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1.  Intercellular Coupling Confers Robustness against Mutations in the SCN Circadian Clock Network 
Cell  2007;129(3):605-616.
Molecular mechanisms of the mammalian circadian clock have been studied primarily by genetic perturbation and behavioral analysis. Here, we used bioluminescence imaging to monitor Per2 gene expression in tissues and cells from clock mutant mice. We discovered that Per1 and Cry1 are required for sustained rhythms in peripheral tissues and cells, and in neurons dissociated from the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN). Per2 is also required for sustained rhythms, whereas Cry2 and Per3 deficiencies cause only period length defects. However, oscillator network interactions in the SCN can compensate for Per1 or Cry1 deficiency, preserving sustained rhythmicity in mutant SCN slices and behavior. Thus, behavior does not necessarily reflect cell-autonomous clock phenotypes. Our studies reveal previously unappreciated requirements for Per1, Per2, and Cry1 in sustaining cellular circadian rhythmicity and demonstrate that SCN intercellular coupling is essential not only to synchronize component cellular oscillators but also for robustness against genetic perturbations.
PMCID: PMC3749832  PMID: 17482552
2.  Dedifferentiation of Neurons and Astrocytes by Oncogenes Can Induce Gliomas in Mice 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2012;338(6110):1080-1084.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and aggressive malignant primary brain tumor in humans. Here, we show that gliomas can originate from differentiated cells in the central nervous system (CNS), including cortical neurons. Transduction by oncogenic lentiviral vectors of neural stem cells (NSCs), astrocytes, or even mature neurons in the brain of mice can give rise to malignant gliomas. All the tumors, irrespective of the site of injection (initiating population), share common features of high expression of stem or progenitor markers and low expression of differentiation markers. Microarray analysis revealed that tumors of astrocytic and neuronal origin match the mesenchymal GBM subtype. We propose that most differentiated cells in the CNS upon defined genetic alterations undergo dedifferentiation to generate a NSC or progenitor state to initiate and maintain the tumor progression, as well as to give rise to the heterogeneous populations observed in malignant gliomas.
PMCID: PMC3595315  PMID: 23087000
3.  ES cell potency fluctuates with endogenous retrovirus activity 
Nature  2012;487(7405):57-63.
Embryonic stem (ES) cells are derived from blastocyst stage embryos and are believed to be functionally equivalent to the inner cell mass, which lacks the ability to produce all extraembryonic tissues. Here we report the identification of a rare transient cell population within mouse ES and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell cultures that express high levels of transcripts found in two-cell (2C) embryos in which the blastomeres are totipotent. We genetically tagged these 2C-like ES cells and show that they lack the ICM pluripotency proteins Oct4, Sox2, and Nanog and have acquired the ability to contribute to both embryonic and extraembryonic tissues. We show that nearly all ES cells cycle in and out of this privileged state, which we find is partially controlled by histone modifying enzymes. Transcriptome sequencing and bioinformatic analyses revealed that a significant number of 2C-transcripts are initiated from long terminal repeats derived from murine endogenous retroviruses, suggesting this foreign sequence has helped to drive cell fate regulation in placental mammals.
PMCID: PMC3395470  PMID: 22722858
4.  Phenothiazine Neuroleptics Signal to the Human Insulin Promoter as Revealed by a Novel High-Throughput Screen 
Journal of Biomolecular Screening  2010;15(6):663-670.
A number of diabetogenic stimuli interact to influence insulin promoter activity, making it an attractive target for both mechanistic studies and therapeutic interventions. High-throughput screening (HTS) for insulin promoter modulators has the potential to reveal novel inputs into the control of that central element of the pancreatic β-cell. A cell line from human islets in which the expression of insulin and other β-cell-restricted genes are modulated by an inducible form of the bHLH transcription factor E47 was developed. This cell line, T6PNE, was adapted for HTS by transduction with a vector expressing green fluorescent protein under the control of the human insulin promoter. The resulting cell line was screened against a library of known drugs for those that increase insulin promoter activity. Members of the phenothiazine class of neuroleptics increased insulin gene expression upon short-term exposure. Chronic treatment, however, resulted in suppression of insulin promoter activity, consistent with the effect of phenothiazines observed clinically to induce diabetes in chronically treated patients. In addition to providing insights into previously unrecognized targets and mechanisms of action of phenothiazines, the novel cell line described here provides a broadly applicable platform for mining new molecular drug targets and central regulators of β-cell differentiated function.
PMCID: PMC3374493  PMID: 20547533
diabetes; chlorpromazine; ethopropazine
5.  Human Xeno-autoantibodies Against a Non-human Sialic acid Serve As Novel Serum Biomarkers and Immunotherapeutics in Cancer 
Cancer research  2011;71(9):3352-3363.
