Connexin 37 and Connexin 43 genotypes in correlation to cytokines in induced sputum and blood in cystic fibrosis (CF)
- Meeting abstract: Abstracts of the 50th Workshop for Pediatric Research
We have provided evidence in former studies that cytokines (IL-8, TNF alpha, LBP, TGFß) measured in blood correlate negatively with lung function in deltaF508 homozygous patients...
DNA methylation reader MECP2: cell type- and differentiation stage-specific protein distribution
Katharina Laurence Jost
Maria Cristina Cardoso
- Background: Methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MECP2) is a protein that specifically binds methylated DNA, thus regulating transcription and chromatin organization. Mutations in the gene have been identified as the principal cause of Rett syndrome, a severe neurological disorder. Although the role of MECP2 has been extensively studied in nervous tissues, still very little is known about its function and cell type specific distribution in other tissues.
Results: Using immunostaining on tissue cryosections, we characterized the distribution of MECP2 in 60 cell types of 16 mouse neuronal and non-neuronal tissues. We show that MECP2 is expressed at a very high level in all retinal neurons except rod photoreceptors. The onset of its expression during retina development coincides with massive synapse formation. In contrast to astroglia, retinal microglial cells lack MECP2, similar to microglia in the brain, cerebellum, and spinal cord. MECP2 is also present in almost all non-neural cell types, with the exception of intestinal epithelial cells, erythropoietic cells, and hair matrix keratinocytes. Our study demonstrates the role of MECP2 as a marker of the differentiated state in all studied cells other than oocytes and spermatogenic cells. MECP2-deficient male (Mecp2−/y) mice show no apparent defects in the morphology and development of the retina. The nuclear architecture of retinal neurons is also unaffected as the degree of chromocenter fusion and the distribution of major histone modifications do not differ between Mecp2−/y and Mecp2wt mice. Surprisingly, the absence of MECP2 is not compensated by other methyl-CpG binding proteins. On the contrary, their mRNA levels were downregulated in Mecp2−/y mice.
Conclusions: MECP2 is almost universally expressed in all studied cell types with few exceptions, including microglia. MECP2 deficiency does not change the nuclear architecture and epigenetic landscape of retinal cells despite the missing compensatory expression of other methyl-CpG binding proteins. Furthermore, retinal development and morphology are also preserved in Mecp2-null mice. Our study reveals the significance of MECP2 function in cell differentiation and sets the basis for future investigations in this direction.
Adaptive resistance to immunotherapy directed against p53 can be overcome by global expression of tumor-antigens in dendritic cells
- Immunotherapy of cancer utilizes dendritic cells (DCs) for antigen presentation and the induction of tumor-specific immune responses. However, the therapeutic induction of anti-tumor immunity is limited by tumor escape mechanisms. In this study, immortalized dendritic D2SC/1 cells were transduced with a mutated version of the p53 tumor suppressor gene, p53M234I, or p53C132F/E168G, which are overexpressed in MethA fibrosarcoma tumor cells. In addition, D2SC/1 cells were fused with MethA tumor cells to generate a vaccine that potentially expresses a large repertoire of tumor-antigens. Cellular vaccines were transplanted onto Balb/c mice and MethA tumor growth and anti-tumor immune responses were examined in vaccinated animals. D2SC/1-p53M234I and D2SC/1-p53C132F/E168G cells induced strong therapeutic and protective MethA tumor immunity upon transplantation in Balb/c mice. However, in a fraction of immunized mice MethA tumor growth resumed after an extended latency period. Analysis of these tumors indicated loss of p53 expression. Mice, pre-treated with fusion hybrids generated from D2SC/1 and MethA tumor cells, suppressed MethA tumor growth and averted adaptive immune escape. Polyclonal B-cell responses directed against various MethA tumor proteins could be detected in the sera of D2SC/1-MethA inoculated mice. Athymic nude mice and Balb/c mice depleted of CD4(+) or CD8(+) T-cells were not protected against MethA tumor cell growth after immunization with D2SC/1-MethA hybrids. Our results highlight a potential drawback of cancer immunotherapy by demonstrating that the induction of a specific anti-tumor response favors the acquisition of tumor phenotypes promoting immune evasion. In contrast, the application of DC/tumor cell fusion hybrids prevents adaptive immune escape by a T-cell dependent mechanism and provides a simple strategy for personalized anti-cancer treatment without the need of selectively priming the host immune system.
FLRT structure: balancing repulsion and cell adhesion in cortical and vascular development
Daniel del Toro
Ellen Clare Border
E. Yvonne Jones
- FLRTs are broadly expressed proteins with the unique property of acting as homophilic cell adhesion molecules and as heterophilic repulsive ligands of Unc5/Netrin receptors. How these functions direct cell behavior and the molecular mechanisms involved remain largely unclear. Here we use X-ray crystallography to reveal the distinct structural bases for FLRT-mediated cell adhesion and repulsion in neurons. We apply this knowledge to elucidate FLRT functions during cortical development. We show that FLRTs regulate both the radial migration of pyramidal neurons, as well as their tangential spread. Mechanistically, radial migration is controlled by repulsive FLRT2-Unc5D interactions, while spatial organization in the tangential axis involves adhesive FLRT-FLRT interactions. Further, we show that the fundamental mechanisms of FLRT adhesion and repulsion are conserved between neurons and vascular endothelial cells. Our results reveal FLRTs as powerful guidance factors with structurally encoded repulsive and adhesive surfaces.
