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1.  Role of Bcl-xL/Beclin-1 in Interplay between Apoptosis and Autophagy in Oxaliplatin and Bortezomib-induced Cell Death 
Biochemical pharmacology  2014;88(2):178-188.
Recent studies indicate that a complex relationship exists between autophagy and apoptosis. In this study we investigated a regulatory relationship between autophagy and apoptosis in colorectal cancer cells utilizing molecular and biochemical approaches. For this study, human colorectal carcinoma HCT116 and CX-1 cells were treated with two chemotherapeutic agents—oxaliplatin, which induces apoptosis, and bortezomib, which triggers both apoptosis and autophagy. A combinatorial treatment of oxaliplatin and bortezomib caused a synergistic induction of apoptosis which was mediated through an increase in caspase activation. The combinational treatment of oxaliplatin and bortezomib promoted the JNK-Bcl-xL-Bax pathway which modulated the synergistic effect through the mitochondria-dependent apoptotic pathway. JNK signaling led to Bcl-xL phosphorylation at serine 62, oligomerization of Bax, alteration of mitochondrial membrane potential, and subsequent cytochrome c release. Overexpression of dominant-negative mutant of Bcl-xL (S62A), but not dominant-positive mutant of Bcl-xL (S62D), suppressed cytochrome c release and synergistic death effect. Interestingly, Bcl-xL also affected autophagy through alteration of interaction with Beclin-1. Beclin-1 was dissociated from Bcl-xL and initiated autophagy during treatment with oxaliplatin and bortezomib. However, activated caspase 8 cleaved Beclin-1 and suppressed Beclin-1-associated autophagy and enhanced apoptosis. A combinatorial treatment of oxaliplatin and bortezomib-induced Beclin-1 cleavage was abolished in Beclin-1 double mutant (D133AA/D149A) knock-in HCT116 cells, restoring the autophagy-promoting function of Beclin-1 and suppressing the apoptosis induced by the combination therapy. In addition, the combinatorial treatment significantly inhibited colorectal cancer xenografts’ tumor growth. An understanding of the molecular mechanisms of crosstalk between apoptosis and autophagy will support the application of combinatorial treatment to colorectal cancer.
doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2014.01.027
PMCID: PMC3969586  PMID: 24486574
Oxaliplatin; Bortezomib; Mitochondria-dependent pathway; Bcl-xL; Beclin-1
2.  A Designed Experiments Approach to Optimization of Automated Data Acquisition during Characterization of Bacteria with MALDI-TOF Mass Spectrometry 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92720.
MALDI-TOF MS has been shown capable of rapidly and accurately characterizing bacteria. Highly reproducible spectra are required to ensure reliable characterization. Prior work has shown that spectra acquired manually can have higher reproducibility than those acquired automatically. For this reason, the objective of this study was to optimize automated data acquisition to yield spectra with reproducibility comparable to those acquired manually. Fractional factorial design was used to design experiments for robust optimization of settings, in which values of five parameters (peak selection mass range, signal to noise ratio (S:N), base peak intensity, minimum resolution and number of shots summed) commonly used to facilitate automated data acquisition were varied. Pseudomonas aeruginosa was used as a model bacterium in the designed experiments, and spectra were acquired using an intact cell sample preparation method. Optimum automated data acquisition settings (i.e., those settings yielding the highest reproducibility of replicate mass spectra) were obtained based on statistical analysis of spectra of P. aeruginosa. Finally, spectrum quality and reproducibility obtained from non-optimized and optimized automated data acquisition settings were compared for P. aeruginosa, as well as for two other bacteria, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Serratia marcescens. Results indicated that reproducibility increased from 90% to 97% (p-value0.002) for P. aeruginosa when more shots were summed and, interestingly, decreased from 95% to 92% (p-value 0.013) with increased threshold minimum resolution. With regard to spectrum quality, highly reproducible spectra were more likely to have high spectrum quality as measured by several quality metrics, except for base peak resolution. Interaction plots suggest that, in cases of low threshold minimum resolution, high reproducibility can be achieved with fewer shots. Optimization yielded more reproducible spectra than non-optimized settings for all three bacteria.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092720
PMCID: PMC3963954  PMID: 24662978
3.  PEG-Farnesylthiosalicylate Conjugate as a Nanomicellar Carrier for Delivery of Paclitaxel 
Bioconjugate chemistry  2013;24(3):464-472.
