Life & Health Sciences

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Avian eggshell formation reveals a new paradigm for vertebrate mineralization via vesicular amorphous calcium carbonate


ABSTRACT

Amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC) is an unstable mineral phase, which is progressively transformed into aragonite or calcite in biomineralization of marine invertebrate shells or avian eggshells, respectively. We have previously proposed a model of vesicular transport to provide stabilized ACC in chicken uterine fluid where eggshell mineralization takes place. Herein, we report further experimental support for this model. We confirmed the presence of extracellular vesicles (EVs) using transmission EM and showed high levels of mRNA of vesicular markers in the oviduct segments where eggshell mineralization occurs. We also demonstrate that EVs contain ACC in uterine fluid using spectroscopic analysis. Moreover, proteomics and immunofluorescence confirmed the presence of major vesicular, mineralization-specific and eggshell matrix proteins in the uterus and in purified EVs. We propose a comprehensive role for EVs in eggshell mineralization, in which annexins transfer calcium into vesicles and carbonic anhydrase 4 catalyzes the formation of bicarbonate ions (HCO[Formula: see text]), for accumulation of ACC in vesicles. We hypothesize that ACC is stabilized by ovalbumin and/or lysozyme or additional vesicle proteins identified in this study. Finally, EDIL3 and MFGE8 are proposed to serve as guidance molecules to target EVs to the mineralization site. We therefore report for the first-time experimental evidence for the components of vesicular transport to supply ACC in a vertebrate model of biomineralization.


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Non-Resonant Frequencies of Electromagnetic Fields in α-Helices Cellular Membrane Channels


ABSTRACT

Background: This paper would be a starting point addressed to a methodology to minimize the effects on livings of man made Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) pollution. Methods: Given that previous literature highlighted that the most relevant EMFs effects on biological systems can be due to resonance phenomena between electromagnetic field and organic matter, it was proposed here an algorithm to obtain values of frequencies of an applied electromagnetic field far from resonant frequencies, depending on the natural frequencies and viscous damper of a biological system. These frequencies have been named non-resonant frequencies. Results: The displacement of the α-helices in cellular membrane channels due to EMFs has been proposed as a relevant parameter for quantifying the result of the interaction between an applied EMF and organic matter, in order to find both the natural frequencies of a biological system and the resonant frequencies at which α-helices displacement should be maximum. Conclusion: The non-resonant frequencies can be obtained using the algorithm proposed here.


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Plants make galls to accommodate foreigners: some are friends, most are foes


ABSTRACT

At the colonization site of a foreign entity, plant cells alter their trajectory of growth and development. The resulting structure – a plant gall – accommodates various needs of the foreigner, which are phylogenetically diverse: viruses, bacteria, protozoa, oomycetes, true fungi, parasitic plants, and many types of animals, including rotifers, nematodes, insects, and mites. The plant species that make galls also are diverse. We assume gall production costs the plant. All is well if the foreigner provides a gift that makes up for the cost. Nitrogen‐fixing nodule‐inducing bacteria provide nutritional services. Gall wasps pollinate fig trees. Unfortunately for plants, most galls are made for foes, some of which are deeply studied pathogens and pests: Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Rhodococcus fascians, Xanthomonas citri, Pseudomonas savastanoi, Pantoea agglomerans, ‘Candidatus’ phytoplasma, rust fungi, Ustilago smuts, root knot and cyst nematodes, and gall midges. Galls are an understudied phenomenon in plant developmental biology. We propose gall inception for discovering unifying features of the galls that plants make for friends and foes, talk about molecules that plants and gall‐inducers use to get what they want from each other, raise the question of whether plants colonized by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi respond in a gall‐like manner, and present a research agenda.


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Simulation and Theory of Antibody Binding to Crowded Antigen-Covered Surfaces


ABSTRACT

In this paper we introduce a fully flexible coarse-grained model of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies parametrized directly on cryo-EM data and simulate the binding dynamics of many IgGs to antigens adsorbed on a surface at increasing densities. Moreover, we work out a theoretical model that allows to explain all the features observed in the simulations. Our combined computational and theoretical framework is in excellent agreement with surface-plasmon resonance data and allows us to establish a number of important results. (i) Internal flexibility is key to maximize bivalent binding, flexible IgGs being able to explore the surface with their second arm in search for an available hapten. This is made clear by the strongly reduced ability to bind with both arms displayed by artificial IgGs designed to rigidly keep a prescribed shape. (ii) The large size of IgGs is instrumental to keep neighboring molecules at a certain distance (surface repulsion), which essentially makes antigens within reach of the second Fab always unoccupied on average. (iii) One needs to account independently for the thermodynamic and geometric factors that regulate the binding equilibrium. The key geometrical parameters, besides excluded-volume repulsion, describe the screening of free haptens by neighboring bound antibodies. We prove that the thermodynamic parameters govern the low-antigen-concentration regime, while the surface screening and repulsion only affect the binding at high hapten densities. Importantly, we prove that screening effects are concealed in relative measures, such as the fraction of bivalently bound antibodies. Overall, our model provides a valuable, accurate theoretical paradigm beyond existing frameworks to interpret experimental profiles of antibodies binding to multi-valent surfaces of different sorts in many contexts.


