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1.  Integer versus Fractional Charge Transfer at Metal(/Insulator)/Organic Interfaces: Cu(/NaCl)/TCNE 
ACS Nano  2015;9(5):5391-5404.
Semilocal and hybrid density functional theory was used to study the charge transfer and the energy-level alignment at a representative interface between an extended metal substrate and an organic adsorbate layer. Upon suppressing electronic coupling between the adsorbate and the substrate by inserting thin, insulating layers of NaCl, the hybrid functional localizes charge. The laterally inhomogeneous charge distribution resulting from this spontaneous breaking of translational symmetry is reflected in observables such as the molecular geometry, the valence and core density of states, and the evolution of the work function with molecular coverage, which we discuss for different growth modes. We found that the amount of charge transfer is determined, to a significant extent, by the ratio of the lateral spacing of the molecules and their distance to the metal. Therefore, charge transfer does not only depend on the electronic structure of the individual components but, just as importantly, on the interface geometry.
PMCID: PMC4514220  PMID: 25905769
integer charge transfer; density functional theory; alkali halides; copper; TCNE; charge localization; growth; work function; coverage dependence
2.  An In-Depth Comparison of the Male Pediatric and Adult Urinary Proteomes 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2013;1844(5):1044-1050.
In this study, we performed an in-depth characterization of the male pediatric infant urinary proteome by parallel proteomic analysis of normal healthy adult (n =6) and infant (n =6) males and comparison to available published data. A total of 1584 protein groups were identified. Of these, 708 proteins were identified in samples from both cohorts. Although present in both cohorts, 136 of these common proteins were significantly enriched in urine from adults and 94 proteins were significantly enriched in urine from infants. Using Gene Ontology, we found that the infant-enriched or specific subproteome (743 proteins) had an overrepresentation of proteins that are involved in translation and transcription, cellular growth and metabolic processes. In contrast, the adult enriched or specific subproteome (364 proteins) showed an overexpression of proteins involved in immune response and cell adhesion. This study demonstrates that the non-diseased male urinary proteome is quantitatively affected by age, has age-specific subproteomes, and identifies a common subproteome with no age-dependent abundance variations. These findings highlight the importance of age-matching in urinary proteomics.
PMCID: PMC3796057  PMID: 23707565
Pediatric Urinary Proteome; Urinary Proteomics; Mass Spectrometry; Spectral Counting
3.  Clonal dynamics of native haematopoiesis 
Nature  2014;514(7522):322-327.
It is currently thought that life-long blood cell production is driven by the action of a small number of multipotent haematopoietic stem cells. Evidence supporting this view has been largely acquired through the use of functional assays involving transplantation. However, whether these mechanisms also govern native non-transplant haematopoiesis is entirely unclear. Here we have established a novel experimental model in mice where cells can be uniquely and genetically labelled in situ to address this question. Using this approach, we have performed longitudinal analyses of clonal dynamics in adult mice that reveal unprecedented features of native haematopoiesis. In contrast to what occurs following transplantation, steady-state blood production is maintained by the successive recruitment of thousands of clones, each with a minimal contribution to mature progeny. Our results demonstrate that a large number of long-lived progenitors, rather than classically defined haematopoietic stem cells, are the main drivers of steady-state haematopoiesis during most of adulthood. Our results also have implications for understanding the cellular origin of haematopoietic disease.
PMCID: PMC4408613  PMID: 25296256
4.  A Network of Epigenetic Regulators Guide Developmental Hematopoiesis In Vivo 
Nature cell biology  2013;15(12):1516-1525.
