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author:("Li, inoxia")
1.  Carex diaoluoshanica (Carex sect. Lageniformes, Cyperaceae), a New Species from Hainan, China 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e97658.
Carex diaoluoshanica, a new species of Carex sect. Lageniformes from Hainan, China, is described and illustrated. The new species is similar to C. breviscapa but differs in having wider leaves with the leaf base gradually narrowed, 5–10 cm long and petiolelike, culms subfiliform, with only two spikes, the lateral female spikes from near the culm base.
PMCID: PMC4061016  PMID: 24937208
2.  Effects of Voltage-Gated K+ Channel on Cell Proliferation in Multiple Myeloma 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:785140.
Objective. To study the effects and underlying mechanisms of voltage-gated K+ channels on the proliferation of multiple myeloma cells. Methods. RPMI-8226 MM cell line was used for the experiments. Voltage-gated K+ currents and the resting potential were recorded by whole-cell patch-clamp technique. RT-PCR detected Kv channel mRNA expression. Cell viability was analyzed with MTT assay. Cell counting system was employed to monitor cell proliferation. DNA contents and cell volume were analyzed by flow cytometry. Results. Currents recorded in RPMI-8226 cells were confirmed to be voltage-gated K+ channels. A high level of Kv1.3 mRNA was detected but no Kv3.1 mRNA was detected in RPMI-8226 cells. Voltage-gated K+ channel blocker 4-aminopyridine (4-AP) (2 mM) depolarized the resting potential from −42 ± 1.7 mV to −31.8 ± 2.8 mV (P < 0.01). The results of MTT assay showed that there was no significant cytotoxicity to RPMI-8226 cells when the 4-AP concentration was lower than 4 mM. 4-AP arrested cell cycle in G0/G1 phase. Cells were synchronized at the G1/S boundary by treatment of aphidicolin and released from the blockage by replacing the medium with normal culture medium or with culture medium containing 2 mM 4-AP. 4-AP produced no significant inhibitory effect on cell cycle compared with control cells (P > 0.05). Conclusions. In RPMI-8226, voltage-gated K+ channels are involved in proliferation and cell cycle progression its influence on the resting potential and cell volume may be responsible for this process; the inhibitory effect of the voltage-gated K+ channel blocker on RPMI-8226 cell proliferation is a phase-specific event.
PMCID: PMC4068034  PMID: 24995361
3.  The large-scale investigation of gene expression in Leymus chinensis stigmas provides a valuable resource for understanding the mechanisms of poaceae self-incompatibility 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):399.
Many Poaceae species show a gametophytic self-incompatibility (GSI) system, which is controlled by at least two independent and multiallelic loci, S and Z. Until currently, the gene products for S and Z were unknown. Grass SI plant stigmas discriminate between pollen grains that land on its surface and support compatible pollen tube growth and penetration into the stigma, whereas recognizing incompatible pollen and thus inhibiting pollination behaviors. Leymus chinensis (Trin.) Tzvel. (sheepgrass) is a Poaceae SI species. A comprehensive analysis of sheepgrass stigma transcriptome may provide valuable information for understanding the mechanism of pollen-stigma interactions and grass SI.
The transcript abundance profiles of mature stigmas, mature ovaries and leaves were examined using high-throughput next generation sequencing technology. A comparative transcriptomic analysis of these tissues identified 1,025 specifically or preferentially expressed genes in sheepgrass stigmas. These genes contained a significant proportion of genes predicted to function in cell-cell communication and signal transduction. We identified 111 putative transcription factors (TFs) genes and the most abundant groups were MYB, C2H2, C3H, FAR1, MADS. Comparative analysis of the sheepgrass, rice and Arabidopsis stigma-specific or preferential datasets showed broad similarities and some differences in the proportion of genes in the Gene Ontology (GO) functional categories. Potential SI candidate genes identified in other grasses were also detected in the sheepgrass stigma-specific or preferential dataset. Quantitative real-time PCR experiments validated the expression pattern of stigma preferential genes including homologous grass SI candidate genes.
This study represents the first large-scale investigation of gene expression in the stigmas of an SI grass species. We uncovered many notable genes that are potentially involved in pollen-stigma interactions and SI mechanisms, including genes encoding receptor-like protein kinases (RLK), CBL (calcineurin B-like proteins) interacting protein kinases, calcium-dependent protein kinase, expansins, pectinesterase, peroxidases and various transcription factors. The availability of a pool of stigma-specific or preferential genes for L. chinensis offers an opportunity to elucidate the mechanisms of SI in Poaceae.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-15-399) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4045969  PMID: 24886329
5.  Structure of the unique SEFIR domain from human interleukin 17 receptor A reveals a composite ligand-binding site containing a conserved α-helix for Act1 binding and IL-17 signaling 
Crystal structure of the SEFIR domain from human IL-17 receptor A provides new insights into IL-17 signaling.
