The transcriptional output at a genomic locus in eukaryotes is determined, in part, by the pattern of histone modifications that are read and interpreted by key effector proteins. The histone deacetylase activity of the evolutionarily-conserved Rpd3S/Sin3S complex is crucial for suppressing aberrant transcription from cryptic start sites within intragenic regions of actively transcribed genes. Precise targeting of the complex relies on the chromatin binding activities of the MRG15 and Pf1 subunits. Whereas the molecular target of the MRG15 chromodomain (CD) has been suggested to be H3K36me2/3, the precise molecular target of the Pf1 plant homeodomain 1 (PHD1) has remained elusive. Here we show that Pf1 PHD1 binds preferentially to the unmodified extreme N-terminus of histone H3 (H3K4me0) but not to H3K4me2/3, which are enriched in the promoter and 5′ regions of genes. Unlike previously characterized CD and PHD domains that bind to their targets with micromolar affinity, both MRG15 CD and Pf1 PHD1 bind to their targets with >100 μM affinity, offering an explanation for why both MRG15 CD and Pf1 PHD1 domains are required to target the Rpd3S/Sin3S complex to chromatin. Our results also suggest that bivalency, rather than cooperativity, is the operative mechanism by which Pf1 and MRG15 combine to engage H3 in a biologically significant manner. Finally, the studies reveal an unanticipated role of Pf1 PHD1 in engaging the MRG15 MRG domain, albeit in a Pf1 MRG-binding domain (MBD)-dependent manner, implying a key role for the MRG15 MRG-Pf1 MBD interaction in chromatin targeting of the Rpd3S/Sin3S complex.
Transcription repression; combinatorial readout; histone code; histone interactions; NMR
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase-generated reactive oxygen species (ROS) are highly implicated in the development of angiotensin II (AngII)-dependent hypertension mediated in part through the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN). This region contains vasopressin and non-vasopressin neurons that are responsive to cardiovascular dysregulation, however it is not known if ROS is generated by one or both cell-types in response to “slow pressor” infusion of AngII. We addressed this question using ROS imaging and electron microscopic dual labeling for vasopressin and p47phox, a cytoplasmic NADPH oxidase subunit requiring mobilization to membranes for the initiation of ROS production. C57BL/6 mice or vasopressin-enhanced green fluorescent protein (VP-eGFP) mice were infused systemically with saline or AngII (600 ng/kg/min; s.c.) for two weeks during which they slowly developed hypertension. Ultrastructural analysis of the PVN demonstrated p47phox immunolabeling in many glial and neuronal profiles, most of which were postsynaptic dendrites. Compared with saline, AngII recipient mice had a significant increase in p47phox immunolabeling on endomembranes just beneath the plasmalemmal surface (+42.1±11.3%; p<0.05) in non-vasopressin dendrites. In contrast, AngII infusion decreased p47phox immunolabeling on the plasma membrane (−35.5±16.5%; p<0.05) in vasopressin dendrites. Isolated non-VP-eGFP neurons from the PVN of AngII-infused mice also showed an increase in baseline ROS production not seen in VP-eGFP neurons. Our results suggest that chronic low dose AngII may offset the homeostatic control of blood pressure by differentially affecting membrane assembly of NADPH oxidase and ROS production in vasopressin and non-vasopressin neurons located within the PVN.
cardiovascular regulation; vasopressin; reactive oxygen species; electron microscopy
Research suggests that dysfunctional glutamatergic signalling may contribute to depression, a debilitating mood disorder affecting millions of individuals worldwide. Ketamine, a N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, exerts rapid antidepressant effects in approximately 70% of patients. Glutamate evokes the release of D-serine from astrocytes and neurons, which then acts as a co-agonist and binds at the glycine site on the NR1 subunit of NMDA receptors. Several studies have implicated glial deficits as one of the underlying facets of the neurobiology of depression. The present study tested the hypothesis that D-serine modulates behaviours related to depression. The behavioural effects of a single, acute D-serine administration were examined in several rodent tests of antidepressant-like effects, including the forced swim test (FST), the female urine sniffing test (FUST) following serotonin depletion, and the learned helplessness (LH) paradigm. D-serine significantly reduced immobility in the FST without affecting general motor function. Both D-serine and ketamine significantly rescued sexual reward-seeking deficits caused by serotonin depletion in the FUST. Finally, D-serine reversed LH behaviour, as measured by escape latency, number of escapes, and percentage of mice developing LH. Mice lacking NR1 expression in forebrain excitatory neurons exhibited a depression-like phenotype in the same behavioural tests, and did not respond to D-serine treatment. These findings suggest that D-serine produces antidepressant-like effects and support the notion of complex glutamatergic dysfunction in depression. It is unclear whether D-serine has a convergent influence on downstream synaptic plasticity cascades that may yield a similar therapeutic profile to NMDA antagonists like ketamine.
