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Nematodes of the genus Steinernema Travassos, 1927 (Nematoda: Steinernematidae) and their associated bacteria, Xenorhabdus spp. (gamma-Proteobacteria), are an emergent model of terrestrial animal-microbe symbiosis. Interest in this association initially arose out of their potential as biocontrol agents against insect pests, but, despite advances in their field application and the growing popularity of this model system, relatively little has been published to uncover the evolutionary facets of this beneficial partnership. This study adds to the body of knowledge regarding nematode-bacteria symbiosis by proposing a possible scenario for their historical association in the form of a cophylogenetic hypothesis. Topological and likelihood based testing methods were employed to reconstruct a history of association between 30 host-symbiont pairs and to gauge the level of similarity between their inferred phylogenetic patterns.

Leinamycin is a structurally novel Streptomyces-derived natural product that displays very potent activity against various human cancer cell lines (IC(50) values in the low nanomolar range). Previous in vitro biochemical studies have revealed that leinamycin alkylates DNA, generates apurinic (AP) sites and reactive oxygen species (ROS), and causes DNA strand breaks. However, it is not clear whether these events occur inside cells. In the present study, we have determined the endogenous amount of AP sites and DNA strand breaks in genomic DNA and the amount of oxidative stress in a human pancreatic carcinoma cell line, MiaPaCa, treated with leinamycin by utilizing the aldehyde-reactive probe assay, the comet assay, and fluorescent probes, respectively. We demonstrated that AP sites are formed rapidly following exposure to leinamycin, and the number of AP sites was increased up to seven-fold in a dose-dependent manner. However, only 25-50% of these sites remain 2 h after media containing drug molecules were aspirated and replaced with fresh media. We also observed leinamycin-induced ROS generation and a concomitant increase in apoptosis of MiaPaCa cells. Because both AP sites and ROS have the potential to generate strand breaks in cellular DNA, the comet assay was utilized to detect damage to nuclear DNA in leinamycin-treated MiaPaCa cell cultures. Both alkaline and neutral electrophoretic analysis revealed that leinamycin produces both single- and double-stranded DNA damage in drug-treated cells in a dose-dependent manner. Taken together, the results suggest that rapid conversion of leinamycin-guanine (N7) adducts into AP sites to produce DNA strand breaks, in synergy with leinamycin-derived ROS, accounts for the exceedingly potent biological activity of this natural product.

There has been recent interest in utilizing calcium phosphates (CaPs) that set in situ for treating bone defects due to the limitations associated with morselized autografts and allografts. However, CaP cements have long setting times, poor mechanical properties, and poor osteoinductivity. This has prompted research toward finding a nonprotein-based compound, such as chitosan, to accelerate setting times and increase osteoinductivity. The purpose of this study was to compare bone growth rates during the early bone healing response achieved using conventionally prepared chitosan-CaP bone filler to an extensively purified chitosan-CaP compound. Both compounds set quickly and stimulated bone formation. Histomorphometry demonstrated a 290% increase in new bone formation when using the conventional chitosan-CaP bone filler and a 172% increase with the highly purified chitosan-CaP compound compared to the increase in bone formation seen with the unfilled control group. The results of this study indicate that a highly purified chitosan-CaP paste stimulated less bone formation than a conventionally prepared chitosan-CaP paste but both pastes have the potential to stimulate bone formation.

ABSTRACT The use of "sensate" scaffolds covered with tissue-engineered cartilage has emerged as a possible treatment option for focal articular cartilage defects. The ability to monitor joint loading provides several benefits that can be useful in both clinical and research situations. Previous studies have shown that these scaffolds can accurately monitor in vivo joint loading during various activities. However, the effect that an articular cartilage layer or soft tissue overgrowth has on scaffold sensitivity has not been tested. Eight scaffolds were tested with cartilage samples taken from four hounds. Three strain gauges were attached to each scaffold and a servo hydraulics system was used to test sensitivity while the scaffold was in contact with cartilage, metal, or silicone surfaces. Strain gauge sensitivity was calculated from load and strain measurements collected during testing. There was no significant difference between the mean strain gauge sensitivities when the scaffolds were in contact with the different surfaces: cartilage 30.9 +/- 16.2 muepsilon/N, metal 31.8 +/- 18.6 muepsilon/N, and silicone 30.6 +/- 12.3 muepsilon/N. These results indicate that "sensate" scaffolds can be calibrated and used to monitor load with the presence of an articular cartilage layer.

