Editor's Choice Articles

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to authors, or important in this field. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

Order results
Result details
Results per page
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Article

Article
Chitosan–Azide Nanoparticle Coating as a Degradation Barrier in Multilayered Polyelectrolyte Drug Delivery Systems
Biomolecules 2019, 9(10), 573; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9100573 - 05 Oct 2019
Cited by 13
Abstract
Therapeutics, proteins or drugs, can be encapsulated into multilayer systems prepared from chitosan (CS)/tripolyphosphat (TPP) nanogels and polyanions. Such multilayers can be built-up by Layer-by-Layer (LbL) deposition. For use as drug-releasing implant coating, these multilayers must meet high requirements in terms of stability. [...] Read more.
Therapeutics, proteins or drugs, can be encapsulated into multilayer systems prepared from chitosan (CS)/tripolyphosphat (TPP) nanogels and polyanions. Such multilayers can be built-up by Layer-by-Layer (LbL) deposition. For use as drug-releasing implant coating, these multilayers must meet high requirements in terms of stability. Therefore, photochemically crosslinkable chitosan arylazide (CS–Az) was synthesized and nanoparticles were generated by ionotropic gelation with TPP. The particles were characterized with regard to particle size and stability and were used to form the top-layer in multilayer films consisting of CS–TPP and three different polysaccharides as polyanions, namely alginate, chondroitin sulfate or hyaluronic acid, respectively. Subsequently, photo-crosslinking was performed by irradiation with UV light. The stability of these films was investigated under physiological conditions and the influence of the blocking layer on layer thickness was investigated by ellipsometry. Furthermore, the polyanion and the degree of acetylation (DA) of chitosan were identified as additional parameters that influence the film structure and stability. Multilayer systems blocked with the photo-crosslinked chitosan arylazide showed enhanced stability against degradation. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Antioxidant Enzyme-Mimetic Activity and Neuroprotective Effects of Cerium Oxide Nanoparticles Stabilized with Various Ratios of Citric Acid and EDTA
Biomolecules 2019, 9(10), 562; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9100562 - 03 Oct 2019
Cited by 19
Abstract
Cerium oxide (CeO2) nanoparticles (CeNPs) are potent antioxidants that are being explored as potential therapies for diseases in which oxidative stress plays an important pathological role. However, both beneficial and toxic effects of CeNPs have been reported, and the method of [...] Read more.
Cerium oxide (CeO2) nanoparticles (CeNPs) are potent antioxidants that are being explored as potential therapies for diseases in which oxidative stress plays an important pathological role. However, both beneficial and toxic effects of CeNPs have been reported, and the method of synthesis as well as physico-chemical, biological, and environmental factors can impact the ultimate biological effects of CeNPs. In the present study, we explored the effect of different ratios of citric acid (CA) and EDTA (CA/EDTA), which are used as stabilizers during synthesis of CeNPs, on the antioxidant enzyme-mimetic and biological activity of the CeNPs. We separated the CeNPs into supernatant and pellet fractions and used commercially available enzymatic assays to measure the catalase-, superoxide dismutase (SOD)-, and oxidase-mimetic activity of each fraction. We tested the effects of these CeNPs in a mouse hippocampal brain slice model of ischemia to induce oxidative stress where the fluorescence indicator SYTOX green was used to assess cell death. Our results demonstrate that CeNPs stabilized with various ratios of CA/EDTA display different enzyme-mimetic activities. CeNPs with intermediate CA/EDTA stabilization ratios demonstrated greater neuroprotection in ischemic mouse brain slices, and the neuroprotective activity resides in the pellet fraction of the CeNPs. The neuroprotective effects of CeNPs stabilized with equal proportions of CA/EDTA (50/50) were also demonstrated in two other models of ischemia/reperfusion in mice and rats. Thus, CeNPs merit further development as a neuroprotective therapy for use in diseases associated with oxidative stress in the nervous system. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Beyond the Scavenging of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS): Direct Effect of Cerium Oxide Nanoparticles in Reducing Fatty Acids Content in an In Vitro Model of Hepatocellular Steatosis
Biomolecules 2019, 9(9), 425; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9090425 - 29 Aug 2019
Cited by 20
Abstract
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterized by hepatic accumulation of lipids. Antisteatotic effects of cerium oxide nanoparticles (CeO2NPs) have recently been shown in animal models of liver disease. However, it is unclear whether the activity of CeO2NPs is [...] Read more.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterized by hepatic accumulation of lipids. Antisteatotic effects of cerium oxide nanoparticles (CeO2NPs) have recently been shown in animal models of liver disease. However, it is unclear whether the activity of CeO2NPs is related solely to the decrease in oxidative stress or, in addition, they directly decrease liver fatty acid accumulation. To address this question, in this work, we used an in vitro model of hepatocellular steatosis, exposing HepG2 cells to oleic and palmitic acid. Cell uptake of CeO2NPs and their effect on oxidative stress and viability of hepatic cells cultured with H2O2 were also evaluated. Results show that CeO2NPs were uptaken by HepG2 cells and reduced oxidative stress and improved cell viability. Treatment with oleic and palmitic acid increased lipogenesis and the content of different fatty acids. CeO2NPs reduced palmitic and stearic acid and most fatty acids consisting of more than 18 carbon atoms. These effects were associated with significant changes in elongase and desaturase activity. In conclusion, CeO2NPs directly protected HepG2 cells from cell injury in oxidative stress conditions and reduced fatty acid content in steatotic conditions by inducing specific changes in fatty acid metabolism, thus showing potential in the treatment of NAFLD. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
The Inhibitory Effect of Cordycepin on the Proliferation of MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells, and Its Mechanism: An Investigation Using Network Pharmacology-Based Analysis
Biomolecules 2019, 9(9), 414; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9090414 - 26 Aug 2019
Cited by 17
Abstract
Cordyceps militaris is a well-known medicinal mushroom. It is non-toxic and has clinical health benefits including cancer inhibition. However, the anticancer effects of C. militaris cultured in brown rice on breast cancer have not yet been reported. In this study, we simultaneously investigated [...] Read more.
