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1.  Shear Modulus Estimation on Vastus Intermedius of Elderly and Young Females over the Entire Range of Isometric Contraction 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101769.
Elderly people often suffer from sarcopenia in their lower extremities, which gives rise to the increased susceptibility of fall. Comparing the mechanical properties of the knee extensor/flexors on elderly and young subjects is helpful in understanding the underlying mechanisms of the muscle aging process. However, although the stiffness of skeletal muscle has been proved to be positively correlated to its non-fatiguing contraction intensity by some existing methods, this conclusion has not been verified above 50% maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) due to the limitation of their measurement range. In this study, a vibro-ultrasound system was set up to achieve a considerably larger measurement range on muscle stiffness estimation. Its feasibility was verified on self-made silicone phantoms by comparing with the mechanical indentation method. The system was then used to assess the stiffness of vastus intermedius (VI), one of the knee extensors, on 10 healthy elderly female subjects (56.7±4.9 yr) and 10 healthy young female subjects (27.6±5.0 yr). The VI stiffness in its action direction was confirmed to be positively correlated to the % MVC level (R2 = 0.999) over the entire range of isometric contraction, i.e. from 0% MVC (relaxed state) to 100% MVC. Furthermore, it was shown that there was no significant difference between the mean VI shear modulus of the elderly and young subjects in a relaxed state (p>0.1). However, when performing step isometric contraction, the VI stiffness of young female subjects was found to be larger than that of elderly participants (p<0.001), especially at the relatively higher contraction levels. The results expanded our knowledge on the mechanical property of the elderly’s skeletal muscle and its relationship with intensity of active contraction. Furthermore, the vibro-ultrasound system has a potential to become a powerful tool for investigating the elderly’s muscle diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101769
PMCID: PMC4081795  PMID: 24991890
2.  A Novel p. Gly630Ser Mutation of COL2A1 in a Chinese Family with Presentations of Legg–Calvé–Perthes Disease or Avascular Necrosis of the Femoral Head 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100505.
Objective
Mutations in the type II collagen gene are associated with certain human disorders, collectively termed type II collagenopathies. They include Legg–Calvé–Perthes disease (LCPD) and avascular necrosis of the femoral head (ANFH). These two diseases are skeletal dysplasias, inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion, characterized by groin pain, dislocation of the hip and diminished joint mobility. Coxa vara and elevation of the greater trochanter of the femur comprise the typical phenotype of LCPD, but do not occur in ANFH. Lack of synthesis of type II collagen and structural defects are responsible for the major clinical outcomes, because collagen is the essential matrix protein of all connective tissues. Type II collagen, encoded by the COL2A1 gene, contains N- and C- terminal regions that are cleaved after secretion into the extracellular matrix, and the core area is composed of a triple helical (Gly–X–Y) domain. If the Gly in this specific region is replaced by other amino acids, the structure of type II collagen will be destroyed.
Method
Forty-five members of a four-generation family were recruited and investigated. Diagnosis was made by independent orthopedic surgeons and radiologists. A mutation of the COL2A1 gene was detected.
Result
In our research, we identify a heterozygous mutation (c.1888 G>A, p. Gly630Ser) in exon 29 of COL2A1 in the Gly–X–Y domain, in a Chinese family affected by LCPD and ANFH. Our findings provide significant clues to the phenotype–genotype relationships in these syndromes and may be helpful in clinical diagnosis. Furthermore, these results should assist further studies of the mechanisms underlying collagen diseases.
Conclusion
Our data add new variants to the repertoire of COL2A1 mutation resulting in related collagenopathies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100505
PMCID: PMC4065060  PMID: 24949742
3.  Pulmonary benign metastasizing leiomyoma: a case report and literature review 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2014;6(6):E92-E98.
Benign metastasizing leiomyoma (BML) is a rare condition that occurs in all age groups and that is particularly prevalent among women of late childbearing age. All patients have a history of uterine leiomyoma and/or myomectomy, often associated with distant metastases from the uterus, which commonly occurs in the lung. We report the case of a 32-year-old young woman suffering from chest stuffiness, labored respiration and weakness after a myomectomy performed one month earlier. The chest CT showed a diffuse miliary shadow in both sides of her lungs, but serum tumor markers such as CA125, CA199, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), neuron specific enolase (NSE), and CYFRA21-1 were normal. The patient underwent a lung biopsy by thoracoscopic surgery after four weeks of anti-TB treatment; there were no significant changes in the chest CT. H&E staining showed that the tumor cells had characteristics of smooth muscle cell differentiation. Immunohistochemical staining showed a low tumor cell proliferation index, which indicated that the likelihood of a malignancy was not high. There was no expression of CD10, indicating a diagnosis of pulmonary benign metastasizing leiomyoma (PBML). Smooth muscle actin (SMA) and desmin as specific markers of smooth muscle and the estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) were all strongly positive, which is characteristic of PBML. The patient was given the anti-estrogen tamoxifen for 3 months. With no radiological evidence of disease development and further distant metastasis, the patient will continue to be followed.
doi:10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2014.04.37
PMCID: PMC4073417  PMID: 24977035
Benign metastasizing leiomyoma (BML); myomectomy; pulmonary metastases; lung biopsy; immunohistochemistry
4.  HIV Incidence and Risk Factors in Chinese Young Men Who Have Sex with Men—A Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97527.
