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1.  Hypoxia-Response Element (HRE)–Directed Transcriptional Regulation of the Rat Lysyl Oxidase Gene in Response to Cobalt and Cadmium 
Toxicological Sciences  2012;132(2):379-389.
Lysyl oxidase (LO) catalyzes crosslink of collagen, elastin, and histone H1, stabilizing the extracellular matrix and cell nucleus. This enzyme displays dual functions for tumorigenesis, i.e., as a tumor suppressor inactivating the ras oncogene and as a tumor promoter enhancing malignant cell metastasis. To elucidate LO transcriptional regulation, we have cloned the 804 base pair region upstream of the translation start site (ATG) of the rat LO gene with the maximal promoter activity. Computer analysis indicated that at least four hypoxia-response element (HRE) consensuses (5′-ACGTG-3′) exist in the cloned LO promoter. Treatment of rat lung fibroblasts (RFL6) with CoCl2 (Co, 10–100 μM), a chemical hypoxia reagent, enhanced LO mRNA expression and promoter activities. Overexpression of LO was associated with upregulation of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α at mRNA levels in cobalt (Co)–treated cells. Thus, LO is a hypoxia-responsive gene. Dominant negative-HIF-1α inhibited LO promoter activities stimulated by Co. Electrophoretic mobility shift, oligonucleotide competition, and in vitro translated HIF-1α binding assays indicated that only one HRE mapped at −387/−383 relative to ATG was functionally active among four consensuses. Site-directed mutation of this HRE significantly diminished the Co-induced and LO promoter-directed expression of the reporter gene. Cadmium (Cd), an inducer of reactive oxygen species, inhibited HIF-1α mRNA expression and HIF-1α binding to the LO gene in Co-treated cells as revealed by RT-PCR and ChIP assays, respectively. Thus, modulation of the HRE activity by Co and Cd plays a critical role in LO gene transactivation.
PMCID: PMC3595521  PMID: 23161664
lysyl oxidase; cobalt; cadmium; hypoxia; hypoxia-response element; hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α.
2.  Activation of lysosomal function in the course of autophagy via mTORC1 suppression and autophagosome-lysosome fusion 
Cell Research  2013;23(4):508-523.
Lysosome is a key subcellular organelle in the execution of the autophagic process and at present little is known whether lysosomal function is controlled in the process of autophagy. In this study, we first found that suppression of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) activity by starvation or two mTOR catalytic inhibitors (PP242 and Torin1), but not by an allosteric inhibitor (rapamycin), leads to activation of lysosomal function. Second, we provided evidence that activation of lysosomal function is associated with the suppression of mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1), but not mTORC2, and the mTORC1 localization to lysosomes is not directly correlated to its regulatory role in lysosomal function. Third, we examined the involvement of transcription factor EB (TFEB) and demonstrated that TFEB activation following mTORC1 suppression is necessary but not sufficient for lysosomal activation. Finally, Atg5 or Atg7 deletion or blockage of the autophagosome-lysosome fusion process effectively diminished lysosomal activation, suggesting that lysosomal activation occurring in the course of autophagy is dependent on autophagosome-lysosome fusion. Taken together, this study demonstrates that in the course of autophagy, lysosomal function is upregulated via a dual mechanism involving mTORC1 suppression and autophagosome-lysosome fusion.
PMCID: PMC3616426  PMID: 23337583
autophagy; lysosome; mTORC1; autophagosome
3.  Polarized Raman study on phase transitions in 0.24Pb(In1/2Nb1/2)O3–0.43Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3–0.33PbTiO3 single crystal 
Polarized Raman spectroscopy was performed to investigate the local lattice structure and phase transitions of unpoled 0.24Pb(In1/2Nb1/2)O3–0.43Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3–0.33PbTiO3 (0.24PIN–0.43PMN–0.33PT) single crystal in the temperature range from 30 °C to 260 °C. MA- and MC-type monoclinic phases were detected by micro-Raman spectra measured in different micro areas. Temperature dependence of Raman intensities, frequency shifts, mode merge and intensity ratios in the VV and VH geometries were investigated. Our results indicated that the monoclinic–tetragonal (M–T) phase transition of the ternary relaxorbased ferroelectric single crystal 0.24PIN–0.43PMN–0.33PT occurs at 85 °C, which is verified by the mode merging from 520 cm−1 and 580 cm−1 to 500 cm−1, and the tetragonal–cubic (T–C) phase transition happens at 200 °C based on the vanishing mode at 780 cm−1 measured in the VH polarization.
PMCID: PMC3947392  PMID: 24619338
PIN–PMN–PT; Micro-Raman; Phase transitions
4.  Detailed investigation of Na2.24FePO4CO3 as a cathode material for Na-ion batteries 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4188.
