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1.  Metabolic engineering of a tyrosine-overproducing yeast platform using targeted metabolomics 
L-tyrosine is a common precursor for a wide range of valuable secondary metabolites, including benzylisoquinoline alkaloids (BIAs) and many polyketides. An industrially tractable yeast strain optimized for production of L-tyrosine could serve as a platform for the development of BIA and polyketide cell factories. This study applied a targeted metabolomics approach to evaluate metabolic engineering strategies to increase the availability of intracellular L-tyrosine in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae CEN.PK. Our engineering strategies combined localized pathway engineering with global engineering of central metabolism, facilitated by genome-scale steady-state modelling.
Addition of a tyrosine feedback resistant version of 3-deoxy-D-arabino-heptulosonate-7-phosphate synthase Aro4 from S. cerevisiae was combined with overexpression of either a tyrosine feedback resistant yeast chorismate mutase Aro7, the native pentafunctional arom protein Aro1, native prephenate dehydrogenase Tyr1 or cyclohexadienyl dehydrogenase TyrC from Zymomonas mobilis. Loss of aromatic carbon was limited by eliminating phenylpyruvate decarboxylase Aro10. The TAL gene from Rhodobacter sphaeroides was used to produce coumarate as a simple test case of a heterologous by-product of tyrosine. Additionally, multiple strategies for engineering global metabolism to promote tyrosine production were evaluated using metabolic modelling. The T21E mutant of pyruvate kinase Cdc19 was hypothesized to slow the conversion of phosphoenolpyruvate to pyruvate and accumulate the former as precursor to the shikimate pathway. The ZWF1 gene coding for glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase was deleted to create an NADPH deficiency designed to force the cell to couple its growth to tyrosine production via overexpressed NADP+-dependent prephenate dehydrogenase Tyr1. Our engineered Zwf1− strain expressing TYRC ARO4FBR and grown in the presence of methionine achieved an intracellular L-tyrosine accumulation up to 520 μmol/g DCW or 192 mM in the cytosol, but sustained flux through this pathway was found to depend on the complete elimination of feedback inhibition and degradation pathways.
Our targeted metabolomics approach confirmed a likely regulatory site at DAHP synthase and identified another possible cofactor limitation at prephenate dehydrogenase. Additionally, the genome-scale metabolic model identified design strategies that have the potential to improve availability of erythrose 4-phosphate for DAHP synthase and cofactor availability for prephenate dehydrogenase. We evaluated these strategies and provide recommendations for further improvement of aromatic amino acid biosynthesis in S. cerevisiae.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12934-015-0252-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4458059  PMID: 26016674
L-tyrosine; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Metabolic engineering; Targeted metabolomics; Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase; Pyruvate kinase; Prephenate dehydrogenase; Cyclohexadienyl dehydrogenase; Phenylpyruvate decarboxylase; Aromatic amino acids
2.  Relief of Menstrual Symptoms and Migraine with a Single-Tablet Formulation of Sumatriptan and Naproxen Sodium 
Journal of Women's Health  2014;23(5):389-396.
Background: Dysmenorrhea and menstrual migraine may share a common pathogenic pathway. Both appear to be mediated, in part, by an excess of prostaglandin production that occurs during menstruation.
Methods: Data were pooled from two replicate randomized controlled trials of 621 adult menstrual migraineurs with dysmenorrhea who treated migraine with sumatriptan-naproxen or placebo. Along with headache symptoms, nonpain menstrual symptoms (bloating, fatigue, and irritability) and menstrual pain symptoms (abdominal and back pain) were recorded at the time periods of 30 minutes and 1, 2, 4, and 4–24 hours. Relief of menstrual symptoms was compared using a Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test. Logistic regression was used to determine the odds of a headache response with increasing numbers of moderate to severe dymenorrheic symptoms.
Results: Sumatriptan-naproxen was superior to placebo for relief of tiredness, irritability, and abdominal pain at the time periods of 2, 4, and 4–24 hours (p≤0.023); back pain at the time periods of 4 and 4–24 hours (p≤0.023); and bloating at 4–24 hours endpoint (p=0.01). The odds ratios (ORs) of attaining migraine pain freedom for 2 hours and for sustained 2–24 hours decreased as moderate to severe dysmenorrhea symptoms increased with sumatriptan-naproxen versus placebo.
