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Myoblasts aggregate, differentiate and fuse to form skeletal muscle during both embryogenesis and tissue regeneration. For proper muscle function, long-range self-organization of myoblasts is required to create organized muscle architecture globally aligned to neighboring tissue. However, how the cells process geometric information over distances considerably longer than individual cells to self-organize into well-ordered, aligned and multinucleated myofibers remains a central question in developmental biology and regenerative medicine. Using plasma lithography micropatterning to create spatial cues for cell guidance, we show a physical mechanism by which orientation information can propagate for a long distance from a geometric boundary to guide development of muscle tissue. This long-range alignment occurs only in differentiating myoblasts, but not in non-fusing myoblasts perturbed by microfluidic disturbances or other non-fusing cell types. Computational cellular automata analysis of the spatiotemporal evolution of the self-organization process reveals that myogenic fusion in conjunction with rotational inertia functions in a self-reinforcing manner to enhance long-range propagation of alignment information. With this autocatalytic alignment feedback, well-ordered alignment of muscle could reinforce existing orientations and help promote proper arrangement with neighboring tissue and overall organization. Such physical self-enhancement might represent a fundamental mechanism for long-range pattern formation during tissue morphogenesis.

RATIONALE:
The proper function of cardiac muscle requires the precise assembly and interactions of numerous cytoskeletal and regulatory proteins into specialized structures that orchestrate contraction and force transmission. Evidence suggests that posttranscriptional regulation is critical for muscle function, but the mechanisms involved remain understudied.

OBJECTIVE:
To investigate the molecular mechanisms and targets of the muscle-specific fragile X mental retardation, autosomal homolog 1 (FXR1), an RNA binding protein whose loss leads to perinatal lethality in mice and cardiomyopathy in zebrafish.

METHODS AND RESULTS:
Using RNA immunoprecipitation approaches we found that desmoplakin and talin2 mRNAs associate with FXR1 in a complex. In vitro assays indicate that FXR1 binds these mRNA targets directly and represses their translation. Fxr1 KO hearts exhibit an up-regulation of desmoplakin and talin2 proteins, which is accompanied by severe disruption of desmosome as well as costamere architecture and composition in the heart, as determined by electron microscopy and deconvolution immunofluorescence analysis.

CONCLUSIONS:
Our findings reveal the first direct mRNA targets of FXR1 in striated muscle and support translational repression as a novel mechanism for regulating heart muscle development and function, in particular the assembly of specialized cytoskeletal structures.

Withaferin A (WA) (1) and two analogs [4-epi-withaferin A (2) and 4,27-diacetyl-4-epi-withaferin A (3)] were evaluated for antitumor activity in pancreatic cancer cells. IC(50) for 1, 2, and 3 were 0.87, 0.45, and 0.29 ?M (BxPC-3); 1.28, 1.53, and 0.52 ?M (MIAPaCa-2); and 0.59, 2.25, and 0.56 ?M (PANC-1), respectively. We chose WA analog 3 for functional studies with confirmatory RT-PCR and Western blotting. ANOVA identified 33 (MIAPaCa-2), 54 (PANC-1), and 48 (BxPC-3) gene expression changes. Fisher exact test demonstrated MAPK and glutathione pathways to be overexpressed with WA analog 3. WA analog 3 elicits a dose- and time-dependent apoptosis, activates MAPK and glutathione ?stress? pathways, and inhibits proliferation.

The dinoflagellates are an ecologically important group of microbial eukaryotes that have evolved many novel genomic characteristics. They possess some of the largest nuclear genomes among eukaryotes arranged on permanently condensed liquid-crystalline chromosomes. Recent advances have revealed the presence of genes arranged in tandem arrays, trans-splicing of messenger RNAs, and a reduced role for transcriptional regulation compared to other eukaryotes. In contrast, the mitochondrial and plastid genomes have the smallest gene content among functional eukaryotic organelles. Dinoflagellate biology and genome evolution have been dramatically influenced by lateral transfer of individual genes and large-scale transfer of genes through endosymbiosis. Next-generation sequencing technologies have only recently made genome-scale analyses of these organisms possible, and these new methods are helping researchers better understand the biology and evolution of this enigmatic group of eukaryotes.

