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1.  Molecular analysis of photic inhibition of blood-feeding in Anopheles gambiae 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:23.
Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes exhibit an endophilic, nocturnal blood feeding behavior. Despite the importance of light as a regulator of malaria transmission, our knowledge on the molecular interactions between environmental cues, the circadian oscillators and the host seeking and feeding systems of the Anopheles mosquitoes is limited.
In the present study, we show that the blood feeding behavior of mosquitoes is under circadian control and can be modulated by light pulses, both in a clock dependent and in an independent manner. Short light pulses (~2–5 min) in the dark phase can inhibit the blood-feeding propensity of mosquitoes momentarily in a clock independent manner, while longer durations of light stimulation (~1–2 h) can induce a phase advance in blood-feeding propensity in a clock dependent manner. The temporary feeding inhibition after short light pulses may reflect a masking effect of light, an unknown mechanism which is known to superimpose on the true circadian regulation. Nonetheless, the shorter light pulses resulted in the differential regulation of a variety of genes including those implicated in the circadian control, suggesting that light induced masking effects also involve clock components. Light pulses (both short and long) also regulated genes implicated in feeding as well as different physiological processes like metabolism, transport, immunity and protease digestions. RNAi-mediated gene silencing assays of the light pulse regulated circadian factors timeless, cryptochrome and three takeout homologues significantly up-regulated the mosquito's blood-feeding propensity. In contrast, gene silencing of light pulse regulated olfactory factors down-regulated the mosquito's propensity to feed on blood.
Our study show that the mosquito's feeding behavior is under circadian control. Long and short light pulses can induce inhibition of blood-feeding through circadian and unknown mechanisms, respectively, that involve the chemosensory system.
PMCID: PMC2646746  PMID: 19087335
2.  The role of polyamines in protein-dependent hypoxic tolerance of Drosophila 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:22.
Chronic hypoxia is a major component of ischemic diseases such as stroke or myocardial infarction. Drosophila is more tolerant to hypoxia than most mammalian species. It is considered as a useful model organism to identify new mechanisms of hypoxic tolerance. The hypoxic tolerance of flies has previously been reported to be enhanced by low protein diets. This study analyses the mechanisms involved.
Feeding adult Drosophila on a yeast diet dramatically reduced their longevities under chronic hypoxic conditions (5% O2). Mean and maximum longevities became close to the values observed for starving flies. The action of dietary yeast was mimicked by a whole casein hydrolysate and by anyone of the 20 natural amino acids that compose proteins. It was mimicked by amino acid intermediates of the urea cycle such as L-citrulline and L-ornithine, and by polyamines (putrescine, spermidine and spermine). α-difluoromethylornithine, a specific inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase, partially protected hypoxic flies from amino acid toxicity but not from polyamine toxicity. N1-guanyl-1,7 diaminoheptane, a specific inhibitor of eIF5A hypusination, partially relieved the toxicities of both amino acids and polyamines.
Dietary amino acids reduced the longevity of chronically hypoxic flies fed on a sucrose diet. Pharmacological evidence suggests that the synthesis of polyamines and the hypusination of eIF5A contributed to the life-shortening effect of dietary amino acids.
PMCID: PMC2613936  PMID: 19055734
3.  Hepatic steatosis in n-3 fatty acid depleted mice: focus on metabolic alterations related to tissue fatty acid composition 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:21.
There are only few data relating the metabolic consequences of feeding diets very low in n-3 fatty acids. This experiment carried out in mice aims at studying the impact of dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) depletion on hepatic metabolism.
n-3 PUFA depletion leads to a significant decrease in body weight despite a similar caloric intake or adipose tissue weight. n-3 PUFA depleted mice exhibit hypercholesterolemia (total, HDL, and LDL cholesterol) as well as an increase in hepatic cholesteryl ester and triglycerides content. Fatty acid pattern is profoundly modified in hepatic phospholipids and triglycerides. The decrease in tissue n-3/n-6 PUFA ratio correlates with steatosis. Hepatic mRNA content of key factors involved in lipid metabolism suggest a decreased lipogenesis (SREBP-1c, FAS, PPARγ), and an increased β-oxidation (CPT1, PPARα and PGC1α) without modification of fatty acid esterification (DGAT2, GPAT1), secretion (MTTP) or intracellular transport (L-FABP). Histological analysis reveals alterations of liver morphology, which can not be explained by inflammatory or oxidative stress. However, several proteins involved in the unfolded protein response are decreased in depleted mice.
n-3 PUFA depletion leads to important metabolic alterations in murine liver. Steatosis occurs through a mechanism independent of the shift between β-oxidation and lipogenesis. Moreover, long term n-3 PUFA depletion decreases the expression of factors involved in the unfolded protein response, suggesting a lower protection against endoplasmic reticulum stress in hepatocytes upon n-3 PUFA deficiency.
PMCID: PMC2612019  PMID: 19046413
4.  Blood pressures, heart rate and locomotor activity during salt loading and angiotensin II infusion in protease-activated receptor 2 (PAR2) knockout mice 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:20.