S-trans, trans-farnesylthiosalicylic acid (FTS) is a synthetic small molecule that acts as a potent and especially nontoxic Ras antagonist. It inhibits both oncogenically activated Ras and growth factor receptor-mediated Ras activation, resulting in the inhibition of Ras-dependent tumor growth. In this work, a FTS conjugate with polyethylene glycol (PEG) through a labile ester linkage, PEG5K-FTS2(L), was developed. PEG5K-FTS2 conjugate readily forms micelles in aqueous solutions with a critical micelle concentration of 0.68 μM and hydrophobic drugs such as paclitaxel (PTX) could be effectively loaded into these particles. Both drug-free and PTX- loaded micelles were spherical in shape with a uniform size of 20 ~ 30 nm. The release of PTX from PTX-loaded PEG5K-FTS2 micelles was significantly slower than that from Taxol formulation. In vitro cytotoxicity studies with several tumor cell lines showed that PEG5K-FTS2(L) was comparable to FTS in antitumor activity. Western immunoblotting showed that total Ras levels were downregulated in several cancer cell lines treated with FTS or PEG5K-FTS2(L). The micellar formulation of PTX exhibited more in vitro cytotoxic activity against several tumor cell lines compared with free PTX, suggesting a possible synergistic effect between the carrier and the codelivered drug. The anti-tumor activity of the PTX loaded PEG5K-FTS2(L) micelles in a syngeneic murine breast cancer model was found to be significantly higher than that of Taxol, which may be attributed to their preferential tumor accumulation and a possible synergistic effect between PEG5K-FTS2 carrier and loaded PTX.
doi:10.1021/bc300608h
PMCID: PMC3623935  PMID: 23425093
4.  Kinetic Studies of Inhibition of the Aβ(1–42) Aggregation Using a Ferrocene-tagged β-Sheet Breaker Peptide 
Analytical biochemistry  2012;434(2):292-299.
The aggregation of amyloidogenic proteins/peptides has been closely linked to the neuropathology of several important neurological disorders. In Alzheimer's disease (AD), amyloid beta (Aβ) peptides and their aggregation are believed to be at least partially responsible for the etiology of AD. The aggregate-inflicted cellular toxicity can be inhibited by short peptides whose sequence are homologous to segments of the Aβ(1–42) peptide responsible for β-sheet stacking (referred to as the β-sheet breaker peptides). Herein a water-soluble ferrocene (Fc)-tagged β-sheet breaker peptide (Fc-KLVFFK6) is used as an electrochemical probe for kinetic studies of the inhibition of the Aβ(1–42) fibrillation process and for determination of the optimal concentration of β-sheet breaker peptide for efficient inhibition. Our results demonstrated that Fc-KLVFFK6 interacts with the Aβ aggregates instantaneously in solution, and sub-stoichiometric amount of Fc-KLVFFK6 is sufficient to inhibit the formation of the Aβ oligomers and fibrils and to reduce the toxicity of Aβ(1–42). The interaction between Fc-KLVFFK6 and Aβ(1–42) follows a pseudo-first-order reaction, with a rate constant of 1.89 ± 0.05 × 10−4 s−1. Tagging β-sheet breaker peptides with a redox label facilitates design, screening, and rational use of peptidic inhibitors for impeding/altering Aβ aggregation.
doi:10.1016/j.ab.2012.11.025
PMCID: PMC3565064  PMID: 23232068
amyloid beta; aggregation; inhibition kinetics; ferrocene tag; β-sheet breaker; cytotoxicity
5.  Dietary Therapy Mitigates Persistent Wake Deficits Caused by Mild Traumatic Brain Injury 
Science translational medicine  2013;5(215):215ra173.
Sleep disorders are highly prevalent in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and can significantly impair cognitive rehabilitation. No proven therapies exist to mitigate the neurocognitive consequences of TBI. We show that mild brain injury in mice causes a persistent inability to maintain wakefulness and decreases orexin neuron activation during wakefulness. We gave mice a dietary supplement of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), precursors for de novo glutamate synthesis in the brain. BCAA therapy reinstated activation of orexin neurons and improved wake deficits in mice with mild brain injury. Our data suggest that dietary BCAA intervention, acting in part through orexin, can ameliorate injury-induced sleep disturbances and may facilitate cognitive rehabilitation after brain injury.
doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3007092
PMCID: PMC3951738  PMID: 24337480
6.  ZiBuPiYin Recipe Protects db/db Mice from Diabetes-Associated Cognitive Decline through Improving Multiple Pathological Changes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91680.
Multiple organ systems, including the brain, which undergoes changes that may increase the risk of cognitive decline, are adversely affected by diabetes mellitus (DM). Here, we demonstrate that type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) db/db mice exhibited hippocampus-dependent memory impairment, which might associate with a reduction in dendritic spine density in the pyramidal neurons of brain, Aβ1-42 deposition in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and hippocampus, and a decreased expression of neurostructural proteins including microtubule-associated protein (MAP2), a marker of dendrites, and postsynaptic density 95 (PSD95), a marker of excitatory synapses. To investigate the effects of the ZiBuPiYin recipe (ZBPYR), a traditional Chinese medicine recipe, on diabetes-related cognitive decline (DACD), db/db mice received daily administration of ZBPYR over an experimental period of 6 weeks. We then confirmed that ZBPYR rescued learning and memory performance impairments, reversed dendritic spine loss, reduced Aβ1-42 deposition and restored the expression levels of MAP2 and PSD95. The present study also revealed that ZBPYR strengthened brain leptin and insulin signaling and inhibited GSK3β overactivity, which may be the potential mechanism or underlying targets of ZBPYR. These findings conclude that ZBPYR prevents DACD, most likely by improving dendritic spine density and attenuating brain leptin and insulin signaling pathway injury. Our findings provide further evidence for the effects of ZBPYR on DACD.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091680
PMCID: PMC3948870  PMID: 24614172
7.  The heterochronic microRNA let-7 inhibits cell motility by regulating the genes in the actin cytoskeleton pathway in breast cancer 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2013;11(3):240-250.
