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1.  Association between smoking and the risk of acute mountain sickness: a meta-analysis of observational studies 
People rapidly ascending to high altitudes (>2500 m) may suffer from acute mountain sickness (AMS). The association between smoking and AMS risk remains unclear. Therefore, we performed a meta-analysis to evaluate the association between smoking and AMS risk.
The association between smoking and AMS risk was determined according to predefined criteria established by our team. Meta-analysis was conducted according to the PRISMA guidelines. We included all relevant studies listed in the PubMed and Embase databases as of September 2015 in this meta-analysis and performed systemic searches using the terms “smoking”, “acute mountain sickness” and “risk factor”. The included studies were required to provide clear explanations regarding their definitions of smoking, the final altitudes reached by their participants and the diagnostic criteria used to diagnose AMS. Odds ratios (ORs) were used to evaluate the association between smoking and AMS risk across the studies, and the Q statistic was used to test OR heterogeneity, which was considered significant when P < 0.05. We also computed 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Data extracted from the articles were analyzed with Review Manager 5.3 (Cochrane Collaboration, Oxford, UK).
We used seven case-control studies including 694 smoking patients and 1986 non-smoking controls to analyze the association between smoking and AMS risk. We observed a significant association between AMS and smoking (OR = 0.71, 95% CI 0.52–0.96, P = 0.03).
We determined that smoking may protect against AMS development. However, we do not advise smoking to prevent AMS. More studies are necessary to confirm the role of smoking in AMS risk.
PMCID: PMC5146861  PMID: 27980800
Smoking; Acute mountain sickness; Association; High altitude; Meta-analysis; Risk factor
3.  Long non-coding RNA GAS5 controls human embryonic stem cell self-renewal by maintaining NODAL signalling 
Nature Communications  2016;7:13287.
Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are known players in the regulatory circuitry of the self-renewal in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). However, most hESC-specific lncRNAs remain uncharacterized. Here we demonstrate that growth-arrest-specific transcript 5 (GAS5), a known tumour suppressor and growth arrest-related lncRNA, is highly expressed and directly regulated by pluripotency factors OCT4 and SOX2 in hESCs. Phenotypic analysis shows that GAS5 knockdown significantly impairs hESC self-renewal, but its overexpression significantly promotes hESC self-renewal. Using RNA sequencing and functional analysis, we demonstrate that GAS5 maintains NODAL signalling by protecting NODAL expression from miRNA-mediated degradation. Therefore, we propose that the above pluripotency factors, GAS5 and NODAL form a feed-forward signalling loop that maintains hESC self-renewal. As this regulatory function of GAS5 is stem cell specific, our findings also indicate that the functions of lncRNAs may vary in different cell types due to competing endogenous mechanisms.
Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNA) are known to regulate human embryonic stem cell (hESC) self-renewal. Here, the authors identify lncRNA growth-arrest-specific transcript 5 (GAS5) that regulates pluripotency via modulation of NODAL signalling to maintain self-renewal in hESCs.
PMCID: PMC5097163  PMID: 27811843
5.  Ultrasound-Guided Diffuse Optical Tomography for Predicting and Monitoring Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy of Breast Cancers: Recent Progress 
Ultrasonic imaging  2015;38(1):5-18.
In this manuscript, we review the current progress of utilizing ultrasound-guided diffuse optical tomography (US-guided DOT) for predicting and monitoring neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) outcomes of breast cancer patients. We also report the recent advance on optical tomography systems toward portable and robust clinical use at multiple clinical sites. The first patient who has been closely monitored before NAC, at day 2, day 8, end of first three cycles of NAC, and before surgery is given as an example to demonstrate the potential of US-guided DOT technique.
PMCID: PMC5056904  PMID: 25887527
near infrared imaging; ultrasound-guided optical imaging; ultrasound; breast cancer treatment monitoring; dual-modalities
6.  Cloning and Expression Analysis of MEP Pathway Enzyme-encoding Genes in Osmanthus fragrans 
Genes  2016;7(10):78.
