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1.  Characterisation of a high-frequency gene encoding a strongly antigenic cystatin-like protein from Trichinella spiralis at its early invasion stage 
Parasites & Vectors  2015;8:78.
The intestinal phase is the early invasion stage of Trichinella spiralis (T. spiralis), in which muscle larvae invade intestine epithelial cells and then develop into adult worms to breed newborn larvae. Thus, intestinal infective larvae are first exposed to the immune system of the host, and antigens from the worms may be the earliest marker in the diagnosis of trichinellosis and may contribute to vaccine development to prevent Trichinella infections in pigs.
A cDNA library of intestinal infective larvae of T. spiralis at 6 hours post infection (p.i.) was constructed and immunoscreened using serum collected from pigs that were infected with T. spiralis at 26 days p.i. T. spiralis cystatin-like protein (Ts-CLP) gene encoding a 45.9 kDa protein was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. The rabbit antisera were generated and used to determine the location of Ts-CLP in the parasite. Transcription levels of Ts-CLP in different developmental stages of T. spiralis were observed by RT-PCR. The potential application of recombinant Ts-CLP in diagnosis against T. spiralis infection was tested by ELISA. The immune protection of recombinant Ts-CLP protein against T. spiralis infection was evaluated in mice.
Thirty-three positive clones were selected from cDNA library, among which 20 clones encoded the same novel cystatin-like protein (Ts-CLP). Immunolocalisation and real-time quantitative PCR revealed that native Ts-CLP was localised primarily to β-stichocytes and that the Ts-clp gene was transcribed and expressed in all developmental stages of T. spiralis. The recombinant protein rTs-CLP was recognised by pig antiserum as early as 15 days p.i., and could induce protective immunity in mice, with a 61.21% reduction in the number of muscle larvae.
These data preliminarily suggested that Ts-CLP may play an important role in the early infection of T. spiralis and that recombinant Ts-CLP protein is a candidate antigen for diagnosis and vaccine development in Trichinella infections.
PMCID: PMC4334762  PMID: 25653126
Trichinella spiralis; Intestinal infective larvae; Diagnosis; Cystatin
2.  Fabrication of Ni-Ti-O nanotube arrays by anodization of NiTi alloy and their potential applications 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:7547.
Nickel-titanium-oxide (Ni-Ti-O) nanotube arrays (NTAs) prepared on nearly equiatomic NiTi alloy shall have broad application potential such as for energy storage and biomedicine, but their precise structure control is a great challenge because of the high content of alloying element of Ni, a non-valve metal that cannot form a compact electronic insulating passive layer when anodized. In the present work, we systemically investigated the influence of various anodization parameters on the formation and structure of Ni-Ti-O NTAs and their potential applications. Our results show that well controlled NTAs can be fabricated during relatively wide ranges of the anodization voltage (5–90 V), electrolyte temperature (10–50°C) and electrolyte NH4F content (0.025–0.8 wt%) but within a narrow window of the electrolyte H2O content (0.0–1.0 vol%). Through modulating these parameters, the Ni-Ti-O NTAs with different diameter (15–70 nm) and length (45–1320 nm) can be produced in a controlled manner. Regarding potential applications, the Ni-Ti-O NTAs may be used as electrodes for electrochemical energy storage and non-enzymic glucose detection, and may constitute nanoscaled biofunctional coating to improve the biological performance of NiTi based biomedical implants.
PMCID: PMC4269879  PMID: 25520180
3.  Human Cytomegalovirus Infection is Associated with Essential Hypertension in Kazakh and Han Chinese Populations 
We aimed to study the association between cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and hypertension in Kazakh and Han populations from Xinjiang Province, China.
We analyzed data on 800 Kazakhs (467 hypertension patients and 333 healthy control participants) and 800 Hans (482 hypertension patients and 318 healthy control participants) aged 18–84 years old. ELISA and real-time quantitative PCR coupled with restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis were applied for determining CMV infection and glycoprotein B (gB) genotypes, respectively.
Serologic evidence of CMV infection was obtained for 95.4% and 90.1% of the Kazakhs and Hans, respectively. The CMV seroprevalence rates among the Kazakh and Han participants with hypertension were 96.8% and 89.8%, respectively. Multiple logistic regression analyses revealed statistically significant independent associations between CMV seropositivity and hypertension in Kazakh males and between CMV antibody titers and hypertension in Hans; significant relationships also existed between CMV antibody titers and blood pressure in Hans. In Kazakhs, 3 CMV gB genotypes were identified: gB2 and genotype mixtures gB1+gB2 and gB2+gB3. In Hans, 4 CMV gB genotypes were identified: gB1, gB2, gB1+gB2, and gB2+gB3. Of the 4 studied genotypes, gB2+gB3 showed a significant independent association with hypertension in Kazakh females.
CMV infection is associated with essential hypertension in Kazakh males and Hans in Xinjiang. CMV seropositivity is associated with hypertension in Kazakh males, and CMV antibody titers are associated with blood pressure and hypertension in Han males and females. Moreover, the CMV gB2+gB3 genotype mixture is associated independently with essential hypertension in Kazakh females.
PMCID: PMC4262054  PMID: 25448630
Cytomegalovirus; Genotype; Hypertension; Kazakh and Han Chinese
4.  The Role of Sodium-Dependent Glucose Transporter 1 and Glucose Transporter 2 in the Absorption of Cyanidin-3-O-β-Glucoside in Caco-2 Cells 
Nutrients  2014;6(10):4165-4177.