The heterochronic gene let-7 serves as a tumor suppressor microRNA by targeting various oncogenic pathways in cancer cells. Considerable evidence indicates that reduced expression of let-7 might be associated with poor clinical outcome in patients with cancer. Here, we report that the expression levels of three let-7 family members, let-7a, let-7b, and let-7g, were significantly decreased in the breast cancer patients with lymph node metastasis compared to those without lymph node metastasis. Enforced expression of let-7b significantly inhibits breast cancer cell motility and affects actin dynamics. Using bioinformatic and experimental approaches, four genes in the actin cytoskeleton pathway, including PAK1, DIAPH2, RDX, and ITGB8, were identified as let-7 direct targets. Blocking the expression of PAK1, DIAPH2, and RDX significantly inhibits breast cancer cell migration induced by let-7b repression. Our results indicate reconstitution of let-7 expression in tumor cells could provide a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of metastatic disease.
doi:10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-12-0432
PMCID: PMC3606291  PMID: 23339187
breast cancer; microRNA; let-7; tumor suppressor gene; metastasis
8.  Using Gastrocnemius sEMG and Plasma α-Synuclein for the Prediction of Freezing of Gait in Parkinson's Disease Patients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89353.
Freezing of gait (FOG) is a complicated gait disturbance in Parkinson's disease (PD) and a relevant subclinical predictor algorithm is lacking. The main purpose of this study is to explore the potential value of surface electromyograph (sEMG) and plasma α-synuclein levels as predictors of the FOG seen in PD. 21 PD patients and 15 normal controls were recruited. Motor function was evaluated using the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) and Freezing of gait questionnaire (FOG-Q). Simultaneously, gait analysis was also performed using VICON capture system in PD patients and sEMG data was recorded as well. Total plasma α-synuclein was quantitatively assessed by Luminex assay in all participants. Recruited PD patients were classified into two groups: PD patients with FOG (PD+FOG) and without FOG (PD-FOG), based on clinical manifestation, the results of the FOG-Q and VICON capture system. PD+FOG patients displayed higher FOG-Q scores, decreased walking speed, smaller step length, smaller stride length and prolonged double support time compared to the PD-FOG in the gait trial. sEMG data indicated that gastrocnemius activity in PD+FOG patients was significantly reduced compared to PD-FOG patients. In addition, plasma α-synuclein levels were significantly decreased in the PD+FOG group compared to control group; however, no significant difference was found between the PD+FOG and PD-FOG groups. Our study revealed that gastrocnemius sEMG could be used to evaluate freezing gait in PD patients, while plasma α-synuclein might discriminate freezing of gait in PD patients from normal control, though no difference was found between the PD+FOG and PD-FOG groups.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089353
PMCID: PMC3937335  PMID: 24586710
9.  mir-30d regulates multiple genes in the autophagy pathway and impairs autophagy process in human cancer cells 
In human epithelial cancers, the microRNA (miRNA) mir-30d is amplified with high frequency and serves as a critical oncomir by regulating metastasis, apoptosis, proliferation, and differentiation. Autophagy, a degradation pathway for long-lived protein and organelles, regulates the survival and death of many cell types. Increasing evidence suggests that autophagy plays an important function in epithelial tumor initiation and progression. Using a combined bioinformatics approach, gene set enrichment analysis and miRNA target prediction, we found that mir-30d might regulate multiple genes in the autophagy pathway including BECN1, BNIP3L, ATG12, ATG5, ATG2. Our further functional experiments demonstrated that the expression of these core proteins in the autophagy pathway was directly suppressed by mir-30d in cancer cells. Finally, we showed that mir-30d regulated the autophagy process by inhibiting autophagosome formation and LC3B-I conversion to LC3B-II. Taken together, our results provide evidence that the oncomir mir-30d impairs the autophagy process by targeting multiple genes in the autophagy pathway. This result will contribute to understanding the molecular mechanism of mir-30d in tumorigenesis and developing novel cancer therapy strategy.
doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2012.12.083
PMCID: PMC3578012  PMID: 23274497
mir-30d; autophagy; cancer; microRNA
10.  AKT2 Confers Protection Against Aortic Aneurysms and Dissections 
Circulation research  2012;112(4):618-632.
Rationale
Aortic aneurysm and dissection (AAD) are major diseases of the adult aorta caused by progressive medial degeneration of the aortic wall. Although the overproduction of destructive factors promotes tissue damage and disease progression, the role of protective pathways is unknown.
Objective
In this study, we examined the role of AKT2 in protecting the aorta from developing AAD.
