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Life, Volume 10, Issue 8 (August 2020) – 35 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are lipid bilayered, nanoscale structures that are released into the extracellular space by living cells and, thus, represent a bona fide secretion system. In bacteria, the study of EVs’ composition, biogenesis mechanisms, biological roles, and possible biotechnological applications have recently become hot topics. Here, we present a general overview of the most relevant findings in EVs released by Gram-negative bacteria, focusing our attention on bacteria from the phylum Cyanobacteria, in which the study of EVs has been largely overlooked. As Cyanobacteria are important primary producers with unique cell wall features, future studies in cyanobacterial EVs may shed light on several pending aspects of EV biology, as well as clarify unsolved traits of cyanobacterial physiology. View this paper
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12 pages, 1548 KiB  
Article
Biologic Impact of Different Ultra-Low-Fluence Irradiations in Human Fibroblasts
by Masao Suzuki, Yukio Uchihori, Hisashi Kitamura, Masakazu Oikawa and Teruaki Konishi
Life 2020, 10(8), 154; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080154 - 18 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2173
Abstract
In this study, we aimed to evaluate the cellular response of healthy human fibroblasts induced by different types of ultra-low-fluence radiations, including gamma rays, neutrons and high linear energy transfer (LET) heavy ions. NB1RGB cells were pretreated with ultra-low-fluence radiations (~0.1 cGy/7–8 h) [...] Read more.
In this study, we aimed to evaluate the cellular response of healthy human fibroblasts induced by different types of ultra-low-fluence radiations, including gamma rays, neutrons and high linear energy transfer (LET) heavy ions. NB1RGB cells were pretreated with ultra-low-fluence radiations (~0.1 cGy/7–8 h) of 137Cs gamma rays, 241Am–Be neutrons, helium, carbon and iron ions before being exposed to an X-ray-challenging dose (1.5 Gy). Helium (LET = 2.3 keV/µm), carbon (LET = 13.3 keV/µm) and iron (LET = 200 keV/µm) ions were generated with the Heavy Ion Medical Accelerator in Chiba (HIMAC), Japan. No differences in cell death—measured by colony-forming assay—were observed regardless of the radiation type applied. In contrast, mutation frequency, which was detected through cell transformation into 6-thioguanine resistant clones, was 1.9 and 4.0 times higher in cells pretreated with helium and carbon ions, respectively, compared to cells exposed to X-ray-challenging dose alone. Moreover, cells pretreated with iron ions or gamma-rays showed a mutation frequency similar to cells exposed to X-ray-challenging dose alone, while cells pretreated with neutrons had 0.15 times less mutations. These results show that cellular responses triggered by ultra-low-fluence irradiations are radiation-quality dependent. Altogether, this study shows that ultra-low-fluence irradiations with the same level as those reported in the International Space Station are capable of inducing different cellular responses, including radio-adaptive responses triggered by neutrons and genomic instability mediated by high-LET heavy ions, while electromagnetic radiations (gamma rays) seem to have no biologic impact. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radiobiology in Space)
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13 pages, 600 KiB  
Article
Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Sleep Quality in Adults with Primary Hypertension and Obesity before and after an Aerobic Exercise Program: EXERDIET-HTA Study
by Aitor Martinez Aguirre-Betolaza, Iñigo Mujika, Paul Loprinzi, Pablo Corres, Ilargi Gorostegi-Anduaga and Sara Maldonado-Martín
Life 2020, 10(8), 153; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080153 - 17 Aug 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 4015
Abstract
Background: The purposes of the study were to: analyze, by objective (accelerometry) and subjective (International Physical Activity Questionnaire, IPAQ) methodologies, the physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior (SB) in healthy adults (HEALTHY, n = 30) and individuals with primary hypertension (HTN) and overweight/obesity [...] Read more.
Background: The purposes of the study were to: analyze, by objective (accelerometry) and subjective (International Physical Activity Questionnaire, IPAQ) methodologies, the physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior (SB) in healthy adults (HEALTHY, n = 30) and individuals with primary hypertension (HTN) and overweight/obesity (n = 218); assess the effects of an aerobic exercise intervention on physical activity (PA), sedentary behavior (SB), and sleep quality in the HTN group; and evaluate the relationship between objectively measured and subjectively reported PA and SB. Methods: The measurements were performed before a 16-week exercise intervention period in both HEALTHY and HTN groups and after the intervention period only in the HTN group, randomized to attention control or exercise training (ExT) subgroups. Results: The HEALTHY group showed more moderate-to-vigorous PA (p < 0.05) and better sleep quality (p < 0.05) than the HTN group, but no difference in SB. After the intervention, HTN participants’ PA and SB, objectively measured by accelerometry, were unchanged, but increased PA and decreased SB (p < 0.05) were observed through IPAQ in ExT. The intervention was effective in improving sleep quality in HTN participants. Conclusions: The differences in moderate-to-vigorous PA and SB may be useful in defining the health profile of a population. The supervised aerobic exercise program was effective in increasing PA, reducing SB, and improving sleep quality in overweight/obese adults with HTN. Accelerometer-measured and self-reported data were not comparable, but complementary. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise Biomechanics and Physiology)
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13 pages, 2102 KiB  
Article
Molecular Epidemiology Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 Strains Circulating in Romania during the First Months of the Pandemic
by Marius Surleac, Leontina Banica, Corina Casangiu, Marius Cotic, Dragos Florea, Oana Sandulescu, Petre Milu, Anca Streinu-Cercel, Ovidiu Vlaicu, Dimitrios Paraskevis, Simona Paraschiv and Dan Otelea
Life 2020, 10(8), 152; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080152 - 14 Aug 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 5538
Abstract
BACKGROUND: The spread of SARS-CoV-2 generated an unprecedented global public health crisis. Soon after Asia, Europe was seriously affected. Many countries, including Romania, adopted lockdown measures to limit the outbreak. AIM: We performed a molecular epidemiology analysis of SARS-CoV-2 viral strains circulating in [...] Read more.