The 2-C-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway is responsible for the biosynthesis of many crucial secondary metabolites, such as carotenoids, monoterpenes, plastoquinone, and tocopherols. In this study, we isolated and identified 10 MEP pathway genes in the important aromatic plant sweet osmanthus (Osmanthus fragrans). Multiple sequence alignments revealed that 10 MEP pathway genes shared high identities with other reported proteins. The genes showed distinctive expression profiles in various tissues, or at different flower stages and diel time points. The qRT-PCR results demonstrated that these genes were highly expressed in inflorescences, which suggested a tissue-specific transcript pattern. Our results also showed that OfDXS1, OfDXS2, and OfHDR1 had a clear diurnal oscillation pattern. The isolation and expression analysis provides a strong foundation for further research on the MEP pathway involved in gene function and molecular evolution, and improves our understanding of the molecular mechanism underlying this pathway in plants.
PMCID: PMC5083917  PMID: 27690108
Osmanthus fragrans; MEP pathway; tissue-specific; flower development; diel oscillations
7.  Role of circadian gene Clock during differentiation of mouse pluripotent stem cells 
Protein & Cell  2016;7(11):820-832.
Biological rhythms controlled by the circadian clock are absent in embryonic stem cells (ESCs). However, they start to develop during the differentiation of pluripotent ESCs to downstream cells. Conversely, biological rhythms in adult somatic cells disappear when they are reprogrammed into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). These studies indicated that the development of biological rhythms in ESCs might be closely associated with the maintenance and differentiation of ESCs. The core circadian gene Clock is essential for regulation of biological rhythms. Its role in the development of biological rhythms of ESCs is totally unknown. Here, we used CRISPR/CAS9-mediated genetic editing techniques, to completely knock out the Clock expression in mouse ESCs. By AP, teratoma formation, quantitative real-time PCR and Immunofluorescent staining, we did not find any difference between Clock knockout mESCs and wild type mESCs in morphology and pluripotent capability under the pluripotent state. In brief, these data indicated Clock did not influence the maintaining of pluripotent state. However, they exhibited decreased proliferation and increased apoptosis. Furthermore, the biological rhythms failed to develop in Clock knockout mESCs after spontaneous differentiation, which indicated that there was no compensational factor in most peripheral tissues as described in mice models before (DeBruyne et al., 2007b). After spontaneous differentiation, loss of CLOCK protein due to Clock gene silencing induced spontaneous differentiation of mESCs, indicating an exit from the pluripotent state, or its differentiating ability. Our findings indicate that the core circadian gene Clock may be essential during normal mESCs differentiation by regulating mESCs proliferation, apoptosis and activity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s13238-016-0319-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5084156  PMID: 27664156
Circadian gene Clock; mouse embryonic stem cells; gene knockout; pluripotency; cell proliferation; cell apoptosis; cell differentiation
8.  Functional Assessment of the Foot Undergoing Percutaneous Achilles Tenotomy in Term of Gait Analysis 
BioMed Research International  2016;2016:1973403.
Background. This study was designed to evaluate the function of the foot undergoing the procedure of percutaneous Achilles tenotomy (PAT) in case of clubfoot management in terms of gait analysis. Methods. Nineteen patients with unilateral clubfeet were retrospectively reviewed from our database from July 2012 to June 2016. The result in all the cases was rated as excellent according to the scale of International Clubfoot Study Group (ICSG). The affected sides were taken as Group CF and the contralateral sides as Group CL. Three-dimensional gait analysis was applied for the functional evaluation of the involved foot. Results. Statistical difference was found in physical parameters of passive ankle dorsiflexion and plantar-flexion. No statistical difference was found in temporal-spatial parameters. There was statistical difference in kinematic parameters of total ankle rotation, ankle range of motion, and internal foot progression angle and in kinetic parameters of peak ankle power. No statistical difference was found in other kinematic and kinetic parameters. Conclusions. It is demonstrated that the procedure of PAT is safe and efficient for correcting the equinus deformity in case of clubfoot management and preserving the main function of Achilles tendon at the minimum of four-year follow-up.