Cordyceps militaris is a well-known medicinal mushroom. It is non-toxic and has clinical health benefits including cancer inhibition. However, the anticancer effects of C. militaris cultured in brown rice on breast cancer have not yet been reported. In this study, we simultaneously investigated the anticancer effects of cordycepin and an extract of C. militaris cultured in brown rice on MCF-7 human breast cancer cells using a cell viability assay, cell staining with Hoechst 33342, and an image-based cytometric assay. The C. militaris concentrate exhibited significant MCF-7 cell inhibitory effects, and its IC50 value was 73.48 µg/mL. Cordycepin also exhibited significant MCF-7 cell inhibitory effects, and its IC50 value was 9.58 µM. We applied network pharmacological analysis to predict potential targets and pathways of cordycepin. The gene set enrichment analysis showed that the targets of cordycepin are mainly associated with the hedgehog signaling, apoptosis, p53 signaling, and estrogen signaling pathways. We further verified the predicted targets related to the apoptosis pathway using western blot analysis. The C. militaris concentrate and cordycepin exhibited the ability to induce apoptotic cell death by increasing the cleavage of caspase-7 -8, and -9, increasing the Bcl-2-associated X protein/ B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bax/Bcl-2) protein expression ratio, and decreasing the protein expression of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) in MCF-7 cells. Consequently, the C. militaris concentrate and cordycepin exhibited significant anticancer effects through their ability to induce apoptosis in breast cancer cells. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Dose-Dependent Alterations to In Vitro Human Microbiota Composition and Butyrate Inhibition by a Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Hops Extract
Biomolecules 2019, 9(9), 390; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9090390 - 21 Aug 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Hop cones (Humulus lupulus L.) have been used throughout history as an additive in beer brewing and as herbal supplements with medicinal and culinary properties. The objective of this study was to ascertain the effect of a range of concentrations of a [...] Read more.
Hop cones (Humulus lupulus L.) have been used throughout history as an additive in beer brewing and as herbal supplements with medicinal and culinary properties. The objective of this study was to ascertain the effect of a range of concentrations of a supercritical CO2 extract of hops on the composition and metabolism of human gut bacterial communities using in vitro batch culture systems. Fermentations were conducted over 24 h using a mixed human fecal inoculum. Microbial metabolism was assessed by measuring organic acid production and microbial community alterations were determined by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Butyrate, an important short chain fatty acid in maintaining colonic well-being, decreased at elevated concentrations of hops, which may partly be accounted for by the concomitant reduction of Eubacterium and Coprococcus, known butyrate-producing genera, and also the inhibition of Bifidobacterium, a beneficial organism that has a butyrogenic effect through metabolic cross-feeding with intestinal commensals. The hops compounds also caused dose-dependent increases in the potentially pathogenic Enterobacteriaceae and potentially beneficial Akkermansia. Thus, hops compounds had a significant impact on the structure of the bacterial consortium, which warrants further study including human clinical trials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Function of Microorganism in Food Production)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Thimet Oligopeptidase (EC 3.4.24.15) Key Functions Suggested by Knockout Mice Phenotype Characterization
Biomolecules 2019, 9(8), 382; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9080382 - 19 Aug 2019
Cited by 15
Abstract
Thimet oligopeptidase (THOP1) is thought to be involved in neuropeptide metabolism, antigen presentation, neurodegeneration, and cancer. Herein, the generation of THOP1 C57BL/6 knockout mice (THOP1−/−) is described showing that they are viable, have estrus cycle, fertility, and a number of puppies [...] Read more.
Thimet oligopeptidase (THOP1) is thought to be involved in neuropeptide metabolism, antigen presentation, neurodegeneration, and cancer. Herein, the generation of THOP1 C57BL/6 knockout mice (THOP1−/−) is described showing that they are viable, have estrus cycle, fertility, and a number of puppies per litter similar to C57BL/6 wild type mice (WT). In specific brain regions, THOP1-/- exhibit altered mRNA expression of proteasome beta5, serotonin 5HT2a receptor and dopamine D2 receptor, but not of neurolysin (NLN). Peptidomic analysis identifies differences in intracellular peptide ratios between THOP1-/- and WT mice, which may affect normal cellular functioning. In an experimental model of multiple sclerosis THOP1-/- mice present worse clinical behavior scores compared to WT mice, corroborating its possible involvement in neurodegenerative diseases. THOP1-/- mice also exhibit better survival and improved behavior in a sepsis model, but also a greater peripheral pain sensitivity measured in the hot plate test after bradykinin administration in the paw. THOP1-/- mice show depressive-like behavior, as well as attention and memory retention deficits. Altogether, these results reveal a role of THOP1 on specific behaviors, immune-stimulated neurodegeneration, and infection-induced inflammation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Cellular Biochemistry)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Aortic Oxidative Stress, Inflammation and DNA Damage Following Pulmonary Exposure to Cerium Oxide Nanoparticles in a Rat Model of Vascular Injury
Biomolecules 2019, 9(8), 376; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9080376 - 17 Aug 2019
Cited by 15
Abstract
Pulmonary exposure to cerium oxide nanoparticles (CeO2 NPs) can occur either at the workplace, or due to their release in the environment. Inhaled CeO2 NPs are known to cross the alveolar–capillary barrier and reach various parts of the body, including the [...] Read more.
Pulmonary exposure to cerium oxide nanoparticles (CeO2 NPs) can occur either at the workplace, or due to their release in the environment. Inhaled CeO2 NPs are known to cross the alveolar–capillary barrier and reach various parts of the body, including the vasculature. The anticancer drug cisplatin (CP) causes vascular damage. However, the effects CeO2 NPs on vascular homeostasis in a rat model of CP-induced vascular injury remain unclear. Here, we assessed the impact and underlying mechanism of pulmonary exposure to CeO2 NPs on aorta in rats given a single intraperitoneal injection of cisplatin (CP, 6 mg/kg) to induce vascular damage. Six days later, the rats were intratracheally instilled with either CeO2 NPs (1 mg/kg) or saline (control), and various variables were studied 24 h thereafter in the aortic tissue. The concentration of reduced glutathione and the activity of catalase were significantly increased in the CP + CeO2 NPs group compared with both the CP + saline and the CeO2 NPs groups. The activity of superoxide dismutase was significantly decreased in the CP + CeO2 NPs group compared with both the CP + saline and CeO2 NPs groups. The expression of nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-like 2 (Nrf2) by the nuclei of smooth muscles and endocardial cells assessed by immunohistochemistry was significantly augmented in CeO2 NPs versus saline, in CP + saline versus saline, and in CP + CeO2 NPs versus CeO2 NPs. Moreover, the concentrations of total nitric oxide, lipid peroxidation and 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine were significantly elevated in the CP + CeO2 NPs group compared with both the CP + saline and the CeO2 NPs groups. Similarly, compared with both the CP + saline and CeO2 NPs groups, the combination of CP and CeO2 NPs significantly elevated the concentrations of interleukin-6 and tumour necrosis factor-α. Additionally, aortic DNA damage assessed by Comet assay was significantly increased in CeO2 NPs compared with saline, and in CP + saline versus saline, and all these effects were significantly aggravated by the combination of CP and CeO2 NPs. We conclude that pulmonary exposure to CeO2 NPs aggravates vascular toxicity in animal model of vascular injury through mechanisms involving oxidative stress, Nrf2 expression, inflammation and DNA damage. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
The Methodological Trends of Traditional Herbal Medicine Employing Network Pharmacology
Biomolecules 2019, 9(8), 362; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9080362 - 13 Aug 2019
Cited by 52
Abstract
Natural products, including traditional herbal medicine (THM), are known to exert their therapeutic effects by acting on multiple targets, so researchers have employed network pharmacology methods to decipher the potential mechanisms of THM. To conduct THM-network pharmacology (THM-NP) studies, researchers have employed different [...] Read more.
