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1.  Evidence for the Contribution of NOS1 Gene Polymorphism (rs3782206) to Prefrontal Function in Schizophrenia Patients and Healthy Controls 
Neuropsychopharmacology  2015;40(6):1383-1394.
Nitric oxide (NO), a gaseous neurotransmitter, has been implicated in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. Accordingly, several polymorphisms of the gene that codes for the main NO-producing enzyme, the nitric oxide synthase 1 (NOS1), have been found to convey a risk for schizophrenia. This study examined the role of NOS1 gene polymorphisms in cognitive functions and related neural mechanism. First, with a sample of 580 schizophrenia patients and 720 healthy controls, we found that rs3782206 genotype had main effects on the 1-back task (P=0.005), the 2-back task (P=0.049), the AY condition of the dot-pattern expectancy (DPX) task (P=0.001), and the conflict effect of the attention network (ANT) test (P<0.001 for RT differences and P=0.002 for RT ratio) and interaction effects with diagnosis on the BX condition of the DPX (P=0.009), the AY condition of the DPX (P<0.001), and the Stroop conflict effect (P=0.003 for RT differences and P=0.038 for RT ratio). Simple effect analyses further showed that the schizophrenia risk allele (T) of rs3782206 was associated with poorer performance in five measures for the patients (1-back, P=0.025; BX, P=0.017; AY, P<0.001; ANT conflict effect (RT differences), P=0.005; Stroop conflict effect (RT differences), P=0.019) and three measures for the controls ( for the 2-back task, P=0.042; for the ANT conlict effect (RT differences), P=0.013; for the ANT conflict effect (RT ratios), P=0.028). Then, with a separate sample of 78 healthy controls, we examined the association between rs3782206 and brain activation patterns during the N-back task and the Stroop task. Whole brain analyses found that the risk allele carriers showed reduced activation at the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) during both tasks. Finally, we examined functional connectivity seeded from the right IFG to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and anterior cingulate cortex under three conditions (the N-back task, the Stroop task, and the resting state). Results showed reduced connectivity with the DLPFC for the risk allele carriers mainly in the Stroop task and the resting state. Taken together, results of this study strongly suggested a link between NOS1 gene polymorphism at rs3782206 and cognitive functions and their neural underpinnings at the IFG. These results have important implications for our understanding of the neural mechanism underlying the association between NOS1 gene polymorphism and schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC4397396  PMID: 25490993
2.  A Highly Efficient and Simple Construction Strategy for Producing Recombinant Baculovirus Bombyx mori Nucleopolyhedrovirus 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(3):e0152140.
The silkworm baculovirus expression system is widely used to produce recombinant proteins. Several strategies for constructing recombinant viruses that contain foreign genes have been reported. Here, we developed a novel defective-rescue BmNPV Bacmid (reBmBac) expression system. A CopyControl origin of replication was introduced into the viral genome to facilitate its genetic manipulation in Escherichia coli and to ensure the preparation of large amounts of high quality reBmBac DNA as well as high quality recombinant baculoviruses. The ORF1629, cathepsin and chitinase genes were partially deleted or rendered defective to improve the efficiency of recombinant baculovirus generation and the expression of foreign genes. The system was validated by the successful expression of luciferase reporter gene and porcine interferon γ. This system can be used to produce batches of recombinant baculoviruses and target proteins rapidly and efficiently in silkworms.
PMCID: PMC4805210  PMID: 27008267
3.  A Neutral Thermostable β-1,4-Glucanase from Humicola insolens Y1 with Potential for Applications in Various Industries 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0124925.
We cloned a new glycoside hydrolase family 6 gene, Hicel6C, from the thermophilic fungus Humicola insolens Y1 and expressed it in Pichia pastoris. Using barley β-glucan as a substrate, recombinant HiCel6C protein exhibited neutral pH (6.5) and high temperature (70°C) optima. Distinct from most reported acidic fungal endo-β-1,4-glucanases, HiCel6C was alkali-tolerant, retaining greater than 98.0, 61.2, and 27.6% of peak activity at pH 8.0, 9.0, and 10.0, respectively, and exhibited good stability over a wide pH range (pH 5.0−11.0) and at temperatures up to 60°C. The Km and Vmax values of HiCel6C for barley β-glucan were 1.29 mg/mL and 752 μmol/min·mg, respectively. HiCel6C was strictly specific for the β-1,4-glucoside linkage exhibiting activity toward barley β-glucan, lichenan, and carboxy methylcellulose sodium salt (CMC-Na), but not toward laminarin (1,3-β-glucan). HiCel6C cleaved the internal glycosidic linkages of cellooligosaccharides randomly and thus represents an endo-cleaving enzyme. The predominant product of polysaccharide hydrolysis by HiCel6C was cellobiose, suggesting that it functions by an endo-processive mechanism. The favorable properties of HiCel6C make it a good candidate for basic research and for applications in the textile and brewing industries.