Anthocyanins have multiple biological activities of benefit to human health. While a few studies have been conducted to evaluate the bioavailability of anthocyanins, the mechanisms of their absorption mechanism remain ill-defined. In the present study, we investigated the absorption mechanism of cyanidin-3-O-β-glucoside (Cy-3-G) in human intestinal epithelial (Caco-2) cells. Cy-3-G transport was assessed by measuring the absorptive and efflux direction. Inhibition studies were conducted using the pharmacological agents, phloridzin, an inhibitor of sodium-dependent glucose transporter 1 (SGLT1), or phloretin, an inhibitor of glucose transporter 2 (GLUT2). The results showed that phloridzin and phloretin significantly inhibited the absorption of Cy-3-G. In addition, Caco-2 cells transfected with small interfering RNA (siRNA) specific for SGLT1 or GLUT2 showed significantly decreased Cy-3-G absorption. These siRNA transfected cells also showed a significantly decreased rate of transport of Cy-3-G compared with the control group. These findings suggest that Cy-3-G absorption is dependent on the activities of SGLT1 and GLUT2 in the small intestine and that SGLT1 and GLUT2 could be a limiting step for the bioavailability of Cy-3-G.
PMCID: PMC4210911  PMID: 25314643
Cy-3-G; absorption; siRNA; SGLT1; GLUT2
5.  Characterisation of a Plancitoxin-1-Like DNase II Gene in Trichinella spiralis 
Deoxyribonuclease II (DNase II) is a well-known acidic endonuclease that catalyses the degradation of DNA into oligonucleotides. Only one or a few genes encoding DNase II have been observed in the genomes of many species. 125 DNase II-like protein family genes were predicted in the Trichinella spiralis (T. spiralis) genome; however, none have been confirmed. DNase II is a monomeric nuclease that contains two copies of a variant HKD motif in the N- and C-termini. Of these 125 genes, only plancitoxin-1 (1095 bp, GenBank accession no. XM_003370715.1) contains the HKD motif in its C-terminus domain.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study, we cloned and characterised the plancitoxin-1 gene. However, the sequences of plancitoxin-1 cloned from T. spiralis were shorter than the predicted sequences in GenBank. Intriguingly, there were two HKD motifs in the N- and C-termini in the cloned sequences. Therefore, the gene with shorter sequences was named after plancitoxin-1-like (Ts-Pt, 885 bp) and has been deposited in GenBank under accession number KF984291. The recombinant protein (rTs-Pt) was expressed in a prokaryotic expression system and purified by nickel affinity chromatography. Western blot analysis showed that rTs-Pt was recognised by serum from T. spiralis-infected mice; the anti-rTs-Pt serum recognised crude antigens but not ES antigens. The Ts-Pt gene was examined at all T. spiralis developmental stages by real-time quantitative PCR. Immunolocalisation analysis showed that Ts-Pt was distributed throughout newborn larvae (NBL), the tegument of adults (Ad) and muscle larvae (ML). As demonstrated by DNase zymography, the expressed proteins displayed cation-independent DNase activity. rTs-Pt had a narrow optimum pH range in slightly acidic conditions (pH 4 and pH 5), and its optimum temperature was 25°C, 30°C, and 37°C.
This study indicated that Ts-Pt was classified as a somatic protein in different T. spiralis developmental stages, and demonstrated for the first time that an expressed DNase II protein from T. spiralis had nuclease activity.
Author Summary
Deoxyribonuclease II (DNase II) is classified into a unique family of nucleases and mediates the degradation of DNA associated with apoptosis. Although DNase II activity was first observed in 1947, and has been studied biochemically and enzymatically since the 1960s, only recently has genetic information on the enzyme been reported. Compared with enzymes from other species, including C. elegans, the DNase II-like protein family of the parasitic nematode T. spiralis has expanded remarkably, with an estimated 125 genes found in the draft genome of T. spiralis. However, none of these proteins have been confirmed by biochemical studies. This study describes Ts-Pt, a DNase II protein that is expressed in different T. spiralis developmental stages. The recombinant protein purified via a prokaryotic expression system displayed in vitro nuclease activity, as determined by DNase zymography. The exact function and mechanisms of Ts-Pt should be further explored in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4148230  PMID: 25165857
6.  Dorsal raphe neuronal activities are modulated by methylphenidate 
This study investigated the electrophysiological properties of the dorsal raphe nucleus (DR) neurons in response to the acute and repetitive administration of methylphenidate (MPH). Activities of DR neurons were recorded from non-anesthetized, freely behaving rats previously implanted bilaterally with permanent semi microelectrodes. The main findings were: (1) after initial (acute) administration of MPH (2.5 mg/kg i.p.) on experimental day one (ED1), 56 % of DR units significantly changed their firing rates. The majority of the responsive units (88 %) exhibited increased firing rate; (2) daily MPH injections were given on ED2 through ED6 followed by 3 washout days. On ED10, 83 % of the DR units significantly changed their baseline activity compared to the baseline activity on ED1; (3) after rechallenge MPH administration on ED10, 63 % of DR units exhibited significant change in their firing rate; the majority of the responsive units (76 %) exhibited a significant increase in their firing rate; (4) The effect of rechallenge MPH administration on ED10 was compared to the effect of initial MPH on ED1, 47 % DR units exhibited a further significant increase in their firing rate while 53 % DR units exhibited decrease or non-change in their firing rate which can be interpreted as electrophysiological sensitization or tolerance. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that acute MPH administration modulated the DR neuronal activities. Repetitive MPH administration modulated the baseline activities of DR units and elicited neurophysiological sensitization or tolerance. The results indicated that MPH affects DR neuronal activity.
