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Biology, Volume 6, Issue 2 (June 2017)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Intraguild Predation Dynamics in a Lake Ecosystem Based on a Coupled Hydrodynamic-Ecological Model: The Example of Lake Kinneret (Israel)
Biology 2017, 6(2), 22; doi:10.3390/biology6020022
Received: 16 February 2017 / Revised: 25 March 2017 / Accepted: 27 March 2017 / Published: 29 March 2017
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Abstract
The food web of Lake Kinneret contains intraguild predation (IGP). Predatory invertebrates and planktivorous fish both feed on herbivorous zooplankton, while the planktivorous fish also feed on the predatory invertebrates. In this study, a complex mechanistic hydrodynamic-ecological model, coupled to a bioenergetics-based fish
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The food web of Lake Kinneret contains intraguild predation (IGP). Predatory invertebrates and planktivorous fish both feed on herbivorous zooplankton, while the planktivorous fish also feed on the predatory invertebrates. In this study, a complex mechanistic hydrodynamic-ecological model, coupled to a bioenergetics-based fish population model (DYCD-FISH), was employed with the aim of revealing IGP dynamics. The results indicate that the predation pressure of predatory zooplankton on herbivorous zooplankton varies widely, depending on the season. At the time of its annual peak, it is 10–20 times higher than the fish predation pressure. When the number of fish was significantly higher, as occurs in the lake after atypical meteorological years, the effect was a shift from a bottom-up controlled ecosystem, to the top-down control of planktivorous fish and a significant reduction of predatory and herbivorous zooplankton biomass. Yet, seasonally, the decrease in predatory-zooplankton biomass was followed by a decrease in their predation pressure on herbivorous zooplankton, leading to an increase of herbivorous zooplankton biomass to an extent similar to the base level. The analysis demonstrates the emergence of non-equilibrium IGP dynamics due to intra-annual and inter-annual changes in the physico-chemical characteristics of the lake, and suggests that IGP dynamics should be considered in food web models in order to more accurately capture mass transfer and trophic interactions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Enzymology of 2-Hydroxyglutarate, 2-Hydroxyglutaramate and 2-Hydroxysuccinamate and Their Relationship to Oncometabolites
Biology 2017, 6(2), 24; doi:10.3390/biology6020024
Received: 1 December 2016 / Revised: 10 March 2017 / Accepted: 13 March 2017 / Published: 30 March 2017
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Abstract
Many enzymes make “mistakes”. Consequently, repair enzymes have evolved to correct these mistakes. For example, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and mitochondrial malate dehydrogenase (mMDH) slowly catalyze the reduction of 2-oxoglutarate (2-OG) to the oncometabolite l-2-hydroxyglutarate (l-2-HG). l-2-HG dehydrogenase corrects this
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Many enzymes make “mistakes”. Consequently, repair enzymes have evolved to correct these mistakes. For example, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and mitochondrial malate dehydrogenase (mMDH) slowly catalyze the reduction of 2-oxoglutarate (2-OG) to the oncometabolite l-2-hydroxyglutarate (l-2-HG). l-2-HG dehydrogenase corrects this error by converting l-2-HG to 2-OG. LDH also catalyzes the reduction of the oxo group of 2-oxoglutaramate (2-OGM; transamination product of l-glutamine). We show here that human glutamine synthetase (GS) catalyzes the amidation of the terminal carboxyl of both the l- and d- isomers of 2-HG. The reaction of 2-OGM with LDH and the reaction of l-2-HG with GS generate l-2-hydroxyglutaramate (l-2-HGM). We also show that l-2-HGM is a substrate of human ω-amidase. The product (l-2-HG) can then be converted to 2-OG by l-2-HG dehydrogenase. Previous work showed that 2-oxosuccinamate (2-OSM; transamination product of l-asparagine) is an excellent substrate of LDH. Finally, we also show that human ω-amidase converts the product of this reaction (i.e., l-2-hydroxysuccinamate; l-2-HSM) to l-malate. Thus, ω-amidase may act together with hydroxyglutarate dehydrogenases to repair certain “mistakes” of GS and LDH. The present findings suggest that non-productive pathways for nitrogen metabolism occur in mammalian tissues in vivo. Perturbations of these pathways may contribute to symptoms associated with hydroxyglutaric acidurias and to tumor progression. Finally, methods for the synthesis of l-2-HGM and l-2-HSM are described that should be useful in determining the roles of ω-amidase/4- and 5-C compounds in photorespiration in plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Enzymes of Glutamate Metabolism in Health and Disease)
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Open AccessArticle Rai1 Haploinsufficiency Is Associated with Social Abnormalities in Mice
Biology 2017, 6(2), 25; doi:10.3390/biology6020025
Received: 30 November 2016 / Revised: 13 April 2017 / Accepted: 20 April 2017 / Published: 27 April 2017
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Abstract
