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Biodegradable, spectrally tunable plasmon resonant nanocapsules are created via the deposition of gold onto the surface of 100 nm diameter thermosensitive liposomes. These nanocapsules demonstrate selective release of encapsulated contents upon illumination with light of a wavelength matching their distinct resonance bands, which correspond to 760 and 1210 nm in this study. Spectrally selective release is accomplished through the use of multiple, low intensity laser pulses delivered over a period of less than four minutes, ensuring that illumination affects only the gold-coated liposomes and avoids heating the surrounding media. The result of this illumination scheme for selective release using multiple wavelengths of light is a biologically safe mechanism for realizing drug delivery, microfluidic, and sensor applications.

The microcirculation exemplifies the mesoscale in physiological systems, bridging larger and smaller scale phenomena. Microcirculatory research represents an example of a 'middle-out,' rather than 'top-down' or 'bottom-up,' approach to the study of biological function. Computational and mathematical approaches can be used to analyse the functioning of the microcirculation and to establish quantitative relationships between microvascular processes and phenomena occurring on larger and smaller scales, leading to insights which could not be obtained solely by reductionist biological experiments. Given its integrative approach to processes occurring on disparate scales and its emphasis on theoretical as well as experimental approaches, microcirculatory research belongs within current definitions of systems biology.

The polypurine/polypyrimidine (pPu/pPy) tract of the human vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene is proposed to be structurally dynamic and to have potential to adopt non-B DNA structures. In the present study, we further provide evidence for the existence of the G-quadruplex structure within this tract both in vitro and in vivo using the dimethyl sulfate (DMS) footprinting technique and nucleolin as a structural probe specifically recognizing G-quadruplex structures. We observed that the overall reactivity of the guanine residues within this tract toward DMS was significantly reduced compared with other guanine residues of the flanking regions in both in vitro and in vivo footprinting experiments. We also demonstrated that nucleolin, which is known to bind to G-quadruplex structures, is able to bind specifically to the G-rich sequence of this region in negatively supercoiled DNA. Our chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis further revealed binding of nucleolin to the promoter region of the VEGF gene in vivo. Taken together, our results are in agreement with our hypothesis that secondary DNA structures, such as G-quadruplexes, can be formed in supercoiled duplex DNA and DNA in chromatin in vivo under physiological conditions similar to those formed in single-stranded DNA templates.

The human vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) promoter contains a polypurine/polypyrimidine (pPu/pPy) tract that is known to play a critical role in its transcriptional regulation. This pPu/pPy tract undergoes a conformational transition between B-DNA, single-stranded DNA, and atypical secondary DNA structures such as G-quadruplexes and i-motifs. We studied the interaction of the cytosine-rich (C-rich) and guanine-rich (G-rich) strands of this tract with transcription factors heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) K and nucleolin, respectively, both in vitro and in vivo and their potential role in the transcriptional control of VEGF. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay for our in vivo studies and electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) for our in vitro studies, we demonstrated that both nucleolin and hnRNP K bind selectively to the G- and C-rich sequences, respectively, in the pPu/pPy tract of the VEGF promoter. The small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated silencing of either nucleolin or hnRNP K resulted in the down-regulation of basal VEGF gene, suggesting that they act as activators of VEGF transcription. Taken together, the identification of transcription factors that can recognize and bind to atypical DNA structures within the pPu/pPy tract will provide new insight into mechanisms of transcriptional regulation of the VEGF gene.

Transgenic crops that produce Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins are grown widely for pest control, but insect adaptation can reduce their efficacy. The genetically modified Bt toxins Cry1AbMod and Cry1AcMod were designed to counter insect resistance to native Bt toxins Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac. Previous results suggested that the modified toxins would be effective only if resistance was linked with mutations in genes encoding toxin-binding cadherin proteins. Here we report evidence from five major crop pests refuting this hypothesis. Relative to native toxins, the potency of modified toxins was >350-fold higher against resistant strains of Plutella xylostella and Ostrinia nubilalis in which resistance was not linked with cadherin mutations. Conversely, the modified toxins provided little or no advantage against some resistant strains of three other pests with altered cadherin. Independent of the presence of cadherin mutations, the relative potency of the modified toxins was generally higher against the most resistant strains.

Computational algorithms to construct structural models from SAXS experimental data are reviewed. SAXS data provides a wealth of information to study the structure and dynamics of biological molecules, however it does not provide atomic details of structures. Thus combining the low-resolution data with already known X-ray structure is a common approach to study conformational transitions of biological molecules. This review provides a survey of SAXS modeling approaches. In addition, we will discuss theoretical backgrounds and performance of our approach, in which elastic network normal mode analysis is used to predict reasonable conformational transitions from known X-ray structures, and find alternative conformations that are consistent with SAXS data.

