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1.  BRG1 variant rs1122608 on chromosome 19p13.2 confers protection against stroke and regulates expression of pre-mRNA-splicing factor SFRS3 
Human genetics  2013;133(5):499-508.
A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs1122608 on chromosome 19p13.2 and in the BRG1/SMARCA4 gene was previously associated with coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD and ischemic stroke are both associated with atherosclerosis. Thus, we tested the hypothesis that rs1122608 is associated with ischemic stroke. Further studies were used to identify the most likely mechanism by which rs1122608 regulates atherosclerosis. For case–control association studies, two independent Chinese Han GeneID cohorts were used, including a Central cohort with 1,075 cases and 2,685 controls and the Northern cohort with 1,208 cases and 824 controls. eQTL and real-time RT-PCR analyses were used to identify the potential candidate gene(s) affected by rs1122608. The minor allele T of SNP rs1122608 showed significant association with a decreased risk of ischemic stroke in the Central GeneID cohort (adjusted Padj = 2.1 × 10−4, OR 0.61). The association was replicated in an independent Northern GeneID cohort (Padj = 6.00 × 10−3, OR 0.69). The association became more significant in the combined population (Padj = 7.86 × 10−5, OR 0.73). Allele T of SNP rs1122608 also showed significant association with a decreased total cholesterol level (Padj = 0.013). Allele T of rs1122608 was associated with an increased expression level of SFRS3 encoding an mRNA splicing regulator, but not with the expression of BRG1/SMARCA4 or LDLR (located 36 kb from rs1122608). Increased expression of SFSR3 may decrease IL-1β expression and secretion, resulting in reduced risk of atherosclerosis and stroke. This is the first study that demonstrates that rs1122608 confers protection against ischemic stroke and implicates splicing factor SFSR3 in the disease process.
PMCID: PMC3988217  PMID: 24190014
2.  Innovative pharmaceutical development based on unique properties of nanoscale delivery formulation 
Nanoscale  2013;5(18):8307-8325.
The advent of nanotechnology has reignited interest in the field of pharmaceutical science for the development of nanomedicine. Nanomedicinal formulations are nanometer-sized carrier materials designed for increasing the drug tissue bioavailability, thereby improving the treatment of systemically applied chemotherapeutic drugs. Nanomedicine is a new approach to deliver the pharmaceuticals through different routes of administration with safer and more effective therapies compared to conventional methods. To date, various kinds of nanomaterials have been developed over the years to make delivery systems more effective for the treatment of various diseases. Even though nanomaterials have significant advantages due to their unique nanoscale properties, there are still significant challenges in the improvement and development of nanoformulations with composites and other materials. Here in this review, we highlight the nanomedicinal formulations aiming to improve the balance between the efficacy and the toxicity of therapeutic interventions through different routes of administration and how to design nanomedicine for safer and more effective ways to improve the treatment quality. We also emphasize the environmental and health prospects of nanomaterials for human health care.
PMCID: PMC3934102  PMID: 23860639
3.  Network Meta-Analysis of Erlotinib, Gefitinib, Afatinib and Icotinib in Patients with Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer Harboring EGFR Mutations 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e85245.
Several EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKIs) including erlotinib, gefitinib, afatinib and icotinib are currently available as treatment for patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who harbor EGFR mutations. However, no head to head trials between these TKIs in mutated populations have been reported, which provides room for indirect and integrated comparisons.
We searched electronic databases for eligible literatures. Pooled data on objective response rate (ORR), progression free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS) were calculated. Appropriate networks for different outcomes were established to incorporate all evidences. Multiple-treatments comparisons (MTCs) based on Bayesian network integrated the efficacy and specific toxicities of all included treatments.
