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1.  Design and Evaluation of a PEGylated Lipopeptide Equipped with Drug-Interactive Motifs as an Improved Drug Carrier 
The AAPS Journal  2013;16(1):114-124.
Micelles are attractive delivery systems for hydrophobic drugs due to their small size and the ease of application. However, the limited drug loading capacity and the intrinsic poor stability of drug-loaded formulations represent two major issues for some micellar systems. In this study, we designed and synthesized a micelle-forming PEG-lipopeptide conjugate with two Fmoc groups located at the interfacial region, and two oleoyl chains as the hydrophobic core. The significance of Fmoc groups as a broadly applicable drug-interactive motif that enhances the carrier–drug interaction was examined using eight model drugs of diverse structures. Compared with an analogue without carrying a Fmoc motif, PEG5000-(Fmoc-OA)2 demonstrated a lower value of critical micelle concentration and three-fold increases of loading capacity for paclitaxel (PTX). These micelles showed tubular structures and small particle sizes (∼70 nm), which can be lyophilized and readily reconstituted with water without significant changes in particle sizes. Fluorescence quenching study illustrated the Fmoc/PTX π–π stacking contributes to the carrier/PTX interaction, and drug-release study demonstrated a much slower kinetics than Taxol, a clinically used PTX formulation. PTX/PEG5000-(Fmoc-OA)2 mixed micelles exhibited higher levels of cytotoxicity than Taxol in several cancer cell lines and more potent inhibitory effects on tumor growth than Taxol in a syngeneic murine breast cancer model (4T1.2). We have further shown that seven other drugs can be effectively formulated in PEG5000-(Fmoc-OA)2 micelles. Our study suggests that micelle-forming PEG-lipopeptide surfactants with interfacial Fmoc motifs may represent a promising formulation platform for a broad range of drugs with diverse structures.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1208/s12248-013-9536-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3889538  PMID: 24281690
drug-interactive motif; micelle; paclitaxel; slow release
2.  Nanomicellar carriers for targeted delivery of anticancer agents 
Therapeutic delivery  2014;5(1):53-68.
Clinical application of anticancer drugs is limited by problems such as low water solubility, lack of tissue-specificity and toxicity. Formulation development represents an important approach to these problems. Among the many delivery systems studied, polymeric micelles have gained considerable attention owing to ease in preparation, small sizes (10–100 nm), and ability to solubilize water-insoluble anticancer drugs and accumulate specifically at the tumors. This article provides a brief review of several promising micellar systems and their applications in tumor therapy. The emphasis is placed on the discussion of the authors’ recent work on several nanomicellar systems that have both a delivery function and antitumor activity, named dual-function drug carriers.
PMCID: PMC3913259  PMID: 24341817
3.  A Simple Repeat Polymorphism in the MITF-M Promoter Is a Key Regulator of White Spotting in Dogs 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104363.
The white spotting locus (S) in dogs is colocalized with the MITF (microphtalmia-associated transcription factor) gene. The phenotypic effects of the four S alleles range from solid colour (S) to extreme white spotting (sw). We have investigated four candidate mutations associated with the sw allele, a SINE insertion, a SNP at a conserved site and a simple repeat polymorphism all associated with the MITF-M promoter as well as a 12 base pair deletion in exon 1B. The variants associated with white spotting at all four loci were also found among wolves and we conclude that none of these could be a sole causal mutation, at least not for extreme white spotting. We propose that the three canine white spotting alleles are not caused by three independent mutations but represent haplotype effects due to different combinations of causal polymorphisms. The simple repeat polymorphism showed extensive diversity both in dogs and wolves, and allele-sharing was common between wolves and white spotted dogs but was non-existent between solid and spotted dogs as well as between wolves and solid dogs. This finding was unexpected as Solid is assumed to be the wild-type allele. The data indicate that the simple repeat polymorphism has been a target for selection during dog domestication and breed formation. We also evaluated the significance of the three MITF-M associated polymorphisms with a Luciferase assay, and found conclusive evidence that the simple repeat polymorphism affects promoter activity. Three alleles associated with white spotting gave consistently lower promoter activity compared with the allele associated with solid colour. We propose that the simple repeat polymorphism affects cooperativity between transcription factors binding on either flanking sides of the repeat. Thus, both genetic and functional evidence show that the simple repeat polymorphism is a key regulator of white spotting in dogs.
