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1.  Comparative Mitogenomics of Plant Bugs (Hemiptera: Miridae): Identifying the AGG Codon Reassignments between Serine and Lysine 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101375.
Insect mitochondrial genomes are very important to understand the molecular evolution as well as for phylogenetic and phylogeographic studies of the insects. The Miridae are the largest family of Heteroptera encompassing more than 11,000 described species and of great economic importance. For better understanding the diversity and the evolution of plant bugs, we sequence five new mitochondrial genomes and present the first comparative analysis of nine mitochondrial genomes of mirids available to date. Our result showed that gene content, gene arrangement, base composition and sequences of mitochondrial transcription termination factor were conserved in plant bugs. Intra-genus species shared more conserved genomic characteristics, such as nucleotide and amino acid composition of protein-coding genes, secondary structure and anticodon mutations of tRNAs, and non-coding sequences. Control region possessed several distinct characteristics, including: variable size, abundant tandem repetitions, and intra-genus conservation; and was useful in evolutionary and population genetic studies. The AGG codon reassignments were investigated between serine and lysine in the genera Adelphocoris and other cimicomorphans. Our analysis revealed correlated evolution between reassignments of the AGG codon and specific point mutations at the antidocons of tRNALys and tRNASer(AGN). Phylogenetic analysis indicated that mitochondrial genome sequences were useful in resolving family level relationship of Cimicomorpha. Comparative evolutionary analysis of plant bug mitochondrial genomes allowed the identification of previously neglected coding genes or non-coding regions as potential molecular markers. The finding of the AGG codon reassignments between serine and lysine indicated the parallel evolution of the genetic code in Hemiptera mitochondrial genomes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101375
PMCID: PMC4079613  PMID: 24988409
2.  A Nationwide Survey of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia, Including Very Mild Dementia, in Taiwan 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100303.
An increasing population of dementia patients produces substantial societal impacts. We assessed the prevalence of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and all-cause dementia, including very mild dementia (VMD), in Taiwan. In a nationwide population-based cross-sectional survey, participants were selected by computerized random sampling from all 19 Taiwan counties and were enrolled between December 2011 and March 2013. Cases were identified through in-person interviews based on the National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association clinical criteria. Demographic data and histories involving mental status and function in daily living were collected. The principal objective assessments were the Taiwanese Mental Status Examination and Clinical Dementia Rating. In all, 10,432 people aged 65 years or older (mean age 76.2±6.7, 52.3% women) were interviewed. The age-adjusted prevalence of all-cause dementia was 8.04% (95% CI 7.47–8.61), including a 3.25% (95% CI 2.89–3.61) prevalence of VMD; that of MCI was 18.76% (95% CI 17.91–19.61). Women had a higher prevalence than men of both all-cause dementia (9.71% vs. 6.36%) and MCI (21.63% vs. 15.57%). MCI affects a considerable portion of the population aged 65 and above in Taiwan. The inclusion of VMD yields dementia prevalence rates higher than those previously reported from Taiwan. Old age, female gender, and a low educational level are significant associated factors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100303
PMCID: PMC4062510  PMID: 24940604
3.  Laminoplasty and Laminectomy Hybrid Decompression for the Treatment of Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy with Hypertrophic Ligamentum Flavum: A Retrospective Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95482.
Objective
To report the outcomes of a posterior hybrid decompression protocol for the treatment of cervical spondylotic myelopathy (CSM) associated with hypertrophic ligamentum flavum (HLF).
Background
Laminoplasty is widely used in patients with CSM; however, for CSM patients with HLF, traditional laminoplasty does not include resection of a pathological ligamentum flavum.
Methods
This study retrospectively reviewed 116 CSM patients with HLF who underwent hybrid decompression with a minimum of 12 months of follow-up. The procedure consisted of reconstruction of the C4 and C6 laminae using CENTERPIECE plates with spinous process autografts, and resection of the C3, C5, and C7 laminae. Surgical outcomes were assessed using Japanese Orthopedic Association (JOA) score, recovery rate, cervical lordotic angle, cervical range of motion, spinal canal sagittal diameter, bone healing rates on both the hinge and open sides, dural sac expansion at the level of maximum compression, drift-back distance of the spinal cord, and postoperative neck pain assessed by visual analog scale.
Results
No hardware failure or restenosis was noted. Postoperative JOA score improved significantly, with a mean recovery rate of 65.3±15.5%. Mean cervical lordotic angle had decreased 4.9 degrees by 1 year after surgery (P<0.05). Preservation of cervical range of motion was satisfactory postoperatively. Bone healing rates 6 months after surgery were 100% on the hinge side and 92.2% on the open side. Satisfactory decompression was demonstrated by a significantly increased sagittal canal diameter and cross-sectional area of the dural sac together with a significant drift-back distance of the spinal cord. The dural sac was also adequately expanded at the time of the final follow-up visit.
Conclusion
Hybrid laminectomy and autograft laminoplasty decompression using Centerpiece plates may facilitate bone healing and produce a comparatively satisfactory prognosis for CSM patients with HLF.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095482
PMCID: PMC3989326  PMID: 24740151
4.  Genetic Polymorphism of Apolipoprotein A5 Gene and Susceptibility to Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Meta-Analysis of 15,137 Subjects 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89167.