Twelve phase III RCTs that investigated EGFR-TKIs involving 1821 participants with EGFR mutation were included. For mutant patients, the weighted pooled ORR and 1-year PFS of EGFR-TKIs were significant superior to that of standard chemotherapy (ORR: 66.6% vs. 30.9%, OR 5.46, 95%CI 3.59 to 8.30, P<0.00001; 1-year PFS: 42.9% vs. 9.7%, OR 7.83, 95%CI 4.50 to 13.61; P<0.00001) through direct meta-analysis. In the network meta-analyses, no statistically significant differences in efficacy were found between these four TKIs with respect to all outcome measures. Trend analyses of rank probabilities revealed that the cumulative probabilities of being the most efficacious treatments were (ORR, 1-year PFS, 1-year OS, 2-year OS): erlotinib (51%, 38%, 14%, 19%), gefitinib (1%, 6%, 5%, 16%), afatinib (29%, 27%, 30%, 27%) and icotinib (19%, 29%, NA, NA), respectively. However, afatinib and erlotinib showed significant severer rash and diarrhea compared with gefitinib and icotinib.
The current study indicated that erlotinib, gefitinib, afatinib and icotinib shared equivalent efficacy but presented different efficacy-toxicity pattern for EGFR-mutated patients. Erlotinib and afatinib revealed potentially better efficacy but significant higher toxicities compared with gefitinib and icotinib.
PMCID: PMC3922700  PMID: 24533047
4.  Growing Impact of Restenosis on the Surgical Treatment of Peripheral Arterial Disease 
Patients with peripheral arterial disease often experience treatment failure from restenosis at the site of a prior peripheral endovascular intervention (PVI) or lower extremity bypass (LEB). The impact of these treatment failures on the utilization and outcomes of secondary interventions is poorly understood.
Methods and Results
In our regional vascular quality improvement collaborative, we compared 2350 patients undergoing primary infrainguinal LEB with 1154 patients undergoing secondary infrainguinal LEB (LEB performed after previous revascularization in the index limb) between 2003 and 2011. The proportion of patients undergoing secondary LEB increased by 72% during the study period (22% of all LEBs in 2003 to 38% in 2011, P<0.001). In‐hospital outcomes, such as myocardial infarction, death, and amputation, were similar between primary and secondary LEB groups. However, in both crude and propensity‐weighted analyses, secondary LEB was associated with significantly inferior 1‐year outcomes, including major adverse limb event‐free survival (composite of death, new bypass graft, surgical bypass graft revision, thrombectomy/thrombolysis, or above‐ankle amputation; Secondary LEB MALE‐free survival = 61.6% vs primary LEB MALE‐free survival = 67.5%, P=0.002) and reintervention or amputation‐free survival (composite of death, reintervention, or above‐ankle amputation; Secondary LEB RAO‐free survival = 58.9% vs Primary LEB RAO‐free survival 64.1%, P=0.003). Inferior outcomes for secondary LEB were observed regardless of the prior failed treatment type (PVI or LEB).
In an era of increasing utilization of PVI, a growing proportion of patients undergo LEB in the setting of a prior failed PVI or surgical bypass. When caring for patients with peripheral arterial disease, physicians should recognize that first treatment failure (PVI or LEB) affects the success of subsequent revascularizations.
PMCID: PMC3886769  PMID: 24275626
angioplasty; bypass; peripheral vascular disease; restenosis; revascularization; stents
5.  Serum proteomic study on EGFR-TKIs target treatment for patients with NSCLC 
OncoTargets and therapy  2013;6:1481-1491.
Although epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are widely used for EGFR mutated non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients, tumor sample availability and heterogeneity of the tumor remain challenging for physicians’ selection of these patients. Here, we developed a serum proteomic classifier based on matrix assisted laser desorption ionization time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF-MS) to predict the clinical outcome of patients treated with EGFR-TKIs.
A total of 68 patients were included in this study. All patients received EGFR-TKIs as second or third line treatment and blood samples were collected before treatment. Using magnetic bead assisted serum peptide capture coupled to MALDI-TOF-MS, pretreatment serum from 24 NSCLC patients was analyzed to develop a proteomic classifier (training set). In a blinded test set with 44 patients, each sample was classified into “good” or “poor” groups using this classifier. Survival analysis of each group was done based on this classification.
A 3-peptide proteomic classifier was developed from the training set. In the testing set, the classifier was able to distinguish patients of “good” or “poor” outcomes with 93% accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity. The overall survival and progression free survival of the predicted good group were found to be significantly longer than the poor group, not only in the whole population but also in certain subgroups, such as pathological adenocarcinoma and nonsmokers. With respect to the tumor samples available for EGFR mutation detection, all eight EGFR mutant tumors and three of the 12 wild type EGFR tumors were classified as good while nine of the 12 wild type EGFR tumors were classified as poor.