Natural products, including traditional herbal medicine (THM), are known to exert their therapeutic effects by acting on multiple targets, so researchers have employed network pharmacology methods to decipher the potential mechanisms of THM. To conduct THM-network pharmacology (THM-NP) studies, researchers have employed different tools and databases for constructing and analyzing herb–compound–target networks. In this study, we attempted to capture the methodological trends in THM-NP research. We identified the tools and databases employed to conduct THM-NP studies and visualized their combinatorial patterns. We also constructed co-author and affiliation networks to further understand how the methodologies are employed among researchers. The results showed that the number of THM-NP studies and employed databases/tools have been dramatically increased in the last decade, and there are characteristic patterns in combining methods of each analysis step in THM-NP studies. Overall, the Traditional Chinese Medicine Systems Pharmacology Database and Analysis Platform (TCMSP) was the most frequently employed network pharmacology database in THM-NP studies. Among the processes involved in THM-NP research, the methodology for constructing a compound–target network has shown the greatest change over time. In summary, our analysis describes comprehensive methodological trends and current ideas in research design for network pharmacology researchers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phytochemical Omics in Medicinal Plants)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
The Natural-Based Antitumor Compound T21 Decreases Survivin Levels through Potent STAT3 Inhibition in Lung Cancer Models
Biomolecules 2019, 9(8), 361; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9080361 - 13 Aug 2019
Cited by 15
Abstract
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide; hence novel treatments for this malignancy are eagerly needed. Since natural-based compounds represent a rich source of novel chemical entities in drug discovery, we have focused our attention on tambjamines, natural compounds isolated [...] Read more.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide; hence novel treatments for this malignancy are eagerly needed. Since natural-based compounds represent a rich source of novel chemical entities in drug discovery, we have focused our attention on tambjamines, natural compounds isolated from marine invertebrates that have shown diverse pharmacological activities. Based on these structures, we have recently identified the novel indole-based tambjamine analog 21 (T21) as a promising antitumor agent, which modulates the expression of apoptotic proteins such as survivin. This antiapoptotic protein plays an important role in carcinogenesis and chemoresistance. In this work, we have elucidated the molecular mechanism by which the anticancer compound T21 exerts survivin inhibition and have validated this protein as a therapeutic target in different lung cancer models. T21 was able to reduce survivin protein levels in vitro by repressing its gene expression through the blockade of Janus kinase/Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription-3 (JAK/STAT3)/survivin signaling pathway. Interestingly, this occurred even when the pathway was overstimulated with its ligand interleukin 6 (IL-6), which is frequently overexpressed in lung cancer patients who show poor clinical outcomes. Altogether, these results show T21 as a potent anticancer compound that effectively decreases survivin levels through STAT3 inhibition in lung cancer, appearing as a promising therapeutic drug for cancer treatment. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Cyclodextrins Can Entrap Zearalenone-14-Glucoside: Interaction of the Masked Mycotoxin with Cyclodextrins and Cyclodextrin Bead Polymer
Biomolecules 2019, 9(8), 354; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9080354 - 09 Aug 2019
Cited by 8
Abstract
Zearalenone (ZEN) is a Fusarium-derived xenoestrogenic mycotoxin. In plants, zearalenone-14-O-β-d-glucoside (Z14G) is the major conjugated metabolite of ZEN, and is a masked mycotoxin. Masked mycotoxins are plant-modified derivatives, which are not routinely screened in food and feed samples. [...] Read more.
Zearalenone (ZEN) is a Fusarium-derived xenoestrogenic mycotoxin. In plants, zearalenone-14-O-β-d-glucoside (Z14G) is the major conjugated metabolite of ZEN, and is a masked mycotoxin. Masked mycotoxins are plant-modified derivatives, which are not routinely screened in food and feed samples. Cyclodextrins (CDs) are cyclic oligosaccharides built up from D-glucopyranose units. CDs can form stable host–guest type complexes with lipophilic molecules (e.g., with some mycotoxins). In this study, the interaction of Z14G with native and chemically modified β- and γ-CDs was examined employing fluorescence spectroscopy and molecular modeling. Furthermore, the removal of Z14G from aqueous solution by insoluble β-CD bead polymer (BBP) was also tested. Our results demonstrate that Z14G forms the most stable complexes with γ-CDs under acidic and neutral conditions (K ≈ 103 L/mol). Among the CDs tested, randomly methylated γ-CD induced the highest increase in the fluorescence of Z14G (7.1-fold) and formed the most stable complexes with the mycotoxin (K = 2 × 103 L/mol). Furthermore, BBP considerably reduced the Z14G content of aqueous solution. Based on these observations, CD technology seems a promising tool to improve the fluorescence analytical detection of Z14G and to discover new mycotoxin binders which can also remove masked mycotoxins (e.g., Z14G). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Perspectives of Cyclodextrins)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
KDR (VEGFR2) Genetic Variants and Serum Levels in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Biomolecules 2019, 9(8), 355; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9080355 - 09 Aug 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
We investigated kinase insert domain-containing receptor (KDR) polymorphisms and protein levels in relation to susceptibility to and severity of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). 641 RA patients and 340 controls (HC) were examined for the rs1870377 KDR variant by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-restriction fragment [...] Read more.
We investigated kinase insert domain-containing receptor (KDR) polymorphisms and protein levels in relation to susceptibility to and severity of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). 641 RA patients and 340 controls (HC) were examined for the rs1870377 KDR variant by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) method and for rs2305948 and rs2071559 KDR single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) by TaqMan SNP genotyping assay. KDR serum levels were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The rs1870377 KDR variant has shown association with RA under the codominant (p = 0.02, OR = 1.76, 95% CI = 1.09–2.85) and recessive models (p = 0.019, OR = 1.53, 95% CI = 1.07–2.20). KDR rs2305948 was associated with RA under the dominant model (p = 0.005, OR = 1.38, 95% CI = 1.10–1.73). Under the codominant model, the frequency of the rs2071559 TC and GG genotypes were lower in RA patients than in controls (p < 0.001, OR = 0.51, 95% CI = 0.37–0.69, and p = 0.002, OR = 0.57, 95% CI = 0.39–0.81). KDR rs2071559 T and rs2305948 A alleles were associated with RA (p = 0.001, OR = 0.60, 95% CI = 0.45–0.81 and p = 0.008, OR = 1.71, CI = 1.15–2.54). KDR rs2305948SNP was associated with Disease Activity Score (DAS)-28 score (p < 0.001), Visual Analog Scale (VAS) score (p < 0.001), number of swollen joints (p < 0.001), mean value of CRP (p < 0.001). A higher KDR serum level was found in RA patients than in HC (8018 pg/mL versus 7381 pg/mL, p = 0.002). Present results shed light on the role of KDR genetic variants in the severity of RA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Medicine)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Accumulation of Amyloid Beta (Aβ) Peptide on Blood Vessel Walls in the Damaged Brain after Transient Middle Cerebral Artery Occlusion
Biomolecules 2019, 9(8), 350; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9080350 - 08 Aug 2019
Cited by 9
Abstract
It is well known that amyloid beta (Aβ) peptides are generated in blood vessels, released into the brain during thrombosis, and temporarily accumulate in this organ after injury. Here we demonstrate that 24 h after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAO), one of [...] Read more.