Interleukin 17 (IL-17) cytokines play a crucial role in mediating inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. A unique intracellular signaling domain termed SEFIR is found within all IL-17 receptors (IL-17Rs) as well as the key adaptor protein Act1. SEFIR-mediated protein–protein interaction is a crucial step in IL-17 cytokine signaling. Here, the 2.3 Å resolution crystal structure of the SEFIR domain of IL-17RA, the most commonly shared receptor for IL-17 cytokine signaling, is reported. The structure includes the complete SEFIR domain and an additional α-helical C-terminal extension, which pack tightly together to form a compact unit. Structural comparison between the SEFIR domains of IL-17RA and IL-17RB reveals substantial differences in protein topology and folding. The uniquely long insertion between strand βC and helix αC in IL-17RA SEFIR is mostly well ordered, displaying a helix (αCC′ins) and a flexible loop (CC′). The DD′ loop in the IL-17RA SEFIR structure is much shorter; it rotates nearly 90° with respect to the counterpart in the IL-17RB SEFIR structure and shifts about 12 Å to accommodate the αCC′ins helix without forming any knots. Helix αC was identified as critical for its interaction with Act1 and IL-17-stimulated gene expression. The data suggest that the heterotypic SEFIR–SEFIR association via helix αC is a conserved and signature mechanism specific for IL-17 signaling. The structure also suggests that the downstream motif of IL-17RA SEFIR together with helix αC could provide a composite ligand-binding surface for recruiting Act1 during IL-17 signaling.
PMCID: PMC4014126  PMID: 24816115
SEFIR domain; interleukin 17 receptor A; Act1 binding; IL-17 signaling
6.  Nascent Endothelium Initiates TH2 Polarization of Asthma 
Asthma airway remodeling is linked to T helper-2 (TH2) inflammation. Angiogenesis is a consistent feature of airway remodeling, but its contribution to pathophysiology remains unclear. We hypothesized that nascent endothelial cells in newly forming vessels are sufficient to initiate TH2-inflammation. VE-cadherin is a constitutively expressed endothelial cell adhesion molecule, which is exposed in its monomer form on endothelial tip cells prior to adherens junction formation. Antibody targeted to VE-cadherin monomers inhibits angiogenesis by blocking this adherens junction formation. Here, VE-cadherin monomer antibody reduced angiogenesis in the lungs of the allergen-induced murine asthma model. Strikingly, TH2 responses including, IgE production, eosinophil infiltration of the airway, subepithelial fibrosis, mucus metaplasia and airway-hyperreactivity were also attenuated by VE-cadherin blockade, via mechanisms that blunted endothelial IL-25 and proangiogenic progenitor cell TSLP production. The results identify angiogenic responses in the origins of atopic inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3608697  PMID: 23427249
VE-Cadherin; angiogenesis; asthma; Th2; endothelium
7.  Crystal structure of interleukin 17 receptor B SEFIR domain 
Interleukin 17 (IL-17) cytokines play a crucial role in a variety of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. They signal through heterodimeric receptor complexes consisting of members of IL-17 receptor (IL-17R) family. A unique intracellular signaling domain was identified within all IL-17Rs, termed SEFIR [SEF (similar expression to fibroblast growth factor genes) and IL-17R]. SEFIR is also found in nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) activator 1 (Act1), an E3 ubiquitin ligase, and mediates its recruitment to IL-17Rs. Here we report the structure of the first SEFIR domain from IL-17RB at 1.8Å resolution. SEFIR displays a five-stranded parallel β-sheet that is wrapped by six helices. Site-directed mutagenesis on IL-17RB identified helix αC as being critical for its interaction with Act1 and IL-25 (IL-17E) signaling. Using the current SEFIR structure as a template, the key functional residues in Act1 are also mapped as part of helix αC, which is conserved in IL-17RA and RC, suggesting this helix as a common structural signature for heterotypic SEFIR-SERIR association. On the other hand, helix αB′ is important for homo-dimerization of Act1, implicating a dual ligand-binding model for SEFIR domain, with distinct structural motifs participating in either homotypic or heterotypic interactions. Furthermore, although IL-17RB-SEFIR structure resembles closest to the Toll/Interleukin-1 receptor (TIR) domain of TLR10 with low sequence homology, substantial differences were observed at helices αC, αD and DD′ loop. This study provides the first structural view of the IL-17 receptor intracellular signaling, unraveling the mechanism for the specificity of SEFIR versus TIR domain in their respective signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC3578156  PMID: 23355738
