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1.  Early Canine Plaque Biofilms: Characterization of Key Bacterial Interactions Involved in Initial Colonization of Enamel 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e113744.
Periodontal disease (PD) is a significant problem in dogs affecting between 44% and 63.6% of the population. The main etiological agent for PD is plaque, a microbial biofilm that colonizes teeth and causes inflammation of the gingiva. Understanding how this biofilm initiates on the tooth surface is of central importance in developing interventions against PD. Although the stages of plaque development on human teeth have been well characterized little is known about how canine plaque develops. Recent studies of the canine oral microbiome have revealed distinct differences between the canine and human oral environments and the bacterial communities they support, particularly with respect to healthy plaque. These differences mean knowledge about the nature of plaque formation in humans may not be directly translatable to dogs. The aim of this study was to identify the bacterial species important in the early stages of canine plaque formation in vivo and then use isolates of these species in a laboratory biofilm model to develop an understanding of the sequential processes which take place during the initial colonization of enamel. Supra-gingival plaque samples were collected from 12 dogs at 24 and 48 hour time points following a full mouth descale and polish. Pyrosequencing of the 16S rDNA identified 134 operational taxonomic units after statistical analysis. The species with the highest relative abundance were Bergeyella zoohelcum, Neisseria shayeganii and a Moraxella species. Streptococcal species, which tend to dominate early human plaque biofilms, had very low relative abundance. In vitro testing of biofilm formation identified five primary colonizer species, three of which belonged to the genus Neisseria. Using these pioneer bacteria as a starting point, viable two and three species communities were developed. Combining in vivo and in vitro data has led us to construct novel models of how the early canine plaque biofilm develops.
PMCID: PMC4252054  PMID: 25463050
2.  A longitudinal assessment of periodontal disease in 52 miniature schnauzers 
BMC Veterinary Research  2014;10:166.
Periodontal disease (PD) is the most widespread oral disease in dogs and has been associated with serious systemic diseases. The disease is more prevalent in small breeds compared to large breeds and incidence increases with advancing age. In prevalence studies 84% of beagles over the age of 3 and 100% of poodles over the age of 4 were diagnosed with PD. Current knowledge of the rate of progression of PD is limited. The objective of this study was to determine the rate of PD progression in miniature schnauzers, an at risk small breed of dog.
Dogs (n = 52, age 1.3-6.9 years) who had received a regular oral care regime prior to this study were assessed for levels of gingivitis and periodontitis around the whole gingival margin in every tooth under general anaesthetic. Assessments were conducted approximately every six weeks for up to 60 weeks following the cessation of the oral care regime.
All of the 2155 teeth assessed entered the study with some level of gingivitis. 23 teeth entered the study with periodontitis, observed across 12 dogs aged between 1.3 and 6.9 years. 35 dogs had at least 12 teeth progress to periodontitis within 60 weeks. Of the teeth that progressed to periodontitis, 54% were incisors. The lingual aspect of the incisors was significantly more likely to be affected (p < 0.001). The severity of gingivitis in periodontitis-affected teeth was variable with 24% of the aspects affected having very mild gingivitis, 36% mild gingivitis and 40% moderate gingivitis. Periodontitis progression rate was significantly faster in older dogs. Only one dog (age 3.5) did not have any teeth progress to periodontitis after 60 weeks.
This is the first study to have assessed the progression rate of periodontitis in miniature schnauzers and highlights that with no oral care regime, the early stages of periodontitis develop rapidly in this breed. An oral care regime and twice yearly veterinary dental health checks should be provided from an early age for this breed and other breeds with similar periodontitis incidence rates.
PMCID: PMC4236762  PMID: 25179569
Dog; Gingivitis; Periodontitis; Periodontal disease; Miniature schnauzer
3.  The Unculturables: targeted isolation of bacterial species associated with canine periodontal health or disease from dental plaque 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:196.
The current inability to culture the entirety of observed bacteria is well known and with the advent of ever more powerful molecular tools, that can survey bacterial communities at previously unattainable depth, the gap in our capacity to culture and define all of these species increases exponentially. This gap has essentially become the rate limiting step in determining how the knowledge of which species are present in a sample can be applied to understand the role of these species in an ecosystem or disease process. A case in point is periodontal disease, which is the most widespread oral disease in dogs. If untreated the disease results in significant pain, eventual loss of the dentition and potentially an increased risk of systemic diseases. Previous molecular based studies have identified the bacterial species associated with periodontal disease in dogs; however without cultured strains from many of these species it has not been possible to study whether they play a role in the disease process.
Using a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) directed approach a range of microbiological media were screened and optimized to enrich for previously uncultivated target species. A systematic screening methodology was then employed to isolate the species of interest. In cases where the target species were not cultivable in isolation, helper strains grown underneath a nitrocellulose membrane were used to provide the necessary growth factors. This guided media optimization approach enabled the purification of 14 species, 8 of which we had previously been unable to cultivate in isolation. It is also applicable to the targeted isolation of isolates from species that have previously been cultured (for example to study intra-species variation) as demonstrated by the successful isolation of 6 targeted isolates of already cultured species.
To our knowledge this is the first time this combination of qPCR guided media optimization, strategic screening and helper strain support has been used successfully to isolate previously uncultured bacteria. This approach can be applied to any uncultured bacterial species where knowledge of their nutritional requirements or low relative abundance impedes their isolation.