Background: Autism is characterized by difficulties in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors; with different degrees of severity in each of the core areas. Haploinsufficiency and point mutations of RAI1 are associated with Smith-Magenis syndrome (SMS), a genetic condition that scores within the
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Background: Autism is characterized by difficulties in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors; with different degrees of severity in each of the core areas. Haploinsufficiency and point mutations of RAI1 are associated with Smith-Magenis syndrome (SMS), a genetic condition that scores within the autism spectrum range for social responsiveness and communication, and is characterized by neurobehavioral abnormalities, intellectual disability, developmental delay, sleep disturbance, and self-injurious behaviors. Methods: To investigate the relationship between Rai1 and social impairment, we evaluated the Rai1+/− mice with a battery of tests to address social behavior in mice. Results: We found that the mutant mice showed diminished interest in social odors, abnormal submissive tendencies, and increased repetitive behaviors when compared to wild type littermates. Conclusions: These findings suggest that Rai1 contributes to social behavior in mice, and prompt it as a candidate gene for the social behaviors observed in Smith-Magenis Syndrome patients. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Identification of Highly Specific scFvs against Total Adiponectin for Diagnostic Purposes
Biology 2017, 6(2), 26; doi:10.3390/biology6020026
Received: 23 January 2017 / Revised: 12 April 2017 / Accepted: 20 April 2017 / Published: 26 April 2017
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Abstract
Adiponectin is one of the most abundant adipokines secreted from adipose tissue. It acts as an endogenous insulin sensitizer and plasma concentrations are inversely correlated with obesity and metabolic syndrome. A decrease in plasma adiponectin levels normally indicates increased hormonal activity of the
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Adiponectin is one of the most abundant adipokines secreted from adipose tissue. It acts as an endogenous insulin sensitizer and plasma concentrations are inversely correlated with obesity and metabolic syndrome. A decrease in plasma adiponectin levels normally indicates increased hormonal activity of the visceral lipid tissue, which is associated with decreased insulin sensitivity. It may therefore be considered a valuable biomarker for elucidating the underlying deteriorations resulting in type 2 diabetes and macrovascular disease. Here we present the use of phage display technology to identify highly specific antibody fragments (scFvs) against adiponectin. The selected scFvs showed highly specific binding to globular and native adiponectin in ELISA tests. By using our phage display technology, we were able to obtain monoclonal antibodies with specific high affinity binding to the target protein in an effective and easy to upscale manner. The selected scFvs against adiponectin can be used for developing immunoassays suitable for use in metabolic syndrome diagnosis and monitoring. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Developmental Control of NRAMP1 (SLC11A1) Expression in Professional Phagocytes
Biology 2017, 6(2), 28; doi:10.3390/biology6020028
Received: 20 January 2017 / Revised: 25 April 2017 / Accepted: 25 April 2017 / Published: 3 May 2017
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Abstract
NRAMP1 (SLC11A1) is a professional phagocyte membrane importer of divalent metals that contributes to iron recycling at homeostasis and to nutritional immunity against infection. Analyses of data generated by several consortia and additional studies were integrated to hypothesize mechanisms restricting NRAMP1 expression to
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NRAMP1 (SLC11A1) is a professional phagocyte membrane importer of divalent metals that contributes to iron recycling at homeostasis and to nutritional immunity against infection. Analyses of data generated by several consortia and additional studies were integrated to hypothesize mechanisms restricting NRAMP1 expression to mature phagocytes. Results from various epigenetic and transcriptomic approaches were collected for mesodermal and hematopoietic cell types and compiled for combined analysis with results of genetic studies associating single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with variations in NRAMP1 expression (eQTLs). Analyses establish that NRAMP1 is part of an autonomous topologically associated domain delimited by ubiquitous CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) sites. NRAMP1 locus contains five regulatory regions: a predicted super-enhancer (S-E) key to phagocyte-specific expression; the proximal promoter; two intronic areas, including 3′ inhibitory elements that restrict expression during development; and a block of upstream sites possibly extending the S-E domain. Also the downstream region adjacent to the 3′ CTCF locus boundary may regulate expression during hematopoiesis. Mobilization of the locus 14 predicted transcriptional regulatory elements occurs in three steps, beginning with hematopoiesis; at the onset of myelopoiesis and through myelo-monocytic differentiation. Basal expression level in mature phagocytes is further influenced by genetic variation, tissue environment, and in response to infections that induce various epigenetic memories depending on microorganism