Na-ion batteries are gaining an increased recognition as the next generation low cost energy storage devices. Here, we present a characterization of Na3FePO4CO3 nanoplates as a novel cathode material for sodium ion batteries. First-principles calculations reveal that there are two paths for Na ion migration along b and c axis. In-situ and ex-situ Fe K-edge X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) point out that in Na3FePO4CO3 both Fe2+/Fe3+ and Fe3+/Fe4+ redox couples are electrochemically active, suggesting also the existence of a two-electron intercalation reaction. Ex-situ X-ray powder diffraction data demonstrates that the crystalline structure of Na3FePO4CO3 remains stable during the charging/discharging process within the range 2.0–4.55 V.
PMCID: PMC3942702  PMID: 24595232
5.  Is there a role of TNFR1 in acute lung injury cases associated with extracorporeal circulation?*  
The signaling pathway for tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and its receptors is up-regulated during extracorporeal circulation (ECC), and recruits blood neutrophil into the lung tissue, which results in acute lung injury (ALI). In this study, we evaluated the role of tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 (TNFR1) in ECC-induced ALI by blocking TNF-α binding to TNFR1 with CAY10500. Anesthetized Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were pretreated intravenously with phosphate buffered saline (PBS) or vehicle (0.3 ml ethanol IV) or CAY10500, and then underwent ECC for 2 h. The oxygenation index (OI) and pulmonary inflammation were assessed after ECC. OI was significantly decreased, while TNF-α and neutrophil in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and plasma TNF-α increased after ECC. Pretreatment of CAY10500 decreased plasma TNF-α level, but did not decrease TNF-α levels and neutrophil counts in BALF or improve OI. Lung histopathology showed significant alveolar congestion, infiltration of the leukocytes in the airspace, and increased thickness of the alveolar wall in all ECC-treated groups. CAY10500 pretreatment slightly reduced leukocyte infiltration in lungs, but did not change the wet/dry ratio in the lung tissue. Blocking TNF-α binding to TNFR1 by CAY10500 intravenously slightly mitigates pulmonary inflammation, but cannot improve the pulmonary function, indicating the limited role of TNFR1 pathway in circulating inflammatory cell in ECC-induced ALI.
PMCID: PMC3955915  PMID: 24599692
Extracorporeal circulation (ECC); Acute lung injury (ALI); Tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 (TNFR1); Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)
6.  Effect of Methamphetamine on the Microglial Damage: Role of Potassium Channel Kv1.3 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88642.
Methamphetamine (Meth) abusing represents a major public health problem worldwide. Meth has long been known to induce neurotoxicity. However, the mechanism is still remained poorly understood. Growing evidences indicated that the voltage-gated potassium channels (Kv) were participated in neuronal damage and microglia function. With the whole cell patch clamp, we found that Meth significantly increased the outward K+ currents, therefore, we explored whether Kv1.3, one of the major K+ channels expressed in microglia, was involved in Meth-induced microglia damage. Our study showed that Meth significantly increased the cell viability in a dose dependent manner, while the Kv blocker, tetraethylamine (TEA), 4-Aminopyridine (4-AP) and Kv1.3 specific antagonist margatoxin (MgTx), prevented against the damage mediated by Meth. Interestingly, treatment of cells with Meth resulted in increasing expression of Kv1.3 rather than Kv1.5, at both mRNA and protein level, which is partially blocked by MgTx. Furthermore, Meth also stimulated a significant increased expression of IL-6 and TNF-α at protein level, which was significantly inhibited by MgTx. Taken together, these results demonstrated that Kv1.3 was involved in Meth-mediated microglial damage, providing the potential target for the development of therapeutic strategies for Meth abuse.
PMCID: PMC3922974  PMID: 24533129
7.  Pharmacological Inhibition of mTORC1 Suppresses Anatomical, Cellular, and Behavioral Abnormalities in Neural-Specific Pten Knock-Out Mice 
PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome ten) is a lipid phosphatase that counteracts the function of phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K). Loss of function of PTEN results in constitutive activation of AKT and downstream effectors and correlates with many human cancers, as well as various brain disorders, including macrocephaly, seizures, Lhermitte–Duclos disease, and autism. We previously generated a conditional Pten knock-out mouse line with Pten loss in limited postmitotic neurons in the cortex and hippocampus. Pten-null neurons developed neuronal hypertrophy and loss of neuronal polarity. The mutant mice exhibited macrocephaly and behavioral abnormalities reminiscent of certain features of human autism. Here, we report that rapamycin, a specific inhibitor of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), can prevent and reverse neuronal hypertrophy, resulting in the amelioration of a subset of PTEN-associated abnormal behaviors, providing evidence that the mTORC1 pathway downstream of PTEN is critical for this complex phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3904448  PMID: 19211884
PTEN; tuberous sclerosis complex; autism; macrocephaly; neuronal hypertrophy; neuronal polarity
8.  Pten Regulates Neuronal Arborization and Social Interaction in Mice 
Neuron  2006;50(3):377-388.
