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1.  The missense Thr211Pro mutation in the factor X activation peptide of a bleeding patient causes molecular defect in the clotting cascade 
Thrombosis and haemostasis  2013;110(1):53-61.
Factor X (FX) is a vitamin K-dependent coagulation zymogen, which upon activation to factor Xa assembles into the prothrombinase complex to activate prothrombin to thrombin. FX can be activated by either factor VIIa-tissue factor or factor IXa-factor VIIIa in extrinsic and intrinsic pathways, respectively. In this study, we identified a bleeding patient with moderate FX deficiency who exhibits a clotting defect only in the intrinsic pathway. Exome sequencing revealed that the patient carries a novel homozygous missense mutation that results in substitution of Thr211 with Pro in the activation peptide of FX. Thr211 is the site of an O-linked glycosylation in the activation peptide of FX. We postulated that the lack of this post-translational modification specifically impacts the activation of FX by intrinsic Xase, thereby impairing thrombin generation in the subject. To test this hypothesis, we expressed both wild-type FX and FX containing this mutation in mammalian cells and following the purification of the zymogens to homogeneity characterized their properties in both purified and plasma-based assay systems. Analysis of the results suggests that Thr211 to Pro substitution renders the FX mutant a poor substrate for both physiological activators, however, at physiological concentration of the substrate, the clotting defect manifest itself only in the intrinsic pathway, thus explaining the bleeding phenotype for the patient carrying this mutation.
PMCID: PMC3700658  PMID: 23677006
2.  Firth logistic regression for rare variant association tests 
Frontiers in Genetics  2014;5:187.
PMCID: PMC4063169  PMID: 24995013
rare variants; association test; firth logistic regression; penalized likelihood; GEE
3.  Prostate specific antigen detection in patient sera by fluorescence-free BioCD protein array 
Biosensors & bioelectronics  2010;26(5):1871-1875.
Fluorescence-free biosensor arrays for protein detection directly measure the protein surface density, and do not require a fluorophore or enzyme label, and provide quantitative and consistent signals. However, few fluorescence-free biosensor protein arrays have demonstrated successful application in high-background samples, such as serum, due to non-specific binding. We tested the BioCD as a fluorescence-free biosensor based on optical interferometry, and used it to detect prostate specific antigen (PSA, a biomarker of prostate cancer) in patient sera in a 96-well anti-PSA microarray. We have attained a 4 ng/ml detection limit in serum and have measured PSA concentrations in patient sera. The measured concentrations correlated well with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) results. The measurement of PSA concentrations in high-level protein backgrounds suggests that the BioCD has a potential for clinical applications by removing the restriction of fluorescence-free biosensors from high-background applications.
PMCID: PMC4030240  PMID: 20236816
BioCD; Label-free; Interferometry; Antibody microarray; Prostate specific antigen; Cancer biomarker; Serum; Optical biosensor
4.  Molecular Layer Detection on a Diffractive Optical Balance 
Optics letters  2012;37(19):4098-4100.
Diffraction-based molecular detection is achieved by etching optical gratings into thermal oxide on silicon. The gratings perform as a stable common-path diffractive optical balance (DOB) designed to operate around a missing diffraction order. The biosensor is operated in an off-null condition with a phase bias to produce a high-contrast responsivity that is linear in accumulated molecules, but with a low background. The DOB linear responsivity is a factor of 20 larger than the reflectometric responsivity of planar thermal oxide.
PMCID: PMC4028713  PMID: 23027291
5.  Structural and biochemical insights into the V/I505T mutation found in the EIAV gp45 vaccine strain 
Retrovirology  2014;11:26.
The equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) is a lentivirus of the Retrovirus family, which causes persistent infection in horses often characterized by recurrent episodes of high fever. It has a similar morphology and life cycle to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Its transmembrane glycoprotein, gp45 (analogous to gp41 in HIV), mediates membrane fusion during the infection. However, the post-fusion conformation of EIAV gp45 has not yet been determined. EIAV is the first member of the lentiviruses for which an effective vaccine has been successfully developed. The attenuated vaccine strain, FDDV, has been produced from a pathogenic strain by a series of passages in donkey dermal cells. We have previously reported that a V/I505T mutation in gp45, in combination with other mutations in gp90, may potentially contribute to the success of the vaccine strain. To this end, we now report on our structural and biochemical studies of the gp45 protein from both wide type and vaccine strain, providing a valuable structural model for the advancement of the EIAV vaccine.