nature. Constitutively associated transcription factors (TFs) include CCAAT enhancer binding protein beta (C/EBPb), purine rich DNA binding protein (PU.1), early growth response 2 (EGR2) and signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) while hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) and interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF1) may stimulate iron acquisition in pro-inflammatory conditions. Mouse orthologous locus is generally conserved; chromatin patterns typify a de novo myelo-monocytic gene whose expression is tightly controlled by TFs Pu.1, C/ebps and Irf8; Irf3 and nuclear factor NF-kappa-B p 65 subunit (RelA) regulate expression in inflammatory conditions. Functional differences in the determinants identified at these orthologous loci imply that species-specific mechanisms control gene expression. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Characterisation of Arctic Bacterial Communities in the Air above Svalbard
Biology 2017, 6(2), 29; doi:10.3390/biology6020029
Received: 27 December 2016 / Revised: 20 April 2017 / Accepted: 21 April 2017 / Published: 6 May 2017
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Abstract
Atmospheric dispersal of bacteria is increasingly acknowledged as an important factor influencing bacterial community biodiversity, biogeography and bacteria–human interactions, including those linked to human health. However, knowledge about patterns in microbial aerobiology is still relatively scarce, and this can be attributed, in part,
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Atmospheric dispersal of bacteria is increasingly acknowledged as an important factor influencing bacterial community biodiversity, biogeography and bacteria–human interactions, including those linked to human health. However, knowledge about patterns in microbial aerobiology is still relatively scarce, and this can be attributed, in part, to a lack of consensus on appropriate sampling and analytical methodology. In this study, three different methods were used to investigate aerial biodiversity over Svalbard: impaction, membrane filtration and drop plates. Sites around Svalbard were selected due to their relatively remote location, low human population, geographical location with respect to air movement and the tradition and history of scientific investigation on the archipelago, ensuring the presence of existing research infrastructure. The aerial bacterial biodiversity found was similar to that described in other aerobiological studies from both polar and non-polar environments, with Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Firmicutes being the predominant groups. Twelve different phyla were detected in the air collected above Svalbard, although the diversity was considerably lower than in urban environments elsewhere. However, only 58 of 196 bacterial genera detected were consistently present, suggesting potentially higher levels of heterogeneity. Viable bacteria were present at all sampling locations, showing that living bacteria are ubiquitous in the air around Svalbard. Sampling location influenced the results obtained, as did sampling method. Specifically, impaction with a Sartorius MD8 produced a significantly higher number of viable colony forming units (CFUs) than drop plates alone. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Treatment of Real-World HCV Genotype 2-Infected Japanese Patients with Sofosbuvir plus Ribavirin
Biology 2017, 6(2), 30; doi:10.3390/biology6020030
Received: 1 March 2017 / Revised: 4 May 2017 / Accepted: 6 May 2017 / Published: 9 May 2017
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Abstract
The aim of this study was to characterize the treatment response and tolerability of sofosbuvir plus ribavirin therapies in Japanese patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype (GT)-2. This retrospective study analyzed 114 Japanese HCV GT-2 patients treated for 12 weeks with
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The aim of this study was to characterize the treatment response and tolerability of sofosbuvir plus ribavirin therapies in Japanese patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype (GT)-2. This retrospective study analyzed 114 Japanese HCV GT-2 patients treated for 12 weeks with 400 mg of sofosbuvir plus weight-based ribavirin daily. This treatment led to higher sustained virologic response at 12-weeks post-treatment (SVR12) rates in both treatment-naïve and treatment-experienced patients. The efficacy of this treatment in compensated cirrhotics was the same as that in patients with chronic hepatitis. HCV GT-2a infection and lower estimated glomerular filtration rates (eGFR) tended to be associated with SVR12. Of 114 patients, 113 completed the combination of sofosbuvir plus ribavirin for 12 weeks. Seven patients without SVR12 did not have HCV NS5B-S282 mutations. The overall SVR12 rate was 90.4% (103 of 114). More effective therapeutic options with less adverse events are desired to achieve higher SVR rates in HCV GT-2 Japanese patients. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Seed Coating Increases Seed Moisture Uptake and Restricts Embryonic Oxygen Availability in Germinating Cereal Seeds
Biology 2017, 6(2), 31; doi:10.3390/biology6020031
Received: 27 February 2017 / Revised: 1 May 2017 / Accepted: 20 May 2017 / Published: 24 May 2017
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Abstract
