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1.  Matrix softness regulates plasticity of tumor-repopulating cells via H3K9 demethylation and Sox2 expression 
Nature communications  2014;5:4619.
Tumor-repopulating cells (TRCs) are a self-renewing, tumorigenic subpopulation of cancer cells critical in cancer progression. However, the underlying mechanisms of how TRCs maintain their self-renewing capability remain elusive. Here we show that relatively undifferentiated melanoma TRCs exhibit plasticity in Cdc42-mediated mechanical stiffening, histone 3 lysine residue 9 (H3K9) methylation, Sox2 expression, and self-renewal capability. In contrast to differentiated melanoma cells, TRCs have a low level of H3K9 methylation that is unresponsive to matrix stiffness or applied forces. Silencing H3K9 methyltransferase G9a or SUV39h1 elevates the self-renewal capability of differentiated melanoma cells in a Sox2-dependent manner. Mechanistically, H3K9 methylation at the Sox2 promoter region inhibits Sox2 expression that is essential in maintaining self-renewal and tumorigenicity of TRCs both in vitro and in vivo. Taken together, our data suggest that 3D soft–fibrin-matrix-mediated cell softening, H3K9 demethylation, and Sox2 gene expression are essential in regulating TRC self-renewal.
doi:10.1038/ncomms5619
PMCID: PMC4133791  PMID: 25099074
2.  Physiological and molecular determinants of embryo implantation 
Molecular aspects of medicine  2013;34(5):939-980.
Embryo implantation involves the intimate interaction between an implantation-competent blastocyst and a receptive uterus, which occurs in a limited time period known as the window of implantation. Emerging evidence shows that defects originating during embryo implantation induce ripple effects with adverse consequences on later gestation events, highlighting the significance of this event for pregnancy success. Although a multitude of cellular events and molecular pathways involved in embryo-uterine crosstalk during implantation have been identified through gene expression studies and genetically engineered mouse models, a comprehensive understanding of the nature of embryo implantation is still missing. This review focuses on recent progress with particular attention to physiological and molecular determinants of blastocyst activation, uterine receptivity, blastocyst attachment and uterine decidualization. A better understanding of underlying mechanisms governing embryo implantation should generate new strategies to rectify implantation failure and improve pregnancy rates in women.
doi:10.1016/j.mam.2012.12.011
PMCID: PMC4278353  PMID: 23290997
blastocyst activation; uterine receptivity; blastocyst attachment; embryo implantation; decidualization
3.  Woody Species Diversity in Forest Plantations in a Mountainous Region of Beijing, China: Effects of Sampling Scale and Species Selection 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115038.
The role of forest plantations in biodiversity conservation has gained more attention in recent years. However, most work on evaluating the diversity of forest plantations focuses only on one spatial scale; thus, we examined the effects of sampling scale on diversity in forest plantations. We designed a hierarchical sampling strategy to collect data on woody species diversity in planted pine (Pinus tabuliformis Carr.), planted larch (Larix principis-rupprechtii Mayr.), and natural secondary deciduous broadleaf forests in a mountainous region of Beijing, China. Additive diversity partition analysis showed that, compared to natural forests, the planted pine forests had a different woody species diversity partitioning pattern at multi-scales (except the Simpson diversity in the regeneration layer), while the larch plantations did not show multi-scale diversity partitioning patterns that were obviously different from those in the natural secondary broadleaf forest. Compare to the natural secondary broadleaf forests, the effects of planted pine forests on woody species diversity are dependent on the sampling scale and layers selected for analysis. Diversity in the planted larch forest, however, was not significantly different from that in the natural forest for all diversity components at all sampling levels. Our work demonstrated that the species selected for afforestation and the sampling scales selected for data analysis alter the conclusions on the levels of diversity supported by plantations. We suggest that a wide range of scales should be considered in the evaluation of the role of forest plantations on biodiversity conservation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115038
PMCID: PMC4278893  PMID: 25545860
5.  Assessment of the Internal Genes of Influenza A (H7N9) Virus Contributing to High Pathogenicity in Mice 
Journal of Virology  2014;89(1):2-13.
