Parathyroid hormone (PTH) is a major physiologic regulator of calcium, phosphorous and skeletal homeostasis. Cells of the osteoblastic lineage are key targets of PTH action in bone, and recent evidence suggests that osteocytes might be important in the anabolic effects of PTH. To understand the role of PTH signaling through the PTH/PTHrP receptors (PPR) in osteocytes and to determine the role(s) of these cells in mediating the effects of the hormone, we have generated mice in which PPR expression is specifically ablated in osteocytes. Transgenic mice in which the 10Kb-Dmp1 promoter drives a tamoxifen-inducible Cre –recombinase were mated with animals in which exon1 of PPR is flanked by Lox-P sites. In these animals, osteocyte-selective PPR knockout (Ocy-PPRcKO mice) could be induced by administration of tamoxifen. Histological analysis revealed a reduction in trabecular bone and mild osteopenia in Ocy-PPRcKO mice. Reduction of trabeculae number and thickness was also detected by μCT analysis whereas BV/TV% was unchanged. These findings were associated with an increase in Sost and sclerostin expression. When Ocy-PPRcKO mice were subjected to a low calcium diet, to induce secondary hyperparathyroidism, their blood calcium levels were significantly lower than littermate controls. Moreover, PTH was unable to suppress Sost and sclerostin expression in the Ocy-PPRcKO animals, suggesting an important role of PTH signaling in osteocytes for proper bone remodeling and calcium homeostasis.
osteocytes; parathyroid hormone; parathyroid hormone receptor
Most large-bodied wildlife populations in sub-Saharan Africa only survive in conservation areas, but are continuing to decline because external changes influence ecological processes within reserves, leading to a lack of functionality. However, failure to understand how landscape scale changes influence ecological processes limits our ability to manage protected areas. We used GPS movement data to calculate dry season home ranges for 14 zebra mares in the Okavango Delta and investigated the effects of a range of landscape characteristics (number of habitat patches, mean patch shape, mean index of juxtaposition, and interspersion) on home range size. Resource utilization functions (RUF) were calculated to investigate how specific landscape characteristics affected space use. Space use by all zebra was clustered. In the wetter (Central) parts of the Delta home range size was negatively correlated with the density of habitat patches, more complex patch shapes, low juxtaposition of habitats and an increased availability of floodplain and grassland habitats. In the drier (Peripheral) parts of the Delta, higher use by zebra was also associated with a greater availability of floodplain and grassland habitats, but a lower density of patches and simpler patch shapes. The most important landscape characteristic was not consistent between zebra within the same area of the Delta, suggesting that no single foraging strategy is substantially superior to others, and so animals using different foraging strategies may all thrive. The distribution and complexity of habitat patches are crucial in determining space use by zebra. The extent and duration of seasonal flooding is the principal process affecting habitat patch characteristics in the Okavango Delta, particularly the availability of floodplains, which are the habitat at greatest risk from climate change and anthropogenic disturbance to the Okavango's catchment basin. Understanding how the factors that determine habitat complexity may change in the future is critical to the conservation of large mammal populations. Our study shows the importance of maintaining flood levels in the Okavango Delta and how the loss of seasonal floodplains will be compounded by changes in habitat configuration, forcing zebra to change their relative space use and enlarge home ranges, leading to increased competition for key resources and population declines.
Climate change; equids; foraging efficiency; GPS collars; habitat patches; kernel density estimates; landscape ecology; RAMSAR; resource utilization functions; wetland management
Urbanization is a major cause of ecological degradation around the world, and human settlement in large cities is accelerating. New York City (NYC) is one of the oldest and most urbanized cities in North America, but still maintains 20% vegetation cover and substantial populations of some native wildlife. The white-footed mouse, Peromyscusleucopus, is a common resident of NYC’s forest fragments and an emerging model system for examining the evolutionary consequences of urbanization. In this study, we developed transcriptomic resources for urban P. leucopus to examine evolutionary changes in protein-coding regions for an exemplar “urban adapter.” We used Roche 454 GS FLX+ high throughput sequencing to derive transcriptomes from multiple tissues from individuals across both urban and rural populations. From these data, we identified 31,015 SNPs and several candidate genes potentially experiencing positive selection in urban populations of P. leucopus. These candidate genes are involved in xenobiotic metabolism, innate immune response, demethylation activity, and other important biological phenomena in novel urban environments. This study is one of the first to report candidate genes exhibiting signatures of directional selection in divergent urban ecosystems.
We evaluated X-ray repair complementing defective repair in Chinese hamster cells 1 (XRCC1) protein in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients in association with outcome.
