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1.  Analysis of internet use behaviors among clinical medical students in China 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:67.
The availability of internet-based information resources is increasing and the appropriate use of such resources is an important subject for clinical medical students. The aims of this study were to investigate the behaviors of clinical medical students regarding the use of internet-based activities, to analyze the behavior and characteristics of the students’ information demands, and to discuss the behaviors and time preferences related to internet use of students with different levels of education.
Librarians obtained real-time feedback from 999 clinical medical students to record online activities. The data was recorded in a standard form and then analyzed statistically.
There were significant differences in the use of the internet for learning activities among the different groups of clinical medical students (P < 0.0001). Learning accounted for 73.5% of all internet use for doctoral candidates, 47.6% of internet use for master’s candidates, 28.7% of internet use for seven-year undergraduate students, and 14.1% of use for five-year undergraduate students. There was also a significant difference in the proportions of leisure and e-commerce activities among the student groups (P < 0.0001), with five-year students displaying the highest total proportion of these activities (59.4% and 18.8%). Internet use for entertainment activities was the same for all groups of clinical medical students. Time of day of internet use was consistent across all student groups, but internet use differed by day of the week (P < 0.01). There was no difference among the time of day of internet use for learning, leisure and entertainment activities during a single day (P > 0.05), but e-commerce activities varied according to time of day (P < 0.05). Learning and e-commerce activities by clinical medical students did not vary by day of the week (P > 0.05), but the distributions of leisure and entertainment activities were different according to day of the week (P < 0.05).
A stronger demand for learning is associated with a higher academic level of clinical medical students. Differences exist among student groups regarding internet use behaviors and internet use during different time periods.
PMCID: PMC3976031  PMID: 24690437
2.  Dynein-Dependent Transport of nanos RNA in Drosophila Sensory Neurons Requires Rumpelstiltskin and the Germ Plasm Organizer Oskar 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2013;33(37):14791-14800.
Intracellular mRNA localization is a conserved mechanism for spatially regulating protein production in polarized cells, such as neurons. The mRNA encoding the translational repressor Nanos (Nos) forms ribonucleoprotein (RNP) particles that are dendritically localized in Drosophila larval class IV dendritic arborization (da) neurons. In nos mutants, class IV da neurons exhibit reduced dendritic branching complexity, which is rescued by transgenic expression of wild-type nos mRNA but not by a localization-compromised nos derivative. While localization is essential for nos function in dendrite morphogenesis, the mechanism underlying the transport of nos RNP particles was unknown. We investigated the mechanism of dendritic nos mRNA localization by analyzing requirements for nos RNP particle motility in class IV da neuron dendrites through live imaging of fluorescently labeled nos mRNA. We show that dynein motor machinery components mediate transport of nos mRNA in proximal dendrites. Two factors, the RNA-binding protein Rumpelstiltskin and the germ plasm protein Oskar, which are required for diffusion/entrapment-mediated localization of nos during oogenesis, also function in da neurons for formation and transport of nos RNP particles. Additionally, we show that nos regulates neuronal function, most likely independent of its dendritic localization and function in morphogenesis. Our results reveal adaptability of localization factors for regulation of a target transcript in different cellular contexts.
PMCID: PMC3771026  PMID: 24027279
3.  Utilization of Mastectomy and Reconstruction in the Outpatient Setting 
Annals of surgical oncology  2012;20(3):10.1245/s10434-012-2661-3.
Reconstruction rates after mastectomy have been reported to range from 25–40 %; however, most studies have focused on patients treated in an inpatient setting. We sought to determine the utilization of outpatient mastectomy and use of breast reconstruction in Southern California.
Postmastectomy reconstruction rates were determined from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development database from 2006–2009 using CPT codes and similarly from an inpatient database using ICD-9 codes. Reconstruction rates were compared between the inpatient and outpatient setting. For the outpatient setting, univariate and multivariate odds ratios with 95 % confidence intervals were estimated for relative odds of immediate reconstruction versus mastectomy alone.
The percentage of patients undergoing outpatient mastectomy ranged from 20.4 to 23.9 % of the total number of all patients undergoing mastectomy. Whereas immediate inpatient reconstruction increased from 29.2 to 41.6 % (overall rate 35.5 %), the proportion of outpatients undergoing reconstruction only increased from 7.7 to 10.3 % (overall rate 9.1 %). Similar to the inpatient setting, in multivariate analysis, age, insurance status, race/ethnicity, and type of hospital were significantly associated with the use of reconstruction in the outpatient setting.
A substantial number of patients undergo outpatient mastectomy with low rates of reconstruction. Although the choice of an outpatient mastectomy may certainly represent a selection bias for those not choosing reconstruction, an increase in the use of outpatient mastectomy may result in decreases in the use of post-mastectomy reconstruction.