PMCID: PMC4036810  PMID: 23269378
Serotonin; Electrophysiology; Single unit activity; Sensitization; Tolerance
7.  Epidemiological Analysis of Trauma Patients following the Lushan Earthquake 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97416.
A 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Lushan County in China’s Sichuan province on April 20, 2013, resulting in 196 deaths and 11,470 injured. This study was designed to analyze the characteristics of the injuries and the treatment of the seismic victims.
After the earthquake, an epidemiological survey of injured patients was conducted by the Health Department of Sichuan Province. Epidemiological survey tools included paper-and-pencil questionnaires and a data management system based on the Access Database. Questionnaires were completed based on the medical records of inpatients with earthquake-related injuries. Outpatients or non-seismic injured inpatients were excluded. A total of 2010 patients from 140 hospitals were included.
The most common type of injuries involved bone fractures (58.3%). Children younger than 10 years of age suffered fewer fractures and chest injuries, but more skin and soft -tissue injuries. Patients older than 80 years were more likely to suffer hip and thigh fractures, pelvis fractures, and chest injuries, whereas adult patients suffered more ankle and foot fractures. A total of 207 cases of calcaneal fracture were due to high falling injuries related to extreme panic. The most common type of infection in hospitalized patients was pulmonary infections. A total of 70.5% patients had limb dysfunction, and 60.1% of this group received rehabilitation. Most patients received rehabilitation within 1 week, and the median duration of rehabilitation was 3 weeks. The cause of death of all seven hospitalized patients who died was severe traumatic brain injuries; five of this group died within 24 h after the earthquake.
Injuries varied as a function of the age of the victim. As more injuries were indirectly caused by the Lushan earthquake, disaster education is urgently needed to avoid secondary injuries.
PMCID: PMC4028270  PMID: 24846207
8.  Inhibitional Effects of Metal Zn2+ on the Reproduction of Aphis medicaginis and Its Predation by Harmonia axyridis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87639.
Contamination, including metals, can disturb the reproductive processes of many organisms, including both prey and predatory insects. However, there is virtually no information on the effects of high level Zinc (Zn) pollution on aphids and ladybirds. The high concentrations of Zn2+ or Zn pollution inhibit reproduction in the phytophagous aphid, Aphis medicaginis, and the predatory ladybird Harmonia axyridis could provide important information.
It was observed in this study that Zn concentrations in Vicia faba (broad bean) seeds and seedlings in all Zn2+ treatments were significantly higher than that in the control group, and increased with increasing Zn2+ concentrations in the solution. The rate of reproduction in A. medicaginis declined significantly (p<0.05) over time in the five groups fed on broad bean seedlings treated with different concentrations of Zn2+ solution compared with the control group. These results showed that higher concentrations of Zn2+ significantly inhibited the reproductive capacity of A. medicaginis. We also cloned and identified a gene encoding vitellogenin (Vg) from A. medicaginis, which has an important role in vitellogenesis, and therefore, reproduction was affected by exposure to Zn2+. Expression of AmVg was reduced with increasing exposure to Zn2+ and also in the F1–F3 generations of aphids exposed to different Zn2+ concentrations. Predation by H. axyridis was also reduced in aphids exposed to high-levels of Zn2+. Similarly, ovipositioning by H. axyridis was also reduced.
Our results suggest that Zn2+ can significantly affect the reproductive capacity of both A. medicaginis and its predator H. axyridis, the former through effects on the expression of AmVg and the latter through avoidance of aphids containing high levels of Zn2+.
PMCID: PMC3922717  PMID: 24533059
9.  Behavioral and transcriptome alterations in male and female mice with postnatal deletion of TrkB in dorsal striatal medium spiny neurons 
The high affinity tyrosine kinase receptor, TrkB, is the primary receptor for brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and plays an important role in development, maintenance and plasticity of the striatal output medium size spiny neuron. The striatal BDNF/TrkB system is thereby implicated in many physiologic and pathophysiologic processes, the latter including mood disorders, addiction, and Huntington’s disease. We crossed a mouse harboring a transgene directing cre-recombinase expression primarily to postnatal, dorsal striatal medium spiny neurons, to a mouse containing a floxed TrkB allele (fB) mouse designed for deletion of TrkB to determine its role in the adult striatum.
We found that there were sexually dimorphic alterations in behaviors in response to stressful situations and drugs of abuse. Significant sex and/or genotype differences were found in the forced swim test of depression-like behaviors, anxiety-like behaviors on the elevated plus maze, and cocaine conditioned reward. Microarray analysis of dorsal striatum revealed significant dysregulation in individual and groups of genes that may contribute to the observed behavioral responses and in some cases, represent previously unidentified downstream targets of TrkB.
The data point to a set of behaviors and changes in gene expression following postnatal deletion of TrkB in the dorsal striatum distinct from those in other brain regions.