XRCC1 protein expression was assessed by immunohistochemical (IHC) staining of pretreatment tissue samples in 138 consecutive HNSCC patients treated with surgery (n = 31), radiation (15), surgery and radiation (23), surgery and adjuvant chemoradiation (17), primary chemoradiation (51), and palliative measures (1).
Patients with high XRCC1 expression by IHC (n = 77) compared with patients with low XRCC1 expression (n = 60) had poorer median overall survival (OS; 41.0 months vs. OS not reached, P = 0.009) and poorer progression-free survival (28.0 months vs. 73.0 months, P = 0.031). This association was primarily due to patients who received chemoradiation (median OS of high- and low-XRCC1 expression patients, 35.5 months and not reached respectively, HR 3.48; 95% CI: 1.44–8.38; P = 0.006). In patients treated with nonchemoradiation modalities, there was no survival difference by XRCC1 expression. In multivariable analysis, high XRCC1 expression and p16INK4a-positive status were independently associated with survival in the overall study population (HR = 2.62; 95% CI: 1.52–4.52; P < 0.001 and HR = 0.21; 95% CI: 0.06–0.71; P = 0.012, respectively) and among chemoradiation patients (HR = 6.02; 95% CI: 2.36–15.37; P < 0.001 and HR = 0.26; 95% CI: 0.08–0.92, respectively; P = 0.037).
In HNSCC, high XRCC1 protein expression is associated with poorer survival, particularly in patients receiving chemoradiation. Future validation of these findings may enable identification of HNSCC expressing patients who benefit from chemoradiation treatment.
The BMP and Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathways cooperatively regulate osteoblast differentiation and bone formation. Although BMP signaling regulates gene expression of the Wnt pathway, much less is known about whether Wnt signaling modulates BMP expression in osteoblasts. Given the presence of putative Tcf/Lef response elements that bind β-catenin/TCF transcription complex in the BMP2 promoter, we hypothesized that the Wnt/β-catenin pathway stimulates BMP2 expression in osteogenic cells. In this study, we showed that Wnt/β-catenin signaling is active in various osteoblast or osteoblast precursor cell lines, including MC3T3-E1, 2T3, C2C12, and C3H10T1/2 cells. Furthermore, crosstalk between the BMP and Wnt pathways affected BMP signaling activity, osteoblast differentiation, and bone formation, suggesting Wnt signaling is an upstream regulator of BMP signaling. Activation of Wnt signaling by Wnt3a or overexpression of β-catenin/TCF4 both stimulated BMP2 transcription at promoter and mRNA levels. In contrast, transcription of BMP2 in osteogenic cells was decreased by either blocking the Wnt pathway with DKK1 and sFRP4, or inhibiting β-catenin/TCF4 activity with FWD1/β-TrCP, ICAT, or ΔTCF4. Using a site-directed mutagenesis approach, we confirmed that Wnt/β-catenin transactivation of BMP2 transcription is directly mediated through the Tcf/Lef response elements in the BMP2 promoter. These results, which demonstrate that the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway is an upstream activator of BMP2 expression in osteoblasts, provide novel insights into the nature of functional cross talk integrating the BMP and Wnt/β-catenin pathways in osteoblastic differentiation and maintenance of skeletal homeostasis.
BMP; Wnt/β-catenin; Gene expression; Osteogenesis
Formation of the periodontium begins following onset of tooth-root formation in a coordinated manner after birth. Dental follicle progenitor cells are thought to form the cementum, alveolar bone and Sharpey's fibers of the periodontal ligament (PDL). However, little is known about the regulatory morphogens that control differentiation and function of these progenitor cells, as well as the progenitor cells involved in crown and root formation. We investigated the role of bone morphogenetic protein-2 (Bmp2) in these processes by the conditional removal of the Bmp2 gene using the Sp7-Cre-EGFP mouse model. Sp7-Cre-EGFP first becomes active at E18 in the first molar, with robust Cre activity at postnatal day 0 (P0), followed by Cre activity in the second molar, which occurs after P0. There is robust Cre activity in the periodontium and third molars by 2 weeks of age. When the Bmp2 gene is removed from Sp7+ (Osterix+) cells, major defects are noted in root, cellular cementum and periodontium formation. First, there are major cell autonomous defects in root-odontoblast terminal differentiation. Second, there are major alterations in formation of the PDLs and cellular cementum, correlated with decreased nuclear factor IC (Nfic), periostin and α-SMA+ cells. Third, there is a failure to produce vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) in the periodontium and the pulp leading to decreased formation of the microvascular and associated candidate stem cells in the Bmp2-cKOSp7-Cre-EGFP. Fourth, ameloblast function and enamel formation are indirectly altered in the Bmp2-cKOSp7-Cre-EGFP. These data demonstrate that the Bmp2 gene has complex roles in postnatal tooth development and periodontium formation.