We present a method to reconstruct a three-dimensional protein structure from an atomic pair distribution function derived from the scattering intensity profile from SAXS data by flexibly fitting known x-ray structures. This method uses a linear combination of low-frequency normal modes from an elastic network description of the molecule in an iterative manner to deform the structure to conform optimally to the target pair distribution function derived from SAXS data. For computational efficiency, the protein and water molecules included in the protein first hydration shell are coarse-grained. In this paper, we demonstrate the validity of our coarse-graining approach to study SAXS data. Illustrative results of our flexible fitting studies on simulated SAXS data from five different proteins are presented.

Tissue damage leads to pain sensitization due to peripheral and central release of excitatory mediators such as prostaglandin E₂ (PGE₂). PGE₂ sensitizes spinal pain neurotransmitter such as calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) release via activation of cyclic AMP (cAMP)/protein kinase A (PKA)-dependent signaling mechanisms. Our previous data demonstrate that sustained morphine pretreatment sensitizes adenylyl cyclase(s) (AC) toward the direct stimulator, forskolin, in cultured primary sensory neurons (AC superactivation). In the present work we investigated the hypothesis that morphine pretreatment also sensitizes ACs toward Gs-protein-coupled excitatory modulators (such as PGE₂), leading to augmented PKA-dependent CGRP release from PGE₂-stimulated primary sensory dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Our results show that sustained morphine treatment potentiated PGE₂-mediated cAMP formation and augmented PGE₂-evoked CGRP release from cultured primary sensory neurons in a PKA-dependent manner. Our data suggest that attenuation of AC superactivation in primary sensory neurons may prevent the development of opioid-induced hyperalgesia.

The establishment of tight junctions and cell polarity is an essential process in all epithelia. Endotubin is an integral membrane protein found in apical endosomes of developing epithelia when tight junctions and epithelial polarity first arise. We found that the disruption of endotubin function in cells in culture by siRNA or overexpression of the C-terminal cytoplasmic domain of endotubin causes defects in organization and function of tight junctions. We observe defects in localization of tight junction proteins, reduced transepithelial resistance, increased lanthanum penetration between cells and reduced ability of cells to form cysts in three-dimensional culture. In addition, in cells overexpressing the C-terminal domain of endotubin, we observe a delay in re-establishing the normal distribution of endosomes after calcium switch. These results suggest that endotubin regulates trafficking of polarity proteins and tight junction components out of the endosomal compartment, thereby providing a critical link between a resident protein of apical endosomes and tight junctions.

Multiple factors over the lifetime of an individual, including diet, geography, and physiologic state, will influence the microbial communities within the primate gut. To determine the source of variation in the composition of the microbiota within and among species, we investigated the distal gut microbial communities harbored by great apes, as present in fecal samples recovered within their native ranges. We found that the branching order of host-species phylogenies based on the composition of these microbial communities is completely congruent with the known relationships of the hosts. Although the gut is initially and continuously seeded by bacteria that are acquired from external sources, we establish that over evolutionary timescales, the composition of the gut microbiota among great ape species is phylogenetically conserved and has diverged in a manner consistent with vertical inheritance.

We describe a Toxoplasma gondii strain that will permit the use of site-specific recombination to study the host-parasite interactions of this organism. This Toxoplasma strain efficiently injects a Cre fusion protein into host cells. In a Cre-reporter cell line, a single parasite invasion induced Cre-mediated recombination in 95% of infected host cells. By infecting Cre-reporter mice with these parasites, we also monitored host-cell infection in vivo.

