Shiverer-immunodeficient (Shi-id) mice demonstrate defective myelination in the central nervous system (CNS) and significant ataxia by 2 to 3 weeks of life. Expanded, banked human neural stem cells (HuCNS-SCs) were transplanted into three sites in the brains of neonatal or juvenile Shi-id mice, which were asymptomatic or showed advanced hypomyelination, respectively. In both groups of mice, HuCNS-SCs engrafted and underwent preferential differentiation into oligodendrocytes. These oligodendrocytes generated compact myelin with normalized nodal organization, ultrastructure, and axon conduction velocities. Myelination was equivalent in neonatal and juvenile mice by quantitative histopathology and high-field ex vivo magnetic resonance imaging, which, through fractional anisotropy, revealed CNS myelination 5 to 7 weeks after HuCNS-SC transplantation. Transplanted HuCNS-SCs generated functional myelin in the CNS, even in animals with severe symptomatic hypomyelination, suggesting that this strategy may be useful for treating dysmyelinating diseases.
Children who survive preterm birth exhibit persistent unexplained disturbances in cerebral cortical growth with associated cognitive and learning disabilities. The mechanisms underlying these deficits remain elusive. We used ex vivo diffusion magnetic resonance imaging to demonstrate in a preterm large-animal model that cerebral ischemia impairs cortical growth and the normal maturational decline in cortical fractional anisotropy (FA). Analysis of pyramidal neurons revealed that cortical deficits were associated with impaired expansion of the dendritic arbor and reduced synaptic density. Together, these findings suggest a link between abnormal cortical FA and disturbances of neuronal morphological development. To experimentally investigate this possibility, we measured the orientation distribution of dendritic branches and observed that it corresponds with the theoretically predicted pattern of increased anisotropy within cases that exhibited elevated cortical FA after ischemia. We conclude that cortical growth impairments are associated with diffuse disturbances in the dendritic arbor and synapse formation of cortical neurons, which may underlie the cognitive and learning disabilities in survivors of preterm birth. Further, measurement of cortical FA may be useful for noninvasively detecting neurological disorders affecting cortical development.
RBC membrane-cloaked polymeric nanoparticles represent an emerging nanocarrier platform with extended circulation in vivo. A lipid-insertion method is employed to functionalize these nanoparticles without the need for direct chemical conjugation. Insertion of both folate and the nucleolin-targeting aptamer AS1411 shows receptor-specific targeting against model cancer cell lines.
Regenerative medicine, relying on human embryonic stem cell (hESC) technology, opens promising new avenues for therapy of many severe diseases. However, this approach is restricted by limited production of the desired cells due to the refractory properties of hESC growth in vitro. It is further hindered by insufficient control of cellular stress, growth rates, and heterogeneous cellular states under current culture conditions. In this study, we report a novel cell culture method based on a non-colony type monolayer (NCM) growth. Human ESCs under NCM remain pluripotent as determined by teratoma assays and sustain the potential to differentiate into three germ layers. This NCM culture has been shown to homogenize cellular states, precisely control growth rates, significantly increase cell production, and enhance hESC recovery from cryopreservation without compromising chromosomal integrity. This culture system is simple, robust, scalable, and suitable for high-throughput screening and drug discovery.
The expression and function of several multidrug transporters (including ABCB1 and ABCG2) have been studied in human cancer cells and in mouse and human adult stem cells. However, the expression of ABCG2 in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) remains unclear. Limited and contradictory results in the literature from two research groups have raised questions regarding its expression and function. In this study, we used quantitative real-time PCR, Northern blots, whole genome RNA sequencing, Western blots, and immunofluorescence microscopy to study ABCG2 expression in hESCs. We found that full-length ABCG2 mRNA transcripts are expressed in undifferentiated hESC lines. However, ABCG2 protein was undetectable even under embryoid body differentiation or cytotoxic drug induction. Moreover, surface ABCG2 protein was coexpressed with the differentiation marker SSEA-1 of hESCs, following constant BMP-4 signaling at days 4 and 6. This expression was tightly correlated with the down-regulation of two microRNAs (i.e., hsa-miR-519c and hsa-miR-520h). Transfection of microRNA mimics and inhibitors of these two microRNAs confirmed their direct involvement in the regulation ABCG2 translation. Our findings clarify the controversy regarding the expression of the ABCG2 gene and also provide new insights into translational control of the expression of membrane transporter mRNAs by microRNAs in hESCs.
human embryonic stem cells; ATP-binding cassette; ABCG2; BMP-4; differentiation
Anxiety disorders are among the most common psychiatric disorders; meditative therapies are frequently sought by patients with anxiety as a complementary therapy. Although multiple reviews exist on the general health benefits of meditation, no review has been focused on the efficacy of meditation for anxiety specifically.