PMCID: PMC4409357  PMID: 25909505
4.  The Homologous Regions of Spodoptera litura (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) Nucleopolyhedrovirus II Have Both the Function as Origin of DNA Replication and Enhancer 
Journal of Insect Science  2015;15(1):89.
In the genome sequence of the Spodoptera litura nucleopolyhedrovirus II (SpltNPVII), seven homologous regions (hrs), Sphr1-7, were identified. Each of them composed of three to eight 64-bp highly conserved sequences, and each contained a 24-bp imperfect palindrome. A transient expression assay demonstrated that the expression of SpltNPVII-ie1 promoter-driven luciferase gene was enhanced between 3- and 13-fold by infection of SpltNPVII in Spli221 cells. Real-time polymerase chain reaction confirmed each of seven hrs could function as origin (ori) of viral DNA replication. This suggests that these hrs are bifunctional, having both ori and enhancer activities for transcription. In addition, the potential of seven hrs as origins had a significantly positive correlation with the number of their palindromes (r = 0.847, Sig: 0.016 < 0.05), and enhancer efficiency had a significantly positive correlation with the number of characteristic motifs (r = 0.893, Sig: 0.007 < 0.01). The efficiency of replication and enhancement of each hr both increased with increasing total numbers of palindromes, repeat sequences, and characteristic motifs. In addition, a single 64-bp highly conserved consensus sequence cannot very good support to the function as origin and enhancer, and require the assistance of other cis-elements in hrs.
PMCID: PMC4535591
homologous region (hr); DNA replication origin; enhancer; nucleopolyhedrovirus; Spodoptera litura
5.  CEACAM-1 negatively regulates G-CSF production by breast tumor associated macrophages that mediate tumor angiogenesis 
CEACAM1, a cell adhesion molecule expressed on epithelial cells and activated immune cells, is down-regulated in many cancers and plays a role in inhibition of inflammation in part by inhibition of G-CSF production by myeloid cells. Since macrophages are associated with a poor prognosis in breast cancer, but play important roles in normal breast, we hypothesized that CEACAM1 down-regulation would lead to tumor promotion under inflammatory conditions. Co-cultures of pro-inflammatory M1 macrophages with CEACAM1 negative MCF7 breast cells produced high levels of G-CSF (10 ng/mL) compared to CEACAM1 transfected MCF7/4S cells (1 ng/mL) or anti-inflammatory M2 macrophage co-cultures (0.5 or 0.1 ng/mL, MCF7 or MCF7/4S, respectively). The expression of CEACAM1 on M1s was much greater than for M2s and was only observed in co-cultures with either MCF7 or MCF7/4S cells. When M1 macrophages were mixed with MCF7 cells and implanted in murine mammary fat pads of NOD/SCID mice, tumor size and blood vessel density were significantly greater than MCF7 or MCF7/4S only tumors which were hardly detected after 8 weeks of growth. In contrast, M1 cells had a much reduced effect on MCF7/4S tumor growth and blood vessel density, indicating that the tumor inhibitory effect of CEACAM1 is most likely related to its anti-inflammatory action on inflammatory macrophages. These results support our previous finding that CEACAM1 inhibits both G-CSF production by myeloid cells and G-CSF stimulated tumor angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3838202  PMID: 23319418
CEACAM1: Carcinoembryonic antigen-related cell adhesion molecule-1; Tumor associated macrophages; angiogenesis; breast cancer; G-CSF: Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor
6.  Acceleration of Bone Repair in NOD/SCID Mice by Human Monoosteophils, Novel LL-37-Activated Monocytes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67649.
An incomplete understanding of bone forming cells during wound healing and ectopic calcification has led to a search for circulating cells that may fulfill this function. Previously, we showed that monoosteophils, a novel lineage of calcifying/bone-forming cells generated by treatment of monocytes with the natural peptide LL-37, are candidates. In this study, we have analyzed their gene expression profile and bone repair function.
