The lysogenic state of the λ switch is exceptionally stable, still, it is capable of responding to DNA-damage and rapidly enter the lytic state. We invented an assay where PNA mediated tethering of a plasmid allowed for single molecule investigations of the effect of supercoiling on the efficiency of the epigenetic λ switch. Compared with non-supercoiled DNA, the presence of supercoils enhances the CI-mediated DNA looping probability and renders the transition between the looped and unlooped states steeper, thus increasing the Hill coefficient. Interestingly, the transition occurs exactly at the CI concentration corresponding to the minimum number of CI molecules capable of maintaining the pRM-repressed state. Based on these results we propose that supercoiling maintains the pRM-repressible state as CI concentration decline during induction and thus prevent autoregulation of cI from interfering with induction.
CI protein; PNA; cooperativity; epigenetics; supercoiling; tethered particle motion; λ switch
Uropathogenic strains of Escherichia coli establish urinary tract infections by attaching to host epithelial cells using adhesive organelles called fimbriae. Fimbriae are helix-like structures with a remarkable adaptability, offering safeguarding for bacteria exposed to changing fluid forces in the urinary tract. We challenged this property of P-fimbriae by cross-linking their subunits with shaft-specific antibodies and measuring the corresponding force response at a single organelle level. Our data show compromised extension and rewinding of P-fimbriae in the presence of antibodies and reduced fimbrial elasticity, which are important properties of fimbriae contributing to the ability of bacteria to cause urinary tract infections. The reduced elasticity found by cross-linking fimbrial subunits could thus be another assignment for antibodies; in addition to marking bacteria as foreign, antibodies physically compromise fimbrial function. We suggest that our assay and results will be a starting point for further investigations aimed at inhibiting sustained bacterial adhesion by antibodies.
Lactose permease of Escherichia coli (LacY) catalyzes symport of a galactopyranoside and an H+ via an alternating access mechanism. The transition from an inward- to an outward-facing conformation of LacY involves sugar-release followed by deprotonation. Because the transition depends intimately upon the dynamics of LacY in a bilayer environment, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations may be the only means of following the accompanying structural changes in atomic detail. We describe here MD simulations of wild-type apo LacY in phosphatidylethanolamine (POPE) lipids that features two protonation states of the critical Glu325. While the protonated system displays configurational stability, deprotonation of Glu325 causes significant structural rearrangements that bring into proximity sidechains important for H+ translocation and sugar binding and closes the internal cavity. Moreover, protonated LacY in phosphatidylcholine (DMPC) lipids shows that the observed dynamics are lipid-dependent. Together, the simulations describe early dynamics of the inward-to-outward transition of LacY that agree well with experimental data.
lactose permease; protonation states; protein-lipid interactions; MD simulations
Impaired migration of primordial germ cells during embryonic development causes hereditary gonadal hypoplasia in both sexes of Northern Finncattle and Swedish Mountain cattle. The affected gonads exhibit a lack of or, in rare cases, a reduced number of germ cells. Most affected animals present left-sided gonadal hypoplasia. However, right-sided and bilateral cases are also found. This type of gonadal hypoplasia prevails in animals with white coat colour. Previous studies indicated that gonadal hypoplasia is inherited in an autosomal recessive fashion with incomplete penetrance. In order to identify genetic regions underlying gonadal hypoplasia, a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and a copy number variation (CNV) analysis were performed with 94 animals, including 21 affected animals, using bovine 777,962 SNP arrays. The GWAS and CNV results revealed two significantly associated regions on bovine chromosomes (BTA) 29 and 6, respectively (P=2.19 x 10-13 and P=5.65 x 10-6). Subsequent cytogenetic and PCR analyses demonstrated that homozygosity of a ~500 kb chromosomal segment translocated from BTA6 to BTA29 (Cs29 allele) is the underlying genetic mechanism responsible for gonadal hypoplasia. The duplicated segment includes the KIT gene that is known to regulate the migration of germ cells and precursors of melanocytes. This duplication is also one of the two translocations associated with colour sidedness in various cattle breeds.