CNS deletion of Pten in the mouse has revealed its roles in controlling cell size and number, thus providing compelling etiology for macrocephaly and Lhermitte-Duclos disease. PTEN mutations in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have also been reported, although a causal link between PTEN and ASD remains unclear. In the present study, we deleted Pten in limited differentiated neuronal populations in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus of mice. Resulting mutant mice showed abnormal social interaction and exaggerated responses to sensory stimuli. We observed macrocephaly and neuronal hypertrophy, including hypertrophic and ectopic dendrites and axonal tracts with increased synapses. This abnormal morphology was associated with activation of the Akt/mTor/S6k pathway and inactivation of Gsk3β. Thus, our data suggest that abnormal activation of the PI3K/AKT pathway in specific neuronal populations can underlie macrocephaly and behavioral abnormalities reminiscent of certain features of human ASD.
PMCID: PMC3902853  PMID: 16675393
9.  Association of Toll-like receptor 2 polymorphisms with gout 
Biomedical Reports  2014;2(2):292-296.
Gout is the most common autoinflammatory arthritis characterized by elevated serum urate and recurrent attacks of intra-articular crystal deposition of monosodium urate (MSU) in tissues. The pathogenesis of gout has not been fully determined, although certain genetic factors are involved in the development of gout. Accumulated data suggested that MSU crystal-induced inflammation is a paradigm of innate immunity. As Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are the underlying mechanisms of the innate immune response, the present study aimed to investigate whether TLR2 polymorphisms are associated with gout. Two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (Arg677Trp and Arg753Gln, rs5743708) in TLR2 were genotyped by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism and the −196 to −174 del polymorphism was investigated using the allele-specific polymerase chain reaction in 431 individuals (215 patients with gout and 216 healthy controls). TLR2 Arg677Trp and Arg753Gln genotyping indicated that all the positive samples were of the wild-type genotype. No significant differences in genotype (χ2=1.686, P=0.430) and allele (χ2=1.430, P=0.232) frequencies of the −196 to −174 del polymorphism between the patients with gout and the control groups was observed. Our results suggested that the TLR2 Arg677Trp, Arg753Gln and the −196 to −174 del polymorphisms were not associated with susceptibility to primary gouty arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3917755  PMID: 24649113
arthritis; Toll-like receptor 2; polymorphism; gout
10.  Transition from a spectrum filter to a polarizer in a metallic nano-slit array 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:3614.
The transition from a spectrum filter (resonant transmission) to a polarizer (broadband transmission) for TM polarized light is observed in a metallic nano-slit array as period is decreased. A theoretical model is developed and shows that the spectrum filter behavior is caused by the coupled slit/grating resonance. With decreasing period, the slit resonance is decoupled from the grating resonance, which then dominates the transmission spectrum and broadens the transmission peak. With further reducing period, the slit resonance diminishes and the peak spectrum transforms to a broadband transmission. This effect is the basis for the operation of wire grid polarizers. The transition is explained by the change of the impedance to the incoming wave.
PMCID: PMC3885878  PMID: 24402443
11.  Tgfbr2 disruption in postnatal smooth muscle impairs aortic wall homeostasis  
TGF-β is essential for vascular development; however, excess TGF-β signaling promotes thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection in multiple disorders, including Marfan syndrome. Since the pathology of TGF-β overactivity manifests primarily within the arterial media, it is widely assumed that suppression of TGF-β signaling in vascular smooth muscle cells will ameliorate aortic disease. We tested this hypothesis by conditional inactivation of Tgfbr2, which encodes the TGF-β type II receptor, in smooth muscle cells of postweanling mice. Surprisingly, the thoracic aorta rapidly thickened, dilated, and dissected in these animals. Tgfbr2 disruption predictably decreased canonical Smad signaling, but unexpectedly increased MAPK signaling. Type II receptor–independent effects of TGF-β and pathological responses by nonrecombined smooth muscle cells were excluded by serologic neutralization. Aortic disease was caused by a perturbed contractile apparatus in medial cells and growth factor production by adventitial cells, both of which resulted in maladaptive paracrine interactions between the vessel wall compartments. Treatment with rapamycin restored a quiescent smooth muscle phenotype and prevented dissection. Tgfbr2 disruption in smooth muscle cells also accelerated aneurysm growth in a murine model of Marfan syndrome. Our data indicate that basal TGF-β signaling in smooth muscle promotes postnatal aortic wall homeostasis and impedes disease progression.
PMCID: PMC3904608  PMID: 24401272
12.  Sniffing Out Chemosensory Genes from the Mediterranean Fruit Fly, Ceratitis capitata 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85523.
The Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata (medfly), is an extremely invasive agricultural pest due to its extremely wide host range and its ability to adapt to a broad range of climatic conditions and habitats. Chemosensory behaviour plays an important role in many crucial stages in the life of this insect, such as the detection of pheromone cues during mate pursuit and odorants during host plant localisation. Thus, the analysis of the chemosensory gene repertoire is an important step for the interpretation of the biology of this species and consequently its invasive potential. Moreover, these genes may represent ideal targets for the development of novel, effective control methods and pest population monitoring systems. Expressed sequence tag libraries from C. capitata adult heads, embryos, male accessory glands and testes were screened for sequences encoding putative odorant binding proteins (OBPs). A total of seventeen putative OBP transcripts were identified, corresponding to 13 Classic, three Minus-C and one Plus-C subfamily OBPs. The tissue distributions of the OBP transcripts were assessed by RT-PCR and a subset of five genes with predicted proteins sharing high sequence similarities and close phylogenetic affinities to Drosophila melanogaster pheromone binding protein related proteins (PBPRPs) were characterised in greater detail. Real Time quantitative PCR was used to assess the effects of maturation, mating and time of day on the transcript abundances of the putative PBPRP genes in the principal olfactory organs, the antennae, in males and females. The results of the present study have facilitated the annotation of OBP genes in the recently released medfly genome sequence and represent a significant contribution to the characterisation of the medfly chemosensory repertoire. The identification of these medfly OBPs/PBPRPs permitted evolutionary and functional comparisons with homologous sequences from other tephritids of the genera Bactrocera and Rhagoletis.
PMCID: PMC3885724  PMID: 24416419
13.  Electrochemical Investigation of a Microbial Solar Cell Reveals a Nonphotosynthetic Biocathode Catalyst 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(13):3933-3942.
Microbial solar cells (MSCs) are microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that generate their own oxidant and/or fuel through photosynthetic reactions. Here, we present electrochemical analyses and biofilm 16S rRNA gene profiling of biocathodes of sediment/seawater-based MSCs inoculated from the biocathode of a previously described sediment/seawater-based MSC. Electrochemical analyses indicate that for these second-generation MSC biocathodes, catalytic activity diminishes over time if illumination is provided during growth, whereas it remains relatively stable if growth occurs in the dark. For both illuminated and dark MSC biocathodes, cyclic voltammetry reveals a catalytic-current–potential dependency consistent with heterogeneous electron transfer mediated by an insoluble microbial redox cofactor, which was conserved following enrichment of the dark MSC biocathode using a three-electrode configuration. 16S rRNA gene profiling showed Gammaproteobacteria, most closely related to Marinobacter spp., predominated in the enriched biocathode. The enriched biocathode biofilm is easily cultured on graphite cathodes, forms a multimicrobe-thick biofilm (up to 8.2 μm), and does not lose catalytic activity after exchanges of the reactor medium. Moreover, the consortium can be grown on cathodes with only inorganic carbon provided as the carbon source, which may be exploited for proposed bioelectrochemical systems for electrosynthesis of organic carbon from carbon dioxide. These results support a scheme where two distinct communities of organisms develop within MSC biocathodes: one that is photosynthetically active and one that catalyzes reduction of O2 by the cathode, where the former partially inhibits the latter. The relationship between the two communities must be further explored to fully realize the potential for MSC applications.
PMCID: PMC3697567  PMID: 23603672
14.  Long-Term Leukocyte Filtration Should Be Avoided during Extracorporeal Circulation 
Mediators of Inflammation  2013;2013:612848.
Filtration during extracorporeal circulation (ECC) not only removes but also activates leukocytes; therefore, long-term leukocyte filtration may cause adverse effects. In the present study, we tested this hypothesis by priming ECC with 300 mL of canine blood and examining filtration effects in 3 groups (n = 6 each) during 60 min ECC. In the control group (Group C) blood was filtrated with an arterial filter for 60 min; in long-term (Group L) and short-term (Group S) groups, blood was filtrated with a leukocyte filter for 60 and 5 min. We found that about 90% of leukocytes were removed after 5 min of filtration in both Groups L and S. Although leukocyte count continued to reduce, mean fluorescent intensities of CD11/CD18, free hemoglobin, and neutrophil elastase increased in Group L and were higher than those in Groups C and S at 60 min. Leukocyte rupture, cytoplasmic leakage, and circulating naked nuclei were also found in Group L. The data support our hypothesis that long-term filtration can induce inflammation and lead to leukocyte destruction.
