We describe two unreported types of congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG) which are caused by mutations in different isoforms of the catalytic subunit of the oligosaccharyltransferase (OST). Each isoform is encoded by a different gene (STT3A or STT3B), resides in a different OST complex and has distinct donor and acceptor substrate specificities with partially overlapping functions in N-glycosylation. The two cases from unrelated consanguineous families both show neurologic abnormalities, hypotonia, intellectual disability, failure to thrive and feeding problems. A homozygous mutation (c.1877T > C) in STT3A causes a p.Val626Ala change and a homozygous intronic mutation (c.1539 + 20G > T) in STT3B causes the other disorder. Both mutations impair glycosylation of a GFP biomarker and are rescued with the corresponding cDNA. Glycosylation of STT3A- and STT3B-specific acceptors is decreased in fibroblasts carrying the corresponding mutated gene and expression of the STT3A (p.Val626Ala) allele in STT3A-deficient HeLa cells does not rescue glycosylation. No additional cases were found in our collection or in reviewing various databases. The STT3A mutation significantly impairs glycosylation of the biomarker transferrin, but the STT3B mutation only slightly affects its glycosylation. Additional cases of STT3B-CDG may be missed by transferrin analysis and will require exome or genome sequencing.
A 7-month-old girl was evaluated for V-shaped ridging of the fingernails consistent with chevron nails. Chevron nails are a normal variant in the pediatric population that is frequently outgrown. This case nicely demonstrates this normal finding that has so rarely been reported in the literature.
Hox genes encode transcription factors with important roles during embryogenesis and tissue differentiation. Genetic analyses initially demonstrated that interfering with Hox genes has profound effects on the specification of cell identity, suggesting that Hox proteins regulate very specific sets of target genes. However, subsequent biochemical analyses revealed that Hox proteins bind DNA with relatively low affinity and specificity. Furthermore, it became clear that a given Hox protein could activate or repress transcription, depending on the context. A resolution to these paradoxes presented itself with the discovery that Hox proteins do not function in isolation, but interact with other factors in complexes. The first such "cofactors" were members of the Extradenticle/Pbx and Homothorax/Meis/Prep families. However, the list of Hox-interacting proteins has continued to grow, suggesting that Hox complexes contain many more components than initially thought. Additionally, the activities of the various components and the exact mechanisms whereby they modulate the activity of the complex remain puzzling. Here, we review the various proteins known to participate in Hox complexes and discuss their likely functions. We also consider that Hox complexes of different compositions may have different activities and discuss mechanisms whereby Hox complexes may be switched between active and inactive states.
One, two, or three? Constructs of the brief pain inventory among patients with non-cancer pain in the outpatient setting
CONTEXT: Either a two-factor representation (pain intensity and interference) or a three-factor representation (pain intensity, activity interference, and affective interference) of the modified Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) is appropriate among cancer patients.
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the extent to which a three-factor representation (pain intensity, activity interference, and affective interference) is appropriate for BPI among patients with noncancer pain seen in an outpatient setting.
METHODS: We conducted a prospective, multicenter, observational, nonrandomized study using patient pain registry data from outpatient settings. Seven hundred forty-one patients with acute episodes of noncancer pain requiring treatment with a prescription medication containing oxycodone immediate-release on an as-needed basis for at least five days participated. Baseline measurements included the modified BPI pain intensity (right now, average, and worst in 24 hours) and pain interference with general activities, walking, work, mood, relations with others, sleep, and life enjoyment. Confirmatory factor analysis was conducted for the overall sample and among postoperative patients (n = 133), patients with back and neck pain (n = 202), patients with arthritis (n = 148), and patients with injury or trauma (n = 204).
RESULTS: Both the two-factor and three-factor models were statistically better than the one-factor model (P < 0.05), with the two-factor model performing better than the three-factor model. Configural invariance, but not metric invariance by patient cohort group was demonstrated.
CONCLUSION: Consistent with analyses among cancer patients, a two-factor representation of BPI is appropriate for noncancer patients seen in an ambulatory setting. This work lends additional support for the psychometric properties of BPI. All rights reserved.