The initiation of cellular programs is orchestrated by key transcription factors and chromatin regulators that activate or inhibit target gene expression. To generate a compendium of chromatin factors that establish the epigenetic code during developmental hematopoiesis, a large-scale reverse genetic screen was conducted targeting orthologs of 425 human chromatin factors in zebrafish. A set of chromatin regulators was identified that target different stages of primitive and definitive blood formation, including factors not previously implicated in hematopoiesis. We identified 15 factors that regulate development of primitive erythroid progenitors and 29 factors that regulate development of definitive stem and progenitor cells. These chromatin factors are associated with SWI/SNF and ISWI chromatin remodeling, SET1 methyltransferase, CBP/P300/HBO1/NuA4 acetyltransferase, HDAC/NuRD deacetylase, and Polycomb repressive complexes. Our work provides a comprehensive view of how specific chromatin factors and their associated complexes play a major role in the establishment of hematopoietic cells in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3959952  PMID: 24240475
5.  Förster-Induced Energy Transfer in Functionalized Graphene 
Carbon nanostructures are ideal substrates for functionalization with molecules since they consist of a single atomic layer giving rise to an extraordinary sensitivity to changes in their surrounding. The functionalization opens a new research field of hybrid nanostructures with tailored properties. Here, we present a microscopic view on the substrate–molecule interaction in the exemplary hybrid material consisting of graphene functionalized with perylene molecules. First experiments on similar systems have been recently realized illustrating an extremely efficient transfer of excitation energy from adsorbed molecules to the carbon substrate, a process with a large application potential for high-efficiency photovoltaic devices and biomedical imaging and sensing. So far, there has been no microscopically founded explanation for the observed energy transfer. Based on first-principle calculations, we have explicitly investigated the different transfer mechanisms revealing the crucial importance of Förster coupling. Due to the efficient Coulomb interaction in graphene, we obtain strong Förster rates in the range of 1/fs. We investigate its dependence on the substrate–molecule distance R and describe the impact of the momentum transfer q for an efficient energy transfer. Furthermore, we find that the Dexter transfer mechanism is negligibly small due to the vanishing overlap between the involved strongly localized orbital functions. The gained insights are applicable to a variety of carbon-based hybrid nanostructures.
PMCID: PMC4008518  PMID: 24808936
7.  Comparison of Illumina and 454 Deep Sequencing in Participants Failing Raltegravir-Based Antiretroviral Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90485.
The impact of raltegravir-resistant HIV-1 minority variants (MVs) on raltegravir treatment failure is unknown. Illumina sequencing offers greater throughput than 454, but sequence analysis tools for viral sequencing are needed. We evaluated Illumina and 454 for the detection of HIV-1 raltegravir-resistant MVs.
A5262 was a single-arm study of raltegravir and darunavir/ritonavir in treatment-naïve patients. Pre-treatment plasma was obtained from 5 participants with raltegravir resistance at the time of virologic failure. A control library was created by pooling integrase clones at predefined proportions. Multiplexed sequencing was performed with Illumina and 454 platforms at comparable costs. Illumina sequence analysis was performed with the novel snp-assess tool and 454 sequencing was analyzed with V-Phaser.
Illumina sequencing resulted in significantly higher sequence coverage and a 0.095% limit of detection. Illumina accurately detected all MVs in the control library at ≥0.5% and 7/10 MVs expected at 0.1%. 454 sequencing failed to detect any MVs at 0.1% with 5 false positive calls. For MVs detected in the patient samples by both 454 and Illumina, the correlation in the detected variant frequencies was high (R2 = 0.92, P<0.001). Illumina sequencing detected 2.4-fold greater nucleotide MVs and 2.9-fold greater amino acid MVs compared to 454. The only raltegravir-resistant MV detected was an E138K mutation in one participant by Illumina sequencing, but not by 454.
In participants of A5262 with raltegravir resistance at virologic failure, baseline raltegravir-resistant MVs were rarely detected. At comparable costs to 454 sequencing, Illumina demonstrated greater depth of coverage, increased sensitivity for detecting HIV MVs, and fewer false positive variant calls.
PMCID: PMC3946168  PMID: 24603872
8.  Cell-specific translational profiling in acute kidney injury 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(3):1242-1254.
Acute kidney injury (AKI) promotes an abrupt loss of kidney function that results in substantial morbidity and mortality. Considerable effort has gone toward identification of diagnostic biomarkers and analysis of AKI-associated molecular events; however, most studies have adopted organ-wide approaches and have not elucidated the interplay among different cell types involved in AKI pathophysiology. To better characterize AKI-associated molecular and cellular events, we developed a mouse line that enables the identification of translational profiles in specific cell types. This strategy relies on CRE recombinase–dependent activation of an EGFP-tagged L10a ribosomal protein subunit, which allows translating ribosome affinity purification (TRAP) of mRNA populations in CRE-expressing cells. Combining this mouse line with cell type–specific CRE-driver lines, we identified distinct cellular responses in an ischemia reperfusion injury (IRI) model of AKI. Twenty-four hours following IRI, distinct translational signatures were identified in the nephron, kidney interstitial cell populations, vascular endothelium, and macrophages/monocytes. Furthermore, TRAP captured known IRI-associated markers, validating this approach. Biological function annotation, canonical pathway analysis, and in situ analysis of identified response genes provided insight into cell-specific injury signatures. Our study provides a deep, cell-based view of early injury-associated molecular events in AKI and documents a versatile, genetic tool to monitor cell-specific and temporal-specific biological processes in disease modeling.