PMCID: PMC3819218  PMID: 22990647
4.  Protective role of hydrogen-rich water on aspirin-induced gastric mucosal damage in rats 
AIM: To investigate the role of the hydrogen-rich water (HRW) in the prevention of aspirin-induced gastric mucosal injury in rats.
METHODS: Forty male rats were allocated into four groups: normal control group, HRW group, aspirin group, and HRW plus aspirin group. The protective efficacy was tested by determining the gastric mucosal damage score. Malondialdehyde (MDA), superoxide dismutase (SOD), myeloperoxidase (MPO), interleukin (IL)-06 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α in gastric tissues were evaluated. The serum levels of IL-1β and TNF-α were also detected. Histopathology of gastric tissues and localization of Cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) were detected using hematoxylin and eosin staining and immunohistochemistry, respectively.
RESULTS: Pretreatment with HRW obviously reduced aspirin-induced gastric damage scores (4.04 ± 0.492 vs 2.10 ± 0.437, P < 0.05). The oxidative stress levels of MDA and MPO in the gastric tissues increased significantly in the aspirin-treated group compared with the HRW group (2.43 ± 0.145 vs 1.79 ± 0.116 nmol/mg prot, P < 0.05 and 2.53 ± 0.238 vs 1.40 ± 0.208 U/g tissue, P < 0.05, respectively). HRW could obviously elevated the SOD levels in the gastric tissues (37.94 ± 8.44 vs 59.55 ± 9.02 nmol/mg prot, P < 0.05). Pretreatment with HRW significantly reduced IL-06 and TNF-α in the gastric tissues (46.65 ± 5.50 vs 32.15 ± 4.83 pg/mg, P < 0.05 and 1305.08 ± 101.23 vs 855.96 ± 93.22 pg/mg, P < 0.05), and IL-1β and TNF-α in the serum (505.38 ± 32.97 vs 343.37 ± 25.09 pg/mL, P < 0.05 and 264.53 ± 28.63 vs 114.96 ± 21.79 pg/mL, P < 0.05) compared to treatment with aspirin alone. HRW could significantly decrease the COX-2 expression in the gastric tissues (staining score: 8.4 ± 2.1 vs 2.9 ± 1.5, P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: HRW pretreatment alleviated the aspirin-induced gastric lesions by inhibiting the oxidative stress, inflammatory reaction and reducing the COX-2 in the gastric tissues.
PMCID: PMC3925872  PMID: 24587639
Hydrogen; Aspirin; Gastric lesion; Oxidative stress; Cytokines; Cyclooxygenase 2
5.  Endotoxin, Ergosterol, Fungal DNA and Allergens in Dust from Schools in Johor Bahru, Malaysia- Associations with Asthma and Respiratory Infections in Pupils 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88303.
There are few studies on associations between respiratory health and allergens, fungal and bacterial compounds in schools in tropical countries. The aim was to study associations between respiratory symptoms in pupils and ethnicity, chemical microbial markers, allergens and fungal DNA in settled dust in schools in Malaysia. Totally 462 pupils (96%) from 8 randomly selected secondary schools in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, participated. Dust was vacuumed from 32 classrooms and analysed for levels of different types of endotoxin as 3-hydroxy fatty acids (3-OH), muramic acid, ergosterol, allergens and five fungal DNA sequences. Multiple logistic regression was applied. Totally 13.1% pupils reported doctor’s diagnosed asthma, 10.3% wheeze and 21.1% pollen or pet allergy. Indian and Chinese children had less atopy and asthma than Malay. Carbon dioxide levels were low (380–690 ppm). No cat (Fel d1), dog (Can f 1) or horse allergens (Ecu cx) were detected. The levels of Bloomia tropicalis (Blo t), house dust mite allergens (Der p 1, Der f 1, Der m 1) and cockroach allergens (Per a 1 and Bla g 1) were low. There were positive associations between levels of Aspergillus versicolor DNA and daytime breathlessness, between C14 3-OH and respiratory infections and between ergosterol and doctors diagnosed asthma. There were negative (protective) associations between levels of C10 3-OH and wheeze, between C16 3-OH and day time and night time breathlessness, between cockroach allergens and doctors diagnosed asthma. Moreover there were negative associations between amount of fine dust, total endotoxin (LPS) and respiratory infections. In conclusion, endotoxin at school seems to be mainly protective for respiratory illness but different types of endotoxin could have different effects. Fungal contamination measured as ergosterol and Aspergillus versicolor DNA can be risk factors for respiratory illness. The ethnical differences for atopy and asthma deserve further attention.
PMCID: PMC3921143  PMID: 24523884
6.  Assessment of the AquaCrop Model for Use in Simulation of Irrigated Winter Wheat Canopy Cover, Biomass, and Grain Yield in the North China Plain 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86938.
