell proliferation and tumorigenesis. These results collectively demonstrate how the oncogenic KRAS mutation inhibits the tumor suppressor FBW7, thus revealing an important function of KRAS mutations in promoting pancreatic cancer progression.
PMCID: PMC4423074  PMID: 25753158
KRAS; pancreatic cancer; ERK; FBW7
24.  Synchronous occurrence of gastrointestinal stromal tumors and other digestive tract malignancies in the elderly 
Oncotarget  2015;6(10):8397-8406.
Elderly patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) synchronous with other digestive tract malignancies have been rarely reported. In this study, clinicopathological characteristics were evaluated among elderly patients with GISTs with or without coexisting digestive tract malignancies.
A total of 161 patients (≥65 years) were retrospectively reviewed at the West China Hospital, Sichuan University from January 2009 to June 2014.
Sixty-one patients were diagnosed with synchronous digestive tract malignancies (synchronous group), whereas 100 patients were diagnosed with no synchronous condition (no-synchronous group). The synchronous group exhibited a higher percentage of males (70.49% vs. 53.00%, P = 0.028) and poorer Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status than the no-synchronous group (P = 0.029). The three-year overall survival (OS) rate was significantly lower among patients with synchronous digestive tract malignancies than that among patients without synchronous condition (64.5% vs. 84.0%, P = 0.003). Multivariate analysis showed that the presence of synchronous digestive tract malignancies (P = 0.002), co-morbidity (P = 0.004), and mitotic count ≥10 mitoses/50 high power fields (P = 0.012) were associated with poor OS.
A synchronous condition with other digestive tract malignancies is common in elderly patients with GISTs. OS primarily depends on synchronous digestive tract malignancies, mitotic count, and co-morbidity.
PMCID: PMC4480761  PMID: 25826075
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors; Synchronous neoplasm; Digestive tract malignancies; Elderly
25.  Oxaliplatin and 5-fluorouracil hepatic infusion with lipiodolized chemoembolization in large hepatocellular carcinoma 
AIM: To investigate transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) with hepatic infusion of oxaliplatin and 5-fluorouracil and Lipiodol chemoembolization in large hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
METHODS: In this retrospective study, 132 patients with unresectable HCCs larger than 10 cm were treated with hepatic infusion of oxaliplatin and 5-fluorouracil followed by Lipiodol chemoembolization. The primary endpoint was overall survival (OS). Sixteen-week disease-control rate, time to progression (TTP), and major complications were also studied. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to identify prognostic factors affecting OS and TTP.
RESULTS: A total of 319 procedures were performed in the 132 patients. Eleven (8.3%) patients received radical resection following TACE treatment (median time to initial TACE 4.3 ± 2.3 mo). The median OS and TTP were 10.3 and 3.0 mo respectively, with a 50.0% 16-wk disease-control rate. Major complications were encountered in 6.0% (8/132) of patients following TACE and included serious jaundice in 1.5% (2/132) patients, aleukia in 1.5% (2/132), and hepatic failure in 3.0% (4/132). One patient died within one month due to serious hepatic failure and severe sepsis after receiving the second TACE. The risk factor associated with TTP was baseline alpha-fetoprotein level, and vascular invasion was an independent factor related to OS.
CONCLUSION: Hepatic infusion of oxaliplatin and 5-fluorouracil followed by lipiodolized-chemoembolization is a safe and promising treatment for patients with HCCs larger than 10 cm in diameter.
PMCID: PMC4385545  PMID: 25852283
Hepatic infusion; Large hepatocellular carcinoma; Oxaliplatin; Transarterial chemoembolization; 5-fluorouracil

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