Seed coating is a technology to improve germination and homogenize stand establishment. Although coating often results in lower germination rates, seeds that do germinate grow more vigorously and show strongly reduced respiratory losses during reserve mobilization. We hypothesize that the higher mobilization efficiency
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Seed coating is a technology to improve germination and homogenize stand establishment. Although coating often results in lower germination rates, seeds that do germinate grow more vigorously and show strongly reduced respiratory losses during reserve mobilization. We hypothesize that the higher mobilization efficiency is due to a shift in the enzymatic cleavage of sucrose from invertase to sucrose synthase in the embryonic tissue caused by a reduced oxygen availability induced by oversaturation with water caused by the coating during early germination. We investigated the effect of coating on barley, rye, and wheat seed imbibition during the first 30 h after seeds were placed in moisture. We profiled oxygen in the embryos and measured sucrose and acid invertase levels as imbibition progressed. We found that seeds within coatings absorbed significantly more moisture than uncoated seeds. Coating resulted in near anoxic oxygen concentrations in the developing embryonic tissues in all three species. In barley, sucrose was not cleaved via the invertase pathway, despite the fact that invertase activity in coated seeds was increased. In rye and wheat, invertase activities were significantly lower in embryos from coated seeds without significantly changing the sugar composition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Seed Germination and Growth of Plants under Abiotic Stress)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Coenzyme-A-Independent Transacylation System; Possible Involvement of Phospholipase A2 in Transacylation
Biology 2017, 6(2), 23; doi:10.3390/biology6020023
Received: 8 November 2016 / Revised: 23 March 2017 / Accepted: 24 March 2017 / Published: 30 March 2017
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Abstract
The coenzyme A (CoA)-independent transacylation system catalyzes fatty acid transfer from phospholipids to lysophospholipids in the absence of cofactors such as CoA. It prefers to use C20 and C22 polyunsaturated fatty acids such as arachidonic acid, which are esterified in the glycerophospholipid at
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The coenzyme A (CoA)-independent transacylation system catalyzes fatty acid transfer from phospholipids to lysophospholipids in the absence of cofactors such as CoA. It prefers to use C20 and C22 polyunsaturated fatty acids such as arachidonic acid, which are esterified in the glycerophospholipid at the sn-2 position. This system can also acylate alkyl ether-linked lysophospholipids, is involved in the enrichment of arachidonic acid in alkyl ether-linked glycerophospholipids, and is critical for the metabolism of eicosanoids and platelet-activating factor. Despite their importance, the enzymes responsible for these reactions have yet to be identified. In this review, we describe the features of the Ca2+-independent, membrane-bound CoA-independent transacylation system and its selectivity for arachidonic acid. We also speculate on the involvement of phospholipase A2 in the CoA-independent transacylation reaction. Full article
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Open AccessReview Is Polysialylated NCAM Not Only a Regulator during Brain Development But also during the Formation of Other Organs?
Biology 2017, 6(2), 27; doi:10.3390/biology6020027
Received: 1 March 2017 / Revised: 24 April 2017 / Accepted: 24 April 2017 / Published: 27 April 2017
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Abstract
In mammals several cell adhesion molecules are involved during the pre- and postnatal development of all organ systems. A very prominent member of this family is the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM). Interestingly, NCAM can be a target for a special form of
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In mammals several cell adhesion molecules are involved during the pre- and postnatal development of all organ systems. A very prominent member of this family is the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM). Interestingly, NCAM can be a target for a special form of posttranslational modification: polysialylation. Whereas nearly all extracellular proteins bear mono-sialic acid residues, only a very small group can be polysialylated. Polysialic acid is a highly negatively-charged sugar polymer and can comprise more than 90 sialic acid residues in postnatal mouse brains increasing dramatically the hydrodynamic radius of their carriers. Thus, adhesion and communication processes on cell surfaces are strongly influenced allowing, e.g., the migration of neuronal progenitor cells. In the developing brain the essential role of polysialylated NCAM has been demonstrated in many studies. In comparison to the neuronal system, however, during the formation of other organs the impact of the polysialylated form of NCAM is not well characterized and the number of studies is limited so far. This review summarizes these observations and discusses possible roles of polysialylated NCAM during the development of organs other than the brain. Full article
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