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.
Second generation ethanol production; Techno-economic evaluation; Lignocellulose; Sugarcane; Bagasse; Process simulation
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.
Abiotic stress; adaptation; comparative genomics; extremophile plants; genome evolution
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Emphysema; Cachexia; Skeletal muscle loss; Reactive oxygen species; Chymotrypsin-like activity
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
metabolomics; mass spectrometry; LC-MS; GC-MS; targeted and untargeted profiling; systems biology; chemical ecology; databases
Mannitol plays a central role in brown algal physiology since it represents an important pathway used to store photoassimilate. Several specific enzymes are directly involved in the synthesis and recycling of mannitol, altogether forming the mannitol cycle. The recent analysis of algal genomes has allowed tracing back the origin of this cycle in brown seaweeds to a horizontal gene transfer from bacteria, and furthermore suggested a subsequent transfer to the green micro-alga Micromonas. Interestingly, genes of the mannitol cycle were not found in any of the currently sequenced diatoms, but were recently discovered in pelagophytes and dictyochophytes. In this study, we quantified the mannitol content in a number of ochrophytes (autotrophic stramenopiles) from different classes, as well as in Micromonas. Our results show that, in accordance with recent observations from EST libraries and genome analyses, this polyol is produced by most ochrophytes, as well as the green alga tested, although it was found at a wide range of concentrations. Thus, the mannitol cycle was probably acquired by a common ancestor of most ochrophytes, possibly after the separation from diatoms, and may play different physiological roles in different classes.
algae; stramenopiles; mannitol cycle; primary metabolism; osmotic stress; evolution
The antitumorigenic potential of two palladium(II) complexes, [Pd(ca2-o-phen)Cl2] – C1 and [Pd(dmba)(dppp)Cl] – C2, was evaluated, using MDA-MB-435 cells, a human breast adenocarcinoma cell-line that does not express the estrogen receptor α (ER−). Growth inhibition and induced alterations in cell-morphology were analyzed. The sulforhodamine B test showed that, compared to control cells, both C1 and C2 significantly inhibited (p < 0.5) cell growth. The maximum effect with both was achieved with 1 μM complexes, after 24 h of treatment. No further cell-growth inhibition was achieved by increasing concentration or incubation time. Cell morphology was analyzed after staining with hematoxylin-eosin (HE). The morphological changes noted in the treated cells were cell rounding-up, shrinkage, nuclear condensation and reduction of cell length (p < 0.05), thereby indicating that both C1 and C2 are cytotoxic to breast adenocarcinoma cells. All together, there was every indication that, by decreasing cell growth and inducing morphological changes, the tested complexes are cytotoxic, hence their potentiality as promising candidates for antineoplastic drug development.
adenocarcinoma cells; antitumor; breast cancer; chemotherapy; coordination complexes
The enzymatic pathways leading to the synthesis of bioactive steroids in the brain are now almost completely elucidated in various groups of vertebrates and, during the last decade, the neuronal mechanisms involved in the regulation of neurosteroid production have received increasing attention. This report reviews the current knowledge concerning the effects of neurotransmitters, peptide hormones, and neuropeptides on the biosynthesis of neurosteroids. Anatomical studies have been carried out to visualize the neurotransmitter- or neuropeptide-containing fibers contacting steroid-synthesizing neurons as well as the neurotransmitter, peptide hormones, or neuropeptide receptors expressed in these neurons. Biochemical experiments have been conducted to investigate the effects of neurotransmitters, peptide hormones, or neuropeptides on neurosteroid biosynthesis, and to characterize the type of receptors involved. Thus, it has been found that glutamate, acting through kainate and/or AMPA receptors, rapidly inactivates P450arom, and that melatonin produced by the pineal gland and eye inhibits the biosynthesis of 7α-hydroxypregnenolone (7α-OH-Δ5P), while prolactin produced by the adenohypophysis enhances the formation of 7α-OH-Δ5P. It has also been demonstrated that the biosynthesis of neurosteroids is inhibited by GABA, acting through GABAA receptors, and neuropeptide Y, acting through Y1 receptors. In contrast, it has been shown that the octadecaneuropetide ODN, acting through central-type benzodiazepine receptors, the triakontatetraneuropeptide TTN, acting though peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptors, and vasotocin, acting through V1a-like receptors, stimulate the production of neurosteroids. Since neurosteroids are implicated in the control of various neurophysiological and behavioral processes, these data suggest that some of the neurophysiological effects exerted by neurotransmitters and neuropeptides may be mediated via the regulation of neurosteroid production.