Objectives
To assess HIV incidence and its associated risk factors among young men who have sex with men (YMSM) in urban areas, China.
Design
The study used a prospective cohort study design and standard diagnostic tests.
Methods
A twelve-month prospective cohort study was conducted among YMSM (18–25 years old) in 8 large cities in China. The participants were recruited via snowball sampling. A total of 1102 HIV-negative YMSM completed baseline assessment, 878 YMSM participants completed 6-month follow-up, and 902 completed 12-month follow-up. HIV was screened by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and confirmed with Western Blot. Syphilis was screened via rapid plasma reagent and confirmed by treponema pallidum particle agglutination assay.
Results
78 HIV seroconversions were identified within 1168.4 person-year observations yielding an incidence rate of 6.7 per 100 person-years. HIV seroconversion was associated with non-student status (RR = 2.61, 90% CI = 1.3–5.26), low HIV transmission knowledge (RR = 8.87, 90% CI = 2.16–36.43), and syphilis infection (RR = 5.04, 90% CI = 2.57–9.90).
Conclusions
Incidence of HIV among YMSM is high in urban areas of China. Interventions measures are required to contain the HIV epidemic within this population.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097527
PMCID: PMC4039446  PMID: 24878586
5.  MicroRNA-27a Modulates HCV Infection in Differentiated Hepatocyte-Like Cells from Adipose Tissue-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e91958.
Background and Aims
Despite the discovery of hepatitis C virus (HCV) entry factor, the mechanism by which it is regulated by miRNAs remains unclear. Adipose tissue-derived human mesenchymal stem cells (AT-hMSCs) have been widely used for differentiated hepatocyte-like cells (DHCs). Here, we established an in vitro HCV infection model using DHCs from AT-hMSCs and identified miRNAs that modulate HCV infectivity.
Methods
AT-hMSCs were differentiated into DHCs using the conditional media, and evaluated for hepatocyte characteristics using RT-PCR, immunocytochemistry, periodic acid-Schiff staining, and a urea synthesis assay. The expression of HCV candidate receptors was also verified using immunocytochemistry. The levels of candidate miRNAs targeting HCV receptors were then determined by relative quantitative RT-PCR (rqRT-PCR). Finally, DHCs were infected using HCVcc and serum from HCV-infected patients, and infectivity of the virus was measured by rqRT-PCR and transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
Results
The expected changes in morphology, function and hepatic gene expression were observed during hepatic differentiation. Moreover, the expression of candidate HCV entry factors and miR-27a were altered during hepatic differentiation. The infection and replication of HCV occurred efficiently in DHCs treated with HCVcc or infected with serum from HCV-infected patients. In addition, HCV infectivity was suppressed in miR-27a-transfected DHCs, due to the inhibition of LDLR expression by miR-27a.
Conclusions
Our results demonstrate that AT-hMSCs are a good source of DHCs, which are suitable for in vitro cultivation of HCV. Furthermore, these results suggest that miR-27a modulates HCV infectivity by regulating LDLR expression.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091958
PMCID: PMC4019502  PMID: 24824429
6.  Homologous haplotypes, expression, genetic effects and geographic distribution of the wheat yield gene TaGW2 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:107.
Background
TaGW2-6A, cloned in earlier research, strongly influences wheat grain width and TKW. Here, we mainly analyzed haplotypes of TaGW2-6B and their effects on TKW and interaction with haplotypes at TaGW2-6A.
Results
About 2.9 kb of the promoter sequences of TaGW2-6B and TaGW2-6D were cloned in 34 bread wheat cultivars. Eleven SNPs were detected in the promoter region of TaGW2-6B, forming 4 haplotypes, but no divergence was detected in the TaGW2-6D promoter or coding region. Three molecular markers including CAPS, dCAPS and ACAS, were developed to distinguish the TaGW2-6B haplotypes. Haplotype association analysis indicated that TaGW2-6B has a stronger influence than TaGW2-6A on TKW, and Hap-6B-1 was a favored haplotype increasing grain width and weight that had undergone strong positive selection in global wheat breeding. However, clear geographic distribution differences for TaGW2-6A haplotypes were found; Hap-6A-A was favored in Chinese, Australian and Russian cultivars, whereas Hap-6A-G was preferred in European, American and CIMMYT cultivars. This difference might be caused by a flowering and maturity time difference between the two haplotypes. Hap-6A-A is the earlier type. Haplotype interaction analysis between TaGW2-6A and TaGW2-6B showed additive effects between the favored haplotypes. Hap-6A-A/Hap-6B-1 was the best combination to increase TKW. Relative expression analysis of the three TaGW2 homoeologous genes in 22 cultivars revealed that TaGW2-6A underwent the highest expression. TaGW2-6D was the least expressed during grain development and TaGW2-6B was intermediate. Diversity of the three genes was negatively correlated with their effect on TKW.