Methods and Results
AKT2 and phospho-AKT levels were significantly downregulated in human thoracic AAD tissues, especially within the degenerative medial layer. Akt2-deficient mice showed abnormal elastic fibers and reduced medial thickness in the aortic wall. When challenged with angiotensin II (AngII), these mice developed aortic aneurysm, dissection, and rupture with features similar to those in humans, in both thoracic and abdominal segments. Aortas from Akt2-deficient mice displayed profound tissue destruction, apoptotic cell death, and inflammatory cell infiltration that were not observed in aortas from wild-type mice. Additionally, AngII-infused Akt2-deficient mice showed significantly elevated expression of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 and reduced expression of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP)-1. In cultured human aortic vascular smooth muscle cells, AKT2 inhibited the expression of MMP-9 and stimulated the expression of TIMP-1 by preventing the binding of transcription factor forkhead box protein O1 (FOXO1) to the MMP-9 and TIMP-1 promoters.
Conclusions
Impaired AKT2 signaling may contribute to increased susceptibility to the development of AAD. Our findings provide evidence of a mechanism that underlies the protective effects of AKT2 on the aortic wall and that may serve as a therapeutic target in the prevention of AAD.
doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.112.300735
PMCID: PMC3586338  PMID: 23250987
Aortic aneurysm and dissection; AKT; FOXO1; MMP-9; TIMP-1
11.  The serotonin transporter gene polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) and irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis of 25 studies 
BMC Gastroenterology  2014;14:23.
Background
The results of previous studies assessing the association between the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism of serotonin transporter gene and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are inconsistent. The aim of this study was to clarify the association between the 5-HTTLPR mutation and the presence of IBS and its subtypes with a meta-analysis of 25 studies.
Methods
A thorough search for case–control studies evaluating the association between the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism of serotonin transporter gene and the presence of IBS was carried out in four electronic databases. A meta-analysis was performed in accordance with the Cochrane Handbook for systemic reviews.
Results
A total of 25 articles with 3443 IBS cases and 3359 controls were included into our meta-analysis. No significant association was found between this polymorphism and IBS in all populations. Whereas the LL genotype was demonstrated to be a risk factor for constipation predominant IBS (IBS-C) development in the overall population (LL vs SS: OR = 1.570, 95% CI = 1.147-2.148, P = 0.005, Bon = 0.030; LL vs LS: OR = 1.658, 95% CI = 1.180-2.331, P = 0.004, Bon = 0.024; LL vs LS/SS: OR = 1.545, 95% CI = 1.187-2.012, P = 0.001, Bon = 0.006). In the analysis of different ethnicities, L allele and LL genotype were significantly associated with increased IBS-C risk in the East Asian population (L vs S: OR = 1.487, 95% CI = 1.139-1.941, P = 0.003, Bon = 0.018; LL vs SS: OR = 2.575, 95% CI = 1.741-3.808, P = 0.000, Bon = 0.000; LL vs LS: OR = 3.084, 95% CI = 2.017-4.715, P = 0.000, Bon = 0.000; LL vs LS/SS: OR = 2.759, 95% CI = 1.933-3.938, P = 0.000, Bon = 0.000), but not in the Caucasian population.
Conclusions
Different from the conclusions of the earlier meta-analyses, the 5-HTTLPR mutation affects IBS-C but not IBS-D and IBS-M development and this effect only exists in the East Asian population but not other populations.
doi:10.1186/1471-230X-14-23
PMCID: PMC3926682  PMID: 24512255
12.  Identification, Classification and Differential Expression of Oleosin Genes in Tung Tree (Vernicia fordii) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88409.
Triacylglycerols (TAG) are the major molecules of energy storage in eukaryotes. TAG are packed in subcellular structures called oil bodies or lipid droplets. Oleosins (OLE) are the major proteins in plant oil bodies. Multiple isoforms of OLE are present in plants such as tung tree (Vernicia fordii), whose seeds are rich in novel TAG with a wide range of industrial applications. The objectives of this study were to identify OLE genes, classify OLE proteins and analyze OLE gene expression in tung trees. We identified five tung tree OLE genes coding for small hydrophobic proteins. Genome-wide phylogenetic analysis and multiple sequence alignment demonstrated that the five tung OLE genes represented the five OLE subfamilies and all contained the “proline knot” motif (PX5SPX3P) shared among 65 OLE from 19 tree species, including the sequenced genomes of Prunus persica (peach), Populus trichocarpa (poplar), Ricinus communis (castor bean), Theobroma cacao (cacao) and Vitis vinifera (grapevine). Tung OLE1, OLE2 and OLE3 belong to the S type and OLE4 and OLE5 belong to the SM type of Arabidopsis OLE. TaqMan and SYBR Green qPCR methods were used to study the differential expression of OLE genes in tung tree tissues. Expression results demonstrated that 1) All five OLE genes were expressed in developing tung seeds, leaves and flowers; 2) OLE mRNA levels were much higher in seeds than leaves or flowers; 3) OLE1, OLE2 and OLE3 genes were expressed in tung seeds at much higher levels than OLE4 and OLE5 genes; 4) OLE mRNA levels rapidly increased during seed development; and 5) OLE gene expression was well-coordinated with tung oil accumulation in the seeds. These results suggest that tung OLE genes 1–3 probably play major roles in tung oil accumulation and/or oil body development. Therefore, they might be preferred targets for tung oil engineering in transgenic plants.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088409
PMCID: PMC3916434  PMID: 24516650
13.  Host Immune Defense Peptide LL-37 Activates Caspase-Independent Apoptosis and Suppresses Colon Cancer 
Cancer research  2012;72(24):6512-6523.
