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1.  A novel inflammation-based prognostic score in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma: the C-reactive protein/albumin ratio 
BMC Cancer  2015;15:350.
Plenty of studies have demonstrated the prognostic value of various inflammation-based indexes in cancer. This study was designed to investigate the prognostic value of the C-reactive protein/albumin (CRP/Alb) ratio in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
A retrospective study of 423 cases with newly diagnosed esophageal squamous cell carcinoma was conducted. We analyzed the association of the CRP/Alb ratio with clinicopathologic characteristics. The prognostic value was explored by univariate and multivariate survival analysis. In addition, we compared the discriminatory ability of the CRP/Alb ratio with other inflammation-based prognostic scores by evaluating the area under the receiver operating characteristics curves (AUC), including the modified Glasgow Prognostic Score (mGPS), neutrophil lymphocyte ratio (NLR) and platelet lymphocyte ratio (PLR).
The optimal cut-off value was identified to be 0.095 for the CRP/Alb ratio. A higher level of the CRP/Alb ratio was associated with larger tumor size (P < 0.001), poorer differentiation (P = 0.019), deeper tumor invasion (P = 0.003), more lymph node metastasis (P = 0.015), more distant metastasis (P < 0.001) and later TNM stage (P < 0.001). The CRP/Alb ratio was identified to be the only inflammation-based prognostic score with independent association with overall survival by multivariate analysis (P = 0.031). The AUC value of the CRP/Alb ratio was higher compared with the NLR and PLR, but not mGPS at 6, 12 and 24 months of follow-up. In addition, the CRP/Alb ratio could identify a group of patients with mGPS score of 0 who had comparable overall survival with those with mGPS score of 1.
The CRP/Alb ratio is a novel but promising inflammation-based prognostic score in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. It is a valuable coadjutant for the mGPS to further identify patients’ survival differences.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12885-015-1379-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4423167  PMID: 25934640
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; C-reactive protein; Albumin; The modified Glasgow Prognostic Score; Inflammation-based prognostic score; Survival
2.  Role of capecitabine in treating metastatic colorectal cancer in Chinese patients 
OncoTargets and therapy  2014;7:501-511.
The China Food and Drug Administration approved the use of capecitabine in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) in 2004. This paper reviews the available information of capecitabine in Chinese patients with mCRC, focusing on its effectiveness and safety against mCRC. Identification of all eligible studies was made by searching the PubMed and Wanfang database from 2000 to 2013. Published data examining various aspects of clinical response and tolerability with capecitabine alone or in combination with other chemotherapeutic or biological agents for first- and second-line mCRC were examined. Capecitabine and its combination displayed high efficacy in Chinese patients with mCRC. Toxicities are generally manageable, and elderly patients can tolerate capecitabine well.
PMCID: PMC3979786  PMID: 24729715
capecitabine; metastatic colorectal cancer; Chinese
3.  Primary small cell carcinoma of the esophagus: clinicopathological study of 44 cases 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:222.
Primary small cell carcinoma of the esophagus (SCCE) is a highly aggressive disease characterized by early dissemination and poor prognosis. Because of the rarity of this disease, few previous studies have investigated the biomarkers associated with its prognosis. Leucine-rich repeat-containing G-protein coupled receptor 5 (Lgr5) is a stem cell marker and a member of the canonical Wnt-signaling cascade. However, the clinical role of Lgr5 in SCCE remains unknown.
Tissue sections were obtained from 44 patients diagnosed with SCCE and expression of Lgr5 was examined by immunohistochemistry. The correlations between Lgr5 expression, and clinical parameters and prognostic significance were evaluated.
Lgr5 was expressed in SCCE cancer tissues. High Lgr5 expression was significantly correlated with lymph node metastasis (p = 0.003), late stage (p = 0.003) and unfavorable response to chemotherapy (p = 0.013) according to RECIST 1.0 criteria. Patients with higher Lgr5 expression levels had shorter overall survival times than those with lower expression levels.
These results demonstrated that overexpression of Lgr5 was significantly correlated with lymph node metastasis, tumor stage, and response to chemotherapy. Furthermore, high levels of Lgr5 expression appeared to be associated with poorer survival in patients with SCCE.
PMCID: PMC3987173  PMID: 24666414
Small cell carcinoma; Esophagus; Prognosis; Lgr5
4.  S-1-Based Chemotherapy versus Capecitabine-Based Chemotherapy as First-Line Treatment for Advanced Gastric Carcinoma: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82798.
Although both oral fluoropyrimidines were reported effective and safe, doubts exist about whether S-1 or capecitabine is more advantageous in advanced gastric carcinoma (AGC). Herein, we performed a meta-analysis to comprehensively compare the efficacy and safety of S-1-based chemotherapy versus capecitabine-based chemotherapy as first-line treatment for AGC.