ABSTRACT
The recently identified H7N9 influenza A virus has caused severe economic losses and worldwide public concern. Genetic analysis indicates that its six internal genes all originated from H9N2 viruses. However, the H7N9 virus is more highly pathogenic in humans than H9N2, which suggests that the internal genes of H7N9 have mutated. To analyze which H7N9 virus internal genes contribute to its high pathogenicity, a series of reassortants was generated by reverse genetics, with each virus containing a single internal gene of the typical A/Anhui/1/2013 (H7N9) (AH-H7N9) virus in the genetic background of the A/chicken/Shandong/lx1023/2007 (H9N2) virus. The replication ability, polymerase activity, and pathogenicity of these viruses were then evaluated in vitro and in vivo. These recombinants displayed high genetic compatibility, and the H7N9-derived PB2, M, and NP genes were identified as the virulence genes for the reassortants in mice. Further investigation confirmed that the PB2 K627 residue is critical for the high pathogenicity of the H7N9 virus and the reassortant containing the H7N9-derived PB2 segment (H9N2-AH/PB2). Notably, the H7N9-derived PB2 gene displayed greater compatibility with the H9N2 genome than that of H7N9, endowing the H9N2-AH/PB2 reassortant with greater viability and virulence than the parental H7N9 virus. In addition, the H7N9 virus, with the exception of the H9N2 reassortants, could effectively replicate in human A549 cells. Our results indicate that PB2, M, and NP are the key virulence genes, together with the surface hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) proteins, contributing to the high infectivity of the H7N9 virus in humans.
IMPORTANCE To date, the novel H7N9 influenza A virus has caused 437 human infections, with approximately 30% mortality. Previous work has primarily focused on the two viral surface proteins, HA and NA, but the contribution of the six internal genes to the high pathogenicity of H7N9 has not been systematically studied. Here, the H9N2 virus was used as a genetic backbone to evaluate the virulence genes of H7N9 virus in vitro and in vivo. Our data indicate that the PB2, M, and NP genes play important roles in viral infection in mice and, together with HA and NA, contribute to the high infectivity of the H7N9 virus in humans.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02390-14
PMCID: PMC4301103  PMID: 25320305
6.  Enhanced Efferocytosis of Apoptotic Cardiomyocytes Through MER Tyrosine Kinase Links Acute Inflammation Resolution to Cardiac Repair After Infarction 
Circulation research  2013;113(8):10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.113.301198.
Rationale
Efficient clearance of apoptotic cells (efferocytosis) is a prerequisite for inflammation resolution and tissue repair. Following myocardial infarction (MI), phagocytes are recruited to the heart and promote clearance of dying cardiomyocytes (CMs). The molecular mechanisms of efferocytosis of CMs and in the myocardium are unknown. The injured heart provides a unique model to examine relationships between efferocytosis and subsequent inflammation resolution, tissue remodeling, and organ function.
Objective
We set out to identify mechanisms of dying cardiomyocyte (CM) engulfment by phagocytes and to for the first time assess the causal significance of disrupting efferocytosis during MI.
Methods and Results
In contrast to other apoptotic cell receptors, macrophage MER tyrosine kinase (MER-TK) was necessary and sufficient for efferocytosis of CMs ex vivo. In mice, Mertk was specifically induced in Ly6cLO myocardial phagocytes after experimental coronary occlusion. Mertk deficiency led to an accumulation of apoptotic CMs, independent of changes in non-CMs, and a reduced index of in vivo efferocytosis. Importantly, suppressed efferocytosis preceded increases in myocardial infarct size and led to delayed inflammation resolution and reduced systolic performance. Reduced cardiac function was reproduced in chimeric mice deficient in bone marrow Mertk; reciprocal transplantation of Mertk+/+ marrow into Mertk-/- mice corrected systolic dysfunction. Interestingly, an inactivated form of MERTK, known as solMER, was identified in infarcted myocardium, implicating a natural mechanism of MERTK inactivation post MI.
Conclusions
These data collectively and directly link efferocytosis to wound healing in the heart and identify Mertk as a significant link between acute inflammation resolution and organ function.
doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.113.301198
PMCID: PMC3840464  PMID: 23836795
Myocardial infarction; inflammation; macrophage; efferocytosis
7.  Methylglyoxal Induces Systemic Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105307.
Patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) show a wide range of symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, nausea, vomiting, headache, anxiety, depression and cognitive impairment. Methylglyoxal has been proved to be a potential toxic metabolite produced by intestinal bacteria. The present study was aimed at investigating the correlation between methylglyoxal and irritable bowel syndrome. Rats were treated with an enema infusion of methylglyoxal. Fecal water content, visceral sensitivity, behavioral tests and serum 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) were assessed after methylglyoxal exposure. Our data showed that fecal water content was significantly higher than controls after methylglyoxal exposure except that of 30 mM group. Threshold volumes on balloon distension decreased in the treatment groups. All exposed rats showed obvious head scratching and grooming behavior and a decrease in sucrose preference. The serum 5-HT values were increased in 30, 60, 90 mM groups and decreased in 150 mM group. Our findings suggested that methylglyoxal could induce diarrhea, visceral hypersensitivity, headache as well as depression-like behaviors in rats, and might be the key role in triggering systemic symptoms of IBS.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105307
PMCID: PMC4144894  PMID: 25157984
9.  YLT192, a Novel, Orally Active Bioavailable Inhibitor of VEGFR2 Signaling with Potent Antiangiogenic Activity and Antitumor Efficacy in Preclinical Models 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:6031.