Cathelicidins are a family of bacteriocidal polypeptides secreted by macrophages and polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN). LL-37, the only human cathelicidin, has been implicated in tumorigenesis, but there has been limited investigation of its expression and function in cancer. Here, we report that LL-37 activates a p53-mediated, caspase-independent apoptotic cascade that contributes to suppression of colon cancer. LL-37 was expressed strongly in normal colon mucosa but downregulated in colon cancer tissues, where in both settings its expression correlated with terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase–mediated dUTP nick end labeling-positive apoptotic cells. Exposure of colon cancer cells to LL-37 induced phosphatidylserine externalization and DNA fragmentation in a manner independent of caspase activation. Apoptogenic function was mediated by nuclear translocation of the proapoptotic factors, apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) and endonuclease G (EndoG), through p53-dependent upregulation of Bax and Bak and downregulation of Bcl-2 via a pertussis toxin–sensitive G-protein–coupled receptor (GPCR) pathway. Correspondingly, colonic mucosa of cathelicidin-deficient mice exhibited reduced expression of p53, Bax, and Bak and increased expression of Bcl-2 together with a lower basal level of apoptosis. Cathelicidin-deficient mice exhibited an increased susceptibility to azoxymethane-induced colon tumorigenesis, establishing pathophysiologic relevance in colon cancer. Collectively, our findings show that LL-37 activates a GPCR-p53-Bax/Bak/Bcl-2 signaling cascade that triggers AIF/EndoG–mediated apoptosis in colon cancer cells.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-2359
PMCID: PMC3910284  PMID: 23100468
14.  ADAMTS-1 and ADAMTS-4 levels are Elevated in Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms and Dissections 
The Annals of thoracic surgery  2012;95(2):570-577.
Background
ADAMTS (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs) is a recently identified family of extracellular metalloproteinases that has been shown to participate in tissue destruction. We hypothesized that ADAMTS-1 and ADAMTS-4 expression is increased in aortic tissues from patients with thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections.
Methods
We examined ADAMTS-1 and ADAMTS-4 expression in human descending thoracic aortic aneurysms (n=14), chronic descending thoracic aortic dissections (n=16), and descending thoracic aortas from age-matched control organ donors (n=12). In these tissues, we also evaluated the degradation of versican, a proteoglycan substrate of ADAMTS-1 and ADAMTS-4. In cultured macrophages, we examined whether ADAMTS-4 functions in macrophage infiltration by using a transwell assay.
Results
ADAMTS-1 and ADAMTS-4 protein and mRNA expression was significantly higher in thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection tissues than in control aortic tissues. Double immunofluorescence staining showed the expression of ADAMTS-1 and ADAMTS-4 in smooth muscle cells and macrophages. Consistent with the upregulation of ADAMTS-1 and ADAMTS-4 in thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection tissues, versican was degraded significantly more in these tissues than in control aortic tissues. In cultured macrophages, transforming growth factor-β increased ADAMTS-4 protein levels and induced macrophage invasion; knocking down ADAMTS-4 reduced cell invasion.
Conclusions
Increased expression of ADAMTS proteins may promote thoracic aortic aneurysm progression by degrading versican and facilitating macrophage invasion.
doi:10.1016/j.athoracsur.2012.10.084
PMCID: PMC3593585  PMID: 23245439
Aneurysm (thoracic aortic); inflammatory cells (macrophages); inflammatory mediators (metalloproteinases); pathology (aorta); vascular science (pathology)
15.  No association between single nucleotide polymorphisms in pre-mirnas and the risk of gastric cancer in Chinese population 
Objective(s): Accumulating evidence has demonstrated that miRNAs contribute to various genetic and epigenetic modifications in the pathogenesis of gastric cancer (GC). Recent studies focused on the four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of pre-miRNAs including rs11614913, rs3746444, rs2910164, and rs2292832. It was suggested that these four SNPs were significantly associated with the risk of GC and were described as candidate susceptibility factors. However, the previous results show conflicting findings. The aim of this study was to investigate whether these four SNPs are associated with GC in Chinese Han population.
Materials and Methods: Genotype frequencies of these four SNPs of pre-miRNAs in 220 GC patients and 530 control subjects were performed using a PCR-RFLP assay.
Results: No significant differences in genotype and allelic distribution were found in these four SNPs between GC and control subjects in the Chinese Han population. However, we found that the allelic frequency distributions of control subjects in these four SNPs were significantly different from those of the Japanese and the Koreans (All the P<0.05).
Conclusion: The four SNPs did not show any significant correlation with the development of GC in the Chinese Han population, based on the current study.
