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1.  Real-Time Light Scattering Tracking of Gold Nanoparticles- bioconjugated Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infecting HEp-2 Cells 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4529.
Real-time tracking of virus invasion is crucial for understanding viral infection mechanism, which, however, needs simple and efficient labeling chemistry with improved signal-to-noise ratio. For that purpose, herein we investigated the invasion dynamics of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) through dark-field microscopic imaging (iDFM) technique by using Au nanoparticles (AuNPs) as light scattering labels. RSV, a ubiquitous, non-segmented, pleiomorphic and negative-sense RNA virus, is an important human pathogen in infants, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. In order to label the enveloped virus of paramyxoviridae family, an efficient streptavidin (SA)-biotin binding chemistry was employed, wherein AuNPs and RSV particles modified with SA and biotin, respectively, allowing the AuNP-modified RSVs to maintain their virulence without affecting the native activities of RSV, making the long dynamic visualization successful for the RSV infections into human epidermis larynx carcinoma cells.
PMCID: PMC3970125  PMID: 24681709
2.  Tissue plasminogen activator and inflammation: from phenotype to signaling mechanisms 
In disease conditions, inflammatory cells, such as neutrophils, T cells, and monocytes/macrophages, are recruited in response to injury cues and express panoply of proinflammatory genes through a combination of transcription factors. Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a member of the serine protease family, has been shown to act as cytokine to activate profound receptor-mediated signaling events. In this review, we will discuss the role of tPA in inflammation in various models, and illuminate its signaling mechanisms underlying its modulation of inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3960759  PMID: 24660119
Tissue plasminogen activator; tPA; inflammation; phenotype; signaling mechanisms
3.  Re-sequencing Expands Our Understanding of the Phenotypic Impact of Variants at GWAS Loci 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(1):e1004147.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified >500 common variants associated with quantitative metabolic traits, but in aggregate such variants explain at most 20–30% of the heritable component of population variation in these traits. To further investigate the impact of genotypic variation on metabolic traits, we conducted re-sequencing studies in >6,000 members of a Finnish population cohort (The Northern Finland Birth Cohort of 1966 [NFBC]) and a type 2 diabetes case-control sample (The Finland-United States Investigation of NIDDM Genetics [FUSION] study). By sequencing the coding sequence and 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions of 78 genes at 17 GWAS loci associated with one or more of six metabolic traits (serum levels of fasting HDL-C, LDL-C, total cholesterol, triglycerides, plasma glucose, and insulin), and conducting both single-variant and gene-level association tests, we obtained a more complete understanding of phenotype-genotype associations at eight of these loci. At all eight of these loci, the identification of new associations provides significant evidence for multiple genetic signals to one or more phenotypes, and at two loci, in the genes ABCA1 and CETP, we found significant gene-level evidence of association to non-synonymous variants with MAF<1%. Additionally, two potentially deleterious variants that demonstrated significant associations (rs138726309, a missense variant in G6PC2, and rs28933094, a missense variant in LIPC) were considerably more common in these Finnish samples than in European reference populations, supporting our prior hypothesis that deleterious variants could attain high frequencies in this isolated population, likely due to the effects of population bottlenecks. Our results highlight the value of large, well-phenotyped samples for rare-variant association analysis, and the challenge of evaluating the phenotypic impact of such variants.
Author Summary
Abnormal serum levels of various metabolites, including measures relevant to cholesterol, other fats, and sugars, are known to be risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Identification of the genes that play a role in generating such abnormalities could advance the development of new treatment and prevention strategies for these disorders. Investigations of common genetic variants carried out in large sets of research subjects have successfully pinpointed such genes within many regions of the human genome. However, these studies often have not led to the identification of the specific genetic variations affecting metabolic traits. To attempt to detect such causal variations, we sequenced genes in 17 genomic regions implicated in metabolic traits in >6,000 people from Finland. By conducting statistical analyses relating specific variations (individually and grouped by gene) to the measures for these metabolic traits observed in the study subjects, we added to our understanding of how genotypes affect these traits. Our findings support a long-held hypothesis that the unique history of the Finnish population provides important advantages for analyzing the relationship between genetic variations and biomedically important traits.
PMCID: PMC3907339  PMID: 24497850
4.  Increased Risk for Developing Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events in Stented Chinese Patients Treated with Dual Antiplatelet Therapy after Concomitant Use of the Proton Pump Inhibitor 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84985.
Some clinical studies have demonstrated that the proton pump inhibitor (PPI) could decrease clopidogrel platelet response and increase major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) in white or black subjects. However, that remains to be determined in Chinese patients. In this study, we sought to determine whether there could be an increased risk for developing MACE after concomitant use of dual antiplatelet therapy (DAT) and a PPI in Chinese patients treated with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) and stenting.
This study was a 5-year, single-center, retrospective cohort analysis of eligible patients (n = 6188) who received DAT and a PPI concomitantly (defined as PPI users) before discharge and/or 12-month follow-up after discharge as compared with those who received DAT alone (also defined as non-PPI users, n = 1465). The incidence of recurrent MACE, such as myocardial infarction (MI), definite stent thromboses (ST), or cardiovascular death, was compared between the PPI users and non-users.
