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Biology, Volume 9, Issue 7 (July 2020) – 21 articles

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Open AccessReview
Aconitase: To Be or not to Be Inside Plant Glyoxysomes, That Is the Question
Biology 2020, 9(7), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070162 (registering DOI) - 12 Jul 2020
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Abstract
After the discovery in 1967 of plant glyoxysomes, aconitase, one the five enzymes involved in the glyoxylate cycle, was thought to be present in the organelles, and although this was found not to be the case around 25 years ago, it is still [...] Read more.
After the discovery in 1967 of plant glyoxysomes, aconitase, one the five enzymes involved in the glyoxylate cycle, was thought to be present in the organelles, and although this was found not to be the case around 25 years ago, it is still suggested in some textbooks and recent scientific articles. Genetic research (including the study of mutants and transcriptomic analysis) is becoming increasingly important in plant biology, so metabolic pathways must be presented correctly to avoid misinterpretation and the dissemination of bad science. The focus of our study is therefore aconitase, from its first localization inside the glyoxysomes to its relocation. We also examine data concerning the role of the enzyme malate dehydrogenase in the glyoxylate cycle and data of the expression of aconitase genes in Arabidopsis and other selected higher plants. We then propose a new model concerning the interaction between glyoxysomes, mitochondria and cytosol in cotyledons or endosperm during the germination of oil-rich seeds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Science)
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Open AccessArticle
Development of an LDL Receptor-Targeted Peptide Susceptible to Facilitate the Brain Access of Diagnostic or Therapeutic Agents
Biology 2020, 9(7), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070161 (registering DOI) - 11 Jul 2020
Viewed by 140
Abstract
Blood-brain barrier (BBB) crossing and brain penetration are really challenging for the delivery of therapeutic agents and imaging probes. The development of new crossing strategies is needed, and a wide range of approaches (invasive or not) have been proposed so far. The receptor-mediated [...] Read more.
Blood-brain barrier (BBB) crossing and brain penetration are really challenging for the delivery of therapeutic agents and imaging probes. The development of new crossing strategies is needed, and a wide range of approaches (invasive or not) have been proposed so far. The receptor-mediated transcytosis is an attractive mechanism, allowing the non-invasive penetration of the BBB. Among available targets, the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor (LDLR) shows favorable characteristics mainly because of the lysosome-bypassed pathway of LDL delivery to the brain, allowing an intact discharge of the carried ligand to the brain targets. The phage display technology was employed to identify a dodecapeptide targeted to the extracellular domain of LDLR (ED-LDLR). This peptide was able to bind the ED-LDLR in the presence of natural ligands and dissociated at acidic pH and in the absence of calcium, in a similar manner as the LDL. In vitro, our peptide was endocytosed by endothelial cells through the caveolae-dependent pathway, proper to the LDLR route in BBB, suggesting the prevention of its lysosomal degradation. The in vivo studies performed by magnetic resonance imaging and fluorescent lifetime imaging suggested the brain penetration of this ED-LDLR-targeted peptide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Targets and Targeting in Biomedical Sciences)
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Open AccessReview
Insight into the Role of Dental Pulp Stem Cells in Regenerative Therapy
Biology 2020, 9(7), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070160 - 09 Jul 2020
Viewed by 249
Abstract
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have the capacity for self-renewal and multilineage differentiation potential, and are considered a promising cell population for cell-based therapy and tissue regeneration. MSCs are isolated from various organs including dental pulp, which originates from cranial neural crest-derived ectomesenchyme. Recently, [...] Read more.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have the capacity for self-renewal and multilineage differentiation potential, and are considered a promising cell population for cell-based therapy and tissue regeneration. MSCs are isolated from various organs including dental pulp, which originates from cranial neural crest-derived ectomesenchyme. Recently, dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) and stem cells from human exfoliated deciduous teeth (SHEDs) have been isolated from dental pulp tissue of adult permanent teeth and deciduous teeth, respectively. Because of their MSC-like characteristics such as high growth capacity, multipotency, expression of MSC-related markers, and immunomodulatory effects, they are suggested to be an important cell source for tissue regeneration. Here, we review the features of these cells, their potential to regenerate damaged tissues, and the recently acquired understanding of their potential for clinical application in regenerative medicine. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of Cytocompatibility and Anti-Inflammatory (Inter)Actions of Genipin-Crosslinked Chitosan Powders
Biology 2020, 9(7), 159; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070159 - 08 Jul 2020
Viewed by 246
Abstract
Chitosan is a polysaccharide commonly used, together with its derivatives, in the preparation of hydrogel formulations, scaffolds and films for tissue engineering applications. Chitosan can be used as such, but it is commonly stabilized by means of chemical crosslinkers. Genipin is one of [...] Read more.
