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  1. See Too WC, Few LL
    World J. Microbiol. Biotechnol., 2010 Jul;26(7):1251-9.
    PMID: 24026930 DOI: 10.1007/s11274-009-0295-9
    Psychrophiles are organisms that thrive in cold environments. One of the strategies for their cold adaptation is the ability to synthesize cold-adapted enzymes. These enzymes usually display higher catalytic efficiency and thermolability at lower temperatures compared to their mesophilic and thermophilic counterparts. In this work, a psychrophilic bacterial isolate codenamed π9 was selected for the cloning of the gene encoding triose phosphate isomerase (TIM), an enzyme in the glycolytic pathway. Based on 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis, this isolate was identified as a species of the genus Pseudomonas under the P. fluorescens group. The cloning of a 816 bp fragment of TIM gene which covers the 756 bp open reading frame was achieved by a combination of degenerate and splinkerette PCRs. The partial sequence of this gene was first PCR amplified by using degenerate primers and the flanking sequences were subsequently amplified by splinkerette PCR technique. Amino acid sequence of the cloned TIM was 97% identical to TIM from Pseudomonas fluorescens and shared 51% identity with the TIM from psychrophilic Vibrio sp. This work demonstrated the use of multiple PCR techniques to clone a gene without prior knowledge of its sequence. The cloning of the TIM gene by PCR was more rapid and cost effective compared to the traditional genomic library construction and screening method. Homology model of the TIM protein in this study was generated based on Escherichia coli TIM crystal structure. The model could serve as a hypothetical TIM structure from a psychrophilic microorganism for further investigation into areas that showed deviations from the known mesophilic TIM structures.
  2. Kuan CS, See Too WC, Few LL
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(1):e0147886.
    PMID: 26807725 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0147886
    Ethanolamine kinase (EK) catalyzes the phosphorylation of ethanolamine, the first step in the CDP-ethanolamine pathway for the biosynthesis of phosphatidylethanolamine (PE). Human EK exists as EK1, EK2α and EK2β isoforms, encoded by two separate genes, named ek1 and ek2. EK activity is stimulated by carcinogens and oncogenes, suggesting the involvement of EK in carcinogenesis. Currently, little is known about EK transcriptional regulation by endogenous or exogenous signals, and the ek gene promoter has never been studied.
  3. Kuan CS, Yee YH, See Too WC, Few LL
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(12):e113485.
    PMID: 25490397 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113485
    Choline kinase is the most upstream enzyme in the CDP-choline pathway. It catalyzes the phosphorylation of choline to phosphorylcholine in the presence of ATP and Mg2+ during the biosynthesis of phosphatidylcholine, the major phospholipid in eukaryotic cell membranes. In humans, choline kinase (CK) is encoded by two separate genes, ckα and ckβ, which produce three isoforms, CKα1, CKα2, and CKβ. Previous studies have associated ckβ with muscle development; however, the molecular mechanism underlying the transcriptional regulation of ckβ has never been elucidated.
  4. Chang CC, Few LL, Konrad M, See Too WC
    PLoS ONE, 2016;11(5):e0154702.
    PMID: 27149373 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154702
    Choline kinase beta (CKβ) is one of the CK isozymes involved in the biosynthesis of phosphatidylcholine. CKβ is important for normal mitochondrial function and muscle development as the lack of the ckβ gene in human and mice results in the development of muscular dystrophy. In contrast, CKα is implicated in tumorigenesis and has been extensively studied as an anticancer target. Phosphorylation of human CKα was found to regulate the enzyme's activity and its subcellular location. This study provides evidence for CKβ phosphorylation by protein kinase A (PKA). In vitro phosphorylation of CKβ by PKA was first detected by phosphoprotein staining, as well as by in-gel kinase assays. The phosphorylating kinase was identified as PKA by Western blotting. CKβ phosphorylation by MCF-7 cell lysate was inhibited by a PKA-specific inhibitor peptide, and the intracellular phosphorylation of CKβ was shown to be regulated by the level of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), a PKA activator. Phosphorylation sites were located on CKβ residues serine-39 and serine-40 as determined by mass spectrometry and site-directed mutagenesis. Phosphorylation increased the catalytic efficiencies for the substrates choline and ATP about 2-fold, without affecting ethanolamine phosphorylation, and the S39D/S40D CKβ phosphorylation mimic behaved kinetically very similar. Remarkably, phosphorylation drastically increased the sensitivity of CKβ to hemicholinium-3 (HC-3) inhibition by about 30-fold. These findings suggest that CKβ, in concert with CKα, and depending on its phosphorylation status, might play a critical role as a druggable target in carcinogenesis.