PPI users had a significantly higher incidence of the MACE than non-users (13.9% vs. 10.6%; adjusted HR: 1.33; 95% CI: 1.12 – 1.57, P = 0.007). Stratified analysis revealed that concurrent use of DAT and a PPI was associated with a significantly increased risk for developing ST compared with DAT alone (1% vs. 0.4%; adjusted HR: 2.66, 95% CI: 1.16 – 5.87, P = 0.012). However, there were no significant differences in the risk of MI, cardiovascular death and other adverse events, regardless of combination of clopidogrel and a PPI.
The study further suggests that concomitant use of DAT and a PPI may be associated with an increased risk for developing MACE, in particular definite ST, in Chinese PCI patients after discharge as compared with use of DAT alone.
PMCID: PMC3885647  PMID: 24416326
5.  Safety and efficacy of thoracoscopic wedge resection for elderly high-risk patients with stage I peripheral non-small-cell lung cancer 
Elderly patients with severe cardiopulmonary and other system dysfunctions are unable to tolerate pulmonary lobectomy. This study aimed to evaluate the risk and efficacy of wedge resection under video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) on elderly high-risk patients with stage I peripheral non-small-cell lung cancer (PNSCLC).
Elderly patients (≥70 years) with suspected PNSCLC were divided into high-risk group and conventional risk group. The high-risk patients confirmed in stage I by the examination of positron emission tomography computed tomography (PET-CT) and the postoperative patients in stage I PNSCLC with negative incisal margin were treated with VATS wedge resection. The conventional risk patients were treated with VATS radical resection and systematic lymphadenectomy. The clinical and pathological data were recorded. The total survival, tumor-free survival, recurrence time and style of patients were followed up.
The operative time and blood loss of the VATS wedge resection group (69.4 ± 15.5 min, 52.1 ± 11.2 ml) were significantly less than those of the VATS radical resection group (128 ± 35.5 min, 217.9 ± 87.1 ml). Neither groups had postoperative death. The overall and tumor-free survival rate of the VATS wedge resection group within three years were 66.7% and 60.0%, and those of the VATS radical resection group were 93.8% and 94.1%, without significant difference (P > 0.05). The recurrence rates of the VATS wedge resection group and VATS radical resection group were 14.3% and 3.0%, without significant difference (P > 0.05).
It is safe, minimally invasive and meaningful to perform VATS wedge resection on the elderly high-risk patients with stage I PNSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3896765  PMID: 24359930
Elderly; Early lung cancer; Thoracoscope
6.  miR-150 Promotes Human Breast Cancer Growth and Malignant Behavior by Targeting the Pro-Apoptotic Purinergic P2X7 Receptor 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e80707.
The P2X7 receptor regulates cell growth through mediation of apoptosis. Low level expression of P2X7 has been linked to cancer development because tumor cells harboring a defective P2X7 mechanism can escape P2X7 pro-apoptotic control. microRNAs (miRNAs) function as negative regulators of post-transcriptional gene expression, playing major roles in cellular differentiation, proliferation, and metastasis. In this study, we found that miR-150 was over-expressed in breast cancer cell lines and tissues. In these breast cancer cell lines, blocking the action of miR-150 with inhibitors leads to cell death, while ectopic expression of the miR-150 results in increased cell proliferation. We deploy a microRNA sponge strategy to inhibit miR-150 in vitro, and the result demonstrates that the 3′-untranslated region (3′UTR) of P2X7 receptor contains a highly conserved miR-150-binding motif and its direct interaction with miR-150 down-regulates endogenous P2X7 protein levels. Furthermore, our findings demonstrate that miR-150 over-expression promotes growth, clonogenicity and reduces apoptosis in breast cancer cells. Meanwhile, these findings can be decapitated in nude mice with breast cancer xenografts. Finally, these observations strengthen our working hypothesis that up-regulation of miR-150 in breast cancer is inversely associated with P2X7 receptor expression level. Together, these findings establish miR-150 as a novel regulator of P2X7 and a potential therapeutic target for breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3846619  PMID: 24312495
7.  Genome Wide Analysis of Narcolepsy in China Implicates Novel Immune Loci and Reveals Changes in Association Prior to Versus After the 2009 H1N1 Influenza Pandemic 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003880.
