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1.  Low Level of Low-Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein 1 Predicts an Unfavorable Prognosis of Hepatocellular Carcinoma after Curative Resection 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32775.
Low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1) is a multifunctional receptor involved in receptor-mediated endocytosis and cell signaling. The aim of this study was to elucidate the expression and mechanism of LRP1 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
LRP1 expression in 4 HCC cell lines and 40 HCC samples was detected. After interruption of LRP1 expression in a HCC cell line either with specific lentiviral-mediated shRNA LRP1 or in the presence of the LRP1-specific chaperone, receptor-associated protein (RAP), the role of LRP1 in the migration and invasion of HCC cells was assessed in vivo and in vitro, and the expression of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 9 in cells and the bioactivity of MMP9 in the supernatant were assayed. The expression and prognostic value of LRP1 were investigated in 327 HCC specimens.
Low LRP1 expression was associated with poor HCC prognosis, with low expression independently related to shortened overall survival and increased tumor recurrence rate. Expression of LRP1 in non-recurrent HCC samples was significantly higher than that in early recurrent samples. LRP1 expression in HCC cell lines was inversely correlated with their metastatic potential. After inhibition of LRP1, low-metastatic SMCC-7721 cells showed enhanced migration and invasion and increased expression and bioactivity of MMP9. Correlation analysis showed a negative correlation between LRP1 and MMP9 expression in HCC patients. The prognostic value of LRP1 expression was validated in the independent data set.
LRP1 modulated the level of MMP9 and low level of LRP1 expression was associated with aggressiveness and invasiveness in HCCs. LRP1 offered a possible strategy for tumor molecular therapy.
PMCID: PMC3299691  PMID: 22427881
2.  Exploiting transcriptome data for the development and characterization of gene-based SSR markers related to cold tolerance in oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14(1):384.
The oil palm (Elaeis guineensis, 2n = 32) has the highest oil yield of any crop species, as well as comprising the richest dietary source of provitamin A. For the tropical species, the best mean growth temperature is about 27°C, with a minimal growth temperature of 15°C. Hence, the plantation area is limited into the geographical ranges of 10°N to 10°S. Enhancing cold tolerance capability will increase the total cultivation area and subsequently oil productivity of this tropical species. Developing molecular markers related to cold tolerance would be helpful for molecular breeding of cold tolerant Elaeis guineensis.
In total, 5791 gene-based SSRs were identified in 51,452 expressed sequences from Elaeis guineensis transcriptome data: approximately one SSR was detected per 10 expressed sequences. Of these 5791 gene-based SSRs, 916 were derived from expressed sequences up- or down-regulated at least two-fold in response to cold stress. A total of 182 polymorphic markers were developed and characterized from 442 primer pairs flanking these cold-responsive SSR repeats. The polymorphic information content (PIC) of these polymorphic SSR markers across 24 lines of Elaeis guineensis varied from 0.08 to 0.65 (mean = 0.31 ± 0.12). Using in-silico mapping, 137 (75.3%) of the 182 polymorphic SSR markers were located onto the 16 Elaeis guineensis chromosomes. Total coverage of 473 Mbp was achieved, with an average physical distance of 3.4 Mbp between adjacent markers (range 96 bp - 20.8 Mbp). Meanwhile, Comparative analysis of transcriptome under cold stress revealed that one ICE1 putative ortholog, five CBF putative orthologs, 19 NAC transcription factors and four cold-induced orhologs were up-regulated at least two fold in response to cold stress. Interestingly, 5′ untranslated region of both Unigene21287 (ICE1) and CL2628.Contig1 (NAC) both contained an SSR markers.
In the present study, a series of SSR markers were developed based on sequences differentially expressed in response to cold stress. These EST-SSR markers would be particularly useful for gene mapping and population structure analysis in Elaeis guineensis. Meanwhile, the EST-SSR loci were inducible expressed in response to low temperature, which may have potential application in identifying trait-associated markers in oil palm in the future.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0384-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4279980  PMID: 25522814
3.  Plasmodium infection reduces the volume of the viral reservoir in SIV-infected rhesus macaques receiving antiretroviral therapy 
Retrovirology  2014;11(1):112.
Previous studies indicated that Plasmodium infection activates the immune system, including memory CD4+ T cells, which constitute the reservoir of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1). Therefore, we postulated that co-infection with malaria might activate the reservoir of HIV-1. To test this hypothesis, we used a rhesus macaque model of co-infection with malaria and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), along with antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Our results showed that Plasmodium infection reduced both the replication-competent virus pool in resting CD4+ T cells and the integrated virus DNA (iDNA) load in peripheral blood mononuclear cells in the monkeys. This reduction might be attributable to malaria-mediated activation and apoptotic induction of memory CD4+ T cells. Further studies indicated that histone acetylation and NF-kappaB (NF-κB) activation in resting CD4+ T cells may also play an important role in this reduction.