Antagonizing vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) to block angiogenesis has been applied toward cancer therapy for its role in promoting cancer growth and metastasis. However, most these clinical anticancer drugs have unexpected side effects. Development of novel VEGFR2 inhibitors with less toxicity remains an urgent need. In this study, we describe a novel, well-tolerated, and orally active VEGFR2 inhibitor, YLT192, which inhibits tumor angiogenesis and growth. YLT192 significantly inhibited kinase activity of VEGFR2 and suppressed proliferation, migration, invasion, and tube formation of human umbilical vascular endothelial cells (HUVEC) in vitro. In addition, it inhibited VEGF-induced phosphorylation of VEGFR2 and its downstream signaling regulator in HUVEC. Zebrafish embryonic models and alginate-encapsulated tumor cell assays indicated YLT192 also inhibited angiogenesis in vivo. Moreover, YLT192 could directly inhibit proliferation and induce apoptosis of cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Oral administration of YLT192 at a dose of 100 mg/kg/day could markedly inhibited human tumor xenograft growth without causing obvious toxicities. It decreased microvessel densities (MVD) in tumor sections. It also shows good safety profiles in the studies with mice and rats. Taken together, these preclinical evaluations suggest that YLT192 inhibits angiogenesis and may be a promising anticancer drug candidate.
doi:10.1038/srep06031
PMCID: PMC4129416  PMID: 25112436
10.  Uterine Rbpj is required for embryonic-uterine orientation and decidual remodeling via Notch pathway-independent and -dependent mechanisms 
Cell Research  2014;24(8):925-942.
Coordinated uterine-embryonic axis formation and decidual remodeling are hallmarks of mammalian post-implantation embryo development. Embryonic-uterine orientation is determined at initial implantation and synchronized with decidual development. However, the molecular mechanisms controlling these events remain elusive despite its discovery a long time ago. In the present study, we found that uterine-specific deletion of Rbpj, the nuclear transducer of Notch signaling, resulted in abnormal embryonic-uterine orientation and decidual patterning at post-implantation stages, leading to substantial embryo loss. We further revealed that prior to embryo attachment, Rbpj confers on-time uterine lumen shape transformation via physically interacting with uterine estrogen receptor (ERα) in a Notch pathway-independent manner, which is essential for the initial establishment of embryo orientation in alignment with uterine axis. While at post-implantation stages, Rbpj directly regulates the expression of uterine matrix metalloproteinase in a Notch pathway-dependent manner, which is required for normal post-implantation decidual remodeling. These results demonstrate that uterine Rbpj is essential for normal embryo development via instructing the initial embryonic-uterine orientation and ensuring normal decidual patterning in a stage-specific manner. Our data also substantiate the concept that normal mammalian embryonic-uterine orientation requires proper guidance from developmentally controlled uterine signaling.
doi:10.1038/cr.2014.82
PMCID: PMC4123295  PMID: 24971735
Rbpj; embryo orientation; decidual remodeling; ERα; MMPs; DNMAML
11.  Optimized Spatial Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation in China: A Systematic Conservation Planning Perspective 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e103783.
By addressing several key features overlooked in previous studies, i.e. human disturbance, integration of ecosystem- and species-level conservation features, and principles of complementarity and representativeness, we present the first national-scale systematic conservation planning for China to determine the optimized spatial priorities for biodiversity conservation. We compiled a spatial database on the distributions of ecosystem- and species-level conservation features, and modeled a human disturbance index (HDI) by aggregating information using several socioeconomic proxies. We ran Marxan with two scenarios (HDI-ignored and HDI-considered) to investigate the effects of human disturbance, and explored the geographic patterns of the optimized spatial conservation priorities. Compared to when HDI was ignored, the HDI-considered scenario resulted in (1) a marked reduction (∼9%) in the total HDI score and a slight increase (∼7%) in the total area of the portfolio of priority units, (2) a significant increase (∼43%) in the total irreplaceable area and (3) more irreplaceable units being identified in almost all environmental zones and highly-disturbed provinces. Thus the inclusion of human disturbance is essential for cost-effective priority-setting. Attention should be targeted to the areas that are characterized as moderately-disturbed, <2,000 m in altitude, and/or intermediately- to extremely-rugged in terrain to identify potentially important regions for implementing cost-effective conservation. We delineated 23 primary large-scale priority areas that are significant for conserving China's biodiversity, but those isolated priority units in disturbed regions are in more urgent need of conservation actions so as to prevent immediate and severe biodiversity loss. This study presents a spatially optimized national-scale portfolio of conservation priorities – effectively representing the overall biodiversity of China while minimizing conflicts with economic development. Our results offer critical insights for current conservation and strategic land-use planning in China. The approach is transferable and easy to implement by end-users, and applicable for national- and local-scale systematic conservation prioritization practices.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103783
PMCID: PMC4114974  PMID: 25072933
12.  Typing of Blood-Group Antigens on Neutral Oligosaccharides by Negative-Ion Electrospray Ionization Tandem Mass Spectrometry 
Analytical chemistry  2013;85(12):10.1021/ac400700e.
