Academic Services and Registrar - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 95
"One country, two systems": Sociopolitical implications for female migrant sex workers in Hong Kong.
(Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2008-12-12)
BACKGROUND: Under the "two countries, one system" policy implemented by China to manage the return of Hong Kong's sovereignty, Hong Kong has maintained a comparatively prosperous economy within the Asian region. This has resulted in an environment which fosters migration from the mainland to Hong Kong, due largely to proximity, higher earning potential, common language, and a relaxing of border control measures. However not all mainland China citizens are equally able to access these new migration schemes and indeed a number of women such as sex workers are either migrating and/or working illegally and without occupational, legal and health protection within Hong Kong. DISCUSSION: Female migrant sex workers are exposed to a number of significant threats to their health, however their illegal status contributes to even greater vulnerability. The prevailing discourses which view these women as either "trafficked women" or as "illegal immigrants" do not adequately account for the complex situations which result in such women's employment in Hong Kong's sex industry. Rather, their position can best be understood within the broader frameworks provided by migration literature and the concept of "structural violence". This allows for a greater understanding of the socio-political issues which are systematically denying migrant sex workers adequate access to health care and other opportunities for social advancement. When these issues are taken into account, it becomes clear that the current relevant legislation regarding both immigration and sex work is perpetuating the marginalised and vulnerable status of migrant sex workers. Unless changes are made, structural barriers will remain in place which impede the ability of migrant sex workers to manage their own health needs and status. CONCLUSION: Female migrant sex workers in Hong Kong are extremely vulnerable to a number of occupational health and safety hazards which have significantly detrimental effects on their health. These risks can best be understood within a broad framework of socio-political factors contributing to their vulnerability. Ensuring that migrant sex workers have adequate support for their health and legal rights requires require structural interventions such as decriminalisation and providing open and inclusive access to health service to counteract such factors.
A novel BH3 ligand that selectively targets Mcl-1 reveals that apoptosis can proceed without Mcl-1 degradation
(ROCKEFELLER UNIV PRESS, 2008-01-28)
Like Bcl-2, Mcl-1 is an important survival factor for many cancers, its expression contributing to chemoresistance and disease relapse. However, unlike other prosurvival Bcl-2-like proteins, Mcl-1 stability is acutely regulated. For example, the Bcl-2 homology 3 (BH3)-only protein Noxa, which preferentially binds to Mcl-1, also targets it for proteasomal degradation. In this paper, we describe the discovery and characterization of a novel BH3-like ligand derived from Bim, Bim(S)2A, which is highly selective for Mcl-1. Unlike Noxa, Bim(S)2A is unable to trigger Mcl-1 degradation, yet, like Noxa, Bim(S)2A promotes cell killing only when Bcl-x(L) is absent or neutralized. Furthermore, killing by endogenous Bim is not associated with Mcl-1 degradation. Thus, functional inactivation of Mcl-1 does not always require its elimination. Rather, it can be efficiently antagonized by a BH3-like ligand tightly engaging its binding groove, which is confirmed here with a structural study. Our data have important implications for the discovery of compounds that might kill cells whose survival depends on Mcl-1.
Constitutive and Inflammatory Immunopeptidome of Pancreatic beta-Cells
(AMER DIABETES ASSOC, 2012-11-01)
Type 1 diabetes is characterized by the autoimmune destruction of pancreatic β-cells. Recognition of major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-bound peptides is critical for both the initiation and progression of disease. In this study, MHC peptide complexes were purified from NIT-1 β-cells, interferon-γ (IFN-γ)-treated NIT-1 cells, splenic and thymic tissue of 12-week-old NOD mice, and peptides identified by mass spectrometry. In addition to global liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry analysis, the targeted approach of multiple-reaction monitoring was used to quantitate the immunodominant K(d)-restricted T-cell epitope islet-specific glucose-6-phosphatase catalytic subunit-related protein (IGRP)₂₀₆₋₂₁₄. We identified >2,000 MHC-bound peptides; 1,100 of these presented by β-cells grown under normal conditions or after exposure to IFN-γ. These include sequences from a number of known autoantigens. Quantitation of IGRP₂₀₆₋₂₁₄ revealed low-level presentation by K(d) (~25 complexes/cell) on NIT-1 cells after IFN-γ treatment compared with the simultaneous presentation of the endogenously processed K(d)-restricted peptide Janus kinase-1₃₅₅₋₃₆₃ (~15,000 copies/cell). We have successfully sequenced peptides from NIT-1 β-cells under basal and inflammatory conditions. We have shown the feasibility of quantitating disease-associated peptides and provide the first direct demonstration of the disparity between presentation of a known autoantigenic epitope and a common endogenously presented peptide.