The pea pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. pisi is able to detoxify pisatin produced as a defense response by pea, and the gene encoding this detoxification mechanism, FoPDA1, was 82% identical to the cytochrome P450 pisatin demethylase PDA1 gene in Nectria haematococca. A survey of F. oxysporum f. sp. pisi isolates demonstrated that, as in N. haematococca, the PDA gene of F. oxysporum f. sp. pisi is generally located on a small chromosome. In N. haematococca, PDA1 is in a cluster of pea pathogenicity (PEP) genes. Homologs of these PEP genes also were found in the F. oxysporum f. sp. pisi isolates, and PEP1 and PEP5 were sometimes located on the same small chromosomes as the FoPDA1 homologs. Transforming FoPDA1 into a pda(?) F. oxysporum f. sp. lini isolate conferred pda activity and promoted pathogenicity on pea to some transformants. Different hybridization patterns of FoPDA1 were found in F. oxysporum f. sp. pisi but these did not correlate with the races of the fungus, suggesting that races within this forma specialis arose independently of FoPDA1. FoPDA1 also was present in the formae speciales lini, glycines, and dianthi of F. oxysporum but they had mutations resulting in nonfunctional proteins. However, an active FoPDA1 was present in F. oxysporum f. sp. phaseoli and it was virulent on pea. Despite their evolutionary distance, the amino acid sequences of FoPDA1 of F. oxysporum f. sp. pisi and F. oxysporum f. sp. phaseoli revealed only six amino acid differences, consistent with a horizontal gene transfer event accounting for the origin of these genes.

The fungal plant pathogen Nectria haematococca MPVI produces a cytochrome P450 that is responsible for detoxifying the phytoalexin pisatin, produced as a defense mechanism by its host, garden pea. In this study, we demonstrate that this fungus also produces a specific ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter, NhABC1, that enhances its tolerance to pisatin. In addition, although both mechanisms individually contribute to the tolerance of pisatin and act as host-specific virulence factors, mutations in both genes render the fungus even more sensitive to pisatin and essentially nonpathogenic on pea. NhABC1 is rapidly induced after treatment with pisatin in vitro and during infection of pea plants. Furthermore, NhABC1 was able to confer tolerance to the phytoalexin rishitin, produced by potato. NhABC1 appears to be orthologous to GpABC1 of the potato pathogen Gibberella pulicaris and, along with MoABC1 from Magnaporthe oryzae, resides in a phylogenetically related clade enriched with ABC transorters involved in virulence. We propose that NhABC1 and the cytochrome P450 may function in a sequential manner in which the energy expense from pisatin efflux by NhABC1 releases the repression of the cytochrome P450, ultimately allowing pisatin tolerance by two mechanisms. These results demonstrate that a successful pathogen has evolved multiple mechanisms to overcome these plant antimicrobial compounds.

We introduce a class of finite systems models of gene regulatory networks exhibiting behavior of the cell cycle. The model is an extension of a Boolean network model. The system spontaneously cycles through a finite set of internal states, tracking the increase of an external factor such as cell mass, and also exhibits checkpoints in which errors in gene expression levels due to cellular noise are automatically corrected. We present a 7-gene network based on Projective Geometry codes, which can correct, at every given time, one gene expression error. The topology of a network is highly symmetric and requires using only simple Boolean functions that can be synthesized using genes of various organisms. The attractor structure of the Boolean network contains a single cycle attractor. It is the smallest nontrivial network with such high robustness. The methodology allows construction of artificial cell cycle gene regulatory networks with the number of phases larger than in natural cell cycle.

Optical tweezers have proven a useful tool for exploring the structure and function of individual molecules, such as proteins, DNA, and RNA. The ability to unfold and refold biological molecules has provided novel insights that complement and go beyond traditional biochemical and structural approaches. With sophisticated optical tweezers instrumentation coming to the market, single-molecule stretching studies now have become feasible and available to a wide range of users. Therefore, a step-by-step protocol for stretching individual biomolecules utilizing a simple experimental geometry is timely and presented here. While we have taken the unfolding of an RNA structure held between two RNA/DNA hybrid handles as an example, the technical protocol should be readily applicable to other biomolecules and may serve as a starting point for more sophisticated experiments.