PMCID: PMC3880973  PMID: 24369067
TrkB.FL; Medium spiny neuron; Dorsal striatum; BDNF; DARPP-32
10.  Dynamic QTL Analysis and Candidate Gene Mapping for Waterlogging Tolerance at Maize Seedling Stage 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79305.
Soil waterlogging is one of the major abiotic stresses adversely affecting maize growth and yield. To identify dynamic expression of genes or quantitative trait loci (QTL), QTL associated with plant height, root length, root dry weight, shoot dry weight and total dry weight were identified via conditional analysis in a mixed linear model and inclusive composite interval mapping method at three respective periods under waterlogging and control conditions. A total of 13, 19 and 23 QTL were detected at stages 3D|0D (the period during 0–3 d of waterlogging), 6D|3D and 9D|6D, respectively. The effects of each QTL were moderate and distributed over nine chromosomes, singly explaining 4.14–18.88% of the phenotypic variation. Six QTL (ph6-1, rl1-2, sdw4-1, sdw7-1, tdw4-1 and tdw7-1) were identified at two consistent stages of seedling development, which could reflect a continuous expression of genes; the remaining QTL were detected at only one stage. Thus, expression of most QTL was influenced by the developmental status. In order to provide additional evidence regarding the role of corresponding genes in waterlogging tolerance, mapping of Expressed Sequence Tags markers and microRNAs were conducted. Seven candidate genes were observed to co-localize with the identified QTL on chromosomes 1, 4, 6, 7 and 9, and may be important candidate genes for waterlogging tolerance. These results are a good starting point for understanding the genetic basis for selectively expressing of QTL in different stress periods and the common genetic control mechanism of the co-localized traits.
PMCID: PMC3828346  PMID: 24244474
11.  Sex differences in spinal processing of transient and inflammatory colorectal stimuli in the rat 
Pain  2012;153(9):1965-1973.
Sex differences in the spinal processing of somatic and visceral stimuli contribute to greater female sensitivity in many pain disorders. The present study examined spinal mechanisms that contribute to sex differences in visceral sensitivity. The visceromotor response to colorectal distention (CRD) was more robust in normal female rats and following intracolonic mustard oil compared to males. No sex difference was observed in the CRD-evoked response of lumbosacral (LS) and thoracolumbar (TL) colonic afferents in normal and mustard oil-treated rats, but there was a sex difference in spontaneous activity that was exacerbated by intracolonic mustard oil. The response of visceroceptive dorsal horn neurons to CRD was greater in normal females in the LS and TL spinal segments. The effect of intracolonic mustard oil on the CRD-evoked response of different phenotypes of visceroceptive dorsal horn neurons was dependent on sex and segment. The NMDA receptor antagonist APV dose-dependently attenuated the visceromotor response in normal rats with greater effect in males. Correspondingly, there was greater cell membrane expression of the GluN1 subunit in dorsal horn extracts in females. Following intracolonic mustard oil there was no longer a sex difference in the effect of APV nor GluN1 expression in LS segments but greater female expression in TL segments.
These data document a sex difference in spinal processing of nociceptive visceral stimuli from the normal and inflamed colon. Differences in dorsal horn neuronal activity and NMDA receptor expression contribute to the sex differences in the visceral sensitivity observed in awake rats.
PMCID: PMC3413769  PMID: 22819535
visceromotor response; hyperalgesia; primary afferent; spinal cord; dorsal horn neuron; visceral pain; gonadal hormone; NMDA receptor
12.  Cell-Penetrating Peptide-Mediated Therapeutic Molecule Delivery into the Central Nervous System 
Current Neuropharmacology  2013;11(2):197-208.
The blood-brain barrier (BBB), a dynamic and complex barrier formed by endothelial cells, can impede the entry of unwanted substances – pathogens and therapeutic molecules alike – into the central nervous system (CNS) from the blood circulation. Taking into account the fact that CNS-related diseases are the largest and fastest growing unmet medical concern, many potential protein- and nucleic acid-based medicines have been developed for therapeutic purposes. However, due to their poor ability to cross the BBB and the plasma membrane, the above-mentioned bio-macromolecules have limited use in treating neurological diseases. Finding effective, safe, and convenient ways to deliver therapeutic molecules into the CNS is thus urgently required. In recent decades, much effort has been expended in the development of drug delivery technologies, of which cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) have the most promising potential. The present review covers the latest advances in CPP delivery technology, and provides an update on their use in CNS-targeted drug delivery.
PMCID: PMC3637673  PMID: 23997754
Central nervous system; blood-brain barrier; cell-penetrating peptides; drug delivery.
13.  Forkhead box protein p1 is a transcriptional repressor of immune signaling in the CNS: implications for transcriptional dysregulation in Huntington disease 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(14):3097-3111.
