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2.  A Sleeping Beauty DNA transposon-based genetic sensor for functional screening of vitamin D3 analogues 
BMC Biotechnology  2011;11:33.
Background
Analogues of vitamin D3 are extensively used in the treatment of various illnesses, such as osteoporosis, inflammatory skin diseases, and cancer. Functional testing of new vitamin D3 analogues and formulations for improved systemic and topical administration is supported by sensitive screening methods that allow a comparative evaluation of drug properties. As a new tool in functional screening of vitamin D3 analogues, we describe a genomically integratable sensor for sensitive drug detection. This system facilitates assessment of the pharmacokinetic and pharmadynamic properties of vitamin D3 analogues. The tri-cistronic genetic sensor encodes a drug-sensoring protein, a reporter protein expressed from an activated sensor-responsive promoter, and a resistance marker.
Results
The three expression cassettes, inserted in a head-to-tail orientation in a Sleeping Beauty DNA transposon vector, are efficiently inserted as a single genetic entity into the genome of cells of interest in a reaction catalyzed by the hyperactive SB100X transposase. The applicability of the sensor for screening purposes is demonstrated by the functional comparison of potent synthetic analogues of vitamin D3 designed for the treatment of psoriasis and cancer. In clones of human keratinocytes carrying from a single to numerous insertions of the vitamin D3 sensor, a sensitive sensor read-out is detected upon exposure to even low concentrations of vitamin D3 analogues. In comparative studies, the sensor unveils superior potency of new candidate drugs in comparison with analogues that are currently in clinical use.
Conclusions
Our findings demonstrate the use of the genetic sensor as a tool in first-line evaluation of new vitamin D3 analogues and pave the way for new types of drug delivery studies in sensor-transgenic animals.
doi:10.1186/1472-6750-11-33
PMCID: PMC3083354  PMID: 21473770
3.  Sequencing bias: comparison of different protocols of MicroRNA library construction 
BMC Biotechnology  2010;10:64.
Background
MicroRNAs(miRNAs) are 18-25 nt small RNAs playing critical roles in many biological processes. The majority of known miRNAs were discovered by conventional cloning and a Sanger sequencing approach. The next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies enable in-depth characterization of the global repertoire of miRNAs, and different protocols for miRNA library construction have been developed. However, the possible bias between the relative expression levels and sequences introduced by different protocols of library preparation have rarely been explored.
Results
We assessed three different miRNA library preparation protocols, SOLiD, Illumina versions 1 and 1.5, using cloning or SBS sequencing of total RNA samples extracted from skeletal muscles from Hu sheep and Dorper sheep, and then validated 9 miRNAs by qRT-PCR. Our results show that SBS sequencing data highly correlate with Illumina cloning data. The SOLiD data, when compared to Illumina's, indicate more dispersed distribution of length, higher frequency variation for nucleotides near the 3'- and 5'-ends, higher frequency occurrence for reads containing end secondary structure (ESS), and higher frequency for reads that do not map to known miRNAs. qRT-PCR results showed the best correlation with SOLiD cloning data. Fold difference of Hu sheep and Dorper sheep between qRT-PCR result and SBS sequencing data correlated well (r = 0.937), and fold difference of miR-1 and miR-206 among SOLiD cloning data, qRT-PCR and SBS sequencing data was similar.
Conclusions
The sequencing depth can influence the quantitative measurement of miRNA abundance, but the discrepancy caused by it was not statistically significant as high correlation was observed between Illumina cloning and SBS sequencing data. Bias of length distribution, sequence variation, and ESS was observed between data obtained with the different protocols. SOLiD cloning data differ from Illumina cloning data mainly because of distinct methods of adapter ligation. The good correlation between qRT-PCR result and SOLiD data might be due to the similarities of the hybridization-based methods. The fold difference analysis indicated that methods based on hybridization may be superior for quantitative measurement of miRNA abundance. Because of the genome sequence of the sheep is not available, our data may not explain how the entire miRNA bias in the natural miRNAs in sheep or other mammal miRNA expression, unbiased artificially synthesized miRNA will help on evaluating the methodology of miRNA library preparation.
doi:10.1186/1472-6750-10-64
PMCID: PMC2946280  PMID: 20815927

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