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Characterization of ST14A Cells for Studying Modulation of Voltage-Gated Calcium Channels

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 11:33am

In medium spiny neurons (MSNs) of the striatum, dopamine D2 receptors (D2Rs) specifically inhibit the Cav1.3 subtype of L-type Ca2+ channels (LTCs). MSNs are heterogeneous in their expression of dopamine receptors making the study of D2R pathways difficult in primary neurons. Here, we employed the ST14A cell line, derived from embryonic striatum and characterized to have properties of MSNs, to study Cav1.3 current and its modulation by neurotransmitters. Round, undifferentiated ST14A cells exhibited little to no endogenous Ca2+ current while differentiated ST14A cells expressed endogenous Ca2+ current. Transfection with LTC subunits produced functional Cav1.3 current from round cells, providing a homogeneous model system compared to native MSNs for studying D2R pathways. However, neither endogenous nor recombinant Cav1.3 current was modulated by the D2R agonist quinpirole. We confirmed D2R expression in ST14A cells and also detected D1Rs, D4Rs, D5Rs, Gq, calcineurin and phospholipase A2 using RT-PCR and/or Western blot analysis. Phospholipase C beta-1 (PLCbeta-1) expression was not detected by Western blot analysis which may account for the lack of LTC modulation by D2Rs. These findings raise caution about the assumption that the presence of G-protein coupled receptors in cell lines indicates the presence of complete signaling cascades. However, exogenous arachidonic acid inhibited recombinant Cav1.3 current indicating that channels expressed in ST14A cells are capable of modulation since they respond to a known signaling molecule downstream of D2Rs. Thus, ST14A cells provide a MSN-like cell line for studying channel modulation and signaling pathways that do not involve activation of PLCbeta-1.

Specific Inflammatory Stimuli Lead to Distinct Platelet Responses in Mice and Humans

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 11:33am

INTRODUCTION: Diverse and multi-factorial processes contribute to the progression of cardiovascular disease. These processes affect cells involved in the development of this disease in varying ways, ultimately leading to atherothrombosis. The goal of our study was to compare the differential effects of specific stimuli - two bacterial infections and a Western diet - on platelet responses in ApoE-/- mice, specifically examining inflammatory function and gene expression. Results from murine studies were verified using platelets from participants of the Framingham Heart Study (FHS; n = 1819 participants).

METHODS: Blood and spleen samples were collected at weeks 1 and 9 from ApoE-/- mice infected with Porphyromonas gingivalis or Chlamydia pneumoniae and from mice fed a Western diet for 9 weeks. Transcripts based on data from a Western diet in ApoE-/- mice were measured in platelet samples from FHS using high throughput qRT-PCR.

RESULTS:At week 1, both bacterial infections increased circulating platelet-neutrophil aggregates. At week 9, these cells individually localized to the spleen, while Western diet resulted in increased platelet-neutrophil aggregates in the spleen only. Microarray analysis of platelet RNA from infected or Western diet-fed mice at week 1 and 9 showed differential profiles. Genes, such as Serpina1a, Ttr, Fgg, Rpl21, and Alb, were uniquely affected by infection and diet. Results were reinforced in platelets obtained from participants of the FHS.

CONCLUSION: Using both human studies and animal models, results demonstrate that variable sources of inflammatory stimuli have the ability to influence the platelet phenotype in distinct ways, indicative of the diverse function of platelets in thrombosis, hemostasis, and immunity.

Glypican Is a Modulator of Netrin-Mediated Axon Guidance

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 11:33am

Netrin is a key axon guidance cue that orients axon growth during neural circuit formation. However, the mechanisms regulating netrin and its receptors in the extracellular milieu are largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that in Caenorhabditis elegans, LON-2/glypican, a heparan sulfate proteoglycan, modulates UNC-6/netrin signaling and may do this through interactions with the UNC-40/DCC receptor. We show that developing axons misorient in the absence of LON-2/glypican when the SLT-1/slit guidance pathway is compromised and that LON-2/glypican functions in both the attractive and repulsive UNC-6/netrin pathways. We find that the core LON-2/glypican protein, lacking its heparan sulfate chains, and secreted forms of LON-2/glypican are functional in axon guidance. We also find that LON-2/glypican functions from the epidermal substrate cells to guide axons, and we provide evidence that LON-2/glypican associates with UNC-40/DCC receptor-expressing cells. We propose that LON-2/glypican acts as a modulator of UNC-40/DCC-mediated guidance to fine-tune axonal responses to UNC-6/netrin signals during migration.