The emergence of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella is of concern to food processors. The objective of this research was to identify antimicrobial activities of cinnamaldehyde and carvacrol against antibiotic-resistant Salmonella enterica in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) and on celery and oysters. Twenty-three isolates were screened for resistance to seven antibiotics. Two resistant and two susceptible strains were chosen for the study. S. enterica cultures (10(5) CFU/ml) were added to different concentrations of cinnamaldehyde and carvacrol (0.1, 0.2, 0.3, and 0.4% [vol/vol]) in PBS, mixed, and incubated at 37 degrees C. Samples were taken at 0, 1, 5, and 24 h for enumeration. Celery and oysters were inoculated with S. enterica (10(6-7) CFU/ml), treated with 1% cinnamaldehyde or 1% carvacrol, incubated at 4 degrees C, and then sampled for enumeration on days 0 and 3. Both antimicrobials induced complete inactivation of S. enterica in PBS at 0.3 and 0.4% on exposure, and on 0.2% in 1 h. Exposure to cinnamaldehyde at 0.1% inactivated all pathogens at 1 h, and survivors were observed only for Salmonella Newport with 0.1% carvacrol at 1 h. In celery, 1% carvacrol reduced S. enterica populations to below detection on day 0, while 1% cinnamaldehyde reduced populations by 1 and 2.3 log on day 0 and day 3, respectively. In oysters, both antimicrobials caused about 5-log reductions on day 3. These results show the potential antimicrobial effects of carvacrol and cinnamaldehyde against antibiotic-resistant S. enterica in vitro and in foods.

Cross contamination of foodborne pathogens from raw meats to ready-to-eat foods has caused a number of foodborne outbreaks. The cross contamination and transfer rates of Salmonella enterica from chicken to lettuce under various food-handling scenarios were determined. The following scenarios were tested: in scenario 1, cutting board and knife used to cut chicken (10(6) CFU/g) were also used for cutting lettuce, without washing; in scenario 2, cutting board and knife were washed with water separately after cutting chicken, and subsequently used for cutting lettuce; and in scenario 3, cutting board and knife were thoroughly washed with soap and hot water after cutting chicken, and before cutting lettuce. In each scenario, cutting board, knife, chicken and lettuce were sampled for population of S. enterica. For scenario 1, both before and after cutting lettuce, the cutting board and knife each had about 2 logs CFU/cm(2) of S. enterica, respectively. The cut lettuce had about 3 logs CFU/g of S. enterica. In scenario 2, fewer organisms (0.5-2.4 logs CFU/g or cm(2)) were transferred. The transfer rates in both scenarios ranged from 0.02 to 75%. However, in scenario 3, <1 log CFU/g or cm(2) organisms were detected on lettuce, cutting board or knife, after washing and cutting lettuce. This shows that the FDA recommended practice for cleaning cutting boards is effective in removing S. enterica and preventing cross contamination.

CD46 is a type I transmembrane protein with complement and T cell regulatory functions in human cells. CD46 has signaling and receptor properties in immune and nonimmune cells, many of which are dependent on the expression of cytoplasmic tail (cyt) isoforms cyt1 or cyt2. Little is known about how cyt1 and cyt2 mediate cellular responses. We show that CD46-cyt1 and CD46-cyt2 are substrates for presenilin/gamma-secretase (PS/gammaS), an endogenous protease complex that regulates many important signaling proteins through proteolytic processing. PS/gammaS processing of CD46 releases immunoprecipitable cyt1 and cyt2 tail peptides into the cell, is blocked by chemical inhibitors, and is prevented in dominant negative presenilin mutant cell lines. Two human pathogens, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitidis, stimulate PS/gammaS processing of CD46-cyt1 and CD46-cyt2. This stimulation requires type IV pili and PilT, the type IV pilus retraction motor, implying that mechanotransduction plays a role in this event. We present a model for PS/gammaS processing of CD46 that provides a mechanism by which signals are transduced via the cyt1 and cyt2 tails to regulate CD46-dependent cellular responses. Our findings have broad implications for understanding the full range of CD46 functions in infection and noninfection situations.

Commensal bacteria comprise a large part of the microbial world, playing important roles in human development, health and disease. However, little is known about the genomic content of commensals or how related they are to their pathogenic counterparts. The genus Neisseria, containing both commensal and pathogenic species, provides an excellent opportunity to study these issues. We undertook a comprehensive sequencing and analysis of human commensal and pathogenic Neisseria genomes. Commensals have an extensive repertoire of virulence alleles, a large fraction of which has been exchanged among Neisseria species. Commensals also have the genetic capacity to donate DNA to, and take up DNA from, other Neisseria. Our findings strongly suggest that commensal Neisseria serve as reservoirs of virulence alleles, and that they engage extensively in genetic exchange.

No abstract given.

