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1.  OSBP-Related Protein 8 (ORP8) Regulates Plasma and Liver Tissue Lipid Levels and Interacts with the Nucleoporin Nup62 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21078.
We earlier identified OSBP-related protein 8 (ORP8) as an endoplasmic reticulum oxysterol-binding protein implicated in cellular lipid homeostasis. We now investigated its action in hepatic cells in vivo and in vitro. Adenoviral overexpression of ORP8 in mouse liver induced a decrease of cholesterol, phospholipids, and triglycerides in serum (−34%, −26%, −37%, respectively) and liver tissue (−40%, −12%, −24%), coinciding with reduction of nuclear (n)SREBP-1 and -2 and mRNA levels of their target genes. Consistently, excess ORP8 reduced nSREBPs in HuH7 cells, and ORP8 overexpression or silencing by RNA interference moderately suppressed or induced the expression of SREBP-1 and SREBP-2 target genes, respectively. In accordance, cholesterol biosynthesis was reduced by ORP8 overexpression and enhanced by ORP8 silencing in [3H]acetate pulse-labeling experiments. ORP8, previously shown to bind 25-hydroxycholesterol, was now shown to bind also cholesterol in vitro. Yeast two-hybrid, bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC), and co-immunoprecipitation analyses revealed the nuclear pore component Nup62 as an interaction partner of ORP8. Co-localization of ORP8 and Nup62 at the nuclear envelope was demonstrated by BiFC and confocal immunofluorescence microscopy. Furthermore, the impact of overexpressed ORP8 on nSREBPs and their target mRNAs was inhibited in cells depleted of Nup62. Our results reveal that ORP8 has the capacity to modulate lipid homeostasis and SREBP activity, probably through an indirect mechanism, and provide clues of an entirely new mode of ORP action.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021078
PMCID: PMC3115989  PMID: 21698267
2.  Effective inhibition of HCMV UL49 gene expression and viral replication by oligonucleotide external guide sequences and RNase P 
Virology Journal  2010;7:100.
Background
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a ubiquitous herpesvirus that typically causes asymptomatic infections in healthy individuals but may lead to serious complications in newborns and immunodeficient individuals. The emergence of drug-resistant strains of HCMV has posed a need for the development of new drugs and treatment strategies. Antisense molecules are promising gene-targeting agents for specific regulation of gene expression. External guide sequences (EGSs) are oligonucleotides that consist of a sequence complementary to a target mRNA and recruit intracellular RNase P for specific degradation of the target RNA. The UL49-deletion BAC of HCMV was significantly defective in growth in human foreskin fibroblasts. Therefore, UL49 gene may serve as a potential target for novel drug development to combat HCMV infection. In this study, DNA-based EGS molecules were synthesized to target the UL49 mRNA of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV).
Results
By cleavage activity assessing in vitro, the EGS aimed to the cleavage site 324 nt downstream from the translational initiation codon of UL49 mRNA (i.e. EGS324) was confirmed be efficient to direct human RNase P to cleave the target mRNA sequence. When EGS324 was exogenously administered into HCMV-infected human foreskin fibroblasts (HFFs), a significant reduction of ~76% in the mRNA and ~80% in the protein expression of UL49 gene, comparing with the cells transfected with control EGSs. Furthermore, a reduction of about 330-fold in HCMV growth were observed in HCMV-infected HFFs treated with the EGS.
Conclusions
These results indicated that UL49 gene was essential for replication of HCMV. Moreover, our study provides evidence that exogenous administration of a DNA-based EGS can be used as a potential therapeutic approach for inhibiting gene expression and replication of a human virus.
doi:10.1186/1743-422X-7-100
PMCID: PMC2885339  PMID: 20482805
3.  The molecular basis of beta-thalassemia intermedia in southern China: genotypic heterogeneity and phenotypic diversity 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:31.
Background
The clinical syndrome of thalassemia intermedia (TI) results from the β-globin genotypes in combination with factors to produce fetal haemoglobin (HbF) and/or co-inheritance of α-thalassemia. However, very little is currently known of the molecular basis of Chinese TI patients.