Inflammatory mediators have crucial roles in leukocyte recruitment and subsequent central nervous system (CNS) neuroinflammation. The extent of neuronal injury and axonal loss are associated with the degree of CNS inflammation and determine physical disability in multiple sclerosis (MS). The aim of this study was to explore possible associations between a panel of selected cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers and robust clinical and demographic parameters in a large cohort of patients with MS and controls (n = 1066) using data-driven multivariate analysis. Levels of matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9), chemokine (C–X–C motif) ligand 13 (CXCL13), osteopontin (OPN) and neurofilament-light chain (NFL) were measured by ELISA in 548 subjects comprising different MS subtypes (relapsing-remitting, secondary progressive and primary progressive), clinically isolated syndrome and persons with other neurological diseases with or without signs of inflammation/infection. Principal component analyses and orthogonal partial least squares methods were used for unsupervised and supervised interrogation of the data. Models were validated using data from a further 518 subjects in which one or more of the four selected markers were measured. There was a significant association between increased patient age and lower levels of CXCL13, MMP9 and NFL. CXCL13 levels correlated well with MMP9 in the younger age groups, but less so in older patients, and after approximately 54 years of age the levels of CXCL13 and MMP9 were consistently low. CXCL13 and MMP9 levels also correlated well with both NFL and OPN in younger patients. We demonstrate a strong effect of age on both inflammatory and neurodegenerative biomarkers in a large cohort of MS patients. The findings support an early use of adequate immunomodulatory disease modifying drugs, especially in younger patients, and may provide a biological explanation for the relative inefficacy of such treatments in older patients at later disease stages.
Carbonatites are rare, carbonate-rich magmatic rocks that make up a minute portion of the crust only, yet they are of great relevance for our understanding of crustal and mantle processes. Although they occur in all continents and from Archaean to present, the deeper plumbing system of carbonatite ring-complexes is usually poorly constrained. Here, we show that carbonatite ring-complexes can be explained by caldera-style volcanism. Our geophysical investigation of the Alnö carbonatite ring-complex in central Sweden identifies a solidified saucer-shaped magma chamber at ~3 km depth that links to surface exposures through a ring fault system. Caldera subsidence during final stages of activity caused carbonatite eruptions north of the main complex, providing the crucial element to connect plutonic and eruptive features of carbonatite magmatism. The way carbonatite magmas are stored, transported and erupt at the surface is thus comparable to known emplacement styles from silicic calderas.
Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) are a major cause of diarrheal disease worldwide. Adhesion pili (or fimbriae), such as the CFA/I (colonization factor antigen I) organelles that enable ETEC to attach efficiently to the host intestinal tract epithelium, are critical virulence factors for initiation of infection. We characterized at single organelle level the intrinsic biomechanical properties and kinetics of individual CFA/I pili, demonstrating that weak external forces (7.5 pN) are sufficient to unwind the intact helical filament of this prototypical ETEC pilus and that it quickly regains its original structure when the force is removed. While the general relationship between exertion of force and an increase in the filament length for CFA/I pili associated with diarrheal disease is analogous to that of P-pili and type 1 pili, associated with urinary tract and other infections, the biomechanical properties of these different pili differ in key quantitative details. Unique features of CFA/I pili, including the significantly lower force required for unwinding, the higher extension speed at which the pili enter a dynamic range of unwinding, and the appearance of sudden force drops during unwinding can be attributed to morphological features of CFA/I pili including weak layer-to-layer interactions between subunits on adjacent turns of the helix, and the approximately horizontal orientation of pilin subunits with respect to the filament axis. Our results indicate that ETEC CFA/I pili are flexible organelles optimized to withstand harsh motion without breaking, resulting in continued attachment to the intestinal epithelium by the pathogenic bacteria that express these pili.
Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli; unwinding; optical tweezers; fimbriae; force spectroscopy
Critically ill ICU patients commonly develop severe muscle wasting and
impaired muscle function, leading to delayed recovery, with subsequent
increased morbidity and financial costs, and decreased quality of life for
survivors. Critical illness myopathy (CIM) is a frequently observed
neuromuscular disorder in ICU patients. Sepsis, systemic corticosteroid
hormone treatment and post-synaptic neuromuscular blockade have been
forwarded as the dominating triggering factors. Recent experimental results
from our group using a unique experimental rat ICU model show that the
mechanical silencing associated with CIM is the primary triggering factor.
This study aims to unravel the mechanisms underlying CIM, and to evaluate
the effects of a specific intervention aiming at reducing mechanical
silencing in sedated and mechanically ventilated ICU patients.
Muscle gene/protein expression, post-translational modifications (PTMs),
muscle membrane excitability, muscle mass measurements, and contractile
properties at the single muscle fiber level were explored in seven deeply
sedated and mechanically ventilated ICU patients (not exposed to systemic
corticosteroid hormone treatment, post-synaptic neuromuscular blockade or
sepsis) subjected to unilateral passive mechanical loading for 10 hours per
day (2.5 hours, four times) for 9 ± 1 days.