Previous studies in narcolepsy, an autoimmune disorder affecting hypocretin (orexin) neurons and recently associated with H1N1 influenza, have demonstrated significant associations with five loci. Using a well-characterized Chinese cohort, we refined known associations in TRA@ and P2RY11-DNMT1 and identified new associations in the TCR beta (TRB@; rs9648789 max P = 3.7×10−9 OR 0.77), ZNF365 (rs10995245 max P = 1.2×10−11 OR 1.23), and IL10RB-IFNAR1 loci (rs2252931 max P = 2.2×10−9 OR 0.75). Variants in the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA)- DQ region were associated with age of onset (rs7744020 P = 7.9×10−9 beta −1.9 years) and varied significantly among cases with onset after the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic compared to previous years (rs9271117 P = 7.8×10−10 OR 0.57). These reflected an association of DQB1*03:01 with earlier onset and decreased DQB1*06:02 homozygosity following 2009. Our results illustrate how genetic association can change in the presence of new environmental challenges and suggest that the monitoring of genetic architecture over time may help reveal the appearance of novel triggers for autoimmune diseases.
Author Summary
Narcolepsy-hypocretin deficiency results from a highly specific autoimmune attack on hypocretin cells. Recent studies have established antigen presentation by specific class II proteins encoded by (HLA DQB1*06:02 and DQA1*01:02) to the cognate T cell receptor as the main disease pathway, with a role for H1N1 influenza in the triggering process. Here, we have used a large and well-characterized cohort of Chinese narcolepsy cases to examine genetic architecture not observed in European samples. We confirmed previously implicated susceptibility genes (T cell receptor alpha, P2RY11), and identify new loci (ZNF365, IL10RB-IFNAR1), most notably, variants at the beta chain of the T cell receptor. We found that one HLA variant, (DQB1*03:01), is associated with dramatically earlier disease onset (nearly 2 years). We also identified differences in HLA haplotype frequencies among cases with onset following the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic as compared to before the outbreak, with fewer HLA DQB1*06:02 homozygotes. This may be the first demonstration of such an effect, and suggests that the study of changes in GWAS signals over time could help identify environmental factors in other autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC3814311  PMID: 24204295
8.  Systematic design methodology for robust genetic transistors based on I/O specifications via promoter-RBS libraries 
BMC Systems Biology  2013;7:109.
Synthetic genetic transistors are vital for signal amplification and switching in genetic circuits. However, it is still problematic to efficiently select the adequate promoters, Ribosome Binding Sides (RBSs) and inducer concentrations to construct a genetic transistor with the desired linear amplification or switching in the Input/Output (I/O) characteristics for practical applications.
Three kinds of promoter-RBS libraries, i.e., a constitutive promoter-RBS library, a repressor-regulated promoter-RBS library and an activator-regulated promoter-RBS library, are constructed for systematic genetic circuit design using the identified kinetic strengths of their promoter-RBS components.
According to the dynamic model of genetic transistors, a design methodology for genetic transistors via a Genetic Algorithm (GA)-based searching algorithm is developed to search for a set of promoter-RBS components and adequate concentrations of inducers to achieve the prescribed I/O characteristics of a genetic transistor. Furthermore, according to design specifications for different types of genetic transistors, a look-up table is built for genetic transistor design, from which we could easily select an adequate set of promoter-RBS components and adequate concentrations of external inducers for a specific genetic transistor.
This systematic design method will reduce the time spent using trial-and-error methods in the experimental procedure for a genetic transistor with a desired I/O characteristic. We demonstrate the applicability of our design methodology to genetic transistors that have desirable linear amplification or switching by employing promoter-RBS library searching.
PMCID: PMC4015965  PMID: 24160305
Genetic transistor; Input/Output (I/O) characteristics; Promoter-RBS library; Systematic design methodology; Design specifications
9.  Reduction of Decoy Receptor 3 Enhances TRAIL-Mediated Apoptosis in Pancreatic Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e74272.
Most human pancreatic cancer cells are resistant to tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)-mediated apoptosis. However, the mechanisms by which pancreatic cancer cells utilize their extracellular molecules to counteract the proapoptotic signaling mediated by the TNF family are largely unknown. In this study, we demonstrate for the first time that DcR3, a secreted decoy receptor that malignant pancreatic cancer cells express at a high level, acts as an extracellular antiapoptotic molecule by binding to TRAIL and counteracting its death-promoting function. The reduction of DcR3 with siRNA unmasked TRAIL and greatly enhanced TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Gemcitabine, a first-line drug for pancreatic cancer, also reduced the level of DcR3. The addition of DcR3 siRNA further enhanced gemcitabine-induced apoptosis. Notably, our in vivo study demonstrated that the therapeutic effect of gemcitabine could be enhanced via further reduction of DcR3, suggesting that downregulation of DcR3 in tumor cells could tip the balance of pancreatic cells towards apoptosis and potentially serve as a new strategy for pancreatic cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3808375  PMID: 24204567
10.  Clinical and polysomnographic course of childhood narcolepsy with cataplexy 
Brain  2013;136(12):3787-3795.
