Metabolic Changes in Summer Active and Anuric Hibernating Free-Ranging Brown Bears (Ursus arctos)
Abdul Rashid Qureshi
Richard J. Johnson
- The brown bear (Ursus arctos) hibernates for 5 to 6 months each winter and during this time ingests no food or water and remains anuric and inactive. Despite these extreme conditions, bears do not develop azotemia and preserve their muscle and bone strength. To date most renal studies have been limited to small numbers of bears, often in captive environments. Sixteen free-ranging bears were darted and had blood drawn both during hibernation in winter and summer. Samples were collected for measurement of creatinine and urea, markers of inflammation, the calcium-phosphate axis, and nutritional parameters including amino acids. In winter the bear serum creatinine increased 2.5 fold despite a 2-fold decrease in urea, indicating a remarkable ability to recycle urea nitrogen during hibernation. During hibernation serum calcium remained constant despite a decrease in serum phosphate and a rise in FGF23 levels. Despite prolonged inactivity and reduced renal function, inflammation does not ensue and bears seem to have enhanced antioxidant defense mechanisms during hibernation. Nutrition parameters showed high fat stores, preserved amino acids and mild hyperglycemia during hibernation. While total, essential, non-essential and branched chain amino acids concentrations do not change during hibernation anorexia, changes in individual amino acids ornithine, citrulline and arginine indicate an active, although reduced urea cycle and nitrogen recycling to proteins. Serum uric acid and serum fructose levels were elevated in summer and changes between seasons were positively correlated. Further studies to understand how bears can prevent the development of uremia despite minimal renal function during hibernation could provide new therapeutic avenues for the treatment of human kidney disease.
Prox1 regulates the notch1-mediated inhibition of neurogenesis
Panagiotis K. Politis
- Activation of Notch1 signaling in neural progenitor cells (NPCs) induces self-renewal and inhibits neurogenesis. Upon neuronal differentiation, NPCs overcome this inhibition, express proneural genes to induce Notch ligands, and activate Notch1 in neighboring NPCs. The molecular mechanism that coordinates Notch1 inactivation with initiation of neurogenesis remains elusive. Here, we provide evidence that Prox1, a transcription repressor and downstream target of proneural genes, counteracts Notch1 signaling via direct suppression of Notch1 gene expression. By expression studies in the developing spinal cord of chick and mouse embryo, we showed that Prox1 is limited to neuronal precursors residing between the Notch1+ NPCs and post-mitotic neurons. Physiological levels of Prox1 in this tissue are sufficient to allow binding at Notch1 promoter and they are critical for proper Notch1 transcriptional regulation in vivo. Gain-of-function studies in the chick neural tube and mouse NPCs suggest that Prox1-mediated suppression of Notch1 relieves its inhibition on neurogenesis and allows NPCs to exit the cell cycle and differentiate. Moreover, loss-of-function in the chick neural tube shows that Prox1 is necessary for suppression of Notch1 outside the ventricular zone, inhibition of active Notch signaling, down-regulation of NPC markers, and completion of neuronal differentiation program. Together these data suggest that Prox1 inhibits Notch1 gene expression to control the balance between NPC self-renewal and neuronal differentiation.
Live Imaging of Whole Mouse Embryos during Gastrulation: Migration Analyses of Epiblast and Mesodermal Cells
Philipp J. Keller
Ernst H. K. Stelzer
- During gastrulation in the mouse embryo, dynamic cell movements including epiblast invagination and mesodermal layer expansion lead to the establishment of the three-layered body plan. The precise details of these movements, however, are sometimes elusive, because of the limitations in live imaging. To overcome this problem, we developed techniques to enable observation of living mouse embryos with digital scanned light sheet microscope (DSLM). The achieved deep and high time-resolution images of GFP-expressing nuclei and following 3D tracking analysis revealed the following findings: (i) Interkinetic nuclear migration (INM) occurs in the epiblast at embryonic day (E)6 and 6.5. (ii) INM-like migration occurs in the E5.5 embryo, when the epiblast is a monolayer and not yet pseudostratified. (iii) Primary driving force for INM at E6.5 is not pressure from neighboring nuclei. (iv) Mesodermal cells migrate not as a sheet but as individual cells without coordination.