PMCID: PMC4130573  PMID: 25116146
4.  Computational morphodynamics of plants: integrating development over space and time 
The emerging field of computational morphodynamics aims to understand the changes that occur in space and time during development by combining three technical strategies: live imaging to observe development as it happens, image processing and analysis to extract quantitative information, and computational modelling to express and test time-dependent hypotheses. The strength of the field comes from the iterative and combined use of these techniques, which has provided important insight into plant development.
PMCID: PMC4128830  PMID: 21364682
5.  Transcriptome profiling reveals roles of meristem regulators and polarity genes during fruit trichome development in cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(17):4943-4958.
Cucumber fruit spine is multicellular and non-branched with no endoreduplication. Spines in the tbh mutant were tiny and branched. Meristem regulators and polarity genes regulate spine development in cucumber.
Trichomes are epidermal hair-like structures that function in plant defence against biotic and abiotic stresses. Extensive studies have been performed on foliar trichomes development in Arabidopsis and tomato, but the molecular mechanism of fruit trichome formation remains elusive. Cucumber fruit is covered with trichomes (spines) that directly affect the appearance and quality of cucumber products. Here, we characterized the fruit spine development in wild-type (WT) cucumber and a spontaneous mutant, tiny branched hair (tbh). Our data showed that the cucumber trichome was multicellular and non-glandular, with malformed organelles and no endoreduplication. Fruit spine development was generally homogenous and marked by a rapid base expansion stage. Trichomes in the tbh mutant were tiny and branched, with increased density and aberrant cell shape. Transcriptome profiling indicated that meristem-related genes were highly enriched in the upregulated genes in the tbh versus the WT, as well as in WT spines after versus before base expansion, and that polarity regulators were greatly induced during spine base expansion. Quantitative reverse transcription PCR and in situ hybridization confirmed the differential expression of CUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON3 (CUC3) and SHOOT MERISTEMLESS (STM) during spine development. Therefore, cucumber trichomes are morphologically different from those of Arabidopsis and tomato, and their development may be regulated by a distinct pathway involving meristem genes and polarity regulators.
PMCID: PMC4144775  PMID: 24962999
Cucumber; fruit spine; meristem regulator; polarity transcriptome; trichome.
6.  Clinical Predictive Models for Chemotherapy-Induced Febrile Neutropenia in Breast Cancer Patients: A Validation Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e96413.
Predictive models for febrile neutropenia (FN) would be informative for physicians in clinical decision making. This study aims to validate a predictive model (Jenkin’s model) that comprises pretreatment hematological parameters in early-stage breast cancer patients.
Patients and Methods
A total of 428 breast cancer patients who received neoadjuvant/adjuvant chemotherapy without any prophylactic use of colony-stimulating factor were included. Pretreatment absolute neutrophil counts (ANC) and absolute lymphocyte counts (ALC) were used by the Jenkin’s model to assess the risk of FN. In addition, we modified the threshold of Jenkin’s model and generated Model-A and B. We also developed Model-C by incorporating the absolute monocyte count (AMC) as a predictor into Model-A. The rates of FN in the 1st chemotherapy cycle were calculated. A valid model should be able to significantly identify high-risk subgroup of patients with FN rate >20%.
Jenkin’s model (Predicted as high-risk when ANC≦3.1*10∧9/L;ALC≦1.5*10∧9/L) did not identify any subgroups with significantly high risk (>20%) of FN in our population, even if we used different thresholds in Model-A(ANC≦4.4*10∧9/L;ALC≦2.1*10∧9/L) or B(ANC≦3.8*10∧9/L;ALC≦1.8*10∧9/L). However, with AMC added as an additional predictor, Model-C(ANC≦4.4*10∧9/L;ALC≦2.1*10∧9/L; AMC≦0.28*10∧9/L) identified a subgroup of patients with a significantly high risk of FN (23.1%).
In our population, Jenkin’s model, cannot accurately identify patients with a significant risk of FN. The threshold should be changed and the AMC should be incorporated as a predictor, to have excellent predictive ability.
PMCID: PMC4063732  PMID: 24945817
7.  Transcriptional and Epigenetic Dynamics During Specification of Human Embryonic Stem Cells 
Cell  2013;153(5):1149-1163.
Differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) provides a unique opportunity to study the regulatory mechanisms that facilitate cellular transitions in a human context. To that end, we performed comprehensive transcriptional and epigenetic profiling of populations derived through directed differentiation of hESCs representing each of the three embryonic germ layers. Integration of whole genome bisulfite sequencing, chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing and RNA-sequencing reveals unique events associated with specification towards each lineage. Dynamic alterations in DNA methylation and H3K4me1 are evident at putative distal regulatory elements bound by pluripotency factors or activated in specific lineages. In addition, we identified germ layer-specific H3K27me3 enrichment at sites exhibiting high DNA methylation in the undifferentiated state. A better understanding of these initial specification events will facilitate identification of deficiencies in current approaches leading to more faithful differentiation strategies as well as provide insights into the rewiring of human regulatory programs during cellular transitions.
PMCID: PMC3709577  PMID: 23664763
8.  Oncostatin M receptor β and cysteine/histidine-rich 1 are biomarkers of the response to erythropoietin in hemodialysis patients 
Kidney international  2010;79(5):546-554.
Biomarkers that evaluate the response to erythropoietic-stimulating agents largely measure inflammation and iron availability. While these are important factors in modifying an individual’s response to these agents, they do not address all aspects of a poor response. To clarify this, we isolated peptides in the serum of good and poor responders to erythropoietin in order to identify biomarkers of stimulating agent response. Ninety-one candidate biomarker targets were identified and characterized using mass spectrometry, of which tandem mass spectroscopy provided partial amino-acid sequence information of 17 different peptides for 16 peptide masses whose abundance significantly differed between poor and good responders. The analysis concluded that three peptides associated with a poor response were derived from oncostatin M receptor β (OSMRβ). The 13 serum peptides associated with a good response were derived from fibrinogen α and β, coagulation factor XIII, complement C3, and cysteine/histidine rich 1(CYHR1). Poor response was most strongly associated with the OSMRβ fragment with the largest molecular weight, while a good response was most strongly associated with CYHR1. Immunoblots found the abundance of intact OSMRβ and CYHR1 significantly differed between good and poor responders. Thus, two measurable biomarkers of the response to erythropoietic-stimulating agents are present in the serum of treated patients.
PMCID: PMC4024449  PMID: 21150872
anemia; biomarker; erythropoietic; hemodialysis; peptidomics
9.  Analysis of the Effects of Five Factors Relevant to In Vitro Chondrogenesis of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells Using Factorial Design and High Throughput mRNA-Profiling 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96615.
The in vitro process of chondrogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells for tissue engineering has been shown to require three-dimensional culture along with the addition of differentiation factors to the culture medium. In general, this leads to a phenotype lacking some of the cardinal features of native articular chondrocytes and their extracellular matrix. The factors used vary, but regularly include members of the transforming growth factor β superfamily and dexamethasone, sometimes in conjunction with fibroblast growth factor 2 and insulin-like growth factor 1, however the use of soluble factors to induce chondrogenesis has largely been studied on a single factor basis. In the present study we combined a factorial quality-by-design experiment with high-throughput mRNA profiling of a customized chondrogenesis related gene set as a tool to study in vitro chondrogenesis of human bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells in alginate. 48 different conditions of transforming growth factor β 1, 2 and 3, bone morphogenetic protein 2, 4 and 6, dexamethasone, insulin-like growth factor 1, fibroblast growth factor 2 and cell seeding density were included in the experiment. The analysis revealed that the best of the tested differentiation cocktails included transforming growth factor β 1 and dexamethasone. Dexamethasone acted in synergy with transforming growth factor β 1 by increasing many chondrogenic markers while directly downregulating expression of the pro-osteogenic gene osteocalcin. However, all factors beneficial to the expression of desirable hyaline cartilage markers also induced undesirable molecules, indicating that perfect chondrogenic differentiation is not achievable with the current differentiation protocols.
PMCID: PMC4015996  PMID: 24816923
10.  A GAMYB homologue CsGAMYB1 regulates sex expression of cucumber via an ethylene-independent pathway 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(12):3201-3213.