Major medical databases were searched thoroughly with keywords related to various types of meditation AND anxiety. Over 1000 abstracts were screened, and 200+ full articles were reviewed. Only RCTs were included. The Boutron (2005) checklist to evaluate a report of a non-pharmaceutical trial (CLEAR-NPT) was used to assess study quality; 90% authors were contacted for additional information. Review Manager 5 was used for meta-analysis.
A total of 36 RCTs were included in the meta-analysis (2,466 observations). Most RCTs were conducted among patients with anxiety as a secondary concern. The study quality ranged from 0.3 to 1.0 on the 0.0–1.0 scale (mean = 0.72). Standardized mean difference (SMD) was −0.52 in comparison with waiting-list control (p < .001; 25 RCTs), −0.59 in comparison with attention control (p < .001; 7 RCTs), and −0.27 in comparison with alternative treatments (p < 0.01; 10 RCTs). 25 studies reported statistically superior outcomes in the meditation group compared to control. No adverse effects were reported.
This review demonstrates some efficacy of meditative therapies in reducing anxiety symptoms, which has important clinical implications for applying meditative techniques in treating anxiety. However, most studies measured only improvement in anxiety symptoms, but not anxiety disorders as clinically diagnosed.
meditation; meditative therapies; anxiety; systematic review; meta-analysis
The accepted model of eukaryotic translation initiation begins with the scanning of the transcript by the pre-initiation complex from the 5′end until an ATG codon with a specific nucleotide (nt) context surrounding it is recognized (Kozak rule). According to this model, ATG codons upstream to the beginning of the ORF should affect translation. We perform for the first time, a genome-wide statistical analysis, uncovering a new, more comprehensive and quantitative, set of initiation rules for improving the cost of translation and its efficiency. Analyzing dozens of eukaryotic genomes, we find that in all frames there is a universal trend of selection for low numbers of ATG codons; specifically, 16–27 codons upstream, but also 5–11 codons downstream of the START ATG, include less ATG codons than expected. We further suggest that there is selection for anti optimal ATG contexts in the vicinity of the START ATG. Thus, the efficiency and fidelity of translation initiation is encoded in the 5′UTR as required by the scanning model, but also at the beginning of the ORF.
The observed nt patterns suggest that in all the analyzed organisms the pre-initiation complex often misses the START ATG of the ORF, and may start translation from an alternative initiation start-site. Thus, to prevent the translation of undesired proteins, there is selection for nucleotide sequences with low affinity to the pre-initiation complex near the beginning of the ORF. With the new suggested rules we were able to obtain a twice higher correlation with ribosomal density and protein levels in comparison to the Kozak rule alone (e.g. for protein levels r = 0.7 vs. r = 0.31; p<10−12).
Gene translation is an important step of the intra-cellular protein synthesis, which is a central process in all living organisms. Thus, understanding how translation efficiency is encoded in transcripts has ramifications to every biomedical discipline. The aim of the current study is to decipher the way translation initiation fidelity is encoded in eukaryotic transcripts, and how evolution shapes the beginning of transcripts. Based on the genomes of dozens of organisms we were able to derive a new, more precise, set of rules related to this process, facilitating a high resolution view of the mechanisms aiding translation initiation fidelity. Among others, we show that there is a universal trend of selection for low numbers of ATG codons upstream, but also in the 5–11 codons downstream of the START ATG, presumably to prevent translation of alternative ORFs over the main one. With the new suggested rules we were able to obtain a twice higher correlation with ribosomal density and protein levels in comparison to the previous translation initiation efficiency rule.