Basement Membrane-Rich Organoids with Functional Human Blood Vessels Are Permissive Niches for Human Breast Cancer Metastasis
Ángel M. Cuesta
Ana M. Álvarez-Méndez
- Metastasic breast cancer is the leading cause of death by malignancy in women worldwide. Tumor metastasis is a multistep process encompassing local invasion of cancer cells at primary tumor site, intravasation into the blood vessel, survival in systemic circulation, and extravasation across the endothelium to metastasize at a secondary site. However, only a small percentage of circulating cancer cells initiate metastatic colonies. This fact, together with the inaccessibility and structural complexity of target tissues has hampered the study of the later steps in cancer metastasis. In addition, most data are derived from in vivo models where critical steps such as intravasation/extravasation of human cancer cells are mediated by murine endothelial cells. Here, we developed a new mouse model to study the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying late steps of the metastatic cascade. We have shown that a network of functional human blood vessels can be formed by co-implantation of human endothelial cells and mesenchymal cells, embedded within a reconstituted basement membrane-like matrix and inoculated subcutaneously into immunodeficient mice. The ability of circulating cancer cells to colonize these human vascularized organoids was next assessed in an orthotopic model of human breast cancer by bioluminescent imaging, molecular techniques and immunohistological analysis. We demonstrate that disseminated human breast cancer cells efficiently colonize organoids containing a functional microvessel network composed of human endothelial cells, connected to the mouse circulatory system. Human breast cancer cells could be clearly detected at different stages of the metastatic process: initial arrest in the human microvasculature, extravasation, and growth into avascular micrometastases. This new mouse model may help us to map the extravasation process with unprecedented detail, opening the way for the identification of relevant targets for therapeutic intervention.
On functional module detection in metabolic networks
- Functional modules of metabolic networks are essential for understanding the metabolism of an organism as a whole. With the vast amount of experimental data and the construction of complex and large-scale, often genome-wide, models, the computer-aided identification of functional modules becomes more and more important. Since steady states play a key role in biology, many methods have been developed in that context, for example, elementary flux modes, extreme pathways, transition invariants and place invariants. Metabolic networks can be studied also from the point of view of graph theory, and algorithms for graph decomposition have been applied for the identification of functional modules. A prominent and currently intensively discussed field of methods in graph theory addresses the Q-modularity. In this paper, we recall known concepts of module detection based on the steady-state assumption, focusing on transition-invariants (elementary modes) and their computation as minimal solutions of systems of Diophantine equations. We present the Fourier-Motzkin algorithm in detail. Afterwards, we introduce the Q-modularity as an example for a useful non-steady-state method and its application to metabolic networks. To illustrate and discuss the concepts of invariants and Q-modularity, we apply a part of the central carbon metabolism in potato tubers (Solanum tuberosum) as running example. The intention of the paper is to give a compact presentation of known steady-state concepts from a graph-theoretical viewpoint in the context of network decomposition and reduction and to introduce the application of Q-modularity to metabolic Petri net models.
OTU deubiquitinases reveal mechanisms of linkage specificity and enable ubiquitin chain restriction analysis
Tycho E.T. Mevissen
Manuela K. Hospenthal
Paul P. Geurink
Paul R. Elliott
Farid El Oualid
Stefan M. V. Freund
- Sixteen ovarian tumor (OTU) family deubiquitinases (DUBs) exist in humans, and most members regulate cell-signaling cascades. Several OTU DUBs were reported to be ubiquitin (Ub) chain linkage specific, but comprehensive analyses are missing, and the underlying mechanisms of linkage specificity are unclear. Using Ub chains of all eight linkage types, we reveal that most human OTU enzymes are linkage specific, preferring one, two, or a defined subset of linkage types, including unstudied atypical Ub chains. Biochemical analysis and five crystal structures of OTU DUBs with or without Ub substrates reveal four mechanisms of linkage specificity. Additional Ub-binding domains, the ubiquitinated sequence in the substrate, and defined S1’ and S2 Ub-binding sites on the OTU domain enable OTU DUBs to distinguish linkage types. We introduce Ub chain restriction analysis, in which OTU DUBs are used as restriction enzymes to reveal linkage type and the relative abundance of Ub chains on substrates.
Comparative toxicity assessment of nanosilver on three Daphnia species in acute, chronic and multi-generation experiments
- The antibacterial properties of nanosilver have led to a versatile application spectrum including medical purposes and personal care products. However, the increasing use of nanosilver has raised concerns about its environmental impacts. Long-term exposure studies with aquatic invertebrates are essential to assess possible adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems. In the present study, acute (48 h), chronic (21 d) and long-term effects of nanosilver (primary size 15 nm) on five successive generations of three Daphnia species (D. magna, D. pulex, and D. galeata) were investigated. Acute EC50 values of nanosilver were 121 µg Ag L−1 for D. magna being the least sensitive species and 8.95 and 13.9 µg Ag L−1 for D. pulex and D. galeata, respectively. Chronic exposure provided EC10 values of 0.92 µg Ag L−1 for D. magna showing the most sensitive chronic reaction and 2.25 and 3.45 µg Ag L−1 for D. pulex and D. galeata, respectively. Comparative exposure to AgNO3 revealed a generally higher toxicity of the soluble form of silver. The multi-generation experiments resulted in effects on the population level for all tested species. Exposure of D. magna indicated an increased toxicity of nanosilver in the fifth generation of animals exposed to 10 µg Ag L−1. Neonates from pre-exposed parental daphnids did not completely recover when transferred into clean water. Exposure of D. pulex and D. galeata revealed not only increasing toxicity in some generations, but also greater tolerance to nanosilver. This study contributes to the assessment of the risk potential of nanosilver on aquatic ecosystems. It shows that effects of nanosilver vary within one genus and change with exposure duration. Therefore, long-term studies considering different aquatic species are needed to better understand the possible effects of nanosilver on aquatic ecosystems.