Conclusions: Treatment with sumatriptan-naproxen may provide relief of menstrual symptoms and migraine in female migraineurs with dysmenorrhea. The presence of moderate to severe dysmenorrhea symptoms is associated with decreased response rates for menstrual migraine, suggesting that the co-occurrence of these disorders may negatively impact the results of migraine-abortive therapy.
PMCID: PMC4011418  PMID: 24579886
3.  Synthesis of Morphinan Alkaloids in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0124459.
Morphinan alkaloids are the most powerful narcotic analgesics currently used to treat moderate to severe and chronic pain. The feasibility of morphinan synthesis in recombinant Saccharomyces cerevisiae starting from the precursor (R,S)-norlaudanosoline was investigated. Chiral analysis of the reticuline produced by the expression of opium poppy methyltransferases showed strict enantioselectivity for (S)-reticuline starting from (R,S)-norlaudanosoline. In addition, the P. somniferum enzymes salutaridine synthase (PsSAS), salutaridine reductase (PsSAR) and salutaridinol acetyltransferase (PsSAT) were functionally co-expressed in S. cerevisiae and optimization of the pH conditions allowed for productive spontaneous rearrangement of salutaridinol-7-O-acetate and synthesis of thebaine from (R)-reticuline. Finally, we reconstituted a 7-gene pathway for the production of codeine and morphine from (R)-reticuline. Yeast cell feeding assays using (R)-reticuline, salutaridine or codeine as substrates showed that all enzymes were functionally co-expressed in yeast and that activity of salutaridine reductase and codeine-O-demethylase likely limit flux to morphine synthesis. The results of this study describe a significant advance for the synthesis of morphinans in S. cerevisiae and pave the way for their complete synthesis in recombinant microbes.
PMCID: PMC4408053  PMID: 25905794
4.  Nighttime snacking, stress, and migraine activity 
Missing meals and fasting have long been reported as headache triggers. Stress also has received attention for its role in precipitating headaches. This study explored the effects of eating behaviors on new-onset headache. Analyzing only the 1070 of 1648 (64.9%) diary days that followed a non-headache day, the study included 34 migraineurs who contributed a median (25th, 75th percentile) of 28 (22, 40) days of diary entries. Multivariable survival modeling with random effects was conducted, and hazards ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated. Nighttime snacking was associated with a 40% reduction in the odds of experiencing a headache compared to having no food (p = 0.013). Eating a late dinner was associated with a 21% reduction in the odds of headache when compared to no additional food, but this association was not statistically significant (p = 0. 22). These results demonstrate the potential for eating behaviors to be targeted in headache management, as regulated eating habits may have the potential to reduce the occurrence of headache. Although no causal relationship can be established, these results indicate that further research into the mechanisms of the association between eating behaviors and headache activity is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3959563  PMID: 24417796
Fasting; Headache precipitant; Headache trigger; Migraine; Stress
5.  Deconstructing the genetic basis of spent sulphite liquor tolerance using deep sequencing of genome-shuffled yeast 
Identifying the genetic basis of complex microbial phenotypes is currently a major barrier to our understanding of multigenic traits and our ability to rationally design biocatalysts with highly specific attributes for the biotechnology industry. Here, we demonstrate that strain evolution by meiotic recombination-based genome shuffling coupled with deep sequencing can be used to deconstruct complex phenotypes and explore the nature of multigenic traits, while providing concrete targets for strain development.
We determined genomic variations found within Saccharomyces cerevisiae previously evolved in our laboratory by genome shuffling for tolerance to spent sulphite liquor. The representation of these variations was backtracked through parental mutant pools and cross-referenced with RNA-seq gene expression analysis to elucidate the importance of single mutations and key biological processes that play a role in our trait of interest. Our findings pinpoint novel genes and biological determinants of lignocellulosic hydrolysate inhibitor tolerance in yeast. These include the following: protein homeostasis constituents, including Ubp7p and Art5p, related to ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis; stress response transcriptional repressor, Nrg1p; and NADPH-dependent glutamate dehydrogenase, Gdh1p. Reverse engineering a prominent mutation in ubiquitin-specific protease gene UBP7 in a laboratory S. cerevisiae strain effectively increased spent sulphite liquor tolerance.