Background
Several studies have investigated whether the polymorphism in the apolipoprotein A5 (APOA5) is associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) risk. However, those studies have produced inconsistent results. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the APOA5 -1131T/C polymorphism (rs662799) confers significant susceptibility to T2DM using a meta-analysis.
Methods
PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, Cochrane database, CBMdisc, CNKI and Google Scholar were searched to get the genetic association studies. All statistical analyses were done with Stata 11.0.
Results
A total of 19 studies included 4,767 T2DM cases and 10,370 controls (four studies involving 555 T2DM cases and 2958 controls were performed among Europeans and 15 studies involving 4212 T2DM cases and 7412 controls were performed among Asians) were combined showing significant association between the APOA5 -1131T/C polymorphism and T2DM risk (for C allele vs. T allele: OR = 1.28, 95% CI = 1.17–1.40, p<0.00001; for C/C vs. T/T: OR = 1.57, 95% CI = 1.35–1.83, p<0.00001; for C/C vs. T/C+T/T: OR = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.18–1.57, p<0.0001; for C/C+T/C vs. T/T: OR = 1.32, 95% CI = 1.16–1.51, p<0.0001). In the subgroup analysis by ethnicity, significant association was also found among Asians (for C allele vs. T allele: OR = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.22–1.40, p<0.00001; for C/C vs. T/T: OR = 1.61, 95% CI = 1.38–1.88, p<0.00001; for C/C vs. T/C+T/T: OR = 1.39, 95% CI = 1.20–1.61, p<0.0001; for C/C+T/C vs. T/T: OR = 1.42, 95% CI = 1.25–1.62, p<0.00001). However, no significant association was found between the APOA5 -1131T/C polymorphism and T2DM risk among Europeans.
Conclusions
The present meta-analysis suggests that the APOA5 -1131T/C polymorphism is associated with an increased T2DM risk in Asian population.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089167
PMCID: PMC3929635  PMID: 24586566
5.  Characterization of Four Novel Caspases from Litopenaeus vannamei (Lvcaspase2-5) and Their Role in WSSV Infection through dsRNA-Mediated Gene Silencing 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e80418.
Apoptosis plays an important role in white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) pathogenesis, and caspases are central players in apoptosis. Here, we cloned four novel caspases (Lvcaspase2-5) from the Pacific white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei, and investigated their potential roles in WSSV replication using dsRNA-mediated gene silencing. Lvcaspase2-5 have the typical domain structure of caspase family proteins, with the conserved consensus motifs p20 and p10. Lvcaspase2 and Lvcaspase5 were highly expressed in muscle, while Lvcaspase3 was highly expressed in hemocytes and Lvcaspase4 was mainly expressed in intestine. Lvcaspase2-5 could also be upregulated by WSSV infection, and they showed different patterns in various tissues. When overexpressed in Drosophila S2 cells, Lvcaspase2-5 showed different cellular localizations. Using dsRNA-medicated gene silencing, the expression of Lvcaspase2, Lvcaspase3, and Lvcaspase5 were effectively knocked down. In Lvcaspase2-, Lvcaspase3- or Lvcaspase5-silenced L. vannamei, expression of WSSV VP28 gene was significantly enhanced, suggesting protective roles for Lvcaspase2, Lvcaspase3 and Lvcaspase5 in the host defense against WSSV infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080418
PMCID: PMC3871164  PMID: 24376496
6.  Urinary Function following Laparoscopic Lymphadenectomy for Male Rectal Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78701.
Objectives
Urinary function can be protected following open lateral node dissection (LND) with pelvic autonomic nerve preservation (PANP) for advanced rectal cancer. However data regarding urinary function after laparoscopic LND with PANP have not been reported. The goal of this study was to determine the effects of laparoscopic LND with PANP on urinary function in male patients with rectal cancer.
Methods
Urine flowmetry was performed using an Urodyn flowmeter. Patients were also asked to complete the standardized International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) questionnaire before surgery and 6 months after. In total, this study consisted of 60 males with advanced rectal cancer.
Results
No significant differences were seen in maximal urinary flow rate, voided volume or residual volume before and after surgery. The total IPSS score increased significantly after surgery and at least 41 patients (68.3%) reported there was no change in one of the seven IPSS questions.
Conclusions
Laparoscopic LND with PANP was relatively safe in preserving urinary function.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078701
PMCID: PMC3827062  PMID: 24265709
7.  Transgenerational Variations in DNA Methylation Induced by Drought Stress in Two Rice Varieties with Distinguished Difference to Drought Resistance 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80253.