Methods and Findings
Human monoosteophils can be distinguished from monocytes, macrophages and osteoclasts by their unique up-regulation of integrin α3 and down-regulation of CD14 and CD16. Monoosteophils express high mRNA and protein levels of SPP1 (osteopontin), GPNMB (osteoactivin), CHI3L1 (cartilage glycoprotein-39), CHIT1 (Chitinase 1), MMP-7, CCL22 and MAPK13 (p38MAPKδ). Monocytes from wild type, but not MAPK13 KO mice are also capable of monoosteophil differentiation, suggesting that MAPK13 regulates this process. When human monoosteophils were implanted in a freshly drilled hole in mid-diaphyseal femurs of NOD/SCID mice, significant bone repair required only 14 days compared to at least 24 days in control treated injuries.
Human derived monoosteophils, characterized as CD45+α3+α3β+CD34−CD14−BAP (bone alkaline phosphatase)− cells, can function in an animal model of bone injury.
PMCID: PMC3701041  PMID: 23844045
7.  Discovery of Potential New Gene Variants and Inflammatory Cytokine Associations with Fibromyalgia Syndrome by Whole Exome Sequencing 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65033.
Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic musculoskeletal pain disorder affecting 2% to 5% of the general population. Both genetic and environmental factors may be involved. To ascertain in an unbiased manner which genes play a role in the disorder, we performed complete exome sequencing on a subset of FMS patients. Out of 150 nuclear families (trios) DNA from 19 probands was subjected to complete exome sequencing. Since >80,000 SNPs were found per proband, the data were further filtered, including analysis of those with stop codons, a rare frequency (<2.5%) in the 1000 Genomes database, and presence in at least 2/19 probands sequenced. Two nonsense mutations, W32X in C11orf40 and Q100X in ZNF77 among 150 FMS trios had a significantly elevated frequency of transmission to affected probands (p = 0.026 and p = 0.032, respectively) and were present in a subset of 13% and 11% of FMS patients, respectively. Among 9 patients bearing more than one of the variants we have described, 4 had onset of symptoms between the ages of 10 and 18. The subset with the C11orf40 mutation had elevated plasma levels of the inflammatory cytokines, MCP-1 and IP-10, compared with unaffected controls or FMS patients with the wild-type allele. Similarly, patients with the ZNF77 mutation have elevated levels of the inflammatory cytokine, IL-12, compared with controls or patients with the wild type allele. Our results strongly implicate an inflammatory basis for FMS, as well as specific cytokine dysregulation, in at least 35% of our FMS cohort.
PMCID: PMC3677902  PMID: 23762283
8.  The Systemic Cytokine Environment Is Permanently Altered in Multiple Myeloma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58504.
Multiple myeloma (MM) is an incurable bone marrow malignancy of the B cell lineage. Utilizing multiplex Luminex technology we measured levels of 25 cytokines in the plasma of normal donors (n = 177), those with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (n = 8), and MM patients (n = 55) with either active disease, on treatment, or in remission. The cytokine levels were compared between normal donors and MM patients as well as between various phases of MM, and discriminant analysis was used to create a predictive classification model based on the differentially expressed cytokines. Evaluating age- and gender-dependence of cytokine expression, we determined that with age there is a shift toward a pro-inflammatory environment. Moreover, we observed a strong gender bias in cytokine expression. However, the profile of differentially expressed cytokines was heavily skewed toward an anti-inflammatory, pro-tumorigenic response in patients with MM. Significantly, our predictive model placed all patients in remission in the same category as those with active disease. Thus, our study demonstrates that the homeostasis of systemic cytokines is not restored when MM patients enter remission, suggesting that once an individual has cancer, the microenvironment is permanently altered and the system is primed for a relapse.
PMCID: PMC3609759  PMID: 23544044
9.  Development of a Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus Serotype A Empty Capsid Subunit Vaccine Using Silkworm (Bombyx mori) Pupae 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43849.
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious disease of cloven-hoofed animals that inflicts severe economic losses in the livestock industry. In 2009, FMDV serotype A caused outbreaks of FMD in cattle in China. Although an inactivated virus vaccine has proven effective to control FMD, its use may lead to new disease outbreaks due to a possible incomplete inactivation of the virus during the manufacturing process. Here, we expressed the P1-2A and the 3C coding regions of a serotype A FMDV field isolate in silkworm pupae (Bombyx mori) and evaluated the immunogenicity of the expression products. Four of five cattle vaccinated with these proteins developed high titers of FMDV-specific antibody and were completely protected against virulent homologous virus challenge with 10,000 50% bovine infectious doses (BID50). Furthermore, the 50% bovine protective dose (PD50) test was performed to assess the bovine potency of the empty capsid subunit vaccine and was shown to achieve 4.33 PD50 per dose. These data provide evidence that silkworm pupae can be used to express immunogenic FMDV proteins. This strategy might be used to develop a new generation of empty capsid subunit vaccines against a variety of diseases.
