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1.  A simplified but robust method for the isolation of avian and mammalian muscle satellite cells 
BMC Cell Biology  2012;13:16.
Current methods of isolation of muscle satellite cells from different animal species are highly variable making inter-species comparisons problematic. This variation mainly stems from the use of different proteolytic enzymes to release the satellite cells from the muscle tissue (sometimes a single enzyme is used but often a combination of enzymes is preferred) and the different extracellular matrix proteins used to coat culture ware. In addition, isolation of satellite cells is frequently laborious and sometimes may require pre-plating of the cell preparation on uncoated flasks or Percoll centrifugation to remove contaminating fibroblasts. The methodology employed to isolate and culture satellite cells in vitro can critically determine the fusion of myoblasts into multi-nucleated myotubes. These terminally differentiated myotubes resemble mature myofibres in the muscle tissue in vivo, therefore optimal fusion is a keystone of in vitro muscle culture. Hence, a simple method of muscle satellite cell isolation and culture of different vertebrate species that can result in a high fusion rate is highly desirable.
We demonstrate here a relatively simple and rapid method of isolating highly enriched muscle satellite cells from different avian and mammalian species. In brief, muscle tissue was mechanically dissociated, digested with a single enzyme (pronase), triturated with a 10-ml pipette, filtered and directly plated onto collagen coated flasks. Following this method and after optimization of the cell culture conditions, excellent fusion rates were achieved in the duck, chicken, horse and cow (with more than 50% cell fusion), and to a lesser extent pig, pointing to pronase as a highly suitable enzyme to release satellite cells from muscle tissue.
Our simplified method presents a quick and simple alternative to isolating highly enriched muscle satellite cell cultures which can subsequently rapidly differentiate into well developed primary myotubes. The use of the same isolation protocol allows better inter-species comparisons of muscle satellite cells. Of all the farm animal species investigated, harvested chicken muscle cells showed the highest percentage of muscle satellite cells, and equine muscle cells presented the highest fusion index, an impressive ≈ 77%. Porcine cells displayed the lowest amount of satellite cells but still achieved a modest fusion rate of ≈ 41%.
PMCID: PMC3432597  PMID: 22720831
Muscle satellite cells; Primary skeletal muscle cultures; Immunocytochemistry; Desmin; Pax7; α-sarcomeric actin; Fusion index
2.  Comparative distribution of human and avian type sialic acid influenza receptors in the pig 
A major determinant of influenza infection is the presence of virus receptors on susceptible host cells to which the viral haemagglutinin is able to bind. Avian viruses preferentially bind to sialic acid α2,3-galactose (SAα2,3-Gal) linked receptors, whereas human strains bind to sialic acid α2,6-galactose (SAα2,6-Gal) linked receptors. To date, there has been no detailed account published on the distribution of SA receptors in the pig, a model host that is susceptible to avian and human influenza subtypes, thus with potential for virus reassortment. We examined the relative expression and spatial distribution of SAα2,3-GalG(1-3)GalNAc and SAα2,6-Gal receptors in the major organs from normal post-weaned pigs by binding with lectins Maackia amurensis agglutinins (MAA II) and Sambucus nigra agglutinin (SNA) respectively.
Both SAα2,3-Gal and SAα2,6-Gal receptors were extensively detected in the major porcine organs examined (trachea, lung, liver, kidney, spleen, heart, skeletal muscle, cerebrum, small intestine and colon). Furthermore, distribution of both SA receptors in the pig respiratory tract closely resembled the published data of the human tract. Similar expression patterns of SA receptors between pig and human in other major organs were found, with exception of the intestinal tract. Unlike the limited reports on the scarcity of influenza receptors in human intestines, we found increasing presence of SAα2,3-Gal and SAα2,6-Gal receptors from duodenum to colon in the pig.
The extensive presence of SAα2,3-Gal and SAα2,6-Gal receptors in the major organs examined suggests that each major organ may be permissive to influenza virus entry or infection. The high similarity of SA expression patterns between pig and human, in particular in the respiratory tract, suggests that pigs are not more likely to be potential hosts for virus reassortment than humans. Our finding of relative abundance of SA receptors in the pig intestines highlights a need for clarification on the presence of SA receptors in the human intestinal tract.
PMCID: PMC2832630  PMID: 20105300
3.  Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase-Activated Protein Kinases 2 and 3 Regulate SERCA2a Expression and Fiber Type Composition To Modulate Skeletal Muscle and Cardiomyocyte Function 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2013;33(13):2586-2602.