PMCID: PMC3888746  PMID: 24453424
15.  Triterpene-loaded microemulsion using Coix lacryma-jobi seed extract as oil phase for enhanced antitumor efficacy: preparation and in vivo evaluation 
Ganoderma lucidum triterpene-loaded microemulsions (TMEs) using Coix lacryma-jobi (adlay) seed oil as oil phase were prepared, characterized, and evaluated for enhanced antitumor activity. Ternary phase diagrams for the TMEs were constructed and the optimal preparation was developed. Transmission electron microscopy and dynamic light scattering showed that this formulation had a well defined spherical shape, a homogeneous distribution, a small size, and a narrow polydispersity index. The drug-loading rate was determined to be 9.87% by ultraviolet spectrophotometry, and acceptable stability under various stimulations in vitro was confirmed. Importantly, the TME formulation showed a significantly greater antiproliferative effect towards human lung carcinoma (A549) cells and murine lung tumor (Lewis) cells in comparison with suspension formulations containing triterpene and adlay seed oil as a positive control. The half-maximal inhibitory concentration of the TMEs was about 0.62 mg crude drug per mL, being 2.5-fold improved relative to that of the corresponding suspension formulation, but no significant cytotoxicity was observed for the bare microemulsion in A549 cells and Lewis cells. In vivo, the TME formulation showed markedly enhanced antitumor efficacy in a xenograft model of Lewis lung cancer after intragastric administration. Compared with cyclophosphamide, the TME formulation showed similar antitumor activity but less general toxicity. These results indicate the feasibility of using a microemulsion to increase the solubility of triterpene and adlay. TMEs hold promise as an efficient drug delivery system for the treatment of lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3872217  PMID: 24379669
microemulsion; Ganoderma lucidum; triterpene; adlay seed oil; lung cancer
16.  Exploratory Pharmacokinetics of Geniposide in Rat Model of Cerebral Ischemia Orally Administered with or without Baicalin and/or Berberine 
Huang-Lian-Jie-Du-Tang (HLJDT), a classical Chinese prescription, has been clinically employed to treat cerebral ischemia for thousands of years. Geniposide is the major active ingredient in HLJDT. The aim is to investigate the comparative evaluations on pharmacokinetics of geniposide in MCAO rats in pure geniposide, geniposide : berberine, and geniposide : berberine : baicalin. Obviously, the proportions of geniposide : berberine, geniposide : baicalin, and geniposide : berberine : baicalin were determined according to HLJDT. In our study, the cerebral ischemia model was reproduced by suture method in rats. The MCAO rats were randomly assigned to four therapy groups and orally administered with different prescription proportions of pure geniposide, geniposide : berberine, geniposide : baicalin, and geniposide : berberine : baicalin, respectively. The concentrations of geniposide in rat serum were determined using HPLC, and main pharmacokinetic parameters were investigated. The results indicated that the pharmacokinetics of geniposide in rat serum was nonlinear and there were significant differences between different groups. Berberine might hardly affect the absorption of geniposide, and baicalin could increase the absorption ability of geniposide. Meanwhile, berberine could decrease the absorption increase of baicalin on geniposide.
PMCID: PMC3866786  PMID: 24367386
17.  Effect of PEG-PDLLA polymeric nanovesicles loaded with doxorubicin and hematoporphyrin monomethyl ether on human hepatocellular carcinoma HepG2 cells in vitro 
To evaluate the cytotoxicity of poly(ethylene glycol)-block-poly(D,L-lactic acid) (PEG-PDLLA) nanovesicles loaded with doxorubicin (DOX) and the photosensitizer hematoporphyrin monomethyl ether (HMME) on human hepatocellular carcinoma HepG2 cells and to investigate potential apoptotic mechanisms.
PEG-PDLLA nanovesicles were simultaneously loaded with DOX and HMME (PEG-PDLLA-DOX-HMME), and PEG-PDLLA nanovesicles were loaded with DOX (PEG-PDLLA-DOX), HMME (PEG-PDLLA-HMME), or the PEG-PDLLA nanovesicle alone as controls. The cytotoxicity of PEG-PDLLA-DOX-HMME, PEG-PDLLA-DOX, PEG-PDLLA-HMME, and PEG-PDLLA against HepG2 cells was measured, and the cellular reactive oxygen species, percentage of cells with mitochondrial membrane potential depolarization, and apoptotic rate following treatment were determined.
Four nanovesicles (PEG-PDLLA-DOX-HMME, PEG-PDLLA-DOX, PEG-PDLLA-HMME, and PEG-PDLLA) were synthesized, and mean particle sizes were 175±18 nm, 154±3 nm, 196±2 nm, and 147±15 nm, respectively. PEG-PDLLA-DOX-HMME was more cytotoxic than PEG-PDLLA-DOX, PEG-PDLLA-HMME, and PEG-PDLLA. PEG-PDLLA-HMME-treated cells had the highest mean fluorescence intensity, followed by PEG-PDLLA-DOX-HMME-treated cells, whereas PEG-PDLLA-DOX- and PEG-PDLLA-treated cells had a similar fluorescence intensity. Mitochondrial membrane potential depolarization was observed in 54.2%, 59.4%, 13.8%, and 14.8% of the cells treated with PEG-PDLLA-DOX-HMME, PEG-PDLLA-HMME, PEG-PDLLA-DOX, and PEG-PDLLA, respectively. The apoptotic rate was significantly higher in PEG-PDLLA-DOX-HMME-treated cells compared with PEG-PDLLA-DOX- and PEG-PDLLA-HMME-treated cells.
The PEG-PDLLA nanovesicle, a drug delivery carrier, can be simultaneously loaded with two anticancer drugs (hydrophilic DOX and hydrophobic HMME). PEG-PDLLA-DOX-HMME cytotoxicity to HepG2 cells is significantly higher than the PEG-PDLLA nanovesicle loaded with DOX or HMME alone, and DOX and HMME have a synergistic effect against human hepatocellular carcinoma HepG2 cells.