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Yeast-extract improved biosynthesis of lignans and neolignans in cell suspension cultures of Linum usitatissimum L.


ABSTRACT

Lignans and neolignans are important biologically active ingredients (BAIs) biosynthesized by Linum usitatissimum. These BAIs have multi-dimensional effects against cancer, diabetes and cardio vascular diseases. In this study, yeast extract (YE) was employed as an elicitor to evaluate its effects on dynamics of biomass, BAIs and antioxidant activities in L. usitatissimum cell cultures. During preliminary experiments, flax cultures were grown on different concentrations of YE (0–1000 mg/L), and 200 mg/L YE was found to be optimum to enhance several biochemical parameters in these cell cultures. A two-fold increase in fresh (FW) and dry weight (DW) over the control was observed in cultures grown on MS medium supplemented with 200 mg/L YE. Similarly, total phenolic (TPC; 16 mg/g DW) and flavonoids content (TFC; 5.1 mg/g DW) were also positively affected by YE (200 mg/L). Stimulatory effects of YE on biosynthesis of lignans and neolignans was also noted. Thus, 200 mg/L of YE enhanced biosynthesis of secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG; 3.36-fold or 10.1 mg/g DW), lariciresinol diglucoside (LDG; 1.3-fold or 11.0 mg/g DW) and dehydrodiconiferyl alcohol glucoside (DCG; 4.26-fold or 21.3 mg/g DW) in L. usitatissimum cell cultures with respect to controls. This elicitation strategy could be scaled up for production of commercially feasible levels of these precious metabolites by cell cultures of Linum.


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Mechanistic evaluation of phytochemicals in breast cancer remedy: current understanding and future perspectives


ABSTRACT

Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers around the globe and accounts for a large proportion of fatalities in women. Despite the advancement in therapeutic and diagnostic procedures, breast cancer still represents a major challenge. Current anti-breast cancer approaches include surgical removal, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy and the use of various chemotherapeutic drugs. However, drug resistance, associated serious adverse effects, metastasis and recurrence complications still need to be resolved which demand safe and alternative strategies. In this scenario, phytochemicals have recently gained huge attention due to their safety profile and cost-effectiveness. These phytochemicals modulate various genes, gene products and signalling pathways, thereby inhibiting breast cancer cell proliferation, invasion, angiogenesis and metastasis and inducing apoptosis. Moreover, they also target breast cancer stem cells and overcome drug resistance problems in breast carcinomas. Phytochemicals as adjuvants with chemotherapeutic drugs have greatly enhanced their therapeutic efficacy. This review focuses on the recently recognized molecular mechanisms underlying breast cancer chemoprevention with the use of phytochemicals such as curcumin, resveratrol, silibinin, genistein, epigallocatechin gallate, secoisolariciresinol, thymoquinone, kaempferol, quercetin, parthenolide, sulforaphane, ginsenosides, naringenin, isoliquiritigenin, luteolin, benzyl isothiocyanate, α-mangostin, 3,3′-diindolylmethane, pterostilbene, vinca alkaloids and apigenin.


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Calling Behavior and Sex Pheromone Release and Storage in the Moth Chloridea virescens


ABSTRACT

Female moths release sex pheromone to attract mates. In most species, sex pheromone is produced in, and released from, a specific gland. In a previous study, we used empirical data and compartmental modeling to account for the major pheromone gland processes of female Chloridea virescens: synthesis, storage, catabolism and release; we found that females released little (20–30%) of their pheromone, with most catabolized. The recent publication of a new pheromone collection method led us to reinvestigate pheromone release and catabolism in C. virescens on the basis that our original study might have underestimated release rate (thereby overestimating catabolism) due to methodology and females not calling (releasing) continuously. Further we wished to compare pheromone storage/catabolism between calling and non-calling females. First, we observed calling intermittency of females. Then, using decapitated females, we used the new collection method, along with compartmental modeling, gland sampling and stable isotope labeling, to determine differences in pheromone release, catabolism and storage between (forced) simulated calling and non-calling females. We found, (i) intact 1 d females call intermittently; (ii) pheromone is released at a higher rate than previously determined, with simulations estimating that continuously calling females release ca. 70% of their pheromone (only 30% catabolized); (iii) extension (calling)/retraction of the ovipositor is a highly effective “on/off’ mechanism for release; (iv) both calling and non-calling females store most pheromone on or near the gland surface, but calling females catabolize less pheromone; (v) females are capable of producing and releasing pheromone very rapidly. Thus, not only is the moth pheromone gland efficient, in terms of the proportion of pheromone released Vs. catabolized, but it is highly effective at shutting on/off a high flux of pheromone for release.