This study advances understanding of yeast tolerance mechanisms to inhibitory substrates and biocatalyst design for a biomass-to-biofuel/biochemical industry, while providing insights into the process of mutation accumulation that occurs during genome shuffling.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13068-015-0241-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4393574  PMID: 25866561
Evolutionary engineering; Genome shuffling; Reverse engineering; Complex trait; Tolerance; Yeast
6.  Predicting the risk of avian influenza A H7N9 infection in live poultry markets across Asia 
Nature communications  2014;5:4116.
Two epidemic waves of an avian influenza A (H7N9) virus have so far affected China. Most human cases have been attributable to poultry exposure at live-poultry markets, where most positive isolates were sampled. The potential geographic extent of potential re-emerging epidemics is unknown, as are the factors associated with it. Using newly assembled datasets of the locations of 8,943 live-poultry markets in China and maps of environmental correlates, we develop a statistical model that accurately predicts the risk of H7N9 market infection across Asia. Local density of live-poultry markets is the most important predictor of H7N9 infection risk in markets, underscoring their key role in the spatial epidemiology of H7N9, alongside other poultry, land cover and anthropogenic predictor variables. Identification of areas in Asia with high suitability for H7N9 infection enhances our capacity to target biosurveillance and control, helping to restrict the spread of this important disease.
PMCID: PMC4061699  PMID: 24937647
7.  Effects of sports drinks on the maintenance of physical performance during 3 tennis matches: a randomized controlled study 
Tennis tournaments often involve playing several consecutive matches interspersed with short periods of recovery.
The objective of this study was firstly to assess the impact of several successive tennis matches on the physical performance of competitive players and secondly to evaluate the potential of sports drinks to minimize the fatigue induced by repeated matches.
This was a crossover, randomized controlled study. Eight male regionally-ranked tennis players participated in this study. Players underwent a series of physical tests to assess their strength, speed, power and endurance following the completion of three tennis matches each of two hours duration played over three consecutive half-days (1.5 day period for each condition). In the first condition the players consumed a sports drink before, during and after each match; in the second, they drank an identical volume of placebo water. The results obtained were compared with the third ‘rest’ condition in which the subjects did not play any tennis. Main outcomes measured were maximal isometric strength and fatigability of knee and elbow extensors, 20-m sprint speed, jumping height, specific repeated sprint ability test and hand grip strength.
The physical test results for the lower limbs showed no significant differences between the three conditions. Conversely, on the upper limbs the EMG data showed greater fatigue of the triceps brachii in the placebo condition compared to the rest condition, while the ingestion of sports drinks attenuated this fatigue.
This study has demonstrated for the first time that, when tennis players are adequately hydrated and ingest balanced meals between matches, then no large drop in physical performance is observed even during consecutive competitive matches.
Trial registration NCT01353872.
PMCID: PMC4190931  PMID: 25302057
Tennis; Nutrition; Fatigue; Performance; Sports drinks
8.  Causality and headache triggers 
Headache  2013;53(4):628-635.
The objective of this study was to explore the conditions necessary to assign causal status to headache triggers.
The term “headache trigger” is commonly used to label any stimulus that is assumed to cause headaches. However, the assumptions required for determining if a given stimulus in fact has a causal-type relationship in eliciting headaches have not been explicated.
A synthesis and application of Rubin’s Causal Model is applied to the context of headache causes. From this application the conditions necessary to infer that one event (trigger) causes another (headache) are outlined using basic assumptions and examples from relevant literature.
Although many conditions must be satisfied for a causal attribution, three basic assumptions are identified for determining causality in headache triggers: 1) constancy of the sufferer; 2) constancy of the trigger effect; and 3) constancy of the trigger presentation. A valid evaluation of a potential trigger’s effect can only be undertaken once these three basic assumptions are satisfied during formal or informal studies of headache triggers.
Evaluating these assumptions is extremely difficult or infeasible in clinical practice, and satisfying them during natural experimentation is unlikely. Researchers, practitioners, and headache sufferers are encouraged to avoid natural experimentation to determine the causal effects of headache triggers. Instead, formal experimental designs or retrospective diary studies using advanced statistical modeling techniques provide the best approaches to satisfy the required assumptions and inform causal statements about headache triggers.
