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Updated: 2017-12-15T08:35:13Z

 



(XML) Correction: Short-term leprosy forecasting from an expert opinion survey

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Michael S. Deiner, Lee Worden, Alex Rittel, Sarah F. Ackley, Fengchen Liu, Laura Blum, James C. Scott, Thomas M. Lietman, Travis C. Porco

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(XML) Correction: Computational and biological evidences on the serotonergic involvement of SeTACN antidepressant-like effect in mice

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Mariana G. Fronza, Lucimar M. Pinto Brod, Angela Maria Casaril, Manoela Sacramento, Diego Alves, Lucielli Savegnago

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(XML) Age-related nomograms for antral follicle count and anti-Mullerian hormone for subfertile Chinese women in Singapore

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by See Ling Loy, Yin Bun Cheung, Marielle Valerie Fortier, Chiou Li Ong, Heng Hao Tan, Sadhana Nadarajah, Jerry Kok Yen Chan, Veronique Viardot-Foucault

Background

Antral follicle count (AFC) and anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) are known as the most reliable markers of a woman’s ovarian reserve and are related to age. There is currently no specific local age-related centile charts for AFC and AMH. Therefore, we aim to examine the relationship between AFC and AMH with age and construct age-related nomograms among a subfertile Asian population.

Methods

This is a study involving Chinese women who had their AFC and AMH measured as part of their subfertility screening from December 2010 until November 2014 in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Singapore. Ordinary least squares regression analysis was used to estimate the relationship of AFC and AMH with age, while age-related AFC and AMH nomograms for the 3rd, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, 90th and 97th percentiles were produced using the lambda-mu-sigma method.

Results

A total of 1,009 women, aged 26 to 44 year-old, were included. On average, the AFC and AMH decreased respectively by 0.79 follicle (95% confidence interval -0.93, -0.64) and 0.38 ng/mL (95% confidence interval -0.43, -0.32) per year of age. The age-related nomograms of AFC showed an approximately linear pattern, inversely correlated with age, regardless of the percentile. For AMH, the pattern is linear for the 75th percentile and below but shows a slightly accelerating decline for the 90th and 97th percentile. Overall, there were large inter-individual variations in AFC and AMH up to about 40 year-old.

Conclusion

The declines of AFC and AMH over age are mostly linear among subfertile Chinese women in Singapore. The age-related AFC and AMH nomograms could be used as a reference chart by fertility practitioners. However, future validation with longitudinal data is required.

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(XML) A simplified model of biosonar echoes from foliage and the properties of natural foliages

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Chen Ming, Hongxiao Zhu, Rolf Müller

Foliage echoes could play an important role in the sensory ecology of echolocating bats, but many aspects of their sensory information content remain to be explored. A realistic numerical model for these echoes could support the development of hypotheses for the relationship between foliage properties and echo parameters. In prior work by the authors, a simple foliage model based on circular disks distributed uniformly in space has been developed. In the current work, three key simplifications used in this model have been examined: (i) representing leaves as circular disks, (ii) neglecting shading effects between leaves, and (iii) the uniform spatial distribution of the leaves. The target strengths of individual leaves and shading between them have been examined in physical experiments, whereas the impact of the spatial leaf distribution has been studied by modifying the numerical model to include leaf distributions according to a biomimetic model for natural branching patterns (L-systems). Leaf samples from a single species (leatherleaf arrowwood) were found to match the relationship between size and target strength of the disk model fairly well, albeit with a large variability part of which could be due to unaccounted geometrical features of the leaves. Shading between leaf-sized disks did occur for distances below 50 cm and could hence impact the echoes. Echoes generated with L-system models in two distinct tree species (ginkgo and pine) showed consistently more temporal inhomogeneity in the envelope amplitudes than a reference with uniform distribution. However, these differences were small compared to effects found in response to changes in the relative orientation of simulated sonar beam and foliage. These findings support the utility of the uniform leaf distribution model and suggest that bats could use temporal inhomogeneities in the echoes to make inferences regarding the relative positioning of their sonar and a foliage.(image)



(XML) Interaction mode of CIDE family proteins in fly: DREP1 and DREP3 acidic surfaces interact with DREP2 and DREP4 basic surfaces

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Chang Min Kim, Sun Hee Jeon, Jun-Hyuk Choi, Jun Hyuck Lee, Hyun Ho Park

Cell death-inducing DNA fragmentation factor 45 (DFF45)-like effector (CIDE) domains were initially identified as protein interaction modules in apoptotic nucleases and are now known to form a highly conserved family with diverse functions that range from cell death to lipid homeostasis. In the fly, four CIDE domain-containing proteins (DFF-related protein [DREP]-1–4) and their functions, including interaction relationships, have been identified. In this study, we introduced and investigated acidic side-disrupted mutants of DREP1, DREP2, and DREP3. We discovered that the acidic surface patches of DREP1 and DREP3 are critical for the homo-dimerization. In addition, we found that the acidic surface sides of DREP1 and DREP3 interact with the basic surface sides of DREP2 and DREP4. Our current study provides clear evidence demonstrating the mechanism of the interactions between four DREP proteins in the fly.(image)



(XML) Acne keloidalis nuchae in Asian: A single institutional experience

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Kiyong Na, Sang Ho Oh, Sang Kyum Kim