Antidepressant; D-serine; glutamate; N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR); NR1 knockout
In this retrospective study, we evaluated the treatment effect of ankle joint fracture surgery involving the posterior malleolus, and discuss relevant factors influencing the occurrence of traumatic arthritis of the ankle joint.
A total of 102 cases of ankle joint fractures involving the posterior malleolus in five large-scale skeletal trauma centres in China, from January 2000 to July 2009, were retrospectively analysed in terms of surgical treatment and complete follow-up. Ankle joint mobility, posterior malleolus fragment size, articular surface evenness, Ankle-Hindfoot Scale of the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) score, and imaging scale score for arthritis were recorded. The degree of fracture pain during rest, active movement, and weight-bearing walking, and satisfaction with treatment were evaluated using a visual analogue scale (VAS).
The average AOFAS score was 95.9, excellence rate was 92.2 %, and average VAS scores for degree of fracture pain during rest, active movement, and weight-bearing walking were 0.15, 0.31, and 0.68, respectively. Thirty-six cases showed arthritic manifestations. Ankle joint mobility along all directions on the injured side was lower than that on the unaffected side. There was no obvious difference in treatment effect between the fixed and unfixed posterior malleolus fragment groups for all and for fragment size of <25 %; between fixing the posterior malleolus fragment from front to back or from back to front; or between elderly patients (≥60 years old) and young patients (<60 years old). There was a distinct difference in the treatment effect between articular surface evenness and unevenness for all and for fragment size of ≥25 %.
For all 102 cases of ankle joint fracture involving the posterior malleolus, the treatment effect was satisfactory. Restoration of an even articular surface, especially when fragment size ≥25 %, should be attempted during treatment.
This study evaluated the protective effects of Lactobacillus plantarum CCFM8610, a selected probiotic with good cadmium binding capacity, against acute cadmium toxicity in mice. Ninety mice were divided into prevention and therapy groups. In the prevention groups, CCFM8610 was administered at 109 CFU once daily for 7 days, followed by a single oral dose of cadmium chloride at 1.8 mg cadmium for each mouse. In the therapy groups, the same dose of CCFM8610 was administered for 2 days after an identical single dose of cadmium exposure. Mice that received neither cadmium nor culture or that received cadmium alone served as negative and positive controls, respectively. The effects of both living and dead CCFM8610 on cadmium ion concentrations in feces, liver, and kidney were determined. Moreover, the alterations in reduced glutathione (GSH), malondialdehyde (MDA), superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and histopathology in the liver and kidney were investigated. The results showed that compared to the mice that received cadmium only, CCFM8610 treatment can effectively decrease intestinal cadmium absorption, reduce tissue cadmium accumulation, alleviate renal and hepatic oxidative stress, and ameliorate hepatic histopathological changes. Living CCFM8610 administered after cadmium exposure offered the most significant protection. Our results suggested that CCFM8610 is more effective against acute cadmium toxicity than a simple antioxidant treatment due to its special physiological functions and that it can be considered a new dietary therapeutic strategy against acute cadmium toxicity.
We present SBEToolbox (Systems Biology and Evolution Toolbox), an open-source Matlab toolbox for biological network analysis. It takes a network file as input, calculates a variety of centralities and topological metrics, clusters nodes into modules, and displays the network using different graph layout algorithms. Straightforward implementation and the inclusion of high-level functions allow the functionality to be easily extended or tailored through developing custom plugins. SBEGUI, a menu-driven graphical user interface (GUI) of SBEToolbox, enables easy access to various network and graph algorithms for programmers and non-programmers alike. All source code and sample data are freely available at https://github.com/biocoder/SBEToolbox/releases.