PMCID: PMC4236526  PMID: 25085267
Periodontal disease; Periodontitis; Uncultivable; Quantitative PCR; QPCR; Bacterial isolation; Helper strain; Unculturable
4.  Habitat Selection by African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) in Response to Landscape-Level Fluctuations in Water Availability on Two Temporal Scales 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101346.
Seasonal fluctuations in water availability cause predictable changes in the profitability of habitats in tropical ecosystems, and animals evolve adaptive behavioural and spatial responses to these fluctuations. However, stochastic changes in the distribution and abundance of surface water between years can alter resource availability at a landscape scale, causing shifts in animal behaviour. In the Okavango Delta, Botswana, a flood-pulsed ecosystem, the volume of water entering the system doubled between 2008 and 2009, creating a sudden change in the landscape. We used African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) to test the hypotheses that seasonal habitat selection would be related to water availability, that increased floodwater levels would decrease forage abundance and affect habitat selection, and that this would decrease buffalo resting time, reduce reproductive success and decrease body condition. Buffalo selected contrasting seasonal habitats, using habitats far from permanent water during the rainy season and seasonally-flooded habitats close to permanent water during the early and late flood seasons. The 2009 water increase reduced forage availability in seasonally-flooded habitats, removing a resource buffer used by the buffalo during the late flood season, when resources were most limited. In response, buffalo used drier habitats in 2009, although there was no significant change in the time spent moving or resting, or daily distance moved. While their reproductive success decreased in 2009, body condition increased. A protracted period of high water levels could prove detrimental to herbivores, especially to smaller-bodied species that require high quality forage. Stochastic annual fluctuations in water levels, predicted to increase as a result of anthropogenically-induced climate change, are likely to have substantial impacts on the functioning of water-driven tropical ecosystems, affecting environmental conditions within protected areas. Buffer zones around critical seasonal resources are essential to allow animals to engage in compensatory behavioural and spatial mechanisms in response to changing environmental conditions.
PMCID: PMC4077810  PMID: 24983377
5.  High Risks of Losing Genetic Diversity in an Endemic Mauritian Gecko: Implications for Conservation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e93387.
Genetic structure can be a consequence of recent population fragmentation and isolation, or a remnant of historical localised adaptation. This poses a challenge for conservationists since misinterpreting patterns of genetic structure may lead to inappropriate management. Of 17 species of reptile originally found in Mauritius, only five survive on the main island. One of these, Phelsuma guimbeaui (lowland forest day gecko), is now restricted to 30 small isolated subpopulations following severe forest fragmentation and isolation due to human colonisation. We used 20 microsatellites in ten subpopulations and two mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) markers in 13 subpopulations to: (i) assess genetic diversity, population structure and genetic differentiation of subpopulations; (ii) estimate effective population sizes and migration rates of subpopulations; and (iii) examine the phylogenetic relationships of haplotypes found in different subpopulations. Microsatellite data revealed significant population structure with high levels of genetic diversity and isolation by distance, substantial genetic differentiation and no migration between most subpopulations. MtDNA, however, showed no evidence of population structure, indicating that there was once a genetically panmictic population. Effective population sizes of ten subpopulations, based on microsatellite markers, were small, ranging from 44 to 167. Simulations suggested that the chance of survival and allelic diversity of some subpopulations will decrease dramatically over the next 50 years if no migration occurs. Our DNA-based evidence reveals an urgent need for a management plan for the conservation of P. guimbeaui. We identified 18 threatened and 12 viable subpopulations and discuss a range of management options that include translocation of threatened subpopulations to retain maximum allelic diversity, and habitat restoration and assisted migration to decrease genetic erosion and inbreeding for the viable subpopulations.
PMCID: PMC4070904  PMID: 24963708
6.  In vitro and in vivo approaches to study osteocyte biology 
Bone  2012;54(2):296-306.
Osteocytes, the most abundant cell population of the bone lineage, have been a major focus in the bone research field in recent years. This population of cells that resides within mineralized matrix is now thought to be the mechanosensory cell in bone and plays major roles in regulation of bone formation and resorption. Studies of osteocytes had been impaired by their location, resulting in numerous attempts to isolate primary osteocytes and to generate cell lines representative of the osteocytic phenotype. Progress has been achieved in recent years by utilizing in vivo genetic technology and generation of osteocyte directed transgenic and gene deficiency mouse models.
We will provide an overview of the current in vitro and in vivo models utilized to study osteocyte biology. We discuss generation of osteocyte-like cell lines and isolation of primary osteocytes and summarize studies that have utilized these cellular models to understand the functional role of osteocytes. Approaches that attempt to selectively identify and isolate osteocytes using fluorescent protein reporters driven by regulatory elements of genes that are highly expressed in osteocytes will be discussed.
In addition, recent in vivo studies utilizing overexpression or conditional deletion of various genes using dentin matrix protein (Dmp1) directed Cre recombinase are outlined. In conclusion, evaluation of the benefits and deficiencies of currently used cell lines/genetic models in understanding osteocyte biology underlines the current progress in this field. The future efforts will be directed towards developing novel in vitro and in vivo models that would additionally facilitate understanding the multiple roles of osteocytes.
PMCID: PMC3566324  PMID: 23072918
osteocyte; cell lines; transgenic mice; Dmp1; Sost; Cre-recombinase; GFP
7.  Ecological Effects of the Invasive Giant Madagascar Day Gecko on Endemic Mauritian Geckos: Applications of Binomial-Mixture and Species Distribution Models 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e88798.