This review discusses how extracellular DNA (exDNA) might function in plant defense, and at what level(s) of innate immunity this process might operate. A new role for extracellular factors in mammalian defense has been described in a series of studies. These studies reveal that cells including neutrophils, eosinophils, and mast cells produce 'extracellular traps' (ETs) consisting of histone-linked exDNA. When pathogens are attracted to such ETs, they are trapped and killed. When the exDNA component of ETs is degraded, trapping is impaired and resistance against invasion is reduced. Conversely, mutation of microbial genes encoding exDNases that degrade exDNA results in loss of virulence. This discovery that exDNases are virulence factors opens new avenues for disease control. In plants, exDNA is required for defense of the root tip. Innate immunity-related proteins are among a group of >100 proteins secreted from the root cap and root border cell populations. Direct tests revealed that exDNA also is rapidly synthesized and exported from the root tip. When this exDNA is degraded by the endonuclease DNase 1, root tip resistance to fungal infection is lost; when the polymeric structure is degraded more slowly, by the exonuclease BAL31, loss of resistance to fungal infection is delayed accordingly. The results suggest that root border cells may function in a manner analogous to that which occurs in mammalian cells.

Motion-sensitive neurons in the visual systems of many species, including humans, exhibit a depression of motion responses immediately after being exposed to rapidly moving images. This motion adaptation has been extensively studied in flies, but a neuronal mechanism that explains the most prominent component of adaptation, which occurs regardless of the direction of motion of the visual stimulus, has yet to be proposed. We identify a neuronal mechanism, namely frequency-dependent synaptic depression, which explains a number of the features of adaptation in mammalian motion-sensitive neurons and use it to model fly motion adaptation. While synaptic depression has been studied mainly in spiking cells, we use the same principles to develop a simple model for depression in a graded synapse. By incorporating this synaptic model into a neuronally based model for elementary motion detection, along with the implementation of a center-surround spatial band-pass filtering stage that mimics the interactions among a subset of visual neurons, we show that we can predict with remarkable success most of the qualitative features of adaptation observed in electrophysiological experiments. Our results support the idea that diverse species share common computational principles for processing visual motion and suggest that such principles could be neuronally implemented in very similar ways.

Introduction: When establishing the physiological roles of specific receptors in normal and disease states, it is critical to have selective antagonist ligands for each receptor in a receptor system with several subtypes. The melanocortin receptors have five subtypes referred to as the melanocortin 1 receptor, melanocortin 2 receptor, melanocortin 3 receptor, melanocortin 4 receptor and melanocortin 5 receptor, and they are of critical importance for many aspects of human health and disease. Areas covered: This article reviews the current efforts to design selective antagonistic ligands for the five human melanocortin receptors summarizing the currently published orthosteric and allosteric antagonists for each of these receptors. Expert opinion: Though there has been progress, there are still few drugs available that address the many significant biological activities and diseases that are associated with these receptors, which is possibly due to the lack of receptor selectivity that these designed ligands are currently showing. The authors believe that further studies into the antagonists' 3D conformational and topographical properties in addition to future mutagenesis studies will provide greater insight into these ligands which could play a role in the treatment of various diseases in the future.

Newly designed bivalent ligands-opioid agonist/NK1-antagonists have been synthesized. The synthesis of new starting materials-carboxy-derivatives of Fentanyl (1a-1c) was developed. These products have been transformed to 'isoimidium perchlorates' (2a-c). The new isoimidium perchlorates have been successfully implemented in nucleophilic addition reactions, with l-tryptophan 3,5-bis(trifluoromethyl)benzyl ester to give the target compounds-amides (3a-c). Perchlorates (2a-c) successfully undergo reactions with other nucleophiles such as alcohols, amines or hydrazines. The obtained compound 3b exhibited μ-opioid agonist activity and NK1-antagonist activity and may serve as a useful lead compound for the further design of a new series of opioid agonist/NK1-antagonist compounds.