Our aim was to investigate the natural evolution of cataplexy and polysomnographic features in untreated children with narcolepsy with cataplexy. To this end, clinical, polysomnographic, and cataplexy-video assessments were performed at diagnosis (mean age of 10 ± 3 and disease duration of 1 ± 1 years) and after a median follow-up of 3 years from symptom onset (mean age of 12 ± 4 years) in 21 children with narcolepsy with cataplexy and hypocretin 1 deficiency (tested in 19 subjects). Video assessment was also performed in two control groups matched for age and sex at first evaluation and follow-up and was blindly scored for presence of hypotonic (negative) and active movements. Patients’ data at diagnosis and at follow-up were contrasted, compared with controls, and related with age and disease duration. At diagnosis children with narcolepsy with cataplexy showed an increase of sleep time during the 24 h; at follow-up sleep time and nocturnal sleep latency shortened, in the absence of other polysomnographic or clinical (including body mass index) changes. Hypotonic phenomena and selected facial movements decreased over time and, tested against disease duration and age, appeared as age-dependent. At onset, childhood narcolepsy with cataplexy is characterized by an abrupt increase of total sleep over the 24 h, generalized hypotonia and motor overactivity. With time, the picture of cataplexy evolves into classic presentation (i.e. brief muscle weakness episodes triggered by emotions), whereas total sleep time across the 24 h decreases, returning to more age-appropriate levels.
PMCID: PMC3859221  PMID: 24142146
children; narcolepsy; cataplexy; sleep; sleepiness
11.  Four Common Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Polymorphisms (−2578C>A, −460C>T, +936C>T, and +405G>C) in Susceptibility to Lung Cancer: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75123.
Background and Objective
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is one of the key initiators and regulators of angiogenesis and it plays a vital role in the onset and development of malignancy. The association between VEGF gene polymorphisms and lung cancer risk has been extensively studied in recent years, but currently available results remain controversial or ambiguous. The aim of this meta-analysis is to investigate the associations between four common VEGF polymorphisms (i.e., −2578C>A, −460C>T, +936C>T and +405C>G) and lung cancer risk.
A comprehensive search was conducted to identify all eligible studies to estimate the association between VEGF polymorphisms and lung cancer risk. Crude odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were used to evaluate the strength of this association.
A total of 14 published case-control studies with 4,664 cases and 4,571 control subjects were identified. Our meta-analysis provides strong evidence that VEGF −2578C>A polymorphism is capable of increasing lung cancer susceptibility, especially among smokers and lung squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) patients. Additionally, for +936C>T polymorphism, increased lung cancer susceptibility was only observed among lung adenocarcinoma patients. In contrast, VEGF −460C>T polymorphism may be a protective factor among nonsmokers and SCC patients. Nevertheless, we did not find any association between +405C>G polymorphism and lung cancer risk, even when the groups were stratified by ethnicity, smoking status or histological type.
This meta-analysis recommends more investigations into the relationship between −2578C>A and −460C>T lung cancer risks. More detailed and well-designed studies should be conducted to identify the causal variants and the underlying mechanisms of the possible associations.
PMCID: PMC3788083  PMID: 24098368
12.  Role of Toll-Like Receptor 4 on Lupus Lung Injury and Atherosclerosis in LPS-Challenge ApoE−/− Mice 
To investigate the pathologic mechanisms of toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in lung injury and atherosclerosis, ApoE−/− or wild-type mice were intraperitoneally administered saline, lipopolysaccharides (LPS), or LPS plus TAK-242 (TLR4 inhibitor), respectively, twice a week for 4 weeks. Serum autoantibody of antinuclear antibody (ANA), anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA), and cytokines of interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), and interleukin-1 (IL-1β) were assessed by ELISA. Hematoxylin and eosin (HE) and Perl's stains for lung pathomorphology as well as HE staining for atherosclerosis were employed. TLR4 in macrophages was detected by double immunofluorescent staining. While protein expressions of TLR4, nuclear factor-kappa B p65 (NF-κB p65), and B cell activating factor belonging to the TNF family (BAFF) were examined by immunohistochemistry. We found that serum autoantibody (ANA and anti-dsDNA), cytokines (IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-1β), lung inflammation, and intima-media thickness in brachiocephalic artery were obviously increased after LPS challenge in both genotypes, but to a lesser extent in wild-type strains. And those alterations were alleviated by coadministration of LPS and TAK-242. Mechanistically, upregulation of TLR4, NF-κb, and BAFF was involved. We concluded that TLR4/NF-κb/BAFF in macrophages might be a possible common autoimmune pathway that caused lung injury and atherosclerosis. TLR4 signal will be a therapeutic target in atherosclerosis and immune-mediated lung injury.
PMCID: PMC3784175  PMID: 24324506
13.  The origin and evolution of mutations in Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
Cell  2012;150(2):264-278.
Most mutations in cancer genomes are thought to be acquired after the initiating event, which may cause genomic instability, driving clonal evolution. However, for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), normal karyotypes are common, and genomic instability is unusual. To better understand clonal evolution in AML, we sequenced the genomes of AML samples with a known initiating event (PML-RARA) vs. normal karyotype AML samples, and the exomes of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) from healthy people. Collectively, the data suggest that most of the mutations found in AML genomes are actually random events that occurred in HSPCs before they acquired the initiating mutation; the mutational history of that cell is “captured” as the clone expands. In many cases, only one or two additional, cooperating mutations are needed to generate the malignant founding clone. Cells from the founding clone can acquire additional cooperating mutations, yielding subclones that can contribute to disease progression and/or relapse.
