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1.  Transcriptional Response of Musca domestica Larvae to Bacterial Infection 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104867.
The house fly Musca domestica, a cosmopolitan dipteran insect, is a significant vector for human and animal bacterial pathogens, but little is known about its immune response to these pathogens. To address this issue, we inoculated the larvae with a mixture of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus and profiled the transcriptome 6, 24, and 48 h thereafter. Many genes known to controlling innate immunity in insects were induced following infection, including genes encoding pattern recognition proteins (PGRPs), various components of the Toll and IMD signaling pathways and of the proPO-activating and redox systems, and multiple antimicrobial peptides. Interestingly, we also uncovered a large set of novel immune response genes including two broad-spectrum antimicrobial peptides (muscin and domesticin), which might have evolved to adapt to house-fly's unique ecological environments. Finally, genes mediating oxidative phosphorylation were repressed at 48 h post-infection, suggesting disruption of energy homeostasis and mitochondrial function at the late stages of infection. Collectively, our data reveal dynamic changes in gene expression following bacterial infection in the house fly, paving the way for future in-depth analysis of M. domestica's immune system.
PMCID: PMC4138075  PMID: 25137050
2.  Interleukin-27 treated human macrophages induce the expression of novel microRNAs which may mediate anti-viral properties 
Interleukin-27 (IL-27) is a pleiotropic cytokine which plays important and diverse roles in the immune system. We have previously demonstrated that IL-27 induces potent anti-viral effects against HIV-1, HIV-2, SIV, HSV-2, KSHV and influenza viruses in macrophages. This induction occurred in an Interferon (IFN) independent manner and involved down regulation of SPTBN1. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are critical regulators of mRNA translation and turnover. There have been reports that some miRNAs inhibit viral replication. In this study, we hypothesized that IL-27 could induce the expression of novel miRNAs in macrophages which may have functional relevance in terms of anti-viral activity and primary monocytes were differentiated into macrophages using either M-CSF (M-Mac) or a combination of M-CSF and IL-27 (I-Mac) for seven days. Following this, total RNA was extracted from these cells and deep sequencing was performed, in parallel with gene expression microarrays. Using the novel miRNA discovery software, miRDeep, seven novel miRNAs were discovered in these macrophages. Four of which were preferentially expressed in I-Mac (miR-SX1, -SX2, -SX3 and -SX6) whilst three were detected in both M-Mac and I-Mac (miR-SX4, -SX5 and -SX7). The expression of six of the seven novel miRNAs was highly correlated with qRT-PCR using specific primer/probes designed for the novel miRNAs. Gene expression microarray further demonstrated that a number of genes were potentially targeted by these differentially expressed novel miRNAs. Finally, several of these novel miRNAs (miR-SX1, -SX4, -SX5, -SX6 and -SX7) were shown to target the open reading frames of a number of viruses (including HSV-1, HSV-2 and HHV-8) which may partially explain the anti-viral properties observed.
PMCID: PMC3700531  PMID: 23535375
Interleukin-27; macrophages; MicroRNAs; HIV; HSV-1; HSV-2; HHV-8
3.  RiceWiki: a wiki-based database for community curation of rice genes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(Database issue):D1222-D1228.
Rice is the most important staple food for a large part of the world’s human population and also a key model organism for biological studies of crops as well as other related plants. Here we present RiceWiki (, a wiki-based, publicly editable and open-content platform for community curation of rice genes. Most existing related biological databases are based on expert curation; with the exponentially exploding volume of rice knowledge and other relevant data, however, expert curation becomes increasingly laborious and time-consuming to keep knowledge up-to-date, accurate and comprehensive, struggling with the flood of data and requiring a large number of people getting involved in rice knowledge curation. Unlike extant relevant databases, RiceWiki features harnessing collective intelligence in community curation of rice genes, quantifying users' contributions in each curated gene and providing explicit authorship for each contributor in any given gene, with the aim to exploit the full potential of the scientific community for rice knowledge curation. Based on community curation, RiceWiki bears the potential to make it possible to build a rice encyclopedia by and for the scientific community that harnesses community intelligence for collaborative knowledge curation, covers all aspects of biological knowledge and keeps evolving with novel knowledge.