Improving winter wheat water use efficiency in the North China Plain (NCP), China is essential in light of current irrigation water shortages. In this study, the AquaCrop model was used to calibrate, and validate winter wheat crop performance under various planting dates and irrigation application rates. All experiments were conducted at the Xiaotangshan experimental site in Beijing, China, during seasons of 2008/2009, 2009/2010, 2010/2011 and 2011/2012. This model was first calibrated using data from 2008/2009 and 2009/2010, and subsequently validated using data from 2010/2011 and 2011/2012. The results showed that the simulated canopy cover (CC), biomass yield (BY) and grain yield (GY) were consistent with the measured CC, BY and GY, with corresponding coefficients of determination (R2) of 0.93, 0.91 and 0.93, respectively. In addition, relationships between BY, GY and transpiration (T), (R2 = 0.57 and 0.71, respectively) was observed. These results suggest that frequent irrigation with a small amount of water significantly improved BY and GY. Collectively, these results indicate that the AquaCrop model can be used in the evaluation of various winter wheat irrigation strategies. The AquaCrop model predicted winter wheat CC, BY and GY with acceptable accuracy. Therefore, we concluded that AquaCrop is a useful decision-making tool for use in efforts to optimize wheat winter planting dates, and irrigation strategies.
PMCID: PMC3904961  PMID: 24489808
7.  Cotinine Concentration in Serum Correlates with Tobacco Smoke-Induced Emphysema in Mice 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:3864.
Secondhand smoke (SHS) has been associated with a variety of adverse health outcomes in nonsmokers, including emphysema (a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). One way to detect SHS exposure is to measure the concentration of cotinine, the primary metabolite of nicotine, in bodily fluids. We have developed a method for cotinine analysis by combining micellar electrokinetic chromatography with enrichment techniques. We employed the method to measure cotinine concentrations in serum samples of mice exposed to tobacco smoke for 12 or 24 weeks and found that it was 3.1-fold or 4.8-fold higher than those exposed to room air for the same period. Further, we investigated the morphological changes in lungs of mice and observed tobacco smoke induced emphysema. Our results indicate that the method can be used to measure cotinine and there is an association between the serum cotinine concentration and tobacco smoke-induced emphysema in mice.
PMCID: PMC3902392  PMID: 24463700
8.  Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition markers to predict response of Berberine in suppressing lung cancer invasion and metastasis 
The effects of berberine on the metastatic potential of lung cancer cells and its underlying mechanisms have not been fully elucidated. Since epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition is a cellular process associated with cancer invasion and metastasis, we attempted to investigate the potential use of berberine as an inhibitor of TGF-β1-induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal in A549 cells.
In this study, we investigated the anticancer activity of berberine against A549 cells in vitro and in vivo. BBR-induced apoptosis of the human lung cancer cells was determined by flow cytometry. The ability of BBR to inhibit TGF-β-induced EMT was examined by QRT-PCR and Western blotting. The impact of BBR on A549 cell migration and invasion was evaluated by transwell assay.
We demonstrated that TGF-β1 induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal to promote lung cancer invasion and metastasis. Berberine inhibited invasion and migration of A549 cells, increased expression of the epithelial phenotype marker E-cadherin, repressed the expression of the mesenchymal phenotype marker Vimentin, as well as decreased the level of epithelial-to-mesenchymal -inducing transcription factors Snail1 and Slug during the initiation of TGF-β1-induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal. Furthermore, berberine inhibited growth of lung cancer cells in vivo xenograft.
Our findings provided new evidence that berberine is an effective inhibitor of the metastatic potential of A549 cells through suppression of TGF-β1-induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal.
PMCID: PMC3944941  PMID: 24456611
Lung neoplasms; Berberine; Invasiveness; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; Transforming growth factor beta1
9.  Correction: Essential Roles of GABA Transporter-1 in Controlling Rapid Eye Movement Sleep and in Increased Slow Wave Activity after Sleep Deprivation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):10.1371/annotation/043edac7-b29e-40d8-b7aa-017d6a3a4009.
PMCID: PMC3895084
10.  Identification of a promising PI3K inhibitor for the treatment of multiple myeloma through the structural optimization 
We previously reported a PI3K inhibitor S14161 which displays a promising preclinical activity against multiple myeloma (MM) and leukemia, but the chiral structure and poor solubility prevent its further application.
Six S14161 analogs were designed based on the structure–activity relationship; activity of the compounds in terms of cell death and inhibition of PI3K were analyzed by flow cytometry and Western blotting, respectively; anti-myeloma activity in vivo was performed on two independent xenograft models.