PMCID: PMC5019861  PMID: 27652259
9.  The Novel Relationship between Urban Air Pollution and Epilepsy: A Time Series Study 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(8):e0161992.
Background and purpose
The data concerning the association between environmental pollution and epilepsy attacks are limited. The aim of this study was to explore the association between acute air pollution exposure and epilepsy attack.
A hospital record-based study was carried out in Xi’an, a heavily-polluted metropolis in China. Daily baseline data were obtained. Time-series Poisson regression models were applied to analyze the association between air pollution and epilepsy.
A 10 μg/m3 increase of NO2, SO2, and O3 concentrations corresponded to 3.17% (95%Cl: 1.41%, 4.93%), 3.55% (95%Cl: 1.93%, 5.18%), and -0.84% (95%Cl: -1.58%, 0.09%) increase in outpatient-visits for epilepsy on the concurrent days, which were significantly influenced by sex and age. The effects of NO2 and SO2 would be stronger when adjusted for PM2.5. As for O3, a -1.14% (95%Cl: -1.90%, -0.39%) decrease was evidenced when adjusted for NO2. The lag models showed that the most significant effects were evidenced on concurrent days.
We discovered previously undocumented relationships between short-term air pollution exposure and epilepsy: while NO2 and SO2 were positively associated with outpatient-visits of epilepsy, O3 might be associated with reduced risk.
PMCID: PMC5003346  PMID: 27571507
10.  Eukaryotic translation initiation factor 3B accelerates the progression of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma by activating β-catenin signaling pathway 
Oncotarget  2016;7(28):43401-43411.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is one of the most aggressive malignant tumors. Eukaryotic translation initiation factors 3B (EIF3B) is considered to influence tumor proliferation, invasion, apoptosis and cell cycle, which act together to promote the progression of tumors. However, the role of EIF3B in ESCC is unknown. This study aims to explore the clinical and biological role of EIF3B in ESCC.
EIF3B expressions were up-regulated in both ESCC tissues and cell lines. Overexpression of EIF3B was associated with tumor depth, lymph node metastasis and advanced TNM stage. Importantly, patients with high EIF3B expression suffered shorter overall and disease-free survival. Knockdown of EIF3B could inhibit cell proliferation and invasion, promote cell apoptosis, and interfere the cell cycle in vitro. EIF3B-knockdown cells could form smaller subcutaneous tumors in vivo. Finally, we demonstrated EIF3B could activate β-catenin signaling pathway.
Immunohistochemical staining and Western blot were performed to detect the EIF3B expression in ESCC patient tissues and cell lines. The association between EIF3B expression and patients’ prognosis was analyzed by Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression. Then, CCK-8, colony-formation, Transwell and wound-healing assay were performed to compare the bio-functional change after knockdown of EIF3B. Flow cytometry was applied to analyze the change of cell apoptosis and cycle induced by EIF3B knockdown. Tumor xenograft assay was done to verify the in-vitro results.
EIF3B might serve as a novel marker for predicting prognosis of ESCC patients and as a potential therapeutic target, individually or together with other subunits of EIF3 complex.
PMCID: PMC5190032  PMID: 27270324
esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; eukaryotic translation initiation factors 3B; β-catenin signaling pathway
11.  Noise filtering of composite pulses for singlet-triplet qubits 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:28996.
Semiconductor quantum dot spin qubits are promising candidates for quantum computing. In these systems, the dynamically corrected gates offer considerable reduction of gate errors and are therefore of great interest both theoretically and experimentally. They are, however, designed under the static-noise model and may be considered as low-frequency filters. In this work, we perform a comprehensive theoretical study of the response of a type of dynamically corrected gates, namely the supcode for singlet-triplet qubits, to realistic 1/f noises with frequency spectra 1/ωα. Through randomized benchmarking, we have found that supcode offers improvement of the gate fidelity for α  1 and the improvement becomes exponentially more pronounced with the increase of the noise exponent in the range 1  α ≤ 3 studied. On the other hand, for small α, supcode will not offer any improvement. The δJ-supcode, specifically designed for systems where the nuclear noise is absent, is found to offer additional error reduction than the full supcode for charge noises. The computed filter transfer functions of the supcode gates are also presented.