Despite the fact that ADP-ribosylation of eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (EF2) leads to inhibition of protein synthesis, the mechanism by which ADP-ribosylated EF2 (ADPR•EF2) causes this inhibition remains controversial. Here, we applied modeling approaches to investigate the consequences of various modes of ADPR•EF2 inhibitory actions on the two coupled processes, the polypeptide chain elongation and ADP-ribosylation of EF2. Modeling of experimental data indicates that ADPR•EF2 fully blocks the late-phase translocation of tRNAs; but the impairment in the translocation upstream process, mainly the GTP-dependent factor binding with the pretranslocation ribosome and/or the guanine nucleotide exchange in EF2, is responsible for the overall inhibition kinetics. The reduced ADPR•EF2-ribosome association spares the ribosome to bind and shield native EF2 against toxin attack, thereby deferring the inhibition of protein synthesis inhibition and inactivation of EF2. Minimum association with the ribosome also keeps ADPR•EF2 in an accessible state for toxins to catalyze the reverse reaction when nicotinamide becomes available. Our work underscores the importance of unveiling the interactions between ADPR•EF2 and the ribosome, and argues against that toxins inhibit protein synthesis through converting native EF2 to a competitive inhibitor to actively disable the ribosome.
Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are capable of unlimited self-renewal and can generate almost all of the cells in the body. Although some pluripotency factors have been identified, much remains unclear regarding the molecules and mechanisms that regulate hESC self-renewal and pluripotency. In this study, we identified a mitochondrial gene, CBARA1, that is expressed in undifferentiated hESCs and that is down-regulated rapidly after cellular differentiation. To study its role in hESCs, endogenous CBARA1 expression was knocked down using shRNA. CBARA1 knockdown in hESCs resulted in down-regulation of Oct4 and Nanog expression, attenuated cell growth, and G0/G1 phase cell cycle arrest; however, knockdown did not noticeably affect apoptosis. Taken together, these results suggest that CBARA1 is a marker for undifferentiated hESCs that plays a role in maintaining stemness, cell cycle progression, and proliferation.
Converging lines of evidence show that a sizable subset of autism-spectrum disorders (ASDs) is characterized by increased blood levels of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT), yet the mechanistic link between these two phenomena remains unclear. The enzymatic degradation of brain 5-HT is mainly mediated by monoamine oxidase (MAO)A and, in the absence of this enzyme, by its cognate isoenzyme MAOB. MAOA and A/B knockout (KO) mice display high 5-HT levels, particularly during early developmental stages. Here we show that both mutant lines exhibit numerous behavioural hallmarks of ASDs, such as social and communication impairments, perseverative and stereotypical responses, behavioural inflexibility, as well as subtle tactile and motor deficits. Furthermore, both MAOA and A/B KO mice displayed neuropathological alterations reminiscent of typical ASD features, including reduced thickness of the corpus callosum, increased dendritic arborization of pyramidal neurons in the prefrontal cortex and disrupted microarchitecture of the cerebellum. The severity of repetitive responses and neuropathological aberrances was generally greater in MAOA/B KO animals. These findings suggest that the neurochemical imbalances induced by MAOAdeficiency (either by itself or in conjunction with lack of MAOB) may result in an array of abnormalities similar to those observed in ASDs. Thus, MAOA and A/B KO mice may afford valuable models to help elucidate the neurobiological bases of these disorders and related neurodevelopmental problems.
Animal models; autistic-spectrum disorders; monoamine oxidase
Multidrug transporters constitute major mechanisms of multidrug resistance (MDR) in human cancers. The ABCB1 (MDR1) gene encodes a well-characterized transmembrane transporter, termed P-glycoprotein (P-gp), which is expressed in many normal human tissues and cancers. P-gp plays a major role in the distribution and excretion of drugs, and is involved in intrinsic and acquired drug resistance of cancers. The regulation of ABCB1 expression is complex, and has not been well studied in a clinical setting. In this review, we elucidate molecular signaling and epigenetic interactions that govern ABCB1 expression and the development of MDR in cancer. We focus on acquired expression of ABCB1 that is associated with genomic instability of cancer cells, including mutational events that alter chromatin structures, gene rearrangements, and mutations in tumor suppressor proteins (e.g., mutant p53) that guard the integrity of genome. In addition, epigenetic modifications of the ABCB1 proximal and far upstream promoters by either demethylation of DNA or acetylation of histone H3 play a pivotal role in inducing ABCB1 expression. We describe a molecular network that coordinates genetic and epigenetic events leading to the activation of ABCB1. These mechanistic insignts provide additional translational targets and potential strategies to deal with clinical MDR.
