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1.  Necrotic stercoral colitis: Importance of computed tomography findings 
AIM: To study the computed tomography (CT) signs in facilitating early diagnosis of necrotic stercoral colitis (NSC).
METHODS: Ten patients with surgically and pathologically confirmed NSC were recruited from the Clinico-Pathologic-Radiologic conference at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taoyuan, Taiwan. Their CT images and medical records were reviewed retrospectively to correlate CT findings with clinical presentation.
RESULTS: All these ten elderly patients with a mean age of 77.1 years presented with acute abdomen at our Emergency Room. Nine of them were with systemic medical disease and 8 with chronic constipation. Seven were with leukocytosis, two with low-grade fever, two with peritoneal sign, and three with hypotensive shock. Only one patient was with radiographic detected abnormal gas. Except the crux of fecal impaction, the frequency of the CT signs of NSC were, proximal colon dilatation (20%), colon wall thickening (60%), dense mucosa (62.5%), mucosal sloughing (10%), perfusion defect (70%), pericolonic stranding (80%), abnormal gas (50%) with pneumo-mesocolon (40%) in them, pericolonic abscess (20%). The most sensitive signs in decreasing order were pericolonic stranding, perfusion defect, dense mucosal, detecting about 80%, 70%, and 62.5% of the cases, respectively.
CONCLUSION: Awareness of NSC and familiarity with the CT diagnostic signs enable the differential diagnosis between NSC and benign stool impaction.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v17.i3.379
PMCID: PMC3022300  PMID: 21253399
Fecal impaction; Dense mucosa; Pericolonic stranding; Stercoral colitis; Computed tomography
2.  Berberine Protects against Neuronal Damage via Suppression of Glia-Mediated Inflammation in Traumatic Brain Injury 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115694.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) triggers a series of neuroinflammatory processes that contribute to evolution of neuronal injury. The present study investigated the neuroprotective effects and anti-inflammatory actions of berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid, in both in vitro and in vivo TBI models. Mice subjected to controlled cortical impact injury were injected with berberine (10 mg·kg−1) or vehicle 10 min after injury. In addition to behavioral studies and histology analysis, blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability and brain water content were determined. Expression of PI3K/Akt and Erk signaling and inflammatory mediators were also analyzed. The protective effect of berberine was also investigated in cultured neurons either subjected to stretch injury or exposed to conditioned media with activated microglia. Berberine significantly attenuated functional deficits and brain damage associated with TBI up to day 28 post-injury. Berberine also reduced neuronal death, apoptosis, BBB permeability, and brain edema at day 1 post-injury. These changes coincided with a marked reduction in leukocyte infiltration, microglial activation, matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity, and expression of inflammatory mediators. Berberine had no effect on Akt or Erk 1/2 phosphorylation. In mixed glial cultures, berberine reduced TLR4/MyD88/NF-κB signaling. Berberine also attenuated neuronal death induced by microglial conditioned media; however, it did not directly protect cultured neurons subjected to stretch injury. Moreover, administration of berberine at 3 h post-injury also reduced TBI-induced neuronal damage, apoptosis and inflammation in vivo. Berberine reduces TBI-induced brain damage by limiting the production of inflammatory mediators by glial cells, rather than by a direct neuroprotective effect.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115694
PMCID: PMC4278716  PMID: 25546475
3.  Post-Injury Treatment with 7,8-Dihydroxyflavone, a TrkB Receptor Agonist, Protects against Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury via PI3K/Akt Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e113397.
Tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB) signaling is critical for promoting neuronal survival following brain damage. The present study investigated the effects and underlying mechanisms of TrkB activation by the TrkB agonist 7,8-dihydroxyflavone (7,8-DHF) on traumatic brain injury (TBI). Mice subjected to controlled cortical impact received intraperitoneal 7,8-DHF or vehicle injection 10 min post-injury and subsequently daily for 3 days. Behavioral studies, histology analysis and brain water content assessment were performed. Levels of TrkB signaling-related molecules and apoptosis-related proteins were analyzed. The protective effect of 7,8-DHF was also investigated in primary neurons subjected to stretch injury. Treatment with 20 mg/kg 7,8-DHF attenuated functional deficits and brain damage up to post-injury day 28. 7,8-DHF also reduced brain edema, neuronal death, and apoptosis at day 4. These changes were accompanied by a significant decrease in cleaved caspase-3 and increase in Bcl-2/Bax ratio. 7,8-DHF enhanced phosphorylation of TrkB, Akt (Ser473/Thr308), and Bad at day 4, but had no effect on Erk 1/2 phosphorylation. Moreover, 7,8-DHF increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels and promoted cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) activation. This beneficial effect was attenuated by inhibition of TrkB or PI3K/Akt. 7,8-DHF also promoted survival and reduced apoptosis in cortical neurons subjected to stretch injury. Remarkably, delayed administration of 7,8-DHF at 3 h post-injury reduced brain tissue damage. Our study demonstrates that activation of TrkB signaling by 7,8-DHF protects against TBI via the PI3K/Akt but not Erk pathway, and this protective effect may be amplified via the PI3K/Akt-CREB cascades.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113397
PMCID: PMC4240709  PMID: 25415296
4.  Probing Hydrophilic Interface of Solid/Liquid-Water by Nanoultrasonics 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:6249.
Despite the numerous devoted studies, water at solid interfaces remains puzzling. An ongoing debate concerns the nature of interfacial water at a hydrophilic surface, whether it is more solid-like, ice-like, or liquid-like. To answer this question, a complete picture of the distribution of the water molecule structure and molecular interactions has to be obtained in a non-invasive way and on an ultrafast time scale. We developed a new experimental technique that extends the classical acoustic technique to the molecular level. Using nanoacoustic waves with a femtosecond pulsewidth and an ångström resolution to noninvasively diagnose the hydration structure distribution at ambient solid/water interface, we performed a complete mapping of the viscoelastic properties and of the density in the whole interfacial water region at hydrophilic surfaces. Our results suggest that water in the interfacial region possesses mixed properties and that the different pictures obtained up to now can be unified. Moreover, we discuss the effect of the interfacial water structure on the abnormal thermal transport properties of solid/liquid interfaces.
doi:10.1038/srep06249
PMCID: PMC4150100  PMID: 25176017
5.  Electricity Generation and Wastewater Treatment of Oil Refinery in Microbial Fuel Cells Using Pseudomonas putida 
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) represent a novel platform for treating wastewater and at the same time generating electricity. Using Pseudomonas putida (BCRC 1059), a wild-type bacterium, we demonstrated that the refinery wastewater could be treated and also generate electric current in an air-cathode chamber over four-batch cycles for 63 cumulative days. Our study indicated that the oil refinery wastewater containing 2213 mg/L (ppm) chemical oxygen demand (COD) could be used as a substrate for electricity generation in the reactor of the MFC. A maximum voltage of 355 mV was obtained with the highest power density of 0.005 mW/cm2 in the third cycle with a maximum current density of 0.015 mA/cm2 in regard to the external resistor of 1000 Ω. A maximum coulombic efficiency of 6 × 10−2% was obtained in the fourth cycle. The removal efficiency of the COD reached 30% as a function of time. Electron transfer mechanism was studied using cyclic voltammetry, which indicated the presence of a soluble electron shuttle in the reactor. Our study demonstrated that oil refinery wastewater could be used as a substrate for electricity generation.
doi:10.3390/ijms150916772
PMCID: PMC4200787  PMID: 25247576
microbial fuel cell; oil refinery; air-cathode; Pseudomonasputida; chemical oxygen demand
6.  Left-ventricular dyssynchrony evaluated by Tl-201 gated SPECT myocardial perfusion imaging: a comparison with Tc-99m sestamibi 
Nuclear medicine communications  2013;34(3):229-232.
Background and purpose
Phase analysis of gated single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) has been validated as a reliable tool to assess left-ventricular (LV) mechanical dyssynchrony. The initial results were all confirmed from studies using technetium-99m (Tc-99m) sestamibi or tetrofosmin as the radiotracers. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of phase analysis in thallium-201 (Tl-201) gated SPECT MPI.