  5. Chua SL, See Too WC, Khoo BY, Few LL
    Cytotechnology, 2011 Dec;63(6):645-54.
    PMID: 21850463 DOI: 10.1007/s10616-011-9383-4
    Relative quantification of in vitro gene expression using real-time PCR requires stably expressed reference gene for normalisation. In this study, total RNA from MCF7, HCT116 and HepG2 cells were extracted and converted to cDNA using commercially available kit, and real-time PCR was then performed to analyse the expression levels of twelve reference genes to select the most ideal reference gene for accurate normalisation in gene expression study. geNorm and NormFinder software were used to analyse the stabilities of the reference genes, which showed a wide range of C(t) values. The geNorm analysis showed the following ranking for stability of genes: UBC, YWHAZ > RPLP > TBP > ACTB > HPRT1 > PPIA > GAPDH > GUSB > B2M > TUBB > RRN18S. A similar ranking of reference genes was obtained by NormFinder, and the four most stable reference genes were identical using both approaches. UBC and YWHAZ were proposed to be the two most suitable reference genes based on the above analyses. To further assess the stabilities of the UBC and YWHAZ in a formal experiment, MCF7, HCT116 and HepG2 cell lines were subjected to treatments with 5-aza-dC and TSA. Both UBC and YWHAZ exhibited stable expression levels across control and treatment groups. Therefore, we propose that UBC and YWHAZ are the two most suitable reference genes for our gene expression studies using MCF7, HCT116 and HepG2 cell lines.
  6. Too WC, Wong MT, Few LL, Konrad M
    PLoS ONE, 2010;5(9):e12999.
    PMID: 20886003 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012999
    Choline kinase is the first enzyme in the CDP-choline pathway that synthesizes phosphatidylcholine, the major phospholipid in eukaryotic cell membranes. In humans, choline kinase exists as three isoforms (CKα1, α2, and β). Specific inhibition of CKα has been reported to selectively kill tumoral cells. Monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies against CKα used in previous studies to detect the level of this isozyme in different cellular or biochemical contexts were able to detect either the α1 or the α2 isoform.
  7. Too WC, Liew YC, Few LL
    J. Basic Microbiol., 2008 Oct;48(5):430-5.
    PMID: 18759222 DOI: 10.1002/jobm.200800008
    Psychrophiles are organisms that thrive in cold environments. One of the strategies for their cold adaptation is the ability to synthesize cold-adapted enzymes. These enzymes usually display higher catalytic efficiency and thermolability at lower temperatures compared to their mesophilic and thermophilic counterparts. In this work, a psychrophilic bacterium codenamed pi9 was selected for the cloning of the gene encoding glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), an enzyme in the glycolytic pathway. Here, the cloning of an 1,113 bp fragment of GAPDH gene which covers the 1,002 bp open reading frame by using multiple PCR steps is described. The partial sequence of this gene was PCR amplified by using degenerate primers followed by the cloning of the flanking sequences by inverse and splinkerette PCR techniques. The success in cloning the GAPDH gene by PCR has bypassed the more time consuming genomic library construction and screening method. The full length GAPDH protein was subsequently expressed in E. coli, purified as His-tag protein and confirmed to be catalytically active. This work demonstrated the use of multiple PCR techniques to clone a gene based solely on sequence comparison. It also laid the foundation for further biochemical and structural characterizations of GAPDH from a psychrophilic bacterium by providing a highly purified recombinant protein sample.
  8. Ayub Khan SM, Few LL, See Too WC
    Mol Med Rep, 2018 May;17(5):7442-7450.