Blood-group antigens, such as those containing fucose and bearing the ABO(H)- and Lewis-type determinants expressed on the carbohydrate chains of glycoproteins and glycolipids, and also on unconjugated free oligosaccharides in human milk and other secretions, are associated with various biological functions. We have previously shown the utility of negative-ion electrospay ionization tandem mass spectrometry with collision-induced dissociation (ESI-CID-MS/MS) for typing of Lewis (Le) determinants, e.g. Lea, Lex, Leb, and Ley on neutral and sialylated oligosaccharide chains. In the present report we extended the strategy to characterization of blood-group A-, B- and H-determinants on type 1 and type 2, and also on type 4 globoside chains to provide a high sensitivity method for typing of all the major blood-group antigens, including the A, B, H, Lea, Lex, Leb, and Ley determinants, present in oligosaccharides. Using the principles established we identified two minor unknown oligosaccharide components present in the products of enzymatic synthesis by bacterial fermentation. We also demonstrated that the unique fragmentations derived from the D- and 0,2A-type cleavages observed in ESI-CID-MS/MS, which are important for assigning blood-group and chain types, only occur under the negative-ion conditions for reducing sugars but not for reduced alditols or under positive-ion conditions.
doi:10.1021/ac400700e
PMCID: PMC3856363  PMID: 23692402
13.  Transcriptional analysis of the titin cap gene 
Mutations in titin cap (Tcap), also known as telethonin, cause limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2G (LGMD2G). Tcap is one of the titin interacting Z-disc proteins involved in the regulation and development of normal sarcomeric structure. Given the essential role of Tcap in establishing and maintaining normal skeletal muscle architecture, we were interested in determining the regulatory elements required for expression of this gene in myoblasts. We have defined a highly conserved 421 bp promoter proximal promoter fragment that contains two E boxes and multiple putative Mef2 binding sequences. This promoter can be activated by MyoD and myogenin in NIH3T3 fibroblast cells, and maintains the differentiated cell-specific expression pattern of the endogenous Tcap in C2C12 cells. We find that while both E boxes are required for full activation by MyoD or myogenin in NIH3T3 cells, the promoter proximal E box has a greater contribution to activation of this promoter in C2C12 cells and to activation by MyoD in NIH3T3 cells. Together, the data suggest an important role for MyoD in activating Tcap expression through the promoter proximal E box. We also show that myogenin is required for normal expression in vivo and physically binds to the Tcap promoter during embryogenesis.
doi:10.1007/s00438-011-0603-6
PMCID: PMC4059767  PMID: 21305318
Titin cap; Myogenin; MyoD; E box
14.  Lapatinib-incorporated lipoprotein-like nanoparticles: preparation and a proposed breast cancer-targeting mechanism 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2014;35(6):846-852.
Aim:
Lapatinib is a dual inhibitor of EGFR and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), and used to treat advanced breast cancer. To overcome its poor water solubility, we constructed lapatinib-incorporated lipoprotein-like nanoparticles (LTNPs), and evaluated the particle characteristics and possible anti-breast cancer mechanisms.
Methods:
LTNPs (lapatinib bound to albumin as a core, and egg yolk lecithin forming a lipid corona) were prepared. The particle characteristics were investigated using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The uptake and subcellular localization of LTNPs, as well as the effects of LTNPs on cell cycle were examined in BT-474 human breast cancer cells in vitro. Mice bearing BT-474 subcutaneous xenograft were intravenously injected with coumarin-6 loaded LTNPs (30 mg/kg) to study the targeting mechanisms in vivo.
Results:
The LTNPs particles were generally spherical but flexible under TEM and AFM, and approximately 62.1 nm in size with a zeta potential of 22.80 mV. In BT-474 cells, uptake of LTNPs was mediated by endosomes through energy-dependent endocytosis involving clathrin-dependent pinocytosis and macropinocytosis, and they could effectively escape from endosomes to the cytoplasm. Treatment of BT-474 cells with LTNPs (20 μg/mL) induced a significant cell arrest at G0/G1 phase compared with the same concentration of lapatinib suspension. In mice bearing BT-474 xenograft, intravenously injected LTNPs was found to target and accumulate in tumors, and colocalized with HER2 and SPRAC (secreted protein, acidic and rich in cysteine).