PMCID: PMC3407563  PMID: 22817890
14.  Mutations in DNMT1 cause autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia, deafness and narcolepsy 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(10):2205-2210.
Autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia, deafness and narcolepsy (ADCA-DN) is characterized by late onset (30–40 years old) cerebellar ataxia, sensory neuronal deafness, narcolepsy–cataplexy and dementia. We performed exome sequencing in five individuals from three ADCA-DN kindreds and identified DNMT1 as the only gene with mutations found in all five affected individuals. Sanger sequencing confirmed the de novo mutation p.Ala570Val in one family, and showed co-segregation of p.Val606Phe and p.Ala570Val, with the ADCA-DN phenotype, in two other kindreds. An additional ADCA-DN kindred with a p.GLY605Ala mutation was subsequently identified. Narcolepsy and deafness were the first symptoms to appear in all pedigrees, followed by ataxia. DNMT1 is a widely expressed DNA methyltransferase maintaining methylation patterns in development, and mediating transcriptional repression by direct binding to HDAC2. It is also highly expressed in immune cells and required for the differentiation of CD4+ into T regulatory cells. Mutations in exon 20 of this gene were recently reported to cause hereditary sensory neuropathy with dementia and hearing loss (HSAN1). Our mutations are all located in exon 21 and in very close spatial proximity, suggesting distinct phenotypes depending on mutation location within this gene.
PMCID: PMC3465691  PMID: 22328086
15.  Background mutations in parental cells account for most of the genetic heterogeneity of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells 
Cell Stem Cell  2012;10(5):570-582.
To assess the genetic consequences of induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) reprogramming, we sequenced the genomes of ten murine iPSC clones derived from three independent reprogramming experiments, and compared them to their parental cell genomes. We detected hundreds of single nucleotide variants (SNVs) in every clone, with an average of 11 in coding regions. In two experiments, all SNVs were unique for each clone and did not cluster in pathways, but in the third, all four iPSC clones contained 157 shared genetic variants, which could also be detected in rare cells (<1 in 500) within the parental MEF pool. This data suggests that most of the genetic variation in iPSC clones is not caused by reprogramming per se, but is rather a consequence of cloning individual cells, which “captures” their mutational history. These findings have implications for the development and therapeutic use of cells that are reprogrammed by any method.
PMCID: PMC3348423  PMID: 22542160
16.  DQB1*06:02 allele specific expression varies by allelic dosage, not narcolepsy status 
Human immunology  2012;73(4):405-410.
The association of narcolepsy-cataplexy, a sleep disorder caused by the loss of hypocretin/orexin neurons in the hypothalamus, with DQA1*01:02-DQB1*06:02 is one of the tightest known single allele HLA associations. In this study, we explored genome wide expression in peripheral white blood cells of 50 narcolepsy versus 47 controls (half of whom were DQB1*06:02 positive) and found the largest differences between the groups to be in the signal from HLA probes. Further studies of HLA-DQ expression (mRNA and protein in a subset) in 125 controls and 147 narcolepsy cases did not reveal any difference, a result we explain by the lack of proper control of allelic diversity in Affymetrix HLA probes. Rather, a clear effect of DQB1*06:02 allelic dosage on DQB1*06:02 mRNA levels (1.65 fold) and protein (1.59 fold) could be demonstrated independent of the disease status. These results indicate that allelic dosage is transmitted into changes in heterodimer availability, a phenomenon that may explain increased risk for narcolepsy in DQB1*06:02 homozygotes versus heterozygotes.
PMCID: PMC3501142  PMID: 22326585
Narcolepsy; Human Leukocyte Antigen; DQB1*06:02; gene expression
17.  TCRA, P2RY11, and CPT1B/CHKB associations in Chinese narcolepsy 
Sleep Medicine  2011;13(3):269-272.
Polymorphisms in the TCRA and P2RY11, two immune related genes, are associated with narcolepsy in Caucasians and Asians. In contrast, CPT1B/CHKB polymorphisms have only been shown to be associated with narcolepsy in Japanese, with replication in a small group of Koreans. Our aim was to study whether these polymorphisms are associated with narcolepsy and its clinical characteristics in Chinese patients with narcolepsy.
We collected clinical data on 510 Chinese patients presenting with narcolepsy/hypocretin deficiency. Patients were included either when hypocretin deficiency was documented (CSF hypocretin-1 ≤110 pg/ml, n=91) or on the basis of the presence of clear cataplexy and HLA-DQB1*0602 positivity (n=419). Genetic data was compared to typing obtained in 452 controls matched for geographic origin within China. Clinical evaluations included demographics, the Stanford Sleep Inventory (presence and age of onset of each symptom), and Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) data.