Materials and methods
Seventeen patients referred from a cardiology clinic for evaluation of coronary artery disease were studied. All patients underwent both Tl-201 and Tc-99m sestamibi gated SPECT MPI within 1 week. An additional 34 patients with Tl-201 gated SPECT and 22 patients with Tc-99m sestamibi gated SPECT, who had a low likelihood of coronary artery disease, normal LV function, and normal perfusion on MPI, were used as normal controls. LV dyssynchrony parameters, including phase standard deviation (PSD) and phase histogram bandwidth (PHB), were measured using a standard phase analysis tool and compared between Tl-201 and Tc-99m sestamibi images.
Results
The LV dyssynchrony parameters correlated well (r= 0.93 for PSD and r =0.84 for PHB) between Tl-201 and Tc-99m sestamibi images. The dyssynchrony parameters of Tl-201 were significantly larger than those of Tc-99m sestamibi (PSD: 24.5±12.0 vs. 17.4±9.7, P < 0.001; PHB: 74.7±35.5 vs. 50.6±25.0, P < 0.001). In comparison with normal controls, Tl-201 and Tc-99m sestamibi images showed concordant results.
Conclusion
LV dyssynchrony parameters correlated well between Tl-201 and Tc-99m sestamibi images, even though the values were significantly larger for Tl-201 than for Tc-99m sestamibi. Tl-201 images showed results similar to those of Tc-99m sestamibi in the diagnosis of LV dyssynchrony.
doi:10.1097/MNM.0b013e32835c91b9
PMCID: PMC3731541  PMID: 23238227
dyssynchrony; gated SPECT; phase analysis; thallium-201
7.  Stress-induced myocardial ischemia is associated with early post-stress left ventricular mechanical dyssynchrony as assessed by phase analysis of 201Tl gated SPECT myocardial perfusion imaging 
Purpose
In 201Tl SPECT myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) data are acquired shortly after the stress injection to assess early post-stress left ventricle (LV) function. The purpose of this study was to use 201Tl SPECT MPI to investigate whether stress-induced myocardial ischemia is associated with LV mechanical dyssynchrony.
Methods
Enrolled in the study were 75 patients who were referred for dipyridamole stress and rest 201Tl gated SPECT MPI. The early post-stress scan was started 5 min after injection, and followed by the rest scan 4 h later. The patients were divided into three groups: ischemia group (N=25, summed stress score, SSS, ≥5, summed rest score, SRS, <5), infarct group (N=16, SSS ≥5, SRS ≥5) and normal group (N=34, SSS <5, SRS <5). LV dyssynchrony parameters were calculated by phase analysis, and compared between the stress and rest images.
Results
In the ischemia group, LV dyssynchrony was significantly larger during stress than during rest. On the contrary, LV dyssynchrony during stress was significantly smaller than during rest in the normal and infarct groups. LV dyssynchrony during rest was significantly larger in the infarct group than in the normal and ischemia groups. There were no significant differences in LV dyssynchrony during rest between the normal and ischemia groups.
Conclusion
Stress-induced myocardial ischemia caused dyssynchronous contraction in the ischemic region, leading to a deterioration in LV synchrony. Normal myocardium had more synchronous contraction during stress. The different dyssynchrony pattern between ischemic and normal myocardium early post-stress may aid the diagnosis of coronary artery disease using 201Tl gated SPECT MPI.
doi:10.1007/s00259-012-2208-7
PMCID: PMC3717145  PMID: 22875446
Thallium-201; Gated SPECT; Left-ventricular dyssynchrony; Myocardial ischemia
8.  Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD)-Deficient Epithelial Cells Are Less Tolerant to Infection by Staphylococcus aureus 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79566.
Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is a key enzyme in the pentose phosphate pathway and provides reducing energy to all cells by maintaining redox balance. The most common clinical manifestations in patients with G6PD deficiency are neonatal jaundice and acute hemolytic anemia. The effects of microbial infection in patients with G6PD deficiency primarily relate to the hemolytic anemia caused by Plasmodium or viral infections and the subsequent medication that is required. We are interested in studying the impact of bacterial infection in G6PD-deficient cells. G6PD knock down A549 lung carcinoma cells, together with the common pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, were employed in our cell infection model. Here, we demonstrate that a lower cell viability was observed among G6PD-deficient cells when compared to scramble controls upon bacterial infection using the MTT assay. A significant increase in the intracellular ROS was detected among S. aureus-infected G6PD-deficient cells by observing dichlorofluorescein (DCF) intensity within cells under a fluorescence microscope and quantifying this signal using flow cytometry. The impairment of ROS removal is predicted to enhance apoptotic activity in G6PD-deficient cells, and this enhanced apoptosis was observed by annexin V/PI staining under a confocal fluorescence microscope and quantified by flow cytometry. A higher expression level of the intrinsic apoptotic initiator caspase-9, as well as the downstream effector caspase-3, was detected by Western blotting analysis of G6PD-deficient cells following bacterial infection. In conclusion, we propose that bacterial infection, perhaps the secreted S. aureus α-hemolysin in this case, promotes the accumulation of intracellular ROS in G6PD-deficient cells. This would trigger a stronger apoptotic activity through the intrinsic pathway thereby reducing cell viability when compared to wild type cells.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079566
PMCID: PMC3817128  PMID: 24223971
9.  NlpI Facilitates Deposition of C4bp on Escherichia coli by Blocking Classical Complement-Mediated Killing, Which Results in High-Level Bacteremia 
Infection and Immunity  2012;80(10):3669-3678.
Neonatal meningitis Escherichia coli (NMEC) is the most common Gram-negative organism that is associated with neonatal meningitis, which usually develops as a result of hematogenous spread of the bacteria. There are two key pathogenesis processes for NMEC to penetrate into the brain, the essential step for the development of E. coli meningitis: a high-level bacteremia and traversal of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Our previous study has shown that the bacterial outer membrane protein NlpI contributes to NMEC binding to and invasion of brain microvascular endothelial cells, the major component cells of the BBB, suggesting a role for NlpI in NMEC crossing of the BBB. In this study, we showed that NlpI is involved in inducing a high level of bacteremia. In addition, NlpI contributed to the recruitment of the complement regulator C4bp to the surface of NMEC to evade serum killing, which is mediated by the classical complement pathway. NlpI may be involved in the interaction between C4bp and OmpA, which is an outer membrane protein that directly interacts with C4bp on the bacterial surface. The involvement of NlpI in two key pathogenesis processes of NMEC meningitis may make this bacterial factor a potential target for prevention and therapy of E. coli meningitis.
doi:10.1128/IAI.00320-12
PMCID: PMC3457581  PMID: 22802341
10.  Salidroside Improves Behavioral and Histological Outcomes and Reduces Apoptosis via PI3K/Akt Signaling after Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45763.
Background
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) induces a complex sequence of apopototic cascades that contribute to secondary tissue damage. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of salidroside, a phenolic glycoside with potent anti-apoptotic properties, on behavioral and histological outcomes, brain edema, and apoptosis following experimental TBI and the possible involvement of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Mice subjected to controlled cortical impact injury received intraperitoneal salidroside (20, or 50 mg/kg) or vehicle injection 10 min after injury. Behavioral studies, histology analysis and brain water content assessment were performed. Levels of PI3K/Akt signaling-related molecules, apoptosis-related proteins, cytochrome C (CytoC), and Smac/DIABLO were also analyzed. LY294002, a PI3K inhibitor, was administered to examine the mechanism of protection. The protective effect of salidroside was also investigated in primary cultured neurons subjected to stretch injury. Treatment with 20 mg/kg salidroside_significantly improved functional recovery and reduced brain tissue damage up to post-injury day 28. Salidroside_also significantly reduced neuronal death, apoptosis, and brain edema at day 1. These changes were associated with significant decreases in cleaved caspase-3, CytoC, and Smac/DIABLO at days 1 and 3. Salidroside increased phosphorylation of Akt on Ser473 and the mitochondrial Bcl-2/Bax ratio at day 1, and enhanced phosphorylation of Akt on Thr308 at day 3. This beneficial effect was abolished by pre-injection of LY294002. Moreover, delayed administration of salidroside at 3 or 6 h post-injury reduced neuronal damage at day 1. Salidroside treatment also decreased neuronal vulnerability to stretch-induced injury in vitro.
Conclusions/Significance
Post-injury salidroside improved long-term behavioral and histological outcomes and reduced brain edema and apoptosis following TBI, at least partially via the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045763
PMCID: PMC3454376  PMID: 23029230
11.  Wogonin Improves Histological and Functional Outcomes, and Reduces Activation of TLR4/NF-κB Signaling after Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30294.