PMCID: PMC3428285  PMID: 22952788
10.  Transcriptome Analysis of the Silkworm (Bombyx mori) by High-Throughput RNA Sequencing 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43713.
The domestic silkworm, Bombyx mori, is a model insect with important economic value for silk production that also acts as a bioreactor for biomaterial production. The functional complexity of the silkworm transcriptome has not yet been fully elucidated, although genomic sequencing and other tools have been widely used in its study. We explored the transcriptome of silkworm at different developmental stages using high-throughput paired-end RNA sequencing. A total of about 3.3 gigabases (Gb) of sequence was obtained, representing about a 7-fold coverage of the B. mori genome. From the reads that were mapped to the genome sequence; 23,461 transcripts were obtained, 5,428 of them were novel. Of the 14,623 predicted protein-coding genes in the silkworm genome database, 11,884 of them were found to be expressed in the silkworm transcriptome, giving a coverage of 81.3%. A total of 13,195 new exons were detected, of which, 5,911 were found in the annotated genes in the Silkworm Genome Database (SilkDB). An analysis of alternative splicing in the transcriptome revealed that 3,247 genes had undergone alternative splicing. To help with the data analysis, a transcriptome database that integrates our transcriptome data with the silkworm genome data was constructed and is publicly available at To our knowledge, this is the first study to elucidate the silkworm transcriptome using high-throughput RNA sequencing technology. Our data indicate that the transcriptome of silkworm is much more complex than previously anticipated. This work provides tools and resources for the identification of new functional elements and paves the way for future functional genomics studies.
PMCID: PMC3426547  PMID: 22928022
11.  Genomic sequencing and analyses of HearMNPV—a new Multinucleocapsid nucleopolyhedrovirus isolated from Helicoverpa armigera 
Virology Journal  2012;9:168.
HearMNPV, a nucleopolyhedrovirus (NPV), which infects the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera, comprises multiple rod-shaped nucleocapsids in virion(as detected by electron microscopy). HearMNPV shows a different host range compared with H. armigera single-nucleocapsid NPV (HearSNPV). To better understand HearMNPV, the HearMNPV genome was sequenced and analyzed.
The morphology of HearMNPV was observed by electron microscope. The qPCR was used to determine the replication kinetics of HearMNPV infectious for H. armigera in vivo. A random genomic library of HearMNPV was constructed according to the “partial filling-in” method, the sequence and organization of the HearMNPV genome was analyzed and compared with sequence data from other baculoviruses.
Real time qPCR showed that HearMNPV DNA replication included a decreasing phase, latent phase, exponential phase, and a stationary phase during infection of H. armigera. The HearMNPV genome consists of 154,196 base pairs, with a G + C content of 40.07%. 162 putative ORFs were detected in the HearMNPV genome, which represented 90.16% of the genome. The remaining 9.84% constitute four homologous regions and other non-coding regions. The gene content and gene arrangement in HearMNPV were most similar to those of Mamestra configurata NPV-B (MacoNPV-B), but was different to HearSNPV. Comparison of the genome of HearMNPV and MacoNPV-B suggested that HearMNPV has a deletion of a 5.4-kb fragment containing five ORFs. In addition, HearMNPV orf66, bro genes, and hrs are different to the corresponding parts of the MacoNPV-B genome.
HearMNPV can replicate in vivo in H. armigera and in vitro, and is a new NPV isolate distinguished from HearSNPV. HearMNPV is most closely related to MacoNPV-B, but has a distinct genomic structure, content, and organization.
PMCID: PMC3545888  PMID: 22913743
Baculovirus; Helicoverpa armigera; Multinucleocapsid nucleopolyhedrovirus; Genome sequence comparison
12.  Phylogenetic Diversity and Environment-Specific Distributions of Glycosyl Hydrolase Family 10 Xylanases in Geographically Distant Soils 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43480.