The invasion of the giant Madagascar day gecko Phelsuma grandis has increased the threats to the four endemic Mauritian day geckos (Phelsuma spp.) that have survived on mainland Mauritius. We had two main aims: (i) to predict the spatial distribution and overlap of P. grandis and the endemic geckos at a landscape level; and (ii) to investigate the effects of P. grandis on the abundance and risks of extinction of the endemic geckos at a local scale. An ensemble forecasting approach was used to predict the spatial distribution and overlap of P. grandis and the endemic geckos. We used hierarchical binomial mixture models and repeated visual estimate surveys to calculate the abundance of the endemic geckos in sites with and without P. grandis. The predicted range of each species varied from 85 km2 to 376 km2. Sixty percent of the predicted range of P. grandis overlapped with the combined predicted ranges of the four endemic geckos; 15% of the combined predicted ranges of the four endemic geckos overlapped with P. grandis. Levin's niche breadth varied from 0.140 to 0.652 between P. grandis and the four endemic geckos. The abundance of endemic geckos was 89% lower in sites with P. grandis compared to sites without P. grandis, and the endemic geckos had been extirpated at four of ten sites we surveyed with P. grandis. Species Distribution Modelling, together with the breadth metrics, predicted that P. grandis can partly share the equivalent niche with endemic species and survive in a range of environmental conditions. We provide strong evidence that smaller endemic geckos are unlikely to survive in sympatry with P. grandis. This is a cause of concern in both Mauritius and other countries with endemic species of Phelsuma.
PMCID: PMC4005729  PMID: 24785293
8.  Abuse Potential of Intravenous Oxycodone/Naloxone Solution in Nondependent Recreational Drug Users 
Clinical Drug Investigation  2014;34(6):421-429.
Background and Objective
Abuse of opioid analgesics has become a public health issue. Some opioid abusers use intravenous administration to increase the magnitude of positive reinforcing effects. Intravenous co-administration of oxycodone with naloxone, an opioid antagonist, may reduce these rewarding effects and discourage abuse. A 2:1 oxycodone:naloxone (OXN) tablet formulation has been studied in the USA for the management of moderate-to-severe chronic pain. Intravenous administration of a 2:1 oxycodone:naloxone solution (sOXN) reflects the oxycodone:naloxone ratio found in laboratory studies of OXN following tampering for intravenous administration. The objective of this study was to characterize abuse-deterrent properties of sOXN.
This single-center, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, active-controlled, crossover study enrolled nondependent recreational opioid users with experience using multiple (two or more) routes of administration. Following demonstration that subjects could discern between placebo and oxycodone, 24 eligible male and female subjects were randomized to receive intravenous injections of 0.07 mg/kg oxycodone (OXY), 0.07 mg/kg oxycodone and 0.035 mg/kg naloxone solution (sOXN), or matching placebo over three visits. Pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, safety, and tolerability were assessed at scheduled times up to 8 h post-dose. Parameters were computed and statistically compared among treatments.
Pharmacokinetics were similar between OXY and sOXN. Subjects reported significantly fewer rewarding effects with sOXN compared with OXY; differences between sOXN and placebo were generally not significant. sOXN was well tolerated.
Significant reductions in drug liking and other subjective effects following administration of sOXN compared with OXY indicate that naloxone concentrations were sufficient to antagonize the effects of oxycodone when abused by the intravenous route of administration in opioid-experienced drug users.
PMCID: PMC4026623  PMID: 24756361
9.  Breeding systems, hybridization and continuing evolution in Avon Gorge Sorbus 
Annals of Botany  2013;111(4):563-575.
Background and Aims
Interspecific hybridization and polyploidy are key processes in plant evolution and are responsible for ongoing genetic diversification in the genus Sorbus (Rosaceae). The Avon Gorge, Bristol, UK, is a world ‘hotspot’ for Sorbus diversity and home to diploid sexual species and polyploid apomictic species. This research investigated how mating system variation, hybridization and polyploidy interact to generate this biological diversity.
Mating systems of diploid, triploid and tetraploid Sorbus taxa were analysed using pollen tube growth and seed set assays from controlled pollinations, and parent–offspring genotyping of progeny from open and manual pollinations.
Key Results
Diploid Sorbus are outcrossing and self-incompatible (SI). Triploid taxa are pseudogamous apomicts and genetically invariable, but because they also display self-incompatibility, apomictic seed set requires pollen from other Sorbus taxa – a phenomenon which offers direct opportunities for hybridization. In contrast tetraploid taxa are pseudogamous but self-compatible, so do not have the same obligate requirement for intertaxon pollination.
The mating inter-relationships among Avon Gorge Sorbus taxa are complex and are the driving force for hybridization and ongoing genetic diversification. In particular, the presence of self-incompatibility in triploid pseudogamous apomicts imposes a requirement for interspecific cross-pollination, thereby facilitating continuing diversification and evolution through rare sexual hybridization events. This is the first report of naturally occurring pseudogamous apomictic SI plant populations, and we suggest that interspecific pollination, in combination with a relaxed endosperm balance requirement, is the most likely route to the persistence of these populations. We propose that Avon Gorge Sorbus represents a model system for studying the establishment and persistence of SI apomicts in natural populations.
PMCID: PMC3605949  PMID: 23408832
Hybridization; evolution; polyploidy; apomixis; pseudogamy; self-incompatibility; Sorbus
10.  Genome Wide Analysis Indicates Genes for Basement Membrane and Cartilage Matrix Proteins as Candidates for Hip Dysplasia in Labrador Retrievers 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87735.