Background
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) initiates a neuroinflammatory cascade that contributes to neuronal damage and behavioral impairment. This study was undertaken to investigate the effects of wogonin, a flavonoid with potent anti-inflammatory properties, on functional and histological outcomes, brain edema, and toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4)- and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB)-related signaling pathways in mice following TBI.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Mice subjected to controlled cortical impact injury were injected with wogonin (20, 40, or 50 mg·kg−1) or vehicle 10 min after injury. Behavioral studies, histology analysis, and measurement of blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability and brain water content were carried out to assess the effects of wogonin. Levels of TLR4/NF-κB-related inflammatory mediators were also examined. Treatment with 40 mg·kg−1 wogonin significantly improved functional recovery and reduced contusion volumes up to post-injury day 28. Wogonin also significantly reduced neuronal death, BBB permeability, and brain edema beginning at day 1. These changes were associated with a marked reduction in leukocyte infiltration, microglial activation, TLR4 expression, NF-κB translocation to nucleus and its DNA binding activity, matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity, and expression of inflammatory mediators, including interleukin-1β, interleukin-6, macrophage inflammatory protein-2, and cyclooxygenase-2.
Conclusions/Significance
Our results show that post-injury wogonin treatment improved long-term functional and histological outcomes, reduced brain edema, and attenuated the TLR4/NF-κB-mediated inflammatory response in mouse TBI. The neuroprotective effects of wogonin may be related to modulation of the TLR4/NF-κB signaling pathway.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030294
PMCID: PMC3260265  PMID: 22272328
12.  A Single-Chamber Microbial Fuel Cell without an Air Cathode 
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) represent a novel technology for wastewater treatment with electricity production. Electricity generation with simultaneous nitrate reduction in a single-chamber MFC without air cathode was studied, using glucose (1 mM) as the carbon source and nitrate (1 mM) as the final electron acceptor employed by Bacillus subtilis under anaerobic conditions. Increasing current as a function of decreased nitrate concentration and an increase in biomass were observed with a maximum current of 0.4 mA obtained at an external resistance (Rext) of 1 KΩ without a platinum catalyst of air cathode. A decreased current with complete nitrate reduction, with further recovery of the current immediately after nitrate addition, indicated the dependence of B. subtilis on nitrate as an electron acceptor to efficiently produce electricity. A power density of 0.0019 mW/cm2 was achieved at an Rext of 220 Ω. Cyclic voltammograms (CV) showed direct electron transfer with the involvement of mediators in the MFC. The low coulombic efficiency (CE) of 11% was mainly attributed to glucose fermentation. These results demonstrated that electricity generation is possible from wastewater containing nitrate, and this represents an alternative technology for the cost-effective and environmentally benign treatment of wastewater.
doi:10.3390/ijms13033933
PMCID: PMC3317750  PMID: 22489190
microbial fuel cells; Bacillus subtilis; cyclic voltammograms; nitrate reduction; air cathode; glucose; fermentation; microbial growth; aerobic
13.  Diagnostic Devices for Isothermal Nucleic Acid Amplification 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2012;12(6):8319-8337.
Since the development of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique, genomic information has been retrievable from lesser amounts of DNA than previously possible. PCR-based amplifications require high-precision instruments to perform temperature cycling reactions; further, they are cumbersome for routine clinical use. However, the use of isothermal approaches can eliminate many complications associated with thermocycling. The application of diagnostic devices for isothermal DNA amplification has recently been studied extensively. In this paper, we describe the basic concepts of several isothermal amplification approaches and review recent progress in diagnostic device development.
doi:10.3390/s120608319
PMCID: PMC3436031  PMID: 22969402
isothermal nucleic acid amplification; NASBA; SDA; RCA; LAMP; HDA
14.  Vancomycin Activates σB in Vancomycin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Resulting in the Enhancement of Cytotoxicity 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24472.