BACKGROUND: The spread of SARS-CoV-2 generated an unprecedented global public health crisis. Soon after Asia, Europe was seriously affected. Many countries, including Romania, adopted lockdown measures to limit the outbreak. AIM: We performed a molecular epidemiology analysis of SARS-CoV-2 viral strains circulating in Romania during the first two months of the epidemic in order to detect mutation profiles and phylogenetic relatedness. METHODS: Respiratory samples were directly used for shotgun sequencing. RESULTS: All Romanian sequences belonged to lineage B, with a different subtype distribution between northern and southern regions (subtype B.1.5 and B.1.1). Phylogenetic analysis suggested that the Romanian epidemic started with multiple introduction events from other European countries followed by local transmission. Phylogenetic links between northern Romania and Spain, Austria, Scotland and Russia were observed, as well as between southern Romania and Switzerland, Italy, France and Turkey. One viral strain presented a previously unreported mutation in the Nsp2 gene, namely K489E. Epidemiologically-defined clusters displayed specific mutations, suggesting molecular signatures for strains coming from areas that were isolated during the lockdown. CONCLUSIONS: Romanian epidemic was initiated by multiple introductions from European countries followed by local transmissions. Different subtype distribution between northern and southern Romania was observed after two months of the pandemic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecology, Evolution and Epidemiology of Coronaviruses)
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20 pages, 3202 KiB  
Article
Exogenous Polyamines Only Indirectly Induce Stress Tolerance in Wheat Growing in Hydroponic Culture under Polyethylene Glycol-Induced Osmotic Stress
by Izabela Marcińska, Kinga Dziurka, Piotr Waligórski, Franciszek Janowiak, Edyta Skrzypek, Marzena Warchoł, Katarzyna Juzoń, Kamila Kapłoniak and Ilona Mieczysława Czyczyło-Mysza
Life 2020, 10(8), 151; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080151 - 14 Aug 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 2741
Abstract
The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of osmotic stress caused by polyethylene glycol (PEG) 6000 in hydroponic culture on wheat seedlings of drought-resistant Chinese Spring (CS) and drought-susceptible SQ1 cultivar, and to examine the alleviative role of exogenous [...] Read more.
The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of osmotic stress caused by polyethylene glycol (PEG) 6000 in hydroponic culture on wheat seedlings of drought-resistant Chinese Spring (CS) and drought-susceptible SQ1 cultivar, and to examine the alleviative role of exogenous polyamines (PAs) applied to the medium. The assessment was based on physiological (chlorophyll a fluorescence kinetics, chlorophyll and water content) as well as biochemical (content of carbohydrates, phenols, proline, salicylic and abscisic acid, activity of low molecular weight antioxidants) parameters, measured after supplementation with PAs (putrescine, spermidine and spermine) on the 3rd, 5th and 7th day of the treatment. The results indicate that PAs ameliorate the effects of stress, indirectly and conditionally inducing stress tolerance of wheat seedlings. In contrast to the susceptible SQ1, the resistant CS cultivar activated its protective mechanisms, adjusting the degree of their activation to the level of the stress, depending on the genetic resources of the plant. Increased accumulation of antioxidants in the resistant CS in response to stress after the application of PAs confirms the hypothesis that PAs are involved in the signaling pathway determining the antioxidative response and the tolerance of wheat plants to drought stress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Science)
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13 pages, 1766 KiB  
Article
Protoenzymes: The Case of Hyperbranched Polymer-Scaffolded ZnS Nanocrystals
by Irena Mamajanov, Melina Caudan and Tony Z. Jia
Life 2020, 10(8), 150; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080150 - 13 Aug 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 4659
Abstract
Enzymes are biological catalysts that are comprised of small-molecule, metal, or cluster catalysts augmented by biopolymeric scaffolds. It is conceivable that early in chemical evolution, ancestral enzymes opted for simpler, easier to assemble scaffolds. Herein, we describe such possible protoenzymes: hyperbranched polymer-scaffolded metal-sulfide [...] Read more.
Enzymes are biological catalysts that are comprised of small-molecule, metal, or cluster catalysts augmented by biopolymeric scaffolds. It is conceivable that early in chemical evolution, ancestral enzymes opted for simpler, easier to assemble scaffolds. Herein, we describe such possible protoenzymes: hyperbranched polymer-scaffolded metal-sulfide nanocrystals. Hyperbranched polyethyleneimine (HyPEI) and glycerol citrate polymer-supported ZnS nanocrystals (NCs) are formed in a simple process. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analyses of HyPEI-supported NCs reveal spherical particles with an average size of 10 nm that undergo only a modest aggregation over a 14-day incubation. The polymer-supported ZnS NCs are shown to possess a high photocatalytic activity in an eosin B photodegradation assay, making them an attractive model for the study of the origin of life under the “Zn world” theory dominated by a photocatalytic proto-metabolic redox reaction network. The catalyst, however, could be easily adapted to apply broadly to different protoenzymatic systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Astrobiology)
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17 pages, 5192 KiB  
Article
Effects of Diesel Exhaust Particles on Mouse Gastric Stem Cells
by Heba Al-Sadik, Subi Sugathan, Prashanth Saseedharan, Shahrazad Sulaiman, Sumaya Beegam, Abderrahim Nemmar, Samir Attoub and Sherif M. Karam
Life 2020, 10(8), 149; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080149 - 12 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2376
Abstract
Stem cells have attracted many scientists because of their unique properties and therapeutic applications. However, very little is known on the environmental toxins that could affect their biological features. This study focuses on the consequences of the exposure of a cell line representative [...] Read more.
Stem cells have attracted many scientists because of their unique properties and therapeutic applications. However, very little is known on the environmental toxins that could affect their biological features. This study focuses on the consequences of the exposure of a cell line representative of the mouse gastric stem/progenitor (mGS) cells to diesel exhaust particles (DEPs). These immortal cells were cultured using routine protocols. The DEPs were added to the culture media at 1, 10, and 100 µg/mL for 1 to 72 h. The cells were assayed for their viability, migration, oxidative stress, and the expression of genes specific for cell proliferation, pluripotency, and death. DEPs induced a reduction in the metabolic activity of mGS cells, only at a high concentration of 100 µg/mL. However, no significant effects were detected on cell migration, oxidative stress markers (glutathione and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances), and cell death related proteins/genes. Interestingly, these findings were associated with down-regulation of Notch 2 and 3 and Bmi-1 proteins and activation of STAT3 involved in the regulation of the fate of stem cells. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that mGS cells have some resistance to oxidative stress and apoptosis when exposed to DEPs at the expense of their stemness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stem Cells Therapy)
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24 pages, 991 KiB  
Review
Epigenetic Regulation by Non-Coding RNAs in the Avian Immune System
by Xiaolan Chen, Bahareldin Ali Abdalla, Zhenhui Li and Qinghua Nie
Life 2020, 10(8), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080148 - 12 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2950
Abstract
The identified non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) include circular RNAs, long non-coding RNAs, microRNAs, ribosomal RNAs, small interfering RNAs, small nuclear RNAs, piwi-interacting RNAs, and transfer RNAs, etc. Among them, long non-coding RNAs, circular RNAs, and microRNAs are regulatory RNAs that have different functional mechanisms [...] Read more.