The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-activated protein kinases 2 and 3 (MK2/3) represent protein kinases downstream of the p38 MAPK. Using MK2/3 double-knockout (MK2/3−/−) mice, we analyzed the role of MK2/3 in cross-striated muscle by transcriptome and proteome analyses and by histology. We demonstrated enhanced expression of the slow oxidative skeletal muscle myofiber gene program, including the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) coactivator 1α (PGC-1α). Using reporter gene and electrophoretic gel mobility shift assays, we demonstrated that MK2 catalytic activity directly regulated the promoters of the fast fiber-specific myosin heavy-chain IId/x and the slow fiber-specific sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase 2 (SERCA2) gene. Elevated SERCA2a gene expression caused by a decreased ratio of transcription factor Egr-1 to Sp1 was associated with accelerated relaxation and enhanced contractility in MK2/3−/− cardiomyocytes, concomitant with improved force parameters in MK2/3−/− soleus muscle. These results link MK2/3 to the regulation of calcium dynamics and identify enzymatic activity of MK2/3 as a critical factor for modulating cross-striated muscle function by generating a unique muscle phenotype exhibiting both reduced fatigability and enhanced force in MK2/3−/− mice. Hence, the p38-MK2/3 axis may represent a novel target for the design of therapeutic strategies for diseases related to fiber type changes or impaired SERCA2 function.
PMCID: PMC3700115  PMID: 23608535
4.  Mammalian Innate Resistance to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 Virus Infection Is Mediated through Reduced Proinflammation and Infectious Virus Release 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(17):9201-9210.
Respiratory epithelial cells and macrophages are the key innate immune cells that play an important role in the pathogenesis of influenza A virus infection. We found that these two cell types from both human and pig showed comparable susceptibilities to initial infection with a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus (A/turkey/Turkey/1/05) and a moderately pathogenic human influenza H1N1 virus (A/USSR/77), but there were contrasting differences in host innate immune responses. Human cells mounted vigorous cytokine (tumor necrosis factor alpha [TNF-α] and interleukin-6 [IL-6]) and chemokine (CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11) responses to H5N1 virus infection. However, pig epithelial cells and macrophages showed weak or no TNF-α and chemokine induction with the same infections. The apparent lack of a strong proinflammatory response, corroborated by the absence of TNF-α induction in H5N1 virus-challenged pigs, coincided with greater cell death and the reduced release of infectious virus from infected pig epithelial cells. Suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3), a protein suppressor of the JAK-STAT pathway, was constitutively highly expressed and transcriptionally upregulated in H5N1 virus-infected pig epithelial cells and macrophages, in contrast to the corresponding human cells. The overexpression of SOCS3 in infected human macrophages dampened TNF-α induction. In summary, we found that the reported low susceptibility of pigs to contemporary Eurasian HPAI H5N1 virus infections coincides at the level of innate immunity of respiratory epithelial cells and macrophages with a reduced output of viable virus and an attenuated proinflammatory response, possibly mediated in part by SOCS3, which could serve as a target in the treatment or prevention of virus-induced hypercytokinemia, as observed for humans.
PMCID: PMC3416141  PMID: 22718824
5.  Extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2-mediated phosphorylation of p300 enhances myosin heavy chain I/β gene expression via acetylation of nuclear factor of activated T cells c1 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(14):5907-5925.
The nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) c1 has been shown to be essential for Ca2+-dependent upregulation of myosin heavy chain (MyHC) I/β expression during skeletal muscle fiber type transformation. Here, we report activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 in Ca2+-ionophore-treated C2C12 myotubes and electrostimulated soleus muscle. Activated ERK1/2 enhanced NFATc1-dependent upregulation of a −2.4 kb MyHCI/β promoter construct without affecting subcellular localization of endogenous NFATc1. Instead, ERK1/2-augmented phosphorylation of transcriptional coactivator p300, promoted its recruitment to NFATc1 and increased NFATc1–DNA binding to a NFAT site of the MyHCI/β promoter. In line, inhibition of ERK1/2 signaling abolished the effects of p300. Comparison between wild-type p300 and an acetyltransferase-deficient mutant (p300DY) indicated increased NFATc1–DNA binding as a consequence of p300-mediated acetylation of NFATc1. Activation of the MyHCI/β promoter by p300 depends on two conserved acetylation sites in NFATc1, which affect DNA binding and transcriptional stimulation. NFATc1 acetylation occurred in Ca2+-ionophore treated C2C12 myotubes or electrostimulated soleus. Finally, endogenous MyHCI/β gene expression in C2C12 myotubes was strongly inhibited by p300DY and a mutant deficient in ERK phosphorylation sites. In conclusion, ERK1/2-mediated phosphorylation of p300 is crucial for enhancing NFATc1 transactivation function by acetylation, which is essential for Ca2+-induced MyHCI/β expression.
