Abstract: Building mathematical models of cellular networks lies at the core of systems biology. It involves, among other tasks, the reconstruction of the structure of interactions between molecular components, which is known as network inference or reverse engineering. Information theory can help in the goal of extracting as much information as possible from the available data. A large number of methods founded on these concepts have been proposed in the literature, not only in biology journals, but in a wide range of areas. Their critical comparison is difficult due to the different focuses and the adoption of different terminologies. Here we attempt to review some of the existing information theoretic methodologies for network inference, and clarify their differences. While some of these methods have achieved notable success, many challenges remain, among which we can mention dealing with incomplete measurements, noisy data, counterintuitive behaviour emerging from nonlinear relations or feedback loops, and computational burden of dealing with large data sets.
Abstract: An apoptotic program leading to controlled cell dismantling implies perturbations of nuclear dynamics, as well as changes affecting the organelle structure and distribution. In human cancer cells driven to apoptosis by different stimuli, we have recently investigated the morphological properties of several organelles, including mitochondria, lysosomes, endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus. In this review, we will discuss the body of evidence in the literature suggesting that organelles are generally relocated and/or degraded during apoptosis, irrespectively of the apoptogenic stimulus and cell type.
Abstract: Mathematical modeling of signaling and gene regulatory networks has provided unique insights about systems behaviors for many cell biological problems of medical importance. Quantitative single cell monitoring has a crucial role in advancing systems modeling of molecular networks. However, due to the multidisciplinary techniques that are necessary for adaptation of such systems biology approaches, dissemination to a wide research community has been relatively slow. In this essay, I focus on some technical aspects that are often under-appreciated, yet critical in harnessing live cell imaging methods to achieve single-cell-level understanding and quantitative modeling of molecular networks. The importance of these technical considerations will be elaborated with examples of successes and shortcomings. Future efforts will benefit by avoiding some pitfalls and by utilizing the lessons collectively learned from recent applications of imaging in systems biology.
Abstract: Pancreatic beta-cell apoptosis is an important feature of islets in type 2 diabetes. Apoptosis can occur through two major pathways, the extrinsic or death receptor mediated pathway, and the intrinsic or Bcl-2-regulated pathway. Hyperglycaemia, hyperlipidaemia and islet amyloid poly-peptide (IAPP) represent important possible causes of increased beta-cell apoptosis. Hyperglycaemia induces islet-cell apoptosis by the intrinsic pathway involving molecules of the Bcl-2 family. High concentrations of palmitate also activate intrinsic apoptosis in islets cells. IAPP oligomers can induce apoptosis by both intrinsic and extrinsic pathways. IL-1b produced through NLRP3 inflammasome activation can also induce islet cell death. Activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome may not be important for glucose or palmitate induced apoptosis in islets but may be important for IAPP mediated cell death. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and oxidative stress have been observed in beta cells in type 2 diabetes, and these could be the link between upstream metabolic abnormalities and downstream apoptotic machinery.
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to perform a number of preliminary in vitro evaluations on an array of modified gelatin gel sponge scaffolds for use in a bone graft application. The gelatin gels were modified through the addition of a number of components which each possess unique properties conducive to the creation and regeneration of bone: a preparation rich in growth factors (PRGF, a bioactive, lyophilized form of platelet-rich plasma), hydroxyapatite, and chitin whiskers. Platelet-rich plasma therapy is an emerging practice that has proven effective in a number of clinical applications, including enhancing bone repair through improved deposition of new bony matrix and angiogenesis. As such, the inclusion of PRGF in our gelatin scaffolds was intended to significantly enhance scaffold bioactivity, while the addition of hydroxyapatite and chitin whiskers were anticipated to increase scaffold strength. Additionally, the gelatin sponges, which readily dissolve in aqueous solutions, were subjected to 1-Ethyl-3-[3-dimethylaminopropyl]carbodiimide hydrochloride (EDC) cross-linking, either during or post-gelation, to control their rate of degradation. Scaffolds were evaluated in vitro with respect to compressive strength, mass loss/degradation, protein release, and cellular interaction, with results demonstrating the potential of the gelatin gel sponge scaffold for use in the regeneration of bone.
Abstract: The gene expression kinetics for human cells exposed to hyperthermic stress are not well characterized. In this study, we identified and characterized the genes that are differentially expressed in human epidermal keratinocyte (HEK) cells exposed to hyperthermic stress. In order to obtain temporal gene expression kinetics, we exposed HEK cells to a heat stress protocol (44 °C for 40 min) and used messenger RNA (mRNA) microarrays at 0 h, 4 h and 24 h post-exposure. Bioinformatics software was employed to characterize the chief biological processes and canonical pathways associated with these heat stress genes. The data shows that the genes encoding for heat shock proteins (HSPs) that function to prevent further protein denaturation and aggregation, such as HSP40, HSP70 and HSP105, exhibit maximal expression immediately after exposure to hyperthermic stress. In contrast, the smaller HSPs, such as HSP10 and HSP27, which function in mitochondrial protein biogenesis and cellular adaptation, exhibit maximal expression during the “recovery phase”, roughly 24 h post-exposure. These data suggest that the temporal expression kinetics for each particular HSP appears to correlate with the cellular function that is required at each time point. In summary, these data provide additional insight regarding the expression kinetics of genes that are triggered in HEK cells exposed to hyperthermic stress.