Progression of Large Lymphoma Is Significantly Impeded with a Combination of Gemcitabine Chemotherapy and Dendritic Cells Intra-Tumor Vaccination

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 11:33am

Relapsed, refractory lymphoma remains to be a challenge and lacks efficient treatment. Some tumor cells escape from treatment, become resistant to chemotherapeutic agents, and rapidly regenerate into large tumors. Lymphoma cells induce accumulation of Gr-1+CD11b+ myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in lymphatic organs and their vicinity. MDSCs enable tumor cells to escape from immune cells mediated surveillance and attack. Gemcitabine is a chemotherapeutic agent that eliminates both tumor cells and MDSCs, improving the immune environment favorable for subsequent treatment. We evaluated the effects of low dose gemcitabine combined with intra-tumorally delivered dendritic cells (DCs) for the treatment of A20 large-size lymphoma. We showed that MDSCs increased markedly in lymphoma-bearing mice, and that gemcitabine significantly increased the apoptosis of MDSCs. Treatment of lymphoma with either gemcitabine or intra-tumoral DCs alone could not inhibit tumor growth or rescue lymphoma-bearing mice. Treatment of lymphoma with small dose gemcitabine followed by intra-tumorally injected DCs significantly improved the efficacy of either individual treatment by reducing MDSCs, inducing onsite DCs maturation, eliminating tumor cells, inhibiting tumor growth and relapse, and extending the survival of the lymphoma-bearing mice, partly through the induction of the IFNgamma secreting cells and the activation of cytotoxic lymphocytes. We showed that NK cells and CD8+ T cells were the major effectors to mediate the inhibition of tumor growth. Thus, the observation that gemcitabine synergizes DCs mediated immunotherapy to improve the efficacy of large size lymphoma treatment provides an experimental basis for the combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy for the efficient treatment of relapsed or refractory lymphoma.

Lv4 Is a Capsid-Specific Antiviral Activity in Human Blood Cells That Restricts Viruses of the SIVMAC/SIVSM/HIV-2 Lineage Prior to Integration

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 11:33am

HIV-2 and SIVMAC are AIDS-causing, zoonotic lentiviruses that jumped to humans and rhesus macaques, respectively, from SIVSM-bearing sooty mangabey monkeys. Cross-species transmission events such as these sometimes necessitate virus adaptation to species-specific, host restriction factors such as TRIM5. Here, a new human restriction activity is described that blocks viruses of the SIVSM/SIVMAC/HIV-2 lineage. Human T, B, and myeloid cell lines, peripheral blood mononuclear cells and dendritic cells were 4 to > 100-fold less transducible by VSV G-pseudotyped SIVMAC, HIV-2, or SIVSM than by HIV-1. In contrast, transduction of six epithelial cell lines was equivalent to that by HIV-1. Substitution of HIV-1 CA with the SIVMAC or HIV-2 CA was sufficient to reduce HIV-1 transduction to the level of the respective vectors. Among such CA chimeras there was a general trend such that CAs from epidemic HIV-2 Group A and B isolates were the most infectious on human T cells, CA from a 1 degrees sooty mangabey isolate was the least infectious, and non-epidemic HIV-2 Group D, E, F, and G CAs were in the middle. The CA-specific decrease in infectivity was observed with either HIV-1, HIV-2, ecotropic MLV, or ALV Env pseudotypes, indicating that it was independent of the virus entry pathway. As2O3, a drug that suppresses TRIM5-mediated restriction, increased human blood cell transduction by SIVMAC but not by HIV-1. Nonetheless, elimination of TRIM5 restriction activity did not rescue SIVMAC transduction. Also, in contrast to TRIM5-mediated restriction, the SIVMAC CA-specific block occurred after completion of reverse transcription and the formation of 2-LTR circles, but before establishment of the provirus. Transduction efficiency in heterokaryons generated by fusing epithelial cells with T cells resembled that in the T cells, indicative of a dominant-acting SIVMAC restriction activity in the latter. These results suggest that the nucleus of human blood cells possesses a restriction factor specific for the CA of HIV-2/SIVMAC/SIVSM and that cross-species transmission of SIVSM to human T cells necessitated adaptation of HIV-2 to this putative restriction factor.