Conclusions
Genetic effects, expression patterns and historic changes of haplotypes at three homoeologous genes of TaGW2 influencing yield were dissected in wheat cultivars. Strong and constant selection to favored haplotypes has been found in global wheat breeding during the past century. This research also provides a valuable case for understanding interaction of genes that control complex traits in polyploid species.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-107
PMCID: PMC4021350  PMID: 24766773
Triticum aestivum; TaGW2; Grain weight; Gene expression; Haplotype interaction
7.  Oleuropein prevents the progression of steatohepatitis to hepatic fibrosis induced by a high-fat diet in mice 
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is characterized by hepatocyte injury and inflammatory cell infiltration, which has been linked to peripheral insulin resistance and increased levels of triglycerides in the liver. The purposes of this study were to establish a mouse model of NASH by feeding mice a 60% high-fat diet (HFD) and to demonstrate the anti-fibrotic effects of oleuropein, which has been shown to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, in this HFD-induced mouse model of NASH. C57BL/6 mice were divided into three groups: a regular diet group (Chow), a HFD group and an oleuropein-supplemented HFD group (OSD), which was fed a 0.05% OSD for 6 months. The effects of oleuropein in this model were evaluated using biochemical, histological and molecular markers. The expression levels of alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA)and collagen type I in the HFD and OSD groups were evaluated using real-time PCR and western blotting. The body weight, biochemical marker levels, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease activity score, homeostasis model of assessment-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and leptin levels observed in the HFD group at 9 and 12 months were higher than those observed in the Chow group. The HOMA-IR and leptin levels in the OSD group were decreased compared with the HFD group. In addition, α-SMA and collagen type I expression were decreased by oleuropein treatment. We established a NASH model induced by HFD and demonstrated that this model exhibits the histopathological features of NASH progressing to fibrosis. Our results suggest that oleuropein may be pharmacologically useful in preventing the progression of steatohepatitis and fibrosis and may be a promising agent for the treatment of NASH in humans.
doi:10.1038/emm.2014.10
PMCID: PMC4019815  PMID: 24763197
fibrosis; nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; oleuropein
8.  Complete Genome of Hepatitis E Virus from Laboratory Ferrets 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2014;20(4):709-712.
The complete genome of hepatitis E virus (HEV) from laboratory ferrets imported from the United States was identified. This virus shared only 82.4%–82.5% nt sequence identities with strains from the Netherlands, which indicated that the ferret HEV genome is genetically diverse. Some laboratory ferrets were contaminated with HEV.
doi:10.3201/eid2004.131815
PMCID: PMC3966362  PMID: 24655541
hepatitis E virus; HEV; viruses; ferrets; laboratory ferrets; imported infection; complete genome; sequencing; zoonoses
9.  Oleuropein prevents the progression of steatohepatitis to hepatic fibrosis induced by a high-fat diet in mice 
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is characterized by hepatocyte injury and inflammatory cell infiltration, which has been linked to peripheral insulin resistance and increased levels of triglycerides in the liver. The purposes of this study were to establish a mouse model of NASH by feeding mice a 60% high-fat diet (HFD) and to demonstrate the anti-fibrotic effects of oleuropein, which has been shown to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, in this HFD-induced mouse model of NASH. C57BL/6 mice were divided into three groups: a regular diet group (Chow), a HFD group and an oleuropein-supplemented HFD group (OSD), which was fed a 0.05% OSD for 6 months. The effects of oleuropein in this model were evaluated using biochemical, histological and molecular markers. The expression levels of alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA)and collagen type I in the HFD and OSD groups were evaluated using real-time PCR and western blotting. The body weight, biochemical marker levels, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease activity score, homeostasis model of assessment-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and leptin levels observed in the HFD group at 9 and 12 months were higher than those observed in the Chow group. The HOMA-IR and leptin levels in the OSD group were decreased compared with the HFD group. In addition, α-SMA and collagen type I expression were decreased by oleuropein treatment. We established a NASH model induced by HFD and demonstrated that this model exhibits the histopathological features of NASH progressing to fibrosis. Our results suggest that oleuropein may be pharmacologically useful in preventing the progression of steatohepatitis and fibrosis and may be a promising agent for the treatment of NASH in humans.
