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1.  Circulating microRNAs have a sex-specific association with metabolic syndrome 
Background
The microRNAs let-7 g and miR-221 have been demonstrated to be related to the glucose metabolism. This study assessed the serum levels of these two microRNAs in subjects with and without metabolic syndrome (MetS).
Results
The serum microRNA levels were detected in 102 subjects aged 40 to 80 years who were recruited from the general population. The status of MetS was defined by the Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III) criteria modified for Asians. Subjects with histories of cardiovascular diseases or who were receiving treatment with hypoglycemic or lipid-lowering agents were excluded. The levels of both circulating microRNAs (let-7 g and miR-221) were higher in subjects with MetS (p = 0.004 and p = 0.01, respectively). The sex-specific analysis showed that the difference was more prominent in women (for both miRNAs, p < 0.05 in women and p > 0.1 in men). In the female subjects, increased expression of both microRNAs was associated with an increased number of MetS risk components (p = 0.002 for let-7 g and p = 0.022 for miR-221). Moreover, the elevation of serum let-7 g was significantly associated with a low level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (p = 0.022) and high blood pressure (p = 0.023). In contrast, the miR-221 level was not associated with any individual MetS risk component.
Conclusions
The circulating levels of let-7 g and miR-221 displayed a female-specific elevation in individuals with metabolic syndrome.
doi:10.1186/1423-0127-20-72
PMCID: PMC3851553  PMID: 24093444
Obesity; Gender disparity; let-7 g; miR-221
2.  Rapid Immune Colloidal Gold Strip for Cetacean Meat Restraining Illegal Trade and Consumption: Implications for Conservation and Public Health 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e60704.
The consumption of cetacean meat is geographically common and often of undetermined sustainability. Besides, it can expose humans to contaminants and zoonotic pathogens. The illegality of possessing cetacean meat was likely under-reported in some countries due to lack of attention paid by the officials although DNA analysis of market products helped to show such practices. We developed two monoclonal antibodies against synthetic peptides of myoglobin (Mb) for constructing a rapid immune colloidal gold strip. Only cetacean Mb is capable of binding to both antibodies and presents positive signal while the Mb from other animals can bind only 1 of the antibodies and presents negative result. The strip for cetacean meat would be an applicable and cost-effective test for field inspectors and even the general public. It contributes to increase the reporting capacity and coverage of illegal cetacean meat possession, which has implications for global cetacean conservation and public health.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060704
PMCID: PMC3610871  PMID: 23556001
3.  Downregulation of Chloroplast RPS1 Negatively Modulates Nuclear Heat-Responsive Expression of HsfA2 and Its Target Genes in Arabidopsis 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(5):e1002669.
Heat stress commonly leads to inhibition of photosynthesis in higher plants. The transcriptional induction of heat stress-responsive genes represents the first line of inducible defense against imbalances in cellular homeostasis. Although heat stress transcription factor HsfA2 and its downstream target genes are well studied, the regulatory mechanisms by which HsfA2 is activated in response to heat stress remain elusive. Here, we show that chloroplast ribosomal protein S1 (RPS1) is a heat-responsive protein and functions in protein biosynthesis in chloroplast. Knockdown of RPS1 expression in the rps1 mutant nearly eliminates the heat stress-activated expression of HsfA2 and its target genes, leading to a considerable loss of heat tolerance. We further confirm the relationship existed between the downregulation of RPS1 expression and the loss of heat tolerance by generating RNA interference-transgenic lines of RPS1. Consistent with the notion that the inhibited activation of HsfA2 in response to heat stress in the rps1 mutant causes heat-susceptibility, we further demonstrate that overexpression of HsfA2 with a viral promoter leads to constitutive expressions of its target genes in the rps1 mutant, which is sufficient to reestablish lost heat tolerance and recovers heat-susceptible thylakoid stability to wild-type levels. Our findings reveal a heat-responsive retrograde pathway in which chloroplast translation capacity is a critical factor in heat-responsive activation of HsfA2 and its target genes required for cellular homeostasis under heat stress. Thus, RPS1 is an essential yet previously unknown determinant involved in retrograde activation of heat stress responses in higher plants.
Author Summary
As a consequence of global warming, increasing temperature is a serious threat to crop production worldwide and may influence the objectives of breeding programs. As a universal cellular response to a shift up in temperature, the heat stress response represents the first line of inducible defense against imbalances in cellular homeostasis in the prokaryotic and eukaryotic kingdoms. Given that components of the photosynthetic apparatus housed in the chloroplast are the primary susceptible targets of thermal damage in plants, the chloroplasts were proposed as sensors to a shift up in temperature. However, the mechanism by which chloroplasts regulate the expression of nuclear heat stress–responsive gene expression according to the functional state of chloroplasts under heat stress remains unknown. In this study, we have identified chloroplast ribosomal protein S1 (RPS1) as a heat-responsive protein through proteomic screening of heat-responsive proteins. We have established a previously unrecognized molecular connection between the downregulation of RPS1 expression in chloroplast and the activation of HsfA2-dependent heat-responsive genes in nucleus, which is required for heat tolerance in higher plants. Our data provide new insights into the mechanisms whereby plant cells modulate nuclear gene expression to keep accordance with the current status of chloroplasts in response to heat stress.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002669
PMCID: PMC3342936  PMID: 22570631

Results 1-3 (3)