The identified non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) include circular RNAs, long non-coding RNAs, microRNAs, ribosomal RNAs, small interfering RNAs, small nuclear RNAs, piwi-interacting RNAs, and transfer RNAs, etc. Among them, long non-coding RNAs, circular RNAs, and microRNAs are regulatory RNAs that have different functional mechanisms and were extensively participated in various biological processes. Numerous research studies have found that circular RNAs, long non-coding RNAs, and microRNAs played their important roles in avian immune system during the infection of parasites, virus, or bacterium. Here, we specifically review and expand this knowledge with current advances of circular RNAs, long non-coding RNAs, and microRNAs in the regulation of different avian diseases and discuss their functional mechanisms in response to avian diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Science)
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16 pages, 4914 KiB  
Article
Alpha-Synuclein FRET Biosensors Reveal Early Alpha-Synuclein Aggregation in the Endoplasmic Reticulum
by Fabiana Miraglia, Verdiana Valvano, Lucia Rota, Cristina Di Primio, Valentina Quercioli, Laura Betti, Gino Giannaccini, Antonino Cattaneo and Emanuela Colla
Life 2020, 10(8), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080147 - 11 Aug 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3314
Abstract
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) dysfunction is important for alpha-synuclein (αS) acquired toxicity. When targeted to the ER in SH-SY5Y cells, transient or stable expression of αS resulted in the formation of compact αS-positive structures in a small subpopulation of cells, resembling αS inclusions. Thus, [...] Read more.
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) dysfunction is important for alpha-synuclein (αS) acquired toxicity. When targeted to the ER in SH-SY5Y cells, transient or stable expression of αS resulted in the formation of compact αS-positive structures in a small subpopulation of cells, resembling αS inclusions. Thus, because of the limitations of immunofluorescence, we developed a set of αS FRET biosensors (AFBs) able to track αS conformation in cells. In native conditions, expression in i36, a stable cell line for ER αS, of intermolecular AFBs, reporters in which CFP or YFP has been fused with the C-terminal of αS (αS-CFP/αS-YFP), resulted in no Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), whereas expression of the intramolecular AFB, a probe obtained by fusing YFP and CFP with αS N- or C- termini (YFP-αS-CFP), showed a positive FRET signal. These data confirmed that αS has a predominantly globular, monomeric conformation in native conditions. Differently, under pro-aggregating conditions, the intermolecular AFB was able to sense significantly formation of αS oligomers, when AFB was expressed in the ER rather than ubiquitously, suggesting that the ER can favor changes in αS conformation when aggregation is stimulated. These results show the potential of AFBs as a new, valuable tool to track αS conformational changes in vivo. Full article
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17 pages, 609 KiB  
Review
A Focus on the Nowadays Potential Antiviral Strategies in Early Phase of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19): A Narrative Review
by Caterina Monari, Valeria Gentile, Clarissa Camaioni, Giulia Marino, Nicola Coppola and Vanvitelli COVID-19 group
Life 2020, 10(8), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080146 - 09 Aug 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3155
Abstract
Background: The outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and the related disease (COVID-19) has rapidly spread to a pandemic proportion, increasing the demands on health systems for the containment and management of COVID-19. Nowadays, one of the [...] Read more.
Background: The outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and the related disease (COVID-19) has rapidly spread to a pandemic proportion, increasing the demands on health systems for the containment and management of COVID-19. Nowadays, one of the critical issues still to be pointed out regards COVID-19 treatment regimens and timing: which drug, in which phase, for how long? Methods: Our narrative review, developed using MEDLINE and EMBASE, summarizes the main evidences in favor or against the current proposed treatment regimens for COVID-19, with a particular focus on antiviral agents. Results: Although many agents have been proposed as possible treatment, to date, any of the potential drugs against SARS-CoV-2 has shown to be safe and effective for treating COVID-19. Despite the lack of definitive evidence, remdesivir remains the only antiviral with encouraging effects in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Conclusions: In such a complex moment of global health emergency, it is hard to demand scientific evidence. Nevertheless, randomized clinical trials aiming to identify effective and safe drugs against SARS-CoV-2 infection are urgently needed in order to confirm or reject the currently available evidence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecology, Evolution and Epidemiology of Coronaviruses)
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10 pages, 415 KiB  
Article
Effect of a Single Session of Tai Chi Chuan Practice on Glucose and Lipid Metabolism and Related Hormones
by Wan-An Lu, Yung-Sheng Chen, Chun-Hsiung Wang and Cheng-Deng Kuo
Life 2020, 10(8), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080145 - 09 Aug 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2756
Abstract
Background: To examine the effect of Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) practice on glucose and lipid metabolism and related hormones in TCC practitioners. Methods: Twenty-one TCC practitioners and nineteen healthy controls were included in this study. Classical Yang’s TCC was practiced by the TCC [...] Read more.
Background: To examine the effect of Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) practice on glucose and lipid metabolism and related hormones in TCC practitioners. Methods: Twenty-one TCC practitioners and nineteen healthy controls were included in this study. Classical Yang’s TCC was practiced by the TCC practitioners. The percentage changes in serum total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C), serum glucose (SG), serum insulin, serum insulin level, homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), log(HOMA-IR), quantitative insulin sensitivity check index (QUICKI), and serum endothelin-1 (ET-1) before and 30 min after resting or TCC practice were compared between healthy controls and TCC practitioners. Results: Before TCC or resting, the serum insulin level, HOMA-IR, and log(HOMA-IR) of the TCC practitioners were significantly lower than those of healthy subjects, whereas the QUICKI of the TCC practitioners was significantly higher than that of healthy subjects. Thirty min after TCC practice, the %TC, %HDL-C, %QUICKI, and %ET-1 were all significantly decreased, whereas the %SG, %serum insulin, and %HOMA-IR were significantly increased in the TCC group as compared to the control group 30 min after resting. Conclusions: The serum glucose, insulin level and insulin resistance were enhanced, whereas the cholesterol, HDL-C and ET-1 levels were reduced 30 min after TCC practice. The mechanism underlying these effects of TCC 30 min after TCC is not clear yet. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise Biomechanics and Physiology)
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20 pages, 1859 KiB  
Review
Amyloidogenic Intrinsically Disordered Proteins: New Insights into Their Self-Assembly and Their Interaction with Membranes
by Federica Scollo and Carmelo La Rosa
Life 2020, 10(8), 144; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080144 - 08 Aug 2020
Cited by 24 | Viewed by 4324
Abstract
Aβ, IAPP, α-synuclein, and prion proteins belong to the amyloidogenic intrinsically disordered proteins’ family; indeed, they lack well defined secondary and tertiary structures. It is generally acknowledged that they are involved, respectively, in Alzheimer’s, Type II Diabetes Mellitus, Parkinson’s, and Creutzfeldt–Jakob’s diseases. The [...] Read more.