A systematic review of cancer GWAS and candidate gene meta-analyses reveals limited overlap but similar effect sizes
Candidate gene and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) represent two complementary approaches to uncovering genetic contributions to common diseases. We systematically reviewed the contributions of these approaches to our knowledge of genetic associations with cancer risk by analyzing the data in the Cancer Genome-wide Association and Meta Analyses database (Cancer GAMAdb). The database catalogs studies published since January 1, 2000, by study and cancer type. In all, we found that meta-analyses and pooled analyses of candidate genes reported 349 statistically significant associations and GWAS reported 269, for a total of 577 unique associations. Only 41 (7.1%) associations were reported in both candidate gene meta-analyses and GWAS, usually with similar effect sizes. When considering only noteworthy associations (defined as those with false-positive report probabilities
Immunization against a saccharide epitope accelerates clearance of experimental gonococcal infection
The emergence of ceftriaxone-resistant strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae may herald an era of untreatable gonorrhea. Vaccines against this infection are urgently needed. The 2C7 epitope is a conserved oligosaccharide (OS) structure, a part of lipooligosaccharide (LOS) on N gonorrhoeae. The epitope is expressed by 94% of gonococci that reside in the human genital tract (in vivo) and by 95% of first passaged isolates. Absence of the 2C7 epitope shortens the time of gonococcal carriage in a mouse model of genital infection. To circumvent the limitations of saccharide immunogens in producing long lived immune responses, previously we developed a peptide mimic (called PEP1) as an immunologic surrogate of the 2C7-OS epitope and reconfigured it into a multi-antigenic peptide, (MAP1). To test vaccine efficacy of MAP1, female BALB/c mice were passively immunized with a complement-dependent bactericidal monoclonal antibody specific for the 2C7 epitope or were actively immunized with MAP1. Mice immunized with MAP1 developed a TH1-biased anti-LOS IgG antibody response that was also bactericidal. Length of carriage was shortened in immune mice; clearance occurred in 4 days in mice passively administered 2C7 antibody vs. 6 days in mice administered control IgG3lambda mAb in one experiment (p = 0.03) and 6 vs. 9 days in a replicate experiment (p = 0.008). Mice vaccinated with MAP1 cleared infection in 5 days vs. 9 days in mice immunized with control peptide (p = 0.0001 and p = 0.0002, respectively in two replicate experiments). Bacterial burden was lower over the course of infection in passively immunized vs. control mice in both experiments (p = 0.008 and p = 0.0005); burdens were also lower in MAP1 immunized mice vs. controls (p<0.0001) and were inversely related to vaccine antibodies induced in the vagina (p = 0.043). The OS epitope defined by mAb 2C7 may represent an effective vaccine target against gonorrhea, which is rapidly becoming incurable with currently available antibiotics.
Patterns of anti-osteoporosis medication use among women at high risk of fracture: findings from the Global Longitudinal Study of Osteoporosis in Women (GLOW)
OBJECTIVE: To assess patterns of anti-osteoporosis medication (AOM) use over 3 years among women at high risk of major fracture.
METHODS: The GLOW registry follows a cohort of more than 40,000 women aged > /= 55 from 615 primary care practices in 10 countries. Self-administered surveys (baseline, 12, 24, and 36 months) collected data on patient characteristics, perception of fracture risk, and AOM use. FRAX scores were calculated from the baseline surveys and women classified as high risk if their FRAX 10-year probability of major fracture was > /= 20%.
RESULTS: A total of 5774 women were classified as at high risk and had complete data over 3 years. At baseline, 2271 (39%) reported receiving AOM, 739 (13%) reported prior but not current use, and 2764 (48%) said they had never used AOM. Over 3 years, 85% of baseline non-users continued as non-users and 15% initiated AOM; among baseline users, 49% continued the same medication class, 29% stopped AOM, and 12% switched. Women who stopped AOM were less likely to self-report osteoporosis (HR 0.56, 95% CI 0.42-0.75) than women who continued AOM. Compared with non-users who did not begin treatment, women initiating AOM were more likely to report a diagnosis of osteoporosis (HR 11.3, 95% CI 8.2-15.5) or osteopenia (HR 4.1, 95% CI 2.9-5.7) and be very concerned about osteoporosis (HR 1.9, 95% CI 1.3-2.8).
CONCLUSIONS: Less than 40% of women at high risk of fracture reported taking AOM. Women who stopped AOM were less likely to believe they have osteoporosis. Women who initiated treatment appeared motivated primarily by a diagnosis of osteoporosis or osteopenia and concern about the condition.