The alternative transcription factor σB is responsible for transcription in Staphylococcus aureus during the stress response. Many virulence-associated genes are directly or indirectly regulated by σB. We hypothesized that treatment with antibiotics may act as an environmental stressor that induces σB activity in antibiotic-resistant strains. Several antibiotics with distinct modes of action, including ampicillin (12 µg/ml), vancomycin (16 or 32 µg/ml), chloramphenicol (15 µg/ml), ciprofloxacin (0.25 µg/ml), and sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim (SXT, 0.8 µg/ml), were investigated for their ability to activate this transcription factor. We were especially interested in the stress response in vancomycin-resistant S. aureus (VRSA) strains treated with vancomycin. The transcription levels of selected genes associated with virulence were also measured. Real-time quantitative reverse transcription PCR was employed to evaluate gene transcription levels. Contact hemolytic and cytotoxicity assays were used to evaluate cell damage following antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics that target the cell wall (vancomycin and ampicillin) and SXT induced σB activity in VRSA strains. Expression of σB-regulated virulence genes, including hla and fnbA, was associated with the vancomycin-induced σB activity in VRSA strains and the increase in cytotoxicity upon vancomycin treatment. These effects were not observed in the sigB-deficient strain but were observed in the complemented strain. We demonstrate that sub-minimum inhibitory concentration (sub-MIC) levels of antibiotics act as environmental stressors and activate the stress response sigma factor, σB. The improper use of antibiotics may alter the expression of virulence factors through the activation of σB in drug-resistant strains of S. aureus and lead to worse clinical outcomes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024472
PMCID: PMC3166330  PMID: 21912698
15.  Synthesis of Brushite Particles in Reverse Microemulsions of the Biosurfactant Surfactin 
In this study the “green chemistry” use of the biosurfactant surfactin for the synthesis of calcium phosphate using the reverse microemulsion technique was demonstrated. Calcium phosphates are bioactive materials that are a major constituent of human teeth and bone tissue. A reverse microemulsion technique with surfactin was used to produce nanocrystalline brushite particles. Structural diversity (analyzed by SEM and TEM) resulted from different water to surfactin ratios (W/S; 250, 500, 1000 and 40,000). The particle sizes were found to be in the 16–200 nm range. Morphological variety was observed in the as-synthesized microemulsions, which consisted of nanospheres (~16 nm in diameter) and needle-like (8–14 nm in diameter and 80–100 nm in length) noncalcinated particles. However, the calcinated products included nanospheres (50–200 nm in diameter), oval (~300 nm in diameter) and nanorod (200–400 nm in length) particles. FTIR and XRD analysis confirmed the formation of brushite nanoparticles in the as-synthesized products, while calcium pyrophosphate was produced after calcination. These results indicate that the reverse microemulsion technique using surfactin is a green process suitable for the synthesis of nanoparticles.
doi:10.3390/ijms12063821
PMCID: PMC3131593  PMID: 21747709
biosurfactant; reverse microemulsion; brushite; surfactin; nanoparticle
16.  Removal of Mercury by Foam Fractionation Using Surfactin, a Biosurfactant 
The separation of mercury ions from artificially contaminated water by the foam fractionation process using a biosurfactant (surfactin) and chemical surfactants (SDS and Tween-80) was investigated in this study. Parameters such as surfactant and mercury concentration, pH, foam volume, and digestion time were varied and their effects on the efficiency of mercury removal were investigated. The recovery efficiency of mercury ions was highly sensitive to the concentration of the surfactant. The highest mercury ion recovery by surfactin was obtained using a surfactin concentration of 10 × CMC, while recovery using SDS required < 10 × CMC and Tween-80 >10 × CMC. However, the enrichment of mercury ions in the foam was superior with surfactin, the mercury enrichment value corresponding to the highest metal recovery (10.4%) by surfactin being 1.53. Dilute solutions (2-mg L−1 Hg2+) resulted in better separation (36.4%), while concentrated solutions (100 mg L−1) enabled only a 2.3% recovery using surfactin. An increase in the digestion time of the metal solution with surfactin yielded better separation as compared with a freshly-prepared solution, and an increase in the airflow rate increased bubble production, resulting in higher metal recovery but low enrichment. Basic solutions yielded higher mercury separation as compared with acidic solutions due to the precipitation of surfactin under acidic conditions.
doi:10.3390/ijms12118245
PMCID: PMC3233467  PMID: 22174661
mercury removal; foam fractionation; biosurfactant; Surfactin
17.  orf4 of the Bacillus cereus sigB Gene Cluster Encodes a General Stress-Inducible Dps-Like Bacterioferritin▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;191(14):4522-4533.