Conclusion:
LTNPs can be taken up into breast cancer cells through specific pathways in vitro, and targeted to breast cancer xenograft in vivo via enhanced permeability and retention effect and SPARC.
doi:10.1038/aps.2014.26
PMCID: PMC4086389  PMID: 24902791
lapatinib; breast cancer; EGFR; HER2; nanoparticle; drug delivery; drug targeting; endosome; cell arrest
15.  Polyclonal rabbit anti-human ovarian cancer globulins inhibit tumor growth through apoptosis involving the caspase signaling 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4984.
Most women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at an advanced stage and there are few therapeutic options. Recently, monoclonal antibody therapies have had limited success, thus more effective antibodies are needed to improve long-term survival. In this report, we prepared polyclonal rabbit anti-ovarian cancer antibody (Poly Ab) by immunizing rabbits with the human ovarian cancer cell line SKOV3. The Poly Ab bound to SKOV3 and inhibited the cancer cells proliferation. Western blot analysis was conducted, which indicated that Poly Ab inhibited cancer cells through apoptosis involving the caspase signaling pathway including caspase-3 and caspase-9. Finally, compared with the control antibody, administration of Poly Ab reached 64% and 72% tumor inhibition in the subcutaneous and intraperitoneal xenograft mouse model, respectively. Our findings suggest that Poly Ab is an effective agent for apoptosis induction and may be useful as a safe anticancer agent for ovarian cancer therapy.
doi:10.1038/srep04984
PMCID: PMC4021334  PMID: 24828460
16.  Immunosuppressive Activity of Daphnetin, One of Coumarin Derivatives, Is Mediated through Suppression of NF-κB and NFAT Signaling Pathways in Mouse T Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96502.
Daphnetin, a plant-derived dihydroxylated derivative of coumarin, is an effective compound extracted from a plant called Daphne Korean Nakai. Coumarin derivates were known for their antithrombotic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activities. The present study was aimed to determine the immunosuppressive effects and the underlying mechanisms of daphnetin on concanavalin A (ConA) induced T lymphocytes in mice. We showed that, in vitro, daphnetin suppressed ConA-induced splenocyte proliferation, influenced production of the cytokines and inhibited cell cycle progression through the G0/G1 transition. The data also revealed that daphnetin could down-regulate activation of ConA induced NF-κB and NFAT signal transduction pathways in mouse T lymphocyte. In vivo, daphnetin treatment significantly inhibited the 2, 4- dinitrofluorobenzene (DNFB) -induced delayed type hypersensitivity (DTH) reactions in mice. Collectively, daphnetin had strong immunosuppressive activity both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting a potential role for daphnetin as an immunosuppressive agent, and established the groundwork for further research on daphnetin.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096502
PMCID: PMC4011761  PMID: 24800925
17.  Change in Hepatitis B Virus Large Surface Antigen Variant Prevalence 13 Years after Implementation of a Universal Vaccination Program in China 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(22):12196-12206.
A nationwide hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination program was implemented in China starting in 1992. To study the change in HBV variant prevalence with massive immunization, large HBV surface protein (LHBs) genes from HBV surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive sera were amplified and sequenced. The prevalences of LHBs mutants were compared between the 1992 and 2005 surveys in child and adult groups. The prevalence of “α” determinant mutants in the children increased from 6.5% in 1992 to 14.8% in 2005, where the G145R mutant occurred most frequently. In contrast, mutation frequencies showed little difference between 1992 (9.4%) and 2005 (9.9%) in adults. Moreover, compared to the 1992 survey, the child group surface (S) protein mutation frequency specifically increased (P = 0.005) in the 2005 survey, but the pre-S region mutation frequency did not show a significant difference (P > 0.05). However, the mutation frequency in the adult group increased in both the pre-S and S regions. Furthermore, the frequencies of the disease-related pre-S2 deletion and start codon mutations were significantly higher in the adult groups than in the child groups in both the 1992 and 2005 surveys (P < 0.01). Massive immunization enhances the HBV S protein mutation; the prevalence of LHBs mutants, particularly disease-related mutants, tends to increase with patient age.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02127-13
PMCID: PMC3807931  PMID: 24006443
18.  Marked tumor response to crizotinib after 4 years of maintenance pemetrexed in a patient with anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive non-small-cell lung cancer 
Molecular and Clinical Oncology  2014;2(4):567-570.
