Observational studies suggest high prenatal vitamin D intake may be associated with reduced childhood wheezing. We examined the effect of prenatal vitamin D on childhood wheezing in an interventional study.
We randomised 180 pregnant women at 27 weeks gestation to either no vitamin D, 800 IU ergocalciferol daily until delivery or single oral bolus of 200,000 IU cholecalciferol, in an ethnically stratified, randomised controlled trial. Supplementation improved but did not optimise vitamin D status. Researchers blind to allocation assessed offspring at 3 years. Primary outcome was any history of wheeze assessed by validated questionnaire. Secondary outcomes included atopy, respiratory infection, impulse oscillometry and exhaled nitric oxide. Primary analyses used logistic and linear regression.
We evaluated 158 of 180 (88%) offspring at age 3 years for the primary outcome. Atopy was assessed by skin test for 95 children (53%), serum IgE for 86 (48%), exhaled nitric oxide for 62 (34%) and impulse oscillometry of acceptable quality for 51 (28%). We found no difference between supplemented and control groups in risk of wheeze [no vitamin D: 14/50 (28%); any vitamin D: 26/108 (24%) (risk ratio 0.86; 95% confidence interval 0.49, 1.50; P = 0.69)]. There was no significant difference in atopy, eczema risk, lung function or exhaled nitric oxide between supplemented groups and controls.
Prenatal vitamin D supplementation in late pregnancy that had a modest effect on cord blood vitamin D level, was not associated with decreased wheezing in offspring at age three years.
The maintenance of endothelial cell-cell junctions is vital for the control of blood vessel leakage and is known to be important in the growth and maturation of new blood vessels during angiogenesis. Here we have investigated the role of a tight junction molecule, Claudin14, in tumour blood vessel leakage, angiogenesis and tumour growth. Using syngeneic tumour models our results showed that genetic ablation of Claudin14 was not sufficient to affect tumour blood vessel morphology or function. However, and surprisingly, Claudin14-heterozygous mice displayed several blood vessel-related phenotypes including: disruption of ZO-1-positive cell-cell junctions in tumour blood vessels; abnormal distribution of basement membrane laminin around tumour blood vessels; increased intratumoural leakage and decreased intratumoural hypoxia. Additionally, although total numbers of tumour blood vessels were increased in Claudin14-heterozygous mice, and in VEGF-stimulated angiogenesis ex vivo, the number of lumenated vessels was not changed between genotypes and this correlated with no difference in syngeneic tumour growth between wild-type, Claudin14-heterozygous and Claudin14-null mice. Lastly, Claudin14-heterozygosity, but not complete deficiency, also enhanced endothelial cell proliferation significantly. These data establish a new role for Claudin14 in the regulation of tumour blood vessel integrity and angiogenesis that is evident only after the partial loss of this molecule in Claudin14-heterozyous mice but not in Claudin14-null mice.
Cellular ribosomal protein L29 (RPL29) is known to be important in protein synthesis, but its function during angiogenesis has never been described before. We have shown previously that mice lacking β3-integrins support enhanced tumour angiogenesis and, therefore, deletion of endothelial αvβ3 can provide a method for discovery of novel regulators of tumour angiogenesis. Here, we describe significant upregulation of RPL29 in β3-null endothelial cells at both the mRNA and protein level. Ex vivo, we show that VEGF-stimulated microvessel sprouting was reduced significantly in Rpl29-heterozygous and Rpl29-null aortic ring assays compared with wild-type controls. Moreover, we provide in vivo evidence that RPL29 can regulate tumour angiogenesis. Tumour blood vessel density in subcutaneously grown Lewis lung carcinomas was reduced significantly in Rpl29-mutant mice. Additionally, depletion of Rpl29 using RNA interference inhibited VEGF-induced aortic ring sprouting, suggesting that anti-RPL29 strategies might have anti-angiogenic potential. Overall, our results identify that loss or depletion of RPL29 can reduce angiogenesis in vivo and ex vivo.
