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author:("Guo, fuzheng")
1.  MRTF/SRF dependent transcriptional regulation of TAZ in breast cancer cells 
Oncotarget  2016;7(12):13706-13716.
Dysregulation of Hippo pathway results in activation of transcriptional co-activators YAP/TAZ in breast cancer. Previously, we showed that overexpression of TAZ in breast cancer promotes cell migration, invasion and tumorigenesis. Here, we show that upregulation of TAZ in breast cancers could also be due to dysregulation of TAZ transcription. Heregulin β1 (HRG1) increases TAZ mRNA level in breast cancer cells. TAZ is a direct target of MRTF/SRF transcriptional factors which are activated by HRG1. Both MRTF/SRF and TAZ are the important downstream effectors enhancing cell migration induced by HRG1. TAZ mRNA level is correlated with nuclear localization of MRTF in breast cancer cells and the mRNA level of MRTF/SRF direct target genes in breast cancers, indicating the correlation between MRTF/SRF activity and TAZ expression. Our results provide new insights into the transcriptional regulation of TAZ and dysregulation mechanism of TAZ in breast cancer, which could be a new therapeutic strategy for breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC4924672  PMID: 26885614
Hippo pathway; TAZ; MRTF/SRF; Heregulin β1 (HRG1); breast cancer
2.  Selective targeting of nuclear receptor FXR by avermectin analogues with therapeutic effects on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:17288.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become a predictive factor of death from many diseases. Farnesoid X receptor (FXR) is an ideal target for NAFLD drug development due to its crucial roles in lipid metabolism. The aim of this work is to examine the molecular mechanisms and functional roles of FXR modulation by avermectin analogues in regulating metabolic syndromes like NAFLD. We found that among avermectin analogues studied, the analogues that can bind and activate FXR are effective in regulating metabolic parameters tested, including reducing hepatic lipid accumulation, lowering serum cholesterol and glucose levels, and improving insulin sensitivity, in a FXR dependent manner. Mechanistically, the avermectin analogues that interact with FXR exhibited features as partial agonists, with distinctive properties in modulating coregulator recruitment. Structural features critical for avermectin analogues to selectively bind to FXR were also revealed. This study indicated that in addition to antiparasitic activity, avermectin analogues are promising drug candidates to treat metabolism syndrome including NAFLD by directly targeting FXR. Additionally, the structural features that discriminate the selective binding of FXR by avermectin analogues may provide a unique safe approach to design drugs targeting FXR signaling.
PMCID: PMC4664883  PMID: 26620317
3.  Angiomotin binding-induced activation of Merlin/NF2 in the Hippo pathway 
Cell Research  2015;25(7):801-817.
The tumor suppressor Merlin/NF2 functions upstream of the core Hippo pathway kinases Lats1/2 and Mst1/2, as well as the nuclear E3 ubiquitin ligase CRL4DCAF1. Numerous mutations of Merlin have been identified in Neurofibromatosis type 2 and other cancer patients. Despite more than two decades of research, the upstream regulator of Merlin in the Hippo pathway remains unknown. Here we show by high-resolution crystal structures that the Lats1/2-binding site on the Merlin FERM domain is physically blocked by Merlin's auto-inhibitory tail. Angiomotin binding releases the auto-inhibition and promotes Merlin's binding to Lats1/2. Phosphorylation of Ser518 outside the Merlin's auto-inhibitory tail does not obviously alter Merlin's conformation, but instead prevents angiomotin from binding and thus inhibits Hippo pathway kinase activation. Cancer-causing mutations clustered in the angiomotin-binding domain impair angiomotin-mediated Merlin activation. Our findings reveal that angiomotin and Merlin respectively interface cortical actin filaments and core kinases in Hippo signaling, and allow construction of a complete Hippo signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC4493278  PMID: 26045165
Merlin; Nf2; angiomotin; Hippo pathway; Lats1/2; phosphorylation; PAK1/2
4.  Challenges and needs for China to eliminate rabies 
In China, rabies is a significant public health concern where dogs remain the main reservoir of disease transmission to humans; rabies-related mortality ranks second in the world.
We compiled all published articles and official documents on rabies in mainland China to examine challenges and needs to eliminate rabies in the country. The Chinese authorities have identified rabies as a priority, recognized rabies control in dogs as key to control rabies in humans and required intersectoral collaborations. Efforts have been made to respond effectively to the latest re-emergence of rabies, which peaked in 2007 with >3,300 cases. Despite these outcomes and the increasing volume of publications and regulations in the recent years, our review points to some major information gaps to improve rabies control activities and envisage elimination program. An emphasis on laboratory or pathogen-associated and basic epidemiology research in the literature has contrasted with the absence of information to monitor various systems in humans and animals (e.g. quality of surveillance, response and post-exposure prophylaxis). Information is also lacking to appropriately inform policymakers (e.g. economic disease burden, impact of policies) and assist program managers (e.g. comprehensive and strategic guidance for cost-effective prevention and control activities, public education and dog population management).