The findings of this work expand our knowledge of the interaction between these two diseases. As more HIV-1-infected individuals in malaria-endemic areas receive ART, we should explore whether any of the patients co-infected with Plasmodium experience virologic benefits.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12977-014-0112-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4269176  PMID: 25487036
HIV-1; SIV; AIDS; Plasmodium; Malaria; Rhesus macaque model; Co-infection; ART; Viral reservoir
4.  RNA-Seq Analysis of Oil Palm under Cold Stress Reveals a Different C-Repeat Binding Factor (CBF) Mediated Gene Expression Pattern in Elaeis guineensis Compared to Other Species 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114482.
Elaeis guineensis as a tropical oil-crop is particularly sensitive to low temperature. Improvement of cold-tolerance may significantly increase the total cultivation area of this tropical oil-crop worldwide. We sequenced cold-treated and control (untreated) samples of Elaeis guineensis. De novo assembly generated 51,452 unigenes with an average length of 703 bp. Subsequently, these expressed sequences were functionally annotated. In the K category (transcription factors) of COG (Cluster of Orthologous Group) annotation, the largest proportion of genes induced and repressed at least two-fold under cold stress were from the AP2/ERE family, indicating that C-repeat binding factor, (CBFs, members of the AP2/ERE family) may play a central role in cold tolerance in Elaeis guineensis. Subsequently, the CBF-mediated signal transduction pathway was reconstructed based on transcriptome data and the gene expression profile involving the pathway was examined using real-time quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR). CBFs reached maximum transcript level both at medium (4 h) and long period time points (7 days), contrary to the expression pattern of CBFs in Arabidopsis and rice. Moreover, the promoters of downstream Cold Responsive gene (CORs) regulated by CBFs were analyzed. Conservation, mutation and absence of the DRE core motif were detected in the promoters of six CORs. These mutations in DRE motifs suggest that CORs may not be induced via cold stress in Elaeis guineensis.
PMCID: PMC4257668  PMID: 25479236
5.  Territrem and Butyrolactone Derivatives from a Marine-Derived Fungus Aspergillus Terreus 
Marine Drugs  2014;12(12):6113-6124.
Seventeen lactones including eight territrem derivatives (1–8) and nine butyrolactone derivatives (9–17) were isolated from a marine-derived fungus Aspergillus terreus SCSGAF0162 under solid-state fermentation of rice. Compounds 1–3 and 9–10 were new, and their structures were elucidated by spectroscopic analysis. The acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity and antiviral activity of compounds 1–17 were evaluated. Among them, compounds 1 and 2 showed strong inhibitory activity against acetylcholinesterase with IC50 values of 4.2 ± 0.6, 4.5 ± 0.6 nM, respectively. This is the first time it has been reported that 3, 6, 10, 12 had evident antiviral activity towards HSV-1 with IC50 values of 16.4 ± 0.6, 6.34 ± 0.4, 21.8 ± 0.8 and 28.9 ± 0.8 μg·mL−1, respectively. Antifouling bioassay tests showed that compounds 1, 11, 12, 15 had potent antifouling activity with EC50 values of 12.9 ± 0.5, 22.1 ± 0.8, 7.4 ± 0.6, 16.1 ± 0.6 μg·mL−1 toward barnacle Balanus amphitrite larvae, respectively.
PMCID: PMC4278221  PMID: 25522319
Aspergillusterreus; anti-acetylcholinesterase; anti-HSV-1; antifouling; butyrolactone derivative; territrem derivative
6.  Influence of polyethylene glycol coating on biodistribution and toxicity of nanoscale graphene oxide in mice after intravenous injection 
In this study, we assessed the in vivo behavior and toxicology of nanoscale graphene oxide (NGO) in mice after intravenous injection. The influence of a polyethylene glycol (PEG) coating on the distribution and toxicity of the NGO was also investigated. The results show that NGO is mainly retained in the liver, lung, and spleen. Retention in the lung is partially due to NGO aggregation. The PEG coating reduces the retention of NGO in the liver, lung, and spleen and promotes the clearance of NGO from these organs, but NGO and NGO-PEG are still present after 3 months. The PEG coating effectively reduces the early weight loss caused by NGO and alleviates NGO-induced acute tissue injuries, which can include damage to the liver, lung, and kidney, and chronic hepatic and lung fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC4207078  PMID: 25356071
graphene oxide; biodistribution; toxicity; polyethylene glycol
7.  Insights into Deep-Sea Sediment Fungal Communities from the East Indian Ocean Using Targeted Environmental Sequencing Combined with Traditional Cultivation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109118.
The fungal diversity in deep-sea environments has recently gained an increasing amount attention. Our knowledge and understanding of the true fungal diversity and the role it plays in deep-sea environments, however, is still limited. We investigated the fungal community structure in five sediments from a depth of ∼4000 m in the East India Ocean using a combination of targeted environmental sequencing and traditional cultivation. This approach resulted in the recovery of a total of 45 fungal operational taxonomic units (OTUs) and 20 culturable fungal phylotypes. This finding indicates that there is a great amount of fungal diversity in the deep-sea sediments collected in the East Indian Ocean. Three fungal OTUs and one culturable phylotype demonstrated high divergence (89%–97%) from the existing sequences in the GenBank. Moreover, 44.4% fungal OTUs and 30% culturable fungal phylotypes are new reports for deep-sea sediments. These results suggest that the deep-sea sediments from the East India Ocean can serve as habitats for new fungal communities compared with other deep-sea environments. In addition, different fungal community could be detected when using targeted environmental sequencing compared with traditional cultivation in this study, which suggests that a combination of targeted environmental sequencing and traditional cultivation will generate a more diverse fungal community in deep-sea environments than using either targeted environmental sequencing or traditional cultivation alone. This study is the first to report new insights into the fungal communities in deep-sea sediments from the East Indian Ocean, which increases our knowledge and understanding of the fungal diversity in deep-sea environments.