PubMed/Medline, EmBase, Cochrane library, and China National Knowledge Infrastructure databases were searched for articles comparing S-1-based chemotherapy to capecitabine-based chemotherapy for AGC. Primary outcomes were overall response rate (ORR), time to progression (TTP), overall survival (OS), progression-free probability, and survival probability. Secondary outcomes were toxicities. Fixed-effects model were used and all the results were confirmed by random-effects model.
Five randomized controlled trials and five cohort studies with 821 patients were included. We found equivalent ORR (38.3% vs. 39.1%, odds ratio [OR] 0.92, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.69-1.24, P = 0.59), TTP (harzad ratio [HR] 0.98, 95% CI 0.82-1.16, P = 0.79), OS (HR 0.99, 95% CI 0.87-1.13, P = 0.91), progression-free probability (3-month OR 1.02, 95% CI 0.62-1.68, P = 0.94; 6-month OR 1.34, 95% CI 0.88-2.04, P = 0.18) and survival probability (0.5-year OR 0.90, 95% CI 0.61-1.31, P =0.57; 1-year OR 0.97, 95% CI 0.70- 1.33, P = 0.84; 2-year OR 1.15, 95% CI 0.61-2.17, P = 0.66). Equivalent grade 3 to 4 hematological and non-hematological toxicities were found except hand-foot syndrome was less prominent in S-1-based chemotherapy (0.3% vs. 5.9%, OR 0.19, 95% CI 0.06-0.56, P = 0.003). There’re no significant heterogeneity and publication bias. Cumulative analysis found stable time-dependent trend. Consistent results stratified by study design, age, regimen, cycle, country were observed.
S-1-based chemotherapy was associated with non-inferior antitumor efficacy and better safety profile, compared with capecitabine-based therapy. We recommended S-1 and capecitabine can be used interchangeably for AGC, at least in Asia.
PMCID: PMC3861463  PMID: 24349363
5.  Abnormal expression of paxillin correlates with tumor progression and poor survival in patients with gastric cancer 
Paxillin (PXN) has been found to be aberrantly regulated in various malignancies and involved in tumor growth and invasion. The clinicopathological and prognostic significance of PXN in gastric cancer is still unclear.
The expression of PXN was determined in paired gastric cancer tissues and adjacent normal tissues by Western blotting and real-time PCR. Immunohistochemistry was performed to detect the expression of PXN in 239 gastric cancer patients. Statistical analysis was applied to investigate the correlation between PXN expression and clinicopathological characteristics and prognosis in patients. Additionally, the effects of PXN on gastric cancer cell proliferation and migration were also evaluated.
PXN was up-regulated in gastric cancer tissues and cell lines as compared with adjacent normal tissues and normal gastric epithelial cell line GES-1. Overexpression of PXN was correlated with distant metastasis (P = 0.001) and advanced tumor stage (P = 0.021) in gastric cancer patients. Patients with high PXN expression tended to have poor prognosis compared with patients with low PXN expression (P < 0.001). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that PXN expression was an independent prognostic factor (P = 0.020). Moreover, ectopic expression of PXN promotes cell proliferation and migration in AGS cells whereas knockdown of PXN inhibits cell proliferation and migration in SGC7901 cells.
PXN plays an important role in tumor progression and may be used as a potential prognostic indicator in gastric cancer.
PMCID: PMC4228400  PMID: 24180516
Gastric cancer; Paxillin; Tumor progression; Prognosis
6.  The status of HBV infection influences metastatic pattern and survival in Chinese patients with pancreatic cancer 
It has been proved that hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection alters the metastatic pattern and affects survival in colorectal cancer (CRC) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), while the influence of HBV infection on metastatic pattern and survival in patients with pancreatic cancer (PC) has not been investigated yet.
We conducted an investigation to evaluate the impact of HBV infection on metastatic pattern and overall survival in PC. We collected the data of 460 PC patients treated in our hospital from 1999 to 2010. Serum HBV markers were tested with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The impact of HBV infection on metastatic pattern and overall survival was analyzed.
We found that the incidence of synchronous liver metastasis was significantly higher in patients with HBsAg positive than those with HBsAg negative (46.0% vs 32.0%, P < 0.05), and higher in chronic HBV infection (CHB) group than both non HBV infection and resolved HBV infection group (61.1% vs 33.9%, P < 0.05, and 61.1% vs 28.7%, P < 0.05, respectively). What’s more, Kaplan-Meier analysis showed that CHB, resolved HBV infection and non HBV infection group had significant longer overall survival (OS) compared with inactive HBsAg carriers (IC) group (P=0.037, P=0.009, and P=0.019 respectively). But, in the multivariate analysis, only the CHB and non HBV infection group had significant better overall survival compared with IC group (P=0.010 and P=0.018 respectively).