    PMID: 29568919 DOI: 10.3892/mmr.2018.8762
    Choline kinase (CK) is the first enzyme in the CDP-choline pathway for the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine, the most abundant phospholipid in the mammalian cell membrane. This enzyme exists as three isozymes (α1, α2 and β) and the CKα isozyme has been implicated in cancer pathogenesis. Inhibition of CK activity has been proposed for cancer therapies. MicroRNAs (miRNAs/miRs) are non‑coding RNAs that serve important roles in diverse biological pathways and human diseases, including cancer. However, the regulation of CKα gene expression by miRNAs has never been investigated, to the best of the authors' knowledge. In the present study, two miRNA mimics, miR‑876‑5p and miR‑646, were transfected into the HepG2 cell line and the effect of these miRNAs on the levels of CKα mRNA were determined by reverse transcription‑quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Cells transfected with 25 nM miR‑876‑5p for 48 h exhibited significantly lower levels of CKα mRNA. Following optimization, miR‑876‑5p caused four times lower levels of CKα mRNA compared to the negative control. Effects of the miRNAs on HepG2 cell viability and cellular morphology were additionally analyzed using an MTT cell viability assay and scanning electron microscopy, respectively. HepG2 cells that were transfected with the optimum concentration of miR‑876‑5p for the optimum duration exhibited 25% lower viability than negative control and signs of apoptosis in electron micrographs. The results suggested miR‑876‑5p as a potential miRNA modulator of CKα expression in the cells, and may be relevant for the design of more effective anticancer strategy targeting CK.
  9. Majid MI, Akmal DH, Few LL, Agustien A, Toh MS, Samian MR, et al.
    Int. J. Biol. Macromol., ;25(1-3):95-104.
    PMID: 10416655
    A locally isolated soil microorganism identified as Erwinia sp. USMI-20 has been found to produce poly(3-hydroxybutyrate), P(3HB), from either palm oil or glucose and its copolymer poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate), P(3HB-co-3HV), from a combination of palm oil and a second carbon source of either one of the following compounds: propionic acid, n-propanol, valeric acid and n-pentanol. It was found that Erwinia sp. USMI-20 could produce P(3HB) up to 69 wt.% polymer content with a dry cell weight of 4.4 g/l from an initial amount of 14.5 g/l of glucose followed by a feeding rate of glucose at 0.48 g/h glucose. On the other hand, the bacteria can achieve 46 wt.% of P(3HB) and a dry cell weight of 3.6 g/l from a batch fermentation in a 10-l fermentor from an initial concentration of 4.6 g/l of palm oil. Further characterisation of the polymer production was also carried out by using different types of palm oil. Among the different palm oils that were used, crude palm oil was the best lipid source for P(3HB) production as compared to palm olein and palm kernel oil. In the production of the copolymer, P(3HB-co-3HV), the highest mole fraction of 3-HV units could be as high as 47 mol% from a single feeding of valeric acid upon initial growth on palm oil.
  10. Wong MT, Choi SB, Kuan CS, Chua SL, Chang CH, Normi YM, et al.
    Int J Mol Sci, 2012;13(1):901-17.
    PMID: 22312293 DOI: 10.3390/ijms13010901
    Klebsiella pneumoniae is a Gram-negative, cylindrical rod shaped opportunistic pathogen that is found in the environment as well as existing as a normal flora in mammalian mucosal surfaces such as the mouth, skin, and intestines. Clinically it is the most important member of the family of Enterobacteriaceae that causes neonatal sepsis and nosocomial infections. In this work, a combination of protein sequence analysis, structural modeling and molecular docking simulation approaches were employed to provide an understanding of the possible functions and characteristics of a hypothetical protein (KPN_02809) from K. pneumoniae MGH 78578. The computational analyses showed that this protein was a metalloprotease with zinc binding motif, HEXXH. To verify this result, a ypfJ gene which encodes for this hypothetical protein was cloned from K. pneumoniae MGH 78578 and the protein was overexpressed in Escherichia coli BL21 (DE3). The purified protein was about 32 kDa and showed maximum protease activity at 30 °C and pH 8.0. The enzyme activity was inhibited by metalloprotease inhibitors such as EDTA, 1,10-phenanthroline and reducing agent, 1,4-dithiothreitol (DTT). Each molecule of KPN_02809 protein was also shown to bind one zinc ion. Hence, for the first time, we experimentally confirmed that KPN_02809 is an active enzyme with zinc metalloprotease activity.
