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1.  Walking the Oxidative Stress Tightrope: A Perspective from the Naked Mole-Rat, the Longest-Living Rodent 
Current pharmaceutical design  2011;17(22):2290-2307.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS), by-products of aerobic metabolism, cause oxidative damage to cells and tissue and not surprisingly many theories have arisen to link ROS-induced oxidative stress to aging and health. While studies clearly link ROS to a plethora of divergent diseases, their role in aging is still debatable. Genetic knock-down manipulations of antioxidants alter the levels of accrued oxidative damage, however, the resultant effect of increased oxidative stress on lifespan are equivocal. Similarly the impact of elevating antioxidant levels through transgenic manipulations yield inconsistent effects on longevity. Furthermore, comparative data from a wide range of endotherms with disparate longevity remain inconclusive. Many long-living species such as birds, bats and mole-rats exhibit high-levels of oxidative damage, evident already at young ages. Clearly, neither the amount of ROS per se nor the sensitivity in neutralizing ROS are as important as whether or not the accrued oxidative stress leads to oxidative-damage-linked age-associated diseases. In this review we examine the literature on ROS, its relation to disease and the lessons gleaned from a comparative approach based upon species with widely divergent responses. We specifically focus on the longest lived rodent, the naked mole-rat, which maintains good health and provides novel insights into the paradox of maintaining both an extended healthspan and lifespan despite high oxidative stress from a young age.
PMCID: PMC3980719  PMID: 21736541
Comparative biology of aging; mitochondria; naked mole-rat; oxidative stress; proteasome; autophagy; reactive oxygen species
2.  A toolbox for developing bioinformatics software 
Briefings in Bioinformatics  2011;13(2):244-257.
Creating useful software is a major activity of many scientists, including bioinformaticians. Nevertheless, software development in an academic setting is often unsystematic, which can lead to problems associated with maintenance and long-term availibility. Unfortunately, well-documented software development methodology is difficult to adopt, and technical measures that directly improve bioinformatic programming have not been described comprehensively. We have examined 22 software projects and have identified a set of practices for software development in an academic environment. We found them useful to plan a project, support the involvement of experts (e.g. experimentalists), and to promote higher quality and maintainability of the resulting programs. This article describes 12 techniques that facilitate a quick start into software engineering. We describe 3 of the 22 projects in detail and give many examples to illustrate the usage of particular techniques. We expect this toolbox to be useful for many bioinformatics programming projects and to the training of scientific programmers.
PMCID: PMC3294241  PMID: 21803787
software development; programming; project management; software quality
3.  Correction: A Novel Insight into the Oxidoreductase Activity of Helicobacter pylori HP0231 Protein 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):10.1371/annotation/a753231a-64d0-4038-aa1e-1a31d68f70fb.
PMCID: PMC3473072
4.  A Novel Insight into the Oxidoreductase Activity of Helicobacter pylori HP0231 Protein 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46563.
The formation of a disulfide bond between two cysteine residues stabilizes protein structure. Although we now have a good understanding of the Escherichia coli disulfide formation system, the machineries at work in other bacteria, including pathogens, are poorly characterized. Thus, the objective of this work was to improve our understanding of the disulfide formation machinery of Helicobacter pylori, a leading cause of ulcers and a risk factor for stomach cancer worldwide.
Methods and Results
The protein HP0231 from H. pylori, a structural counterpart of E. coli DsbG, is the focus of this research. Its function was clarified by using a combination of biochemical, microbiological and genetic approaches. In particular, we determined the biochemical properties of HP0231 as well as its redox state in H. pylori cells.
Altogether our results show that HP0231 is an oxidoreductase that catalyzes disulfide bond formation in the periplasm. We propose to call it HpDsbA.
PMCID: PMC3463561  PMID: 23056345
5.  Evidence for an evolutionary antagonism between Mrr and Type III modification systems 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(14):5991-6001.