Our study found that HBV infection increased synchronous liver metastasis rate, and HBV infection status was an independent prognostic factor in PC patients.
PMCID: PMC3851713  PMID: 24099678
Hepatitis B virus; Pancreatic cancer; Liver metastasis; Survival
7.  Next-generation sequencing-based molecular diagnosis of 82 retinitis pigmentosa probands from Northern Ireland 
Human genetics  2014;134(2):217-230.
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a group of inherited retinal disorders characterized by progressive photoreceptor degeneration. An accurate molecular diagnosis is essential for disease characterization and clinical prognoses. A retinal capture panel that enriches 186 known retinal disease genes, including 55 known RP genes, was developed. Targeted next-generation sequencing was performed for a cohort of 82 unrelated RP cases from Northern Ireland, including 46 simplex cases and 36 familial cases. Disease-causing mutations were identified in 49 probands, including 28 simplex cases and 21 familial cases, achieving a solving rate of 60 %. In total, 65 pathogenic mutations were found, and 29 of these were novel. Interestingly, the molecular information of 12 probands was neither consistent with their initial inheritance pattern nor clinical diagnosis. Further clinical reassessment resulted in a refinement of the clinical diagnosis in 11 patients. This is the first study to apply next-generation sequencing-based, comprehensive molecular diagnoses to a large number of RP probands from Northern Ireland. Our study shows that molecular information can aid clinical diagnosis, potentially changing treatment options, current family counseling and management.
PMCID: PMC4347882  PMID: 25472526
8.  Bmp2 Deletion Causes an Amelogenesis Imperfecta Phenotype Via Regulating Enamel Gene Expression 
Journal of cellular physiology  2015;230(8):1871-1882.
Although Bmp2 is essential for tooth formation, the role of Bmp2 during enamel formation remains unknown in vivo. In this study, the role of Bmp2 in regulation of enamel formation was investigated by the Bmp2 conditional knock out (Bmp2 cKO) mice. Teeth of Bmp2 cKO mice displayed severe and profound phenotypes with asymmetric and misshaped incisors as well as abrasion of incisors and molars. Scanning electron microscopy analysis showed that the enamel layer was hypoplastic and enamel lacked a typical prismatic pattern. Teeth from null mice were much more brittle as tested by shear and compressive moduli. Expression of enamel matrix protein genes, amelogenin, enamelin, and enamel-processing proteases, Mmp-20 and Klk4 was reduced in the Bmp2 cKO teeth as reflected in a reduced enamel formation. Exogenous Bmp2 up-regulated those gene expressions in mouse enamel organ epithelial cells. This result for the first time indicates Bmp2 signaling is essential for proper enamel development and mineralization in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4469356  PMID: 25545831
9.  Enhanced Sensitive Immunoassay: Noncompetitive Phage Anti-Immune Complex Assay for the Determination of Malachite Green and Leucomalachite Green 
To develop a more sensitive immunoassay for malachite green (MG) and leucomalachite green (LMG), we identified the immunocomplex binding phage-borne peptides for use in the noncompetitive phage anti-immunocomplex assay (PHAIA). An anti-LMG monoclonal antibody (mAb) was used to select immunocomplex binding peptides from a circular random eight-amino-acid phage-displayed library. After three rounds of panning-elution, five peptides that bound the LMG–mAb immunocomplex were obtained. One of the phage-borne peptide clones that resulted in an assay with the highest sensitivity was chosen for further research. The concentration of LMG producing 50% of the saturated signal and the limit of detection of the assay were 7.02 and 0.55 ng/mL, respectively, with a linear range of 1.35 to 21.56 ng/mL. The PHAIA based on the same antibody was 16 times more sensitive compared to the competitive immunoassay. PHAIA was used to analyze LMG, MG, and two mixtures of spiked fish samples, with validation by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with fluorescence detector. Results showed a good correlation (R2LMG = 0.9841; R2MG = 0.993; R2Mixture = 0.9903) between the data of PHAIA and HPLC, thus the assay was an efficient method for monitoring food safety.
PMCID: PMC4150606  PMID: 25077381
malachite green; leucomalachite Green; phage anti-immunocomplex assay
10.  FGF21 protects against ox-LDL induced apoptosis through suppressing CHOP expression in THP1 macrophage derived foam cells 
FGF21,as a member of the fibroblast growth factor superfamily, is an important endogenous regulator to systemic glucose and lipid metabolism. Elevated serum FGF21 levels have been reported in subjects with coronary heart disease and carotid artery plaques. The formation and apoptosis of foam cell, induced by ox-LDL and oxysterols, are key steps in the development of atherosclerosis.