Bmp2 gene; cementum; dentinogenesis; periodontium development; root formation
Background and Objective
Reformulated OxyContin® (oxycodone-HCl controlled release) tablets (ORF) became available in the United States in August 2010. The original formulation of OxyContin® (oxycodone-HCl controlled release) tablets (OC) used a delivery system that did not provide inherent resistance to crushing and dissolving. The objective of this study was to compare the pharmacokinetics, tolerability, and safety of finely crushed ORF tablets, coarsely crushed ORF tablets, and finely crushed OC tablets.
This randomized, single-blind, single-dose, single-center, six-sequence, triple-treatment, triple-period crossover study enrolled eligible healthy adults (aged 18–55 years inclusive). The study evaluated the pharmacokinetics, tolerability, and safety of intranasally administered ORF, both finely crushed and coarsely crushed, as well as finely crushed OC tablets. Plasma oxycodone concentrations were quantified and analyzed to determine the maximum observed plasma concentration (Cmax), time to maximum plasma concentration (tmax), area under the plasma concentration–time curve from hour 0 to the last measurable plasma concentration (AUClast), and area under the plasma concentration–time curve extrapolated to infinity (AUC∞). The abuse quotient (AQ), calculated as Cmax/tmax, served as an index of the average rate of increase in drug concentration from dosing to tmax. Intranasal tolerability rating scales (discomfort, itching, burning, pain, runny nose, and stuffiness) and intranasal endoscopy were conducted. Safety assessments included adverse events, vital signs, pulse oximetry (SpO2), and electrocardiograms.
Of 83 subjects screened and enrolled, 30 were randomized to period 1, with 1 subject subsequently discontinuing due to the subject’s choice. Mean Cmax values for finely crushed ORF (17.1 ng/mL) and coarsely crushed ORF (15.5 ng/mL) were lower than that for finely crushed OC (22.2 ng/mL). Median tmax for finely crushed OC (1.0 h) was shorter than that for either finely crushed ORF (2.0 h) or coarsely crushed ORF (3.0 h). Mean AQ values were approximately 66 and 80 % lower, respectively, for finely crushed ORF and coarsely crushed ORF than that for finely crushed OC. Finely crushed ORF, coarsely crushed ORF, and finely crushed OC demonstrated similar total oxycodone exposures (AUC∞). Insufflation of ORF produced greater nasal discomfort and stuffiness than finely crushed OC, although the latter produced higher runny nose scores. No significant difference was found in other nasal tolerability measures. The overall safety profile was as expected following opioid administration in healthy subjects.
In contrast to OC, both finely and coarsely crushed ORF retained some control of oxycodone release. Reduced Cmax and increased tmax for ORF resulted in lower AQ scores for ORF compared with OC. ORF was associated with greater intranasal irritation than OC. These data suggest that ORF has a lower intranasal abuse potential than OC.
Individual variation in both survival and reproduction has the potential to influence extinction risk. Especially for rare or threatened species, reliable population models should adequately incorporate demographic uncertainty. Here, we focus on an important form of demographic stochasticity: variation in litter sizes. We use terrestrial carnivores as an example taxon, as they are frequently threatened or of economic importance. Since data on intraspecific litter size variation are often sparse, it is unclear what probability distribution should be used to describe the pattern of litter size variation for multiparous carnivores.
We used litter size data on 32 terrestrial carnivore species to test the fit of 12 probability distributions. The influence of these distributions on quasi-extinction probabilities and the probability of successful disease control was then examined for three canid species – the island fox Urocyon littoralis, the red fox Vulpes vulpes, and the African wild dog Lycaon pictus. Best fitting probability distributions differed among the carnivores examined. However, the discretised normal distribution provided the best fit for the majority of species, because variation among litter-sizes was often small. Importantly, however, the outcomes of demographic models were generally robust to the distribution used.
These results provide reassurance for those using demographic modelling for the management of less studied carnivores in which litter size variation is estimated using data from species with similar reproductive attributes.
A rapid rise in the number of captive African elephants (Loxodonta africana) used in the tourism industry in southern Africa and orphaned elephants in human care has led to concerns about their long-term management, particularly males. One solution is to release them into the wild at adolescence, when young males naturally leave their herd. However, this raises significant welfare concerns: little is known about how well released elephants integrate into wild populations and whether they pose a greater threat to humans than wild elephants. We document the release of three captive-raised adolescent male African elephants in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.
