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1.  Developmental Role of Zebrafish Protease-Activated Receptor 1 (PAR1) in the Cardio-Vascular System 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e42131.
Thrombin receptor, F2R or PAR1 is a G-protein coupled receptor, located in the membrane of endothelial cells. It has been initially found to transduce signals in hemostasis, but recently also known to act in cancer and in vascular development. Mouse embryos lacking PAR1 function die from hemorrhages with varying frequency at midgestation. We have performed a survey of potential PAR1 homologs in the zebrafish genome and identified a teleost ortholog of mammalian PAR1. Knockdown of par1 function in zebrafish embryos demonstrates a requirement for Par1 in cardio-vascular development. Furthermore, we show that function of Par1 requires the presence of a phylogenetically conserved proteolytic cleavage site and a second intracellular domain. Altogether our results demonstrate a high degree of conservation of PAR1 proteins in the vertebrate lineage in respect to amino acid sequence as well as protein function.
PMCID: PMC3408399  PMID: 22860064
2.  Cell number and transfection volume dependent peptide nucleic acid antisense activity by cationic delivery methods 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2012;3(1):22-30.
Efficient intracellular delivery is essential for high activity of nucleic acids based therapeutics, including antisense agents. Several strategies have been developed and practically all rely on auxiliary transfection reagents such as cationic lipids, cationic polymers and cell penetrating peptides as complexing agents and carriers of the nucleic acids. However, uptake mechanisms remain rather poorly understood, and protocols always require optimization of transfection parameters. Considering that cationic transfection complexes bind to and thus may up-concentrate on the cell surface, we have now quantitatively compared the cellular activity (in the pLuc705 HeLa cell splice correction system) of PNA antisense oligomers using lipoplex delivery of cholesterol- and bisphosphonate-PNA conjugates, polyplex delivery via a PNA-polyethyleneimine conjugate and CPP delivery via a PNA-octaarginine conjugate upon varying the cell culture transfection volume (and cell density) at fixed PNA concentration. The results show that for all delivery modalities the cellular antisense activity increases (less than proportionally) with increasing volume (in some cases accompanied with increased toxicity), and that this effect is more pronounced at higher cell densities. These results emphasize that transfection efficacy using cationic carriers is critically dependent on parameters such as transfection volume and cell density, and that these must be taken into account when comparing different delivery regimes.
PMCID: PMC3368813  PMID: 22679530
antisense; cellular delivery; lipoplex; octaarginine (CPP); peptide nucleic acid (PNA); polyethyleneimine (PEI)
3.  All across Africa: highly individual migration routes of Eleonora's falcon 
Eleonora's falcon (Falco eleonorae) is a rare raptor species that delays its breeding period until late summer to feed its young with passerines at the peak of autumn migration. Since the 1950s, this slender winged falcon has been believed to migrate along a historical route via the Red Sea to its main wintering area in Madagascar. In our study, we used satellite telemetry to investigate the real migration route of Eleonora's falcons and found that the species displayed a highly individual migration pattern. Furthermore, juvenile falcons migrated via West Africa to Madagascar and two juveniles could be tracked during spring migration and to their summering areas in East and West Africa. As juveniles migrated independently of adults, we discuss inherited navigation strategies forming part of a complex navigation system. We propose the idea of an orientation mechanism that naive falcons could apply during their long-distance migration towards their faraway wintering area located in the open ocean.
PMCID: PMC2605830  PMID: 18765348
individual migration pattern; inherited navigation strategies; long-distance migration; navigation system; orientation mechanisms; wintering and summering of Eleonora's Falcon
4.  C2 Domain Protein MIN1 Promotes Eyespot Organization in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii▿ †  
Eukaryotic Cell  2008;7(12):2100-2112.
Assembly and asymmetric localization of the photosensory eyespot in the biflagellate, unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii requires coordinated organization of photoreceptors in the plasma membrane and pigment granule/thylakoid membrane layers in the chloroplast. min1 (mini-eyed) mutant cells contain abnormally small, disorganized eyespots in which the chloroplast envelope and plasma membrane are no longer apposed. The MIN1 gene, identified here by phenotypic rescue, encodes a protein with an N-terminal C2 domain and a C-terminal LysM domain separated by a transmembrane sequence. This novel domain architecture led to the hypothesis that MIN1 is in the plasma membrane or the chloroplast envelope, where membrane association of the C2 domain promotes proper eyespot organization. Mutation of conserved C2 domain loop residues disrupted association of the MIN1 C2 domain with the chloroplast envelope in moss cells but did not abolish eyespot assembly in Chlamydomonas. In min1 null cells, channelrhodopsin-1 (ChR1) photoreceptor levels were reduced, indicating a role for MIN1 in ChR1 expression and/or stability. However, ChR1 localization was only minimally disturbed during photoautotrophic growth of min1 cells, conditions under which the pigment granule layers are disorganized. The data are consistent with the hypothesis that neither MIN1 nor proper organization of the plastidic components of the eyespot is essential for localization of ChR1.
PMCID: PMC2593190  PMID: 18849467
5.  Photoperiodic response may facilitate adaptation to climatic change in long-distance migratory birds. 
Recent climatic change is causing spring events in northern temperate regions to occur earlier in the year. As a result, migratory birds returning from tropical wintering sites may arrive too late to take full advantage of the food resources on their breeding grounds. Under these conditions, selection will favour earlier spring arrival that could be achieved by overwintering closer to the breeding grounds. However, it is unknown how daylength conditions at higher latitudes will affect the timing of life cycle stages. Here, we show in three species of Palaearctic-African migratory songbirds that a shortening of migration distance induces an advancement of springtime activities. Birds exposed to daylengths simulating migration to and wintering in southern Europe considerably advanced their spring migratory activity and testicular development. This response to the novel photoperiodic environment will enable birds wintering further north to advance spring arrival and to start breeding earlier. Thus, phenotypic flexibility in response to the photoperiod may reinforce selection for shorter migration distance if spring temperatures continue to rise.
PMCID: PMC1698020  PMID: 12952632
6.  Removal of mismatched bases from synthetic genes by enzymatic mismatch cleavage 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(6):e58.
The success of long polynucleotide de novo synthesis is largely dependent on the quality and purity of the oligonucleotides used. Generally, the primary product of any synthesis reaction is directly cloned, and clones with correct products have to be identified. In this study, a novel strategy has been established for removing undesired sequence variants from primary gene synthesis products. Single base-pair mismatches, insertions and deletions were cleaved with specific endonucleases. Three different enzymes—T7 endonuclease I, T4 endonuclease VII and Escherichia coli endonuclease V—have been tested. As a model, a synthetic polynucleotide encoding the bacterial chloramphenicol-acetyltransferase (cat) was synthesized using different methods for one step polynucleotide synthesis based on ligation of oligonucleotides. The influence of enzymatic mismatch cleavage (EMC) as an error correction step on the frequency of correct products was analyzed by functional cloning of the synthetic cat and comparing the error rate with that of untreated products. Significant reduction of all mutation types was observed. Statistical analysis revealed that the T4 and E.coli endonucleases reduced the occurrence of mutations in cloned synthetic gene products. The EMC treatment was successful especially in the removal of deletions and insertions from the primary ligation products.
PMCID: PMC1072809  PMID: 15800209

Results 1-7 (7)