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Mariner Transposons Contain a Silencer: Possible Role of the Polycomb Repressive Complex 2


ABSTRACT

Transposable elements are driving forces for establishing genetic innovations such as transcriptional regulatory networks in eukaryotic genomes. Here, we describe a silencer situated in the last 300 bp of the Mos1 transposase open reading frame (ORF) which functions in vertebrate and arthropod cells. Functional silencers are also found at similar locations within three other animal mariner elements, i.e. IS630-Tc1-mariner (ITm) DD34D elements, Himar1, Hsmar1 and Mcmar1. These silencers are able to impact eukaryotic promoters monitoring strong, moderate or low expression as well as those of mariner elements located upstream of the transposase ORF. We report that the silencing involves at least two transcription factors (TFs) that are conserved within animal species, NFAT-5 and Alx1. These cooperatively act with YY1 to trigger the silencing activity. Four other housekeeping transcription factors (TFs), neuron restrictive silencer factor (NRSF), GAGA factor (GAF) and GTGT factor (GTF), were also found to have binding sites within mariner silencers but their impact in modulating the silencer activity remains to be further specified. Interestingly, an NRSF binding site was found to overlap a 30 bp motif coding a highly conserved PHxxYSPDLAPxD peptide in mariner transposases. We also present experimental evidence that silencing is mainly achieved by co-opting the host Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 pathway. However, we observe that when PRC2 is impaired another host silencing pathway potentially takes over to maintain weak silencer activity. Mariner silencers harbour features of Polycomb Response Elements, which are probably a way for mariner elements to self-repress their transcription and mobility in somatic and germinal cells when the required TFs are expressed. At the evolutionary scale, mariner elements, through their exaptation, might have been a source of silencers playing a role in the chromatin configuration in eukaryotic genomes.


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The future of transposable element annotation and their classification in the light of functional genomics - what we can learn from the fables of Jean de la Fontaine?


ABSTRACT

Transposable element (TE) science has been significantly influenced by the pioneering ideas of David Finnegan near the end of the last century, as well as by the classification systems that were subsequently developed. Today, whole genome TE annotation is mostly done using tools that were developed to aid gene annotation rather than to specifically study TEs. We argue that further progress in the TE field is impeded both by current TE classification schemes and by a failure to recognize that TE biology is fundamentally different from that of multicellular organisms. Novel genome wide TE annotation methods are helping to redefine our understanding of TE sequence origins and evolution. We briefly discuss some of these new methods as well as ideas for possible alternative classification schemes. Our hope is to encourage the formation of a society to organize a larger debate on these questions and to promote the adoption of standards for annotation and an improved TE classification.


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But where did the centromeres go in the chicken genome models?


ABSTRACT

The chicken genome was the third vertebrate to be sequenced. To date, its sequence and feature annotations are used as the reference for avian models in genome sequencing projects developed on birds and other Sauropsida species, and in genetic studies of domesticated birds of economic and evolutionary biology interest. Therefore, an accurate description of this genome model is important to a wide number of scientists. Here, we review the location and features of a very basic element, the centromeres of chromosomes in the galGal5 genome model. Centromeres are elements that are not determined by their DNA sequence but by their epigenetic status, in particular by the accumulation of the histone-like protein CENP-A. Comparison of data from several public sources (primarily marker probes flanking centromeres using fluorescent in situ hybridization done on giant lampbrush chromosomes and CENP-A ChIP-seq datasets) with galGal5 annotations revealed that centromeres are likely inappropriately mapped in 9 of the 16 galGal5 chromosome models in which they are described. Analysis of karyology data confirmed that the location of the main CENP-A peaks in chromosomes is the best means of locating the centromeres in 25 galGal5 chromosome models, the majority of which (16) are fully sequenced and assembled. This data re-analysis reaffirms that several sources of information should be examined to produce accurate genome annotations, particularly for basic structures such as centromeres that are epigenetically determined.