Chitosan is a polysaccharide commonly used, together with its derivatives, in the preparation of hydrogel formulations, scaffolds and films for tissue engineering applications. Chitosan can be used as such, but it is commonly stabilized by means of chemical crosslinkers. Genipin is one of the crosslinkers that has been considered that is a crystalline powder extracted from the fruit of Gardenia jasminoides and processed to obtain an aglycon compound. Genipin is gaining interest in biological applications because of its natural origin and anti-inflammatory actions. In this paper, the ability of chitosan-based materials crosslinked with genipin to exert anti-inflammation properties in applications such as bone regeneration was studied. Powders obtained from chitosan–genipin scaffolds have been tested in order to mimic the natural degradation processes occurring during biomaterials implantation in vivo. The results from osteoblast-like cells showed that specific combinations of chitosan and genipin stimulate high permissiveness towards cells, with higher performance than the pure chitosan. In parallel, evidences from monocyte-like cells showed that the crosslinker, genipin, seems to promote slowing of the monocyte-macrophage transition at morphological level. This suggests a sort of modularity of pro-inflammatory versus anti-inflammatory behavior of our chitosan-based biomaterials. Being both the cell types exposed to microscale powders, as an added value our results bring information on the cell–material interactions in the degradative dynamics of chitosan scaffold structures during the physiological resorption processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physiological and Pathophysiological Responses to Biomaterials)
Open AccessArticle
Understanding the Morpho-Anatomical, Physiological, and Functional Response of Sweet Basil to Isosmotic Nitrate to Chloride Ratios
Biology 2020, 9(7), 158; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070158 - 08 Jul 2020
Viewed by 229
Abstract
Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) is a leafy green with a short-production cycle that is emerging as a model species among aromatic plants. Modulating the mineral composition of the nutrient solution has proved to be a valuable tool to uncover the mechanisms [...] Read more.
Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) is a leafy green with a short-production cycle that is emerging as a model species among aromatic plants. Modulating the mineral composition of the nutrient solution has proved to be a valuable tool to uncover the mechanisms and responses that higher plants adopt in relation to the availability of mineral nutrients. The aim of this work was to examine the effects on basil of four isosmotic nutrient solutions with different nitrate to chloride ratios. These two anions share uptake and transport mechanisms in plants and are often considered antagonist. To this goal, we analyzed morpho-anatomical and physiological parameters as well as quality-related traits, such as the antioxidant capacity, the leaf color, the mineral composition, and the aromatic profile in relation to the nutrient ratios. Moreover, using a full factorial design, we analyzed leaves in two consecutive harvests. The data indicated a broad, multifaceted plant response to the different nutritional ratios, with almost all the recorded parameters involved. Overall, the effects on basil can be explained by considering an interdependent combination of the nitrate and chloride roles in plant nutrition and physiology. Our work revealed the extent of the modification that can be achieved in basil through the modification of the nutrient solution. It also provided indications for more nutrient efficient growing conditions, because a moderate increase in chloride limits the expected negative impact of a sub-optimal nitrate fertilization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Science)
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Open AccessArticle
Role of B Cell Lymphoma 2 in the Regulation of Liver Fibrosis in miR-122 Knockout Mice
Biology 2020, 9(7), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070157 - 08 Jul 2020
Viewed by 233
Abstract
MicroRNA-122 (miR-122) has been identified as a marker of various liver injuries, including hepatitis- virus-infection-, alcoholic-, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)-induced liver fibrosis. Here, we report that the extracellular miR-122 from hepatic cells can be delivered to hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) to modulate their [...] Read more.