PMCID: PMC3976751
Pre-miRNA; Polymorphism; rs3746444; rs2910164; rs2292832; rs11614913; Single nucleotide; Stomach neoplasms
16.  Thapsigargin Induces Apoptosis by Impairing Cytoskeleton Dynamics in Human Lung Adenocarcinoma Cells 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:619050.
The objective of this study was performed to investigate the effects of thapsigargin on apoptosis, actin cytoskeletal dynamics, and actin cytoskeletal proteins in human lung adenocarcinoma cell. Thapsigargin is a specific irreversible inhibitor of ER calcium-ATPase, which may promote ER stress by depletion of lumenal calcium stores and show potential to induce cell death. The effects of thapsigargin on the apoptosis in A549 cells were assayed by Hoechst staining. Moreover, the F-actin staining by Rhodamine-phalloidin and RhoA antibody for cytoskeleton organizations were applied to A549 cells. To confirm the impairment of cytoskeletal dynamics treated with thapsigargin, western blots were applied to analyze the protein levels of p-Cofilin-1 (Ser3), Cofilin-1, and pPaxillin (Tyr118), as well as RhoA and pS6 (S240/244). Results suggest that thapsigargin may induce cell death in A549 cells with a time- and dose-dependent manner. The F-actin fibers and RhoA signals are also reduced with a time- and dose-dependent manner by thapsigargin treatment. The phosphorylation forms of Cofilin-1 and paxillin are attenuated by 1 μM thapsigargin treatment for 24 h. These alternations may be caused by the inhibition of of mTORC1 activities (indicated by pS6 (Ser240/244)) and RhoA pathways after thapsigargin treatment. The present findings highlight important roles of calcium entry in cytoskeleton organization and apoptosis in human lung adenocarcinoma cells and will help to set a stage to the clinical treatment of cancer cell metastasis.
doi:10.1155/2014/619050
PMCID: PMC3926280  PMID: 24605059
17.  Prognostic Role of MicroRNA-221 in Various Human Malignant Neoplasms: A Meta-Analysis of 20 Related Studies 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87606.
Background
MicroRNA-221 (miR-221) has been shown to play an important role in cancer prognosis. In order to evaluate the predictive value of miR-221, we compiled the evidence from 20 eligible studies to perform a meta-analysis.
Design
All of relevant studies were identified by searching PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science, and were assessed by further quality evaluation. Pooled hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of total and stratified analyses, for overall survival (OS) and recurrence-free survival (RFS), were calculated to investigate the association between high miR-221 expression and cancer prognosis.
Results
We found that high miR-221 expression can predict a poor OS in malignant tumors (pooled HR = 1.55, P = 0.017) but has no significant association with RFS (pooled HR = 1.02, P = 0.942). Further in stratified analyses, high miR-221 expression was significantly associated with a poor OS in Asians (pooled HR = 2.04, P = 0.010) or serum/ plasma subgroup (pooled HR = 2.28, P<0.001), and even showed significantly poor OS (pooled HR = 1.80, P<0.001) and RFS (pooled HR = 2.43, P = 0.010) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) subgroup, but was correlated to a favorable RFS in prostate cancer subgroup (pooled HR = 0.51, P = 0.004).
Conclusions
Our findings demonstrate that miR-221 is more suitable to predict cancer prognosis in Asians, and it is a promising prognostic biomarker for HCC. The detection of miR-221 in serum or plasma samples may make it become an effective method for monitoring patients' prognosis and assessing therapeutic efficacy in the future.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087606
PMCID: PMC3903772  PMID: 24475314
18.  The Correlation between Peripartum Cardiomyopathy and Autoantibodies against Cardiovascular Receptors 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86770.
Background
Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) is characterized by left ventricular systolic dysfunction and heart failure. However, its pathogenesis is not clear. Our preliminary study revealed that autoantibodies against β1-adrenergic receptors (β1R-AABs) and M2-muscarinic receptors (M2R-AABs) participated in heart failure regardless of primary heart disease. Whether β1R-AABs and M2R-AABs participate in the pathogenesis of PPCM is still unknown.
Methods
Totally 37 diagnosed PPCM patients and 36 normal pregnant women were enrolled in this study. Clinical assessment and 2-dimensional echocardiographic studies as well as the measurement of β1R-AABs or M2R-AABs by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) were performed.
Results
The positive rates for β1R-AABs and M2R-AABs were 59.5% (22/37) and 45.9% (17/37) in PPCM patients, and 19.4% (7/36) (P<0.001) and 16.67% (6/36) (P<0.001) in normal pregnant women, respectively. Both β1R-AABs and M2R-AABs had a positive correlation with serum expression level of NT-proBNP, left ventricular dimension and NYHA FC (rs: 0.496–0.892, P<0.01). In addition, a negative correlation between the activity of β1R-AABs and M2R-AABs and LVEF, LVFS was observed (rs: −0.488–0.568, P<0.01). Moreover, autoantibodies against cardiovascular receptors increased the risk of the onset of PPCM (OR = 18.786, 95% confidence interval 1.926–183.262, P = 0.012).