Despite having been part of a herd of working elephants for at least eight years, the three males progressively integrated into the complex fission-fusion society of wild bull elephants. In the three years following release, they showed no tendency to be closer to human habitation, and there were no significant differences between wild and captive-raised adolescent males in the total number of social interactions, size of ranges and habitat use. However, the captive-raised elephants sparred less and vocalised more, and spent more time alone and in smaller social groups. Thereafter the released elephants continued to expand their ranges and interact with both mixed-sex herds and males. One male was shot by farmers 94 months after release, along with ten wild elephants, on a ranch outside the protected area.
We show that captive-raised adolescent male elephants can integrate into a wild population. Long-term studies are required to determine the longevity, breeding success, and eventual fate of released male elephants, but we identified no significant short-term welfare problems for the released elephants or recipient population. Release of captive-raised mammals with complex social systems is a husbandry option that should be explored further.
Dentin matrix protein1 (DMP1), highly conserved in humans and mice, is highly expressed in teeth, the skeleton, and to a lesser extent in nonskeletal tissues such as brain, kidney, and salivary gland. Pathologically, DMP1 is associated with several forms of cancers and with tumor-induced osteomalacia. Conventional disruption of the murine Dmp1 gene results in defects in dentin in teeth and in the skeleton, including hypophosphatemic rickets, and abnormalities in phosphate homeostasis. Human DMP1 mutations are responsible for the condition known as autosomal recessive hypophosphatemic rickets. For better understanding of the roles of DMP1 in different tissues at different stages of development and in pathological conditions, we generated Dmp1 floxed mice in which loxP sites flank exon 6 that encodes for over 80% of DMP1 protein. We demonstrate that Cre-mediated recombination using Sox2-Cre, a Cre line expressed in epiblast during early embryogenesis, results in early deletion of the gene and protein. These homozygous Cre-recombined null mice display an identical phenotype to conventional null mice. This animal model will be useful to reveal distinct roles of DMP1 in different tissues at different ages.
DMP1; Cre-loxP; gene targeting; mouse; bone
CSF-1, a key regulator of mononuclear phagocyte production, is highly expressed in the skeleton by osteoblasts/osteocytes and in a number of nonskeletal tissues such as uterus, kidney and brain. The spontaneous mutant op/op mouse has been the conventional model of CSF-1 deficiency and exhibits a pleiotropic phenotype characterized by osteopetrosis, and defects in hematopoiesis, fertility and neural function. Studies to further delineate the biologic effect of CSF-1 within various tissues have been hampered by the lack of suitable models. To address this issue, we generated CSF-1 floxed/floxed mice and demonstrate that Cre-mediated recombination using Meox2Cre, a Cre line expressed in epiblast during early embryogenesis, results in mice with ubiquitous CSF-1 deficiency (CSF-1KO). Homozygous CSF-1KO mice lacked CSF-1 in all tissues and displayed, in part, a similar phenotype to op/op mice that included: failure of tooth eruption, osteopetrosis, reduced macrophage densities in reproductive and other organs and altered hematopoiesis with decreased marrow cellularity, circulating monocytes and B cell lymphopoiesis. In contrast to op/op mice, CSF-1KO mice showed elevated circulating and splenic T cells. A striking feature in CSF-1KO mice was defective osteocyte maturation, bone mineralization and osteocyte-lacunar system that was associated with reduced dentin matrix protein 1 (DMP1) expression in osteocytes. CSF-1KO mice also showed a dramatic reduction in osteomacs along the endosteal surface that may have contributed to the hematopoietic and cortical bone defects. Thus, our findings show that ubiquitous CSF-1 gene deletion using a Cre-based system recapitulates the expected osteopetrotic phenotype. Moreover, results point to a novel link between CSF-1 and osteocyte survival/function that is essential for maintaining bone mass and strength during skeletal development.
colony stimulating factor-1 (CSF-1); osteocytes; osteoblasts; dentin matrix protein 1 (DMP1); knockout mouse
Since little is known regarding osteocytes, cells embedded within the mineralized bone matrix, a proteomics approach was used to discover proteins more highly expressed in osteocytes than in osteoblasts to determine osteocyte specific function. Two proteomic profiles obtained by two different proteomic approaches using total cell lysates from the osteocyte cell line MLO-Y4 and the osteoblast cell line MC3T3 revealed unique differences. Three protein clusters, one related to glycolysis, (Phosphoglycerate kinase 1, fructose-bisphosphate aldolase A, hypoxia up-regulated 1 [ORP150], triosephosphate isomerase), one to protein folding (Mitochondrial Stress-70 protein, ORP150, Endoplasmin), and one to actin cytoskeleton regulation (Macrophage-capping protein [CapG], destrin, forms of lamin A and vimentin) were identified. Higher protein expression of ORP-150, Cap G, and destrin in MLO-Y4 cells compared to MC3T3 cells was validated by gene expression, Western blotting, and in vivo expression. These proteins were shown to be selective in osteocytes in vivo using immuno-staining of mouse ulnae. Destrin was most highly expressed in embedding osteoid osteocytes, GapG in embedded osteocytes, and ORP150 in deeply embedded osteocytes. In summary, the proteomic approach has yielded important information regarding molecular mechanisms used by osteocytes for embedding in matrix, the formation of dendritic processes, and protection within a hypoxic environment.