We find that CsGAMYB1, a positive regulator of GA signalling, can regulate sex expression of cucumber. This provides a new insight into the mechanism of GA in sex determination.
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) is a typical monoecious vegetable with individual male and female flowers, and has been used as a model plant for sex determination. It is well known that sex differentiation of cucumber can be regulated by phytohormones, such as gibberellic acid (GA) and ethylene. The molecular mechanism of female sex expression modulated by ethylene has been widely understood, but how GA controls male sex expression remains elusive. In hermaphroditic Arabidopsis and rice, GA can regulate stamen and anther development via the transcriptional regulation of GAMYB. Here we characterized a GAMYB homologue CsGAMYB1 in cucumber. We found that CsGAMYB1 is predominantly expressed in male flower buds, where its expression is upregulated by GA3 treatment. CsGAMYB1 protein is localized in the nucleus. CsGAMYB1 can partially rescue stamen development and fertility phenotypes of an Arabidopsis myb33 myb65 double mutant. However, constitutive overexpression of CsGAMYB1 in wild-type Arabidopsis resulted in male sterility, which mimics the effect of GA overdose in flower development. Knockdown of CsGAMYB1 in cucumber decreases the ratio of nodes with male and female flowers, and ethylene is not involved in this process. Our data suggest that CsGAMYB1 regulates sex expression of cucumber via an ethylene-independent pathway.
PMCID: PMC4071842  PMID: 24790111
CsGAMYB1; cucumber; ethylene; GAMYB; gibberellin; sex expression.
11.  ZBED6 Modulates the Transcription of Myogenic Genes in Mouse Myoblast Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94187.
ZBED6 is a recently discovered transcription factor, unique to placental mammals, that has evolved from a domesticated DNA transposon. It acts as a repressor at the IGF2 locus. Here we show that ZBED6 acts as a transcriptional modulator in mouse myoblast cells, where more than 700 genes were differentially expressed after Zbed6-silencing. The most significantly enriched GO term was muscle protein and contractile fiber, which was consistent with increased myotube formation. Twenty small nucleolar RNAs all showed increased expression after Zbed6-silencing. The co-localization of histone marks and ZBED6 binding sites and the effect of Zbed6-silencing on distribution of histone marks was evaluated by ChIP-seq analysis. There was a strong association between ZBED6 binding sites and the H3K4me3, H3K4me2 and H3K27ac modifications, which are usually found at active promoters, but no association with the repressive mark H3K27me3. Zbed6-silencing led to increased enrichment of active marks at myogenic genes, in agreement with the RNA-seq findings. We propose that ZBED6 preferentially binds to active promoters and modulates transcriptional activity without recruiting repressive histone modifications.
PMCID: PMC3979763  PMID: 24714595
12.  PEG-Farnesylthiosalicylate Conjugate as a Nanomicellar Carrier for Delivery of Paclitaxel 
Bioconjugate chemistry  2013;24(3):464-472.
S-trans, trans-farnesylthiosalicylic acid (FTS) is a synthetic small molecule that acts as a potent and especially nontoxic Ras antagonist. It inhibits both oncogenically activated Ras and growth factor receptor-mediated Ras activation, resulting in the inhibition of Ras-dependent tumor growth. In this work, a FTS conjugate with polyethylene glycol (PEG) through a labile ester linkage, PEG5K-FTS2(L), was developed. PEG5K-FTS2 conjugate readily forms micelles in aqueous solutions with a critical micelle concentration of 0.68 μM and hydrophobic drugs such as paclitaxel (PTX) could be effectively loaded into these particles. Both drug-free and PTX- loaded micelles were spherical in shape with a uniform size of 20 ~ 30 nm. The release of PTX from PTX-loaded PEG5K-FTS2 micelles was significantly slower than that from Taxol formulation. In vitro cytotoxicity studies with several tumor cell lines showed that PEG5K-FTS2(L) was comparable to FTS in antitumor activity. Western immunoblotting showed that total Ras levels were downregulated in several cancer cell lines treated with FTS or PEG5K-FTS2(L). The micellar formulation of PTX exhibited more in vitro cytotoxic activity against several tumor cell lines compared with free PTX, suggesting a possible synergistic effect between the carrier and the codelivered drug. The anti-tumor activity of the PTX loaded PEG5K-FTS2(L) micelles in a syngeneic murine breast cancer model was found to be significantly higher than that of Taxol, which may be attributed to their preferential tumor accumulation and a possible synergistic effect between PEG5K-FTS2 carrier and loaded PTX.