We resolved crystal structures of the ecto-domain of gp45 from both the wild-type EIAV and the vaccine strain FDDV. We found that the V/I505T mutation in gp45 was located in a highly conserved d position within the heptad repeat, which protruded into a 3-fold symmetry axis within the six-helix bundle. Our crystal structure analyses revealed a shift of a hydrophobic to hydrophilic interaction due to this specific mutation, and further biochemical and virological studies confirmed that the mutation reduced the overall stability of the six-helix bundle in post-fusion conformation. Moreover, we found that altering the temperatures drastically affected the viral infectivity.
Our high-resolution crystal structures of gp45 exhibited high conservation between the gp45/gp41 structures of lentiviruses. In addition, a hydrophobic to hydrophilic interaction change in the EIAV vaccine strain was found to modulate the stability and thermal-sensitivity of the overall gp45 structure. Our observations suggest that lowering the stability of the six-helix bundle (post-fusion), which may stabilizes the pre-fusion conformation, might be one of the reasons of acquired dominance for FDDV in viral attenuation.
PMCID: PMC3997929  PMID: 24656154
EIAV; gp45; Crystal structure; Stability; Vaccine strain; Heptad repeat; Pre-fusion conformation; Replication
6.  Detection and Characterization of Miniature Inverted-Repeat Transposable Elements in “Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus” 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(17):3979-3986.
Miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs) are nonautonomous transposons (devoid of the transposase gene tps) that affect gene functions through insertion/deletion events. No transposon has yet been reported to occur in “Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus,” an alphaproteobacterium associated with citrus Huanglongbing (HLB, yellow shoot disease). In this study, two MITEs, MCLas-A and MCLas-B, in “Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus” were detected, and the genome was characterized using 326 isolates collected in China and Florida. MCLas-A had three variants, ranging from 237 to 325 bp, and was inserted into a TTTAGG site of a prophage region. MCLas-A had a pair of 54-bp terminal inverted repeats (TIRs), which contained three tandem repeats of TGGTAACCAC. Both “filled” (with MITE) and “empty” (without MITE) states were detected, suggesting the MITE mobility. The empty sites of all bacterial isolates had TIR tandem repeat remnants (TRR). Frequencies of TRR types varied according to geographical origins. MCLas-B had four variants, ranging from 238 to 250 bp, and was inserted into a TA site of another “Ca. Liberibacter” prophage. The MITE, MCLas-B, had a pair of 23-bp TIRs containing no tandem repeats. No evidence of MCLas-B mobility was found. An identical open reading frame was found upstream of MCLas-A (229 bp) and MCLas-B (232 bp) and was predicted to be a putative tps, suggesting an in cis tps-MITE configuration. MCLas-A and MCLas-B were predominantly copresent in Florida isolates, whereas MCLas-A alone or MCLas-B alone was found in Chinese isolates.
PMCID: PMC3754606  PMID: 23813735
7.  Altered Spontaneous Brain Activity in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease Accompanied by Depressive Symptoms, as Revealed by Regional Homogeneity and Functional Connectivity in the Prefrontal-Limbic System 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84705.
As patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are at high risk for comorbid depression, it is hypothesized that these two diseases are sharing common pathogenic pathways. Using regional homogeneity (ReHo) and functional connectivity approaches, we characterized human regional brain activity at resting state to examine specific brain networks in patients with PD and those with PD and depression (PDD). This study comprised 41 PD human patients and 25 normal human subjects. The patients completed the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and were further divided into two groups: patients with depressive symptoms and non-depressed PD patients (nD-PD). Compared with the non-depressed patients, those with depressive symptoms exhibited significantly increased regional activity in the left middle frontal gyrus and right inferior frontal gyrus, and decreased ReHo in the left amygdala and bilateral lingual gyrus. Brain network connectivity analysis revealed decreased functional connectivity within the prefrontal-limbic system and increased functional connectivity in the prefrontal cortex and lingual gyrus in PDD compared with the nD-PD group. In summary, the findings showed regional brain activity alterations and disruption of the mood regulation network in PDD patients. The pathogenesis of PDD may be attributed to abnormal neural activity in multiple brain regions.