MicroRNA-122 (miR-122) has been identified as a marker of various liver injuries, including hepatitis- virus-infection-, alcoholic-, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)-induced liver fibrosis. Here, we report that the extracellular miR-122 from hepatic cells can be delivered to hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) to modulate their proliferation and gene expression. Our published Argonaute crosslinking immunoprecipitation (Ago-CLIP) data identified several pro-fibrotic genes, including Ctgf, as miR-122 targets in mice livers. However, treating Ctgf as a therapeutic target failed to rescue the fibrosis developed in the miR-122 knockout livers. Alternatively, we compared the published datasets of human cirrhotic livers and miR-122 KO livers, which revealed upregulation of BCL2, suggesting its potential role in regulating fibrosis. Notably, ectopic miR-122 expression inhibited BCL2 expression in human HSC (LX-2) cells). Publicly available ChIP-seq data in human hepatocellular cancer (HepG2) cells and mice livers suggested miR-122 could regulate BCL2 expression indirectly through c-MYC, which was confirmed by siRNA-mediated depletion of c-MYC in Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) cell lines. Importantly, Venetoclax, a potent BCL2 inhibitor approved for the treatment of leukemia, showed promising anti-fibrotic effects in miR-122 knockout mice. Collectively, our data demonstrate that miR-122 suppresses liver fibrosis and implicates anti-fibrotic potential of Venetoclax. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)
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Open AccessArticle
CoVid-19 Pandemic Trend Modeling and Analysis to Support Resilience Decision-Making
Biology 2020, 9(7), 156; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070156 - 07 Jul 2020
Viewed by 270
Abstract
Policy decision-making for system resilience to a hazard requires the estimation and prediction of the trends of growth and decline of the impacts of the hazard. With focus on the recent worldwide spread of CoVid-19, we take the infection rate as the relevant [...] Read more.
Policy decision-making for system resilience to a hazard requires the estimation and prediction of the trends of growth and decline of the impacts of the hazard. With focus on the recent worldwide spread of CoVid-19, we take the infection rate as the relevant metric whose trend of evolution to follow for verifying the effectiveness of the countermeasures applied. By comparison with the theories of growth and recovery in coupled socio-medical systems, we find that the data for many countries show infection rate trends that are exponential in form. In particular, the recovery trajectory is universal in trend and consistent with the learning theory, which allows for predictions useful in the assistance of decision-making of emergency recovery actions. The findings are validated by extensive data and comparison to medical pandemic models. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19))
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Importance of Protein Phosphorylation for Signaling and Metabolism in Response to Diel Light Cycling and Nutrient Availability in a Marine Diatom
Biology 2020, 9(7), 155; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070155 - 06 Jul 2020
Viewed by 227
Abstract
Diatoms are major contributors to global primary production and their populations in the modern oceans are affected by availability of iron, nitrogen, phosphate, silica, and other trace metals, vitamins, and infochemicals. However, little is known about the role of phosphorylation in diatoms and [...] Read more.
Diatoms are major contributors to global primary production and their populations in the modern oceans are affected by availability of iron, nitrogen, phosphate, silica, and other trace metals, vitamins, and infochemicals. However, little is known about the role of phosphorylation in diatoms and its role in regulation and signaling. We report a total of 2759 phosphorylation sites on 1502 proteins detected in Phaeodactylum tricornutum. Conditionally phosphorylated peptides were detected at low iron (n = 108), during the diel cycle (n = 149), and due to nitrogen availability (n = 137). Through a multi-omic comparison of transcript, protein, phosphorylation, and protein homology, we identify numerous proteins and key cellular processes that are likely under control of phospho-regulation. We show that phosphorylation regulates: (1) carbon retrenchment and reallocation during growth under low iron, (2) carbon flux towards lipid biosynthesis after the lights turn on, (3) coordination of transcription and translation over the diel cycle and (4) in response to nitrogen depletion. We also uncover phosphorylation sites for proteins that play major roles in diatom Fe sensing and utilization, including flavodoxin and phytotransferrin (ISIP2A), as well as identify phospho-regulated stress proteins and kinases. These findings provide much needed insight into the roles of protein phosphorylation in diel cycling and nutrient sensing in diatoms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Molecular Life of Diatoms: From Genes to Ecosystems)
Open AccessArticle
Protective Effects of Bee Venom against Endotoxemia-Related Acute Kidney Injury in Mice
Biology 2020, 9(7), 154; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070154 - 06 Jul 2020
Viewed by 202
Abstract
Sepsis-associated acute kidney injury (AKI) is a leading cause of death in hospitalized patients worldwide. Despite decades of effort, there is no effective treatment for preventing the serious medical condition. Bee venom has long been used to treat a variety of inflammatory diseases. [...] Read more.