Adverse environmental conditions have large impacts on plant growth and crop production. One of the crucial mechanisms that plants use in variable and stressful natural environments is gene expression modulation through epigenetic modification. In this study, two rice varieties with different drought resistance levels were cultivated under drought stress from tilling stage to seed filling stage for six successive generations. The variations in DNA methylation of the original generation (G0) and the sixth generation (G6) of these two varieties in normal condition (CK) and under drought stress (DT) at seedling stage were assessed by using Methylation Sensitive Amplification Polymorphism (MSAP) method. The results revealed that drought stress had a cumulative effect on the DNA methylation pattern of both varieties, but these two varieties had different responses to drought stress in DNA methylation. The DNA methylation levels of II-32B (sensitive) and Huhan-3 (resistant) were around 39% and 32%, respectively. Genome-wide DNA methylation variations among generations or treatments accounted for around 13.1% of total MSAP loci in II-32B, but was only approximately 1.3% in Huhan-3. In II-32B, 27.6% of total differentially methylated loci (DML) were directly induced by drought stress and 3.2% of total DML stably transmitted their changed DNA methylation status to the next generation. In Huhan-3, the numbers were 48.8% and 29.8%, respectively. Therefore, entrainment had greater effect on Huhan-3 than on II-32B. Sequence analysis revealed that the DML were widely distributed on all 12 rice chromosomes and that it mainly occurred on the gene’s promoter and exon region. Some genes with DML respond to environmental stresses. The inheritance of epigenetic variations induced by drought stress may provide a new way to develop drought resistant rice varieties.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080253
PMCID: PMC3823650  PMID: 24244664
8.  Analysis of Expression, Cellular Localization, and Function of Three Inhibitors of Apoptosis (IAPs) from Litopenaeus vannamei during WSSV Infection and in Regulation of Antimicrobial Peptide Genes (AMPs) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72592.
Inhibitors of apoptosis (IAPs) play important roles in apoptosis and NF-κB activation. In this study, we cloned and characterized three IAPs (LvIAP1-3) from the Pacific white shrimp, Litopenaeusvannamei. LvIAP1-3 proteins shared signature domains and exhibited significant similarities with other IAP family proteins. The tissue distributions of LvIAP1-3 were studied. The expression of LvIAP1-3 was induced in the muscle after white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) infection. LvIAP1 expression in the gill, hemocytes, hepatopancreas, and intestine was responsive to WSSV and Vibrioalginolyticus infections. LvIAP2 expression in the gill, hemocytes, and hepatopancreas was also responsive to WSSV infection. The expression of LvIAP3 in the gill, hemocytes, and intestine was reduced after V. alginolyticus infection. When overexpressed in Drosophila S2 cells, GFP labeled-LvIAP2 was distributed in the cytoplasm and appeared as speck-like aggregates in the nucleus. Both LvIAP1 and LvIAP3 were widely distributed throughout the cytoplasm and nucleus. The expression of LvIAP1, LvIAP2, and LvIAP3 was significantly knocked down by dsRNA-mediated gene silencing. In the gill of LvIAP1- or LvIAP3-silenced shrimp, the expression of WSSV VP28 was significantly higher than that of the dsGFP control group, suggesting that LvIAP1 and LvIAP3 may play protective roles in host defense against WSSV infection. Intriguingly, the LvIAP2-silenced shrimp all died within 48 hours after dsLvIAP2 injection. In the hemocytes of LvIAP2-silenced shrimps, the expression of antimicrobial peptide genes (AMPs), including Penaeidins, lysozyme, crustins, Vibriopenaeicidae-induced cysteine and proline-rich peptides (VICPs), was significantly downregulated, while the expression of anti-lipopolysaccharide factors (ALFs) was upregulated. Moreover, LvIAP2 activated the promoters of the NF-κB pathway-controlled AMPs, such as shrimp Penaeidins and Drosophila drosomycin and attacin A, in Drosophila S2 cells. Taken together, these results reveal that LvIAP1 and LvIAP3 might participate in the host defense against WSSV infection, and LvIAP2 might be involved in the regulation of shrimp AMPs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072592
PMCID: PMC3743791  PMID: 23967321
9.  Deficiency of Adiponectin Protects against Ovariectomy-Induced Osteoporosis in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68497.
Adipokine adiponectin (APN) has been recently reported to play a role in regulating bone mineral density (BMD). To explore the mechanism by which APN affects BMD, we investigated BMD and biomechanical strength properties of the femur and vertebra in sham-operated (Sham) and ovariectomized (OVX) APN knockout (KO) mice as compared to their operated wild-type (WT) littermates. The results show that APN deficiency has no effect on BMD but induces increased ALP activity and osteoclast cell number. While OVX indeed leads to significant bone loss in both femora and vertebras of WT mice with comparable osteogenic activity and a significant increase in osteoclast cell number when compared to that of sham control. However, no differences in BMD, ALP activity and osteoclast cell number were found between Sham and OVX mice deficient for APN. Further studies using bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) demonstrate an enhanced osteogenic differentiation and extracellular matrix calcification in APN KO mice. The possible mechanism for APN deletion induced acceleration of osteogenesis could involve increased proliferation of MSCs and higher expression of Runx2 and Osterix genes. These findings indicate that APN deficiency can protect against OVX-induced osteoporosis in mice, suggesting a potential role of APN in regulating the balance of bone formation and bone resorption, especially in the development of post-menopausal osteoporosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068497
PMCID: PMC3699501  PMID: 23844209
10.  Lie Group Analysis of the Photo-Induced Fluorescence of Drosophila Oogenesis with the Asymmetrically Localized Gurken Protein 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65143.