PMCID: PMC3938273  PMID: 24569379
9.  A comprehensive promoter landscape identifies a novel promoter for CD133 in restricted tissues, cancers, and stem cells 
Frontiers in Genetics  2013;4:209.
PROM1 is the gene encoding prominin-1 or CD133, an important cell surface marker for the isolation of both normal and cancer stem cells. PROM1 transcripts initiate at a range of transcription start sites (TSS) associated with distinct tissue and cancer expression profiles. Using high resolution Cap Analysis of Gene Expression (CAGE) sequencing we characterize TSS utilization across a broad range of normal and developmental tissues. We identify a novel proximal promoter (P6) within CD133+ melanoma cell lines and stem cells. Additional exon array sampling finds P6 to be active in populations enriched for mesenchyme, neural stem cells and within CD133+ enriched Ewing sarcomas. The P6 promoter is enriched with respect to previously characterized PROM1 promoters for a HMGI/Y (HMGA1) family transcription factor binding site motif and exhibits different epigenetic modifications relative to the canonical promoter region of PROM1.
PMCID: PMC3810939  PMID: 24194746
PROM1 protein; human; AC133 antigen; transcription start site; promoter regions; genetic; melanoma; cancer stem cells
10.  Chronic Endotoxin Exposure Produces Airflow Obstruction and Lung Dendritic Cell Expansion 
Little is known about the mechanisms of persistent airflow obstruction that result from chronic occupational endotoxin exposure. We sought to analyze the inflammatory response underlying persistent airflow obstruction as a result of chronic occupational endotoxin exposure. We developed a murine model of daily inhaled endotoxin for periods of 5 days to 8 weeks. We analyzed physiologic lung dysfunction, lung histology, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and total lung homogenate inflammatory cell and cytokine profiles, and pulmonary gene expression profiles. We observed an increase in airway hyperresponsiveness as a result of chronic endotoxin exposure. After 8 weeks, the mice exhibited an increase in bronchoalveolar lavage and lung neutrophils that correlated with an increase in proinflammatory cytokines. Detailed analyses of inflammatory cell subsets revealed an expansion of dendritic cells (DCs), and in particular, proinflammatory DCs, with a reduced percentage of macrophages. Gene expression profiling revealed the up-regulation of a panel of genes that was consistent with DC recruitment, and lung histology revealed an accumulation of DCs in inflammatory aggregates around the airways in 8-week–exposed animals. Repeated, low-dose LPS inhalation, which mirrors occupational exposure, resulted in airway hyperresponsiveness, associated with a failure to resolve the proinflammatory response, an inverted macrophage to DC ratio, and a significant rise in the inflammatory DC population. These findings point to a novel underlying mechanism of airflow obstruction as a result of occupational LPS exposure, and suggest molecular and cellular targets for therapeutic development.
PMCID: PMC3423463  PMID: 22517795
airway resistance; inhalation; neutrophils; macrophages; dendritic cells; endotoxin
11.  Pathprinting: An integrative approach to understand the functional basis of disease 
Genome Medicine  2013;5(7):68.
New strategies to combat complex human disease require systems approaches to biology that integrate experiments from cell lines, primary tissues and model organisms. We have developed Pathprint, a functional approach that compares gene expression profiles in a set of pathways, networks and transcriptionally regulated targets. It can be applied universally to gene expression profiles across species. Integration of large-scale profiling methods and curation of the public repository overcomes platform, species and batch effects to yield a standard measure of functional distance between experiments. We show that pathprints combine mouse and human blood developmental lineage, and can be used to identify new prognostic indicators in acute myeloid leukemia. The code and resources are available at
PMCID: PMC3971351  PMID: 23890051
12.  Integrating Murine Gene Expression Studies to Understand Obstructive Lung Disease Due to Chronic Inhaled Endotoxin 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e62910.
Endotoxin is a near ubiquitous environmental exposure that that has been associated with both asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These obstructive lung diseases have a complex pathophysiology, making them difficult to study comprehensively in the context of endotoxin. Genome-wide gene expression studies have been used to identify a molecular snapshot of the response to environmental exposures. Identification of differentially expressed genes shared across all published murine models of chronic inhaled endotoxin will provide insight into the biology underlying endotoxin-associated lung disease.
