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1.  A Patatin-Like Protein Associated with the Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) Granules of Haloferax mediterranei Acts as an Efficient Depolymerase in the Degradation of Native PHA 
The key enzymes and pathways involved in polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biosynthesis in haloarchaea have been identified in recent years, but the haloarchaeal enzymes for PHA degradation remain unknown. In this study, a patatin-like PHA depolymerase, PhaZh1, was determined to be located on the PHA granules in the haloarchaeon Haloferax mediterranei. PhaZh1 hydrolyzed the native PHA (nPHA) [including native polyhydroxybutyrate (nPHB) and native poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (nPHBV) in this study] granules in vitro with 3-hydroxybutyrate (3HB) monomer as the primary product. The site-directed mutagenesis of PhaZh1 indicated that Gly16, Ser47 (in a classical lipase box, G-X-S47-X-G), and Asp195 of this depolymerase were essential for its activity in nPHA granule hydrolysis. Notably, phaZh1 and bdhA (encoding putative 3HB dehydrogenase) form a gene cluster (HFX_6463 to _6464) in H. mediterranei. The 3HB monomer generated from nPHA degradation by PhaZh1 could be further converted into acetoacetate by BdhA, indicating that PhaZh1-BdhA may constitute the first part of a PHA degradation pathway in vivo. Interestingly, although PhaZh1 showed efficient activity and was most likely the key enzyme in nPHA granule hydrolysis in vitro, the knockout of phaZh1 had no significant effect on the intracellular PHA mobilization, implying the existence of an alternative PHA mobilization pathway(s) that functions effectively within the cells of H. mediterranei. Therefore, identification of this patatin-like depolymerase of haloarchaea may provide a new strategy for producing the high-value-added chiral compound (R)-3HB and may also shed light on the PHA mobilization in haloarchaea.
doi:10.1128/AEM.04269-14
PMCID: PMC4393451  PMID: 25710370
2.  Targeting protein arginine methyltransferase 5 inhibits colorectal cancer growth by decreasing arginine methylation of eIF4E and FGFR3 
Oncotarget  2015;6(26):22799-22811.
Protein arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs) plays critical roles in cancer. PRMT5 has been implicated in several types of tumors. However, the role of PRMT5 in cancer development remains to be fully elucidated. Here, we provide evidence that PRMT5 is overexpressed in colorectal cancer (CRC) cells and patient-derived primary tumors, correlated with increased cell growth and decreased overall patient survival. Arginine methyltransferase inhibitor 1 (AMI-1)strongly inhibited tumor growth, increased the ratio of Bax/Bcl-2, and induced apoptosis in mouse CRC xenograt model. AMI-1 also induced apoptosis and decreased the migratory activity in several CRC cells. In CRC xenografts AMI-1 significantly decreased symmetric dimethylation of histone 4 (H4R3me2s), a histone mark of type II PRMT5, but not the expression of H4R3me2a, a histone mark of type I PRMTs. These results suggest that the inhibition of PRMT5 contributes to the antitumor efficacy of AMI-1. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) identified FGFR3 and eIF4E as two key genes regulated by PRMT5. PRMT5 knockdown reduced the levels of H4R3me2s and H3R8me2s methylation on FGFR3 and eIF4E promoters, leading to decreased expressions of FGFR3 and eIF4E. Collectively, our findings provide new evidence that PRMT5 plays an important role in CRC pathogenesis through epigenetically regulating arginine methylation of oncogenes such as eIF4E and FGFR3.
PMCID: PMC4673200  PMID: 26078354
PRMT5; AMI-1; colorectal cancer; FGFR3; eIF4E
3.  Continued Decline of Aqueous Interleukin-8 After Multiple Intravitreal Injections of Ganciclovir for Cytomegalovirus Retinitis 
Abstract
Purpose: To evaluate the relationship between aqueous inflammation cytokines and cytomegalovirus (CMV) particles in patients with cytomegalovirus retinitis (CMVR), and evaluate the changes in aqueous inflammation cytokines during multiple intravitreal injections of antiviral drugs for CMVR.
Methods: There were 10 patients (12 eyes; 16 courses of treatment per eye) who underwent continued intravitreal ganciclovir or foscarnet for treatment of CMVR. Before each intravitreal injection, 50–100 μL of aqueous humor was removed and sent to the laboratory to examine the concentration of the CMV DNA load by using polymerase chain reaction and to examine the concentration of interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and IL-12p70 using a cytometric bead array.
Results: A Kendall correlation test showed that the concentration of the CMV DNA load in the aqueous humor was significantly associated with the aqueous level of IL-6 (P<0.001, r=0.327) and IL-8 (P<0.001, r=0.381), but not significantly associated with IL-1β, IL-10, IL-12p70, and TNF-α. The boxplots showed that the concentration of the aqueous CMV DNA load, IL-8 and IL-10 continuously declined after multiple intravitreal injections of antiviral drugs, and the decline trend of IL-8 was most remarkable. IL-1β, IL-10, TNF-α, and IL-12p70 were negative in some of the aqueous levels of CMVR patients throughout the course of treatment (25.0%–62.5%).