In this study, THP1 derived macrophages were induced into foam cells by ox-LDL or sterols. The formation and apoptosis of foam cells treated with or without FGF21 were analyzed.
We demonstrated that the accumulation of cholesterol was decreased after FGF21 treatment in THP1 macrophage derived foam cells. Consistently, the apoptosis of macrophage was alleviated dramatically with FGF21 treatment. ERK1/2 knockdown didn’t abrogate the effect of FGF21 on THP1 macrophage derived foam cells. However, FGF21 suppressed the induced expression of CHOP and DR5 in THP1 macrophage derived foam cells.
FGF21 protects against the formation and apoptosis of THP1 macrophages derived foam cells through suppressing the expression of CHOP.
PMCID: PMC4518604
Macrophage; ER stress; FGF21; Foam cell; CHOP
11.  Morphological Characteristics, Anatomical Structure, and Gene Expression: Novel Insights into Cytokinin Accumulation during Carrot Growth and Development 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0134166.
Cytokinins have been implicated in normal plant growth and development. These bioactive molecules are essential for cell production and expansion in higher plants. Carrot is an Apiaceae vegetable with great value and undergoes significant size changes over the process of plant growth. However, cytokinin accumulation and its potential roles in carrot growth have not been elucidated. To address this problem, carrot plants at five stages were collected, and morphological and anatomical characteristics and expression profiles of cytokinin-related genes were determined. During carrot growth and development, cytokinin levels were the highest at the second stage in the roots, whereas relatively stable levels were observed in the petioles and leaves. DcCYP735A2 showed high expression at stage 2 in the roots, which may contribute largely to the higher cytokinin level at this stage. However, expression of most metabolic genes did not follow a pattern similar to that of cytokinin accumulation, indicating that cytokinin biosynthesis was regulated through a complex network. Genes involved in cytokinin signal perception and transduction were also integrated to normal plant growth and development. The results from the present work suggested that cytokinins may regulate plant growth in a stage-dependent manner. Our work would shed novel insights into cytokinin accumulation and its potential roles during carrot growth. Further studies regarding carrot cytokinins may be achieved by modification of the genes involved in cytokinin biosynthesis, inactivation, and perception.
PMCID: PMC4517795  PMID: 26218147
12.  Rational Design of CXCR4 Specific Antibodies with Elongated CDRs 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2014;136(30):10557-10560.
The bovine antibody (BLV1H12) which has an ultralong heavy chain complementarity determining region 3 (CDRH3) provides a novel scaffold for antibody engineering. By substituting the extended CDRH3 of BLV1H12 with modified CXCR4 binding peptides that adopt a β-hairpin conformation, we generated antibodies specifically targeting the ligand binding pocket of CXCR4 receptor. These engineered antibodies selectively bind to CXCR4 expressing cells with binding affinities in the low nanomolar range. In addition, they inhibit SDF-1-dependent signal transduction and cell migration in a transwell assay. Finally, we also demonstrate that a similar strategy can be applied to other CDRs and show that a CDRH2-peptide fusion binds CXCR4 with a Kd of 0.9 nM. This work illustrates the versatility of scaffold-based antibody engineering and could greatly expand the antibody functional repertoire in the future.
PMCID: PMC4120998  PMID: 25041362
13.  Neurod1 Modulates Opioid Antinociceptive Tolerance via Two Distinct Mechanisms 
Biological psychiatry  2014;76(10):775-784.
The activity of neurogenic differentiation 1 (Neurod1) decreases after morphine administration, which leads to impairments of the stability of dendritic spines in primary hippocampal neurons, adult neurogenesis in mouse hippocampi, and drug-associated contextual memory. The current study examined whether Neurod1 could affect the development of opioid tolerance.
Lentivirus encoding Neurod1, microRNA-190 (miR-190), or short hairpin RNA against Neurod1 was injected into mouse hippocampi separately or combined (more than eight mice for each treatment) to modulate Neurod1 activity. The antinociceptive median effective dose values of morphine and fentanyl were determined with tail-flick assay and used to calculate development of tolerance. Contextual learning and memory were assayed using the Morris water maze.
Decrease in NeuroD1 activity increased the initial antinociceptive median effective dose values of both morphine and fentanyl, which was reversed by restoring NeuroD1 activity. In contrast, decrease in NeuroD1 activity inhibited development of tolerance in a time-dependent manner, paralleling its effects on the acquisition and extinction of contextual memory. In addition, only development of tolerance, but not antinociceptive median effective dose values, was modulated by the expression of miR-190 and Neurod1 driven by Nestin promoter.
