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1.  A Novel Gene SbSI-2 Encoding Nuclear Protein from a Halophyte Confers Abiotic Stress Tolerance in E. coli and Tobacco 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101926.
Salicornia brachiata is an extreme halophyte that grows luxuriantly in coastal marshes. Previously, we have reported isolation and characterization of ESTs from Salicornia with large number of novel/unknown salt-responsive gene sequences. In this study, we have selected a novel salt-inducible gene SbSI-2 (Salicornia brachiata salt-inducible-2) for functional characterization. Bioinformatics analysis revealed that SbSI-2 protein has predicted nuclear localization signals and a strong protein-protein interaction domain. Transient expression of the RFP:SbSI2 fusion protein confirmed that SbSI-2 is a nuclear-localized protein. Genomic organization study showed that SbSI-2 is intronless and has a single copy in Salicornia genome. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis revealed higher SbSI-2 expression under salt stress and desiccation conditions. The SbSI-2 gene was transformed in E. coli and tobacco for functional characterization. pET28a-SbSI-2 recombinant E. coli cells showed higher tolerance to desiccation and salinity compared to vector alone. Transgenic tobacco plants overexpressing SbSI-2 have improved salt- and osmotic tolerance, accompanied by better growth parameters, higher relative water content, elevated accumulation of compatible osmolytes, lower Na+ and ROS accumulation and lesser electrolyte leakage than the wild-type. Overexpression of the SbSI-2 also enhanced transcript levels of ROS-scavenging genes and some stress-related transcription factors under salt and osmotic stresses. Taken together, these results demonstrate that SbSI-2 might play an important positive modulation role in abiotic stress tolerance. This identifies SbSI-2 as a novel determinant of salt/osmotic tolerance and suggests that it could be a potential bioresource for engineering abiotic stress tolerance in crop plants.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101926
PMCID: PMC4084957  PMID: 24999628
2.  Determinants of Prelacteal Feeding in Rural Northern India 
Background:
Prelacteal feeding is an underestimated problem in a developing country like India, where infant mortality rate is quite high. The present study tried to find out the factors determining prelacteal feeding in rural areas of north India.
Methods:
A crosssectional study was conducted among recently delivered women of rural Uttar Pradesh, India. Multistage random sampling was used for selecting villages. From them, 352 recently delivered women were selected as the subjects, following systematic random sampling. Chi-square test and logistic regression were used to find out the predictors for prelacteal feeding.
Results:
Overall, 40.1% of mothers gave prelacteal feeding to their newborn. Factors significantly associated with such practice, after simple logistic regression, were age, caste, socioeconomic status, and place of delivery. At multivariate level, age (odds ratio (OR) = 1.76, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.13-2.74), caste and place of delivery (OR = 2.23, 95% CI = 1.21-4.10) were found to determine prelacteal feeding significantly, indicating that young age, high caste, and home deliveries could affect the practice positively.
Conclusions:
The problem of prelacteal feeding is still prevalent in rural India. Age, caste, and place of delivery were associated with the problem. For ensuring neonatal health, the problem should be addressed with due gravity, with emphasis on exclusive breast feeding.
PMCID: PMC4050689  PMID: 24932400
Breast feeding; colostrum; infant feeding; prelacteal feeding; rural India
3.  Lentivirus-Induced Dendritic Cells for Immunization Against High-Risk WT1+ Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
Human Gene Therapy  2013;24(2):220-237.