Conclusions: Our study showed that IL-8 was significantly associated with the aqueous level of CMV copies and continuously declined during a course of treatment that involved multiple intravitreal injections of antiviral drugs. IL-8 may be considered a good quantitative laboratory indicator of the recovery of CMVR.
doi:10.1089/jop.2013.0241
PMCID: PMC4151067  PMID: 24874926
4.  Propionyl Coenzyme A (Propionyl-CoA) Carboxylase in Haloferax mediterranei: Indispensability for Propionyl-CoA Assimilation and Impacts on Global Metabolism 
Propionyl coenzyme A (propionyl-CoA) is an important intermediate during the biosynthesis and catabolism of intracellular carbon storage of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) in haloarchaea. However, the haloarchaeal propionyl-CoA carboxylase (PCC) and its physiological significance remain unclear. In this study, we identified a PCC that catalyzed propionyl-CoA carboxylation with an acetyl-CoA carboxylation side activity in Haloferax mediterranei. Gene knockout/complementation demonstrated that the PCC enzyme consisted of a fusion protein of a biotin carboxylase and a biotin-carboxyl carrier protein (PccA [HFX_2490]), a carboxyltransferase component (PccB [HFX_2478]), and an essential small subunit (PccX [HFX_2479]). Knockout of pccBX led to an inability to utilize propionate and a higher intracellular propionyl-CoA level, indicating that the PCC enzyme is indispensable for propionyl-CoA utilization. Interestingly, H. mediterranei DBX (pccBX-deleted strain) displayed multiple phenotypic changes, including retarded cell growth, decreased glucose consumption, impaired PHBV biosynthesis, and wrinkled cells. A propionyl-CoA concentration equivalent to the concentration that accumulated in DBX cells was demonstrated to inhibit succinyl-CoA synthetase of the tricarboxylic acid cycle in vitro. Genome-wide microarray analysis showed that many genes for glycolysis, pyruvate oxidation, PHBV accumulation, electron transport, and stress responses were affected in DBX. This study not only identified the haloarchaeal PCC for the metabolism of propionyl-CoA, an important intermediate in haloarchaea, but also demonstrated that impaired propionyl-CoA metabolism affected global metabolism in H. mediterranei.
doi:10.1128/AEM.03167-14
PMCID: PMC4277572  PMID: 25398867
5.  Establishment of Magnetic Microparticles-Assisted Time-Resolved Fluoroimmunoassay for Determinating Biomarker Models in Human Serum 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0130481.
In order to early screen and detect suspected biomarkers from pathogens and the human body itself, tracers or reaction strategies that can act as signal enhancers have been proposed forth at purpose. In this paper, we discussed the applicability of magnetic microparticles-assisted time-resolved fluoroimmunoassay (MMPs-TRFIA) for sensitive determination of potential analytes. Hepatitis B e antigen, antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen and free triiodothyronine were used as biomarker models to explore the reliability of the method. By coupling with bioprobes, MMPs were used as immunoassay carriers to capture target molecules. Under optimal condition, assay performance, including accuracy, precision and specificity, was outstanding and demonstrated satisfactory. To further evaluate the performance of the MMPs-TRFIA in patients, a total of 728 serum samples from hospital were analyzed for three biomarkers in parallel with the proposed method and chemiluminescence immunoassay kit commercially available. Fairly good agreements are obtained between the two methods via data analysis. Not only that but the reliability of MMPs-TRFIA has also been illustrated by three different reaction models. It is confirmed that the novel method modified with MMPs has been established and showed great potential applications in both biological detection and clinical diagnosis, including big molecule protein and low molecular weight haptens.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130481
PMCID: PMC4478010  PMID: 26103625
6.  Comprehensive survey of condition-specific reproductive isolation reveals genetic incompatibility in yeast 
Nature Communications  2015;6:7214.
Genetic variation within a species could cause negative epistasis leading to reduced hybrid fitness and post-zygotic reproductive isolation. Recent studies in yeasts revealed chromosomal rearrangements as a major mechanism dampening intraspecific hybrid fertility on rich media. Here, by analysing a large number of Saccharomyces cerevisiae crosses on different culture conditions, we show environment-specific genetic incompatibility segregates readily within yeast and contributes to reproductive isolation. Over 24% (117 out of 481) of cases tested show potential epistasis, among which 6.7% (32 out of 481) are severe, with at least 20% of progeny loss on tested conditions. Based on the segregation patterns, we further characterize a two-locus Dobzhansky–Müller incompatibility case leading to offspring respiratory deficiency caused by nonsense mutation in a nuclear-encoding mitochondrial gene and tRNA suppressor. We provide evidence that this precise configuration could be adaptive in fluctuating environments, highlighting the role of ecological selection in the onset of genetic incompatibility and reproductive isolation in yeast.
