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2.  Concomitant oral and intravenous pharmacokinetics of trametinib, a MEK inhibitor, in subjects with solid tumours 
The aim of this phase 1, single centre, open label study in four patients with solid tumours was to determine the absolute bioavailability of a 2 mg oral dose of trametinib. Trametinib is an orally bioavailable, reversible and selective allosteric inhibitor of MEK1 and MEK2 activation and kinase activity.
A microtracer study approach, in which a 5 μg radiolabelled i.v. microdose of trametinib was given concomitantly with an unlabelled 2 mg oral tablet formulation, was used to recover i.v. and oral pharmacokinetic parameters, simultaneously.
The least-squares mean (90% confidence interval) absolute bioavailability of trametinib (2 mg tablet) was 72.3% (50.0%, 104.6%). Median tmax after oral administration was 1.5 h and the geometric mean terminal half-life was 11 days. The geometric mean clearance and volume of distribution after i.v. administration were 3.21 l h−1 and 976 l, respectively, resulting in a terminal elimination half-life of 11 days.
Trametinib absolute bioavailability was moderate to high, whereas first pass metabolism was low.
PMCID: PMC4243903  PMID: 24606567
bioavailability; intravenous; microtracer; pharmacokinetic; trametinib
3.  Transcriptomic analysis of a moderately growing subisolate Botryococcus braunii 779 (Chlorophyta) in response to nitrogen deprivation 
The colonial microalga Botryococcus braunii has been brought to people’s attention for its conspicuous ability to accumulate a variety of lipids including hydrocarbons. B. braunii strains are classified into 3 races based on the types of hydrocarbons. A and B races are known to accumulate high level of lipids. However, their extreme slow growth rate has impeded its application for renewable biofuel production.
In this study, we report the transcriptomic response of a moderately growing subisolate from the culture of Botryococcus sp. CCALA-779 upon nitrogen deprivation (ND). We show that the subisolate has an average growth rate of 0.52 g l−1 day−1 under photoautotrophic growth conditions and lipid content is enhanced to 75 % of CDW upon ND. Both rDNA sequence and hydrocarbon composition analyses indicate that the subisolate belongs to A race B. braunii. Hence, it is designated as B. braunii 779. We show that B. braunii 779 transcriptome shares homology to majority of the A race but not B race B. braunii ESTs, suggesting that transcriptomes of A race differ from that of B race. We found that many homologous ESTs between A races 779 and Bot-88 are unknown sequences, implying that A race contains many unknown genes. Pathway-based transcriptomic analysis indicates that energy metabolisms are among the top expressed functions in log-phase cells, indicating that the slow growth rate is a result that energy flow is directed to lipid biosynthesis but not population growth. Upon ND, reconfiguration of metabolisms for reducing power is apparent, suggesting that B. braunii 779 is rapidly adapting under ND condition by transcriptomic reprogramming.
Taken together, our result shows that the subisolate B. braunii 779, similar to the Gottingen strain, is useful for biofuel production. Difference between transcriptomes of A and B races implies that different races of B. braunii strains belong to different sub-species. Furthermore, there are many novel genes that are unique to A race, suggesting that sequences of many enzymes involved in hydrocarbon biosynthesis are not currently known. We propose that B. braunii transcriptomes provide a rich source for discovery of novel genes involved in hydrocarbon biosynthesis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13068-015-0307-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4552190  PMID: 26322124
Botryococcus braunii; Green microalgae; Hydrocarbon; Transcriptome; Response to nitrogen deprivation
4.  A FDG-PET Study of Metabolic Networks in Apolipoprotein E ε4 Allele Carriers 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0132300.
Recently, some studies have applied the graph theory in brain network analysis in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). However, relatively little research has specifically explored the properties of the metabolic network in apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele carriers. In our study, all the subjects, including ADs, MCIs and NCs (normal controls) were divided into 165 APOE ε4 carriers and 165 APOE ε4 noncarriers. To establish the metabolic network for all brain regions except the cerebellum, cerebral glucose metabolism data obtained from FDG-PET (18F-fluorodeoxyglu-cose positron emission tomography) were segmented into 90 areas with automated anatomical labeling (AAL) template. Then, the properties of the networks were computed to explore the between-group differences. Our results suggested that both APOE ε4 carriers and noncarriers showed the small-world properties. Besides, compared with APOE ε4 noncarriers, the carriers showed a lower clustering coefficient. In addition, significant changes in 6 hub brain regions were found in between-group nodal centrality. Namely, compared with APOE ε4 noncarriers, significant decreases of the nodal centrality were found in left insula, right insula, right anterior cingulate, right paracingulate gyri, left cuneus, as well as significant increases in left paracentral lobule and left heschl gyrus in APOE ε4 carriers. Increased local short distance interregional correlations and disrupted long distance interregional correlations were found, which may support the point that the APOE ε4 carriers were more similar with AD or MCI in FDG uptake. In summary, the organization of metabolic network in APOE ε4 carriers indicated a less optimal pattern and APOE ε4 might be a risk factor for AD.