Chinese narcolepsy was strongly and dose dependently associated with TCRA (rs1154155C) and P2RY11 (rs2305795A) but not CPT1B/CHKB (rs5770917C) polymorphisms. CPT1B/CHKB polymorphisms were not associated with any specific clinical characteristics. TCRA rs1154155A homozygotes (58 subjects) had a later disease onset, but this was not significant when corrected for multiple comparisons, thus replication is needed. CPT1B/CHKB or P2RY11 polymorphisms were not associated with any specific clinical characteristics.
The study extends on the observation of a strong multiethnic association of polymorphisms in the TCRA and P2RY11 with narcolepsy, but does not confirm the association of CPT1B/CHKB (rs5770917) in the Chinese population.
PMCID: PMC3288279  PMID: 22177342
narcolepsy; TCR alpha; P2RY11; CPT1B/CHKB; hypocretin; orexin; MSLT; HLADQB1*0602
18.  Hepatitis D Virus Isolates with Low Replication and Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition-Inducing Activity Are Associated with Disease Remission 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(17):9044-9054.
Clearance of hepatitis D virus (HDV) viremia leads to disease remission. Large hepatitis delta antigen (L-HDAg) has been reported to activate transforming growth factor β, which may induce epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and fibrogenesis. This study analyzed serum HDV RNA “quasispecies” in HDV-infected patients at two stages of infection: before and after alanine aminotransferase (ALT) elevations. Included in the study were four patients who went into remission after ALT elevation and three patients who did not go into remission and progressed to cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma. Full-length HDV cDNA clones were obtained from the most abundant HDV RNA species at the pre- and post-ALT elevation stages. Using an in vitro model consisting of Huh-7 cells transfected with cloned HDV cDNAs, the pre- or post-ALT elevation dominant HDV RNA species were characterized for (i) their replication capacity by measuring HDV RNA and HDAg levels in transfected cells and (ii) their capacity to induce EMT by measuring the levels of the mesenchymal-cell-specific protein vimentin, the EMT regulators twist and snail, and the epithelial-cell-specific protein E-cadherin. Results show that in patients in remission, the post-ALT elevation dominant HDV RNA species had a lower replication capacity in vitro and lower EMT activity than their pre-ALT elevation counterparts. This was not true of patients who did not go into remission. The expression of L-HDAg, but not small HDAg, increased the expression of the EMT-related proteins. It is concluded that in chronically infected patients, HDV quasispecies with a low replication capacity and low EMT activity are associated with disease remission.
PMCID: PMC3416108  PMID: 22674995
19.  ImmunoChip Study Implicates Antigen Presentation to T Cells in Narcolepsy 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(2):e1003270.
Recent advances in the identification of susceptibility genes and environmental exposures provide broad support for a post-infectious autoimmune basis for narcolepsy/hypocretin (orexin) deficiency. We genotyped loci associated with other autoimmune and inflammatory diseases in 1,886 individuals with hypocretin-deficient narcolepsy and 10,421 controls, all of European ancestry, using a custom genotyping array (ImmunoChip). Three loci located outside the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) region on chromosome 6 were significantly associated with disease risk. In addition to a strong signal in the T cell receptor alpha (TRA@), variants in two additional narcolepsy loci, Cathepsin H (CTSH) and Tumor necrosis factor (ligand) superfamily member 4 (TNFSF4, also called OX40L), attained genome-wide significance. These findings underline the importance of antigen presentation by HLA Class II to T cells in the pathophysiology of this autoimmune disease.
Author Summary
While there is now broad consensus that narcolepsy-hypocretin deficiency results from a highly specific autoimmune attack on hypocretin cells, little is understood regarding the initiation and progression of the underlying autoimmune process. We have taken advantage of a unique high-density genotyping platform (the ImmunoChip) designed to study variants in genes known to be important to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Our study of nearly 2000 narcolepsy cases compared to 10,000 controls underscored important roles for HLA DQB1*06:02 and the T cell receptor alpha genes and implicated two additional genes, Cathepsin H and TNFSF4/OX40L, in disease pathogenesis. These findings are particularly important, as these encoded proteins have key roles in antigen processing, presentation, and T cell response, and they suggest that specific interactions at the immunological synapse constitute the pathway to the disease. Further studies of these genes and encoded proteins may therefore reveal the mechanism leading to this highly selective and unique autoimmune disease.
PMCID: PMC3573113  PMID: 23459209
20.  Non-canonical TAF complexes regulate active promoters in human embryonic stem cells 
eLife  2012;1:e00068.