It is well known that amyloid beta (Aβ) peptides are generated in blood vessels, released into the brain during thrombosis, and temporarily accumulate in this organ after injury. Here we demonstrate that 24 h after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (tMCAO), one of the standard models of focal ischemic stroke, Aβ peptide accumulates in the brain, concentrating on the blood vessel walls. Because Aβ oligomers are known to induce significant damage to brain cells, they act as an additional damaging factor during ischemic stroke. Considering that they have been shown to form ion channels in cells, affecting osmotic balance, we used an Aβ peptide channel blocker, tromethamine (2-amino-2-(hydroxymethyl) propane-1,3-diol), to prevent this additional injury. Tromethamine injected 0.1 g/100 g body weight intraperitoneally at 5 min before tMCAO decreased water content in the damaged hemisphere, as measured by dry brain weight. Congo red staining, which binds only to Aβ oligomer plaques (amyloid), showed that there was no significant presence of plaques. Therefore, we suggest that Aβ peptide oligomers are responsible for some of the brain damage during stroke and that blockage of the ion channels that they form could be beneficial in treating this complex neurological syndrome. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Medicine)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Communication
The Impact of Salts on the Ice Recrystallization Inhibition Activity of Antifreeze (Glyco)Proteins
Biomolecules 2019, 9(8), 347; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9080347 - 06 Aug 2019
Cited by 16
Abstract
Antifreeze (glyco)proteins (AF(G)Ps) have received increasing attention as potential cryopreservation agents since their discovery in the 1970s. While cryopreservation strategies for specific cells (such as red blood cells) are successful and widely implemented, preservation of other cell types, tissues and whole organs remains [...] Read more.
Antifreeze (glyco)proteins (AF(G)Ps) have received increasing attention as potential cryopreservation agents since their discovery in the 1970s. While cryopreservation strategies for specific cells (such as red blood cells) are successful and widely implemented, preservation of other cell types, tissues and whole organs remains challenging. This is due to the multifactorial nature of the freeze-thaw damage, the complexity of preserving biological matter and the (country-to-country) variability of the employed procedures and regulations. AF(G)Ps are well-known for their ability to modulate ice crystal growth morphology and ice recrystallization inhibition (IRI), both of which are considered key contributors to freeze-thaw damage. To date, however, the impact of AF(G)Ps on cell survival remains at best partially understood as conflicting results on the benefits or disadvantages of including AF(G)P in cryopreservation strategies remain unelucidated. We hypothesize that variability in the additives in the cryopreservation media contributes to the observed discrepancies. To critically examine this idea, we monitored the inhibition of ice recrystallization by AF(G)P in the presence of various salts using a quantitative analysis of optical microscopy images via the Lifshitz-Slyozov-Wagner (LSW) theory for Oswald ripening. We found that the addition of salts, which are used in culture and cryopreservation media, enhances the IRI activity of AF(G)Ps, and that the magnitude of the enhancement was in line with the Hofmeister series. The size of ice crystals grown in AFGP1–5 and type III AFP samples containing chloride, phosphate and citrate ions were statistically smaller after 90 min of incubation than crystals grown in the absence of these salts. The ice recrystallization rates (kd) of AFGP1–5 and type III AFP samples prepared at a fixed overall ionic strength of 100 mM progressively decreased following the Hofmeister series for anions. Our results demonstrate that the performance of AF(G)Ps is significantly influenced by additives present in common cryopreservation media. It is thus important to conduct excipient compatibility experiments to identify potential incompatibilities between additives and AF(G)Ps in cryopreservation formulations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antifreeze Protein: New Insight from Different Approaches)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Role of Transmembrane Proteins for Phase Separation and Domain Registration in Asymmetric Lipid Bilayers
Biomolecules 2019, 9(8), 303; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9080303 - 25 Jul 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
It is well known that the formation and spatial correlation of lipid domains in the two apposed leaflets of a bilayer are influenced by weak lipid–lipid interactions across the bilayer’s midplane. Transmembrane proteins span through both leaflets and thus offer an alternative domain [...] Read more.
It is well known that the formation and spatial correlation of lipid domains in the two apposed leaflets of a bilayer are influenced by weak lipid–lipid interactions across the bilayer’s midplane. Transmembrane proteins span through both leaflets and thus offer an alternative domain coupling mechanism. Using a mean-field approximation of a simple bilayer-type lattice model, with two two-dimensional lattices stacked one on top of the other, we explore the role of this “structural” inter-leaflet coupling for the ability of a lipid membrane to phase separate and form spatially correlated domains. We present calculated phase diagrams for various effective lipid–lipid and lipid–protein interaction strengths in membranes that contain a binary lipid mixture in each leaflet plus a small amount of added transmembrane proteins. The influence of the transmembrane nature of the proteins is assessed by a comparison with “peripheral” proteins, which result from the separation of one single integral protein into two independent units that are no longer structurally connected across the bilayer. We demonstrate that the ability of membrane-spanning proteins to facilitate domain formation requires sufficiently strong lipid–protein interactions. Weak lipid–protein interactions generally tend to inhibit phase separation in a similar manner for transmembrane as for peripheral proteins. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Embryonic Exposure to Bisphenol A Impairs Primordial Germ Cell Migration without Jeopardizing Male Breeding Capacity
Biomolecules 2019, 9(8), 307; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9080307 - 25 Jul 2019
Cited by 18
Abstract
A large amount of chemicals are released to the environment each year. Among them, bisphenol A (BPA) is of utmost concern since it interferes with the reproductive system of wild organisms due to its capacity to bind to hormone receptors. Additionally, BPA epigenotoxic [...] Read more.