doi:10.1038/emm.2014.10
PMCID: PMC3972787  PMID: 24763197
fibrosis; nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; oleuropein
10.  Importance of N-Glycosylation on CD147 for Its Biological Functions 
Glycosylation of glycoproteins is one of many molecular changes that accompany malignant transformation. Post-translational modifications of proteins are closely associated with the adhesion, invasion, and metastasis of tumor cells. CD147, a tumor-associated antigen that is highly expressed on the cell surface of various tumors, is a potential target for cancer diagnosis and therapy. A significant biochemical property of CD147 is its high level of glycosylation. Studies on the structure and function of CD147 glycosylation provide valuable clues to the development of targeted therapies for cancer. Here, we review current understanding of the glycosylation characteristics of CD147 and the glycosyltransferases involved in the biosynthesis of CD147 N-glycans. Finally, we discuss proteins regulating CD147 glycosylation and the biological functions of CD147 glycosylation.
doi:10.3390/ijms15046356
PMCID: PMC4013633  PMID: 24739808
CD147; N-glycosylation; glycosyltransferases; matrix metalloproteinase; cancer invasion and metastasis
11.  Risk Factors for HIV/Syphilis Infection and Male Circumcision Practices and Preferences among Men Who Have Sex with Men in China 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:498987.
Objective. To investigate factors associated with HIV infection and the frequency and willingness of male circumcision among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Chengdu city, China. Methods. A cross-sectional survey provided information on participants' demographics, risk behaviors, circumcision, and uptake of HIV prevention services. Results. Of 570 participants, 13.3% were infected with HIV and 15.9% with syphilis. An estimated 43.0% of respondents reported having unprotected receptive anal intercourse, and 58.9% reported having ≥2 male sexual partners in the past 6 months. Multivariable logistic regression revealed that syphilis, more male sex partners, predominantly receptive anal intercourse, and exclusively receptive male sex were associated with HIV infection. Higher level of education and peer education service were inversely associated with HIV infection. Nearly a fifth (18.0%) of participants were circumcised. More than half of uncircumcised participants expressed willingness to be circumcised. Conclusion. This study reveals a high prevalence of HIV and syphilis among MSM in Chengdu province of China. The frequency of unprotected receptive anal intercourse and multiple male sexual partnerships highlight the urgency for an effective comprehensive HIV prevention strategy. Although the willingness to accept male circumcision (MC) is high, further research is needed to assess the protective effective of MC among MSM.
doi:10.1155/2014/498987
PMCID: PMC3985172  PMID: 24795883
12.  Ultrastructural Localization of Polygalacturonase in Ethylene-Stimulated Abscission of Tomato Pedicel Explants 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:389896.
Polygalacturonase (PG) is crucial in plant organ abscission process. This paper investigated the cellular and subcellular localization of PG in ethylene-stimulated abscission of tomato pedicel explants. Confocal laser scanning microscopy of abscission zone sections with the fluorescent probe Cy3 revealed that PG was initially accumulated in parenchyma cells in cortical and vascular tissues after 8 h of ethylene treatment and then extended throughout the abscission zone when the abscission zone separated at 24 h after ethylene treatment. At the subcellular level, transmission electron microscopy with immunogold staining showed that PG showed abundant accumulation in the cortical and vascular tissues at 8 h after ethylene treatment, and the distribution area extended to the central parenchyma cells at 16 h after ethylene treatment. In addition, PGs were observed in the distal and proximal parts of the tomato pedicel explants throughout the abscission process. The results provided a visualized distribution of PG in the pedicel abscission zone and proved that PG was closely related to abscission.
doi:10.1155/2014/389896
PMCID: PMC3982476  PMID: 24790564
13.  Levels of brain natriuretic peptide are associated with peripheral arterial disease in subjects with type-2 diabetes mellitus 
Background
The effects of brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) on the risk of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis have been studied. However, little information is available regarding peripheral arterial disease (PAD), particularly among subjects with type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The aim of our study was to assess the potential relationship between BNP levels and PAD among T2DM patients.
Methods
The study cohort was 507 T2DM outpatients in which BNP levels were measured. Cross-sectional associations between BNP levels (in tertiles) and PAD were examined.
Results
Compared withT2DM patients without PAD, BNP levels were markedly higher in patients with PAD (p = 0.001). Correlation analyses showed that the BNP level was negatively correlated with the ankle–brachial index (r = −0.453, p = 0.033). At a cutoff value of 78.2 pg/ml, the BNP level showed a sensitivity of 71.9%, a specificity of 68.1%, and a positive predictive value of 84.3% for a diagnosis of PAD. The area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve increased significantly if BNP levels were incorporated into a predictive model of the potential risk factors for PAD (0.85 vs 0.81, p = 0.029).
Conclusions
BNP is a potential and promising biomarker for PAD screening in T2DM patients.
doi:10.1186/1472-6823-14-27
PMCID: PMC3998194  PMID: 24655436
Brain natriuretic peptide; Peripheral arterial disease; Type-2 diabetes mellitus
14.  In Vivo and In Vitro Studies of Th17 Response to Specific Immunotherapy in House Dust Mite-Induced Allergic Rhinitis Patients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91950.
