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author:("tenon, S A")
1.  Diversity and ecological structure of vibrios in benthic and pelagic habitats along a latitudinal gradient in the Southwest Atlantic Ocean 
PeerJ  2015;3:e741.
We analyzed the diversity and population structure of the 775 Vibrio isolates from different locations of the southwestern Atlantic Ocean (SAO), including St. Peter and St. Paul Archipelago (SPSPA), Abrolhos Bank (AB) and the St. Sebastian region (SS), between 2005 and 2010. In this study, 195 novel isolates, obtained from seawater and major benthic organisms (rhodoliths and corals), were compared with a collection of 580 isolates previously characterized (available at The isolates were distributed in 8 major habitat spectra according to AdaptML analysis on the basis of pyrH phylogenetic reconstruction and ecological information, such as isolation source (i.e., corals: Madracis decactis, Mussismilia braziliensis, M. hispida, Phyllogorgia dilatata, Scolymia wellsi; zoanthids: Palythoa caribaeorum, P. variabilis and Zoanthus solanderi; fireworm: Hermodice carunculata; rhodolith; water and sediment) and sampling site regions (SPSPA, AB and SS). Ecologically distinct groups were discerned through AdaptML, which finds phylogenetic groups that are significantly different in their spectra of habitat preferences. Some habitat spectra suggested ecological specialization, with habitat spectra 2, 3, and 4 corresponding to specialization on SPSPA, AB, and SS, respectively. This match between habitat and location may reflect a minor exchange of Vibrio populations between geographically isolated benthic systems. Moreover, we found several widespread Vibrio species predominantly from water column, and different populations of a single Vibrio species from H. carunculata in ecologically distinct groups (H-1 and H-8 respectively). On the other hand, AdaptML detected phylogenetic groups that are found in both the benthos and in open water. The ecological grouping observed suggests dispersal and connectivity between the benthic and pelagic systems in AB. This study is a first attempt to characterize the biogeographic distribution of vibrios in both seawater and several benthic hosts in the SAO. The benthopelagic coupling observed here stands out the importance of vibrios in the global ocean health.
PMCID: PMC4327252
Habitats; Vibrio; Corals; AdaptML; Rhodoliths; Benthos; Plankton
Nature medicine  2014;20(6):599-606.
Oncogene–induced DNA damage elicits genomic instability in epithelial cancer cells, but apoptosis is blocked through inactivation of the tumor suppressor p53. In hematological cancers, the relevance of ongoing DNA damage and mechanisms by which apoptosis is suppressed are largely unknown. We found pervasive DNA damage in hematologic malignancies including multiple myeloma, lymphoma and leukemia, which leads to activation of a p53–independent, pro-apoptotic network centered on nuclear relocalization of ABL1 kinase. Although nuclear ABL1 triggers cell death through its interaction with the Hippo pathway co–activator YAP1 in normal cells, we show that low YAP1 levels prevent nuclear ABL1–induced apoptosis in these hematologic malignancies. YAP1 is under the control of a serine–threonine kinase, STK4. Importantly, genetic inactivation of STK4 restores YAP1 levels, triggering cell death in vitro and in vivo. Our data therefore identify a novel synthetic–lethal strategy to selectively target cancer cells presenting with endogenous DNA damage and low YAP1 levels.
PMCID: PMC4057660  PMID: 24813251
Hippo pathway; YAP1; leukemia; lymphoma; multiple myeloma; ABL1; STK4; synthetic lethality
3.  Evaluation of the Impact of the Cancer Therapy Everolimus on the Central Nervous System in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e113533.
Cancer and treatments may induce cognitive impairments in cancer patients, and the causal link between chemotherapy and cognitive dysfunctions was recently validated in animal models. New cancer targeted therapies have become widely used, and their impact on brain functions and quality of life needs to be explored. We evaluated the impact of everolimus, an anticancer agent targeting the mTOR pathway, on cognitive functions, cerebral metabolism, and hippocampal cell proliferation/vascular density in mice. Adult mice received everolimus daily for 2 weeks, and behavioral tests were performed from 1 week after the last treatment. Everolimus-treated mice displayed a marked reduction in weight gain from the last day of the treatment period. Ex vivo analysis showed altered cytochrome oxidase activity in selective cerebral regions involved in energy balance, food intake, reward, learning and memory modulation, sleep/wake cycle regulation, and arousal. Like chemotherapy, everolimus did not alter emotional reactivity, learning and memory performances, but in contrast to chemotherapy, did not affect behavioral flexibility or reactivity to novelty. In vivo hippocampal neural cell proliferation and vascular density were also unchanged after everolimus treatments. In conclusion, two weeks daily everolimus treatment at the clinical dose did not evoke alteration of cognitive performances evaluated in hippocampal- and prefrontal cortex-dependent tasks that would persist at one to four weeks after the end of the treatment completion. However, acute everolimus treatment caused selective CO modifications without altering the mTOR effector P70S6 kinase in cerebral regions involved in feeding behavior and/or the sleep/wake cycle, at least in part under control of the solitary nucleus and the parasubthalamic region of the hypothalamus. Thus, this area may represent a key target for everolimus-mediating peripheral modifications, which has been previously associated with symptoms such as weight loss and fatigue.