PMCID: PMC3623935  PMID: 23425093
13.  A Cucumber DELLA Homolog CsGAIP May Inhibit Staminate Development through Transcriptional Repression of B Class Floral Homeotic Genes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91804.
In hermaphroditic Arabidopsis, the phytohormone gibberellin (GA) stimulates stamen development by opposing the DELLA repression of B and C classes of floral homeotic genes. GA can promote male flower formation in cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.), a typical monoecious vegetable with unisexual flowers, and the molecular mechanism remains unknown. Here we characterized a DELLA homolog CsGAIP in cucumber, and we found that CsGAIP is highly expressed in stem and male flower buds. In situ hybridization showed that CsGAIP is greatly enriched in the stamen primordia, especially during the hermaphrodite stage of flower development. Further, CsGAIP protein is located in nucleus. CsGAIP can partially rescue the plant height, stamen development and fertility phenotypes of Arabidopsis rga-24/gai-t6 mutant, and ectopic expression of CsGAIP in wide-type Arabidopsis results in reduced number of stamens and decreased transcription of B class floral homeotic genes APETALA3 (AP3) and PISTILLATA (PI). Our data suggest that monoecious CsGAIP may inhibit staminate development through transcriptional repression of B class floral homeotic genes in Arabidopsis.
PMCID: PMC3954735  PMID: 24632777
14.  Genome-wide chromatin state transitions associated with developmental and environmental cues 
Cell  2013;152(3):642-654.
Differences in chromatin organization are key to the multiplicity of cell states that arise from a single genetic background, yet the landscapes of in vivo tissues remain largely uncharted. Here we mapped chromatin genome-wide in a large and diverse collection of human tissues and stem cells. The maps yield unprecedented annotations of functional genomic elements and their regulation across developmental stages, lineages, and cellular environments. They also reveal global features of the epigenome, related to nuclear architecture, that also vary across cellular phenotypes. Specifically, developmental specification is accompanied by progressive chromatin restriction as the default state transitions from dynamic remodeling to generalized compaction. Exposure to serum in vitro triggers a distinct transition that involves de novo establishment of domains with features of constitutive heterochromatin. We describe how these global chromatin state transitions relate to chromosome and nuclear architecture, and discuss their implications for lineage fidelity, cellular senescence and reprogramming.
PMCID: PMC3563935  PMID: 23333102
15.  Cucumber SUPERMAN Has Conserved Function in Stamen and Fruit Development and a Distinct Role in Floral Patterning 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86192.
The Arabidopsis SUPERMAN (SUP) gene encodes a C2H2 type zinc finger protein that is required for maintaining the boundaries between stamens and carpels, and for regulating development of ovule outer integument. Orthologs of SUP have been characterized in bisexual flowers as well as dioecious species, but it remains elusive in monoecious plants with unisexual flowers on the same individual. Here we isolate the SUP ortholog in Cucumis sativus L (CsSUP), a monoecious vegetable. CsSUP is predominantly expressed in female specific organs: the female flower buds and ovules. Ectopic expression of CsSUP in Arabidopsis can partially complement the fruit development in sup-5 mutant, and its over-expression in wide-type leads to reduced silique length, suppressed stamen development and distorted petal patterning. Our data suggest that CsSUP plays conserved as well as distinct roles during flower and fruit development, and it may function in the boundaries and ovules to balance petal patterning, stamen and ovule development in Arabidopsis.
PMCID: PMC3900519  PMID: 24465952
16.  Gender differences of cognitive function in migraine patients: evidence from event-related potentials using the oddball paradigm 
Migraine shows gender-specific incidence and has a higher prevalence in females. Gender plays an important role in the prevalence of migraine, but few studies have investigated the effect of gender on the cognitive functions of migraine patients. This study investigated gender differences in the cognitive function of migraine patients without aura.
We recruited 29 migraine patients (15 females; mean age 25.4 y) during the interictal period and 28 healthy age-matched participants (14 females; mean age 24.8 y). We used an auditory oddball paradigm to analyze target processing using event-related potentials.
