Multimodal Imaging of Dynamic Functional Connectivity
- The study of large-scale functional interactions in the human brain with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) extends almost to the first applications of this technology. Due to historical reasons and preconceptions about the limitations of this brain imaging method, most studies have focused on assessing connectivity over extended periods of time. It is now clear that fMRI can resolve the temporal dynamics of functional connectivity, like other faster imaging techniques such as electroencephalography and magnetoencephalography (albeit on a different temporal scale). However, the indirect nature of fMRI measurements can hinder the interpretability of the results. After briefly summarizing recent advances in the field, we discuss how the simultaneous combination of fMRI with electrophysiological activity measurements can contribute to a better understanding of dynamic functional connectivity in humans both during rest and task, wakefulness, and other brain states
Parasite diversity of European Myotis species with special emphasis on Myotis myotis (Microchiroptera, Vespertilionidae) from a typical nursery roost
Bats belong to one of the most species-rich orders within the Mammalia. They show a worldwide distribution, a high degree of ecological diversification as well as a high diversity of associated parasites and pathogens. Despite their prominent and unique role, the knowledge of their parasite-host-relationships as well as the mechanisms of co-evolutionary processes are, partly due to strict conservation regulations, scarce.
Juvenile specimens of the greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis) from a roosting colony in Gladenbach (Hesse, Germany) were examined for their metazoan endo-and ectoparasite infections and pathogens. Morphometric data were recorded and the individuals were checked for Lyssavirus-specific antigen using a direct immunofluorescence test. For unambiguous species identification, the bats were analysed by cyt-b sequence comparison.
Myotis myotis were parasitized by the six insect and arachnid ectoparasite species, i.e. Ixodes ricinus, Ischnopsyllus octactenus, Ichoronyssus scutatus, Steatonyssus periblepharus, Spinturnix myoti and Cimex dissimilis. Additionally, the nematode Molinostrongylus alatus and the cestode Vampirolepis balsaci were recorded. Each bat was parasitized by at least four species. The parasites showed partially extreme rates of infection, never recorded before, with more than 1,440 parasites per single host. Ichoronyssus scutatus, Steatonyssus periblepharus, Vampirolepis balsaci and Molinostrongylus alatus are recorded for the first time in Germany. A checklist for Europe is presented containing records of 98 parasite species of 14 Myotis species.
The Myotis myotis from Gladenbach (Hesse, Germany) were parasitized by a diverse parasite fauna with high infestation rates. We assume that in juvenile Myotis the number of parasites is generally higher than in adults due to only later acquired immune competence and behavioural adaptations. Our results revealed new insights into parasite fauna of M. myotis and European bats in general. The finding of endoparasitic cyclophyllidean cestodes that have a two-host lifecycle is, considering the stationary behaviour of the juvenile bats, rather unusual and suggests a non-predatory transmission mechanism (e.g. via autoinfection).
A new insight gained from the collated literature was that the European wide composition of the Myotis parasite fauna is dominated by a few specific taxonomic groups in Europe
Risk Factors for the Presence of Chikungunya and Dengue Vectors (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus), Their Altitudinal Distribution and Climatic Determinants of Their Abundance in Central Nepal
Hari Datt Joshi
Robert B. O’Hara
Adventitial Vessel Growth and Progenitor Cells Activation in an Ex Vivo Culture System Mimicking Human Saphenous Vein Wall Strain after Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting
Maria Cristina Vinci
Gianfranco Beniamino Fiore
- Saphenous vein graft disease is a timely problem in coronary artery bypass grafting. Indeed, after exposure of the vein to arterial blood flow, a progressive modification in the wall begins, due to proliferation of smooth muscle cells in the intima. As a consequence, the graft progressively occludes and this leads to recurrent ischemia. In the present study we employed a novel ex vivo culture system to assess the biological effects of arterial-like pressure on the human saphenous vein structure and physiology, and to compare the results to those achieved in the presence of a constant low pressure and flow mimicking the physiologic vein perfusion. While under both conditions we found an activation of Matrix Metallo-Proteases 2/9 and of microRNAs-21/146a/221, a specific effect of the arterial-like pressure was observed. This consisted in a marked geometrical remodeling, in the suppression of Tissue Inhibitor of Metallo-Protease-1, in the enhanced expression of TGF-β1 and BMP-2 mRNAs and, finally, in the upregulation of microRNAs-138/200b/200c. In addition, the veins exposed to arterial-like pressure showed an increase in the density of the adventitial vasa vasorum and of cells co-expressing NG2, CD44 and SM22α markers in the adventitia. Cells with nuclear expression of Sox-10, a transcription factor characterizing multipotent vascular stem cells, were finally found in adventitial vessels. Our findings suggest, for the first time, a role of arterial-like wall strain in the activation of pro-pathologic pathways resulting in adventitial vessels growth, activation of vasa vasorum cells, and upregulation of specific gene products associated to vascular remodeling and inflammation.