8.  Cadherin-11 in Renal Cell Carcinoma Bone Metastasis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89880.
Bone is one of the common sites of metastases from renal cell carcinoma (RCC), however the mechanism by which RCC preferentially metastasize to bone is poorly understood. Homing/retention of RCC cells to bone and subsequent proliferation are necessary steps for RCC cells to colonize bone. To explore possible mechanisms by which these processes occur, we used an in vivo metastasis model in which 786-O RCC cells were injected into SCID mice intracardially, and organotropic cell lines from bone, liver, and lymph node were selected. The expression of molecules affecting cell adhesion, angiogenesis, and osteolysis were then examined in these selected cells. Cadherin-11, a mesenchymal cadherin mainly expressed in osteoblasts, was significantly increased on the cell surface in bone metastasis-derived 786-O cells (Bo-786-O) compared to parental, liver, or lymph node-derived cells. In contrast, the homing receptor CXCR4 was equivalently expressed in cells derived from all organs. No significant difference was observed in the expression of angiogenic factors, including HIF-1α, VEGF, angiopoeitin-1, Tie2, c-MET, and osteolytic factors, including PTHrP, IL-6 and RANKL. While the parental and Bo-786-O cells have similar proliferation rates, Bo-786-O cells showed an increase in migration compared to the parental 786-O cells. Knockdown of Cadherin-11 using shRNA reduced the rate of migration in Bo-786-O cells, suggesting that Cadherin-11 contributes to the increased migration observed in bone-derived cells. Immunohistochemical analysis of cadherin-11 expression in a human renal carcinoma tissue array showed that the number of human specimens with positive cadherin-11 activity was significantly higher in tumors that metastasized to bone than that in primary tumors. Together, these results suggest that Cadherin-11 may play a role in RCC bone metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3933681  PMID: 24587095
9.  Transcriptome Analysis Reveals Common and Distinct Mechanisms for Sheepgrass (Leymus chinensis) Responses to Defoliation Compared to Mechanical Wounding 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89495.
Herbivore grazing is a multiple-component process that includes wounding, defoliation, and saliva deposition. Despite the extensive published research on mechanical wounding and defoliation, no analysis to identify the genes that specify defoliation and mechanical wounding has been performed. Moreover, the influence of the expression of these genes on plant regrowth after defoliation remains poorly understood.
Seven cDNA libraries for RNA samples collected from stubble tissues that had been mechanically wounded or defoliated at 2, 6 and 24 h along with the control were sequenced using the Illumina/Solexa platform. A comparative transcriptomic analysis of the sequencing data was conducted. In total, 1,836 and 3,238 genes were detected with significant differential expression levels after wounding and defoliation, respectively, during one day. GO, KOG and pathway-based enrichment analyses were performed to determine and further understand the biological functions of those differentially expressed genes (DEGs). The results demonstrated that both wounding and defoliation activated the systemic synthesis of jasmonate (JA). However, defoliation specifically reduced the expression levels of ribosomal protein genes, cell division or cell expansion-related genes, and lignin biosynthesis genes and may have negatively affected plant growth. Further analysis revealed that the regrowth of elongating leaves was significantly retarded after defoliation at 6 h through the following 7 days of measurement, suggesting that the gene expression pattern and phenotype are consistent. Fifteen genes were selected, and their expression levels were confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR). Thirteen of them exhibited expression patterns consistent with the digital gene expression (DGE) data.
These sequencing datasets allowed us to elucidate the common and distinct mechanisms of plant responses to defoliation and wounding. Additionally, the distinct DEGs represent a valuable resource for novel gene discovery that may improve plant resistance to defoliation from various processes.
PMCID: PMC3931765  PMID: 24586824
10.  Therapeutic Role of Ursolic Acid on Ameliorating Hepatic Steatosis and Improving Metabolic Disorders in High-Fat Diet-Induced Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Rats 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86724.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the most prevalent liver diseases around the world, and is closely associated with obesity, diabetes, and insulin resistance. Ursolic acid (UA), an ubiquitous triterpenoid with multifold biological roles, is distributed in various plants. This study was conducted to investigate the therapeutic effect and potential mechanisms of UA against hepatic steatosis in a high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obese non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) rat model.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Obese NAFLD model was established in Sprague-Dawley rats by 8-week HFD feeding. Therapeutic role of UA was evaluated using 0.125%, 0.25%, 0.5% UA-supplemented diet for another 6 weeks. The results from both morphologic and histological detections indicated that UA significantly reversed HFD-induced hepatic steatosis and liver injury. Besides, hepatic peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-α was markedly up-regulated at both mRNA and protein levels by UA. Knocking down PPAR-α significantly inhibited the anti-steatosis role of UA in vitro. HFD-induced adverse changes in the key genes, which participated in hepatic lipid metabolism, were also alleviated by UA treatment. Furthermore, UA significantly ameliorated HFD-induced metabolic disorders, including insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stress.