PMCID: PMC4935950  PMID: 27383129
12.  PGF2α modulates the output of chemokines and pro-inflammatory cytokines in myometrial cells from term pregnant women through divergent signaling pathways 
Molecular Human Reproduction  2015;21(7):603-614.
Prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α) plays a critical role in the initiation and process of parturition. Since human labor has been described as an inflammatory event, we investigated the role of PGF2α in the inflammatory process using cultured human uterine smooth muscle cells (HUSMCs) isolated from term pregnant women as a model. Using a multiplex assay, HUSMCs treated with PGF2α changed their output of a number of cytokines and chemokines, with a distinct response pattern that differed between HUSMCs isolated from the upper and lower segment region of the uterus. Confirmatory enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) showed that PGF2α stimulated increased output of interleukin (IL) 1β, IL6, IL8 (CXCL8) and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP1, also known as chemokine (c-c motif) ligand 2, CCL2) by HUSMCs isolated from both upper and lower uterine segments. In contrast, PGF2α inhibited tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) release by HUMSCs from the lower uterine segment while the output of TNFα was undetectable in the upper segment. Small interfering (si) RNA mediated knockdown of the PGF2α receptor prevented the changes in cytokine and chemokine output by the HUSMCs. Since the PGF2α receptor (PTGFR) couples via the Gq protein and subsequently activates the phospholipase C (PLC) and protein kinase C (PKC) signaling pathways, we examined the role of these pathways in PGF2α modulation of the cytokines. Inhibition of PLC and PKC reversed the effects of PGF2α. PGF2α activated multiple signaling pathways including extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) 1/2, phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase (PI3K), P38, calcineurin/nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) and NF-κB signaling. Inhibition of ERK reversed PGF2α-induced IL1β, IL6 and CCL2 output, while inhibition of PI3K blocked the effect of PGF2α on IL6, CXCL8 and CCL2 output and inhibition of NF-κB reversed PGF2α-induced IL1β and CCL2 output. NFAT was involved in PGF2α modulation of CCL2 and TNFα output. In conclusion, our results support a role of PGF2α in creating an inflammatory environment during the late stage of human pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC4487446  PMID: 25882540
PGF2α; inflammation; myometrium; pregnancy; labor
13.  Structure of a Holliday junction complex reveals mechanisms governing a highly regulated DNA transaction 
eLife  null;5:e14313.
The molecular machinery responsible for DNA expression, recombination, and compaction has been difficult to visualize as functionally complete entities due to their combinatorial and structural complexity. We report here the structure of the intact functional assembly responsible for regulating and executing a site-specific DNA recombination reaction. The assembly is a 240-bp Holliday junction (HJ) bound specifically by 11 protein subunits. This higher-order complex is a key intermediate in the tightly regulated pathway for the excision of bacteriophage λ viral DNA out of the E. coli host chromosome, an extensively studied paradigmatic model system for the regulated rearrangement of DNA. Our results provide a structural basis for pre-existing data describing the excisive and integrative recombination pathways, and they help explain their regulation.
eLife digest
Some viruses can remain dormant inside an infected cell and only become active when conditions are right to multiply and infect other cells. Bacteriophage λ is a much-studied model virus that adopts this lifecycle by inserting its genetic information into the chromosome of a bacterium called Escherichia coli. Certain signals can later trigger the viral DNA to be removed from the bacterial chromosome, often after many generations, so that it can replicate and make new copies of the virus. Specific sites on the viral and bacterial DNA earmark where the virus’s genetic information will insert and how it will be removed. Remarkably, each of these two site-specific reactions (i.e. insertion and removal) cannot be reversed once started, and their onset is precisely controlled.