Contrasting Taxonomic and Phylogenetic Diversity Responses to Forest Modifications: Comparisons of Taxa and Successive Plant Life Stages in South African Scarp Forest
Eike Lena Neuschulz
- The degradation of natural forests to modified forests threatens subtropical and tropical biodiversity worldwide. Yet, species responses to forest modification vary considerably. Furthermore, effects of forest modification can differ, whether with respect to diversity components (taxonomic or phylogenetic) or to local (α-diversity) and regional (β-diversity) spatial scales. This real-world complexity has so far hampered our understanding of subtropical and tropical biodiversity patterns in human-modified forest landscapes. In a subtropical South African forest landscape, we studied the responses of three successive plant life stages (adult trees, saplings, seedlings) and of birds to five different types of forest modification distinguished by the degree of within-forest disturbance and forest loss. Responses of the two taxa differed markedly. Thus, the taxonomic α-diversity of birds was negatively correlated with the diversity of all plant life stages and, contrary to plant diversity, increased with forest disturbance. Conversely, forest disturbance reduced the phylogenetic α-diversity of all plant life stages but not that of birds. Forest loss neither affected taxonomic nor phylogenetic diversity of any taxon. On the regional scale, taxonomic but not phylogenetic β-diversity of both taxa was well predicted by variation in forest disturbance and forest loss. In contrast to adult trees, the phylogenetic diversity of saplings and seedlings showed signs of contemporary environmental filtering. In conclusion, forest modification in this subtropical landscape strongly shaped both local and regional biodiversity but with contrasting outcomes. Phylogenetic diversity of plants may be more threatened than that of mobile species such as birds. The reduced phylogenetic diversity of saplings and seedlings suggests losses in biodiversity that are not visible in adult trees, potentially indicating time-lags and contemporary shifts in forest regeneration. The different responses of taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity to forest modifications imply that biodiversity conservation in this subtropical landscape requires the preservation of natural and modified forests.