In this study we used radiotelemetry to measure hemodynamic variables and locomotor activity in conscious unrestrained male Protease-Activated Receptor 2 (PAR-2) knockout mice in order to provide a detailed assessment of their blood pressure phenotype. In addition we tested for an influence of PAR-2 on salt-sensitivity (8% versus 0.5% NaCl diet, 2.5 weeks) and angiotensin II-induced hypertension (1 μg Ile5-angiotensin II/kg/min versus 0.25 μl/h saline, 2 weeks).
Systolic arterial pressures of PAR-2 -/- (129 ± 1 mmHg, n = 21, P < 0.05) were statistically higher than those of C57BL/6J (124 ± 1 mmHg, n = 33) throughout the 24 h period under baseline conditions. Pulse pressures in PAR-2 -/- were also significantly elevated (33 ± 1 mmHg versus 30 ± 1 mmHg, P < 0.05), whereas diastolic arterial pressures were not. Heart rates in PAR-2 -/- were not significantly different than controls, with the exception that heart rate of PAR-2 -/- was 23 beats per min higher than controls (P < 0.001) during periods of nocturnal activity. The diurnal pattern and intensity of locomotor activity were not found to differ between strains. A high salt diet led to increased blood pressures, decreased heart rates, increased time spent active and decreased intensity levels of locomotor activity. Salt-induced changes in systolic and pulse pressures in PAR-2 -/- were less than in C57B/6J. Angiotensin II treatment increased pressures, decreased heart rates, decreased time spent active and decreased intensity levels of activity of PAR-2 -/-, all to the same extent as C57BL/6J. A trend of lower blood pressures during the middle period of angiotensin II treatment period was observed in individual PAR-2 -/-.
The data indicated gene knockout of PAR-2 was associated with a modest change in blood pressure phenotype. PAR-2 -/- mice exhibited moderate elevation of systolic arterial and pulse pressures, yet no increased diastolic arterial pressure, no increased blood pressure responses to high salt diet and a subtle difference in the time course of the blood pressure responses to angiotensin II infusion.
PMCID: PMC2573878  PMID: 18939990
5.  Butyrate ingestion improves hepatic glycogen storage in the re-fed rat 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:19.
Butyrate naturally produced by intestinal fiber fermentation is the main nutrient for colonocytes, but the metabolic effect of the fraction reaching the liver is not totally known. After glycogen hepatic depletion in the 48-hour fasting rat, we monitored the effect of (butyrate 1.90 mg + glucose 14.0 mg)/g body weight versus isocaloric (glucose 18.2 mg/g) or isoglucidic (glucose 14.0 mg/g) control force-feeding on in vivo changes in hepatic glycogen and ATP contents evaluated ex vivo by NMR in the isolated and perfused liver.
The change in glycogen was biphasic with (i) an initial linear period where presence of butyrate in the diet increased (P = 0.05) the net synthesis rate (0.20 ± 0.01 μmol/min.g-1 liver wet weight, n = 15) versus glucose 14.0 mg/g only (0.16 ± 0.01 μmol/min.g-1 liver ww, n = 14), and (ii) a plateau of glycogen store followed by a depletion. Butyrate delayed the establishment of the equilibrium between glycogenosynthetic and glycogenolytic fluxes from the 6th to 8th hour post-feeding. The maximal glycogen content was then 97.27 ± 10.59 μmol/g liver ww (n = 7) at the 8th hour, which was significantly higher than with the isocaloric control diet (64.34 ± 8.49 μmol/g, n = 12, P = 0.03) and the isoglucidic control one (49.11 ± 6.35 μmol/g liver ww, n = 6, P = 0.003). After butyrate ingestion, ATP content increased from 0.95 ± 0.29 to a plateau of 2.14 ± 0.23 μmol/g liver ww at the 8th hour post-feeding (n = 8) [P = 0.04 versus isoglucidic control diet (1.45 ± 0.19 μmol/g, n = 8) but was not different from the isocaloric control diet (1.70 ± 0.18 μmol/g, n = 12)].
The main hepatic effect of butyrate is a sparing effect on glycogen storage explained (i) by competition between butyrate and glucose oxidation, glucose being preferentially directed to glycogenosynthesis during the post-prandial state; and (ii) by a likely reduced glycogenolysis from the newly synthesized glycogen. This first demonstration of the improvement of liver glycogen storage by acute butyrate supply may be an important contribution to explaining the beneficial effects on glucose homeostasis of nutritional supply increasing butyrate amount such as fiber diets.
PMCID: PMC2569010  PMID: 18847460
6.  Co-up-regulation of three P450 genes in response to permethrin exposure in permethrin resistant house flies, Musca domestica 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:18.