Conclusions
The β1R-AABs and M2R-AABs reveal a significant elevation and are correlated with the increased left ventricular dimension and worse cardiac contraction function. The autoantibodies of cardiovascular receptors are independent risk factors for the onset of PPCM.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086770
PMCID: PMC3900643  PMID: 24466231
19.  Elevated Copper Binding Strength of Amyloid-β Aggregates Enables Their Copper Sequestration from Albumin: a Pathway to Accumulation of Copper in Senile Plaques 
Biochemistry  2013;52(3):547-556.
Copper coexists with amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides at a high concentration in the senile plaques of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients and has been linked to oxidative damage associated with AD pathology. However, the origin of copper and the driving force behind its accumulation are unknown. We designed a sensitive fluorescent probe, Aβ(1–16)(Y10W), by substituting the tyrosine residue at position 10 in the hydrophilic domain of Aβ(1–42) with tryptophan. Upon mixing Cu(II), Aβ(1–16)(Y10W), and aliquots of Aβ(1–42) taken from samples incubated for different lengths of time, we found that the Cu(II) binding strength of aggregated Aβ(1–42) has been elevated by more than two orders of magnitude with respect to that of monomeric Aβ(1–42). Electron paramagnetic spectroscopic measurements revealed that the Aβ(1–42) aggregates, unlike their monomeric form, can seize copper from human serum albumin (HSA), an abundant copper-containing protein in brain and cerebrospinal fluid. The significantly elevated binding strength of the Aβ(1–42) aggregates can be rationalized by a Cu(II) coordination sphere constituted by three histidines from two adjacent Aβ(1–42) molecules. Our work demonstrates that the copper binding affinity by Aβ(1–42) is dependent on its aggregation state and provides new insight into how and why senile plaques accumulate copper in vivo.
doi:10.1021/bi301053h
PMCID: PMC3552001  PMID: 23237523
20.  Evaluation of Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery for Pulmonary Metastases: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85329.
Background
To evaluate the evidence comparing video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) and open thoracotomy in the treatment of metastatic lung cancer using meta-analytical techniques.
Methods
A literature search was undertaken until July 2013 to identify the comparative studies evaluating disease-free survival rates and survival rates. The pooled odds ratios (OR) and the 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated with the fixed or random effect models.
Results
Six retrospective studies were included in our meta-analysis. These studies included a total of 546 patients: 235 patients were treated with VATS, and 311 patients were treated with open thoracotomy. The VATS and the thoracotomy did not demonstrate a significant difference in the 1-,3-,5-year survival rates and the 1-year disease-free survival rate. There were significant statistical differences between the 3-year disease free survival rate (p = 0.04), which favored open thoracotomy.
Conclusions
The VATS approach is a safe and feasible treatment in terms of the survival rate for metastatic lung cancer compared with the thoracotomy. The 3-year disease-free survival rate in the VATS group is inferior to that of open thoracotomy. The VATS approach could not completely replace open thoracotomy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085329
PMCID: PMC3887046  PMID: 24416392
21.  Isolation and Characterization of a Novel Endoglucanase from a Bursaphelenchus xylophilus Metagenomic Library 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82437.
A novel gene (designated as cen219) encoding endoglucanase was isolated from a Bursaphelenchus xylophilus metagenomic library by functional screening. Sequence analysis revealed that cen219 encoded a protein of 367 amino acids. SDS-PAGE analysis of purified endoglucanase suggested that Cen219 was a monomeric enzyme with a molecular mass of 40 kDa. The optimum temperature and pH for endoglucanase activity of Cen219 was separately 50°C and 6.0. It was stable from 30 to 50°C, and from pH 4.0 to 7.0. The activity was significantly enhanced by Mn2+ and dramatically reduced by detergent SDS and metals Fe3+, Cu2+ or Hg2+. The enzyme hydrolyzed a wide range of β-1, 3-, and β-1, 4-linked polysaccharides, with varying activities. Activities towards microcrystalline cellulose and filter paper were relatively high, while the highest activity was towards oat gum. The Km and Vmax of Cen219 towards CMC was 17.37 mg/ml and 333.33 U/mg, respectively. The findings have an insight into understanding the molecular basis of host–parasite interactions in B. xylophilus species. The properties also make Cen219 an interesting enzyme for biotechnological application.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082437
PMCID: PMC3873927  PMID: 24386096
22.  Relation between Gastric Cancer and Protein Oxidation, DNA Damage, and Lipid Peroxidation 
Objects. The aim of this study is to evaluate protein oxidation, DNA damage, and lipid peroxidation in patients with gastric cancer and to investigate the relationship between oxidative stress and gastric cancer. Methods. We investigated changes in serum protein carbonyl (PC), advanced oxidation protein products (AOPP), and 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT) levels, as indicators of protein oxidation, serum 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), as a biomarker of DNA damage, and malondialdehyde (MDA), conjugated diene (CD), 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE), and 8-ISO-prostaglandin F2α (8-PGF) in serum, as lipid peroxidation markers in gastric cancer (GC) patients and healthy control. Results. Compared with control, a statistically significant higher values of 8-OHdG, PC, AOPP, and 3-NT were observed in the GC patients (P < 0.05). The products of lipid peroxidation, MDA, CD, 4-HNE, and 8-PGF, were significantly lower in the GC patients compared to those of control (P < 0.05). In addition, the products of oxidative stress were similar between the Helicobacter pylori positive and the negative subgroups of GC patients. Conclusions. GC patients were characterized by increased protein oxidation and DNA damage, and decreased lipid peroxidation. Assessment of oxidative stress and augmentation of the antioxidant defense system may be important for the treatment and prevention of gastric carcinogenesis.