We identified three published murine models with gene expression profiling after repeated low-dose inhaled endotoxin. All array data from these experiments were re-analyzed, annotated consistently, and tested for shared genes found to be differentially expressed. Additional functional comparison was conducted by testing for significant enrichment of differentially expressed genes in known pathways. The importance of this gene signature in smoking-related lung disease was assessed using hierarchical clustering in an independent experiment where mice were exposed to endotoxin, smoke, and endotoxin plus smoke.
A 101-gene signature was detected in three murine models, more than expected by chance. The three model systems exhibit additional similarity beyond shared genes when compared at the pathway level, with increasing enrichment of inflammatory pathways associated with longer duration of endotoxin exposure. Genes and pathways important in both asthma and COPD were shared across all endotoxin models. Mice exposed to endotoxin, smoke, and smoke plus endotoxin were accurately classified with the endotoxin gene signature.
Despite the differences in laboratory, duration of exposure, and strain of mouse used in three experimental models of chronic inhaled endotoxin, surprising similarities in gene expression were observed. The endotoxin component of tobacco smoke may play an important role in disease development.
PMCID: PMC3652821  PMID: 23675439
13.  The Stem Cell Commons: an exemplar for data integration in the biomedical domain driven by the ISA framework 
Comparisons of stem cell experiments at both molecular and semantic levels remain challenging due to inconsistencies in results, data formats, and descriptions among biomedical research discoveries. The Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) has created the Stem Cell Commons (, an open, community-based approach to data sharing. Experimental information is integrated using the Investigation-Study-Assay tabular format (ISA-Tab) used by over 30 organizations (ISA Commons, The early adoption of this format permitted the novel integration of three independent systems to facilitate stem cell data storage, exchange and analysis: the Blood Genomics Repository, the Stem Cell Discovery Engine, and the new Refinery platform that links the Galaxy analytical engine to data repositories.
PMCID: PMC3814497  PMID: 24303302
15.  Stem Cell-Like Gene Expression in Ovarian Cancer Predicts Type II Subtype and Prognosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e57799.
Although ovarian cancer is often initially chemotherapy-sensitive, the vast majority of tumors eventually relapse and patients die of increasingly aggressive disease. Cancer stem cells are believed to have properties that allow them to survive therapy and may drive recurrent tumor growth. Cancer stem cells or cancer-initiating cells are a rare cell population and difficult to isolate experimentally. Genes that are expressed by stem cells may characterize a subset of less differentiated tumors and aid in prognostic classification of ovarian cancer. The purpose of this study was the genomic identification and characterization of a subtype of ovarian cancer that has stem cell-like gene expression. Using human and mouse gene signatures of embryonic, adult, or cancer stem cells, we performed an unsupervised bipartition class discovery on expression profiles from 145 serous ovarian tumors to identify a stem-like and more differentiated subgroup. Subtypes were reproducible and were further characterized in four independent, heterogeneous ovarian cancer datasets. We identified a stem-like subtype characterized by a 51-gene signature, which is significantly enriched in tumors with properties of Type II ovarian cancer; high grade, serous tumors, and poor survival. Conversely, the differentiated tumors share properties with Type I, including lower grade and mixed histological subtypes. The stem cell-like signature was prognostic within high-stage serous ovarian cancer, classifying a small subset of high-stage tumors with better prognosis, in the differentiated subtype. In multivariate models that adjusted for common clinical factors (including grade, stage, age), the subtype classification was still a significant predictor of relapse. The prognostic stem-like gene signature yields new insights into prognostic differences in ovarian cancer, provides a genomic context for defining Type I/II subtypes, and potential gene targets which following further validation may be valuable in the clinical management or treatment of ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC3594231  PMID: 23536770
16.  A functional genomic screen reveals novel host genes that mediate interferon-alpha's effects against hepatitis C virus 
Journal of Hepatology  2011;56(2):326-333.
Background & Aims
The precise mechanisms by which IFN exerts its antiviral effect against HCV have not yet been elucidated. We sought to identify host genes that mediate the antiviral effect of IFN-α by conducting a whole-genome siRNA library screen.
High throughput screening was performed using an HCV genotype 1b replicon, pRep-Feo. Those pools with replicate robust Z scores ≥ 2.0 entered secondary validation in full-length OR6 replicon cells. Huh7.5.1 cells infected with JFH1 were then used to validate the rescue efficacy of selected genes for HCV replication under IFN-α treatment.