neurosteroids; glutamate; GABA; melatonin; prolactin; endozepines; vasopressin; neuropeptide Y
Astroglial cells possess an array of cellular defense systems, including superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase antioxidant enzymes, to prevent damage caused by oxidative stress on the central nervous system. Astrocytes specifically synthesize and release endozepines, a family of regulatory peptides including the octadecaneuropeptide (ODN). ODN is the ligand of both central-type benzodiazepine receptors (CBR), and an adenylyl cyclase- and phospholipase C-coupled receptor. We have recently shown that ODN is a potent protective agent that prevents hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-induced inhibition of SOD and catalase activities and stimulation of cell apoptosis in astrocytes. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the type of receptor involved in ODN-induced inhibition of SOD and catalase in cultured rat astrocytes. We found that ODN induced a rapid stimulation of SOD and catalase gene transcription in a concentration-dependent manner. In addition, 0.1 nM ODN blocked H2O2-evoked reduction of both mRNA levels and activities of SOD and catalase. Furthermore, the inhibitory actions of ODN on the deleterious effects of H2O2 on SOD and catalase were abrogated by the metabotropic ODN receptor antagonist cyclo1-8[Dleu5]OP, but not by the CBR antagonist flumazenil. Finally, the protective action of ODN against H2O2-evoked inhibition of endogenous antioxidant systems in astrocytes was protein kinase A (PKA)-dependent, but protein kinase C-independent. Taken together, these data demonstrate for the first time that ODN, acting through its metabotropic receptor coupled to the PKA pathway, prevents oxidative stress-induced alteration of antioxidant enzyme expression and activities. The peptide ODN is thus a potential candidate for the development of specific agonists that would selectively mimic its protective activity.
astrocyte; catalase; ODN; ODN metabotropic receptor; oxidative stress; SOD; protein kinase A
The spiral arteries undergo physiologic changes during pregnancy, and the failure of this process may lead to a spectrum of pregnancy disorders, including pre-eclampsia. Our recent data indicate that decidual endothelial cells (DECs), covering the inner side of the spiral arteries, acquire the ability to synthesize C1q, which acts as a link between endovascular trophoblast and DECs favouring the process of vascular remodelling. In this study, we have shown that sera obtained from pre-eclamptic patients strongly inhibit the interaction between extravillous trophoblast (EVT) and DECs, preventing endovascular invasion of trophoblast cells. We further demonstrated that mannose-binding lectin (MBL), one of the factor increased in pre-eclamptic patient sera, strongly inhibits the interaction of EVT with C1q interfering with the process of EVT adhesion to and migration through DECs. These data suggest that the increased level of MBL in pre-eclampsia may contribute to the failure of the endovascular invasion of trophoblast cells.
Brown algae of the genus Ectocarpus exhibit high levels of genetic diversity and variability in morphological and physiological characteristics. With the establishment of E. siliculosus as a model and the availability of a complete genome sequence, it is now of interest to analyze variability among different species, ecotypes, and strains of the genus Ectocarpus both at the genome and the transcriptome level.
We used an E. siliculosus gene expression microarray based on EST sequences from the genome-sequenced strain (reference strain) to carry out comparative genome hybridizations for five Ectocarpus strains: four E. siliculosus isolates (the male genome strain, a female strain used for outcrosses with the genome strain, a strain isolated from freshwater, and a highly copper-tolerant strain), as well as one strain of the sister species E. fasciculatus. Our results revealed significant genomic differences between ecotypes of the same species, and enable the selection of conserved probes for future microarray experiments with these strains. In the two closely related strains (a male and a female strain used for crosses), genomic differences were also detected, but concentrated in two smaller genomic regions, one of which corresponds to a viral insertion site.
The high variability between strains supports the concept of E. siliculosus as a complex of cryptic species. Moreover, our data suggest that several parts of the Ectocarpus genome may have evolved at different rates: high variability was detected particularly in transposable elements and fucoxanthin chlorophyll a/c binding proteins.
Chlorophyll-binding proteins (CBPs) constitute a large family of proteins with diverse functions in both light-harvesting and photoprotection. The evolution of CBPs has been debated, especially with respect to the origin of the LI818 subfamily, members of which function in non-photochemical quenching and have been found in chlorophyll a/c-containing algae and several organisms of the green lineage, but not in red algae so far. The recent publication of the Ectocarpus siliculosus genome represents an opportunity to expand on previous work carried out on the origin and function of CBPs.
