Metabolic Changes in Summer Active and Anuric Hibernating Free-Ranging Brown Bears (Ursus arctos)
Abdul Rashid Qureshi
Richard J. Johnson
- The brown bear (Ursus arctos) hibernates for 5 to 6 months each winter and during this time ingests no food or water and remains anuric and inactive. Despite these extreme conditions, bears do not develop azotemia and preserve their muscle and bone strength. To date most renal studies have been limited to small numbers of bears, often in captive environments. Sixteen free-ranging bears were darted and had blood drawn both during hibernation in winter and summer. Samples were collected for measurement of creatinine and urea, markers of inflammation, the calcium-phosphate axis, and nutritional parameters including amino acids. In winter the bear serum creatinine increased 2.5 fold despite a 2-fold decrease in urea, indicating a remarkable ability to recycle urea nitrogen during hibernation. During hibernation serum calcium remained constant despite a decrease in serum phosphate and a rise in FGF23 levels. Despite prolonged inactivity and reduced renal function, inflammation does not ensue and bears seem to have enhanced antioxidant defense mechanisms during hibernation. Nutrition parameters showed high fat stores, preserved amino acids and mild hyperglycemia during hibernation. While total, essential, non-essential and branched chain amino acids concentrations do not change during hibernation anorexia, changes in individual amino acids ornithine, citrulline and arginine indicate an active, although reduced urea cycle and nitrogen recycling to proteins. Serum uric acid and serum fructose levels were elevated in summer and changes between seasons were positively correlated. Further studies to understand how bears can prevent the development of uremia despite minimal renal function during hibernation could provide new therapeutic avenues for the treatment of human kidney disease.
Prox1 regulates the notch1-mediated inhibition of neurogenesis
Panagiotis K. Politis
- Activation of Notch1 signaling in neural progenitor cells (NPCs) induces self-renewal and inhibits neurogenesis. Upon neuronal differentiation, NPCs overcome this inhibition, express proneural genes to induce Notch ligands, and activate Notch1 in neighboring NPCs. The molecular mechanism that coordinates Notch1 inactivation with initiation of neurogenesis remains elusive. Here, we provide evidence that Prox1, a transcription repressor and downstream target of proneural genes, counteracts Notch1 signaling via direct suppression of Notch1 gene expression. By expression studies in the developing spinal cord of chick and mouse embryo, we showed that Prox1 is limited to neuronal precursors residing between the Notch1+ NPCs and post-mitotic neurons. Physiological levels of Prox1 in this tissue are sufficient to allow binding at Notch1 promoter and they are critical for proper Notch1 transcriptional regulation in vivo. Gain-of-function studies in the chick neural tube and mouse NPCs suggest that Prox1-mediated suppression of Notch1 relieves its inhibition on neurogenesis and allows NPCs to exit the cell cycle and differentiate. Moreover, loss-of-function in the chick neural tube shows that Prox1 is necessary for suppression of Notch1 outside the ventricular zone, inhibition of active Notch signaling, down-regulation of NPC markers, and completion of neuronal differentiation program. Together these data suggest that Prox1 inhibits Notch1 gene expression to control the balance between NPC self-renewal and neuronal differentiation.
Live Imaging of Whole Mouse Embryos during Gastrulation: Migration Analyses of Epiblast and Mesodermal Cells
Philipp J. Keller
Ernst H. K. Stelzer
- During gastrulation in the mouse embryo, dynamic cell movements including epiblast invagination and mesodermal layer expansion lead to the establishment of the three-layered body plan. The precise details of these movements, however, are sometimes elusive, because of the limitations in live imaging. To overcome this problem, we developed techniques to enable observation of living mouse embryos with digital scanned light sheet microscope (DSLM). The achieved deep and high time-resolution images of GFP-expressing nuclei and following 3D tracking analysis revealed the following findings: (i) Interkinetic nuclear migration (INM) occurs in the epiblast at embryonic day (E)6 and 6.5. (ii) INM-like migration occurs in the E5.5 embryo, when the epiblast is a monolayer and not yet pseudostratified. (iii) Primary driving force for INM at E6.5 is not pressure from neighboring nuclei. (iv) Mesodermal cells migrate not as a sheet but as individual cells without coordination.