PMCID: PMC4182876  PMID: 25272044
8.  Perineal endometriosis: a case report 
A previously healthy 28-year-old G1P1 Asian woman presented with a 1-year history of a painful palpable lesion arising within the left perineum. Histopathology revealed multiple endometriotic foci composed of endometrial glands and moderate dense stroma, surrounded by dense fibro-elastic tissue. This patient was diagnosed as endometriosis and the endometriotic mass was excised under local anaesthesia.
PMCID: PMC4211815  PMID: 25356165
Perineum; endometriosis; pathology
9.  A Derived Network-Based Interferon-Related Signature of Human Macrophages Responding to Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:713071.
Network analysis of transcriptional signature typically relies on direct interaction between two highly expressed genes. However, this approach misses indirect and biological relevant interactions through a third factor (hub). Here we determine whether a hub-based network analysis can select an improved signature subset that correlates with a biological change in a stronger manner than the original signature. We have previously reported an interferon-related transcriptional signature (THP1r2Mtb-induced) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb)-infected THP-1 human macrophage. We selected hub-connected THP1r2Mtb-induced genes into the refined network signature TMtb-iNet and grouped the excluded genes into the excluded signature TMtb-iEx. TMtb-iNet retained the enrichment of binding sites of interferon-related transcription factors and contained relatively more interferon-related interacting genes when compared to THP1r2Mtb-induced signature. TMtb-iNet correlated as strongly as THP1r2Mtb-induced signature on a public transcriptional dataset of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB). TMtb-iNet correlated more strongly in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from PTB patients than THP1r2Mtb-induced signature and TMtb-iEx. When TMtb-iNet was applied to data during clinical therapy of tuberculosis, it resulted in the most pronounced response and the weakest correlation. Correlation on dataset from patients with AIDS or malaria was stronger for TMtb-iNet, indicating an involvement of TMtb-iNet in these chronic human infections. Collectively, the significance of this work is twofold: (1) we disseminate a hub-based approach in generating a biologically meaningful and clinically useful signature; (2) using this approach we introduce a new network-based signature and demonstrate its promising applications in understanding host responses to infections.
PMCID: PMC4209755  PMID: 25371902
10.  High plasma levels of high mobility group box 1 is associated with the risk of sepsis in severe blunt chest trauma patients: a prospective cohort study 
High mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is a late mediator of systemic inflammation. Extracellular HMGB1 play a central pathogenic role in critical illness. The purpose of the study was to investigate the association between plasma HMGB1 concentrations and the risk of poor outcomes in patients with severe blunt chest trauma.
The plasma concentrations of HMGB1 in patients with severe blunt chest trauma (AIS ≥ 3) were measured by a quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay at four time points during seven days after admission, and the dynamic release patterns were monitored. The biomarker levels were compared between patients with sepsis and non-sepsis, and between patients with multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) and non-MODS. The related factors of prognosis were analyzed by using multivariate logistic regression analysis. The short-form 36 was used to evaluate the quality of life of patients at 12 months after injury.
Plasma HMGB1 levels were significantly higher both in sepsis and MODS group on post-trauma day 3, 5, and 7 compared with the non-sepsis and non-MODS groups, respectively. Multivariate analysis showed that HMGB1 levels and ISS were independent risk factors for sepsis and MODS in patients with severe blunt chest trauma.
Plasma HMGB1 levels were significantly elevated in patients with severe blunt chest trauma. HMGB1 levels were associated with the risk of poor outcome in patients with severe blunt chest trauma. Daily HMGB1 levels measurements is a potential useful tool in the early identification of post-trauma complications. Further studies are needed to determine whether HMGB1 intervention could prevent the development of sepsis and MODS in patients with severe blunt chest trauma.
PMCID: PMC4132233  PMID: 25085006
Chest trauma; High-mobility group box 1; Inflammation; Sepsis; MODS; Complications
11.  Dose of Incorporated Immunodominant Antigen in Recombinant BCG Impacts Modestly on Th1 Immune Response and Protective Efficiency against Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Mice 
Journal of Immunology Research  2014;2014:196124.
