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1.  Signatures of mutational processes in human cancer 
Alexandrov, Ludmil B. | Nik-Zainal, Serena | Wedge, David C. | Aparicio, Samuel A.J.R. | Behjati, Sam | Biankin, Andrew V. | Bignell, Graham R. | Bolli, Niccolo | Borg, Ake | Børresen-Dale, Anne-Lise | Boyault, Sandrine | Burkhardt, Birgit | Butler, Adam P. | Caldas, Carlos | Davies, Helen R. | Desmedt, Christine | Eils, Roland | Eyfjörd, Jórunn Erla | Foekens, John A. | Greaves, Mel | Hosoda, Fumie | Hutter, Barbara | Ilicic, Tomislav | Imbeaud, Sandrine | Imielinsk, Marcin | Jäger, Natalie | Jones, David T.W. | Jones, David | Knappskog, Stian | Kool, Marcel | Lakhani, Sunil R. | López-Otín, Carlos | Martin, Sancha | Munshi, Nikhil C. | Nakamura, Hiromi | Northcott, Paul A. | Pajic, Marina | Papaemmanuil, Elli | Paradiso, Angelo | Pearson, John V. | Puente, Xose S. | Raine, Keiran | Ramakrishna, Manasa | Richardson, Andrea L. | Richter, Julia | Rosenstiel, Philip | Schlesner, Matthias | Schumacher, Ton N. | Span, Paul N. | Teague, Jon W. | Totoki, Yasushi | Tutt, Andrew N.J. | Valdés-Mas, Rafael | van Buuren, Marit M. | van ’t Veer, Laura | Vincent-Salomon, Anne | Waddell, Nicola | Yates, Lucy R. | Zucman-Rossi, Jessica | Futreal, P. Andrew | McDermott, Ultan | Lichter, Peter | Meyerson, Matthew | Grimmond, Sean M. | Siebert, Reiner | Campo, Elías | Shibata, Tatsuhiro | Pfister, Stefan M. | Campbell, Peter J. | Stratton, Michael R.
Nature  2013;500(7463):415-421.
All cancers are caused by somatic mutations. However, understanding of the biological processes generating these mutations is limited. The catalogue of somatic mutations from a cancer genome bears the signatures of the mutational processes that have been operative. Here, we analysed 4,938,362 mutations from 7,042 cancers and extracted more than 20 distinct mutational signatures. Some are present in many cancer types, notably a signature attributed to the APOBEC family of cytidine deaminases, whereas others are confined to a single class. Certain signatures are associated with age of the patient at cancer diagnosis, known mutagenic exposures or defects in DNA maintenance, but many are of cryptic origin. In addition to these genome-wide mutational signatures, hypermutation localized to small genomic regions, kataegis, is found in many cancer types. The results reveal the diversity of mutational processes underlying the development of cancer with potential implications for understanding of cancer etiology, prevention and therapy.
PMCID: PMC3776390  PMID: 23945592
2.  In Vivo DPP-4 Inhibition to Enhance Engraftment of Single-Unit Cord Blood Transplants in Adults with Hematological Malignancies 
Stem Cells and Development  2012;22(7):1007-1015.
Delayed engraftment is a significant limitation of umbilical cord blood (UCB) transplantation due to low stem cell numbers. Inhibition of dipeptidyl peptidase (DPP)-4 enhanced engraftment in murine transplants. We evaluated the feasibility of systemic DPP-4 inhibition using sitagliptin to enhance engraftment of single-unit UCB grafts in adults with hematological malignancies. Twenty-four patients (21–58 years) received myeloablative conditioning, followed by sitagliptin 600 mg orally days −1 to +2, and single UCB grafts day 0. Seventeen receiving red cell-depleted (RCD) grafts, matched at 4 (n=10) or 5 (n=7) of 6 human leucocyte antigen (HLA) loci with median nucleated cell dose 3.6 (2.5–5.2)×107/kg, engrafted at median of 21 (range, 13–50) days with cumulative incidence of 94% (95% confidence interval, 84%–100%) at 50 days. Plasma DDP-4 activity was reduced to 23%±7% within 2 h. Area under DPP-4 activity-time curve (AUCA) correlated with engraftment; 9 of 11 with AUCA <6,000 activity·h engrafted within ≤21 days, while all 6 with higher AUCA engrafted later (P=0.002). Seven patients receiving red cell replete grafts had 10-fold lower colony forming units after thawing compared with RCD grafts, with poor engraftment. Systemic DPP-4 inhibition was well tolerated and may enhance engraftment. Optimizing sitagliptin dosing to achieve more sustained DPP-4 inhibition may further improve outcome.
PMCID: PMC3607909  PMID: 23270493
3.  Epigenetic regulation of colon cancer and intestinal stem cells 
Current opinion in cell biology  2013;25(2):177-183.