Lie group analysis of the photo-induced fluorescence of Drosophila oogenesis with the asymmetrically localized Gurken protein has been performed systematically to assess the roles of ligand-receptor complexes in follicle cells. The (2×2) matrix representations resulting from the polarized tissue spectra were employed to characterize the asymmetrical Gurken distributions. It was found that the fluorescence of the wild-type egg shows the Lie point symmetry X23 at early stages of oogenesis. However, due to the morphogen regulation by intracellular proteins and extracellular proteins, the fluorescence of the embryogenesis with asymmetrically localized Gurken expansions exhibits specific symmetry features: Lie point symmetry Z1 and Lie point symmetry X1. The novel approach developed herein was successfully used to validate that the invariant-theoretical characterizations are consonant with the observed asymmetric fluctuations during early embryological development.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065143
PMCID: PMC3686808  PMID: 23840317
11.  Amelioration of IFN-γ and TNF-α-Induced Intestinal Epithelial Barrier Dysfunction by Berberine via Suppression of MLCK-MLC Phosphorylation Signaling Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e61944.
Intestinal barrier dysfunction occurs in many intestinal diseases, in which proinflammatory cytokines play critical roles. However, researchers are still on the way to defining the underlying mechanisms and to evaluate therapeutic strategies for restoring intestinal barrier function. Berberine, a drug that has clinically been used to treat gastroenteritis and diarrhea for thousands of years, has been shown to protect barrier function in both endothelial and epithelial cells, but the mechanisms are completely unknown. In this study, we investigate the protective actions of berberine on barrier function and the underlying mechanisms in Caco-2 monolayers challenged with IFN-γ and TNF-α. Caco-2 monolayers were treated without or with simultaneous IFN-γ and TNF-α in the absence or presence of berberine. Both transepithelial electrical resistance (TER) and paracellular permeability were measured to evaluate barrier function. The expression and distribution of tight junction proteins ZO-1, occluding, and claudin-1 were respectively analyzed by immunoblot or immunofluorescence. The expressions of phosphorylated myosin light chain (pMLC), MLC kinase (MLCK) and hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) were determined by immunoblot. The translocation of NF-κB p65 to nuclei was analyzed by immunofluorescence and immunoblot, respectively. The results showed that berberine significantly attenuated TER decrease and paracellular permeability increase in Caco-2 monolayers treated with IFN-γ and TNF-α. Berberine also dramatically alleviated IFN-γ and TNF-α-induced morphological alteration of tight junction proteins ZO-1, occluding, and claudin-1. The increase of both MLC phosphorylation and MLCK protein expression induced by IFN-γ and TNF-α was significantly inhibited by berberine treatment. Additionally, berberine suppressed the activation of HIF-1α, but not NF-κB. Taken together, it is suggested that berberine attenuates IFN-γ and TNF-α-induced intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction by inhibiting the signaling pathway of MLCK-dependent MLC phosphorylation mediated by HIF-1α.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061944
PMCID: PMC3643960  PMID: 23671580
12.  BMP4 Is a Peripherally-Derived Factor for Motor Neurons and Attenuates Glutamate-Induced Excitotoxicity In Vitro 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58441.
Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), members of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) superfamily, have been shown to play important roles in the nervous system, including neuronal survival and synaptogenesis. However, the physiological functions of BMP signaling in the mammalian neuromuscular system are not well understood. In this study, we found that proteins of the type II bone morphogenetic receptors (BMPRII) were detected at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), and one of its ligands, BMP4, was expressed by Schwann cells and skeletal muscle fibers. In double-ligated nerves, BMP4 proteins accumulated at the proximal and distal portions of the axons, suggesting that Schwann cell- and muscle fiber-derived BMP4 proteins were anterogradely and retrogradely transported by motor neurons. Furthermore, BMP4 mRNA was down-regulated in nerves but up-regulated in skeletal muscles following nerve ligation. The motor neuron-muscle interactions were also demonstrated using differentiated C2C12 muscle cells and NG108-15 neurons in vitro. BMP4 mRNA and immunoreactivity were significantly up-regulated in differentiated C2C12 muscle cells when the motor neuron-derived factor, agrin, was present in the culture. Peripherally-derived BMP4, on the other hand, promotes embryonic motor neuron survival and protects NG108-15 neurons from glutamate-induced excitotoxicity. Together, these data suggest that BMP4 is a peripherally-derived factor that may regulate the survival of motor neurons.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058441
PMCID: PMC3589418  PMID: 23472198
13.  Litopenaeus vannamei Sterile-Alpha and Armadillo Motif Containing Protein (LvSARM) Is Involved in Regulation of Penaeidins and antilipopolysaccharide factors 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e52088.
The Toll-like receptor (TLR)-mediated NF-κB pathway is tightly controlled because overactivation may result in severe damage to the host, such as in the case of chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer. In mammals, sterile-alpha and armadillo motif-containing protein (SARM) plays an important role in negatively regulating this pathway. While Caenorhabditis elegans SARM is crucial for an efficient immune response against bacterial and fungal infections, it is still unknown whether Drosophila SARM participates in immune responses. Here, Litopenaeus vannamei SARM (LvSARM) was cloned and functionally characterized. LvSARM shared signature domains with and exhibited significant similarities to mammalian SARM. Real-time quantitative PCR analysis indicated that the expression of LvSARM was responsive to Vibrio alginolyticus and white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) infections in the hemocyte, gill, hepatopancreas and intestine. In Drosophila S2 cells, LvSARM was widely distributed in the cytoplasm and could significantly inhibit the promoters of the NF-κB pathway-controlled antimicrobial peptide genes (AMPs). Silencing of LvSARM using dsRNA-mediated RNA interference increased the expression levels of Penaeidins and antilipopolysaccharide factors, which are L.vannamei AMPs, and increased the mortality rate after V. alginolyticus infection. Taken together, our results reveal that LvSARM may be a novel component of the shrimp Toll pathway that negatively regulates shrimp AMPs, particularly Penaeidins and antilipopolysaccharide factors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052088
PMCID: PMC3566147  PMID: 23405063
14.  Fine Particle, Ozone Exposure, and Asthma/Wheezing: Effect Modification by Glutathione S-transferase P1 Polymorphisms 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e52715.