Acne keloidalis nuchae, a type of folliculitis involving the back of the neck, is common in black men, although rare cases have been reported in patients of other ethnicities. We analyzed the clinicopathological features of acne keloidalis nuchae in 17 Asians. Patients’ age at the time of presentation ranged from 20 to 69 years. Most patients experienced the disease over 2 years (range, 3 months–20 years); follow-up data were available for 11 (65%) patients (range, 2–95 months). Nine (53%) patients had comorbidities, but none had a history of other skin disease or a family history of acne keloidalis nuchae. Macroscopically, seven (41%) patients had multiple erythematous pustulopapular lesions, and 10 (59%) had a single large plaque. Histopathologically, deep scarring folliculitis containing naked hair shafts was identified. In all cases, inflammation was most severe in the upper two-thirds of the dermis, and the differences in pustulopapular and plaque lesions were more prominent in the peri-inflammation area. Of the seven patients with plaque lesions treated with steroids alone or steroids and cryotherapy, three experienced plaque reduction. Acne keloidalis nuchae occurring in Asian patients frequently present with typical clinicopathological features, and therefore in spite of very low incidence the diagnosis of this disease entity should be considered in idiopathic scarring folliculitis of the posterior neck.(image)



(XML) Behavior of bacteriome symbionts during transovarial transmission and development of the Asian citrus psyllid

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Hiroki Dan, Naoya Ikeda, Masaya Fujikami, Atsushi Nakabachi

The Asian citrus psyllid Diaphorina citri Kuwayama (Hemiptera: Liviidae) is a serious pest worldwide, transmitting Candidatus Liberibacter spp. (Alphaproteobacteria), the causative agents of a devastating citrus disease known as huanglongbing or greening disease. In a symbiotic organ called the bacteriome, D. citri possesses an organelle-like defensive symbiont, Candidatus Profftella armatura (Betaproteobacteria), and a nutritional symbiont, Ca. Carsonella ruddii (Gammaproteobacteria). Drastically reduced symbiont genomes and metabolic complementarity among the symbionts and D. citri indicate their mutually indispensable association. Moreover, horizontal gene transfer between the Profftella and Liberibacter lineages suggests ecological and evolutionary interactions between the bacteriome symbiont and the HLB pathogen. Using fluorescence in situ hybridization, we examined the behavior of Profftella and Carsonella during transovarial transmission and the development of D. citri. In the bacteriomes of sexually-mature female adults, symbionts transformed from an extremely elongated tubular form into spherical or short-rod forms, which migrated toward the ovary. The symbionts then formed mosaic masses, which entered at the posterior pole of the vitellogenic oocytes. After anatrepsis, Carsonella and Profftella migrated to the central and peripheral parts of the mass, respectively. Following the appearance of host nuclei, the mass cellularized, segregating Carsonella and Profftella in the central syncytium and peripheral uninucleate bacteriocytes, respectively. Subsequently, the uninucleate bacteriocytes harboring Profftella assembled at the posterior pole, while the syncytium, containing Carsonella, sat on the anterior side facing the germ band initiating katatrepsis. During dorsal closure, the syncytium was divided into uninuclear bacteriocytes, which surrounded the mass of bacteriocytes containing Profftella. Once fully surrounded, the bacteriocyte mass containing Profftella was fused into a syncytium. Prior to hatching, a pair of wing-like protrusions arose from both lateral sides of the bacteriome, which continued to grow throughout the nymphal stages. These findings provide a foundation for better understanding the intricate relationship between D. citri and its microbiota.(image)



(XML) Altered cerebral hemodyamics and cortical thinning in asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Randolph S. Marshall, Iris Asllani, Marykay A. Pavol, Ying-Kuen Cheung, Ronald M. Lazar

Cortical thinning is a potentially important biomarker, but the pathophysiology in cerebrovascular disease is unknown. We investigated the association between regional cortical blood flow and regional cortical thickness in patients with asymptomatic unilateral high-grade internal carotid artery disease without stroke. Twenty-nine patients underwent high resolution anatomical and single-delay, pseudocontinuous arterial spin labeling magnetic resonance imaging with partial volume correction to assess gray matter baseline flow. Cortical thickness was estimated using Freesurfer software, followed by co-registration onto each patient’s cerebral blood flow image space. Paired t-tests assessed regional cerebral blood flow in motor cortex (supplied by the carotid artery) and visual cortex (indirectly supplied by the carotid) on the occluded and unoccluded side. Pearson correlations were calculated between cortical thickness and regional cerebral blood flow, along with age, hypertension, diabetes and white matter hyperintensity volume. Multiple regression and generalized estimating equation were used to predict cortical thickness bilaterally and in each hemisphere separately. Cortical blood flow correlated with thickness in motor cortex bilaterally (p = 0.0002), and in the occluded and unoccluded sides individually; age (p = 0.002) was also a predictor of cortical thickness in the motor cortex. None of the variables predicted cortical thickness in visual cortex. Blood flow was significantly lower on the occluded versus unoccluded side in the motor cortex (p<0.0001) and in the visual cortex (p = 0.018). On average, cortex was thinner on the side of occlusion in motor but not in visual cortex. The association between cortical blood flow and cortical thickness in carotid arterial territory with greater thinning on the side of the carotid occlusion suggests that altered cerebral hemodynamics is a factor in cortical thinning.(image)



(XML) Effects of vaspin on pancreatic β cell secretion via PI3K/Akt and NF-κB signaling pathways

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Shiwei Liu, Xin Li, Yaru Wu, Ruixue Duan, Jiaxin Zhang, Fang Du, Qi Zhang, Yuanbin Li, Naishi Li