Virulence of Group A Streptococci Is Enhanced by Human Complement Inhibitors

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 11:33am

Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as Group A Streptococcus (GAS), is an important human bacterial pathogen that can cause invasive infections. Once it colonizes its exclusively human host, GAS needs to surmount numerous innate immune defense mechanisms, including opsonization by complement and consequent phagocytosis. Several strains of GAS bind to human-specific complement inhibitors, C4b-binding protein (C4BP) and/or Factor H (FH), to curtail complement C3 (a critical opsonin) deposition. This results in diminished activation of phagocytes and clearance of GAS that may lead to the host being unable to limit the infection. Herein we describe the course of GAS infection in three human complement inhibitor transgenic (tg) mouse models that examined each inhibitor (human C4BP or FH) alone, or the two inhibitors together (C4BPxFH or 'double' tg). GAS infection with strains that bound C4BP and FH resulted in enhanced mortality in each of the three transgenic mouse models compared to infection in wild type mice. In addition, GAS manifested increased virulence in C4BPxFH mice: higher organism burdens and greater elevations of pro-inflammatory cytokines and they died earlier than single transgenic or wt controls. The effects of hu-C4BP and hu-FH were specific for GAS strains that bound these inhibitors because strains that did not bind the inhibitors showed reduced virulence in the 'double' tg mice compared to strains that did bind; mortality was also similar in wild-type and C4BPxFH mice infected by non-binding GAS. Our findings emphasize the importance of binding of complement inhibitors to GAS that results in impaired opsonization and phagocytic killing, which translates to enhanced virulence in a humanized whole animal model. This novel hu-C4BPxFH tg model may prove invaluable in studies of GAS pathogenesis and for developing vaccines and therapeutics that rely on human complement activation for efficacy.

Evaluation of Cardiac Involvement in Children with Dengue by Serial Echocardiographic Studies

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 11:33am

BACKGROUND: Infection with dengue virus results in a wide range of clinical manifestations from dengue fever (DF), a self-limited febrile illness, to dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) which is characterized by plasma leakage and bleeding tendency. Although cardiac involvement has been reported in dengue, the incidence and the extent of cardiac involvement are not well defined.

METHODS AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We characterized the incidence and changes in cardiac function in a prospective in-patient cohort of suspected dengue cases by serial echocardiography. Plasma leakage was detected by serial chest and abdominal ultrasonography. Daily cardiac troponin-T levels were measured. One hundred and eighty one dengue cases were enrolled. On the day of enrollment, dengue cases that already developed plasma leakage had lower cardiac index (2695 (127) vs 3188 (75) (L/min/m2), p = .003) and higher left ventricular myocardial performance index (.413 (.021) vs .328 (.026), p = .021) and systemic vascular resistance (2478 (184) vs 1820 (133) (dynes.s/cm5), p = .005) compared to those without plasma leakage. Early diastolic wall motion of the left ventricle was decreased in dengue cases with plasma leakage compared to those without. Decreased left ventricular wall motility was more common in dengue patients compared to non-dengue cases particularly in cases with plasma leakage. Differences in cardiac function between DF and DHF were most pronounced around the time of plasma leakage. Cardiac dysfunction was transient and did not require treatment. Transient elevated troponin-T levels were more common in DHF cases compared to DF (14.5% vs 5%, p = 0.028).

CONCLUSIONS: Transient left ventricular systolic and diastolic dysfunction was common in children hospitalized with dengue and related to severity of plasma leakage. The functional abnormality spontaneously resolved without specific treatment. Cardiac structural changes including myocarditis were uncommon.

Municipal Officials' Participation in Built Environment Policy Development in the United States

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 2:59pm

Purpose: This study examined municipal officials' participation in built environment policy initiatives focused on land use design, transportation, and parks and recreation.