Hip dysplasia, an abnormal laxity of the hip joint, is seen in humans as well as dogs and is one of the most common skeletal disorders in dogs. Canine hip dysplasia is considered multifactorial and polygenic, and a variety of chromosomal regions have been associated with the disorder. We performed a genome-wide association study in Dutch Labrador Retrievers, comparing data of nearly 18,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 48 cases and 30 controls using two different statistical methods. An individual SNP analysis based on comparison of allele frequencies with a χ2 statistic was used, as well as a simultaneous SNP analysis based on Bayesian variable selection. Significant association with canine hip dysplasia was observed on chromosome 8, as well as suggestive association on chromosomes 1, 5, 15, 20, 25 and 32. Next-generation DNA sequencing of the exons of genes of seven regions identified multiple associated alleles on chromosome 1, 5, 8, 20, 25 and 32 (p<0.001). Candidate genes located in the associated regions on chromosomes 1, 8 and 25 included LAMA2, LRR1 and COL6A3, respectively. The associated region on CFA20 contained candidate genes GDF15, COMP and CILP2. In conclusion, our study identified candidate genes that might affect susceptibility to canine hip dysplasia. These genes are involved in hypertrophic differentiation of chondrocytes and extracellular matrix integrity of basement membrane and cartilage. The functions of the genes are in agreement with the notion that disruptions in endochondral bone formation in combination with soft tissue defects are involved in the etiology of hip dysplasia.
PMCID: PMC3907504  PMID: 24498183
11.  A Cross-Sectional Survey of Bacterial Species in Plaque from Client Owned Dogs with Healthy Gingiva, Gingivitis or Mild Periodontitis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83158.
Periodontal disease is the most widespread oral disease in dogs which if left untreated results in significant pain to the pet and loss of dentition. The objective of this study was to identify bacterial species in canine plaque that are significantly associated with health, gingivitis and mild periodontitis (<25% attachment loss). In this survey subgingival plaque samples were collected from 223 dogs with healthy gingiva, gingivitis and mild periodontitis with 72 to 77 samples per health status. DNA was extracted from the plaque samples and subjected to PCR amplification of the V1-V3 region of the 16S rDNA. Pyrosequencing of the PCR amplicons identified a total of 274 operational taxonomic units after bioinformatic and statistical analysis. Porphyromonas was the most abundant genus in all disease stages, particularly in health along with Moraxella and Bergeyella. Peptostreptococcus, Actinomyces, and Peptostreptococcaceae were the most abundant genera in mild periodontitis. Logistic regression analysis identified species from each of these genera that were significantly associated with health, gingivitis or mild periodontitis. Principal component analysis showed distinct community profiles in health and disease. The species identified show some similarities with health and periodontal disease in humans but also major differences. In contrast to human, healthy canine plaque was found to be dominated by Gram negative bacterial species whereas Gram positive anaerobic species predominate in disease. The scale of this study surpasses previously published research and enhances our understanding of the bacterial species present in canine subgingival plaque and their associations with health and early periodontal disease.
PMCID: PMC3862762  PMID: 24349448
12.  Targeted ablation of the PTH/PTHrP receptor in osteocytes impairs bone structure and homeostatic calcemic responses 
The Journal of endocrinology  2011;209(1):21-32.
Parathyroid hormone (PTH) is a major physiologic regulator of calcium, phosphorous and skeletal homeostasis. Cells of the osteoblastic lineage are key targets of PTH action in bone, and recent evidence suggests that osteocytes might be important in the anabolic effects of PTH. To understand the role of PTH signaling through the PTH/PTHrP receptors (PPR) in osteocytes and to determine the role(s) of these cells in mediating the effects of the hormone, we have generated mice in which PPR expression is specifically ablated in osteocytes. Transgenic mice in which the 10Kb-Dmp1 promoter drives a tamoxifen-inducible Cre –recombinase were mated with animals in which exon1 of PPR is flanked by Lox-P sites. In these animals, osteocyte-selective PPR knockout (Ocy-PPRcKO mice) could be induced by administration of tamoxifen. Histological analysis revealed a reduction in trabecular bone and mild osteopenia in Ocy-PPRcKO mice. Reduction of trabeculae number and thickness was also detected by μCT analysis whereas BV/TV% was unchanged. These findings were associated with an increase in Sost and sclerostin expression. When Ocy-PPRcKO mice were subjected to a low calcium diet, to induce secondary hyperparathyroidism, their blood calcium levels were significantly lower than littermate controls. Moreover, PTH was unable to suppress Sost and sclerostin expression in the Ocy-PPRcKO animals, suggesting an important role of PTH signaling in osteocytes for proper bone remodeling and calcium homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3783949  PMID: 21220409
osteocytes; parathyroid hormone; parathyroid hormone receptor
13.  How landscape scale changes affect ecological processes in conservation areas: external factors influence land use by zebra (Equus burchelli) in the Okavango Delta 
Ecology and Evolution  2013;3(9):2795-2805.