Vaspin (visceral adipose tissue-derived serine protease inhibitor) is a recently discovered adipokine that has been implicated in diabetes mellitus and other metabolic disorders. However, the effects of vaspin on pancreatic β cell function and related mechanisms are not fully understood. Thus, the present study was performed to investigate the effects of vaspin on pancreatic β cell function and the potential underlying mechanisms. Both in vitro (rat insulinoma cells, INS-1) and in vivo (high fat diet fed rats) experiments were conducted. The results showed that vaspin significantly increased INS-1 cell secretory function. Potential mechanisms were explored using inhibitors, western blot and real-time PCR techniques. We found that vaspin increased the levels of IRS-2 mRNA and IRS-2 total protein, while decreased the serine phosphorylation level of IRS-2 protein. Moreover, vaspin increased the Akt phosphorylation protein level which was reversed by PI3K inhibitor ly294002. In addition, vaspin increased the phosphorylation levels of mTOR and p70S6K, which was inhibited by rapamycin. Meanwhile, we found that the NF-κB mRNA and protein levels were reduced after vaspin treatment, similar to the effect of NF-κB inhibitor TPCK. Furthermore, vaspin increased the glucose stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) level, lowered blood glucose level and improved the glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity of high fat diet fed rats. Hyperglycemic clamp test manifested that vaspin improved islet β cell function. Together, these findings provide a new understanding of the function of vaspin on pancreatic β cell and suggest that it may serve as a potential agent for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.(image)



(XML) Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD) among German students—A longitudinal approach

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Julia Brailovskaia, Jürgen Margraf

The present study aimed to investigate Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD) in a German student sample over a period of one year. While mean FAD level did not increase during the investigation period, a significant increase was shown in the number of participants reaching the critical cutoff score. FAD was significantly positively related to the personality trait narcissism and to negative mental health variables (depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms). Furthermore, FAD fully mediated the significant positive relationship between narcissism and stress symptoms, which demonstrates that narcissistic people can be specifically at risk to develop FAD. Present results give a first overview of FAD in Germany. Practical applications for future studies and limitations of present results are discussed.(image)



(XML) Diagnostic accuracy research in glaucoma is still incompletely reported: An application of Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (STARD) 2015

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Manuele Michelessi, Ersilia Lucenteforte, Alba Miele, Francesco Oddone, Giada Crescioli, Valeria Fameli, Daniël A. Korevaar, Gianni Virgili

Background

Research has shown a modest adherence of diagnostic test accuracy (DTA) studies in glaucoma to the Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (STARD). We have applied the updated 30-item STARD 2015 checklist to a set of studies included in a Cochrane DTA systematic review of imaging tools for diagnosing manifest glaucoma.

Methods

Three pairs of reviewers, including one senior reviewer who assessed all studies, independently checked the adherence of each study to STARD 2015. Adherence was analyzed on an individual-item basis. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the effect of publication year and impact factor on adherence.

Results

We included 106 DTA studies, published between 2003–2014 in journals with a median impact factor of 2.6. Overall adherence was 54.1% for 3,286 individual rating across 31 items, with a mean of 16.8 (SD: 3.1; range 8–23) items per study. Large variability in adherence to reporting standards was detected across individual STARD 2015 items, ranging from 0 to 100%. Nine items (1: identification as diagnostic accuracy study in title/abstract; 6: eligibility criteria; 10: index test (a) and reference standard (b) definition; 12: cut-off definitions for index test (a) and reference standard (b); 14: estimation of diagnostic accuracy measures; 21a: severity spectrum of diseased; 23: cross-tabulation of the index and reference standard results) were adequately reported in more than 90% of the studies. Conversely, 10 items (3: scientific and clinical background of the index test; 11: rationale for the reference standard; 13b: blinding of index test results; 17: analyses of variability; 18; sample size calculation; 19: study flow diagram; 20: baseline characteristics of participants; 28: registration number and registry; 29: availability of study protocol; 30: sources of funding) were adequately reported in less than 30% of the studies. Only four items showed a statistically significant improvement over time: missing data (16), baseline characteristics of participants (20), estimates of diagnostic accuracy (24) and sources of funding (30).

Conclusions

Adherence to STARD 2015 among DTA studies in glaucoma research is incomplete, and only modestly increasing over time.

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(XML) Tumor necrosis factor-α antagonist diminishes osteocytic RANKL and sclerostin expression in diabetes rats with periodontitis

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Ji-Hye Kim, Ae Ri Kim, Yun Hui Choi, Sungil Jang, Gye-Hyeong Woo, Jeong-Heon Cha, Eun-Jung Bak, Yun-Jung Yoo

Type 1 diabetes with periodontitis shows elevated TNF-α expression. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α stimulates the expression of receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL) and sclerostin. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of TNF-α expression of osteocytic RANKL and sclerostin in type 1 diabetes rats with periodontitis using infliximab (IFX), a TNF-α antagonist. Rats were divided into two timepoint groups: day 3 and day 20. Each timepoint group was then divided into four subgroups: 1) control (C, n = 6 for each time point); 2) periodontitis (P, n = 6 for each time point); 3) diabetes with periodontitis (DP, n = 8 for each time point); and 4) diabetes with periodontitis treated with IFX (DP+IFX, n = 8 for each time point). To induce type 1 diabetes, rats were injected with streptozotocin (50 mg/kg dissolved in 0.1 M citrate buffer). Periodontitis was then induced by ligature of the mandibular first molars at day 7 after STZ injection (day 0). IFX was administered once for the 3 day group (on day 0) and twice for the 20 day group (on days 7 and 14). The DP group showed greater alveolar bone loss than the P group on day 20 (P = 0.020). On day 3, higher osteoclast formation and RANKL-positive osteocytes in P group (P = 0.000 and P = 0.011, respectively) and DP group (P = 0.006 and P = 0.017, respectively) than those in C group were observed. However, there was no significant difference in osteoclast formation or RANKL-positive osteocytes between P and DP groups. The DP+IFX group exhibited lower alveolar bone loss (P = 0.041), osteoclast formation (P = 0.019), and RANKL-positive osteocytes (P = 0.009) than that of the DP group. On day 20, DP group showed a lower osteoid area (P = 0.001) and more sclerostin-positive osteocytes (P = 0.000) than P group. On days 3 and 20, the DP+IFX group showed more osteoid area (P = 0.048 and 0.040, respectively) but lower sclerostin-positive osteocytes (both P = 0.000) than DP group. Taken together, these results suggest that TNF-α antagonist can diminish osteocytic RANKL/sclerostin expression and osteoclast formation, eventually recovering osteoid formation. Therefore, TNF-α might mediate alveolar bone loss via inducing expression of osteocytic RANKL and sclerostin in type 1 diabetes rats with periodontitis.(image)