These reactions involve a molecular machine or complex that consists of four enzymes that cut and reconnect the DNA strands and seven DNA-bending proteins that bring distant sites closer together. Despite decades of work by many laboratories, no one had provided a three-dimensional image of this complete molecular machine together with the DNA it acts upon.
Now, Laxmikanthan et al. reveal a three-dimensional structure of this machine with all its components by trapping and purifying the complex at the halfway point in the removal process, when the DNA forms a structure known as a “Holliday junction”. The structure was obtained using electron microscopy of complexes frozen in ice. The structure answers many of the long-standing questions about the removal and insertion reactions. For example, it shows how the DNA-bending proteins and enzymes assemble into a large complex to carry out the removal reaction, which is different from the complex that carries out the insertion reaction. It also shows that the removal and insertion reactions are each prevented from acting in the opposite direction because the two complexes have different requirements.
These new findings improve our understanding of how the insertion and removal reactions are precisely regulated. Laxmikanthan et al.’s results also serve as examples for thinking about the complicated regulatory machines that are widespread in biology.
PMCID: PMC4880445  PMID: 27223329
site-specific recombination; bacteriophage lambda; electron cryo-microscopy; viral excision; viral integration; E. coli
14.  MicroRNA-31 functions as a tumor suppressor and increases sensitivity to mitomycin-C in urothelial bladder cancer by targeting integrin α5 
Oncotarget  2016;7(19):27445-27457.
Urothelial bladder cancer (UBC) is a common genitourinary malignancy. MiR-31, a well-identified miRNA, exhibits diverse properties in different cancers. However, the specific functions and mechanisms of miR-31 in UBC have not been investigated. In this study, tumor samples, especially invasive UBC, showed significantly reduced level of miR-31, as compared with normal urothelium. Prognostic analysis using the EORTC model showed that down-regulation of miR-31 correlated with higher risks of recurrence and progression in noninvasive UBC cases. Remarkably, overexpression of miR-31 mimics in UBC cell lines inhibited cell proliferation, migration and invasion. Integrin α5 (ITGA5), an integrin family member, was subsequently identified as a direct target of miR-31 in UBC cells. When treated with mitomycin-C (MMC), miR-31-expressing UBC cells displayed lower survival and higher apoptotic rates, and deactivated Akt and ERK. These effects arising from miR-31 overexpression were abrogated by ITGA5 restoration. Furthermore, miR-31 markedly inhibited tumor growth and increased the effectiveness of MMC in UBC xenografts. In summary, our data suggest that miR-31 is a prognostic predictor and can serve as a potential therapeutic target of UBC.
PMCID: PMC5053662  PMID: 27050274
microRNA-31; integrin α5; bladder cancer; chemotherapy; mitomycin-C
15.  Identification of PKD2 mutations in human preimplantation embryos in vitro using a combination of targeted next-generation sequencing and targeted haplotyping 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:25488.
Here, we evaluate the applicability of a new method that combines targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) with targeted haplotyping in identifying PKD2 gene mutations in human preimplantation embryos in vitro. To achieve this goal, a proband family with a heterozygous deletion of c.595_595 + 14delGGTAAGAGCGCGCGA in exon 1 of the PKD2 gene was studied. A total of 10 samples were analyzed, including 7 embryos. An array-based gene chip was designed to capture all of the exons of 21 disease-related genes, including PKD2. We performed Sanger sequencing combined with targeted haplotyping to evaluate the feasibility of this new method. A total of 7.09 G of data were obtained from 10 samples by NGS. In addition, 24,142 informative single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were identified. Haplotyping analysis of several informative SNPs of PKD2 that we selected revealed that embryos 3, 5, and 6 did not inherit the mutation haplotypes of the PKD2 gene, a finding that was 100% accurate and was consistent with Sanger sequencing. Our results demonstrate that targeted NGS combined with targeted haplotyping can be used to identify PKD2 gene mutations in human preimplantation embryos in vitro with high sensitivity, fidelity, throughput and speed.