One approach for improving BCG efficacy is to utilize BCG as vehicle to develop recombinant BCG (rBCG) strains overexpressing Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb) antigens. Also expression level of a candidate antigen should impact the final T cell responses conferred by rBCG. In this study, based on our previously constructed differential expression system, we developed two rBCG strains overexpressing M. tb chimeric antigen Ag856A2 (coding a recombinant ag85a with 2 copies of esat-6 inserted at Acc I site of ag85a) at differential levels under the control of the subtly modified furA promoters. These two rBCG strains were used to vaccinate C57BL/6 mice and exploit dose of incorporated antigen in rBCG to optimize immune response and protective efficiency against M. tb challenge in mouse model. The results showed that rBCG strains overexpressing Ag856A2 at differential levels induced different antigen-specific IFN-γ production and comparable number of M. tb-specific CD4 T cells expressing IL-2. M. tb challenge experiment showed that rBCG strains afforded enhanced but comparable immune protection characterized by reduced bacillary load, lung pathology, and inflammation. These results suggested that the dose of antigens incorporated in rBCG can impact T cell immune responses but imposed no significantly differential protective efficacies.
PMCID: PMC4134796  PMID: 25152895
12.  Meta-Analysis of the Adverse Effects of Long-Term Azithromycin Use in Patients with Chronic Lung Diseases 
The adverse effects of azithromycin on the treatment of patients with chronic lung diseases (CLD) were evaluated in the present study. MEDLINE and other databases were searched for relevant articles published until August 2013. Randomized controlled trials that enrolled patients with chronic lung diseases who received long-term azithromycin treatment were selected, and data on microbiological studies and azithromycin-related adverse events were abstracted from articles and analyzed. Six studies were included in the meta-analysis. The risk of bacterial resistance in patients receiving long-term azithromycin treatment was increased 2.7-fold (risk ratio [RR], 2.69 [95% confidence interval {95% CI}, 1.249, 5.211]) compared with the risk in patients receiving placebo treatment. On the other hand, the risk of bacterial colonization decreased in patients receiving azithromycin treatment (RR, 0.551 [95% CI, 0.460, 0.658]). Patients receiving long-term azithromycin therapy were at risk of increased impairment of hearing (RR, 1.168 [95% CI, 1.030, 1.325]). This analysis provides evidence supporting the idea that bacterial resistance can develop with long-term azithromycin treatment. Besides the increasingly recognized anti-inflammatory role of azithromycin used in treating chronic lung diseases, we should be aware of the potential for adverse events with its long-term use.
PMCID: PMC3910718  PMID: 24189261
13.  Combination of Gefitinib and DNA Methylation Inhibitor Decitabine Exerts Synergistic Anti-Cancer Activity in Colon Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97719.
Despite recent advances in the treatment of human colon cancer, the chemotherapy efficacy against colon cancer is still unsatisfactory. In the present study, effects of concomitant inhibition of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and DNA methyltransferase were examined in human colon cancer cells. We demonstrated that decitabine (a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor) synergized with gefitinib (an EGFR inhibitor) to reduce cell viability and colony formation in SW1116 and LOVO cells. However, the combination of the two compounds displayed minimal toxicity to NCM460 cells, a normal human colon mucosal epithelial cell line. The combination was also more effective at inhibiting the AKT/mTOR/S6 kinase pathway. In addition, the combination of decitabine with gefitinib markedly inhibited colon cancer cell migration. Furthermore, gefitinib synergistically enhanced decitabine-induced cytotoxicity was primarily due to apoptosis as shown by Annexin V labeling that was attenuated by z-VAD-fmk, a pan caspase inhibitor. Concomitantly, cell apoptosis resulting from the co-treatment of gefitinib and decitabine was accompanied by induction of BAX, cleaved caspase 3 and cleaved PARP, along with reduction of Bcl-2 compared to treatment with either drug alone. Interestingly, combined treatment with these two drugs increased the expression of XIAP-associated factor 1 (XAF1) which play an important role in cell apoptosis. Moreover, small interfering RNA (siRNA) depletion of XAF1 significantly attenuated colon cancer cells apoptosis induced by the combination of the two drugs. Our findings suggested that gefitinib in combination with decitabine exerted enhanced cell apoptosis in colon cancer cells were involved in mitochondrial-mediated pathway and induction of XAF1 expression. In conclusion, based on the observations from our study, we suggested that the combined administration of these two drugs might be considered as a novel therapeutic regimen for treating colon cancer.
PMCID: PMC4038521  PMID: 24874286
14.  Competitive Exclusion among Fig Wasps Achieved via Entrainment of Host Plant Flowering Phenology 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97783.
Molecular techniques are revealing increasing numbers of morphologically similar but co-existing cryptic species, challenging the niche theory. To understand the co-existence mechanism, we studied phenologies of morphologically similar species of fig wasps that pollinate the creeping fig (F. pumila) in eastern China. We compared phenologies of fig wasp emergence and host flowering at sites where one or both pollinators were present. At the site where both pollinators were present, we used sticky traps to capture the emerged fig wasps and identified species identity using mitochondrial DNA COI gene. We also genotyped F. pumila individuals of the three sites using polymorphic microsatellites to detect whether the host populations were differentiated. Male F. pumila produced two major crops annually, with figs receptive in spring and summer. A small partial third crop of receptive figs occurred in the autumn, but few of the second crop figs matured at that time. Hence, few pollinators were available to enter third crop figs and they mostly aborted, resulting in two generations of pollinating wasps each year, plus a partial third generation. Receptive figs were produced on male plants in spring and summer, timed to coincide with the release of short-lived adult pollinators from the same individual plants. Most plants were pollinated by a single species. Plants pollinated by Wiebesia sp. 1 released wasps earlier than those pollinated by Wiebesia sp. 3, with little overlap. Plants occupied by different pollinators were not spatially separated, nor genetically distinct. Our findings show that these differences created mismatches with the flight periods of the other Wiebesia species, largely ‘reserving’ individual plants for the resident pollinator species. This pre-emptive competitive displacement may prevent long term co-existence of the two pollinators.