Down Syndrome (DS) is a genetic disorder caused by full or partial trisomy of chromosome 21. It occurs in approximately 1/750 live births and presents with many clinical phenotypes including a reduced incidence of solid tumours1,2. Recent work using the Ts65Dn model of DS, that has orthologs of approximately 50% of the genes on human chromosome 21 (Hsa21), has suggested that three copies of the ETS23 or Down Syndrome candidate region 1 (DSCR1) genes4 (a previously known suppressor of angiogenesis5,6) is sufficient to inhibit tumour growth. We have used the Tc1 transchromosomic mouse model of DS9 to dissect the contribution of extra copies of genes on Hsa21 to tumour angiogenesis. This mouse expresses approximately 81% of Hsa21 genes but not the human DSCR1 region (Supplementary Fig. 1). We transplanted B16F0 and Lewis Lung Carcinoma (LLC) tumour cells into Tc1 mice and showed that growth of these tumours was reduced substantially when compared to wild-type littermate controls. Furthermore, tumour angiogenesis was repressed significantly in Tc1 mice. In particular, in vitro and in vivo angiogenic responses to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) were inhibited. Examination of the genes on the segment of Hsa21 in Tc1 mice identified putative anti-angiogenic genes (ADAMTS17,8 and ERG9) and novel endothelial cell-specific genes10, never shown before to be involved in angiogenesis (JAM-B11 and PTTG1IP) that, when overexpressed, are responsible for the inhibition of angiogenic responses to VEGF. Three copies of these genes within the stromal compartment reduced tumour angiogenesis providing an explanation for the reduced tumour growth in DS. Furthermore, we anticipate that, in addition to the candidate genes that we show to be involved in the repression of angiogenesis, the Tc1 mouse model of DS will likely allow for the identification of other endothelial-specific anti-angiogenic targets relevant to a broad spectrum of cancer patients.
Constitutive production of inflammatory cytokines is a characteristic of many human malignant cell lines, however, the in vitro and in vivo interdependence of these cytokines, and their significance to the human cancer microenvironment, are both poorly understood. Here, we describe for the first time how three key cytokine/chemokine mediators of cancer-related inflammation, TNF, CXCL12 and IL6, are involved in an autocrine cytokine network, the ‘TNF network’, in human ovarian cancer. We show that this network has paracrine actions on angiogenesis, infiltration of myeloid cells and NOTCH signalling in both murine xenografts and human ovarian tumor biopsies. Neutralising antibodies or siRNA to individual members of this TNF network reduced angiogenesis, myeloid cell infiltration and experimental peritoneal ovarian tumor growth. The dependency of network genes on TNF was demonstrated by their down regulation in tumor cells from patients with advanced ovarian cancer following the infusion of anti-TNF antibodies. Together, the findings define a network of inflammatory cytokine interactions that are crucial to tumor growth and validate this network as a key therapeutic target in ovarian cancer.
GSEA; autocrine cytokine networks; ovarian cancer; microenvironment; therapeutics
A new method to improve the efficiency of flanking sequence identification by genome walking was developed based on an expanded, sequential list of criteria for selecting candidate enzymes, plus several other optimization steps. These criteria include: step (1) initially choosing the most appropriate restriction enzyme according to the average fragment size produced by each enzyme determined using in silico digestion of genomic DNA, step (2) evaluating the in silico frequency of fragment size distribution between individual chromosomes, step (3) selecting those enzymes that generate fragments with the majority between 100 bp and 3,000 bp, step (4) weighing the advantages and disadvantages of blunt-end sites vs. cohesive-end sites, step (5) elimination of methylation sensitive enzymes with methylation-insensitive isoschizomers, and step (6) elimination of enzymes with recognition sites within the binary vector sequence (T-DNA and plasmid backbone). Step (7) includes the selection of a second restriction enzyme with highest number of recognition sites within regions not covered by the first restriction enzyme. Step (8) considers primer and adapter sequence optimization, selecting the best adapter-primer pairs according to their hairpin/dimers and secondary structure. In step (9), the efficiency of genomic library development was improved by column-filtration of digested DNA to remove restriction enzyme and phosphatase enzyme, and most important, to remove small genomic fragments (<100 bp) lacking the T-DNA insertion, hence improving the chance of ligation between adapters and fragments harbouring a T-DNA. Two enzymes, NsiI and NdeI, fit these criteria for the Arabidopsis thaliana genome. Their efficiency was assessed using 54 T3 lines from an Arabidopsis SK enhancer population. Over 70% success rate was achieved in amplifying the flanking sequences of these lines. This strategy was also tested with Brachypodium distachyon to demonstrate its applicability to other larger genomes.