Physical and Linkage Maps for Drosophila serrata, a Model Species for Studies of Clinal Adaptation and Sexual Selection
(GENETICS SOCIETY AMERICA, 2012-02-01)
Drosophila serrata is a member of the montium group, which contains more than 98 species and until recently was considered a subgroup within the melanogaster group. This Drosophila species is an emerging model system for evolutionary quantitative genetics and has been used in studies of species borders, clinal variation and sexual selection. Despite the importance of D. serrata as a model for evolutionary research, our poor understanding of its genome remains a significant limitation. Here, we provide a first-generation gene-based linkage map and a physical map for this species. Consistent with previous studies of other drosophilids we observed strong conservation of genes within chromosome arms homologous with D. melanogaster but major differences in within-arm synteny. These resources will be a useful complement to ongoing genome sequencing efforts and QTL mapping studies in this species.
A Family of Helminth Molecules that Modulate Innate Cell Responses via Molecular Mimicry of Host Antimicrobial Peptides
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2011-05-01)
Over the last decade a significant number of studies have highlighted the central role of host antimicrobial (or defence) peptides in modulating the response of innate immune cells to pathogen-associated ligands. In humans, the most widely studied antimicrobial peptide is LL-37, a 37-residue peptide containing an amphipathic helix that is released via proteolytic cleavage of the precursor protein CAP18. Owing to its ability to protect against lethal endotoxaemia and clinically-relevant bacterial infections, LL-37 and its derivatives are seen as attractive candidates for anti-sepsis therapies. We have identified a novel family of molecules secreted by parasitic helminths (helminth defence molecules; HDMs) that exhibit similar biochemical and functional characteristics to human defence peptides, particularly CAP18. The HDM secreted by Fasciola hepatica (FhHDM-1) adopts a predominantly α-helical structure in solution. Processing of FhHDM-1 by F. hepatica cathepsin L1 releases a 34-residue C-terminal fragment containing a conserved amphipathic helix. This is analogous to the proteolytic processing of CAP18 to release LL-37, which modulates innate cell activation by classical toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS). We show that full-length recombinant FhHDM-1 and a peptide analogue of the amphipathic C-terminus bind directly to LPS in a concentration-dependent manner, reducing its interaction with both LPS-binding protein (LBP) and the surface of macrophages. Furthermore, FhHDM-1 and the amphipathic C-terminal peptide protect mice against LPS-induced inflammation by significantly reducing the release of inflammatory mediators from macrophages. We propose that HDMs, by mimicking the function of host defence peptides, represent a novel family of innate cell modulators with therapeutic potential in anti-sepsis treatments and prevention of inflammation.
Women's evaluation of abuse and violence care in general practice: a cluster randomised controlled trial (weave)
BACKGROUND: Intimate partner abuse (IPA) is a major public health problem with serious implications for the physical and psychosocial wellbeing of women, particularly women of child-bearing age. It is a common, hidden problem in general practice and has been under-researched in this setting. Opportunities for early intervention and support in primary care need to be investigated given the frequency of contact women have with general practice. Despite the high prevalence and health consequences of abuse, there is insufficient evidence for screening in primary care settings. Furthermore, there is little rigorous evidence to guide general practitioners (GPs) in responding to women identified as experiencing partner abuse. This paper describes the design of a trial of a general practice-based intervention consisting of screening for fear of partner with feedback to GPs, training for GPs, brief counselling for women and minimal practice organisational change. It examines the effect on women's quality of life, mental health and safety behaviours. METHODS/DESIGN: weave is a cluster randomised controlled trial involving 40 general practices in Victoria, Australia. Approximately 500 women (16-50 years) seen by the GP in the previous year are mailed a short lifestyle survey containing an item to screen for IPA. Women who indicate that they were afraid of a partner/ex-partner in the last year and provide contact details are invited to participate. Once baseline data are collected, GPs are randomly assigned to either a group involving healthy relationship and responding to IPA training plus inviting women for up to 6 sessions of counselling or to a group involving basic education and usual care for women. Outcomes will be evaluated by postal survey at 6 and 12 months following delivery of the intervention. There will be an economic evaluation, and process evaluation involving interviews with women and GPs, to inform understanding about implementation and outcomes. DISCUSSION: The weave trial responds to an urgent need for more evidence on what can be achieved in primary care with regard to responding to women who experience IPA. It will provide important knowledge about the effectiveness of a brief method of screening, professional IPA training program and brief counselling for women. TRIAL REGISTRATION: [ACTRN12608000032358].