Xylan is one of the most abundant biopolymers on Earth. Its degradation is mediated primarily by microbial xylanase in nature. To explore the diversity and distribution patterns of xylanase genes in soils, samples of five soil types with different physicochemical characters were analyzed.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Partial xylanase genes of glycoside hydrolase (GH) family 10 were recovered following direct DNA extraction from soil, PCR amplification and cloning. Combined with our previous study, a total of 1084 gene fragments were obtained, representing 366 OTUs. More than half of the OTUs were novel (identities of <65% with known xylanases) and had no close relatives based on phylogenetic analyses. Xylanase genes from all the soil environments were mainly distributed in Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, Dictyoglomi and some fungi. Although identical sequences were found in several sites, habitat-specific patterns appeared to be important, and geochemical factors such as pH and oxygen content significantly influenced the compositions of xylan-degrading microbial communities.
These results provide insight into the GH 10 xylanases in various soil environments and reveal that xylan-degrading microbial communities are environment specific with diverse and abundant populations.
PMCID: PMC3422244  PMID: 22912883
European journal of immunology  2009;39(11):3181-3194.
LL-37, derived from human cathelicidin, stimulates immune responses in neutrophils. Although FPR2 and P2X7 were proposed as LL-37 receptors, we have shown that among 21 neutrophil receptors only CXCR2 was down-regulated by LL-37. LL-37 functions similarly to CXCR2 specific chemokines CXCL1 and CXCL7 in terms of receptor down-regulation and intracellular calcium mobilization on freshly-isolated neutrophils. Neutrophils pretreated with CXCL8, a chemokine that binds both CXCR1/2, completely blocked the calcium mobilization in response to LL-37, while LL-37 also partially inhibited 125I-CXCL8 binding to neutrophils. SB225002, a selective CXCR2 antagonist, blocked LL-37-induced calcium mobilization and migration of neutrophils. LL-37 stimulates calcium mobilization in CXCR2-transfected HEK293 cells, CXCR2+ THP-1 cells and monocytes, but not in CXCR1-transfected HEK293 cells. WKYMVm peptide (ligand for FPR2) does not block LL-37-stimulated calcium flux in either THP-1 (FPR2−) or monocytes (FPR2high), further confirming the specificity of LL-37 for CXCR2 and not FPR2. Among all ligands tested (ATP, BzATP, WKYMVm, CXCL1, and LL-37), only LL-37 stimulated migration of monocytes (CXCR2+ and FPR2+) and migration was inhibited by the CXCR2 inhibitor SB225002. Moreover, CXCR2 but not CXCR1 was internalized in LL-37-treated neutrophils. Thus, our data provide evidence that LL-37 may act as a functional ligand for CXCR2 on human neutrophils.
PMCID: PMC3076219  PMID: 19750480
LL-37; CXCR2; receptor; neutrophils
14.  Generation of Novel Bone Forming Cells (Monoosteophils) from the Cathelicidin-Derived Peptide LL-37 Treated Monocytes 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e13985.
Bone generation and maintenance involve osteoblasts, osteoclasts, and osteocytes which originate from unique precursors and rely on key growth factors for differentiation. However, an incomplete understanding of bone forming cells during wound healing has led to an unfilled clinical need such as nonunion of bone fractures. Since circulating monocytes are often recruited to sites of injury and may differentiate into various cell types including osteoclasts, we investigated the possibility that circulating monocytes in the context of tissue injury may also contribute to bone repair. In particular, we hypothesized that LL-37 (produced from hCAP-18, cathelicidin), which recruits circulating monocytes during injury, may play a role in bone repair.
Methods and Findings
Treatment of monocytes from blood with LL-37 for 6 days resulted in their differentiation to large adherent cells. Growth of LL-37-differentiated monocytes on osteologic discs reveals bone-like nodule formation by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). In vivo transplantation studies in NOD/SCID mice show that LL-37-differentiated monocytes form bone-like structures similar to endochondral bone formation. Importantly, LL-37-differentiated monocytes are distinct from conventional monocyte-derived osteoclasts, macrophages, and dendritic cells and do not express markers of the mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) lineage, distinguishing them from the conventional precursors of osteoblasts. Furthermore, LL-37 differentiated monocytes express intracellular proteins of both the osteoblast and osteoclast lineage including osteocalcin (OC), osteonectin (ON), bone sialoprotein II (BSP II), osteopontin (OP), RANK, RANKL, MMP-9, tartrate resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP), and cathepsin K (CK).
Blood derived monocytes treated with LL-37 can be differentiated into a novel bone forming cell that functions both in vitro and in vivo. We propose the name monoosteophil to indicate their monocyte derived lineage and their bone forming phenotype. These cells may have wide ranging implications in the clinic including repair of broken bones and treatment of osteoporosis.