Insects may use various biochemical pathways to enable them to tolerate the lethal action of insecticides. For example, increased cytochrome P450 detoxification is known to play an important role in many insect species. Both constitutively increased expression (overexpression) and induction of P450s are thought to be responsible for increased levels of detoxification of insecticides. However, unlike constitutively overexpressed P450 genes, whose expression association with insecticide resistance has been extensively studied, the induction of P450s is less well characterized in insecticide resistance. The current study focuses on the characterization of individual P450 genes that are induced in response to permethrin treatment in permethrin resistant house flies.
The expression of 3 P450 genes, CYP4D4v2, CYP4G2, and CYP6A38, was co-up-regulated by permethrin treatment in permethrin resistant ALHF house flies in a time and dose-dependent manner. Comparison of the deduced protein sequences of these three P450s from resistant ALHF and susceptible aabys and CS house flies revealed identical protein sequences. Genetic linkage analysis located CYP4D4v2 and CYP6A38 on autosome 5, corresponding to the linkage of P450-mediated resistance in ALHF, whereas CYP4G2 was located on autosome 3, where the major insecticide resistance factor(s) for ALHF had been mapped but no P450 genes reported prior to this study.
Our study provides the first direct evidence that multiple P450 genes are co-up-regulated in permethrin resistant house flies through the induction mechanism, which increases overall expression levels of P450 genes in resistant house flies. Taken together with the significant induction of CYP4D4v2, CYP4G2, and CYP6A38 expression by permethrin only in permethrin resistant house flies and the correlation of the linkage of the genes with resistance and/or P450-mediated resistance in resistant ALHF house flies, this study sheds new light on the functional importance of P450 genes in response to insecticide treatment, detoxification of insecticides, the adaptation of insects to their environment, and the evolution of insecticide resistance.
PMCID: PMC2567968  PMID: 18817570
7.  Epigenetic and phenotypic changes result from a continuous pre and post natal dietary exposure to phytoestrogens in an experimental population of mice 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:17.
Developmental effects of exposure to endocrine disruptors can influence adult characters in mammals, but could also have evolutionary consequences. The aim of this study was to simulate an environmental exposure of an experimental population of mice to high amounts of nutritional phytoestrogens and to evaluate parameters of relevance for evolutionary change in the offspring. The effect of a continuous pre- and post-natal exposure to high levels of dietary isoflavones was evaluated on sexual maturity, morphometric parameters and DNA methylation status in mice. Adult mice male/female couples were fed ad libitum either with control diet (standard laboratory chow) or ISF diet (control diet plus a soy isoflavone extract at 2% (w/w) that contained the phytoestrogens genistein and daidzein). In the offspring we measured: i) the onset of vaginal opening (sexual maturation) in females, ii) weight and size in all pups at 7, 14, 21 and 42 days post-natal (dpn) and iii) DNA methylation patterns in skeletal α-actin (Acta1), estrogen receptor-α and c-fos in adults (42 dpn).
Vaginal opening was advanced in female pups in the ISF group, from 31.6 ± 0.75 dpn to 25.7 ± 0.48. No differences in size or weight at ages 7, 14 or 21 dpn were detected between experimental groups. Nevertheless, at age 42 dpn reduced size and weight were observed in ISF pups, in addition to suppression of normal gender differences in weight seen in the control group (males heavier that females). Also, natural differences seen in DNA methylation at Acta1 promoter in the offspring originated in the control group were suppressed in the ISF group. Acta1 is known to be developmentally regulated and related to morphomotric features.
This study demonstrates in mammals that individuals from a population subjected to a high consumption of isoflavones can show alterations in characters that may be of importance from an evolutionary perspective, such as epigenetic and morphometric characters or sexual maturation, a life history character.
PMCID: PMC2556694  PMID: 18793434
8.  Why we should use simpler models if the data allow this: relevance for ANOVA designs in experimental biology 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:16.
Analysis of variance (ANOVA) is a common statistical technique in physiological research, and often one or more of the independent/predictor variables such as dose, time, or age, can be treated as a continuous, rather than a categorical variable during analysis – even if subjects were randomly assigned to treatment groups. While this is not common, there are a number of advantages of such an approach, including greater statistical power due to increased precision, a simpler and more informative interpretation of the results, greater parsimony, and transformation of the predictor variable is possible.
An example is given from an experiment where rats were randomly assigned to receive either 0, 60, 180, or 240 mg/L of fluoxetine in their drinking water, with performance on the forced swim test as the outcome measure. Dose was treated as either a categorical or continuous variable during analysis, with the latter analysis leading to a more powerful test (p = 0.021 vs. p = 0.159). This will be true in general, and the reasons for this are discussed.
There are many advantages to treating variables as continuous numeric variables if the data allow this, and this should be employed more often in experimental biology. Failure to use the optimal analysis runs the risk of missing significant effects or relationships.
PMCID: PMC2496911  PMID: 18644134
9.  The level of hypotension during hemorrhagic shock is a major determinant of the post-resuscitation systemic inflammatory response: an experimental study 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:15.
To evaluate whether the level of hypotension during hemorrhagic shock may influence the oxidative and inflammatory responses developed during post-ischemic resuscitation.