We investigated the N2 and P3 components. The P3 amplitude was decreased in patients compared with the control, and this reduction was not modulated by gender. These results of the P3 provided a new evidence for the dysfunction of cognitive function in migraine patients. The N2 amplitude was larger for male than female migraine patients, and this gender effect was not found in the control group.
These results of the P3 provided a new evidence for the dysfunction of cognitive function in migraine patients. And those of N2 may explain that male patients have the super-sensitivity of cerebral function relevant to the early target-selection and response preparation. Our findings emphasize the importance of considering gender when researching the cognitive function of migraine patients.
PMCID: PMC3904684  PMID: 24467625
Migraine; ERPs; P3; N2; Gender difference
17.  Mechanisms underlying effects of 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 on the Th17 cells 
Th17 cells, a class of CD4+ T cells, have been identified as novel effector cells, which play a pivotal role in several inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3), the active form of vitamin D, has emerged as a direct regulator of immune system function in humans. Accumulating reports demonstrated that 1,25(OH)2D3 possessed anti-inflammatory activity on Th17 cells to maintain immunologic homeostasis. This report will review the novel immune regulatory role of 1,25(OH)2D3 in its potential use for Th17 cell-related inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.
PMCID: PMC3838538  PMID: 24294492
1,25(OH)2D3; immune response; Th17; VDR
18.  Regulation of Inhibition of Neutrophil Infiltration by the Two-Component Regulatory System CovRS in Subcutaneous Murine Infection with Group A Streptococcus 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(3):974-983.
Hypervirulent invasive group A streptococcus (GAS) isolates inhibit neutrophil infiltration more than pharyngitis isolates do, and the molecular basis of this difference is not well understood. This study was designed to first determine whether natural null mutation of the two-component regulatory system CovRS is responsible for the enhancement of the inhibition of neutrophil recruitment seen in hypervirulent GAS. Next, we examined the role of CovRS-regulated interleukin-8/CXC chemokine peptidase (SpyCEP), C5a peptidase (ScpA), and platelet-activating factor acetylhydrolase (SsE) in the enhanced innate immune evasion. Invasive isolate MGAS5005 induces less neutrophil infiltration and produced a greater lesion area than pharyngitis isolate MGAS2221 in subcutaneous infections of mice. It is known that MGAS5005, but not MGAS2221, has a natural 1-bp deletion in the covS gene. Replacement of covSΔ1bp in MGAS5005 with wild-type covS resulted in the MGAS2221 phenotype. Deletion of covS from MGAS2221 resulted in the MGAS5005 phenotype. Tests of single, double, and triple deletion mutants of the MGAS5005 sse, spyCEP, and scpA genes found that SsE plays a more important role than SpyCEP and ScpA in the inhibition of neutrophil recruitment and that SsE, SpyCEP, and ScpA do not have synergistic effects on innate immune evasion by MGAS5005. Deletion of sse, but not spyCEP or scpA, of MGAS2221 enhances neutrophil recruitment. Thus, covS null mutations can cause substantial inhibition of neutrophil recruitment by enhancing the expression of the chemoattractant-degrading virulence factors, and SsE, but not SpyCEP or ScpA, is required for CovRS-regulated GAS inhibition of neutrophil infiltration.
PMCID: PMC3584857  PMID: 23319556
20.  Sustained TL1A (TNFSF15) expression on both lymphoid and myeloid cells leads to mild spontaneous intestinal inflammation and fibrosis  
TL1A is a member of the TNF superfamily, and its expression is increased in the mucosa of inflammatory bowel disease patients. Moreover, patients with certain TNFSF15 variants over-express TL1A and have a higher risk of developing strictures in the small intestine. Consistently, mice with sustained Tl1a expression in either lymphoid or myeloid cells develop spontaneous ileitis and increased intestinal collagen deposition. Transgenic (Tg) mice with constitutive Tl1a expression in both lymphoid and myeloid cells were generated to assess their in vivo consequence. Constitutive expression of Tl1a in both lymphoid and myeloid cells showed increased spontaneous ileitis and collagen deposition than WT mice. T cells with constitutive expression of Tl1a in both lymphoid and myeloid cells were found to have a more activated phenotype, increased gut homing marker CCR9 expression, and enhanced Th1 and Th17 cytokine activity than WT mice. Although no differences in T cell activation marker, Th1 or Th17 cytokine activity, ileitis, or collagen deposition were found between constitutive Tl1a expression in lymphoid only, myeloid only, or combined lymphoid and myeloid cells. Double hemizygous Tl1a-Tg mice appeared to have worsened ileitis and intestinal fibrosis. Our findings confirm that TL1A–DR3 interaction is involved in T cell-dependent ileitis and fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3638202  PMID: 23638306
transgenic, ileitis, fibrosis, mucosal inflammation
21.  Genome-wide map of quantified epigenetic changes during in vitro chondrogenic differentiation of primary human mesenchymal stem cells 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:105.