Chromosomal rearrangements may hamper intraspecific hybrid fertility. Here the authors show that environment-specific genetic incompatibility segregates readily within intermating populations and leads to intrinsic reproductive isolation within a yeast species.
doi:10.1038/ncomms8214
PMCID: PMC4445460  PMID: 26008139
7.  Chromosomal rearrangements as a major mechanism in the onset of reproductive isolation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Current biology : CB  2014;24(10):1153-1159.
Summary
Understanding the molecular basis of how reproductive isolation evolves between individuals from the same species offers valuable insight into patterns of genetic differentiation as well as the onset of speciation [1, 2]. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae constitutes an ideal model partly due to its vast ecological range, high level of genetic diversity [3–6] and laboratory amendable sexual reproduction. Between S. cerevisiae and its sibling species in the Saccharomyces sensu stricto complex, reproductive isolation acts post-zygotically and could be attributed to chromosomal rearrangements [7], cyto-nuclear incompatibility [8, 9] and anti-recombination [10, 11]; although the implication of these mechanisms at the incipient stage of speciation remains unclear due to further divergence in the nascent species. Recently, several studies assessed the onset of intraspecific reproductive isolation in S. cerevisiae by evaluating the effect of the mismatch repair system [12–14] or by fostering incipient speciation using the same initial genetic background [15–18]. Nevertheless, the overall genetic diversity within this species was largely overlooked and no systematic evaluation has been performed. Here, we carried out the first species-wide survey for post-zygotic reproductive isolation in S. cerevisiae. We crossed 60 natural isolates sampled from diverse niches with the reference strain S288c, and identified 16 cases of reproductive isolation with reduced offspring viabilities ranging from 44% to 86%. Using different mapping strategies, we identified reciprocal translocations in a large fraction of all isolates surveyed, indicating that large-scale chromosomal rearrangements might play a major role to the onset of reproductive isolation in this species.
doi:10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.063
PMCID: PMC4067053  PMID: 24814147
intraspecific diversity; reproductive isolation; translocations; yeast
8.  Genetic Map Construction and Detection of Genetic Loci Underlying Segregation Distortion in an Intraspecific Cross of Populus deltoides 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0126077.
Based on a two-way pseudo-testcross strategy, high density and complete coverage linkage maps were constructed for the maternal and paternal parents of an intraspecific F2 pedigree of Populus deltoides. A total of 1,107 testcross markers were obtained, and the mapping population consisted of 376 progeny. Among these markers, 597 were from the mother, and were assigned into 19 linkage groups, spanning a total genetic distance of 1,940.3 cM. The remaining 519 markers were from the father, and were also were mapped into 19 linkage groups, covering 2,496.3 cM. The genome coverage of both maps was estimated as greater than 99.9% at 20 cM per marker, and the numbers of linkage groups of both maps were in accordance with the 19 haploid chromosomes in Populus. Marker segregation distortion was observed in large contiguous blocks on some of the linkage groups. Subsequently, we mapped the segregation distortion loci in this mapping pedigree. Altogether, eight segregation distortion loci with significant logarithm of odds supports were detected. Segregation distortion indicated the uneven transmission of the alternate alleles from the mapping parents. The corresponding genome regions might contain deleterious genes or be associated with hybridization incompatibility. In addition to the detection of segregation distortion loci, the established genetic maps will serve as a basic resource for mapping genetic loci controlling traits of interest in future studies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126077
PMCID: PMC4420497  PMID: 25942445
9.  Stanniocalicin 2 Suppresses Breast Cancer Cell Migration and Invasion via the PKC/Claudin-1-Mediated Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0122179.
Stanniocalcin (STC), a glycoprotein hormone, is expressed in a wide variety of tissues to regulate Ca2+ and PO4- homeostasis. STC2, a member of STC family, has been reported to be associated with tumor development. In this study, we investigated whether the expression of STC2 is associated with migration and invasion of breast cancer cells. We found that breast cancer cell line 231 HM transfected with STC2 shRNA displayed high motility, fibroblast morphology, and enhanced cell migration and invasion. Introduction of STC2 in 231 cells reduced cell migration and invasion. In response to irradiation, silencing of STC2 in 231 HM cells reduced apoptosis, whereas overexpression of STC2 in 231 cells promoted apoptosis, compared with in control cells. Mechanistic study showed that STC2 negatively regulated PKC to control the expression of Claudin-1, which subsequently induced the expressions of EMT-related factors including ZEB1, ZO-1, Slug, Twist, and MMP9. Suppression of PKC activity by using a PKC inhibitor (Go 6983) restored the normal motility of STC2-silenced cells. Furthermore, in vivo animal assay showed that STC2 inhibited tumorigenesis and metastasis of breast cancer cells. Collectively, these results indicate that STC2 may inhibit EMT at least partially through the PKC/Claudin-1-mediated signaling in human breast cancer cells. Thus, STC2 may be exploited as a biomarker for metastasis and targeted therapy in human breast cancer.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122179
PMCID: PMC4382185  PMID: 25830567
10.  The role of autophagy induced by tumor microenvironment in different cells and stages of cancer 
Cell & Bioscience  2015;5:14.