These patients developed a phenotype considered pathognomonic of CIM; that
is, severe muscle wasting and a preferential myosin loss (P <
0.001). In addition, myosin PTMs specific to the ICU condition were observed
in parallel with an increased sarcolemmal expression and cytoplasmic
translocation of neuronal nitric oxide synthase. Passive mechanical loading
for 9 ± 1 days resulted in a 35% higher specific force (P <
0.001) compared with the unloaded leg, although it was not sufficient to
prevent the loss of muscle mass.
Mechanical silencing is suggested to be a primary mechanism underlying CIM;
that is, triggering the myosin loss, muscle wasting and myosin PTMs. The
higher neuronal nitric oxide synthase expression found in the ICU patients
and its cytoplasmic translocation are forwarded as a probable mechanism
underlying these modifications. The positive effect of passive loading on
muscle fiber function strongly supports the importance of early physical
therapy and mobilization in deeply sedated and mechanically ventilated ICU
Whether dopamine release is compensated during the presymptomatic phase of Parkinson's disease is controversial. Here we use in vivo voltammetry in the parkinsonian rat and an electrical stimulation protocol established to fatigue nigrostriatal dopaminergic neurons to investigate the plasticity of dopamine release mechanisms. Amplitudes of evoked voltammetric signals recorded in intact rat striata decreased with repetitive, high-frequency stimulation (60 Hz, every 5 min. / 60 min.). Strikingly, dopamine levels were maintained during an identical “fatiguing” protocol in 6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned (<40% denervation) striata in the absence of enhanced dopamine synthesis. In contrast, more severely lesioned striata (>55% denervation) also appeared to sustain DA release, however, this was demonstrated in the presence of enhanced synthesis. Sustained release was replicated in intact animals after irreversible blockade of the dopamine transporter via RTI-76, implicating neuronal uptake as a trigger. We further demonstrate through kinetic analysis that lesions and compromised uptake target a “long-term” (time constant of minutes) presynaptic depression, which underlies the maintenance of release. Taken together, our findings identify a denervation-induced maintenance of dopamine release that was independent of activated synthesis and driven by altered uptake. This novel neuroadaptation may contribute to early preclinical normalization of function and help resolve discrepant findings regarding compensatory changes in dopamine release during progression of the parkinsonian state.
Parkinson's disease; dopamine; compensation; release; synthesis; uptake
To describe the development of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treated with rituximab.
Clinical care for patients with rheumatologic diseases. Most were referred to academic centers for care after diagnosis (Washington University, St Louis, Missouri; Karolinska Insitute, Stockholm, Sweden; and Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Australia) while one was cared for in a neurology practice in Dallas, Texas, with consultation by an academic neurovirologist from the University of Colorado in Denver.
Four patients developing PML in the setting of rituximab therapy for RA.
Main Outcome Measures
Clinical and pathological observations.
Four patients from an estimated population of 129 000 exposed to rituximab therapy for RA are reported in whom PML developed after administration of this drug. All were women older than 50 years, commonly with Sjögren syndrome and a history of treatment for joint disease ranging from 3 to 14 years. One case had no prior biologic and minimal immunosuppressive therapy. Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy presented as a progressive neurological disorder, with diagnosis confirmed by detection of JC virus DNA in the cerebrospinal fluid or brain biopsy specimen. Two patients died in less than 1 year from PML diagnosis, while 2 remain alive after treatment withdrawal. Magnetic resonance scans and tissue evaluation confirmed the frequent development of inflammatory PML during the course of the disease.
These cases suggest an increased risk, about 1 case per 25 000 individuals, of PML in patients with RA being treated with rituximab. Inflammatory PML may occur in this setting even while CD20 counts remain low.