PMCID: PMC4498596  PMID: 26161964
5.  Application of Chitosan Microparticles for Reduction of Vibrio Species in Seawater and Live Oysters (Crassostrea virginica) 
Human Vibrio infections associated with consumption of raw shellfish greatly impact the seafood industry. Vibrio cholerae-related disease is occasionally attributed to seafood, but V. vulnificus and V. parahaemolyticus are the primary targets of postharvest processing (PHP) efforts in the United States, as they pose the greatest threat to the industry. Most successful PHP treatments for Vibrio reduction also kill the molluscs and are not suitable for the lucrative half-shell market, while nonlethal practices are generally less effective. Therefore, novel intervention strategies for Vibrio reduction are needed for live oyster products. Chitosan is a bioactive derivative of chitin that is generally recognized as safe as a food additive by the FDA, and chitosan microparticles (CMs) were investigated in the present study as a potential PHP treatment for live oyster applications. Treatment of broth cultures with 0.5% (wt/vol) CMs resulted in growth cessation of V. cholerae, V. vulnificus, and V. parahaemolyticus, reducing culturable levels to nondetectable amounts after 3 h in three independent experiments. Furthermore, a similar treatment in artificial seawater at 4, 25, and 37°C reduced V. vulnificus levels by ca. 7 log CFU/ml after 24 h of exposure, but 48 h of exposure and elevated temperature were required to achieve similar results for V. parahaemolyticus and V. cholerae. Live oysters that either were artificially inoculated or contained natural populations of V. vulnificus and V. parahaemolyticus showed significant and consistent reductions following CM treatment (5%) compared to the amounts in the untreated controls. Thus, the results strongly support the promising potential for the application of CMs as a PHP treatment to reduce Vibrio spp. in intact live oysters.
PMCID: PMC4277561  PMID: 25381244
6.  Rational Design, Preparation, and Characterization of a Therapeutic Enzyme Mutant with Improved Stability and Function for Cocaine Detoxification 
ACS Chemical Biology  2014;9(8):1764-1772.
Cocaine esterase (CocE) is known as the most efficient natural enzyme for cocaine hydrolysis. The major obstacle to the clinical application of wild-type CocE is the thermoinstability with a half-life of only ∼12 min at 37 °C. The previously designed T172R/G173Q mutant (denoted as enzyme E172–173) with an improved in vitro half-life of ∼6 h at 37 °C is currently in clinical trial Phase II for cocaine overdose treatment. Through molecular modeling and dynamics simulation, we designed and characterized a promising new mutant of E172–173 with extra L196C/I301C mutations (denoted as enzyme E196–301) to produce cross-subunit disulfide bonds that stabilize the dimer structure. The cross-subunit disulfide bonds were confirmed by X-ray diffraction. The designed L196C/I301C mutations have not only considerably extended the in vitro half-life at 37 °C to >100 days, but also significantly improved the catalytic efficiency against cocaine by ∼150%. In addition, the thermostable E196–301 can be PEGylated to significantly prolong the residence time in mice. The PEGylated E196–301 can fully protect mice from a lethal dose of cocaine (180 mg/kg, LD100) for at least 3 days, with an average protection time of ∼94h. This is the longest in vivo protection of mice from the lethal dose of cocaine demonstrated within all studies using an exogenous enzyme reported so far. Hence, E196–301 may be developed to become a more valuable therapeutic enzyme for cocaine abuse treatment, and it demonstrates that a general design strategy and protocol to simultaneously improve both the stability and function are feasible for rational protein drug design.
PMCID: PMC4136690  PMID: 24919140
7.  Sequence-based ultra-dense genetic and physical maps reveal structural variations of allopolyploid cotton genomes 
Genome Biology  2015;16(1):108.
SNPs are the most abundant polymorphism type, and have been explored in many crop genomic studies, including rice and maize. SNP discovery in allotetraploid cotton genomes has lagged behind that of other crops due to their complexity and polyploidy. In this study, genome-wide SNPs are detected systematically using next-generation sequencing and efficient SNP genotyping methods, and used to construct a linkage map and characterize the structural variations in polyploid cotton genomes.
We construct an ultra-dense inter-specific genetic map comprising 4,999,048 SNP loci distributed unevenly in 26 allotetraploid cotton linkage groups and covering 4,042 cM. The map is used to order tetraploid cotton genome scaffolds for accurate assembly of G. hirsutum acc. TM-1. Recombination rates and hotspots are identified across the cotton genome by comparing the assembled draft sequence and the genetic map. Using this map, genome rearrangements and centromeric regions are identified in tetraploid cotton by combining information from the publicly-available G. raimondii genome with fluorescent in situ hybridization analysis.