M-free: scoring the reference bias in sub-tomogram averaging and
Achilleas S. Frangakis
- Cryo-electron tomography provides a snapshot of the cellular proteome. With template matching, the spatial positions of various macromolecular complexes within their native cellular context can be detected. However, the growing awareness of the reference bias introduced by the cross-correlation based approaches, and more importantly the lack of a reliable confidence measurement in the selection of these macromolecular complexes, has restricted the use of these applications. Here we propose a heuristic, in which the reference bias is measured in real space in an analogous way to the R-free value in X-ray crystallography. We measure the reference bias within the mask used to outline the area of the template, and do not modify the template itself. The heuristic works by splitting the mask into a working and a testing area in a volume ratio of 9:1. While the working area is used during the calculation of the cross-correlation function, the information from both areas is explored to calculate the M-free score. We show using artificial data, that the M-free score gives a reliable measure for the reference bias. The heuristic can be applied in template matching and in sub-tomogram averaging. We further test the applicability of the heuristic in tomograms of purified macromolecules, and tomograms of whole Mycoplasma cells.
A new species of Casmaria H. Adams & A. Adams, 1853 (Gastropoda, Cassidae) from the Philippines identified by molecular data
Baldomero M. Olivera
- The genus Casmaria H. Adams & A. Adams, 1853 (family Cassidae) is widespread in the tropical Indo-Pacific and has been documented from some Atlantic localities as well. Two Casmaria species, C. erinaceus (Linnaeus, 1758) and C. ponderosa (Gmelin, 1791), are common in Indo-Pacific shallow-water sandy bottom communities and are characterized by high morphological variability; both species encompass multiple, often sympatric forms of uncertain status. In the present study we carry out a phylogenetic analysis of some Philippine Casmaria morphs and demonstrate that one of the distinctive morphs earlier assigned to Casmaria ponderosa is in fact a different species, which we describe as Casmaria boblehmani sp. nov. The smooth form of Casmaria ponderosa, C. ponderosa ponderosa, and the solid nodulose form, widely called “form nodulosa” despite being strikingly different in shell morphology, are shown to be conspecific. Studied specimens of these two morphs even from different localities share the same haplotype of the CO1 gene. In light of these new data on the morphological variability of Casmaria species, we discuss criteria of species delimitation in the genus Casmaria and possible affinities of Casmaria boblehmani sp. nov. within the genus.
Correlative light- and electron microscopy with chemical tags
Margot P. Scheffer
Erin M. Schuman
Achilleas S. Frangakis
- Correlative microscopy incorporates the specificity of fluorescent protein labeling into high-resolution electron micrographs. Several approaches exist for correlative microscopy, most of which have used the green fluorescent protein (GFP) as the label for light microscopy. Here we use chemical tagging and synthetic fluorophores instead, in order to achieve protein-specific labeling, and to perform multicolor imaging. We show that synthetic fluorophores preserve their post-embedding fluorescence in the presence of uranyl acetate. Post-embedding fluorescence is of such quality that the specimen can be prepared with identical protocols for scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM); this is particularly valuable when singular or otherwise difficult samples are examined. We show that synthetic fluorophores give bright, well-resolved signals in super-resolution light microscopy, enabling us to superimpose light microscopic images with a precision of up to 25 nm in the x-y plane on electron micrographs. To exemplify the preservation quality of our new method we visualize the molecular arrangement of cadherins in adherens junctions of mouse epithelial cells.
Chemically induced photoswitching of fluorescent probes - a general concept for super-resolution microscopy
Peter J. Verveer
- We review fluorescent probes that can be photoswitched or photoactivated and are suited for single-molecule localization based super-resolution microscopy. We exploit the underlying photochemical mechanisms that allow photoswitching of many synthetic organic fluorophores in the presence of reducing agents, and study the impact of these on the photoswitching properties of various photoactivatable or photoconvertible fluorescent proteins. We have identified mEos2 as a fluorescent protein that exhibits reversible photoswitching under various imaging buffer conditions and present strategies to characterize reversible photoswitching. Finally, we discuss opportunities to combine fluorescent proteins with organic fluorophores for dual-color photoswitching microscopy.
Imaging-systems for localization-based super-resolution light-microscopy in physical biology : design and applications
- Physical Biology is a field of life sciences dealing with the extraction of quantitative data from biophysical or molecular biological experiments with different levels of complexity. Such data are further used as parameters for mathematical models of the biological system. These models allow to predict reactions on external stimuli by describing the relevant molecular interactions and are therefore used for example to generate a deeper comprehension of complex human diseases. An essential technique in biophysical research on human diseases is fluorescence microscopy. This is a constantly developed toolbox comprising a large number of specific labeling strategies, as well as a broad spectrum of fluorescent probes. It is further minimal invasive and therefore suitable for measurements in living cells or organisms. The sensitivity of modern photo-detectors even allows for the detection of a single fluorescent probe with an accuracy of approximately 10 nm.
The model-prediction was further verified by two color SMLM experiments. In this work the development and application of imaging-systems are described which provide quantitative data with single-molecule resolution for systems biological model approaches with a low degree of abstractness. In the near future, the impact of mathematical models in the research field of complex human diseases will increase. The predictions of these models will be more exact, the more detailed and accurate the input parameters will become. This work gives an impression of how quantitative data obtained by SMLM may serve as input parameters for mathematical models at the single-cell level.
The bryophyte flora of the Maltese Islands
- A list of all liverworts and mosses reported from the Maltese Islands with references has been compiled from the literature, which includes 23 species of liverworts and hornworts as well as 96 taxa of mosses. The list is completed by the results of a bryological fieldtrip in March 2008. During this trip, 14 species of liverworts and 40 species of mosses were collected, of which Cephaloziella baumgartneri, Didymodon luridus, Fissidens gracilifolius, Fossombronia echinata, Funaria pulchella, Riccia cavernosa and Weissia fallax are new to Malta. This raises the number of species known from the Maltese Islands to 23 horn- and liverworts and 100 mosses.