Most large-bodied wildlife populations in sub-Saharan Africa only survive in conservation areas, but are continuing to decline because external changes influence ecological processes within reserves, leading to a lack of functionality. However, failure to understand how landscape scale changes influence ecological processes limits our ability to manage protected areas. We used GPS movement data to calculate dry season home ranges for 14 zebra mares in the Okavango Delta and investigated the effects of a range of landscape characteristics (number of habitat patches, mean patch shape, mean index of juxtaposition, and interspersion) on home range size. Resource utilization functions (RUF) were calculated to investigate how specific landscape characteristics affected space use. Space use by all zebra was clustered. In the wetter (Central) parts of the Delta home range size was negatively correlated with the density of habitat patches, more complex patch shapes, low juxtaposition of habitats and an increased availability of floodplain and grassland habitats. In the drier (Peripheral) parts of the Delta, higher use by zebra was also associated with a greater availability of floodplain and grassland habitats, but a lower density of patches and simpler patch shapes. The most important landscape characteristic was not consistent between zebra within the same area of the Delta, suggesting that no single foraging strategy is substantially superior to others, and so animals using different foraging strategies may all thrive. The distribution and complexity of habitat patches are crucial in determining space use by zebra. The extent and duration of seasonal flooding is the principal process affecting habitat patch characteristics in the Okavango Delta, particularly the availability of floodplains, which are the habitat at greatest risk from climate change and anthropogenic disturbance to the Okavango's catchment basin. Understanding how the factors that determine habitat complexity may change in the future is critical to the conservation of large mammal populations. Our study shows the importance of maintaining flood levels in the Okavango Delta and how the loss of seasonal floodplains will be compounded by changes in habitat configuration, forcing zebra to change their relative space use and enlarge home ranges, leading to increased competition for key resources and population declines.
PMCID: PMC3790530  PMID: 24101973
Climate change; equids; foraging efficiency; GPS collars; habitat patches; kernel density estimates; landscape ecology; RAMSAR; resource utilization functions; wetland management
14.  Signatures of Rapid Evolution in Urban and Rural Transcriptomes of White-Footed Mice (Peromyscus leucopus) in the New York Metropolitan Area 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e74938.
Urbanization is a major cause of ecological degradation around the world, and human settlement in large cities is accelerating. New York City (NYC) is one of the oldest and most urbanized cities in North America, but still maintains 20% vegetation cover and substantial populations of some native wildlife. The white-footed mouse, Peromyscusleucopus, is a common resident of NYC’s forest fragments and an emerging model system for examining the evolutionary consequences of urbanization. In this study, we developed transcriptomic resources for urban P. leucopus to examine evolutionary changes in protein-coding regions for an exemplar “urban adapter.” We used Roche 454 GS FLX+ high throughput sequencing to derive transcriptomes from multiple tissues from individuals across both urban and rural populations. From these data, we identified 31,015 SNPs and several candidate genes potentially experiencing positive selection in urban populations of P. leucopus. These candidate genes are involved in xenobiotic metabolism, innate immune response, demethylation activity, and other important biological phenomena in novel urban environments. This study is one of the first to report candidate genes exhibiting signatures of directional selection in divergent urban ecosystems.
PMCID: PMC3756007  PMID: 24015321
15.  High XRCC1 Protein Expression Is Associated with Poorer Survival in Patients with Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
We evaluated X-ray repair complementing defective repair in Chinese hamster cells 1 (XRCC1) protein in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients in association with outcome.
Experimental Design
XRCC1 protein expression was assessed by immunohistochemical (IHC) staining of pretreatment tissue samples in 138 consecutive HNSCC patients treated with surgery (n = 31), radiation (15), surgery and radiation (23), surgery and adjuvant chemoradiation (17), primary chemoradiation (51), and palliative measures (1).
Patients with high XRCC1 expression by IHC (n = 77) compared with patients with low XRCC1 expression (n = 60) had poorer median overall survival (OS; 41.0 months vs. OS not reached, P = 0.009) and poorer progression-free survival (28.0 months vs. 73.0 months, P = 0.031). This association was primarily due to patients who received chemoradiation (median OS of high- and low-XRCC1 expression patients, 35.5 months and not reached respectively, HR 3.48; 95% CI: 1.44–8.38; P = 0.006). In patients treated with nonchemoradiation modalities, there was no survival difference by XRCC1 expression. In multivariable analysis, high XRCC1 expression and p16INK4a-positive status were independently associated with survival in the overall study population (HR = 2.62; 95% CI: 1.52–4.52; P < 0.001 and HR = 0.21; 95% CI: 0.06–0.71; P = 0.012, respectively) and among chemoradiation patients (HR = 6.02; 95% CI: 2.36–15.37; P < 0.001 and HR = 0.26; 95% CI: 0.08–0.92, respectively; P = 0.037).
In HNSCC, high XRCC1 protein expression is associated with poorer survival, particularly in patients receiving chemoradiation. Future validation of these findings may enable identification of HNSCC expressing patients who benefit from chemoradiation treatment.
PMCID: PMC3725262  PMID: 21908577
16.  Wnt/β-catenin signaling activates bone morphogenetic protein 2 expression in osteoblasts 
Bone  2012;52(1):145-156.