The Mrr protein of Escherichia coli is a laterally acquired Type IV restriction endonuclease with specificity for methylated DNA. While Mrr nuclease activity can be elicited by high-pressure stress in E. coli MG1655, its (over)expression per se does not confer any obvious toxicity. In this study, however, we discovered that Mrr of E. coli MG1655 causes distinct genotoxicity when expressed in Salmonella typhimurium LT2. Genetic screening enabled us to contribute this toxicity entirely to the presence of the endogenous Type III restriction modification system (StyLTI) of S. typhimurium LT2. The StyLTI system consists of the Mod DNA methyltransferase and the Res restriction endonuclease, and we revealed that expression of the LT2 mod gene was sufficient to trigger Mrr activity in E. coli MG1655. Moreover, we could demonstrate that horizontal acquisition of the MG1655 mrr locus can drive the loss of endogenous Mod functionality present in S. typhimurium LT2 and E. coli ED1a, and observed a strong anti-correlation between close homologues of MG1655 mrr and LT2 mod in the genome database. This apparent evolutionary antagonism is further discussed in the light of a possible role for Mrr as defense mechanism against the establishment of epigenetic regulation by foreign DNA methyltransferases.
PMCID: PMC3152355  PMID: 21504983
6.  Fast, Adaptive Evolution at a Bacterial Host-Resistance Locus: the PFam54 Gene Array in Borrelia burgdorferi 
Gene  2009;445(1-2):26-37.
Microbial pathogens have evolved sophisticated mechanisms for evasion of host innate and adaptive immunities. PFam54 is the largest paralogous gene family in the genomes of Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease bacterium. One member of PFam54, the complement-regulator acquiring surface proteins 1 (BbCRASP-1), is able to abort the alternative pathway of complement activation via binding human complement regulator factor H (FH). The gene coding for BbCRASP-1 exists in a tandem array of PFam54 genes in the B. burgdorferi genome, a result apparently of repeated gene duplications. To help elucidate the functions of the large number of PFam54 genes, we performed phylogenomic and structural analyses of the PFam54 gene array from ten B. burgdorferi genomes. Analyses based on gene tree, genome synteny, and structural models revealed rapid adaptive evolution of this array through gene duplication, gene loss, and functional diversification. Individual PFam54 genes, however, do not show high intra-population sequence polymorphisms as genes providing evasion from adaptive immunity generally do. PFam54 members able to bind human FH are not monophyletic, suggesting that human FH affinity, however strong, is an incidental rather than main function of these PFam54 proteins. The large number of PFam54 genes existing in any single B. burgdorferi genome may target different innate-immunity proteins of a single host species or the same immune protein of a variety of host species. Genetic variability of the PFam54 gene array suggests that universally present PFam54 lineages such as BBA64, BBA65, BBA66, and BBA73 may be better candidates for the development of broad-spectrum vaccines or drugs than strain-restricted lineages such as BbCRASP-1.
PMCID: PMC2743244  PMID: 19505540
Borrelia burgdorferi; Complement-Regulator Acquiring Surface Protein-1; Lyme disease; Factor H; immune evasion; cspA
7.  Identification and structural characterization of FYVE domain-containing proteins of Arabidopsis thaliana 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:157.
FYVE domains have emerged as membrane-targeting domains highly specific for phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PtdIns(3)P). They are predominantly found in proteins involved in various trafficking pathways. Although FYVE domains may function as individual modules, dimers or in partnership with other proteins, structurally, all FYVE domains share a fold comprising two small characteristic double-stranded β-sheets, and a C-terminal α-helix, which houses eight conserved Zn2+ ion-binding cysteines. To date, the structural, biochemical, and biophysical mechanisms for subcellular targeting of FYVE domains for proteins from various model organisms have been worked out but plant FYVE domains remain noticeably under-investigated.
We carried out an extensive examination of all Arabidopsis FYVE domains, including their identification, classification, molecular modeling and biophysical characterization using computational approaches. Our classification of fifteen Arabidopsis FYVE proteins at the outset reveals unique domain architectures for FYVE containing proteins, which are not paralleled in other organisms. Detailed sequence analysis and biophysical characterization of the structural models are used to predict membrane interaction mechanisms previously described for other FYVE domains and their subtle variations as well as novel mechanisms that seem to be specific to plants.
Our study contributes to the understanding of the molecular basis of FYVE-based membrane targeting in plants on a genomic scale. The results show that FYVE domain containing proteins in plants have evolved to incorporate significant differences from those in other organisms implying that they play a unique role in plant signaling pathways and/or play similar/parallel roles in signaling to other organisms but use different protein players/signaling mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3017826  PMID: 20678208

Results 1-7 (7)