T helper (Th)17 cells have been implicated in the development of allergic rhinitis (AR), but their response to specific immunotherapy (SIT) remains unclear. We investigated the impact of SIT on Th17 response and Th1/Th2 changes in AR patients. Blood samples from AR patients (n = 20) who were monosensitized to house dust mite (HDM) were collected before the initiation of SIT (SIT-untreated) and after the end of 2-year SIT (SIT-treated) treatment. Twenty healthy volunteers were recruited as controls. In vitro HDM stimulation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) was also performed. Expression levels of Th17 associated genes were determined in both PBMCs and plasma by PCR and ELISA, while Th17/Th1/Th2/IL10 producing cell proportions were evaluated in PBMCs by flow cytometry. The SIT effect was evaluated by assessing clinical symptoms. mRNA levels of Th17 specific genes (IL17 and RORC) were increased in SIT-untreated AR versus controls, and decreased following SIT treatment. SIT can change the production of Th17 associated genes (reduction of IL17, IL6, and IL23, but increase of IL27) in plasma from AR patients. Th2/Th1 ratio and proportions of Th17 cells were suppressed while IL10 producing CD4+ T cells were elevated after SIT. In vitro HDM challenge presents concordant patterns with in vivo findings: 1) increase of Th2 and Th17 response in AR patients; 2) suppression of IL10 producing CD4+ T cells in SIT-untreated AR but elevation in SIT-treated AR patients. Most importantly, a positive correlation between IL17 mRNA/protein levels and clinical symptom scores was observed. SIT significantly inhibits Th17 mediated inflammation in AR and IL17 may be a useful biomarker for both AR severity and SIT therapeutic effect.
Trial Registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) ACTRN12613000445774
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091950
PMCID: PMC3960160  PMID: 24647473
15.  AKT/ERK activation is associated with gastric cancer cell resistance to paclitaxel 
Paclitaxel (PTX) has shown encouraging activity in the treatment of advanced gastric cancer (GC). However, the fact that more than half of GC patients respond poorly to PTX-based chemotherapies demonstrates the urgent need for biomarkers of PTX sensitivity in GC patients. In the present work, three GC cell lines (BGC-823, HGC-27 and NCI-N87) with different sensitivities to PTX were subjected to DNA microarray analysis. The significantly differentially expressed genes and microRNAs (miRs) were identified and pathway signatures for PTX sensitivity were proposed. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis results showed that the differentially expressed genes were mainly enriched in the ErbB signaling pathway and other pathways. Additionally, the AKT/ERK signaling pathway, which is the pathway downstream of ErbB, was predicted to be active in PTX-resistant GC cell lines. ErbB3 overexpression and AKT/ERK activation in PTX-resistant cell lines were validated, respectively, by quantitative PCR and immunoblotting. Furthermore, 10 miRs were dramatically differently expressed in the three GC cell lines, and a miR-gene network was constructed from these data. Our work uncovered a reliable signature for PTX sensitivity in GC and potential therapeutic targets for GC treatments.
PMCID: PMC4014224  PMID: 24817940
Gastric cancer; paclitaxel; DNA microarray; ErbB signaling; AKT signaling; ERK signaling; microRNA
16.  Characterization of a Novel BmαTX47 Toxin Modulating Sodium Channels: The Crucial Role of Expression Vectors in Toxin Pharmacological Activity 
Toxins  2014;6(3):816-829.
Long-chain scorpion toxins with four disulfide bridges exhibit various pharmacological features towards the different voltage-gated sodium channel subtypes. However, the toxin production still remains a huge challenge. Here, we reported the effects of different expression vectors on the pharmacological properties of a novel toxin BmαTX47 from the scorpion Buthus martensii Karsch. The recombinant BmαTX47 was obtained using the expression vector pET-14b and pET-28a, respectively. Pharmacological experiments showed that the recombinant BmαTX47 was a new α-scorpion toxin which could inhibit the fast inactivation of rNav1.2, mNav1.4 and hNav1.5 channels. Importantly, the different expression vectors were found to strongly affect BmαTX47 pharmacological activities while toxins were obtained by the same expression and purification procedures. When 10 µM recombinant BmαTX47 from the pET-28a vector was applied, the values of I5ms/Ipeak for rNav1.2, mNav1.4 and hNav1.5 channels were 44.12% ± 3.17%, 25.40% ± 4.89% and 65.34% ± 3.86%, respectively, which were better than those values of 11.33% ± 1.46%, 15.96% ± 1.87% and 5.24% ± 2.38% for rNav1.2, mNav1.4 and hNav1.5 channels delayed by 10 µM recombinant BmαTX47 from the pET-14b vector. The dose-response experiments further indicated the EC50 values of recombinant BmαTX47 from the pET-28a vector were 7262.9 ± 755.9 nM for rNav1.2 channel and 1005.8 ± 118.6 nM for hNav1.5 channel, respectively. Together, these findings highlighted the important role of expression vectors in scorpion toxin pharmacological properties, which would accelerate the understanding of the structure-function relationships of scorpion toxins and promote the potential application of toxins in the near future.