Quaternary climatic fluctuations have had profound effects on the phylogeographic structure of many species. Classically, species were thought to have become isolated in peninsular refugia, but there is limited evidence that large, non-polar species survived outside traditional refugial areas. We examined the phylogeographic structure of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), a species that shows high ecological adaptability in the western Palaearctic region. We compared mitochondrial DNA sequences (cytochrome b and control region) from 399 modern and 31 ancient individuals from across Europe. Our objective was to test whether red foxes colonised the British Isles from mainland Europe in the late Pleistocene, or whether there is evidence that they persisted in the region through the Last Glacial Maximum.
We found red foxes to show a high degree of phylogeographic structuring across Europe and, consistent with palaeontological and ancient DNA evidence, confirmed via phylogenetic indicators that red foxes were persistent in areas outside peninsular refugia during the last ice age. Bayesian analyses and tests of neutrality indicated population expansion. We conclude that there is evidence that red foxes from the British Isles derived from central European populations that became isolated after the closure of the landbridge with Europe.
► Red foxes show a high degree of phylogeographic structuring across Europe. ► Foxes were persistent in areas outside peninsular refugia during the last ice age. ► British foxes originated in central Europe, becoming isolated after 8200 BP.
Red fox; Mitochondrial DNA; Cytochrome b gene; Control region; Phylogeography; Europe; British Isles
We report an in-situ neutron diffraction study of a large format pouch battery cell. The succession of Li-Graphite intercalation phases was fully captured under an 1C charge-discharge condition (i.e., charge to full capacity in 1 hour). However, the lithiation and dilithiation pathways are distinctively different and, unlike in slowing charging experiments with which the Li-Graphite phase diagram was established, no LiC24 phase was found during charge at 1C rate. Approximately 75 mol. % of the graphite converts to LiC6 at full charge, and a lattice dilation as large as 4% was observed during a charge-discharge cycle. Our work demonstrates the potential of in-situ, time and spatially resolved neutron diffraction study of the dynamic chemical and structural changes in “real-world” batteries under realistic cycling conditions, which should provide microscopic insights on degradation and the important role of diffusion kinetics in energy storage materials.
Tooth development is regulated by epithelial-mesenchymal interactions and their reciprocal molecular signaling. Bone morphogenetic protein 2 (Bmp2) is essential for tooth formation. However, the role of Bmp2 during enamel formation remains unknown in vivo. In this study, the role of Bmp2 in the regulation of postnatal enamel formation was investigated via the conditional ablation of Bmp2 in enamel using the (Osx-Cre) mouse. Bmp2 gene ablation was confirmed by PCR analysis in Osx-Cre, Bmp2flox/flox mice. Bmp2-null mice displayed a severe and profound tooth phenotype with asymmetric and open forked incisors. Microradiographs revealed broken incisor tips and dental pulp chamber exposure. The enamel layer of incisors and molars was thin with hypomineralization. Scanning electron microscopy analysis showed that the enamel surface was rough with chipping and the enamel lacked a typical prismatic architecture. These results demonstrate that Bmp2 is essential for enamel formation.
Bone morphogenetic protein 2; Conditional knockout; Enamel formation; Amelogenesis imperfecta
Large amounts of mammalian protein-protein interaction (PPI) data have been generated and are available for public use. From a systems biology perspective, Proteins/genes interactions encode the key mechanisms distinguishing disease and health, and such mechanisms can be uncovered through network analysis. An effective network analysis tool should integrate different content-specific PPI databases into a comprehensive network format with a user-friendly platform to identify key functional modules/pathways and the underlying mechanisms of disease and toxicity.
atBioNet integrates seven publicly available PPI databases into a network-specific knowledge base. Knowledge expansion is achieved by expanding a user supplied proteins/genes list with interactions from its integrated PPI network. The statistically significant functional modules are determined by applying a fast network-clustering algorithm (SCAN: a Structural Clustering Algorithm for Networks). The functional modules can be visualized either separately or together in the context of the whole network. Integration of pathway information enables enrichment analysis and assessment of the biological function of modules. Three case studies are presented using publicly available disease gene signatures as a basis to discover new biomarkers for acute leukemia, systemic lupus erythematosus, and breast cancer. The results demonstrated that atBioNet can not only identify functional modules and pathways related to the studied diseases, but this information can also be used to hypothesize novel biomarkers for future analysis.
atBioNet is a free web-based network analysis tool that provides a systematic insight into proteins/genes interactions through examining significant functional modules. The identified functional modules are useful for determining underlying mechanisms of disease and biomarker discovery. It can be accessed at: http://www.fda.gov/ScienceResearch/BioinformaticsTools/ucm285284.htm.