Neurod1 regulates the developments of opioid tolerance via a time-dependent pathway through contextual learning and a short-response pathway through antinociception.
PMCID: PMC4503258  PMID: 24993058
Analgesia; learning; Neurod1; opioid; tolerance; water maze
14.  Donor-specific anti-human leukocyte antigen antibodies were associated with primary graft failure after unmanipulated haploidentical blood and marrow transplantation: a prospective study with randomly assigned training and validation sets 
Small studies suggest an association of donor-specific anti-human leukocyte antigen (HLA) antibodies (DSAs) with primary graft failure (GF) following haploidentical stem cell transplantation, but primary graft rejection (GR) was not discriminated from primary poor graft function (PGF). In this study, we aimed to determine the association of DSAs with primary GF, including GR and PGF, in patients who underwent unmanipulated haploidentical blood and marrow transplantation.
A total of 345 subjects were prospectively recruited and randomly selected as training group (n = 173) and validation group (n = 172). Patient plasma/serum was screened. For HLA antibody positive samples with a median fluorescent intensity (MFI) >500, DSAs were further tested using a LABScreen Single Antigen Kit (One Lambda).
A total of 342 patients (99.1 %) achieved sustained myeloid engraftment. The median times to neutrophil engraftment and platelet engraftment were 13 days (range, 8–28 days) and 18 days (range, 6–330 days), respectively. The cumulative incidence of primary GF was 6.4 ± 1.3 % and included GR (0.9 ± 0.5 %) and PGF (5.5 ± 1.2 %). Of the 345 cases tested, 39 (11.3 %) were DSA positive. Multivariate models showed that DSAs (MFI ≥ 10,000) were correlated to primary GR (P < 0.001) and that DSAs (MFI ≥ 2000) were strongly associated with primary PGF (P = 0.005). All patients were classified into three groups for analysis. Group A included cases that were DSA negative and those with a DSA MFI <2000 (n = 316), group B included cases with a 2000 ≤ MFI < 10,000 (n = 19), and group C included cases with a MFI ≥10,000 (n = 10). The DSAs were associated with an increased incidence of the primary GF (3.2 vs. 31.6 vs. 60 %, for groups A, B, and C, respectively, P < 0.001), transplant-related mortality (TRM) rate (17.2 vs. 14.7 vs. 33.3 %, for groups A, B, and C, respectively, P = 0.022), and inferior overall survival (OS, 77.3 vs. 85.3 vs. 44.4 %, for groups A, B, and C, respectively, P = 0.015). The primary GF was independently associated with a higher incidence of TRM (P < 0.001), inferior disease-free survival (P < 0.001), and OS (P < 0.001).
The findings confirmed the effect of DSAs on primary GF, including GR and PGF, and survival. Our results suggest incorporating DSAs in the algorithm for haploidentical donor selection.
PMCID: PMC4496923  PMID: 26156584
15.  Association of three 8q24 polymorphisms with prostate cancer susceptibility: evidence from a meta-analysis with 50,854 subjects 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:12069.
The 8q24 polymorphisms have been implicated in various cancers. Three 8q24 polymorphisms (rs1447295 C>A, rs16901979 C>A, and rs6983267 T>G) have been extensively investigated for their association with prostate cancer (PCa) susceptibility, yet conclusions are contradictory. We conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis to reevaluate the associations between those polymorphisms and PCa susceptibility, according to the latest meta-analysis guidelines (PRISMA). Eligible publications were searched from MEDLINE, EMBASE and CBM. False positive report possibility analysis was performed. We totally collected 20184 cases and 20439 controls from 20 studies for the rs1447295 C>A, 1850 cases and 2090 controls from 7 studies for the rs16901979 C>A, and 12233 cases and 7582 controls from 17 studies for the rs6983267 T>G. Overall, each of studied 8q24 polymorphisms was significantly associated with PCa risk individually. Significant associations were also observed in stratified analysis by ethnicity, source of control, and quality score. Interestingly, the effect of rs1447295 on PCa risk was observed among Caucasians and Asians, but not Africa-Americans. The effect of rs16901979 was more prominent among Africa-Americans than Asians. Likewise, rs6983267 conferred a higher Pca risk among Caucasians than Asians. Collectively, these 8q24 variant(s) may modulate PCa risk in an ethnic-specific manner.
PMCID: PMC4498192  PMID: 26159557
16.  Vibrational spectroscopy at electrolyte/electrode interfaces with graphene gratings 
Nature Communications  2015;6:7593.