PMCID: PMC4250083  PMID: 25436776
4.  Increased plasma levels of endozepines, endogenous ligands of benzodiazepine receptors, during systemic inflammation: a prospective observational study 
Critical Care  2014;18(6):633.
Recent work has shown that benzodiazepines interact with the immune system and exhibit anti-inflammatory effects. By using in vitro models, researchers in several studies have shown that the peptidergic endogenous ligands of benzodiazepine receptors, named endozepines, are involved in the immune response. All endozepines identified so far derive from diazepam-binding inhibitor (DBI), which generates several biologically active fragments. The aim of the present study was to measure plasma levels of DBI-like immunoreactivity (DBI-LI) in a rat model of sepsis and in patients with systemic inflammation from septic or non-septic origin.
Cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) or sham surgery was performed in rats. Blood samples were taken from animals, patients hospitalized for digestive surgery with inflammatory diseases, and healthy volunteers. Measurements of plasma DBI-related peptides were carried out by radioimmunoassay in animal and human samples.
In the rats, CLP provoked an increase of plasma DBI-LI (+37%) 6 hours postsurgery. In humans, DBI-LI levels were significantly higher in the systemic inflammation group than in the healthy volunteer group (48.6 (32.7 to 77.7) pg/ml versus 11.1 (5.9 to 35.3) pg/ml, P < 0.001). We found a positive correlation between endozepine levels and Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score (rs = 0.33 (0.026 to 0.58), P < 0.05) and tumor necrosis factor α levels (rs = 0.43 (0.14 to 0.65), P < 0.01). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for endozepines was 0.842 (95% CI (0.717 to 0.966), P < 0.0001) for discriminating patients with inflammation from healthy volunteers.
Endozepines might be involved in the inflammatory response in patients with systemic inflammation.
PMCID: PMC4326502  PMID: 25407756
5.  Exploring the Genome of Cheese Starter Lactic Acid Bacterium Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis CECT 4433 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(6):e01142-14.
Here, we present the draft genome sequences of Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis CECT 4433, a cheese fermentation starter strain. The genome provides further insight into the genomic plasticity, biocomplexity (including gene strain specifics), and evolution of these genera.
PMCID: PMC4241658  PMID: 25395632
6.  Genome and metabolic network of “Candidatus Phaeomarinobacter ectocarpi” Ec32, a new candidate genus of Alphaproteobacteria frequently associated with brown algae 
Frontiers in Genetics  2014;5:241.
Rhizobiales and related orders of Alphaproteobacteria comprise several genera of nodule-inducing symbiotic bacteria associated with plant roots. Here we describe the genome and the metabolic network of “Candidatus Phaeomarinobacter ectocarpi” Ec32, a member of a new candidate genus closely related to Rhizobiales and found in association with cultures of the filamentous brown algal model Ectocarpus. The “Ca. P. ectocarpi” genome encodes numerous metabolic pathways that may be relevant for this bacterium to interact with algae. Notably, it possesses a large set of glycoside hydrolases and transporters, which may serve to process and assimilate algal metabolites. It also harbors several proteins likely to be involved in the synthesis of algal hormones such as auxins and cytokinins, as well as the vitamins pyridoxine, biotin, and thiamine. As of today, “Ca. P. ectocarpi” has not been successfully cultured, and identical 16S rDNA sequences have been found exclusively associated with Ectocarpus. However, related sequences (≥97% identity) have also been detected free-living and in a Fucus vesiculosus microbiome barcoding project, indicating that the candidate genus “Phaeomarinobacter” may comprise several species, which may colonize different niches.
PMCID: PMC4110880  PMID: 25120558
holobiont; algal-bacterial interactions; genome sequencing; metabolic network; symbiosis; transporters; vitamins; phytohormones
7.  Photobacterium sanctipauli sp. nov. isolated from bleached Madracis decactis (Scleractinia) in the St Peter & St Paul Archipelago, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Brazil 
PeerJ  2014;2:e427.
Five novel strains of Photobacterium (A-394T, A-373, A-379, A-397 and A-398) were isolated from bleached coral Madracis decactis (scleractinian) in the remote St Peter & St Archipelago (SPSPA), Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Brazil. Healthy M. decactis specimens were also surveyed, but no strains were related to them. The novel isolates formed a distinct lineage based on the 16S rRNA, recA, and rpoA gene sequences analysis. Their closest phylogenetic neighbours were Photobacterium rosenbergii, P. gaetbulicola, and P. lutimaris, sharing 96.6 to 95.8% 16S rRNA gene sequence similarity. The novel species can be differentiated from the closest neighbours by several phenotypic and chemotaxonomic markers. It grows at pH 11, produces tryptophane deaminase, presents the fatty acid C18:0, but lacks C16:0 iso. The whole cell protein profile, based in MALDI-TOF MS, distinguished the strains of the novel species among each other and from the closest neighbors. In addition, we are releasing the whole genome sequence of the type strain. The name Photobacterium sanctipauli sp. nov. is proposed for this taxon. The G + C content of the type strain A-394T (= LMG27910T = CAIM1892T) is 48.2 mol%.