(XML) Systemic factors related to soluble (pro)renin receptor in plasma of patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Keitaro Hase, Atsuhiro Kanda, Ikuyo Hirose, Kousuke Noda, Susumu Ishida

(Pro)renin receptor [(P)RR], a new component of the tissue renin-angiotensin system (RAS), plays a crucial role in inflammation and angiogenesis in the eye, thus contributing to the development of proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). In this study, we investigated systemic factors related to plasma levels of soluble form of (P)RR [s(P)RR] in patients with PDR. Twenty type II diabetic patients with PDR and 20 age-matched, non-diabetic patients with idiopathic macular diseases were enrolled, and plasma levels of various molecules were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Human retinal microvascular endothelial cells were stimulated with several diabetes-related conditions to evaluate changes in gene expression using real-time quantitative PCR. Of various systemic parameters examined, the PDR patients had significantly higher blood sugar and serum creatinine levels than non-diabetic controls. Protein levels of s(P)RR, prorenin, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, complement factor D (CFD), and leucine-rich α-2-glycoprotein 1 (LRG1) significantly increased in the plasma of PDR subjects as compared to non-diabetes, with positive correlations detected between s(P)RR and these inflammatory molecules but not prorenin. Estimated glomerular filtration rate and serum creatinine were also correlated with plasma s(P)RR, but not prorenin, levels. Among the inflammatory molecules correlated with s(P)RR in the plasma, TNF-α, but not CFD or LRG1, application to retinal endothelial cells upregulated the mRNA expression of (P)RR but not prorenin, while stimulation with high glucose enhanced both (P)RR and prorenin expression. These findings suggested close relationships between plasma s(P)RR and diabetes-induced factors including chronic inflammation, renal dysfunction, and hyperglycemia in patients with PDR.(image)



(XML) PamR, a new MarR-like regulator affecting prophages and metabolic genes expression in Bacillus subtilis

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Alba De San Eustaquio-Campillo, Charlène Cornilleau, Cyprien Guérin, Rut Carballido-López, Arnaud Chastanet

B. subtilis adapts to changing environments by reprogramming its genetic expression through a variety of transcriptional regulators from the global transition state regulators that allow a complete resetting of the cell genetic expression, to stress specific regulators controlling only a limited number of key genes required for optimal adaptation. Among them, MarR-type transcriptional regulators are known to respond to a variety of stresses including antibiotics or oxidative stress, and to control catabolic or virulence gene expression. Here we report the characterization of the ydcFGH operon of B. subtilis, containing a putative MarR-type transcriptional regulator. Using a combination of molecular genetics and high-throughput approaches, we show that this regulator, renamed PamR, controls directly its own expression and influence the expression of large sets of prophage-related and metabolic genes. The extent of the regulon impacted by PamR suggests that this regulator reprograms the metabolic landscape of B. subtilis in response to a yet unknown signal.(image)



(XML) Evolution-guided adaptation of an adenylation domain substrate specificity to an unusual amino acid

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Simon Vobruba, Stanislav Kadlcik, Radek Gazak, Jiri Janata

Adenylation domains CcbC and LmbC control the specific incorporation of amino acid precursors in the biosynthesis of lincosamide antibiotics celesticetin and lincomycin. Both proteins originate from a common L-proline-specific ancestor, but LmbC was evolutionary adapted to use an unusual substrate, (2S,4R)-4-propyl-proline (PPL). Using site-directed mutagenesis of the LmbC substrate binding pocket and an ATP-[32P]PPi exchange assay, three residues, G308, A207 and L246, were identified as crucial for the PPL activation, presumably forming together a channel of a proper size, shape and hydrophobicity to accommodate the propyl side chain of PPL. Subsequently, we experimentally simulated the molecular evolution leading from L-proline-specific substrate binding pocket to the PPL-specific LmbC. The mere change of three amino acid residues in originally strictly L-proline-specific CcbC switched its substrate specificity to prefer PPL and even synthetic alkyl-L-proline derivatives with prolonged side chain. This is the first time that such a comparative study provided an evidence of the evolutionary relevant adaptation of the adenylation domain substrate binding pocket to a new sterically different substrate by a few point mutations. The herein experimentally simulated rearrangement of the substrate binding pocket seems to be the general principle of the de novo genesis of adenylation domains’ unusual substrate specificities. However, to keep the overall natural catalytic efficiency of the enzyme, a more comprehensive rearrangement of the whole protein would probably be employed within natural evolution process.(image)



(XML) More visual mind wandering occurrence during visual task performance: Modality of the concurrent task affects how the mind wanders

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by HeeSun Choi, Michael Geden, Jing Feng

Mind wandering has been considered as a mental process that is either independent from the concurrent task or regulated like a secondary task. These accounts predict that the form of mind wandering (i.e., images or words) should be either unaffected by or different from the modality form (i.e., visual or auditory) of the concurrent task. Findings from this study challenge these accounts. We measured the rate and the form of mind wandering in three task conditions: fixation, visual 2-back, and auditory 2-back. Contrary to the general expectation, we found that mind wandering was more likely in the same form as the task. This result can be interpreted in light of recent findings on overlapping brain activations during internally- and externally-oriented processes. Our result highlights the importance to consider the unique interplay between the internal and external mental processes and to measure mind wandering as a multifaceted rather than a unitary construct.(image)