We report the genotype-by-sequencing method used to identify millions of SNPs between G. hirsutum and G. barbadense. We construct and use an ultra-dense SNP map to correct sequence mis-assemblies, merge scaffolds into pseudomolecules corresponding to chromosomes, detect genome rearrangements, and identify centromeric regions in allotetraploid cottons. We find that the centromeric retro-element sequence of tetraploid cotton derived from the D subgenome progenitor might have invaded the A subgenome centromeres after allotetrapolyploid formation. This study serves as a valuable genomic resource for genetic research and breeding of cotton.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-015-0678-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4469577  PMID: 26003111
8.  Amino-Acid Mutations to Extend the Biological Half-life of a Therapeutically Valuable Mutant of Human Butyrylcholinesterase 
Cocaine is a widely abused and addictive drug without an FDA-approved medication. Our recently designed and discovered cocaine hydrolase, particularly E12-7 engineered from human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), has the promise of becoming a valuable cocaine abuse treatment. An ideal anti-cocaine therapeutic enzyme should have not only a high catalytic efficiency against cocaine, but also a sufficiently long biological half-life. However, recombinant human BChE and the known BChE mutants have a much shorter biological half-life compared to the native human BChE. The present study aimed to extend the biological half-life of the cocaine hydrolase without changing its high catalytic activity against cocaine. Our strategy was to design possible amino-acid mutations that can introduce cross-subunit disulfide bond(s) and, thus, change the distribution of the oligomeric forms and extend the biological half-life. Three new BChE mutants (E364–532, E377–516, and E535) were predicted to have a more stable dimer structure with the desirable cross-subunit disulfide bond(s) and, therefore, a different distribution of the oligomeric forms and a prolonged biological half-life. The rational design was followed by experimental tests in vitro and in vivo, confirming that the rationally designed new BChE mutants, i.e. E364–532, E377–516, and E535, indeed had a remarkably different distribution of the oligomeric forms and prolonged biological half-life in rats from ~7 hr to ~13 hr without significantly changing the catalytic activity against (−)-cocaine. This is the first demonstration that rationally designed amino-acid mutations can significantly prolong the biological half-life of a high-activity enzyme without significantly changing the catalytic activity.
PMCID: PMC3996703  PMID: 24582612
9.  Lack of Clinically Significant Pharmacokinetic Interaction between the Thrombopoietin Receptor Agonist Eltrombopag and Hepatitis C Virus Protease Inhibitors Boceprevir and Telaprevir 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2014;58(11):6704-6709.
Eltrombopag is an orally bioavailable thrombopoietin receptor agonist approved for the treatment of thrombocytopenia associated with chronic immune (idiopathic) thrombocytopenic purpura and chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. This study evaluated the potential drug-drug interactions between eltrombopag and the HCV protease inhibitors boceprevir and telaprevir. In this open-label, 3-period, single-sequence, and crossover study, 56 healthy adult subjects were randomized 1:1 to cohort 1 (boceprevir) or 2 (telaprevir). The dosing was as follows: period 1, single 200-mg dose of eltrombopag; period 2, 800 mg boceprevir or 750 mg telaprevir every 8 hours (q8h) for 10 days; and period 3, single 200-mg dose of eltrombopag with either 800 mg boceprevir or 750 mg telaprevir q8h (3 doses). All doses were administered with food, and eltrombopag was administered specifically with low-calcium food. There was a 3-day washout between periods 1 and 2 and no washout between periods 2 and 3. Serial pharmacokinetic samples were collected for 72 h in periods 1 and 3 and for 8 h in period 2. The coadministration of eltrombopag increased the rate of boceprevir absorption, resulting in a 20% increase in the maximum concentration in plasma (Cmax), a 1-h-earlier time to Cmax (Tmax) for boceprevir, a 32% decrease in the concentration at the end of the dosing interval (Cτ), and no change in the area under the concentration-time curve over the dosing interval (AUC0-τ). The coadministration of eltrombopag did not alter telaprevir pharmacokinetics, and the coadministration of boceprevir or telaprevir did not alter eltrombopag pharmacokinetics. Dysgeusia, headache, and somnolence occurred in ≥2 subjects. One subject withdrew because of nausea, headache, dizziness, sinus pressure, and vomiting. There were no severe or serious adverse events. Dose adjustment is not required when eltrombopag is coadministered with boceprevir or telaprevir given the lack of clinically significant pharmacokinetic interaction.