Among the six analogs, BENC-511 was one of the most potent compounds which significantly inhibited PI3K activity and induced MM cell apoptosis. BENC-511 was able to inactivate PI3K and its downstream signals AKT, mTOR, p70S6K, and 4E-BP1 at 1 μM but had no effects on their total protein expression. Consistent with its effects on PI3K activity, BENC-511 induced MM cell apoptosis which was evidenced by the cleavage of Caspase-3 and PARP. Notably, addition of insulin-like growth factor 1 and interleukin-6, two important triggers for PI3K activation in MM cells, partly blocked BENC-511-induced MM cell death, which further demonstrated that PI3K signaling pathway was critical for the anti-myeloma activity of BENC-511. Moreover, BENC-511 also showed potent oral activity against myeloma in vivo. Oral administration of BENC-511 decreased tumor growth up to 80% within 3 weeks in two independent MM xenograft models at a dose of 50 mg/kg body weight, but presented minimal toxicity. Suppression of BENC-511 on MM tumor growth was associated with decreased PI3K/AKT activity and increased cell apoptosis.
Because of its potent anti-MM activity, low toxicity (LD50 oral >1.5 g/kg), and easy synthesis, BENC-511 could be developed as a promising agent for the treatment of MM via suppressing the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3924225  PMID: 24428908
Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT signaling pathway; BENC-511; S14161; Multiple myeloma; Drug discovery
11.  De Novo Assembly and Characterization of Sophora japonica Transcriptome Using RNA-seq 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:750961.
Sophora japonica Linn (Chinese Scholar Tree) is a shrub species belonging to the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae. In this study, RNA sequencing of S. japonica transcriptome was performed to produce large expression datasets for functional genomic analysis. Approximate 86.1 million high-quality clean reads were generated and assembled de novo into 143010 unique transcripts and 57614 unigenes. The average length of unigenes was 901 bps with an N50 of 545 bps. Four public databases, including the NCBI nonredundant protein (NR), Swiss-Prot, Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG), and the Cluster of Orthologous Groups (COG), were used to annotate unigenes through NCBI BLAST procedure. A total of 27541 of 57614 unigenes (47.8%) were annotated for gene descriptions, conserved protein domains, or gene ontology. Moreover, an interaction network of unigenes in S. japonica was predicted based on known protein-protein interactions of putative orthologs of well-studied plant genomes. The transcriptome data of S. japonica reported here represents first genome-scale investigation of gene expressions in Faboideae plants. We expect that our study will provide a useful resource for further studies on gene expression, genomics, functional genomics, and protein-protein interaction in S. japonica.
PMCID: PMC3910276  PMID: 24516854
12.  Is there a difference in cognitive development between preschool singletons and twins born after intracytoplasmic sperm injection or in vitro fertilization?*  
Objective: To explore whether there exist differences in cognitive development between singletons and twins born after in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Methods: A total of 566 children were recruited for the study, including 388 children (singletons, n=175; twins, n=213) born after IVF and 178 children (singletons, n=87; twins, n=91) born after ICSI. The cognitive development was assessed using the Chinese-Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (C-WISC). Results: For all pre-term offspring, all the intelligence quotient (IQ) items between singletons and twins showed no significant differences no matter if they were born after IVF or ICSI. There was a significant difference in the cognitive development of IVF-conceived full-term singletons and twins. The twins born after IVF obtained significantly lower scores than the singletons in verbal IQ (containing information, picture & vocabulary, arithmetic, picture completion, comprehension, and language), performance IQ (containing maze, visual analysis, object assembly, and performance), and full scale IQ (P<0.05). The cognitive development of full-term singletons and twins born after ICSI did not show any significant differences. There was no significant difference between the parents of the singletons and twins in their characteristics where data were collected, including the age of the mothers, the current employment status, the educational backgrounds, and areas of residence. There were also no consistent differences in the duration of pregnancy, sex composition of the children, age, and height between singletons and twins at the time of our study although there existed significant differences between the two groups in the sex composition of the full-term children born after ICSI (P<0.05). Conclusions: Compared to the full-term singletons born after IVF, the full-term twins have lower cognitive development. The cognitive development of full-term singletons and twins born after ICSI did not show any significant differences. For all pre-term offspring, singletons and twins born after IVF or ICSI, the results of the cognitive development showed no significant differences.
PMCID: PMC3891118  PMID: 24390744
Cognitive development; Intelligence quotient (IQ); In vitro fertilization (IVF); Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI); Singleton; Twins
13.  A selective histone deacetylase-6 inhibitor improves BDNF trafficking in hippocampal neurons from Mecp2 knockout mice: implications for Rett syndrome 
Rett syndrome (RTT) is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by loss-of-function mutations in the transcriptional modulator methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MECP2). One of the most prominent gene targets of MeCP2 is brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf), a potent modulator of activity-dependent synaptic development, function and plasticity. Dysfunctional BDNF signaling has been demonstrated in several pathophysiological mechanisms of RTT disease progression. To evaluate whether the dynamics of BDNF trafficking is affected by Mecp2 deletion, we analyzed movements of BDNF tagged with yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) in cultured hippocampal neurons by time-lapse fluorescence imaging. We found that both anterograde and retrograde vesicular trafficking of BDNF-YFP are significantly impaired in Mecp2 knockout hippocampal neurons. Selective inhibitors of histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) show neuroprotective effects in neurodegenerative diseases and stimulate microtubule-dependent vesicular trafficking of BDNF-containing dense core vesicles. Here, we show that the selective HDAC6 inhibitor Tubastatin-A increased the velocity of BDNF-YFP vesicles in Mecp2 knockout neurons in both directions by increasing α–tubulin acetylation. Tubastatin-A also restored activity-dependent BDNF release from Mecp2 knockout neurons to levels comparable to those shown by wildtype neurons. These findings demonstrate that a selective HDAC6 inhibitor is a potential pharmacological strategy to reverse cellular and synaptic impairments in RTT resulting from impaired BDNF signaling.