Using mechanical unfolding by optical tweezers (OT) and steered molecular dynamics (SMD) simulations, we have demonstrated the critical role of Mg(2+) ions for the resistance of the Beet Western Yellow Virus (BWYV) pseudoknot (PK) to unfolding. The two techniques were found to be complementary, providing information at different levels of molecular scale. Findings from the OT experiments indicated a critical role of stem 1 for unfolding of the PK, which was confirmed in the SMD simulations. The unfolding pathways of wild type and mutant appeared to depend upon pH and nucleotide sequence. SMD simulations support the notion that the stability of stem 1 is critical for -1 frameshifting. The all-atom scale nature of the SMD enabled clarification of the precise role of two Mg(2+) ions, Mg45 and Mg52, as identified in the BWYV X-ray crystallography structure, in -1 frameshifting. On the basis of simulations with "partially" and "fully" hydrated Mg(2+) ions, two possible mechanisms of stabilizing stem 1 are proposed. In both these cases Mg(2+) ions play a critical role in stabilizing stem 1, either by directly forming a salt bridge between the strands of stem 1 or by stabilizing parallel orientation of the strands in stem 1, respectively. These findings explain the unexpected drop in frameshifting efficiency to null levels of the C8U mutant in a manner consistent with experimental observations.

Gene transcription by the enzyme RNA polymerase is tightly regulated. In many cases, such as in the lac operon in Escherichia coli, this regulation is achieved through the action of protein factors on DNA. Because DNA is an elastic polymer, its response to enzymatic processing can lead to mechanical perturbations (e.g., linear stretching and supercoiling) that can affect the operation of other DNA processing complexes acting elsewhere on the same substrate molecule. Using an optical-tweezers assay, we measured the binding kinetics between single molecules of bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase and DNA, as a function of tension. We found that increasing DNA tension under conditions that favor formation of the open complex results in destabilization of the preinitiation complex. Furthermore, with zero ribonucleotides present, when the closed complex is favored, we find reduced tension sensitivity, implying that it is predominantly the open complex that is sensitive. This result strongly supports the "scrunching" model for T7 transcription initiation, as the applied tension acts against the movement of the DNA into the scrunched state, and introduces linear DNA tension as a potential regulatory quantity for transcription initiation.

To determine associations between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and neurocognitive performance in a large cohort of adults.

Cross-sectional analyses of polysomnographic and neurocognitive data from 1204 adult participants with a clinical diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in the Apnea Positive Pressure Long-term Efficacy Study (APPLES), assessed at baseline before randomization to either continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or sham CPAP.

Sleep and respiratory indices obtained by laboratory polysomnography and several measures of neurocognitive performance.

Weak correlations were found for both the apnea hypopnea index (AHI) and several indices of oxygen desaturation and neurocognitive performance in unadjusted analyses. After adjustment for level of education, ethnicity, and gender, there was no association between the AHI and neurocognitive performance. However, severity of oxygen desaturation was weakly associated with worse neurocognitive performance on some measures of intelligence, attention, and processing speed.

The impact of OSA on neurocognitive performance is small for many individuals with this condition and is most related to the severity of hypoxemia.

In insect societies, worker vs. queen development (reproductive caste) is typically governed by environmental factors, but many Pogonomyrmex seed-harvester ants exhibit strict genetic caste determination, resulting in an obligate mutualism between two reproductively isolated lineages. Same-lineage matings produce fertile queens while alternate-lineage matings produce sterile workers. Because new virgin queens mate randomly with multiple males of each lineage type, and both worker and queen phenotypes are required for colony growth and future reproduction, fitness is influenced by the relative frequency of each lineage involved in the mutualistic breeding system. While models based solely on frequency-dependent selection predict the convergence of lineage frequencies towards equal (0.5/0.5), we surveyed the lineage ratios of 49 systems across the range of the mutualism and found that the global lineage frequency differed significantly from equal. Multiple regression analysis of our system survey data revealed that the density and relative frequency of one lineage decreases at lower elevations, while the frequency of the alternate lineage increases with total colony density. While the production of the first worker cohort is largely frequency dependent, relying on the random acquisition of worker-biased sperm stores, subsequent colony growth is independent of lineage frequency. We provide a simulation model showing that a net ecological advantage held by one lineage can lead to the maintenance of stable but asymmetric lineage frequencies. Collectively, these findings suggest that a combination of frequency-dependent and frequency-independent mechanisms can generate many different localized and independently evolving system equilibria.

Recombination is an important process that influences biological evolution at many different levels. More and more homologous recombination events have been reported among negative sense RNA viruses recently. While sporadic authentic examples indicate that homologous recombination does occur, recombination seems to be generally rare or even absent in most negative sense RNA viruses, and most of the homologous recombination events reported in the literature were likely generated artificially due to lab contamination or inappropriate bioinformatics methods. Homologous recombination in negative sense RNA viruses should be reported with caution in the future, and only after stringent quality control efforts. Moreover, co-infection experiments should be performed to confirm whether recombination can occur.