These results demonstrated that UA effectively ameliorated HFD-induced hepatic steatosis through a PPAR-α involved pathway, via improving key enzymes in the controlling of lipids metabolism. The metabolic disorders were accordingly improved with the decrease of hepatic steatosis. Thereby, UA could be a promising candidate for the treatment of NAFLD.
PMCID: PMC3906058  PMID: 24489777
11.  Release of Nonmuscle Myosin II from the Cytosolic Domain of Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor 2 Is Required for Target Gene Expression 
Science signaling  2013;6(284):10.1126/scisignal.2003743.
Tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) elicits its biological activities through activation of TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1, also known as p55) and TNFR2 (also known as p75). The activities of both receptors are required for the TNF-α–induced proinflammatory response. The adaptor protein TNFR-associated factor 2 (TRAF2) is critical for either p55- or p75-mediated activation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling, as well as for target gene expression. Here, we identified nonmuscle myosin II (myosin) as a binding partner of p75. TNF-α–dependent signaling by p75 and induction of target gene expression persisted for substantially longer in cells deficient in myosin regulatory light chain (MRLC, a component of myosin) than in cells replete in myosin. In resting endothelial cells, myosin was bound constitutively to the intracellular region of p75, a region that overlaps with the TRAF2-binding domain, and TNF-α caused the rapid dissociation of myosin from p75. At early time points after exposure to TNF-α, p75 activated Rho-associated kinase 1 (ROCK1). Inhibition of ROCK1 activity blocked TNF-α–dependent phosphorylation of MRLC and the dissociation of myosin from p75. ROCK1-dependent release of myosin was necessary for the TNF-α–dependent recruitment of TRAF2 to p75 and for p75-specific activation of NF-κB and MAPK signaling. Thus, our findings have revealed a previously uncharacterized, noncanonical regulatory function of myosin in cytokine signaling.
PMCID: PMC3837481  PMID: 23861542
12.  Pathogenic Pseudorabies Virus, China, 2012 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2014;20(1):102-104.
In 2012, an unprecedented large-scale outbreak of disease in pigs in China caused great economic losses to the swine industry. Isolates from pseudorabies virus epidemics in swine herds were characterized. Evidence confirmed that the pathogenic pseudorabies virus was the etiologic agent of this epidemic.
PMCID: PMC3884716  PMID: 24377462
pseudorabies; highly pathogenic PRV; China; viruses; pigs; swine
13.  Regeneration Capacity of Small Clonal Fragments of the Invasive Mikania micrantha H.B.K.: Effects of Burial Depth and Stolon Internode Length 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84657.
The perennial stoloniferous herbaceous vine Mikania micrantha H.B.K. is among the most noxious exotic invaders in China and the world. Disturbance can fragment stolons of M. micrantha and disperse these fragments over long distances or bury them in soils at different depths. To test their regeneration capacity, single-node stolon fragments with stolon internode lengths of 0, 3, 6 and 12 cm were buried in soil at 0, 2, 5 and 8 cm depths, respectively. The fragments were growing for nine weeks, and their emergence status, growth and morphological traits were measured. The results indicated that increasing burial depth significantly decreased survival rate and increased the emergence time of the M. micrantha plants. At an 8-cm burial depth, very few fragments (2.19%) emerged and survived. Burial did not affect the total biomass and root to shoot ratio of the surviving M. micrantha plants that emerged from the 0- and 2-cm burial depths. Increasing internode length significantly increased survival rate and growth measures, but there was no interaction effect with burial depth for any traits measured. These results suggest that M. micrantha can regenerate from buried stolon fragments, and thus, disturbance may contribute to the spread of this exotic invader. Any human activities producing stolon fragments or facilitating dispersal should be avoided.
PMCID: PMC3867506  PMID: 24367686
14.  IL-4 Derived from Non-T Cells Induces Basophil- and IL-3-independent Th2 Immune Responses 
Immune Network  2013;13(6):249-256.