(XML) High abundance of ArfGAP1 found in the mossy fibers in hilus of the dentate gyrus region of the mouse brain

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Sergiy Chornyy, Anna Parnis, Michael Shmoish, Dan Cassel

The Arf GTPase-activating protein ArfGAP1 and its brain-specific isoform ArfGAP1B play an important role in neurotransmission. Here we analyzed the distribution of ArfGAP1 in the mouse brain. We found high levels of ArfGAP1 in the mouse dentate gyrus where it displayed especially elevated level in the polymorph layer (hilus). Importantly, the ArfGAP1 signal follows the pathway of the granular cell axons so-called mossy fibers which extend from the dentate gyrus to CA3 via stratum lucidum and partially stratum oriens. Additionally, we identified differential expression of ArfGAP1 in the isocortex. Thus, staining with anti-ArfGAP1 antibodies allows distinction between cortical cell layers 1, 2, 3 and 5 from 4 and 6. Taken together, our data suggest that ArfGAP1 can be used as a specific marker of the dentate mossy fibers and as for visualization of cortical layers in immunohistochemical studies.(image)



(XML) Use of thermal analysis coupled with differential scanning calorimetry, quadrupole mass spectrometry and infrared spectroscopy (TG-DSC-QMS-FTIR) to monitor chemical properties and thermal stability of fulvic and humic acids

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Patrycja Boguta, Zofia Sokołowska, Kamil Skic

Thermogravimetry–coupled with differential scanning calorimetry, quadrupole mass spectrometry, and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (TG-DSC-QMS-FTIR)–was applied to monitor the thermal stability (in an N2 pyrolytic atmosphere) and chemical properties of natural polymers, fulvic (FA) and humic acids (HA), isolated from chemically different soils. Three temperature ranges, R1, 40–220°C; R2, 220–430°C; and R3, 430–650°C, were distinguished from the DSC data, related to the main thermal processes of different structures (including transformations without weight loss). Weight loss (ΔM) estimated from TG curves at the above temperature intervals revealed distinct differences within the samples in the content of physically adsorbed water (at R1), volatile and labile functional groups (at R2) as well as recalcitrant and refractory structures (at R3). QMS and FTIR modules enabled the chemical identification (by masses and by functional groups, respectively) of gaseous species evolved during thermal decomposition at R1, R2 and R3. Variability in shape, area and temperature of TG, DSC, QMS and FTIR peaks revealed differences in thermal stability and chemical structure of the samples between the FAs and HAs fractions of different origin. The statistical analysis showed that the parameters calculated from QMS (areas of m/z = 16, 17, 18, 44), DSC (MaxDSC) and TG (ΔM) at R1, R2 and R3 correlated with selected chemical properties of the samples, such as N, O and COOH content as well as E2/E6 and E2/E4 indexes. This indicated a high potential for the coupled method to monitor the chemical changes of humic substances. A new humification parameter, HTD, based on simple calculations of weight loss at specific temperature intervals proved to be a good alternative to indexes obtained from other methods. The above findings showed that the TG-DSC-QMS-FTIR coupled technique can represent a useful tool for the comprehensive assessment of FAs and HAs properties related to their various origin.(image)



(XML) The structure of salt marsh soil mesofauna food webs – The prevalence of disturbance

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Kristin Haynert, Mirijam Kiggen, Bernhard Klarner, Mark Maraun, Stefan Scheu

Mesofauna taxa fill key trophic positions in soil food webs, even in terrestrial–marine boundary habitats characterized by frequent natural disturbances. Salt marshes represent such boundary habitats, characterized by frequent inundations increasing from the terrestrial upper to the marine pioneer zone. Despite the high abundance of soil mesofauna in salt marshes and their important function by facilitating energy and carbon flows, the structure, trophic ecology and habitat-related diet shifts of mesofauna species in natural salt marsh habitats is virtually unknown. Therefore, we investigated the effects of natural disturbance (inundation frequency) on community structure, food web complexity and resource use of soil mesofauna using stable isotope analysis (15N, 13C) in three salt marsh zones. In this intertidal habitat, the pioneer zone is exposed to inundations twice a day, but lower and upper salt marshes are less frequently inundated based on shore height. The mesofauna comprised 86 species / taxa dominated by Collembola, Oribatida and Mesostigmata. Shifts in environmental disturbances influenced the structure of food webs, diversity and density declined strongly from the land to the sea pointing to the importance of increasing levels of inundation frequency. Accordingly, the reduced diversity and density was associated by a simplification of the food web in the pioneer zone as compared to the less inundated lower and upper salt marsh with a higher number of trophic levels. Strong variations in δ15N signatures demonstrated that mesofauna species are feeding at multiple trophic levels. Primary decomposers were low and most mesofauna species functioned as secondary decomposers or predators including second order predators or scavengers. The results document that major decomposer taxa, such as Collembola and Oribatida, are more diverse than previously assumed and predominantly dwell on autochthonous resources of the respective salt marsh zone. The results further suggest that Mesostigmata mostly adopt an intraguild predation lifestyle. The high trophic position of a large number of predators suggests that intraguild predation is of significant importance in salt marsh food webs. Presumably, intraguild predation contributes to stabilizing the salt marsh food web against disturbances.(image)



