Sophia Chiu

University of California, Davis, Davis, California, United States

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Publications (7)18.63 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Laboratory strains of mice, both conventional and genetically engineered, have been introduced as critical components of a broad range of studies investigating normal and disease biology. Currently, the genetic identity of the laboratory mice is primarily confirmed by surveying polymorphisms in selected sets of “conventional” genes and/or microsatellites in the absence of a single completely sequenced mouse genome. First, we examined variations in the genomic landscapes of transposable repetitive elements, named the TREome, in conventional and genetically engineered mouse strains using murine leukemia virus-type endogenous retroviruses (MLV-ERVs) as a probe. A survey of the genomes from 56 conventional strains revealed strain-specific TREome landscapes, and certain families (e.g., C57BL) of strains were discernable with defined patterns. Interestingly, the TREome landscapes of C3H/HeJ (toll-like receptor-4 [TLR4] mutant) inbred mice were different from its control C3H/HeOuJ (TLR4 wild-type) strain. In addition, a CD14 knock-out strain had a distinct TREome landscape compared to its control/backcross C57BL/6 J strain. Second, an examination of superantigen (SAg, a “TREome gene”) coding sequences of mouse mammary tumor virus-type ERVs in the genomes of the 46 conventional strains revealed a high diversity, suggesting a potential role of SAgs in strain-specific immune phenotypes. The findings from this study indicate that unexplored and intricate genomic variations exist in laboratory mouse strains, both conventional and genetically engineered. The TREome-based high-resolution genetics surveillance system for laboratory mice would contribute to efficient study design with quality control and accurate data interpretation. This genetics system can be easily adapted to other species ranging from plants to humans.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Experimental and Molecular Pathology
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    ABSTRACT: Endogenous retroviral elements (EREs), a family of transposable elements, constitute a substantial fraction of mammalian genomes. It is expected that profiles of the ERE sequences and their genomic locations are unique for each individual. Comprehensive characterization of the EREs' genomic locations and their biological properties is essential for understanding their roles in the pathophysiology of the host. In this study, we identified and mapped putative EREs (a total of 111 endogenous retroviruses [ERVs] and 488 solo long terminal repeats [sLTRs]) within the C57BL/6J mouse genome. The biological properties of individual ERE isolates (both ERVs and sLTRs) were then characterized in the following aspects: transcription potential, tropism trait, coding potential, recombination event, integration age, and primer binding site for replication. In addition, a suite of database management system programs was developed to organize and update the data acquired from current and future studies and to make the data accessible via internet.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2012 · Genomics
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    ABSTRACT: We tested the hypothesis that structural changes in the genome parallel age- and organ-specific phenotypes in conjunction with the differential transposition activities of retroelements. The genomes of the liver from C57BL/6J mice were larger than other organs, coinciding with an increase in genomic copies of certain retroelements. In addition, there were differential increments in the genome size of the liver with increasing age, which peaked at 5 weeks. The findings that the genome structure of an individual is variable depending on age and organ type in association with the transposition of retroelements may have broad implications in understanding biologic phenomena.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Experimental and Molecular Pathology
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    ABSTRACT: Approximately 2% of the human genome is reported to be occupied by genes. Various forms of repetitive elements (REs), both characterized and uncharacterized, are presumed to make up the vast majority of the rest of the genomes of human and other species. In conjunction with a comprehensive annotation of genes, information regarding components of genome biology, such as gene polymorphisms, non-coding RNAs, and certain REs, is found in human genome databases. However, the genome-wide profile of unique RE arrangements formed by different groups of REs has not been fully characterized yet. In this study, the entire human genome was subjected to an unbiased RE survey to establish a whole-genome profile of REs and their arrangements. Due to the limitation in query size within the bl2seq alignment program (National Center for Biotechnology Information [NCBI]) utilized for the RE survey, the entire NCBI reference human genome was fragmented into 6206 units of 0.5M nucleotides. A number of RE arrangements with varying complexities and patterns were identified throughout the genome. Each chromosome had unique profiles of RE arrangements and density, and high levels of RE density were measured near the centromere regions. Subsequently, 175 complex RE arrangements, which were selected throughout the genome, were subjected to a comparison analysis using five different human genome sequences. Interestingly, three of the five human genome databases shared the exactly same arrangement patterns and sequences for all 175 RE arrangement regions (a total of 12,765,625 nucleotides). The findings from this study demonstrate that a substantial fraction of REs in the human genome are clustered into various forms of ordered structures. Further investigations are needed to examine whether some of these ordered RE arrangements contribute to the human pathobiology as a functional genome unit.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2011 · Experimental and Molecular Pathology