PMCID: PMC3152325  PMID: 21498542
6.  Differences in influenza virus receptors in chickens and ducks: Implications for interspecies transmission 
Avian influenza viruses are considered to be key contributors to the emergence of human influenza pandemics. A major determinant of infection is the presence of virus receptors on susceptible cells to which the viral haemagglutinin is able to bind. Avian viruses preferentially bind to sialic acid α2,3-galactose (SAα2,3-Gal) linked receptors, whereas human strains bind to sialic acid α2,6-galactose (SAα2,6-Gal) linked receptors. While ducks are the major reservoir for influenza viruses, they are typically resistant to the effects of viral infection, in contrast to the frequently severe disease observed in chickens. In order to understand whether differences in receptors might contribute to this observation, we studied the distribution of influenza receptors in organs of ducks and chickens using lectin histochemistry with linkage specific lectins and receptor binding assays with swine and avian influenza viruses. Although the intestinal epithelial cells of both species expressed only SAα2,3-Gal receptors, we found widespread presence of both SAα2,6-Gal and SAα2,3-Gal receptors in many organs of both chickens and ducks. Co-expression of both receptors may allow infection of cells with both avian and human viruses and so present a route to genetic reassortment. There was a marked difference in the primary receptor type in the trachea of chickens and ducks. In chicken trachea, SAα2,6-Gal was the dominant receptor type whereas in ducks SAα2,3-Gal receptors were most abundant. This suggests that chickens could be more important as an intermediate host for the generation of influenza viruses with increased ability to bind to SAα2,6-Gal receptors and thus greater potential for infection of humans. Chicken tracheal and intestinal epithelial cells also expressed a broader range of SAα2,3-Gal receptors (both β(1-4)GlcNAc and β(1-3)GalNAc subtypes) in contrast to ducks, which suggests that they may be able to support infection with a broader range of avian influenza viruses.
PMCID: PMC2702077  PMID: 19565022
Host receptors; influenza; interspecies transmission; chicken; duck
7.  Porcine congenital splayleg is characterised by muscle fibre atrophy associated with relative rise in MAFbx and fall in P311 expression 
Porcine congenital splayleg (PCS) is the most important congenital condition of piglets, associated with lameness and immobility, of unknown aetiology and pathogenesis, hence the need to better understand the condition by defining, in the first instance, its histopathology and molecular pathology.
Semitendinosus, longissimus dorsi, and gastrocnemius muscles were removed from 4 sets of 2-day-old splayleg piglets, each with a corresponding normal litter mate. Based on immunohistochemistry and histological image analysis, PCS piglets showed significantly smaller fibre size without any accompanying sign of inflammation. Although there was no dramatic change in fibre type composition in affected muscles, several structural myosin heavy chain genes were significantly down-regulated. MAFbx, a major atrophy marker, was highly up-regulated in nearly all PCS muscles, in comparison with controls from normal litter mates. In contrast, P311, a novel 8 kDa protein, was relatively down-regulated in all the PCS muscles. To investigate a functional role of P311 in skeletal muscle, its full-length cDNA was over-expressed in murine C2C12 muscle cells, which resulted in enhanced cell proliferation with reduced myotube formation. Hence, reduced P311 expression in PCS piglets might contribute to atrophy through reduced muscle cell proliferation. P311, predictably, was down-regulated by the over-expression of calcineurin, a key signalling factor of muscle differentiation.
We demonstrated that PCS is a condition characterised by extensive fibre atrophy and raised fibre density, and propose that the combined differential expression of MAFbx and P311 is of potential in the diagnosis of subclinical PCS.
PMCID: PMC1550227  PMID: 16869957
8.  Rapid death of duck cells infected with influenza: a potential mechanism for host resistance to H5N1 
Immunology and Cell Biology  2011;90(1):116-123.