Measuring use of research evidence in public health policy: a policy content analysis.
(Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2014-05-23)
BACKGROUND: There are few Australian studies showing how research evidence is used to inform the development of public health policy. International research has shown that compensation for injury rehabilitation can have negative impacts on health outcomes. This study examined transport injury compensation policy in the Australian state of Victoria to: determine type and purpose of reference to information sources; and to identify the extent of reference to academic research evidence in transport related injury rehabilitation compensation policy. METHODS: Quantitative content analysis of injury rehabilitation compensation policies (N = 128) from the Victorian state government transport accident compensation authority. RESULTS: The most commonly referenced types of information were Internal Policy (median = 6 references per policy), Clinical/Medical (2.5), and Internal Legislation (1). Academic Research Evidence was the least often referenced source of information. The main purpose of reference to information was to support injury treatment and rehabilitation compensation claims decision-making. CONCLUSIONS: Transport injury compensation policy development is complex; with multiple sources of information cited including legislation, internal policy, external policy and clinical/medical evidence. There is limited use of academic research evidence in Victorian state government injury treatment and rehabilitation compensation policies. Decisions regarding compensation for injury treatment and rehabilitation services could benefit from greater use of academic research evidence. This study is one of the first to examine the use of research evidence in existing Australian public health policy decision-making using rigorous quantitative methods. It provides a practical example of how use of research evidence in public health policy can be objectively measured.
Structural and functional characterization of TesB from Yersinia pestis reveals a unique octameric arrangement of hotdog domains
(INT UNION CRYSTALLOGRAPHY, 2015-04-01)
Acyl-CoA thioesterases catalyse the hydrolysis of the thioester bonds present within a wide range of acyl-CoA substrates, releasing free CoASH and the corresponding fatty-acyl conjugate. The TesB-type thioesterases are members of the TE4 thioesterase family, one of 25 thioesterase enzyme families characterized to date, and contain two fused hotdog domains in both prokaryote and eukaryote homologues. Only two structures have been elucidated within this enzyme family, and much of the current understanding of the TesB thioesterases has been based on the Escherichia coli structure. Yersinia pestis, a highly virulent bacterium, encodes only one TesB-type thioesterase in its genome; here, the structural and functional characterization of this enzyme are reported, revealing unique elements both within the protomer and quaternary arrangements of the hotdog domains which have not been reported previously in any thioesterase family. The quaternary structure, confirmed using a range of structural and biophysical techniques including crystallography, small-angle X-ray scattering, analytical ultracentrifugation and size-exclusion chromatography, exhibits a unique octameric arrangement of hotdog domains. Interestingly, the same biological unit appears to be present in both TesB structures solved to date, and is likely to be a conserved and distinguishing feature of TesB-type thioesterases. Analysis of the Y. pestis TesB thioesterase activity revealed a strong preference for octanoyl-CoA and this is supported by structural analysis of the active site. Overall, the results provide novel insights into the structure of TesB thioesterases which are likely to be conserved and distinguishing features of the TE4 thioesterase family.