Development of human immunodeficiency virus resistance mutations is a major cause of failure of antiretroviral treatment. We develop a recursive partitioning method to correlate high-dimensional viral sequences with repeatedly measured outcomes. The splitting criterion of this procedure is based on a class of U-type score statistics. The proposed method is flexible enough to apply to a broad range of problems involving longitudinal outcomes. Simulation studies are performed to explore the finite-sample properties of the proposed method, which is also illustrated through analysis of data collected in 3 phase II clinical trials testing the antiretroviral drug efavirenz.

BACKGROUND:
Interest in biomarker patterns and disease has led to the development of immunoassays that evaluate multiple analytes in parallel while using little sample. However, there are no current standards for multiplex configuration, validation, and quality. Thus, validation by platform, population, and question of interest is recommended. We sought to determine the best blood fraction for multiplex evaluation of circulating biomarkers in post-menopausal women, and to explore body composition phenotype discrimination by biomarkers.

METHODS:
Archived serum and plasma samples from a sample of healthy post-menopausal women with the highest (n=9) and lowest (n=11) percent lean mass, as determined by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, were used to measure 90 analytes using bead-based, suspension multiplex assays. Replicates of serum and plasma were analyzed in a random selection of four of these individuals.

RESULTS:
Ninety percent of the analytes were detectable for ≥ 50% of samples; when limited to these well detected analytes, mean replicate correlations for serum and plasma were 0.87 and 0.85, respectively. Serum had lower error rates discriminating phenotypes; seven serum vs. two plasma analytes discriminated extreme body phenotypes.

CONCLUSIONS:
Serum and plasma performed similarly for the majority of the analytes. Serum showed a slight advantage in predicting extreme body composition phenotypes in postmenopausal women using parallel evaluation of analytes.

UVB irradiation of epidermal keratinocytes results in the activation of the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway and subsequently activator protein-1 (AP-1) transcription factor activation and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression. AP-1 and COX-2 have been shown to play functional roles in UVB-induced mouse skin carcinogenesis. In this study, the experimental approach was to express a dominant negative p38α MAPK (p38DN) in the epidermis of SKH-1 hairless mice and assess UVB-induced AP-1 activation, COX-2 expression, and the skin carcinogenesis response in these mice compared to wild-type littermates. We observed a significant inhibition of UVB-induced AP-1 activation and COX-2 expression in p38DN transgenic mice, leading to a significant reduction of UVB-induced tumor number and growth compared to wild-type littermates in a chronic UVB skin carcinogenesis model. A potential mechanism for this reduction in tumor number and growth rate is an inhibition of chronic epidermal proliferation, observed as reduced Ki-67 staining in p38DN mice compared to wild-type. Although we detected no difference in chronic apoptotic rates between transgenic and nontransgenic mice, analysis of acutely irradiated mice demonstrated that expression of the p38DN transgene significantly inhibited UVB-induced apoptosis of keratinocytes. These results counter the concerns that inhibition of p38 MAPK in a chronic situation could compromise the ability of the skin to eliminate potentially tumorigenic cells. Our data indicate that p38 MAPK is a good target for pharmacological intervention for UV-induced skin cancer in patients with sun damaged skin, and suggest that inhibition of p38 signaling reduces skin carcinogenesis by inhibiting COX-2 expression and proliferation of UVB-irradiated cells.

