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1.  Directional Next-Generation RNA Sequencing and Examination of Premature Termination Codon Mutations in Endoglin/Hereditary Haemorrhagic Telangiectasia 
Molecular Syndromology  2013;4(4):184-196.
Hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) is a disease characterised by abnormal vascular structures, and most commonly caused by mutations in ENG, ACVRL1 or SMAD4 encoding endothelial cell-expressed proteins involved in TGF-β superfamily signalling. The majority of mutations reported on the HHT mutation database are predicted to lead to stop codons, either due to frameshifts or direct nonsense substitutions. The proportion is higher for ENG (67%) and SMAD4 (65%) than for ACVRL1 (42%), p < 0.0001. Here, by focussing on ENG, we report why conventional views of these mutations may need to be revised. Of the 111 stop codon-generating ENG mutations, on ExPASy translation, all except one were premature termination codons (PTCs), sited at least 50-55 bp upstream of the final exon-exon boundary of the main endoglin isoform, L-endoglin. This strongly suggests that the mutated RNA species will undergo nonsense-mediated decay. We provide new in vitro expression data to support dominant negative activity of stable truncated endoglin proteins but suggest these will not generate HHT: the single natural stop codon mutation in L-endoglin (sited within 50-55 nucleotides of the final exon-exon boundary) is unlikely to generate functional protein since it replaces the entire transmembrane domain, as would 8 further natural stop codon mutations, if the minor S-endoglin isoform were implicated in HHT pathogenesis. Finally, next-generation RNA sequencing data of 7 different RNA libraries from primary human endothelial cells demonstrate that multiple intronic regions of ENG are transcribed. The potential consequences of heterozygous deletions or duplications of such regions are discussed. These data support the haploinsufficiency model for HHT pathogenesis, explain why final exon mutations have not been detected to date in HHT, emphasise the potential need for functional examination of non-PTC-generating mutations, and lead to proposals for an alternate stratification system of mutational types for HHT genotype-phenotype correlations.
PMCID: PMC3666459  PMID: 23801935
Alternative splicing; Nonsense-mediated decay; Pervasive transcription; Premature termination codons

2.  The prognostic and predictive value of serum CA19.9 in pancreatic cancer 
Annals of Oncology  2012;23(7):1713-1722.
Current staging methods for pancreatic cancer (PC) are inadequate, and biomarkers to aid clinical decision making are lacking. Despite the availability of the serum marker carbohydrate antigen 19.9 (CA19.9) for over two decades, its precise role in the management of PC is yet to be defined, and as a consequence, it is not widely used.
We assessed the relationship between perioperative serum CA19.9 levels, survival and adjuvant chemotherapeutic responsiveness in a cohort of 260 patients who underwent operative resection for PC.
By specifically assessing the subgroup of patients with detectable CA19.9, we identified potential utility at key clinical decision points. Low postoperative CA19.9 at 3 months (median survival 25.6 vs 14.8 months, P = 0.0052) and before adjuvant chemotherapy were independent prognostic factors. Patients with postoperative CA 19.9 levels >90 U/ml did not benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy (P = 0.7194) compared with those with a CA19.9 of ≤90 U/ml (median 26.0 vs 16.7 months, P = 0.0108). Normalization of CA19.9 within 6 months of resection was also an independent favorable prognostic factor (median 29.9 vs 14.8 months, P = 0.0004) and normal perioperative CA19.9 levels identified a good prognostic group, which was associated with a 5-year survival of 42%.
Perioperative serum CA19.9 measurements are informative in patients with detectable CA19.9 (defined by serum levels of >5 U/ml) and have potential clinical utility in predicting outcome and response to adjuvant chemotherapy. Future clinical trials should prioritize incorporation of CA19.9 measurement at key decision points to prospectively validate these findings and facilitate implementation.
PMCID: PMC3387824  PMID: 22241899
adjuvant chemotherapy; CA19.9; pancreatic cancer; prognosis
3.  Applying graphics processor units to Monte Carlo dose calculation in radiation therapy 
We investigate the potential in using of using a graphics processor unit (GPU) for Monte-Carlo (MC)-based radiation dose calculations. The percent depth dose (PDD) of photons in a medium with known absorption and scattering coefficients is computed using a MC simulation running on both a standard CPU and a GPU. We demonstrate that the GPU's capability for massive parallel processing provides a significant acceleration in the MC calculation, and offers a significant advantage for distributed stochastic simulations on a single computer. Harnessing this potential of GPUs will help in the early adoption of MC for routine planning in a clinical environment.
PMCID: PMC2884304  PMID: 20589122
Graphics processor unit; Monte Carlo
5.  Genetic Diversity: Frameshift Mechanisms Alter Coding of a Gene (Epstein-Barr Virus LF3 Gene) That Contains Multiple 102-Base-Pair Direct Sequence Repeats 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2003;23(6):2192-2201.