The current study has shown that a proteomic classifier can predict the outcome of patients treated with EGFR-TKIs and may aid in patient selection in the absence of available tumor tissue. Further studies are necessary to confirm these findings.
PMCID: PMC3818102  PMID: 24204163
non-small-cell lung cancer; matrix assisted laser desorption ionization time of flight mass spectrometry; proteomic classifier; survival
6.  Mechanisms that impact microRNA stability in plants 
RNA Biology  2012;9(10):1218-1223.
microRNAs (miRNAs) are 20–24 nucleotide RNAs that regulate a variety of developmental and metabolic processes. The accumulation of miRNAs in vivo can be controlled at multiple levels. In addition to miRNA biogenesis, mechanisms that lead to RNA degradation, such as 3′ uridylation and 3′ truncation, also affect the steady-state levels of miRNAs. On the other hand, 2’-O-methylation in plant miRNAs protects their 3′ ends from truncation and uridylation. The recent identification of HESO1 as the key enzyme responsible for miRNA uridylation in Arabidopsis was a first step toward a full understanding of the mechanisms underlying miRNA turnover. Analyses of the heso1 mutant predicted the existence of another uridylation activity and a previously unknown nuclease that act on miRNAs. The future identification of these enzymes will enrich our understanding of miRNA turnover.
PMCID: PMC3583851  PMID: 22995833
argonaute; HEN1; HESO1; methylation; microRNA; miRNA stability; miRNA turnover; uridylation
7.  Efficacy of epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase inhibitors for Chinese patients with squamous cell carcinoma of lung harboring EGFR mutation 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2013;5(5):585-592.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation mostly occurred in lung adenocarcinoma, rarely in squamous cell carcinoma (SQCC). EGFR mutation rate in SQCC varied in previous reports, and the efficacy of EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in SQCC harboring EGFR mutation has not yet been fully evaluated. The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy EGFR-TKIs for Chinese patients with SQCC of lung harboring EGFR mutation.
Patients and methods
Two cohorts of patients were analyzed. The first cohort included 146 consecutive post-operation SQCC patients from January 2008 to October 2012. The second cohort included 63 patients with advanced SQCC receiving EGFR-TKIs treatment. EGFR mutation analysis was performed with Real-time PCR method. The pathologic diagnosis was validated with immunohistochemistry (IHC) for patients harboring activated EGFR mutation. And the efficacy of EGFR-TKIs in squamous cell carcinoma of lung (SQCC) was evaluated in patients with activated EGFR mutations.
In the first cohort, 146 resected patients, EGFR mutations were detected in 3 patients, with the mutation rate of 2.0%. In cohort two, 63 patients treated with EGFR-TKIs, 15 patients possessed activated EGFR mutations. The response rate and disease control rate in these patients was 26.7% and 66.7% respectively. 5 patients had disease control over 6 months. The progression free survival (PFS) in EGFR-mutated patients was 3.9 months.
In Chinese SQCC patients, EGFR mutation rate was extremely low. EGFR-TKIs seemed to be less effective in EGFR-mutated SQCC patients, but some patients could still obtain benefit from EGFR-TKIs. To identify this part of patients, further study was warranted in the future.
PMCID: PMC3815724  PMID: 24255770
Squamous cell carcinoma of lung (SQCC); immunohistochemistry (IHC); epidermal growth factor receptor mutation (EGFR mutation); epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKIs)
8.  Clinical significance of the thymidylate synthase, dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase, and thymidine phosphorylase mRNA expressions in hepatocellular carcinoma patients receiving 5-fluorouracil-based transarterial chemoembolization treatment 
OncoTargets and therapy  2013;6:811-818.
To determine whether 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) sensitivity is associated with the mRNA expressions of thymidylate synthase (TS), dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD), and thymidine phosphorylase (TP) in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) treated with 5-FU-based transarterial chemoembolization (TACE).
Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor specimens from 40 patients treated with 5-FU-based TACE were selected for the examination of TS, DPD, and TP expression level by a quantitative real-time reverse transcription- polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique. Patients were categorized into high and low expression groups according to the median expression level of each enzyme. Associations between the mRNA expression levels of TS, DPD, and TP and clinical parameters including treatment efficacies, clinicopathological factors, and prognosis were assessed.
High DPD expression was associated with worse treatment outcome, including intrahepatic disease progression rate (hazard ratio [HR] for high DPD versus low DPD, 2.212; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.030–4.753; P = 0.042), extrahepatic disease progression rate (HR for high versus low DPD, 3.171; 95% CI, 1.003–10.023; P = 0.049), and progression-free survival (HR for high versus low DPD, 2.308; 95% CI, 1.102–4.836; P = 0.027). No correlation was found between the mRNA expression of TS/TP and treatment outcome.
DPD mRNA expression level was negatively correlated with the clinical outcomes of HCC patients treated with 5-FU-based TACE. These results provide indirect evidence that high DPD mRNA expression is a predictive marker of treatment resistance for 5-FU.
PMCID: PMC3704606  PMID: 23861589
dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase; 5-fluorouracil; hepatocellular carcinoma; thymidylate synthase; thymidine phosphorylase; transarterial chemoembolization
9.  COX5B Regulates MAVS-mediated Antiviral Signaling through Interaction with ATG5 and Repressing ROS Production 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(12):e1003086.
Innate antiviral immunity is the first line of the host defense system that rapidly detects invading viruses. Mitochondria function as platforms for innate antiviral signal transduction in mammals through the adaptor protein, MAVS. Excessive activation of MAVS-mediated antiviral signaling leads to dysfunction of mitochondria and cell apoptosis that likely causes the pathogenesis of autoimmunity. However, the mechanism of how MAVS is regulated at mitochondria remains unknown. Here we show that the Cytochrome c Oxidase (CcO) complex subunit COX5B physically interacts with MAVS and negatively regulates the MAVS-mediated antiviral pathway. Mechanistically, we find that while activation of MAVS leads to increased ROS production and COX5B expression, COX5B down-regulated MAVS signaling by repressing ROS production. Importantly, our study reveals that COX5B coordinates with the autophagy pathway to control MAVS aggregation, thereby balancing the antiviral signaling activity. Thus, our study provides novel insights into the link between mitochondrial electron transport system and the autophagy pathway in regulating innate antiviral immunity.
Author Summary
Pattern recognition receptors are vital to innate immunity. In the antiviral innate immunity, retinoic acid-inducible gene-I (RIG-I)-like receptors (RLRs), such as RIG-I and MDA5, sense viral RNAs through their C-terminal helicase domains, then initiate the antiviral response through interaction with the essential adaptor protein MAVS, which is located in mitochondrial outer membrane. Although cumulative studies have showed that mitochondria-associated MAVS plays an important role in antiviral signaling, much remains unknown about the mechanism of MAVS activity related to mitochondrial membrane localization. In this article we demonstrate that the CcO complex subunit COX5B negatively regulates the MAVS-mediated antiviral pathway through interaction with MAVS. At the mechanistic level, we show that COX5B inhibits MAVS-mediated antiviral pathway by suppressing ROS production, and coordinating with the autophagy pathway to control MAVS aggregation. Our data support a notion that mitochondrial electron transport system coordinates with the autophagy pathway to regulate MAVS-mediated signaling for a tight control of innate antiviral immunity.
PMCID: PMC3534373  PMID: 23308066
10.  Comparison of different methods for detecting epidermal growth factor receptor mutations in peripheral blood and tumor tissue of non-small cell lung cancer as a predictor of response to gefitinib 
OncoTargets and therapy  2012;5:439-447.
Previous studies have reported that epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation in tumor tissue and peripheral blood can predict the response to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the heterogeneity of the sample sources makes it difficult to evaluate the detecting methodologies. The goal of this study is to compare different methods for analyzing EGFR mutation in blood and tumor tissue.
Materials and methods
Fifty-one advanced NSCLC patients treated with gefitinib were included in the study. The EGFR mutation status of each patients’ blood was analyzed by denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography (DHPLC), mutant-enriched liquidchip (ME-Liquidchip), and Scorpion Amplification Refractory Mutation System (Scorpion-ARMS) kits. EGFR mutation information in paired tumor samples detected by Scorpion-ARMS served as a reference. Comparative analyses were performed on mutation status results obtained from different methods and on the association between the clinical outcome of TKI treatment and EGFR mutation status.