Maintenance therapy with pemetrexed is well tolerated and achieves prolonged progression-free and overall survival in patients with advanced lung adenocarcinoma. The echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4 (EML4)-anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) is a recently identified fusion oncogene that exists in ~5% of non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs). It was demonstrated that ALK-positive NSCLCs exhibit a high response rate to the ALK inhibitor crizotinib. This is the case report of a patient with NSCLC harboring EML4-ALK rearrangement, who experienced slowly progressive disease within 4 years of maintenance treatment with pemetrexed and later exhibited a marked response to crizotinib. The sustained clinical benefits suggest further investigations on anticancer agent administration.
doi:10.3892/mco.2014.280
PMCID: PMC4051572  PMID: 24940496
anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive non-small-cell lung cancer; adenocarcinoma; crizotinib; pemetrexed
19.  Enhanced efficacy of combination therapy with adeno-associated virus-delivered pigment epithelium-derived factor and cisplatin in a mouse model of Lewis lung carcinoma 
Molecular Medicine Reports  2014;9(6):2069-2076.
Pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) is a potent inhibitor of angiogenesis, and the antitumor effect of adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated PEDF expression has been demonstrated in a range of animal models. The combined treatment of low-dose chemotherapy and gene therapy inhibits the growth of solid tumors more effectively than current traditional therapies or gene therapy alone. In the present study, the effect of treatment with an AAV2 vector harboring the human PEDF (hPEDF) gene in combination with low-dose cisplatin on the growth of Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) in mice was assessed. LLC cells were infected with AAV-enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) in the presence or absence of cisplatin, and then the effect of cisplatin on AAV-mediated gene expression was evaluated by image and flow cytometric analysis. Tumor growth, survival time, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression, microvessel density (MVD) and apoptotic index were analyzed in C57BL/6 mice treated with AAV-hPEDF, cisplatin or cisplatin plus AAV-hPEDF. The results of the present study provide evidence that cisplatin treatment is able to enhance AAV-mediated gene expression in LLC cells. In addition, the combined treatment of cisplatin plus AAV-hPEDF markedly prolonged the survival time of the mice and inhibited tumor growth, resulting in significant suppression of tumor angiogenesis and induction of tumor apoptosis in vivo, and also protected against cisplatin-related toxicity. These findings suggest that combination of AAV-hPEDF and cisplatin has potential as a novel therapeutic strategy for lung cancer.
doi:10.3892/mmr.2014.2117
PMCID: PMC4055432  PMID: 24714917
adeno-associated virus-pigment epithelium-derived factor; cisplatin; combination; tumor; apoptosis; angiogenesis
20.  Pretreatment with chemotherapeutics for enhanced nanoparticles accumulation in tumor: the potential role of G2 cycle retention effect 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:4492.
Ligands were anchored onto nanoparticles (NPs) to improve the cell internalization and tumor localization of chemotherapeutics. However, the clinical application was shadowed by the complex preparation procedure and the immunogenicity and poor selectivity and stability of ligands. In this study, a novel strategy was developed to elevate the tumor cellular uptake and tumor localization of NPs utilizing the G2/M phase retention effect of docetaxel, one of the most common chemotherapeutics. Results showed pretreatment with docetaxel could effectively arrest cells in G2/M phase, leading to an enhanced cell uptake of NPs, which may be caused by the facilitated endocytosis of NPs. In vivo imaging and slice distribution also demonstrated the pretreatment with docetaxel improved the localization of NPs in tumor. This strategy can be easily transferred to clinical for cancer management. Combination chemotherapeutics injections with commercial nano-drugs may result in better antitumor effect than the administration of a single drug.
doi:10.1038/srep04492
PMCID: PMC3967147  PMID: 24670376
21.  The Membrane-Associated Transcription Factor NAC089 Controls ER-Stress-Induced Programmed Cell Death in Plants 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(3):e1004243.
The unfolded protein response (UPR) is activated to sustain cell survival by reducing misfolded protein accumulation in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The UPR also promotes programmed cell death (PCD) when the ER stress is severe; however, the underlying molecular mechanisms are less understood, especially in plants. Previously, two membrane-associated transcriptions factors (MTFs), bZIP28 and bZIP60, were identified as the key regulators for cell survival in the plant ER stress response. Here, we report the identification of another MTF, NAC089, as an important PCD regulator in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) plants. NAC089 relocates from the ER membrane to the nucleus under ER stress conditions. Inducible expression of a truncated form of NAC089, in which the transmembrane domain is deleted, induces PCD with increased caspase 3/7-like activity and DNA fragmentation. Knock-down NAC089 in Arabidopsis confers ER stress tolerance and impairs ER-stress-induced caspase-like activity. Transcriptional regulation analysis and ChIP-qPCR reveal that NAC089 plays important role in regulating downstream genes involved in PCD, such as NAC094, MC5 and BAG6. Furthermore, NAC089 is up-regulated by ER stress, which is directly controlled by bZIP28 and bZIP60. These results show that nuclear relocation of NAC089 promotes ER-stress-induced PCD, and both pro-survival and pro-death signals are elicited by bZIP28 and bZIP60 during plant ER stress response.