Fifteen rabbits were equally allocated into three groups: sham-operated (group sham); bled within 30 minutes to mean arterial pressure (MAP) of 40 mmHg (group shock-40); bled within 30 minutes to MAP of 30 mmHg (group shock-30). Shock was maintained for 60 min. Resuscitation was performed by reinfusing shed blood with two volumes of Ringer's lactate and blood was sampled for estimation of serum levels aminotransferases, creatinine, TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, malondialdehyde (MDA) and total antioxidant status (TAS) and for the determination of oxidative burst of polymorhonuclears (PMNs) and mononuclear cells (MCs).
Serum AST of group shock-30 was higher than that of group shock-40 at 60 and 120 minutes after start of resuscitation; serum creatinine of group shock-30 was higher than group shock-40 at 120 minutes. Measured cytokines, MDA and cellular oxidative burst of groups, shock-40 and shock-30 were higher than group sham within the first 60 minutes after start of resuscitation. Serum concentrations of IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α of group shock-30 were higher than group shock-40 at 120 minutes (p < 0.05). No differences were found between two groups regarding serum MDA and TAS and oxidative burst on PMNs and MCs but both groups were different to group sham.
The level of hypotension is a major determinant of the severity of hepatic and renal dysfunction and of the inflammatory response arising during post-ischemic hemorrhagic shock resuscitation. These findings deserve further evaluation in the clinical setting.
PMCID: PMC2483989  PMID: 18638370
10.  Male silver eels mature by swimming 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:14.
If European silver eels are prevented from reproductive migration, they remain in a prepubertal stage by dopaminergic inhibition of pituitary activity. Because this inhibition is likely a requirement for an extended female growth stage, we tested if it is sex-specific by subjecting both sexes to stimulation by GnRHa (Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone agonist) – injection or 3-months swimming in seawater.
In contrast to females, males showed a two- to three-fold higher LHβ (luteinising hormone β subunit) – expression, a three- to five-fold higher GSI (Gonadosomatic index) and induced spermatogenesis when compared with the untreated control group.
Dopaminergic inhibition is thus not effective in males and swimming results in natural maturation, probably via GnRH-release.
PMCID: PMC2474648  PMID: 18616800
11.  Extended flow cytometry characterization of normal bone marrow progenitor cells by simultaneous detection of aldehyde dehydrogenase and early hematopoietic antigens: implication for erythroid differentiation studies 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:13.
Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) is a cytosolic enzyme highly expressed in hematopoietic precursors from cord blood and granulocyte-colony stimulating factor mobilized peripheral blood, as well as in bone marrow from patients with acute myeloblastic leukemia. As regards human normal bone marrow, detailed characterization of ALDH+ cells has been addressed by one single study (Gentry et al, 2007). The goal of our work was to provide new information about the dissection of normal bone marrow progenitor cells based upon the simultaneous detection by flow cytometry of ALDH and early hematopoietic antigens, with particular attention to the expression of ALDH on erythroid precursors. To this aim, we used three kinds of approach: i) multidimensional analytical flow cytometry, detecting ALDH and early hematopoietic antigens in normal bone marrow; ii) fluorescence activated cell sorting of distinct subpopulations of progenitor cells, followed by in vitro induction of erythroid differentiation; iii) detection of ALDH+ cellular subsets in bone marrow from pure red cell aplasia patients.
In normal bone marrow, we identified three populations of cells, namely ALDH+CD34+, ALDH-CD34+ and ALDH+CD34- (median percentages were 0.52, 0.53 and 0.57, respectively). As compared to ALDH-CD34+ cells, ALDH+CD34+ cells expressed the phenotypic profile of primitive hematopoietic progenitor cells, with brighter expression of CD117 and CD133, accompanied by lower display of CD38 and CD45RA. Of interest, ALDH+CD34- population disclosed a straightforward erythroid commitment, on the basis of three orders of evidences. First of all, ALDH+CD34- cells showed a CD71bright, CD105+, CD45- phenotype. Secondly, induction of differentiation experiments evidenced a clear-cut expression of glycophorin A (CD235a). Finally, ALDH+CD34- precursors were not detectable in patients with pure red cell aplasia (PRCA).
Our study, comparing surface antigen expression of ALDH+/CD34+, ALDH-/CD34+ and ALDH+/CD34- progenitor cell subsets in human bone marrow, clearly indicated that ALDH+CD34- cells are mainly committed towards erythropoiesis. To the best of our knowledge this finding is new and could be useful for basic studies about normal erythropoietic differentiation as well as for enabling the employment of ALDH as a red cell marker in polychromatic flow cytometry characterization of bone marrow from patients with aplastic anemia and myelodysplasia.
PMCID: PMC2426712  PMID: 18510759
12.  Exercise training improves relaxation response and SOD-1 expression in aortic and mesenteric rings from high caloric diet-fed rats 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:12.