Voltage-dependent K+ (Kv) channels require lipid phosphates for functioning. The S4 helix, which carries the gating charges in the voltage-sensing domain (VSD), inserts into membranes while being stabilized by a protein-lipid interface in which lipid phosphates play an essential role. To examine the physical basis of the protein-lipid interface in the absence of lipid phosphates, we performed molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of a KvAP S4 variant (S4mut) in bilayers with and without lipid phosphates. We find that in dioleoyltrimethylammoniumpropane (DOTAP) bilayers lacking lipid phosphates, the gating charges are solvated by anionic counterions and, hence, lack the bilayer support provided by phosphate-containing palmitoyloleoylglycerophosphocholine (POPC) bilayers. The result is a water-permeable bilayer with a significantly smaller deformations around the peptide. Together, these results provide an explanation for the non-functionality of VSDs in terms of a destabilizing protein-lipid interface.
molecular dynamics simulations; dioleoyltrimethylammoniumpropane (DOTAP); voltage-dependent K+ (Kv) channels; protein-lipid interactions
Male infertility is an increasing problem in all domestic species including man. Localization and identification of genes involved in defects causing male infertility provide valuable information of specific events in sperm development. Sperm development is a complex process, where diploid spermatogonia develop into haploid, highly specialized spermatozoa. Correct expression and function of various genes and their protein products are required for production of fertile sperm. We have identified an infertility defect in Finnish Yorkshire boars caused by spermatogenic arrest. The aim of this study was to locate the disease associated region using genome wide screen with the PorcineSNP60 Beadchip and identify the causal mutation by candidate gene approach.
In the Finnish Yorkshire pig population the spermatogenic arrest (SA) defect appears to be of genetic origin and causes severe degeneration of germ cells and total absence of spermatozoa. Genome wide scan with the PorcineSNP60 Beadchip localized the SA defect to porcine chromosome 12 in a 2 Mbp region. Sequencing of a candidate gene Tex14 revealed a 51 bp insertion within exon 27, which caused differential splicing of the exon and created a premature translation stop codon. The expression of Tex14 was markedly down regulated in the testis of a SA affected boar compared to control boars and no protein product was identified by Western blotting. The SA insertion sequence was also found within intron 27 in all analyzed animals, thus the insertion appears to be a possible duplication event.
In this study we report the identification of a causal mutation for infertility caused by spermatogenic arrest at an early meiotic phase. Our results highlight the role of TEX14 specifically in spermatogenesis and the importance of specific genomic remodeling events as causes for inherited defects.
Male infertility is an increasing problem in all domestic species including man. Localization and identification of genes involved in defects causing male infertility provide valuable information of specific events in sperm development. Correct condensation of the sperm head and development of the acrosome are required for fertile sperm. In the Finnish Yorkshire pig population a knobbed acrosome defect (KAD) has been reported which appears to be of genetic origin. In previous studies we have shown that a large number of affected spermatozoa have a cystic swelling anterior to the apical part of the acrosome.
Characterization of the knobbed acrosome affected sperm revealed that both the acrosomal granules and chromatin are affected. This type of KAD appears to be a previously unknown and serious form of the defect. A genome wide scan with PorcineSNP60 Genotyping BeadChip defined the KAD associated region within 0.7 Mbp on porcine chromosome 15. Two genes, STK17b and HECW2, located within this region were sequenced. The expression of these genes appeared comparable in KA-affected and control boars. The known function of HECW2 in acrosome development highlighted this gene as a good candidate responsible for the KAD. One nonsynonymous SNP was identified within the HECW2 gene. However, as this mutation was found in homozygous state in individuals with normal sperm, this is not likely to be the causal mutation.
In this study we identified two candidate genes for a severe defect affecting both the sperm acrosome and chromatin that causes infertility. One of these genes, HECW2, plays an important role in ubiquitination, a prerequisite for chromatin remodelling and acrosome formation, highlighting the involvement of this gene in the knobbed acrosome defect and male infertility.
Congenital malformations resulting in late abortions and stillbirths affect the economic wellbeing of producers and the welfare of cattle in breeding programs. An extremely high incidence of stillbirths of “half-sized” calves of normal karyotype and uninflated lungs was diagnosed in the progeny of the Finnish Ayrshire (Bos taurus) bull - YN51. No other visible anatomical abnormalities were apparent in the stillborn calves. We herein describe the positional identification of a 110 kb microdeletion in the maternally imprinted PEG3 domain that results in a loss of paternal MIMT1 expression and causes late term abortion and stillbirth in cattle. Using the BovineSNP50 BeadChip we performed a genome-wide half-sib linkage analysis that identified a 13.3 Mb associated region on BTA18 containing the maternally imprinted PEG3 domain. Within this cluster we found a 110 kb microdeletion that removes a part of the non-protein coding MER1 repeat containing imprinted transcript 1 gene (MIMT1). To confirm the elimination of gene expression in calves inheriting this deletion, we examined the mRNA levels of the three maternally imprinted genes within the PEG3 domain, in brain and cotyledon tissue collected from eight fetuses sired by the proband. None of the fetuses that inherited the microdeletion expressed MIMT1 in either tissue. The mutation, when inherited from the sire, is semi-lethal for his progeny with an observed mortality rate of 85%. The survival of 15% is presumably due to the incomplete silencing of maternally inherited MIMT1 alleles. We designed a PCR-based assay to confirm the existence of the microdeletion in the MIMT1 region that can be used to assist cattle breeders in preventing the stillbirths.