PMCID: PMC4029822  PMID: 24849458
15.  Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase-1 (IDO1) in human endometrial stromal cells induces macrophage tolerance through interleukin-33 in the progression of endometriosis 
In the peritoneal fluid, macrophages and their secretory cytokines are essential for endometriosis, but the factors that favor their involvement in the endometriosis-associated inflammatory response are still elusive. Given the anomalous expression of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase-1 (IDO1) in endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) and its potentially important roles in immune modulation, we aimed to determine the effects of IDO1 in ESCs on macrophages and the mechanism of those effects. Normal ESCs and ectopic ESCs transfected with the SD11-IDO1 shRNA (short hairpin RNA) or vector-only plasmid SD11 were subsequently co-cultured with peripheral blood (PB)-derived monocytes (PBMC)-driven macrophages directly and indirectly. Cytokine production was determined by analyzing the supernatant of the co-culture unit by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The phenotypes and the phagocytic ability of the macrophages were determined by flow cytometry. Compared to normal ESCs, the PBMC-driven macrophages co-cultured with ectopic ESCs displayed lower phagocytic ability. Additionally, macrophages co-cultured with ectopic ESCs exhibited higher levels of CD163 and CD209 and lower levels of HLA-DR and CD11c. Moreover, both the intracellular expression and extracellular secretion of interleukin-10 (IL-10) and transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) were significantly increased, while that of IL-12p70 was decreased in macrophages after being co-cultured with ectopic ESCs. However, there was no significant difference in macrophage phagocytic ability, immunophenotype or cytokine secretion between the direct and indirect co-culture units. Reversely, SD11-IDO1 shRNA transfection of ectopic ESCs could abrogate the decreased phagocytic ability and alternative activation of macrophages in ectopic ESC-macrophage co-culture unit, suggesting that higher IDO1 in ectopic ESCs was indispensable for the induction of macrophage tolerance. Furthermore, the decrease in phagocytic macrophages and alternatively activated macrophages induced by IDO1 in ectopic ESCs was reversed by the addition of an IL-33 inhibitor, that is, soluble ST2 (sST2). Therefore, through the activation of IL-33, the increased expression of IDO1 in ectopic ESCs contributed to the truncated phagocytic ability of macrophages in endometriosis.
PMCID: PMC4097255  PMID: 25031694
Endometriosis; indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase-1; macrophage; endometrial stromal cell; interleukin-33; cytokine
16.  Comprehensive Multiple Molecular Profile of Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition in Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma Patients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96860.
The aim of this study is to investigate the expression profile of multiple epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT)-related molecules in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) and the related prognostic significance.
Immunohistochemistry was performed to determine the expression of E-cadherin, Vimentin, Snail, slug and β-catenin in a tissue microarray consisting of tumor tissues of 140 ICC patients undergoing curative resection. The correlation between the expression of these molecules and the clinicopathological characteristics of ICC patients was analyzed, and their prognostic implication was evaluated.
Reduced E-cadherin and increased Vimentin expression, the characteristic changes of EMT, identified in 55.0% and 55.7% of primary ICCs, respectively, were correlated with lymphatic metastasis and poorer overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) of ICCs. The overexpression of snail and nonmembranous β-catenin, which are the major regulators of the EMT, were identified in 49.2% and 45.7% of primary ICCs, while little slug expression was detected in ICCs. Cytoplasmic/nuclear β-catenin did not significantly predict worse DFS and was not related with E-cadherin loss. The overexpression of snail predicted worse OS and DFS. Snail overexpression correlated with the down-regulation of E-cadherin and the up-regulation of Vimentin. Inhibition of snail in an ICC cell line decreased the expression of E-cadherin, enhanced the expression of Vimentin and impaired the invasion and migration ability of ICC cells.
These data support the hypothesis that EMT plays vital roles in ICC progression and suggest that snail but not slug and β-catenin plays a crucial role in the EMT induction of ICC.
PMCID: PMC4016113  PMID: 24816558
17.  Cell-surface processing of extracellular human immunodeficiency virus type 1 Vpr by proprotein convertases 
Virology  2007;372(2):384-397.