PMCID: PMC4249398  PMID: 25155600
10.  Shuang-Huang-Lian Attenuates Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Acute Lung Injury in Mice Involving Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidative Activities 
Shuang-Huang-Lian (SHL) is a common traditional Chinese preparation extracted from Lonicerae Japonicae Flos, Scutellariae Radix, and Fructus Forsythiae. In this study, we demonstrate the anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects of SHL on lipopolysaccharide- (LPS-) induced acute lung injury (ALI) in mice. SHL reduced the lung wet/dry weight ratio, lowered the number of total cells in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, and decreased the myeloperoxidase activity in lung tissues 6 h after LPS treatment. It also inhibited the overproduction of proinflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6) in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Histological studies demonstrated that SHL attenuated LPS-induced interstitial edema, hemorrhage, and the infiltration of neutrophils into the lung tissue. Moreover, SHL could also enhance the superoxide dismutase and catalase activities, increase the reduced glutathione content, and decrease the malondialdehyde content. The present results suggest that SHL possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties that may protect mice against LPS-induced ALI.
PMCID: PMC4402504  PMID: 25945107
11.  Mapping Functional Group Free Energy Patterns at Protein Occluded Sites: Nuclear Receptors and G-Protein Coupled Receptors 
Occluded ligand-binding pockets (LBP) such as those found in nuclear receptors (NR) and G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR) represent a significant opportunity and challenge for computer-aided drug design. To determine free energies maps of functional groups of these LBPs, a Grand-Canonical Monte Carlo/Molecular Dynamics (GCMC/MD) strategy is combined with the Site Identification by Ligand Competitive Saturation (SILCS) methodology. SILCS-GCMC/MD is shown to map functional group affinity patterns that recapitulate locations of functional groups across diverse classes of ligands in the LBPs of the androgen (AR) and peroxisome proliferator-activated-γ (PPARγ) NRs and the metabotropic glutamate (mGluR) and β2-adreneric (β2AR) GPCRs. Inclusion of protein flexibility identifies regions of the binding pockets not accessible in crystal conformations and allows for better quantitative estimates of relative ligand binding affinities in all the proteins tested. Differences in functional group requirements of the active and inactive states of the β2AR LBP were used in virtual screening to identify high efficacy agonists targeting β2AR in Airway Smooth Muscle (ASM) cells. Seven of the 15 selected ligands were found to effect ASM relaxation representing a 46% hit rate. Hence, the method will be of use for the rational design of ligands in the context of chemical biology and the development of therapeutic agents.
PMCID: PMC4372819  PMID: 25692383
12.  Preparation and in vivo characterization of a cocaine hydrolase engineered from human butyrylcholinesterase for metabolizing cocaine 
The Biochemical journal  2013;453(3):447-454.
Cocaine is a widely abused drug without an FDA-approved medication. It has been recognized as an ideal anti-cocaine medication to accelerate cocaine metabolism producing biologically inactive metabolites via a route similar to the primary cocaine-metabolizing pathway, i.e. human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE)-catalyzed hydrolysis. However, the native human BChE has a low catalytic activity against cocaine. We recently designed and discovered a BChE mutant (A199S/F227A/S287G/A328W/Y332G) with a high catalytic activity (kcat = 5700 min−1, KM = 3.1 μM) specifically for cocaine, and the mutant was proven effective in protecting mice from acute cocaine toxicity of a lethal dose of cocaine (180 mg/kg, LD100). Further characterization in animal models requires establishment of a high-efficiency stable cell line for the BChE mutant production in a relatively larger scale. It has been extremely challenging to develop a high-efficiency stable cell line expressing BChE or its mutant. In the present study, we successfully developed a stable cell line efficiently expressing the BChE mutant by using a lentivirus-based repeated-transduction method. The scale-up protein production enabled us to determine for the first time the in vivo catalytic activity and the biological half-life of this high-activity mutant of human BChE in accelerating cocaine clearance. In particular, it has been demonstrated that the BChE mutant (administrated to mice 1 min prior to cocaine) can quickly metabolize cocaine and completely eliminate cocaine-induced hyperactivity in rodents, implying that the BChE mutant may be developed as a promising therapeutic agent for cocaine abuse treatment.
PMCID: PMC4365901  PMID: 23849058
Enzyme; protein drug; protein production; drug abuse; stable cell line
13.  Evaluation of the Intestinal Transport of a Phenylethanoid Glycoside-Rich Extract from Cistanche deserticola across the Caco-2 Cell Monolayer Model 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0116490.