In conclusion, strategic planning is needed to provide a sense of direction, demonstrate feasibility of elimination in China, and develop a research agenda, addressing country’s operational needs and constraints. The planning should be a multisectoral effort.
PMCID: PMC3851465  PMID: 24088366
Rabies; Elimination; China; Needs; Challenges; Review
5.  Live Poultry Trade in Southern China Provinces and HPAIV H5N1 Infection in Humans and Poultry: The Role of Chinese New Year Festivities 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49712.
The number of outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of the H5N1 subtype (HPAIV H5N1) over the past 5 years has been drastically reduced in China but sporadic infections in poultry and humans are still occurring. In this study, we aimed to investigate seasonal patterns in the association between the movement of live poultry originating from southern China and HPAIV H5N1 infection history in humans and poultry in China.
Methodology/Principal Findings
During January to April 2010, longitudinal questionnaire surveys were carried out monthly in four wholesale live bird markets (LBMs) in Hunan and Guangxi provinces of South China. Using social network analysis, we found an increase in the number of observed links and degree centrality between LBMs and poultry sources in February and March compared to the months of January and April. The association of some live poultry traders (LPT’s) with a limited set of counties (within the catchment area of LBMs) in the months of February and March may support HPAIV H5N1 transmission and contribute to perpetuating HPAIV H5N1 virus circulation among certain groups of counties. The connectivity among counties experiencing human infection was significantly higher compared to counties without human infection for the months of January, March and April. Conversely, counties with poultry infections were found to be significantly less connected than counties without poultry infection for the month of February.
Our results show that temporal variation in live poultry trade in Southern China around the Chinese New Year festivities is associated with higher HPAIV H5N1 infection risk in humans and poultry. This study has shown that capturing the dynamic nature of poultry trade networks in Southern China improves our ability to explain the spatiotemporal dissemination in avian influenza viruses in China.
PMCID: PMC3500328  PMID: 23166751
6.  Spatial Distribution and Risk Factors of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 in China 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(3):e1001308.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was first encountered in 1996 in Guangdong province (China) and started spreading throughout Asia and the western Palearctic in 2004–2006. Compared to several other countries where the HPAI H5N1 distribution has been studied in some detail, little is known about the environmental correlates of the HPAI H5N1 distribution in China. HPAI H5N1 clinical disease outbreaks, and HPAI virus (HPAIV) H5N1 isolated from active risk-based surveillance sampling of domestic poultry (referred to as HPAIV H5N1 surveillance positives in this manuscript) were modeled separately using seven risk variables: chicken, domestic waterfowl population density, proportion of land covered by rice or surface water, cropping intensity, elevation, and human population density. We used bootstrapped logistic regression and boosted regression trees (BRT) with cross-validation to identify the weight of each variable, to assess the predictive power of the models, and to map the distribution of HPAI H5N1 risk. HPAI H5N1 clinical disease outbreak occurrence in domestic poultry was mainly associated with chicken density, human population density, and elevation. In contrast, HPAIV H5N1 infection identified by risk-based surveillance was associated with domestic waterfowl density, human population density, and the proportion of land covered by surface water. Both models had a high explanatory power (mean AUC ranging from 0.864 to 0.967). The map of HPAIV H5N1 risk distribution based on active surveillance data emphasized areas south of the Yangtze River, while the distribution of reported outbreak risk extended further North, where the density of poultry and humans is higher. We quantified the statistical association between HPAI H5N1 outbreak, HPAIV distribution and post-vaccination levels of seropositivity (percentage of effective post-vaccination seroconversion in vaccinated birds) and found that provinces with either outbreaks or HPAIV H5N1 surveillance positives in 2007–2009 appeared to have had lower antibody response to vaccination. The distribution of HPAI H5N1 risk in China appears more limited geographically than previously assessed, offering prospects for better targeted surveillance and control interventions.
Author Summary
The geographical distribution of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 and agro-ecological risk factors have been studied in a number of countries in Southeast Asia. However, little is know of its distribution in China where HPAI H5N1 first emerged in 1996, evolved, and spread throughout Asia and the western Palearctic in 2004–2006. This study analyzes separately the distribution, in domestic poultry, of HPAI virus (HPAIV) H5N1 isolated from active risk-based surveillance sampling and HPAI H5N1 clinical disease outbreaks. These data are analyzed in relation to the distribution of chicken and domestic waterfowl population density, proportion of land covered by rice or surface water, cropping intensity, elevation, and human population density. HPAI H5N1 viruses identified by risk-based surveillance are found to be associated with domestic waterfowl density, human population density, and the proportion of land covered by surface water. In contrast, HPAI H5N1 clinical disease outbreak occurrences were mainly associated with chicken density, human population density, and low elevation. These results show that the distribution of HPAI H5N1 risk in China appears more limited geographically than previously assessed, offering prospects for better targeted surveillance and control interventions.
PMCID: PMC3048366  PMID: 21408202

Results 1-6 (6)