Increasing evidence suggests that extracellular Vpr could contribute to HIV pathogenesis through its effect on bystander cells. Soluble forms of Vpr have been detected in the sera and cerebrospinal fluids of HIV-1-infected patients, and in vitro studies have implicated extracellular Vpr as an effector of cellular responses, including G2 arrest, apoptosis and induction of cytokines and chemokines production, presumably through its ability to transduce into multiple cell types. However, the mechanism underlying Vpr release from HIV-1-producing cells remains undefined and the biological modifications that the extracellular protein may undergo are largely unknown. We provide evidence indicating that soluble forms of Vpr are present in the extracellular medium of HIV-1-producing cells. Release of Vpr in the extracellular medium did not originate from decaying or disrupted HIV-1 virions that package Vpr but rather appeared associated with HIV-1-mediated cytopathicity. Interestingly, Vpr was found to undergo proteolytic processing at a very well conserved proprotein convertase (PC) cleavage site, R85QRR88↓, located within the functionally important C-terminal arginine-rich domain of the protein. Vpr processing occurred extracellularly upon close contact to cells and most likely involved a cell surface-associated PC. Consistently, PC inhibitors suppressed Vpr processing, while expression of extracellular matrix-associated PC5 and PACE4 enhanced Vpr cleavage. PC-mediated processing of extracellular Vpr led to the production of a truncated Vpr product that was defective for the induction of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis when expressed in human cells. Collectively, these results suggest that cell surface processing of extracellular Vpr by PCs might regulate the levels of active soluble Vpr.
PMCID: PMC3955186  PMID: 18061232 CAMSID: cams4183
HIV-1; Vpr; Extracellular processing; Proprotein convertase; Protease; Extracellular matrix
18.  A Network Pharmacology Approach to Understanding the Mechanisms of Action of Traditional Medicine: Bushenhuoxue Formula for Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e89123.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has unique therapeutic effects for complex chronic diseases. However, for the lack of an effective systematic approach, the research progress on the effective substances and pharmacological mechanism of action has been very slow. In this paper, by incorporating network biology, bioinformatics and chemoinformatics methods, an integrated approach was proposed to systematically investigate and explain the pharmacological mechanism of action and effective substances of TCM. This approach includes the following main steps: First, based on the known drug targets, network biology was used to screen out putative drug targets; Second, the molecular docking method was used to calculate whether the molecules from TCM and drug targets related to chronic kidney diseases (CKD) interact or not; Third, according to the result of molecular docking, natural product-target network, main component-target network and compound-target network were constructed; Finally, through analysis of network characteristics and literature mining, potential effective multi-components and their synergistic mechanism were putatively identified and uncovered. Bu-shen-Huo-xue formula (BSHX) which was frequently used for treating CKD, was used as the case to demonstrate reliability of our proposed approach. The results show that BSHX has the therapeutic effect by using multi-channel network regulation, such as regulating the coagulation and fibrinolytic balance, and the expression of inflammatory factors, inhibiting abnormal ECM accumulation. Tanshinone IIA, rhein, curcumin, calycosin and quercetin may be potential effective ingredients of BSHX. This research shows that the integration approach can be an effective means for discovering active substances and revealing their pharmacological mechanisms of TCM.
PMCID: PMC3943740  PMID: 24598793
19.  High-throughput RNA sequencing of a formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded autopsy lung tissue sample from the 1918 influenza pandemic 
The Journal of pathology  2013;229(4):535-545.
Most biopsy and autopsy tissues are formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded (FFPE), but this process leads to RNA degradation that limits gene expression analysis. The RNA genome of the 1918 pandemic influenza virus was previously determined in a 9-year effort by overlapping RT-PCR from post-mortem samples. Here, the full genome of the 1918 virus at 3000× coverage was determined in one high-throughput sequencing run of a library derived from total RNA of a 1918 FFPE sample after duplex-specific nuclease treatments. Bacterial sequences associated with secondary bacterial pneumonias were also detected. Host transcripts were well represented in the library. Compared to a 2009 pandemic influenza virus FFPE post-mortem library, the 1918 sample showed significant enrichment for host defence and cell death response genes, concordant with prior animal studies. This methodological approach should assist in the analysis of FFPE tissue samples isolated over the past century from a variety of diseases.
PMCID: PMC3731037  PMID: 23180419
influenza A virus; pandemic; 1918 influenza virus; formalin-fixed; paraffin-embedded tissue; NGS
20.  Efficacy of combination therapy of triazole and echinocandin in treatment of invasive aspergillosis: a systematic review of animal and human studies 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2014;6(2):99-108.
The effectiveness of the combination therapy of triazole and echinocandin in treatment of invasive aspergillosis (IA) remains controversial. The objective of this systematic review was to assess the efficacy of combination therapy of triazole and echinocandin in treatment of IA.
Relevant articles on the combination therapy of triazole and echinocandin in IA, including the animal studies and clinical studies from January 1966 to October 2013, were searched on Web of Science, PubMed and Cochrane Library. The prolongation of survival of the combination therapy of triazole and echinocandin in IA was performed as risk ratio (RR) with 95% confidence interval (95% CI).
Nine animal studies with a total of 1,582 animals and five clinical trials totaling 872 patients were included. The survival of the included animal studies with combination therapy was significantly prolonged compared with echinocandin alone [RR =2.26, (95% CI, 1.79-2.87; P<0.00001)], but no statistical difference compared with monotherapy of triazole [RR =1.19, (95% CI, 0.98-1.44; P=0.08)]. Of the four human cohort studies, two studies observed that the combination therapy of triazole and echinocandin was associated with a significant reduction in mortality compared with other treatments, and one study might be considered as a preferable therapy [HR =0.58, (95% CI, 0.3-1.14; P=0.117)]. While another study revealed that there was no significant difference among the combination therapy of triazole and echinocandin and either of the monotherapy. In the randomized clinical trial (RCT), of the 135 patients who received the combination therapy, 39 died, while 55 died out of 142 patients who received monotherapy (P=0.08, 95% CI, –21.4, 1.09) by week 12.