The Expression of stlA in Photorhabdus luminescens Is Controlled by Nutrient Limitation
Alexander Oliver Brachmann
Helge Björn Bode
David J. Clarke
- Photorhabdus is a genus of Gram-negative entomopathogenic bacteria that also maintain a mutualistic association with nematodes from the family Heterorhabditis. Photorhabdus has an extensive secondary metabolism that is required for the interaction between the bacteria and the nematode. A major component of this secondary metabolism is a stilbene molecule, called ST. The first step in ST biosynthesis is the non-oxidative deamination of phenylalanine resulting in the production of cinnamic acid. This reaction is catalyzed by phenylalanine-ammonium lyase, an enzyme encoded by the stlA gene. In this study we show, using a stlA-gfp transcriptional fusion, that the expression of stlA is regulated by nutrient limitation through a regulatory network that involves at least 3 regulators. We show that TyrR, a LysR-type transcriptional regulator that regulates gene expression in response to aromatic amino acids in E. coli, is absolutely required for stlA expression. We also show that stlA expression is modulated by σS and Lrp, regulators that are implicated in the regulation of the response to nutrient limitation in other bacteria. This work is the first that describes pathway-specific regulation of secondary metabolism in Photorhabdus and, therefore, our study provides an initial insight into the complex regulatory network that controls secondary metabolism, and therefore mutualism, in this model organism.
Perspectives on deciphering mechanisms underlying plant heat stress response and thermotolerance
Kamila L. Bokszczanin
- Global warming is a major threat for agriculture and food safety and in many cases the negative effects are already apparent. The current challenge of basic and applied plant science is to decipher the molecular mechanisms of heat stress response (HSR) and thermotolerance in detail and use this information to identify genotypes that will withstand unfavorable environmental conditions. Nowadays X-omics approaches complement the findings of previous targeted studies and highlight the complexity of HSR mechanisms giving information for so far unrecognized genes, proteins and metabolites as potential key players of thermotolerance. Even more, roles of epigenetic mechanisms and the involvement of small RNAs in thermotolerance are currently emerging and thus open new directions of yet unexplored areas of plant HSR. In parallel it is emerging that although the whole plant is vulnerable to heat, specific organs are particularly sensitive to elevated temperatures. This has redirected research from the vegetative to generative tissues. The sexual reproduction phase is considered as the most sensitive to heat and specifically pollen exhibits the highest sensitivity and frequently an elevation of the temperature just a few degrees above the optimum during pollen development can have detrimental effects for crop production. Compared to our knowledge on HSR of vegetative tissues, the information on pollen is still scarce. Nowadays, several techniques for high-throughput X-omics approaches provide major tools to explore the principles of pollen HSR and thermotolerance mechanisms in specific genotypes. The collection of such information will provide an excellent support for improvement of breeding programs to facilitate the development of tolerant cultivars. The review aims at describing the current knowledge of thermotolerance mechanisms and the technical advances which will foster new insights into this process.
Genetic engineering of baker’s and wine yeasts using formaldehyde hyperresistance-mediating plasmids
- Yeast multi-copy vectors carrying the for maldehyde-resistance marker gene SFA have proved to be a valuable tool for research on industrially used strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The genetics of these strains is often poorly understood, and for various reasons it is not possible to simply subject these strains to protocols of genetic engineering that have been established for laboratory strains of S. cerevisiae. We tested our vectors and protocols using 10 randomly picked baker’s and wine yeasts all of which could be transformed by a simple protocol with vectors conferring hyperresistance to formaldehyde. The application of formaldehyde as a selecting agent also offers the advantage of its biodegradation to CO2 during fermentation, i.e., the selecting agent will be consumed and therefore its removal during down-stream processing is not necessary. Thus, this vector provides an expression system which is simple to apply and inexpensive to use. Key words: · Yeast · Transformation · Hyperresistance to formaldehyde