The importance and role of the cellular epigenome in cell fating and development has been studied for decades. The epigenome encompasses a range of attributes including DNA methylation, histone modifications, and chromatin remodelers; together these components define the cellular transcriptome, identity, and function. The cellular epigenome is dynamic in response to environmental signals, modifiable during normal cell differentiation and is heritable in daughter cells. This plasticity, however, poses a risk for misregulation and may underlie a number of hereditary disorders, development defects, and cancer. Although the first epigenetic change described in cancer was gene hypomethylation [1,2], we know that cancers display global hypomethylation, as well as, site-specific gene hypermethylation in addition to changes in chromatin modifications. Mechanisms explaining the sometimes paradoxical epigenetic changes observed in cancer, their contributions to tumor initiation and progression and how epigenetics relate to genetic events are poorly understood. In this review we will briefly discuss recent findings on the epigenomic states observed in colon cancer, in particular, how perturbations to the genome and epigenome together may contribute to initiation and progression of colon cancer.
PMCID: PMC3615052  PMID: 23402869
4.  Small-Molecule Inhibition of the uPAR·uPA Interaction: Synthesis, Biochemical, Cellular, in vivo Pharmacokinetics and Efficacy Studies in Breast Cancer Metastasis 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2013;21(7):2145-2155.
The uPAR·uPA protein-protein interaction (PPI) is involved in signaling and proteolytic events that promote tumor invasion and metastasis. A previous study had identified 4 (IPR-803) from computational screening of a commercial chemical library and shown that the compound inhibited uPAR·uPA PPI in competition biochemical assays and invasion cellular studies. Here, we synthesize 4 to evaluate in vivo pharmacokinetic (PK) and efficacy studies in a murine breast cancer metastasis model. First, we show, using fluorescence polarization and saturation transfer difference (STD) NMR, that 4 binds directly to uPAR with sub-micromolar affinity of 0.2 μM. We show that 4 blocks invasion of breast MDA-MB-231, and inhibits matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) breakdown of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Derivatives of 4 also inhibited MMP activity and blocked invasion in a concentration-dependent manner. 4 also impaired MDA-MB-231 cell adhesion and migration. Extensive in vivo PK studies in NOD-SCID mice revealed a half-life of nearly 5 hours and peak concentration of 5 μM. Similar levels of the inhibitor were detected in tumor tissue up to 10 hours. Female NSG mice inoculated with highly malignant TMD-MDA-MB-231 in their mammary fat pads showed that 4 impaired metastasis to the lungs with only four of the treated mice showing severe or marked metastasis compared to ten for the untreated mice. Compound 4 is a promising template for the development of compounds with enhanced PK parameters and greater efficacy.
PMCID: PMC3625246  PMID: 23411397
5.  RAG-mediated recombination is the predominant driver of oncogenic rearrangement in ETV6-RUNX1 acute lymphoblastic leukemia 
Nature genetics  2014;46(2):116-125.
The ETV6-RUNX1 fusion gene, found in 25% of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), is acquired in utero but requires additional somatic mutations for overt leukemia. We used exome and low-coverage whole-genome sequencing to characterize secondary events associated with leukemic transformation. RAG-mediated deletions emerge as the dominant mutational process, characterized by recombination signal sequence motifs near the breakpoints; incorporation of non-templated sequence at the junction; ~30-fold enrichment at promoters and enhancers of genes actively transcribed in B-cell development and an unexpectedly high ratio of recurrent to non-recurrent structural variants. Single cell tracking shows that this mechanism is active throughout leukemic evolution with evidence of localized clustering and re-iterated deletions. Integration of point mutation and rearrangement data identifies ATF7IP and MGA as two new tumor suppressor genes in ALL. Thus, a remarkably parsimonious mutational process transforms ETV6-RUNX1 lymphoblasts, targeting the promoters, enhancers and first exons of genes that normally regulate B-cell differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3960636  PMID: 24413735
6.  De Novo Structure Prediction of Globular Proteins Aided by Sequence Variation-Derived Contacts 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92197.
The advent of high accuracy residue-residue intra-protein contact prediction methods enabled a significant boost in the quality of de novo structure predictions. Here, we investigate the potential benefits of combining a well-established fragment-based folding algorithm – FRAGFOLD, with PSICOV, a contact prediction method which uses sparse inverse covariance estimation to identify co-varying sites in multiple sequence alignments. Using a comprehensive set of 150 diverse globular target proteins, up to 266 amino acids in length, we are able to address the effectiveness and some limitations of such approaches to globular proteins in practice. Overall we find that using fragment assembly with both statistical potentials and predicted contacts is significantly better than either statistical potentials or contacts alone. Results show up to nearly 80% of correct predictions (TM-score ≥0.5) within analysed dataset and a mean TM-score of 0.54. Unsuccessful modelling cases emerged either from conformational sampling problems, or insufficient contact prediction accuracy. Nevertheless, a strong dependency of the quality of final models on the fraction of satisfied predicted long-range contacts was observed. This not only highlights the importance of these contacts on determining the protein fold, but also (combined with other ensemble-derived qualities) provides a powerful guide as to the choice of correct models and the global quality of the selected model. A proposed quality assessment scoring function achieves 0.93 precision and 0.77 recall for the discrimination of correct folds on our dataset of decoys. These findings suggest the approach is well-suited for blind predictions on a variety of globular proteins of unknown 3D structure, provided that enough homologous sequences are available to construct a large and accurate multiple sequence alignment for the initial contact prediction step.