Aβ, IAPP, α-synuclein, and prion proteins belong to the amyloidogenic intrinsically disordered proteins’ family; indeed, they lack well defined secondary and tertiary structures. It is generally acknowledged that they are involved, respectively, in Alzheimer’s, Type II Diabetes Mellitus, Parkinson’s, and Creutzfeldt–Jakob’s diseases. The molecular mechanism of toxicity is under intense debate, as many hypotheses concerning the involvement of the amyloid and the toxic oligomers have been proposed. However, the main role is represented by the interplay of protein and the cell membrane. Thus, the understanding of the interaction mechanism at the molecular level is crucial to shed light on the dynamics driving this phenomenon. There are plenty of factors influencing the interaction as mentioned above, however, the overall view is made trickier by the apparent irreproducibility and inconsistency of the data reported in the literature. Here, we contextualized this topic in a historical, and even more importantly, in a future perspective. We introduce two novel insights: the chemical equilibrium, always established in the aqueous phase between the free and the membrane phospholipids, as mediators of protein-transport into the core of the bilayer, and the symmetry-breaking of oligomeric aggregates forming an alternating array of partially ordered and disordered monomers. Full article
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16 pages, 749 KiB  
Review
Applications of Proteomic Tools to Study Insect Vector–Plant Virus Interactions
by Priyanka Mittapelly and Swapna Priya Rajarapu
Life 2020, 10(8), 143; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080143 - 07 Aug 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3923
Abstract
Proteins are crucial players of biological interactions within and between the organisms and thus it is important to understand the role of proteins in successful partnerships, such as insect vectors and their plant viruses. Proteomic approaches have identified several proteins at the interface [...] Read more.
Proteins are crucial players of biological interactions within and between the organisms and thus it is important to understand the role of proteins in successful partnerships, such as insect vectors and their plant viruses. Proteomic approaches have identified several proteins at the interface of virus acquisition and transmission by their insect vectors which could be potential molecular targets for sustainable pest and viral disease management strategies. Here we review the proteomic techniques used to study the interactions of insect vector and plant virus. Our review will focus on the techniques available to identify the infection, global changes at the proteome level in insect vectors, and protein-protein interactions of insect vectors and plant viruses. Furthermore, we also review the integration of other techniques with proteomics and the available bioinformatic tools to analyze the proteomic data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Proteins and Proteomics)
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10 pages, 2332 KiB  
Article
Does the Introduction of Alien Species Represent a Sanitary Threat for Native Species? The Case of the Eastern Cottontail Sylvilagus floridanus in Italy
by Paolo Tizzani, Daniela Andrade, Anna Rita Molinar Min, Andrea Peano and Pier Giuseppe Meneguz
Life 2020, 10(8), 142; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080142 - 06 Aug 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2780
Abstract
Introduction of alien species is a well-known threat to biodiversity. Where newly introduced, alien species may pose a risk for the local ecological community by competing for resources or by introducing pathogens. Sylvilagus floridanus is an American lagomorph introduced into Europe in the [...] Read more.
Introduction of alien species is a well-known threat to biodiversity. Where newly introduced, alien species may pose a risk for the local ecological community by competing for resources or by introducing pathogens. Sylvilagus floridanus is an American lagomorph introduced into Europe in the second half of 20th century, for hunting. This study evaluated the structure and epidemiological characteristics of the gastrointestinal parasite community in an introduced population of S. floridanus in the Province of Alessandria (Piedmont Region—Italy). Three alien parasites were reported out of 271 animals: Obeliscoides cuniculi in the stomach, Trichostrongylus calcaratus in the small intestine, and Passarulus nonnanulatus in the large intestine. All these nematodes are commonly reported in S. floridanus in its natural range, but they represent alien species in Europe. The report of these alien parasites is an example of the unexpected consequences caused by the introduction of non-native vertebrates. The documented introduction of new pathogens may alter the parasite community of the native lagomorphs, with possible long-term effects on local ecological dynamics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Evolutionary Biology)
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19 pages, 1378 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of GammaH2AX in Buccal Cells as a Molecular Biomarker of DNA Damage in Alzheimer’s Disease in the AIBL Study of Ageing
by Mohammad Sabbir Siddiqui, Maxime Francois, Stephanie Rainey-Smith, Ralph Martins, Colin L. Masters, David Ames, Christopher C. Rowe, Lance S. Macaulay, Michael F. Fenech and Wayne R. Leifert
Life 2020, 10(8), 141; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080141 - 06 Aug 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2701
Abstract
In response to double-stranded breaks (DSBs) in chromosomal DNA, H2AX (a member of histone H2A family) becomes phosphorylated to form γH2AX. Although increased levels of γH2AX have been reported in the neuronal nuclei of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients, the understanding of γH2AX responses [...] Read more.
In response to double-stranded breaks (DSBs) in chromosomal DNA, H2AX (a member of histone H2A family) becomes phosphorylated to form γH2AX. Although increased levels of γH2AX have been reported in the neuronal nuclei of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients, the understanding of γH2AX responses in buccal nuclei of individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD remain unexplored. In the current study, endogenous γH2AX was measured in buccal cell nuclei from MCI (n = 18) or AD (n = 16) patients and in healthy controls (n = 17) using laser scanning cytometry (LSC). The γH2AX level was significantly elevated in nuclei of the AD group compared to the MCI and control group, and there was a concomitant increase in P-trend for γH2AX from the control group through MCI to the AD group. Receiver-operating characteristic curves were carried out for different γH2AX parameters; γH2AX in nuclei resulted in the greatest area under the curve value of 0.7794 (p = 0.0062) with 75% sensitivity and 70% specificity for the identification of AD patients from control. In addition, nuclear circularity (a measure of irregular nuclear shape) was significantly higher in the buccal cell nuclei from the AD group compared with the MCI and control groups. Additionally, there was a positive correlation between the nuclear circularity and γH2AX signals. The results indicated that increased DNA damage is associated with AD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cellular Senescence in Health, Disease and Aging: Blessing or Curse?)
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37 pages, 406 KiB  
Review
Seaweed’s Bioactive Candidate Compounds to Food Industry and Global Food Security
by Adriana Leandro, Diana Pacheco, João Cotas, João C. Marques, Leonel Pereira and Ana M. M. Gonçalves
Life 2020, 10(8), 140; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080140 - 06 Aug 2020
Cited by 98 | Viewed by 8684
Abstract
The world population is continuously growing, so it is important to keep producing food in a sustainable way, especially in a way that is nutritious and in a sufficient quantity to overcome global needs. Seaweed grows, and can be cultivated, in seawater and [...] Read more.