We identified and confirmed 93 human genes involved in the IFN-α anti-HCV effect using a whole-genome siRNA library. Gene ontology analysis revealed that mRNA processing (23 genes, P=2.756e-22), translation initiation (9 genes, P=2.42e-6), and IFN signaling (5 genes, P=1.00e-3) were the most enriched functional groups. Nine genes were components of U4/U6.U5 tri-snRNP. We confirmed that silencing squamous cell carcinoma antigen recognized by T cells (SART1), a specific factor of tri-snRNP, abrogates IFN-α's suppressive effects against HCV in both replicon cells and JFH1 infectious cells. We further found that SART1 was not an IFN-α inducible, and its anti-HCV effector in the JFH1 infectious model was through regulation of interferon stimulated genes (ISGs) with or without IFN-α.
We identified 93 genes that mediate the anti-HCV effect of IFN-α through genome-wide siRNA screening; 23 and 9 genes were involved in mRNA processing and translation initiation, respectively. These findings reveal an unexpected role for mRNA processing in generation of the antiviral state, and suggest a new avenue for therapeutic development in HCV.
PMCID: PMC3261326  PMID: 21888876
Hepatitis C Virus, HCV; Interferon-α, IFN-α; Small interfering RNA, siRNA; Squamous cell carcinoma Antigen Recognized by T cells, SART1; U4/U6.U5 tri-small nuclear ribonucleoproteins, U4/U6.U5 tri-snRNP
17.  Dimensionality effects in the electronic structure of organic semiconductors consisting of polar repeat units 
Organic Electronics  2012;13(12-2):3165-3176.
Graphical abstract
► We describe monolayers consisting of molecules with polar repeat units. ► The global energy gap in such layers can vanish. ► In such films the dipole moment per molecule saturates beyond a certain length. ► These effects result from electrostatic dimensionality effects. ► This represents an “organic electronics” analogue to inorganic “polar surfaces”.
In conjugated organic molecules, excitation gaps typically decrease reciprocally with increasing the number of repeat units, n. This usually holds for individual molecules as well as for the corresponding bulk materials. Here, we show using density-functional theory calculations that a qualitatively different evolution is found for layers built from molecules consisting of polar repeat units. Whereas a 1/n-dependence is still observed in the case of isolated polar molecules, the global gap decreases essentially linearly with n in the corresponding 2D-periodic systems and vanishes beyond a certain molecular length, with the frontier states being localized at opposite ends of the layer. The latter is accompanied by a saturation of the dipole moment per molecule, an effect not observed in the isolated polar molecules. Interestingly, in both cases the limit of the gap for long (but finite) molecules differs qualitatively from that of infinite length obtained in 1D-periodic and 3D-periodic calculations, the latter serving as models for polymers and the bulk. We rationalize these dimensionality effects as a consequence of the potential gradient within the finite-length layers. They arise from the collective action of intra-molecular dipoles in the 2D periodic layers and can be traced back to surface effects.
PMCID: PMC3587343  PMID: 23470879
Energy gap; Polar surface; Dimensionality effects; Band-structure calculations; Polar molecules; Thin-film electrostatics
18.  Toward interoperable bioscience data 
Nature genetics  2012;44(2):121-126.
To make full use of research data, the bioscience community needs to adopt technologies and reward mechanisms that support interoperability and promote the growth of an open ‘data commoning’ culture. Here we describe the prerequisites for data commoning and present an established and growing ecosystem of solutions using the shared ‘Investigation-Study-Assay’ framework to support that vision.
PMCID: PMC3428019  PMID: 22281772
19.  Prenatal Lead Levels, Plasma Amyloid β Levels, and Gene Expression in Young Adulthood 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2012;120(5):702-707.
Background: Animal studies suggest that early-life lead exposure influences gene expression and production of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Objectives: We attempted to assess the relationship between early-life lead exposure and potential biomarkers for AD among young men and women. We also attempted to assess whether early-life lead exposure was associated with changes in expression of AD-related genes.
Methods: We used sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) to measure plasma concentrations of amyloid β proteins Aβ40 and Aβ42 among 55 adults who had participated as newborns and young children in a prospective cohort study of the effects of lead exposure on development. We used RNA microarray techniques to analyze gene expression.