PMCID: PMC3880326  PMID: 24404185
8.  Defining Single Molecular Forces Required to Activate Integrin and Notch Signaling 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2013;340(6135):991-994.
Cell-cell and cell-matrix mechanical interactions through membrane receptors direct a wide range of cellular functions and orchestrate the development of multicellular organisms. To define the single molecular forces required to activate signaling through a ligand-receptor bond, we developed the Tension Gauge Tether (TGT) approach in which the ligand is immobilized to a surface through a rupturable tether before receptor engagement. TGT serves as an autonomous gauge to restrict the receptor-ligand tension. Using a range of tethers with tunable tension tolerances, we show that cells apply a universal peak tension of ~40 pN to single integrin-ligand bonds during initial adhesion. We find that less than 12 pN is required to activate Notch receptors. TGT can also provide a defined molecular mechanical cue to regulate cellular functions.
PMCID: PMC3710701  PMID: 23704575
9.  Abnormal Regional Homogeneity in Patients with Essential Tremor Revealed by Resting-State Functional MRI 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69199.
Essential tremor (ET) is one of the most common movement disorders in human adults. It can be characterized as a progressive neurological disorder of which the most recognizable feature is a tremor of the arms or hands that is apparent during voluntary movements such as eating and writing. The pathology of ET remains unclear. Resting-state fMRI (RS-fMRI), as a non-invasive imaging technique, was employed to investigate abnormalities of functional connectivity in ET in the brain. Regional homogeneity (ReHo) was used as a metric of RS-fMRI to assess the local functional connectivity abnormality in ET with 20 ET patients and 20 age- and gender-matched healthy controls (HC). The ET group showed decreased ReHo in the anterior and posterior bilateral cerebellar lobes, the bilateral thalamus and the insular lobe, and increased ReHo in the bilateral prefrontal and parietal cortices, the left primary motor cortex and left supplementary motor area. The abnormal ReHo value of ET patients in the bilateral anterior cerebellar lobes and the right posterior cerebellar lobe were negatively correlated with the tremor severity score, while positively correlated with that in the left primary motor cortex. These findings suggest that the abnormality in cerebello-thalamo-cortical motor pathway is involved in tremor generation and propagation, which may be related to motor-related symptoms in ET patients. Meanwhile, the abnormality in the prefrontal and parietal regions may be associated with non-motor symptoms in ET. These findings suggest that the ReHo could be utilized for investigations of functional-pathological mechanism of ET.
PMCID: PMC3711903  PMID: 23869236
10.  Power of Single- vs. Multi-Marker Tests of Association 
Genetic epidemiology  2012;36(5):480-487.
Current genome-wide association studies still heavily rely on a single-marker strategy, in which each single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) is tested individually for association with a phenotype. Although methods and software packages that consider multimarker models have become available, they have been slow to become widely adopted and their efficacy in real data analysis is often questioned. Based on conducting extensive simulations, here we endeavor to provide more insights into the performance of simple multimarker association tests as compared to single-marker tests. The results reveal the power advantage as well as disadvantage of the two- vs. the single-marker test. Power differentials depend on the correlation structure among tag SNPs, as well as that between tag SNPs and causal variants. A two-marker test has relatively better performance than single-marker tests when the correlation of the two adjacent markers is high. However, using HapMap data, two-marker tests tended to have a greater chance of being less powerful than single-marker tests, due to constraints on the number of actual possible haplotypes in the HapMap data. Yet, the average power difference was small whenever the one-marker test is more powerful, while there were many situations where the two-marker test can be much more powerful. These findings can be useful to guide analyses of future studies.
PMCID: PMC3708310  PMID: 22648939
Asymptotic power; single-marker test; two-marker test; genome-wide association
11.  Combined TLR7/8 and TLR9 Ligands Potentiate the Activity of a Schistosoma japonicum DNA Vaccine 
Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands have been explored as vaccine adjuvants for tumor and virus immunotherapy, but few TLR ligands affecting schistosoma vaccines have been characterized. Previously, we developed a partially protective DNA vaccine encoding the 26-kDa glutathione S-transferase of Schistosoma japonicum (pVAX1-Sj26GST).