Sepsis-associated acute kidney injury (AKI) is a leading cause of death in hospitalized patients worldwide. Despite decades of effort, there is no effective treatment for preventing the serious medical condition. Bee venom has long been used to treat a variety of inflammatory diseases. However, whether bee venom has protective effects against lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced AKI has not been explored. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of bee venom on LPS-induced AKI. The administration of bee venom alleviated renal dysfunction and structural injury in LPS-treated mice. Increased renal levels of tubular injury markers after LPS treatment were also suppressed by bee venom. Mechanistically, bee venom significantly reduced plasma and tissue levels of inflammatory cytokines and immune cell infiltration into damaged kidneys. In addition, mice treated with bee venom exhibited reduced renal expression of lipid peroxidation markers after LPS injection. Moreover, bee venom attenuated tubular cell apoptosis in the kidneys of LPS-treated mice. In conclusion, these results suggest that bee venom attenuates LPS-induced renal dysfunction and structural injury via the suppression of inflammation, oxidative stress, and tubular cell apoptosis, and might be a useful therapeutic option for preventing endotoxemia-related AKI. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Medical Biology)
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Open AccessArticle
A First Insight into North American Plant Pathogenic Fungi Armillaria Sinapina Transcriptome
Biology 2020, 9(7), 153; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070153 - 04 Jul 2020
Viewed by 343
Abstract
Armillaria sinapina, a fungal pathogen of primary timber species of North American forests, causes white root rot disease that ultimately kills the trees. A more detailed understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying this illness will support future developments on disease resistance and [...] Read more.
Armillaria sinapina, a fungal pathogen of primary timber species of North American forests, causes white root rot disease that ultimately kills the trees. A more detailed understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying this illness will support future developments on disease resistance and management, as well as in the decomposition of cellulosic material for further use. In this study, RNA-Seq technology was used to compare the transcriptome profiles of A. sinapina fungal culture grown in yeast malt broth medium supplemented or not with betulin, a natural compound of the terpenoid group found in abundance in white birch bark. This was done to identify enzyme transcripts involved in the metabolism (redox reaction) of betulin into betulinic acid, a potent anticancer drug. De novo assembly and characterization of A. sinapina transcriptome was performed using Illumina technology. A total of 170,592,464 reads were generated, then 273,561 transcripts were characterized. Approximately, 53% of transcripts could be identified using public databases with several metabolic pathways represented. A total of 11 transcripts involved in terpenoid biosynthesis were identified. In addition, 25 gene transcripts that could play a significant role in lignin degradation were uncovered, as well as several redox enzymes of the cytochromes P450 family. To our knowledge, this research is the first transcriptomic study carried out on A. sinapina. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Science)
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Open AccessReview
Regulation of the Mammalian SWI/SNF Family of Chromatin Remodeling Enzymes by Phosphorylation during Myogenesis
Biology 2020, 9(7), 152; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070152 - 03 Jul 2020
Viewed by 341
Abstract
Myogenesis is the biological process by which skeletal muscle tissue forms. Regulation of myogenesis involves a variety of conventional, epigenetic, and epigenomic mechanisms that control chromatin remodeling, DNA methylation, histone modification, and activation of transcription factors. Chromatin remodeling enzymes utilize ATP hydrolysis to [...] Read more.
Myogenesis is the biological process by which skeletal muscle tissue forms. Regulation of myogenesis involves a variety of conventional, epigenetic, and epigenomic mechanisms that control chromatin remodeling, DNA methylation, histone modification, and activation of transcription factors. Chromatin remodeling enzymes utilize ATP hydrolysis to alter nucleosome structure and/or positioning. The mammalian SWItch/Sucrose Non-Fermentable (mSWI/SNF) family of chromatin remodeling enzymes is essential for myogenesis. Here we review diverse and novel mechanisms of regulation of mSWI/SNF enzymes by kinases and phosphatases. The integration of classic signaling pathways with chromatin remodeling enzyme function impacts myoblast viability and proliferation as well as differentiation. Regulated processes include the assembly of the mSWI/SNF enzyme complex, choice of subunits to be incorporated into the complex, and sub-nuclear localization of enzyme subunits. Together these processes influence the chromatin remodeling and gene expression events that control myoblast function and the induction of tissue-specific genes during differentiation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ATP-dependent Chromatin Remodeler)
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Open AccessArticle
A Selective PPARγ Modulator Reduces Hepatic Fibrosis
Biology 2020, 9(7), 151; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070151 - 02 Jul 2020
Viewed by 273
Abstract
Hepatic fibrosis is the accumulation of excess collagen as a result of chronic liver injury. If left unabated, hepatic fibrosis can lead to the disruption of the liver architecture, portal hypertension, and increased risk of progression to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The thiazolidinedione [...] Read more.