For safe clinical application of engineered cartilage made from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), molecular mechanisms for chondrogenic differentiation must be known in detail. Changes in gene expression and extracellular matrix synthesis have been extensively studied, but the epigenomic modifications underlying these changes have not been described. To this end we performed whole-genome chromatin immunoprecipitation and deep sequencing to quantify six histone modifications, reduced representation bisulphite sequencing to quantify DNA methylation and mRNA microarrays to quantify gene expression before and after 7 days of chondrogenic differentiation of MSCs in an alginate scaffold. To add to the clinical relevance of our observations, the study is based on primary bone marrow-derived MSCs from four donors, allowing us to investigate inter-individual variations.
We see two levels of relationship between epigenetic marking and gene expression. First, a large number of genes ontogenetically linked to MSC properties and the musculoskeletal system are epigenetically prepatterned by moderate changes in H3K4me3 and H3K9ac near transcription start sites. Most of these genes remain transcriptionally unaltered. Second, transcriptionally upregulated genes, more closely associated with chondrogenesis, are marked by H3K36me3 in gene bodies, highly increased H3K4me3 and H3K9ac on promoters and 5' end of genes, and increased H3K27ac and H3K4me1 marking in at least one enhancer region per upregulated gene. Within the 7-day time frame, changes in promoter DNA methylation do not correlate significantly with changes in gene expression. Inter-donor variability analysis shows high level of similarity between the donors for this data set.
Histone modifications, rather than DNA methylation, provide the primary epigenetic control of early differentiation of MSCs towards the chondrogenic lineage.
PMCID: PMC3620534  PMID: 23414147
22.  A screen for hoxb1-regulated genes identifies ppp1r14al as a regulator of the rhombomere 4 Fgf-signaling center 
Developmental biology  2011;358(2):356-367.
Segmentation of the vertebrate hindbrain into multiple rhombomeres is essential for proper formation of the cerebellum, cranial nerves and cranial neural crest. Paralog group 1 (PG1) hox genes are expressed early in the caudal hindbrain and are required for rhombomere formation. Accordingly, loss of PG1 hox function disrupts development of caudal rhombomeres in model organisms and causes brainstem defects, associated with cognitive impairment, in humans. In spite of this important role for PG1 hox genes, transcriptional targets of PG1 proteins are not well characterized. Here we use ectopic expression together with embryonic dissection to identify novel targets of the zebrafish PG1 gene hoxb1b. Of 100 genes up-regulated by hoxb1b, 54 were examined and 25 were found to represent novel hoxb1b regulated hindbrain genes. The ppp1r14al gene was analyzed in greater detail and our results indicate that Hoxb1b is likely to directly regulate ppp1r14al expression in rhombomere 4. Furthermore, ppp1r14al is essential for establishment of the earliest hindbrain signaling-center in rhombomere 4 by regulating expression of fgf3.
PMCID: PMC3183228  PMID: 21787765
hindbrain; zebrafish; transcription; fgf; hox; microarray
23.  Rapid dissection and model-based optimization of inducible enhancers in human cells using a massively parallel reporter assay 
Nature biotechnology  2012;30(3):271-277.
Learning to read and write the transcriptional regulatory code is of central importance to progress in genetic analysis and engineering. Here, we describe a massively parallel reporter assay (MPRA) that enables systematic dissection of transcriptional regulatory elements by integrating microarray-based DNA synthesis and high-throughput tag sequencing. We apply MPRA to compare more than 27,000 distinct variants of two inducible enhancers in human cells: a synthetic cAMP-regulated enhancer and the virus-inducible interferon beta enhancer. We first show that the resulting data define accurate maps of functional transcription factor binding sites in both enhancers at single-nucleotide resolution. We then use the data to train quantitative sequence-activity models (QSAMs) of the two enhancers. We show that QSAMs from two cellular states can be combined to identify novel enhancer variants that optimize potentially conflicting objectives, such as maximizing induced activity while minimizing basal activity.