Author Summary
Protein folding is fundamentally important for development and responses to environmental stresses in eukaryotes. When excess misfolded proteins are accumulated in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), the unfolded protein response (UPR) is triggered to promote cell survival through optimizing protein folding, and also promote programmed cell death (PCD) when the stress is severe. However, the link from ER-stress-sensing to PCD is largely unknown. Here, we report the identification of one membrane-associated transcription factor NAC089 as an important regulator of ER stress-induced PCD in plants. We have established a previously unrecognized molecular connection between ER stress sensors and PCD regulators. We have shown that organelle-to-organelle translocation of a transcription factor is important for its function in transcriptional regulation. Our results have provided novel insights into the molecular mechanisms of PCD in plants, especially under ER stress conditions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004243
PMCID: PMC3967986  PMID: 24675811
22.  Estrogen receptor α-coupled Bmi1 regulation pathway in breast cancer and its clinical implications 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:122.
Background
Bmi1 has been identified as an important regulator in breast cancer, but its relationship with other signaling molecules such as ERα and HER2 is undetermined.
Methods
The expression of Bmi1 and its correlation with ERα, PR, Ki-67, HER2, p16INK4a, cyclin D1 and pRB was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in a collection of 92 cases of breast cancer and statistically analyzed. Stimulation of Bmi1 expression by ERα or 17β-estradiol (E2) was analyzed in cell lines including MCF-7, MDA-MB-231, ERα-restored MDA-MB-231 and ERα-knockdown MCF-7 cells. Luciferase reporter and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays were also performed.
Results
Immunostaining revealed strong correlation of Bmi1 and ERα expression status in breast cancer. Expression of Bmi1 was stimulated by 17β-estradiol in ERα-positive MCF-7 cells but not in ERα-negative MDA-MB-231 cells, while the expression of Bmi1 did not alter expression of ERα. As expected, stimulation of Bmi1 expression could also be achieved in ERα-restored MDA-MB-231 cells, and at the same time depletion of ERα decreased expression of Bmi1. The proximal promoter region of Bmi1 was transcriptionally activated with co-transfection of ERα in luciferase assays, and the interaction of the Bmi1 promoter with ERα was confirmed by chromatin immunoprecipitation. Moreover, in breast cancer tissues activation of the ERα-coupled Bmi1 pathway generally correlated with high levels of cyclin D1, while loss of its activity resulted in aberrant expression of p16INK4a and a high Ki-67 index, which implied a more aggressive phenotype of breast cancer.
Conclusions
Expression of Bmi1 is influenced by ERα, and the activity of the ERα-coupled Bmi1 signature impacts p16INK4a and cyclin D1 status and thus correlates with the tumor molecular subtype and biologic behavior. This demonstrates the important role which is played by ERα-coupled Bmi1 in human breast cancer.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-122
PMCID: PMC3939403  PMID: 24559156
Bmi1; Estrogen receptor α; p16INK4a; Cyclin D1; Breast cancer
23.  Determination of 16 Selected Trace Elements in Children Plasma from China Economical Developed Rural Areas Using High Resolution Magnetic Sector Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometry 
A rapid, accurate, and high performance method of high resolution sector field inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (HR-ICP-MS) combined with a small-size sample (0.1 mL) preparation was established. The method was validated and applied for the determination of 16 selected plasma trace elements (Fe, Cu, Zn, Rb, B, Al, Se, Sr, V, Cr, Mn, Co, As, Mo, Cd, and Pb). The linear working ranges were over three intervals, 0-1 μg/L, 0–10 μg/L and 0–100 μg/L. Correlation coefficients (R2) ranged from 0.9957 to 0.9999 and the limits of quantification (LOQ) ranged from 0.02 μg/L (Rb) to 1.89 μg/L (Se). The trueness (or recovery) spanned from 89.82% (Al) to 119.15% (Se) and precision expressed by the relative standard deviation (RSD %) for intra-day ranging from 1.1% (Zn) to 9.0% (Se), while ranged from 3.7% (Fe) to 12.7% (Al) for interday. A total of 440 plasma samples were collected from Chinese National Nutrition and Health Survey Project 2002 (CNNHS 2002), which represented the status of plasma trace elements for the children aged 3–12 years from China economical developed rural areas. The concentrations of 16 trace elements were summarized and compared by age groups and gender, which can be used as one of the basic components for the formulation of the baseline reference values of trace elements for the children in 2002.
doi:10.1155/2014/975820
PMCID: PMC3950582  PMID: 24701366
24.  Cellular immunotherapy using irradiated lung cancer cell vaccine co-expressing GM-CSF and IL-18 can induce significant antitumor effects 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:48.