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study, we evaluated a TLR7/8 ligand (R848) and a TLR9 ligand (CpG oligodeoxynucleotides, or CpG) as adjuvants for pVAX1-Sj26GST and assessed their effects on the immune system and protection against S. japonicum. We show that combining CpG and R848 with pVAX1-Sj26GST immunization significantly increases splenocyte proliferation and IgG and IgG2a levels, decreases CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Treg) frequency in vivo, and enhances protection against S. japonicum. CpG and R848 inhibited Treg-mediated immunosuppression, upregulated the production of interferon (IFN)-γ, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-4, IL-10, IL-2, and IL-6, and decreased Foxp3 expression in vitro, which may contribute to prevent Treg suppression and conversion during vaccination and allow expansion of antigen-specific T cells against pathogens.
Our data shows that selective TLR ligands can increase the protective efficacy of DNA vaccines against schistosomiasis, potentially through combined antagonism of Treg-mediated immunosuppression and conversion.
Author Summary
There is evidence that TLR activation can block Treg cell responses and thereby break tolerance to self-antigens. It is expected that the use of TLR ligands as vaccine adjuvants will induce potent anti-pathogen immune responses and simultaneously overcome immune inhibition mediated by Tregs. However, the impact of TLR ligands on schistosomiasis vaccines is unclear. Here, we demonstrate that the use of a TLR7/8 ligand (R848) and a TLR9 ligand (CpG) as adjuvants in combination with the S. japonicum vaccine pVAX1-Sj26GST improves disease protection. The combination of CpG and R848 administered after vaccination causes an immune response marked by an upregulation of splenocyte proliferation and IgG and IgG2a levels that also coincides with a decreased proportion of CD4+CD25+ Tregs in mice. We also show that combined adjuvant use of CpG and R848 may impair Treg development and function by promoting the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines and reducing Foxp3 expression. Our findings suggest that in combination with the vaccine, TLR ligands may protect the effector response from Treg-mediated suppression, thereby eliciting the appropriate immune response to improve vaccine efficacy. Immunization combined with the TLR ligands CpG and R848 thus represents a promising new approach for the design of schistosoma vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3617091  PMID: 23593527
12.  A variance component based multi-marker association test using family and unrelated data 
BMC Genetics  2013;14:17.
Incorporating family data in genetic association studies has become increasingly appreciated, especially for its potential value in testing rare variants. We introduce here a variance-component based association test that can test multiple common or rare variants jointly using both family and unrelated samples.
The proposed approach implemented in our R package aggregates or collapses the information across a region based on genetic similarity instead of genotype scores, which avoids the power loss when the effects are in different directions or have different association strengths. The method is also able to effectively leverage the LD information in a region and it can produce a test statistic with an adaptively estimated number of degrees of freedom. Our method can readily allow for the adjustment of non-genetic contributions to the familial similarity, as well as multiple covariates.
We demonstrate through simulations that the proposed method achieves good performance in terms of Type I error control and statistical power. The method is implemented in the R package “fassoc”, which provides a useful tool for data analysis and exploration.
PMCID: PMC3614458  PMID: 23497289
Association studies; Family data; Score test; Multi-marker test
13.  Outcomes of Sustained-Release Formulation of Valproate and Topiramate Monotherapy in Patients with Epilepsy: A Multi-Centre, Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e47982.
New-generation antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) tend to replace traditional AEDs as the first-line choice for epilepsy. However, whether this change results in better outcome, especially in China, remains unknown.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Two broad spectrum AEDs, the traditional drug of sustained-release formulation of valproate (SRVPA) and the new-generation drug of topiramate, were compared in patients with epilepsy as monotherapy in this multi-centre, observational cohort study from 2000 to 2011. The primary outcome was time to treatment failure. The secondary outcomes included time to first seizure, time to 12-month remission, and time to 24-month remission. Drug tolerability was assessed. Cox proportional hazard models (95% confidence interval [CI]) were used to analyse the relative risks expressed as hazard ratios (HR).
Of the 1008 recruited patients, 519 received SRVPA and 489 received topiramate. SRVPA was better than topiramate (28.3% vs. 41.5%; HR = 0.62, [95% CI 0.49–0.77]; p<0.0001) in primary outcome, and in time to first seizure (56.1% vs. 69.3%; HR = 0.73, [95% CI 0.62–0.86]; p = 0.0002). No significant difference was observed between two groups in time to 12-month remission (52.6% vs. 42.5%; HR = 1.01, [95% CI 0.84–1.23]; p = 0.88) and time to 24-month remission (34.7% vs. 25.2%; HR = 1.11, [95% CI 0.88–1.42]; p = 0.38). 36 patients (6.9%) in SRVPA group and 37 patients (7.6%) in topiramate group presented treatment failure associated with intolerable adverse events, there was no significant difference between the two groups (p = 0.70).