What are the functional neuroimaging measurements required for more fully characterizing the events and locations of neocortical activity? A prime assumption has been that modulation of cortical activity will inevitably be reflected in changes in energy utilization (for the most part) changes of glucose and oxygen consumption. Are such a measures complete and sufficient? More direct measures of cortical electrophysiological activity show event or task-related modulation of amplitude or band-limited oscillatory power. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), these measures have been shown to correlate well with energy utilization sensitive BOLD fMRI. In this paper, we explore the existence of state changes in electrophysiological cortical activity that can occur independently of changes in averaged amplitude, source power or indices of metabolic rates. In addition, we demonstrate that such state changes can be described by applying a new measure of complexity, rank vector entropy (RVE), to source waveform estimates from beamformer-processed MEG. RVE is a non-parametric symbolic dynamic informational entropy measure that accommodates the wide dynamic range of measured brain signals while resolving its temporal variations. By representing the measurements by their rank values, RVE overcomes the problem of defining embedding space partitions without resorting to signal compression. This renders RVE-independent of absolute signal amplitude. In addition, this approach is robust, being relatively free of tunable parameters. We present examples of task-free and task-dependent MEG demonstrating that RVE provides new information by uncovering hidden dynamical structure in the apparent turbulent (or chaotic) dynamics of spontaneous cortical activity.
magnetoencephalography; neuroscience; cognitive; beamformer; complexity; nonlinear; turbulence; mixing
Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase that plays a fundamental role in integrin and growth factor mediated signalling and is an important player in cell migration and proliferation, processes vital for angiogenesis. However, the role of FAK in adult pathological angiogenesis is unknown. We have generated endothelial-specific tamoxifen-inducible FAK knockout mice by crossing FAK-floxed (FAKfl/fl) mice with the platelet derived growth factor b (Pdgfb)-iCreER mice. Tamoxifen-treatment of Pdgfb-iCreER;FAKfl/fl mice results in FAK deletion in adult endothelial cells (ECs) without any adverse effects. Importantly however, endothelial FAK-deletion in adult mice inhibited tumour growth and reduced tumour angiogenesis. Furthermore, in in vivo angiogenic assays FAK deletion impairs vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-induced neovascularization. In addition, in vitro deletion of FAK in ECs resulted in reduced VEGF-stimulated Akt phosphorylation and correlating reduced cellular proliferation as well as increased cell death. Our data suggest that FAK is required for adult pathological angiogenesis and validates FAK as a possible target for anti-angiogenic therapies.
angiogenesis; cancer; endothelial; FAK; tumour
Loss of β3 integrin enhances turnover of focal adhesions and cell migration speed due to increased β1 integrin–talin interactions.
Integrins are fundamental to the control of protrusion and motility in adherent cells. However, the mechanisms by which specific members of this receptor family cooperate in signaling to cytoskeletal and adhesion dynamics are poorly understood. Here, we show that the loss of β3 integrin in fibroblasts results in enhanced focal adhesion turnover and migration speed but impaired directional motility on both 2D and 3D matrices. These motility defects are coupled with an increased rate of actin-based protrusion. Analysis of downstream signaling events reveals that loss of β3 integrin results in a loss of protein kinase A–dependent phosphorylation of the actin regulatory protein vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (VASP). Dephosphorylated VASP in β3-null cells is preferentially associated with Rap1-GTP–interacting adaptor molecule (RIAM) both in vitro and in vivo, which leads to enhanced formation of a VASP–RIAM complex at focal adhesions and subsequent increased binding of talin to β1 integrin. These data demonstrate a novel mechanism by which αvβ3 integrin acts to locally suppress β1 integrin activation and regulate protrusion, adhesion dynamics, and persistent migration.