Development of a tumor is a very complex process, and invasion and metastasis of malignant tumors are hallmarks and are difficult problems to overcome. The tumor microenvironment plays an important role in controlling tumor fate and autophagy induced by the tumor microenvironment is attracting more and more attention. Autophagy can be induced by several stressors in the tumor microenvironment and autophagy modifies the tumor microenvironment, too. Autophagy has dual roles in tumor growth. In this review, we discussed the interaction between autophagy and the tumor microenvironment and the paradoxical roles of autophagy on tumor growth at different stages of tumor development.
doi:10.1186/s13578-015-0005-2
PMCID: PMC4384293  PMID: 25844158
Autophagy; Tumor microenvironment; Tumorigenesis
11.  Different autosomes evolved into sex chromosomes in the sister genera of Salix and Populus 
Scientific Reports  2015;5:9076.
Willows (Salix) and poplars (Populus) are dioecious plants in Salicaceae family. Sex chromosome in poplar genome was consistently reported to be associated with chromosome XIX. In contrast to poplar, this study revealed that chromosome XV was sex chromosome in willow. Previous studies revealed that both ZZ/ZW and XX/XY sex-determining systems could be present in some species of Populus. In this study, sex of S. suchowensis was found to be determined by the ZW system in which the female was the heterogametic gender. Gene syntenic and collinear comparisons revealed macrosynteny between sex chromosomes and the corresponding autosomes between these two lineages. By contrast, no syntenic segments were found to be shared between poplar's and willow's sex chromosomes. Syntenic analysis also revealed substantial chromosome rearrangements between willow's alternate sex chromatids. Since willow and poplar originate from a common ancestor, we proposed that evolution of autosomes into sex chromosomes in these two lineages occurred after their divergence. Results of this study indicate that sex chromosomes in Salicaceae are still at the early stage of evolutionary divergence. Additionally, this study provided valuable information for better understanding the genetics and evolution of sex chromosome in dioecious plants.
doi:10.1038/srep09076
PMCID: PMC4357872  PMID: 25766834
12.  Investigation on the IL-18 -607A/C and -137C/G on the susceptibility of ischemic stroke 
Objective:
We conducted a case-control study with 322 cases and 322 controls to assess the role of the two common SNPs in the promoter of IL-18 gene.
Methods:
Polymerase chain reaction restriction fragment length of polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) was taken to genotype -607A/C and -137C/G in the promoter of the IL-18 gene.
Results:
By comparing cases and control subjects, we found that IS cases were more likely to have higher BMI, higher proportion of hypertension, and have higher proportion of smokers and drinkers. We found that IL-18 -607CC genotype (OR=1.70, 95% CI=1.03-2.81) and C allele (OR=1.26, 95% CI=1.01-1.58) were significantly more frequent in IS patients when compared with AA genotype. We did not find significant association between IL-18 -607A/C gene polymorphism and BMI, hypertension, smoking and drinking on the risk of IS.
Conclusion:
Our study suggests that polymorphisms in IL-18 -607A/C can influence the development of IS, and this gene polymorphism is associated with risk of IS in a Chinese population.
doi:10.12669/pjms.311.5997
PMCID: PMC4386186  PMID: 25878643
IL-18; Ischemic stroke; Polymorphism
13.  Mucoadhesive Microparticles for Gastroretentive Delivery: Preparation, Biodistribution and Targeting Evaluation 
Marine Drugs  2014;12(12):5764-5787.
The aim of this research was to prepare and characterize alginate-chitosan mucoadhesive microparticles containing puerarin. The microparticles were prepared by an emulsification-internal gelatin method using a combination of chitosan and Ca2+ as cationic components and alginate as anions. Surface morphology, particle size, drug loading, encapsulation efficiency and swelling ratio, in vitro drug released, in vitro evaluation of mucoadhesiveness and Fluorescence imaging of the gastrointestinal tract were determined. After optimization of the formulation, the encapsulation efficiency was dramatically increased from 70.3% to 99.2%, and a highly swelling ratio was achieved with a change in particle size from 50.3 ± 11.2 μm to 124.7 ± 25.6 μm. In ethanol induced gastric ulcers, administration of puerarin mucoadhesive microparticles at doses of 150 mg/kg, 300 mg/kg, 450 mg/kg and 600 mg/kg body weight prior to ethanol ingestion significantly protected the stomach ulceration. Consequently, significant changes were observed in inflammatory cytokines, such as prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), interleukin 6 (IL-6), and interleukin1β (IL-1β), in stomach tissues compared with the ethanol control group. In conclusion, core-shell type pH-sensitive mucoadhesive microparticles loaded with puerarin could enhance puerarin bioavailability and have the potential to alleviate ethanol-mediated gastric ulcers.