Protein-protein interaction; Network analysis; Functional module; Disease biomarker; KEGG pathway analysis; Visualization tool; Genomics
A genetic association study is a complicated process that involves collecting phenotypic data, generating genotypic data, analyzing associations between genotypic and phenotypic data, and interpreting genetic biomarkers identified. SNPTrack is an integrated bioinformatics system developed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to support the review and analysis of pharmacogenetics data resulting from FDA research or submitted by sponsors. The system integrates data management, analysis, and interpretation in a single platform for genetic association studies. Specifically, it stores genotyping data and single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) annotations along with study design data in an Oracle database. It also integrates popular genetic analysis tools, such as PLINK and Haploview. SNPTrack provides genetic analysis capabilities and captures analysis results in its database as SNP lists that can be cross-linked for biological interpretation to gene/protein annotations, Gene Ontology, and pathway analysis data. With SNPTrack, users can do the entire stream of bioinformatics jobs for genetic association studies. SNPTrack is freely available to the public at http://www.fda.gov/ScienceResearch/BioinformaticsTools/SNPTrack/default.htm.
Ecological replacement involves the introduction of non-native species to habitats beyond their historical range, a factor identified as increasing the risk of failure for translocations. Yet the effectiveness and success of ecological replacement rely in part on the ability of translocatees to adapt, survive and potentially reproduce in a novel environment. We discuss the welfare aspects of translocating captive-reared non-native tortoises, Aldabrachelys gigantea and Astrochelys radiata, to two offshore Mauritian islands, and the costs and success of the projects to date.
Because tortoises are long-lived, late-maturing reptiles, we assessed the progress of the translocation by monitoring the survival, health, growth, and breeding by the founders. Between 2000 and 2011, a total of 26 A. gigantea were introduced to Ile aux Aigrettes, and in 2007 twelve sexually immature A. gigantea and twelve male A. radiata were introduced to Round Island, Mauritius. Annual mortality rates were low, with most animals either maintaining or gaining weight. A minimum of 529 hatchlings were produced on Ile aux Aigrettes in 11 years; there was no potential for breeding on Round Island. Project costs were low. We attribute the success of these introductions to the tortoises’ generalist diet, habitat requirements, and innate behaviour.
Feasibility analyses for ecological replacement and assisted colonisation projects should consider the candidate species’ welfare during translocation and in its recipient environment. Our study provides a useful model for how this should be done. In addition to serving as ecological replacements for extinct Mauritian tortoises, we found that releasing small numbers of captive-reared A. gigantea and A. radiata is cost-effective and successful in the short term. The ability to release small numbers of animals is a particularly important attribute for ecological replacement projects since it reduces the potential risk and controversy associated with introducing non-native species.
To establish a predictive method using whole genome genotyping for early intervention in canine hip dysplasia (CHD) risk management, for the prevention of the progression of secondary osteoarthritis (OA), and for selective breeding.
Two sets of dogs (6 breeds) were genotyped with dense SNPs covering the entire canine genome. The first set contained 359 dogs upon which a predictive formula for genomic breeding value (GBV) was derived by using their estimated breeding value (EBV) of the Norberg angle (a measure of CHD) and their genotypes. To investigate how well the formula would work for an individual dog with genotype only (without using EBV or phenotype), a cross validation was performed by masking the EBV of one dog at a time. The genomic data and the EBV of the remaining dogs were used to predict the GBV for the single dog that was left out. The second set of dogs included 38 new Labrador retriever dogs, which had no pedigree relationship to the dogs in the first set.
The cross validation showed a strong correlation (r>0.7) between the EBV and the GBV. The independent validation showed a strong correlation (r=0.5) between GBV for the Norberg angle and the observed Norberg angle (no EBV was available for the new 38 dogs). Sensitivity, specificity, positive, and negative predictive value of the genomic data were all above 70%.
Prediction of CHD from genomic data is feasible, and can be applied for risk management of CHD and early selection for genetic improvement to reduce the prevalence of CHD in breeding programs. The prediction can be implemented before maturity, at which age current radiographic screening programs are traditionally applied, and as soon as DNA is available.
