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1.  Refolding of β-Stranded Class I Chitinases of Hippophae rhamnoides Enhances the Antifreeze Activity during Cold Acclimation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91723.
Class I chitinases hydrolyse the β-1,4-linkage of chitin and also acquire antifreeze activity in some of the overwintering plants during cold stress. Two chitinases, HrCHT1a of 31 kDa and HrCHT1b of 34 kDa, were purified from cold acclimated and non-acclimated seabuckthorn seedlings using chitin affinity chromatography. 2-D gels of HrCHT1a and HrCHT1b showed single spots with pIs 7.0 and 4.6 respectively. N-terminal sequence of HrCHT1b matched with the class I chitinase of rice and antifreeze proteins while HrCHT1a could not be sequenced as it was N-terminally blocked. Unlike previous reports, where antifreeze activity of chitinase was cold inducible, our results showed that antifreeze activity is constitutive property of class I chitinase as both HrCHT1a and HrCHT1b isolated even from non-acclimated seedlings, exhibited antifreeze activity. Interestingly, HrCHT1a and HrCHT1b purified from cold acclimated seedlings, exhibited 4 and 2 times higher antifreeze activities than those purified from non-acclimated seedlings, suggesting that antifreeze activity increased during cold acclimation. HrCHT1b exhibited 23–33% higher hydrolytic activity and 2–4 times lower antifreeze activity than HrCHT1a did. HrCHT1b was found to be a glycoprotein; however, its antifreeze activity was independent of glycosylation as even deglycosylated HrCHT1b exhibited antifreeze activity. Circular dichroism (CD) analysis showed that both these chitinases were rich in unusual β-stranded conformation (36–43%) and the content of β-strand increased (∼11%) during cold acclimation. Surprisingly, calcium decreased both the activities of HrCHT1b while in case of HrCHT1a, a decrease in the hydrolytic activity and enhancement in its antifreeze activity was observed. CD results showed that addition of calcium also increased the β-stranded conformation of HrCHT1a and HrCHT1b. This is the first report, which shows that antifreeze activity is constitutive property of class I chitinase and cold acclimation and calcium regulate these activities of chitinases by changing the secondary structure.
PMCID: PMC3953593  PMID: 24626216
2.  Tree-Based Position Weight Matrix Approach to Model Transcription Factor Binding Site Profiles 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24210.
Most of the position weight matrix (PWM) based bioinformatics methods developed to predict transcription factor binding sites (TFBS) assume each nucleotide in the sequence motif contributes independently to the interaction between protein and DNA sequence, usually producing high false positive predictions. The increasing availability of TF enrichment profiles from recent ChIP-Seq methodology facilitates the investigation of dependent structure and accurate prediction of TFBSs. We develop a novel Tree-based PWM (TPWM) approach to accurately model the interaction between TF and its binding site. The whole tree-structured PWM could be considered as a mixture of different conditional-PWMs. We propose a discriminative approach, called TPD (TPWM based Discriminative Approach), to construct the TPWM from the ChIP-Seq data with a pre-existing PWM. To achieve the maximum discriminative power between the positive and negative datasets, the cutoff value is determined based on the Matthew Correlation Coefficient (MCC). The resulting TPWMs are evaluated with respect to accuracy on extensive synthetic datasets. We then apply our TPWM discriminative approach on several real ChIP-Seq datasets to refine the current TFBS models stored in the TRANSFAC database. Experiments on both the simulated and real ChIP-Seq data show that the proposed method starting from existing PWM has consistently better performance than existing tools in detecting the TFBSs. The improved accuracy is the result of modelling the complete dependent structure of the motifs and better prediction of true positive rate. The findings could lead to better understanding of the mechanisms of TF-DNA interactions.
PMCID: PMC3166302  PMID: 21912677
3.  Acyl Homoserine Lactones from Culture Supernatants of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Accelerate Host Immunomodulation 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20860.
The virulence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is multifactorial and under the control of quorum sensing signals, such as acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs). The importance of these molecules in the establishment of infection has been previously reported. These molecules either improve the virulence potential of P. aeruginosa or modulate the host immune response. To establish the immune modulating potential of quorum sensing signal molecules, previous studies have only used synthetic AHLs. However, there can be differences in the biological properties of synthetic and natural AHLs. The use of naturally extracted AHLs from the culture supernatant of P. aeruginosa is likely to simulate natural conditions more than the use of synthetic AHLs. Therefore, in the present study, the immune modulating potential of synthetic and naturally extracted AHLs was compared using a thymidine uptake assay, immunophenotyping and sandwich ELISA in order to assess mouse T-cell proliferation and production of Th1 and Th2 cytokines. Natural AHLs were able to suppress T-cell proliferation, even at low concentrations, compared to synthetic AHLs. The majority of cells undergoing proliferation were CD4+, as revealed by immunophenotyping. The inhibition of T-cells was stronger with natural AHLs compared to synthetic AHLs. Moreover, the natural AHLs were also able to shift immune responses away from host protective Th1 responses to pathogen protective Th2 responses.
PMCID: PMC3116856  PMID: 21698201

Results 1-3 (3)