doi:10.3390/md12125764
PMCID: PMC4278200  PMID: 25470180
alginate; chitosan; ethanol-induced gastric injury; mucoadhesive microparticles; puerarin
14.  Twist-1 Up-Regulation in Carcinoma Correlates to Poor Survival 
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) facilitates tumor metastasis. Twist is a basic helix-loop-helix protein that modulates many target genes through E-box-responsive elements. There are two twist-like proteins, Twist-1 and Twist-2, sharing high structural homology in mammals. Twist-1 was found to be a key factor in the promotion of metastasis of cancer cells, and is known to induce EMT. Twist-1 participation in carcinoma progression and metastasis has been reported in a variety of tumors. However, controversy exists concerning the correlation between Twist-1 and prognostic value with respect to carcinoma. A systematic review and meta-analysis were performed to determine whether the expression of Twist-1 was associated with the prognosis of carcinoma patients. This analysis included 17 studies: four studies evaluated lung cancer, three evaluated head and neck cancer, two evaluated breast cancer, two evaluated esophageal cancer, two evaluated liver cancer and one each evaluated osteosarcoma, bladder, cervical and ovarian cancer. A total of 2006 patients were enrolled in these studies, and the median trial sample size was 118 patients. Twist-1 expression was associated with worse overall survival (OS) at both 3 years (hazard ratio “HR” for death = 2.13, 95% CI = 1.86 to 2.45, p < 0.001) and 5 years (HR for death = 2.01, 95% CI = 1.76 to 2.29, p < 0.001). Expression of Twist-1 is associated with worse survival in carcinoma.
doi:10.3390/ijms151221621
PMCID: PMC4284667  PMID: 25429425
Twist-1; immunohistochemistry; tumor; prognosis; meta-analysis
15.  Expression of tmp21 in normal adult human tissues 
TMP21, known as p23 protein, is one important member of the p24 protein families. The degradation of TMP21 is mediated by the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, as with the other presenilin-associated γ-secretase complex members. NFAT plays a very important role in regulation of human TMP21 gene expression. Compared with the function of TMP21, the studies about the distribution of this protein in human tissues are limited. We collected 19 normal adult human tissues from a healthy adult man died in a traffic accident and did examination of all the tissues collected for ICH, western blot and RT-PCR. It was shown that the expression of TMP21 is at high levels in heart, liver, lung, kidney and adrenal gland; moderate levels in brain, pancreas, prostate gland, testicle, small intestine, colon, stomach, gall bladder, thyroid gland and trachea; low levels in skeletal muscle, skin and lymphonodus. TMP21 is widely existed in normal adult human tissues. The current study provided for the first time a comprehensive expression of TMP21 in normal adult human tissues. It will benefit on helping in the design and interpretation of future studies focused on expounding the function of TMP21.
PMCID: PMC4211821  PMID: 25356171
TMP21; human tissue; immunohistochemistry; western-blotting; RT-PCR
16.  Population Genomic Analysis Reveals Highly Conserved Mitochondrial Genomes in the Yeast Species Lachancea thermotolerans 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2014;6(10):2586-2594.
The increasing availability of mitochondrial (mt) sequence data from various yeasts provides a tool to study genomic evolution within and between different species. While the genomes from a range of lineages are available, there is a lack of information concerning intraspecific mtDNA diversity. Here, we analyzed the mt genomes of 50 strains from Lachancea thermotolerans, a protoploid yeast species that has been isolated from several locations (Europe, Asia, Australia, South Africa, and North / South America) and ecological sources (fruit, tree exudate, plant material, and grape and agave fermentations). Protein-coding genes from the mtDNA were used to construct a phylogeny, which reflected a similar, yet less resolved topology than the phylogenetic tree of 50 nuclear genes. In comparison to its sister species Lachancea kluyveri, L. thermotolerans has a smaller mt genome. This is due to shorter intergenic regions and fewer introns, of which the latter are only found in COX1. We revealed that L. kluyveri and L. thermotolerans share similar levels of intraspecific divergence concerning the nuclear genomes. However, L. thermotolerans has a more highly conserved mt genome with the coding regions characterized by low rates of nonsynonymous substitution. Thus, in the mt genomes of L. thermotolerans, stronger purifying selection and lower mutation rates potentially shape genome diversity in contract to what was found for L. kluyveri, demonstrating that the factors driving mt genome evolution are different even between closely related species.
doi:10.1093/gbe/evu203
PMCID: PMC4224330  PMID: 25212859
mitochondrial genome; intraspecific diversity; selection; genome evolution
17.  Resting-state functional connectivity abnormalities in patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder and their healthy first-degree relatives 
Background
Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common, heritable neuropsychiatric disorder, hypothetically underpinned by dysfunction of brain cortical–striatal–thalamic–cortical (CSTC) circuits; however, the extent of brain functional abnormalities in individuals with OCD is unclear, and the genetic basis of this disorder is poorly understood. We determined the whole brain functional connectivity patterns in patients with OCD and their healthy first-degree relatives.
Methods
We used resting-state fMRI to measure functional connectivity strength in patients with OCD, their healthy first-degree relatives and healthy controls. Whole brain functional networks were constructed by measuring the temporal correlations of all brain voxel pairs and further analyzed using a graph theory approach.