PMCID: PMC3956894  PMID: 24637808
7.  Structure-Based Design and Synthesis of an HIV-1 Entry Inhibitor Exploiting X-Ray and Thermodynamic Characterization 
ACS medicinal chemistry letters  2013;4(3):338-343.
The design, synthesis, thermodynamic and crystallographic characterization of a potent, broad spectrum, second-generation HIV-1 entry inhibitor that engages conserved carbonyl hydrogen bonds within gp120 has been achieved. The optimized antagonist exhibits a sub-micromolar binding affinity (110 nM) and inhibits viral entry of clade B and C viruses (IC50 geometric mean titer of 1.7 and 14.0 μM, respectively), without promoting CD4-independent viral entry. thermodynamic signatures indicate a binding preference for the (R,R)-over the (S,S)-enantiomer. The crystal structure of the small molecule-gp120 complex reveals the displacement of crystallographic water and the formation of a hydrogen bond with a backbone carbonyl of the bridging sheet. Thus, structure-based design and synthesis targeting the highly conserved and structurally characterized CD4:gp120 interface is an effective tactic to enhance the neutralization potency of small molecule HIV-1 entry inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3647702  PMID: 23667716
HIV; gp120; CD4; entry inhibitor; structure-based drug design; thermodynamics; x-ray crystallography; viral inhibition; protein-protein interactions
8.  Evaluation of Dissolved Organic Carbon as a Soil Quality Indicator in National Monitoring Schemes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90882.
Monitoring the properties of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in soil water is frequently used to evaluate changes in soil quality and to explain shifts in freshwater ecosystem functioning.
Using >700 individual soils (0–15 cm) collected from a 209,331 km2 area we evaluated the relationship between soil classification (7 major soil types) or vegetation cover (8 dominant classes, e.g. cropland, grassland, forest) and the absorbance properties (254 and 400 nm), DOC quantity and quality (SUVA, total soluble phenolics) of soil water.
Overall, a good correlation (r2 = 0.58) was apparent between soil water absorbance and DOC concentration across the diverse range of soil types tested. In contrast, both DOC and the absorbance properties of soil water provided a poor predictor of SUVA or soluble phenolics which we used as a measure of humic substance concentration. Significant overlap in the measured ranges for UV absorbance, DOC, phenolic content and especially SUVA of soil water were apparent between the 8 vegetation and 7 soil classes. A number of significant differences, however, were apparent within these populations with total soluble phenolics giving the greatest statistical separation between both soil and vegetation groups.
We conclude that the quality of DOC rather than its quantity provides a more useful measure of soil quality in large scale surveys.
PMCID: PMC3954595  PMID: 24633085
9.  Recurrent somatic alterations of FGFR1 and NTRK2 in pilocytic astrocytoma 
Jones, David T.W. | Hutter, Barbara | Jäger, Natalie | Korshunov, Andrey | Kool, Marcel | Warnatz, Hans-Jörg | Zichner, Thomas | Lambert, Sally R. | Ryzhova, Marina | Quang, Dong Anh Khuong | Fontebasso, Adam M. | Stütz, Adrian M. | Hutter, Sonja | Zuckermann, Marc | Sturm, Dominik | Gronych, Jan | Lasitschka, Bärbel | Schmidt, Sabine | Şeker-Cin, Huriye | Witt, Hendrik | Sultan, Marc | Ralser, Meryem | Northcott, Paul A. | Hovestadt, Volker | Bender, Sebastian | Pfaff, Elke | Stark, Sebastian | Faury, Damien | Schwartzentruber, Jeremy | Majewski, Jacek | Weber, Ursula D. | Zapatka, Marc | Raeder, Benjamin | Schlesner, Matthias | Worth, Catherine L. | Bartholomae, Cynthia C. | von Kalle, Christof | Imbusch, Charles D. | Radomski, Sylwester | Lawerenz, Chris | van Sluis, Peter | Koster, Jan | Volckmann, Richard | Versteeg, Rogier | Lehrach, Hans | Monoranu, Camelia | Winkler, Beate | Unterberg, Andreas | Herold-Mende, Christel | Milde, Till | Kulozik, Andreas E. | Ebinger, Martin | Schuhmann, Martin U. | Cho, Yoon-Jae | Pomeroy, Scott L. | von Deimling, Andreas | Witt, Olaf | Taylor, Michael D. | Wolf, Stephan | Karajannis, Matthias A. | Eberhart, Charles G. | Scheurlen, Wolfram | Hasselblatt, Martin | Ligon, Keith L. | Kieran, Mark W. | Korbel, Jan O. | Yaspo, Marie-Laure | Brors, Benedikt | Felsberg, Jörg | Reifenberger, Guido | Collins, V. Peter | Jabado, Nada | Eils, Roland | Lichter, Peter | Pfister, Stefan M.