PMCID: PMC3628761  PMID: 23534872
headache triggers; causality; research design
9.  Whey Proteins Are More Efficient than Casein in the Recovery of Muscle Functional Properties following a Casting Induced Muscle Atrophy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75408.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of whey supplementation, as compared to the standard casein diet, on the recovery of muscle functional properties after a casting-induced immobilization period. After an initial (I0) evaluation of the contractile properties of the plantarflexors (isometric torque-frequency relationship, concentric power-velocity relationship and a fatigability test), the ankle of 20 male adult rats was immobilized by casting for 8 days. During this period, rats were fed a standard diet with 13% of casein (CAS). After cast removal, rats received either the same diet or a diet with 13% of whey proteins (WHEY). A control group (n = 10), non-immobilized but pair-fed to the two other experimental groups, was also studied and fed with the CAS diet. During the recovery period, contractile properties were evaluated 7 (R7), 21 (R21) and 42 days (R42) after cast removal. The immobilization procedure induced a homogeneous depression of average isometric force at R7 (CAS: − 19.0±8.2%; WHEY: − 21.7±8.4%; P<0.001) and concentric power (CAS: − 26.8±16.4%, P<0.001; WHEY: − 13.5±21.8%, P<0.05) as compared to I0. Conversely, no significant alteration of fatigability was observed. At R21, isometric force had fully recovered in WHEY, especially for frequencies above 50 Hz, whereas it was still significantly depressed in CAS, where complete recovery occurred only at R42. Similarly, recovery of concentric power was faster at R21 in the 500−700°/s range in the WHEY group. These results suggest that recovery kinetics varied between diets, the diet with the whey proteins promoting a faster recovery of isometric force and concentric power output as compared to the casein diet. These effects were more specifically observed at force level and movement velocities that are relevant for functional abilities, and thus natural locomotion.
PMCID: PMC3777906  PMID: 24069411
10.  Predicting Hotspots for Influenza Virus Reassortment 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2013;19(4):581-588.
TOC summary: Reassortment is most likely to occur in eastern China, central China, or the Nile Delta in Egypt.
The 1957 and 1968 influenza pandemics, each of which killed ≈1 million persons, arose through reassortment events. Influenza virus in humans and domestic animals could reassort and cause another pandemic. To identify geographic areas where agricultural production systems are conducive to reassortment, we fitted multivariate regression models to surveillance data on influenza A virus subtype H5N1 among poultry in China and Egypt and subtype H3N2 among humans. We then applied the models across Asia and Egypt to predict where subtype H3N2 from humans and subtype H5N1 from birds overlap; this overlap serves as a proxy for co-infection and in vivo reassortment. For Asia, we refined the prioritization by identifying areas that also have high swine density. Potential geographic foci of reassortment include the northern plains of India, coastal and central provinces of China, the western Korean Peninsula and southwestern Japan in Asia, and the Nile Delta in Egypt.
PMCID: PMC3647410  PMID: 23628436
influenza in birds; influenza A virus H3N2 subtype; influenza A virus H5N1 subtype; reassortant viruses; viruses; zoonoses; avian influenza; influenza
11.  Engineering Microbes for Plant Polyketide Biosynthesis 
Polyketides are an important group of secondary metabolites, many of which have important industrial applications in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Polyketides are synthesized from one of three classes of enzymes differentiated by their biochemical features and product structure: type I, type II or type III polyketide synthases (PKSs). Plant type III PKS enzymes, which will be the main focus of this review, are relatively small homodimeric proteins that catalyze iterative decarboxylative condensations of malonyl units with a CoA-linked starter molecule. This review will describe the plant type III polyketide synthetic pathway, including the synthesis of chalcones, stilbenes and curcuminoids, as well as recent work on the synthesis of these polyketides in heterologous organisms. The limitations and bottlenecks of heterologous expression as well as attempts at creating diversity through the synthesis of novel “unnatural” polyketides using type III PKSs will also be discussed. Although synthetic production of plant polyketides is still in its infancy, their potential as useful bioactive compounds makes them an extremely interesting area of study.