Results: Mean plasma Aβ42 concentrations were lower among 13 participants with high umbilical cord blood lead concentrations (≥ 10 μg/dL) than in 42 participants with lower cord blood lead concentrations (p = 0.08). Among 10 participants with high prenatal lead exposure, we found evidence of an inverse relationship between umbilical cord lead concentration and expression of ADAM metallopeptidase domain 9 (ADAM9), reticulon 4 (RTN4), and low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein associated protein 1 (LRPAP1) genes, whose products are believed to affect Aβ production and deposition. Gene network analysis suggested enrichment in gene sets involved in nerve growth and general cell development.
Conclusions: Data from our exploratory study suggest that prenatal lead exposure may influence Aβ-related biological pathways that have been implicated in AD onset. Gene network analysis identified further candidates to study the mechanisms of developmental lead neurotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC3346789  PMID: 22313790
Alzheimer’s disease; children; fetal basis of adult disease; human; lead
20.  Population Differences in Transcript-Regulator Expression Quantitative Trait Loci 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e34286.
Gene expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) are useful for identifying single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with diseases. At times, a genetic variant may be associated with a master regulator involved in the manifestation of a disease. The downstream target genes of the master regulator are typically co-expressed and share biological function. Therefore, it is practical to screen for eQTLs by identifying SNPs associated with the targets of a transcript-regulator (TR). We used a multivariate regression with the gene expression of known targets of TRs and SNPs to identify TReQTLs in European (CEU) and African (YRI) HapMap populations. A nominal p-value of <1×10−6 revealed 234 SNPs in CEU and 154 in YRI as TReQTLs. These represent 36 independent (tag) SNPs in CEU and 39 in YRI affecting the downstream targets of 25 and 36 TRs respectively. At a false discovery rate (FDR) = 45%, one cis-acting tag SNP (within 1 kb of a gene) in each population was identified as a TReQTL. In CEU, the SNP (rs16858621) in Pcnxl2 was found to be associated with the genes regulated by CREM whereas in YRI, the SNP (rs16909324) was linked to the targets of miRNA hsa-miR-125a. To infer the pathways that regulate expression, we ranked TReQTLs by connectivity within the structure of biological process subtrees. One TReQTL SNP (rs3790904) in CEU maps to Lphn2 and is associated (nominal p-value = 8.1×10−7) with the targets of the X-linked breast cancer suppressor Foxp3. The structure of the biological process subtree and a gene interaction network of the TReQTL revealed that tumor necrosis factor, NF-kappaB and variants in G-protein coupled receptors signaling may play a central role as communicators in Foxp3 functional regulation. The potential pleiotropic effect of the Foxp3 TReQTLs was gleaned from integrating mRNA-Seq data and SNP-set enrichment into the analysis.
PMCID: PMC3313997  PMID: 22479588
22.  The Stem Cell Discovery Engine: an integrated repository and analysis system for cancer stem cell comparisons 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(Database issue):D984-D991.
Mounting evidence suggests that malignant tumors are initiated and maintained by a subpopulation of cancerous cells with biological properties similar to those of normal stem cells. However, descriptions of stem-like gene and pathway signatures in cancers are inconsistent across experimental systems. Driven by a need to improve our understanding of molecular processes that are common and unique across cancer stem cells (CSCs), we have developed the Stem Cell Discovery Engine (SCDE)—an online database of curated CSC experiments coupled to the Galaxy analytical framework. The SCDE allows users to consistently describe, share and compare CSC data at the gene and pathway level. Our initial focus has been on carefully curating tissue and cancer stem cell-related experiments from blood, intestine and brain to create a high quality resource containing 53 public studies and 1098 assays. The experimental information is captured and stored in the multi-omics Investigation/Study/Assay (ISA-Tab) format and can be queried in the data repository. A linked Galaxy framework provides a comprehensive, flexible environment populated with novel tools for gene list comparisons against molecular signatures in GeneSigDB and MSigDB, curated experiments in the SCDE and pathways in WikiPathways. The SCDE is available at
PMCID: PMC3245064  PMID: 22121217
23.  Capture of MicroRNA–Bound mRNAs Identifies the Tumor Suppressor miR-34a as a Regulator of Growth Factor Signaling 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(11):e1002363.