Multidrug resistance; ABCB1; MDR1; transcription; epigenetic
A full understanding of gene regulation requires an understanding of the contributions that the various regulatory regions have on gene expression. Although it is well established that sequences downstream of the main promoter can affect expression, our understanding of the scale of this effect and how it is encoded in the DNA is limited. Here, to measure the effect of native S. cerevisiae 3′ end sequences on expression, we constructed a library of 85 fluorescent reporter strains that differ only in their 3′ end region. Notably, despite being driven by the same strong promoter, our library spans a continuous twelve-fold range of expression values. These measurements correlate with endogenous mRNA levels, suggesting that the 3′ end contributes to constitutive differences in mRNA levels. We used deep sequencing to map the 3′UTR ends of our strains and show that determination of polyadenylation sites is intrinsic to the local 3′ end sequence. Polyadenylation mapping was followed by sequence analysis, we found that increased A/T content upstream of the main polyadenylation site correlates with higher expression, both in the library and genome-wide, suggesting that native genes differ by the encoded efficiency of 3′ end processing. Finally, we use single cells fluorescence measurements, in different promoter activation levels, to show that 3′ end sequences modulate protein expression dynamics differently than promoters, by predominantly affecting the size of protein production bursts as opposed to the frequency at which these bursts occur. Altogether, our results lead to a more complete understanding of gene regulation by demonstrating that 3′ end regions have a unique and sequence dependent effect on gene expression.
A basic question in gene expression is the relative contribution of different regulatory layers and genomic regions to the differences in protein levels. In this work we concentrated on the effect of 3′ end sequences. For this, we constructed a library of yeast strains that differ only by a native 3′ end region integrated downstream to a reported gene driven by a constant inducible promoter. Thus we could attribute all differences in reporter expression between the strains to the different 3′ end sequences. Interestingly, we found that despite being driven by the same strong, inducible promoter, our library spanned a wide and continuous range of expression levels of more than twelve-fold. As these measurements represent the sole effect of the 3′ end region, we quantify the contribution of these sequences to the variance in mRNA levels by comparing our measurements to endogenous mRNA levels. We follow by sequence analysis to find a simple sequence signature that correlates with expression. In addition, single cell analysis reveals distinct noise dynamics of 3′ end mediated differences in expression compared to different levels of promoter activation leading to a more complete understanding of gene expression which also incorporates the effect of these regions.
Viral nanoparticles (VNPs) based on plant viruses such as Cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV) can be used for a broad range of biomedical applications because they present a robust scaffold that allows functionalization by chemical conjugation and genetic modification, thereby offering an efficient drug delivery platform that can target specific cells and tissues. VNPs such as CPMV show natural affinity to cells; however, cellular uptake is inefficient. Here we show that chemical modification of the CPMV surface with a highly reactive, specific and UV-traceable hydrazone linker allows bioconjugation of polyarginine (R5) cell penetrating peptides (CPPs), which can overcome these limitations. The resulting CPMV–R5 particles were taken up into a human cervical cancer cell line (HeLa) more efficiently than native particles. Uptake efficiency was dependent on the density of R5 peptides on the surface of the VNP; particles displaying 40 R5 peptides per CPMV (denoted as CPMV–R5H) interact strongly with the plasma membrane and are taken up into the cells via an energy-dependent mechanism while particles displaying 10 R5 peptides per CPMV (CPMV–R5L) are only slowly taken up. The fate of CPMV–R5 versus native CPMV particles within cells was evaluated in a co-localization time course study. It was indicated that the intracellular localization of CPMV–R5 and CPMV differs; CPMV remains trapped in Lamp-1 positive endolysosomes over long time frames; in contrast, 30–50% of the CPMV–R5 particles transitioned from the endosome into other cellular vesicles or compartments. Our data provide the groundwork for the development of efficient drug delivery formulations based on CPMV–R5.
(See the editorial commentary by Johnson, on pages 353–4.)