(XML) Diversification of the insulin-like growth factor 1 gene in mammals

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Peter Rotwein

Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), a small, secreted peptide growth factor, is involved in a variety of physiological and patho-physiological processes, including somatic growth, tissue repair, and metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids. IGF1 gene expression appears to be controlled by several different signaling cascades in the few species in which it has been evaluated, with growth hormone playing a major role by activating a pathway involving the Stat5b transcription factor. Here, genes encoding IGF1 have been evaluated in 25 different mammalian species representing 15 different orders and ranging over ~180 million years of evolutionary diversification. Parts of the IGF1 gene have been fairly well conserved. Like rat Igf1 and human IGF1, 21 of 23 other genes are composed of 6 exons and 5 introns, and all 23 also contain recognizable tandem promoters, each with a unique leader exon. Exon and intron lengths are similar in most species, and DNA sequence conservation is moderately high in orthologous exons and proximal promoter regions. In contrast, putative growth hormone-activated Stat5b-binding enhancers found in analogous locations in rodent Igf1 and in human IGF1 loci, have undergone substantial variation in other mammals, and a processed retro-transposed IGF1 pseudogene is found in the sloth locus, but not in other mammalian genomes. Taken together, the fairly high level of organizational and nucleotide sequence similarity in the IGF1 gene among these 25 species supports the contention that some common regulatory pathways had existed prior to the beginning of mammalian speciation.(image)



(XML) Poly-victimization in a Norwegian adolescent population: Prevalence, social and psychological profile, and detrimental effects

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Svein Mossige, Lihong Huang

Background

This study focuses on poly-victimization, with the aim of providing a realistic estimation of the prevalence of lifetime victimization in a Norwegian adolescent population (ages 18–19 years).

Methods

Based upon the concept from previous research, we applied measures of child poly-victimization on Norwegian data obtained from a national youth survey in 2015 (N = 4,531) to arrive at an estimation of its prevalence. We used variables that measure individual characteristics such as gender and educational aspiration and socio-economic factors such as parents’ education level and home economic situation to derive a social and psychological profile of victimization and poly-victimization among young people. Finally, we estimated the effects of poly-victimization on mental health such as symptoms of depression, anxiety and trauma.

Results

Our study identified a poly-victimization prevalence of 8.6% among young people, i.e. they were exposed to three of all four forms of violence investigated by our study: non-physical violence, witnessing violence against parents, physical violence and sexual abuse. Adolescents of poly-victimization are six times more likely to report depression and anxiety and trauma when compared with those without victimization.

Conclusions

Poly-victimization is a phenomenon that heavily burdens many young people across many national contexts. Poly-victims clearly tend to develop depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress symptoms. The early detection of sexual abuse, physical violence, and bullying victimization is of critical importance and preventive measures could consider addressing family factors through parental educational programs.

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(XML) Forest loss in New England: A projection of recent trends

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Jonathan R. Thompson, Joshua S. Plisinski, Pontus Olofsson, Christopher E. Holden, Matthew J. Duveneck

New England has lost more than 350,000 ha of forest cover since 1985, marking a reversal of a two-hundred-year trend of forest expansion. We a cellular land-cover change model to project a continuation of recent trends (1990–2010) in forest loss across six New England states from 2010 to 2060. Recent trends were estimated using a continuous change detection algorithm applied to twenty years of Landsat images. We addressed three questions: (1) What would be the consequences of a continuation of the recent trends in terms of changes to New England's forest cover mosaic? (2) What social and biophysical attributes are most strongly associated with recent trends in forest loss, and how do these vary geographically? (3) How sensitive are projections of forest loss to the reference period—i.e. how do projections based on the period spanning 1990-to-2000 differ from 2000-to-2010, or from the full period, 1990-to-2010? Over the full reference period, 8201 ha yr-1 and 468 ha yr-1 of forest were lost to low- and high-density development, respectively. Forest loss was concentrated in suburban areas, particularly near Boston. Of the variables considered, 'distance to developed land' was the strongest predictor of forest loss. The next most important predictor varied geographically: 'distance to roads' ranked second in the more developed regions in the south and 'population density' ranked second in the less developed north. The importance and geographical variation in predictor variables were relatively stable between reference periods. In contrast, there was 55% more forest loss during the 1990-to-2000 reference period compared to the 2000-to-2010 period, highlighting the importance of understanding the variation in reference periods when projecting land cover change. The projection of recent trends is an important baseline scenario with implications for the management of forest ecosystems and the services they provide.(image)



(XML) Different involvement of medial prefrontal cortex and dorso-lateral striatum in automatic and controlled processing of a future conditioned stimulus

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Francisco Pérez-Díaz, Estrella Díaz, Natividad Sánchez, Juan Pedro Vargas, John M. Pearce, Juan Carlos López

Recent studies support the idea that stimulus processing in latent inhibition can vary during the course of preexposure. Controlled attentional mechanisms are said to be important in the early stages of preexposure, while in later stages animals adopt automatic processing of the stimulus to be used for conditioning. Given this distinction, it is possible that both types of processing are governed by different neural systems, affecting differentially the retrieval of information about the stimulus. In the present study we tested if a lesion to the dorso-lateral striatum or to the medial prefrontal cortex has a selective effect on exposure to the future conditioned stimulus (CS). With this aim, animals received different amounts of exposure to the future CS. The results showed that a lesion to the medial prefrontal cortex enhanced latent inhibition in animals receiving limited preexposure to the CS, but had no effect in animals receiving extended preexposure to the CS. The lesion of the dorso-lateral striatum produced a decrease in latent inhibition, but only in animals with an extended exposure to the future conditioned stimulus. These results suggest that the dorsal striatum and medial prefrontal cortex play essential roles in controlled and automatic processes. Automatic attentional processes appear to be impaired by a lesion to the dorso-lateral striatum and facilitated by a lesion to the prefrontal cortex.(image)



(XML) Whole-genome analyses of human adenovirus type 55 emerged in Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan in China, in 2016

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Wenbo Wang, Yuan Liu, Yifan Zhou, Liangqi Gu, Lin Zhang, Xuelian Zhang, Maomao Chen, Ziying Zou, Wei Qiu, Xiaobing Hu, Quanshui Fan