Background
There are limited studies on the role of interaction between exposure to ambient air pollution and glutathione-S-transferase (GST) P1 on the risk of asthma/wheezing among children, which provided suggestive, but inconclusive results.
Methods
To assess the joint effect of air pollutants and GSTP1 on asthma/wheezing, we conducted a nationwide cross-sectional study of 3,825 children in Taiwan Children Health Study. The studied determinants were three GSTP1 Ile105Val (rs 1695) genotypes (Ile-Ile; Ile-Val and Val-Val) and expoure to ambient air pollutants. We used routine air-pollution monitoring data for ozone (O3) and particles with an aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 µm or less (PM2.5). The effect estimates were presented as odds ratios (ORs) per interquartile changes for PM2.5 and O3.
Findings
In a two-stage hierarchical model adjusting for confounding, the risk of asthma was negatively associated with PM2.5 (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 0.60; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.45, 0.82) and O3 (OR 0.74; 95% CI 0.60, 0.90) among Ile105 homozygotes, but positively associated with PM2.5 (OR 1.52; 95% CI 1.01, 2.27) and O3 (OR 1.19; 95% CI 0.91, 1.57) among those with at least one val105 allele (interaction p value = 0.001 and 0.03, respectively). A similar tendency of effect modification between PM2.5 and O3 and GSTP1 on wheezing was found.
Conclusion
Children who carried Ile105 variant allele and exposed to PM2.5 and O3 may be less likely to occurrence of asthma/wheezing.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052715
PMCID: PMC3554722  PMID: 23357926
15.  Antitumor Activity of Antimicrobial Peptides Containing CisoDGRC in CD13 Negative Breast Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53491.
Backgroud
isoAsp-Gly-Arg (isoDGR) is a derivative of the Asn-Gly-Arg (NGR) motif, which is used as a targeted delivery tool to aminopeptidase N (CD13) positive cells. Recent studies have shown that cyclic isoDGR (CisoDGRC) has a more efficient affinity with αvβ3, a type of integrin that overexpresses in tumor cells. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are an efficient antitumor peptide that specifically kills tumor cells. In the present study, we designed antimicrobial peptides containing the CisoDGRC motif (CDAK) and assessed its antitumor activity for CD13−/αvβ3+ breast cancer cells (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231) in vitro and in vivo.
Methods
In vitro: We assessed the cytotoxicity of CDAK for MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, the human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC), and human foreskin fibroblasts (HFF). We performed an apoptosis assay using Annexin-V/PI, DNA ladder, mitochondrial membrane potential, and Caspase-3 and Bcl-2. The effect on cell cycles and affinity with cell were tested using flow cytometry and fluorescent microscopy and the effect on invasion was analyzed using an invasion assay. CDAK was injected intravenously into tumor-bearing athymic nude mice in vivo experiment.
Results
CDAK showed cytotoxic activity in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells, whereas HUVEC and HFF were less sensitive to the peptides. CDAK induced apoptosis, reduced mitochondrial membrane potential, promoted Caspase-3, and inhibited Bcl-2 expression in the two breast cancer cell lines. In addition, CDAK inhibited proliferation of cancer cell through S phase arrest, and own selective affinity with MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231cells, inhibited the invasion of MDA-MB-231 cells. In vivo, CDAK significant inhibited the progression of the tumor and the generation of neovascularization.
Conclusion
Antimicrobial peptides containing the CisoDGRC (CDAK) motif could efficiently exhibit the antitumor activity for CD13−/αvβ3+ breast cancer cells.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053491
PMCID: PMC3543424  PMID: 23326440
16.  The Association between Genetic Polymorphism and the Processing Efficiency of miR-149 Affects the Prognosis of Patients with Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51606.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles in modulating the neoplastic process of cancers including head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). A genetic polymorphism (rs2292832, C>T) has been recently identified in the precursor of miR-149; nevertheless its clinicopathological implications remain obscure. In this study, we showed that miR-149 is down-regulated in HNSCC compared to normal mucosa and this is associated with a poorer patient survival. In addition, HNSCC patients with the T/T genotype have more advanced tumors and a worse prognosis. Multivariate analysis indicated that patients carried the T/T genotype have a 2.81-fold (95% CI: 1.58–4.97) increased risk of nodal metastasis and 1.66-fold (95% CI: 1.05–2.60) increased risk of mortality compared to other groups. T/T genotype also predicted the worse prognosis of buccal mucosa carcinoma subset of HNSCC. In vitro analysis indicated that exogenous miR-149 expression reduces the migration of HNSCC cells. Moreover, HNSCC cell subclones carrying the pri-mir-149 sequence containing the T variant show a low processing efficacy when converting the pre-mir-149 to mature miR-149. These findings suggest that miR-149 suppresses tumor cell mobility, and that the pre-mir-149 polymorphism may affect the processing of miR-149, resulting in a change in the abundance of the mature form miRNA, which, in turn, modulates tumor progression and patient survival.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051606
PMCID: PMC3522737  PMID: 23272122
17.  Chronic Exposure to Nicotine Enhances Insulin Sensitivity through α7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor-STAT3 Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51217.