PMCID: PMC4081156  PMID: 25024905
Photobacterium sanctipauli; St Paul’s rocks; Coral bleaching; New species; Genomic taxonomy
8.  P53 and Pten control neural and glioma stem/progenitor cell renewal and differentiation 
Nature  2008;455(7216):1129-1133.
Glioblastoma (GBM) is a highly lethal brain tumor presenting as one of two subtypes with distinct clinical histories and molecular profiles. The primary GBM subtype presents acutely as high-grade disease that typically harbors EGFR, Pten and Ink4a/Arf mutations, and the secondary GBM subtype evolves from the slow progression of low-grade disease that classically possesses PDGF and p53 events1–3. Here, we show that concomitant CNS-specific deletion of p53 and Pten in the mouse CNS generates a penetrant acute-onset high-grade malignant glioma phenotype with striking clinical, pathological and molecular resemblance to primary GBM in humans. This genetic observation prompted p53 and Pten mutational analysis in human primary GBM, demonstrating unexpectedly frequent inactivating mutations of p53 as well the expected Pten mutations. Integrated transcriptomic profiling, in silico promoter analysis and functional studies of murine neural stem cells (NSCs) established that dual, but not singular, inactivation of p53 and Pten promotes an undifferentiated state with high renewal potential and drives elevated c-Myc levels and its associated signature. Functional studies validated increased c-Myc activity as a potent contributor to the impaired differentiation and enhanced renewal of p53-Pten null NSCs as well as tumor neurospheres (TNSs) derived from this model. c-Myc also serves to maintain robust tumorigenic potential of p53-Pten null TNSs. These murine modeling studies, together with confirmatory transcriptomic/promoter studies in human primary GBM, validate a pathogenetic role of a common tumor suppressor mutation profile in human primary GBM and establish c-Myc as a key target for cooperative actions of p53 and Pten in the regulation of normal and malignant stem/progenitor cell differentiation, self-renewal and tumorigenic potential.
PMCID: PMC4051433  PMID: 18948956
9.  Association of the mtDNA m.4171C>A/MT-ND1 mutation with both optic neuropathy and bilateral brainstem lesions 
BMC Neurology  2014;14:116.
An increasing number of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations, mainly in complex I genes, have been associated with variably overlapping phenotypes of Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), mitochondrial encephalomyopathy with stroke-like episodes (MELAS) and Leigh syndrome (LS). We here describe the first case in which the m.4171C>A/MT-ND1 mutation, previously reported only in association with LHON, leads also to a Leigh-like phenotype.
Case presentation
A 16-year-old male suffered subacute visual loss and recurrent vomiting and vertigo associated with bilateral brainstem lesions affecting the vestibular nuclei. His mother and one sister also presented subacute visual loss compatible with LHON. Sequencing of the entire mtDNA revealed the homoplasmic m.4171C>A/MT-ND1 mutation, previously associated with pure LHON, on a haplogroup H background. Three additional non-synonymous homoplasmic transitions affecting ND2 (m.4705T>C/MT-ND2 and m.5263C>T/MT-ND2) and ND6 (m.14180T>C/MT-ND6) subunits, well recognized as polymorphisms in other mtDNA haplogroups but never found on the haplogroup H background, were also present.
This case widens the phenotypic expression of the rare m.4171C>A/MT-ND1 LHON mutation, which may also lead to Leigh-like brainstem lesions, and indicates that the co-occurrence of other ND non-synonymous variants, found outside of their usual mtDNA backgrounds, may have increased the pathogenic potential of the primary LHON mutation.
PMCID: PMC4047257  PMID: 24884847
Mitochondrial disease; Vision loss; Bilateral brainstem lesions; LHON; mtDNA mutation; Leigh syndrome; Idebenone
10.  Bone Marrow Endosteal Mesenchymal Progenitors Depend on HIF Factors for Maintenance and Regulation of Hematopoiesis 
Stem Cell Reports  2014;2(6):794-809.
Maintenance and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) is regulated through cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous mechanisms within specialized bone marrow microenvironments. Recent evidence demonstrates that signaling by HIF-1α contributes to cell-autonomous regulation of HSC maintenance. By investigating the role of HIF factors in bone marrow mesenchymal progenitors, we found that murine endosteal mesenchymal progenitors express high levels of HIF-1α and HIF-2α and proliferate preferentially in hypoxic conditions ex vivo. Inactivation of either HIF-1α or HIF-2α dramatically affects their phenotype, propagation, and differentiation. Also, downregulation of HIF factors provokes an increase in interferon-responsive genes and triggers expansion and differentiation of hematopoietic progenitors by a STAT1-mediated mechanism. Interestingly, in conditions of demand-driven hematopoiesis HIF factors are specifically downregulated in mesenchymal progenitors in vivo. In conclusion, our findings indicate that HIF factors also regulate hematopoiesis non-cell-autonomously by preventing activation of a latent program in mesenchymal progenitors that promotes hematopoiesis.