PMCID: PMC3945638  PMID: 24639629
Rett syndrome; dense core vesicle; activity-dependent BDNF release; Tubastatin-A; tubulin acetylation
14.  Eya1 is required for the morphogenesis of mammalian thymus, parathyroid and thyroid 
Development (Cambridge, England)  2002;129(13):3033-3044.
Eyes absent (Eya) genes regulate organogenesis in both vertebrates and invertebrates. Mutations in human EYA1 cause congenital Branchio-Oto-Renal (BOR) syndrome, while targeted inactivation of murine Eya1 impairs early developmental processes in multiple organs, including ear, kidney and skeletal system. We have now examined the role of Eya1 during the morphogenesis of organs derived from the pharyngeal region, including thymus, parathyroid and thyroid. The thymus and parathyroid are derived from 3rd pharyngeal pouches and their development is initiated via inductive interactions between neural crest-derived arch mesenchyme, pouch endoderm, and possibly the surface ectoderm of 3rd pharyngeal clefts. Eya1 is expressed in all three cell types during thymus and parathyroid development from E9.5 and the organ primordia for both of these structures failed to form in Eya1−/− embryos. These results indicate that Eya1 is required for the initiation of thymus and parathyroid gland formation. Eya1 is also expressed in the 4th pharyngeal region and ultimobranchial bodies. Eya1−/− mice show thyroid hypoplasia, with severe reduction in the number of parafollicular cells and the size of the thyroid lobes and lack of fusion between the ultimobranchial bodies and the thyroid lobe. These data indicate that Eya1 also regulates mature thyroid gland formation. Furthermore, we show that Six1 expression is markedly reduced in the arch mesenchyme, pouch endoderm and surface ectoderm in the pharyngeal region of Eya1−/− embryos, indicating that Six1 expression in those structures is Eya1 dependent. In addition, we show that in Eya1−/− embryos, the expression of Gcm2 in the 3rd pouch endoderm is undetectable at E10.5, however, the expression of Hox and Pax genes in the pouch endoderm is preserved at E9.5–10.5. Finally, we found that the surface ectoderm of the 3rd and 4th pharyngeal region show increased cell death at E10.5 in Eya1−/− embryos. Our results indicate that Eya1 controls critical early inductive events involved in the morphogenesis of thymus, parathyroid and thyroid.
PMCID: PMC3873877  PMID: 12070080
Eya1; Thymus; Parathyroid; Thyroid; Morphogenesis; Hox; Pax; Six1; Gcm2; Neural crest; Endoderm; Ectoderm; Apoptosis; Mouse
15.  The Impacts of Different Expansion Modes on Performance of Small Solar Energy Firms: Perspectives of Absorptive Capacity 
The Scientific World Journal  2013;2013:365089.
The characteristics of firm's expansion by differentiated products and diversified products are quite different. However, the study employing absorptive capacity to examine the impacts of different modes of expansion on performance of small solar energy firms has never been discussed before. Then, a conceptual model to analyze the tension between strategies and corporate performance is proposed to filling the vacancy. After practical investigation, the results show that stronger organizational institutions help small solar energy firms expanded by differentiated products increase consistency between strategies and corporate performance; oppositely, stronger working attitudes with weak management controls help small solar energy firms expanded by diversified products reduce variance between strategies and corporate performance.
PMCID: PMC3884860  PMID: 24453837
16.  Induced Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation for Treatment of Rabbit Renal Interstitial Fibrosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83507.
Renal interstitial fibrosis (RIF) is a significant cause of end-stage renal failure. The goal of this study was to characterize the distribution of transplanted induced autologous stem cells in a rabbit model of renal interstitial fibrosis and evaluate its therapeutic efficacy for treatment of renal interstitial fibrosis.
A rabbit model of renal interstitial fibrosis was established. Autologous fibroblasts were cultured, induced and labeled with green fluorescent protein (GFP). These labeled stem cells were transplanted into the renal artery of model animals at 8 weeks.
Eight weeks following transplantation of induced autologous stem cells, significant reductions (P < 0.05) were observed in serum creatinine (SCr) (14.8 ± 1.9 mmol/L to 10.1 ± 2.1 mmol/L) and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) (119 ± 22 µmol/L to 97 ± 13 µmol/L), indicating improvement in renal function.