This study was to investigate the effect of nicotine on insulin sensitivity and explore the underlying mechanisms. Treatment of Sprague-Dawley rats with nicotine (3 mg/kg/day) for 6 weeks reduced 43% body weight gain and 65% blood insulin level, but had no effect on blood glucose level. Both insulin tolerance test and glucose tolerance test demonstrated that nicotine treatment enhanced insulin sensitivity. Pretreatment of rats with hexamethonium (20 mg/kg/day) to antagonize peripheral nicotinic receptors except for α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7-nAChR) had no effect on the insulin sensitizing effect of nicotine. However, the insulin sensitizing effect but not the bodyweight reducing effect of nicotine was abrogated in α7-nAChR knockout mice. Further, chronic treatment with PNU-282987 (0.53 mg/kg/day), a selective α7-nAChR agonist, significantly enhanced insulin sensitivity without apparently modifying bodyweight not only in normal mice but also in AMP-activated kinase-α2 knockout mice, an animal model of insulin resistance with no sign of inflammation. Moreover, PNU-282987 treatment enhanced phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) in skeletal muscle, adipose tissue and liver in normal mice. PNU-282987 treatment also increased glucose uptake by 25% in C2C12 myotubes and this effect was total abrogated by STAT3 inhibitor, S3I-201. All together, these findings demonstrated that nicotine enhanced insulin sensitivity in animals with or without insulin resistance, at least in part via stimulating α7-nAChR-STAT3 pathway independent of inflammation. Our results contribute not only to the understanding of the pharmacological effects of nicotine, but also to the identifying of new therapeutic targets against insulin resistance.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051217
PMCID: PMC3520975  PMID: 23251458
18.  Impact of Fetal and Infant Exposure to the Chinese Great Famine on the Risk of Hypertension in Adulthood 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49720.
Background
Famine provides quasi-experimental conditions for testing the hypothesis of “programming” health effects by poor nutrition in early life. It remains uncertain whether early life exposure to famine increases the risk of hypertension in adulthood. There is a lack of data on the relative impact of exposure to famine during fetal development versus infancy (<2 years postnatal). We sought to assess the impact of exposure to the 1959–1961 Chinese Great Famine (the largest in human history) during fetal development and infancy on the risks of hypertension, short stature and obesity in adulthood.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 12,065 adults (46–53 years of age) born 1957–1964 in the Zhongshan and Nanhai municipalities of Guangdong province, China. Adjusting for socio-demographic and lifestyle characteristics, as compared to subjects who were unexposed to famine, the risk of hypertension was not significantly elevated in subjects exposed to famine during fetal development only overall, but was 1.36-fold higher in those exposed during the first trimester of pregnancy only [adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.36 (95% confidence intervals 1.03–1.79)], 1.83-fold higher in those exposed during infancy only [adjusted OR 1.83 (1.61–2.08)], and 1.31-fold higher in those exposed during both fetal development and infancy [adjusted OR 1.31 (1.14–1.51)]. Exposure to famine during infancy increased the risk of short stature. Early life exposure to famine did not increase the risk of obesity.
Conclusions/Significance
Exposure to the Chinese Great Famine during the first trimester of pregnancy only, or during infancy only, or during both fetal development and infancy increased the risk of hypertension in adulthood, suggesting an important role of changes in exposure to famine during fetal development and from prenatal to early postnatal life in developmental “programming” cardiovascular disease risk.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049720
PMCID: PMC3504120  PMID: 23185416
19.  Identification and Function of Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88 (MyD88) in Litopenaeus vannamei 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47038.
Myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88) is a universal and essential signaling protein in Toll-like receptor/interleukin-1 receptor-induced activation of nuclear factor-kappa B. In this study, two MyD88 protein variants (LvMyD88 and LvMyD88-1) were identified in Litopenaeus vannamei. The LvMyD88 cDNA is 1,848 bp in length and contains an open reading frame (ORF) of 1,428 bp, whereas the LvMyD88-1 cDNA is 1,719 bp in length and has an ORF of 1,299 bp. Both variants encode proteins with death and Toll/interleukin-1 receptor domains and share 91% sequence identity. In healthy L. vannamei, the LvMyD88 genes were highly expressed in hemocytes but at a low level in the hepatopancreas. The LvMyD88s expression was induced in hemocytes after challenge with lipopolysaccharide, CpG-ODN2006, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Staphyloccocus aureus, and white spot syndrome virus, but not by poly I∶C. Overexpression of LvMyD88 and LvMyD88-1 in Drosophila Schneider 2 cells led to activation of antimicrobial peptide genes and wsv069 (ie1), wsv303, and wsv371. These results suggested that LvMyD88 may play a role in antibacterial and antiviral response in L. vannamei. To our knowledge, this is the first report on MyD88 in shrimp and a variant of MyD88 gene in invertebrates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047038
PMCID: PMC3470552  PMID: 23071706
20.  Gene Expression in Uninvolved Oral Mucosa of OSCC Patients Facilitates Identification of Markers Predictive of OSCC Outcomes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46575.
Oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC) are among the most common cancers worldwide, with approximately 60% 5-yr survival rate. To identify potential markers for disease progression, we used Affymetrix U133 plus 2.0 arrays to examine the gene expression profiles of 167 primary tumor samples from OSCC patients, 58 uninvolved oral mucosae from OSCC patients and 45 normal oral mucosae from patients without oral cancer, all enrolled at one of the three University of Washington-affiliated medical centers between 2003 to 2008. We found 2,596 probe sets differentially expressed between 167 tumor samples and 45 normal samples. Among 2,596 probe sets, 71 were significantly and consistently up- or down-regulated in the comparison between normal samples and uninvolved oral samples and between uninvolved oral samples and tumor samples. Cox regression analyses showed that 20 of the 71 probe sets were significantly associated with progression-free survival. The risk score for each patient was calculated from coefficients of a Cox model incorporating these 20 probe sets. The hazard ratio (HR) associated with each unit change in the risk score adjusting for age, gender, tumor stage, and high-risk HPV status was 2.7 (95% CI: 2.0–3.8, p = 8.8E-10). The risk scores in an independent dataset of 74 OSCC patients from the MD Anderson Cancer Center was also significantly associated with progression-free survival independent of age, gender, and tumor stage (HR 1.6, 95% CI: 1.1–2.2, p = 0.008). Gene Set Enrichment Analysis showed that the most prominent biological pathway represented by the 71 probe sets was the Integrin cell surface interactions pathway. In conclusion, we identified 71 probe sets in which dysregulation occurred in both uninvolved oral mucosal and cancer samples. Dysregulation of 20 of the 71 probe sets was associated with progression-free survival and was validated in an independent dataset.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046575
PMCID: PMC3460916  PMID: 23029552
21.  Salidroside Improves Behavioral and Histological Outcomes and Reduces Apoptosis via PI3K/Akt Signaling after Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45763.
Background
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) induces a complex sequence of apopototic cascades that contribute to secondary tissue damage. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of salidroside, a phenolic glycoside with potent anti-apoptotic properties, on behavioral and histological outcomes, brain edema, and apoptosis following experimental TBI and the possible involvement of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Mice subjected to controlled cortical impact injury received intraperitoneal salidroside (20, or 50 mg/kg) or vehicle injection 10 min after injury. Behavioral studies, histology analysis and brain water content assessment were performed. Levels of PI3K/Akt signaling-related molecules, apoptosis-related proteins, cytochrome C (CytoC), and Smac/DIABLO were also analyzed. LY294002, a PI3K inhibitor, was administered to examine the mechanism of protection. The protective effect of salidroside was also investigated in primary cultured neurons subjected to stretch injury. Treatment with 20 mg/kg salidroside_significantly improved functional recovery and reduced brain tissue damage up to post-injury day 28. Salidroside_also significantly reduced neuronal death, apoptosis, and brain edema at day 1. These changes were associated with significant decreases in cleaved caspase-3, CytoC, and Smac/DIABLO at days 1 and 3. Salidroside increased phosphorylation of Akt on Ser473 and the mitochondrial Bcl-2/Bax ratio at day 1, and enhanced phosphorylation of Akt on Thr308 at day 3. This beneficial effect was abolished by pre-injection of LY294002. Moreover, delayed administration of salidroside at 3 or 6 h post-injury reduced neuronal damage at day 1. Salidroside treatment also decreased neuronal vulnerability to stretch-induced injury in vitro.
Conclusions/Significance
Post-injury salidroside improved long-term behavioral and histological outcomes and reduced brain edema and apoptosis following TBI, at least partially via the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045763
PMCID: PMC3454376  PMID: 23029230
22.  HGF and Direct Mesenchymal Stem Cells Contact Synergize to Inhibit Hepatic Stellate Cells Activation through TLR4/NF-kB Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43408.
Aims
Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) can reduce liver fibrosis. Apart from the paracrine mechanism by which the antifibrotic effects of BMSCs inhibit activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), the effects of direct interplay and juxtacrine signaling between the two cell types are poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to explore the underlying mechanisms by which BMSCs modulate the function of activated HSCs.
Methods
We used BMSCs directly and indirectly co-culture system with HSCs to evaluate the anti-fibrosis effect of BMSCs. Cell proliferation and activation were examined in the presence of BMSCs and HGF. c-met was knockdown in HSCs to evaluate the effect of HGF secreted by BMSCs. The TLR4 and Myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88(MyD88) mRNA levels and the NF-kB pathway activation were determined by real-time PCR and western blotting analyses. The effect of BMSCs on HSCs activation was investigated in vitro in either MyD88 silencing or overexpression in HSCs. Liver fibrosis in rats fed CCl4 with and without BMSCs supplementation was compared. Histopathological examinations and serum biochemical tests were compared between the two groups.
Results
BMSCs remarkably inhibited the proliferation and activation of HSCs by interfering with LPS-TLR4 pathway through a cell–cell contact mode that was partially mediated by HGF secretion. The NF-kB pathway is involved in HSCs activation inhibition by BMSCs. MyD88 over expression reduced the BMSC inhibition of NF-kB luciferase activation. BMSCs protected liver fibrosis in vivo.