PMCID: PMC2981577  PMID: 21085494
15.  Expression of an extremely acidic β-1,4-glucanase from thermoacidophilic Alicyclobacillus sp. A4 in Pichia pastoris is improved by truncating the gene sequence 
Alicyclobacillus sp. A4 is thermoacidophilic and produces many glycoside hydrolases. An extremely acidic β-1,4-glucanase (CelA4) has been isolated from Alicyclobacillus sp. A4 and purified. This glucanase with a molecular mass of 48.6 kDa decreases the viscosity of barley-soybean feed under simulated gastric conditions. Therefore, it has the potential to improve the nutrient bioavailability of pig feed. For the study reported herein, the full-length gene, CelA4, of this glucanase (CelA4) was identified using the sequences of six peptides and cloned from strain A4. The gene fragment (CelA4F) encoding the mature protein was expressed in Pichia pastoris. Sequence truncation and glycosylation were found for recombinant CelA4F, both of which affected the expression efficiency. The physical properties of various forms of CelA4 as they affected enzymatic activity were characterized.
We located the full-length 2,148-bp gene for CelA4 (CelA4) in the genome of Alicyclobacillus sp. A4. CelA4 encodes a 715-residue polypeptide with a calculated molecular mass of 71.64 kDa, including an N-terminal signal peptide (residues 1-39), a catalytic domain (residues 39-497), and a C-terminal threonine-rich region (residues 498-715). Its deduced amino acid sequence and that of an Alicyclobacillus acidocaldarius endo-β-1,4-glucanase were identical at 44% of the residue positions. When the experimental molecular mass of CelA4F--a recombinant protein designed to mimic the CelA4 sequence lacking the N-terminal signal peptide that had been expressed in Pichia pastoris--was compared with its hypothetical molecular mass, it was apparent that CelA4F was truncated, possibly at residue 497. An artificially truncated gene fragment (CelA4T) without C-terminal threonine-rich region was expressed in P. pastoris, and the expression efficiency of CelA4T was substantially greater than that of CelA4F. Purified CelA4F and CelA4T had similar molecular masses (~60 kDa) and enzymatic properties (optimum pH, 3.4; optimum temperature, 60°C); they were relatively stable between pH 1.2 and 8.2 at 70°C and resistant to acidic and neutral proteases. However, their molecular masses and thermostabilities differed from those of CelA4 isolated from Alicyclobacillus sp. A4. A deglycosylated form of CelA4 (CelA4D) had properties similar to that of CelA4 except that it was thermoliable at 60°C.
Truncation during expression of CelA4F or artificial truncation of its gene--both of which produced a form of CelA4 lacking a threonine-rich region that includes a putative linker--increased the level of enzyme produced in comparison with that produced by cultivation of Alicyclobacillus sp. A4. Glycosylation increased the thermostability of CelA4. Of the four forms of CelA4 studied, CelA4T was produced in highest yield and had the most favorable physical properties; therefore, it has potential for use in the feed industry.
PMCID: PMC2880286  PMID: 20465851
16.  Generation of Human CEACAM1 Transgenic Mice and Binding of Neisseria Opa Protein to Their Neutrophils 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10067.
Human CEACAM1 is a cell-cell adhesion molecule with multiple functions including insulin clearance in the liver, vasculogenesis in endothelial cells, lumen formation in the mammary gland, and binding of certain human pathogens.
Principal Findings
Three genomic BAC clones containing the human CEACAM1 gene were microinjected into pronuclei of fertilized FVB mouse oocytes. The embryos were implanted in the oviducts of pseudopregnant females and allowed to develop to term. DNA from newborn mice was evaluated by PCR for the presence of the human CEACAM1 gene. Feces of the PCR positive offspring screened for expression of human CEACAM1. Using this assay, one out of five PCR positive lines was positive for human CEACAM1 expression and showed stable transmission to the F1 generation with the expected transmission frequency (0.5) for heterozygotes. Liver, lung, intestine, kidney, mammary gland, and prostate were strongly positive for the dual expression of both murine and human CEACAM1 and mimic that seen in human tissue. Peripheral blood and bone marrow granulocytes stained strongly for human CEACAM1 and bound Neisseria Opa proteins similar to that in human neutrophils.
These transgenic animals may serve as a model for the binding of human pathogens to human CEACAM1.
PMCID: PMC2852402  PMID: 20404914
17.  Baculovirus immediately early 1, a mediator for homologous regions enhancer function in trans 
Virology Journal  2010;7:32.