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    ABSTRACT: Superantigens (SAgs) of mouse mammary tumor viruses (MMTVs) play a crucial role in T cell selection in the thymus in a T cell receptor (TCR) Vβ-specific manner and SAgs presented by B cells activate T cells in the periphery. The peripheral T cell repertoire is dynamically shaped by the steady induction of T cell tolerance against self antigens throughout the lifespan. We hypothesize that de novo somatic mutation of endogenous MMTV SAgs contributes to the modulation of the peripheral T cell repertoire. SAg coding sequences were cloned from the genomic DNAs and/or cDNAs of various tissues of female C57BL/6J mice. A total of 68 unique SAg sequences (54 translated sequences) were identified from the genomic DNAs of liver, lungs, and bone marrow, which are presumed to harbor only three endogenous MMTV loci (Mtv-8, Mtv-9, and Mtv-17). Similarly, 69 unique SAg sequences (58 translated sequences) were cloned from the cDNAs of 18 different tissues. Examination of putative TCR Vβ specificity suggested that some of the SAg isoforms identified in this study have Vβ specificities different from the reference SAgs of Mtv-8, Mtv-9, or Mtv-17. The pool of diverse SAg isoforms, generated by de novo somatic mutation, may play a role in the shaping of the peripheral T cell repertoire including the autoimmune T cell population.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2011 · BMC Immunology
  • Sophia Chiu · Karen Hsu · David G Greenhalgh · Kiho Cho
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    ABSTRACT: The majority of epigenetic methylation events at cytosine residues of the genome are reported to occur in transposable elements, as a result, it contributes to genome stability by repressing their transposition activity. Our recent studies demonstrated that the expression of certain murine endogenous retroviruses (MuERVs), a family of retrotransposons, is modulated in the liver after burn injury and sepsis. In this study, we investigated whether burn-elicited stress signals alter epigenetic methylation profile of cytosine residues of the MuERV proviral genome. Female C57BL/6J mice were subjected to ~18% total body surface area burn. The genomic DNAs from the livers, which were collected at 3 and 24 h after burn, were treated with bisulfite to convert unmethylated cytosines (C) to thymines (T). From four experimental groups (no burn-3h, burn-3h, no burn-24h, and burn-24h), 91, 98, 94, and 86 unique U3 sequences (from sense or antisense strand) were cloned, respectively and a total of 16 different U3 sizes were identified among them. The survey of C to T conversions in these U3 sequences revealed that the epigenetic profiles of cytosine methylation are differentially affected (increase or decrease in demethylated cytosine residues) by stress signals from burn and/or anesthesia-resuscitation in a position of cytosine residue and/or size of U3 sequence-specific manner. In addition, the methylation characteristics of the majority of cytosine residues of the different U3 sequences within each size group were conserved. The findings from this study suggest that burn-elicited stress signals contribute to a transient or permanent alteration in cytosine methylation characteristics of certain MuERV loci in the genome, potentially modulating transcription activity of their own as well as neighboring genes.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2010 · Experimental and Molecular Pathology
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    ABSTRACT: Despite advancements in understanding the pathophysiology of sepsis, clinical outcomes are variable, and the mortality rate remains high among patients. We investigated whether expression of murine endogenous retroviruses (MuERVs), constituting approximately 10% of the mouse genome, is differentially regulated in response to sepsis-elicited stress signals. ICR mice were subjected to cecal ligation and puncture, and MuERV expression was examined. There was evident regulation (induced or repressed) of MuERV expression in the liver and lung after cecal ligation and puncture. In particular, expression of several variant transcripts was increased, primarily in the liver, at 12 and/or 48 h: nine splicing variants and one 5.06-kb nonspliced transcript. Four novel splicing signals were also identified. Six variant transcripts were presumed to be splicing products of the 5.06-kb transcript, whereas the other three were envelope variants transcribed from at least five MuERV loci. These findings demonstrate that expression of certain MuERVs, including their envelope subgenomic transcripts, are altered during the course of sepsis pathogenesis.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2009 · Shock (Augusta, Ga.)