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1.  Prolonged transition time between colostrum and mature milk in a bear, the giant panda, Ailuropoda melanoleuca 
Royal Society Open Science  2015;2(10):150395.
Bears produce the most altricial neonates of any placental mammal. We hypothesized that the transition from colostrum to mature milk in bears reflects a temporal and biochemical adaptation for altricial development and immune protection. Comparison of bear milks with milks of other eutherians yielded distinctive protein profiles. Proteomic and metabolomic analysis of serial milk samples collected from six giant pandas showed a prolonged transition from colostrum to main-phase lactation over approximately 30 days. Particularly striking are the persistence or sequential appearance of adaptive and innate immune factors. The endurance of immunoglobulin G suggests an unusual duration of trans-intestinal absorption of maternal antibodies, and is potentially relevant to the underdeveloped lymphoid system of giant panda neonates. Levels of certain milk oligosaccharides known to exert anti-microbial activities and/or that are conducive to the development of neonatal gut microbiomes underwent an almost complete changeover around days 20–30 postpartum, coincident with the maturation of the protein profile. A potential metabolic marker of starvation was detected, the prominence of which may reflect the natural postpartum period of anorexia in giant panda mothers. Early lactation in giant pandas, and possibly in other ursids, appears to be adapted for the unique requirements of unusually altricial eutherian neonates.
doi:10.1098/rsos.150395
PMCID: PMC4632522  PMID: 26587250
giant panda; Ailuropoda melanoleuca; milk; colostrum; proteins; oligosaccharides
2.  Diversity in the structures and ligand-binding sites of nematode fatty acid and retinol-binding proteins revealed by Na-FAR-1 from Necator americanus 
Biochemical Journal  2015;471(Pt 3):403-414.
Necator americanus fatty acid and retinol-binding protein-1 (Na-FAR-1) is an abundantly expressed FAR from a parasitic hookworm. The present work describes its tissue distribution, structure and ligand-binding characteristics and shows that Na-FAR-1 expands to transport multiple FA molecules in its internal cavity.
Fatty acid and retinol-binding proteins (FARs) comprise a family of unusual α-helix rich lipid-binding proteins found exclusively in nematodes. They are secreted into host tissues by parasites of plants, animals and humans. The structure of a FAR protein from the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is available, but this protein [C. elegans FAR-7 (Ce-FAR-7)] is from a subfamily of FARs that does not appear to be important at the host/parasite interface. We have therefore examined [Necator americanus FAR-1 (Na-FAR-1)] from the blood-feeding intestinal parasite of humans, N. americanus. The 3D structure of Na-FAR-1 in its ligand-free and ligand-bound forms, determined by NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography respectively, reveals an α-helical fold similar to Ce-FAR-7, but Na-FAR-1 possesses a larger and more complex internal ligand-binding cavity and an additional C-terminal α-helix. Titration of apo-Na-FAR-1 with oleic acid, analysed by NMR chemical shift perturbation, reveals that at least four distinct protein–ligand complexes can be formed. Na-FAR-1 and possibly other FARs may have a wider repertoire for hydrophobic ligand binding, as confirmed in the present study by our finding that a range of neutral and polar lipids co-purify with the bacterially expressed recombinant protein. Finally, we show by immunohistochemistry that Na-FAR-1 is present in adult worms with a tissue distribution indicative of possible roles in nutrient acquisition by the parasite and in reproduction in the male.
doi:10.1042/BJ20150068
PMCID: PMC4613501  PMID: 26318523
fatty acid-binding protein; Necator americanus; nematode; nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR); parasite; protein structure; retinol-binding protein; X-ray
3.  Useable diffraction data from a multiple microdomain-containing crystal of Ascaris suum As-p18 fatty-acid-binding protein using a microfocus beamline 
As-p18, an unusual fatty-acid-binding protein from a parasitic nematode, was expressed in bacteria, purified and crystallized. The use of a microfocus beamline was essential for data collection.
As-p18 is a fatty-acid-binding protein from the parasitic nematode Ascaris suum. Although it exhibits sequence similarity to mammalian intracellular fatty-acid-binding proteins, it contains features that are unique to nematodes. Crystals were obtained, but initial diffraction data analysis revealed that they were composed of a number of ‘microdomains’. Interpretable data could only be collected using a microfocus beamline with a beam size of 12 × 8 µm.
doi:10.1107/S1744309112026553
PMCID: PMC3412778  PMID: 22869127
fatty-acid-binding proteins; parasitic nematodes; Ascaris suum; microfocus beamlines
4.  Two crystal forms of a helix-rich fatty acid- and retinol-binding protein, Na-FAR-1, from the parasitic nematode Necator americanus  
Na-FAR-1, a fatty acid- and retinol-binding protein, was expressed in bacteria, purified and crystallized. Crystals grew in two different morphologies under the same conditions.
Na-FAR-1 is an unusual α-helix-rich fatty acid- and retinol-binding protein from Necator americanus, a blood-feeding intestinal parasitic nematode of humans. It belongs to the FAR protein family, which is unique to nematodes; no structural information is available to date for FAR proteins from parasites. Crystals were obtained with two different morphologies that corresponded to different space groups. Crystal form 1 exhibited space group P432 (unit-cell parameters a = b = c = 120.80 Å, α = β = γ = 90°) and diffracted to 2.5 Å resolution, whereas crystal form 2 exhibited space group F23 (unit-cell parameters a = b = c = 240.38 Å, α = β = γ = 90°) and diffracted to 3.2 Å resolution. Crystal form 2 showed signs of significant twinning.
doi:10.1107/S1744309112023597
PMCID: PMC3388935  PMID: 22750878
fatty acid- and retinol-binding proteins; parasitic nematodes; Necator americanus; Na-FAR-1

Results 1-4 (4)