Hepatic fibrosis is the accumulation of excess collagen as a result of chronic liver injury. If left unabated, hepatic fibrosis can lead to the disruption of the liver architecture, portal hypertension, and increased risk of progression to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The thiazolidinedione class of antidiabetic drugs, through their target peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ), have protective effects against liver fibrosis, and can inhibit the profibrotic activity of hepatic stellate cells, the major collagen-producing liver cells. However, these drugs have been ineffective in the treatment of established fibrosis, possibly due to side effects such as increased weight and adiposity. Recently, selective PPARγ modulators that lack these side effects have been identified, but their role in treating fibrosis has not been studied. In this study, we tested the effectiveness of one of these selective modulators, SR1664, in the mouse carbon tetrachloride model of established hepatic fibrosis. Treatment with SR1664 reduced the total and type 1 collagen content without increasing body weight. The abundance of activated hepatic stellate cells was also significantly decreased. Finally, SR1664 inhibited the profibrotic phenotype of hepatic stellate cells. In summary, a selective PPARγ modulator was effective in the reduction of established hepatic fibrosis and the activated phenotype of hepatic stellate cells. This may represent a new treatment approach for hepatic fibrosis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Non-Alcoholic Liver Injury)
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Open AccessArticle
Heterometrus Spinifer: An Untapped Source of Anti-Tumor Molecules
Biology 2020, 9(7), 150; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070150 - 02 Jul 2020
Viewed by 372
Abstract
Despite intensive research, cancer incidence and mortality continue to rise. Consequently, the necessity to develop effective anti-cancer therapy is apparent. We have recently shown that the gut bacteria of animals living in polluted environments, such as crocodiles, are a potential source of novel [...] Read more.
Despite intensive research, cancer incidence and mortality continue to rise. Consequently, the necessity to develop effective anti-cancer therapy is apparent. We have recently shown that the gut bacteria of animals living in polluted environments, such as crocodiles, are a potential source of novel anti-tumor molecules. To extend this work to other resilient species, we investigated the anti-tumor effects of gut bacteria of Heterometrus spinifer (a scorpion). Bacteria from the feces and gut were isolated, identified and evaluated for their anti-tumor effects. Bacterial-conditioned media was prepared in Roswell Park Memorial Institute (RPMI) 1640 media, and cytotoxicity and growth inhibitory properties were examined against cervical (HeLa) cancer cells. Liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS) was conducted to establish the identity of the molecules. Eighteen bacteria species from the gut (HSG01-18) and ten bacteria species from feces (HSF01-10) were tested for anti-tumor effects. Bacterial-conditioned media from scorpion gut and feces exhibited significant growth inhibitory effects against HeLa cells of 66.9% and 83.8%, respectively. Microscopic analysis of cancer cells treated with conditioned media HSG12 and HSG16 revealed apoptosis-like effects. HSG12 was identified as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and HSG16 was identified as Bacillus subtilis. Both conditioned media exhibited 100% growth inhibitory effects versus a selection of cancer cells, comprising cervical, breast and prostate cancer cells. LC–MS indicated the presence of 72 and 38 compounds, detected from HSG12 and HSG16, respectively. Out of these compounds, 47 were successfully identified while the remainder were unidentified and are possibly novel. This study suggests that the fecal and gut microbiota of scorpions might possess molecules with anti-cancer properties, however, further intensive research is needed to assess these expectations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Ranacyclin-NF, a Novel Bowman–Birk Type Protease Inhibitor from the Skin Secretion of the East Asian Frog, Pelophylax nigromaculatus
Biology 2020, 9(7), 149; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070149 - 02 Jul 2020
Viewed by 209
Abstract
Serine protease inhibitors are found in plants, animals and microorganisms, where they play important roles in many physiological and pathological processes. Inhibitor scaffolds based on natural proteins and peptides have gradually become the focus of current research as they tend to bind to [...] Read more.