The general transcription factor TFIID comprises the TATA-box-binding protein (TBP) and approximately 14 TBP-associated factors (TAFs). Here we find, unexpectedly, that undifferentiated human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) contain only six TAFs (TAFs 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 11), whereas following differentiation all TAFs are expressed. Directed and global chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses reveal an unprecedented promoter occupancy pattern: most active genes are bound by only TAFs 3 and 5 along with TBP, whereas the remaining active genes are bound by TBP and all six hESC TAFs. Consistent with these results, hESCs contain a previously undescribed complex comprising TAFs 2, 6, 7, 11 and TBP. Altering the composition of hESC TAFs, either by depleting TAFs that are present or ectopically expressing TAFs that are absent, results in misregulated expression of pluripotency genes and induction of differentiation. Thus, the selective expression and use of TAFs underlies the ability of hESCs to self-renew.
eLife digest
Embryonic stem cells have two characteristic properties: they are able to differentiate into any type of cell, a property known as pluripotency, and they are able to replicate themselves indefinitely to produce an endless supply of new stem cells. Different genes code for the various proteins associated with these two properties, and understanding the behaviour and properties of stem cells in detail is a major challenge in developmental biology. In human embryonic stem cells that have not yet differentiated, the genes that code for the transcription factors involved in the self-renewal process are expressed, whereas the genes associated with differentiation are not active. However, if the expression of the genes for self-renewal is reduced, the process of differentiation will begin, and the embryonic stem cells will be able to produce any one of the 200 or so different types of cell found in the human body.
All of this activity is orchestrated by proteins that oversee the transcription of specific regions of DNA into messenger RNA. Transcription is the first step in the process by which genes are expressed as proteins, and it cannot start until the relevant transcription factor binds to a stretch of DNA near the gene called the promoter. These transcription factors are complex structures that contain a central protein called TBP, which binds to the promoter, and 14 or so other proteins called TAFs.
Maston et al. now report that the transcription machinery that regulates gene expression and self-renewal in human embryonic stem cells is different from that found in other types of cells, including embryonic stem cells taken from mice. In particular, they found that undifferentiated human embryonic stem cells contain only 6 of the 14 TAFs observed in other cells, although all 14 are present after differentiation. Moreover, for many active genes the transcription factors contained only two of these TAFs. There was also evidence for a new complex that contained the other four TAFs plus TBP.
Maston et al. also demonstrated that the removal of just one of the six TAFs, or the addition of just one extra TAF, caused the process of differentiation to begin. This shows, they argue, that the unusual transcription machinery they have discovered is essential for the proper workings of human embryonic stem cells.
PMCID: PMC3490149  PMID: 23150797
transcription factors; TATA-box-binding protein (TBP); pre-initiation complex; human embryonic stem cell; TBP-associated factor (TAF); pluripotency gene expression; Human; Mouse
21.  Autophagy in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41394.
Autophagy is a basic cellular homeostatic process important to cell fate decisions under conditions of stress. Dysregulation of autophagy impacts numerous human diseases including cancer and chronic obstructive lung disease. This study investigates the role of autophagy in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Human lung tissues from patients with IPF were analyzed for autophagy markers and modulating proteins using western blotting, confocal microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. To study the effects of TGF-β1 on autophagy, human lung fibroblasts were monitored by fluorescence microscopy and western blotting. In vivo experiments were done using the bleomycin-induced fibrosis mouse model.
Lung tissues from IPF patients demonstrate evidence of decreased autophagic activity as assessed by LC3, p62 protein expression and immunofluorescence, and numbers of autophagosomes. TGF-β1 inhibits autophagy in fibroblasts in vitro at least in part via activation of mTORC1; expression of TIGAR is also increased in response to TGF-β1. In the bleomycin model of pulmonary fibrosis, rapamycin treatment is antifibrotic, and rapamycin also decreases expression of á-smooth muscle actin and fibronectin by fibroblasts in vitro. Inhibition of key regulators of autophagy, LC3 and beclin-1, leads to the opposite effect on fibroblast expression of á-smooth muscle actin and fibronectin.
Autophagy is not induced in pulmonary fibrosis despite activation of pathways known to promote autophagy. Impairment of autophagy by TGF-β1 may represent a mechanism for the promotion of fibrogenesis in IPF.
PMCID: PMC3399849  PMID: 22815997
22.  Thrombolytic effects of Douchi Fibrinolytic enzyme from Bacillus subtilis LD-8547 in vitro and in vivo 
BMC Biotechnology  2012;12:36.
Today, thrombosis is one of the most widely occurring diseases in modern life. Drugs with thrombolytic functions are the most effective methods in the treatment of thrombosis. Among them, Douchi fibrinolytic enzyme (DFE) is a promising agent. DFE was isolated from Douchi, a typical and popular soybean-fermented food in China, and it can dissolve fibrin directly and efficiently. A strain, Bacillus subtilis LD-8547 produced DFE with high fibrinolytic activity has been isolated in our lab previously.
In the study, thrombolytic effect of DFE from Bacillus subtilis LD-8547 was studied in vitro and in vivo systematically. The results showed that DFE played a significant role in thrombolysis and anticoagulation in vitro. And the thrombolytic effects correlated with DFE in a dose-dependent manner. In vivo, the acute toxicity assay showed that DFE had no obvious acute toxicity to mice. Test of carrageenan-induced thrombosis in mice indicated that the DFE significantly prevented tail thrombosis, and arterial thrombosis model test indicated that Douchi fibrinolytic enzyme DFE had thrombolytic effect on carotid thrombosis of rabbits in vivo. Other results in vivo indicated that DFE could increase bleeding and clotting time obviously.