Results
We enrolled 39 patients with OCD, 20 healthy first-degree relatives and 39 healthy controls in our study. Compared with healthy controls, patients with OCD showed increased functional connectivity primarily within the CSTC circuits and decreased functional connectivity in the occipital cortex, temporal cortex and cerebellum. Moreover, patients with OCD and their first-degree relatives exhibited overlapping increased functional connectivity strength in the bilateral caudate nucleus, left orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and left middle temporal gyrus.
Limitations
Potential confounding factors, such as medication use, heterogeneity in symptom clusters and comorbid disorders, may have impacted our findings.
Conclusion
Our preliminary results suggest that patients with OCD have abnormal resting-state functional connectivity that is not limited to CSTC circuits and involves abnormalities in additional large-scale brain systems, especially the limbic system. Moreover, resting-state functional connectivity strength abnormalities in the left OFC, bilateral caudate nucleus and left middle temporal gyrus may be neuroimaging endophenotypes for OCD.
doi:10.1503/jpn.130220
PMCID: PMC4160359  PMID: 24866415
18.  Oral Administration of Recombinant Lactococcus lactis Expressing HSP65 and Tandemly Repeated P277 Reduces the Incidence of Type I Diabetes in Non-Obese Diabetic Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105701.
Diabetes mellitus type 1 (DM1) is an autoimmune disease that gradually destroys insulin-producing beta-cells. We have previously reported that mucosal administration of fusion protein of HSP65 with tandem repeats of P277 (HSP65-6P277) can reduce the onset of DM1 in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice. To deliver large amounts of the fusion protein and to enhance long-term immune tolerance effects, in the present study, we investigated the efficacy of using orally administrated L. lactis expressing HSP65-6P277 to reduce the incidence of DM1 in NOD mice. L. lactis strain NZ9000 was engineered to express HSP65-6P277 either constitutively or by nisin induction. After immunization via gavage with the recombinant L. lactis strains to groups of 4-week old female NOD mice for 36 weeks, we observed that oral administration of recombinant L. Lactis resulted in the prevention of hyperglycemia, improved glucose tolerance and reduced insulitis. Immunologic analysis showed that treatment with recombinant L. lactis induced HSP65- and P277- specific T cell immuno-tolerance, as well as antigen-specific proliferation of splenocytes. The results revealed that the DM1-preventing function was in part caused by a reduction in the pro-inflammatory cytokine IFN-γ and an increase in the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10. Orally administered recombinant L. lactis delivering HSP65-6P277 may be an effective therapeutic approach in preventing DM1.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105701
PMCID: PMC4144892  PMID: 25157497
19.  Analysis of the Transcriptional Regulator GlpR, Promoter Elements, and Posttranscriptional Processing Involved in Fructose-Induced Activation of the Phosphoenolpyruvate-Dependent Sugar Phosphotransferase System in Haloferax mediterranei 
Among all known archaeal strains, the phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent phosphotransferase system (PTS) for fructose utilization is used primarily by haloarchaea, which thrive in hypersaline environments, whereas the molecular details of the regulation of the archaeal PTS under fructose induction remain unclear. In this study, we present a comprehensive examination of the regulatory mechanism of the fructose PTS in the haloarchaeon Haloferax mediterranei. With gene knockout and complementation, microarray analysis, and chromatin immunoprecipitation-quantitative PCR (ChIP-qPCR), we revealed that GlpR is the indispensable activator, which specifically binds to the PTS promoter (PPTS) during fructose induction. Further promoter-scanning mutation indicated that three sites located upstream of the H. mediterranei PPTS, which are conserved in most haloarchaeal PPTSs, are involved in this induction. Interestingly, two PTS transcripts (named T8 and T17) with different lengths of 5′ untranslated region (UTR) were observed, and promoter or 5′ UTR swap experiments indicated that the shorter 5′ UTR was most likely generated from the longer one. Notably, the translation efficiency of the transcript with this shorter 5′ UTR was significantly higher and the ratio of T8 (with the shorter 5′ UTR) to T17 increased during fructose induction, implying that a posttranscriptional mechanism is also involved in PTS activation. With these insights into the molecular regulation of the haloarchaeal PTS, we have proposed a working model for haloarchaea in response to environmental fructose.
doi:10.1128/AEM.03372-13
PMCID: PMC3911062  PMID: 24334671
20.  Mesenchymal stem cells contribute to the chemoresistance of hepatocellular carcinoma cells in inflammatory environment by inducing autophagy 
Cell & Bioscience  2014;4:22.
Background
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been reported to play an important role in tumor growth. Inflammation is an important feature of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Certain inflammatory cytokines produced in tumor microenvironment modulate functional activities of MSCs. At the present time, however, the role of MSCs in the development of HCC cell resistance to chemotherapy in the inflammatory microenvironment during tumor growth has not yet been identified.