Human carcinomas can metabolically incorporate and present the dietary non-human sialic acid Neu5Gc, which differs from the human sialic acid N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac) by one oxygen atom. Tumor-associated Neu5Gc can interact with low levels of circulating anti-Neu5Gc antibodies, thereby facilitating tumor progression via chronic inflammation in a human-like Neu5Gc-deficient mouse model. Here we show that human anti-Neu5Gc antibodies can be affinity-purified in substantial amounts from clinically-approved intravenous IgG (IVIG) and used at higher concentrations to suppress growth of the same Neu5Gc-expressing tumors. Hypothesizing that this polyclonal spectrum of human anti-Neu5Gc antibodies also includes potential cancer biomarkers, we then characterize them in cancer and non-cancer patients’ sera, using a novel sialoglycan-microarray presenting multiple Neu5Gc-glycans and control Neu5Ac-glycans. Antibodies against Neu5Gcα2–6GalNAcα1-O-Ser/Thr (GcSTn) were found to be more prominent in patients with carcinomas than with other diseases. This unusual epitope arises from dietary Neu5Gc incorporation into the carcinoma marker Sialyl-Tn, and is the first example of such a novel mechanism for biomarker generation. Finally, human serum or purified antibodies rich in anti-GcSTn-reactivity kill GcSTn-expressing human tumors via complement-dependent-cytotoxicity or antibody-dependent-cellular-cytotoxicity. Such xeno-autoantibodies and xenoautoantigens have potential for novel diagnostics, prognostics and therapeutics in human carcinomas.
PMCID: PMC3085609  PMID: 21505105
Antibodies; Biomarkers; Cancer; Neu5Gc; Sialic acids
6.  Transforming a Pair of Orthogonal tRNA-aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetase from Archaea to Function in Mammalian Cells 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11263.
A previously engineered Methanocaldococcus jannaschii –tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase pair orthogonal to Escherichia coli was modified to become orthogonal in mammalian cells. The resulting -tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase pair was able to suppress an amber codon in the green fluorescent protein, GFP, and in a foldon protein in mammalian cells. The methodology reported here will allow rapid transformation of the much larger collection of existing tyrosyl-tRNA synthetases that were already evolved for the incorporation of an array of over 50 unnatural amino acids into proteins in Escherichia coli into proteins in mammalian cells. Thus we will be able to introduce a large array of possibilities for protein modifications in mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC2889833  PMID: 20582317
7.  Applications of Lentiviral Vectors for shRNA Delivery and Transgenesis 
Current gene therapy  2008;8(6):483-488.
Lentiviral vectors are potent gene delivery vehicles that enable stable expression of transgenes in both dividing and post-mitotic cells. Development of lentiviral vectors expressing small hairpin RNAs generates a system that can be used to down regulate specific target genes in vivo and in vitro. In this review, we will discuss two examples of in vivo applications for the use of lentiviral vectors expressing shRNAs: Gene therapy of neurological disorders and generation of transgenic knockdown animals.
PMCID: PMC2774780  PMID: 19075631
8.  Use of Amplicon-6 Vectors Derived from Human Herpesvirus 6 for Efficient Expression of Membrane-Associated and -Secreted Proteins in T Cells 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(9):4730-4743.
The composite amplicon-6 vectors, which are derived from human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), can target hematopoietic cells. In the presence of the respective helper viruses, the amplicons are replicated by the rolling circle mechanism, yielding defective genomes of overall size 135 to 150 kb, composed of multiple repeats of units, containing the viral DNA replication origin, packaging signals, and the selected transgene(s). We report the use of amplicon-6 vectors designed for transgene expression in T cells. The selected transgenes included the green fluorescent protein marker, the herpes simplex virus type 1 glycoprotein D (gD), and the gD gene deleted in the transmembrane region (gDsec). The vectors were tested after electroporation and passage in T cells with or without helper HHV-6A superinfections. The results were as follows. (i)The vectors could be passaged both as cell-associated and as cell-free secreted virions infectious to new cells. (ii)The intact gD accumulated at the cell surface, whereas the gDsec was dispersed at internal locations of the cells or was secreted into the medium. (iii)Analyses of amplicon-6-gD expression by flow cytometry have shown significant expression in cultures with reiterated amplicons and helper viruses. The vector has spread to >60% of the cells, and the efficiency of expression per cell increased 15-fold, most likely due to the presence of concatemeric amplicon repeats. Current studies are designed to test whether amplicon-6 vectors can be used for gene therapy in lymphocytes and whether amplicon-6 vectors expressed in T cells and dendritic cells can induce strong cellular and humoral immune responses.
PMCID: PMC387683  PMID: 15078955
9.  Tamplicon-7, a Novel T-Lymphotropic Vector Derived from Human Herpesvirus 7 
Journal of Virology  1999;73(8):7001-7007.
We describe the derivation of a novel T-cell-defective virus vector employing the human herpesvirus 7 (HHV-7). The new vector, designated Tamplicon-7, replicates in CD4+ T cells. The system is composed of a helper virus and defective virus genomes derived by the replication of the input Tamplicon vector. There are two cis-acting functions required for the replication and packaging of the defective virus genomes in the presence of the helper virus: the viral DNA replication origin and the composite cleavage and packaging signal, which directs the cleavage and packaging of defective virus genomes. Viral DNA replication is compatible with the rolling circle mechanism, producing large head-to-tail concatemers of the Tamplicon vector. Thus, in the presence of the helper virus, the replicated vectors are packaged and secreted into the medium. Furthermore, we have shown that the vector can be employed to express a foreign gene, encoding the green fluorescent protein, in the T cells infected with the HHV-7 helper virus. We predict that the Tamplicon-7 vector might be potentially useful for gene therapy of diseases affecting the human CD4+ T cells, including autoimmune diseases, T-cell lymphomas, and AIDS.
PMCID: PMC112786  PMID: 10400799

Results 1-9 (9)