PMCID: PMC3297981  PMID: 22371084
24.  Protective role of 1,25(OH)2vitamin D3 in the mucosal injury and epithelial barrier disruption in DSS-induced acute colitis in mice 
BMC Gastroenterology  2012;12:57.
Intestinal hyper-permeability plays a critical role in the etiopathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) by affecting the penetration of pathogens, toxic compounds and macromolecules. 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25(OH)2D3], the active form of vitamin D, has been shown to be an important regulator of IBD and recent epidemiology suggests that patients with IBD have an impaired vitamin D status. The purpose of this study is to investigate the possible protective effects of 1,25(OH)2D3 on mucosal injury and epithelial barrier disruption on dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced acute colitis model.
We used DSS-induced acute colitis model to investigate the protective effects of 1,25(OH)2D3 on mucosal injury and epithelial barrier integrity. Severity of colitis was evaluated by disease activity index (DAI), body weight (BW) change, colon length, histology, myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, and proinflammatory cytokine production including tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ). In vitro the protective role of 1,25(OH)2D3 was assessed by incubating Caco-2 cells with or without DSS and measuring transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) and fluorescein isothiocyanate dextran (FITC-D). The intestinal permeability was analyzed by FITC-D, bacterial translocation and measurement of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Ultrastructural features of the colon tissue and Caco-2 cell monolayer were observed by electron microscopy. Expressions of tight junction (TJ) proteins in the colon mucosa and Caco-2 cells were detected by immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, Western blot and real-time fluorescent quantitative PCR, respectively.
DSS-induced acute colitis model was characterized by a reduced BW, AUC of BW, serum calcium, higher DAI, AUC of DAI, shortened colon length, elevated MPO activity, worsened histologic inflammation, increased mononuclear cell numbers in mesenteric lymph nodes (MLNs) and colonic lamina propria (LP), and enhanced proteins and mRNA levels of TNF-α and IFN-γ. 1,25(OH)2D3 markedly increased expressions of TJ proteins and mRNA and decreased the FITC-D permeability and the level of LPS. Furthermore, 1,25(OH)2D3 abrogated bacterial translocation to MLNs and ameliorated ultrastructural features of the colon epithelium by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). In vitro, 1,25(OH)2D3 increased TEER, TJ proteins and mRNA expressions, decreased the FITC-D permeability, and preserved structural integrity of the TJ in Caco-2 cells.
1,25(OH)2D3 may play a protective role in mucosal barrier homeostasis by maintaining the integrity of junction complexes and in healing capacity of the colon epithelium. 1,25(OH)2D3 may represent an attractive and novel therapeutic agent for the adjuvant therapy of IBD.
PMCID: PMC3464614  PMID: 22647055
Barrier protection function; Dextran sulfate sodium; Inflammatory bowel disease; Tight junction; 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3
25.  Combinatorial patterning of chromatin regulators uncovered by genome-wide location analysis in human cells 
Cell  2011;147(7):1628-1639.
Hundreds of Chromatin Regulators (CRs) control chromatin structure and function by catalyzing and binding histone modifications, yet the rules governing these key processes remain obscure. Here, we present a systematic approach to infer CR function. We developed ChIP-string, a meso-scale assay that combines chromatin immunoprecipitation with a signature readout of 487 representative loci. We applied ChIP-string to screen 145 antibodies, thereby identifying effective reagents, which we used to map the genome-wide binding of 29 CRs in two cell types. We found that specific combinations of CRs co-localize in characteristic patterns at distinct chromatin environments, genes of coherent functions and distal regulatory elements. When comparing between cell types, CRs redistribute to different loci, but maintain their modular and combinatorial associations. Our work provides a multiplex method that substantially enhances the ability to monitor CR binding, presents a large resource of CR maps, and reveals common principles for combinatorial CR function.
PMCID: PMC3312319  PMID: 22196736

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