Fire scars are used widely to reconstruct historical fire regime parameters in forests around the world. Because fire scars provide incomplete records of past fire occurrence at discrete points in space, inferences must be made to reconstruct fire frequency and extent across landscapes using spatial networks of fire-scar samples. Assessing the relative accuracy of fire-scar fire history reconstructions has been hampered due to a lack of empirical comparisons with independent fire history data sources. We carried out such a comparison in a 2780-ha ponderosa pine forest on Mica Mountain in southern Arizona (USA) for the time period 1937-2000. Using documentary records of fire perimeter maps and ignition locations, we compared reconstructions of key spatial and temporal fire regime parameters developed from documentary fire maps and independently collected fire-scar data (n = 60 plots). We found that fire-scar data provided spatially representative and complete inventories of all major fire years (> 100 ha) in the study area but failed to detect most small fires. There was a strong linear relationship between the percentage of samples recording fire scars in a given year (i.e., fire-scar synchrony) and total area burned for that year (y = 0.0003x + 0.0087, r2 = 0.96). There was also strong spatial coherence between cumulative fire frequency maps interpolated from fire-scar data and ground-mapped fire perimeters. Widely reported fire frequency summary statistics varied little between fire history data sets: fire-scar natural fire rotations (NFR) differed by < 3 yr from documentary records (29.6 yr); mean fire return intervals (MFI) for large-fire years (i.e., > or = 25% of study area burned) were identical between data sets (25.5 yr); fire-scar MFIs for all fire years differed by 1.2 yr from documentary records. The known seasonal timing of past fires based on documentary records was furthermore reconstructed accurately by observing intra-annual ring position of fire scars and using knowledge of tree-ring growth phenology in the Southwest. Our results demonstrate clearly that representative landscape-scale fire histories can be reconstructed accurately from spatially distributed fire-scar samples.

We report an improved draft nucleotide sequence of the 2.3-gigabase genome of maize, an important crop plant and model for biological research. Over 32,000 genes were predicted, of which 99.8% were placed on reference chromosomes. Nearly 85% of the genome is composed of hundreds of families of transposable elements, dispersed nonuniformly across the genome. These were responsible for the capture and amplification of numerous gene fragments and affect the composition, sizes, and positions of centromeres. We also report on the correlation of methylation-poor regions with Mu transposon insertions and recombination, and copy number variants with insertions and/or deletions, as well as how uneven gene losses between duplicated regions were involved in returning an ancient allotetraploid to a genetically diploid state. These analyses inform and set the stage for further investigations to improve our understanding of the domestication and agricultural improvements of maize.

Naturally occurring mutations in cardiac troponin T (cTnT) result in a clinical subset of familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. To determine the mechanistic links between thin-filament mutations and cardiovascular phenotypes, we have generated and characterized several transgenic mouse models carrying cTnT mutations. We address two central questions regarding the previously observed changes in myocellular mechanics and Ca(2+) homeostasis: 1) are they characteristic of all severe cTnT mutations, and 2) are they primary (early) or secondary (late) components of the myocellular response? Adult left ventricular myocytes were isolated from 2- and 6-mo-old transgenic mice carrying missense mutations at residue 92, flanking the TNT1 NH(2)-terminal tail domain. Results from R92L and R92W myocytes showed mutation-specific alterations in contraction and relaxation indexes at 2 mo with improvements by 6 mo. Alterations in Ca(2+) kinetics remained consistent with mechanical data in which R92L and R92W exhibited severe diastolic impairments at the early time point that improved with increasing age. A normal regulation of Ca(2+) kinetics in the context of an altered baseline cTnI phosphorylation suggested a pathogenic mechanism at the myofilament level taking precedence for R92L. The quantitation of Ca(2+)-handling proteins in R92W mice revealed a synergistic compensatory mechanism involving an increased Ser16 and Thr17 phosphorylation of phospholamban, contributing to the temporal onset of improved cellular mechanics and Ca(2+) homeostasis. Therefore, independent cTnT mutations in the TNT1 domain result in primary mutation-specific effects and a differential temporal onset of altered myocellular mechanics, Ca(2+) kinetics, and Ca(2+) homeostasis, complex mechanisms which may contribute to the clinical variability in cTnT-related familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy mutations.