We successfully established a rabbit model of renal interstitial fibrosis and demonstrated that transplantation of induced autologous stem cells can repair kidney damage within 8 weeks. The repair occurred by both inhibition of further development of renal interstitial fibrosis and partial reversal of pre-existing renal interstitial fibrosis. These beneficial effects lead to the development of normal tissue structure and improved renal function.
PMCID: PMC3867441  PMID: 24367598
17.  The Effect of an Adding Histidine on Biological Activity and Stability of Pc-pis from Pseudosciaena crocea 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83268.
Pc-pis is a novel piscidin-like antimicrobial polypeptide that was identified in Pseudosciaena crocea. Although active against most bacteria tested, Pc-pis was inactive against Aeromonas hydrophila and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The Pc-pis analogue Pc-pis-His was designed by adding a histidine residue at the carboxyl terminal. Pc-pis-His demonstrated a more broad-spectrum and stronger antimicrobial activity against a representative set of microorganisms and more potent antiparasitic activity against Cryptocaryon irritans trophonts than Pc-pis. The stability assay revealed that Pc-pis-His was active against Staphylococcus aureus not only in acidic (pH 5.5–7.3) and relatively low concentration monovalent cation (0–160 mM NaCl) environments but also in alkaline (pH 7.5–9.5), divalent cation (1.25–160 mM MgCl2 and 1.25–40 mM CaCl2) and high concentration monovalent cation (320–2560 mM NaCl) environments, which indicates that the added histidine residue conferred better salt-, acid- and alkali-tolerance to Pc-pis-His. Pc-pis-His also possessed the desired heat-tolerance, which was reflected by the antimicrobial activity of the peptide after being boiled for 10–60 minutes. Hemolytic activity analysis revealed that Pc-pis-His at concentrations up to 6 µM exhibited no hemolysis against human erythrocytes, with 6 µM being a concentration that is highly active against most of the microorganisms tested, although the hemolytic activity of Pc-pis-His was enhanced compared to Pc-pis. These results provide a unique, reasonable basis for designing novel piscidins with potent, broad-spectrum and stable antimicrobial activity and new insight into the future development of piscidins as potential therapeutic agents against microbial and external protozoan parasite infections.
PMCID: PMC3862765  PMID: 24349477
19.  The Yeast Shu Complex Utilizes Homologous Recombination Machinery for Error-free Lesion Bypass via Physical Interaction with a Rad51 Paralogue 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81371.
DNA-damage tolerance (DDT) is defined as a mechanism by which eukaryotic cells resume DNA synthesis to fill the single-stranded DNA gaps left by replication-blocking lesions. Eukaryotic cells employ two different means of DDT, namely translesion DNA synthesis (TLS) and template switching, both of which are coordinately regulated through sequential ubiquitination of PCNA at the K164 residue. In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the same PCNA-K164 residue can also be sumoylated, which recruits the Srs2 helicase to prevent undesired homologous recombination (HR). While the mediation of TLS by PCNA monoubiquitination has been extensively characterized, the method by which K63-linked PCNA polyubiquitination leads to template switching remains unclear. We recently identified a yeast heterotetrameric Shu complex that couples error-free DDT to HR as a critical step of template switching. Here we report that the Csm2 subunit of Shu physically interacts with Rad55, an accessory protein involved in HR. Rad55 and Rad57 are Rad51 paralogues and form a heterodimer to promote Rad51-ssDNA filament formation by antagonizing Srs2 activity. Although Rad55-Rad57 and Shu function in the same pathway and both act to inhibit Srs2 activity, Shu appears to be dedicated to error-free DDT while the Rad55-Rad57 complex is also involved in double-strand break repair. This study reveals the detailed steps of error-free lesion bypass and also brings to light an intrinsic interplay between error-free DDT and Srs2-mediated inhibition of HR.
PMCID: PMC3855272  PMID: 24339919
20.  AMP-Activated Protein Kinase α1 Protects Against Diet-Induced Insulin Resistance and Obesity 
Diabetes  2012;61(12):3114-3125.
AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is an essential sensor of cellular energy status. Defects in the α2 catalytic subunit of AMPK (AMPKα1) are associated with metabolic syndrome. The current study investigated the role AMPKα1 in the pathogenesis of obesity and inflammation using male AMPKα1-deficent (AMPKα1−/−) mice and their wild-type (WT) littermates. After being fed a high-fat diet (HFD), global AMPKα1−/− mice gained more body weight and greater adiposity and exhibited systemic insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction with increased severity in their adipose tissues compared with their WT littermates. Interestingly, upon HFD feeding, irradiated WT mice that received the bone marrow of AMPKα1−/− mice showed increased insulin resistance but not obesity, whereas irradiated AMPKα1−/− mice with WT bone marrow had a phenotype of metabolic dysregulation that was similar to that of global AMPKα1−/− mice. AMPKα1 deficiency in macrophages markedly increased the macrophage proinflammatory status. In addition, AMPKα1 knockdown enhanced adipocyte lipid accumulation and exacerbated the inflammatory response and insulin resistance. Together, these data show that AMPKα1 protects mice from diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance, demonstrating that AMPKα1 is a promising therapeutic target in the treatment of the metabolic syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3501873  PMID: 22829451
21.  DDAH1 Deficiency Attenuates Endothelial Cell Cycle Progression and Angiogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79444.
Asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) is an endogenous inhibitor of nitric oxide (NO) synthase (NOS). ADMA is eliminated largely by the action of dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase1 (DDAH1). Decreased DDAH activity is found in several pathological conditions and is associated with increased risk of vascular disease. Overexpression of DDAH1 has been shown to augment endothelial proliferation and angiogenesis. To better understand the mechanism by which DDAH1 influences endothelial proliferation, this study examined the effect of DDAH1 deficiency on cell cycle progression and the expression of some cell cycle master regulatory proteins. DDAH1 KO decreased in vivo Matrigel angiogenesis and depressed endothelial repair in a mouse model of carotid artery wire injury. DDAH1 deficiency decreased VEGF expression in HUVEC and increased NF1 expression in both HUVEC and DDAH1 KO mice. The expression of active Ras could overcome the decreased VEGF expression caused by the DDAH1 depletion. The addition of VEGF and knockdown NF1 could both restore proliferation in cells with DDAH1 depletion. Flow cytometry analysis revealed that DDAH1 sRNAi knockdown in HUVEC caused G1 and G2/M arrest that was associated with decreased expression of CDC2, CDC25C, cyclin D1 and cyclin E. MEF cells from DDAH1 KO mice also demonstrated G2/M arrest that was associated with decreased cyclin D1 expression and Akt activity. Our findings indicate that DDAH1 exerts effects on cyclin D1 and cyclin E expression through multiple mechanisms, including VEGF, the NO/cGMP/PKG pathway, the Ras/PI3K/Akt pathway, and NF1 expression. Loss of DDAH1 effects on these pathways results in impaired endothelial cell proliferation and decreased angiogenesis. The findings provide background information that may be useful in the development of therapeutic strategies to manipulate DDAH1 expression in cardiovascular diseases or tumor angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3832548  PMID: 24260221
22.  Rat Mcs1b is concordant to the genome wide association identified breast cancer risk locus at human 5q11.2 and Mier3 is a candidate cancer susceptibility gene 
Cancer research  2012;72(22):6002-6012.
Low-penetrance alleles associated with breast cancer risk have been identified in population-based studies. Most risk loci contain either no or multiple potential candidate genes. Rat mammary carcinoma susceptibility 1b (Mcs1b) is a quantitative trait locus (QTL) on RN02 that confers decreased susceptibility when Copenhagen (COP) resistant alleles are introgressed into a Wistar Furth (WF) susceptible genome. Five WF.COP congenic lines containing COP RN02 segments were compared. One line developed an average of 3.4 ± 2.0 and 5.5 ± 3.6 mammary carcinomas per rat ± SD when females were Mcs1b resistant homozygous and Mcs1b heterozygous, respectively. These phenotypes were significantly different from susceptible genotype littermates (7.8 ± 3.1 mean mammary carcinomas per rat ± SD, P = 0.0001 and P = 0.0413, respectively). All other congenic lines tested were susceptible. Thus, Mcs1b was narrowed to 1.8 Mb of RN02 between genetic markers ENSRNOSNP2740854 and g2UL2-27. Mammary-gland-graft carcinoma-susceptibility assays were used to determine that donor (P = 0.0019), but not recipient Mcs1b genotype (P = 0.9381), was associated with ectopic mammary carcinoma outcome. Rat Mcs1b contains sequence orthologous to human 5q11.2, a breast cancer susceptibility locus identified in multiple genome-wide association studies. Human/rat MAP3K1/Map3k1 and MIER3/Mier3 are within these orthologous segments. We identified Mier3 as a candidate Mcs1b gene based on 4.5-fold higher mammary gland levels of Mier3 transcripts in susceptible compared to Mcs1b resistant females. These data suggest that the human 5q11.2 breast cancer risk allele marked by rs889312 is mammary-gland autonomous, and MIER3 is a candidate breast cancer susceptibility gene.
PMCID: PMC3500408  PMID: 22993404
breast cancer susceptibility; rat Mcs1b; rat mammary cancer; complex disease genetics; comparative genetics
23.  Biomass Accumulation and Carbon Sequestration in Four Different Aged Casuarina equisetifolia Coastal Shelterbelt Plantations in South China 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77449.