Ionic liquids (ILs) are a class of salts that are expected to be used as a new source of solvents and for many other applications. Our previous studies revealed that selected ILs, structurally related organic cations, are eliminated exclusively in urine as the parent compound, partially mediated by renal transporters. This study investigated the inhibitory effects of N-butylpyridinium chloride (NBuPy-Cl) and structurally related ILs on organic cation transporters (OCTs) and multidrug and toxic extrusion transporters (MATEs) in vitro and in vivo. After Chinese hamster ovary cells expressing rat (r) OCT1, rOCT2, human (h) OCT2, hMATE1, or hMATE2-K were constructed, the ability of NBuPy-Cl, 1-methyl-3-butylimidazolium chloride (Bmim-Cl), N-butyl-N-methylpyrrolidinium chloride (BmPy-Cl), and alkyl substituted pyridinium ILs to inhibit these transporters was determined in vitro. NBuPy-Cl (0, 0.5, or 2 mg/kg per hour) was also infused into rats to assess its effect on the pharmacokinetics of metformin, a substrate of OCTs and MATEs. NBuPy-Cl, Bmim-Cl, and BmPy-Cl displayed strong inhibitory effects on these transporters (IC(50) = 0.2-8.5 μM). In addition, the inhibitory effects of alkyl-substituted pyridinium ILs on OCTs increased dramatically as the length of the alkyl chain increased. The IC(50) values were 0.1, 3.8, 14, and 671 μM (hexyl-, butyl-, and ethyl-pyridinium and pyridinium chloride) for rOCT2-mediated metformin transport. Similar structurally related inhibitory kinetics were also observed for rOCT1 and hOCT2. The in vivo coadministration study revealed that NBuPy-Cl reduced the renal clearance of metformin in rats. These results demonstrate that ILs compete with other substrates of OCTs and MATEs and could alter the in vivo pharmacokinetics of such substrates.

Human multidrug and toxin extrusion 1 (hMATE1, SLC47A1) is a major candidate for being the molecular identity of organic cation/proton (OC/H(+)) exchange activity in the luminal membrane of renal proximal tubules. Although physiological function of hMATE1 supports luminal OC efflux, the kinetics of hMATE1-mediated OC transport have typically been characterized through measurement of uptake, i.e., the interaction between outward-facing hMATE1 and OCs. To examine kinetics of hMATE1-mediated transport in a more physiologically relevant direction, i.e., an interaction between inward-facing hMATE1 and cytoplasmic substrates, we measured the time course of hMATE1-mediated efflux of the prototypic MATE1 substrate, [(3)H]1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium, under a variety of intra- and extracellular pH conditions, from Chinese hamster ovary cells that stably expressed the transporter. In this study, we showed that an IC(50)/K(i) for interaction between extracellular H(+) and outward-facing hMATE1 determined from conventional uptake experiments [12.9 ± 1.23 nM (pH 7.89); n = 9] and from the efflux protocol [14.7 ± 3.45 nM (pH 7.83); n = 3] was not significantly different (P = 0.6). Furthermore, kinetics of interaction between intracellular H(+) and inward-facing hMATE1 determined using the efflux protocol revealed an IC(50) for H(+) of 11.5 nM (pH 7.91), consistent with symmetrical interactions of H(+) with the inward-facing and outward-facing aspects of hMATE1.

This study examined the selectivity of organic anion transporters OAT1 and OAT3 for structural congeners of the heavy metal chelator 2,3-dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid (DMPS). Thiol-reactive reagents were also used to test structural predictions based on a homology model of OAT1 structure. DMPS was near equipotent in its ability to inhibit OAT1 (IC(50) = 83 μM) and OAT3 (IC(50) = 40 μM) expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells. However, removal of a thiol group (3-mercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid) resulted in a 2.5-fold increase in IC(50) toward OAT1 vs. a ∼55-fold increase in IC(50) toward OAT3. The data suggested that compound volume/size is important for binding to OAT1/OAT3. The sensitivity to HgCl(2) of OAT1 and OAT3 was also dramatically different, with IC(50) values of 104 and 659 μM, respectively. Consistent with cysteines of OAT1 being more accessible from the external medium than those of OAT3, thiol-reactive reagents reacted preferentially with OAT1 in cell surface biotinylation assays. OAT1 was less sensitive to HgCl(2) inhibition and less reactive toward membrane-impermeant thiol reactive reagents following mutation of cysteine 440 (C440) to an alanine. These data indicate that C440 in transmembrane helix 10 of OAT1 is accessible from the extracellular space. Indeed, C440 was exposed to the aqueous phase of the presumptive substrate translocation pathway in a homology model of OAT1 structure. The limited thiol reactivity in OAT3 suggests that the homologous cysteine residue (C428) is less accessible. Consistent with their homolog-specific selectivities, these data highlight structural differences in the substrate binding regions of OAT1 and OAT3.

No abstract given.