The function of orf4 in the sigB cluster in Bacillus cereus ATCC 14579 remains to be explored. Amino-acid sequence analysis has revealed that Orf4 is homologous with bacterioferritins and Dps. In this study, we generated an orf4-null mutant and produced recombinant protein rOrf4 to establish the role of orf4. In vitro, the purified rOrf4 was found to exist in two distinct forms, a dimeric form and a polymer form, through size exclusion analysis. The latter form exhibited a unique filament structure, in contrast to the typical spherical tetracosamer structure of bacterioferritins; the former can be induced to form rOrf4 polymers immediately after the addition of FeCl2. Catalysis of the oxidation of ferrous irons by ferroxidase activity was detected with rOrf4, and the mineralized irons were subsequently sequestered only in the rOrf4 polymer. Moreover, rOrf4 exerted DNA-protective activity against oxidative damage via DNA binding in a nonspecific manner, as is seen with Dps. In vivo, deletion of orf4 had no effect on activation of the alternative sigma factor σB, and therefore, orf4 is not associated with σB regulation; however, orf4 can be significantly upregulated upon environmental stress but not H2O2 treatment. B. cereus strains with constitutive Orf4 expression exhibited a viability higher than that of the orf4-null mutant, under specific oxidative stress or heat shock. Taken together, these results suggest that Orf4 functions as a Dps-like bacterioferritin in response to environmental stress and can provide cell protection from oxidative damage through iron sequestration and DNA binding.
doi:10.1128/JB.00272-09
PMCID: PMC2704712  PMID: 19429618
18.  High-Molecular-Weight Complexes of RsbR and Paralogues in the Environmental Signaling Pathway of Bacillus subtilis▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(22):7885-7892.
Bacillus subtilis has developed an intricate signal transduction cascade to respond to the imposition of a variety of stresses on the cell. Reversible protein phosphorylation and the formation of alternative protein-protein complexes modulate the activity of σB, the RNA polymerase sigma factor subunit responsible for the transcription of the general stress response genes. Some of the regulators of σB, such as RsbR and RsbS, are known to associate in a 25S complex, called the stressosome, that can bind RsbT until RsbT phosphorylates target residues in RsbR and RsbS. To date, the RsbR-RsbS complex appears to be the most upstream component of the σB regulatory pathway. This large structure is thought to play an important role in sensing and/or integrating signals from different physical stresses. The roles of the paralogues of RsbR that are found in B. subtilis remain unclear. We describe here how the RsbR paralogues copurify with RsbR from B. subtilis cell lysates, and we demonstrate in vitro that the paralogues form large complexes either with RsbS or with a prepurified RsbR-RsbS binary complex. We conclude from these biochemical studies that stressosomes in B. subtilis cells contain minimally RsbS and all of the RsbT-phosphorylatable RsbR paralogues.
doi:10.1128/JB.00892-06
PMCID: PMC1636303  PMID: 16963570
19.  Phosphorylation and RsbX-Dependent Dephosphorylation of RsbR in the RsbR-RsbS Complex of Bacillus subtilis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(20):6830-6836.
In the pathway that controls σB activity, the RsbR-RsbS complex plays an important role by trapping RsbT, a positive regulator of σB of Bacillus subtilis. We have proposed that at the onset of stress, RsbR becomes phosphorylated, resulting in an enhanced activity of RsbT towards RsbS. RsbT is then free to interact with and activate RsbU, which in turn ultimately activates σB. In this study with purified proteins, we used mutant RsbR proteins to analyze the role of its phosphorylatable threonine residues. The results show that the phosphorylation of either of the two RsbT-phosphorylatable threonine residues (T171 and T205) in RsbR enhanced the kinase activity of RsbT towards RsbS. However, it appeared that RsbT preferentially phosphorylates T171. We also present in vitro evidence that identifies RsbX as a potential phosphatase for RsbR T205.
doi:10.1128/JB.186.20.6830-6836.2004
PMCID: PMC522205  PMID: 15466036

Results 1-19 (19)