Nature genetics  2013;45(8):927-932.
Pilocytic astrocytoma, the most common childhood brain tumor1, is typically associated with mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway alterations2. Surgically inaccessible midline tumors are therapeutically challenging, showing sustained tendency for progression3 and often becoming a chronic disease with substantial morbidities4.
Here we describe whole-genome sequencing of 96 pilocytic astrocytomas, with matched RNA sequencing (n=73), conducted by the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) PedBrain Tumor Project. We identified recurrent activating mutations in FGFR1 and PTPN11 and novel NTRK2 fusion genes in non-cerebellar tumors. New BRAF activating changes were also observed. MAPK pathway alterations affected 100% of tumors analyzed, with no other significant mutations, indicating pilocytic astrocytoma as predominantly a single-pathway disease.
Notably, we identified the same FGFR1 mutations in a subset of H3F3A-mutated pediatric glioblastoma with additional alterations in NF15. Our findings thus identify new potential therapeutic targets in distinct subsets of pilocytic astrocytoma and childhood glioblastoma.
PMCID: PMC3951336  PMID: 23817572
10.  Aberrant patterns of H3K4 and H3K27 histone lysine methylation occur across subgroups in medulloblastoma 
Acta neuropathologica  2012;125(3):373-384.
Recent sequencing efforts have described the mutational landscape of the pediatric brain tumor medulloblastoma. Although MLL2 is among the most frequent somatic single nucleotide variants (SNV), the clinical and biological significance of these mutations remains uncharacterized. Through targeted re-sequencing, we identified mutations of MLL2 in 8 % (14/175) of MBs, the majority of which were loss of function. Notably, we also report mutations affecting the MLL2-binding partner KDM6A, in 4 % (7/175) of tumors. While MLL2 mutations were independent of age, gender, histological subtype, M-stage or molecular subgroup, KDM6A mutations were most commonly identified in Group 4 MBs, and were mutually exclusive with MLL2 mutations. Immunohistochemical staining for H3K4me3 and H3K27me3, the chromatin effectors of MLL2 and KDM6A activity, respectively, demonstrated alterations of the histone code in 24 % (53/220) of MBs across all subgroups. Correlating these MLL2-and KDM6A-driven histone marks with prognosis, we identified populations of MB with improved (K4+/K27−) and dismal (K4−/K27−) outcomes, observed primarily within Group 3 and 4 MBs. Group 3 and 4 MBs demonstrate somatic copy number aberrations, and transcriptional profiles that converge on modifiers of H3K27-methylation (EZH2, KDM6A, KDM6B), leading to silencing of PRC2-target genes. As PRC2-mediated aberrant methylation of H3K27 has recently been targeted for therapy in other diseases, it represents an actionable target for a substantial percentage of medulloblastoma patients with aggressive forms of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3580007  PMID: 23184418
MLL2; KDM6A; Histone lysine methylation; Medulloblastoma; PRC2
11.  BRMS1 suppresses lung cancer metastases through an E3 ligase function on histone acetyltransferase p300 
Cancer research  2012;73(4):1308-1317.
The mechanisms through which the metastasis suppressor gene BRMS1 functions are poorly understood. Herein, we report the identification of a previously undescribed E3 ligase function of BRMS1 on the histone acetyltransferase p300. BRMS1 induces polyubiquitination of p300 resulting in its proteasome-mediated degradation. We identify BRMS1 as the first eukaryote structural mimic of the bacterial IpaH E3 ligase family, and establish that the evolutionarily conserved CXD motif located in in BRMS1 is responsible for its E3 ligase function. Mutation of this E3 ligase motif not only abolishes BRMS1-induced p300 polyubiquitination and degradation, but importantly, dramatically reduces the metastasis suppressor function of BRMS1 in both in vitro and in vivo models of lung cancer metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3578176  PMID: 23269275
BRMS1; metastasis suppressor; p300; E3 ligase; polyubiquitination
12.  Determination of protein concentration for protein-protein conjugates using ultraviolet absorption 
Journal of immunological methods  2012;387(1-2):317-321.