Forkhead box protein p1 (Foxp1), a transcription factor showing highly enriched expression in the striatum, has been implicated in central nervous system (CNS) development, but its role in the mature brain is unknown. In order to ascertain functional roles for Foxp1 in the CNS, we have identified gene targets for Foxp1 both in vitro and in vivo using genome-wide expression microarrays and chromatin-immunoprecipitation followed by high-throughput sequencing (ChIP-seq) assays. We found that mouse Foxp1 overexpression in striatal cells elicited expression changes of genes related to immune signaling, transcriptional regulation and a manually curated Huntington's disease (HD)-signaling pathway. Similar results were found when the gene expression data set was integrated with Foxp1-binding data determined from ChIP-seq analysis. In vivo lentiviral-mediated overexpression of human FOXP1 in the context of mutant huntingtin (Htt) protein resulted in a robust downregulation of glial cell-associated, immune genes, including those encoding a variety of cytokines and chemokines. Furthermore, Foxp1-induced expression changes were significantly negatively correlated with those changes elicited by mutant Htt protein in several different HD mouse models, and most significantly in post-mortem caudate from human HD subjects. We finally show that Foxp1 interacts with mutant Htt protein in mouse brain and is present in nuclear Htt aggregates in the striatum of R6/1 transgenic mice. These findings implicate Foxp1 as a key repressor of immune signaling in the CNS and suggest that the loss of Foxp1-mediated gene regulation in HD contributes to the immune dysfunction in this disease. We further suggest that Foxp1-regulated pathways might be important mediators of neuronal-glial cell communication.
PMCID: PMC3384380  PMID: 22492998
14.  Estrogen receptor β activation is antinociceptive in a model of visceral pain in the rat 
The Journal of Pain  2012;13(7):685-694.
The mechanism underlying estrogen modulation of visceral pain remains unclear. Our previous studies indicate activation of estrogen receptor α (ERα) enhances visceral pain. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the role of estrogen receptor β (ERβ) activation in spinal processing of visceral stimuli. The effects of selective ERβ agonists on the visceromotor response (VMR) and dorsal horn neuronal responses to colorectal distention (CRD) were tested in ovariectomized and intact female rats. The magnitude of the VMR to CRD was significantly attenuated by ERβ agonists diarylpropionitrile (DPN) and WAY200070 four hours after subcutaneous injection. Pretreatment with the estrogen receptor antagonist ICI 182,780 obscured the DPN-evoked attenuation. There was no effect of DPN on the VMR at earlier time points. Subcutaneous and spinal administration of DPN attenuated the response of visceroceptive dorsal horn neurons with a comparable time course. DPN attenuated the VMR in intact rats regardless of estrous cycle stage. The timecourse of effect of ERβ activation on the visceromotor response and neuronal activity is consistent with transcriptional or translational modulation of neuronal activity.
Activation of ERβ is antinociceptive in the colorectal distention model of visceral pain, which may provide a therapeutic target to manage IBS in the clinic.
PMCID: PMC3389154  PMID: 22698981
visceral pain; gonadal hormone; colorectal distention; ERβ agonist; spinal cord; estrogen receptor; visceromotor response
15.  First Genome Sequence of a Burkholderia pseudomallei Isolate in China, Strain BPC006, Obtained from a Melioidosis Patient in Hainan 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(23):6604-6605.
Melioidosis, caused by Burkholderia pseudomallei, is considered to be endemic to Northern Australia and Southeast Asia, with high mortality and relapse rates, regardless of powerful antibiotic therapy. Here we report the first genome sequence of Burkholderia pseudomallei strain BPC006, obtained from a melioidosis patient in Hainan, China. The genome sizes of the 2 chromosomes were determined to be 4,001,777 bp and 3,153,284 bp.
PMCID: PMC3497521  PMID: 23144371
16.  Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors targeting HDAC3 and HDAC1 ameliorate polyglutamine-elicited phenotypes in model systems of Huntington's disease 
Neurobiology of disease  2012;46(2):351-361.
We have previously demonstrated amelioration of Huntington's disease (HD)-related phenotypes in R6/2 transgenic mice in response to treatment with the novel histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor 4b. Here we have measured the selectivity profiles of 4b and related compounds against class I and class II HDACs and have tested their ability to restore altered expression of genes related to HD pathology in mice and to rescue disease effects in cell culture and Drosophila models of HD. R6/2 transgenic and wild-type (wt) mice received daily injections of HDAC inhibitors for 3 days followed by real-time PCR analysis to detect expression differences for 13 HD-related genes. We find that HDACi 4b and 136, two compounds showing high potency for inhibiting HDAC3 were most effective in reversing the expression of genes relevant to HD, including Ppp1r1b, which encodes DARPP-32, a marker for medium spiny striatal neurons. In contrast, compounds targeting HDAC1 were less effective at correcting gene expression abnormalities in R6/2 transgenic mice, but did cause significant increases in the expression of selected genes. An additional panel of 4b-related compounds was tested in a Drosophila model of HD and in STHdhQ111 striatal cells to further distinguish HDAC selectivity. Significant improvement in huntingtin-elicited Drosophila eye neurodegeneration in the fly was observed in response to treatment with compounds targeting human HDAC1 and/or HDAC3. In STHdhQ111 striatal cells, the ability of HDAC inhibitors to improve Htt-elicited metabolic deficits correlated with the potency at inhibiting HDAC1 and HDAC3, although the IC50 values for HDAC1 inhibition were typically 10-fold higher than for inhibition of HDAC3. Assessment of HDAC protein localization in brain tissue by Western blot analysis revealed accumulation of HDAC1 and HDAC3 in the nucleus of HD transgenic mice compared to wt mice, with a concurrent decrease in cytoplasmic localization, suggesting that these HDACs contribute to a repressive chromatin environment in HD. No differences were detected in the localization of HDAC2, HDAC4 or HDAC7. These results suggest that inhibition of HDACs 1 and 3 can relieve HD-like phenotypes in model systems and that HDAC inhibitors targeting these isotypes might show therapeutic benefit in human HD.