Enhancers are DNA sequences that serve as binding sites for regulatory proteins, and stimulate transcriptional activity independent of their positions and orientations with respect to the transcriptional initiation site. Previous studies considered that baculovirus homologous regions (hrs) function as enhancers in cis. In our study, a plasmid containing homologous region 3 (hr3) enhancer from Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus (BmNPV) failed to enhance transcription of promoter in other plasmid in co-transfection assays, but strong stimulation occurred when cells were infected by BmNPV.
The cotransfection results of each BmNPV genomic library plasmid, hr3 plasmid and reporter plasmid showed that there were eight library plasmids stimulated the luciferase gene expression remarkably. Sequencing these plasmids revealed that each of them contained the ie-1 gene. Transfected plasmids, containing ie-1, hr3 and various origin promoter drove reporter gene showed the function was even retained. Cotransfection of hr3 functional dissected fragment and ie-1 revealed that the 30-bp imperfect palindrome destroyed fragment can't enhance reporter gene expression even though transfected with ie-1.
IE-1 was the only early factor of BmNPV that could act as a mediator for hr enhancer function in trans and the trans-function was achieved with a broad-spectrum of promoters. The 30-bp imperfect palindrome was the elementary molecular structure by which IE-1 participated in the enhancer function in trans.
PMCID: PMC2834656  PMID: 20144239
18.  Missense Mutations in the MEFV Gene Are Associated with Fibromyalgia Syndrome and Correlate with Elevated IL-1β Plasma Levels 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8480.
Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), a common, chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain disorder found in 2% of the general population and with a preponderance of 85% in females, has both genetic and environmental contributions. Patients and their parents have high plasma levels of the chemokines MCP-1 and eotaxin, providing evidence for both a genetic and an immunological/inflammatory origin for the syndrome (Zhang et al., 2008, Exp. Biol. Med. 233: 1171–1180).
Methods and Findings
In a search for a candidate gene affecting inflammatory pathways, among five screened in our patient samples (100 probands with FMS and their parents), we found 10 rare and one common alleles for MEFV, a gene in which various compound heterozygous mutations lead to Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF). A total of 2.63 megabases of genomic sequence of the MEFV gene were scanned by direct sequencing. The collection of rare missense mutations (all heterozygotes and tested in the aggregate) had a significant elevated frequency of transmission to affecteds (p = 0.0085, one-sided, exact binomial test). Our data provide evidence that rare missense variants of the MEFV gene are, collectively, associated with risk of FMS and are present in a subset of 15% of FMS patients. This subset had, on average, high levels of plasma IL-1β (p = 0.019) compared to FMS patients without rare variants, unaffected family members with or without rare variants, and unrelated controls of unknown genotype. IL-1β is a cytokine associated with the function of the MEFV gene and thought to be responsible for its symptoms of fever and muscle aches.
Since misregulation of IL-1β expression has been predicted for patients with mutations in the MEFV gene, we conclude that patients heterozygous for rare missense variants of this gene may be predisposed to FMS, possibly triggered by environmental factors.
PMCID: PMC2794536  PMID: 20041150
19.  Expression of Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus Capsid Proteins in Silkworm-Baculovirus Expression System and Its Utilization as a Subunit Vaccine 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(5):e2273.
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious disease of livestock that causes severe economic loss in susceptible cloven-hoofed animals. Although the traditional inactivated vaccine has been proved effective, it may lead to a new outbreak of FMD because of either incomplete inactivation of FMDV or the escape of live virus from vaccine production workshop. Thus, it is urgent to develop a novel FMDV vaccine that is safer, more effective and more economical than traditional vaccines.
Methodology and Principal Findings
A recombinant silkworm baculovirus Bm-P12A3C which contained the intact P1-2A and 3C protease coding regions of FMDV Asia 1/HNK/CHA/05 was developed. Indirect immunofluorescence test and sandwich-ELISA were used to verify that Bm-P12A3C could express the target cassette. Expression products from silkworm were diluted to 30 folds and used as antigen to immunize cattle. Specific antibody was induced in all vaccinated animals. After challenge with virulent homologous virus, four of the five animals were completely protected, and clinical symptoms were alleviated and delayed in the remaining one. Furthermore, a PD50 (50% bovine protective dose) test was performed to assess the bovine potency of the subunit vaccine. The result showed the subunit vaccine could achieve 6.34 PD50 per dose.