Thousands of kilometers of shelterbelt plantations of Casuarina equisetifolia have been planted to protect the southeast coastline of China. These plantations also play an important role in the regional carbon (C) cycling. In this study, we examined plant biomass increment and C accumulation in four different aged C. equisetifolia plantations in sandy beaches in South China. The C accumulated in the C. equisetifolia plant biomass increased markedly with stand age. The annual rate of C accumulation in the C. equisetifolia plant biomass during 0–3, 3–6, 6–13 and 13–18 years stage was 2.9, 8.2, 4.2 and 1.0 Mg C ha−1 yr−1, respectively. Soil organic C (SOC) at the top 1 m soil layer in these plantations was 17.74, 5.14, 6.93, and 11.87 Mg C ha−1, respectively, with SOC density decreasing with increasing soil depth. Total C storage in the plantation ecosystem averaged 26.57, 38.50, 69.78, and 79.79 Mg C ha−1 in the 3, 6, 13 and 18- yrs plantation, with most of the C accumulated in the aboveground biomass rather than in the belowground root biomass and soil organic C. Though our results suggest that C. equisetifolia plantations have the characteristics of fast growth, high biomass accumulation, and the potential of high C sequestration despite planting in poor soil conditions, the interactive effects of soil condition, natural disturbance, and human policies on the ecosystem health of the plantation need to be further studied to fully realize the ecological and social benefits of the C equisetifolia shelterbelt forests in South China.
PMCID: PMC3797117  PMID: 24143236
24.  Essential Roles of GABA Transporter-1 in Controlling Rapid Eye Movement Sleep and in Increased Slow Wave Activity after Sleep Deprivation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75823.
GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system that has been strongly implicated in the regulation of sleep. GABA transporter subtype 1 (GAT1) constructs high affinity reuptake sites for GABA and regulates GABAergic transmission in the brain. However, the role of GAT1 in sleep-wake regulation remains elusive. In the current study, we characterized the spontaneous sleep-wake cycle and responses to sleep deprivation in GAT1 knock-out (KO) mice. GAT1 KO mice exhibited dominant theta-activity and a remarkable reduction of EEG power in low frequencies across all vigilance stages. Under baseline conditions, spontaneous rapid eye movement (REM) sleep of KO mice was elevated both during the light and dark periods, and non-REM (NREM) sleep was reduced during the light period only. KO mice also showed more state transitions from NREM to REM sleep and from REM sleep to wakefulness, as well as more number of REM and NREM sleep bouts than WT mice. During the dark period, KO mice exhibited more REM sleep bouts only. Six hours of sleep deprivation induced rebound increases in NREM and REM sleep in both genotypes. However, slow wave activity, the intensity component of NREM sleep was briefly elevated in WT mice but remained completely unchanged in KO mice, compared with their respective baselines. These results indicate that GAT1 plays a critical role in the regulation of REM sleep and homeostasis of NREM sleep.
PMCID: PMC3796508  PMID: 24155871
25.  Microtubule Actin Cross-Linking Factor 1 Regulates Cardiomyocyte Microtubule Distribution and Adaptation to Hemodynamic Overload 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73887.
Aberrant cardiomyocyte microtubule growth is a feature of pressure overload induced cardiac hypertrophy believed to contribute to left ventricular (LV) dysfunction. Microtubule Actin Cross-linking Factor 1 (MACF1/Acf7) is a 600 kd spectraplakin that stabilizes and guides microtubule growth along actin filaments. MACF1 is expressed in the heart, but its impact on cardiac microtubules, and how this influences cardiac structure, function, and adaptation to hemodynamic overload is unknown. Here we used inducible cardiac-specific MACF1 knockout mice (MACF1 KO) to determine the impact of MACF1 on cardiac microtubules and adaptation to pressure overload (transverse aortic constriction (TAC).In adult mouse hearts, MACF1 expression was low under basal conditions, but increased significantly in response to TAC. While MACF1 KO had no observable effect on heart size or function under basal conditions, MACF1 KO exacerbated TAC induced LV hypertrophy, LV dilation and contractile dysfunction. Interestingly, subcellular fractionation of ventricular lysates revealed that MACF1 KO altered microtubule distribution in response to TAC, so that more tubulin was associated with the cell membrane fraction. Moreover, TAC induced microtubule redistribution into this cell membrane fraction in both WT and MACF1 KO mice correlated strikingly with the level of contractile dysfunction (r2 = 0.786, p<.001). MACF1 disruption also resulted in reduction of membrane caveolin 3 levels, and increased levels of membrane PKCα and β1 integrin after TAC, suggesting MACF1 function is important for spatial regulation of several physiologically relevant signaling proteins during hypertrophy. Together, these data identify for the first time, a role for MACF1 in cardiomyocyte microtubule distribution and in adaptation to hemodynamic overload.
PMCID: PMC3784444  PMID: 24086300

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