The SRVPA is more suitable than topiramate for Chinese epileptic patients, and our results support the viewpoint that traditional AEDs should be the first-line choice for epilepsy rather than new-generation AEDs.
PMCID: PMC3519782  PMID: 23239963
14.  A Unique Feature of Iron Loss via Close Adhesion of Helicobacter pylori to Host Erythrocytes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50314.
Iron deficiency anemia is an extra-stomach disease experienced in H. pylori carriers. Individuals with type A blood are more prone to suffering from H. pylori infection than other individuals. To clarify the molecular mechanisms underlying H. pylori-associated anemia, we collected erythrocytes from A, B, O, and AB blood donors and analyzed morphology, the number of erythrocytes with H. pylori colonies attached to them, and iron contents in erythrocytes and H. pylori (NCTC11637 and SS1 strains) by means of optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and synchrotron radiation soft X-ray imaging. The number of type A erythrocytes with H. pylori attached to them was significantly higher than that of other erythrocytes (P<0.05). Far more iron distribution was observed in H. pylori bacteria using dual energy analysis near the iron L2, 3 edges by soft X-ray imaging. Iron content was significantly reduced in host erythrocytes after 4 hours of exposure to H. pylori. H. pylori are able to adhere more strongly to type A erythrocytes, and this is related to iron shift from the host to the bacteria. This may explain the reasons for refractory iron deficiency anemia and elevated susceptibility to H. pylori infection in individuals with type A blood.
PMCID: PMC3503993  PMID: 23185604
15.  Hypothermia Induced by Adenosine 5′-Monophosphate Attenuates Acute Lung Injury Induced by LPS in Rats 
Mediators of Inflammation  2012;2012:459617.
We have built a rat's model to investigate whether the hypothermia induced by adenosine 5′-monophosphate (5′-AMP) (AIH) could attenuate acute lung injury induced by LPS in rats. We detected the inflammatory cytokine levels in the plasma and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid samples, and we analyzed the pathological changes in the lungs. We have found that AIH can effectively inhibit acute inflammatory reactions and protect the lung from acute injury induced by LPS in rats.
PMCID: PMC3449152  PMID: 23024464
16.  Two-dimensional universal conductance fluctuations and the electron-phonon interaction of surface states in Bi2Te2Se microflakes 
Scientific Reports  2012;2:595.
The universal conductance fluctuations (UCFs), one of the most important manifestations of mesoscopic electronic interference, have not yet been demonstrated for the two-dimensional surface state of topological insulators (TIs). Even if one delicately suppresses the bulk conductance by improving the quality of TI crystals, the fluctuation of the bulk conductance still keeps competitive and difficult to be separated from the desired UCFs of surface carriers. Here we report on the experimental evidence of the UCFs of the two-dimensional surface state in the bulk insulating Bi2Te2Se microflakes. The solely-B⊥-dependent UCF is achieved and its temperature dependence is investigated. The surface transport is further revealed by weak antilocalizations. Such survived UCFs of the surface states result from the limited dephasing length of the bulk carriers in ternary crystals. The electron-phonon interaction is addressed as a secondary source of the surface state dephasing based on the temperature-dependent scaling behavior.
PMCID: PMC3424525  PMID: 22916331
17.  Partial Regulatory T Cell Depletion Prior to Schistosomiasis Vaccination Does Not Enhance the Protection 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40359.
CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) do not only influence self-antigen specific immune responses, but also dampen the protective effect induced by a number of vaccines. The impact of CD4+CD25+ Tregs on vaccines against schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease that is a major public health concern, however, has not been examined. In this study, a DNA vaccine encoding a 26 kDa glutathione S-transferase of Schistosoma japonicum (pVAX1-Sj26GST) was constructed and its potential effects were evaluated by depleting CD25+ cells prior to pVAX1-Sj26GST immunization. This work shows that removal of CD25+ cells prior to immunization with the pVAX1-Sj26GST schistosomiasis DNA vaccine significantly increases the proliferation of splenocytes and IgG levels. However, CD25+ cell-depleted mice immunized with pVAX1-Sj26GST show no improved protection against S. japonicum. Furthermore, depletion of CD25+ cells causes an increase in both pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g. IFN-γ, GM-CSF and IL-4) and an anti-inflammatory cytokine (e.g. IL-10), with CD4+CD25- T cells being one of the major sources of both IFN-γ and IL-10. These findings indicate that partial CD25+ cell depletion fails to enhance the effectiveness of the schistosome vaccine, possibly due to IL-10 production by CD4+CD25- T cells, or other cell types, after CD25+ cell depletion during vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3389001  PMID: 22802961
18.  The Meaning of Interaction 
Human Heredity  2010;70(4):269-277.