Matlab toolbox; biological network; node centrality; network evolution
Graphene has been predicted to play a role in post-silicon electronics due to the extraordinary carrier mobility. Chemical vapor deposition of graphene on transition metals has been considered as a major step towards commercial realization of graphene. However, fabrication based on transition metals involves an inevitable transfer step which can be as complicated as the deposition of graphene itself. By ambient-pressure chemical vapor deposition, we demonstrate large-scale and uniform depositon of high-quality graphene directly on a Ge substrate which is wafer scale and has been considered to replace conventional Si for the next generation of high-performance metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs). The immiscible Ge-C system under equilibrium conditions dictates graphene depositon on Ge via a self-limiting and surface-mediated process rather than a precipitation process as observed from other metals with high carbon solubility. Our technique is compatible with modern microelectronics technology thus allowing integration with high-volume production of complementary metal-oxide-semiconductors (CMOS).
We describe a simple method for bone engineering using biodegradable scaffolds with mesenchymal stem cells derived from human induced-pluripotent stem cells (hiPS-MSCs). The hiPS-MSCs expressed mesenchymal markers (CD90, CD73, and CD105), possessed multipotency characterized by tri-lineages differentiation: osteogenic, adipogenic, and chondrogenic, and lost pluripotency – as seen with the loss of markers OCT3/4 and TRA-1-81 – and tumorigenicity. However, these iPS-MSCs are still positive for marker NANOG. We further explored the osteogenic potential of the hiPS-MSCs in synthetic polymer polycaprolactone (PCL) scaffolds or PCL scaffolds functionalized with natural polymer hyaluronan and ceramic TCP (PHT) both in vitro and in vivo. Our results showed that these iPS-MSCs are functionally compatible with the two 3D scaffolds tested and formed typically calcified structure in the scaffolds. Overall, our results suggest the iPS-MSCs derived by this simple method retain fully osteogenic function and provide a new solution towards personalized orthopedic therapy in the future.
The correspondence between species distribution and the environment depends on species’ ability to track favorable environmental conditions (via dispersal) and to maintain competitive hierarchy against the constant influx of migrants (mass effect) and demographic stochasticity (ecological drift). Here we report a simulation study of the influence of landscape structure on species distribution. We consider lottery competition for space in a spatially heterogeneous environment, where the landscape is represented as a network of localities connected by dispersal. We quantified the contribution of neutrality and species sorting to their spatial distribution. We found that neutrality increases and the strength of species-sorting decreases with the centrality of a community in the landscape when the average dispersal among communities is low, whereas the opposite was found at elevated dispersal. We also found that the strength of species-sorting increases with environmental heterogeneity. Our results illustrate that spatial structure of the environment and of dispersal must be taken into account for understanding species distribution. We stress the importance of spatial geographic structure on the relative importance of niche vs. neutral processes in controlling community dynamics.
The pathogenesis of bullous pemphigoid (BP) is characterized by the T cell-dependent production of autoantibodies. Recent studies have indicated that follicular T helper cells (Tfh), the key modulator of B cell activation and autoantibody production, are critical in the development of several autoimmune diseases. Tfh cells perform their functions via IL-21, their hallmark cytokine. In the present study, the frequencies of Tfh cells were investigated in the peripheral blood samples of BP patients to evaluate whether Tfh cells involve in this clinical entity. Significantly higher Tfh cell counts were observed in the peripheral blood of BP patients than those in healthy controls (median: 11.25% vs. 4.95%, respectively; P<0.001). Additionally, the serum IL-21 levels in BP patients were higher than those of the healthy controls (median: 103.98 pg/mL vs 46.77 pg/mL, respectively; P<0.001). The frequencies of Tfh cells and IL-21 levels were both positively correlated with anti-BP180-NC16A autoantibody titers (R = 0.712, P<0.01 and R = 0.578, P = 0.030, respectively). After effective therapy, the frequencies of Tfh cells as well as the serum IL-21 levels in BP patients decreased along with clinical improvement. Most importantly, Tfh depleted CD4+ T cells and anti-IL-21 neutralization antibody could inhibit the T cell-induced B cell activation and secretion of BP autoantibody in vitro. Those results suggest that Tfh cells play an important role in autoantibody production and are involved in the pathogenesis of BP.