A large amount of chemicals are released to the environment each year. Among them, bisphenol A (BPA) is of utmost concern since it interferes with the reproductive system of wild organisms due to its capacity to bind to hormone receptors. Additionally, BPA epigenotoxic activity is known to affect basic processes during embryonic life. However, its effects on primordial germ cells (PGCs) proliferation and migration, both mechanisms being crucial for gametogenesis, remain unknown. To investigate the effects of BPA on PGCs migration and eventual testicle development, zebrafish embryos were exposed to 100, 2000 and 4000 µg/L BPA during the first 24 h of development. Vasa immunostaining of PGCs revealed that exposure to 2000 and 4000 µg/L BPA impaired their migration to the genital ridge. Two pivotal genes of PGCs migration (cxcr4b and sdf1a) were highly dysregulated in embryos exposed to these doses, whereas DNA methylation and epigenetic marks in PGCs and their surrounding somatic cells were not altered. Once embryos reached adulthood, the morphometric study of their gonads revealed that, despite the reduced number of PGCs which colonized the genital ridges, normal testicles were developed. Although H3K9ac decreased in the sperm from treated fishes, it did not affect the progeny development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Relevant Biomolecules for Germ Cells and Fertilization)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Caveolin-1 Endows Order in Cholesterol-Rich Detergent Resistant Membranes
Biomolecules 2019, 9(7), 287; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9070287 - 17 Jul 2019
Cited by 9
Abstract
Cholesterol-enriched functional portions of plasma membranes, such as caveolae and rafts, were isolated from lungs of wild-type (WT) and caveolin-1 knockout (Cav-1 KO) mice within detergent resistant membranes (DRMs). To gain insight into their molecular composition we performed proteomic and lipid analysis on [...] Read more.
Cholesterol-enriched functional portions of plasma membranes, such as caveolae and rafts, were isolated from lungs of wild-type (WT) and caveolin-1 knockout (Cav-1 KO) mice within detergent resistant membranes (DRMs). To gain insight into their molecular composition we performed proteomic and lipid analysis on WT and Cav-1 KO-DRMs that showed predicted variations of proteomic profiles and negligible differences in lipid composition, while Langmuir monolayer technique and small and wide-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS-WAXS) were here originally introduced to study DRMs biophysical association state. Langmuir analysis of Cav-1 containing DRMs displayed an isotherm with a clear-cut feature, suggesting the coexistence of the liquid-ordered (Lo) phase typical of the raft structure, namely “cholesterol-rich Lo phase”, with a phase fully missing in Cav-1 KO that we named “caveolin-induced Lo phase”. Furthermore, while the sole lipid component of both WT and KO-DRMs showed qualitatively similar isotherm configuration, the reinsertion of recombinant Cav-1 into WT-DRMs lipids restored the WT-DRM pattern. X-ray diffraction results confirmed that Cav-1 causes the formation of a “caveolin-induced Lo phase”, as suggested by Langmuir experiments, allowing us to speculate about a possible structural model. These results show that the unique molecular link between Cav-1 and cholesterol can spur functional order in a lipid bilayer strictly derived from biological sources. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
A Sesquiterpenoid from Farfarae Flos Induces Apoptosis of MDA-MB-231 Human Breast Cancer Cells through Inhibition of JAK–STAT3 Signaling
Biomolecules 2019, 9(7), 278; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9070278 - 13 Jul 2019
Cited by 11
Abstract
Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are hard-to-treat breast tumors with poor prognosis, which need to be treated by chemotherapy. Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is a transcription factor involved in proliferation, metastasis, and invasion of cancer cells. Therefore, research on searching [...] Read more.
Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are hard-to-treat breast tumors with poor prognosis, which need to be treated by chemotherapy. Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is a transcription factor involved in proliferation, metastasis, and invasion of cancer cells. Therefore, research on searching for promising compounds with metabolism that suppress phosphorylation or transcription of STAT3 in TNBC cells is important. Farfarae Flos is well known as a traditional medicine for treating inflammation. However, few studies have shown that sesquiterpenoids from Farfarae Flos have an anticancer effect. In this study, efficient separation methods and an MTT assay were conducted to isolate an anticancer compound from Farfarae Flos against TNBC MDA-MB-231 cells. Here, 7β-(3-Ethyl-cis-crotonoyloxy)-1α-(2-methylbutyryloxy)-3,14-dehydro-Z-notonipetranone (ECN), a compound isolated from Farfarae Flos showed a potent cytotoxic effect on MDA-MB-231 cells. ECN inhibited JAK–STAT3 signaling and suppressed the expression of STAT3 target genes. In addition, ECN induced apoptosis through both extrinsic and intrinsic pathways. Furthermore, we investigated that ECN inhibited the growth of tumors by intraperitoneal administration in mice injected with MDA-MB-231 cells. Therefore, ECN can be an effective chemotherapeutic agent for breast cancer treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antitumor Agents from Natural Sources)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Clozapine Normalizes a Glutamatergic Transmission Abnormality Induced by an Impaired NMDA Receptor in the Thalamocortical Pathway via the Activation of a Group III Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor
Biomolecules 2019, 9(6), 234; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9060234 - 17 Jun 2019
Cited by 37
Abstract
Pharmacological mechanisms of gold-standard antipsychotics against treatment-refractory schizophrenia, such as clozapine (CLZ), remain unclear. We aimed to explore the mechanisms of CLZ by investigating the effects of MK801 and CLZ on tripartite synaptic transmission in the thalamocortical glutamatergic pathway using multi-probe microdialysis and [...] Read more.
Pharmacological mechanisms of gold-standard antipsychotics against treatment-refractory schizophrenia, such as clozapine (CLZ), remain unclear. We aimed to explore the mechanisms of CLZ by investigating the effects of MK801 and CLZ on tripartite synaptic transmission in the thalamocortical glutamatergic pathway using multi-probe microdialysis and primary cultured astrocytes. l-glutamate release in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) was unaffected by local MK801 administration into mPFC but was enhanced in the mediodorsal thalamic nucleus (MDTN) and reticular thalamic nucleus (RTN) via GABAergic disinhibition in the RTN–MDTN pathway. The local administration of therapeutically relevant concentrations of CLZ into mPFC and MDTN increased and did not affect mPFC l-glutamate release. The local administration of the therapeutically relevant concentration of CLZ into mPFC reduced MK801-induced mPFC l-glutamate release via presynaptic group III metabotropic glutamate receptor (III-mGluR) activation. However, toxic concentrations of CLZ activated l-glutamate release associated with hemichannels. This study demonstrated that RTN is a candidate generator region in which impaired N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA)/glutamate receptors likely produce thalamocortical hyperglutamatergic transmission. Additionally, we identified several mechanisms of CLZ relating to its superiority in treatment-resistant schizophrenia and its severe adverse effects: (1) the prevention of thalamocortical hyperglutamatergic transmission via activation of mPFC presynaptic III-mGluR and (2) activation of astroglial l-glutamate release associated with hemichannels. These actions may contribute to the unique clinical profile of CLZ. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue NMDA Receptor in Health and Diseases)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Amantadine Combines Astroglial System Xc Activation with Glutamate/NMDA Receptor Inhibition
Biomolecules 2019, 9(5), 191; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9050191 - 17 May 2019
Cited by 28
Abstract
A glutamate/NMDA receptor (NMDA-R) antagonist, amantadine (AMA) exhibits a broad spectrum of clinically important properties, including antiviral, antiparkinsonian, neuroprotective, neuro-reparative and cognitive-enhancing effects. However, both clinical and pre-clinical studies have demonstrated that noncompetitive NMDA-R antagonists induce severe schizophrenia-like cognitive deficits. Therefore, this study [...] Read more.