Frameshift mutations provide recognized mechanisms for changing the coding potential of an organism. Here, multiple frameshifts are identified in repetitive sequences within an Epstein-Barr virus unspliced early gene, LF3, which is associated with the viral replicative cycle and also transcriptionally expressed in many virally associated tumors. On the DNA strand encoding LF3, there are three open reading frames, only one of which contains an initiation codon. Most (>95%) of the gene consists of numerous (>20, varying with cell source) GC-rich copies of a 102-bp direct repeat (called IR 4) flanked by small unique sequences. LF3 may express a protein if its initiation and termination codons reside in the same reading frame, but this is not always the case. Frameshifting events, occurring in short runs of pyrimidines (mainly C residues) in the repeats, give rise to mutations which may provide a mechanism for escape of an LF3 function from host surveillance. Sequence studies link these frameshifts to DNA replication errors. Notably, the number of sites in LF3 at which such mutations can occur permits a very large amount of diversity in this gene. Our data also suggest a second degeneracy mechanism within the protein itself, which influences its stability and may reflect a host defense mechanism. LF3 thus provides a potentially important model for studying the quest for supremacy between a virus and its host.
PMCID: PMC149476  PMID: 12612089
6.  Expression of Two Related Viral Early Genes in Epstein-Barr Virus-Associated Tumors 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(6):2793-2803.
The transcription of two early “leftwardly” expressed genes carrying repetitive sequences, IR2 and IR4, has been studied for Epstein-Barr virus-associated tumors, and for established B-cell lines, using sequence-specific probes generated for this purpose. Whereas the IR4 transcript was identified in every tumor and cell line assessed (except B95-8, with a deletion that removes the gene), expression of the IR2 gene was restricted to B lymphocytes. Though the promoters for both transcripts lie within homologous regions (DL and DR) in the viral genome, the IR2 promoter appears more tightly regulated. Detailed characterization of the IR4 transcript from a nasopharyngeal carcinoma tumor, C15, identifies a sequence variant of this gene that differs from those reported for B cells; in situ hybridization methods show transcription to be restricted to a subset of cells, with the strongest signals seen adjacent to host stroma. As with B cells in culture (Y. Gao, P. R. Smith, L. Karran, Q. L. Lu, and B. E. Griffin, J. Virol. 71:84–94, 1997), chemical induction enhanced transcriptional expression of the IR4 gene in the C15 tumor, although staining for both the IR4 antigen and that of the virus lytic switch, Zta, gave negative results. In a Burkitt's lymphoma biopsy specimen, however, both proteins were found expressed, notably in the same subset of cells. The data here and elsewhere (Gao et al., J. Virol., 1997) are consistent with a block to intracellular transport of the transcript(s) and suggest nuclear roles for it in tumors, possibly in RNA processing and viral lytic replication. Both roles could be fulfilled in the absence of translation.
PMCID: PMC111770  PMID: 10684296
7.  Myristylated polyomavirus VP2: role in the life cycle of the virus. 
Journal of Virology  1990;64(9):4414-4420.
The double-stranded genome of the small DNA tumor virus, polyomavirus, is enclosed in a capsid composed of a major protein, VP1, which associates as pentameric capsomeres into an icosahedral structure, and two minor proteins, VP2 and VP3, whose functions and positions within the structure are unknown. The N-terminal glycine of the VP2 coat protein has been shown to be cotranslationally acylated with myristic acid. To study the function of this modification and the role of VP2 in the life cycle of polyomavirus, the N-terminal glycine, critical to the myristylation consensus sequence, has been altered to a glutamic acid or a valine residue by site-directed oligonucleotide mutagenesis. The glycine----glutamic acid mutant DNA has been further studied. When transfected into cells permissive for the polyomavirus full lytic life cycle, this mutant DNA replicated at levels comparable to those of wild-type viral DNA, and small amounts of nonrevertant (mutant) virus could be harvested from the cultures. The virus particles viewed by electron microscopy appeared slightly distorted, but the ratio of full to empty particles was similar to that produced in a wild-type viral infection. Mutant virus was capable of reinfecting permissive cells but with a considerably reduced efficiency.
PMCID: PMC247910  PMID: 2166822
10.  Clustered repeat sequences in the genome of Epstein Barr virus. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1983;11(12):3919-3937.
The genome of Epstein-Barr virus is composed of unique DNA interspersed with repetitive sequences. This organization suggests that Epstein-Barr virus provides a useful model for studying the function(s) of repetitive sequences in eukaryotic chromosomes. The primary structure of two of the repeat sequences, the 3072 bp large internal repeat, or BamHI-W repeat, and a smaller 125 bp, G, C-rich NotI repeat, are presented here. Their structures and possible functions are discussed.
PMCID: PMC326016  PMID: 6306567
11.  Late G1 accumulation after 2 Gy of gamma-irradiation is related to endogenous Raf-1 protein expression and intrinsic radiosensitivity in human cells. 
British Journal of Cancer  1998;77(8):1220-1228.