Background. Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) can cause a wide range of disease, from mild diarrhea to fulminant systemic disease. The incidence of systemic CDI with fatal consequence has increased rapidly in recent years.
Methods. Using an ultrasensitive cytotoxicity assay, we measured C. difficile toxin A (TcdA) and C. difficile toxin B (TcdB) in sera and body fluids of piglets and mice exposed to C. difficile to investigate the relationship between the presence of toxins in body fluids and systemic manifestations of CDI.
Results. We found that both TcdA and TcdB disseminate systemically, with toxins present in the sera and body fluids of infected animals, and toxemia is significantly correlated with the development of systemic CDI. The systemic administration of neutralizing antibodies against both toxins blocked the development of systemic disease in mice. We measured cytokine concentrations in the sera of mice and piglets with systemic and nonsystemic CDI and found that proinflammatory mediators were considerably elevated in animals with systemic CDI.
Conclusion. Our study demonstrates the existence of a strong correlation between toxemia and the occurrence of systemic disease, supporting the hypothesis that systemic CDI is most likely due to the toxicity of TcdA and TcdB and the induction of proinflammatory cytokines by the toxins.
The global emergence of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) has contributed to the recent surge in severe antibiotic-associated diarrhea and colonic inflammation. C. difficile produces two homologous glucosylating exotoxins, TcdA and TcdB, both of which are pathogenic and require neutralization to prevent disease occurrence. However, because of their large size and complex multifunctional domain structures, it has been a challenge to produce native recombinant toxins that may serve as vaccine candidates. Here, we describe a novel chimeric toxin vaccine that retains major neutralizing epitopes from both toxins and confers complete protection against primary and recurrent CDI in mice. Using a nonpathogenic Bacillus megaterium expression system, we generated glucosyltransferase-deficient holotoxins and demonstrated their loss of toxicity. The atoxic holotoxins induced potent antitoxin neutralizing antibodies showing little cross-immunogenicity or protection between TcdA and TcdB. To facilitate simultaneous protection against both toxins, we generated an active clostridial toxin chimera by switching the receptor binding domain of TcdB with that of TcdA. The toxin chimera was fully cytotoxic and showed potent proinflammatory activities. This toxicity was essentially abolished in a glucosyltransferase-deficient toxin chimera, cTxAB. Parenteral immunization of mice or hamsters with cTxAB induced rapid and potent neutralizing antibodies against both toxins. Complete and long-lasting disease protection was conferred by cTxAB vaccinations against both laboratory and hypervirulent C. difficile strains. Finally, prophylactic cTxAB vaccination prevented spore-induced disease relapse, which constitutes one of the most significant clinical issues in CDI. Thus, the rational design of recombinant chimeric toxins provides a novel approach for protecting individuals at high risk of developing CDI.
Background and Purpose
White matter injury (WMI) is the leading cause of brain injury in preterm survivors and results in myelination failure. Although axonal degeneration occurs in necrotic lesions, the role of axonopathy in myelination failure remains controversial for diffuse non-necrotic WMI, which is currently the major form of WMI. We determined the burden of axonopathy in diffuse lesions.
We analyzed WMI in a preterm fetal sheep model of global cerebral ischemia that replicates the relative burden of necrotic and non-necrotic human WMI. WMI was analyzed at 1-or 2-weeks after ischemia and identified by ex vivo high-field (11.7 Tesla) MRI of fixed brain tissue. Axonal integrity was analyzed by immunohistochemical detection of axon injury markers and by transmission electron microscopy (EM) to quantify axon loss and degeneration in MRI-defined lesions.
Axonal degeneration, defined by staining for neurofilament protein and β-amyloid precursor protein, was restricted to discrete necrotic foci with robust microglial activation. Unexpectedly, axonal degeneration was not visualized in the major form of WMI, which comprised large non-necrotic lesions with diffuse reactive astrogliosis. In these major lesions, quantitative EM studies confirmed no significant differences in the density of intact and degenerating axons or in the distribution of axon diameters relative to controls.