PMCID: PMC3528106  PMID: 22590724
neurodegenerative; striatum; disease; epigenetic; therapeutic; chromatin; gene expression
17.  Response Surface Methodology for Ultrasound-Assisted Extraction of Astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis 
Marine Drugs  2013;11(5):1644-1655.
Astaxanthin is a novel carotenoid nutraceutical occurring in many crustaceans and red yeasts. It has exhibited various biological activities including prevention or amelioration of cardiovascular disease, gastric ulcer, hypertension, and diabetic nephropathy. In this study, ultrasound-assisted extraction was developed for the effective extraction of astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis. Some parameters such as extraction solvent, liquid-to-solid ratio, extraction temperature, and extraction time were optimized by single-factor experiment and response surface methodology. The optimal extraction conditions were 48.0% ethanol in ethyl acetate, the liquid-to-solid ratio was 20:1 (mL/g), and extraction for 16.0 min at 41.1 °C under ultrasound irradiation of 200 W. Under optimal conditions, the yield of astaxanthin was 27.58 ± 0.40 mg/g. The results obtained are beneficial for the full utilization of Haematococcus pluvialis, which also indicated that ultrasound-assisted extraction is a very useful method for extracting astaxanthin from marine life.
PMCID: PMC3707165  PMID: 23697948
ultrasound-assisted extraction; astaxanthin; Haematococcus pluvialis; response surface methodology
18.  Differential age- and disease-related effects on the expression of genes related to the arachidonic acid signaling pathway in schizophrenia 
Psychiatry Research  2012;196(2-3):201-206.
We have previously identified differential effects of age on global brain gene expression profiles in subjects with schizophrenia compared to normal controls. Here, we have focused on age-related effects of genes associated with the arachidonic acid-related inflammation pathway. Linear correlation analysis of published microarray expression data reveal strong age- and cell-type specific-effects on the expression of genes related to the arachidonic acid signaling pathway, which differed in control subjects compared to those with schizophrenia. Using real-time qPCR analysis, we validated age- and disease-effects of arachidonic acid-related genes in a large cohort of subjects with schizophrenia and matched controls (n=76 subjects in total). We found that levels of prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 1 (PTGS1; aka COX-1) and prostaglandin-endoperoxide receptor 3 (PTGER3) mRNA are increased, and levels of prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2 (PTGS2; aka COX-2) mRNA are decreased, in older subjects with schizophrenia (>40 years of age) compared to matched normal controls or younger subjects with schizophrenia (<40 years of age). These findings contribute to the accumulating evidence suggesting that inflammatory processes in the CNS contribute to pathophysiology of schizophrenia and further suggest that age may be an important factor in the potential use of anti-inflammatory therapies.
PMCID: PMC3361581  PMID: 22397921
psychiatric disorder; inflammation; prostaglandin; microarray; COX-2; Celecoxib
19.  Autophagy Protects against Oxaliplatin-Induced Cell Death via ER Stress and ROS in Caco-2 Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e51076.
Oxaliplatin is included in a number of effective combination regimens used as first and subsequent lines of therapy for metastatic colorectal cancer. Accumulating evidence indicates that autophagy plays a significant role in response to cancer therapy. However, the role of autophagy in oxaliplatin-induced cell death remains to be clarified. In this study, we showed that oxaliplatin induced cell death and autophagy in Caco-2 colorectal cancer cells. The suppression of autophagy using either pharmacologic inhibitors (3-methyladenine, bafilomycin A1) or RNA interference in essential autophagy genes (ATG5 or Beclin1) enhanced the cell death and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production induced by oxaliplatin in Caco-2 cells. Blocking oxaliplatin-induced ROS production by using ROS scavengers (NAC or Tiron) decreased autophagy. Furthermore, numerous dilated endoplasmic reticula (ER) were present in oxaliplatin-treated Caco-2 cells, and blocking ER stress by RNA interference against candidate of metastasis-1 (P8) and C/EBP-homologous protein (CHOP) decreased autophagy and ROS production. Taken together, these data indicate that oxaliplatin activates autophagy as a cytoprotective response via ER stress and ROS in human colorectal cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3511352  PMID: 23226467
20.  Development and characterization of a novel nanoemulsion drug-delivery system for potential application in oral delivery of protein drugs 
The stability of protein drugs remains one of the key hurdles to their success in the market. The aim of the present study was to design a novel nanoemulsion drug-delivery system (NEDDS) that would encapsulate a standard-model protein drug – bovine serum albumin (BSA) – to improve drug stability.
The BSA NEDDS was prepared using a phase-inversion method and pseudoternary phase diagrams. The following characteristics were studied: morphology, size, zeta potential, drug loading, and encapsulation efficiency. We also investigated the stability of the BSA NEDDS, bioactivity of BSA encapsulated within the NEDDS, the integrity of the primary, secondary, and tertiary structures, and specificity.
The BSA NEDDS consisted of Cremophor EL-35, propylene glycol, isopropyl myristate, and normal saline. The average particle diameter of the BSA NEDDS was about 21.8 nm, and the system showed a high encapsulation efficiency (>90%) and an adequate drug-loading capacity (45 mg/mL). The thermodynamic stability of the system was investigated at different temperatures and pH levels and in room-temperature conditions for 180 days. BSA NEDDS showed good structural integrity and specificity for the primary, secondary, and tertiary structures, and good bioactivity of the loaded BSA.