The Ectocarpus genome codes for 53 CBPs falling into all major families except the exclusively green family of chlorophyll a/b binding proteins. Most stress-induced CBPs belong to the LI818 family. However, we highlight a few stress-induced CBPs from Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Chondrus crispus that belong to different sub-families and are promising targets for future functional studies. Three-dimensional modeling of two LI818 proteins revealed features common to all LI818 proteins that are likely to interfere with their capacity to bind chlorophyll b and lutein, but may enable binding of chlorophyll c and fucoxanthin. In the light of this finding, we examined the possibility that LI818 proteins may have originated in a chlorophyll c/fucoxanthin containing organism and compared this scenario to three alternatives: an independent evolution of LI818 proteins in different lineages, an ancient origin together with the first CBPs, before the separation of the red and the green lineage, or an origin in the green lineage and a transfer to an ancestor of haptophytes and heterokonts during a cryptic endosymbiosis event.
Our findings reinforce the idea that the LI818 family of CBPs has a role in stress response. In addition, statistical analyses of phylogenetic trees show an independent origin in different eukaryotic lineages or a green algal origin of LI818 proteins to be highly unlikely. Instead, our data favor an origin in an ancestral chlorophyll a/c-containing organism and a subsequent lateral transfer to some green algae, although an origin of LI818 proteins in a common ancestor of red and green algae cannot be ruled out.
β-Thalassemia is a common monogenic disorder due to mutations in the β-globin gene and gene therapy, based on autologous transplantation of genetically corrected haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), holds the promise to treat patients lacking a compatible bone marrow (BM) donor. We recently showed correction of murine β-thalassemia by gene transfer in HSCs with the GLOBE lentiviral vector (LV), expressing a transcriptionally regulated human β-globin gene. Here, we report successful correction of thalassemia major in human cells, by studying a large cohort of pediatric patients of diverse ethnic origin, carriers of different mutations and all candidates to BM transplantation. Extensive characterization of BM-derived CD34+ cells before and following gene transfer shows the achievement of high frequency of transduction, restoration of haemoglobin A synthesis, rescue from apoptosis and correction of ineffective erythropoiesis. The procedure does not significantly affect the differentiating potential and the relative proportion of haematopoietic progenitors. Analysis of vector integrations shows preferential targeting of transcriptionally active regions, without bias for cancer-related genes. Overall, these results provide a solid rationale for a future clinical translation.
gene therapy; haemoglobin; haematopoietic stem cells; lentiviral vectors; locus control region
DNA-binding transcription factors (TFs) play a central role in transcription regulation, and computational approaches that help in elucidating complex mechanisms governing this basic biological process are of great use. In this perspective, we present the TFM-Explorer web server that is a toolbox to identify putative TF binding sites within a set of upstream regulatory sequences of genes sharing some regulatory mechanisms. TFM-Explorer finds local regions showing overrepresentation of binding sites. Accepted organisms are human, mouse, rat, chicken and drosophila. The server employs a number of features to help users to analyze their data: visualization of selected binding sites on genomic sequences, and selection of cis-regulatory modules. TFM-Explorer is available at http://bioinfo.lifl.fr/TFM.
Somatically acquired epigenetic changes are present in many cancers. Epigenetic regulation is maintained via post-translational modifications of core histones. Here, we describe inactivating somatic mutations in the histone lysine demethylase, UTX, pointing to histone H3 lysine methylation deregulation in multiple tumour types. UTX reintroduction into cancer cells with inactivating UTX mutations resulted in slowing of proliferation and marked transcriptional changes. These data identify UTX as a new human cancer gene.
Therapeutic vaccination against idiotype is a promising strategy for immunotherapy of B-cell malignancies. We have previously shown that CDR3-based DNA immunization can induce immune response against lymphoma and explored this strategy to provide protection in a murine B-cell lymphoma model. Here we performed vaccination employing as immunogen a naked DNA fusion product. The DNA vaccine was generated following fusion of a sequence derived from tetanus toxin fragment C to the VHCDR3109−116 epitope. Induction of tumor-specific immunity as well as ability to inhibit growth of the aggressive 38C13 lymphoma and to prolong survival of vaccinated mice has been tested. We determined that DNA fusion vaccine induced immune response, elicited a strong protective antitumor immunity, and ensured almost complete long-term tumor-free survival of vaccinated mice.
Our results show that CDR3-based DNA fusion vaccines hold promise for vaccination against lymphoma.