doi:10.3390/toxins6030816
PMCID: PMC3968363  PMID: 24577584
Buthus martensii Karsch; BmαTX47; recombinant expression; sodium channels; pET-28a vector; pET-14b vector
17.  A parthenogenetic maternal and double paternal contribution to an ovotesticular disorder of sex development 
Background
An ovotesticular disorder of sex development (OT-DSD) was rarely found in human. The mechanism causing such condition is poorly understood. We hereby reported a 11-year-old child with OT-DSD and a karyotype 46,XX/46,XY, a single maternal and double paternal genetic contribution to the patient.
Results
Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), blood grouping, HLA (human leukocyte antigen) haplotyping and a genome-wide scanning of lymphocytes with 398 short tandem repeat microsatellite markers were performed to investigate the origin of the cell lines concerned. ABO typing revealed that two populations of red cells were in the patient, which were group A and group B, both from paternal alleles. HLA haplotyping showed the patient had three haplotypes. Haplotype 1 was inherited from maternity, haplotype 2 and 3 were from paternity. The STR microsatellite analysis showed 25 of the 74 fully informative markers in both parents, three alleles were inherited: one of them was from mother, another two were from father. Seventeen of the thirty-eight paternal markers, the patient inherited two paternal alleles. For 121 informative maternal markers, the patient had a single maternal allele. There were two distinct alleles in locus DXS6810 and DXS1073 on X-chromosome, in which one was from the mother and the other from the father.
Conclusions
The patient was a single maternal and double paternal genetic, which was a type of a parthenogenetic division of a maternal haploid nucleus into two identical nuclei, followed by fertilization by two spermatozoa and fusion of the two zygotes into a single individual at the early embryonic stage. To the best of our knowledge, this is the oldest OT-DSD case of parthenogenetic chimerism. These data provide additional evidence that a parthenogenetic maternal and double paternal contribution causes 46,XX/46,XY OT-DSD.
doi:10.1186/1755-8166-7-16
PMCID: PMC3974030  PMID: 24581244
Ovotesticular disorder of sex development; Parthenogenetic chimera; Molecular genetics
18.  Chondrocyte-Specific Inhibition of β-Catenin Signaling Leads to Dysplasia of the Caudal Vertebrae in Mice 
Spine  2013;38(24):2079-2084.
Study Design
To inhibit β-catenin specifically signaling in chondrocytes Col2-ICAT transgenic mice were generated. Anomalies in caudal vertebrae were detected during embryonic and postnatal stages of Col2-ICAT transgenic mice.
Objective
To determine the role of canonical β-catenin signaling in caudal vertebral development.
Summary of Background Data
β-catenin signaling plays a critical role in skeletal development. Col2-ICAT transgenic mice were generated to selectively block β-catenin signaling by overexpression of the ICAT gene in chondrocytes.
Methods
Tails of E16.5 transgenic embryos and adult Col2-ICAT transgenic mice and their wild-type littermates were collected and analyzed. Skeletal preparation, 3-dimensional micro-computed tomographic and histological analyses were performed to evaluate changes in the structure of caudal vertebrae. Bromodeoxyuridine labeling was performed to evaluate changes in chondrocyte proliferation in caudal vertebrae.
Results
Skeletal preparation and 3-dimensional micro-computed tomographic analyses revealed bone deformation and angulated deformities in tail tissue in Col2-ICAT transgenic mice. Histological studies revealed abnormal bone development and dysplastic caudal vertebrae in Col2-ICAT transgenic mice. Inhibition of β-catenin signaling in cartilage resulted in vertebral dysplasia leading to aberrant resegmenting process. Thus, 2 poorly developed sclerotomes failed to fuse to form a complete vertebrae. BrdU labeling revealed a decreased chondrocyte proliferation in both cartilageous templates of transgenic embryos and the growth plate of adult Col2-ICAT transgenic mice.
Conclusion
Wnt/β-catenin signaling plays an important role in vertebral development. Inhibition of β-catenin signaling in chondrocytes results in caudal vertebra deformity in mice, which may occur as early as in the stage of sclerotome formation.
doi:10.1097/01.brs.0000435024.57940.8d
PMCID: PMC3928445  PMID: 24026150
β-catenin; ICAT; chondrocyte; caudal vertebral dysplasia
19.  Genome-Wide Transcriptional Response of Silkworm (Bombyx mori) to Infection by the Microsporidian Nosema bombycis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84137.