  11. Kuan CS, Wong MT, Choi SB, Chang CC, Yee YH, Wahab HA, et al.
    Int J Mol Sci, 2011;12(7):4441-55.
    PMID: 21845088 DOI: 10.3390/ijms12074441
    Klebsiella pneumoniae causes neonatal sepsis and nosocomial infections. One of the strains, K. pneumoniae MGH 78578, shows high level of resistance to multiple microbial agents. In this study, domain family, amino acid sequence and topology analyses were performed on one of its hypothetical protein, YggG (KPN_03358). Structural bioinformatics approaches were used to predict the structure and functionality of YggG protein. The open reading frame (ORF) of yggG, which was a putative metalloprotease gene, was also cloned, expressed and characterized. The ORF was PCR amplified from K. pneumoniae MGH 78578 genomic DNA and cloned into a pET14-b vector for heterologous expression in Escherichia coli. The purified YggG protein was subsequently assayed for casein hydrolysis under different conditions. This protein was classified as peptidase M48 family and subclan gluzincin. It was predicted to contain one transmembrane domain by TMpred. Optimal protein expression was achieved by induction with 0.6 mM isopropyl thiogalactoside (IPTG) at 25 °C for six hours. YggG was purified as soluble protein and confirmed to be proteolytically active under the presence of 1.25 mM zinc acetate and showed optimum activity at 37 °C and pH 7.4. We confirmed for the first time that the yggG gene product is a zinc-dependent metalloprotease.
  12. Wong WK, Foo PC, Olivos-Garcia A, Noordin R, Mohamed Z, Othman N, et al.
    Acta Trop., 2017 Aug;172:208-212.
    PMID: 28506795 DOI: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2017.05.017
    Crude soluble antigen (CSA) produced from Entamoeba histolytica trophozoite is conventionally used for serodiagnosis of invasive amoebiasis. However, high background seropositivities by CSA-assay in endemic areas complicate the interpretation of positive result in clinical settings. Instead, incorporating a second assay which indicates active or recent infection into the routine amoebic serology could possibly complement the limitations of CSA-assay. Hence, the present study aimed to evaluate the diagnostic efficacies of indirect ELISAs using CSA and excretory-secretory antigen (ESA) for serodiagnosis of amoebic liver abscess (ALA). Reference standard for diagnosis of ALA at Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia is based on clinical presentation, radiological imaging and positive indirect haemagglutination assay (titer ≥256). Five groups of human serum samples collected from the hospital included Group I - ALA diagnosed by the reference standard and pus aspirate analysis using real-time PCR (n=10), Group II - ALA diagnosed by the reference standard only (n=41), Group III - healthy control (n=45), Group IV - other diseases control (n=51) and Group V - other infectious diseases control (n=31). For serodiagnosis of ALA serum samples (Group I and II), CSA-ELISA showed sensitivities of 100% for both groups, while ESA-ELISA showed sensitivities of 100% and 88%, respectively. For serodiagnosis of non-ALA serum samples (Group III, IV and V), CSA-ELISA showed specificities of 91%, 75% and 100%, respectively; while ESA-ELISA showed specificities of 96%, 98% and 100%, respectively. Indirect ELISAs using CSA and ESA have shown distinct strength for serodiagnosis of ALA, in terms of sensitivity and specificity, respectively. In conclusion, parallel analysis by both assays improved the overall efficacies of amoebic serology as compared to either single assay.
  13. Fong SW, Few LL, See Too WC, Khoo BY, Nik Ibrahim NN, Yahaya SA, et al.
    BMC Res Notes, 2015;8:679.
    PMID: 26576922 DOI: 10.1186/s13104-015-1677-8
    Biomarkers play a pivotal role in the diagnosis and management of patients with acute coronary syndrome. This study aimed to investigate the differences in level of several biomarkers, i.e. C-reactive protein, myeloperoxidase, soluble CD40 ligand and placental growth factor, between acute coronary syndrome and chronic stable angina patients. The relationship between these biomarkers in the coronary circulation and systemic circulation was also investigated.
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