The results suggest that this strategy might be used to develop the new subunit FMDV vaccine.
PMCID: PMC2386233  PMID: 18509464
20.  Analysis of four achaete-scute homologs in Bombyx mori reveals new viewpoints of the evolution and functions of this gene family 
BMC Genetics  2008;9:24.
achaete-scute complexe (AS-C) has been widely studied at genetic, developmental and evolutional levels. Genes of this family encode proteins containing a highly conserved bHLH domain, which take part in the regulation of the development of central nervous system and peripheral nervous system. Many AS-C homologs have been isolated from various vertebrates and invertebrates. Also, AS-C genes are duplicated during the evolution of Diptera. Functions besides neural development controlling have also been found in Drosophila AS-C genes.
We cloned four achaete-scute homologs (ASH) from the lepidopteran model organism Bombyx mori, including three proneural genes and one neural precursor gene. Proteins encoded by them contained the characteristic bHLH domain and the three proneural ones were also found to have the C-terminal conserved motif. These genes regulated promoter activity through the Class A E-boxes in vitro. Though both Bm-ASH and Drosophila AS-C have four members, they are not in one by one corresponding relationships. Results of RT-PCR and real-time PCR showed that Bm-ASH genes were expressed in different larval tissues, and had well-regulated expressional profiles during the development of embryo and wing/wing disc.
There are four achaete-scute homologs in Bombyx mori, the second insect having four AS-C genes so far, and these genes have multiple functions in silkworm life cycle. AS-C gene duplication in insects occurs after or parallel to, but not before the taxonomic order formation during evolution.
PMCID: PMC2315653  PMID: 18321391
21.  Cetyltriethylammonium bromide stimulating transcription of Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus gp64 gene promoter mediated by viral factors 
Cytotechnology  2003;41(1):37-44.
To characterize the effects of cetyltriethylammonium bromide (CTAB) on the transcription of gp64 promoter from Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus (BmNPV), the plasmid pBmgp64Luc used in transient expression assay system was constructed by using the luciferase gene as a reporter under the control of BmNPV gp64 promoter. When the Bombyx mori cells (Bm-N) were transfected with the pBmgp64Luc, different treatments were undertaken. We found that the transient expression activity of luciferase could not be augmented directly by CTAB treatment alone, but could be enhanced more than 2 times by BmNPV treatment alone at a multiplicity of infection (MOI) of 0.5. Through co-treatment with 0.1 µg ml−1 of CTAB and BmNPV at a MOI of 0.5, the enzymatic activity increased 5.21 times. We presumed that the stimulation of transcription of BmNPV gp64 promoter by CTAB was mediated by viral factors from BmNPV. In addition, the time curves of luciferase activity in cells transfected with pBmgp64Luc and transactivated by virus were observed.
PMCID: PMC3449759  PMID: 19002960
Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus; Cetyltriethylammonium bromide; gp64 promoter; Transactivition; Transfection; Transient expression
22.  Effects of cetyltriethylammonium bromide on the replication of Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus 
Cytotechnology  2002;39(1):27-35.
An experimental study was undertaken to quantify the effects of cetyltriethylammonium bromide (CTAB) on the replication of Bombyx mori nucleopolyhedrovirus (BmNPV) and the transcriptionalactivity of BmNPV ie-1 promoter. The results demonstrated that the budded virus (BV) titer rose about 3.7-fold by adding CTAB to the culture media up to 0.1 μ g ml-1 in infected Bm-N cells with a wild-type BmNPV. The transient expression level of luciferase driven by BmNPV ie-1 promoter was enhanced by more than 3-fold in the presence of 0.1 μ g ml-1 of CTAB in uninfected insect cells via a transient expression system. Contrary to the rise in BV titer, the polyhedra inside the nucleus of infected cells dropped linearly from 4.0 × 106 ml-1 down to 2.1 × 106 ml-1 with in a range of CTAB concentrations from 0 to 0.25 μ g ml-1. The same trend in expression level of β -galactosidase or phytase was given when the Bm-N cells or fifth-instar silkworm larvae infected with a recombinant BmNPV containing the β -galactosidase or phytase reporter gene driven by the polyhedrin promoter. We deduced that CTAB appeared to affect the virus bi-phasic life cycle stages and production pathways, resulting in an enhancement in BV production and a suppression of occluded virus (OV) production and expression of foreign genes controlled by the polyhedrin promoter.
PMCID: PMC3449800  PMID: 19003301
BmNPV; CTAB; infection; insect cells; silkworm larvae; transfection

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