Uncovering the mechanisms behind territory formation is a fundamental problem in behavioural ecology. The broad nature of the underlying conspecific avoidance processes are well documented across a wide range of taxa. Scent marking in particular is common to a large range of terrestrial mammals and is known to be fundamental for communication. However, despite its importance, exact quantification of the time-scales over which scent cues and messages persist remains elusive. Recent work by the present authors has begun to shed light on this problem by modelling animals as random walkers with scent-mediated interaction processes. Territories emerge as dynamic objects that continually change shape and slowly move without settling to a fixed location. As a consequence, the utilisation distribution of such an animal results in a slowly increasing home range, as shown for urban foxes (Vulpes vulpes). For certain other species, however, home ranges reach a stable state. The present work shows that stable home ranges arise when, in addition to scent-mediated conspecific avoidance, each animal moves as a central place forager. That is, the animal's movement has a random aspect but is also biased towards a fixed location, such as a den or nest site. Dynamic territories emerge but the probability distribution of the territory border locations reaches a steady state, causing stable home ranges to emerge from the territorial dynamics. Approximate analytic expressions for the animal's probability density function are derived. A programme is given for using these expressions to quantify both the strength of the animal's movement bias towards the central place and the time-scale over which scent messages persist. Comparisons are made with previous theoretical work modelling central place foragers with conspecific avoidance. Some insights into the mechanisms behind allometric scaling laws of animal space use are also given.
Relatedness between group members is central to understanding the causes of animal dispersal. In many group-living mammals this can be complicated as extra-pair copulations result in offspring having varying levels of relatedness to the dominant animals, leading to a potential conflict between male and female dominants over offspring dispersal strategies. To avoid resource competition and inbreeding, dominant males might be expected to evict unrelated males and related females, whereas the reverse strategy would be expected for dominant females.
We used microsatellites and long-term data from an urban fox (Vulpes vulpes) population to compare dispersal strategies between offspring with intra- and extra-group fathers and mothers of differing social status in red foxes. Relatedness to the dominant male had no effect on dispersal in offspring of either sex, whereas there was a strong effect of relatedness to resident females on offspring dispersal independent of population density. Males with dominant mothers dispersed significantly more often than males with subordinate mothers, whereas dispersing females were significantly more likely to have subordinate mothers compared to philopatric females.
This is the first study to demonstrate that relatedness to resident females is important in juvenile dispersal in group-living mammals. Male dispersal may be driven by inbreeding avoidance, whereas female dispersal appears to be influenced by the fitness advantages associated with residing with the same-sex dominant parent. Selection pressure for paternal influence on offspring dispersal is low due to the limited costs associated with retaining unrelated males and the need for alternative inbreeding avoidance mechanisms between the dominant male and his female offspring. These findings have important implications for the evolution of dispersal and group living in social mammals, and our understanding of a key biological process.
Osteoporosis is defined as reduced bone mineral density with a high risk of fragile fracture. Current available treatment regimens include antiresorptive drugs such as estrogen receptor analogues and bisphosphates and anabolic agents such as parathyroid hormone (PTH). However, neither option is completely satisfactory because of adverse effects. It is thus highly desirable to identify novel anabolic agents to improve future osteoporosis treatment. Osthole, a coumarin-like derivative extracted from Chinese herbs, has been shown to stimulate osteoblast proliferation and differentiation, but its effect on bone formation in vivo and underlying mechanism remain unknown. In this study, we found that local injection of Osthole significantly increased new bone formation on the surface of mouse calvaria. Ovariectomy caused evident bone loss in rats, whereas Osthole largely prevented such loss, as shown by improved bone microarchitecture, histomorphometric parameters, and biomechanical properties. In vitro studies demonstrated that Osthole activated Wnt/β-catenin signaling, increased Bmp2 expression, and stimulated osteoblast differentiation. Targeted deletion of the β-catenin and Bmp2 genes abolished the stimulatory effect of Osthole on osteoblast differentiation. Since deletion of the Bmp2 gene did not affect Osthole-induced β-catenin expression and the deletion of the β-catenin gene inhibited Osthole-regulated Bmp2 expression in osteoblasts, we propose that Osthole acts through β-catenin–BMP signaling to promote osteoblast differentiation. Our findings demonstrate that Osthole could be a potential anabolic agent to stimulate bone formation and prevent estrogen deficiency–induced bone loss. © 2010 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.