PMCID: PMC3854918  PMID: 24324333
polymeric vesicles; hematoporphyrin monomethyl ether; HMME; photodynamic therapy; PDT
18.  Microfluidic artificial “vessels” for dynamic mechanical stimulation of mesenchymal stem cells 
Cells in the cardiovascular system are constantly exposed to complex mechanical stimulation due to the pulsatile nature of blood flow and the haemodynamic forces that are key to the regulation of vascular development, remodeling and pathophysiology. Mechanical stretch can also modulate the differentiation of stem cells toward vascular cell lineages (i.e., vascular smooth muscle cells), and represent a critical factor in vascular tissue engineering. Here we report on the development of a microchip platform that can emulate several key aspects of the vascular mechanical environment, such as cyclic stimulation and circumferential strain. This chip consists of an array of microfluidic channels with widths ranging from 20 to 500 micrometers. These channels are covered by suspended deformable membranes, on which cells are cultured and stimulated by cyclic circumferential strain of up to 20% via hydrodynamic actuation of the fluid in the microfluidic channels, thereby mimicking the biomechanical conditions of small blood vessels. We show that human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can be cultured and continuously stimulated by cyclic stretch over a period of 7 days with no evidence of device fatigue or performance degradation. We observed localization and alignment of MSCs when mechanical stretch is larger than 10%, indicating the importance of mechanical stimulation in modulating cellular behavior. We further demonstrated simultaneous detection of proteins in multiple signaling pathways, including SMAD1/SMAD2 and canonical Wnt/β-catenin. This microchip represents a generic and versatile platform for high-throughput and rapid screening of cellular responses, including signal transduction cascades, in response to mechanical cues. The system emulates the physiological conditions of blood vessels and other tissues that are subject to cyclic strain, and may have a wide range of applications in the fields of stem cell mechanobiology, vascular tissue engineering, and other areas of regenerative medicine.
PMCID: PMC3628532  PMID: 23114826
19.  Trends in anemia management in US hemodialysis patients 2004–2010 
BMC Nephrology  2013;14:264.
There have been major changes in the management of anemia in US hemodialysis patients in recent years. We sought to determine the influence of clinical trial results, safety regulations, and changes in reimbursement policy on practice.
We examined indicators of anemia management among incident and prevalent hemodialysis patients from a medium-sized dialysis provider over three time periods: (1) 2004 to 2006 (2) 2007 to 2009, and (3) 2010. Trends across the three time periods were compared using generalized estimating equations.
Prior to 2007, the median proportion of patients with monthly hemoglobin >12 g/dL for patients on dialysis 0 to 3, 4 to 6 and 7 to 18 months, respectively, was 42%, 55% and 46% declined to 41%, 54%, and 40% after 2007, and declined more sharply in 2010 to 34%, 41%, and 30%. Median weekly Epoeitin alpha doses over the same periods were 18,000, 12,400, and 9,100 units before 2007; remained relatively unchanged from 2007 to 2009; and decreased sharply in the patients 3–6 and 6–18 months on dialysis to 10,200 and 7,800 units, respectively in 2010. Iron doses, serum ferritin, and transferrin saturation levels increased over time with more pronounced increases in 2010.
Modest changes in anemia management occurred between 2007 and 2009, followed by more dramatic changes in 2010. Studies are needed to examine the effects of declining erythropoietin use and hemoglobin levels and increasing intravenous iron use on quality of life, transplantation rates, infection rates and survival.
PMCID: PMC3866613  PMID: 24289058
Anemia; Erythropoietin stimulating agents; Hemodialysis
20.  MYB97, MYB101 and MYB120 Function as Male Factors That Control Pollen Tube-Synergid Interaction in Arabidopsis thaliana Fertilization 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(11):e1003933.
Pollen tube reception involves a pollen tube-synergid interaction that controls the discharge of sperm cells into the embryo sac during plant fertilization. Despite its importance in the sexual reproduction of plants, little is known about the role of gene regulation in this process. We report here that the pollen-expressed transcription factors MYB97, MYB101 and MYB120 probably control genes whose encoded proteins play important roles in Arabidopsis thaliana pollen tube reception. They share a high amino acid sequence identity and are expressed mainly in mature pollen grains and pollen tubes. None of the single or double mutants of these three genes exhibited any visible defective phenotype. Although the myb97 myb101 myb120 triple mutant was not defective in pollen development, pollen germination, pollen tube growth or tube guidance, the pollen tubes of the triple mutants exhibited uncontrolled growth and failed to discharge their sperm cells after entering the embryo sac. In addition, the myb97 myb101 myb120 triple mutation significantly affected the expression of a group of pollen-expressed genes in mature pollen grains. All these results indicate that MYB97, MYB101 and MYB120 participate in pollen tube reception, possibly by controlling the expression of downstream genes.