Aquatic birds are the natural reservoir for most subtypes of influenza A, and a source of novel viruses with the potential to cause human pandemics, fatal zoonotic disease or devastating epizootics in poultry. It is well recognised that waterfowl typically show few clinical signs following influenza A infection, in contrast, terrestrial poultry such as chickens may develop severe disease with rapid death following infection with highly pathogenic avian influenza. This study examined the cellular response to influenza infection in primary cells derived from resistant (duck) and susceptible (chicken) avian hosts. Paradoxically, we observed that duck cells underwent rapid cell death following infection with low pathogenic avian H2N3, classical swine H1N1 and ‘classical' highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses. Dying cells showed morphological features of apoptosis, increased DNA fragmentation and activation of caspase 3/7. Following infection of chicken cells, cell death occurred less rapidly, accompanied by reduced DNA fragmentation and caspase activation. Duck cells produced similar levels of viral RNA but less infectious virus, in comparison with chicken cells. Such rapid cell death was not observed in duck cells infected with a contemporary Eurasian lineage H5N1 fatal to ducks. The induction of rapid death in duck cells may be part of a mechanism of host resistance to influenza A, with the loss of this response leading to increased susceptibility to emergent strains of H5N1. These studies provide novel insights that should help resolve the long-standing enigma of host–pathogen relationships for highly pathogenic and zoonotic avian influenza.
PMCID: PMC3257048  PMID: 21423263
apoptosis; avian influenza; cell death; chickens; ducks; host resistance
9.  18S rRNA is a reliable normalisation gene for real time PCR based on influenza virus infected cells 
Virology Journal  2012;9:230.
One requisite of quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) is to normalise the data with an internal reference gene that is invariant regardless of treatment, such as virus infection. Several studies have found variability in the expression of commonly used housekeeping genes, such as beta-actin (ACTB) and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), under different experimental settings. However, ACTB and GAPDH remain widely used in the studies of host gene response to virus infections, including influenza viruses. To date no detailed study has been described that compares the suitability of commonly used housekeeping genes in influenza virus infections. The present study evaluated several commonly used housekeeping genes [ACTB, GAPDH, 18S ribosomal RNA (18S rRNA), ATP synthase, H+ transporting, mitochondrial F1 complex, beta polypeptide (ATP5B) and ATP synthase, H+ transporting, mitochondrial Fo complex, subunit C1 (subunit 9) (ATP5G1)] to identify the most stably expressed gene in human, pig, chicken and duck cells infected with a range of influenza A virus subtypes.
The relative expression stability of commonly used housekeeping genes were determined in primary human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs), pig tracheal epithelial cells (PTECs), and chicken and duck primary lung-derived cells infected with five influenza A virus subtypes. Analysis of qRT-PCR data from virus and mock infected cells using NormFinder and BestKeeper software programmes found that 18S rRNA was the most stable gene in HBECs, PTECs and avian lung cells.
Based on the presented data from cell culture models (HBECs, PTECs, chicken and duck lung cells) infected with a range of influenza viruses, we found that 18S rRNA is the most stable reference gene for normalising qRT-PCR data. Expression levels of the other housekeeping genes evaluated in this study (including ACTB and GPADH) were highly affected by influenza virus infection and hence are not reliable as reference genes for RNA normalisation.
PMCID: PMC3499178  PMID: 23043930
Reference gene; Housekeeping gene; qRT-PCR; Data normalisation; Influenza A viruses; H5N1; H1N1; H2N3
10.  Development of a porcine skeletal muscle cDNA microarray: analysis of differential transcript expression in phenotypically distinct muscles 
BMC Genomics  2003;4:8.
Microarray profiling has the potential to illuminate the molecular processes that govern the phenotypic characteristics of porcine skeletal muscles, such as hypertrophy or atrophy, and the expression of specific fibre types. This information is not only important for understanding basic muscle biology but also provides underpinning knowledge for enhancing the efficiency of livestock production.
We report on the de novo development of a composite skeletal muscle cDNA microarray, comprising 5500 clones from two developmentally distinct cDNA libraries (longissimus dorsi of a 50-day porcine foetus and the gastrocnemius of a 3-day-old pig). Clones selected for the microarray assembly were of low to moderate abundance, as indicated by colony hybridisation. We profiled the differential expression of genes between the psoas (red muscle) and the longissimus dorsi (white muscle), by co-hybridisation of Cy3 and Cy5 labelled cDNA derived from these two muscles. Results from seven microarray slides (replicates) correctly identified genes that were expected to be differentially expressed, as well as a number of novel candidate regulatory genes. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR on selected genes was used to confirm the results from the microarray.
We have developed a porcine skeletal muscle cDNA microarray and have identified a number of candidate genes that could be involved in muscle phenotype determination, including several members of the casein kinase 2 signalling pathway.
PMCID: PMC152649  PMID: 12611633
microarray; skeletal muscle; casein kinase 2; bin1; porcine; differential expression

Results 1-10 (10)