Design: Web-based cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Eighty-three municipalities with 50,000 or more residents in eight states.

Subjects: Four hundred fifty-three elected and appointed municipal officials.

Measures: Outcomes included self-reported participation in land use design, transportation, and parks and recreation policy to increase physical activity. Independent variables included respondent position; perceptions of importance, barriers, and beliefs regarding physical activity and community design and layout; and physical activity partnership participation.

Analysis: Multivariable logistic regression models.

Results: Compared to other positions, public health officials had lower participation in land use design (78.3% vs. 29.0%), transportation (78.1% vs. 42.1%), and parks and recreation (67.1% vs. 26.3%) policy. Perceived limited staff was negatively associated with participation in each policy initiative. Perceptions of the extent to which physical activity was considered in community design and physical activity partnership participation were positively associated with participation in each. Perceived lack of collaboration was associated with less land use design and transportation policy participation, and awareness that community design affects physical activity was associated with more participation. Perceived lack of political will was associated with less parks and recreation policy participation.

Conclusion Public health officials are underrepresented in built environment policy initiatives. Improving collaborations may improve municipal officials' policy participation.

Approaches and Considerations Towards a Safe and Effective Adeno-Associated Virus Mediated Therapeutic Intervention for GM1-Gangliosidosis: A Dissertation

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 12:03pm

GM1 gangliosidosis is a lysosomal storage disorder caused by a deficiency in the catabolizing enzyme β-galactosidase (βgal). This leads to accumulation of GM1-ganglioside (GM1) in the lysosome inducing ER stress and cell death. GM1 gangliosidosis is primarily a disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) with peripheral organ involvement. In this work we report two major findings, 1) systemic treatment of GM1 gangliosidosis with an adenoassociated virus (AAV9) encoding mouse-βgal (mβgal) in a GM1 gangliosidosis mouse model (βGal-/-), and 2) an investigation into an intracranial injection of a therapeutic AAVrh8 encoding mβgal. Systemic treatment of GM1 gangliosidosis with AAV9 resulted in a moderate expression of enzyme in the CNS, reduction of GM1 storage, significant retention of motor function and a significant increase in lifespan. Interestingly, the therapeutic effect was more robust in females. Intracranial injections of AAVrh8 vector expressing high levels of βgal resulted in enzyme spread throughout the brain, significant retention of motor function and a significant increase in lifespan. Histological alterations were also found at the injection site in both βGal-/- and normal animals. We constructed a series of vectors with a range of decreasing enzyme expression levels to investigate the cause for the unanticipated result. Microarrays were performed on the injection site and we showed that a lower expressing AAVrh8-mβgal vector mitigated the negative response. Intracranial injection of this newly developed vector was shown to clear lysosomal storage throughout the CNS of βGal-/- mice. Taken together, these studies indicate that a combined systemic and fine-tuned intracranial approach may be the most effective in clearing lysosomal storage completely in the CNS while providing therapeutic benefit to the periphery.

Angiomotins link F-actin architecture to Hippo pathway signaling

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 11:16am

The Hippo pathway regulates the transcriptional coactivator YAP to control cell proliferation, organ size, and stem cell maintenance. Multiple factors, such as substrate stiffness, cell density, and G protein-coupled receptor signaling, regulate YAP through their effects on the F-actin cytoskeleton, although the mechanism is not known. Here we show that angiomotin proteins (AMOT130, AMOTL1, and AMOTL2) connect F-actin architecture to YAP regulation. First, we show that angiomotins are required to relocalize YAP to the cytoplasm in response to various manipulations that perturb the actin cytoskeleton. Second, angiomotins associate with F-actin through a conserved F-actin-binding domain, and mutants defective for F-actin binding show enhanced ability to retain YAP in the cytoplasm. Third, F-actin and YAP compete for binding to AMOT130, explaining how F-actin inhibits AMOT130-mediated cytoplasmic retention of YAP. Furthermore, we find that LATS can synergize with F-actin perturbations by phosphorylating free AMOT130 to keep it from associating with F-actin. Together these results uncover a mechanism for how F-actin levels modulate YAP localization, allowing cells to make developmental and proliferative decisions based on diverse inputs that regulate actin architecture.