The mechanism of myelination failure differs significantly in perinatal WMI dependent upon the burden of necrosis. Axonopathy is associated with focal necrotic injury but not with primary diffuse non-necrotic lesions, which supports that intact axons in the primary lesions are potential targets for myelination.
axonal injury; white matter injury; hypoxia-ischemia; prematurity; magnetic resonance imaging; electron microscopy
Converging evidence shows that monoamine oxidase A (MAO A), the key enzyme catalyzing serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) and norepinephrine (NE) degradation, is a primary factor in the pathophysiology of antisocial and aggressive behavior. Accordingly, male MAO A-deficient humans and mice exhibit an extreme predisposition to aggressive outbursts in response to stress. As NMDARs regulate the emotional reactivity to social and environmental stimuli, we hypothesized their involvement in the modulation of aggression mediated by MAO A. In comparison with WT male mice, MAO A KO counterparts exhibited increases in 5-HT and NE levels across all brain regions, but no difference in glutamate concentrations and NMDAR binding. Notably, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of MAO A KO mice exhibited higher expression of NR2A and NR2B, as well as lower levels of glycosylated NR1 subunits. In line with these changes, the current amplitude and decay time of NMDARs in PFC was significantly reduced. Furthermore, the currents of these receptors were hypersensitive to the action of the antagonists of the NMDAR complex (dizocilpine), as well as NR2A (PEAQX) and NR2B (Ro 25–6981) subunits. Notably, systemic administration of these agents selectively countered the enhanced aggression in MAO A KO mice, at doses that did not inherently affect motor activity. Our findings suggest that the role of MAO A in pathological aggression may be mediated by changes in NMDAR subunit composition in the PFC, and point to a critical function of this receptor in the molecular bases of antisocial personality.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are post-transcriptional regulators that bind to their target mRNAs through base complementarity. Predicting miRNA targets is a challenging task and various studies showed that existing algorithms suffer from high number of false predictions and low to moderate overlap in their predictions. Until recently, very few algorithms considered the dynamic nature of the interactions, including the effect of less specific interactions, the miRNA expression level, and the effect of combinatorial miRNA binding. Addressing these issues can result in a more accurate miRNA:mRNA modeling with many applications, including efficient miRNA-related SNP evaluation. We present a novel thermodynamic model based on the Fermi-Dirac equation that incorporates miRNA expression in the prediction of target occupancy and we show that it improves the performance of two popular single miRNA target finders. Modeling combinatorial miRNA targeting is a natural extension of this model. Two other algorithms show improved prediction efficiency when combinatorial binding models were considered. ComiR (Combinatorial miRNA targeting), a novel algorithm we developed, incorporates the improved predictions of the four target finders into a single probabilistic score using ensemble learning. Combining target scores of multiple miRNAs using ComiR improves predictions over the naïve method for target combination. ComiR scoring scheme can be used for identification of SNPs affecting miRNA binding. As proof of principle, ComiR identified rs17737058 as disruptive to the miR-488-5p:NCOA1 interaction, which we confirmed in vitro. We also found rs17737058 to be significantly associated with decreased bone mineral density (BMD) in two independent cohorts indicating that the miR-488-5p/NCOA1 regulatory axis is likely critical in maintaining BMD in women. With increasing availability of comprehensive high-throughput datasets from patients ComiR is expected to become an essential tool for miRNA-related studies.
MicroRNA genes (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that regulate the expression levels of mRNAs post-transcriptionally. miRNAs are critical in many important biological processes, like development, and are important markers for many diseases. Identifying the targets of miRNAs is not an easy task. Recent developments of high-throughput data collection methods for identification of all miRNA targets in a cell are promising, but they still depend on computational algorithms to identify the exact miRNA:mRNA interactions. In this paper we present a novel algorithm, ComiR, which addresses a more general question, that is, whether a given mRNA is targeted by a set of miRNAs. ComiR uses miRNA expression to improve the targeting models of four target prediction algorithms. Then it combines their predicted targets using a support vector machine. By applying ComiR to single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data, we identified a SNP that is likely to be causally associated to osteoporosis in women.