The response rate (RR) in the whole group was 33.3%. EGFR mutation rates were identified as 15.7%, 27.5%, and 29.4% by DHPLC, ME-Liquidchip, and Scorpion-ARMS in blood, respectively. In 34 cases that had paired tumor samples, the mutation rate in tissue was 41.2%. The RRs of patients with mutation detected by different methods were 71.4% (tumor), 62.5% (blood, DHPLC), 50.0% (blood, ME-Liquidchip), and 66.7% (blood, Scorpion-ARMS). EGFR mutation detected by Scorpion-ARMS in blood and tumor tissues had better prediction of RR to EGFR-TKI (P = 0.002 and P = 0.001) than mutation detected with DHPLC and ME-Liquidchip.
Tumor tissue sample is the best source for EGFR mutation analysis in NSCLC patients. Peripheral blood samples may be used as an alternative source only in special conditions. Scorpion-ARMS, DHPLC, or ME-Liquidchip methods are all optional for detecting tumor EGFR mutation from blood.
PMCID: PMC3525047  PMID: 23251095
non-small cell lung cancer; EGFR mutation; mutation detection methods; gefitinib
11.  The impact of tumor size change after target therapy on survival: analysis of patients enrolled onto three clinical trials of advanced NSCLC from one institution 
OncoTargets and therapy  2012;5:349-355.
To explore whether changes in tumor size impact survival in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) after target therapy, especially in patients with evaluation of stable disease (SD), and to review the applicability of the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) criteria in target therapy.
Patients and methods
Data from 88 NSCLC patients receiving gefitinib (250 mg, daily [qd]), erlotinib (150 mg, qd), and ZD6474 (100 mg, qd) in three clinical trials (IRESSA registration clinical trial, TRUST study, ZD6474 study) during November 2003 to June 2005 were retrospectively analyzed. The treatment effect (complete response, partial response, stable disease [SD], or progressive disease) was evaluated with radiologic assessment according to the RECIST criteria. SD patients were divided into two groups: SD−/0, in which the sum of the longest diameter of target lesions decreased by less than 30% or did not change; and SD+, in which the sum of the longest diameter of target lesions increased by less than 20%. The differences of progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) between these groups were analyzed.
In the whole group, 27 patients achieved complete response or partial response as best response, 40 achieved SD, and 22 had progressive disease. The median PFS and OS were 4 months and 11.1 months, respectively. In SD patients, 27 were SD−/0 and 13 patients were SD+. The PFS and OS of SD+ patients was shorter than that of SD−/0 patients (5.65 months vs 2.03 days, P < 0.001 and 12.2 months vs 7.1 months, P < 0.001).
The applicability of RECIST criteria was called into question in the evaluation of target therapy. Change in tumor size might predict survival in advanced NSCLC patients with target therapy and may be a surrogate endpoint for efficacy in target therapy.
PMCID: PMC3501954  PMID: 23172990
non-small-cell lung cancer; target therapy; stable disease; prognostic factor
12.  HESO1, a nucleotidyl transferase in Arabidopsis, uridylates unmethylated miRNAs and siRNAs to trigger their degradation 
Current biology : CB  2012;22(8):689-694.
microRNAs (miRNAs), small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), and piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) impact numerous biological processes in eukaryotes. In addition to biogenesis, turnover contributes to the steady-state levels of small RNAs. One major factor that stabilizes miRNAs and siRNAs in plants as well as siRNAs and piRNAs in animals is 2′;-O-methylation on the 3′; terminal ribose by the methyltransferase HUA ENHANCER1 (HEN1) [1–6]. Genetic studies with Arabidopsis, Drosophila and zebrafish hen1 mutants show that 2′-O-methylation protects small RNAs from 3′-to-5′ truncation and 3′ uridylation, the addition of non-templated nucleotides, predominantly uridine [2, 7, 8]. Uridylation is a widespread phenomenon that is not restricted to small RNAs in hen1 mutants, and is often associated with their reduced accumulation ([7, 9, 10]; reviewed in [11]). The enzymes responsible for 3′ uridylation of small RNAs when they lack methylation in plants or animals have remained elusive. Here, we identify the Arabidopsis HEN1 SUPPRESSOR1 (HESO1) gene as responsible for small RNA uridylation in hen1 mutants. HESO1 exhibits terminal nucleotidyl transferase activity, prefers uridine as the substrate nucleotide, and is completely inhibited by 2′-O-methylation. We show that uridylation leads to miRNA degradation, and the degradation is most likely through an enzyme that is distinct from that causing the 3′ truncation in hen1 mutants.