Microscopic understanding of physical and electrochemical processes at electrolyte/electrode interfaces is critical for applications ranging from batteries, fuel cells to electrocatalysis. However, probing such buried interfacial processes is experimentally challenging. Infrared spectroscopy is sensitive to molecule vibrational signatures, yet to approach the interface three stringent requirements have to be met: interface specificity, sub-monolayer molecular detection sensitivity, and electrochemically stable and infrared transparent electrodes. Here we show that transparent graphene gratings electrode provide an attractive platform for vibrational spectroscopy at the electrolyte/electrode interfaces: infrared diffraction from graphene gratings offers enhanced detection sensitivity and interface specificity. We demonstrate the vibrational spectroscopy of methylene group of adsorbed sub-monolayer cetrimonium bromide molecules and reveal a reversible field-induced electrochemical deposition of cetrimonium bromide on the electrode controlled by the bias voltage. Such vibrational spectroscopy with graphene gratings is promising for real time and in situ monitoring of different chemical species at the electrolyte/electrode interfaces.
Understanding of electrolyte-electrode interfaces is limited due to the lack of suitable probing techniques. Here, the authors present a vibrational spectroscopy based on graphene gratings, which enables sensitive and interface-specific detection of molecular vibrations at electrolyte-electrode interfaces.
PMCID: PMC4491813  PMID: 26123807
17.  A Homozygous Missense Mutation in NEUROD1 Is Associated With Nonsyndromic Autosomal Recessive Retinitis Pigmentosa 
Mutations in the same gene can lead to different clinical phenotypes. In this study, we aim to identify novel genotype–phenotype correlations and novel disease genes by analyzing an unsolved autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa (ARRP) Han Chinese family.
Whole exome sequencing was performed for one proband from the consanguineous ARRP family. Stringent variants filtering and prioritizations were applied to identify the causative mutation.
A homozygous missense variant, c.724G>A; p.V242I, in NEUROD1 was identified as the most likely cause of disease. This allele perfectly segregates in the family and affects an amino acid, which is highly conserved among mammals. A previous study showed that a homozygous null allele in NEUROD1 causes severe syndromic disease with neonatal diabetes, systematic neurological abnormalities, and early-onset retinal dystrophy. Consistent with these results, our patients who are homozygous for a less severe missense allele presented only late-onset retinal degeneration without any syndromic symptoms.
We identified a potential novel genotype–phenotype correlation between NEUROD1 and nonsyndromic ARRP. Our study supports the idea that NEUROD1 is important for maintenance of the retina function and partial loss-of-function mutation in NEUROD1 is likely a rare cause of nonsyndromic ARRP.
We identified a potential novel genotype–phenotype correlation between NEUROD1 and nonsyndromic ARRP.
PMCID: PMC4290556  PMID: 25477324
retinitis pigmentosa; NEUROD1; genotype–phenotype correlation; next-generation sequencing; retina
19.  H2A histone-fold and DNA elements in nucleosome activate SWR1-mediated H2A.Z replacement in budding yeast 
eLife  null;4:e06845.
The histone variant H2A.Z is a universal mark of gene promoters, enhancers, and regulatory elements in eukaryotic chromatin. The chromatin remodeler SWR1 mediates site-specific incorporation of H2A.Z by a multi-step histone replacement reaction, evicting histone H2A-H2B from the canonical nucleosome and depositing the H2A.Z-H2B dimer. Binding of both substrates, the canonical nucleosome and the H2A.Z-H2B dimer, is essential for activation of SWR1. We found that SWR1 primarily recognizes key residues within the α2 helix in the histone-fold of nucleosomal histone H2A, a region not previously known to influence remodeler activity. Moreover, SWR1 interacts preferentially with nucleosomal DNA at superhelix location 2 on the nucleosome face distal to its linker-binding site. Our findings provide new molecular insights on recognition of the canonical nucleosome by a chromatin remodeler and have implications for ATP-driven mechanisms of histone eviction and deposition.
eLife digest
A DNA molecule can be several meters long and to fit this length inside a cell, it is wrapped around proteins called histones. This compacts the DNA to form a structure known as chromatin; complexes of DNA and histones, called nucleosomes, serve as the building blocks of chromatin.
Cells regulate the organization of chromatin to switch genes ‘on’ and ‘off’. Complexes of proteins, such as SWR1, alter the packing of chromatin and are known as ‘chromatin modifiers’. To express a gene, parts of the chromatin have to unpack to allow various proteins and other factors to access to the underlying DNA. Chromatin remodeling enzymes can loosen chromatin by sliding nucleosomes away from each other, removing them altogether, or replacing one type of histone with another. For example, a histone variant called H2A.Z appears to poise genes for expression and is enriched near the start sites of most genes in the genome. The SWR1 complex evicts the conventional, ‘canonical histone’ called H2A that is already present at these sites and replaces them with H2A.Z.