Conclusion
BMSCs modulate HSCs in vitro via TLR4/MyD88/NF-kB signaling pathway through cell–cell contact and secreting HGF. BMSCs have therapeutic effects on cirrhosis rats. Our results provide new insights into the treatment of hepatic fibrosis with BMSCs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043408
PMCID: PMC3426540  PMID: 22927965
23.  A Genome-Wide Homozygosity Association Study Identifies Runs of Homozygosity Associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Human Major Histocompatibility Complex 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34840.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder with a polygenic mode of inheritance. This study examined the hypothesis that runs of homozygosity (ROHs) play a recessive-acting role in the underlying RA genetic mechanism and identified RA-associated ROHs. Ours is the first genome-wide homozygosity association study for RA and characterized the ROH patterns associated with RA in the genomes of 2,000 RA patients and 3,000 normal controls of the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium. Genome scans consistently pinpointed two regions within the human major histocompatibility complex region containing RA-associated ROHs. The first region is from 32,451,664 bp to 32,846,093 bp (−log10(p)>22.6591). RA-susceptibility genes, such as HLA-DRB1, are contained in this region. The second region ranges from 32,933,485 bp to 33,585,118 bp (−log10(p)>8.3644) and contains other HLA-DPA1 and HLA-DPB1 genes. These two regions are physically close but are located in different blocks of linkage disequilibrium, and ∼40% of the RA patients' genomes carry these ROHs in the two regions. By analyzing homozygote intensities, an ROH that is anchored by the single nucleotide polymorphism rs2027852 and flanked by HLA-DRB6 and HLA-DRB1 was found associated with increased risk for RA. The presence of this risky ROH provides a 62% accuracy to predict RA disease status. An independent genomic dataset from 868 RA patients and 1,194 control subjects of the North American Rheumatoid Arthritis Consortium successfully validated the results obtained using the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium data. In conclusion, this genome-wide homozygosity association study provides an alternative to allelic association mapping for the identification of recessive variants responsible for RA. The identified RA-associated ROHs uncover recessive components and missing heritability associated with RA and other autoimmune diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034840
PMCID: PMC3335047  PMID: 22536334
24.  Myosin Light Chain Kinase Mediates Intestinal Barrier Disruption following Burn Injury 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34946.
Background
Severe burn injury results in the loss of intestinal barrier function, however, the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Myosin light chain (MLC) phosphorylation mediated by MLC kinase (MLCK) is critical to the pathophysiological regulation of intestinal barrier function. We hypothesized that the MLCK-dependent MLC phosphorylation mediates the regulation of intestinal barrier function following burn injury, and that MLCK inhibition attenuates the burn-induced intestinal barrier disfunction.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Male balb/c mice were assigned randomly to either sham burn (control) or 30% total body surface area (TBSA) full thickness burn without or with intraperitoneal injection of ML-9 (2 mg/kg), an MLCK inhibitor. In vivo intestinal permeability to fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-dextran was measured. Intestinal mucosa injury was assessed histologically. Tight junction proteins ZO-1, occludin and claudin-1 was analyzed by immunofluorescent assay. Expression of MLCK and phosphorylated MLC in ileal mucosa was assessed by Western blot. Intestinal permeability was increased significantly after burn injury, which was accompanied by mucosa injury, tight junction protein alterations, and increase of both MLCK and MLC phosphorylation. Treatment with ML-9 attenuated the burn-caused increase of intestinal permeability, mucosa injury, tight junction protein alterations, and decreased MLC phosphorylation, but not MLCK expression.
Conclusions/Significance
The MLCK-dependent MLC phosphorylation mediates intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction after severe burn injury. It is suggested that MLCK-dependent MLC phosphorylation may be a critical target for the therapeutic treatment of intestinal epithelial barrier disruption after severe burn injury.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034946
PMCID: PMC3329538  PMID: 22529961
25.  Lung Adenocarcinoma of Never Smokers and Smokers Harbor Differential Regions of Genetic Alteration and Exhibit Different Levels of Genomic Instability 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33003.
Recent evidence suggests that the observed clinical distinctions between lung tumors in smokers and never smokers (NS) extend beyond specific gene mutations, such as EGFR, EML4-ALK, and KRAS, some of which have been translated into targeted therapies. However, the molecular alterations identified thus far cannot explain all of the clinical and biological disparities observed in lung tumors of NS and smokers. To this end, we performed an unbiased genome-wide, comparative study to identify novel genomic aberrations that differ between smokers and NS.
High resolution whole genome DNA copy number profiling of 69 lung adenocarcinomas from smokers (n = 39) and NS (n = 30) revealed both global and regional disparities in the tumor genomes of these two groups. We found that NS lung tumors had a greater proportion of their genomes altered than those of smokers. Moreover, copy number gains on chromosomes 5q, 7p, and 16p occurred more frequently in NS. We validated our findings in two independently generated public datasets. Our findings provide a novel line of evidence distinguishing genetic differences between smoker and NS lung tumors, namely, that the extent of segmental genomic alterations is greater in NS tumors. Collectively, our findings provide evidence that these lung tumors are globally and genetically different, which implies they are likely driven by distinct molecular mechanisms.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033003
PMCID: PMC3296775  PMID: 22412972

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