Methods
We systematically analyzed and characterized β-globin genotypes, α-thalassemia determinants, and known primary genetic modifiers linked to the production of HbF and the aggravation of α/β imbalance in 117 Chinese TI patients. Genotype-phenotype correlations were analyzed based on retrospective clinical observations.
Results
A total of 117 TI patients were divided into two major groups, namely heterozygous β-thalassemia (n = 20) in which 14 were characterized as having a mild TI with the Hb levels of 68-95 g/L except for five co-inherited αααanti-3.7 triplication and one carried a dominant mutation; and β-thalassemia homozygotes or compound heterozygotes for β-thalassemia and other β-globin defects in which the β+-thalassemia mutation was the most common (49/97), hemoglobin E (HbE) variants was second (27/97), and deletional hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin (HPFH) or δβ-thalassemia was third (11/97). Two novel mutations, Term CD+32(A→C) and Cap+39(C→T), have been detected.
Conclusions
Chinese TI patients showed considerable heterogeneity, both phenotypically and genotypically. The clinical outcomes of our TI patients were mostly explained by the genotypes linked to the β- and α-globin gene cluster. However, for a group of 14 patients (13 β0/βN and 1 β+/βN) with known heterozygous mutations of β-thalassemia and three with homozygous β-thalassemia (β0/β0), the existence of other causative genetic determinants is remaining to be molecularly defined.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-11-31
PMCID: PMC2845123  PMID: 20181291
4.  Engineered external guide sequences are highly effective in inducing RNase P for inhibition of gene expression and replication of human cytomegalovirus 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(2):575-583.
External guide sequences (EGSs), which are RNA molecules derived from natural tRNAs, bind to a target mRNA and render the mRNA susceptible to hydrolysis by RNase P, a tRNA processing enzyme. Using an in vitro selection procedure, we have previously generated EGS variants that efficiently direct human RNase P to cleave a target mRNA in vitro. In this study, a variant was used to target the overlapping region of the mRNAs encoding human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) essential transcription regulatory factors IE1 and IE2. The EGS variant was ∼25-fold more active in inducing human RNase P to cleave the mRNA in vitro than the EGS derived from a natural tRNA. Moreover, a reduction of 93% in IE1/IE2 gene expression and a reduction of 3000-fold in viral growth were observed in HCMV-infected cells that expressed the variant, while cells expressing the tRNA-derived EGS exhibited a reduction of 80% in IE1/IE2 expression and an inhibition of 150-fold in viral growth. Our results provide the first direct evidence that EGS variant is highly effective in blocking HCMV gene expression and growth and furthermore, demonstrate the feasibility of developing effective EGS RNA variants for anti-HCMV applications by using in vitro selection procedures.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkj431
PMCID: PMC1345693  PMID: 16432261
5.  Murine Cytomegalovirus with a Transposon Insertional Mutation at Open Reading Frame m155 Is Deficient in Growth and Virulence in Mice 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(13):6891-6899.
A pool of murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) mutants was previously generated by using a Tn3-based transposon mutagenesis approach (X. Zhan, M. Lee, J. Xiao, and F. Liu, J. Virol. 74:7411-7421, 2000). In this study, one of the MCMV mutants, Rvm155, which contained the transposon insertion in open reading frame m155, was characterized in vitro for its replication in tissue culture and in vivo for its growth and virulence in immunodeficient SCID mice. Compared to the wild-type strain and a rescued virus that restored the m155 region, the mutant is significantly deficient in growth in many organs of the infected animals. At 21 days postinfection the titers of Rvm155 in the salivary glands, lungs, spleens, livers, and kidneys of the intraperitoneally infected SCID mice were lower than the titers of the wild-type virus and the rescued virus by 50-, 1,000-, 500-, 100-, and 500-fold, respectively. Moreover, the viral mutant was attenuated in killing the SCID mice, as none of the SCID mice that were intraperitoneally infected with Rvm155 died until 38 days postinfection while all the animals infected with the wild-type and rescued viruses died at 27 days postinfection. Our results provide the first direct evidence that a disruption of m155 expression leads to attenuation of viral virulence and growth in animals. Moreover, these results suggest that m155 is a viral determinant for optimal MCMV growth and virulence in vivo.
doi:10.1128/JVI.78.13.6891-6899.2004
PMCID: PMC421665  PMID: 15194765

Results 1-5 (5)