Obesity has been associated with a variety of disease such as type II diabetes mellitus, arterial hypertension and atherosclerosis. Evidences have shown that exercise training promotes beneficial effects on these disorders, but the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. The aim of this study was to investigate whether physical preconditioning prevents the deleterious effect of high caloric diet in vascular reactivity of rat aortic and mesenteric rings.
Male Wistar rats were divided into sedentary (SD); trained (TR); sedentary diet (SDD) and trained diet (TRD) groups. Run training (RT) was performed in sessions of 60 min, 5 days/week for 12 weeks (70–80% VO2max). Triglycerides, glucose, insulin and nitrite/nitrate concentrations (NOx-) were measured. Concentration-response curves to acetylcholine (ACh) and sodium nitroprusside (SNP) were obtained. Expression of Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD-1) was assessed by Western blotting.
High caloric diet increased triglycerides concentration (SDD: 216 ± 25 mg/dl) and exercise training restored to the baseline value (TRD: 89 ± 9 mg/dl). Physical preconditioning significantly reduced insulin levels in both groups (TR: 0.54 ± 0.1 and TRD: 1.24 ± 0.3 ng/ml) as compared to sedentary animals (SD: 0.87 ± 0.1 and SDD: 2.57 ± 0.3 ng/ml). On the other hand, glucose concentration was slightly increased by high caloric diet, and RT did not modify this parameter (SD: 126 ± 6; TR: 140 ± 8; SDD: 156 ± 8 and TRD 153 ± 9 mg/dl). Neither high caloric diet nor RT modified NOx- levels (SD: 27 ± 4; TR: 28 ± 6; SDD: 27 ± 3 and TRD: 30 ± 2 μM). Functional assays showed that high caloric diet impaired the relaxing response to ACh in mesenteric (about 13%), but not in aortic rings. RT improved the relaxing responses to ACh either in aortic (28%, for TR and 16%, to TRD groups) or mesenteric rings (10%, for TR and 17%, to TRD groups) that was accompanied by up-regulation of SOD-1 expression and reduction in triglycerides levels.
The improvement in endothelial function by physical preconditioning in mesenteric and aortic arteries from high caloric fed-rats was directly related to an increase in NO bioavailability to the smooth muscle mostly due to SOD-1 up regulation.
PMCID: PMC2443377  PMID: 18510739
13.  TRPM channels are required for rhythmicity in the ultradian defecation rhythm of C. elegans 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:11.
Ultradian rhythms, rhythms with a period of less than 24 hours, are a widespread and fundamental aspect of life. The mechanisms underlying the control of such rhythms remain only partially understood. Defecation in C. elegans is a very tightly controlled rhythmic process. Underlying the defecation motor programme is an oscillator which functions in the intestinal cells of the animal. This mechanism includes periodic calcium release and subsequent intercellular calcium waves which in turn regulate the muscle contractions that make up the defecation motor programme. Here we investigate the role of TRPM cation channels in this process.
We use RNA interference (RNAi) to perturb TRPM channel gene expression. We show that combined knock down of two of the TRPM encoding genes, gon-2 and gtl-1, results in an increase in the variability of the cycle but no change in the mean, in normal culture conditions. By altering the mean using environmental (temperature) and genetic approaches we show that this increase in variability is separable from changes in the mean. We show that gon-2 and gtl-1 interact with components of the calcium signalling machinery (itr-1 the C. elegans inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor) and with plasma membrane ion channels (flr-1 and kqt-3) which are known to regulate the defecation oscillator. Interactions with these genes result in changes to the mean period and variability. We also show that knocking down a putative transcription factor can suppress the increased variability caused by reduction of gon-2 and gtl-1 function. We also identify a previously unrecognised tendency of the defecation cycle to compensate for cycles with aberrant length by adjusting the length of the following cycle.
Thus TRPM channels regulate the variability of the defecation oscillator in C. elegans. We conclude that the mean and the variability of the defecation oscillator are separable. Our results support the notion that there is a strong underlying pacemaker which is able to function independently of the observable defecation rhythm and is not perturbed by increases in the variability of the cycle.
The interaction of gon-2 and gtl-1 with other components of the oscillator shows that TRPM channels play an important role in the oscillator machinery. Such a role may be through either regulation of cation levels or membrane properties or both. Specifically our results support previous proposals that gon-2 and gtl-1 regulate IP3 signalling and that kqt-3 may act by altering calcium influx.
Our results provide novel insights into the properties of the defecation oscillator and thus to our understanding of ultradian rhythms.
PMCID: PMC2409367  PMID: 18495023
14.  cAMP potentiates InsP3-induced Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum in blowfly salivary glands 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:10.
Serotonin induces fluid secretion from Calliphora salivary glands by the parallel activation of the InsP3/Ca2+ and cAMP signaling pathways. We investigated whether cAMP affects 5-HT-induced Ca2+ signaling and InsP3-induced Ca2+ release from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER).