Monoamine oxidase (MAO)-A is a key enzyme for the degradation of brain serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) and norepinephrine (NE). In humans and mice, total MAO-A deficiency results in high 5-HT and NE levels, as well as elevated reactive aggression. Here we report the generation of MAO-ANeo mice, a novel line of hypomorphic MAO-A mutants featuring the insertion of a floxed neomycin-resistance cassette in intron-12 of the Maoa gene. This construct resulted in a chimeric, non-functional variant of the Maoa-Neo transcript, with a truncated C-terminus, likely due to aberrant splicing; these deficits notwithstanding, small amounts of functional Maoa transcript were found in the brain of MAO-ANeo mice. In the prefrontal cortex and amygdala, MAO-ANeo mice showed low, yet detectable, MAO-A catalytic activity, as well as 5-HT levels equivalent to WT littermates; conversely, the hippocampus and midbrain of MAO-ANeo mice featured a neurochemical profile akin to MAO-A-knockout (KO) mice, with undetectable MAO-A activity and high 5-HT concentrations. MAO-ANeo mice showed significant increases in dendritic length in the pyramidal neurons of orbitofrontal cortex, but not basolateral amygdala, in comparison with WT littermates; by contrast, the orbitofrontal cortex of MAO-A KO mice showed significant reductions in basilar dendritic length, as well as a profound increase in apical dendritic length. MAO-ANeo mice showed a unique set of behavioral abnormalities, encompassing reduced open-field locomotion, perseverative responses, such as marble burying and water mist-induced grooming, and a lack of anxiety-like behaviors in the elevated plus-maze and light–dark box paradigms. Notably, whereas MAO-ANeo and KO mice showed significant reductions in social interaction, only the latter genotype showed increases in resident–intruder aggression. Taken together, our findings indicate that MAO A hypomorphism results in behavioral and morphological alterations distinct from those featured by MAO-A KO mice.
monoamine oxidase-A; transgenic mice; social interaction; aggression; anxiety; repetitive behaviors; animal models; behavioral science; serotonin; neurochemistry; monoamine oxidase-A; aggression; anxiety; transgenic mice
Monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) is the key enzyme for the degradation of brain serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT), norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (DA). We recently generated and characterized a novel line of MAO-A hypormorphic mice (MAO-ANeo), featuring elevated monoamine levels, social deficits and perseverative behaviors as well as morphological changes in the basolateral amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex. Here we showed that MAO-ANeo mice displayed deficits in motor control, manifested as subtle disturbances in gait, motor coordination, and balance. Furthermore, magnetic resonance imaging of the cerebellum revealed morphological changes and a moderate reduction in the cerebellar size of MAO- ANeo mice compared to wild type (WT) mice. Histological and immunohistochemical analyses using calbindin-D-28k (CB) expression of Purkinje cells revealed abnormal cerebellar foliation with vermal hypoplasia and decreased in Purkinje cell count and their dendritic density in MAO- ANeo mice compared to WT. Our current findings suggest that congenitally low MAO-A activity leads to abnormal development of the cerebellum.
Monoamine oxidase A; Hypomorphism; Serotonin; Cerebellum; Purkinje cells
Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1) is a mammalian enzyme that attaches long branching chains of ADP-ribose to specific nuclear proteins, including itself. Because its activity in vitro is dependent upon interaction with broken DNA, it has been postulated that PARP-1 plays an important role in DNA strand-break repair in vivo. The exact mechanism of binding to DNA and the structural determinants of binding remain to be defined, but regions of transition from single-stranded to double-strandedness may be important recognition sites. Here we employ surface plasmon resonance (SPR) to investigate this hypothesis. Oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) substrates that mimic DNA with different degrees of single-strandedness were used for measurements of both PARP-1/DNA binding kinetics and PARP-1’s enzyme activities. We found that binding correlated with activity, but was unrelated to single-strandedness of the ODN. Instead, PARP-1 binding and activity were highest on ODNs that modeled a DNA double-strand break (DSB). These results provide support for PARP-1 recognizing and binding DSBs in a manner that is independent of single-stranded features, and demonstrate the usefulness of SPR for simultaneously investigating both PARP-1 binding and PARP-1 auto-poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation activities within the same in vitro system.
poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1; PARP-1; DNA repair; DNA double-strand breaks; surface plasmon resonance; poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation; binding kinetics; non-homologous end joining
There are elevated rates of comorbid psychiatric disorders among individuals with substance dependence; however, little research examines these rates within inpatient settings, particularly in relation to gender and type of substance. The current study aimed to fill this gap.