Phenylethanoid glycosides (PhGs), a class of polyphenolic compounds, are considered one of major bioactive constituents of Cistanche deserticola Y.C. Ma (CD), whose extract is orally used in traditional Chinese medicine. Although previous pharmacological studies have reported that PhGs exert many activities, their intestinal transport profiles have not been clarified. In this study, we investigated the intestinal permeability of a PhG-rich extract (PRE) from CD as an integrated system in the Caco-2 cell monolayer model using a bioassay system. The results showed that PRE is primarily transported via poorly absorbed passive diffusion down a concentration gradient without efflux, which provides the pharmacokinetic basis for the clinical application of PhGs in CD. We also determined the intestinal permeability of three major PhGs [acteoside (AC), isoacteoside (IS) and echinacoside (EC)] by HLPC. Furthermore, we developed a novel HPLC-fluorescence detection method to accurately determine the flux amount of AC and IS. As expected, the transport characteristics of the three PhGs are consistent with those of PRE, indicating that the present bioassay system is appropriate and reliable for the evaluation of the transport characteristics of active ingredient groups (AIG) in PRE. Moreover, this system may also be suitable for other plant extracts given appropriate bioactivity.
PMCID: PMC4315399  PMID: 25646971
14.  The BRCA1/2-directed miRNA signature predicts a good prognosis in ovarian cancer patients with wild-type BRCA1/2 
Oncotarget  2014;6(4):2397-2406.
Ovarian cancer patients carrying alterations (i.e., germline mutations, somatic mutations, hypermethylations and/or deletions) of BRCA1 or BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) have a better prognosis than BRCA1/2 alteration non-carriers. However, patients with wild-type BRCA1/2 may also have a favorable prognosis as a result of other mechanisms that remain poorly elucidated, such as the deregulation of miRNAs. We therefore sought to identify BRCA1/2-directed miRNA signatures that have prognostic value in ovarian cancer patients with wild-type BRCA1/2 and study how the deregulation of miRNAs impacts the prognosis of patients treated with platinum-based chemotherapy. By analyzing multidimensional datasets of ovarian cancer patients from the TCGA data portal, we identified three miRNAs (hsa-miR-146a, hsa-miR-148a and hsa-miR-545) that target BRCA1/2 and were associated with overall survival and progression-free survival in patients with wild-type BRCA1/2. By analyzing the expression profiles and Gene Ontology functional enrichment, we found that carriers of BRCA1/2 alterations and patients with miRNA deregulation shared a common mechanism, regulation of the DNA repair-related pathways, that affects the prognosis of ovarian cancer patients. Our work highlights that a proportion of patients with wild-type BRCA1/2 ovarian cancers benefit from platinum-based chemotherapy and that the patients who benefit could be predicted from BRCA1/2-directed miRNA signature.
PMCID: PMC4385859  PMID: 25537514
miRNAs; BRCA1; BRCA2; Prognosis; Ovarian Cancer
15.  Ruthmycin, a New Tetracyclic Polyketide from Streptomyces sp. RM-4-15 
Organic letters  2013;16(2):456-459.
The isolation and structural elucidation of a new tetracyclic polyketide (ruthmycin) from Streptomyces sp. RM-4-15, a bacteria isolated near thermal vents from the Ruth Mullins underground coal mine fire in eastern Kentucky, is reported. In comparison to the well-established frenolicin core scaffold, ruthmycin possesses an unprecedented signature C3 bridge and corresponding fused six member ring. Preliminary in vitro antibacterial, anticancer and antifungal assays revealed ruthmycin to display moderate antifungal activity.
PMCID: PMC3964319  PMID: 24341358
16.  Mitochondrial function in neuronal cells depends on p97/VCP/Cdc48-mediated quality control 
Maintaining mitochondrial function is essential for neuronal survival and offers protection against neurodegeneration. Ubiquitin-mediated, proteasome-dependent protein degradation in the form of outer mitochondrial membrane associated degradation (OMMAD) was shown to play roles in maintenance of mitochondria on the level of proteostasis, but also mitophagy and cell death. Recently, the AAA-ATPase p97/VCP/Cdc48 was recognized as part of OMMAD acting as retrotranslocase of ubiquitinated mitochondrial proteins for proteasomal degradation. Thus, p97 likely plays a major role in mitochondrial maintenance. Support for this notion comes from mitochondrial dysfunction associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and hereditary inclusion body myopathy associated with Paget disease of bone and frontotemporal dementia (IBMPFD) caused by p97 mutation. Using SH-SY5Y cells stably expressing p97 or dominant-negative p97QQ treated with mitochondrial toxins rotenone, 6-OHDA, or Aβ-peptide as model for neuronal cells suffering from mitochondrial dysfunction, we found mitochondrial fragmentation under normal and stress conditions was significantly increased upon inactivation of p97. Furthermore, inactivation of p97 resulted in loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Under additional stress conditions, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and increased ROS production was even more pronounced. Loss of mitochondrial fidelity upon inactivation of p97 was likely due to disturbed maintenance of mitochondrial proteostasis as the employed treatments neither induced mitophagy nor cell death. This was supported by the accumulation of oxidatively-damaged proteins on mitochondria in response to p97 inactivation. Dysfunction of p97 under normal and stress conditions in neuron-like cells severely impacts mitochondrial function, thus supporting for the first time a role for p97 as a major component of mitochondrial proteostasis.