Abstract
Wilms' tumor 1 antigen (WT1) is overexpressed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a high-risk neoplasm warranting development of novel immunotherapeutic approaches. Unfortunately, clinical immunotherapeutic use of WT1 peptides against AML has been inconclusive. With the rationale of stimulating multiantigenic responses against WT1, we genetically programmed long-lasting dendritic cells capable of producing and processing endogenous WT1 epitopes. A tricistronic lentiviral vector co-expressing a truncated form of WT1 (lacking the DNA-binding domain), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and interleukin-4 (IL-4) was used to transduce human monocytes ex vivo. Overnight transduction induced self-differentiation of monocytes into immunophenotypically stable “SmartDC/tWT1” (GM-CSF+, IL-4+, tWT1+, IL-6+, IL-8+, TNF-α+, MCP-1+, HLA-DR+, CD86+, CCR2+, CCR5+) that were viable for 3 weeks in vitro. SmartDC/tWT1 were produced with peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) obtained from an FLT3-ITD+ AML patient and surplus material from a donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) and used to expand CD8+ T cells in vitro. Expanded cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) showed antigen-specific reactivity against WT1 and against WT1+ leukemia cells. SmartDC/tWT1 injected s.c. into Nod.Rag1−/−.IL2rγc−/− mice were viable in vivo for more than three weeks. Migration of human T cells (huCTLs) to the immunization site was demonstrated following adoptive transfer of huCTLs into mice immunized with SmartDC/tWT1. Furthermore, SmartDC/tWT1 immunization plus adoptive transfer of T cells reactive against WT1 into mice resulted in growth arrest of a WT1+ tumor. Gene array analyses of SmartDC/tWT1 demonstrated upregulation of several genes related to innate immunity. Thus, SmartDC/tWT1 can be produced in a single day of ex vivo gene transfer, are highly viable in vivo, and have great potential for use as immunotherapy against malignant transformation overexpressing WT1.
Sundarasetty and colleagues generate long-lasting, self-differentiated myeloid-derived antigen-presenting cells reactive against tumors (SmartDC) expressing a truncated form of Wilms' tumor 1 antigen (tWT1). SmartDC/tWT1 generated from a patient with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) efficiently stimulated expansion and activation of anti-WT1 cytotoxic responses against primary blasts obtained from the patient. SmartDC/tWT1 injected into a mouse model of adoptive T cell transfer remained viable in vivo for more than 3 weeks, and it was capable of attracting cytotoxic T cells.
doi:10.1089/hum.2012.128
PMCID: PMC3696945  PMID: 23311414
4.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of carnein, a serine protease from Ipomoea carnea  
The subtilisin-like serine protease carnein was isolated from the latex of the plant I. carnea, purified and crystallized by the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method. A diffraction data set was collected to 2.0 Å resolution in-house from a single crystal at 110 K.
Carnein is an 80 kDa subtilisin-like serine protease from the latex of the plant Ipomoea carnea which displays an exceptional resistance to chemical and thermal denaturation. In order to obtain the first crystal structure of a plant subtilisin and to gain insight into the structural determinants underlying its remarkable stability, carnein was isolated from I. carnea latex, purified and crystallized by the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method. A data set was collected to 2.0 Å resolution in-house from a single crystal at 110 K. The crystals belonged to the trigonal space group P3121 or P3221, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 126.9, c = 84.6 Å, α = β = 90, γ = 120°. Assuming the presence of one molecule per asymmetric unit, the Matthews coefficient is 2.46 Å3 Da−1, corresponding to a solvent content of 50%. Structure determination of the enzyme is in progress.
doi:10.1107/S1744309109008288
PMCID: PMC2664766  PMID: 19342786
carnein; serine proteases; subtilisin
5.  Maternal Footprints of Southeast Asians in North India 
Human heredity  2008;66(1):1-9.
We have analyzed 7137 samples from 125 different caste, tribal and religious groups of India and 99 samples from three populations of Nepal for the length variation in the COII/tRNALys region of mtDNA. Samples showing length variation were subjected to detailed phylogenetic analysis based on HVS-I and informative coding region sequence variation. The overall frequencies of the 9-bp deletion and insertion variants in South Asia were 1.8% and 0.5%, respectively. We have also defined a novel deep-rooting haplogroup M43 and identified the rare haplogroup H14 in Indian populations carrying the 9bp-deletion by complete mtDNA sequencing. Moreover, we redefined haplogroup M6 and dissected it into two well-defined subclades. The presence of haplogroups F1 and B5a in Uttar Pradesh suggests minor maternal contribution from Southeast Asia to Northern India. The occurrence of haplogroup F1 in the Nepalese sample implies that Nepal might have served as a bridge for the flow of eastern lineages to India. The presence of R6 in the Nepalese, on the other hand, suggests that the gene flow between India and Nepal has been reciprocal.