465 patients (71.4% male) were recruited from an inpatient substance use treatment facility from 2006 to 2009. These patients were interviewed and diagnosed using the Structure Clinical Interview for DSM-IV and the Diagnostic Interview for Personality Disorders.
60.6% of patients with substance dependence had a current comorbid psychiatric disorder, and more than 30% had at least two psychiatric disorders. The most common current Axis I diagnosis was major depressive disorder (25.8%), followed by PTSD (14%). Comparable rates were found for Antisocial and Borderline Personality Disorders. Females were significantly more likely to meet diagnostic criteria for a psychiatric disorder than were males (73.7% versus 55.4%). When examining comorbidities across different substance dependences, the highest rates of comorbid psychiatric disorders were found among individuals with alcohol dependence (76.8%) and cannabis dependence (76%), although rates were above 60% for cocaine and opioid dependence. Rates of psychiatric diagnoses were significantly lower (27%) among patients who did not meet diagnostic criteria for substance dependence.
There are particularly elevated rates of psychiatric disorders among individuals with substance dependence in inpatient treatment. These rates differ as a function of substance dependence type and gender, making these factors important to consider when researching and treating this type of population.
Comorbidity; substance dependence; psychiatric disorders; inpatient treatment; gender differences
Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) are a recently discovered class of small non-coding RNA found in animals. PiRNAs are primarily expressed in the germline where their best understood function is to repress transposable elements. Unlike previous studies that investigated the evolution of piRNA-generating loci at the level of nucleotide substitutions, here we studied the evolution of piRNA-generating loci at the level of copy number variation (i.e. duplications and deletions) using genome-wide copy number variation data from three human populations. Our analysis shows that at the level of copy number variation there is strong selective constraint and a very high mutation rate in human piRNA-generating loci. Our results differ from a model of positive selection on copy number variation in piRNA-generating loci previously proposed in rodents. We discuss possible reasons for this difference based on the transposable element insertion histories in the rodent and primate lineages.
In rodents, noradrenergic (NE) locus coeruleus (LC) neurons are well known to express tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunoreactivity. However, due to its very low enzyme activity, NE cortical fibers do not typically express TH immunoreactivity, thus dopamine-beta-hydroxylase (DBH) immunoreactivity is commonly utilized as a marker for NE cortical fibers. In this study, we performed double and/or triple immunofluorescent staining using antibodies against TH, DBH, and/or norepinephrine transporter (NET) to investigate the altered noradrenergic TH expression of cortical fibers in citalopram (CTM) exposed rats and monoamine oxidase (MAO) A knock out (KO) mice. We have noted the following novel findings: 1) neonatal exposure to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) CTM enhanced noradrenergic TH immunoreactive fibers throughout the entire neocortex, and a few of them appeared to be hypertrophic; 2) slightly enhanced noradrenergic cortical TH immunoreactive fibers were also noted in MAO A KO mice, and many of them revealed varicosities compared to the rather smooth noradrenergic cortical TH immunoreactive fibers in wild type (WT) mice; 3) LC dendrites of MAO A KO mice exhibited beaded morphology compared to the smooth LC dendrites in WT mice. Our findings suggest that both genetic and environmental factors during early development may play a critical role in the regulation and proper function of noradrenergic TH expression in the neocortex.
norepinephrine; tyrosine hydroxylase; monoamine oxidase; neonates; antidepressants; knock out mice
The culture of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is limited, both technically and with respect to clinical potential, by the use of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) as a feeder layer. The concern over xenogeneic contaminants from the mouse feeder cells may restrict transplantation to humans and the variability in MEFs from batch-to-batch and laboratory-to-laboratory may contribute to some of the variability in experimental results. Finally, use of any feeder layer increases the work load and subsequently limits the large-scale culture of human ES cells. Thus, the development of feeder-free cultures will allow more reproducible culture conditions, facilitate scale-up and potentiate the clinical use of cells differentiated from hESC cultures. In this review, we describe various methods tested to culture cells in the absence of MEF feeder layers and other advances in eliminating xenogeneic products from the culture system.
Human embryonic stem cells; MEF; Feeder-free cell culture; Matrigel