Structure based identification and characterization of flavonoids that disrupt human papillomavirus-16 E6 function
Expression and function of the human papillomavirus (HPV) early protein 6 (E6) is necessary for viral replication and oncogenesis in cervical cancers. HPV E6 targets the tumor suppressor protein p53 for degradation. To achieve this, "high-risk" HPV E6 proteins bind to and modify the target specificity of the ubiquitin ligase E6AP (E6 associated protein). This E6-dependent loss of p53 enables the virus to bypass host cell defenses and facilitates virally induced activation of the cell cycle progression during viral replication. Disruption of the interaction between E6 and E6AP and stabilization of p53 should decrease viability and proliferation of HPV positive cells. A new in vitro high-throughput binding assay was developed to assay binding between HPV-16 E6 and E6AP and to identify compounds that inhibit this interaction. The compound luteolin emerged from the screen and a library of novel flavones based on its structure was synthesized and characterized using this in vitro binding assay. The compounds identified in this study disrupt the E6/E6AP interaction, increase the levels of p53 and p21(Cip1/Waf1), and decrease proliferation of HPV positive cell lines. The new class of flavonoid E6 inhibitors displays a high degree of specificity for HPV positive cells. Docking analyses suggest that these compounds bind in a hydrophobic pocket at the interface between E6 and E6AP and mimic the leucines in the conserved alpha-helical motif of E6AP. The activity and specificity of these compounds represent a promising new lead for development as an antiviral therapy in the treatment of HPV infection and cervical cancer.
The neighborhood energy balance equation: does neighborhood food retail environment + physical activity environment = obesity? The CARDIA study
BACKGROUND: Recent obesity prevention initiatives focus on healthy neighborhood design, but most research examines neighborhood food retail and physical activity (PA) environments in isolation. We estimated joint, interactive, and cumulative impacts of neighborhood food retail and PA environment characteristics on body mass index (BMI) throughout early adulthood.
METHODS AND FINDINGS: We used cohort data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study [n=4,092; Year 7 (24-42 years, 1992-1993) followed over 5 exams through Year 25 (2010-2011); 12,921 person-exam observations], with linked time-varying geographic information system-derived neighborhood environment measures. Using regression with fixed effects for individuals, we modeled time-lagged BMI as a function of food and PA resource density (counts per population) and neighborhood development intensity (a composite density score). We controlled for neighborhood poverty, individual-level sociodemographics, and BMI in the prior exam; and included significant interactions between neighborhood measures and by sex. Using model coefficients, we simulated BMI reductions in response to single and combined neighborhood improvements. Simulated increase in supermarket density (from 25(th) to 75(th) percentile) predicted inter-exam reduction in BMI of 0.09 kg/m(2) [estimate (95% CI): -0.09 (-0.16, -0.02)]. Increasing commercial PA facility density predicted BMI reductions up to 0.22 kg/m(2) in men, with variation across other neighborhood features [estimate (95% CI) range: -0.14 (-0.29, 0.01) to -0.22 (-0.37, -0.08)]. Simultaneous increases in supermarket and commercial PA facility density predicted inter-exam BMI reductions up to 0.31 kg/m(2) in men [estimate (95% CI) range: -0.23 (-0.39, -0.06) to -0.31 (-0.47, -0.15)] but not women. Reduced fast food restaurant and convenience store density and increased public PA facility density and neighborhood development intensity did not predict reductions in BMI.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that improvements in neighborhood food retail or PA environments may accumulate to reduce BMI, but some neighborhood changes may be less beneficial to women.
Duration of untreated psychosis is associated with temporal and occipitotemporal gray matter volume decrease in treatment naive schizophrenia
BACKGROUND: Long duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) is associated with poor treatment outcome. Whether or not DUP is related to brain gray matter volume abnormalities in antipsychotic medication treatment naive schizophrenia remains unclear at this time.
METHODS: Patients with treatment-naive schizophrenia and healthy controls went through brain scan using high resolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging. DUP was evaluated using the Nottingham Onset Schedule (NOS), and dichotomized as short DUP ( 26 weeks). Voxel-based methods were used for volumetric measure in the brain.
RESULTS: Fifty-seven patients (27 short DUP and 30 long DUP) and 30 healthy controls were included in the analysis. There were significant gray matter volumetric differences among the 3 groups in bilateral parahippocampus gyri, right superior temporal gyrus, left fusiform gyrus, left middle temporal gyrus, and right superior frontal gyrus (p's < 0.01). Compared with healthy controls, the long DUP group had significantly smaller volume in all these regions (p's < 0.05). Compared with the short-DUP group, the long-DUP group had significantly smaller volume in right superior temporal gyrus, left fusiform gyrus, and left middle temporal gyrus (p's < 0.01).
CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that DUP is associated with temporal and occipitotemporal gray matter volume decrease in treatment naive schizophrenia. The brain structural changes in untreated psychosis might contribute to poor treatment response and long-term prognosis in this patient population.
Coccidioidomycosis is a potentially life-threatening respiratory mycosis endemic to the Americas and caused by inhalation of spores produced by the molds Coccidioides immitis and C. posadasii.
Transcriptional analysis of murine macrophages infected with different Toxoplasma strains identifies novel regulation of host signaling pathways
Most isolates of Toxoplasma from Europe and North America fall into one of three genetically distinct clonal lineages, the type I, II and III lineages. However, in South America these strains are rarely isolated and instead a great variety of other strains are found. T. gondii strains differ widely in a number of phenotypes in mice, such as virulence, persistence, oral infectivity, migratory capacity, induction of cytokine expression and modulation of host gene expression. The outcome of toxoplasmosis in patients is also variable and we hypothesize that, besides host and environmental factors, the genotype of the parasite strain plays a major role. The molecular basis for these differences in pathogenesis, especially in strains other than the clonal lineages, remains largely unexplored. Macrophages play an essential role in the early immune response against T. gondii and are also the cell type preferentially infected in vivo. To determine if non-canonical Toxoplasma strains have unique interactions with the host cell, we infected murine macrophages with 29 different Toxoplasma strains, representing global diversity, and used RNA-sequencing to determine host and parasite transcriptomes. We identified large differences between strains in the expression level of known parasite effectors and large chromosomal structural variation in some strains. We also identified novel strain-specifically regulated host pathways, including the regulation of the type I interferon response by some atypical strains. IFNbeta production by infected cells was associated with parasite killing, independent of interferon gamma activation, and dependent on endosomal Toll-like receptors in macrophages and the cytoplasmic receptor retinoic acid-inducible gene 1 (RIG-I) in fibroblasts.
Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are activated during infection, but how they limit microbial growth is unknown in most cases. We investigated how iNKT cells suppress intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) replication. When co-cultured with infected macrophages, iNKT cell activation, as measured by CD25 upregulation and IFNgamma production, was primarily driven by IL-12 and IL-18. In contrast, iNKT cell control of Mtb growth was CD1d-dependent, and did not require IL-12, IL-18, or IFNgamma. This demonstrated that conventional activation markers did not correlate with iNKT cell effector function during Mtb infection. iNKT cell control of Mtb replication was also independent of TNF and cell-mediated cytotoxicity. By dissociating cytokine-driven activation and CD1d-restricted effector function, we uncovered a novel mediator of iNKT cell antimicrobial activity: GM-CSF. iNKT cells produced GM-CSF in vitro and in vivo in a CD1d-dependent manner during Mtb infection, and GM-CSF was both necessary and sufficient to control Mtb growth. Here, we have identified GM-CSF production as a novel iNKT cell antimicrobial effector function and uncovered a potential role for GM-CSF in T cell immunity against Mtb.
Virulent and avirulent strains of Toxoplasma gondii which differ in their glycosylphosphatidylinositol content induce similar biological functions in macrophages
Glycosylphosphatidylinositols (GPIs) from several protozoan parasites are thought to elicit a detrimental stimulation of the host innate immune system aside their main function to anchor surface proteins. Here we analyzed the GPI biosynthesis of an avirulent Toxoplasma gondii type 2 strain (PTG) by metabolic radioactive labeling. We determined the biological function of individual GPI species in the PTG strain in comparison with previously characterized GPI-anchors of a virulent strain (RH). The GPI intermediates of both strains were structurally similar, however the abundance of two of six GPI intermediates was significantly reduced in the PTG strain. The side-by-side comparison of GPI-anchor content revealed that the PTG strain had only approximately 34% of the protein-free GPIs as well as approximately 70% of the GPI-anchored proteins with significantly lower rates of protein N-glycosylation compared to the RH strain. All mature GPIs from both strains induced comparable secretion levels of TNF-alpha and IL-12p40, and initiated TLR4/MyD88-dependent NF-kappaBp65 activation in macrophages. Taken together, these results demonstrate that PTG and RH strains differ in their GPI biosynthesis and possess significantly different GPI-anchor content, while individual GPI species of both strains induce similar biological functions in macrophages.