Basement Membrane-Rich Organoids with Functional Human Blood Vessels Are Permissive Niches for Human Breast Cancer Metastasis
Ángel M. Cuesta
Ana M. Álvarez-Méndez
- Metastasic breast cancer is the leading cause of death by malignancy in women worldwide. Tumor metastasis is a multistep process encompassing local invasion of cancer cells at primary tumor site, intravasation into the blood vessel, survival in systemic circulation, and extravasation across the endothelium to metastasize at a secondary site. However, only a small percentage of circulating cancer cells initiate metastatic colonies. This fact, together with the inaccessibility and structural complexity of target tissues has hampered the study of the later steps in cancer metastasis. In addition, most data are derived from in vivo models where critical steps such as intravasation/extravasation of human cancer cells are mediated by murine endothelial cells. Here, we developed a new mouse model to study the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying late steps of the metastatic cascade. We have shown that a network of functional human blood vessels can be formed by co-implantation of human endothelial cells and mesenchymal cells, embedded within a reconstituted basement membrane-like matrix and inoculated subcutaneously into immunodeficient mice. The ability of circulating cancer cells to colonize these human vascularized organoids was next assessed in an orthotopic model of human breast cancer by bioluminescent imaging, molecular techniques and immunohistological analysis. We demonstrate that disseminated human breast cancer cells efficiently colonize organoids containing a functional microvessel network composed of human endothelial cells, connected to the mouse circulatory system. Human breast cancer cells could be clearly detected at different stages of the metastatic process: initial arrest in the human microvasculature, extravasation, and growth into avascular micrometastases. This new mouse model may help us to map the extravasation process with unprecedented detail, opening the way for the identification of relevant targets for therapeutic intervention.
On functional module detection in metabolic networks
- Functional modules of metabolic networks are essential for understanding the metabolism of an organism as a whole. With the vast amount of experimental data and the construction of complex and large-scale, often genome-wide, models, the computer-aided identification of functional modules becomes more and more important. Since steady states play a key role in biology, many methods have been developed in that context, for example, elementary flux modes, extreme pathways, transition invariants and place invariants. Metabolic networks can be studied also from the point of view of graph theory, and algorithms for graph decomposition have been applied for the identification of functional modules. A prominent and currently intensively discussed field of methods in graph theory addresses the Q-modularity. In this paper, we recall known concepts of module detection based on the steady-state assumption, focusing on transition-invariants (elementary modes) and their computation as minimal solutions of systems of Diophantine equations. We present the Fourier-Motzkin algorithm in detail. Afterwards, we introduce the Q-modularity as an example for a useful non-steady-state method and its application to metabolic networks. To illustrate and discuss the concepts of invariants and Q-modularity, we apply a part of the central carbon metabolism in potato tubers (Solanum tuberosum) as running example. The intention of the paper is to give a compact presentation of known steady-state concepts from a graph-theoretical viewpoint in the context of network decomposition and reduction and to introduce the application of Q-modularity to metabolic Petri net models.
Unmasking a temperature-dependent effect of the P. anserina i-AAA protease on aging and development
Heinz D. Osiewacz
- Different molecular pathways involved in maintaining mitochondrial function are of fundamental importance to control cellular homeostasis. Mitochondrial i-AAA protease is part of such a surveillance system, and PaIAP is the putative ortholog in the fungal aging model Podospora anserina. Here, we investigate the role of PaIAP in aging and development. Deletion of the gene encoding PaIAP resulted in a specific phenotype. When incubated at 27°C, spore germination and fruiting body formation are not different from that of the corresponding wild-type strain. Unexpectedly, the lifespan of the deletion strain is strongly increased. In contrast, cultivation at an elevated temperature of 37°C leads to impairments in spore germination and fruiting body formation and to a reduced lifespan. The higher PaIAP abundance in wild-type strains of the fungus grown at elevated temperature and the phenotype of the deletion strain unmasks a temperature-related role of the protein. The protease appears to be part of a molecular system that has evolved to allow survival under changing temperatures, as they characteristically occur in nature.