Simultaneous and Dose Dependent Melanoma Cytotoxic and Immune Stimulatory Activity of Betulin
Josef M. Pfeilschifter
Heinfried H. Radeke
- Conventional cytostatic cancer treatments rarely result in the complete eradication of tumor cells. Therefore, new therapeutic strategies focus on antagonizing the immunosuppressive activity of established tumors. In particular, recent studies of antigen-loaded dendritic cells (DCs) eliciting a specific antitumor immune response has raised the hopes of achieving the complete elimination of tumor tissue. Genistein, fingolimod and betulin have already been described as active compounds in different types of cancer. Herein, we applied an integrated screening approach to characterize both their cytostatic and their immune-modulating properties side-by-side. As will be described in detail, our data confirmed that all three compounds exerted proapoptotic and antiproliferative activity in different B16 melanoma cell lines to a given extent, as revealed by an MTT assay, CFSE and DAPI staining. However, while genistein and fingolimod also affected the survival of primary bone marrow (BM) derived DCs of C57BL/6 mice, betulin exhibited a lower cytotoxicity for BMDCs in comparison to the melanoma cells. Moreover, we could show for the first time, that only betulin caused a simultaneous, highly specific immune-stimulating activity, as measured by the IL-12p70 release of Toll-like receptor 4-stimulated BMDCs by ELISA, which was due to increased IL-12p35 mRNA expression. Interestingly, the activation of DCs resulted in enhanced T lymphocyte stimulation, indicated by increased IL-2 and IFN-γ production of cytotoxic T cells in spleen cell co-culture assays which led to a decreased viability of B16 cells in an antigen specific model system. This may overcome the immunosuppressive environment of a tumor and destroy tumor cells more effectively in vivo if the immune response is specific targeted against the tumor tissue by antigen-loaded dendritic cells. In summary, cytostatic agents, such as betulin, that simultaneously exhibit immune stimulatory activity may serve as lead compounds and hold great promise as a novel approach for an integrated cancer therapy
Charge Reduction and Thermodynamic Stabilization of Substrate RNAs Inhibit RNA Editing
Andreas J. Reuss
H. Ulrich Göringer
- African trypanosomes cause a parasitic disease known as sleeping sickness. Mitochondrial transcript maturation in these organisms requires a RNA editing reaction that is characterized by the insertion and deletion of U-nucleotides into otherwise non-functional mRNAs. Editing represents an ideal target for a parasite-specific therapeutic intervention since the reaction cycle is absent in the infected host. In addition, editing relies on a macromolecular protein complex, the editosome, that only exists in the parasite. Therefore, all attempts to search for editing interfering compounds have been focused on molecules that bind to proteins of the editing machinery. However, in analogy to other RNA-driven biochemical pathways it should be possible to stall the reaction by targeting its substrate RNAs. Here we demonstrate inhibition of editing by specific aminoglycosides. The molecules bind into the major groove of the gRNA/pre-mRNA editing substrates thereby causing a stabilization of the RNA molecules through charge compensation and an increase in stacking. The data shed light on mechanistic details of the editing process and identify critical parameters for the development of new trypanocidal compounds.
Both Ubiquitin Ligases FBXW8 and PARK2 Are Sequestrated into Insolubility by ATXN2 PolyQ Expansions, but Only FBXW8 Expression Is Dysregulated
Melanie Vanessa Halbach
Nesli Ece Şen
A. Nazlı Başak
- The involvement of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) in the course of various age-associated neurodegenerative diseases is well established. The single RING finger type E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase PARK2 is mutated in a Parkinson’s disease (PD) variant and was found to interact with ATXN2, a protein where polyglutamine expansions cause Spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (SCA2) or increase the risk for Levodopa-responsive PD and for the motor neuron disease Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We previously reported evidence for a transcriptional induction of the multi-subunit RING finger Skp1/Cul/F-box (SCF) type E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase complex component FBXW8 in global microarray profiling of ATXN2-expansion mouse cerebellum and demonstrated its role for ATXN2 degradation in vitro. Now, we documented co-localization in vitro