Theory suggests that maternally inherited endosymbionts can promote their spread and persistence in host populations by enhancing the production of daughters by infected hosts, either by improving overall host fitness, or through reproductive manipulation. In the doubly infected parasitoid wasp Encarsia inaron, Wolbachia manipulates host reproduction through cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI), but Cardinium does not. We investigated the fitness costs and/or benefits of infection by each bacterium in differentially cured E. inaron as a potential explanation for persistence of Cardinium in this population. We introgressed lines infected with Wolbachia, Cardinium or both with the cured line to create a similar genetic background, and evaluated several parasitoid fitness parameters. We found that symbiont infection resulted in both fitness costs and benefits for E. inaron. The cost was lower initial egg load for all infected wasps. The benefit was increased survivorship, which in turn increased male production for wasps infected with only Cardinium. Female production was unaffected by symbiont infection; we therefore have not yet identified a causal fitness effect that can explain the persistence of Cardinium in the population. Interestingly, the Cardinium survivorship benefit was not evident when Wolbachia was also present in the host, and the reproduction of doubly infected individuals did not differ significantly from uninfected wasps. Therefore, the results of our study show that even when multiple infections seem to have no effect on a host, there may be a complex interaction of costs and benefits among symbionts.

Maternally inherited bacterial symbionts of arthropods are common, yet symbiont invasions of host populations have rarely been observed. Here, we show that Rickettsia sp. nr. bellii swept into a population of an invasive agricultural pest, the sweet potato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, in just 6 years. Compared with uninfected whiteflies, Rickettsia-infected whiteflies produced more offspring, had higher survival to adulthood, developed faster, and produced a higher proportion of daughters. The symbiont thus functions as both mutualist and reproductive manipulator. The observed increased performance and sex-ratio bias of infected whiteflies are sufficient to explain the spread of Rickettsia across the southwestern United States. Symbiont invasions such as this represent a sudden evolutionary shift for the host, with potentially large impacts on its ecology and invasiveness.

Over the last decade or so, secondary non-B-DNA structures such as G-quadruplexes and i-motifs have come into focus as biologically functioning moieties that are potentially involved in telomeric interactions and the control of gene expression. In the present short review, we first describe the structural and dynamic parallels with complex RNA structures, including the importance of sequence and ions in folding, and then we describe the biological consequences of the folded structures. We conclude that there are considerable parallels between secondary and tertiary structures in RNA and DNA from both the folding and the biological perspectives.

Iron acquisition is an absolute requirement by most microorganisms for host survival. In this work, we investigated the Campylobacter jejuni iron binding Dps protein for a potential role in virulence. In vitro assays using J774A.1 macrophage-like cells demonstrated a 2.5 log reduction in C. jejuni survival of the Dps mutant and a reduction of four logs in invasion of HEp-2 epithelial cells compared to the wild-type strain. To examine the role of the dps gene in host pathogenesis, the piglet model was used in C. jejuni challenge studies. In vivo inoculation studies of newborn piglets with wild-type C. jejuni demonstrated an 11-fold upregulation of the dps gene and intestinal lesion production typical of campylobacteriosis in humans. In contrast, piglets inoculated with the dps mutant were not colonized and remained normal throughout the study period. Mucosal lesion production was restored in piglets inoculated with the complemented Dps mutant strain. Based on these results, we conclude that the C. jejuni Dps homolog is a virulence factor in the production of campylobacteriosis, and warrants further investigation.

To determine if Salmonella-contaminated oysters are reaching consumer tables, a survey of raw oysters served in eight Tucson restaurants was performed from October 2007 to September 2008. Salmonella spp. were isolated during 7 of the 8 months surveyed and were present in 1.2% of 2,281 oysters tested. This observed prevalence is lower than that seen in a previous study in which U.S. market oysters were purchased from producers at bays where oysters are harvested. To test whether the process of refrigerating oysters in restaurants for several days reduces Salmonella levels, oysters were artificially infected with Salmonella and kept at 4°C for up to 13 days. Direct plate counts of oyster homogenate showed that Salmonella levels within oysters did not decrease during refrigeration. Six different serovars of Salmonella enterica were found in the restaurant oysters, indicating multiple incidences of Salmonella contamination of U.S. oyster stocks. Of the 28 contaminated oysters, 12 (43%) contained a strain of S. enterica serovar Newport that matched by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis a serovar Newport strain seen predominantly in the study of bay oysters performed in 2002. The repeated occurrence of this strain in oyster surveys is concerning, since the strain was resistant to seven antimicrobials tested and thus presents a possible health risk to consumers of raw oysters.