osthole; β-catenin; BMP-2; osteoblast; osteoporosis; ovariectomy
Inferring the role of interactions in territorial animals relies upon accurate recordings of the behaviour of neighbouring individuals. Such accurate recordings are rarely available from field studies. As a result, quantification of the interaction mechanisms has often relied upon theoretical approaches, which hitherto have been limited to comparisons of macroscopic population-level predictions from un-tested interaction models. Here we present a quantitative framework that possesses a microscopic testable hypothesis on the mechanism of conspecific avoidance mediated by olfactory signals in the form of scent marks. We find that the key parameters controlling territoriality are two: the average territory size, i.e. the inverse of the population density, and the time span during which animal scent marks remain active. Since permanent monitoring of a territorial border is not possible, scent marks need to function in the temporary absence of the resident. As chemical signals carried by the scent only last a finite amount of time, each animal needs to revisit territorial boundaries frequently and refresh its own scent marks in order to deter possible intruders. The size of the territory an animal can maintain is thus proportional to the time necessary for an animal to move between its own territorial boundaries. By using an agent-based model to take into account the possible spatio-temporal movement trajectories of individual animals, we show that the emerging territories are the result of a form of collective animal movement where, different to shoaling, flocking or herding, interactions are highly heterogeneous in space and time. The applicability of our hypothesis has been tested with a prototypical territorial animal, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes).
How animals succeed in sharing and occupying space in an efficient way has always fascinated biologists. When occupying space involves marking and defending a given area, the animal is said to be territorial. By scent marking the locations that an animal visits, it conveys to a potential intruder that the area is claimed by another animal. Once an intruder encounters a foreign scent, it typically retreats from it to avoid an aggressive response by the resident animal. This is the so-called mechanism of conspecific avoidance. By considering this mechanism and the movement of the individual animals, we predict how territorial patterns are formed and maintained. Data and information on the red fox has served as a benchmark to test our predictions and has provided the experimental support to our theory. The implications of our results reach far beyond behavioural ecology, encompassing fields from epidemiology and conservation biology to social and state boundary dynamics in human society and ‘divide and conquer’ approaches to collective robotics.
Bone morphogenetic protein 2 (Bmp2) is essential for osteoblast differentiation and osteogenesis. Generation of floxed Bmp2 osteoblast cell lines is a valuable tool for studying the effects of Bmp2 on osteoblast differentiation and its signaling pathways during skeletal metabolism. Due to relatively limited sources of primary osteoblasts, we have developed cell lines that serve as good surrogate models for the study of osteoblast cell differentiation and bone mineralization. In this study, we established and characterized immortalized mouse floxed Bmp2 osteoblast cell lines. Primary mouse floxed Bmp2 osteoblasts were transfected with pSV3-neo and clonally selected. These transfected cells were verified by PCR and immunohistochemistry. To determine the genotype and phenotype of the immortalized cells, cell morphology, proliferation, differentiation and mineralization were analyzed. Also, expression of osteoblast-related gene markers including Runx2, Osx, ATF4, Dlx3, bone sialoprotein, dentin matrix protein 1, osteonectin, osteocalcin and osteopontin were examined by quantitative RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry. These results showed that immortalized floxed Bmp2 osteoblasts had a higher proliferation rate but preserved their genotypic and phenotypic characteristics similar to the primary cells. Thus, we, for the first time, describe the development of immortalized mouse floxed Bmp2 osteoblast cell lines and present a useful model to study osteoblast biology mediated by BMP2 and its downstream signaling transduction pathways.
Floxed Bmp2; Immortalization; Osteoblast; Gene expression; SV40-T-Ag
Cyclic mechanical loads applied to the skeleton from habitual physical activity result in increased bone formation. These loads lead to dynamic pressure gradients and oscillatory flow of bone interstitial fluid, which, in turn, exposes cells resident in the bony matrix to oscillatory fluid shear stress. Dynamic fluid flow has previously been shown to be a potent anabolic stimulus for cultured osteoblasts. In this study, we used cDNA microarrays to examine early phase, broad-spectrum gene expression in MC3T3-E1 osteoblasts in response to physical stimulation. RNA was harvested at 30 min and 1 h post-stimulation. RNA was used for microarray hybridization as well as subsequent reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) validation of expression levels for selected genes. Microarray results were analysed by both functional and expression profile clustering. We identified a small number of genes at both the 30 min and 1 h timepoints that were either upregulated or downregulated with flow compared to no-flow control by twofold or more. From the group of genes upregulated at 30 min, we selected nine for RT-PCR confirmation. All were found to be upregulated by at least twofold. We identify a novel set of early response genes potentially involved in mediating the anabolic response of MC3T3 osteoblasts to flow, and provide functional groupings of these genes that may shed light on the relevant mechanosensory pathways involved.
osteoblast; fluid shear stress; cellular mechanotransduction; cDNA microarrays; gene expression