Increasing intracellular cAMP level by bath application of forskolin, IBMX or cAMP in the continuous presence of threshold 5-HT concentrations converted oscillatory [Ca2+]i changes into a sustained increase. Intraluminal Ca2+ measurements in the ER of β-escin-permeabilized glands with mag-fura-2 revealed that cAMP augmented InsP3-induced Ca2+ release in a concentration-dependent manner. This indicated that cAMP sensitized the InsP3 receptor Ca2+ channel for InsP3. By using cAMP analogs that activated either protein kinase A (PKA) or Epac and the application of PKA-inhibitors, we found that cAMP-induced augmentation of InsP3-induced Ca2+ release was mediated by PKA not by Epac. Recordings of the transepithelial potential of the glands suggested that cAMP sensitized the InsP3/Ca2+ signaling pathway for 5-HT, because IBMX potentiated Ca2+-dependent Cl- transport activated by a threshold 5-HT concentration.
This report shows, for the first time for an insect system, that cAMP can potentiate InsP3-induced Ca2+ release from the ER in a PKA-dependent manner, and that this crosstalk between cAMP and InsP3/Ca2+ signaling pathways enhances transepithelial electrolyte transport.
PMCID: PMC2408587  PMID: 18492257
15.  Decrease of PECAM-1-gene-expression induced by proinflammatory cytokines IFN-γ and IFN-α is reversed by TGF-β in sinusoidal endothelial cells and hepatic mononuclear phagocytes 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:9.
Background and aim
The mechanisms of transmigration of inflammatory cells through the sinusoids are still poorly understood. This study aims to identify in vitro conditions (cytokine treatment) which may allow a better understanding of the changes in PECAM (platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule)-1-gene-expression observed in vivo.
Methods and results
In this study we show by immunohistochemistry, that there is an accumulation of ICAM-1 (intercellular cell adhesion molecule-1) and ED1 positive cells in necrotic areas of livers of CCl4-treated rats, whereas there are few PECAM-1 positive cells observable. After the administration of CCl4, we could detect an early rise of levels of IFN-γ followed by an enhanced TGF-β protein level. As shown by Northern blot analysis and surface protein expression analysed by flow cytometry, IFN-γ-treatment decreased PECAM-1-gene-expression in isolated SECs (sinusoidal endothelial cells) and mononuclear phagocytes (MNPs) in parallel with an increase in ICAM-1-gene-expression in a dose and time dependent manner. In contrast, TGF-β-treatment increased PECAM-1-expression. Additional administration of IFN-γ to CCl4-treated rats and observations in IFN-γ-/- mice confirmed the effect of IFN-γ on PECAM-1 and ICAM-1-expression observed in vitro and increased the number of ED1-expressing cells 12 h after administration of the toxin.
The early decrease of PECAM-1-expression and the parallel increase of ICAM-1-expression following CCl4-treatment is induced by elevated levels of IFN-γ in livers and may facilitate adhesion and transmigration of inflammatory cells. The up-regulation of PECAM-1-expression in SECs and MNPs after TGF-β-treatment suggests the involvement of PECAM-1 during the recovery after liver damage.
PMCID: PMC2396664  PMID: 18466611
16.  Short-term pacing in the mouse alters cardiac expression of connexin43 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:8.
Cardiac insults such as ischemia, infarction, hypertrophy and dilatation are often accompanied by altered abundance and/or localization of the connexin43 gap junction protein, which may predispose towards arrhythmic complications. Models of chronic dyssynchronous cardiac activation have also been shown to result in redistribution of connexin43 in cardiomyocytes. We hypothesized that alterations in connexin43 expression and localization in the mouse heart might be induced by ventricular pacing over a short period of time.
The subdiaphragmatic approach was used to pace a series of wild type mice for six hours before the hearts were removed for analysis. Mice were paced at 10–15% above their average anesthetized sinus rate and monitored to ensure 1:1 capture. Short-term pacing resulted in a significant reduction in connexin43 mRNA abundance, a partial redistribution of connexin43 from the sarcolemma to a non-sarcolemmal fraction, and accumulation of ubiquitinated connexin43 without a significant change in overall connexin43 protein levels. These early pacing-induced changes in connexin43 expression were not accompanied by decreased cardiac function, prolonged refractoriness or increased inducibility into sustained arrhythmias.
Our data suggest that short-term pacing is associated with incipient changes in the expression of the connexin43 gap junction, possibly including decreased production and a slowed rate of degradation. This murine model may facilitate the study of early molecular changes induced by pacing and may ultimately assist in the development of strategies to prevent gap junction remodeling and the associated arrhythmic complications of cardiac disease.
PMCID: PMC2396665  PMID: 18460209
17.  Bridging the phenotypic gap: Real-time assessment of mitochondrial function and metabolism of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:7.
The ATP levels of an organism are an important physiological parameter that is affected by genetic make up, ageing, stress and disease.