Combination chemoprevention for cancer was proposed a quarter of a century ago, but has not been implemented in standard medical practice owing to limited efficacy and toxicity. Recent trials have targeted inflammation and polyamine biosynthesis, both of which are increased in carcinogenesis. Preclinical studies have demonstrated that DFMO (difluoromethylornithine), an irreversible inhibitor of ODC (ornithine decarboxylase) which is the first enzyme in polyamine biosynthesis, combined with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) suppresses colorectal carcinogenesis in murine models. The preclinical rationale for combination chemoprevention with DFMO and the NSAID sulindac, was strengthened by the observation that a SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) in the ODC promoter was prognostic for adenoma recurrence in patients with prior sporadic colon polyps and predicted reduced risk of adenoma in those patients taking aspirin. Recent results from a phase III clinical trial showed a dramatic reduction in metachronous adenoma number, size and grade. Combination chemoprevention with DFMO and sulindac was not associated with any serious toxicity. A non-significant trend in subclinical ototoxicity was detected by quantitative audiology in a subset of patients identified by a genetic marker. These preclinical, translational and clinical data provide compelling evidence for the efficacy of combination chemoprevention. DFMO and sulindac is a rational strategy for the prevention of metachronous adenomas, especially in patients with significant risk for colorectal cancer. Toxicities from this combination may be limited to subsets of patients identified by either past medical history or clinical tests.

BACKGROUND:
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a major risk factor for hypertension and has been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular morbidity. A dysregulated renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system may contribute to excess sodium retention and hypertension and may be activated in OSA. We tested the hypothesis that serum levels of aldosterone and plasma renin activity (PRA) are increased by apneic sleep in subjects without cardiovascular disease, compared to healthy control subjects.

METHODS AND RESULTS:
Plasma aldosterone level was measured in 21 subjects with moderate to severe OSA and was compared to 19 closely matched healthy subjects. Plasma renin activity (PRA) was measured in 19 OSA patients and in 20 healthy controls. Aldosterone and PRA were measured before sleep (9 pm), after 5 hrs of untreated OSA ( 2am) and in the morning after awakening (6 am). There were no baseline (9pm) differences in serum aldosterone levels and PRA between the healthy controls and OSA patients (aldosterone: 55.2 +/- 9 vs 56.0 +/- 9 pg/mL; PRA: 0.99 +/- 0.15 vs. 1.15 +/- 0.15 ng/mL/hr). Neither several hours of untreated severe OSA nor CPAP treatment affected aldosterone levels and PRA in OSA patients. Diurnal variation of both aldosterone and PRA was observed in both groups, in that morning renin and aldosterone levels were higher than those measured at night before sleep.

CONCLUSIONS:
Our study shows that patients with moderate to severe OSA without co-existing cardiovascular disease have plasma aldosterone and renin levels similar to healthy subjects. Neither untreated OSA nor CPAP treatment acutely affect plasma aldosterone or renin levels.

Rapid laboratory methods provide optimal support for active surveillance efforts to screen for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Most laboratories struggle to determine the optimal use of resources, considering options to balance cost, speed, and diagnostic accuracy. To assess the performance of common methods, the first comparison of MRSASelect agar (MS) and CHROMagar MRSA (CA), with and without broth enrichment followed by a 24-h subculture to MS, was performed. Results were compared to those of the Xpert MRSA assay. For direct culture methods, the agreement between MS and CA was 98.8%. At 18 h, direct MS identified 93% of all positive samples from direct culture and 84% of those identified by the Xpert MRSA. For Trypticase soy broth-enriched MS culture, incubated overnight and then subcultured for an additional 24 h, the agreement with Xpert MRSA was 96%. The agreement between direct MS and Xpert MRSA was 100% when semiquantitative culture revealed a bacterial density of 2+ or greater; however, discrepancies between culture and Xpert MRSA arose for MRSA bacterial densities of 1+ or less, indicating low density as a common cause of false-negative culture results. Since 1+ or less was established as the most common MRSA carrier state, broth enrichment or PCR may be critical for the identification of all MRSA carriers who may be reservoirs for transmission. In this active-surveillance convenience sample, the use of broth enrichment followed by subculture to MS offered a low-cost but sensitive method for MRSA screening, with performance similar to that of Xpert MRSA PCR.

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