The present study reports a method to determine the total protein concentration or concentration of a protein of interest in a protein-protein conjugate using ultraviolet absorption, after determining the molar ratio of proteins in the conjugates, from which an extinction coefficient can be calculated. A Microsoft Excel solver-based template using amino acid analysis data was developed for determining the molar ratio. The percent mass of each protein in the conjugate is calculated from the amino acid composition data using the least squares method in the Microsoft Excel solver function, and the percent mass is converted to molar portion of each protein using corresponding molecular weight. A molar ratio is obtained by dividing the molar portion of protein 1 by the molar portion of protein 2. A weighted extinction coefficient is calculated using the molar ratio, and the total protein concentration is determined using ultraviolet absorption at 280 nm. The accuracy of the method was verified using mixtures of known proteins. The present study provides a rapid, simple and accurate method for determining protein concentration in protein-protein conjugates.
PMCID: PMC3529773  PMID: 23098838
Concentration of protein-protein conjugate; molar ratio; Microsoft Excel solver; Amino acid analysis; least square analysis
13.  Crystal Structures of HIV-1 gp120 Envelope Glycoprotein in Complex with NBD Analogues That Target the CD4-Binding Site 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85940.
Efforts to develop therapeutic agents that inhibit HIV-1 entry have led to the identification of several small molecule leads. One of the most promising is the NBD series, which binds within a conserved gp120 cavity and possesses para-halogen substituted aromatic rings, a central oxalamide linker, and a tetramethylpiperidine moiety. In this study, we characterized structurally the interactions of four NBD analogues containing meta-fluoro substitution on the aromatic ring and various heterocyclic ring replacements of the tetramethylpiperidine group. The addition of a meta-fluorine to the aromatic ring improved surface complementarity and did not alter the position of the analogue relative to gp120. By contrast, heterocyclic ring replacements of the tetramethylpiperidine moiety exhibited diverse positioning and interactions with the vestibule of the gp120 cavity. Overall, the biological profile of NBD-congeners was modulated by ligand interactions with the gp120-cavity vestibule. Herein, six co-crystal structures of NBD-analogues with gp120 provide a structural framework for continued small molecule-entry inhibitor optimization.
PMCID: PMC3904841  PMID: 24489681
14.  Network Analysis Reveals Distinct Clinical Syndromes Underlying Acute Mountain Sickness 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e81229.
Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a common problem among visitors at high altitude, and may progress to life-threatening pulmonary and cerebral oedema in a minority of cases. International consensus defines AMS as a constellation of subjective, non-specific symptoms. Specifically, headache, sleep disturbance, fatigue and dizziness are given equal diagnostic weighting. Different pathophysiological mechanisms are now thought to underlie headache and sleep disturbance during acute exposure to high altitude. Hence, these symptoms may not belong together as a single syndrome. Using a novel visual analogue scale (VAS), we sought to undertake a systematic exploration of the symptomatology of AMS using an unbiased, data-driven approach originally designed for analysis of gene expression. Symptom scores were collected from 292 subjects during 1110 subject-days at altitudes between 3650 m and 5200 m on Apex expeditions to Bolivia and Kilimanjaro. Three distinct patterns of symptoms were consistently identified. Although fatigue is a ubiquitous finding, sleep disturbance and headache are each commonly reported without the other. The commonest pattern of symptoms was sleep disturbance and fatigue, with little or no headache. In subjects reporting severe headache, 40% did not report sleep disturbance. Sleep disturbance correlates poorly with other symptoms of AMS (Mean Spearman correlation 0.25). These results challenge the accepted paradigm that AMS is a single disease process and describe at least two distinct syndromes following acute ascent to high altitude. This approach to analysing symptom patterns has potential utility in other clinical syndromes.
PMCID: PMC3898916  PMID: 24465370
15.  Medulloblastomics: The End of the Beginning 
Nature reviews. Cancer  2012;12(12):818-834.
Subgrouping of medulloblastoma by microarray expression profiling has dramatically changed our perspective of this malignant childhood brain tumour. Now, the availability of next-generation sequencing and complementary high-density genomic technologies has unmasked novel driver mutations in each medulloblastoma subgroup. The implications of these findings for the management of patients are readily apparent, pinpointing previously unappreciated diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Here, we summarize the ’explosion’ of data emerging from the application of modern genomics to medulloblastoma, and in particular the recurrent targets of mutation in medulloblastoma subgroups. These data are making their way into contemporary clinical trials as we seek to integrate conventional and molecularly targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC3889646  PMID: 23175120
16.  Automatic Extraction of Nanoparticle Properties Using Natural Language Processing: NanoSifter an Application to Acquire PAMAM Dendrimer Properties 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e83932.