PMCID: PMC4313695  PMID: 25698929
mitochondria; p97/VCP; neuronal cells; quality control
17.  Substrate Selectivity of High-Activity Mutants of Human Butyrylcholinesterase 
Organic & biomolecular chemistry  2013;11(43):7477-7485.
Cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs, and there is still no FDA (Food and Drug Administration)-approved medication specific for cocaine. A promising therapeutic strategy is to accelerate cocaine metabolism producing biologically inactive metabolites via a route similar to the primary cocaine-metabolizing pathway, i.e. cocaine hydrolysis catalyzed by butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), in plasma. However, the native BChE has a low catalytic efficiency against the abused cocaine, i.e. (−)-cocaine. Our recently designed and discovered A199S/F227A/S287G/A328W/Y332G mutant and other mutants of human BChE have a considerably improved catalytic efficiency against (−)-cocaine. In the present study, we carried out both computational modeling and experimental kinetic analysis on the catalytic activities of these promising new BChE mutants against other known substrates, including neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh), acetylthiocholine (ATC), butyrylthiocholine (BTC), and (+)-cocaine, in comparison with the corresponding catalytic activity against (−)-cocaine. Both the computational modeling and kinetic analysis have consistently revealed that all of the examined amino-acid mutations only considerably improve the catalytic efficiency of human BChE against (−)-cocaine, without significantly improving the catalytic efficiency of the enzyme against anyone of the other substrates examined. In particular, all of the examined BChE mutants have an even slightly lower catalytic efficiency against neurotransmitter ACh compared to the wild-type BChE. This observation gives us confidence in development of an anti-cocaine enzyme therapy by using one of these BChE mutants, particularly the A199S/F227A/S287G/A328W/Y332G mutant.
PMCID: PMC3836059  PMID: 24077614
18.  Fundamental Reaction Pathway for Peptide Metabolism by Proteasome: Insights from First-principles Quantum Mechanical/Molecular Mechanical Free Energy Calculations 
The journal of physical chemistry. B  2013;117(43):10.1021/jp405337v.
Proteasome is the major component of the crucial nonlysosomal protein degradation pathway in the cells, but the detailed reaction pathway is unclear. In this study, first-principles quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical free energy calculations have been performed to explore, for the first time, possible reaction pathways for proteasomal proteolysis/hydrolysis of a representative peptide, succinyl-leucyl-leucyl-valyl-tyrosyl-7-amino-4-methylcoumarin (Suc-LLVY-AMC). The computational results reveal that the most favorable reaction pathway consists of six steps. The first is a water-assisted proton transfer within proteasome, activating Thr1-Oγ. The second is a nucleophilic attack on the carbonyl carbon of a Tyr residue of substrate by the negatively charged Thr1-Oγ, followed by the dissociation of the amine AMC (third step). The fourth step is a nucleophilic attack on the carbonyl carbon of the Tyr residue of substrate by a water molecule, accompanied by a proton transfer from the water molecule to Thr1-Nz. Then, Suc-LLVY is dissociated (fifth step), and Thr1 is regenerated via a direct proton transfer from Thr1-Nz to Thr1-Oγ. According to the calculated energetic results, the overall reaction energy barrier of the proteasomal hydrolysis is associated with the transition state (TS3b) for the third step involving a water-assisted proton transfer. The determined most favorable reaction pathway and the rate-determining step have provided a reasonable interpretation of the reported experimental observations concerning the substituent and isotopic effects on the kinetics. The calculated overall free energy barrier of 18.2 kcal/mol is close to the experimentally-derived activation free energy of ~18.3–19.4 kcal/mol, suggesting that the computational results are reasonable.
PMCID: PMC3851579  PMID: 24111489
Proteasome; proteolytic mechanism; QM/MM; peptide hydrolysis
19.  Safety and efficacy of laparoscopy-assisted gastrectomy for advanced gastric cancer in the elderly 
To evaluate safety and efficacy of laparoscopy-assisted radical gastrectomy (LARG) for advanced gastric cancer patients aged 70 years or older. Clinical data were retrospectively collected from patients with IIA-IIIC gastric cancer who underwent LARG (n = 30) and open radical gastrectomy (ORG, n = 34) in Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery in the Ningbo First Hospital from January 2012 to December 2013. The mean operative time was longer in the LARG group than in the ORG group but there was no statistical difference between the two groups. The intraoperative blood loss (120 ± 52.7 ml vs 227.3 ± 146.9 ml), incidence of postoperative complication (23.0% vs 47%) were lower in the LARG group than those in the ORG group. In addition, the time to first flatus (2.9 ± 0.8 d vs 4.6 ± 1.2 d), time to first ambulation (1.2 ± 0.4 vs 4.1 ± 1.0 d), time of nasogastric intubation (2.5 ± 1.0 d vs 3.5 ± 1.4 d), and postoperative hospital stay (13.0 ± 4.2 d vs 16.9 ± 4.1 d) were significantly shorter in the LARG group than in the ORG group, respectively. No statistical difference in the number of harvested lymph nodes was noted between the two groups (30.2 ± 12.0 vs 28.1 ± 11.8, P > 0.05). LARG is safer, more effective and less invasive for the elderly patients with advanced gastric cancer.