Microsporidia have attracted much attention because they infect a variety of species ranging from protists to mammals, including immunocompromised patients with AIDS or cancer. Aside from the study on Nosema ceranae, few works have focused on elucidating the mechanism in host response to microsporidia infection. Nosema bombycis is a pathogen of silkworm pébrine that causes great economic losses to the silkworm industry. Detailed understanding of the host (Bombyx mori) response to infection by N. bombycis is helpful for prevention of this disease. A genome-wide survey of the gene expression profile at 2, 4, 6 and 8 days post-infection by N. bombycis was performed and results showed that 64, 244, 1,328, 1,887 genes were induced, respectively. Up to 124 genes, which are involved in basal metabolism pathways, were modulated. Notably, B. mori genes that play a role in juvenile hormone synthesis and metabolism pathways were induced, suggesting that the host may accumulate JH as a response to infection. Interestingly, N. bombycis can inhibit the silkworm serine protease cascade melanization pathway in hemolymph, which may be due to the secretion of serpins in the microsporidia. N. bombycis also induced up-regulation of several cellular immune factors, in which CTL11 has been suggested to be involved in both spore recognition and immune signal transduction. Microarray and real-time PCR analysis indicated the activation of silkworm Toll and JAK/STAT pathways. The notable up-regulation of antimicrobial peptides, including gloverins, lebocins and moricins, strongly indicated that antimicrobial peptide defense mechanisms were triggered to resist the invasive microsporidia. An analysis of N. bombycis-specific response factors suggested their important roles in anti-microsporidia defense. Overall, this study primarily provides insight into the potential molecular mechanisms for the host-parasite interaction between B. mori and N. bombycis and may provide a foundation for further work on host-parasite interaction between insects and microsporidia.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084137
PMCID: PMC3875524  PMID: 24386341
20.  Intranasal Immunisation with Recombinant Toxoplasma gondii Actin Partly Protects Mice against Toxoplasmosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82765.
Toxoplasma gondii is a ubiquitous protozoan intracellular parasite, the causative agent of toxoplasmosis, and a worldwide zoonosis for which an effective vaccine is needed. Actin is a highly conserved microfilament protein that plays an important role in the invasion of host cells by T. gondii. This study investigated the immune responses elicited by BALB/c mice after nasal immunisation with a recombinant T. gondii actin (rTgACT) and the subsequent protection against chronic and lethal T. gondii infections. We evaluated the systemic response by proliferation, cytokine and antibody measurements, and we assessed the mucosal response by examining the levels of TgACT-specific secretory IgA (SIgA) in nasal, vaginal and intestinal washes. Parasite load was assessed in the liver and brain, and the survival of mice challenged with a virulent strain was determined. The results showed that the mice immunised with rTgACT developed high levels of specific anti-rTgACT IgG titres and a mixed IgG1/IgG2a response with a predominance of IgG2a. The systemic immune response was associated with increased production of Th1 (IFN-γ and IL-2), Th2 (IL-4) and Treg (IL-10) cytokines, indicating that not only Th1-type response was induced, but also Th2- and Treg-types responses were induced, and the splenocyte stimulation index (SI) was increased in the mice immunised with rTgACT. Nasal immunisation with rTgACT led to strong mucosal immune responses, as seen by the increased secretion of SIgA in nasal, vaginal and intestinal washes. The vaccinated mice displayed significant protection against lethal infection with the virulent RH strain (survival increased by 50%), while the mice chronically infected with RH exhibited lower liver and brain parasite loads (60.05% and 49.75%, respectively) than the controls. Our data demonstrate, for the first time, that actin triggers a strong systemic and mucosal response against T. gondii. Therefore, actin may be a promising vaccine candidate against toxoplasmosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082765
PMCID: PMC3873923  PMID: 24386114
21.  The Hepatitis E Virus Capsid C-Terminal Region Is Essential for the Viral Life Cycle: Implication for Viral Genome Encapsidation and Particle Stabilization 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(10):6031-6036.
Although the C-terminal 52 amino acids (C52aa) of hepatitis E virus (HEV) capsid are not essential for morphology, the C52aa-encoding region is required for replication. Transfection of a C52aa knockdown mutant showed transient growth, and the earliest population included a majority of noninfectious (possibly empty) particles and a minority of infectious particles with C-terminal capsid degradation. Finally, the complete revertant was generated reproducibly. C52aa is essential for the viral life cycle, promoting accurate encapsidation and stabilizing encapsidated particles.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00444-13
PMCID: PMC3648136  PMID: 23468481
22.  Artemisinin Analogue SM934 Ameliorates Murine Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis through Enhancing the Expansion and Functions of Regulatory T Cell 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e74108.
Background
Artemisinin analogue SM934 was previously reported to possess immunosuppressive properties. The aim of this study was to determine the effects and the underlying mechanisms of SM934 in murine experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE).
Methods
Female C57BL/6 mice immunized with MOG35–55 were treated with or without SM934, then the clinical scores and other relevant parameters were assessed. Th1, Th17 and regulatory T (Treg) cell profiles were determined through ELISA, qRT-PCR, flow cytometry and BrdU incorporation assay. The effects of SM934 on Th1, Th17 and Treg cells differentiation were explored through intracellular staining and flow cytometry examination.