The BMP and Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathways cooperatively regulate osteoblast differentiation and bone formation. Although BMP signaling regulates gene expression of the Wnt pathway, much less is known about whether Wnt signaling modulates BMP expression in osteoblasts. Given the presence of putative Tcf/Lef response elements that bind β-catenin/TCF transcription complex in the BMP2 promoter, we hypothesized that the Wnt/β-catenin pathway stimulates BMP2 expression in osteogenic cells. In this study, we showed that Wnt/β-catenin signaling is active in various osteoblast or osteoblast precursor cell lines, including MC3T3-E1, 2T3, C2C12, and C3H10T1/2 cells. Furthermore, crosstalk between the BMP and Wnt pathways affected BMP signaling activity, osteoblast differentiation, and bone formation, suggesting Wnt signaling is an upstream regulator of BMP signaling. Activation of Wnt signaling by Wnt3a or overexpression of β-catenin/TCF4 both stimulated BMP2 transcription at promoter and mRNA levels. In contrast, transcription of BMP2 in osteogenic cells was decreased by either blocking the Wnt pathway with DKK1 and sFRP4, or inhibiting β-catenin/TCF4 activity with FWD1/β-TrCP, ICAT, or ΔTCF4. Using a site-directed mutagenesis approach, we confirmed that Wnt/β-catenin transactivation of BMP2 transcription is directly mediated through the Tcf/Lef response elements in the BMP2 promoter. These results, which demonstrate that the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway is an upstream activator of BMP2 expression in osteoblasts, provide novel insights into the nature of functional cross talk integrating the BMP and Wnt/β-catenin pathways in osteoblastic differentiation and maintenance of skeletal homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3712130  PMID: 23032104
BMP; Wnt/β-catenin; Gene expression; Osteogenesis
17.  Bone morphogenetic protein-2 gene controls tooth root development in coordination with formation of the periodontium 
Formation of the periodontium begins following onset of tooth-root formation in a coordinated manner after birth. Dental follicle progenitor cells are thought to form the cementum, alveolar bone and Sharpey's fibers of the periodontal ligament (PDL). However, little is known about the regulatory morphogens that control differentiation and function of these progenitor cells, as well as the progenitor cells involved in crown and root formation. We investigated the role of bone morphogenetic protein-2 (Bmp2) in these processes by the conditional removal of the Bmp2 gene using the Sp7-Cre-EGFP mouse model. Sp7-Cre-EGFP first becomes active at E18 in the first molar, with robust Cre activity at postnatal day 0 (P0), followed by Cre activity in the second molar, which occurs after P0. There is robust Cre activity in the periodontium and third molars by 2 weeks of age. When the Bmp2 gene is removed from Sp7+ (Osterix+) cells, major defects are noted in root, cellular cementum and periodontium formation. First, there are major cell autonomous defects in root-odontoblast terminal differentiation. Second, there are major alterations in formation of the PDLs and cellular cementum, correlated with decreased nuclear factor IC (Nfic), periostin and α-SMA+ cells. Third, there is a failure to produce vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) in the periodontium and the pulp leading to decreased formation of the microvascular and associated candidate stem cells in the Bmp2-cKOSp7-Cre-EGFP. Fourth, ameloblast function and enamel formation are indirectly altered in the Bmp2-cKOSp7-Cre-EGFP. These data demonstrate that the Bmp2 gene has complex roles in postnatal tooth development and periodontium formation.
PMCID: PMC3707077  PMID: 23807640
Bmp2 gene; cementum; dentinogenesis; periodontium development; root formation
18.  Pharmacokinetics, Tolerability, and Safety of Intranasal Administration of Reformulated OxyContin® Tablets Compared with Original OxyContin® Tablets in Healthy Adults 
Clinical Drug Investigation  2013;33(6):441-449.
Background and Objective
Reformulated OxyContin® (oxycodone-HCl controlled release) tablets (ORF) became available in the United States in August 2010. The original formulation of OxyContin® (oxycodone-HCl controlled release) tablets (OC) used a delivery system that did not provide inherent resistance to crushing and dissolving. The objective of this study was to compare the pharmacokinetics, tolerability, and safety of finely crushed ORF tablets, coarsely crushed ORF tablets, and finely crushed OC tablets.
This randomized, single-blind, single-dose, single-center, six-sequence, triple-treatment, triple-period crossover study enrolled eligible healthy adults (aged 18–55 years inclusive). The study evaluated the pharmacokinetics, tolerability, and safety of intranasally administered ORF, both finely crushed and coarsely crushed, as well as finely crushed OC tablets. Plasma oxycodone concentrations were quantified and analyzed to determine the maximum observed plasma concentration (Cmax), time to maximum plasma concentration (tmax), area under the plasma concentration–time curve from hour 0 to the last measurable plasma concentration (AUClast), and area under the plasma concentration–time curve extrapolated to infinity (AUC∞). The abuse quotient (AQ), calculated as Cmax/tmax, served as an index of the average rate of increase in drug concentration from dosing to tmax. Intranasal tolerability rating scales (discomfort, itching, burning, pain, runny nose, and stuffiness) and intranasal endoscopy were conducted. Safety assessments included adverse events, vital signs, pulse oximetry (SpO2), and electrocardiograms.
Of 83 subjects screened and enrolled, 30 were randomized to period 1, with 1 subject subsequently discontinuing due to the subject’s choice. Mean Cmax values for finely crushed ORF (17.1 ng/mL) and coarsely crushed ORF (15.5 ng/mL) were lower than that for finely crushed OC (22.2 ng/mL). Median tmax for finely crushed OC (1.0 h) was shorter than that for either finely crushed ORF (2.0 h) or coarsely crushed ORF (3.0 h). Mean AQ values were approximately 66 and 80 % lower, respectively, for finely crushed ORF and coarsely crushed ORF than that for finely crushed OC. Finely crushed ORF, coarsely crushed ORF, and finely crushed OC demonstrated similar total oxycodone exposures (AUC∞). Insufflation of ORF produced greater nasal discomfort and stuffiness than finely crushed OC, although the latter produced higher runny nose scores. No significant difference was found in other nasal tolerability measures. The overall safety profile was as expected following opioid administration in healthy subjects.