How Th2 immunity develops in vivo remains obscure. Basophils have been considered key innate cells producing IL-4, a cytokine essential for Th2 immunity. Increasing evidence suggests that basophils are dispensable for the initiation of Th2 immunity. In this study, we revisited the role of basophils in Th2 immune responses induced by various types of adjuvants. Mice deficient in IL-3 or IL-3 receptor, in which basophil lymph node recruitment is completely abolished, fully developed wild type level Th2 CD4 T cell responses in response to parasite antigen or papain immunization. Similar finding was also observed in mice where basophils are inducibly ablated. Interestingly, IL-4-derived from non-T cells appeared to be critical for the generation of IL-4-producing CD4 T cells. Other Th2 promoting factors including IL-25 and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) were dispensable. Therefore, our results suggest that IL-3- and basophil-independent in vivo Th2 immunity develops with the help of non-T cell-derived IL-4, offering an additional mechanism by which Th2 type immune responses arise in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3875783  PMID: 24385943
Basophils; Papain; Parasites; Th2 immunity
15.  Inactivation of the enzyme GSK3α by the kinase IKKi promotes AKT-mTOR signaling pathway that mediates Interleukin-1-induced Th17 cell maintenance 
Immunity  2012;37(5):800-812.
Interleukin-1 (IL-1)-induced activation of the mTOR kinase pathway has major influences on Th17 cell survival, proliferation and effector function. Using biochemical and genetic approaches, the kinases IKKi and GSK3α were identified as the critical intermediate signaling components for IL-1-induced AKT activation, which in turn activated mTOR. Although insulin-induced AKT activation is known to phosphorylate and inactivate GSK3α and GSK3β, we found GSK3α, but not GSK3β formed a constitutive complex to phosphorylate and suppress AKT activation, showing that a reverse action from GSK to AKT can take place. Upon IL-1 stimulation, IKKi was activated to mediate GSK3α phosphorylation at S21, thereby inactivating GSK3α to promote IL-1-induced AKT-mTOR activation. Thus, IKKi has a critical role in Th17 cell maintenance and/or proliferation through the GSK-AKT-mTOR pathway, implicating the potential of IKKi as a therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC3512562  PMID: 23142783
16.  Predicting hemorrhage and obstruction in the elderly population using thromboelastographic indices 
To estimate the value of the different thromboelastogram indices for predicting hemorrhage and vascular obstruction in an elderly population.
This was a prospective cohort study of patients 65 years and older without hemato-logic disorders who received thromboelastography (TEG) examination at the Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Hospital from January 2007 to December 2010. Detailed information was collected at recruitment including their TEG test results. Subjects were then followed during outpatient visits and hospitalization. The primary outcome measures were hemorrhage and vascular obstruction. Receiver-operating characteristics (ROC) curves were used to compare the predictive value of the four TEG indices, reaction time (R), clot formation time (K), maximal amplitude (MA), alpha angle (ANGLE) and their combination for predicting hemorrhage and vascular obstruction. The maximal Youden’s index was used to estimate optimal cut-off values for the indices. Areas under the ROC curves were used to estimate overall predictive accuracies.
A total of 403 elderly patients met inclusion criteria and were included: 373 male and 30 females with mean age 83.0 ± 7.3 years and range of 65–103 years. Hemorrhage occurred in 25 (6.2%) patients and vascular obstruction in 78 (19.4%) patients during the 2-year follow up. The currently recommended TEG cut-off values were poorly predictive of vascular obstruction and modestly predictive of hemorrhage. Based on maximal Youden’s, the optimal cutoffs of the TEG indices for predicting vascular obstruction were: R = 7, K = 1.5, MA = 63.5, and ANGLE = 67.1. A combination of all four showed the best predictive value (area under the ROC curve of 0.60, sensitivity 85.9%, and specificity 34.7%). The optimal cut-off values for predicting hemorrhage were: R = 7.8, K = 2.3, MA = 50.5, ANGLE = 53.7. A combination of R and MA was also most predictive of hemorrhage (area under ROC curve 0.66, sensitivity 60%, and specificity 71.7%).
The currently adopted cut-off values for TEG indices are poorly and modestly predictive of hemorrhage and obstruction, respectively, in the elderly population. Optimal cutoff values determined by ROC curve analysis improved the prediction of vascular obstruction and hemorrhage.
PMCID: PMC3804517  PMID: 24204130
thromboelastography; TEG; elderly; obstruction; hemorrhage; ROC curve; prediction
17.  IL-17 Mediates Estrogen-deficient Osteoporosis in an Act1-dependent Manner 
Journal of cellular biochemistry  2012;113(9):2895-2902.