PMCID: PMC3964990  PMID: 24136999
4.  IL-27 inhibits HIV-1 infection in human macrophages by down-regulating host factor SPTBN1 during monocyte to macrophage differentiation 
IL-27 promotes the differentiation of monocytes to HIV-resistant macrophages by down-regulating host factor SPTBN1.
The susceptibility of macrophages to HIV-1 infection is modulated during monocyte differentiation. IL-27 is an anti-HIV cytokine that also modulates monocyte activation. In this study, we present new evidence that IL-27 promotes monocyte differentiation into macrophages that are nonpermissive for HIV-1 infection. Although IL-27 treatment does not affect expression of macrophage differentiation markers or macrophage biological functions, it confers HIV resistance by down-regulating spectrin β nonerythrocyte 1 (SPTBN1), a required host factor for HIV-1 infection. IL-27 down-regulates SPTBN1 through a TAK-1–mediated MAPK signaling pathway. Knockdown of SPTBN1 strongly inhibits HIV-1 infection of macrophages; conversely, overexpression of SPTBN1 markedly increases HIV susceptibility of IL-27–treated macrophages. Moreover, we demonstrate that SPTBN1 associates with HIV-1 gag proteins. Collectively, our results underscore the ability of IL-27 to protect macrophages from HIV-1 infection by down-regulating SPTBN1, thus indicating that SPTBN1 is an important host target to reduce HIV-1 replication in one major element of the viral reservoir.
PMCID: PMC3600911  PMID: 23460728
6.  LIM kinase 1 - dependent cofilin 1 pathway and actin dynamics mediate nuclear retinoid receptor function in T lymphocytes 
BMC Molecular Biology  2011;12:41.
It is known that retinoid receptor function is attenuated during T cell activation, a phenomenon that involves actin remodeling, suggesting that actin modification may play a role in such inhibition. Here we have investigated the role of actin dynamics and the effect of actin cytoskeleton modifying agents on retinoid receptor-mediated transactivation.
Agents that disturb the F-actin assembly or disassembly attenuated receptor-mediated transcription indicating that actin cytoskeletal homeostasis is important for retinoid receptor function. Overexpression or siRNA-induced knockdown of cofilin-1 (CFL1), a key regulator of F-actin assembly, induced the loss of receptor function. In addition, expression of either constitutively active or inactive/dominant-negative mutants of CFL1or CFL1 kinase LIMK1 induced loss of receptor function suggesting a critical role of the LIMK1-mediated CFL1 pathway in receptor-dependent transcription. Further evidence of the role of LMK1/CFL1-mediated actin dynamics, was provided by studying the effect of Nef, an actin modifying HIV-1 protein, on receptor function. Expression of Nef induced phosphorylation of CFL1 at serine 3 and LIMK1 at threonine 508, inhibited retinoid-receptor mediated reporter activity, and the expression of a number of genes that contain retinoid receptor binding sites in their promoters. The results suggest that the Nef-mediated inhibition of receptor function encompasses deregulation of actin filament dynamics by LIMK1 activation and phosphorylation of CFL1.
We have identified a critical role of LIMK1-mediated CFL1 pathway and actin dynamics in modulating retinoid receptor mediated function and shown that LIMK1-mediated phosphocycling of CFL1 plays a crucial role in maintaining actin homeostasis and receptor activity. We suggest that T cell activation-induced repression of nuclear receptor-dependent transactivation is in part through the modification of actin dynamics.
PMCID: PMC3187726  PMID: 21923909
7.  Complete Genome Sequence of Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum BBMN68, a New Strain from a Healthy Chinese Centenarian▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;193(3):787-788.
Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum BBMN68 was isolated from the feces of a healthy centenarian living in an area of BaMa, Guangxi, China, known for longevity. Here we report the main genome features of B. longum strain BBMN68 and the identification of several predicted proteins associated with the ecological niche of longevity.
PMCID: PMC3021241  PMID: 21097614
8.  A Novel Role for Minimal Introns: Routing mRNAs to the Cytosol 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10144.
Introns and their splicing are tightly coupled with the subsequent mRNA maturation steps, especially nucleocytoplasmic export. A remarkable fraction of vertebrate introns have a minimal size of about 100 bp, while majority of introns expand to several kilobases even megabases in length.