doi:10.1155/2013/543760
PMCID: PMC3886607  PMID: 24454985
23.  Age-associated Decrease in Toll-like Receptor Function in Primary Human Dendritic Cells Predicts Influenza Vaccine Response1 
Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)  2010;184(5):10.4049/jimmunol.0901022.
We evaluated Toll-like receptor (TLR) function in primary human dendritic cells from 104 young (age 21–30) and older (≥ 65 years) individuals. We used multicolor flow cytometry and intracellular cytokine staining of myeloid (mDC) and plasmacytoid (pDC) DCs and found substantial decreases in older, compared to young individuals in TNF-α, IL-6 and/or IL-12 (p40) production in mDCs and in TNF-α and IFN-α production in pDCs in response to TLR1/2, TLR2/6, TLR3, TLR5, and TLR8 engagement in mDCs and TLR7 and TLR9 in pDCs. These differences were highly significant after adjustment for heterogeneity between young and older groups (e.g. gender, race, body mass index [BMI], number of comorbid medical conditions) using mixed effect statistical modeling. Studies of surface and intracellular expression of TLR proteins, and of TLR gene expression in purified mDCs and pDCs revealed potential contributions for both transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms in these age-associated effects. Moreover, intracellular cytokine production in the absence of TLR ligand stimulation was elevated in cells from older, compared to young individuals, suggesting a dysregulation of cytokine production that may limit further activation by TLR engagement. Our results provide evidence for immunosenescence in dendritic cells; notably, defects in cytokine production were strongly associated with poor antibody response to influenza immunization, a functional consequence of impaired TLR function in the aging innate immune response.
doi:10.4049/jimmunol.0901022
PMCID: PMC3867271  PMID: 20100933
24.  EGFR-induced and PKCε monoubiquitylation-dependent NF-κB activation upregulates PKM2 expression and promotes turmorigenesis 
Molecular cell  2012;48(5):771-784.
SUMMARY
Many types of human tumor cells have overexpressed pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2). However, the mechanism underlying this increased PKM2 expression remains to be defined. We demonstrate here that EGFR activation induces PLCγ1-dependent PKCε monoubiquitylation at Lys321 mediated by RINCK1 ubiquitin ligase. Monoubiquitylated PKCε interacts with a ubiquitin-binding domain in NEMO zinc finger and recruits the cytosolic IKK complex to the plasma membrane, where PKCε phosphorylates IKKβ at Ser177 and activates IKKβ. Activated RelA interacts with HIF1α, which is required for RelA to bind the PKM2 promoter. PKCε- and NF-κB-dependent PKM2 upregulation is required for EGFR-promoted glycolysis and tumorigenesis. In addition, PKM2 expression correlates with EGFR and IKKβ activity in human glioblastoma specimens and with grade of glioma malignancy. These findings highlight the distinct regulation of NF-κB by EGF, in contrast to TNFα, and the importance of the metabolic cooperation between the EGFR and NF-κB pathways in PKM2 upregulation and tumorigenesis.
doi:10.1016/j.molcel.2012.09.028
PMCID: PMC3526114  PMID: 23123196
EGFR; PKM2; PKCε; NF-κB; RelA; NEMO; IKKβ; HIF1α; monoubiquitylation; phosphorylation; glycolysis; tumorigenesis
25.  Separation of intermediates of iron-catalyzed dopamine oxidation reactions using reversed-phase ion-pairing chromatography coupled in tandem with UV-visible and ESI–MS detections 
Reversed-phase ion-pairing chromatography (RP–IPC) is coupled on-line with electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry (ESI–MS) through an interface comprising a four-way switch valve and an anion exchange column. Regeneration of the anion exchange column can be accomplished on-line by switching the four-way switch valve to interconnect the column to a regeneration solution. Positioning the anion exchange column between the RP–IPC and ESI–MS instruments allows the ion-pairing reagent (IPR) sodium octane sulfonate to be removed. The IPC–ESI–MS method enabled us to separate and detect four intermediates of the Fe(III)-catalyzed dopamine oxidation. In particular, 6-hydroxydopamine, which is short-lived and highly neurotoxic, was detected and quantified. Together with the separation of other intermediates, gaining insight into the mechanism and kinetics of the Fe(III)-catalyzed dopamine oxidation becomes possible.
doi:10.1016/j.jchromb.2012.10.026
PMCID: PMC3521587  PMID: 23217306
Reversed-phase ion-pairing chromatography; Electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry; Dopamine oxidation; 6-Hydroxydopamine; Short-lived intermediates

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