The world population is continuously growing, so it is important to keep producing food in a sustainable way, especially in a way that is nutritious and in a sufficient quantity to overcome global needs. Seaweed grows, and can be cultivated, in seawater and generally does not compete for arable land and freshwater. Thus, the coastal areas of the planet are the most suitable for seaweed production, which can be an alternative to traditional agriculture and can thus contribute to a reduced carbon footprint. There are evolving studies that characterize seaweed’s nutritional value and policies that recognize them as food, and identify the potential benefits and negative factors that may be produced or accumulated by seaweed, which are, or can be, dangerous for human health. Seaweeds have a high nutritional value along with a low caloric input and with the presence of fibers, proteins, omega 3 and 6 unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Moreover, several seaweed sub-products have interesting features to the food industry. Therefore, the focus of this review is in the performance of seaweed as a potential alternative and as a safe food source. Here described is the nutritional value and concerns relating to seaweed consumption, and also how seaweed-derived compounds are already commercially explored and available in the food industry and the usage restrictions to safeguard them as safe food additives for human consumption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Science)
11 pages, 2252 KiB  
Article
Effects of Kinesiology Taping on Shoulder Posture and Peak Torque in Junior Baseball Players with Rounded Shoulder Posture: A Pilot Study
by Hyeong-geun Yun, Jung-Hoon Lee and Im-Rak Choi
Life 2020, 10(8), 139; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080139 - 06 Aug 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 10867
Abstract
Rounded shoulder posture (RSP) causes an imbalance of the adjacent joints due to the malalignment of the shoulder joint, and thus affects the strength of the muscles surrounding the shoulder. This study aimed to investigate the effect of rounded shoulder taping (RST) on [...] Read more.
Rounded shoulder posture (RSP) causes an imbalance of the adjacent joints due to the malalignment of the shoulder joint, and thus affects the strength of the muscles surrounding the shoulder. This study aimed to investigate the effect of rounded shoulder taping (RST) on shoulder posture and muscle strength in junior baseball players. Nineteen junior baseball players participated in the study, which used a crossover design at an interval of 1 week. The participants were randomized to receive rounded shoulder taping (RST) and sham kinesiology taping (SKT) using kinesiology tape. RSP was measured using two 12-inch combination squares, and shoulder peak torques were measured by isokinetic equipment. The results showed that RST led to significant changes in RSP (p < 0.05), but no significant changes were observed with SKT (p < 0.05). RST led to significant changes in the peak torques of external rotation and internal rotation of the shoulder (p < 0.05), but no significant changes were observed with SKT (p < 0.05). These results suggest that RST could help to correct RSP and improve peak torque of external and internal rotation of the shoulders of junior baseball players with RSP. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercise Biomechanics and Physiology)
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22 pages, 326 KiB  
Article
Comparison of Data Mining Methods for the Signal Detection of Adverse Drug Events with a Hierarchical Structure in Postmarketing Surveillance
by Goeun Park, Heesun Jung, Seok-Jae Heo and Inkyung Jung
Life 2020, 10(8), 138; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080138 - 05 Aug 2020
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 3672
Abstract
There are several different proposed data mining methods for the postmarketing surveillance of drug safety. Adverse events are often classified into a hierarchical structure. Our objective was to compare the performance of several of these different data mining methods for adverse drug events [...] Read more.
There are several different proposed data mining methods for the postmarketing surveillance of drug safety. Adverse events are often classified into a hierarchical structure. Our objective was to compare the performance of several of these different data mining methods for adverse drug events data with a hierarchical structure. We generated datasets based on the World Health Organization’s Adverse Reaction Terminology (WHO-ART) hierarchical structure. We evaluated different data mining methods for signal detection, including several frequentist methods such as reporting odds ratio (ROR), proportional reporting ratio (PRR), information component (IC), the likelihood ratio test-based method (LRT), and Bayesian methods such as gamma Poisson shrinker (GPS), Bayesian confidence propagating neural network (BCPNN), the new IC method, and the simplified Bayesian method (sB), as well as the tree-based scan statistic through an extensive simulation study. We also applied the methods to real data on two diabetes drugs, voglibose and acarbose, from the Korea Adverse event reporting system. Only the tree-based scan statistic method maintained the type I error rate at the desired level. Likelihood ratio test-based methods and Bayesian methods tended to be more conservative than other methods in the simulation study and detected fewer signals in the real data example. No method was superior to the others in terms of the statistical power and sensitivity of detecting true signals. It is recommended that those conducting drug‒adverse event surveillance use not just one method, but make a decision based on several methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Pharmaceutical Science)
12 pages, 2222 KiB  
Article
Frailty and Sleep Disorder in Chronic Liver Diseases
by Hiroki Nishikawa, Kazunori Yoh, Hirayuki Enomoto, Yoshinori Iwata, Takashi Nishimura, Shuhei Nishiguchi and Hiroko Iijima
Life 2020, 10(8), 137; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080137 - 05 Aug 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2829
Abstract
We aimed to investigate the association in frailty and sleep disorder as assessed by the Japanese version of Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI-J) in patients with chronic liver diseases (CLDs, n = 317, 141 males). Frailty was determined using the following five phenotypes: [...] Read more.
We aimed to investigate the association in frailty and sleep disorder as assessed by the Japanese version of Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI-J) in patients with chronic liver diseases (CLDs, n = 317, 141 males). Frailty was determined using the following five phenotypes: unintentional body weight loss, self-reported exhaustion, muscle weakness, slow walking speed, and low physical activity. Sleep disorder was defined as patients with PSQI-J score 6 or greater. Robust (phenotype, 0), prefrail (1 or 2 phenotypes) and frailty (3 phenotypes or greater) were observed in 101 (31.9%), 174 (54.9%) and 42 (13.2%), respectively. The median (interquartile range (IQR)) PSQI-J score was 4 (3, 7). Sleep disorder was found in 115 patients (36.3%). The median (IQR) PSQI-J scores in patients of the robust, prefrail, and frail groups were 3 (2, 5), 5 (3, 7), and 8 (4.75, 10.25), respectively (p < 0.0001 between any two groups and overall p < 0.0001). The ratios of sleep disorder in patients with robust, prefrail and frailty were 15.8% (16/101), 39.1% (68/174), and 73.8% (31/42), respectively (overall p < 0.0001). In conclusion, CLD patients with frailty can involve poorer sleep quality. As sleep disorder in CLDs is potentially remediable, future frailty-preventive strategies must take sleep complaints into account. Full article
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16 pages, 11085 KiB  
Article
First mtDNA Sequences and Body Measurements for Rattus norvegicus from the Mediterranean Island of Cyprus
by Eleftherios Hadjisterkotis, George Konstantinou, Daria Sanna, Monica Pirastru and Paolo Mereu
Life 2020, 10(8), 136; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080136 - 05 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3825
Abstract
Invasive species are the primary driver of island taxa extinctions and, among them, those belonging to the genus Rattus are considered as the most damaging. The presence of black rat (Rattus rattus) on Cyprus has long been established, while that of [...] Read more.