BSA NEDDS showed the properties of a good nanoemulsion-delivery system. NEDDS can greatly enhance the stability of the protein drug BSA while maintaining high levels of drug bioactivity, good specificity, and integrity of the primary, secondary, and tertiary protein structures. These findings indicate that the nanoemulsion is a potential formulation for oral administration of protein drugs.
Video abstract
PMCID: PMC3484902  PMID: 23118537
nanoemulsion; drug-delivery system; protein drug; oral administration; stability
21.  Global Gene Expression Analysis of the Zoonotic Parasite Trichinella spiralis Revealed Novel Genes in Host Parasite Interaction 
Trichinellosis is a typical food-borne zoonotic disease which is epidemic worldwide and the nematode Trichinella spiralis is the main pathogen. The life cycle of T. spiralis contains three developmental stages, i.e. adult worms, new borne larva (new borne L1 larva) and muscular larva (infective L1 larva). Stage-specific gene expression in the parasites has been investigated with various immunological and cDNA cloning approaches, whereas the genome-wide transcriptome and expression features of the parasite have been largely unknown. The availability of the genome sequence information of T. spiralis has made it possible to deeply dissect parasite biology in association with global gene expression and pathogenesis.
Methodology and Principal Findings
In this study, we analyzed the global gene expression patterns in the three developmental stages of T. spiralis using digital gene expression (DGE) analysis. Almost 15 million sequence tags were generated with the Illumina RNA-seq technology, producing expression data for more than 9,000 genes, covering 65% of the genome. The transcriptome analysis revealed thousands of differentially expressed genes within the genome, and importantly, a panel of genes encoding functional proteins associated with parasite invasion and immuno-modulation were identified. More than 45% of the genes were found to be transcribed from both strands, indicating the importance of RNA-mediated gene regulation in the development of the parasite. Further, based on gene ontological analysis, over 3000 genes were functionally categorized and biological pathways in the three life cycle stage were elucidated.
Conclusions and Significance
The global transcriptome of T. spiralis in three developmental stages has been profiled, and most gene activity in the genome was found to be developmentally regulated. Many metabolic and biological pathways have been revealed. The findings of the differential expression of several protein families facilitate understanding of the molecular mechanisms of parasite biology and the pathological aspects of trichinellosis.
Author Summary
Trichinellosis of human and other mammals was caused through the ingestion of the parasite Trichinella sparilis in contaminated meat. It is a typical zoonotic disease that affects more than 10 million people world-wide. Parasites of the genus Trichinella are unique intracellular pathogens. Adult Trichinella parasites directly release newborn larvae which invade striated muscle cells and causes diseases. In this study, we profiled the global transcriptome in the three developmental stages of T. spiralis. The transcriptomic analysis revealed the global gene expression patterns from newborn larval stage through muscle larval stage to adults. Thousands of genes with stage-specific transcriptional patterns were described and novel genes involving host-parasite interaction were identified. More than 45% of the protein-coding genes showed evidence of transcription from both sense and antisense strands which suggests the importance of RNA-mediated gene regulation in the parasite. This study presents a first deep analysis of the transcriptome of T. spiralis, providing insight information of the parasite biology.
PMCID: PMC3429391  PMID: 22953016
22.  Plasma microRNAs, miR-223, miR-21 and miR-218, as Novel Potential Biomarkers for Gastric Cancer Detection 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41629.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs), endogenous small non-coding RNAs, are stably detected in human plasma. Early diagnosis of gastric cancer (GC) is very important to improve the therapy effect and prolong the survival of patients. We aimed to identify whether four miRNAs (miR-223, miR-21, miR-218 and miR-25) closely associated with the tumorigenesis or metastasis of GC can serve as novel potential biomarkers for GC detection.
We initially measured the plasma levels of the four miRNAs in 10 GC patients and 10 healthy control subjects by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), and then compared plasma miRNA results with the expressions in cancer tissues from eight GC patients. Finally, the presence of miR-223, miR-21 and miR-218 in the plasma was validated in 60 GC patients and 60 healthy control subjects, and the areas under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves of these miRNAs were analyzed.
We found that the plasma levels of miR-223 (P<0.001) and miR-21 (P<0.001) were significantly higher in GC patients than in healthy controls, while miR-218 (P<0.001) was significantly lower. The ROC analyses yielded the AUC values of 0.9089 for miR-223, 0.7944 for miR-21 and 0.7432 for miR-218, and combined ROC analysis revealed the highest AUC value of 0.9531 in discriminating GC patients from healthy controls. Moreover, the plasma levels of miR-223 (P<0.001) and miR-21 (P = 0.003) were significantly higher in GC patients with stage I than in healthy controls. Furthermore, the plasma levels of miR-223 were significantly higher in GC patients with helicobacter pylori (Hp) infection than those without (P = 0.014), and significantly higher in healthy control subjects with Hp infection than those without (P = 0.016).
Plasma miR-223, miR-21 and miR-218 are novel potential biomarkers for GC detection.
PMCID: PMC3408505  PMID: 22860003
23.  Compromised autophagy by MIR30B benefits the intracellular survival of Helicobacter pylori 
Autophagy  2012;8(7):1045-1057.