H2A.Z is related to H2A, and the SWR1 complex can interact with both of these proteins. However, it remains poorly understood how SWR1 can discriminate between the two at the molecular level. Ranjan et al. have now addressed this in budding yeast cells, by constructing hybrids that contain parts of H2A combined with H2A.Z. The experiments revealed that the SWR1 complex recognizes key elements within the histone H2A protein itself that differ from H2A.Z. Binding to H2A activates SWR1 and causes it to replace H2A with H2A.Z.
Ranjan et al. next looked to see if the SWR1 complex also interacts with the DNA present within a nucleosome and whether any gaps in the DNA interfere with histone replacement. The experiments revealed that gaps in DNA at a specific region of the nucleosome prevent SWR1 from depositing H2A.Z. Therefore, close contact between SWR1 and a nucleosome's DNA is another factor that is required for SWR1 activity. These findings provide new insights as to how SWR1 recognizes histone and DNA elements of a canonical nucleosome. Further work is needed to understand how SWR1 acts to replace H2A with H2A.Z.
PMCID: PMC4508883  PMID: 26116819
chromatin remodeler; nucleosome; H2A.Z; S. cerevisiae
20.  The Protective Effect of Radix Polygoni Multiflori on Diabetic Encephalopathy via Regulating Myosin Light Chain Kinase Expression 
Journal of Diabetes Research  2015;2015:484721.
Currently there has been no effective treatment of diabetic encephalopathy. Radix Polygoni Multiflori, a famous traditional Chinese medicine, is widely used in antiaging treatment, especially in prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's diseases. In this study we tried to explore the effect of Radix Polygoni Multiflori on cognitive function among diabetic rats with demonstrated cognitive impairment. SD rats were divided into group A (control group), group B (diabetes), group C (treated with Radix Polygoni Multiflori at the dose of 2 g/kg/d), and group D (treated with same drug at the dose of 1 g/kg/d). The results showed that 8 weeks of Radix Polygoni Multiflori treatment could improve the cognitive dysfunction of diabetic rats (P < 0.01), recover the ultrastructure of hippocampal neurons, and increase the number of synapses in a dose-dependent manner. Further experiment also suggested that the neuroprotective effect of Radix Polygoni Multiflori was partly achieved by downregulating MLCK expression in hippocampus via ERK signaling.
PMCID: PMC4496489  PMID: 26199947
21.  Prediction models and risk assessment for silicosis using a retrospective cohort study among workers exposed to silica in China 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:11059.
This study aims to develop a prognostic risk prediction model for the development of silicosis among workers exposed to silica dust in China. The prediction model was performed by using retrospective cohort of 3,492 workers exposed to silica in an iron ore, with 33 years of follow-up. We developed a risk score system using a linear combination of the predictors weighted by the LASSO penalized Cox regression coefficients. The model’s predictive accuracy was evaluated using time-dependent ROC curves. Six predictors were selected into the final prediction model (age at entry of the cohort, mean concentration of respirable silica, net years of dust exposure, smoking, illiteracy, and no. of jobs). We classified workers into three risk groups according to the quartile (Q1, Q3) of risk score; 203 (23.28%) incident silicosis cases were derived from the high risk group (risk score ≥ 5.91), whilst only 4 (0.46%) cases were from the low risk group (risk score < 3.97). The score system was regarded as accurate given the range of AUCs (83–96%). This study developed a unique score system with a good internal validity, which provides scientific guidance to the clinicians to identify high-risk workers, thus has important cost efficient implications.
PMCID: PMC4473532  PMID: 26090590
22.  The effect of BIM deletion polymorphism on intrinsic resistance and clinical outcome of cancer patient with kinase inhibitor therapy 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:11348.