Three outbreaks of acute respiratory disease occurred at military camps in 2016 at Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan province, China. The pathogen induced these three outbreaks were all confirmed as HAdV-55 by genotype-specific PCR. The outbreak in Tibet was the first report that HAdV-55 occurred in the high altitude (HA, above sea level 3658 m). This study aims to determine the gene variation and evolution characteristics of these viral strains. Three strains of adenoviruses, LS89/Tibet/2016 (GenBank accession no. KY002683), SF04/SC/2016 (GenBank accession no. KY002684) and KM03/YN/2016 (GenBank accession no. KY002685) were obtained and confirmed by wholegenome sequencing. No multi-gene fragments recombination were found in these isolated HAdV-55 virus compared with previous reported HAdV-55 strains in China. The outbreaks in Tibet and in Sichuan continuously occurred. Virus isolated from Tibet (LS89/Tibet/2016) and Sichuan (SF04/SC/2016) had a similar mutation pattern and had a closer genetic evolutionary distance than KM03/YN/2016 strain, which indicates that the pathogens causing these two outbreaks may be of the same origin. Moreover, we found that heating was an effective way to inactive these viruses, which provide valuable information for the development of HAdV-55 vaccines. Our data provide new information for genetic evolution of HAdV-55, and contribute to the prevention and control of HAdV-55 infection in the future.(image)



(XML) Microcystin-LR does not induce alterations to transcriptomic or metabolomic profiles of a model heterotrophic bacterium

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Robbie M. Martin, Stephen P. Dearth, Gary R. LeCleir, Shawn R. Campagna, Elizabeth M. Fozo, Erik R. Zinser, Steven W. Wilhelm

Microcystins are secondary metabolites produced by several freshwater, bloom-forming cyanobacterial species. Microcystin-producing cyanobacteria co-occur with a complex community of heterotrophic bacteria. Though conflicting, studies suggest that microcystins affect the physiology of heterotrophic bacteria by inducing oxidative stress and increasing cell envelope permeability. Based on these observations, we hypothesized that exposure to microcystin should induce differential expression in genes responding to oxidative and envelope stress and trigger shifts in metabolite pools. We tested this hypothesis by exposing Escherichia coli MG1655 to 1 and 10 mg/L microcystin-LR and monitored global changes to gene expression, cellular metabolite pools, and lipid composition using RNA-sequencing and UPLC-MS. Contrary to reported studies, we observed no evidence that microcystin-LR induced oxidative or cell envelope stress in E. coli under the tested conditions. Our results suggest a potential difference in mechanism by which microcystin-LR interacts with heterotrophic bacteria vs. cyanobacteria.(image)



(XML) CELSR2 is a candidate susceptibility gene in idiopathic scoliosis

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Elisabet Einarsdottir, Anna Grauers, Jingwen Wang, Hong Jiao, Stefan A. Escher, Aina Danielsson, Ane Simony, Mikkel Andersen, Steen Bach Christensen, Kristina Åkesson, Ikuyo Kou, Anas M. Khanshour, Acke Ohlin, Carol Wise, Shiro Ikegawa, Juha Kere, Paul Gerdhem

A Swedish pedigree with an autosomal dominant inheritance of idiopathic scoliosis was initially studied by genetic linkage analysis, prioritising genomic regions for further analysis. This revealed a locus on chromosome 1 with a putative risk haplotype shared by all affected individuals. Two affected individuals were subsequently exome-sequenced, identifying a rare, non-synonymous variant in the CELSR2 gene. This variant is rs141489111, a c.G6859A change in exon 21 (NM_001408), leading to a predicted p.V2287I (NP_001399.1) change. This variant was found in all affected members of the pedigree, but showed reduced penetrance. Analysis of tagging variants in CELSR1-3 in a set of 1739 Swedish-Danish scoliosis cases and 1812 controls revealed significant association (p = 0.0001) to rs2281894, a common synonymous variant in CELSR2. This association was not replicated in case-control cohorts from Japan and the US. No association was found to variants in CELSR1 or CELSR3. Our findings suggest a rare variant in CELSR2 as causative for idiopathic scoliosis in a family with dominant segregation and further highlight common variation in CELSR2 in general susceptibility to idiopathic scoliosis in the Swedish-Danish population. Both variants are located in the highly conserved GAIN protein domain, which is necessary for the auto-proteolysis of CELSR2, suggesting its functional importance.(image)



(XML) Ras GAP-related and C-terminal domain-dependent localization and tumorigenic activities of IQGAP1 in melanoma cells

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Michael Reimer, Elisabeth Denby, Silviya P. Zustiak, Joseph M. Schober

IQGAP1 interacts with a number of binding partners through a calponin homology domain (CHD), a WW motif, IQ repeats, a Ras GAP-related domain (GRD), and a conserved C-terminal (CT) domain. Among various biological and cellular functions, IQGAP1 is known to play a role in actin cytoskeleton dynamics during membrane ruffling and lamellipodium protrusion. In addition, phosphorylation near the CT domain is thought to control IQGAP1 activity through regulation of intramolecular interaction. In a previous study, we discovered that IQGAP1 preferentially localizes to retracting areas in B16F10 mouse melanoma cells, not areas of membrane ruffling and lamellipodium protrusion. Nothing is known of the domains needed for retraction localization and very little is known of IQGAP1 function in the actin cytoskeleton of melanoma cells. Thus, we examined localization of IQGAP1 mutants to retracting areas, and characterized knock down phenotypes on tissue culture plastic and physiologic-stiffness hydrogels. Localization of IQGAP1 mutants (S1441E/S1443D, S1441A/S1443A, ΔCHD, ΔGRD or ΔCT) to retracting and protruding cell edges were measured. In retracting areas there was a decrease in S1441A/S1443A, ΔGRD and ΔCT localization, a minor decrease in ΔCHD localization, and normal localization of the S1441E/S1443D mutant. In areas of cell protrusion just behind the lamellipodium leading edge, we surprisingly observed both ΔGRD and ΔCT localization, and increased number of microtubules. IQGAP1 knock down caused loss of cell polarity on laminin-coated glass, decreased proliferation on tissue culture polystyrene, and abnormal spheroid growth on laminin-coated hydrogels. We propose that the GRD and CT domains regulate IQGAP1 localization to retracting actin networks to promote a tumorigenic role in melanoma cells.(image)