The body temperature is considered a universal cue by which the master clock synchronizes the peripheral clocks in mammals, but the mechanism is not fully understood. Here we identified two cold-induced RNA-binding proteins (RBPs), Cirbp and Rbm3, as important regulators for the temperature entrained circadian gene expression. The depletion of Cirbp or Rbm3 significantly reduced the amplitudes of core circadian genes. PAR-CLIP analyses showed that the 3′UTR binding sites of Cirbp and Rbm3 were significantly enriched near the polyadenylation sites (PASs). Furthermore, the depletion of Cirbp or Rbm3 shortened 3′UTR, whereas low temperature (upregulating Cirbp and Rbm3) lengthened 3′UTR. Remarkably, we found that they repressed the usage of proximal PASs by binding to the common 3′UTR, and many cases of proximal/distal PAS selection regulated by them showed strong circadian oscillations. Our results suggested that Cirbp and Rbm3 regulated the circadian gene expression by controlling alternative polyadenylation (APA).
The variations of SORCS1 gene may play potential key roles in late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD). To evaluate the relationship between the polymorphism of SORCS1 gene and LOAD in the ethnic Han Chinese, we conducted a case–control study to investigate the association between the single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in intron 1 of SORCS1 and LOAD in Chinese Han population. Six reported SNPs in intron 1 of SORCS1 were analyzed by Snapshot, genotyping and haplotyping in 236 Chinese LOAD cases and 233 matched controls. The significant differences in frequencies of two SNPs (rs10884402, rs950809) were found between the two groups. In addition, haplotype analyses revealed that, in the LOAD group, the frequency of haplotypes C-C-G-T-C (alleles in order of rs17277986, rs6584777, rs10884402, rs7078098, rs950809 polymorphisms) were significantly higher (Psim<0.0001) while haplotype C-C-A-T-C, C-C-A-C-C, T-T-A-C-C were significantly lower (Psim<0.0001). Our data suggested that the genetic variation of the rs10884402 and rs950809 in intron 1 of SORCS1 was associated with the late-onset AD in the Chinese Han population.
Plasma membrane NADPH oxidases (Noxs) are key producers of reactive oxygen species under both normal and stress conditions in plants. We demonstrate that at least eleven genes in the genome of rice (Oryza sativa L.) were predicted to encode Nox proteins, including nine genes (OsNox1–9) that encode typical Noxs and two that encode ancient Nox forms (ferric reduction oxidase 1 and 7, OsFRO1 and OsFRO7). Phylogenetic analysis divided the Noxs from nine plant species into six subfamilies, with rice Nox genes distributed among subfamilies I to V. Gene expression analysis using semi-quantitative RT-PCR and real-time qRT-PCR indicated that the expression of rice Nox genes depends on organs and environmental conditions. Exogenous calcium strongly stimulated the expression of OsNox3, OsNox5, OsNox7, and OsNox8, but depressed the expression of OsFRO1. Drought stress substantially upregulated the expression of OsNox1–3, OsNox5, OsNox9, and OsFRO1, but downregulated OsNox6. High temperature upregulated OsNox5–9, but significantly downregulated OsNox1–3 and OsFRO1. NaCl treatment increased the expression of OsNox2, OsNox8, OsFRO1, and OsFRO7, but decreased that of OsNox1, OsNox3, OsNox5, and OsNox6. These results suggest that the expression profiles of rice Nox genes have unique stress-response characteristics, reflecting their related but distinct functions in response to different environmental stresses.
NADPH oxidase (Nox); phylogenetic analysis; gene expression; environmental stress; rice (Oryza sativa)
The goal of this study was to investigate the influence of the brain-to-skull conductivity ratio (BSCR) on EEG source localization accuracy. In this study, we evaluated four BSCRs: 15, 20, 25, and 80, which were mainly discussed according to the literature. The scalp EEG signals were generated by BSCR-related forward computation for each cortical dipole source. Then, for each scalp EEG measurement, the source reconstruction was performed to identify the estimated dipole sources by the actual BSCR and the misspecified BSCRs. The estimated dipole sources were compared with the simulated dipole sources to evaluate EEG source localization accuracy. In the case of considering noise-free EEG measurements, the mean localization errors were approximately equal to zero when using actual BSCR. The misspecified BSCRs resulted in substantial localization errors which ranged from 2 to 16 mm. When considering noise-contaminated EEG measurements, the mean localization errors ranged from 8 to 18 mm despite the BSCRs used in the inverse calculation. The present results suggest that the localization accuracy is sensitive to the BSCR in EEG source reconstruction, and the source activity can be accurately localized when the actual BSCR and the EEG scalp signals with high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) are used.