Rictor/mTORC2 loss in the Myf5 lineage reprograms brown fat metabolism and protects mice against obesity and metabolic disease

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 11:16am

The in vivo functions of mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 2 (mTORC2) and the signaling mechanisms that control brown adipose tissue (BAT) fuel utilization and activity are not well understood. Here, by conditionally deleting Rictor in the Myf5 lineage, we provide in vivo evidence that mTORC2 is dispensable for skeletal muscle development and regeneration but essential for BAT growth. Furthermore, deleting Rictor in Myf5 precursors shifts BAT metabolism to a more oxidative and less lipogenic state and protects mice from obesity and metabolic disease at thermoneutrality. We additionally find that Rictor is required for brown adipocyte differentiation in vitro and that the mechanism specifically requires AKT1 hydrophobic motif phosphorylation but is independent of pan-AKT signaling and is rescued with BMP7. Our findings provide insights into the signaling circuitry that regulates brown adipocytes and could have important implications for developing therapies aimed at increasing energy expenditure as a means to combat human obesity.

A co-CRISPR strategy for efficient genome editing in Caenorhabditis elegans

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 11:16am

Genome editing based on CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-associated nuclease (Cas9) has been successfully applied in dozens of diverse plant and animal species, including the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. The rapid life cycle and easy access to the ovary by micro-injection make C. elegans an ideal organism both for applying CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology and for optimizing genome-editing protocols. Here we report efficient and straightforward CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing methods for C. elegans, including a Co-CRISPR strategy that facilitates detection of genome-editing events. We describe methods for detecting homologous recombination (HR) events, including direct screening methods as well as new selection/counterselection strategies. Our findings reveal a surprisingly high frequency of HR-mediated gene conversion, making it possible to rapidly and precisely edit the C. elegans genome both with and without the use of co-inserted marker genes.

Switching neuronal state: optimal stimuli revealed using a stochastically-seeded gradient algorithm

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 11:16am

Inducing a switch in neuronal state using energy optimal stimuli is relevant to a variety of problems in neuroscience. Analytical techniques from optimal control theory can identify such stimuli; however, solutions to the optimization problem using indirect variational approaches can be elusive in models that describe neuronal behavior. Here we develop and apply a direct gradient-based optimization algorithm to find stimulus waveforms that elicit a change in neuronal state while minimizing energy usage. We analyze standard models of neuronal behavior, the Hodgkin-Huxley and FitzHugh-Nagumo models, to show that the gradient-based algorithm: (1) enables automated exploration of a wide solution space, using stochastically generated initial waveforms that converge to multiple locally optimal solutions; and (2) finds optimal stimulus waveforms that achieve a physiological outcome condition, without a priori knowledge of the optimal terminal condition of all state variables. Analysis of biological systems using stochastically-seeded gradient methods can reveal salient dynamical mechanisms underlying the optimal control of system behavior. The gradient algorithm may also have practical applications in future work, for example, finding energy optimal waveforms for therapeutic neural stimulation that minimizes power usage and diminishes off-target effects and damage to neighboring tissue.

Direct interactions promote eviction of the Sir3 heterochromatin protein by the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling enzyme

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 11:16am

Heterochromatin is a specialized chromatin structure that is central to eukaryotic transcriptional regulation and genome stability. Despite its globally repressive role, heterochromatin must also be dynamic, allowing for its repair and replication. In budding yeast, heterochromatin formation requires silent information regulators (Sirs) Sir2p, Sir3p, and Sir4p, and these Sir proteins create specialized chromatin structures at telomeres and silent mating-type loci. Previously, we found that the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling enzyme can catalyze the ATP-dependent eviction of Sir3p from recombinant nucleosomal arrays, and this activity enhances early steps of recombinational repair in vitro. Here, we show that the ATPase subunit of SWI/SNF, Swi2p/Snf2p, interacts with the heterochromatin structural protein Sir3p. Two interaction surfaces are defined, including an interaction between the ATPase domain of Swi2p and the nucleosome binding, Bromo-Adjacent-Homology domain of Sir3p. A SWI/SNF complex harboring a Swi2p subunit that lacks this Sir3p interaction surface is unable to evict Sir3p from nucleosomes, even though its ATPase and remodeling activities are intact. In addition, we find that the interaction between Swi2p and Sir3p is key for SWI/SNF to promote resistance to replication stress in vivo and for establishment of heterochromatin at telomeres.