In this study, we demonstrate the use of natural language processing methods to extract, from nanomedicine literature, numeric values of biomedical property terms of poly(amidoamine) dendrimers. We have developed a method for extracting these values for properties taken from the NanoParticle Ontology, using the General Architecture for Text Engineering and a Nearly-New Information Extraction System. We also created a method for associating the identified numeric values with their corresponding dendrimer properties, called NanoSifter.
We demonstrate that our system can correctly extract numeric values of dendrimer properties reported in the cancer treatment literature with high recall, precision, and f-measure. The micro-averaged recall was 0.99, precision was 0.84, and f-measure was 0.91. Similarly, the macro-averaged recall was 0.99, precision was 0.87, and f-measure was 0.92. To our knowledge, these results are the first application of text mining to extract and associate dendrimer property terms and their corresponding numeric values.
PMCID: PMC3879259  PMID: 24392101
17.  The genome sequence and effector complement of the flax rust pathogen Melampsora lini 
Rust fungi cause serious yield reductions on crops, including wheat, barley, soybean, coffee, and represent real threats to global food security. Of these fungi, the flax rust pathogen Melampsora lini has been developed most extensively over the past 80 years as a model to understand the molecular mechanisms that underpin pathogenesis. During infection, M. lini secretes virulence effectors to promote disease. The number of these effectors, their function and their degree of conservation across rust fungal species is unknown. To assess this, we sequenced and assembled de novo the genome of M. lini isolate CH5 into 21,130 scaffolds spanning 189 Mbp (scaffold N50 of 31 kbp). Global analysis of the DNA sequence revealed that repetitive elements, primarily retrotransposons, make up at least 45% of the genome. Using ab initio predictions, transcriptome data and homology searches, we identified 16,271 putative protein-coding genes. An analysis pipeline was then implemented to predict the effector complement of M. lini and compare it to that of the poplar rust, wheat stem rust and wheat stripe rust pathogens to identify conserved and species-specific effector candidates. Previous knowledge of four cloned M. lini avirulence effector proteins and two basidiomycete effectors was used to optimize parameters of the effector prediction pipeline. Markov clustering based on sequence similarity was performed to group effector candidates from all four rust pathogens. Clusters containing at least one member from M. lini were further analyzed and prioritized based on features including expression in isolated haustoria and infected leaf tissue and conservation across rust species. Herein, we describe 200 of 940 clusters that ranked highest on our priority list, representing 725 flax rust candidate effectors. Our findings on this important model rust species provide insight into how effectors of rust fungi are conserved across species and how they may act to promote infection on their hosts.
PMCID: PMC3970004  PMID: 24715894
rust; flax; Melampsora; effector; virulence; avirulence
18.  Testing microstructural adaptation in the earliest dental tools 
Biology Letters  2012;8(6):952-955.
Conodont elements are the earliest vertebrate dental structures. The dental tools on elements responsible for food fracture—cusps and denticles—are usually composed of lamellar crown tissue (a putative enamel homologue) and the enigmatic tissue known as ‘white matter’. White matter is unique to conodonts and has been hypothesized to be a functional adaptation for the use of elements as teeth. We test this quantitatively using finite-element analysis. Our results indicate that white matter allowed cusps and denticles to withstand greater tensile stresses than do cusps comprised solely of lamellar crown tissue. Microstructural variation is demonstrably associated with dietary and loading differences in teeth, so secondary loss of white matter through conodont phylogeny may reflect changes in diet and element occlusal kinematics. The presence, development and distribution of white matter could thus provide constraints on function in the first vertebrate dental structures.
PMCID: PMC3497108  PMID: 22764115
finite-element analysis; conodont; white matter; teeth
19.  Hemodialysis does not alter in vitro hepatic CYP3A4 and CYP2D6 metabolic activity in uremic serum 
There is a paucity of studies evaluating the change in liver metabolism in subjects receiving hemodialysis. The purpose of this study was to compare the effect of uremic toxins on hepatic cytochrome P450 (CYP)3A4 and CYP2D6 metabolism before and after a 4-hour hemodialysis session. Midazolam and dextromethorphan were incubated with uremic serum collected from subjects before and after the 4-hour hemodialysis session. Analysis and quantification of the 1′-OH-midazolam and 4-OH-midazolam and dextrorphan metabolites were performed by high-pressure liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. Statistical analysis using the Student’s t-test (paired) was used to compare the amount of metabolite formed. The mean amount of 1′-OH-midazolam, 4-OH-midazolam, and dextrorphan metabolites formed before and after hemodialysis did not significantly differ. There was no significant difference in CYP3A4 and CYP2D6 metabolic activity in uremic serum before and after hemodialysis.