Dendritic cells (DCs) encompass a heterogeneous population of cells capable of orchestrating innate and adaptive immune responses. The ability of DCs to act as professional APCs has been the foundation for the development and use of these cells as vaccines in cancer immunotherapy. DCs are also endowed with the nonconventional property of directly killing tumor cells. The current study investigates the regulation of murine DC cytotoxic function by T lymphocytes. We provide evidence that CD4(+) Th-1, but not Th-2, Th-17 cells, or regulatory T cells, are capable of inducing DC cytotoxic function. IFN-γ was identified as the major factor responsible for Th-1-induced DC tumoricidal activity. Tumor cell killing mediated by Th-1-activated killer DCs was dependent on inducible NO synthase expression and NO production. Importantly, Th-1-activated killer DCs were capable of presenting the acquired Ags from the killed tumor cells to T lymphocytes in vitro or in vivo. These observations offer new possibilities for the application of killer DCs in cancer immunotherapy.

Therapeutic strategies combining the induction of effective antitumor immunity with the inhibition of the mechanisms of tumor-induced immunosuppression represent a key objective in cancer immunotherapy. Herein we demonstrate that effector/memory CD4(+) T helper-1 (Th-1) lymphocytes, in addition to polarizing type-1 antitumor immune responses, impair tumor-induced CD4(+)CD25(+)FoxP3(+) regulatory T lymphocyte (Treg) immunosuppressive function in vitro and in vivo. Th-1 cells also inhibit the generation of FoxP3(+) Tregs from naive CD4(+)CD25(-)FoxP3(-) T cells by an interferon-γ-dependent mechanism. In addition, in an aggressive mouse leukemia model (12B1), Th-1 lymphocytes act synergistically with a chaperone-rich cell lysate (CRCL) vaccine, leading to improved survival and long-lasting protection against leukemia. The combination of CRCL as a source of tumor-specific antigens and Th-1 lymphocytes as an adjuvant has the potential to stimulate efficient specific antitumor immunity while restraining Treg-induced suppression.

Compassion has been suggested to be a strong motivator for prosocial behavior. While research has demonstrated that compassion training has positive effects on mood and health, we do not know whether it also leads to increases in prosocial behavior. We addressed this question in two experiments. In Experiment 1, we introduce a new prosocial game, the Zurich Prosocial Game (ZPG), which allows for repeated, ecologically valid assessment of prosocial behavior and is sensitive to the influence of reciprocity, helping cost, and distress cues on helping behavior. Experiment 2 shows that helping behavior in the ZPG increased in participants who had received short-term compassion training, but not in participants who had received short-term memory training. Interindividual differences in practice duration were specifically related to changes in the amount of helping under no-reciprocity conditions. Our results provide first evidence for the positive impact of short-term compassion training on prosocial behavior towards strangers in a training-unrelated task.

Diffracted image patterns from volume holograms that are used in volume holographic imaging systems (VHISs) are investigated. It is shown that, in VHISs, prior information about the shape and spectral properties of the diffracted patterns is important not only to determine the curvature and field of view of the image, but also for image registration and noise removal. A new methodology to study numerically and analytically the dependence of VHIS diffraction patterns with the hologram construction parameters and the readout wavelength is described. Modeling and experimental results demonstrate that, in most cases, VHIS diffracted shapes can be accurately represented by hyperbolas.

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