The intra vitam diagnosis of prion disease is challenging and a definite diagnosis still requires neuropathological examination in non-familial cases. Magnetic resonance imaging has gained increasing importance in the diagnosis of prion disease. The aim of this study was to compare the usefulness of different magnetic resonance imaging sequences and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the differential diagnosis of patients with rapidly progressive neurological signs compatible with the clinical diagnosis of sporadic prion disease. Twenty-nine consecutive patients with an initial diagnosis of possible or probable sporadic prion disease, on the basis of clinical and electroencephalography features, were recruited. The magnetic resonance protocol included axial fluid-attenuated inversion recovery-T2- and diffusion-weighted images, and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy of the thalamus, striatum, cerebellum and occipital cortex. Based on the clinical follow-up, genetic studies and neuropathology, the final diagnosis was of prion disease in 14 patients out of 29. The percentage of correctly diagnosed cases was 86% for diffusion-weighted imaging (hyperintensity in the striatum/cerebral cortex), 86% for thalamic N-acetyl-aspartate to creatine ratio (cutoff ≤1.21), 90% for thalamic N-acetyl-aspartate to myo-inositol (mI) ratio (cutoff ≤1.05) and 86% for cerebral spinal fluid 14-3-3 protein. All the prion disease patients had N-acetyl-aspartate to creatine ratios ≤1.21 (100% sensitivity and 100% negative predictive value) and all the non-prion patients had N-acetyl-aspartate to myo-inositol ratios >1.05 (100% specificity and 100% positive predictive value). Univariate logistic regression analysis showed that the combination of thalamic N-acetyl-aspartate to creatine ratio and diffusion-weighted imaging correctly classified 93% of the patients. The combination of thalamic proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (10 min acquisition duration) and brain diffusion-weighted imaging (2 min acquisition duration) may increase the diagnostic accuracy of the magnetic resonance scan. Both sequences should be routinely included in the clinical work-up of patients with suspected prion disease.
prion diseases; magnetic resonance; diffusion-weighted imaging; proton MR spectroscopy
Chromosome rearrangement, a hallmark of cancer, has profound effects on carcinogenesis and tumor phenotype. We used a panel of 60 human cancer cell lines (the NCI-60) as a model system to identify relationships among DNA copy number, mRNA expression level, and drug sensitivity. For each of 64 cancer-relevant genes, we calculated all 4,096 possible Pearson's correlation coefficients relating DNA copy number (assessed by comparative genomic hybridization using bacterial artificial chromosome microarrays) and mRNA expression level (determined using both cDNA and Affymetrix oligonucleotide microarrays). The analysis identified an association of ERBB2 overexpression with 3p copy number, a finding supported by data from human tumors and a mouse model of ERBB2-induced carcinogenesis. When we examined the correlation between DNA copy number for all 353 unique loci on the bacterial artificial chromosome microarray and drug sensitivity for 118 drugs with putatively known mechanisms of action, we found a striking negative correlation ( −0.983; 95% bootstrap confidence interval, −0.999 to −0.899) between activity of the enzyme drug L-asparaginase and DNA copy number of genes near asparagine synthetase in the ovarian cancer cells. Previous analysis of drug sensitivity and mRNA expression had suggested an inverse relationship between mRNA levels of asparagine synthetase and L-asparaginase sensitivity in the NCI-60. The concordance of pharmacogenomic findings at the DNA and mRNA levels strongly suggests further study of L-asparaginase for possible treatment of a low-synthetase subset of clinical ovarian cancers. The DNA copy number database presented here will enable other investigators to explore DNA transcript-drug relationships in their own domains of research focus.
Overlapping phenotypes including LHON, MELAS, and Leigh syndrome have recently been associated with numerous mtDNA point mutations in the ND5 gene of complex I, now considered a mutational hot spot.
To identify the mtDNA defect in a family with a prevalent ocular phenotype, including LHON‐like optic neuropathy, retinopathy, and cataract, but characterised also by strokes, early deaths, and miscarriages on the maternal line.
Sequencing of the entire mitochondrial genome from the proband's muscle DNA identified the heteroplasmic 13042G→A transition, which was previously described only once in a patient with a different mitochondrial disease. This mutation fulfils the major pathogenic criteria, inducing an amino acid change (A236T) at an invariant position in a highly conserved domain of the ND5 gene. Phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the proband disclosed an in vivo brain and skeletal muscle energy metabolism deficit.
These findings conclusively establish the pathogenic role of the 13042G→A mutation and underscore its variable clinical expression.
LHON; complex I; mtDNA; ND5; mitochondria