Estrogen-deficient osteoporosis may be an inflammatory disorder and we therefore asked if IL-17 participates in its pathogenesis. Deletion of the principal IL-17 receptor (IL-17RA) protects mice from ovariectomy (OVX)-induced bone loss. Further supporting a central role of IL-17 in its pathogenesis, OVX-induced osteoporosis is prevented by a blocking antibody targeting the cytokine. IL-17 promotes osteoclastogenesis by stimulating RANK ligand (RANKL) expression by osteoblastic cells, mediated by the IL-17RA SEFIR/TILL domain. Estrogen deprivation, however does not enhance IL-17RA mRNA expression by osteoblasts or in bone, but augments that of Act1, an IL17RA-interacting protein and signaling mediator. Similar to IL-17RA−/− mice, those lacking Act1 are protected from OVX-induced bone loss. Also mirroring IL-17RA-deficiency, absence of Act1 in osteoblasts, but not osteoclasts, impairs osteoclastogenesis via dampened RANKL expression. Transduction of WT Act1 into Act1−/− osteoblasts substantially rescues their osteoclastogenic capacity. The same construct, however, lacking its E3 ligase U-box or its SEFIR domain, which interacts with its counterpart in IL-17RA, fails to do so. Estrogen deprivation, therefore, promotes RANKL expression and bone resorption in association with upregualtion of the IL-17 effector, Act1, supporting the concept that post-menopausal osteoporosis is a disorder of innate immunity.
PMCID: PMC3640304  PMID: 22511335
Interleukin 17; Cytokines; Osteoporosis; Osteoclast/osteoblast biology
18.  Uroplakin Peptide-Specific Autoimmunity Initiates Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72067.
The pathophysiology of interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome (IC/PBS) is enigmatic. Autoimmunity and impaired urothelium might lead the underlying pathology. A major shortcoming in IC/PBS research has been the lack of an appropriate animal model. In this study, we show that the bladder specific uroplakin 3A-derived immunogenic peptide UPK3A 65–84, which contains the binding motif for IAd MHC class II molecules expressed in BALB/c mice, is capable of inducing experimental autoimmune cystitis in female mice of that strain. A highly antigen-specific recall proliferative response of lymph node cells to UPK3A 65–84 was observed, characterized by selectively activated CD4+ T cells with a proinflammatory Th1-like phenotype, including enhanced production of interferon γ and interleukin-2. T cell infiltration of the bladder and bladder-specific increased gene expression of inflammatory cytokines were observed. Either active immunization with UPK3A 65–84 or adoptive transfer of peptide-activated CD4+ T cells induced all of the predominant IC/PBS phenotypic characteristics, including increased micturition frequency, decreased urine output per micturition, and increased pelvic pain responses to stimulation with von Frey filaments. Our study demonstrates the creation of a more specific experimental autoimmune cystitis model that is the first inducible model for IC/PBS that manifests all of the major symptoms of this debilitating condition.
PMCID: PMC3745386  PMID: 23977210
19.  Duck Tembusu virus exhibits neurovirulence in BALB/c mice 
Virology Journal  2013;10:260.
Duck Tembusu virus is a member of the Ntaya group in the genus Flavivirus. The virus has been responsible for severe duck egg-drop syndrome in China since 2010. Its emergence and rapid spread have caused great economic loss for the poultry industry. The epidemiology of the virus infection and the potential threat to public health is of great concern because of the infective and zoonotic nature of flaviviruses.
In this study, the pathogenicity of duck Tembusu virus in BALB/c mice was investigated. Infected mice developed clinical signs, including loss of appetite, ruffled hair, weight loss, disorientation, blindness and paralysis of hind limbs from six days post- infection following intracerebral inoculation. Morbidity was 100%, with mortality ranging from 20 to 80% in three- to eight-week-old mice. High virus titers were recovered from the brain, and the virus was distributed in several organs. Histologically, there was widespread non-suppurative encephalitis in the brain. Lymphocyte depletion in the spleen was observed, along with fatty degeneration in the liver and kidney.
Our results demonstrate, for the first time, that duck Tembusu virus is highly neurovirulent in BALB/c mice. The mouse model used in this work was able to produce Tembusu virus infection and could be useful for elucidating some of the aspects of the pathophysiology of other flavivirus infections.
PMCID: PMC3765187  PMID: 23941427
Duck Tembusu virus; Flavivirus; Neurovirulence; BALB/c mice
20.  HLA-DRB1 Shared Epitope-Dependent DR-DQ Haplotypes Are Associated with Both Anti-CCP–Positive and –Negative Rheumatoid Arthritis in Chinese Han 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71373.
The association between Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) class II and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been extensively studied, but few reported DR-DQ haplotype. Here we investigated the association of HLA-DRB1, DQA1, DQB1, and DR-DQ haplotypes with RA susceptibility and with anti-CCP antibodies in 281 RA patients and 297 control in Han population. High-resolution genotyping were performed. The HLA-DRB1 shared epitope (SE)-encoding allele *0405 displayed the most significant RA association (P = 1.35×10−6). The grouped DRB1 SE alleles showed great association with RA (P = 3.88×10−13). The DRB1 DRRAA alleles displayed significant protective effects (P = 0.021). The SE-dependent DR-DQ haplotype SE-DQ3/4/5 remained strong association with both anti-CCP -positive (P = 3.71×10−13) and -negative RA (P = 3.89×10−5). Our study revealed that SE alleles and its haplotypes SE-DQ3/4/5 were highly associated with RA susceptibility in Han population. The SE-DQ3/4/5 haplotypes were associated with both anti-CCP positive RA and -negative RA.