Background
Although the whole tumor cell vaccine can provide the best source of immunizing antigens, there is still a limitation that most tumors are not naturally immunogenic. Tumor cells genetically modified to secrete immune activating cytokines have been proved to be more immunogenic. IL-18 could augment proliferation of T cells and cytotoxicity of NK cells. GM-CSF could stimulate dendritic cells, macrophages and enhance presentation of tumor antigens. In our study, we used mouse GM-CSF combined with IL-18 to modify Lewis lung cancer LL/2, then investigated whether vaccination could suppress tumor growth and promote survival.
Methods
The Lewis lung cancer LL/2 was transfected with co-expressing mouse GM-CSF and IL-18 plasmid by cationic liposome, then irradiated with a sublethal dose X ray (100 Gy) to prepare vaccines. Mice were subcutaneously immunized with this inactivated vaccine and then inoculated with autologous LL/2 to estimate the antitumor efficacy.
Results
The studies reported here showed that LL/2 tumor cell vaccine modified by a co-expressing mouse GM-CSF and IL-18 plasmid could significantly inhibit tumor growth and increased survival of the mice bearing LL/2 tumor whether prophylactic or adoptive immunotherapy in vivo. A significant reduction of proliferation and increase of apoptosis were also observed in the tumor treated with vaccine of co-expressing GM-CSF and IL-18. The potent antitumor effect correlated with higher secretion levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-18, GM-CSF, interferon-γ in serum, the proliferation of CD4+ IFN-γ+, CD8+ IFN-γ+ T lymphocytes in spleen and the infiltration of CD4+, CD8+ T in tumor. Furthermore, the mechanism of tumor-specific immune response was further proved by 51Cr cytotoxicity assay in vitro and depletion of CD4, CD8, NK immune cell subsets in vivo. The results suggested that the antitumor mechanism was mainly depended on CD4+, CD8+ T lymphocytes.
Conclusions
These results provide a new insight into therapeutic mechanisms of IL-18 plus GM-CSF modified tumor cell vaccine and provide a potential clinical cancer immunotherapeutic agent for improved antitumor immunity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-48
PMCID: PMC3922726  PMID: 24475975
Cancer immunotherapy; IL-18; GM-CSF; Cell vaccine; Apoptosis
25.  The downregulation of PRDM1/Blimp-1 is associated with aberrant expression of miR-223 in extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma, nasal type 
Background
The mechanism for inactivation of positive regulatory domain containing I (PRDM1), a newly identified tumour suppressor gene in extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma, nasal type (EN-NK/T-NT) has not been well defined. The aim of the present study was to investigate the expression of PRDM1 in EN-NK/T-NT and analyse its downregulation by miRNAs.
Methods
PRDM1 and miRNA expression were evaluated in EN-NK/T-NT samples by immunohistochemical analysis, qRT-PCR, and in situ hybridisation. Luciferase assays were performed to verify the direct binding of miR-223 to the 3′-untranslated region of PRDM1 mRNA. In addition, the effect of miR-223 on PRDM1 expression was assessed in NK/T lymphoma cell lines by transfecting a miR-223 mimic or inhibitor to increase or decrease the effective expression of miR-223. Overall survival and failure-free survival in EN-NK/T-NT patients were analysed using Kaplan-Meier single-factor analysis and the log-rank test.
Results
Investigation of the downregulation of PRDM1 in EN-NK/T-NT cases revealed that PRDM1-positive staining might be a favourable predictor of overall survival and failure-free survival in EN-NK/T-NT patients. However, the negative staining of PRDM1 usually presented transcripts, suggesting a possible post-transcriptional regulation. miR-223 and its putative target gene, PRDM1, exhibited opposite patterns of expression in EN-NK/T-NT tissues and cell lines. Moreover, PRDM1 was identified as a direct target gene of miR-223 by luciferase assays. The ectopic expression of miR-223 led to the downregulation of the PRDM1 protein in the NK/T-cell lymphoma cell line, whereas a decrease in miR-223 restored the level of PRDM1 protein.
Conclusions
Our findings reveal that the downregulation of the tumour suppressor PRDM1 in EN-NK/T-NT samples is mediated by miR-223 and that PRDM1-positive staining might have prognostic value for evaluating the clinical outcome of EN-NK/T-NT patients.
doi:10.1186/1756-9966-33-7
PMCID: PMC3898819  PMID: 24438193
Extranodal NK/T-cell lymphoma; Nasal type; PRDM1; miR-223

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