Development of a D-xylose fermenting and inhibitor tolerant industrial Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain with high performance in lignocellulose hydrolysates using metabolic and evolutionary engineering
Mekonnen M. Demeke
María R. Foulquié-Moreno
Tom Den Abt
Beatriz M. Bonini
Johan M. Thevelein
- Background: The production of bioethanol from lignocellulose hydrolysates requires a robust, D-xylose-fermenting and inhibitor-tolerant microorganism as catalyst. The purpose of the present work was to develop such a strain from a prime industrial yeast strain, Ethanol Red, used for bioethanol production.
Results: An expression cassette containing 13 genes including Clostridium phytofermentans XylA, encoding D-xylose isomerase (XI), and enzymes of the pentose phosphate pathway was inserted in two copies in the genome of Ethanol Red. Subsequent EMS mutagenesis, genome shuffling and selection in D-xylose-enriched lignocellulose hydrolysate, followed by multiple rounds of evolutionary engineering in complex medium with D-xylose, gradually established efficient D-xylose fermentation. The best-performing strain, GS1.11-26, showed a maximum specific D-xylose consumption rate of 1.1 g/g DW/h in synthetic medium, with complete attenuation of 35 g/L D-xylose in about 17 h. In separate hydrolysis and fermentation of lignocellulose hydrolysates of Arundo donax (giant reed), spruce and a wheat straw/hay mixture, the maximum specific D-xylose consumption rate was 0.36, 0.23 and 1.1 g/g DW inoculum/h, and the final ethanol titer was 4.2, 3.9 and 5.8% (v/v), respectively. In simultaneous saccharification and fermentation of Arundo hydrolysate, GS1.11-26 produced 32% more ethanol than the parent strain Ethanol Red, due to efficient D-xylose utilization. The high D-xylose fermentation capacity was stable after extended growth in glucose. Cell extracts of strain GS1.11-26 displayed 17-fold higher XI activity compared to the parent strain, but overexpression of XI alone was not enough to establish D-xylose fermentation. The high D-xylose consumption rate was due to synergistic interaction between the high XI activity and one or more mutations in the genome. The GS1.11-26 had a partial respiratory defect causing a reduced aerobic growth rate.
Conclusions: An industrial yeast strain for bioethanol production with lignocellulose hydrolysates has been developed in the genetic background of a strain widely used for commercial bioethanol production. The strain uses glucose and D-xylose with high consumption rates and partial cofermentation in various lignocellulose hydrolysates with very high ethanol yield. The GS1.11-26 strain shows highly promising potential for further development of an all-round robust yeast strain for efficient fermentation of various lignocellulose hydrolysates.
Nitrogen regulation of protein–protein interactions and transcript levels of GlnK PII regulator and AmtB ammonium transporter homologs in Archaea
María José Bonete
- Gene homologs of GlnK PII regulators and AmtB-type ammonium transporters are often paired on prokaryotic genomes, suggesting these proteins share an ancient functional relationship. Here, we demonstrate for the first time in Archaea that GlnK associates with AmtB in membrane fractions after ammonium shock, thus, providing a further insight into GlnK-AmtB as an ancient nitrogen sensor pair. For this work, Haloferax mediterranei was advanced for study through the generation of a pyrE2-based counterselection system that was used for targeted gene deletion and expression of Flag-tagged proteins from their native promoters. AmtB1-Flag was detected in membrane fractions of cells grown on nitrate and was found to coimmunoprecipitate with GlnK after ammonium shock. Thus, in analogy to bacteria, the archaeal GlnK PII may block the AmtB1 ammonium transporter under nitrogen-rich conditions. In addition to this regulated protein–protein interaction, the archaeal amtB-glnK gene pairs were found to be highly regulated by nitrogen availability with transcript levels high under conditions of nitrogen limitation and low during nitrogen excess. While transcript levels of glnK-amtB are similarly regulated by nitrogen availability in bacteria, transcriptional regulators of the bacterial glnK promoter including activation by the two-component signal transduction proteins NtrC (GlnG, NRI) and NtrB (GlnL, NRII) and sigma factor σN (σ54) are not conserved in archaea suggesting a novel mechanism of transcriptional control.