PMCID: PMC3741114  PMID: 23951149
21.  SIGIRR, a Negative Regulator of TLR/IL-1R Signalling Promotes Microbiota Dependent Resistance to Colonization by Enteric Bacterial Pathogens 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(8):e1003539.
Enteric bacterial pathogens such as enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) and Salmonella Typhimurium target the intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) lining the mammalian gastrointestinal tract. Despite expressing innate Toll-like receptors (TLRs), IEC are innately hypo-responsive to most bacterial products. This is thought to prevent maladaptive inflammatory responses against commensal bacteria, but it also limits antimicrobial responses by IEC to invading bacterial pathogens, potentially increasing host susceptibility to infection. One reason for the innate hypo-responsiveness of IEC is their expression of Single Ig IL-1 Related Receptor (SIGIRR), a negative regulator of interleukin (IL)-1 and TLR signaling. To address whether SIGIRR expression and the innate hypo-responsiveness of IEC impacts on enteric host defense, Sigirr deficient (−/−) mice were infected with the EHEC related pathogen Citrobacter rodentium. Sigirr −/− mice responded with accelerated IEC proliferation and strong pro-inflammatory and antimicrobial responses but surprisingly, Sigirr −/− mice proved dramatically more susceptible to infection than wildtype mice. Through haematopoietic transplantation studies, it was determined that SIGIRR expression by non-haematopoietic cells (putative IEC) regulated these responses. Moreover, the exaggerated responses were found to be primarily dependent on IL-1R signaling. Whilst exploring the basis for their susceptibility, Sigirr −/− mice were found to be unusually susceptible to intestinal Salmonella Typhimurium colonization, developing enterocolitis without the typical requirement for antibiotic based removal of competing commensal microbes. Strikingly, the exaggerated antimicrobial responses seen in Sigirr −/− mice were found to cause a rapid and dramatic loss of commensal microbes from the infected intestine. This depletion appears to reduce the ability of the microbiota to compete for space and nutrients (colonization resistance) with the invading pathogens, leaving the intestine highly susceptible to pathogen colonization. Thus, SIGIRR expression by IEC reflects a strategy that sacrifices maximal innate responsiveness by IEC in order to promote commensal microbe based colonization resistance against bacterial pathogens.
Author Summary
Despite being in close contact with billions of commensal bacteria, the epithelial cells that line the intestine develop very weak innate inflammatory responses to bacterial products. The goal of this study was to explore why these cells respond so poorly, and how increasing their innate responsiveness would impact on host defense against invading bacterial pathogens. We show that a negative regulator of innate signaling called SIGIRR, limits the inflammatory responses of the intestine to bacteria. Following infection by the bacterial pathogen Citrobacter rodentium, the intestines of mice lacking SIGIRR showed exaggerated inflammatory, antimicrobial and proliferative responses. Through transplantation studies, we showed it was SIGIRR expression by intestinal epithelial cells that limits these responses, and that the exaggerated responses were driven by cytokine signaling through the interleukin-1 receptor. Despite their exaggerated responses, SIGIRR deficient mice proved extremely susceptible to infection by C. rodentium and other intestinal bacterial pathogens. We found the exaggerated inflammatory responses rapidly depleted intestinal commensal microbes, reducing their ability to outcompete invading pathogens for space and nutrients (colonization resistance). Our study thus clarifies that the hypo-responsiveness of epithelial cells plays an unexpected but critical role in host defense, by promoting commensal microbe based competition against enteric pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3738496  PMID: 23950714
22.  Lack of T cells in Act1-deficient mice results in elevated IgM-specific autoantibodies but reduced lupus-like disease 
European journal of immunology  2012;42(7):1695-1705.