Methods
MTT and PI/Annexin V-FITC assay were employed to examine the proliferation and apoptosis of HCC cell lines. The expression of TGF-β are detected by Realtime PCR and Western blot. GFP tagged LC3 expression vector and electron microscopy are utilized to demonstrate the occurrence of autophagy.
Results
We observed that MSCs pretreated with the combination of IFN-γ and TNF-α induced resistance to chemotherapy in HCC cell lines in both the in vitro and in vivo circumstances. Following exposure to conditioned medium of MSCs that were pre-treated with IFN-γ plus TNF-α, HCC cell line cells underwent autophagy which serves as a protective mechanism for HCC cells to resist the cell toxicity of chemotherapeutic agents. Treatment of HCC cell line cells with autophagy inhibitor effectively reversed the MSCs-induced resistance to chemotherapy in these cells. Stimulation with the combination of IFN-γ and TNF-α provoked expression of TGF-β by MSCs. MSCs-induced chemoresistance in HCC cell lines was correlated with the up-regulation of TGF-β expression by MSCs. Knockdown of TGF-β expression by MSCs with siRNA attenuated MSCs-induced chemoresistance in HCC cells.
Conclusions
These results suggest that increase in TGF-β expression by MSCs in the inflammatory microenvironment of HCC promotes the development of chemoresistance in HCC cells.
doi:10.1186/2045-3701-4-22
PMCID: PMC4036298  PMID: 24872873
Mesenchymal stem cells; Inflammation; Autophagy; Hepatocellular carcinoma
21.  Haloarchaeal-Type β-Ketothiolases Involved in Poly(3-Hydroxybutyrate-co-3-Hydroxyvalerate) Synthesis in Haloferax mediterranei 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(17):5104-5111.
The key enzymes for poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) biosynthesis in haloarchaea have been identified except the β-ketothiolase(s), which condense two acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) molecules to acetoacetyl-CoA, or one acetyl-CoA and one propionyl-CoA to 3-ketovaleryl-CoA. Whole-genome analysis has revealed eight potential β-ketothiolase genes in the haloarchaeon Haloferax mediterranei, among which the PHBV-specific BktB and PhaA were identified by gene knockout and complementation analysis. Unlike all known bacterial counterparts encoded by a single gene, the haloarchaeal PhaA that was involved in acetoacetyl-CoA generation, was composed of two different types of subunits (PhaAα and PhaAβ) and encoded by the cotranscribed HFX_1023 (phaAα) and HFX_1022 (phaAβ) genes. Similarly, the BktB that was involved in generation of acetoacetyl-CoA and 3-ketovaleryl-CoA, was also composed of two different types of subunits (BktBα and BktBβ) and encoded by cotranscribed HFX_6004 (bktBα) and HFX_6003 (bktBβ). BktBα and PhaAα were the catalytic subunits and determined substrate specificities of BktB and PhaA, respectively. Their catalytic triad “Ser-His-His” was distinct from the bacterial “Cys-His-Cys.” BktBβ and PhaAβ both contained an oligosaccharide-binding fold domain, which was essential for the β-ketothiolase activity. Interestingly, BktBβ and PhaAβ were functionally interchangeable, although PhaAβ preferred functioning with PhaAα. In addition, BktB showed biotechnological potential for the production of PHBV with the desired 3-hydroxyvalerate fraction in haloarchaea. This is the first report of the haloarchaeal type of PHBV-specific β-ketothiolases, which are distinct from their bacterial counterparts in both subunit composition and catalytic residues.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01370-13
PMCID: PMC3753943  PMID: 23793631
22.  1H-Nuclear magnetic resonance-based metabolomic analysis of brain in mice with nicotine treatment 
BMC Neuroscience  2014;15:32.
Background
Nicotine is rapidly absorbed from cigarette smoke and therefore induces a number of chronic illnesses with the widespread use of tobacco products. Studies have shown a few cerebral metabolites modified by nicotine; however, endogenous metabolic profiling in brain has not been well explored.
Results
H NMR-based on metabonomics was applied to investigate the endogenous metabolic profiling of brain hippocampus, nucleus acumens (NAc), prefrontal cortex (PFC) and striatum. We found that nicotine significantly increased CPP in mice, and some specific cerebral metabolites differentially changed in nicotine-treated mice. These modified metabolites included glutamate, acetylcholine, tryptamine, glucose, lactate, creatine, 3-hydroxybutyrate and nicotinamide-adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which was closely associated with neurotransmitter and energy source. Additionally, glutathione and taurine in hippocampus and striatum, phosphocholine in PFC and glycerol in NAc were significantly modified by nicotine, implying the dysregulation of anti-oxidative stress response and membrane metabolism.