Although recent studies have attempted to dispel the confusion that exists in regard to the definition, analysis and interpretation of interaction in genetics, there still remain aspects that are poorly understood by non-statisticians. After a brief discussion of the definition of gene-gene interaction, the main part of this study addresses the fundamental meaning of statistical interaction and its relationship to measurement scale, disproportionate sample sizes in the cells of a two-way table and gametic phase disequilibrium.
PMCID: PMC3025890  PMID: 21150212
Epistasis; Gametic phase disequilibrium; Interaction; Transformation
19.  Molecular characterization of a mosaic locus in the genome of 'Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus' 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:18.
Huanglongbing (HLB) is a highly destructive disease of citrus production worldwide. 'Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus', an unculturable alpha proteobacterium, is a putative pathogen of HLB. Information about the biology and strain diversity of 'Ca. L. asiaticus' is currently limited, inhibiting the scope of HLB research and control.
A genomic region (CLIBASIA_05640 to CLIBASIA_05650) of 'Ca. L. asiaticus' showing hyper-sequence variation or locus mosaicism was identified and investigated using 262 bacterial strains (188 from China and 74 from Florida). Based on the characteristic electrophoretic profiles of PCR amplicons generated by a specific primer set, eight electrophoretic types (E-types) were identified, six E-types (A, B, C, D, E, and F) in China and four E-types (A, C, G, and H) in Florida. The 'Ca. L. asiaticus' strains from China consisted predominately of E-type A (71.3%) and E-type B (19.7%). In contrast, the 'Ca. L. asiaticus' strains from Florida was predominated by E-type G (82.4%). Diversity of 'Ca. L. asiaticus' in China was also evidenced. Strains from the high altitude Yunnan Province consisted of five E-types with E-type B being the majority (62.8%), whereas strains from the low altitude coastal Guangdong Province consisted of only two E-types with E-type A as the majority (97.0%). Sequence analyses revealed that variation of DNA amplicons was due to insertion/deletion events at CLIBASIA_05650 and the downstream intergenic region.
This study demonstrated the genomic mosaicism of 'Ca. L. asiaticus' resulted from active DNA insertion/deletion activities. Analyses of strain variation depicted the significant inter- and intra-continent diversity of 'Ca. L. asiaticus'.
PMCID: PMC3296602  PMID: 22280531
20.  Testing gene-environment interactions in gene-based association studies 
BMC Proceedings  2011;5(Suppl 9):S26.
Gene-based and single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) set association studies provide an important complement to SNP analysis. Kernel-based nonparametric regression has recently emerged as a powerful and flexible tool for this purpose. Our goal is to explore whether this approach can be extended to incorporate and test for interaction effects, especially for genes containing rare variant SNPs. Here, we construct nonparametric regression models that can be used to include a gene-environment interaction effect under the framework of the least-squares kernel machine and examine the performance of the proposed method on the Genetic Analysis Workshop 17 unrelated individuals data set. Two hundred simulated replicates were used to explore the power for detecting interaction. We demonstrate through a genome scan of the quantitative phenotype Q1 that the simulated gene-environment interaction effect in the data can be detected with reasonable power by using the least-squares kernel machine method.
PMCID: PMC3287861  PMID: 22373316
21.  Dynamics of Th17 Cells and Their Role in Schistosoma japonicum Infection in C57BL/6 Mice 
The current knowledge of immunological responses to schistosomiasis, a major tropical helminthic disease, is insufficient, and a better understanding of these responses would support vaccine development or therapies to control granuloma-associated immunopathology. CD4+ T cells play critical roles in both host immune responses against parasitic infection and immunopathology in schistosomiasis. The induction of T helper (Th)1, Th2 and T regulatory (Treg) cells and their roles in schistosome infections are well-illustrated. However, little in vivo data are available on the dynamics of Th17 cells, another important CD4+ T cell subset, after Schistosoma japonicum infection or whether these cells and their defining IL-17 cytokine mediate host protective responses early in infection.