Graphical Abstract
•Endosteal mesenchymal progenitors exhibit a hypoxic state•HIF factors cell autonomously regulate the biology of mesenchymal progenitors•HIF factors repress interferon-responsive programs in mesenchymal progenitors•HIF factors regulate hematopoiesis through non-cell-autonomous mechanisms
Signaling through hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) promotes self-renewal of hematopoietic stem cells. Here, Bernardi and colleagues found that HIFs also regulate hematopoiesis non-cell-autonomously from mesenchymal progenitors residing at the endosteal surface of the bone marrow. Within mesenchymal progenitors, HIFs suppress interferon-induced signals that, in turn, lead to expansion and differentiation of hematopoietic progenitors in conditions of demand-driven hematopoiesis.
PMCID: PMC4050345  PMID: 24936467
11.  Transcriptomic and metabolomic analysis of copper stress acclimation in Ectocarpus siliculosus highlights signaling and tolerance mechanisms in brown algae 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:116.
Brown algae are sessile macro-organisms of great ecological relevance in coastal ecosystems. They evolved independently from land plants and other multicellular lineages, and therefore hold several original ontogenic and metabolic features. Most brown algae grow along the coastal zone where they face frequent environmental changes, including exposure to toxic levels of heavy metals such as copper (Cu).
We carried out large-scale transcriptomic and metabolomic analyses to decipher the short-term acclimation of the brown algal model E. siliculosus to Cu stress, and compared these data to results known for other abiotic stressors. This comparison demonstrates that Cu induces oxidative stress in E. siliculosus as illustrated by the transcriptomic overlap between Cu and H2O2 treatments. The common response to Cu and H2O2 consisted in the activation of the oxylipin and the repression of inositol signaling pathways, together with the regulation of genes coding for several transcription-associated proteins. Concomitantly, Cu stress specifically activated a set of genes coding for orthologs of ABC transporters, a P1B-type ATPase, ROS detoxification systems such as a vanadium-dependent bromoperoxidase, and induced an increase of free fatty acid contents. Finally we observed, as a common abiotic stress mechanism, the activation of autophagic processes on one hand and the repression of genes involved in nitrogen assimilation on the other hand.
Comparisons with data from green plants indicate that some processes involved in Cu and oxidative stress response are conserved across these two distant lineages. At the same time the high number of yet uncharacterized brown alga-specific genes induced in response to copper stress underlines the potential to discover new components and molecular interactions unique to these organisms. Of particular interest for future research is the potential cross-talk between reactive oxygen species (ROS)-, myo-inositol-, and oxylipin signaling.
PMCID: PMC4108028  PMID: 24885189
Brown algae; Heavy metal; Copper stress response; Primary metabolism; ABC transporters; Oxylipins
12.  Gliotransmission and Brain Glucose Sensing 
Diabetes  2013;62(3):801-810.
Hypothalamic glucose sensing is involved in the control of feeding behavior and peripheral glucose homeostasis, and glial cells are suggested to play an important role in this process. Diazepam-binding inhibitor (DBI) and its processing product the octadecaneuropeptide (ODN), collectively named endozepines, are secreted by astroglia, and ODN is a potent anorexigenic factor. Therefore, we investigated the involvement of endozepines in brain glucose sensing. First, we showed that intracerebroventricular administration of glucose in rats increases DBI expression in hypothalamic glial-like tanycytes. We then demonstrated that glucose stimulates endozepine secretion from hypothalamic explants. Feeding experiments indicate that the anorexigenic effect of central administration of glucose was blunted by coinjection of an ODN antagonist. Conversely, the hyperphagic response elicited by central glucoprivation was suppressed by an ODN agonist. The anorexigenic effects of centrally injected glucose or ODN agonist were suppressed by blockade of the melanocortin-3/4 receptors, suggesting that glucose sensing involves endozepinergic control of the melanocortin pathway. Finally, we found that brain endozepines modulate blood glucose levels, suggesting their involvement in a feedback loop controlling whole-body glucose homeostasis. Collectively, these data indicate that endozepines are a critical relay in brain glucose sensing and potentially new targets in treatment of metabolic disorders.
PMCID: PMC3581199  PMID: 23160530
13.  Preclinical and clinical phase I studies of a new recombinant Filgrastim (BK0023) in comparison with Neupogen® 
Filgrastim or methionyl-granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (Met-G-CSF), is a recombinant therapeutic protein widely used to treat severe neutropenia caused by myelosuppressive drugs in patients with nonmyeloid malignancies. In addition to its role in the regulation of granulopoiesis, treatment with G-CSF is considered the standard approach to mobilize CD34 positive (CD34+) mononuclear cells for reconstituting hemopoietic ability for bone marrow transplantation. An intended biosimilar filgrastim (coded BK0023) was produced in GMP conditions by E.coli fermentation according to an original recombinant process and showed physico-chemical properties and purity profile similar to Neupogen®, a commercial preparation of filgrastim. The aim of the present study was to demonstrate the comparability of BK0023 to Neupogen® in terms of both in vitro biological activities and in vivo toxicology, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.