PMCID: PMC4858692  PMID: 27150309
16.  miR-340 and ZEB1 negative feedback loop regulates TGF-β- mediated breast cancer progression 
Oncotarget  2016;7(18):26016-26026.
MicroRNAs act as key regulators in carcinogenesis and progression in various cancers. In present study, we explored the role of miR-340 in the breast cancer progression. Our results showed that overexpression of miR-340 inhibits breast cancer cell proliferation and invasion, whereas depletion of miR-340 promotes breast cancer progression. Molecularly, ZEB1 was identified as a target gene of miR-340 and miR-340 suppressed the expression of ZEB1 by directly binding to the 3′-UTR of ZEB1. Furthermore, ZEB1 transcriptionally suppresses miR-340 expression. The negative feedback loop regulated TGF-β-mediated breast cancer progression. In conclusion, our data suggested that miR-340 acted as a tumor suppressor in breast cancer progression.
PMCID: PMC5041961  PMID: 27036021
miR-340; ZEB1; TGF-β; EMT; breast cancer
17.  Effects of low dose estrogen therapy on the vaginal microbiomes of women with atrophic vaginitis 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:24380.
Atrophic vaginitis (AV) is common in postmenopausal women, but its causes are not well understood. The symptoms, which include vaginal itching, burning, dryness, irritation, and dyspareunia, can usually be alleviated by low doses of estrogen given orally or locally. Regrettably, the composition of vaginal bacterial communities in women with AV have not been fully characterized and little is known as to how these communities change over time in response to hormonal therapy. In the present intervention study we determined the response of vaginal bacterial communities in postmenopausal women with AV to low-dose estrogen therapy. The changes in community composition in response to hormonal therapy were rapid and typified by significant increases in the relative abundance of Lactobacillus spp. that were mirrored by a decreased relative abundance of Gardnerella. These changes were paralleled by a significant four-fold increase in serum estradiol levels and decreased vaginal pH, as well as nearly a two-fold increase in the Vaginal Maturation Index (VMI). The results suggest that after menopause a vaginal microbiota dominated by species of Lactobacillus may have a beneficial role in the maintenance of health and these findings that could lead to new strategies to protect postmenopausal women from AV.
PMCID: PMC4840317  PMID: 27103314
18.  A miR-221/222-mediated feedback loop maintains constitutive activation of NF-κB and STAT3 signaling in human colorectal cancers 
Gastroenterology  2014;147(4):847-859.e11.
Background & Aims
Constitutive activation of NF-κB and STAT3 pathways in human colorectal cancers links inflammation to CRC development and progression. However, the underlying mechanisms remain to be elucidated. Here we investigated the roles of miR-221 and miR-222 in regulating both NF-κB and STAT3 activities and colorectal tumorigenesis.
miR-221/222 mimics and their inhibitors/sponges were transiently or stably transfected into cells. Dual luciferase reporter assays were utilized to examine the activation of both NF-κB and STAT3 signaling, as well as the regulation of miR-221/222. Quantitative PCR and immunoblot analysis were employed to examine the mRNA and protein expression. MTT assay, flow cytometric analysis and xenotransplant of tumor cells were performed to investigate the CRC cell growth in vitro and in vivo.
miR-221 and miR-222 positively regulate both NF-κB and STAT3 activities, which in return induce miR-221/222 expression, creating a positive feedback loop in human CRCs. miR-221/222 directly bind to the coding region of RelA, leading to increased RelA mRNA stability. In addition, miR-221/222 reduce ubiquitination of RelA and STAT3 proteins by directly targeting the 3′ UTR of PDLIM2, an E3 ligase for both RelA and STAT3. We demonstrate that disruption of the positive feedback loop suppresses human CRC cell growth in vitro and in vivo. The expression of miR-221/222 correlates with the expression of RelA, STAT3 and PDLIM2 in human CRC clinical samples.
Our findings define a novel miR-221/222 mediated mechanism underlying constitutive activation of NF-κB and STAT3 pathways in human CRCs and provide a promising therapeutic target for human CRCs.