Author Summary
Pollen tube reception is an important step of fertilization and is controlled by interactions between the pollen tube and synergid. Components of both the pollen tube and synergid are believed to be involved in the process. Several proteins associated with this process have been identified in synergid cells. However, very little is known about the components contributed by the pollen tube. This work identified a group of Arabidopsis pollen-expressed MYB transcription factors, among which at least three members are involved in pollen tube reception. The myb97 myb101 myb120 triple mutation caused overgrowth of the pollen tube into the embryo sac and disrupted sperm cell discharge, leading to failed fertilization. This study provides novel evidence demonstrating that male factors are involved in pollen tube reception.
PMCID: PMC3836714  PMID: 24278028
21.  Inhibition of Rho-Kinase by Fasudil Suppresses Formation and Progression of Experimental Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80145.
Accumulating evidence suggests that inflammatory cell infiltration is crucial pathogenesis during the initiation and progression of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). Given Rho-kinase (ROCK), an important kinase control the actin cytoskeleton, regulates the inflammatory cell infiltration, thus, we investigate the possibility and mechanism of preventing experimental AAA progression via targeting ROCK in mice porcine pancreatic elastase (PPE) model.
Methods and Results
AAA was created in 10-week-old male C57BL/6 mice by transient intraluminal porcine pancreatic elastase infusion into the infrarenal aorta. The mRNA level of RhoA, RhoC, ROCK1 and ROCK2 were elevated in aneurismal aorta. Next, PPE infusion mice were orally administrated with vehicle or ROCK inhibitor (Fasudil at dose of 200 mg/kg/day) during the period of day 1 prior to PPE infusion to day 14 after PPE infusion. PPE infusion mice treated with Fasudil produced significantly smaller aneurysms as compare to PPE infusion mice treated with vehicle. AAAs developed in all vehicle-treated groups within 14 days, whereas AAAs developed in six mice (66%, 6/9) treated with Fasudil within 14 days. Furthermore, our semi-quantitative histological analysis revealed that blood vessels and macrophages were significantly reduced in Fasudil treated mice during the AAA progression. Finally, when mice with existing AAAs were treated with Fasudil, the enlargement was nearly completely suppressed.
Fasudil inhibits experimental AAA progression and stabilize existing aneurysms, through mechanisms likely related to impaired mural macrophage infiltration and angiogenesis. These findings suggest that ROCK inhibitor may hold substantial translational value for AAA diseases.
PMCID: PMC3828185  PMID: 24244631
22.  Informing Clinical Practice Guideline Development and Implementation: Prevalence of Co-existing Conditions Among Adults with Coronary Heart Disease 
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society  2011;59(5):10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03391.x.
To describe the prevalence of co-existing conditions that affect clinical decision-making among adults with coronary heart disease (CHD).
NHANES, 1999–2004
8654 people aged ≥ 45; 1259 with CHD.
Co-existing conditions relevant to clinical decision-making and implementing therapy for CHD across 3 domains: 1)chronic diseases; 2) self-reported and laboratory-based clinical measures; 3) health status factors of self-reported and observed function. We estimated prevalence by gender and age, examined mutually exclusive patterns, and modeled the odds ratios (OR) of having incurred repeated hospitalization in the last year among participants with CHD and each complexity pattern, versus CHD alone.
The prevalence of comorbid chronic diseases among subjects with CHD was: arthritis (56.7%), chronic lower respiratory tract disease (25.5%), diabetes (24.8%), stroke (13.8%), and congestive heart failure (29.0%); clinical factors adding to complexity of clinical decision-making for CHD were: use of > 4 meds (54.5%), UI (48.6%), dizziness or falls (34.8%), low GFR (24.4%), anemia (10.1%), high ALT (5.9%), use of warfarin (10.2%), and health status factors were: cognitive impairment (29.9%), mobility difficulty (40.4%), frequent mental distress (14.3%), visual impairment (16.7%), and hearing impairment (17.9%). Several comorbidity patterns were associated with elevated odds of hospitalization.
Co-existing conditions that may modify the effectiveness of or interact with CHD therapies, influence the feasibility of CHD therapies, or alter patients' priorities concerning their healthcare should be considered in the development of trials and guidelines in order to better inform real-world clinical decision-making.
PMCID: PMC3819032  PMID: 21568950
Comorbidity; heart disease; guideline; prevalence
23.  Upregulation of Long Noncoding RNA SPRY4-IT1 Modulates Proliferation, Migration, Apoptosis, and Network Formation in Trophoblast Cells HTR-8SV/neo 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79598.