Cell proliferation and radioligand binding assays were conducted in NFS-60 cells to compare the biological activity and functional interaction with the G-CSF receptor in vitro, while preclinical in vivo studies, including pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics after repeated dose were performed in normal and neutropenic rats. A phase I study was carried out in healthy male volunteers treated by multiple-dose subcutaneous administration of BK0023 and Neupogen® to evaluate their pharmacodynamic effects as well as their pharmacokinetic and safety profile and to demonstrate their pharmacodynamic equivalence and pharmacokinetic bioequivalence.
The results reported in this work demonstrate that BK0023 is comparable in terms of biological activity, efficacy and safety to Neupogen®.
BK0023 has the same pharmacokinetic profile, efficacy and safety as the reference commercial filgrastim Neupogen® and therefore could be further developed to become a convenient option to treat neutropenia in oncological patients.
Trial registration
Trial registration number (TRN): NCT01933971. Date of registration: Sept 6th 2013.
PMCID: PMC3942296  PMID: 24555723
r-Met-G-CSF; BK0023; Biosimilar Filgrastim; Comparability
14.  Design and Characterization of a 52K SNP Chip for Goats 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86227.
The success of Genome Wide Association Studies in the discovery of sequence variation linked to complex traits in humans has increased interest in high throughput SNP genotyping assays in livestock species. Primary goals are QTL detection and genomic selection. The purpose here was design of a 50–60,000 SNP chip for goats. The success of a moderate density SNP assay depends on reliable bioinformatic SNP detection procedures, the technological success rate of the SNP design, even spacing of SNPs on the genome and selection of Minor Allele Frequencies (MAF) suitable to use in diverse breeds. Through the federation of three SNP discovery projects consolidated as the International Goat Genome Consortium, we have identified approximately twelve million high quality SNP variants in the goat genome stored in a database together with their biological and technical characteristics. These SNPs were identified within and between six breeds (meat, milk and mixed): Alpine, Boer, Creole, Katjang, Saanen and Savanna, comprising a total of 97 animals. Whole genome and Reduced Representation Library sequences were aligned on >10 kb scaffolds of the de novo goat genome assembly. The 60,000 selected SNPs, evenly spaced on the goat genome, were submitted for oligo manufacturing (Illumina, Inc) and published in dbSNP along with flanking sequences and map position on goat assemblies (i.e. scaffolds and pseudo-chromosomes), sheep genome V2 and cattle UMD3.1 assembly. Ten breeds were then used to validate the SNP content and 52,295 loci could be successfully genotyped and used to generate a final cluster file. The combined strategy of using mainly whole genome Next Generation Sequencing and mapping on a contig genome assembly, complemented with Illumina design tools proved to be efficient in producing this GoatSNP50 chip. Advances in use of molecular markers are expected to accelerate goat genomic studies in coming years.
PMCID: PMC3899236  PMID: 24465974
15.  Bioelectricity versus bioethanol from sugarcane bagasse: is it worth being flexible? 
Sugarcane is the most efficient crop for production of (1G) ethanol. Additionally, sugarcane bagasse can be used to produce (2G) ethanol. However, the manufacture of 2G ethanol in large scale is not a consolidated process yet. Thus, a detailed economic analysis, based on consistent simulations of the process, is worthwhile. Moreover, both ethanol and electric energy markets have been extremely volatile in Brazil, which suggests that a flexible biorefinery, able to switch between 2G ethanol and electric energy production, could be an option to absorb fluctuations in relative prices. Simulations of three cases were run using the software EMSO: production of 1G ethanol + electric energy, of 1G + 2G ethanol and a flexible biorefinery. Bagasse for 2G ethanol was pretreated with a weak acid solution, followed by enzymatic hydrolysis, while 50% of sugarcane trash (mostly leaves) was used as surplus fuel.
With maximum diversion of bagasse to 2G ethanol (74% of the total), an increase of 25.8% in ethanol production (reaching 115.2 L/tonne of sugarcane) was achieved. An increase of 21.1% in the current ethanol price would be enough to make all three biorefineries economically viable (11.5% for the 1G + 2G dedicated biorefinery). For 2012 prices, the flexible biorefinery presented a lower Internal Rate of Return (IRR) than the 1G + 2G dedicated biorefinery. The impact of electric energy prices (auction and spot market) and of enzyme costs on the IRR was not as significant as it would be expected.
For current market prices in Brazil, not even production of 1G bioethanol is economically feasible. However, the 1G + 2G dedicated biorefinery is closer to feasibility than the conventional 1G + electric energy industrial plant. Besides, the IRR of the 1G + 2G biorefinery is more sensitive with respect to the price of ethanol, and an increase of 11.5% in this value would be enough to achieve feasibility. The ability of the flexible biorefinery to take advantage of seasonal fluctuations does not make up for its higher investment cost, in the present scenario.