Invasive species are the primary driver of island taxa extinctions and, among them, those belonging to the genus Rattus are considered as the most damaging. The presence of black rat (Rattus rattus) on Cyprus has long been established, while that of brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) is dubious. This study is the first to provide molecular and morphological data to document the occurrence of R. norvegicus in the island of Cyprus. A total of 223 black rats and 14 brown rats were collected. Each sample was first taxonomically attributed on the basis of body measurements and cranial observations. Four of the specimens identified as R. norvegicus and one identified as R. rattus were subjected to molecular characterization in order to corroborate species identification. The analyses of the mitochondrial control region were consistent with morphological data, supporting the taxonomic identification of the samples. At least two maternal molecular lineages for R. norvegicus were found in Cyprus. The small number of brown rats collected in the island, as well as the large number of samples of black rats retrieved in the past years might be an indication that the distribution of R. norvegicus is still limited into three out of the six districts of Cyprus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Science)
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13 pages, 7590 KiB  
Article
An Another Protocol to Make Sulfur Embedded Ultrathin Sections of Extraterrestrial Small Samples
by Takaaki Noguchi, Minako Takase, Rikako Matsumoto, Yoko Kebukawa, Hiroki Suga, Masashi Kondo, Yoshio Takahashi, Yasuo Takeichi and Hikaru Yabuta
Life 2020, 10(8), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080135 - 05 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3105
Abstract
Another protocol to make sulfur embedded ultrathin sections was developed for STXM–XANES, AFM–IR and TEM analyses of organic materials in small extraterrestrial samples. Polymerized liquid sulfur—instead of low-viscosity liquid sulfur—is the embedding media in this protocol. Due to high viscosity of the polymerized [...] Read more.
Another protocol to make sulfur embedded ultrathin sections was developed for STXM–XANES, AFM–IR and TEM analyses of organic materials in small extraterrestrial samples. Polymerized liquid sulfur—instead of low-viscosity liquid sulfur—is the embedding media in this protocol. Due to high viscosity of the polymerized sulfur, the embedded samples stay near the surface of polymerized liquid sulfur, which facilitates trimming of glassy sulfur and ultramicrotomy of tiny embedded samples. In addition, well-continued ribbons of ultramicrotomed sections can be obtained, which are suitable for the above mentioned analyses. Because there is no remarkable difference in Carbon XANES spectra of Murchison IOM prepared by this protocol and by the conventional protocol, this protocol gives another alternative to prepare sulfur embedded ultramicrotomed sections. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemical Evolution of Organic Molecules in Solar System Small Bodies)
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17 pages, 2952 KiB  
Article
The Ancient History of Peptidyl Transferase Center Formation as Told by Conservation and Information Analyses
by Francisco Prosdocimi, Gabriel S. Zamudio, Miryam Palacios-Pérez, Sávio Torres de Farias and Marco V. José
Life 2020, 10(8), 134; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080134 - 05 Aug 2020
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 3136
Abstract
The peptidyl transferase center (PTC) is the catalytic center of the ribosome and forms part of the 23S ribosomal RNA. The PTC has been recognized as the earliest ribosomal part and its origins embodied the First Universal Common Ancestor (FUCA). The PTC is [...] Read more.
The peptidyl transferase center (PTC) is the catalytic center of the ribosome and forms part of the 23S ribosomal RNA. The PTC has been recognized as the earliest ribosomal part and its origins embodied the First Universal Common Ancestor (FUCA). The PTC is frequently assumed to be highly conserved along all living beings. In this work, we posed the following questions: (i) How many 100% conserved bases can be found in the PTC? (ii) Is it possible to identify clusters of informationally linked nucleotides along its sequence? (iii) Can we propose how the PTC was formed? (iv) How does sequence conservation reflect on the secondary and tertiary structures of the PTC? Aiming to answer these questions, all available complete sequences of 23S ribosomal RNA from Bacteria and Archaea deposited on GenBank database were downloaded. Using a sequence bait of 179 bp from the PTC of Thermus termophilus, we performed an optimum pairwise alignment to retrieve the PTC region from 1424 filtered 23S rRNA sequences. These PTC sequences were multiply aligned, and the conserved regions were assigned and observed along the primary, secondary, and tertiary structures. The PTC structure was observed to be more highly conserved close to the adenine located at the catalytical site. Clusters of interrelated, co-evolving nucleotides reinforce previous assumptions that the PTC was formed by the concatenation of proto-tRNAs and important residues responsible for its assembly were identified. The observed sequence variation does not seem to significantly affect the 3D structure of the PTC ribozyme. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Evolutionary Biology)
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14 pages, 476 KiB  
Article
Prevalence of Older Adult Disability and Primary Health Care Responsiveness in Low-Income Communities
by Giovana Montoro Pazzini Watfe, Lais Fajersztajn, Euler Ribeiro, Paulo Rossi Menezes and Marcia Scazufca
Life 2020, 10(8), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080133 - 05 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2902
Abstract
In Brazil and in most low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), information about how prepared the health care system is for the rapid aging of the population is scarce. We investigated the prevalence of disability and areas of life affected by disability among elders [...] Read more.
In Brazil and in most low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), information about how prepared the health care system is for the rapid aging of the population is scarce. We investigated the prevalence of disability and areas of life affected by disability among elders of the public primary health care in São Paulo and Manaus, Brazil. We investigated whether people with disability visited a primary care professional more frequently, the individual characteristics associated with disability, and differences by city. We randomly selected participants aged ≥60 years (n = 1375). The main outcome was disability, evaluated with the 12-item World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS 2.0). Exposure variables were consultation with a family physician, sociodemographic characteristics, health status, social support, and lifestyle. The prevalence of global disability was higher in Manaus (66.2% vs. 56.4% in São Paulo). In both cities, participation and mobility were the areas of life most affected by disability. The number of consultations with a family physician was not associated with disability. The high prevalence of disability and associated risk factors indicates that public primary health care is not meeting the needs of elders in both cities. It is warning because most elders in LMICs live in more underserved communities compared to Brazil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health Issues and Quality of Life in Older Individuals)
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12 pages, 506 KiB  
Article
The Habitability of the Galactic Bulge
by Amedeo Balbi, Maryam Hami and Andjelka Kovačević
Life 2020, 10(8), 132; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080132 - 03 Aug 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3845
Abstract
We present a new investigation of the habitability of the Milky Way bulge, that expands previous studies on the Galactic Habitable Zone. We discuss existing knowledge on the abundance of planets in the bulge, metallicity and the possible frequency of rocky planets, orbital [...] Read more.