An optimized kit-free method for making strand-specific deep sequencing libraries from RNA fragments

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 11:16am

Deep sequencing of strand-specific cDNA libraries is now a ubiquitous tool for identifying and quantifying RNAs in diverse sample types. The accuracy of conclusions drawn from these analyses depends on precise and quantitative conversion of the RNA sample into a DNA library suitable for sequencing. Here, we describe an optimized method of preparing strand-specific RNA deep sequencing libraries from small RNAs and variably sized RNA fragments obtained from ribonucleoprotein particle footprinting experiments or fragmentation of long RNAs. Our approach works across a wide range of input amounts (400 pg to 200 ng), is easy to follow and produces a library in 2-3 days at relatively low reagent cost, all while giving the user complete control over every step. Because all enzymatic reactions were optimized and driven to apparent completion, sequence diversity and species abundance in the input sample are well preserved.

An enhanced gene targeting toolkit for Drosophila: Golic+

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 11:16am

Ends-out gene targeting allows seamless replacement of endogenous genes with engineered DNA fragments by homologous recombination, thus creating designer "genes" in the endogenous locus. Conventional gene targeting in Drosophila involves targeting with the preintegrated donor DNA in the larval primordial germ cells. Here we report G: ene targeting during O: ogenesis with L: ethality I: nhibitor and C: RISPR/Cas (Golic+), which improves on all major steps in such transgene-based gene targeting systems. First, donor DNA is integrated into precharacterized attP sites for efficient flip-out. Second, FLP, I-SceI, and Cas9 are specifically expressed in cystoblasts, which arise continuously from female germline stem cells, thereby providing a continual source of independent targeting events in each offspring. Third, a repressor-based lethality selection is implemented to facilitate screening for correct targeting events. Altogether, Golic+ realizes high-efficiency ends-out gene targeting in ovarian cystoblasts, which can be readily scaled up to achieve high-throughput genome editing.

Viral infection of engrafted human islets leads to diabetes

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 11:16am

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is characterized by the destruction of the insulin-producing beta-cells of pancreatic islets. Genetic and environmental factors both contribute to T1D development. Viral infection with enteroviruses is a suspected trigger for T1D, but a causal role remains unproven and controversial. Studies in animals are problematic because of species-specific differences in host cell susceptibility and immune responses to candidate viral pathogens such as coxsackievirus B (CVB). In order to resolve the controversial role of viruses in human T1D, we developed a viral infection model in immunodeficient mice bearing human islet grafts. Hyperglycemia was induced in mice by specific ablation of native beta-cells. Human islets, which are naturally susceptible to CVB infection, were transplanted to restore normoglycemia. Transplanted mice were infected with CVB4 and monitored for hyperglycemia. Forty-seven percent of CVB4-infected mice developed hyperglycemia. Human islet grafts from infected mice contained viral RNA, expressed viral protein, and had reduced insulin levels compared with grafts from uninfected mice. Human-specific gene expression profiles in grafts from infected mice revealed the induction of multiple interferon-stimulated genes. Thus, human islets can become severely dysfunctional with diminished insulin production after CVB infection of beta-cells, resulting in diabetes. long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered.

High-resolution chromatin dynamics during a yeast stress response

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 11:16am

Covalent histone modifications are highly conserved and play multiple roles in eukaryotic transcription regulation. Here, we mapped 26 histone modifications genome-wide in exponentially growing yeast and during a dramatic transcriptional reprogramming-the response to diamide stress. We extend prior studies showing that steady-state histone modification patterns reflect genomic processes, especially transcription, and display limited combinatorial complexity. Interestingly, during the stress response we document a modest increase in the combinatorial complexity of histone modification space, resulting from roughly 3% of all nucleosomes transiently populating rare histone modification states. Most of these rare histone states result from differences in the kinetics of histone modification that transiently uncouple highly correlated marks, with slow histone methylation changes often lagging behind the more rapid acetylation changes. Explicit analysis of modification dynamics uncovers ordered sequences of events in gene activation and repression. Together, our results provide a comprehensive view of chromatin dynamics during a massive transcriptional upheaval.