PMCID: PMC3962132  PMID: 24688680
Plant polyketide; metabolic engineering; microbes
12.  Effects of synthetic cohesin-containing scaffold protein architecture on binding dockerin-enzyme fusions on the surface of Lactococcus lactis 
The microbial synthesis of fuels, commodity chemicals, and bioactive compounds necessitates the assemblage of multiple enzyme activities to carry out sequential chemical reactions, often via substrate channeling by means of multi-domain or multi-enzyme complexes. Engineering the controlled incorporation of enzymes in recombinant protein complexes is therefore of interest. The cellulosome of Clostridium thermocellum is an extracellular enzyme complex that efficiently hydrolyzes crystalline cellulose. Enzymes interact with protein scaffolds via type 1 dockerin/cohesin interactions, while scaffolds in turn bind surface anchor proteins by means of type 2 dockerin/cohesin interactions, which demonstrate a different binding specificity than their type 1 counterparts. Recombinant chimeric scaffold proteins containing cohesins of different specificity allow binding of multiple enzymes to specific sites within an engineered complex.
We report the successful display of engineered chimeric scaffold proteins containing both type 1 and type 2 cohesins on the surface of Lactococcus lactis cells. The chimeric scaffold proteins were able to form complexes with the Escherichia coli β-glucuronidase fused to either type 1 or type 2 dockerin, and differences in binding efficiencies were correlated with scaffold architecture. We used E. coli β-galactosidase, also fused to type 1 or type 2 dockerins, to demonstrate the targeted incorporation of two enzymes into the complexes. The simultaneous binding of enzyme pairs each containing a different dockerin resulted in bi-enzymatic complexes tethered to the cell surface. The sequential binding of the two enzymes yielded insights into parameters affecting assembly of the complex such as protein size and position within the scaffold.
The spatial organization of enzymes into complexes is an important strategy for increasing the efficiency of biochemical pathways. In this study, chimeric protein scaffolds consisting of type 1 and type 2 cohesins anchored on the surface of L. lactis allowed for the controlled positioning of dockerin-fused reporter enzymes onto the scaffolds. By binding single enzymes or enzyme pairs to the scaffolds, our data also suggest that the size and relative positions of enzymes can affect the catalytic profiles of the resulting complexes. These insights will be of great value as we engineer more advanced scaffold-guided protein complexes to optimize biochemical pathways.
PMCID: PMC3542058  PMID: 23241215
13.  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
14.  Saccharomyces cerevisiae Genome Shuffling through Recursive Population Mating Leads to Improved Tolerance to Spent Sulfite Liquor▿†  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(14):4736-4743.
Spent sulfite liquor (SSL) is a waste effluent from sulfite pulping that contains monomeric sugars which can be fermented to ethanol. However, fermentative yeasts used for the fermentation of the sugars in SSL are adversely affected by the inhibitory substances in this complex feedstock. To overcome this limitation, evolutionary engineering of Saccharomyces cerevisiae was carried out using genome-shuffling technology based on large-scale population cross mating. Populations of UV-light-induced yeast mutants more tolerant than the wild type to hardwood spent sulfite liquor (HWSSL) were first isolated and then recursively mated and enriched for more-tolerant populations. After five rounds of genome shuffling, three strains were isolated that were able to grow on undiluted HWSSL and to support efficient ethanol production from the sugars therein for prolonged fermentation of HWSSL. Analyses showed that greater HWSSL tolerance is associated with improved viability in the presence of salt, sorbitol, peroxide, and acetic acid. Our results showed that evolutionary engineering through genome shuffling will yield robust yeasts capable of fermenting the sugars present in HWSSL, which is a complex substrate containing multiple sources of inhibitors. These strains may not be obtainable through classical evolutionary engineering and can serve as a model for further understanding of the mechanism behind simultaneous tolerance to multiple inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3147380  PMID: 21622800
15.  Chemical and Synthetic Genetic Array Analysis Identifies Genes that Suppress Xylose Utilization and Fermentation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2011;1(4):247-258.
Though highly efficient at fermenting hexose sugars, Saccharomyces cerevisiae has limited ability to ferment five-carbon sugars. As a significant portion of sugars found in cellulosic biomass is the five-carbon sugar xylose, S. cerevisiae must be engineered to metabolize pentose sugars, commonly by the addition of exogenous genes from xylose fermenting fungi. However, these recombinant strains grow poorly on xylose and require further improvement through rational engineering or evolutionary adaptation. To identify unknown genes that contribute to improved xylose fermentation in these recombinant S. cerevisiae, we performed genome-wide synthetic interaction screens to identify deletion mutants that impact xylose utilization of strains expressing the xylose isomerase gene XYLA from Piromyces sp. E2 alone or with an additional copy of the endogenous xylulokinase gene XKS1. We also screened the deletion mutant array to identify mutants whose growth is affected by xylose. Our genetic network reveals that more than 80 nonessential genes from a diverse range of cellular processes impact xylose utilization. Surprisingly, we identified four genes, ALP1, ISC1, RPL20B, and BUD21, that when individually deleted improved xylose utilization of both S. cerevisiae S288C and CEN.PK strains. We further characterized BUD21 deletion mutant cells in batch fermentations and found that they produce ethanol even the absence of exogenous XYLA. We have demonstrated that the ability of laboratory strains of S. cerevisiae to utilize xylose as a sole carbon source is suppressed, which implies that S. cerevisiae may not require the addition of exogenous genes for efficient xylose fermentation.