A glutamate/NMDA receptor (NMDA-R) antagonist, amantadine (AMA) exhibits a broad spectrum of clinically important properties, including antiviral, antiparkinsonian, neuroprotective, neuro-reparative and cognitive-enhancing effects. However, both clinical and pre-clinical studies have demonstrated that noncompetitive NMDA-R antagonists induce severe schizophrenia-like cognitive deficits. Therefore, this study aims to clarify the clinical discrepancy between AMA and noncompetitive NMDA-R antagonists by comparing the effects of AMA with those of a noncompetitive NMDA-R antagonist, MK801, on rat tripartite glutamatergic synaptic transmission using microdialysis and primary cultured astrocytes. Microdialysis study demonstrated that the stimulatory effects of AMA on L-glutamate release differed from those of MK801 in the globus pallidus, entorhinal cortex and entopeduncular nucleus. The stimulatory effect of AMA on L-glutamate release was modulated by activation of cystine/glutamate antiporter (Sxc). Primary cultured astrocytes study demonstrated that AMA also enhanced glutathione synthesis via Sxc activation. Furthermore, carbon-monoxide induced damage of the astroglial glutathione synthesis system was repaired by AMA but not MK801. Additionally, glutamate/AMPA receptor (AMPA-R) antagonist, perampanel enhanced the protective effects of AMA. The findings of microdialysis and cultured astrocyte studies suggest that a combination of Sxc activation with inhibitions of ionotropic glutamate receptors contributes to neuroprotective, neuro-reparative and cognitive-enhancing activities that can mitigate several neuropsychiatric disorders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue NMDA Receptor in Health and Diseases)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Novel Galiellalactone Analogues Can Target STAT3 Phosphorylation and Cause Apoptosis in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
Biomolecules 2019, 9(5), 170; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9050170 - 03 May 2019
Cited by 15
Abstract
Aberrant activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) has been documented in various malignancies including triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs). The STAT3 transcription factor can regulate the different important hallmarks of tumor cells, and thus, targeting it can be a potential [...] Read more.
Aberrant activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) has been documented in various malignancies including triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs). The STAT3 transcription factor can regulate the different important hallmarks of tumor cells, and thus, targeting it can be a potential strategy for treating TNBC, for which only limited therapeutic options are available. In this study, we analyzed the possible effect of (-)-galiellalactone and its novel analogues, SG-1709 and SG-1721, and determined whether these agents exerted their antineoplastic effects by suppressing the STAT3 signaling pathway in TNBC cells. The two analogues, SG-1709 and SG-1721, inhibited both constitutive as well as inducible STAT3 phosphorylation at tyrosine 705 more effectively than (-)-galiellalactone, which indicates that the analogues are more potent STAT3 blockers. Moreover, SG-1721 not only inhibited nuclear translocation and DNA binding of STAT3 but also induced apoptosis, and decreased expression of diverse oncogenic proteins. Interestingly, SG-1721 also exhibited an enhanced apoptotic effect when combined with radiotherapy. Furthermore, in vivo administration of SG-1721 significantly attenuated breast xenograft tumor growth via decreasing levels of p-STAT3. Therefore, SG-1721 may be a promising candidate for further application as a pharmacological agent that can target STAT3 protein in treating TNBC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antitumor Agents from Natural Sources)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Dynamical Oligomerisation of Histidine Rich Intrinsically Disordered Proteins Is Regulated through Zinc-Histidine Interactions
Biomolecules 2019, 9(5), 168; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9050168 - 30 Apr 2019
Cited by 12
Abstract
Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) can form functional oligomers and in some cases, insoluble disease related aggregates. It is therefore vital to understand processes and mechanisms that control pathway distribution. Divalent cations including Zn2+ can initiate IDP oligomerisation through the interaction with histidine [...] Read more.
Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) can form functional oligomers and in some cases, insoluble disease related aggregates. It is therefore vital to understand processes and mechanisms that control pathway distribution. Divalent cations including Zn2+ can initiate IDP oligomerisation through the interaction with histidine residues but the mechanisms of doing so are far from understood. Here we apply a multi-disciplinary approach using small angle X-ray scattering, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, calorimetry and computations to show that that saliva protein Histatin 5 forms highly dynamic oligomers in the presence of Zn2+. The process is critically dependent upon interaction between Zn2+ ions and distinct histidine rich binding motifs which allows for thermodynamic switching between states. We propose a molecular mechanism of oligomerisation, which may be generally applicable to other histidine rich IDPs. Finally, as Histatin 5 is an important saliva component, we suggest that Zn2+ induced oligomerisation may be crucial for maintaining saliva homeostasis. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Promoter Hypermethylation of Tumor-Suppressor Genes p16INK4a, RASSF1A, TIMP3, and PCQAP/MED15 in Salivary DNA as a Quadruple Biomarker Panel for Early Detection of Oral and Oropharyngeal Cancers
Biomolecules 2019, 9(4), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9040148 - 12 Apr 2019
Cited by 25
Abstract
Silencing of tumor-suppressor genes (TSGs) by DNA promoter hypermethylation is an early event in carcinogenesis; hence, TSGs may serve as early tumor biomarkers. We determined the promoter methylation levels of p16INK4a, RASSF1A, TIMP3, and PCQAP/MED15 TSGs in salivary DNA [...] Read more.
Silencing of tumor-suppressor genes (TSGs) by DNA promoter hypermethylation is an early event in carcinogenesis; hence, TSGs may serve as early tumor biomarkers. We determined the promoter methylation levels of p16INK4a, RASSF1A, TIMP3, and PCQAP/MED15 TSGs in salivary DNA from oral cancer (OC) and oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) patients, using methylation-specific PCR coupled with densitometry analysis. We assessed the association between DNA methylation of individual TSGs with OC and OPC risk factors. The performance and the clinical validity of this quadruple-methylation marker panel were evaluated in discriminating OC and OPC patients from healthy controls using the CombiROC web tool. Our study reports that RASSF1A, TIMP3, and PCQAP/MED15 TSGs were significantly hypermethylated in OC and OPC cases compared to healthy controls. DNA methylation levels of TSGs were significantly augmented by smoking, alcohol use, and betel quid chewing, indicating the fact that frequent exposure to risk factors may drive oral and oropharyngeal carcinogenesis through TSG promoter hypermethylation. Also, this quadruple-methylation marker panel of p16INK4a, RASSF1A, TIMP3, and PCQAP/MED15 TSGs demonstrated excellent diagnostic accuracy in the early detection of OC at 91.7% sensitivity and 92.3% specificity and of OPC at 99.8% sensitivity and 92.1% specificity from healthy controls. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers for Cancer)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Quantification of Fecal Short Chain Fatty Acids by Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry—Investigation of Pre-Analytic Stability
Biomolecules 2019, 9(4), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9040121 - 28 Mar 2019
Cited by 32
Abstract
Short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are generated by the degradation and fermentation of complex carbohydrates, (i.e., dietary fiber) by the gut microbiota relevant for microbe–host communication. Here, we present a method for the quantification of SCFAs in fecal samples by liquid chromatography tandem [...] Read more.