SPRY4-IT1 has been reported to have extremely high expression in normal placenta tissues. It is a Long noncoding RNA (lncRNA), which is associated with cell growth, migration, invasion, and apoptosis in melanoma. A 2.8-fold increase of SPRY4-IT1 expression was validated by Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) in severe preeclamptic placenta as compared with that of the normal ones (n=25) in this study. Furthermore, the role of SPRY4-IT1 in proliferation, migration, apoptosis, and network formation ability of trophoblast cells HTR-8/SVneo was assessed. Suppression of SPRY4-IT1 using siRNA treatment and its overexpression using plasmid targeting SPRY4-IT1 were performed in order to explore the biological function of SPRY4-IT1 in the development and progression of trophoblast cells HTR-8/SVneo, in vitro. The results showed that SPRY4-IT1 knockdown enhanced the cell migration and proliferation, and reduced the response of cells to apoptosis. However, exogenous SPRY4-IT1 overexpression significantly decreased the cell migration and proliferation, while increased cell apoptosis. Our study showed for the first time that aberrant expression of lncRNA SPRY4-IT1 might contribute to the abnormal condition of trophoblast cells HTR-8/SVneo. Therefore, we proposed SPRY4-IT1 as a novel lncRNA molecule, which might be associated with the pathogenesis of preeclampsia and might provide a new target for its early diagnosis and treatment.
PMCID: PMC3819274  PMID: 24223182
24.  Immunoaffinity Enrichment and Mass Spectrometry Analysis of Protein Methylation 
Protein methylation is a common posttranslational modification that mostly occurs on arginine and lysine residues. Arginine methylation has been reported to regulate RNA processing, gene transcription, DNA damage repair, protein translocation, and signal transduction. Lysine methylation is best known to regulate histone function and is involved in epigenetic regulation of gene transcription. To better study protein methylation, we have developed highly specific antibodies against monomethyl arginine; asymmetric dimethyl arginine; and monomethyl, dimethyl, and trimethyl lysine motifs. These antibodies were used to perform immunoaffinity purification of methyl peptides followed by LC-MS/MS analysis to identify and quantify arginine and lysine methylation sites in several model studies. Overall, we identified over 1000 arginine methylation sites in human cell line and mouse tissues, and ∼160 lysine methylation sites in human cell line HCT116. The number of methylation sites identified in this study exceeds those found in the literature to date. Detailed analysis of arginine-methylated proteins observed in mouse brain compared with those found in mouse embryo shows a tissue-specific distribution of arginine methylation, and extends the types of proteins that are known to be arginine methylated to include many new protein types. Many arginine-methylated proteins that we identified from the brain, including receptors, ion channels, transporters, and vesicle proteins, are involved in synaptic transmission, whereas the most abundant methylated proteins identified from mouse embryo are transcriptional regulators and RNA processing proteins.
PMCID: PMC3879628  PMID: 24129315
25.  Identification of genes expressed in the sex pheromone gland of the black cutworm Agrotis ipsilon with putative roles in sex pheromone biosynthesis and transport 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:636.
One of the challenges in insect chemical ecology is to understand how insect pheromones are synthesised, detected and degraded. Genome wide survey by comparative sequencing and gene specific expression profiling provide rich resources for this challenge. A. ipsilon is a destructive pest of many crops and further characterization of the genes involved in pheromone biosynthesis and transport could offer potential targets for disruption of their chemical communication and for crop protection.
Here we report 454 next-generation sequencing of the A. ipsilon pheromone gland transcriptome, identification and expression profiling of genes putatively involved in pheromone production, transport and degradation. A total of 23473 unigenes were obtained from the transcriptome analysis, 86% of which were A. ipsilon specific. 42 transcripts encoded enzymes putatively involved in pheromone biosynthesis, of which 15 were specifically, or mainly, expressed in the pheromone glands at 5 to 120-fold higher levels than in the body. Two transcripts encoding for a fatty acid synthase and a desaturase were highly abundant in the transcriptome and expressed more than 40-fold higher in the glands than in the body. The transcripts encoding for 2 acetyl-CoA carboxylases, 1 fatty acid synthase, 2 desaturases, 3 acyl-CoA reductases, 2 alcohol oxidases, 2 aldehyde reductases and 3 acetyltransferases were expressed at a significantly higher level in the pheromone glands than in the body. 17 esterase transcripts were not gland-specific and 7 of these were expressed highly in the antennae. Seven transcripts encoding odorant binding proteins (OBPs) and 8 encoding chemosensory proteins (CSPs) were identified. Two CSP transcripts (AipsCSP2, AipsCSP8) were highly abundant in the pheromone gland transcriptome and this was confirmed by qRT-PCR. One OBP (AipsOBP6) were pheromone gland-enriched and three OBPs (AipsOBP1, AipsOBP2 and AipsOBP4) were antennal-enriched. Based on these studies we proposed possible A. ipsilon biosynthesis pathways for major and minor sex pheromone components.
Our study identified genes potentially involved in sex pheromone biosynthesis and transport in A. ipsilon. The identified genes are likely to play essential roles in sex pheromone production, transport and degradation and could serve as targets to interfere with pheromone release. The identification of highly expressed CSPs and OBPs in the pheromone gland suggests that they may play a role in the binding, transport and release of sex pheromones during sex pheromone production in A. ipsilon and other Lepidoptera insects.
PMCID: PMC3849270  PMID: 24053512

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