PMCID: PMC3350747  PMID: 22464194
miRNA; siRNA; HESO1; nucleotidyl transferase; methylation; uridylation
13.  Identification and characterization of small non-coding RNAs from Chinese fir by high throughput sequencing 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:146.
Small non-coding RNAs (sRNAs) play key roles in plant development, growth and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. At least four classes of sRNAs have been well characterized in plants, including repeat-associated siRNAs (rasiRNAs), microRNAs (miRNAs), trans-acting siRNAs (tasiRNAs) and natural antisense transcript-derived siRNAs. Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata) is one of the most important coniferous evergreen tree species in China. No sRNA from Chinese fir has been described to date.
To obtain sRNAs in Chinese fir, we sequenced a sRNA library generated from seeds, seedlings, leaves, stems and calli, using Illumina high throughput sequencing technology. A comprehensive set of sRNAs were acquired, including conserved and novel miRNAs, rasiRNAs and tasiRNAs. With BLASTN and MIREAP we identified a total of 115 conserved miRNAs comprising 40 miRNA families and one novel miRNA with precursor sequence. The expressions of 16 conserved and one novel miRNAs and one tasiRNA were detected by RT-PCR. Utilizing real time RT-PCR, we revealed that four conserved and one novel miRNAs displayed developmental stage-specific expression patterns in Chinese fir. In addition, 209 unigenes were predicted to be targets of 30 Chinese fir miRNA families, of which five target genes were experimentally verified by 5' RACE, including a squamosa promoter-binding protein gene, a pentatricopeptide (PPR) repeat-containing protein gene, a BolA-like family protein gene, AGO1 and a gene of unknown function. We also demonstrated that the DCL3-dependent rasiRNA biogenesis pathway, which had been considered absent in conifers, existed in Chinese fir. Furthermore, the miR390-TAS3-ARF regulatory pathway was elucidated.
We unveiled a complex population of sRNAs in Chinese fir through high throughput sequencing. This provides an insight into the composition and function of sRNAs in Chinese fir and sheds new light on land plant sRNA evolution.
PMCID: PMC3462689  PMID: 22894611
Chinese fir; miRNA; rasiRNA; tasiRNA; Cunninghamia lanceolata
14.  Development of a luciferase-based reporter of transcriptional gene silencing that enables bidirectional mutant screening in Arabidopsis thaliana 
Silence  2012;3:6.
Cytosine methylation is an important chromatin modification that maintains genome integrity and regulates gene expression through transcriptional gene silencing. Major players in de novo methylation guided by siRNAs (known as RNA-directed DNA methylation, or RdDM), maintenance methylation, and active demethylation have been identified in Arabidopsis. However, active demethylation only occurs at a subset of RdDM loci, raising the question of how the homeostasis of DNA methylation is achieved at most RdDM loci. To identify factors that regulate the levels of cytosine methylation, we aimed to establish a transgenic reporter system that allows for forward genetic screens in Arabidopsis.
We introduced a dual 35 S promoter (d35S) driven luciferase reporter, LUCH, into Arabidopsis and isolated a line with a moderate level of luciferase activity. LUCH produced transgene-specific 24 nucleotide siRNAs and its d35S contained methylated cytosine in CG, CHG and CHH contexts. Treatment of the transgenic line with an inhibitor of cytosine methylation de-repressed luciferase activity. Mutations in several components of the RdDM pathway but not the maintenance methylation genes resulted in reduced d35S methylation, especially CHH methylation, and de-repression of luciferase activity. A mutation in MOM1, which is known to cooperate with RdDM to silence transposons, reduced d35S DNA methylation and de-repressed LUCH expression. A mutation in ROS1, a cytosine demethylation enzyme, increased d35S methylation and reduced LUCH expression.