Serine protease inhibitors are found in plants, animals and microorganisms, where they play important roles in many physiological and pathological processes. Inhibitor scaffolds based on natural proteins and peptides have gradually become the focus of current research as they tend to bind to their targets with greater specificity than small molecules. In this report, a novel Bowman–Birk type inhibitor, named ranacyclin-NF (RNF), is described and was identified in the skin secretion of the East Asian frog, Pelophylax nigromaculatus. A synthetic replicate of the peptide was subjected to a series of functional assays. It displayed trypsin inhibitory activity with an inhibitory constant, Ki, of 447 nM and had negligible direct cytotoxicity. No observable direct antimicrobial activity was found but RNF improved the therapeutic potency of Gentamicin against Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). RNF shared significant sequence similarity to previously reported and related inhibitors from Odorrana grahami (ORB) and Rana esculenta (ranacyclin-T), both of which were found to be multi-functional. Two analogues of RNF, named ranacyclin-NF1 (RNF1) and ranacyclin-NF3L (RNF3L), were designed based on some features of ORB and ranacyclin-T to study structure–activity relationships. Structure–activity studies demonstrated that residues outside of the trypsin inhibitory loop (TIL) may be related to the efficacy of trypsin inhibitory activity. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Novel Antimicrobial Peptide (Kassinatuerin-3) Isolated from the Skin Secretion of the African Frog, Kassina senegalensis
Biology 2020, 9(7), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070148 - 02 Jul 2020
Viewed by 205
Abstract
Amphibian skin secretions are remarkable sources of novel bioactive peptides. Among these, antimicrobial peptides have demonstrated an outstanding efficacy in killing microorganisms via a general membranolytic mechanism, which may offer the prospect of solving specific target-driven antibiotic resistance. Here, the discovery of a [...] Read more.
Amphibian skin secretions are remarkable sources of novel bioactive peptides. Among these, antimicrobial peptides have demonstrated an outstanding efficacy in killing microorganisms via a general membranolytic mechanism, which may offer the prospect of solving specific target-driven antibiotic resistance. Here, the discovery of a novel defensive peptide is described from the skin secretion of the African frog, Kassina senegalensis. Named kassinatuerin-3, it was identified through a combination of “shot-gun” cloning and MS/MS fragmentation sequencing. Subsequently, a synthetic replicate was subjected to biofunctional evaluation. The results indicated that kassinatuerin-3 possessed antimicrobial activity against Gram-positive bacteria but no effect against Gram-negative bacteria. Additionally, it was active in biofilm eradication on S. aureus and MRSA and in the antiproliferation of selected cancer cell lines. Moreover, it had a very mild hemolytic effect, which demonstrated a high therapeutic index for kassinatuerin-3. Collectively, although kassinatuerin-3 did not demonstrate remarkable bioactivities compared with other natural or synthetic antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), it offered a new insight into the design of antimicrobial derivatives. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Cuttlefish Buoyancy in Response to Food Availability and Ocean Acidification
Biology 2020, 9(7), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070147 - 01 Jul 2020
Viewed by 450
Abstract
Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is expected to continue rising by 2100, leading to a decrease in ocean pH in a process known as ocean acidification (OA). OA can have a direct impact on calcifying organisms, including on the cuttlebone of the [...] Read more.
Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is expected to continue rising by 2100, leading to a decrease in ocean pH in a process known as ocean acidification (OA). OA can have a direct impact on calcifying organisms, including on the cuttlebone of the common cuttlefish Sepia officinalis. Moreover, nutritional status has also been shown to affect the cuttlebone structure and potentially affect buoyancy. Here, we aimed to understand the combined effects of OA (980 μatm CO2) and food availability (fed vs. non-fed) on the buoyancy of cuttlefish newborns and respective cuttlebone weight/area ratio (as a proxy for calcification). Our results indicate that while OA elicited negative effects on hatching success, it did not negatively affect the cuttlebone weight/area ratio of the hatchlings—OA led to an increase in cuttlebone weight/area ratio of fed newborns (but not in unfed individuals). The proportion of “floating” (linked to buoyancy control loss) newborns was greatest under starvation, regardless of the CO2 treatment, and was associated with a drop in cuttlebone weight/area ratio. Besides showing that cuttlefish buoyancy is unequivocally affected by starvation, here, we also highlight the importance of nutritional condition to assess calcifying organisms’ responses to ocean acidification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Marine Biology)
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Open AccessReview
Structural Insights into the Evolutionarily Conserved BAF Chromatin Remodeling Complex
Biology 2020, 9(7), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070146 - 30 Jun 2020
Viewed by 323
Abstract
The switch/sucrose nonfermentable (SWI/SNF) family of proteins acts to regulate chromatin accessibility and plays an essential role in multiple cellular processes. A high frequency of mutations has been found in SWI/SNF family subunits by exome sequencing in human cancer, and multiple studies support [...] Read more.
The switch/sucrose nonfermentable (SWI/SNF) family of proteins acts to regulate chromatin accessibility and plays an essential role in multiple cellular processes. A high frequency of mutations has been found in SWI/SNF family subunits by exome sequencing in human cancer, and multiple studies support its role in tumor suppression. Recent structural studies of yeast SWI/SNF and its human homolog, BAF (BRG1/BRM associated factor), have provided a model for their complex assembly and their interaction with nucleosomal substrates, revealing the molecular function of individual subunits as well as the potential impact of cancer-associated mutations on the remodeling function. Here we review the structural conservation between yeast SWI/SNF and BAF and examine the role of highly mutated subunits within the BAF complex. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ATP-dependent Chromatin Remodeler)
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Open AccessArticle
Ability of Adult Dermacentor reticulatus Ticks to Overwinter in the Temperate Climate Zone
Biology 2020, 9(7), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070145 - 29 Jun 2020
Viewed by 252
Abstract
Dermacentor reticulatus ticks, one of the most important vectors and reservoirs of tick-borne diseases in Europe, are widespread in the temperate climate zone and in some localities in the subtropical climate zone of the western Palaearctic region. These ticks occur in a large [...] Read more.
Dermacentor reticulatus ticks, one of the most important vectors and reservoirs of tick-borne diseases in Europe, are widespread in the temperate climate zone and in some localities in the subtropical climate zone of the western Palaearctic region. These ticks occur in a large area characterised by a varied climate type, vegetation, and availability of potential hosts. Hence, they exhibit high ecological plasticity and adaptability to periodically adverse conditions. The aim of the present study was to investigate the ability of D. reticulatus adults to overwinter in the natural habitat. Specimens marked with a permanent oil marker on the festoons were placed in their natural habitats for the winter. Concurrently, tick survival in laboratory conditions at a temperature of 5 °C and 18 °C was assessed as a control. The groups were compared with each other by determination of the weight of fat bodies. In the field conditions, 67.9% females and 60.0% males survived the winter. There was no significant difference in the survival of ticks in the laboratory. A significantly lower fat body weight was found in the group of ticks overwintering in the field conditions and exhibiting questing activity between spring and late autumn during the following year. On the population scale, adult D. reticulatus ticks are able to survive the winter in temperate climate conditions at a level ensuring a further increase in their population size. In adverse weather conditions, ticks enter diapause, thus maximally reducing the utilisation of the content of their fat bodies. This facilitates long-term survival in the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Ecology)
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Open AccessArticle
Potassium and Magnesium Mediate the Light and CO2 Photosynthetic Responses of Grapevines
Biology 2020, 9(7), 144; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070144 - 28 Jun 2020
Viewed by 340
Abstract
Potassium (K) and magnesium (Mg) deficiency are common stresses that can impact on grape yield and quality, but their effects on photosynthesis have received little attention. Understanding the diffusional and biochemical limitations to photosynthetic constraints will help to guide improvements in cultural practices. [...] Read more.