A common deletion polymorphism within B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia-lymphoma like 11 gene (BIM) was deemed to be a genetic cause leading to compromised kinase inhibitor therapeutic efficacy in cancer individuals. However, the results reported were not consistent. Thus, a comprehensive meta-analysis containing 12 eligible studies including 1,532 Asian patients was conducted to investigate a steady and reliable conclusion. The results showed that BIM deletion polymorphism was significantly associated with tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) clinical efficacy in term of response rate (Ph = 0.349, HR = 0.438, 95%CI = 0.274–0.699) and disease control rate (Ph = 0.941, HR = 0.370, 95%CI = 0.202–0.678) in EGFR-mutated NSCLC population, not in CML and HCC subgroups. Additionally, EGFR-mutated NSCLC patient harbored BIM deletion polymorphism was associated with a shorter progression-free survival (PFS) than those with BIM wild polymorphism (Ph = 0.580, adjusted HR = 2.194, 95%CI = 1.710–2.814). However, no significant association was examined between BIM deletion polymorphism and overall survival (OS) and toxic adverse events in EGFR-mutated NSCLC population and it was not associated with PFS and OS in HCC subgroup. These findings revealed that BIM deletion polymorphism might be a genetic cause of intrinsic resistance to TKI therapy and it could be emerged as an independent predictor to identify patients who would benefit from TKI targeted therapy in EGFR-mutated NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC4466895  PMID: 26076815
23.  High-throughput sequencing of small RNAs and anatomical characteristics associated with leaf development in celery 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:11093.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) exhibit diverse and important roles in plant growth, development, and stress responses and regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. Knowledge about the diversity of miRNAs and their roles in leaf development in celery remains unknown. To elucidate the roles of miRNAs in celery leaf development, we identified leaf development-related miRNAs through high-throughput sequencing. Small RNA libraries were constructed using leaves from three stages (10, 20, and 30 cm) of celery cv.‘Ventura’ and then subjected to high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatics analysis. At Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 3 of ‘Ventura’, a total of 333, 329, and 344 conserved miRNAs (belonging to 35, 35, and 32 families, respectively) were identified. A total of 131 miRNAs were identified as novel in ‘Ventura’. Potential miRNA target genes were predicted and annotated using the eggNOG, GO, and KEGG databases to explore gene functions. The abundance of five conserved miRNAs and their corresponding potential target genes were validated. Expression profiles of novel potential miRNAs were also detected. Anatomical characteristics of the leaf blades and petioles at three leaf stages were further analyzed. This study contributes to our understanding on the functions and molecular regulatory mechanisms of miRNAs in celery leaf development.
PMCID: PMC4460894  PMID: 26057455
24.  miR-16 promotes the apoptosis of human cancer cells by targeting FEAT 
BMC Cancer  2015;15:448.
Although human cancers have heterogeneous combinations of altered oncogenes, some crucial genes are universally dysregulated in most cancers. One such gene, FEAT (faint expression in normal tissues, aberrant overexpression in tumors), is uniformly overexpressed in a variety of human cancers and plays an important role in tumorigenesis by suppressing apoptosis. However, the precise molecular mechanism through which FEAT is upregulated during tumorigenesis remains largely unknown.
In this study, we used bioinformatic analyses to search for miRNAs that potentially target FEAT. We examined the expression of FEAT protein level by western blotting and miR-16 level by qRT-PCR assay. Cancer cell lines (A549, MCF-7 and Huh-7) with miR-16 upregulation and FEAT silencing were established and the effects on apoptosis of cancer cells in vitro were assessed. Luciferase reporter assay was also performed to investigate the interaction between miR-16 and FEAT.
We identified a specific target site for miR-16 in the 3′-untranslated region (3′-UTR) of FEAT. Consistent with the bioinformatic analyses, we identified an inverse correlation between the miR-16 and FEAT protein levels in lung cancer, breast cancer, and hepatocellular cancer tissues. We then experimentally validated miR-16 as a direct regulator of FEAT using cell transfection and luciferase assays. Finally, we demonstrated that the repression of FEAT by miR-16 promoted the apoptosis of cancer cells.
Our findings provide the first clues regarding the role of miR-16 as a tumor suppressor in cancer cells through the inhibition of FEAT translation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12885-015-1458-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4450989  PMID: 26031775
miR-16; FEAT; Apoptosis
25.  A core-shell-shell nanoplatform upconverting near-infrared light at 808 nm for luminescence imaging and photodynamic therapy of cancer 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:10785.
Upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) have been extensively explored for photodynamic therapy (PDT) and imaging due to their representative large anti-Stokes shifts, deep penetration into biological tissues, narrow emission bands, and high spatial-temporal resolution. Conventional UCNP-based PDT system, however, utilizes exitation at 980 nm, at which water has significant absorption, leading to a huge concern that the cell killing effect is from the irradiation due to overheating effect. Here we report an efficient nanoplatform using 808-nm excited NaYbF4:Nd@NaGdF4:Yb/Er@NaGdF4 core−shell−shell nanoparticles loaded with Chlorin e6 and folic acid for simultaneous imaging and PDT. At this wavelength, the absorption of water is minimized. High energy transfer efficiency is achieved to generate cytotoxic singlet oxygen. Our nanoplatform effectively kills cancer cells in concentration-, time-, and receptor-dependent manners. More importantly, our nanoplatform is still able to efficiently generate singlet oxygen beneath 15-mm thickness of muscle tissue but 980 nm excitation cannot, showing that a higher penetration depth is achieved by our system. These results imply that our nanoplatform has the ability to effectively kill intrinsic tumor or the center of large tumors through PDT, which significantly improves the anticancer efficacy using UCNP-based PDT system and broadens the types of tumors that could be cured.
PMCID: PMC4451683  PMID: 26035527

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