Cyclooxygenase (COX)-derived prostanoids have long been implicated in blood pressure (BP) regulation. Recently prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and its receptor EP1R have emerged as key players in angiotensin II (Ang-II)-dependent hypertension (HTN) and related end-organ damage. However, the enzymatic source of PGE2, ie COX-1 or COX-2, and its site(s) of action are not known. The subfornical organ (SFO) is a key forebrain region that mediates systemic Ang-II-dependent HTN via reactive oxygen species (ROS). We tested the hypothesis that cross-talk between PGE2/EP1R and ROS signaling in the SFO is required for Ang-II HTN. Radiotelemetric assessment of BP revealed that HTN induced by infusion of systemic “slow-pressor” doses of Ang-II was abolished in mice with null mutations in EP1R or COX-1 but not COX-2. Slow-pressor Ang-II-evoked HTN and ROS formation in the SFO were prevented when the EP1R antagonist SC-51089 was infused directly into brains of wild-type mice, and Ang-II-induced ROS production was blunted in cells dissociated from SFO of EP1R−/− and COX-1−/− but not COX-2−/− mice. In addition, slow-pressor Ang-II infusion caused a ~3-fold increase in PGE2 levels in the SFO but not in other brain regions. Finally, genetic reconstitution of EP1R selectively in the SFO of EP1R-null mice was sufficient to rescue slow-pressor AngII-elicited HTN and ROS formation in the SFO of this model. Thus, COX-1-derived PGE2 signaling through EP1R in the SFO is required for the ROS-mediated HTN induced by systemic infusion of Ang-II, and suggests that EP1R in the SFO may provide a novel target for antihypertensive therapy.
Prostanoids; PGE2; COX; reactive oxygen species; blood pressure; central nervous system
Abnormalities in large-scale, structural and functional brain connectivity have been increasingly reported in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). However, MDD-related alterations in functional interaction between the cerebral hemispheres are still not well understood. Resting state fMRI, which reveals spontaneous neural fluctuations in blood oxygen level dependent signals, provides a means to detect interhemispheric functional coherence. We examined the resting state functional connectivity (RSFC) between the two hemispheres and its relationships with clinical characteristics in MDD patients using a recently proposed measurement named “voxel-mirrored homotopic connectivity (VMHC)”.
We compared the interhemispheric RSFC, computed using the VMHC approach, of seventeen first-episode drug-naive patients with MDD and seventeen healthy controls. Compared to the controls, MDD patients showed significant VMHC decreases in the medial orbitofrontal gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, fusiform gyrus, and occipital regions including the middle occipital gyrus and cuneus. In MDD patients, a negative correlation was found between VMHC of the fusiform gyrus and illness duration. Moreover, there were several regions whose VMHC showed significant negative correlations with the severity of cognitive disturbance, including the prefrontal regions, such as middle and inferior frontal gyri, and two regions in the cereballar crus.
These findings suggest that the functional coordination between homotopic brain regions is impaired in MDD patients, thereby providing new evidence supporting the interhemispheric connectivity deficits of MDD. The significant correlations between the VMHC and clinical characteristics in MDD patients suggest potential clinical implication of VMHC measures for MDD. Interhemispheric RSFC may serve as a useful screening method for evaluating MDD where neural connectivity is implicated in the pathophysiology.
The radiation-induced energy metabolism dysfunction related to injury and radiation doses is largely elusive. The purpose of this study is to investigate the early response of energy metabolism in small intestinal tissue and its correlation with pathologic lesion after total body X-ray irradiation (TBI) in Tibet minipigs.
Methods and Results
30 Tibet minipigs were assigned into 6 groups including 5 experimental groups and one control group with 6 animals each group. The minipigs in these experimental groups were subjected to a TBI of 2, 5, 8, 11, and 14 Gy, respectively. Small intestine tissues were collected at 24 h following X-ray exposure and analyzed by histology and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). DNA contents in this tissue were also examined. Irradiation causes pathologic lesions and mitochondrial abnormalities. The Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) content-corrected and uncorrected adenosine-triphosphate (ATP) and total adenine nucleotides (TAN) were significantly reduced in a dose-dependent manner by 2–8 Gy exposure, and no further reduction was observed over 8 Gy.
TBI induced injury is highly dependent on the irradiation dosage in small intestine and inversely correlates with the energy metabolism, with its reduction potentially indicating the severity of injury.