PMCID: PMC3851823  PMID: 24088415
Second generation ethanol production; Techno-economic evaluation; Lignocellulose; Sugarcane; Bagasse; Process simulation
16.  Genomes of extremophile crucifers: new platforms for comparative genomics and beyond 
Genome Biology  2012;13(8):166.
Recent reports describe the genome sequencing of Thellungiella salsuginea and Thellungiella parvula, two extremophile crucifers closely related to the stress-sensitive model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
PMCID: PMC3491362  PMID: 22897896
Abiotic stress; adaptation; comparative genomics; extremophile plants; genome evolution
17.  Telomere dysfunction induces metabolic and mitochondrial compromise 
Nature  2011;470(7334):359-365.
Telomere dysfunction activates p53-mediated cellular growth arrest, senescence and apoptosis to drive progressive atrophy and functional decline in high-turnover tissues. The broader adverse impact of telomere dysfunction across many tissues including more quiescent systems prompted transcriptomic network analyses to identify common mechanisms operative in haematopoietic stem cells, heart and liver. These unbiased studies revealed profound repression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, coactivator 1 alpha and beta (PGC-1α and PGC-1β, also known as Ppargc1a and Ppargc1b, respectively) and the downstream network in mice null for either telomerase reverse transcriptase (Tert) or telomerase RNA component (Terc) genes. Consistent with PGCs as master regulators of mitochondrial physiology and metabolism, telomere dysfunction is associated with impaired mitochondrial biogenesis and function, decreased gluconeogenesis, cardiomyopathy, and increased reactive oxygen species. In the setting of telomere dysfunction, enforced Tert or PGC-1α expression or germline deletion of p53 (also known as Trp53) substantially restores PGC network expression, mitochondrial respiration, cardiac function and gluconeogenesis. We demonstrate that telomere dysfunction activates p53 which in turn binds and represses PGC-1α and PGC-1β promoters, thereby forging a direct link between telomere and mitochondrial biology. We propose that this telomere–p53–PGC axis contributes to organ and metabolic failure and to diminishing organismal fitness in the setting of telomere dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3741661  PMID: 21307849
18.  Lentiviral vector-based insertional mutagenesis identifies genes associated with liver cancer 
Nature methods  2013;10(2):155-161.
Transposons and γ-retroviruses have been efficiently used as insertional mutagens in different tissues to identify molecular culprits of cancer. However, these systems are characterized by recurring integrations that accumulate in tumor cells, hampering the identification of early cancer-driving events amongst bystander and progression-related events. We developed an insertional mutagenesis platform based on lentiviral vectors (LVV) by which we could efficiently induce hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in 3 different mouse models. By virtue of LVV’s replication-deficient nature and broad genome-wide integration pattern, LVV-based insertional mutagenesis allowed identification of 4 new liver cancer genes from a limited number of integrations. We validated the oncogenic potential of all the identified genes in vivo, with different levels of penetrance. Our newly identified cancer genes are likely to play a role in human disease, since they are upregulated and/or amplified/deleted in human HCCs and can predict clinical outcome of patients.
PMCID: PMC3589714  PMID: 23314173
19.  Cybrid studies establish the causal link between the mtDNA m.3890G>A/MT-ND1 mutation and optic atrophy with bilateral brainstem lesions 
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta  2013;1832(3):445-452.
Complex I (CI) deficiency is a frequent cause of mitochondrial disorders and, in most cases, is due to mutations in CI subunit genes encoded by mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). In this study, we establish the pathogenic role of the heteroplasmic mtDNA m.3890G>A/MT-ND1 (p.R195Q) mutation, which affects an extremely conserved amino acid position in ND1 subunit of CI. This mutation was found in a young-adult male with optic atrophy resembling Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) and bilateral brainstem lesions. The only previously reported case with this mutation was a girl with fatal infantile Leigh syndrome with bilateral brainstem lesions. Transfer of the mutant mtDNA in the cybrid cell system resulted in a marked reduction of CI activity and CI-dependent ATP synthesis in the presence of a normally assembled enzyme.
These findings establish the pathogenicity of the m.3890G>A/MT-ND1 mutation and remark the link between CI mutations affecting the mtDNA-encoded ND subunits and LHON-like optic atrophy, which may be complicated by bilateral and symmetric lesions affecting the central nervous system. Peculiar to this mutation is the distribution of the brainstem lesions, with sparing of the striatum in both patients.
► Heteroplasmic m.3890G>A/MT-ND1 mutation causes optic atrophy and bilateral brainstem lesions ► This mutation affects a conserved amino acid in a functional domain of ND1 subunit ► This mutation significantly affects CI redox activity and function
PMCID: PMC3778985  PMID: 23246842
CI, Complex I; CII, Complex II; CIII, Complex III; CIV, Complex IV; LHON, Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy; mtDNA, mitochondrial DNA; nDNA, nuclear DNA; OS, Oculus Sinister (left eye); OD, Oculus Dexter (right eye); Mitochondrial disorder; Vision loss; MT-ND1; Complex I
20.  Lung injury-dependent oxidative status and chymotrypsin-like activity of skeletal muscles in hamsters with experimental emphysema 
Peripheral skeletal muscle is altered in patients suffering from emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Oxidative stress have been demonstrated to participate on skeletal muscle loss of several states, including disuse atrophy, mechanical ventilation, and chronic diseases. No evidences have demonstrated the occurance in a severity manner.