PMCID: PMC3276145  PMID: 22384336
recombinant yeast; ethanol; xylose; functional genomics; chemical genomics
16.  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
17.  Neuromuscular Consequences of an Extreme Mountain Ultra-Marathon 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17059.
We investigated the physiological consequences of one of the most extreme exercises realized by humans in race conditions: a 166-km mountain ultra-marathon (MUM) with 9500 m of positive and negative elevation change. For this purpose, (i) the fatigue induced by the MUM and (ii) the recovery processes over two weeks were assessed. Evaluation of neuromuscular function (NMF) and blood markers of muscle damage and inflammation were performed before and immediately following (n = 22), and 2, 5, 9 and 16 days after the MUM (n = 11) in experienced ultra-marathon runners. Large maximal voluntary contraction decreases occurred after MUM (−35% [95% CI: −28 to −42%] and −39% [95% CI: −32 to −46%] for KE and PF, respectively), with alteration of maximal voluntary activation, mainly for KE (−19% [95% CI: −7 to −32%]). Significant modifications in markers of muscle damage and inflammation were observed after the MUM as suggested by the large changes in creatine kinase (from 144±94 to 13,633±12,626 UI L−1), myoglobin (from 32±22 to 1,432±1,209 µg L−1), and C-Reactive Protein (from <2.0 to 37.7±26.5 mg L−1). Moderate to large reductions in maximal compound muscle action potential amplitude, high-frequency doublet force, and low frequency fatigue (index of excitation-contraction coupling alteration) were also observed for both muscle groups. Sixteen days after MUM, NMF had returned to initial values, with most of the recovery process occurring within 9 days of the race. These findings suggest that the large alterations in NMF after an ultra-marathon race are multi-factorial, including failure of excitation-contraction coupling, which has never been described after prolonged running. It is also concluded that as early as two weeks after such an extreme running exercise, maximal force capacities have returned to baseline.
PMCID: PMC3043077  PMID: 21364944
18.  Engineering the cell surface display of cohesins for assembly of cellulosome-inspired enzyme complexes on Lactococcus lactis 
The assembly and spatial organization of enzymes in naturally occurring multi-protein complexes is of paramount importance for the efficient degradation of complex polymers and biosynthesis of valuable products. The degradation of cellulose into fermentable sugars by Clostridium thermocellum is achieved by means of a multi-protein "cellulosome" complex. Assembled via dockerin-cohesin interactions, the cellulosome is associated with the cell surface during cellulose hydrolysis, forming ternary cellulose-enzyme-microbe complexes for enhanced activity and synergy. The assembly of recombinant cell surface displayed cellulosome-inspired complexes in surrogate microbes is highly desirable. The model organism Lactococcus lactis is of particular interest as it has been metabolically engineered to produce a variety of commodity chemicals including lactic acid and bioactive compounds, and can efficiently secrete an array of recombinant proteins and enzymes of varying sizes.
Fragments of the scaffoldin protein CipA were functionally displayed on the cell surface of Lactococcus lactis. Scaffolds were engineered to contain a single cohesin module, two cohesin modules, one cohesin and a cellulose-binding module, or only a cellulose-binding module. Cell toxicity from over-expression of the proteins was circumvented by use of the nisA inducible promoter, and incorporation of the C-terminal anchor motif of the streptococcal M6 protein resulted in the successful surface-display of the scaffolds. The facilitated detection of successfully secreted scaffolds was achieved by fusion with the export-specific reporter staphylococcal nuclease (NucA). Scaffolds retained their ability to associate in vivo with an engineered hybrid reporter enzyme, E. coli β-glucuronidase fused to the type 1 dockerin motif of the cellulosomal enzyme CelS. Surface-anchored complexes exhibited dual enzyme activities (nuclease and β-glucuronidase), and were displayed with efficiencies approaching 104 complexes/cell.