The Lipid Droplet Protein Hypoxia-inducible Gene 2 Promotes Hepatic Triglyceride Deposition by Inhibiting Lipolysis

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 11:16am

The liver is a major site of glucose, fatty acid, and triglyceride (TG) synthesis and serves as a major regulator of whole body nutrient homeostasis. Chronic exposure of humans or rodents to high-calorie diets promotes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, characterized by neutral lipid accumulation in lipid droplets (LD) of hepatocytes. Here we show that the LD protein hypoxia-inducible gene 2 (Hig2/Hilpda) functions to enhance lipid accumulation in hepatocytes by attenuating TG hydrolysis. Hig2 expression increased in livers of mice on a high-fat diet and during fasting, two states associated with enhanced hepatic TG content. Hig2 expressed in primary mouse hepatocytes localized to LDs and promoted LD TG deposition in the presence of oleate. Conversely, tamoxifen-inducible Hig2 deletion reduced both TG content and LD size in primary hepatocytes from mice harboring floxed alleles of Hig2 and a cre/ERT2 transgene controlled by the ubiquitin C promoter. Hepatic TG was also decreased by liver-specific deletion of Hig2 in mice with floxed Hig2 expressing cre controlled by the albumin promoter. Importantly, we demonstrate that Hig2-deficient hepatocytes exhibit increased TG lipolysis, TG turnover, and fatty acid oxidation as compared with controls. Interestingly, mice with liver-specific Hig2 deletion also display improved glucose tolerance. Taken together, these data indicate that Hig2 plays a major role in promoting lipid sequestration within LDs in mouse hepatocytes through a mechanism that impairs TG degradation.

Access to care and use of the Internet to search for health information: results from the US National Health Interview Survey

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 11:16am

BACKGROUND: The insurance mandate of the Affordable Care Act has increased the number of people with health coverage in the United States. There is speculation that this increase in the number of insured could make accessing health care services more difficult. Those who are unable to access care in a timely manner may use the Internet to search for information needed to answer their health questions.

OBJECTIVE: The aim was to determine whether difficulty accessing health care services for reasons unrelated to insurance coverage is associated with increased use of the Internet to obtain health information.

METHODS: Survey data from 32,139 adults in the 2011 National Health Interview Study (NHIS) were used in this study. The exposure for this analysis was reporting difficulty accessing health care services or delaying getting care for a reason unrelated to insurance status. To define this exposure, we examined 8 questions that asked whether different access problems occurred during the previous 12 months. The outcome for this analysis, health information technology (HIT) use, was captured by examining 2 questions that asked survey respondents if they used an online health chat room or searched the Internet to obtain health information in the previous 12 months. Several multinomial logistic regressions estimating the odds of using HIT for each reported access difficulty were conducted to accomplish the study objective.

RESULTS: Of a survey population of 32,139 adults, more than 15.90% (n=5109) reported experiencing at least one access to care barrier, whereas 3.63% (1168/32,139) reported using online health chat rooms and 43.55% (13,997/32,139) reported searching the Internet for health information. Adults who reported difficulty accessing health care services for reasons unrelated to their health insurance coverage had greater odds of using the Internet to obtain health information. Those who reported delaying getting care because they could not get an appointment soon enough (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.9-2.5), were told the doctor would not accept them as a new patient or accept their insurance (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.7-2.5 and OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.7-2.5, respectively), or because the doctor's office was not open when they could go (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.9-2.7) had more than twice the odds of using the Internet to obtain health information compared to those who did not report such access difficulties.

CONCLUSIONS: People experiencing trouble accessing health care services for reasons unrelated to their insurance status are more likely to report using the Internet to obtain health information. Improving the accuracy and reliability of health information resources that are publicly available online could help those who are searching for information due to trouble accessing health care services.