Helicobacter pylori evade immune responses and achieve persistent colonization in the stomach. However, the mechanism by which H. pylori infections persist is not clear. In this study, we showed that MIR30B is upregulated during H. pylori infection of an AGS cell line and human gastric tissues. Upregulation of MIR30B benefited bacterial replication by compromising the process of autophagy during the H. pylori infection. As a potential mechanistic explanation for this observation, we demonstrate that MIR30B directly targets ATG12 and BECN1, which are important proteins involved in autophagy. These results suggest that compromise of autophagy by MIR30B allows intracellular H. pylori to evade autophagic clearance, thereby contributing to the persistence of H. pylori infections.
PMCID: PMC3429542  PMID: 22647547
Helicobacter pylori; MIR30B; ATG12; BECN1; autophagy
24.  Gene expression profiling of R6/2 transgenic mice with different CAG repeat lengths reveals genes associated with disease onset and progression in Huntington's disease 
Neurobiology of disease  2011;42(3):459-467.
R6/2 transgenic mice with expanded CAG repeats (>300) have a surprisingly prolonged disease progression and longer lifespan than prototypical parent R6/2 mice (carrying 150 CAGs), however, the mechanism of this phenotype amelioration is unknown. We compared gene expression profiles in the striatum of R6/2 transgenic mice carrying ~300 CAG repeats (R6/2Q300 transgenic mice), those carrying ~150 CAG repeats (R6/2Q150 transgenic mice) and littermate wt controls in order to identify genes that may play determinant roles in the time course of phenotypic expression in these mice. Of the top genes showing concordant expression changes in the striatum of both R6/2 lines, 85% were decreased in expression, while discordant expression changes were observed mostly for genes upregulated in R6/2Q300 transgenic mice. Upregulated genes in the R6/2Q300 mice were associated with the ubiquitin ligase complex, cell adhesion, protein folding and establishment of protein localization. We qPCR-validated increases in expression of genes related to the latter category, including Lrsam1, Erp29, Nasp, Tap1, Rab9b and Pfdn5 in R6/2Q300 mice, changes that were not observed in R6/2 mice with shorter CAG repeats, even in late stages (i.e. 12 weeks of age). We further tested Lrsam1 and Erp29, the two genes showing the greatest upregulation in R6/2Q300 transgenic mice, for potential neuroprotective effects in primary striatal cultures overexpressing a mutated human huntingtin (htt) fragment. Overexpression of Lrsam1 prevented the loss of NeuN-positive cell bodies in htt171-82Q cultures, concomitant with a reduction of nuclear htt aggregates. Erp29 showed no significant effects in this model. This is consistent with the distinct pattern of htt inclusion localization observed in R6/2Q300 transgenic mice, in which smaller cytoplasmic inclusions represent the major form of insoluble htt in the cell, as opposed to large nuclear inclusions observed in R6/2Q150 transgenic mice. We suggest that the prolonged onset and disease course observed in R6/2 mice with greatly expanded CAG repeats might result from differential upregulation of genes related to protein localization and clearance. Such genes may represent novel therapeutic avenues to decrease htt aggregate toxicity and cell death in HD patients, with Lrsam1 being a promising, novel candidate disease modifier.
PMCID: PMC3079804  PMID: 21334439
Huntington's disease; striatum; gene expression; inclusion; neuroprotection
25.  Spinal estrogen receptor alpha mediates estradiol-induced pronociception in a visceral pain model in the rat 
Pain  2011;152(5):1182-1191.
We previously reported that 17β – estradiol (E2) is pronociceptive in a visceral pain model in the rat. Subcutaneously (s.c.) administered E2 reversed the decrease in the colorectal distention (CRD)-evoked visceromotor response produced by ovariectomy (OVx) and CRD-induced nociceptive responses were greater in proestrous rats compared to met/diestrous rats. The site of action, the type of estrogen receptors activated and the possible intracellular signaling pathway involved are yet to be established. In the present study, intrathecal (i.t.) E2 administered to OVx rats mimicked the effects of s.c. E2, suggesting spinal E2 receptors are involved. This is further supported by the observations that the anti-estrogen ICI 182,780 injected i.t. in intact female rats significantly decreased the visceromotor response to CRD, the response of colonic afferents was not affected by OVx and colonic afferents did not label for estrogen receptor α (ERα). The ERα selective agonist, 4,4',4"-[4-propyl-(1H)-pyrazole-1,3,5-triyl]tris-phenol (PPT; s.c. or i.t.) facilitated the visceromotor response similar to E2, suggesting ERα activation is involved in mediating the pronociceptive effect of E2. PPT (s.c. or i.t.) increased the response of spinal dorsal horn neurons to CRD, indicating a spinal site of action. In addition, s.c. E2 or PPT increased CRD-induced spinal extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation that was not observed in OVx rats and a mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase (MEK) inhibitor blocked facilitation of the visceromotor response by PPT. Taken together, the present study demonstrates that spinal ERα mediates the pronociceptive effect of E2 on visceral signal processing through activation of the MAPK pathway.
PMCID: PMC3079062  PMID: 21392887
colorectal distention; visceromotor response; gonadal hormones; estrogen receptor alpha; spinal cord; visceral pain; pERK; dorsal horn neurons; estradiol; PPT; colonic afferent

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