PMCID: PMC3862653  PMID: 24353447
hemodialysis; uremia; CYP3A4; CYP2D6; metabolism
20.  Diverting T helper cell trafficking through increased plasticity attenuates autoimmune encephalomyelitis 
Naive T helper cells differentiate into functionally distinct effector subsets that drive specialized immune responses. Recent studies indicate that some of the effector subsets have plasticity. Here, we used an EAE model and found that Th17 cells deficient in the transcription factor BCL11B upregulated the Th2-associated proteins GATA3 and IL-4 without decreasing RAR-related orphan receptor γ (RORγt), IL-17, and GM-CSF levels. Surprisingly, abnormal IL-4 production affected Th17 cell trafficking, diverting migration from the draining lymph nodes/CNS route to the mesenteric lymph nodes/gut route, which ameliorated EAE without overt colitis. T helper cell rerouting in EAE was dependent on IL-4, which enhanced retinoic acid (RA) production by dendritic cells, which further induced expression of gut-homing receptors CCR9 and α4β7 on Bcl11b-deficient CD4+ T cells. Furthermore, IL-4 treatment or Th2 immunization of wild-type mice with EAE caused no alteration in Th17 cytokines or RORγt, but diverted T helper cell trafficking to the gut, which improved EAE outcome without overt colitis. Our data demonstrate that Th17 cells are permissive to Th2 gene expression without affecting Th17 gene expression. This Th17 plasticity has an impact on trafficking, which is a critical component of the immune response and may represent a possible avenue for treating multiple sclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3871236  PMID: 24316973
21.  Comparison of different metrics for analysis and visualization in spectroscopic optical coherence tomography 
Biomedical Optics Express  2013;4(12):2945-2961.
Spectroscopic Optical Coherence Tomography (S-OCT) extracts depth resolved spectra that are inherently available from OCT signals. The back scattered spectra contain useful functional information regarding the sample, since the light is altered by wavelength dependent absorption and scattering caused by chromophores and structures of the sample. Two aspects dominate the performance of S-OCT: (1) the spectral analysis processing method used to obtain the spatially-resolved spectroscopic information and (2) the metrics used to visualize and interpret relevant sample features. In this work, we focus on the second aspect, where we will compare established and novel metrics for S-OCT. These concepts include the adaptation of methods known from multispectral imaging and modern signal processing approaches such as pattern recognition. To compare the performance of the metrics in a quantitative manner, we use phantoms with microsphere scatterers of different sizes that are below the system’s resolution and therefore cannot be differentiated using intensity based OCT images. We show that the analysis of the spectral features can clearly separate areas with different scattering properties in multi-layer phantoms. Finally, we demonstrate the performance of our approach for contrast enhancement in bovine articular cartilage.
PMCID: PMC3862158  PMID: 24409393
(170.4500) Optical coherence tomography; (300.0300) Spectroscopy; (290.5850) Scattering, particles; (180.0180) Microscopy; (170.3880) Medical and biological imaging
22.  Medulloblastoma Down Under 2013: a report from the third annual meeting of the International Medulloblastoma Working Group 
Acta Neuropathologica  2013;127:189-201.
Medulloblastoma is curable in approximately 70 % of patients. Over the past decade, progress in improving survival using conventional therapies has stalled, resulting in reduced quality of life due to treatment-related side effects, which are a major concern in survivors. The vast amount of genomic and molecular data generated over the last 5–10 years encourages optimism that improved risk stratification and new molecular targets will improve outcomes. It is now clear that medulloblastoma is not a single-disease entity, but instead consists of at least four distinct molecular subgroups: WNT/Wingless, Sonic Hedgehog, Group 3, and Group 4. The Medulloblastoma Down Under 2013 meeting, which convened at Bunker Bay, Australia, brought together 50 leading clinicians and scientists. The 2-day agenda included focused sessions on pathology and molecular stratification, genomics and mouse models, high-throughput drug screening, and clinical trial design. The meeting established a global action plan to translate novel biologic insights and drug targeting into treatment regimens to improve outcomes. A consensus was reached in several key areas, with the most important being that a novel classification scheme for medulloblastoma based on the four molecular subgroups, as well as histopathologic features, should be presented for consideration in the upcoming fifth edition of the World Health Organization’s classification of tumours of the central nervous system. Three other notable areas of agreement were as follows: (1) to establish a central repository of annotated mouse models that are readily accessible and freely available to the international research community; (2) to institute common eligibility criteria between the Children’s Oncology Group and the International Society of Paediatric Oncology Europe and initiate joint or parallel clinical trials; (3) to share preliminary high-throughput screening data across discovery labs to hasten the development of novel therapeutics. Medulloblastoma Down Under 2013 was an effective forum for meaningful discussion, which resulted in enhancing international collaborative clinical and translational research of this rare disease. This template could be applied to other fields to devise global action plans addressing all aspects of a disease, from improved disease classification, treatment stratification, and drug targeting to superior treatment regimens to be assessed in cooperative international clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3895219  PMID: 24264598
23.  Amyloid-first and neurodegeneration-first profiles characterize incident amyloid PET positivity 
Neurology  2013;81(20):1732-1740.