MrBayes, using Metropolis-coupled Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMCMC or (MC)3), is a popular program for Bayesian inference. As a leading method of using DNA data to infer phylogeny, the (MC)3 Bayesian algorithm and its improved and parallel versions are now not fast enough for biologists to analyze massive real-world DNA data. Recently, graphics processor unit (GPU) has shown its power as a coprocessor (or rather, an accelerator) in many fields. This article describes an efficient implementation a(MC)3 (aMCMCMC) for MrBayes (MC)3 on compute unified device architecture. By dynamically adjusting the task granularity to adapt to input data size and hardware configuration, it makes full use of GPU cores with different data sets. An adaptive method is also developed to split and combine DNA sequences to make full use of a large number of GPU cards. Furthermore, a new “node-by-node” task scheduling strategy is developed to improve concurrency, and several optimizing methods are used to reduce extra overhead. Experimental results show that a(MC)3 achieves up to 63× speedup over serial MrBayes on a single machine with one GPU card, and up to 170× speedup with four GPU cards, and up to 478× speedup with a 32-node GPU cluster. a(MC)3 is dramatically faster than all the previous (MC)3 algorithms and scales well to large GPU clusters.
MrBayes; GPU; adaptive task decomposition; task scheduling
Primary mouse hepatocytes are an important tool in the biomedical research field for the assessment of hepatocyte function. Several methods for hepatocyte isolation have been published; however, many of these methods require extensive handling and can therefore compromise the viability and function of the isolated cells. Since one advantage of utilizing freshly isolated cells is to maintain an environment in which the cells are more comparable to their in vivo state, it is important to have robust methods that produce cells with high viability, good purity and that function in a similar manner to that in their in vivo state. Here we describe a modified two-step method for the rapid isolation and characterization of mouse primary hepatocytes that results in high yields of viable cells. The asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGPR), which is one of the most abundant cell surface receptors on hepatocytes, was used to monitor the function of the isolated hepatocytes by demonstrating specific binding of its ligand using a newly developed flow cytometry based ligand-receptor binding assay. Also, an in vitro screening method for siRNA drug candidates was successfully developed utilizing freshly isolated hepatocytes with minimum culture time.
Hepatocytes; Two-step isolation method; Asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGPR); GalNAc
Mediator complex is an integrative hub for transcriptional regulation. Here we show that Mediator regulates alternative mRNA processing via its Med23 subunit. Combining tandem affinity purification and mass spectrometry, we identified a number of mRNA processing factors that bind to a soluble recombinant Mediator subunit MED23 but not to several other Mediator components. One of these factors, hnRNP L, specifically interacts with MED23 in vitro and in vivo. Consistently, Mediator partially colocalizes with hnRNP L and the splicing machinery in the cell. Functionally Med23 regulates a subset of hnRNP L-targeted alternative splicing (AS) and alternative cleavage and polyadenylation (APA) events as shown by minigene reporters and exon array analysis. ChIP-seq analysis revealed that Med23 can regulate hnRNP L occupancy at their co-regulated genes. Taken together, these results demonstrate a crosstalk between Mediator and the splicing machinery, providing a molecular basis for coupling mRNA processing to transcription.
Although empathic responses to stimuli with emotional contents may occur automatically, humans are capable to intentionally empathize with other individuals. Intentional empathy for others is even possible when they do not show emotional expressions. However, little is known about the neuronal mechanisms of this intentionally controlled empathic process. To investigate the neuronal substrates underlying intentional empathy, we scanned 20 healthy Chinese subjects, using fMRI, when they tried to feel inside the emotional states of neutral or angry faces of familiar (Asian) and unfamiliar (Caucasian) models. Skin color evaluation of the same stimuli served as a control task. Compared to a baseline condition, the empathy task revealed a network of established empathy regions, including the anterior cingulate cortex, bilateral inferior frontal cortex and bilateral anterior insula. The contrast of intentional empathy vs skin color evaluation, however, revealed three regions: the bilateral inferior frontal cortex, whose hemodynamic responses were independent of perceived emotion and familiarity and the right-middle temporal gyrus, whose activity was modulated by emotion but not by familiarity. These findings extend our understanding of the role of the inferior frontal cortex and the middle temporal gyrus in empathy by demonstrating their involvement in intentional empathy.