Conclusions
Nicotine induces significant metabonomic alterations in brain, which are involved in neurotransmitter disturbance, energy metabolism dysregulation, anti-oxidation and membrane function disruptions, as well as amino acid metabolism imbalance. These findings provide a new insight into rewarding effects of nicotine and the underlying mechanism.
doi:10.1186/1471-2202-15-32
PMCID: PMC3936859  PMID: 24558969
Metabolomics; Nicotine; Metabolite; NMR; Place preference
23.  Mechanisms of Metabonomic for a Gateway Drug: Nicotine Priming Enhances Behavioral Response to Cocaine with Modification in Energy Metabolism and Neurotransmitter Level 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87040.
Nicotine, one of the most commonly used drugs, has become a major concern because tobacco serves as a gateway drug and is linked to illicit drug abuse, such as cocaine and marijuana. However, previous studies mainly focused on certain genes or neurotransmitters which have already been known to participate in drug addiction, lacking endogenous metabolic profiling in a global view. To further explore the mechanism by which nicotine modifies the response to cocaine, we developed two conditioned place preference (CPP) models in mice. In threshold dose model, mice were pretreated with nicotine, followed by cocaine treatment at the dose of 2 mg/kg, a threshold dose of cocaine to induce CPP in mice. In high-dose model, mice were only treated with 20 mg/kg cocaine, which induced a significant CPP. 1H nuclear magnetic resonance based on metabonomics was used to investigate metabolic profiles of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and striatum. We found that nicotine pretreatment dramatically increased CPP induced by 2 mg/kg cocaine, which was similar to 20 mg/kg cocaine-induced CPP. Interestingly, metabolic profiles showed considerable overlap between these two models. These overlapped metabolites mainly included neurotransmitters as well as the molecules participating in energy homeostasis and cellular metabolism. Our results show that the reinforcing effect of nicotine on behavioral response to cocaine may attribute to the modification of some specific metabolites in NAc and striatum, thus creating a favorable metabolic environment for enhancing conditioned rewarding effect of cocaine. Our findings provide an insight into the effect of cigarette smoking on cocaine dependence and the underlying mechanism.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087040
PMCID: PMC3904956  PMID: 24489831
24.  Inhibition of the K+ Channel KCa3.1 Reduces TGF-β1-Induced Premature Senescence, Myofibroblast Phenotype Transition and Proliferation of Mesangial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87410.
Objective
KCa3.1 channel participates in many important cellular functions. This study planned to investigate the potential involvement of KCa3.1 channel in premature senescence, myofibroblast phenotype transition and proliferation of mesangial cells.
Methods & Materials
Rat mesangial cells were cultured together with TGF-β1 (2 ng/ml) and TGF-β1 (2 ng/ml) + TRAM-34 (16 nM) separately for specified times from 0 min to 60 min. The cells without treatment served as controls. The location of KCa3.1 channels in mesangial cells was determined with Confocal laser microscope, the cell cycle of mesangial cells was assessed with flow cytometry, the protein and mRNA expression of KCa3.1, α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) and fibroblast-specific protein-1 (FSP-1) were detected with Western blot and RT-PCR. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Student-Newman-Keuls-q test (SNK-q) were used to do statistical analysis. Statistical significance was considered at P<0.05.
Results
Kca3.1 channels were located in the cell membranes and/or in the cytoplasm of mesangial cells. The percentage of cells in G0-G1 phase and the expression of Kca3.1, α-SMA and FSP-1 were elevated under the induction of TGF-β1 when compared to the control and decreased under the induction of TGF-β1+TRAM-34 when compared to the TGF-β1 induced (P<0.05 or P<0.01).
Conclusion
Targeted disruption of KCa3.1 inhibits TGF-β1-induced premature aging, myofibroblast-like phenotype transdifferentiation and proliferation of mesangial cells.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087410
PMCID: PMC3905019  PMID: 24489911
25.  Small Ribosomal Protein Subunit S7 Suppresses Ovarian Tumorigenesis through Regulation of the PI3K/AKT and MAPK Pathways 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79117.
Small ribosomal protein subunit S7 (RPS7) has been reported to be associated with various malignancies, but the role of RPS7 in ovarian cancer remains unclear. In this study, we found that silencing of RPS7 by a specific shRNA promoted ovarian cancer cell proliferation, accelerated cell cycle progression, and slightly reduced cell apoptosis and response to cisplatin treatment. Knockdown of RPS7 resulted in increased expression of P85α, P110α, and AKT2. Although the basal levels of ERK1/2, MEK1/2, and P38 were inconsistently altered in ovarian cancer cells, the phosphorylated forms of MEK1/2 (Ser217/221), ERK1/2 (Thr202/Tyr204), JNK1/2 (Thr183/Tyr185), and P38 (Thr180/Tyr182) were consistently reduced after RPS7 was silenced. Both the in vitro anchorage-independent colony formation and in vivo animal tumor formation capability of cells were enhanced after RPS7 was depleted. We also showed that silencing of RPS7 enhanced ovarian cancer cell migration and invasion. In sum, our results suggest that RPS7 suppresses ovarian tumorigenesis and metastasis through PI3K/AKT and MAPK signal pathways. Thus, RPS7 may be used as a potential marker for diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079117
PMCID: PMC3823983  PMID: 24244431

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