Act1 is a negative regulator of BAFF and CD40L-induced signaling. Balb/c mice lacking Act1 develop systemic autoimmunity resembling Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Sjögren's Syndrome (SjS). SLE and SjS are characterized by anti-nuclear IgG autoantibody (ANA-IgG) production and inflammation of peripheral tissues. As autoantibody production can occur in a T-cell dependent or T-cell independent manner, we investigated the role of T-cell help during Act1-mediated autoimmunity. Act1-deficiency was bred onto C57Bl/6 (B6.Act1−/−) mice and B6.TCRβ−/−TCRδ−/−Act1−/− (TKO) mice were generated. While TCRβ/δ-sufficient B6.Act1−/− mice developed splenomegaly and lymphadenopathy, hypergammaglobulinemia, elevated levels of ANA-IgG, and kidney pathology, TKO mice failed to develop any such signs of disease. Neither B6.Act1−/− nor TKO mice developed SjS-like disease, suggesting that epigenetic interactions on the Balb/c background are responsible for this phenotype in Balb/c.Act1−/− mice. Interestingly, BAFF-driven transitional B cell abnormalities, previously reported in Balb/c.Act1−/− mice, were intact in B6.Act1−/− mice and largely independent of T cells. In conclusion, T cells are necessary for the development of SLE-like disease in B6.Act1−/− mice, but not BAFF-driven transitional B-cell differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3712797  PMID: 22585710
Systemic lupus erythematosus; autoimmunity; B cells; T cells; autoantibodies
23.  Transcriptome Analysis in Sheepgrass (Leymus chinensis): A Dominant Perennial Grass of the Eurasian Steppe 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67974.
Sheepgrass [Leymus chinensis (Trin.) Tzvel.] is an important perennial forage grass across the Eurasian Steppe and is known for its adaptability to various environmental conditions. However, insufficient data resources in public databases for sheepgrass limited our understanding of the mechanism of environmental adaptations, gene discovery and molecular marker development.
The transcriptome of sheepgrass was sequenced using Roche 454 pyrosequencing technology. We assembled 952,328 high-quality reads into 87,214 unigenes, including 32,416 contigs and 54,798 singletons. There were 15,450 contigs over 500 bp in length. BLAST searches of our database against Swiss-Prot and NCBI non-redundant protein sequences (nr) databases resulted in the annotation of 54,584 (62.6%) of the unigenes. Gene Ontology (GO) analysis assigned 89,129 GO term annotations for 17,463 unigenes. We identified 11,675 core Poaceae-specific and 12,811 putative sheepgrass-specific unigenes by BLAST searches against all plant genome and transcriptome databases. A total of 2,979 specific freezing-responsive unigenes were found from this RNAseq dataset. We identified 3,818 EST-SSRs in 3,597 unigenes, and some SSRs contained unigenes that were also candidates for freezing-response genes. Characterizations of nucleotide repeats and dominant motifs of SSRs in sheepgrass were also performed. Similarity and phylogenetic analysis indicated that sheepgrass is closely related to barley and wheat.
This research has greatly enriched sheepgrass transcriptome resources. The identified stress-related genes will help us to decipher the genetic basis of the environmental and ecological adaptations of this species and will be used to improve wheat and barley crops through hybridization or genetic transformation. The EST-SSRs reported here will be a valuable resource for future gene-phenotype studies and for the molecular breeding of sheepgrass and other Poaceae species.
PMCID: PMC3701641  PMID: 23861841
24.  Psoriasis-associated variant Act1 D10N with impaired regulation by Hsp90 
Nature immunology  2012;14(1):72-81.
Act1 is an essential adaptor molecule in IL-17-mediated signaling and is recruited to the IL-17 receptor upon IL-17 stimulation. Here, we report that Act1 is a client protein of the molecular chaperone, Hsp90. The Act1 variant (D10N) linked to psoriasis susceptibility is defective in its interaction with Hsp90, resulting in a global loss of Act1 function. Act1-/- mice modeled the mechanistic link between Act1 loss of function and psoriasis susceptibility. Although Act1 is necessary for IL-17-mediated inflammation, Act1-/- mice exhibited a hyper TH17 response and developed spontaneous IL-22-dependent skin inflammation. In the absence of IL-17-signaling, IL-22 is the main contributor to skin inflammation, providing a molecular mechanism for the association of Act1 (D10N) with psoriasis susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC3522792  PMID: 23202271
25.  TRAF4 restricts IL-17-mediated pathology and signaling processes 
The effector T-cell subset, Th17, plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis as well as other autoimmune diseases. The signature cytokine, IL-17, engages the IL-17R and recruits the E3-ligase Act1 upon stimulation. In this study we examined the role of TRAF4 in IL-17 signaling and Th17-mediated autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Primary cells from TRAF4-deficient mice displayed markedly enhanced IL-17-activated signaling pathways and induction of chemokine mRNA. Adoptive transfer of MOG 35–55 specific wild-type Th17 cells into TRAF4-deficient recipient mice induced an earlier onset of disease. Mechanistically, we found that TRAF4 and TRAF6 utilized the same TRAF-binding sites on Act1, allowing the competition of TRAF4 with TRAF6 for the interaction with Act1. Taken together, this study reveals the necessity of a unique role of TRAF4 in restricting the effects of IL-17 signaling and Th17-mediated disease.
PMCID: PMC3590847  PMID: 22649194

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