Abstract: The High-performance Integrated Virtual Environment (HIVE) is a high-throughput cloud-based infrastructure developed for the storage and analysis of genomic and associated biological data. HIVE consists of a web-accessible interface for authorized users to deposit, retrieve, share, annotate, compute and visualize Next-generation Sequencing (NGS) data in a scalable and highly efficient fashion. The platform contains a distributed storage library and a distributed computational powerhouse linked seamlessly. Resources available through the interface include algorithms, tools and applications developed exclusively for the HIVE platform, as well as commonly used external tools adapted to operate within the parallel architecture of the system. HIVE is composed of a flexible infrastructure, which allows for simple implementation of new algorithms and tools. Currently, available HIVE tools include sequence alignment and nucleotide variation profiling tools, metagenomic analyzers, phylogenetic tree-building tools using NGS data, clone discovery algorithms, and recombination analysis algorithms. In addition to tools, HIVE also provides knowledgebases that can be used in conjunction with the tools for NGS sequence and metadata analysis.
Abstract: Overweight and obesity are major problems in today’s society, driving the prevalence of diabetes and its related complications. It is important to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the chronic complications in diabetes in order to develop better therapeutic approaches for these conditions. Some of the most important complications include macrovascular abnormalities, e.g., heart disease and atherosclerosis, and microvascular abnormalities, e.g., retinopathy, nephropathy and neuropathy, in particular diabetic foot ulceration. The highly conserved endogenous small non-coding RNA molecules, the micro RNAs (miRNAs) have in recent years been found to be involved in a number of biological processes, including the pathogenesis of disease. Their main function is to regulate post-transcriptional gene expression by binding to their target messenger RNAs (mRNAs), leading to mRNA degradation, suppression of translation or even gene activation. These molecules are promising therapeutic targets and demonstrate great potential as diagnostic biomarkers for disease. This review aims to describe the most recent findings regarding the important roles of miRNAs in diabetes and its complications, with special attention given to the different phases of diabetic wound healing.
Abstract: Infectious diseases are responsible for over 25% of deaths globally, but many more individuals are exposed to deadly pathogens. The outcome of infection results from a set of diverse factors including pathogen virulence factors, the environment, and the genetic make-up of the host. The completion of the human reference genome sequence in 2004 along with technological advances have tremendously accelerated and renovated the tools to study the genetic etiology of infectious diseases in humans and its best characterized mammalian model, the mouse. Advancements in mouse genomic resources have accelerated genome-wide functional approaches, such as gene-driven and phenotype-driven mutagenesis, bringing to the fore the use of mouse models that reproduce accurately many aspects of the pathogenesis of human infectious diseases. Treatment with the mutagen N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU) has become the most popular phenotype-driven approach. Our team and others have employed mouse ENU mutagenesis to identify host genes that directly impact susceptibility to pathogens of global significance. In this review, we first describe the strategies and tools used in mouse genetics to understand immunity to infection with special emphasis on chemical mutagenesis of the mouse germ-line together with current strategies to efficiently identify functional mutations using next generation sequencing. Then, we highlight illustrative examples of genes, proteins, and cellular signatures that have been revealed by ENU screens and have been shown to be involved in susceptibility or resistance to infectious diseases caused by parasites, bacteria, and viruses.
Abstract: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short, single-stranded, non-coding RNA molecules that act as post-transcriptional gene regulators. They can inhibit target protein-coding genes, through repressing messenger RNA (mRNA) translation or promoting their degradation. miRNAs were initially found to be originated from nuclear genome and exported to cytosol; where they exerted most of their actions. More recently, miRNAs were found to be present specifically in mitochondria; even originated there from mitochondrial DNA, regulating in a direct manner genes coding for mitochondrial proteins, and consequently mitochondrial function. Since miRNAs are recognized as major players in several biological processes, they are being considered as a key to better understand, explain, and probably prevent/cure not only the pathogenesis of multifactorial diseases but also mitochondrial dysfunction and associated diseases. Here we review some of the molecular mechanisms purported for miRNA actions in several biological processes, particularly the miRNAs acting in mitochondria or in mitochondria-related mechanisms.
Abstract: Biomarkers are naturally-occurring characteristics by which a particular pathological process or disease can be identified or monitored. They can reflect past environmental exposures, predict disease onset or course, or determine a patient’s response to therapy. Epigenetic changes are such characteristics, with most epigenetic biomarkers discovered to date based on the epigenetic mark of DNA methylation. Many tissue types are suitable for the discovery of DNA methylation biomarkers including cell-based samples such as blood and tumor material and cell-free DNA samples such as plasma. DNA methylation biomarkers with diagnostic, prognostic and predictive power are already in clinical trials or in a clinical setting for cancer. Outside cancer, strong evidence that complex disease originates in early life is opening up exciting new avenues for the detection of DNA methylation biomarkers for adverse early life environment and for estimation of future disease risk. However, there are a number of limitations to overcome before such biomarkers reach the clinic. Nevertheless, DNA methylation biomarkers have great potential to contribute to personalized medicine throughout life. We review the current state of play for DNA methylation biomarkers, discuss the barriers that must be crossed on the way to implementation in a clinical setting, and predict their future use for human disease.
Abstract: Branching epithelial morphogenesis is closely linked to epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a process important in normal development and cancer progression. The miR-200 family regulates epithelial morphogenesis and EMT through a negative feedback loop with the ZEB1 and ZEB2 transcription factors. miR-200 inhibits expression of ZEB1/2 mRNA, which in turn can down-regulate the miR-200 family that further results in down-regulation of E-cadherin and induction of a mesenchymal phenotype. Recent studies show that the expression of miR-200 genes is high during late pregnancy and lactation, thereby indicating that these miRs are important for breast epithelial morphogenesis and differentiation. miR-200 genes have been studied intensively in relation to breast cancer progression and metastasis, where it has been shown that miR-200 members are down-regulated in basal-like breast cancer where the EMT phenotype is prominent. There is growing evidence that the miR-200 family is up-regulated in distal breast metastasis indicating that these miRs are important for colonization of metastatic breast cancer cells through induction of mesenchymal to epithelial transition. The dual role of miR-200 in primary and metastatic breast cancer is of interest for future therapeutic interventions, making it important to understand its role and interacting partners in more detail.