Short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are generated by the degradation and fermentation of complex carbohydrates, (i.e., dietary fiber) by the gut microbiota relevant for microbe–host communication. Here, we present a method for the quantification of SCFAs in fecal samples by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) upon derivatization to 3-nitrophenylhydrazones (3NPH). The method includes acetate, propionate, butyrate, and isobutyrate with a run time of 4 min. The reproducible (coefficients of variation (CV) below 10%) quantification of SCFAs in human fecal samples was achieved by the application of stable isotope labelled internal standards. The specificity was demonstrated by the introduction of a quantifier and qualifier ions. The method was applied to investigate the pre-analytic stability of SCFAs in human feces. Concentrations of SCFA may change substantially within hours; the degree and kinetics of these changes revealed huge differences between the donors. The fecal SCFA level could be preserved by the addition of organic solvents like isopropanol. An analysis of the colon content of mice either treated with antibiotics or fed with a diet containing a non-degradable and -fermentable fiber source showed decreased SCFA concentrations. In summary, this fast and reproducible method for the quantification of SCFA in fecal samples provides a valuable tool for both basic research and large-scale studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lipidomics)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Molecular Crowding Tunes Material States of Ribonucleoprotein Condensates
Biomolecules 2019, 9(2), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9020071 - 19 Feb 2019
Cited by 40
Abstract
Ribonucleoprotein (RNP) granules are membraneless liquid condensates that dynamically form, dissolve, and mature into a gel-like state in response to a changing cellular environment. RNP condensation is largely governed by promiscuous attractive inter-chain interactions mediated by low-complexity domains (LCDs). Using an archetypal disordered [...] Read more.
Ribonucleoprotein (RNP) granules are membraneless liquid condensates that dynamically form, dissolve, and mature into a gel-like state in response to a changing cellular environment. RNP condensation is largely governed by promiscuous attractive inter-chain interactions mediated by low-complexity domains (LCDs). Using an archetypal disordered RNP, fused in sarcoma (FUS), here we study how molecular crowding impacts the RNP liquid condensation. We observe that the liquid–liquid coexistence boundary of FUS is lowered by polymer crowders, consistent with an excluded volume model. With increasing bulk crowder concentration, the RNP partition increases and the diffusion rate decreases in the condensed phase. Furthermore, we show that RNP condensates undergo substantial hardening wherein protein-dense droplets transition from viscous fluid to viscoelastic gel-like states in a crowder concentration-dependent manner. Utilizing two distinct LCDs that broadly represent commonly occurring sequence motifs driving RNP phase transitions, we reveal that the impact of crowding is largely independent of LCD charge and sequence patterns. These results are consistent with a thermodynamic model of crowder-mediated depletion interaction, which suggests that inter-RNP attraction is enhanced by molecular crowding. The depletion force is likely to play a key role in tuning the physical properties of RNP condensates within the crowded cellular space. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intrinsically Disordered Proteins and Chronic Diseases)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
High-Throughput Screening of Lipidomic Adaptations in Cultured Cells
Biomolecules 2019, 9(2), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9020042 - 24 Jan 2019
Cited by 9
Abstract
High-throughput screening of biologically active substances in cell cultures remains challenging despite great progress in contemporary lipidomic techniques. These experiments generate large amounts of data that are translated into lipid fingerprints. The subsequent visualization of lipidomic changes is key to meaningful interpretation of [...] Read more.
High-throughput screening of biologically active substances in cell cultures remains challenging despite great progress in contemporary lipidomic techniques. These experiments generate large amounts of data that are translated into lipid fingerprints. The subsequent visualization of lipidomic changes is key to meaningful interpretation of experimental results. As a demonstration of a rapid and versatile pipeline for lipidomic analysis, we cultured HeLa cells in 96-well format for four days in the presence or absence of various inhibitors of lipid metabolic pathways. Visualization of the data by principle component analysis revealed a high reproducibility of the method, as well as drug specific changes to the lipidome. Construction of heatmaps and networks revealed the similarities and differences between the effects of different drugs at the lipid species level. Clusters of related lipid species that might represent distinct membrane domains emerged after correlation analysis of the complete dataset. Taken together, we present a lipidomic platform for high-throughput lipidomic analysis of cultured cell lines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lipidomics)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
NP-Scout: Machine Learning Approach for the Quantification and Visualization of the Natural Product-Likeness of Small Molecules
Biomolecules 2019, 9(2), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9020043 - 24 Jan 2019
Cited by 31
Abstract
Natural products (NPs) remain the most prolific resource for the development of small-molecule drugs. Here we report a new machine learning approach that allows the identification of natural products with high accuracy. The method also generates similarity maps, which highlight atoms that contribute [...] Read more.
Natural products (NPs) remain the most prolific resource for the development of small-molecule drugs. Here we report a new machine learning approach that allows the identification of natural products with high accuracy. The method also generates similarity maps, which highlight atoms that contribute significantly to the classification of small molecules as a natural product or synthetic molecule. The method can hence be utilized to (i) identify natural products in large molecular libraries, (ii) quantify the natural product-likeness of small molecules, and (iii) visualize atoms in small molecules that are characteristic of natural products or synthetic molecules. The models are based on random forest classifiers trained on data sets consisting of more than 265,000 to 322,000 natural products and synthetic molecules. Two-dimensional molecular descriptors, MACCS keys and Morgan2 fingerprints were explored. On an independent test set the models reached areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.997 and Matthews correlation coefficients (MCCs) of 0.954 and higher. The method was further tested on data from the Dictionary of Natural Products, ChEMBL and other resources. The best-performing models are accessible as a free web service at http://npscout.zbh.uni-hamburg.de/npscout. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Histone Acetylation Promotes Neutrophil Extracellular Trap Formation
Biomolecules 2019, 9(1), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9010032 - 18 Jan 2019
Cited by 42
Abstract
Neutrophils undergo a unique form of cell death to generate neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). It is well established that citrullination of histones (e.g., CitH3) facilitates chromatin decondensation during NET formation (NETosis), particularly during calcium-induced NETosis that is independent of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate [...] Read more.