(XML) Towards the identification of Idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease from the speech. New articulatory kinetic biomarkers

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by J. I. Godino-Llorente, S. Shattuck-Hufnagel, J. Y. Choi, L. Moro-Velázquez, J. A. Gómez-García

Although a large amount of acoustic indicators have already been proposed in the literature to evaluate the hypokinetic dysarthria of people with Parkinson’s Disease, the goal of this work is to identify and interpret new reliable and complementary articulatory biomarkers that could be applied to predict/evaluate Parkinson’s Disease from a diadochokinetic test, contributing to the possibility of a further multidimensional analysis of the speech of parkinsonian patients. The new biomarkers proposed are based on the kinetic behaviour of the envelope trace, which is directly linked with the articulatory dysfunctions introduced by the disease since the early stages. The interest of these new articulatory indicators stands on their easiness of identification and interpretation, and their potential to be translated into computer based automatic methods to screen the disease from the speech. Throughout this paper, the accuracy provided by these acoustic kinetic biomarkers is compared with the one obtained with a baseline system based on speaker identification techniques. Results show accuracies around 85% that are in line with those obtained with the complex state of the art speaker recognition techniques, but with an easier physical interpretation, which open the possibility to be transferred to a clinical setting.(image)



(XML) Analysis of ecological thresholds in a temperate forest undergoing dieback

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Philip Martin, Adrian C. Newton, Elena Cantarello, Paul M. Evans

Positive feedbacks in drivers of degradation can cause threshold responses in natural ecosystems. Though threshold responses have received much attention in studies of aquatic ecosystems, they have been neglected in terrestrial systems, such as forests, where the long time-scales required for monitoring have impeded research. In this study we explored the role of positive feedbacks in a temperate forest that has been monitored for 50 years and is undergoing dieback, largely as a result of death of the canopy dominant species (Fagus sylvatica, beech). Statistical analyses showed strong non-linear losses in basal area for some plots, while others showed relatively gradual change. Beech seedling density was positively related to canopy openness, but a similar relationship was not observed for saplings, suggesting a feedback whereby mortality in areas with high canopy openness was elevated. We combined this observation with empirical data on size- and growth-mediated mortality of trees to produce an individual-based model of forest dynamics. We used this model to simulate changes in the structure of the forest over 100 years under scenarios with different juvenile and mature mortality probabilities, as well as a positive feedback between seedling and mature tree mortality. This model produced declines in forest basal area when critical juvenile and mature mortality probabilities were exceeded. Feedbacks in juvenile mortality caused a greater reduction in basal area relative to scenarios with no feedback. Non-linear, concave declines of basal area occurred only when mature tree mortality was 3–5 times higher than rates observed in the field. Our results indicate that the longevity of trees may help to buffer forests against environmental change and that the maintenance of old, large trees may aid the resilience of forest stands. In addition, our work suggests that dieback of forests may be avoidable providing pressures on mature and juvenile trees do not pass critical thresholds.(image)



(XML) Scientific research on animal biodiversity is systematically biased towards vertebrates and temperate regions

2017-12-14T22:00:00Z

by Mark A. Titley, Jake L. Snaddon, Edgar C. Turner

Over the last 25 years, research on biodiversity has expanded dramatically, fuelled by increasing threats to the natural world. However, the number of published studies is heavily weighted towards certain taxa, perhaps influencing conservation awareness of and funding for less-popular groups. Few studies have systematically quantified these biases, although information on this topic is important for informing future research and conservation priorities. We investigated: i) which animal taxa are being studied; ii) if any taxonomic biases are the same in temperate and tropical regions; iii) whether the taxon studied is named in the title of papers on biodiversity, perhaps reflecting a perception of what biodiversity is; iv) the geographical distribution of biodiversity research, compared with the distribution of biodiversity and threatened species; and v) the geographical distribution of authors’ countries of origin. To do this, we used the search engine Web of Science to systematically sample a subset of the published literature with ‘biodiversity’ in the title. In total 526 research papers were screened—5% of all papers in Web of Science with biodiversity in the title. For each paper, details on taxonomic group, title phrasing, number of citations, study location, and author locations were recorded. Compared to the proportions of described species, we identified a considerable taxonomic weighting towards vertebrates and an under-representation of invertebrates (particularly arachnids and insects) in the published literature. This discrepancy is more pronounced in highly cited papers, and in tropical regions, with only 43% of biodiversity research in the tropics including invertebrates. Furthermore, while papers on vertebrate taxa typically did not specify the taxonomic group in the title, the converse was true for invertebrate papers. Biodiversity research is also biased geographically: studies are more frequently carried out in developed countries with larger economies, and for a given level of species or threatened species, tropical countries were understudied relative to temperate countries. Finally, biodiversity research is disproportionately authored by researchers from wealthier countries, with studies less likely to be carried out by scientists in lower-GDP nations. Our results highlight the need for a more systematic and directed evaluation of biodiversity studies, perhaps informing more targeted research towards those areas and taxa most depauperate in research. Only by doing so can we ensure that biodiversity research yields results that are relevant and applicable to all regions and that the information necessary for the conservation of threatened species is available to conservation practitioners.(image)