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.
OTU deubiquitinases reveal mechanisms of linkage specificity and enable ubiquitin chain restriction analysis
Tycho E.T. Mevissen
Manuela K. Hospenthal
Paul P. Geurink
Paul R. Elliott
Farid El Oualid
Stefan M. V. Freund
- Sixteen ovarian tumor (OTU) family deubiquitinases (DUBs) exist in humans, and most members regulate cell-signaling cascades. Several OTU DUBs were reported to be ubiquitin (Ub) chain linkage specific, but comprehensive analyses are missing, and the underlying mechanisms of linkage specificity are unclear. Using Ub chains of all eight linkage types, we reveal that most human OTU enzymes are linkage specific, preferring one, two, or a defined subset of linkage types, including unstudied atypical Ub chains. Biochemical analysis and five crystal structures of OTU DUBs with or without Ub substrates reveal four mechanisms of linkage specificity. Additional Ub-binding domains, the ubiquitinated sequence in the substrate, and defined S1’ and S2 Ub-binding sites on the OTU domain enable OTU DUBs to distinguish linkage types. We introduce Ub chain restriction analysis, in which OTU DUBs are used as restriction enzymes to reveal linkage type and the relative abundance of Ub chains on substrates.
Comparative toxicity assessment of nanosilver on three Daphnia species in acute, chronic and multi-generation experiments
- The antibacterial properties of nanosilver have led to a versatile application spectrum including medical purposes and personal care products. However, the increasing use of nanosilver has raised concerns about its environmental impacts. Long-term exposure studies with aquatic invertebrates are essential to assess possible adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems. In the present study, acute (48 h), chronic (21 d) and long-term effects of nanosilver (primary size 15 nm) on five successive generations of three Daphnia species (D. magna, D. pulex, and D. galeata) were investigated. Acute EC50 values of nanosilver were 121 µg Ag L−1 for D. magna being the least sensitive species and 8.95 and 13.9 µg Ag L−1 for D. pulex and D. galeata, respectively. Chronic exposure provided EC10 values of 0.92 µg Ag L−1 for D. magna showing the most sensitive chronic reaction and 2.25 and 3.45 µg Ag L−1 for D. pulex and D. galeata, respectively. Comparative exposure to AgNO3 revealed a generally higher toxicity of the soluble form of silver. The multi-generation experiments resulted in effects on the population level for all tested species. Exposure of D. magna indicated an increased toxicity of nanosilver in the fifth generation of animals exposed to 10 µg Ag L−1. Neonates from pre-exposed parental daphnids did not completely recover when transferred into clean water. Exposure of D. pulex and D. galeata revealed not only increasing toxicity in some generations, but also greater tolerance to nanosilver. This study contributes to the assessment of the risk potential of nanosilver on aquatic ecosystems. It shows that effects of nanosilver vary within one genus and change with exposure duration. Therefore, long-term studies considering different aquatic species are needed to better understand the possible effects of nanosilver on aquatic ecosystems.
RAF kinase activity regulates neuroepithelial cell proliferation and neuronal progenitor cell differentiation during early inner ear development
Maria Rodriguez Aburto
Ulf Rüdiger Rapp
- Background: Early inner ear development requires the strict regulation of cell proliferation, survival, migration and differentiation, coordinated by the concerted action of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Deregulation of these processes is associated with embryonic malformations and deafness. We have shown that insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) plays a key role in embryonic and postnatal otic development by triggering the activation of intracellular lipid and protein kinases. RAF kinases are serine/threonine kinases that regulate the highly conserved RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK signaling cascade involved in transducing the signals from extracellular growth factors to the nucleus. However, the regulation of RAF kinase activity by growth factors during development is complex and still not fully understood.
Methodology/Principal Findings: By using a combination of qRT-PCR, Western blotting, immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization, we show that C-RAF and B-RAF are expressed during the early development of the chicken inner ear in specific spatiotemporal patterns. Moreover, later in development B-RAF expression is associated to hair cells in the sensory patches. Experiments in ex vivo cultures of otic vesicle explants demonstrate that the influence of IGF-I on proliferation but not survival depends on RAF kinase activating the MEK-ERK phosphorylation cascade. With the specific RAF inhibitor Sorafenib, we show that blocking RAF activity in organotypic cultures increases apoptosis and diminishes the rate of cell proliferation in the otic epithelia, as well as severely impairing neurogenesis of the acoustic-vestibular ganglion (AVG) and neuron maturation.
Conclusions/Significance: We conclude that RAF kinase activity is essential to establish the balance between cell proliferation and death in neuroepithelial otic precursors, and for otic neuron differentiation and axonal growth at the AVG.
Early otic development depends on autophagy for apoptotic cell clearance and neural differentiation
Maria Rodriguez Aburto
Juan M. Hurlé
- Autophagy is a highly regulated program of self-degradation of the cytosolic constituents that has key roles during early development and in adult cell growth and homeostasis. To investigate the role of autophagy in otic neurogenesis, we studied the expression of autophagy genes in early stages of chicken (Gallus gallus) inner ear development and the consequences of inhibiting the autophagic pathway in organotypic cultures of explanted chicken otic vesicles (OVs). Here we show the expression of autophagy-related genes (Atg) Beclin-1 (Atg6), Atg5 and LC3B (Atg8) in the otocyst and the presence of autophagic vesicles by using transmission electron microscopy in the otic neurogenic zone. The inhibition of the transcription of LC3B by using antisense morpholinos and of class III phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase with 3-methyladenine causes an aberrant morphology of the OV with accumulation of apoptotic cells. Moreover, inhibition of autophagy provokes the misregulation of the cell cycle in the otic epithelium, impaired neurogenesis and poor axonal outgrowth. Finally, our results indicate that autophagy provides the energy required for the clearing of neuroepithelial dying cells and suggest that it is required for the migration of otic neuronal precursors. Taken together, our results show for the first time that autophagy is an active and essential process during early inner ear development.
APOOL is a cardiolipin-binding component of the Mitofilin/MINOS protein complex determining cristae morphology in mammalian mitochondria
Tobias Alexander Weber
Alexander van der Bliek
Andreas S. Reichert
- Mitochondrial cristae morphology is highly variable and altered under numerous pathological conditions. The protein complexes involved are largely unknown or only insufficiently characterized. Using complexome profiling we identified apolipoprotein O (APOO) and apolipoprotein O-like protein (APOOL) as putative components of the Mitofilin/MINOS protein complex which was recently implicated in determining cristae morphology. We show that APOOL is a mitochondrial membrane protein facing the intermembrane space. It specifically binds to cardiolipin in vitro but not to the precursor lipid phosphatidylglycerol. Overexpression of APOOL led to fragmentation of mitochondria, a reduced basal oxygen consumption rate, and altered cristae morphology. Downregulation of APOOL impaired mitochondrial respiration and caused major alterations in cristae morphology. We further show that APOOL physically interacts with several subunits of the MINOS complex, namely Mitofilin, MINOS1, and SAMM50. We conclude that APOOL is a cardiolipin-binding component of the Mitofilin/MINOS protein complex determining cristae morphology in mammalian mitochondria. Our findings further assign an intracellular role to a member of the apolipoprotein family in mammals.