33 research outputs found

    Carcinogenic Effects in a Phenylketonuria Mouse Model

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    Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a metabolic disorder caused by impaired phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH). This condition results in hyperphenylalaninemia and elevated levels of abnormal phenylalanine metabolites, among which is phenylacetic acid/phenylacetate (PA). In recent years, PA and its analogs were found to have anticancer activity against a variety of malignancies suggesting the possibility that PKU may offer protection against cancer through chronically elevated levels of PA. We tested this hypothesis in a genetic mouse model of PKU (PAHenu2) which has a biochemical profile that closely resembles that of human PKU. Plasma levels of phenylalanine in homozygous (HMZ) PAHenu2 mice were >12-fold those of heterozygous (HTZ) littermates while tyrosine levels were reduced. Phenylketones, including PA, were also markedly elevated to the range seen in the human disease. Mice were subjected to 7,12 dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA) carcinogenesis, a model which is sensitive to the anticancer effects of the PA derivative 4-chlorophenylacetate (4-CPA). Tumor induction by DMBA was not significantly different between the HTZ and HMZ mice, either in total tumor development or in the type of cancers that arose. HMZ mice were then treated with 4-CPA as positive controls for the anticancer effects of PA and to evaluate its possible effects on phenylalanine metabolism in PKU mice. 4-CPA had no effect on the plasma concentrations of phenylalanine, phenylketones, or tyrosine. Surprisingly, the HMZ mice treated with 4-CPA developed an unexplained neuromuscular syndrome which precluded its use in these animals as an anticancer agent. Together, these studies support the use of PAHenu2 mice as a model for studying human PKU. Chronically elevated levels of PA in the PAHenu2 mice were not protective against cancer

    Demonstration of Protein-Based Human Identification Using the Hair Shaft Proteome

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    YesHuman identification from biological material is largely dependent on the ability to characterize genetic polymorphisms in DNA. Unfortunately, DNA can degrade in the environment, sometimes below the level at which it can be amplified by PCR. Protein however is chemically more robust than DNA and can persist for longer periods. Protein also contains genetic variation in the form of single amino acid polymorphisms. These can be used to infer the status of non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphism alleles. To demonstrate this, we used mass spectrometry-based shotgun proteomics to characterize hair shaft proteins in 66 European-American subjects. A total of 596 single nucleotide polymorphism alleles were correctly imputed in 32 loci from 22 genes of subjects’ DNA and directly validated using Sanger sequencing. Estimates of the probability of resulting individual non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphism allelic profiles in the European population, using the product rule, resulted in a maximum power of discrimination of 1 in 12,500. Imputed non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphism profiles from European–American subjects were considerably less frequent in the African population (maximum likelihood ratio = 11,000). The converse was true for hair shafts collected from an additional 10 subjects with African ancestry, where some profiles were more frequent in the African population. Genetically variant peptides were also identified in hair shaft datasets from six archaeological skeletal remains (up to 260 years old). This study demonstrates that quantifiable measures of identity discrimination and biogeographic background can be obtained from detecting genetically variant peptides in hair shaft protein, including hair from bioarchaeological contexts.The Technology Commercialization Innovation Program (Contracts #121668, #132043) of the Utah Governors Office of Commercial Development, the Scholarship Activitie

    Crowd-Funded Micro-Grants for Genomics and "Big Data": An Actionable Idea Connecting Small (Artisan) Science, Infrastructure Science, and Citizen Philanthropy

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    Biomedical science in the 21st century is embedded in, and draws from, a digital commons and "Big Data" created by high-throughput Omics technologies such as genomics. Classic Edisonian metaphors of science and scientists (i.e., "the lone genius" or other narrow definitions of expertise) are ill equipped to harness the vast promises of the 21st century digital commons. Moreover, in medicine and life sciences, experts often under-appreciate the important contributions made by citizen scholars and lead users of innovations to design innovative products and co-create new knowledge. We believe there are a large number of users waiting to be mobilized so as to engage with Big Data as citizen scientists-only if some funding were available. Yet many of these scholars may not meet the meta-criteria used to judge expertise, such as a track record in obtaining large research grants or a traditional academic curriculum vitae. This innovation research article describes a novel idea and action framework: micro-grants, each worth 1000,forgenomicsandBigData.Thougharelativelysmallamountatfirstglance,thisfarexceedstheannualincomeofthe"bottomonebillion"the1.4billionpeoplelivingbelowtheextremepovertyleveldefinedbytheWorldBank(1000, for genomics and Big Data. Though a relatively small amount at first glance, this far exceeds the annual income of the "bottom one billion"-the 1.4 billion people living below the extreme poverty level defined by the World Bank (1.25/day). We describe two types of micro-grants. Type 1 micro-grants can be awarded through established funding agencies and philanthropies that create micro-granting programs to fund a broad and highly diverse array of small artisan labs and citizen scholars to connect genomics and Big Data with new models of discovery such as open user innovation. Type 2 micro-grants can be funded by existing or new science observatories and citizen think tanks through crowd-funding mechanisms described herein. Type 2 micro-grants would also facilitate global health diplomacy by co-creating crowd-funded micro-granting programs across nation-states in regions facing political and financial instability, while sharing similar disease burdens, therapeutics, and diagnostic needs. We report the creation of ten Type 2 micro-grants for citizen science and artisan labs to be administered by the nonprofit Data-Enabled Life Sciences Alliance International (DELSA Global, Seattle). Our hope is that these micro-grants will spur novel forms of disruptive innovation and genomics translation by artisan scientists and citizen scholars alike. We conclude with a neglected voice from the global health frontlines, the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani, and suggest that many similar global regions are now poised for micro-grant enabled collective innovation to harness the 21st century digital commons