fMRI; brain imaging; empathy
Our recent work showed that close relationships result in shared cognitive and neural representations of the self and one’s mother in collectivistic individuals (Zhu et al., 2007, Neuroimage, 34, 1310–7). However, it remains unknown whether close others, such as mother, father and best friend, are differentially represented in collectivistic brains. Here, using functional magnetic resonance imaging and a trait judgment task, we showed evidence that, while trait judgments of the self and mother generated comparable activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and anterior cingulate (ACC) of Chinese adults, trait judgments of mother induced greater MPFC/ACC activity than trait judgments of father and best friend. Our results suggest that, while neural representations of the self and mother overlapped in the MPFC/ACC, close others such as mother, father and best friend are unequally represented in the MPFC/ACC of collectivistic brains.
close other; self; medial prefrontal cortex; anterior cingulate; fMRI
Host genotype and gender are among the factors that influence the composition of gut microbiota. We studied the population structure of gut microbiota in two lines of chickens maintained under the same husbandry and dietary regimes. The lines, which originated from a common founder population, had undergone 54 generations of selection for high (HW) or low (LW) 56-day body weight, and now differ by more than 10-fold in body weight at selection age. Of 190 microbiome species, 68 were affected by genotype (line), gender, and genotype by gender interactions. Fifteen of the 68 species belong to Lactobacillus. Species affected by genotype, gender, and the genotype by gender interaction, were 29, 48, and 12, respectively. Species affected by gender were 30 and 17 in the HW and LW lines, respectively. Thus, under a common diet and husbandry host quantitative genotype and gender influenced gut microbiota composite.
Recent studies have shown that circulating microRNAs might be useful, novel biomarkers for the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction. The aims of this study were to evaluate the expression of cardiac-specific miRNAs (miR-1, -133a, -208b, and -499) in patients with acute myocardial infarction and to compare the diagnostic values of these miRNAs with that of cardiac troponin T.
Sixty-seven plasma samples obtained from patients with acute myocardial infarction and 32 plasma specimens collected from healthy volunteers were analyzed in this study. The levels of cardiac-specific miRNAs (miR-1, -133a, -208b, and -499) were measured by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, and the concentrations of plasma cardiac troponin T were measured using electrochemiluminescence-based methods and an Elecsys 2010 Immunoassay Analyzer.
The levels of plasma miR-1, -133a, -208b, and -499 were significantly higher in acute myocardial infarction patients (all p<0.001) than in healthy volunteers. The expression of the cardiac-specific miRNAs in acute myocardial infarction patients decreased to close to the baseline levels at the time of hospital discharge (all p>0.05). There were no correlations between the levels of the four circulating miRNAs and the clinical characteristics of the study population (all p>0.05). Furthermore, receiver operating characteristic curve analyses showed that the four plasma miRNAs were not superior to cardiac troponin T for the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (all p>0.05).
Our results demonstrate that circulating miR-1, -133a, -208b, and -499 may be useful biomarkers in acute myocardial infarction patients but that these miRNAs are not superior to cardiac troponin T for the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction.
microRNAs; cardiac troponin T; Acute Myocardial Infarction; Circulating Biomarkers
A motif in a network is a connected graph that occurs significantly more frequently as an induced subgraph than would be expected in a similar randomized network. By virtue of being atypical, it is thought that motifs might play a more important role than arbitrary subgraphs. Recently, a flurry of advances in the study of network motifs has created demand for faster computational means for identifying motifs in increasingly larger networks. Motif detection is typically performed by enumerating subgraphs in an input network and in an ensemble of comparison networks; this poses a significant computational problem. Classifying the subgraphs encountered, for instance, is typically performed using a graph canonical labeling package, such as Nauty, and will typically be called billions of times. In this article, we describe an implementation of a network motif detection package, which we call NetMODE. NetMODE can only perform motif detection for -node subgraphs when , but does so without the use of Nauty. To avoid using Nauty, NetMODE has an initial pretreatment phase, where -node graph data is stored in memory (). For we take a novel approach, which relates to the Reconstruction Conjecture for directed graphs. We find that NetMODE can perform up to around times faster than its predecessors when and up to around times faster when (the exact improvement varies considerably). NetMODE also (a) includes a method for generating comparison graphs uniformly at random, (b) can interface with external packages (e.g. R), and (c) can utilize multi-core architectures. NetMODE is available from netmode.sf.net.