PMCID: PMC4238507  PMID: 25419398
Laparoscopy-assisted gastrectomy; open gastrectomy; gastric cancer; clinical efficacy
20.  The effect of flammer-syndrome on retinal venous pressure 
BMC Ophthalmology  2014;14:121.
The purpose of the study was to measure the retinal venous pressure (RVP) in the eyes of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) patients and healthy subjects with and without a Flammer-Syndrome (FS).
RVP was measured in the following four groups of patients and age- and sex-matched healthy controls: (a) 15 patients with a POAG and a FS (POAG/FS+); (b) 15 patients with a POAG but without a FS (POAG/FS-); (c) 14 healthy subjects with a FS (healthy/FS+) and (d) 16 healthy subjects without a FS (healthy/FS-). RVP was measured in all participants bilaterally by means of contact lens ophthalmodynamometry. Ophthalmodynamometry is done by applying increasing pressure on the eye via a contact lens. The minimum force required to induce a venous pulsation is called ophthalmodynamometric force (ODF). The RVP is defined and calculated as the sum of ODF and intraocular pressure (IOP) [RVP = ODF + IOP].
The participants with a FS (whether patients with POAG or healthy subjects), had a significantly higher RVP compared to subjects without a FS (p = 0.0103). Patients with a POAG and FS (POAG/FS+) had a significantly higher RVP compared to patients without a FS (POAG/FS-) (p = 0.0301). There was a notable trend for a higher RVP in the healthy/FS + group compared to the healthy/FS - group, which did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.0898).
RVP is higher in subjects with a FS, particularly in glaucoma patients. The causal relationship needs to be further evaluated.
PMCID: PMC4216361  PMID: 25312339
21.  Cotton fiber elongation network revealed by expression profiling of longer fiber lines introgressed with different Gossypium barbadense chromosome segments 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):838.
Cotton fiber, a highly elongated, thickened single cell of the seed epidermis, is a powerful cell wall research model. Fiber length, largely determined during the elongation stage, is a key property of fiber quality. Several studies using expressed sequence tags and microarray analysis have identified transcripts that accumulate preferentially during fiber elongation. To further show the mechanism of fiber elongation, we used Digital Gene Expression Tag Profiling to compare transcriptome data from longer fiber chromosome introgressed lines (CSILs) containing segments of various Gossypium barbadense chromosomes with data from its recurrent parent TM-1 during fiber elongation (from 5 DPA to 20 DPA).
A large number of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) involved in carbohydrate, fatty acid and secondary metabolism, particularly cell wall biosynthesis, were highly upregulated during the fiber elongation stage, as determined by functional enrichment and pathway analysis. Furthermore, DEGs related to hormone responses and transcription factors showed upregulated expression levels in the CSILs. Moreover, metabolic and regulatory network analysis indicated that the same pathways were differentially altered, and distinct pathways exhibited altered gene expression, in the CSILs. Interestingly, mining of upregulated DEGs in the introgressed segments of these CSILs based on D-genome sequence data showed that these lines were enriched in glucuronosyltransferase, inositol-1, 4, 5-trisphosphate 3-kinase and desulfoglucosinolate sulfotransferase activity. These results were similar to the results of transcriptome analysis.
This report provides an integrative network about the molecular mechanisms controlling fiber length, which are mainly tied to carbohydrate metabolism, cell wall biosynthesis, fatty acid metabolism, secondary metabolism, hormone responses and Transcription factors. The results of this study provide new insights into the critical factors associated with cell elongation and will facilitate further research aimed at understanding the mechanisms underlying cotton fiber elongation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-838) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4190578  PMID: 25273845
CSIL; DEG; Fiber length; Functional enrichment; Metabolic pathway analysis; Transcriptome
22.  Infiltrating macrophages promote prostate tumorigenesis via modulating androgen receptor-mediated CCL4-STAT3 signaling 
Cancer research  2013;73(18):10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-3228.