We report the successful display of cellulosome-inspired recombinant complexes on the surface of Lactococcus lactis. Significant differences in display efficiency among constructs were observed and attributed to their structural characteristics including protein conformation and solubility, scaffold size, and the inclusion and exclusion of non-cohesin modules. The surface-display of functional scaffold proteins described here represents a key step in the development of recombinant microorganisms capable of carrying out a variety of metabolic processes including the direct conversion of cellulosic substrates into fuels and chemicals.
PMCID: PMC2949795  PMID: 20840763
19.  Global View of the Clostridium thermocellum Cellulosome Revealed by Quantitative Proteomic Analysis▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(19):6787-6795.
A metabolic isotope-labeling strategy was used in conjunction with nano-liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization mass spectrometry peptide sequencing to assess quantitative alterations in the expression patterns of subunits within cellulosomes of the cellulolytic bacterium Clostridium thermocellum, grown on either cellulose or cellobiose. In total, 41 cellulosomal proteins were detected, including 36 type I dockerin-containing proteins, which count among them all but three of the known docking components and 16 new subunits. All differential expression data were normalized to the scaffoldin CipA such that protein per cellulosome was compared for growth between the two substrates. Proteins that exhibited higher expression in cellulosomes from cellulose-grown cells than in cellobiose-grown cells were the cell surface anchor protein OlpB, exoglucanases CelS and CelK, and the glycoside hydrolase family 9 (GH9) endoglucanase CelJ. Conversely, lower expression in cellulosomes from cells grown on cellulose than on cellobiose was observed for the GH8 endoglucanase CelA; GH5 endoglucanases CelB, CelE, CelG; and hemicellulases XynA, XynC, XynZ, and XghA. GH9 cellulases were the most abundant group of enzymes per CipA when cells were grown on cellulose, while hemicellulases were the most abundant group on cellobiose. The results support the existing theory that expression of scaffoldin-related proteins is coordinately regulated by a catabolite repression type of mechanism, as well as the prior observation that xylanase expression is subject to a growth rate-independent type of regulation. However, concerning transcriptional control of cellulases, which had also been previously shown to be subject to catabolite repression, a novel distinction was observed with respect to endoglucanases.
PMCID: PMC2045192  PMID: 17644599
20.  Cell-Wide Responses to Low-Oxygen Exposure in Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough▿ † 
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(16):5996-6010.
The responses of the anaerobic, sulfate-reducing organism Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough to low-oxygen exposure (0.1% O2) were monitored via transcriptomics and proteomics. Exposure to 0.1% O2 caused a decrease in the growth rate without affecting viability. Concerted upregulation of the predicted peroxide stress response regulon (PerR) genes was observed in response to the 0.1% O2 exposure. Several of the candidates also showed increases in protein abundance. Among the remaining small number of transcript changes was the upregulation of the predicted transmembrane tetraheme cytochrome c3 complex. Other known oxidative stress response candidates remained unchanged during the low-O2 exposure. To fully understand the results of the 0.1% O2 exposure, transcriptomics and proteomics data were collected for exposure to air using a similar experimental protocol. In contrast to the 0.1% O2 exposure, air exposure was detrimental to both the growth rate and viability and caused dramatic changes at both the transcriptome and proteome levels. Interestingly, the transcripts of the predicted PerR regulon genes were downregulated during air exposure. Our results highlight the differences in the cell-wide responses to low and high O2 levels in D. vulgaris and suggest that while exposure to air is highly detrimental to D. vulgaris, this bacterium can successfully cope with periodic exposure to low O2 levels in its environment.
PMCID: PMC1952033  PMID: 17545284
21.  Application of knowledge-driven spatial modelling approaches and uncertainty management to a study of Rift Valley fever in Africa 
There are few studies that have investigated uncertainties surrounding the scientific community's knowledge of the geographical distribution of major animal diseases. This is particularly relevant to Rift Valley fever (RVF), a zoonotic disease causing destructive outbreaks in livestock and man, as the geographical range of the disease is widening to involve previously unaffected regions. In the current study we investigate the application of methods developed in the decision sciences: multiple criteria decision making using weighted linear combination and ordered weighted averages, and Dempster-Shafer theory, implemented within the geographical information system IDRISI, to obtain a greater understanding of uncertainty related to the geographical distribution of RVF. The focus is on presenting alternate methods where extensive field data are not available and traditional, model-based approaches to disease mapping are impossible to conduct.