The islet estrogen receptor-alpha is induced by hyperglycemia and protects against oxidative stress-induced insulin-deficient diabetes
The female steroid, 17beta-estradiol (E2), is important for pancreatic beta-cell function and acts via at least three estrogen receptors (ER), ERalpha, ERbeta, and the G-protein coupled ER (GPER). Using a pancreas-specific ERalpha knockout mouse generated using the Cre-lox-P system and a Pdx1-Cre transgenic line (PERalphaKO (-)/(-)), we previously reported that islet ERalpha suppresses islet glucolipotoxicity and prevents beta-cell dysfunction induced by high fat feeding. We also showed that E2 acts via ERalpha to prevent beta-cell apoptosis in vivo. However, the contribution of the islet ERalpha to beta-cell survival in vivo, without the contribution of ERalpha in other tissues is still unclear. Using the PERalphaKO (-)/(-) mouse, we show that ERalpha mRNA expression is only decreased by 20% in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus, without a parallel decrease in the VMH, making it a reliable model of pancreas-specific ERalpha elimination. Following exposure to alloxan-induced oxidative stress in vivo, female and male PERalphaKO (-)/(-) mice exhibited a predisposition to beta-cell destruction and insulin deficient diabetes. In male PERalphaKO (-)/(-) mice, exposure to E2 partially prevented alloxan-induced beta-cell destruction and diabetes. ERalpha mRNA expression was induced by hyperglycemia in vivo in islets from young mice as well as in cultured rat islets. The induction of ERalpha mRNA by hyperglycemia was retained in insulin receptor-deficient beta-cells, demonstrating independence from direct insulin regulation. These findings suggest that induction of ERalpha expression acts to naturally protect beta-cells against oxidative injury.
Sensory neuron development in mouse coccygeal vertebrae and its relationship to tail biopsies for genotyping
A common method of genotyping mice is via tissue obtained from tail biopsies. However, there is no available information on the temporal development of sensory neurons in the tail and how their presence or absence might affect the age for performing tail biopsies. The goals of this study were to determine if afferent sensory neurons, and in particular nociceptive neurons, are present in the coccygeal vertebrae at or near the time of birth and if not, when they first can be visualized on or in those vertebrae. Using toluidine blue neuronal staining, transmission electron microscopy, and calcitonin-related gene peptide immunostaining, we found proximal to distal maturation of coccygeal nerve growth in the C57BL/6J mouse. Single nerve bundles were first seen on postpartum day (PPD) 0. On PPD 3 presumptive nociceptive sensory nerve fibers were seen entering the vertebral perichondrium. Neural development continued through the last time point (PPD 7) but at no time were neural fibers seen entering the body of the vertebrae. The effect of age on the development of pain perception in the neonatal mouse is discussed.
Low adiposity during early infancy is associated with a low risk for developing dengue hemorrhagic fever: a preliminary model
Dengue virus (DENV) infections range from asymptomatic or mild illness to a severe and potentially life threatening disease, dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF). DHF occurs in primary DENV infections during early infancy. A prospective clinical study of DENV infections during infancy was conducted in San Pablo, Philippines. We found that infants who developed DHF with a primary DENV infection had higher WHO weight-for-age z scores before and at the time of infection compared to infants with primary DENV infections who did not develop DHF. In addition, TLR 7/8-stimulated tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) production from myeloid-derived cells was higher among well-nourished infants. Leptin augmented TLR 7/8-mediated TNF-alpha production in monocytes and decreased intracellular cAMP levels. Circulating leptin levels were elevated during early infancy and correlated with WHO weight-for-age z scores. Our data support a plausible hypothesis as to why well-nourished infants are at risk for developing DHF with their first DENV infection.
Blockade of the programmed death-1 (PD1) pathway undermines potent genetic protection from type 1 diabetes
AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Inhibition of PD1-PDL1 signaling in NOD mice accelerates onset of type 1 diabetes implicating this pathway in suppressing the emergence of pancreatic beta cell reactive T-cells. However, the molecular mechanism by which PD1 signaling protects from type 1 diabetes is not clear. We hypothesized that differential susceptibility of Idd mouse strains to type 1 diabetes when challenged with anti PDL1 will identify genomic loci that collaborate with PD1 signaling in suppressing type 1 diabetes.
METHODS: Anti PDL1 was administered to NOD and various Idd mouse strains at 10 weeks of age and onset of disease was monitored by measuring blood glucose levels. Additionally, histological evaluation of the pancreas was performed to determine degree of insulitis. Statistical analysis of the data was performed using Log-Rank and Student's t-test.