We evaluated body weight, muscle loss, oxidative stress, and chymotrypsin-like proteolytic activity in the gastrocnemius muscle of emphysemic hamsters. The experimental animals had 2 different severities of lung damage from experimental emphysema induced by 20 mg/mL (E20) and 40 mg/mL (E40) papain.
The severity of emphysema increased significantly in E20 (60.52 ± 2.8, p < 0.05) and E40 (52.27 ± 4.7; crossed the alveolar intercepts) groups. As compared to the control group, there was a reduction on body (171.6 ± 15.9 g) and muscle weight (251.87 ± 24.87 mg) in the E20 group (157.5 ± 10.3 mg and 230.12 ± 23.52 mg, for body and muscle weight, respectively), which was accentuated in the E40 group (137.4 ± 7.2 g and 197.87 ± 10.49 mg, for body and muscle weight, respectively). Additionally, the thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), tert-butyl hydroperoxide-initiated chemiluminescence (CL), carbonylated proteins, and chymotrypsin-like proteolytic activity were elevated in the E40 group as compared to the E20 group (p < 0.05 for all comparisons). The severity of emphysema significantly correlated with the progressive increase in CL (r = −0.95), TBARS (r = −0.98), carbonyl proteins (r = −0.99), and chymotrypsin-like proteolytic activity (r = −0.90). Furthermore, augmentation of proteolytic activity correlated significantly with CL (r = 0.97), TBARS (r = 0.96), and carbonyl proteins (r = 0.91).
Taken together, the results of the present study suggest that muscle atrophy observed in this model of emphysema is mediated by increased muscle chymotrypsin-like activity, with possible involvement of oxidative stress in a severity-dependent manner.
PMCID: PMC3560156  PMID: 23343460
Emphysema; Cachexia; Skeletal muscle loss; Reactive oxygen species; Chymotrypsin-like activity
21.  Secondary Post-Geniculate Involvement in Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50230.
Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) is characterized by retinal ganglion cell (RGC) degeneration with the preferential involvement of those forming the papillomacular bundle. The optic nerve is considered the main pathological target for LHON. Our aim was to investigate the possible involvement of the post-geniculate visual pathway in LHON patients. We used diffusion-weighted imaging for in vivo evaluation. Mean diffusivity maps from 22 LHON visually impaired, 11 unaffected LHON mutation carriers and 22 healthy subjects were generated and compared at level of optic radiation (OR). Prefrontal and cerebellar white matter were also analyzed as internal controls. Furthermore, we studied the optic nerve and the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) in post-mortem specimens obtained from a severe case of LHON compared to an age-matched control. Mean diffusivity values of affected patients were higher than unaffected mutation carriers (P<0.05) and healthy subjects (P<0.01) in OR and not in the other brain regions. Increased OR diffusivity was associated with both disease duration (B = 0.002; P<0.05) and lack of recovery of visual acuity (B = 0.060; P<0.01). Post-mortem investigation detected atrophy (41.9% decrease of neuron soma size in the magnocellular layers and 44.7% decrease in the parvocellular layers) and, to a lesser extent, degeneration (28.5% decrease of neuron density in the magnocellular layers and 28.7% decrease in the parvocellular layers) in the LHON LGN associated with extremely severe axonal loss (99%) in the optic nerve. The post-geniculate involvement in LHON patients is a downstream post-synaptic secondary phenomenon, reflecting de-afferentation rather than a primary neurodegeneration due to mitochondrial dysfunction of LGN neurons.
PMCID: PMC3507727  PMID: 23209682
22.  The Octadecaneuropeptide ODN Protects Astrocytes against Hydrogen Peroxide-Induced Apoptosis via a PKA/MAPK-Dependent Mechanism 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42498.
Astrocytes synthesize and release endozepines, a family of regulatory peptides, including the octadecaneuropeptide (ODN) an endogenous ligand of both central-type benzodiazepine (CBR) and metabotropic receptors. We have recently shown that ODN exerts a protective effect against hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-induced oxidative stress in astrocytes. The purpose of the present study was to determine the type of receptor and the transduction pathways involved in the protective effect of ODN in cultured rat astrocytes. We have first observed a protective activity of ODN at very low concentrations that was abrogated by the metabotropic ODN receptor antagonist cyclo1–8[DLeu5]OP, but not by the CBR antagonist flumazenil. We have also found that the metabotropic ODN receptor is positively coupled to adenylyl cyclase in astrocytes and that the glioprotective action of ODN upon H2O2-induced astrocyte death is PKA- and MEK-dependent, but PLC/PKC-independent. Downstream of PKA, ODN induced ERK phosphorylation, which in turn activated the expression of the anti-apoptotic gene Bcl-2 and blocked the stimulation by H2O2 of the pro-apoptotic gene Bax. The effect of ODN on the Bax/Bcl-2 balance contributed to abolish the deleterious action of H2O2 on mitochondrial membrane integrity and caspase-3 activation. Finally, the inhibitory effect of ODN on caspase-3 activity was shown to be PKA and MEK-dependent. In conclusion, the present results demonstrate that the potent glioprotective action of ODN against oxidative stress involves the metabotropic ODN receptor coupled to the PKA/ERK-kinase pathway to inhibit caspase-3 activation.