We developed a luciferase-based reporter, LUCH, which reports both DNA methylation directed by small RNAs and active demethylation by ROS1 in Arabidopsis. The moderate basal level of LUCH expression allows for bi-directional genetic screens that dissect the mechanisms of DNA methylation as well as demethylation.
PMCID: PMC3548752  PMID: 22676624
Cytosine methylation; Demethylation; RdDM; MOM1; Transcriptional gene silencing; siRNA
15.  Transcriptome-wide identification and characterization of miRNAs from Pinus densata 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:132.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play key roles in diverse developmental processes, nutrient homeostasis and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. The biogenesis and regulatory functions of miRNAs have been intensively studied in model angiosperms, such as Arabidopsis thaliana, Oryza sativa and Populus trichocarpa. However, global identification of Pinus densata miRNAs has not been reported in previous research.
Here, we report the identification of 34 conserved miRNAs belonging to 25 miRNA families from a P. densata mRNA transcriptome database using local BLAST and MIREAP programs. The primary and/or precursor sequences of 29 miRNAs were further confirmed by RT-PCR amplification and subsequent sequencing. The average value of the minimal folding free energy indexes of the 34 miRNA precursors was 0.92. Nineteen (58%) mature miRNAs began with a 5' terminal uridine residue. Analysis of miRNA precursors showed that 19 mature miRNAs were novel members of 14 conserved miRNA families, of which 17 miRNAs were further validated by subcloning and sequencing. Using real-time quantitative RT-PCR, we found that the expression levels of 7 miRNAs were more than 2-fold higher in needles than in stems. In addition, 72 P. densata mRNAs were predicted to be targets of 25 miRNA families. Four target genes, including a nodal modulator 1-like protein gene, two GRAS family transcription factor protein genes and one histone deacetylase gene, were experimentally verified to be the targets of 3 P. densata miRNAs, pde-miR162a, pde-miR171a and pde-miR482a, respectively.
This study led to the discovery of 34 conserved miRNAs comprising 25 miRNA families from Pinus densata. These results lay a solid foundation for further studying the regulative roles of miRNAs in the development, growth and responses to environmental stresses in P. densata.
PMCID: PMC3347991  PMID: 22480283
Pinus densata; miRNA; Transcriptome
16.  Functional dominant-negative mutation of sodium channel subunit gene SCN3B associated with atrial fibrillation in a Chinese GeneID population 
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia in the clinic, and accounts for more than 15% of strokes. Mutations in cardiac sodium channel α, β1 and β2 subunit genes (SCN5A, SCN1B, and SCN2B) have been identified in AF patients. We hypothesize that mutations in the sodium channel β3 subunit gene SCN3B are also associated with AF. To test this hypothesis, we carried out a large scale sequencing analysis of all coding exons and exon-intron boundaries of SCN3B in 477 AF patients (28.5% lone AF) from the GeneID Chinese Han population. A novel A130V mutation was identified in a 46 year-old patient with lone AF, and the mutation was absent in 500 controls. Mutation A130V dramatically decreased the cardiac sodium current density when expressed in HEK293/Nav1.5 stable cell line, but did not have significant effect on kinetics of activation, inactivation, and channel recovery from inactivation. When co-expressed with wild type SCN3B, the A130V mutant SCN3B negated the function of wild type SCN3B, suggesting that A130V acts by a dominant negative mechanism. Western blot analysis with biotinylated plasma membrane protein extracts revealed that A130V did not affect cell surface expression of Nav1.5 or SCN3B, suggesting that mutant A130V SCN3B may not inhibit sodium channel trafficking, instead may affect conduction of sodium ions due to its malfunction as an integral component of the channel complex. This study identifies the first AF-associated mutation in SCN3B, and suggests that mutations in SCN3B may be a new pathogenic cause of AF.
PMCID: PMC3132081  PMID: 20558140
Atrial fibrillation; Cardiac sodium channel α subunit SCN5A (Nav1.5); Sodium channel β subunit SCN3B; Cardiac sodium current; Mutation; Ion channel

Results 1-16 (16)