To estimate the incidence of and to characterize cognitive and imaging findings associated with incident amyloid PET positivity.
Cognitively normal (CN) participants in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging who had 2 or more serial imaging assessments, which included amyloid PET, FDG-PET, and MRI at each time point, were eligible for analysis (n = 207). Twelve subjects with Alzheimer disease dementia were included for comparison.
Of the 123 CN participants who were amyloid-negative at baseline, 26 met criteria for incident amyloid PET positivity. Compared to the 69 subjects who remained stable amyloid-negative, on average these 26 did not differ on any imaging, demographic, or cognitive variables except amyloid PET (by definition) and task-free functional connectivity, which at baseline was greater in the incident amyloid-positive group. Eleven of the 26 incident amyloid-positive subjects had abnormal hippocampal volume, FDG-PET, or both at baseline.
The incidence of amyloid PET positivity is approximately 13% per year among CN participants over age 70 sampled from a population-based cohort. In 15/26 (58%), incident amyloid positivity occurred prior to abnormalities in FDG-PET and hippocampal volume. However, 11/26 (42%) incident amyloid-positive subjects had evidence of neurodegeneration prior to incident amyloid positivity. These 11 could be subjects with combinations of preexisting non-Alzheimer pathophysiologies and tau-mediated neurodegeneration who newly entered the amyloid pathway. Our findings suggest that both “amyloid-first” and “neurodegeneration-first” biomarker profile pathways to preclinical AD exist.
PMCID: PMC3821718  PMID: 24132377
24.  Phase I Trial of Induction Histone Deacetylase and Proteasome Inhibition Followed by Surgery in Non-small Cell Lung Cancer 
Despite complete surgical resection survival in early stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) remains poor. Based on prior pre-clinical evaluations, we hypothesized that combined induction proteasome and histone deacetylase inhibitor therapy, followed by tumor resection, is feasible.
A phase I clinical trial using a two-staged multiple agent design of bortezomib and vorinostat as induction therapy followed by consolidative surgery in patients with NSCLC was performed. Standard toxicity and MTD were examined. Pre- and post-treatment tumor gene expression arrays were performed and analyzed. Pre- and post-treatment FDG-PET imaging was used to assess tumor metabolism. Finally, serum 20S proteasome levels were analyzed with ELISA, and selected intratumoral proteins were assessed via immunohistochemistry.
Thirty-four patients were consented with 21 patients enrolling in the trial. One patient withdrew early secondary to disease progression. The MTD was bortezomib 1.3 mg/m2 and vorinostat 300 mg BID given. There were (2) grade III dose-limiting toxicities of fatigue and hypophosphatemia that were self-limited. There was no mortality. Thirty percent (6/20) of patients had greater than 60% histologic necrosis of their tumor following treatment, with two having ≥90% tumor necrosis. Tumor metabolism, 20S proteasome activity, and specific protein expression did not demonstrate consistent results. Gene expression arrays comparing pre- and post-therapy NSCLC specimens revealed robust intratumoral changes in specific genes.
Induction bortezomib and vorinostat therapy followed by surgery in patients with operable NSCLC is feasible. Correlative gene expression studies suggest new targets and cell signaling pathways that may be important in modulating this combined therapy.
PMCID: PMC3473142  PMID: 23059775
Histone deacetylase; proteasome inhibitor; lung cancer
25.  A Highly Selective and Potent PTP-MEG2 Inhibitor with Therapeutic Potential for Type 2 Diabetes 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2012;134(43):18116-18124.
Protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs) constitute a large family of signaling enzymes that control the cellular levels of protein tyrosine phosphorylation. A detailed understanding of PTP functions in normal physiology and in pathogenic conditions has been hampered by the absence of PTP-specific, cell-permeable small molecule agents. We present a stepwise focused library approach that transforms a weak and general nonhydrolyzable pTyr mimetic (F2Pmp, phosphonodifluoromethyl phenylalanine) into a highly potent and selective inhibitor of PTP-MEG2, an antagonist of hepatic insulin signaling. The crystal structures of the PTP-MEG2-inhibitor complexes provide direct evidence that potent and selective PTP inhibitors can be obtained by introducing molecular diversity into the F2Pmp scaffold to engage both the active site and unique nearby peripheral binding pockets. Importantly, the PTP-MEG2 inhibitor possesses highly efficacious cellular activity and is capable of augmenting insulin signaling and improving insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis in diet-induced obese mice. The results indicate that F2Pmp can be converted into highly potent and selective PTP inhibitory agents with excellent in vivo efficacy. Given the general nature of the approach, this strategy should be applicable to other members of the PTP superfamily.
PMCID: PMC3505080  PMID: 23075115

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