We have generated luminescent C. elegans through ubiquitous, constitutive expression of firefly luciferase, widely used for in vitro ATP determination. We hypothesise that whole animal luminescence reflects its intracellular ATP levels in vivo. To test this, we characterised the bioluminescence response of C. elegans during sublethal exposure to, and recovery from azide, a treatment that inhibits mitochondrial respiration reversibly, and causes ATP depletion. Consistent with our expectations, in vivo luminescence decreased with increasing sublethal azide levels, and recovered fully when worms were removed from azide. Firefly luciferase expression levels, stability and activity did not influence the final luminescence. Bioluminescence also reflected the lowered activity of the electron transport chain achieved with RNA interference (RNAi) of genes encoding respiratory chain components.
Results indicated that C. elegans luminescence reports on ATP levels in real-time. For the first time, we are able to directly assess the metabolism of a whole, living, multicellular organism by determination of the relative ATP levels. This will enable genetic analysis based on a readily quantifiable metabolic phenotype and will provide novel insights into mechanisms of fitness and disease that are likely to be of relevance for other organisms, as well as the worm.
PMCID: PMC2364618  PMID: 18384668
18.  Testosterone influences renal electrolyte excretion in SHR/y and WKY males 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:5.
The Y-chromosome (Yc) and testosterone (T) increase blood pressure and may also influence renal electrolyte excretion. Therefore, the goal of this study was to determine if the Yc combined with T manipulation could influence renal Na and K excretion.
To investigate the role of the Yc and T, consomic borderline hypertensive (SHR/y) and normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rat strains were used (15 weeks) in three T treatment groups: castrate, castrate with T implant and gonadally intact males. Urine was collected (24 hrs at 15 weeks of age) for Na and K measurements by flame photometry. RT-PCR was used to demonstrate the presence of renal androgen receptor (AR) transcripts. Plasma T and aldosterone were measured by RIA. In another experiment the androgen receptor was blocked using flutamide in the diet.
Na and K excretion were decreased by T in SHR/y and WKY. AR transcripts were identified in SHR/y and WKY kidneys. Plasma aldosterone was decreased in the presence of T. Blockade of the AR resulted in a significant increase in Na excretion but not in K excretion in both SHR/y and WKY males.
T influences electrolyte excretion through an androgen receptor dependent mechanism. There was not a differential Yc involvement in electrolyte excretion between WKY and SHR/y males.
PMCID: PMC2329660  PMID: 18366771
19.  Atypical properties of a conventional calcium channel β subunit from the platyhelminth Schistosoma mansoni 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:6.
The function of voltage-gated calcium (Cav) channels greatly depends on coupling to cytoplasmic accessory β subunits, which not only promote surface expression, but also modulate gating and kinetic properties of the α1 subunit. Schistosomes, parasitic platyhelminths that cause schistosomiasis, express two β subunit subtypes: a structurally conventional β subunit and a variant β subunit with unusual functional properties. We have previously characterized the functional properties of the variant Cavβ subunit. Here, we focus on the modulatory phenotype of the conventional Cavβ subunit (SmCavβ) using the human Cav2.3 channel as the substrate for SmCavβ and the whole-cell patch-clamp technique.
The conventional Schistosoma mansoni Cavβ subunit markedly increases Cav2.3 currents, slows macroscopic inactivation and shifts steady state inactivation in the hyperpolarizing direction. However, currents produced by Cav2.3 in the presence of SmCavβ run-down to approximately 75% of their initial amplitudes within two minutes of establishing the whole-cell configuration. This suppressive effect was independent of Ca2+, but dependent on intracellular Mg2+-ATP. Additional experiments revealed that SmCavβ lends the Cav2.3/SmCavβ complex sensitivity to Na+ ions. A mutant version of the Cavβ subunit lacking the first forty-six amino acids, including a string of twenty-two acidic residues, no longer conferred sensitivity to intracellular Mg2+-ATP and Na+ ions, while continuing to show wild type modulation of current amplitude and inactivation of Cav2.3.
The data presented in this article provide insights into novel mechanisms employed by platyhelminth Cavβ subunits to modulate voltage-gated Ca2+ currents that indicate interactions between the Ca2+ channel complex and chelated forms of ATP as well as Na+ ions. These results have potentially important implications for understanding previously unknown mechanisms by which platyhelminths and perhaps other organisms modulate Ca2+ currents in excitable cells.
PMCID: PMC2311325  PMID: 18366784
20.  Forced expression of the cell cycle inhibitor p57Kip2 in cardiomyocytes attenuates ischemia-reperfusion injury in the mouse heart 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:4.
Myocardial hypoxic-ischemic injury is the cause of significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. The cardiomyocyte response to hypoxic-ischemic injury is known to include changes in cell cycle regulators. The cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p57Kip2 is involved in cell cycle control, differentiation, stress signaling and apoptosis. In contrast to other cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors, p57Kip2 expression diminishes during postnatal life and is reactivated in the adult heart under conditions of cardiac stress. Overexpression of p57Kip2 has been previously shown to prevent apoptotic cell death in vitro by inhibiting stress-activated kinases. Therefore, we hypothesized that p57Kip2 has a protective role in cardiomyocytes under hypoxic conditions. To investigate this hypothesis, we created a transgenic mouse (R26loxpTA-p57k/+) that expresses p57Kip2 specifically in cardiac tissue under the ventricular cardiomyocyte promoter Mlc2v.