Predicting research use in a public health policy environment: results of a logistic regression analysis
(BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2014-10-09)
BACKGROUND: Use of research evidence in public health policy decision-making is affected by a range of contextual factors operating at the individual, organisational and external levels. Context-specific research is needed to target and tailor research translation intervention design and implementation to ensure that factors affecting research in a specific context are addressed. Whilst such research is increasing, there remain relatively few studies that have quantitatively assessed the factors that predict research use in specific public health policy environments. METHOD: A quantitative survey was designed and implemented within two public health policy agencies in the Australian state of Victoria. Binary logistic regression analyses were conducted on survey data provided by 372 participants. Univariate logistic regression analyses of 49 factors revealed 26 factors that significantly predicted research use independently. The 26 factors were then tested in a single model and five factors emerged as significant predictors of research over and above all other factors. RESULTS: The five key factors that significantly predicted research use were the following: relevance of research to day-to-day decision-making, skills for research use, internal prompts for use of research, intention to use research within the next 12 months and the agency for which the individual worked. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that individual- and organisational-level factors are the critical factors to target in the design of interventions aiming to increase research use in this context. In particular, relevance of research and skills for research use would be necessary to target. The likelihood for research use increased 11- and 4-fold for those who rated highly on these factors. This study builds on previous research and contributes to the currently limited number of quantitative studies that examine use of research evidence in a large sample of public health policy and program decision-makers within a specific context. The survey used in this study is likely to be relevant for use in other public health policy contexts.
Quality standards for DNA sequence variation databases to improve clinical management under development in Australia.
(Elsevier BV, 2014-09-01)
Despite the routine nature of comparing sequence variations identified during clinical testing to database records, few databases meet quality requirements for clinical diagnostics. To address this issue, The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) in collaboration with the Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA), and the Human Variome Project (HVP) is developing standards for DNA sequence variation databases intended for use in the Australian clinical environment. The outputs of this project will be promoted to other health systems and accreditation bodies by the Human Variome Project to support the development of similar frameworks in other jurisdictions.
Type, frequency and purpose of information used to inform public health policy and program decision-making
(BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2015-04-15)
BACKGROUND: There is a growing demand for researchers to document the impact of research to demonstrate how it contributes to community outcomes. In the area of public health it is expected that increases in the use of research to inform policy and program development will lead to improved public health outcomes. To determine whether research has an impact on public health outcomes, we first need to assess to what extent research has been used and how it has been used. However, there are relatively few studies to date that have quantitatively measured the extent and purpose of use of research in public health policy environments. This study sought to quantitatively measure the frequency and purpose of use of research evidence in comparison to use of other information types in a specific public health policy environment, workplace and transport injury prevention and rehabilitation compensation. METHODS: A survey was developed to measure the type, frequency and purpose of information used to inform policy and program decision-making. RESULTS: Research evidence was the type of information used least frequently and internal data and reports was the information type used most frequently. Findings also revealed differences in use of research between and within the two government public health agencies studied. In particular the main focus of participants' day-to-day role was associated with the type of information used. Research was used mostly for conceptual purposes. Interestingly, research was used for instrumental purposes more often than it was used for symbolic purposes, which is contrary to findings of previous research. CONCLUSIONS: These results have implications for the design and implementation of research translation interventions in the context within which the study was undertaken. In particular, they suggest that intervention will need to be targeted to the information needs of the different role groups within an organisation. The results can also be utilised as a baseline measure for intervention evaluations and assessments of research impact in this context.
Lipotoxic Stress Induces Pancreatic beta-Cell Apoptosis through Modulation of Bcl-2 Proteins by the Ubiquitin-Proteasome System
(HINDAWI LTD, 2015-01-01)
Pancreatic β-cell loss induced by saturated free fatty acids (FFAs) is believed to contribute to type 2 diabetes. Previous studies have shown induction of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, increased ubiquitinated proteins, and deregulation of the Bcl-2 family in the pancreas of type 2 diabetic patients. However, the precise mechanism of β-cell death remains unknown. In the present study we demonstrate that the FFA palmitate blocks the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and causes apoptosis through induction of ER stress and deregulation of Bcl-2 proteins. We found that palmitate and the proteasome inhibitor MG132 induced ER stress in β-cells, resulting in decreased expression of the prosurvival proteins Bcl-2, Mcl-1, and Bcl-XL, and upregulation of the prodeath BH3-only protein PUMA. On the other hand, pharmacological activation of the UPS by sulforaphane ameliorated ER stress, upregulated prosurvival Bcl-2 proteins, and protected β-cells from FFA-induced cell death. Furthermore, transgenic overexpression of Bcl-2 protected islets from FFA-induced cell death in vitro and improved glucose-induced insulin secretion in vivo. Together our results suggest that targeting the UPS and Bcl-2 protein expression may be a valuable strategy to prevent β-cell demise in type 2 diabetes.