The DFE isolated from Bacillus subtilis LD-8547 has obvious thrombolytic effects in vitro and in vivo. This function demonstrates that this enzyme can be a useful tool for preventing and treating clinical thrombus.
PMCID: PMC3434014  PMID: 22748219
Thrombolytic effects; Douchi Fibrinolytic enzyme; in vitro; in vivo
23.  PathScan: a tool for discerning mutational significance in groups of putative cancer genes 
Bioinformatics  2011;27(12):1595-1602.
Motivation: The expansion of cancer genome sequencing continues to stimulate development of analytical tools for inferring relationships between somatic changes and tumor development. Pathway associations are especially consequential, but existing algorithms are demonstrably inadequate.
Methods: Here, we propose the PathScan significance test for the scenario where pathway mutations collectively contribute to tumor development. Its design addresses two aspects that established methods neglect. First, we account for variations in gene length and the consequent differences in their mutation probabilities under the standard null hypothesis of random mutation. The associated spike in computational effort is mitigated by accurate convolution-based approximation. Second, we combine individual probabilities into a multiple-sample value using Fisher–Lancaster theory, thereby improving differentiation between a few highly mutated genes and many genes having only a few mutations apiece. We investigate accuracy, computational effort and power, reporting acceptable performance for each.
Results: As an example calculation, we re-analyze KEGG-based lung adenocarcinoma pathway mutations from the Tumor Sequencing Project. Our test recapitulates the most significant pathways and finds that others for which the original test battery was inconclusive are not actually significant. It also identifies the focal adhesion pathway as being significantly mutated, a finding consistent with earlier studies. We also expand this analysis to other databases: Reactome, BioCarta, Pfam, PID and SMART, finding additional hits in ErbB and EPHA signaling pathways and regulation of telomerase. All have implications and plausible mechanistic roles in cancer. Finally, we discuss aspects of extending the method to integrate gene-specific background rates and other types of genetic anomalies.
Availability: PathScan is implemented in Perl and is available from the Genome Institute at:
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3106187  PMID: 21498403
24.  The preventive effects of apolipoprotein mimetic D-4F from vibration injury—experiment in rats 
Hand (New York, N.Y.)  2010;6(1):64-70.
Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) is a debilitating sequela of neurological and vascular injuries caused by prolonged occupational exposure to hand-transmitted vibration. Our previous study demonstrated that short-term exposure to vibration can induce vasoconstriction and endothelial cell damage in the ventral artery of the rat's tail. The present study investigated whether pretreatment with D-4F, an apolipoprotein A-1 mimetic with known anti-oxidant and vasodilatory properties, prevents vibration-induced vasoconstriction, endothelial cell injury, and protein nitration. Rats were injected intraperitoneally with 3 mg/kg D-4F at 1 h before vibration of the tails for 4 h/day at 60 Hz, 49 m/s2 r.m.s. acceleration for either 1 or 3 days. Vibration-induced endothelial cell damage was examined by light microscopy and nitrotyrosine immunoreactivity (a marker for free radical production). One and 3-day vibration produced vasoconstriction and increased nitrotyrosine. Preemptive treatment with D-4F prevented these negative changes. These findings suggest that D-4F may be useful in the prevention of HAVS.
PMCID: PMC3041892  PMID: 22379441
Occupational Raynaud's; Vasoconstriction; Hand arm vibration syndrome; HAVS; Vibration injury; Endothelial cell injury; D-4F; Apolipoprotein mimetic
25.  Hesperetin, a Selective Phosphodiesterase 4 Inhibitor, Effectively Suppresses Ovalbumin-Induced Airway Hyperresponsiveness without Influencing Xylazine/Ketamine-Induced Anesthesia 
Hesperetin, a selective phosphodiesterase (PDE)4 inhibitor, is present in the traditional Chinese medicine, “Chen Pi.” Therefore, we were interested in investigating its effects on ovalbumin- (OVA-) induced airway hyperresponsiveness, and clarifying its rationale for ameliorating asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Hesperetin was revealed to have a therapeutic (PDE4H/PDE4L) ratio of >11. Hesperetin (10 ~ 30 μmol/kg, intraperitoneally (i.p.)) dose-dependently and significantly attenuated the airway hyperresponsiveness induced by methacholine. It also significantly suppressed the increases in total inflammatory cells, macrophages, lymphocytes, neutrophils, and eosinophils, and levels of cytokines, including interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-5, interferon-γ, and tumor necrosis factor-α in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). It dose-dependently and significantly suppressed total and OVA-specific immunoglobulin E levels in the BALF and serum. However, hesperetin did not influence xylazine/ketamine-induced anesthesia, suggesting that hesperetin has few or no emetic effects. In conclusion, the rationales for ameliorating allergic asthma and COPD by hesperetin are anti-inflammation, immunoregulation, and bronchodilation.
PMCID: PMC3290907  PMID: 22454667

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