We present a new investigation of the habitability of the Milky Way bulge, that expands previous studies on the Galactic Habitable Zone. We discuss existing knowledge on the abundance of planets in the bulge, metallicity and the possible frequency of rocky planets, orbital stability and encounters, and the possibility of planets around the central supermassive black hole. We focus on two aspects that can present substantial differences with respect to the environment in the disk: (i) the ionizing radiation environment, due to the presence of the central black hole and to the highest rate of supernovae explosions and (ii) the efficiency of putative lithopanspermia mechanism for the diffusion of life between stellar systems. We use analytical models of the star density in the bulge to provide estimates of the rate of catastrophic events and of the diffusion timescales for life over interstellar distances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Frontiers of Astrobiology)
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28 pages, 2112 KiB  
Review
Emerging Roles of Long Non-Coding RNAs in Renal Fibrosis
by Jinwen Lin, Zhengqian Jiang, Chenxi Liu, Dawei Zhou, Jiayu Song, Yuxuan Liao and Jianghua Chen
Life 2020, 10(8), 131; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080131 - 01 Aug 2020
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 4060
Abstract
Renal fibrosis is an unavoidable consequence that occurs in nearly all of the nephropathies. It is characterized by a superabundant deposition and accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM). All compartments in the kidney can be affected, including interstitium, glomeruli, vasculature, and other connective tissue, [...] Read more.
Renal fibrosis is an unavoidable consequence that occurs in nearly all of the nephropathies. It is characterized by a superabundant deposition and accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM). All compartments in the kidney can be affected, including interstitium, glomeruli, vasculature, and other connective tissue, during the pathogenesis of renal fibrosis. The development of this process eventually causes destruction of renal parenchyma and end-stage renal failure, which is a devastating disease that requires renal replacement therapies. Recently, long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been emerging as key regulators governing gene expression and affecting various biological processes. These versatile roles include transcriptional regulation, organization of nuclear domains, and the regulation of RNA molecules or proteins. Current evidence proposes the involvement of lncRNAs in the pathologic process of kidney fibrosis. In this review, the biological relevance of lncRNAs in renal fibrosis will be clarified as important novel regulators and potential therapeutic targets. The biology, and subsequently the current understanding, of lncRNAs in renal fibrosis are demonstrated—highlighting the involvement of lncRNAs in kidney cell function, phenotype transition, and vascular damage and rarefaction. Finally, we discuss challenges and future prospects of lncRNAs in diagnostic markers and potential therapeutic targets, hoping to further inspire the management of renal fibrosis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Physiology and Pathology)
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14 pages, 1660 KiB  
Article
The Responses of the Black Fungus Cryomyces Antarcticus to High Doses of Accelerated Helium Ions Radiation within Martian Regolith Simulants and Their Relevance for Mars
by Claudia Pacelli, Alessia Cassaro, Lorenzo Aureli, Ralf Moeller, Akira Fujimori and Silvano Onofri
Life 2020, 10(8), 130; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080130 - 31 Jul 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3182
Abstract
One of the primary current astrobiological goals is to understand the limits of microbial resistance to extraterrestrial conditions. Much attention is paid to ionizing radiation, since it can prevent the preservation and spread of life outside the Earth. The aim of this research [...] Read more.
One of the primary current astrobiological goals is to understand the limits of microbial resistance to extraterrestrial conditions. Much attention is paid to ionizing radiation, since it can prevent the preservation and spread of life outside the Earth. The aim of this research was to study the impact of accelerated He ions (150 MeV/n, up to 1 kGy) as a component of the galactic cosmic rays on the black fungus C. antarcticus when mixed with Antarctic sandstones—the substratum of its natural habitat—and two Martian regolith simulants, which mimics two different evolutionary stages of Mars. The high dose of 1 kGy was used to assess the effect of dose accumulation in dormant cells within minerals, under long-term irradiation estimated on a geological time scale. The data obtained suggests that viable Earth-like microorganisms can be preserved in the dormant state in the near-surface scenario for approximately 322.000 and 110.000 Earth years within Martian regolith that mimic early and present Mars environmental conditions, respectively. In addition, the results of the study indicate the possibility of maintaining traces within regolith, as demonstrated by the identification of melanin pigments through UltraViolet-visible (UV-vis) spectrophotometric approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life on Mars)
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20 pages, 2997 KiB  
Review
Extracellular Vesicles: An Overlooked Secretion System in Cyanobacteria
by Steeve Lima, Jorge Matinha-Cardoso, Paula Tamagnini and Paulo Oliveira
Life 2020, 10(8), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080129 - 31 Jul 2020
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 8085
Abstract
In bacteria, the active transport of material from the interior to the exterior of the cell, or secretion, represents a very important mechanism of adaptation to the surrounding environment. The secretion of various types of biomolecules is mediated by a series of multiprotein [...] Read more.
In bacteria, the active transport of material from the interior to the exterior of the cell, or secretion, represents a very important mechanism of adaptation to the surrounding environment. The secretion of various types of biomolecules is mediated by a series of multiprotein complexes that cross the bacterial membrane(s), each complex dedicated to the secretion of specific substrates. In addition, biological material may also be released from the bacterial cell in the form of vesicles. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are bilayered, nanoscale structures, derived from the bacterial cell envelope, which contain membrane components as well as soluble products. In cyanobacteria, the knowledge regarding EVs is lagging far behind compared to what is known about, for example, other Gram-negative bacteria. Here, we present a summary of the most important findings regarding EVs in Gram-negative bacteria, discussing aspects of their composition, formation processes and biological roles, and highlighting a number of technological applications tested. This lays the groundwork to raise awareness that the release of EVs by cyanobacteria likely represents an important, and yet highly disregarded, survival strategy. Furthermore, we hope to motivate future studies that can further elucidate the role of EVs in cyanobacterial cell biology and physiology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cellular and Molecular Strategies in Cyanobacterial Survival)
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19 pages, 8017 KiB  
Article
Nanoscopic Approach to Study the Early Stages of Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) of Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial (RPE) Cells In Vitro
by Lilia A. Chtcheglova, Andreas Ohlmann, Danila Boytsov, Peter Hinterdorfer, Siegfried G. Priglinger and Claudia S. Priglinger
Life 2020, 10(8), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080128 - 30 Jul 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3774
Abstract
The maintenance of visual function is supported by the proper functioning of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), representing a mosaic of polarized cuboidal postmitotic cells. Damage factors such as inflammation, aging, or injury can initiate the migration and proliferation of RPE cells, whereas [...] Read more.