Infiltrating macrophages are a key component of inflammation during tumorigenesis, but the direct evidence of such linkage remains unclear. We report here that persistent co-culturing of immortalized prostate epithelial cells with macrophages, without adding any carcinogens, induces prostate tumorigenesis, and that induction involves the alteration of signaling of macrophage androgen receptor (AR)-inflammatory chemokine CCL4-STAT3 activation as well as epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and down-regulation of p53/PTEN tumor suppressors. In vivo studies further showed that PTEN+/− mice lacking macrophage AR developed far fewer prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) lesions, supporting an in vivo role for macrophage AR during prostate tumorigenesis. CCL4 neutralizing antibody effectively blocked macrophage-induced prostate tumorigenic signaling, and targeting AR via an AR degradation enhancer, ASC-J9®, reduced CCL4 expression and xenografted tumor growth in vivo. Importantly, CCL4 upregulation was associated with increased Snail expression and down-regulation of p53/PTEN in high-grade PIN and prostate cancer. Together, our results identify the AR-CCL4-STAT3 axis as key regulators during prostate tumor initiation and highlight the important roles of infiltrating macrophages and inflammatory cytokines for the prostate tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC3833080  PMID: 23878190
androgen receptor; CCL4; macrophages; epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; prostate cancer
23.  Environmental-stress-induced Chromatin Regulation and its Heritability 
Chromatin is subject to proofreading and repair mechanisms during the process of DNA replication, as well as repair to maintain genetic and epigenetic information and genome stability. The dynamic structure of chromatin modulates various nuclear processes, including transcription and replication, by altering the accessibility of the DNA to regulatory factors. Structural changes in chromatin are affected by the chemical modification of histone proteins and DNA, remodeling of nucleosomes, incorporation of variant histones, noncoding RNAs, and nonhistone DNA-binding proteins. Phenotypic diversity and fidelity can be balanced by controlling stochastic switching of chromatin structure and dynamics in response to the environmental disruptors and endogenous stresses. The dynamic chromatin remodeling can, therefore, serve as a sensor, through which environmental and/or metabolic agents can alter gene expression, leading to global cellular changes involving multiple interactive networks. Furthermore its recent evidence also suggests that the epigenetic changes are heritable during the development. This review will discuss the environmental sensing system for chromatin regulation and genetic and epigenetic controls from developmental perspectives.
PMCID: PMC4101908  PMID: 25045581
Chromatin assembly; Chromatin regulation; Endocrine-disrupting chemicals; Environmental stress; Epigenesis; Epigenetic inheritance
24.  Loss of EGFR signaling-regulated miR-203 promotes prostate cancer bone metastasis and tyrosine kinase inhibitors resistance 
Oncotarget  2014;5(11):3770-3784.
Activation of EGFR signaling pathway leads to prostate cancer bone metastasis; however, therapies targeting EGFR have demonstrated limited effectiveness and led to drug resistance. miR-203 levels are down-regulated in clinical samples of primary prostate cancer and further reduced in metastatic prostate cancer. Here we show that ectopic miR-203 expression displayed reduced bone metastasis and induced sensitivity to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) treatment in a xenograft model. Our results demonstrate that the induction of bone metastasis and TKI resistance require miR-203 down-regulation, activation of the EGFR pathway via altered expression of EGFR ligands (EREG and TGFA) and anti-apoptotic proteins (API5, BIRC2, and TRIAP1). Importantly, a sufficient reconstitution of invasiveness and resistance to TKIs treatment was observed in cells transfected with anti-miR-203. In prostate cancer patients, our data showed that miR-203 levels were inversely correlated with the expression of two EGFR ligands, EREG and TGFA, and an EGFR dependent gene signature. Our results support the existence of a miR-203, EGFR, TKIs resistance regulatory network in prostate cancer progression. We propose that the loss of miR-203 is a molecular link in the progression of prostate cancer metastasis and TKIs resistance characterized by high EGFR ligands output and anti-apoptotic proteins activation.
PMCID: PMC4116519  PMID: 25004126
Bone metastasis/Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)/Prostate cancer/miR-203/KRAS/Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) resistance
25.  High fever as an initial symptom of primary gastric inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor in an adult woman 
Inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor, also known as inflammatory pseudotumor, plasma cell granuloma or inflammatory myofibroblastoma, is characterized histopathologically by myofibroblastic spindle cells with inflammatory cell infiltrates composed of plasma cells, lymphocytes and eosinophils. Inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor is typically seen in children or young adults and is most commonly localized to the lungs, but it can occur anywhere in the body. To date, however, only a few cases involving the stomach have been reported. Herein, we present a case of gastric inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor in an adult woman with an initial symptom of high fever.
PMCID: PMC4073775  PMID: 24995114
Inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor; stomach; inflammatory pseudotumor; high fever; surgery

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