doi:10.1159/000114160
PMCID: PMC2588665  PMID: 18223312
South Asia; 9bp indel; mtDNA; Haplogroup
6.  Phylogeography of mtDNA haplogroup R7 in the Indian peninsula 
Background
Human genetic diversity observed in Indian subcontinent is second only to that of Africa. This implies an early settlement and demographic growth soon after the first 'Out-of-Africa' dispersal of anatomically modern humans in Late Pleistocene. In contrast to this perspective, linguistic diversity in India has been thought to derive from more recent population movements and episodes of contact. With the exception of Dravidian, which origin and relatedness to other language phyla is obscure, all the language families in India can be linked to language families spoken in different regions of Eurasia. Mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome evidence has supported largely local evolution of the genetic lineages of the majority of Dravidian and Indo-European speaking populations, but there is no consensus yet on the question of whether the Munda (Austro-Asiatic) speaking populations originated in India or derive from a relatively recent migration from further East.
Results
Here, we report the analysis of 35 novel complete mtDNA sequences from India which refine the structure of Indian-specific varieties of haplogroup R. Detailed analysis of haplogroup R7, coupled with a survey of ~12,000 mtDNAs from caste and tribal groups over the entire Indian subcontinent, reveals that one of its more recently derived branches (R7a1), is particularly frequent among Munda-speaking tribal groups. This branch is nested within diverse R7 lineages found among Dravidian and Indo-European speakers of India. We have inferred from this that a subset of Munda-speaking groups have acquired R7 relatively recently. Furthermore, we find that the distribution of R7a1 within the Munda-speakers is largely restricted to one of the sub-branches (Kherwari) of northern Munda languages. This evidence does not support the hypothesis that the Austro-Asiatic speakers are the primary source of the R7 variation. Statistical analyses suggest a significant correlation between genetic variation and geography, rather than between genes and languages.
Conclusion
Our high-resolution phylogeographic study, involving diverse linguistic groups in India, suggests that the high frequency of mtDNA haplogroup R7 among Munda speaking populations of India can be explained best by gene flow from linguistically different populations of Indian subcontinent. The conclusion is based on the observation that among Indo-Europeans, and particularly in Dravidians, the haplogroup is, despite its lower frequency, phylogenetically more divergent, while among the Munda speakers only one sub-clade of R7, i.e. R7a1, can be observed. It is noteworthy that though R7 is autochthonous to India, and arises from the root of hg R, its distribution and phylogeography in India is not uniform. This suggests the more ancient establishment of an autochthonous matrilineal genetic structure, and that isolation in the Pleistocene, lineage loss through drift, and endogamy of prehistoric and historic groups have greatly inhibited genetic homogenization and geographical uniformity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-8-227
PMCID: PMC2529308  PMID: 18680585
7.  Maternal Footprints of Southeast Asians in North India 
Human Heredity  2008;66(1):1-9.
We have analyzed 7,137 samples from 125 different caste, tribal and religious groups of India and 99 samples from three populations of Nepal for the length variation in the COII/tRNALys region of mtDNA. Samples showing length variation were subjected to detailed phylogenetic analysis based on HVS-I and informative coding region sequence variation. The overall frequencies of the 9-bp deletion and insertion variants in South Asia were 1.9 and 0.6%, respectively. We have also defined a novel deep-rooting haplogroup M43 and identified the rare haplogroup H14 in Indian populations carrying the 9-bp deletion by complete mtDNA sequencing. Moreover, we redefined haplogroup M6 and dissected it into two well-defined subclades. The presence of haplogroups F1 and B5a in Uttar Pradesh suggests minor maternal contribution from Southeast Asia to Northern India. The occurrence of haplogroup F1 in the Nepalese sample implies that Nepal might have served as a bridge for the flow of eastern lineages to India. The presence of R6 in the Nepalese, on the other hand, suggests that the gene flow between India and Nepal has been reciprocal.
doi:10.1159/000114160
PMCID: PMC2588665  PMID: 18223312
South Asia; 9bp indel; mtDNA; Haplogroup
8.  Genetic affinities among the lower castes and tribal groups of India: inference from Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA 
BMC Genetics  2006;7:42.