The maintenance of visual function is supported by the proper functioning of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), representing a mosaic of polarized cuboidal postmitotic cells. Damage factors such as inflammation, aging, or injury can initiate the migration and proliferation of RPE cells, whereas they undergo a pseudo-metastatic transformation or an epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) from cuboidal epithelioid into fibroblast-like or macrophage-like cells. This process is recognized as a key feature in several severe ocular pathologies, and is mimicked by placing RPE cells in culture, which provides a reasonable and well-characterized in vitro model for a type 2 EMT. The most obvious characteristic of EMT is the cell phenotype switching, accompanied by the cytoskeletal reorganization with changes in size, shape, and geometry. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) has the salient ability to label-free explore these characteristics. Based on our AFM results supported by the genetic analysis of specific RPE differentiation markers, we elucidate a scheme for gradual transformation from the cobblestone to fibroblast-like phenotype. Structural changes in the actin cytoskeletal reorganization at the early stages of EMT lead to the development of characteristic geodomes, a finding that may reflect an increased propensity of RPE cells to undergo further EMT and thus become of diagnostic significance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 10th Anniversary of Life—Recent Advances in Biophysics)
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14 pages, 826 KiB  
Article
Prevalence and Clinical Characteristics of Children and Adolescents with Metabolically Healthy Obesity: Role of Insulin Sensitivity
by Federica Vinciguerra, Andrea Tumminia, Roberto Baratta, Alfredo Ferro, Salvatore Alaimo, Maria Hagnäs, Marco Graziano, Riccardo Vigneri and Lucia Frittitta
Life 2020, 10(8), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080127 - 28 Jul 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3042
Abstract
Obesity represents a major risk factor for metabolic disorders, but some individuals, “metabolically healthy” (MHO), show less clinical evidence of these complications, in contrast to “metabolically unhealthy” (MUO) individuals. The aim of this cross-sectional study is to assess the prevalence of the MHO [...] Read more.
Obesity represents a major risk factor for metabolic disorders, but some individuals, “metabolically healthy” (MHO), show less clinical evidence of these complications, in contrast to “metabolically unhealthy” (MUO) individuals. The aim of this cross-sectional study is to assess the prevalence of the MHO phenotype in a cohort of 246 overweight/obese Italian children and adolescents, and to evaluate their characteristics and the role of insulin resistance. Homeostasis model assessment–insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), insulin sensitivity index (ISI), insulinogenic index (IGI) and disposition index (DI) were all calculated from the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). MHO was defined by either: (1) HOMA-IR < 2.5 (MHO-IRes), or (2) absence of the criteria for metabolic syndrome (MHO-MetS). The MHO prevalence, according to MHO-MetS or MHO-IRes criteria, was 37.4% and 15.8%, respectively. ISI was the strongest predictor of the MHO phenotype, independently associated with both MHO-IRes and MHO-MetS. The MHO-MetS group was further subdivided into insulin sensitive or insulin resistant on the basis of HOMA-IR (either < or ≥ 2.5). Insulin sensitive MHO-MetS patients had a better metabolic profile compared to both insulin resistant MHO-MetS and MUO-MetS individuals. These data underscore the relevance of insulin sensitivity to identifying, among young individuals with overweight/obesity, the ones who have a more favorable metabolic phenotype. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Medical Research)
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14 pages, 2328 KiB  
Review
Organic Components of Small Bodies in the Outer Solar System: Some Results of the New Horizons Mission
by Dale P. Cruikshank, Yvonne J. Pendleton and William M. Grundy
Life 2020, 10(8), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080126 - 28 Jul 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3316
Abstract
The close encounters of the Pluto–Charon system and the Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth (formerly 2014 MU69) by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft in 2015 and 2019, respectively, have given new perspectives on the most distant planetary bodies yet explored. These bodies are [...] Read more.
The close encounters of the Pluto–Charon system and the Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth (formerly 2014 MU69) by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft in 2015 and 2019, respectively, have given new perspectives on the most distant planetary bodies yet explored. These bodies are key indicators of the composition, chemistry, and dynamics of the outer regions of the Solar System’s nascent environment. Pluto and Charon reveal characteristics of the largest Kuiper Belt objects formed in the dynamically evolving solar nebula inward of ~30 AU, while the much smaller Arrokoth is a largely undisturbed relic of accretion at ~45 AU. The surfaces of Pluto and Charon are covered with volatile and refractory ices and organic components, and have been shaped by geological activity. On Pluto, N2, CO and CH4 are exchanged between the atmosphere and surface as gaseous and condensed phases on diurnal, seasonal and longer timescales, while Charon’s surface is primarily inert H2O ice with an ammoniated component and a polar region colored with a macromolecular organic deposit. Arrokoth is revealed as a fused binary body in a relatively benign space environment where it originated and has remained for the age of the Solar System. Its surface is a mix of CH3OH ice, a red-orange pigment of presumed complex organic material, and possibly other undetected components. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemical Evolution of Organic Molecules in Solar System Small Bodies)
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10 pages, 1268 KiB  
Article
The Messy Alkaline Formose Reaction and Its Link to Metabolism
by Arthur Omran, Cesar Menor-Salvan, Greg Springsteen and Matthew Pasek
Life 2020, 10(8), 125; https://doi.org/10.3390/life10080125 - 28 Jul 2020
Cited by 35 | Viewed by 5720
Abstract
Sugars are essential for the formation of genetic elements such as RNA and as an energy/food source. Thus, the formose reaction, which autocatalytically generates a multitude of sugars from formaldehyde, has been viewed as a potentially important prebiotic source of biomolecules at the [...] Read more.
Sugars are essential for the formation of genetic elements such as RNA and as an energy/food source. Thus, the formose reaction, which autocatalytically generates a multitude of sugars from formaldehyde, has been viewed as a potentially important prebiotic source of biomolecules at the origins of life. When analyzing our formose solutions we find that many of the chemical species are simple carboxylic acids, including α-hydroxy acids, associated with metabolism. In this work we posit that the study of the formose reaction, under alkaline conditions and moderate hydrothermal temperatures, should not be solely focused on sugars for genetic materials, but should focus on the origins of metabolism (via metabolic molecules) as well. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue From Messy Chemistry to the Origin of Life)
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