Levels of Th17 and the other three CD4+ T cell subpopulations and the cytokines related to induction or repression of Th17 cell generation in different stages of S. japonicum infection were observed. Contrary to reported in vitro studies, our results showed that the Th17 cells were induced along with the Th1, Th2, Treg cells and the IFN-γ and IL-4 cytokines in S. japonicum infected mice. The results also suggested that S. japonicum egg antigens but not adult worm antigens preferentially induced Th17 cell generation. Furthermore, decreasing IL-17 with a neutralizing anti-IL-17 monoclonal antibody (mAb) increased schistosome-specific antibody levels and partial protection against S. japonicum infection in mice.
Our study is the first to report the dynamics of Th17 cells during S. japonicum infection and indicate that Th17 cell differentiation results from the integrated impact of inducing and suppressive factors promoted by the parasite. Importantly, our findings suggest that lower IL-17 levels may result in favorable host protective responses. This study significantly contributes to the understanding of immunity to schistosomiasis and may aid in developing interventions to protect hosts from infection or restrain immunopathology.
Author Summary
Th17 immune cells secrete the IL-17 cytokine and contribute to host defenses against certain infections. Recent studies linked IL-17 with the severity of liver inflammation and suggested that Th17 cells contribute to the pathology in schistosomiasis, a serious disease caused by parasitic worms such as Schistosoma japonicum widespread in vertebrates including humans. However, the role of Th17 cells in protection against S. japonicum infection is still unclear. For the first time, we describe here the changes in Th17 cell levels during S. japonicum infection and suggest that the schistosome egg antigens are primarily responsible for stimulating the generation of host Th17 cells after S. japonicum infection. We further show that the level of Th17 cells in the host is determined by a combination of factors, namely exposure to complex parasitic antigens that either induce or suppress their generation. We also suggest that lowering IL-17 levels may favor the host's protective responses against S. japonicum infection. Our findings help to better understand the relationship between the host and parasite in terms of immune protection and pathology in schistosomiasis and may contribute to the future development of vaccination and therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC3216943  PMID: 22102924
22.  Are Helicobacter Pylori and Other Helicobacter Species Infection Associated with Human Biliary Lithiasis? A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27390.
Since the isolation of Helicobacter species in biliary system, a hypothetical question was raised about the role of these agents in the development of cholelithiasis. This meta-analysis is to explore the association between the Helicobacter infection and biliary lithiasis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A systematic literature search was performed to identify all eligible articles. Meta-analysis which was carried out using odds ratio and random effect model, 95% confidence intervals for odds ratio was calculated. Quantitative assessment of heterogeneity was explored by chi-square test with significance set at P value 0.10 and was measured using I2 statistic. Eighteen studies published between 1998 and 2011 were finally eligible for meta-analysis. H. Pylori, H. Bilis, H. Hepaticus, H. Pullorum and H. Ganmani were studied. With heterogeneity (I2 = 69.5%, P<0.0001), significantly higher pooled infection rates of H. Pylori (OR: 2.59, 35.82% versus 26.75%, P = 0.01) and H. Hepaticus (OR: 3.13, 31.30% versus 12.12%, P = 0.02) were observed in lithiasis group. Higher prevalence of H. Pylori in cholelithiasis patients were reported by studies from East Asia, South Asia and South America. Evidences supporting the higher presence of H. Pylori in cholelithiasis patients could be found by PCR for detecting 16s rRNA in bile, 26kDa protein gene in biliary tissue and immunohistochemistry. Using multiple detection tests could increase the detection rate of H. Pylori.
Our meta-analysis suggests a trend of higher presence of H. Pylori in cholelithiasis patients than control group and this trend was significant in the regions with higher prevalence of this agent. Evidences supporting the association between Helicobacter and cholelithiasis could be found by using different tests but the gold standard for the identification of these bacteria in biliary system has yet to be established. Considering obvious heterogeneity, a large multi-center study will facilitate us to further clarify the association between the Helicobacter infection and cholelithiasis.