A simple biochemical method to isolate mRNAs pulled down with a transfected, biotinylated microRNA was used to identify direct target genes of miR-34a, a tumor suppressor gene. The method reidentified most of the known miR-34a regulated genes expressed in K562 and HCT116 cancer cell lines. Transcripts for 982 genes were enriched in the pull-down with miR-34a in both cell lines. Despite this large number, validation experiments suggested that ∼90% of the genes identified in both cell lines can be directly regulated by miR-34a. Thus miR-34a is capable of regulating hundreds of genes. The transcripts pulled down with miR-34a were highly enriched for their roles in growth factor signaling and cell cycle progression. These genes form a dense network of interacting gene products that regulate multiple signal transduction pathways that orchestrate the proliferative response to external growth stimuli. Multiple candidate miR-34a–regulated genes participate in RAS-RAF-MAPK signaling. Ectopic miR-34a expression reduced basal ERK and AKT phosphorylation and enhanced sensitivity to serum growth factor withdrawal, while cells genetically deficient in miR-34a were less sensitive. Fourteen new direct targets of miR-34a were experimentally validated, including genes that participate in growth factor signaling (ARAF and PIK3R2) as well as genes that regulate cell cycle progression at various phases of the cell cycle (cyclins D3 and G2, MCM2 and MCM5, PLK1 and SMAD4). Thus miR-34a tempers the proliferative and pro-survival effect of growth factor stimulation by interfering with growth factor signal transduction and downstream pathways required for cell division.
Author Summary
microRNAs (miRNAs) are small RNAs that regulate gene expression by binding to mRNAs bearing a partially complementary sequence. miRNAs decrease the stability or translation of mRNA targets, leading to reduced protein expression. Understanding the biological function of a miRNA requires identifying its targets. Here we developed a sensitive and specific biochemical method to identify candidate microRNA targets that are enriched by pull-down with a tagged, transfected microRNA mimic. The method was applied to miR-34a, a miRNA that inhibits cell proliferation. We found that miR-34a can potentially regulate hundreds of genes. Computational analysis of these genes suggested a novel function for miR-34a—suppression of the pro-proliferative response to diverse growth factors. This function complements the previously known role of miR-34a in blocking cell cycle progression. Thus, by reducing the expression of an extensive network of genes, miR-34a dampens growth factor signaling as well as its downstream consequences, promotion of cell survival and proliferation.
PMCID: PMC3213160  PMID: 22102825
24.  Twelve type 2 diabetes susceptibility loci identified through large-scale association analysis 
Voight, Benjamin F | Scott, Laura J | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Morris, Andrew P | Dina, Christian | Welch, Ryan P | Zeggini, Eleftheria | Huth, Cornelia | Aulchenko, Yurii S | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | McCulloch, Laura J | Ferreira, Teresa | Grallert, Harald | Amin, Najaf | Wu, Guanming | Willer, Cristen J | Raychaudhuri, Soumya | McCarroll, Steve A | Langenberg, Claudia | Hofmann, Oliver M | Dupuis, Josée | Qi, Lu | Segrè, Ayellet V | van Hoek, Mandy | Navarro, Pau | Ardlie, Kristin | Balkau, Beverley | Benediktsson, Rafn | Bennett, Amanda J | Blagieva, Roza | Boerwinkle, Eric | Bonnycastle, Lori L | Boström, Kristina Bengtsson | Bravenboer, Bert | Bumpstead, Suzannah | Burtt, Noisël P | Charpentier, Guillaume | Chines, Peter S | Cornelis, Marilyn | Couper, David J | Crawford, Gabe | Doney, Alex S F | Elliott, Katherine S | Elliott, Amanda L | Erdos, Michael R | Fox, Caroline S | Franklin, Christopher S | Ganser, Martha | Gieger, Christian | Grarup, Niels | Green, Todd | Griffin, Simon | Groves, Christopher J | Guiducci, Candace | Hadjadj, Samy | Hassanali, Neelam | Herder, Christian | Isomaa, Bo | Jackson, Anne U | Johnson, Paul R V | Jørgensen, Torben | Kao, Wen H L | Klopp, Norman | Kong, Augustine | Kraft, Peter | Kuusisto, Johanna | Lauritzen, Torsten | Li, Man | Lieverse, Aloysius | Lindgren, Cecilia M | Lyssenko, Valeriya | Marre, Michel | Meitinger, Thomas | Midthjell, Kristian | Morken, Mario A | Narisu, Narisu | Nilsson, Peter | Owen, Katharine R | Payne, Felicity | Perry, John R B | Petersen, Ann-Kristin | Platou, Carl | Proença, Christine | Prokopenko, Inga | Rathmann, Wolfgang | Rayner, N William | Robertson, Neil R | Rocheleau, Ghislain | Roden, Michael | Sampson, Michael J | Saxena, Richa | Shields, Beverley M | Shrader, Peter | Sigurdsson, Gunnar | Sparsø, Thomas | Strassburger, Klaus | Stringham, Heather M | Sun, Qi | Swift, Amy J | Thorand, Barbara | Tichet, Jean | Tuomi, Tiinamaija | van Dam, Rob M | van Haeften, Timon W | van Herpt, Thijs | van Vliet-Ostaptchouk, Jana V | Walters, G Bragi | Weedon, Michael N | Wijmenga, Cisca | Witteman, Jacqueline | Bergman, Richard N | Cauchi, Stephane | Collins, Francis S | Gloyn, Anna L | Gyllensten, Ulf | Hansen, Torben | Hide, Winston A | Hitman, Graham A | Hofman, Albert | Hunter, David J | Hveem, Kristian | Laakso, Markku | Mohlke, Karen L | Morris, Andrew D | Palmer, Colin N A | Pramstaller, Peter P | Rudan, Igor | Sijbrands, Eric | Stein, Lincoln D | Tuomilehto, Jaakko | Uitterlinden, Andre | Walker, Mark | Wareham, Nicholas J | Watanabe, Richard M | Abecasis, Gonçalo R | Boehm, Bernhard O | Campbell, Harry | Daly, Mark J | Hattersley, Andrew T | Hu, Frank B | Meigs, James B | Pankow, James S | Pedersen, Oluf | Wichmann, H-Erich | Barroso, Inês | Florez, Jose C | Frayling, Timothy M | Groop, Leif | Sladek, Rob | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Wilson, James F | Illig, Thomas | Froguel, Philippe | van Duijn, Cornelia M | Stefansson, Kari | Altshuler, David | Boehnke, Michael | McCarthy, Mark I
Nature genetics  2010;42(7):579-589.
By combining genome-wide association data from 8,130 individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and 38,987 controls of European descent and following up previously unidentified meta-analysis signals in a further 34,412 cases and 59,925 controls, we identified 12 new T2D association signals with combinedP < 5 × 10−8. These include a second independent signal at the KCNQ1 locus; the first report, to our knowledge, of an X-chromosomal association (near DUSP9); and a further instance of overlap between loci implicated in monogenic and multifactorial forms of diabetes (at HNF1A). The identified loci affect both beta-cell function and insulin action, and, overall, T2D association signals show evidence of enrichment for genes involved in cell cycle regulation. We also show that a high proportion of T2D susceptibility loci harbor independent association signals influencing apparently unrelated complex traits.
PMCID: PMC3080658  PMID: 20581827
25.  Tunable Phosphorescent NIR Oxygen Indicators Based on Mixed Benzo- and Naphthoporphyrin Complexes 
Inorganic Chemistry  2010;49(20):9333-9342.
A series of π-extended phosphorescent palladium(II) and platinum(II) porphyrin complexes were synthesized, in which additional benzene rings are fused radially onto at least one of the four peripheral benzo groups. The photophysical properties of the metalloporphyrins palladium(II)-meso-tetra-(4-fluorophenyl)mononaphthotribenzoporphyrin (Pd1NF), cis-palladium(II)-meso-tetra-(4-fluorophenyl)dibenzodinaphthoporphyrin (Pd2NF), and palladium(II)-meso-tetra-(4-fluorophenyl)monobenzotrinaphthoporphyrin (Pd3NF) and the corresponding platinum(II) compounds (Pt1NF, cis-Pt2NF, Pt3NF) were investigated. The compounds under investigation absorb intensively in the near-infrared region (628−691 nm) and emit at room temperature at 815−882 nm. Phosphorescence quantum yields of the platinum(II) porphyrins range from 25 to 53% with luminescence decay times of 21 to 44 μs in deoxygenated toluene solutions at room temperature. The corresponding palladium(II) complexes exhibit quantum yields in the range of 7 to 18% with lifetimes of 106 to 206 μs. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations revealed nonplanar geometries for all complexes and corroborate the absorption characteristics. The subsequent π extension of the porphyrin system leads to near-infrared absorbing oxygen indicators with tailor-made luminescence properties as well as tunable oxygen sensitivity.
The synthesis and characterization of novel “hybrid” porphyrin complexes is presented. Photophysical properties, such as absorption in the near-infrared, emission maxima, quantum yields, and lifetimes, are determined by the conjugation length of the porphyrin system, which leads to “tailor-made” NIR indicators for optical oxygen detection.
PMCID: PMC2953278  PMID: 20839844

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