PMCID: PMC4839969  PMID: 24931456
miR-221/222; NF-κB; STAT3; Colorectal cancers
19.  Hydrogen Sulfide Delays LPS-Induced Preterm Birth in Mice via Anti-Inflammatory Pathways 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(4):e0152838.
A major cause of preterm labor in pregnant women is intra-amniotic infection, which is mediated by an inflammatory process. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a gaseous transmitter, has been implicated to be involved in inflammatory responses. We sought to investigate whether H2S affects infectious preterm birth using the mouse model of lipopolysaccharides (LPS)-induced preterm birth. Administration of LPS at 0.4 mg/kg with two injections intraperitoneally (i.p.) on gestational day 14.5 induced preterm labor. LPS significantly increased leukocyte infiltration in uterus, stimulated the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin 1β (IL-1β), IL-6, tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), CCL2 and CXCL15 in myometrium. Administration of NaHS (i.p.) delayed the onset of labor induced by LPS in a dose-dependent manner. NaHS prevented leukocyte infiltration into intrauterine tissues and inhibited the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in myometrium and decreased the levels of these cytokines in maternal circulation. H2S also decreased LPS-activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2/ nuclear factor (NF)-κB signaling pathways in myometrium. This study provides new in vivo evidence for the roles of H2S in attenuating inflammation, and a potential novel therapeutic strategy for infection-related preterm labor.
PMCID: PMC4817991  PMID: 27035826
20.  Identification and Analysis of Novel Viral and Host Dysregulated MicroRNAs in Variant Pseudorabies Virus-Infected PK15 Cells 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(3):e0151546.
Pseudorabies (PR) is one of the most devastating diseases in the pig industry. To identify changes in microRNA (miRNA) expression and post-transcriptional regulatory responses to PRV infection in porcine kidney epithelial (PK15) cells, we sequenced a small RNA (sRNA) library prepared from infected PK15 cells and compared it to a library prepared from uninfected cells using Illumina deep sequencing. Here we found 25 novel viral miRNAs by high-throughput sequencing and 20 of these miRNAs were confirmed through stem-loop RT-qPCR. Intriguingly, unlike the usual miRNAs encoded by the α-herpesviruses, which are found clustered in the large latency transcript (LLT), these novel viral miRNAs are throughout the PRV genome like β-herpesviruses. Viral miRNAs are predicted to target multiple genes and form a complex regulatory network. GO analysis on host targets of viral miRNAs were involved in complex cellular processes, including the metabolic pathway, biological regulation, stimulus response, signaling process and immune response. Moreover, 13 host miRNAs were expressed with significant difference after infection with PRV: 8 miRNAs were up-regulated and 5 miRNAs were down-regulated, which may affect viral replication in host cell. Our results provided new insight into the characteristic of miRNAs in response to PRV infection, which is significant for further study of these miRNAs function.
PMCID: PMC4801506  PMID: 26998839
21.  Serum deprivation response inhibits breast cancer progression by blocking transforming growth factor‐β signaling 
Cancer Science  2016;107(3):274-280.
Serum deprivation response (SDPR), a key substrate for protein kinase C, play a critical role in inducing membrane curvature and participate in the formation of caveolae. However, the function of SDPR in cancer development and progression is still not clear. Here, we found that SDPR is downregulated in human breast cancer. Overexpression of SDPR suppresses cell proliferation and invasion in MDA‐MB‐231 cells, while depletion of SDPR promotes cell proliferation and invasion in MCF10A cells. Subsequently, SDPR depletion induces epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT)‐like phenotype. Finally, knockdown of SDPR activates transforming growth factor‐β (TGF‐β) signaling by upregulation of TGF‐β1 expression. In conclusion, our results showed that SDPR inhibits breast cancer progression by blocking TGF‐β signaling.
Serum deprivation response suppresses cell proliferation and invasion in breast cancer cells. SDPR depletion induces epithelial–mesenchymal transition by activation of TGF‐β signaling.