PMCID: PMC3210793  PMID: 22087306
23.  Investigation of pulmonary infection pathogens in neurological intensive care unit 
The purpose of this study is to investigate the distribution and antimicrobial susceptibility of pathogenic bacteria in inpatients with pulmonary infection in the neurological intensive care unit (NICU).
A total of 947 sputum specimens of 428 inpatients from May 2007 to May 2008 in the NICU were enrolled in the study, and bacterial identification and antibiotic susceptibility tests were analyzed using a VITEK 2 system.
A total of 400 positive bacterial strains were separated from 947 sputum specimens, with Gram-negative bacteria accounting for 69.0% of the total strains collected. The most common strain of Gram-negative bacteria was Klebsiella pneumoniae (20.5%). Gram-positive bacteria accounted for 10.0% of the total strains, with the most common strain being Staphylococcus aureus (2.5%). Fungal species accounted for 21.0% of the total strains, and the most common strain collected was Candida albicans (12.25%). Imipenem was the most effective antibiotic against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. The drug resistance rate of Gram-positive bacteria to penicillin G was 100%, and the Gram-positive bacteria were 100% sensitive to teicoplanin, vancomycin, and linezolid.
Gram-negative bacterial infections account for the majority of pulmonary infections in the NICU, with fungal infections being the second most common infection type observed. In addition, fungal infections seem to be related to mortality in the NICU.
PMCID: PMC3039010  PMID: 21339939
nosocomial infection; pulmonary infection; drug resistance; neurological intensive care unit
24.  The nature and combination of subunits used in epitope-based Schistosoma japonicum vaccine formulations affect their efficacy 
Parasites & Vectors  2010;3:109.
Schistosomiasis remains a major public health problem in endemic countries and is caused by infections with any one of three primary schistosome species. Although there are no vaccines available to date, this strategy appears feasible since natural immunity develops in individuals suffering from repeated infection during a lifetime. Since vaccinations resulting in both Th1- and Th2-type responses have been shown to contribute to protective immunity, a vaccine formulation with the capacity for stimulating multiple arms of the immune response will likely be the most effective. Previously we developed partially protective, single Th- and B cell-epitope-based peptide-DNA dual vaccines (PDDV) (T3-PDDV and B3-PDDV, respectively) capable of eliciting immune responses against the Schistosoma japonicum 22.6 kDa tegument antigen (Sj22.6) and a 62 kDa fragment of myosin (Sj62), respectively.
In this study, we developed PDDV cocktails containing multiple epitopes of S. japonicum from Sj22.6, Sj62 and Sj97 antigens by predicting cytotoxic, helper, and B-cell epitopes, and evaluated vaccine potential in vivo. Results showed that mice immunized with a single-epitope PDDV elicited either Tc, Th, or B cell responses, respectively, and mice immunized with either the T3- or B3- single-epitope PDDV formulation were partially protected against infection. However, mice immunized with a multicomponent (3 PDDV components) formulation elicited variable immune responses that were less immunoprotective than single-epitope PDDV formulations.
Our data show that combining these different antigens did not result in a more effective vaccine formulation when compared to each component administered individually, and further suggest that immune interference resulting from immunizations with antigenically distinct vaccine targets may be an important consideration in the development of multicomponent vaccine preparations.
PMCID: PMC3136145  PMID: 21087526
25.  Mass-transport limitations in spot-based microarrays 
Biomedical Optics Express  2010;1(3):983-997.
Mass transport of analyte to surface-immobilized affinity reagents is the fundamental bottleneck for sensitive detection in solid-support microarrays and biosensors. Analyte depletion in the volume adjacent to the sensor causes deviation from ideal association, significantly slows down reaction kinetics, and causes inhomogeneous binding across the sensor surface. In this paper we use high-resolution molecular interferometric imaging (MI2), a label-free optical interferometry technique for direct detection of molecular films, to study the inhomogeneous distribution of intra-spot binding across 100 micron-diameter protein spots. By measuring intra-spot binding inhomogeneity, reaction kinetics can be determined accurately when combined with a numerical three-dimensional finite element model. To ensure homogeneous binding across a spot, a critical flow rate is identified in terms of the association rate ka and the spot diameter. The binding inhomogeneity across a spot can be used to distinguish high-affinity low-concentration specific reactions from low-affinity high-concentration non-specific binding of background proteins.
PMCID: PMC3018043  PMID: 21258524

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