Casanovas are liars: behavioral syndromes, sperm competition risk, and the evolution of deceptive male mating behavior in live-bearing fishes [v1; ref status: approved with reservations 3, http://f1000r.es/pc]
Amber M. Makowicz
- Mate choice in many species is sensitive to social cues from neighboring individuals; for example, animals can copy mate choice decisions. If males copy other males’ choices, sperm of two or more males can compete for fertilization of the female’s ova. In the internally fertilizing fish Poecilia mexicana, males respond to the presence of rivals with reduced expression of mating preferences (audience effect), thereby lowering the risk of by-standing rivals copying their mate choice. Also, males interact initially more with a non-preferred female when observed by a rival, which has been interpreted in previous studies as a strategy to mislead rivals, again reducing sperm competition risk (SCR). Using a comparative approach, we tested the hypothesis that SCR is indeed a driving force explaining the occurrence of audience-induced changes in poeciliid male mate choice behavior. If this were true, then males of species with higher overall sexual activity — and, thus, higher potential for multiple mating — should show stronger audience effects. We investigated ten poeciliid species (in two cases including multiple populations) and found support for our hypothesis as mean sexual activity correlated positively with the occurrence of potentially deceptive behavior. An alternative explanation for audience effects would be that males attempt to avoid aggressive encounters, which would predict stronger audience effects in more aggressive species, and so we also characterized the examined species for aggressiveness using staged contests of size-matched males. We demonstrate a positive correlation between mean aggressiveness and sexual activity (suggesting a hormonal link as a mechanistic explanation), but we detected no correlation between aggressiveness and audience effects. Suites of correlated behavioral tendencies are termed behavioral syndromes, and our present study provides correlational evidence for the evolutionary significance of SCR in shaping a behavioral syndrome at the species level across poeciliid taxa.
Casanovas are liars: behavioral syndromes, sperm competition
risk, and the evolution of deceptive male mating behavior in
live-bearing fishes [v2; ref status: indexed, http://f1000r.es/1ko]
Amber M. Makowicz
- Male reproductive biology can by characterized through competition over mates as well as mate choice. Multiple mating and male mate choice copying, especially in internally fertilizing species, set the stage for increased sperm competition, i.e., sperm of two or more males can compete for fertilization of the female’s ova. In the internally fertilizing fish Poecilia mexicana, males respond to the presence of rivals with reduced expression of mating preferences (audience effect), thereby lowering the risk of by-standing rivals copying their mate choice. Also, males interact initially more with a non-preferred female when observed by a rival, which has been interpreted in previous studies as a strategy to mislead rivals, again reducing sperm competition risk (SCR). Nevertheless, species might differ consistently in their expression of aggressive and reproductive behaviors, possibly due to varying levels of SCR. In the current study, we present a unique data set comprising ten poeciliid species (in two cases including multiple populations) and ask whether species can be characterized through consistent differences in the expression of aggression, sexual activity and changes in mate choice under increased SCR. We found consistent species-specific differences in aggressive behavior, sexual activity as well as in the level of misleading behavior, while decreased preference expression under increased SCR was a general feature of all but one species examined. Furthermore, mean sexual activity correlated positively with the occurrence of potentially misleading behavior. An alternative explanation for audience effects would be that males attempt to avoid aggressive encounters, which would predict stronger audience effects in more aggressive species. We demonstrate a positive correlation between mean aggressiveness and sexual activity (suggesting a hormonal link as a mechanistic explanation), but did not detect a correlation between aggressiveness and audience effects. Suites of correlated behavioral tendencies are termed behavioral syndromes, and our present study provides correlational evidence for the evolutionary significance of SCR in shaping a behavioral syndrome at the species level across poeciliid taxa.