Endothelial cell migration is an essential aspect of tumor angiogenesis. Rac1 activity is needed for cell migration in vitro implying a requirement for this molecule in angiogenesis in vivo. However, a precise role for Rac1 in tumor angiogenesis has never been addressed. Here we show that depletion of endothelial Rac1 expression in adult mice, unexpectedly, has no effect on tumor growth or tumor angiogenesis. In addition, repression of Rac1 expression does not inhibit VEGF-mediated angiogenesis in vivo or ex vivo, nor does it affect chemotactic migratory responses to VEGF in 3-dimensions. In contrast, the requirement for Rac1 in tumor growth and angiogenesis becomes important when endothelial β3-integrin levels are reduced or absent: the enhanced tumor growth, tumor angiogenesis and VEGF-mediated responses in β3-null mice are all Rac1-dependent. These data indicate that in the presence of αvβ3-integrin Rac1 is not required for tumor angiogenesis.
The uncinate process is a hook-like projection of the inferior aspect of the head of the pancreas. Carcinoma of the uncinate process of the pancreas is considered to be rare, difficult to diagnose and particularly devastating. The current method of detection is computed tomography. We report a case of carcinoma of the uncinate process of the pancreas in a patient who initially presented with deep vein thrombosis. The diagnosis of carcinoma of the uncinate process of the pancreas should be considered in patients who present with primary thromboembolic disease and other nonspecific signs.
Functional genomics tools provide researchers with the ability to apply high-throughput techniques to determine the function and interaction of a diverse range of genes. Mutagenised plant populations are one such resource that facilitate gene characterisation. They allow complex physiological responses to be correlated with the expression of single genes in planta, through either reverse genetics where target genes are mutagenised to assay the affect, or through forward genetics where populations of mutant lines are screened to identify those whose phenotype diverges from wild type for a particular trait. One limitation of these types of populations is the prevalence of gene redundancy within plant genomes, which can mask the affect of individual genes. Activation or enhancer populations, which not only provide knock-out but also dominant activation mutations, can facilitate the study of such genes.
We have developed a population of almost 50,000 activation tagged A. thaliana lines that have been archived as individual lines to the T3 generation. The population is an excellent tool for both reverse and forward genetic screens and has been used successfully to identify a number of novel mutants. Insertion site sequences have been generated and mapped for 15,507 lines to enable further application of the population, while providing a clear distribution of T-DNA insertions across the genome. The population is being screened for a number of biochemical and developmental phenotypes, provisional data identifying novel alleles and genes controlling steps in proanthocyanidin biosynthesis and trichome development is presented.
This publicly available population provides an additional tool for plant researcher's to assist with determining gene function for the many as yet uncharacterised genes annotated within the Arabidopsis genome sequence http://aafc-aac.usask.ca/FST. The presence of enhancer elements on the inserted T-DNA molecule allows both knock-out and dominant activation phenotypes to be identified for traits of interest.
Constitutive expression of the inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) is characteristic of malignant ovarian surface epithelium. We investigated the hypothesis that this autocrine action of TNF-α generates and sustains a network of other mediators that promote peritoneal cancer growth and spread. When compared with two ovarian cancer cell lines that did not make TNF-α, constitutive production of TNF-α was associated with greater release of the chemokines CCL2 and CXCL12, the cytokines interleukin-6 (IL-6) and macrophage migration-inhibitory factor (MIF), and the angiogenic factor vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). TNF-α production was associated also with increased peritoneal dissemination when the ovarian cancer cells were xenografted. We next used RNA interference to generate stable knockdown of TNF-α in ovarian cancer cells. Production of CCL2, CXCL12, VEGF, IL-6, and MIF was decreased significantly in these cells compared with wild-type or mock-transfected cells, but in vitro growth rates were unaltered. Tumor growth and dissemination in vivo were significantly reduced when stable knockdown of TNF-α was achieved. Tumors derived from TNF-α knockdown cells were noninvasive and well circumscribed and showed high levels of apoptosis, even in the smallest deposits. This was reflected in reduced vascularization of TNF-α knockdown tumors. Furthermore, culture supernatants from such cells failed to stimulate endothelial cell growth in vitro. We conclude that autocrine production of TNF-α by ovarian cancer cells stimulates a constitutive network of other cytokines, angiogenic factors, and chemokines that may act in an autocrine/paracrine manner to promote colonization of the peritoneum and neovascularization of developing tumor deposits.
The nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) signaling pathway is important in cancer-related inflammation and malignant progression. Here, we describe a new role for NF-κB in cancer in maintaining the immunosuppressive phenotype of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). We show that macrophages are polarized via interleukin (IL)-1R and MyD88 to an immunosuppressive “alternative” phenotype that requires IκB kinase β–mediated NF-κB activation. When NF-κB signaling is inhibited specifically in TAMs, they become cytotoxic to tumor cells and switch to a “classically” activated phenotype; IL-12high, major histocompatibility complex IIhigh, but IL-10low and arginase-1low. Targeting NF-κB signaling in TAMs also promotes regression of advanced tumors in vivo by induction of macrophage tumoricidal activity and activation of antitumor activity through IL-12–dependent NK cell recruitment. We provide a rationale for manipulating the phenotype of the abundant macrophage population already located within the tumor microenvironment; the potential to “re-educate” the tumor-promoting macrophage population may prove an effective and novel therapeutic approach for cancer that complements existing therapies.
Dramatic increases in the throughput of nucleotide sequencing machines, and the promise of ever greater performance, have thrust bioinformatics into the era of petabyte-scale data sets. Sequence repositories, which provide the feed for these data sets into the worldwide computational infrastructure, are challenged by the impact of these data volumes. The European Nucleotide Archive (ENA; http://www.ebi.ac.uk/embl), comprising the EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database and the Ensembl Trace Archive, has identified challenges in the storage, movement, analysis, interpretation and visualization of petabyte-scale data sets. We present here our new repository for next generation sequence data, a brief summary of contents of the ENA and provide details of major developments to submission pipelines, high-throughput rule-based validation infrastructure and data integration approaches.
Abiotic stress, including low temperature, limits the productivity and geographical distribution of plants, which has led to significant interest in understanding the complex processes that allow plants to adapt to such stresses. The wide range of physiological, biochemical and molecular changes that occur in plants exposed to low temperature require a robust global approach to studying the response. We have employed Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE) to uncover changes in the transcriptome of Arabidopsis thaliana over a time course of low temperature stress.
Five SAGE libraries were generated from A. thaliana leaf tissue collected at time points ranging from 30 minutes to one week of low temperature treatment (4°C). Over 240,000 high quality SAGE tags, corresponding to 16,629 annotated genes, provided a comprehensive survey of changes in the transcriptome in response to low temperature, from perception of the stress to acquisition of freezing tolerance. Interpretation of these data was facilitated by representing the SAGE data by gene identifier, allowing more robust statistical analysis, cross-platform comparisons and the identification of genes sharing common expression profiles. Simultaneous statistical calculations across all five libraries identified 920 low temperature responsive genes, only 24% of which overlapped with previous global expression analysis performed using microarrays, although similar functional categories were affected. Clustering of the differentially regulated genes facilitated the identification of novel loci correlated with the development of freezing tolerance. Analysis of their promoter sequences revealed subsets of genes that were independent of CBF and ABA regulation and could provide a mechanism for elucidating complementary signalling pathways. The SAGE data emphasised the complexity of the plant response, with alternate pre-mRNA processing events increasing at low temperatures and antisense transcription being repressed.