In contrast to OC, both finely and coarsely crushed ORF retained some control of oxycodone release. Reduced Cmax and increased tmax for ORF resulted in lower AQ scores for ORF compared with OC. ORF was associated with greater intranasal irritation than OC. These data suggest that ORF has a lower intranasal abuse potential than OC.
PMCID: PMC3664752  PMID: 23677743
19.  Does Litter Size Variation Affect Models of Terrestrial Carnivore Extinction Risk and Management? 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e58060.
Individual variation in both survival and reproduction has the potential to influence extinction risk. Especially for rare or threatened species, reliable population models should adequately incorporate demographic uncertainty. Here, we focus on an important form of demographic stochasticity: variation in litter sizes. We use terrestrial carnivores as an example taxon, as they are frequently threatened or of economic importance. Since data on intraspecific litter size variation are often sparse, it is unclear what probability distribution should be used to describe the pattern of litter size variation for multiparous carnivores.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We used litter size data on 32 terrestrial carnivore species to test the fit of 12 probability distributions. The influence of these distributions on quasi-extinction probabilities and the probability of successful disease control was then examined for three canid species – the island fox Urocyon littoralis, the red fox Vulpes vulpes, and the African wild dog Lycaon pictus. Best fitting probability distributions differed among the carnivores examined. However, the discretised normal distribution provided the best fit for the majority of species, because variation among litter-sizes was often small. Importantly, however, the outcomes of demographic models were generally robust to the distribution used.
These results provide reassurance for those using demographic modelling for the management of less studied carnivores in which litter size variation is estimated using data from species with similar reproductive attributes.
PMCID: PMC3585178  PMID: 23469140
20.  The Social and Ecological Integration of Captive-Raised Adolescent Male African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) into a Wild Population 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55933.
A rapid rise in the number of captive African elephants (Loxodonta africana) used in the tourism industry in southern Africa and orphaned elephants in human care has led to concerns about their long-term management, particularly males. One solution is to release them into the wild at adolescence, when young males naturally leave their herd. However, this raises significant welfare concerns: little is known about how well released elephants integrate into wild populations and whether they pose a greater threat to humans than wild elephants. We document the release of three captive-raised adolescent male African elephants in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Despite having been part of a herd of working elephants for at least eight years, the three males progressively integrated into the complex fission-fusion society of wild bull elephants. In the three years following release, they showed no tendency to be closer to human habitation, and there were no significant differences between wild and captive-raised adolescent males in the total number of social interactions, size of ranges and habitat use. However, the captive-raised elephants sparred less and vocalised more, and spent more time alone and in smaller social groups. Thereafter the released elephants continued to expand their ranges and interact with both mixed-sex herds and males. One male was shot by farmers 94 months after release, along with ten wild elephants, on a ranch outside the protected area.
We show that captive-raised adolescent male elephants can integrate into a wild population. Long-term studies are required to determine the longevity, breeding success, and eventual fate of released male elephants, but we identified no significant short-term welfare problems for the released elephants or recipient population. Release of captive-raised mammals with complex social systems is a husbandry option that should be explored further.
PMCID: PMC3577843  PMID: 23437076
21.  Generation of a Conditional Null Allele for Dmp1 in Mouse 
Dentin matrix protein1 (DMP1), highly conserved in humans and mice, is highly expressed in teeth, the skeleton, and to a lesser extent in nonskeletal tissues such as brain, kidney, and salivary gland. Pathologically, DMP1 is associated with several forms of cancers and with tumor-induced osteomalacia. Conventional disruption of the murine Dmp1 gene results in defects in dentin in teeth and in the skeleton, including hypophosphatemic rickets, and abnormalities in phosphate homeostasis. Human DMP1 mutations are responsible for the condition known as autosomal recessive hypophosphatemic rickets. For better understanding of the roles of DMP1 in different tissues at different stages of development and in pathological conditions, we generated Dmp1 floxed mice in which loxP sites flank exon 6 that encodes for over 80% of DMP1 protein. We demonstrate that Cre-mediated recombination using Sox2-Cre, a Cre line expressed in epiblast during early embryogenesis, results in early deletion of the gene and protein. These homozygous Cre-recombined null mice display an identical phenotype to conventional null mice. This animal model will be useful to reveal distinct roles of DMP1 in different tissues at different ages.
PMCID: PMC3568775  PMID: 18257058
DMP1; Cre-loxP; gene targeting; mouse; bone
22.  Meox2Cre-mediated Disruption of CSF-1 Leads to Osteopetrosis and Osteocyte Defects 
Bone  2011;50(1):42-53.