Transgenic mice with cardiac specific overexpression of p57Kip2 are viable, fertile and normally active and their hearts are morphologically indistinguishable from the control hearts and have similar heart weight/body weight ratio. The baseline functional parameters, including left ventricular systolic pressure (LVSP), left ventricular end diastolic pressure (LVEDP), LVdp/dtmax, heart rate (HR) and rate pressure product (RPR) were not significantly different between the different groups as assessed by the Langendorff perfused heart preparation. However, after subjecting the heart ex vivo to 30 minutes of ischemia-reperfusion injury, the p57Kip2 overexpressing hearts demonstrated preserved cardiac function compared to control mice with higher left ventricular developed pressure (63 ± 15 vs 30 ± 6 mmHg, p = 0.05), rate pressure product (22.8 ± 4.86 vs 10.4 ± 2.1 × 103bpm × mmHg, p < 0.05) and coronary flow (3.5 ± 0.5 vs 2.38 ± 0.24 ml/min, p <0.05).
These data suggest that forced cardiac expression of p57Kip2 does not affect myocardial growth, differentiation and baseline function but attenuates injury from ischemia-reperfusion in the adult mouse heart.
PMCID: PMC2268709  PMID: 18312674
21.  Transitions into and out of daylight saving time compromise sleep and the rest-activity cycles 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:3.
The aim of this study was to analyze the effects of transition out of and into daylight saving time on the rest-activity cycles and sleep. Rest-activity cycles of nine healthy participants aged 20 to 40 years were measured around transitions out of and into daylight saving time on fall 2005 and spring 2006 respectively. Rest-activity cycles were measured using wrist-worn accelerometers. The participants filled in the Morningness-Eveningness and Seasonal Pattern Assessment Questionnaires before starting the study and kept a sleep diary during the study.
Fall transition was more disturbing for the more morning type and spring transition for the more evening type of persons. Individuals having a higher global seasonality score suffered more from the transitions.
Transitions out of and into daylight saving time enhanced night-time restlessness and thereby compromised the quality of sleep.
PMCID: PMC2259373  PMID: 18269740
22.  Functional and pharmacological characterization of a Shal-related K+ channel subunit in Zebrafish 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:2.
K+ channels are diverse; both in terms of their function and their molecular composition. Shal subunits were first described in Drosophila. There are three mammalian orthologs, which are members of the Kv4 subfamily. They are involved in neuronal firing patterns as well as control of the cardiac action potential duration.
Here, we report the biophysical and pharmacological characterization of zShal3, which is the ortholog of the mammalian Kv4.3 subunit, which in mammals is involved in action potential repolarization and gives rise to neuronal A-type K+ currents involved in somatodendretic signal integration.
We demonstrate that zShal has similar functional and pharmacological characteristics compared to Kv4.3 and it is similarly regulated by pharmacological agents and by the Kv4 accessory subunit, NCS-1.
PMCID: PMC2270284  PMID: 18261223
23.  Equine CTNNB1 and PECAM1 nucleotide structure and expression analyses in an experimental model of normal and pathological wound repair 
BMC Physiology  2008;8:1.
Wound healing in horses is fraught with complications. Specifically, wounds on horse limbs often develop exuberant granulation tissue which behaves clinically like a benign tumor and resembles the human keloid in that the evolving scar is trapped in the proliferative phase of repair, leading to fibrosis. Clues gained from the study of over-scarring in horses should eventually lead to new insights into how to prevent unwanted scar formation in humans. cDNA fragments corresponding to CTNNB1 (coding for β-catenin) and PECAM1, genes potentially contributing to the proliferative phase of repair, were previously identified in a mRNA expression study as being up-regulated in 7 day wound biopsies from horses. The aim of the present study was to clone full-length equine CTNNB1 and PECAM1 cDNAs and to study the spatio-temporal expression of mRNAs and corresponding proteins during repair of body and limb wounds in a horse model.
The temporal pattern of the two genes was similar; except for CTNNB1 in limb wounds, wounding caused up-regulation of mRNA which did not return to baseline by the end of the study. Relative over-expression of both CTNNB1 and PECAM1 mRNA was noted in body wounds compared to limb wounds. Immunostaining for both β-catenin and PECAM1 was principally observed in endothelial cells and fibroblasts and was especially pronounced in wounds having developed exuberant granulation tissue.
This study is the first to characterize equine cDNA for CTNNB1 and PECAM1 and to document that these genes are expressed during wound repair in horses. It appears that β-catenin may be regulated in a post-transcriptional manner while PECAM1 might help thoracic wounds mount an efficient inflammatory response in contrast to what is observed in limb wounds. Furthermore, data from this study suggest that β-catenin and PECAM1 might interact to modulate endothelial cell and fibroblast proliferation during wound repair in the horse.
PMCID: PMC2268708  PMID: 18237399

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