The transfer of polypeptide segments into lipid bilayers to form transmembrane helices represents the crucial first step in cellular membrane protein folding and assembly. This process is driven by complex and poorly understood atomic interactions of peptides with the lipid bilayer environment. The lack of suitable experimental techniques that can resolve these processes both at atomic resolution and nanosecond timescales has spurred the development of computational techniques. In this review, we summarize the significant progress achieved in the last few years in elucidating the partitioning of peptides into lipid bilayer membranes using atomic detail molecular dynamics simulations. Indeed, partitioning simulations can now provide a wealth of structural and dynamic information. Furthermore, we show that peptide-induced bilayer distortions, insertion pathways, transfer free energies, and kinetic insertion barriers are now accurate enough to complement experiments. Further advances in simulation methods and force field parameter accuracy promise to turn molecular dynamics simulations into a powerful tool for investigating a wide range of membrane active peptide phenomena.
Biophysical techniques in membrane research; Membrane structure (protein and lipid diffusion); Structure of membrane proteins; Peptide partitioning; Water to bilayer transfer of peptides
Glatiramer acetate (GA) and interferon-beta (INFb) are first-line disease modifying drugs for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). Treatment with INFb is associated with a significant increase in health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) in the first 12 months. It is not known whether HR-QoL increases during treatment with GA.
197 RRMS patients, 106 without and 91 with prior immunomodulation/immunosuppression, were studied for HR-QoL (Leeds Multiple Sclerosis-QoL [LMS-QoL] scale, score range 0 - 32), fatigue (Fatigue Impact Scale [FIS]) and depressed mood (Beck Depression Inventory-Short Form [BDI-SF]) at baseline and 6 and 12 months after start of GA treatment.
At 6 and 12 months mean LMS-QoL scores were significantly increased in the treatment-naive patient group (p < 0.001), not in the pre-treated group. At month 12 43% of treatment-naïve patients had improved HR-QoL (increase LMS-QoL score 3 or more points) (p < 0.001). Likewise, mean FIS scores were decreased at months 6 and 12 in the treatment-naïve group (p < 0.01), not in the pre-treated group. In both groups mean BDI-SF scores did not change. No demographic or clinical baseline factor was predictive of HR-QoL increase. HR-QoL changes were zero to negative for patients who had discontinued GA before month 12 (28.4% of patients).
In RRMS patients without prior immunomodulation/immunosuppression treatment with GA was associated with an increase in HR-QoL in the first 6 months, that was sustained at 12 months. In 4 out of 10 patients HR-QoL improved. Increase in HR-QoL was associated with decrease in fatigue.
Several studies have been published where sperm plasma membrane integrity correlated to fertility. In this study we describe a simple fluorometer-based assay where we monitored the fluorescence intensity of artificially membrane-ruptured spermatozoa with a fixed time staining with fluorescent DNA dyes.
Membrane-impermeant fluorescent dyes Hoechst 33258 (H258) and propidium iodide (PI) were used to measure the fluorescence of the nucleus in artificially membrane ruptured spermatozoa and membrane-permeant dye Hoechst 33342 (H342) was used to measure fluorescence of intact spermatozoa. The concentration of spermatozoa in insemination doses varied from 31.2 × 106/ml to 50 × 106/ml and the average value was 35 × 106/ml. Each boar was represented by three consecutive ejaculates, collected at weekly intervals. Nonreturn rate within 60 days of first insemination (NR %) and litter size (total number of piglets born) of multiparous farrowings were used as fertility measures.
Sperm fluorescence intensity of H258 and H342, but not the fluorescence intensity of PI-stained spermatozoa correlated significantly with the litter size of multiparous farrowings, values being r = - 0.68 (P < 0.01) for H258, r = - 0.69 (P < 0.01) for H342 and r = - 0.38, (P = 0.11) for PI.
The increase in fluorescence values of membrane-ruptured H258 and unruptured H342-stained spermatozoa in boar AI doses can be associated with smaller litter size after AI. This finding indicates that the fluorescence properties of the sperm nucleus could be used to select for AI doses with greater fertilizing potential.