and co-immunoprecipitations both in vitro and in vivo, which indicate associations of FBXW8 with ATXN2 and PARK2. Both FBXW8 and PARK2 proteins are driven into insolubility by expanded ATXN2. Whereas the FBXW8 transcript upregulation by ATXN2- expansion was confirmed also in qPCR of skin fibroblasts and blood samples of SCA2 patients, a FBXW8 expression dysregulation was not observed in ATXN2-deficient mice, nor was a PARK2 transcript dysregulation observed in any samples. Jointly, all available data suggest that the degradation of wildtype and mutant ATXN2 is dependent on FBXW8, and that ATXN2 accumulation selectively modulates FBXW8 levels, while PARK2 might act indirectly through FBXW8. The effects of ATXN2-expansions on FBXW8 expression in peripheral tissues like blood may become useful for clinical diagnostics
Intrinsic Motivations Drive Learning of Eye Movements: An Experiment with Human Adults
Maria De Marsico
- Intrinsic motivations drive the acquisition of knowledge and skills on the basis of novel or surprising stimuli or the pleasure to learn new skills. In so doing, they are different from extrinsic motivations that are mainly linked to drives that promote survival and reproduction. Intrinsic motivations have been implicitly exploited in several psychological experiments but, due to the lack of proper paradigms, they are rarely a direct subject of investigation. This article investigates how different intrinsic motivation mechanisms can support the learning of visual skills, such as “foveate a particular object in space”, using a gaze contingency paradigm. In the experiment participants could freely foveate objects shown in a computer screen. Foveating each of two “button” pictures caused different effects: one caused the appearance of a simple image (blue rectangle) in unexpected positions, while the other evoked the appearance of an always-novel picture (objects or animals). The experiment studied how two possible intrinsic motivation mechanisms might guide learning to foveate one or the other button picture. One mechanism is based on the sudden, surprising appearance of a familiar image at unpredicted locations, and a second one is based on the content novelty of the images. The results show the comparative effectiveness of the mechanism based on image novelty, whereas they do not support the operation of the mechanism based on the surprising location of the image appearance. Interestingly, these results were also obtained with participants that, according to a post experiment questionnaire, had not understood the functions of the different buttons suggesting that novelty-based intrinsic motivation mechanisms might operate even at an unconscious level.
Zur Verbreitung, Vergesellschaftung und Einbürgerung des Götterbaumes (Ailanthus altissima [Mill.] Swingle) in Mitteleuropa
- Nach einer kurzen Übersicht über die weltweite Kultur von Ailanthus altissima werden spontane Verbreitung, Vergesellschaftung und Einbürgerung in Mitteleuropa erörtert und mit Angaben aus anderen Teilen Europas verglichen. Als entscheidender Klimafaktor für die Ausbildung der nördlichen Arealgrenze, die quer durch das Norddeutsche Tiefland verläuft, ist eine lange Vegetationsperiode mit hoher sommerlicher Wärmesumme anzusehen. Ailanthus fehlt in den kühleren Küstengebieten sowie in Gebirgen und ist in wärmeren Gebieten weitgehend an Städte gebunden. Am Beispiel von Berlin (West) konnte gezeigt werden, daß Ailanthus als thermophile Art einen deutlichen Verbreitungsschwerpunkt in den wärmsten Stadtbereichen hat. Auf einem breiten Spektrum städtischer Standorte wächst Ailanthus in einjährigen und ausdauernden Ruderalgesellschaften auf; geschlossene Götterbaum-Gehölze mit zum Teil starker Beteiligung von Robinia pseudacacia und Ahorn-Arten werden auf Bahnanlagen ausgebildet. In klimatisch besonders begünstigten Gebieten (Rheintal, pannonischer Raum) wächst Ailanthus auch in kleineren Siedlungen und dringt auf Xerotherm-Standorten vereinzelt in naturnahe Vegetationseinheiten ein. Eine überregionale Betrachtung ergibt, daß sich spontane Ailanthus-Vorkommen von Süden (Mittelmeergebiet) nach Norden (Norddeutschland) zunehmend auf stark gestörte städtische Standorte beschränken. Entsprechend differenziert ist Ailanthus an der Nordgrenze seines Areals als Ephemerophyt, in weiten Teilen Mitteleuropas als Epökophyt und in den wärmsten Gebieten regional als Agriophyt einzuschätzen. Im Vergleich mit anderen neophytischen Gehölzen bestehen die größten Gemeinsamkeiten mit Robinia pseudacacia. Die unterschiedliche Bedeutung beider Arten für die Vegetationsdynamik wird in Hinblick auf Unterschiede bei Ausgangsposition und Ausbreitungszeitraum besprochen.