PMCID: PMC4814251  PMID: 26749136
Breast cancer; epithelial–mesenchymal transition; progression; serum deprivation response; transforming growth factor‐β
23.  Heme oxygenase-1 attenuates IL-1β induced alteration of anabolic and catabolic activities in intervertebral disc degeneration 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:21190.
Intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD) is characterized by disordered extracellular matrix (ECM) metabolism, implicating subdued anabolism and enhanced catabolic activities in the nucleus pulposus (NP) of discs. Pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1β (IL-1β) are considered to be potent mediators of ECM breakdown. Hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1) has been reported to participate in cellular anti-inflammatory processes. The purpose of this study was to investigate HO-1 modulation of ECM metabolism in human NP cells under IL-1β stimulation. Our results revealed that expression of HO-1 decreased considerably during IDD progression. Induction of HO-1 by cobalt protoporphyrin IX attenuated the inhibition of sulfate glycosaminoglycan and collagen type II (COL-II) synthesis and ameliorated the reduced expressions of aggrecan, COL-II, SOX-6 and SOX-9 mediated by IL-1β. Induction of HO-1 also reversed the effect of IL-1β on expression of the catabolic markers matrix metalloproteinases-1, 3, 9 and 13. This was combined with inhibition of the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling. These findings suggest that HO-1 might play a pivotal role in IDD, and that manipulating HO-1 expression might mitigate the impairment of ECM metabolism in NP, thus potentially offering a novel therapeutic approach to the treatment of IDD.
PMCID: PMC4753421  PMID: 26877238
24.  Integrated microRNA-mRNA analyses reveal OPLL specific microRNA regulatory network using high-throughput sequencing 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:21580.
Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) is a genetic disorder which involves pathological heterotopic ossification of the spinal ligaments. Although studies have identified several genes that correlated with OPLL, the underlying regulation network is far from clear. Through small RNA sequencing, we compared the microRNA expressions of primary posterior longitudinal ligament cells form OPLL patients with normal patients (PLL) and identified 218 dysregulated miRNAs (FDR < 0.01). Furthermore, assessing the miRNA profiling data of multiple cell types, we found these dysregulated miRNAs were mostly OPLL specific. In order to decipher the regulation network of these OPLL specific miRNAs, we integrated mRNA expression profiling data with miRNA sequencing data. Through computational approaches, we showed the pivotal roles of these OPLL specific miRNAs in heterotopic ossification of longitudinal ligament by discovering highly correlated miRNA/mRNA pairs that associated with skeletal system development, collagen fibril organization, and extracellular matrix organization. The results of which provide strong evidence that the miRNA regulatory networks we established may indeed play vital roles in OPLL onset and progression. To date, this is the first systematic analysis of the micronome in OPLL, and thus may provide valuable resources in finding novel treatment and diagnostic targets of OPLL.
PMCID: PMC4751494  PMID: 26868491
25.  Renal Endometriosis Tends to Be Misdiagnosed as Renal Tumor: A Rare Case Report 
International Surgery  2015;100(2):376-380.
Renal endometriosis is a rare disease for which the mechanisms of pathogenesis are still unclear. As such, early diagnosis and an appropriate treatment are often delayed because of the tendency to be misdiagnosed as a renal tumor. In October 2013 we performed a radical nephrectomy for a 37-year-old woman with renal endometriosis who was preoperatively misdiagnosed as having a right renal tumor. Avoiding the misdiagnosis of renal endometriosis requires a detailed case history, especially regarding whether the cyclicity of lumbodorsal pain and hematuria correlates with patients' menstrual cycles. Imaging examinations are commonly helpful for localization, whereas relieving symptoms with drugs to create a hypoestrogenic state is useful for clinical diagnosis. However, a final diagnosis for renal endometriosis still must depend on histopathologic examination.
PMCID: PMC4337457  PMID: 25692445
Renal endometriosis; Renal tumor; Radical nephrectomy; Misdiagnosis

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