Potassium (K) and magnesium (Mg) deficiency are common stresses that can impact on grape yield and quality, but their effects on photosynthesis have received little attention. Understanding the diffusional and biochemical limitations to photosynthetic constraints will help to guide improvements in cultural practices. Accordingly, the photosynthetic response of Vitis vinifera cvs. Shiraz and Chardonnay to K or Mg deficiency was assessed under hydroponic conditions using miniature low-nutrient-reserve vines. Photosynthesis was at least partly reduced by a decline in stomatal conductance. Light and CO2-saturated photosynthesis, maximum rate of ribulose 1.5 bisphospate (RuBP) carboxylation (Vcmax) and maximum rate of electron transport (Jmax) all decreased under K and Mg deficiency. Likewise, chlorophyll fluorescence and electron transport were lower under both nutrient deficiencies while dark respiration increased. K deficiency drastically reduced shoot biomass in both cultivars, while root biomass was greatly reduced under both Mg and K deficiency. Taken together, these results indicate that the decrease in biomass was likely due to both stomatal and biochemical limitations in photosynthesis. Optimising photosynthesis through adequate nutrition will thus support increases in biomass with carry-on positive effects on crop yields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Science)
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Open AccessArticle
A New TGF-β1 Inhibitor, CTI-82, Antagonizes Epithelial–Mesenchymal Transition through Inhibition of Phospho-SMAD2/3 and Phospho-ERK
Biology 2020, 9(7), 143; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070143 - 28 Jun 2020
Viewed by 309
Abstract
Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) is highly expressed in the tumor microenvironment and known to play a multifunctional role in cancer progression. In addition, TGF-β1 promotes metastasis by inducing epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) in a variety of tumors. Thus, inhibition of TGF-β1 is considered an [...] Read more.
Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) is highly expressed in the tumor microenvironment and known to play a multifunctional role in cancer progression. In addition, TGF-β1 promotes metastasis by inducing epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) in a variety of tumors. Thus, inhibition of TGF-β1 is considered an important strategy in the treatment of cancer. In most tumors, TGF-β1 signal transduction exhibits modified or non-functional characteristics, and TGF-β1 inhibitors have various inhibitory effects on cancer cells. Currently, many studies are being conducted to develop TGF-β1 inhibitors from non-toxic natural compounds. We aimed to develop a new TGF-β1 inhibitor to suppress EMT in cancer cells. As a result, improved chalcone-like chain CTI-82 was identified, and its effect was confirmed in vitro. We showed that CTI-82 blocked TGF-β1-induced EMT by inhibiting the cell migration and metastasis of A549 lung cancer cells. In addition, CTI-82 reduced the TGF-β1-induced phosphorylation of SMAD2/3 and inhibited the expression of various EMT markers. Our results suggest that CTI-82 inhibits tumor growth, migration, and metastasis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Cell Biology)
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Open AccessArticle
Inhibition on JNK Mimics Silencing of Wnt-11 Mediated Cellular Response in Androgen-Independent Prostate Cancer Cells
Biology 2020, 9(7), 142; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9070142 - 27 Jun 2020
Viewed by 290
Abstract
Prostate cancer (PCa) is one of the most common cancers among men, and one of the leading causes of cancer death for men. The c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) pathway is required for several cellular functions, such as survival, proliferation, differentiation, and migration. Wnt-11, [...] Read more.
Prostate cancer (PCa) is one of the most common cancers among men, and one of the leading causes of cancer death for men. The c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) pathway is required for several cellular functions, such as survival, proliferation, differentiation, and migration. Wnt-11, a member of the Wnt family, has been identified for its upregulation in PCa; however, downstream signalling of Wnt-11 remains to be fully characterized. In this study, we investigated the role of the JNK pathway as a potential downstream factor for Wnt-11 signalling. For this purpose, LNCaP, DU145, and PC-3 PCa cells and normal epithelial PNT1A cells were treated with a specific JNK kinase inhibitor: JNKVIII. Our results showed that JNK inhibition decreased mitochondrial membrane potential and promoted cell death in a cell type-dependent manner. We found that JNK inhibition led to an increase in autophagy and prevented epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) in independently growing androgen cells. JNK inhibition and the silencing of Wnt-11 showed similar responses in DU145 and PC-3 cells and decreased metastasis-related biomarkers, cell migration, and invasion. Overall, our results suggest that JNK signalling plays a significant role in the pathophysiology of PCa by mediating Wnt-11 induced signals. Our data highlights that both the JNK pathway and Wnt-11 could be a useful therapeutic target for the combinatory application of current PCa. Full article
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