The combination therapy of triazole and echinocandin in treating IA results in a trend towards improved overall survival in animals’ studies and clinical studies. Well-designed RCTs and further improved clinical trials are necessary to study the effectiveness of the combination therapy.
PMCID: PMC3944170  PMID: 24605223
Triazole; echinocandin; invasive aspergillosis (IA); systematic review
21.  Decreased Expression of GATA2 Promoted Proliferation, Migration and Invasion of HepG2 In Vitro and Correlated with Poor Prognosis of Hepatocellular Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87505.
GATA family of transcription factors are critical for organ development and associated with progression of various cancer types. However, their expression patterns and prognostic values for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are still largely unknown.
Expression of GATA transcription factors in HCC cell lines and tissues (n = 240) were evaluated by RT-qPCR, western blot and immunohistochemistry. Cellular proliferation, migration and invasion of HepG2 was evaluated by CCK-8 kit, scratch wound assay and transwell matrigel invasion assay, respectively.
GATA2 expression was decreased in HCC cell lines (p = 0.056 for mRNA, p = 0.040 for protein) and tissues (p = 1.27E-25) compared with normal hepatocytes. Decreased expression of intratumoral GATA2 protein significantly correlated with elevated alpha feto-protein (p = 2.7E-05), tumor size >5 cm (p = 0.049), absence of tumor capsule (p = 0.002), poor differentiation (p = 0.005), presence of tumor thrombi (p = 0.005) and advanced TNM stage (p = 0.001) and was associated with increased recurrence rate and decreased overall survival rate by univariate (p = 1.6E-04 for TTR, p = 1.7E-04 for OS) and multivariate analyses (HR = 0.63, 95% CI = 0.43–0.90, p = 0.012 for TTR; HR = 0.67, 95% CI = 0.47–0.95, p = 0.026 for OS). RNAi-mediated knockdown of GATA2 expression significantly enhanced proliferation, migration and invasion of HepG2 cell in vitro.
Decreased expression of hematopoietic factor GATA2 was associated with poor prognosis of HCC following resection.
PMCID: PMC3907524  PMID: 24498120
22.  The Wall Eclipsing Sign on Pulmonary Artery Computed Tomography Angiography Is Pathognomonic for Pulmonary Artery Sarcoma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83200.
The objective of this study was to evaluate the imaging characteristics of pulmonary artery sarcoma (PAS) on pulmonary artery computed tomography angiography (PACTA) that can be used to differentiate between PAS and pulmonary thromboembolic diseases, including chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) and acute pulmonary embolism (APE).
The clinical data and imaging characteristics of 12 patients with PAS, 156 patients with CTEPH, and 426 patients with APE who were treated at Beijing Anzhen Hospital from January 2007 to August 2013 were retrospectively analyzed. All patients underwent PACTA before treatment, and the diagnoses of PAS and CTEPH were all confirmed by surgical biopsy.
All 12 PAS patients were initially misdiagnosed and received inappropriate thrombolytic and/or anticoagulant therapy before they were referred for surgical intervention. The mean time from PACTA to surgical intervention was 5.5±3.7 months (range 2–11 months). On PACTA, the PAS lesion always eclipsed the wall of the pulmonary artery before infiltrating outside the pulmonary artery, which was termed the wall eclipsing sign. This sign was observed in all PAS patients but was not observed in any CTEPH or APE patients.
PAS is a rare neoplasm with a poor prognosis, and is easily misdiagnosed as thromboembolic disease. The wall eclipsing sign on PACTA is pathognomonic for PAS, and patients with this sign should be investigated to confirm the diagnosis and should undergo surgical intervention as soon as possible, rather than receiving thrombolytic or anticoagulant therapy.
PMCID: PMC3877030  PMID: 24391746
23.  Enhanced Expression of Cystathionine β-Synthase and Cystathionine γ-Lyase During Acute Cholecystitis-Induced Gallbladder Inflammation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82711.
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) has recently been shown to play an important role in the digestive system, but the role of endogenous H2S produced locally in the gallbladder is unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate whether gallbladder possesses the enzymatic machinery to synthesize H2S, and whether H2S synthesis is changed in gallbladder inflammation during acute acalculous cholecystitis (AC).
Adult male guinea pigs underwent either a sham operation or common bile duct ligation (CBDL). One, two, or three days after CBDL, the animals were sacrificed separately. Hematoxylin and eosin-stained slides of gallbladder samples were scored for inflammation. H2S production rate in gallbladder tissue from each group was determined; immunohistochemistry and western blotting were used to determine expression levels of the H2S-producing enzymes cystathionine β-synthase (CBS) and cystathionine γ-lyase (CSE) in gallbladder.