Principal Findings
We carried out analyses on the evolution and function of minimal introns (50–150 bp) in human and mouse genomes. We found that minimal introns are conserved in terms of both length and sequence. They are preferentially located toward 3′ end of mRNA and non-randomly distributed among chromosomes. Both the evolutionary conservation and non-random distribution are indicative of biological relevance. We showed that genes with minimal introns have higher abundance, larger size, and tend to be universally expressed as compared to genes with only large introns and intron-less genes. Genes with minimal introns replicate earlier and preferentially reside in the vicinities of open chromatin, suggesting their unique nuclear position and potential relevance to the regulation of gene expression and transcript export.
Based on these observations, we proposed a nuclear-export routing model, where minimal introns play a regulatory role in selectively exporting the highly abundant and large housekeeping genes that reside at the surface of chromatin territories, and thus preventing entanglement with other genes located at the interior locations.
PMCID: PMC2856156  PMID: 20419085
9.  Expression and evolutionary divergence of the non-conventional olfactory receptor in four species of fig wasp associated with one species of fig 
The interactions of fig wasps and their host figs provide a model for investigating co-evolution. Fig wasps have specialized morphological characters and lifestyles thought to be adaptations to living in the fig's syconium. Although these aspects of natural history are well documented, the genetic mechanism(s) underlying these changes remain(s) unknown. Fig wasp olfaction is the key to host-specificity. The Or83b gene class, an unusual member of olfactory receptor family, plays a critical role in enabling the function of conventional olfactory receptors. Four Or83b orthologous genes from one pollinator (PFW) (Ceratosolen solmsi) and three non-pollinator fig wasps (NPFWs) (Apocrypta bakeri, Philotrypesis pilosa and Philotrypesis sp.) associated with one species of fig (Ficus hispida) can be used to better understand the molecular mechanism underlying the fig wasp's adaptation to its host. We made a comparison of spatial tissue-specific expression patterns and substitution rates of one orthologous gene in these fig wasps and sought evidence for selection pressures.
A newly identified Or83b orthologous gene was named Or2. Expressions of Or2 were restricted to the heads of all wingless male fig wasps, which usually live in the dark cavity of a fig throughout their life cycle. However, expressions were widely detected in the antennae, legs and abdomens of all female fig wasps that fly from one fig to another for oviposition, and secondarily pollination. Weak expression was also observed in the thorax of PFWs. Compared with NPFWs, the Or2 gene in C. solmsi had an elevated rate of substitutions and lower codon usage. Analyses using Tajima's D, Fu and Li's D* and F* tests indicated a non-neutral pattern of nucleotide variation in all fig wasps. Unlike in NPFWs, this non-neutral pattern was also observed for synonymous sites of Or2 within PFWs.
The sex- and species-specific expression patterns of Or2 genes detected beyond the known primary olfactory tissues indicates the location of cryptic olfactory inputs. The specialized ecological niche of these wasps explains the unique habits and adaptive evolution of Or2 genes. The Or2 gene in C. solmsi is evolving very rapidly. Negative deviation from the neutral model of evolution reflects possible selection pressures acting on Or2 sequences of fig wasp, particularly on PFWs who are more host-specific to figs.
PMCID: PMC2661049  PMID: 19232102
10.  Genome sequence of the date palm Phoenix dactylifera L 
Nature Communications  2013;4:2274.
Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is a cultivated woody plant species with agricultural and economic importance. Here we report a genome assembly for an elite variety (Khalas), which is 605.4 Mb in size and covers >90% of the genome (~671 Mb) and >96% of its genes (~41,660 genes). Genomic sequence analysis demonstrates that P. dactylifera experienced a clear genome-wide duplication after either ancient whole genome duplications or massive segmental duplications. Genetic diversity analysis indicates that its stress resistance and sugar metabolism-related genes tend to be enriched in the chromosomal regions where the density of single-nucleotide polymorphisms is relatively low. Using transcriptomic data, we also illustrate the date palm’s unique sugar metabolism that underlies fruit development and ripening. Our large-scale genomic and transcriptomic data pave the way for further genomic studies not only on P. dactylifera but also other Arecaceae plants.
The date palm is one of the most economically important plants of the palm family. Here, the authors present a high-quality genome assembly of the date palm Phoenix dactylifera, and reveal insights into the unique sugar metabolism underlying fruit ripening.
PMCID: PMC3741641  PMID: 23917264

Results 1-10 (10)