Using a compensatory multiple criteria decision making model based on weighted linear combination, most of sub-Saharan Africa was suitable for endemic circulation of RVF. In contrast, areas where rivers and lakes traversed semi-arid regions, such as those bordering the Sahara, were highly suitable for RVF epidemics and wet, tropical areas of central Africa had low suitability. Using a moderately non-compensatory model based on ordered weighted averages, the areas considered suitable for endemic and epidemic RVF were more restricted. Varying the relative weights of the different factors in the models did not affect suitability estimates to a large degree, but variations in model structure had a large impact on our suitability estimates. Our Dempster-Shafer analysis supported the belief that a range of semi-arid areas were suitable for RVF epidemics and the plausibility that many other areas of the continent were suitable. Areas where high levels of uncertainty were highlighted included the Ethiopian Highlands, southwest Kenya and parts of West Africa.
We have demonstrated the potential of methods developed in the decision sciences to improve our understanding of uncertainties surrounding the geographical distribution of animal diseases, particularly where information is sparse, and encourage wider application of the decision science methodology in the field of animal health.
PMCID: PMC1702539  PMID: 17156467
22.  International Attention for Zoonotic Infections 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2006;229(12):1090-9.
PMCID: PMC3373135
zoonotic infections; emerging diseases; exotic pet trade; intersectoral research; wildlife reservoir; microbial threats to health; introduction
23.  Anatidae Migration in the Western Palearctic and Spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 Virus 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2006;12(11):1650-1656.
Anatids may have spread the virus along their autumn migration routes.
During the second half of 2005, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus spread rapidly from central Asia to eastern Europe. The relative roles of wild migratory birds and the poultry trade are still unclear, given that little is yet known about the range of virus hosts, precise movements of migratory birds, or routes of illegal poultry trade. We document and discuss the spread of the HPAI H5N1 virus in relation to species-specific flyways of Anatidae species (ducks, geese, and swans) and climate. We conclude that the spread of HPAI H5N1 virus from Russia and Kazakhstan to the Black Sea basin is consistent in space and time with the hypothesis that birds in the Anatidae family have seeded the virus along their autumn migration routes.
PMCID: PMC3372333  PMID: 17283613
Avian influenza; Epidemiology; Disease Ecology; Migration; perspective
24.  Rift Valley Fever Potential, Arabian Peninsula 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2006;12(3):518-520.
PMCID: PMC3291449  PMID: 16710979
pythiosis; arteritis; necrotizing cellulitis; letter
25.  A Cytochrome P450 Involved in the Metabolism of Abietane Diterpenoids by Pseudomonas abietaniphila BKME-9†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(11):3631-3639.
Diterpenoids are naturally occurring plant compounds which have pharmaceutical properties. We have sequenced a 10.4-kbp extension of the dit cluster in Pseudomonas abietaniphila BKME-9, containing genes involved in abietane diterpenoid biodegradation. The ditQ gene was found to encode a cytochrome P450 monooxygenase, P450dit, and to be homologous to the tdtD gene of Pseudomonas diterpeniphila A19-6a. Knocking out ditQ had little effect on growth of BKME-9 on abietic acid but severely impaired growth on dehydroabietic acid (DhA) and palustric acid (PaA), increasing doubling times from 3.8 to 15 h on DhA and from 5.6 to 18.5 h on PaA. A xylE transcriptional fusion showed that transcription of ditQ was induced by a range of diterpenoids. Substrate binding assays of P450dit expressed in Escherichia coli revealed that DhA binds to the enzyme and yields a type I binding spectrum with a Kd of 0.4 μM. These results indicate that P450dit is involved in the metabolism of DhA and PaA and are consistent with its putative role in converting DhA to 7-hydroxy-DhA. Finally, an amino acid sequence identity of greater than 72% and conserved gene arrangement support the hypothesis that the dit gene cluster of P. abietaniphila BKME-9 and the tdt cluster of P. diterpeniphila A19-6a contain functional homologues.
PMCID: PMC415779  PMID: 15150251

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