There was a progressive inflammatory response after CBDL. Immunohistochemistry analysis showed that CBS and CSE were expressed in the gallbladder epithelium, muscular layer, and blood vessels and that the expression increased progressively with increasing inflammation following CBDL. The expression of CBS protein as well as the H2S-production rate was significantly increased in the animals that underwent CBDL, compared to those that underwent the sham operation.
Both CBS and CSE are expressed in gallbladder tissues. The expression of these enzymes, as well as H2S synthesis, was up-regulated in the context of inflammation during AC.
PMCID: PMC3857271  PMID: 24349344
24.  Efficacy of the Combination of Voriconazole and Caspofungin in Experimental Pulmonary Aspergillosis by Different Aspergillus Species 
Mycopathologia  2013;177(1-2):11-18.
Invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA) caused by Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus flavus, or Aspergillus niger is associated with high mortality. We evaluated the efficacy and compared the therapeutic effect differences of voriconazole (VRC) in combination with caspofungin (CAS) in transiently neutropenic rats infected by A. fumigatus, A. flavus, or A. niger.
Treatment groups consisted of VRC (10 mg/kg q12 h) monotherapy, CAS (1 mg/kg/day) monotherapy, combination of VRC (10 mg/kg q12 h) + CAS (1 mg/kg/day), and no drug for 10 consecutive days. The efficacy and the difference in the treatments were evaluated through prolongation of survival, reduction in serum galactomannan levels and residual fungal burden, and histological studies.
For all the strains, the combination of VRC and CAS led to significant prolongation in survival (P < 0.05) and reduction in residual fungal burden (P < 0.05) compared with CAS alone, and decrease in serum galactomannan levels (P < 0.05) compared with either agent alone. The survival in the combined therapy groups was significantly improved compared to VRC monotherapy for the strains of A. flavus and A. niger (P < 0.05), but no significant difference for the strains of A. fumigatus (P > 0.05).
Combination of VRC and CAS was synergistic in IPA by A. flavus and A. niger, but small efficacy benefits in IPA by A. fumigatus.
PMCID: PMC3915080  PMID: 24306184
Voriconazole; Caspofungin; Combination; Aspergillus fumigatus; Aspergillus flavus; Aspergillus niger
25.  Mycobacterial MazG Safeguards Genetic Stability via Housecleaning of 5-OH-dCTP 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(12):e1003814.
Generation of reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species in phagocytes is an important innate immune response mechanism to eliminate microbial pathogens. It is known that deoxynucleotides (dNTPs), the precursor nucleotides to DNA synthesis, are one group of the significant targets for these oxidants and incorporation of oxidized dNTPs into genomic DNA may cause mutations and even cell death. Here we show that the mycobacterial dNTP pyrophosphohydrolase MazG safeguards the bacilli genome by degrading 5-OH-dCTP, thereby, preventing it from incorporation into DNA. Deletion of the (d)NTP pyrophosphohydrolase-encoding mazG in mycobacteria leads to a mutator phenotype both under oxidative stress and in the stationary phase of growth, resulting in increased CG to TA mutations. Biochemical analyses demonstrate that mycobacterial MazG can efficiently hydrolyze 5-OH-dCTP, an oxidized nucleotide that induces CG to TA mutation upon incorporation by polymerase. Moreover, chemical genetic analyses show that direct incorporation of 5-OH-dCTP into mazG-null mutant strain of Mycobacterium smegmatis (Msm) leads to a dose-dependent mutagenesis phenotype, indicating that 5-OH-dCTP is a natural substrate of mycobacterial MazG. Furthermore, deletion of mazG in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) leads to reduced survival in activated macrophages and in the spleen of infected mice. This study not only characterizes the mycobacterial MazG as a novel pyrimidine-specific housecleaning enzyme that prevents CG to TA mutation by degrading 5-OH-dCTP but also reveals a genome-safeguarding mechanism for survival of Mtb in vivo.
Author Summary
The cellular nucleotide pool is a significant target for oxidation by reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species. Misincorporation of these oxidized non-canonical nucleotides into DNA is known to cause mutations, and may be related to carcinogenesis, aging and neurodegeneration. Cells have evolved a group of bio-degradation housecleaning enzymes that may specifically eliminate certain non-canonical nucleotide from the nucleotide pool and thus prevent their incorporation into DNA. The most well-characterized housecleaning enzymes are the MutT-like proteins which specifically hydrolyze the oxidized purine nucleotides, such as 8-oxo-dGTP and 2-OH-dATP. Lack of MutT activity in cells leads to significant increase of AT-CG mutation and genetic instability. However, housecleaning enzymes specific for oxidized pyrimidine nucleotides are yet to be identified. Here we show that the dNTP pyrophosphohydrolase MazG from mycobacteria is a 5-OH-dCTP-specific housecleaning enzyme. Deletion of mazG in mycobacteria results in increased CG to TA mutation under oxidative stress and in the stationary phase of growth. Both biochemical and chemical genetic analyses demonstrate that 5-OH-dCTP is a natural substrate of mycobacterial MazG. Furthermore, deletion of mazG in Mtb leads to reduced survival in activated macrophages and in the spleen of infected mice. These results reveal a novel housecleaning pathway for mycobacteria to maintain genetic stability and survival in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3855555  PMID: 24339782

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