Results
In vivo, administration of SM934 significantly inhibited the development of EAE and suppressed the elevation of serum IL-17. Ex vivo, upon antigen-recall stimulation, IL-2, IFN-γ, IL-17 and IL-6 production were decreased, whereas IL-10 and TGF-β production were increased from the splenocytes isolated from SM934-treated mice. Consistently, both flow cytometry and qRT-PCR results showed that SM934 treatment significantly increased the Treg, while strongly suppressed the Th17 and Th1, responses in the peripheral. Furthermore, in the spinal lesion, SM934 treatment dramatically decreased the infiltration of CD4+ T cells, within which the Treg cells percentage was enlarged, whereas the Th17, but not Th1 percentage, was significantly decreased comparing with the vehicle-treated groups. Finally, both BrdU incorporation and in vitro Treg differentiation assays revealed that SM934 treatment could directly promote the expansion of Treg cells in vivo and in vitro.
Conclusion
Taken together, this study demonstrated that SM934 treatment could ameliorate the murine EAE disease, which might be mediated by inducing Treg differentiation and expansion.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074108
PMCID: PMC3756992  PMID: 24009768
23.  Toxoplasma gondii Protein Disulfide Isomerase (TgPDI) Is a Novel Vaccine Candidate against Toxoplasmosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70884.
Toxoplasma gondii is a ubiquitous protozoan parasite that can infect all warm-blooded animals, including both mammals and birds. Protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) localises to the surface of T. gondii tachyzoites and modulates the interactions between parasite and host cells. In this study, the protective efficacy of recombinant T. gondii PDI (rTgPDI) as a vaccine candidate against T. gondii infection in BALB/c mice was evaluated. rTgPDI was expressed and purified from Escherichia coli. Five groups of animals (10 animals/group) were immunised with 10, 20, 30, 40 μg of rTgPDI per mouse or with PBS as a control group. All immunisations were performed via the nasal route at 1, 14 and 21 days. Two weeks after the last immunisation, the immune responses were evaluated by lymphoproliferative assays and by cytokine and antibody measurements. The immunised mice were challenged with tachyzoites of the virulent T. gondii RH strain on the 14th day after the last immunisation. Following the challenge, the tachyzoite loads in tissues were assessed, and animal survival time was recorded. Our results showed that the group immunised with 30 μg rTgPDI showed significantly higher levels of specific antibodies against the recombinant protein, a strong lymphoproliferative response and significantly higher levels of IgG2a, IFN-gamma (IFN-γ), IL-2 and IL-4 production compared with other doses and control groups. While no changes in IL-10 levels were detected. After being challenged with T. gondii tachyzoites, the numbers of tachyzoites in brain and liver tissues from the rTgPDI group were significantly reduced compared with those of the control group, and the survival time of the mice in the rTgPDI group was longer than that of mice in the control group. Our results showed that immunisation with rTgPDI elicited a protective immune reaction and suggested that rTgPDI might represent a promising vaccine candidate for combating toxoplasmosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070884
PMCID: PMC3744524  PMID: 23967128
24.  Assessing the role of IL-35 in colorectal cancer progression and prognosis 
Despite the recent realization of Interleukin (IL)-35 in tumorigenesis, its exact impact on colorectal cancer (CRC) progression and prognosis, however, is yet to be elucidated clearly. We thus in the present report conducted comparative analysis of IL-35 levels between CRC patients and matched control subjects. IL-35 is highly expressed in all CRC tissues, which can be detected in vast majority of colorectal cancer cells. IL-35 levels in CRC lysates and serum samples are highly correlated to the severity of malignancy and the clinical stage of tumor. Particularly, a significant reduction for serum IL-35 was noted in patients after surgical resection, indicating that IL-35 promotes CRC progression associated with poor prognosis. Mechanistic study demonstrated a significant correlation between serum IL-35 levels and the number of peripheral regulatory T (Treg) cells in CRC patients, suggesting that IL-35 implicates in CRC pathogenesis probably by inducing Treg cells, while cancer cell-derived IL-35 may also recruit Treg cells into the tumor microenvironment in favor of tumor growth. Together, our data support that IL-35 could be a valuable biomarker for assessing CRC progression and prognosis in clinical settings.
PMCID: PMC3759487  PMID: 24040445
Interleukin-35; colorectal cancer; regulatory T cell; EBI3; IL-12p35
25.  No Evidence for Hepatitis E Virus Genotype 3 Susceptibility in Rats 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2013;19(8):1343-1345.
doi:10.3201/eid1908.130200
PMCID: PMC3739517  PMID: 23876517
hepatitis E virus; rat HEV; rats; genotype 3; viruses; nude rats; rat study; susceptibility; immunodeficient; zoonoses

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