CSF-1, a key regulator of mononuclear phagocyte production, is highly expressed in the skeleton by osteoblasts/osteocytes and in a number of nonskeletal tissues such as uterus, kidney and brain. The spontaneous mutant op/op mouse has been the conventional model of CSF-1 deficiency and exhibits a pleiotropic phenotype characterized by osteopetrosis, and defects in hematopoiesis, fertility and neural function. Studies to further delineate the biologic effect of CSF-1 within various tissues have been hampered by the lack of suitable models. To address this issue, we generated CSF-1 floxed/floxed mice and demonstrate that Cre-mediated recombination using Meox2Cre, a Cre line expressed in epiblast during early embryogenesis, results in mice with ubiquitous CSF-1 deficiency (CSF-1KO). Homozygous CSF-1KO mice lacked CSF-1 in all tissues and displayed, in part, a similar phenotype to op/op mice that included: failure of tooth eruption, osteopetrosis, reduced macrophage densities in reproductive and other organs and altered hematopoiesis with decreased marrow cellularity, circulating monocytes and B cell lymphopoiesis. In contrast to op/op mice, CSF-1KO mice showed elevated circulating and splenic T cells. A striking feature in CSF-1KO mice was defective osteocyte maturation, bone mineralization and osteocyte-lacunar system that was associated with reduced dentin matrix protein 1 (DMP1) expression in osteocytes. CSF-1KO mice also showed a dramatic reduction in osteomacs along the endosteal surface that may have contributed to the hematopoietic and cortical bone defects. Thus, our findings show that ubiquitous CSF-1 gene deletion using a Cre-based system recapitulates the expected osteopetrotic phenotype. Moreover, results point to a novel link between CSF-1 and osteocyte survival/function that is essential for maintaining bone mass and strength during skeletal development.
PMCID: PMC3374485  PMID: 21958845
colony stimulating factor-1 (CSF-1); osteocytes; osteoblasts; dentin matrix protein 1 (DMP1); knockout mouse
23.  Identification of Osteocyte-Selective Proteins 
Proteomics  2010;10(20):3688-3698.
Since little is known regarding osteocytes, cells embedded within the mineralized bone matrix, a proteomics approach was used to discover proteins more highly expressed in osteocytes than in osteoblasts to determine osteocyte specific function. Two proteomic profiles obtained by two different proteomic approaches using total cell lysates from the osteocyte cell line MLO-Y4 and the osteoblast cell line MC3T3 revealed unique differences. Three protein clusters, one related to glycolysis, (Phosphoglycerate kinase 1, fructose-bisphosphate aldolase A, hypoxia up-regulated 1 [ORP150], triosephosphate isomerase), one to protein folding (Mitochondrial Stress-70 protein, ORP150, Endoplasmin), and one to actin cytoskeleton regulation (Macrophage-capping protein [CapG], destrin, forms of lamin A and vimentin) were identified. Higher protein expression of ORP-150, Cap G, and destrin in MLO-Y4 cells compared to MC3T3 cells was validated by gene expression, Western blotting, and in vivo expression. These proteins were shown to be selective in osteocytes in vivo using immuno-staining of mouse ulnae. Destrin was most highly expressed in embedding osteoid osteocytes, GapG in embedded osteocytes, and ORP150 in deeply embedded osteocytes. In summary, the proteomic approach has yielded important information regarding molecular mechanisms used by osteocytes for embedding in matrix, the formation of dendritic processes, and protection within a hypoxic environment.
PMCID: PMC3517134  PMID: 20845334
24.  Temporal genetic variation of the red fox, Vulpes vulpes, across western Europe and the British Isles 
Quaternary Science Reviews  2012;57(100):95-104.
Quaternary climatic fluctuations have had profound effects on the phylogeographic structure of many species. Classically, species were thought to have become isolated in peninsular refugia, but there is limited evidence that large, non-polar species survived outside traditional refugial areas. We examined the phylogeographic structure of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), a species that shows high ecological adaptability in the western Palaearctic region. We compared mitochondrial DNA sequences (cytochrome b and control region) from 399 modern and 31 ancient individuals from across Europe. Our objective was to test whether red foxes colonised the British Isles from mainland Europe in the late Pleistocene, or whether there is evidence that they persisted in the region through the Last Glacial Maximum.
We found red foxes to show a high degree of phylogeographic structuring across Europe and, consistent with palaeontological and ancient DNA evidence, confirmed via phylogenetic indicators that red foxes were persistent in areas outside peninsular refugia during the last ice age. Bayesian analyses and tests of neutrality indicated population expansion. We conclude that there is evidence that red foxes from the British Isles derived from central European populations that became isolated after the closure of the landbridge with Europe.
► Red foxes show a high degree of phylogeographic structuring across Europe. ► Foxes were persistent in areas outside peninsular refugia during the last ice age. ► British foxes originated in central Europe, becoming isolated after 8200 BP.
PMCID: PMC3778924  PMID: 24068852
Red fox; Mitochondrial DNA; Cytochrome b gene; Control region; Phylogeography; Europe; British Isles
25.  Visualizing the chemistry and structure dynamics in lithium-ion batteries by in-situ neutron diffraction 
Scientific Reports  2012;2:747.
We report an in-situ neutron diffraction study of a large format pouch battery cell. The succession of Li-Graphite intercalation phases was fully captured under an 1C charge-discharge condition (i.e., charge to full capacity in 1 hour). However, the lithiation and dilithiation pathways are distinctively different and, unlike in slowing charging experiments with which the Li-Graphite phase diagram was established, no LiC24 phase was found during charge at 1C rate. Approximately 75 mol. % of the graphite converts to LiC6 at full charge, and a lattice dilation as large as 4% was observed during a charge-discharge cycle. Our work demonstrates the potential of in-situ, time and spatially resolved neutron diffraction study of the dynamic chemical and structural changes in “real-world” batteries under realistic cycling conditions, which should provide microscopic insights on degradation and the important role of diffusion kinetics in energy storage materials.
PMCID: PMC3475991  PMID: 23087812

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