RESULTS: Blockade of PDL1 rapidly precipitated type 1 diabetes in nearly all NOD Idd congenic strains tested, despite the fact that all are moderately (Idd5, Idd3 and Idd10/18) or highly (Idd3/10/18 and Idd9) protected from spontaneous type 1 diabetes by virtue of their protective Idd genes. Only the Idd3/5 strain, which is nearly 100% protected from spontaneous disease, remained normoglycemic following PDL1 blockade.
CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that multiple Idd loci collaborate with PD1 signaling. Anti PDL1 treatment undermines a large portion of the genetic protection mediated by Idd genes in the NOD model of type 1 diabetes. Basal insulitis correlated with higher susceptibility to type 1 diabetes. These findings have important implications since the PD1 pathway is a target for immunotherapy.
Knowledge and awareness of HPV vaccine and acceptability to vaccinate in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review
OBJECTIVES: We assessed the knowledge and awareness of cervical cancer, HPV and HPV vaccine, and willingness and acceptability to vaccinate in sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. We further identified countries that fulfill the two GAVI Alliance eligibility criteria to support nationwide HPV vaccination.
METHODS: We conducted a systematic review of peer-reviewed studies on the knowledge and awareness of cervical cancer, HPV and HPV vaccine, and willingness and acceptability to vaccinate. Trends in Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine coverage in SSA countries from 1990-2011 were extracted from the World Health Organization database.
FINDINGS: The review revealed high levels of willingness and acceptability of HPV vaccine but low levels of knowledge and awareness of cervical cancer, HPV or HPV vaccine. We identified only six countries to have met the two GAVI Alliance requirements for supporting introduction of HPV vaccine: 1) the ability to deliver multi-dose vaccines for no less than 50% of the target vaccination cohort in an average size district, and 2) achieving over 70% coverage of DTP3 vaccine nationally. From 2008 through 2011 all SSA countries, with the exception of Mauritania and Nigeria, have reached or maintained DTP3 coverage at 70% or above.
CONCLUSION: There is an urgent need for more education to inform the public about HPV, HPV vaccine, and cervical cancer, particularly to key demographics, (adolescents, parents and healthcare professionals), to leverage high levels of willingness and acceptability of HPV vaccine towards successful implementation of HPV vaccination programs. There is unpreparedness in most SSA countries to roll out national HPV vaccination as per the GAVI Alliance eligibility criteria for supporting introduction of the vaccine. In countries that have met 70% DTP3 coverage, pilot programs need to be rolled out to identify the best practice and strategies for delivering HPV vaccines to adolescents and also to qualify for GAVI Alliance support.
Hundreds of millions of figures are available in biomedical literature, representing important biomedical experimental evidence. This ever-increasing sheer volume has made it difficult for scientists to effectively and accurately access figures of their interest, the process of which is crucial for validating research facts and for formulating or testing novel research hypotheses. Current figure search applications can't fully meet this challenge as the "bag of figures" assumption doesn't take into account the relationship among figures. In our previous study, hundreds of biomedical researchers have annotated articles in which they serve as corresponding authors. They ranked each figure in their paper based on a figure's importance at their discretion, referred to as "figure ranking". Using this collection of annotated data, we investigated computational approaches to automatically rank figures. We exploited and extended the state-of-the-art listwise learning-to-rank algorithms and developed a new supervised-learning model BioFigRank. The cross-validation results show that BioFigRank yielded the best performance compared with other state-of-the-art computational models, and the greedy feature selection can further boost the ranking performance significantly. Furthermore, we carry out the evaluation by comparing BioFigRank with three-level competitive domain-specific human experts: (1) First Author, (2) Non-Author-In-Domain-Expert who is not the author nor co-author of an article but who works in the same field of the corresponding author of the article, and (3) Non-Author-Out-Domain-Expert who is not the author nor co-author of an article and who may or may not work in the same field of the corresponding author of an article. Our results show that BioFigRank outperforms Non-Author-Out-Domain-Expert and performs as well as Non-Author-In-Domain-Expert. Although BioFigRank underperforms First Author, since most biomedical researchers are either in- or out-domain-experts for an article, we conclude that BioFigRank represents an artificial intelligence system that offers expert-level intelligence to help biomedical researchers to navigate increasingly proliferated big data efficiently.