PMCID: PMC3424241  PMID: 22927932
23.  Biophysical Characterization of Met-G-CSF: Effects of Different Site-Specific Mono-Pegylations on Protein Stability and Aggregation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42511.
The limited stability of proteins in vitro and in vivo reduces their conversion into effective biopharmaceuticals. To overcome this problem several strategies can be exploited, as the conjugation of the protein of interest with polyethylene glycol, in most cases, improves its stability and pharmacokinetics. In this work, we report a biophysical characterization of the non-pegylated and of two different site-specific mono-pegylated forms of recombinant human methionyl-granulocyte colony stimulating factor (Met-G-CSF), a protein used in chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation. In particular, we found that the two mono-pegylations of Met-G-CSF at the N-terminal methionine and at glutamine 135 increase the protein thermal stability, reduce the aggregation propensity, preventing also protein precipitation, as revealed by circular dichroism (CD), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), intrinsic fluorescence spectroscopies and dynamic light scattering (DLS). Interestingly, the two pegylation strategies were found to drastically reduce the polydispersity of Met-G-CSF, when incubated under conditions favouring protein aggregation, as indicated by DLS measurements. Our in vitro results are in agreement with preclinical studies, underlining that preliminary biophysical analyses, performed in the early stages of the development of new biopharmaceutical variants, might offer a useful tool for the identification of protein variants with improved therapeutic values.
PMCID: PMC3414461  PMID: 22905140
24.  Down-Regulation of GABAA Receptor via Promiscuity with the Vasoactive Peptide Urotensin II Receptor. Potential Involvement in Astrocyte Plasticity 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36319.
GABAA receptor (GABAAR) expression level is inversely correlated with the proliferation rate of astrocytes after stroke or during malignancy of astrocytoma, leading to the hypothesis that GABAAR expression/activation may work as a cell proliferation repressor. A number of vasoactive peptides exhibit the potential to modulate astrocyte proliferation, and the question whether these mechanisms may imply alteration in GABAAR-mediated functions and/or plasma membrane densities is open. The peptide urotensin II (UII) activates a G protein-coupled receptor named UT, and mediates potent vasoconstriction or vasodilation in mammalian vasculature. We have previously demonstrated that UII activates a PLC/PIPs/Ca2+ transduction pathway, via both Gq and Gi/o proteins and stimulates astrocyte proliferation in culture. It was also shown that UT/Gq/IP3 coupling is regulated by the GABAAR in rat cultured astrocytes. Here we report that UT and GABAAR are co-expressed in cerebellar glial cells from rat brain slices, in human native astrocytes and in glioma cell line, and that UII inhibited the GABAergic activity in rat cultured astrocytes. In CHO cell line co-expressing human UT and combinations of GABAAR subunits, UII markedly depressed the GABA current (β3γ2>α2β3γ2>α2β1γ2). This effect, characterized by a fast short-term inhibition followed by drastic and irreversible run-down, is not relayed by G proteins. The run-down partially involves Ca2+ and phosphorylation processes, requires dynamin, and results from GABAAR internalization. Thus, activation of the vasoactive G protein-coupled receptor UT triggers functional inhibition and endocytosis of GABAAR in CHO and human astrocytes, via its receptor C-terminus. This UII-induced disappearance of the repressor activity of GABAAR, may play a key role in the initiation of astrocyte proliferation.
PMCID: PMC3341351  PMID: 22563490
25.  Mass Spectrometry-Based Metabolomics to Elucidate Functions in Marine Organisms and Ecosystems 
Marine Drugs  2012;10(4):849-880.
Marine systems are very diverse and recognized as being sources of a wide range of biomolecules. This review provides an overview of metabolite profiling based on mass spectrometry (MS) approaches in marine organisms and their environments, focusing on recent advances in the field. We also point out some of the technical challenges that need to be overcome in order to increase applications of metabolomics in marine systems, including extraction of chemical compounds from different matrices and data management. Metabolites being important links between genotype and phenotype, we describe added value provided by integration of data from metabolite profiling with other layers of omics, as well as their importance for the development of systems biology approaches in marine systems to study several biological processes, and to analyze interactions between organisms within communities. The growing importance of MS-based metabolomics in chemical ecology studies in marine ecosystems is also illustrated.
PMCID: PMC3366679  PMID: 22690147
metabolomics; mass spectrometry; LC-MS; GC-MS; targeted and untargeted profiling; systems biology; chemical ecology; databases

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