Alternate transcript processing appears to play an important role in enhancing the plasticity of the stress induced transcriptome. Novel genes and cis-acting sequences have been identified as compelling targets to allow manipulation of the plant's ability to protect against low temperature stress. The analyses performed provide a contextual framework for the interpretation of quantitative sequence tag based transcriptome analysis which will prevail with the application of next generation sequencing technology.
Effective reepithelialization after injury is essential for correct wound healing. The upregulation of keratinocyte α3β1 integrin during reepithelialization suggests that this adhesion molecule is involved in wound healing; however, its precise role in this process is unknown. We have shown here that retarded reepithelialization in Itga3–/– mouse skin wounds is due predominantly to repressed TGF-β1–mediated responses. Specifically, expression of the inhibitor of TGF-β1–signaling Smad7 was elevated in Itga3–/– keratinocytes. Indeed, in vivo blockade of Smad7 increased the rate of reepithelialization in Itga3–/– and WT wounds to similar levels. Our data therefore indicate that the function of α3β1 integrin as a mediator of keratinocyte migration is not essential for reepithelialization but suggest instead that α3β1 integrin has a major new in vivo role as an inhibitor of Smad7 during wound healing. Moreover, our study may identify a previously undocumented function for Smad7 as a regulator of reepithelialization in vivo and implicates Smad7 as a potential novel target for the treatment of cutaneous wounds.
The Ensembl Trace Archive (http://trace.ensembl.org/) and the EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/embl/), known together as the European Nucleotide Archive, continue to see growth in data volume and diversity. Selected major developments of 2007 are presented briefly, along with data submission and retrieval information. In the face of increasing requirements for nucleotide trace, sequence and annotation data archiving, data capture priority decisions have been taken at the European Nucleotide Archive. Priorities are discussed in terms of how reliably information can be captured, the long-term benefits of its capture and the ease with which it can be captured.
Eight years of progress towards the creation of a national health information network has resulted in a plethora of health data exchange relationships, most commonly called regional health information organizations (RHIOs). Various network types reflect both governance decisions and practical aspects, such as the need for a variety of information sharing pathways between and among organizations. Applying systematic business planning approaches will help ensure that decisions about structure, governance, pricing and incentives lead to RHIO arrangements that meet both the RHIOs’ and the participants’ business goals. This paper describes the model formulation stage of an ongoing project that applies operations research methods to RHIO participation decisions.
Regional health information organizations (RHIOs) form the core of any
approach to creating the National Health Information Infrastructure. RHIOs
are computer-supported information sharing alliances composed of
health care institutions that exchange clinical, financial or administrative
data. Many uncertainties, including institution conversion costs, price-to-participate, and RHIO governance decisions, make estimating
the cost consequences difficult to establish. Current approaches to
health information technology investment rely on a net present value analysis, which
is inadequate to capture the dynamic, uncertain course
likely to occur in the RHIO environment. Methods from operations research
provide decision makers robust tools for exploring the cost and consequences
of RHIO structures. We present here an initial modeling approach
that allows explicit examination of RHIO structure and pricing options. Once
refined, these models will provide the core of a suite of
decision support tools for evaluation of RHIO pricing options, discount
rates, and optimal organizational structures.
The mission of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), an outstation of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, is to ensure that the growing body of information from molecular biology and genome research is placed in the public domain and is accessible freely to all parts of the scientific community in ways that promote scientific progress. To fulfil this mission, the EBI provides a wide variety of free, publicly available bioinformatics services. These can be divided into data submissions processing; access to query, analysis and retrieval systems and tools; ftp downloads of software and databases; training and education and user support. All of these services are available at the EBI website: http://www.ebi.ac.uk/services. This paper provides a detailed introduction to the interactive analysis systems that are available from the EBI and a brief introduction to other, related services.
Since 1995, the WU-BLAST programs (http://blast.wustl.edu) have provided a fast, flexible and reliable method for similarity searching of biological sequence databases. The software is in use at many locales and web sites. The European Bioinformatics Institute's WU-Blast2 (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/blast2/) server has been providing free access to these search services since 1997 and today supports many features that both enhance the usability and expand on the scope of the software.