We have previously reported a correlation between high endogenous expression of the protein product of the RAF-1 proto-oncogene, intrinsic cellular radiosensitivity and rapid exit from a G2/M delay induced by 2 Gy of gamma-irradiation. Raf1 is a positive serine/threonine kinase signal transduction factor that relays signals from the cell membrane to the MAP kinase system further downstream and is believed to be involved in an ionizing radiation signal transduction pathway modulating the G1/S checkpoint. We therefore extended our flow cytometric studies to investigate relationships between radiosensitivity, endogenous expression of the Raf1 protein and perturbation of cell cycle checkpoints, leading to alterations in the G1, S and G2/M populations after 2 Gy of gamma-irradiation. Differences in intrinsic radiosensitivity after modulation of the G1/S checkpoint have generally been understood to involve p53 function up to the present time. A role for dominant oncogenes in control of G1/S transit in radiation-treated cells has not been identified previously. Here, we show in 12 human in vitro cancer cell lines that late G1 accumulation after 2 Gy of radiation is related to both Raf1 expression (r = 0.91, P = 0.0001) and the radiosensitivity parameter SF2 (r = -0.71, P = 0.009).
PMCID: PMC2150172  PMID: 9579826
12.  Complex nature of the major viral polyadenylated transcripts in Epstein-Barr virus-associated tumors. 
Journal of Virology  1993;67(6):3217-3225.
The most abundant polyadenylated viral transcripts in the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated tumor nasopharyngeal carcinoma are a family (apparent sizes, 4.8, 5.2, 6.2, and 7.0 kb) of highly spliced cytoplasmic RNAs expressed from the BamHI-I and -A regions of the viral genome in an antisense direction with respect to several viral lytic functions encoded within the same region and concerned with the lytic cycle of the virus. We have called these complementary-strand transcripts. They are also expressed in B cells, including Burkitt's lymphoma and EBV-immortalized marmoset cell lines, and tumors generated in cottontop tamarins in response to EBV infection, but at a lower level. The complete structure of the major 4.8-kb RNAs (seven or eight exons) was determined in this study; the larger, but related, transcripts appear to be produced by differential splicing. The transcriptional promoter for the major complementary-strand transcripts, located in BamHI-I, contains several well-characterized transcriptional control elements (E2A, SP1, and AP1) and is functionally active in both B lymphocytes and epithelial cells. It appears to be a bifunctional viral promoter, as it also contains the initiation codon for a gene (BILF2) that encodes a glycoprotein that is expressed off the other strand. Splicing events create a number of small AUG-initiated open reading frames, one of which has homology to functionally significant regions of the EBV-encoded nuclear antigen 2 and to E2 (in papillomavirus). The complex nature of these transcripts and their potential role in the virus association with malignancy are considered.
PMCID: PMC237661  PMID: 8098777
13.  Characterization of the DNA polymerase gene of human herpesvirus 6. 
Journal of Virology  1991;65(9):4670-4680.
The construction of a recombinant bacteriophage lambda library containing overlapping clones covering 155 kbp of the 161-kbp genome of the Ugandan U1102 isolate of human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is described. The use of degenerate-primer polymerase chain reaction allowed the isolation of a DNA probe for the DNA polymerase gene of HHV-6, which was subsequently used to isolate and position the pol gene on the physical map of the viral genome. A 4.4-kbp EcoRI DNA restriction fragment containing the pol gene was isolated and sequenced. The open reading frames flanking the pol gene code for the HHV-6 glycoprotein B gene and the human cytomegalovirus UL53 homolog. This arrangement is different from that seen in the alpha and gamma herpesvirus families, lending further support to the notion that HHV-6 is a member of the beta herpesvirus group.
PMCID: PMC248922  PMID: 1651403
14.  Right-sided congenital diaphragmatic herniae presenting as pleural effusions in the newborn: dangers and pitfalls. 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1978;53(7):600-603.
Congenital diaphragmatic hernia presented with right-sided pleural effusion in two newborn infants.
PMCID: PMC1544977  PMID: 686802
15.  Umbilical uptake of amino acids in the unstressed fetal lamb. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1976;58(6):1428-1434.
The whole blood concentrations of 22 amino acids were measured in a chronic, unstressed fetal lamb preparations. Samples were taken daily from the umbilical artery, umbilical vein, and maternal artery over the latter quarter of gestation. 73 sets of samples (from the umbilical artery and vein and the maternal artery) from 13 animals were analyzed for amino acid levels. Oxygen contents were determined simultaneously in 48 sets (umbilical artery and vein) to relate fetal oxygen consumption to amino acid uptake via the umbilical circulation. The results indicate that there is no umbilical uptake of the acidic amino acids, glutamate and aspartate; there is, in fact, a net flux of glutamate out of the fetus into the placenta. As both of these amino acids are major constituents of body proteins, the data indicate that they are formed within the fetus. The umbilical uptake of some neutral and basic amino acids (e.g., valine, leucine, isoleucine, arginine, phenylalanine, and tyrosine) is in considerable excess of estimated growth requirements, suggesting that some amino acids undergo extensive transamination and oxidative degradation in the fetus. Finally, the net uptake of nitrogen, carbon, and calories by the growing ovine fetus in the form of amino acids, glucose, and lactate is compared to estimated requirements as determined in previous studies.
PMCID: PMC333314  PMID: 1033209

Results 1-16 (16)