Background
India is a country with enormous social and cultural diversity due to its positioning on the crossroads of many historic and pre-historic human migrations. The hierarchical caste system in the Hindu society dominates the social structure of the Indian populations. The origin of the caste system in India is a matter of debate with many linguists and anthropologists suggesting that it began with the arrival of Indo-European speakers from Central Asia about 3500 years ago. Previous genetic studies based on Indian populations failed to achieve a consensus in this regard. We analysed the Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA of three tribal populations of southern India, compared the results with available data from the Indian subcontinent and tried to reconstruct the evolutionary history of Indian caste and tribal populations.
Results
No significant difference was observed in the mitochondrial DNA between Indian tribal and caste populations, except for the presence of a higher frequency of west Eurasian-specific haplogroups in the higher castes, mostly in the north western part of India. On the other hand, the study of the Indian Y lineages revealed distinct distribution patterns among caste and tribal populations. The paternal lineages of Indian lower castes showed significantly closer affinity to the tribal populations than to the upper castes. The frequencies of deep-rooted Y haplogroups such as M89, M52, and M95 were higher in the lower castes and tribes, compared to the upper castes.
Conclusion
The present study suggests that the vast majority (>98%) of the Indian maternal gene pool, consisting of Indio-European and Dravidian speakers, is genetically more or less uniform. Invasions after the late Pleistocene settlement might have been mostly male-mediated. However, Y-SNP data provides compelling genetic evidence for a tribal origin of the lower caste populations in the subcontinent. Lower caste groups might have originated with the hierarchical divisions that arose within the tribal groups with the spread of Neolithic agriculturalists, much earlier than the arrival of Aryan speakers. The Indo-Europeans established themselves as upper castes among this already developed caste-like class structure within the tribes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-7-42
PMCID: PMC1569435  PMID: 16893451
9.  In situ origin of deep rooting lineages of mitochondrial Macrohaplogroup 'M' in India 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:151.
Background
Macrohaplogroups 'M' and 'N' have evolved almost in parallel from a founder haplogroup L3. Macrohaplogroup N in India has already been defined in previous studies and recently the macrohaplogroup M among the Indian populations has been characterized. In this study, we attempted to reconstruct and re-evaluate the phylogeny of Macrohaplogroup M, which harbors more than 60% of the Indian mtDNA lineage, and to shed light on the origin of its deep rooting haplogroups.
Results
Using 11 whole mtDNA and 2231 partial coding sequence of Indian M lineage selected from 8670 HVS1 sequences across India, we have reconstructed the tree including Andamanese-specific lineage M31 and calculated the time depth of all the nodes. We defined one novel haplogroup M41, and revised the classification of haplogroups M3, M18, and M31.
Conclusion
Our result indicates that the Indian mtDNA pool consists of several deep rooting lineages of macrohaplogroup 'M' suggesting in-situ origin of these haplogroups in South Asia, most likely in the India. These deep rooting lineages are not language specific and spread over all the language groups in India. Moreover, our reanalysis of the Andamanese-specific lineage M31 suggests population specific two clear-cut subclades (M31a1 and M31a2). Onge and Jarwa share M31a1 branch while M31a2 clade is present in only Great Andamanese individuals. Overall our study supported the one wave, rapid dispersal theory of modern humans along the Asian coast.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-151
PMCID: PMC1534032  PMID: 16776823

Results 1-9 (9)