Neutrophils undergo a unique form of cell death to generate neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). It is well established that citrullination of histones (e.g., CitH3) facilitates chromatin decondensation during NET formation (NETosis), particularly during calcium-induced NETosis that is independent of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase (NOX) activation. However, the importance of other forms of histone modifications in NETosis has not been established. We considered that acetylation of histones would also facilitate NETosis. To test this hypothesis, we induced NOX-dependent NETosis in human neutrophils with phorbol myristate acetate or lipopolysaccharide (from Escherichia coli 0128), and NOX-independent NETosis with calcium ionophores A23187 or ionomycin (from Streptomyces conglobatus) in the presence or absence of two pan histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACis), belinostat and panobinostat (within their half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) range). The presence of these inhibitors increased histone acetylation (e.g., AcH4) in neutrophils. Histone acetylation was sufficient to cause a significant increase (~20%) in NETosis in resting neutrophils above baseline values. When acetylation was promoted during NOX-dependent or -independent NETosis, the degree of NETosis additively increased (~15–30%). Reactive oxygen species (ROS) production is essential for baseline NETosis (mediated either by NOX or mitochondria); however, HDACis did not promote ROS production. The chromatin decondensation step requires promoter melting and transcriptional firing in both types of NETosis; consistent with this point, suppression of transcription prevented the NETosis induced by the acetylation of histones. Collectively, this study establishes that histone acetylation (e.g., AcH4) promotes NETosis at baseline, and when induced by both NOX-dependent or -independent pathway agonists, in human neutrophils. Therefore, we propose that acetylation of histone is a key component of NETosis. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Article
Critical Assessment of Methods to Quantify Biofilm Growth and Evaluate Antibiofilm Activity of Host Defence Peptides
Biomolecules 2018, 8(2), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom8020029 - 21 May 2018
Cited by 93
Abstract
Biofilms are multicellular communities of bacteria that can adhere to virtually any surface. Bacterial biofilms are clinically relevant, as they are responsible for up to two-thirds of hospital acquired infections and contribute to chronic infections. Troublingly, the bacteria within a biofilm are adaptively [...] Read more.
Biofilms are multicellular communities of bacteria that can adhere to virtually any surface. Bacterial biofilms are clinically relevant, as they are responsible for up to two-thirds of hospital acquired infections and contribute to chronic infections. Troublingly, the bacteria within a biofilm are adaptively resistant to antibiotic treatment and it can take up to 1000 times more antibiotic to kill cells within a biofilm when compared to planktonic bacterial cells. Identifying and optimizing compounds that specifically target bacteria growing in biofilms is required to address this growing concern and the reported antibiofilm activity of natural and synthetic host defence peptides has garnered significant interest. However, a standardized assay to assess the activity of antibiofilm agents has not been established. In the present work, we describe two simple assays that can assess the inhibitory and eradication capacities of peptides towards biofilms that are formed by both Gram-positive and negative bacteria. These assays are suitable for high-throughput workflows in 96-well microplates and they use crystal violet staining to quantify adhered biofilm biomass as well as tetrazolium chloride dye to evaluate the metabolic activity of the biofilms. The effect of media composition on the readouts of these biofilm detection methods was assessed against two strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PAO1 and PA14), as well as a methicillin resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus. Our results demonstrate that media composition dramatically alters the staining patterns that were obtained with these dye-based methods, highlighting the importance of establishing appropriate biofilm growth conditions for each bacterial species to be evaluated. Confocal microscopy imaging of P. aeruginosa biofilms grown in flow cells revealed that this is likely due to altered biofilm architecture under specific growth conditions. The antibiofilm activity of several antibiotics and synthetic peptides were then evaluated under both inhibition and eradication conditions to illustrate the type of data that can be obtained using this experimental setup. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antimicrobial Peptides: Development, Conjugation, and Beyond)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review

Review
Sustainable Agriculture Systems in Vegetable Production Using Chitin and Chitosan as Plant Biostimulants
Biomolecules 2021, 11(6), 819; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11060819 - 31 May 2021
Cited by 20
Abstract
Chitin and chitosan are natural compounds that are biodegradable and nontoxic and have gained noticeable attention due to their effective contribution to increased yield and agro-environmental sustainability. Several effects have been reported for chitosan application in plants. Particularly, it can be used in [...] Read more.
Chitin and chitosan are natural compounds that are biodegradable and nontoxic and have gained noticeable attention due to their effective contribution to increased yield and agro-environmental sustainability. Several effects have been reported for chitosan application in plants. Particularly, it can be used in plant defense systems against biological and environmental stress conditions and as a plant growth promoter—it can increase stomatal conductance and reduce transpiration or be applied as a coating material in seeds. Moreover, it can be effective in promoting chitinolytic microorganisms and prolonging storage life through post-harvest treatments, or benefit nutrient delivery to plants since it may prevent leaching and improve slow release of nutrients in fertilizers. Finally, it can remediate polluted soils through the removal of cationic and anionic heavy metals and the improvement of soil properties. On the other hand, chitin also has many beneficial effects such as plant growth promotion, improved plant nutrition and ability to modulate and improve plants’ resistance to abiotic and biotic stressors. The present review presents a literature overview regarding the effects of chitin, chitosan and derivatives on horticultural crops, highlighting their important role in modern sustainable crop production; the main limitations as well as the future prospects of applications of this particular biostimulant category are also presented. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
Effects of Anthocyanins on Vascular Health
Biomolecules 2021, 11(6), 811; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11060811 - 30 May 2021
Cited by 10
Abstract
Cardiovascular disorders are leading mortality causes worldwide, often with a latent evolution. Vascular health depends on endothelial function, arterial stiffness, and the presence of atherosclerotic plaques. Preventive medicine deserves special attention, focusing on modifiable cardiovascular risk factors, including diet. A diet rich in [...] Read more.
Cardiovascular disorders are leading mortality causes worldwide, often with a latent evolution. Vascular health depends on endothelial function, arterial stiffness, and the presence of atherosclerotic plaques. Preventive medicine deserves special attention, focusing on modifiable cardiovascular risk factors, including diet. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has well-known health benefits, especially due to its polyphenolic components. Anthocyanins, water-soluble flavonoid species, responsible for the red-blue color in plants and commonly found in berries, exert favorable effects on the endothelial function, oxidative stress, inhibit COX-1, and COX-2 enzymes, exert antiatherogenic, antihypertensive, antiglycation, antithrombotic, and anti-inflammatory activity, ameliorate dyslipidemia and arterial stiffness. The present review aims to give a current overview of the mechanisms involved in the vascular protective effect of anthocyanins from the human diet, considering epidemiological data, in vitro and in vivo preclinical research, clinical observational, retrospective, intervention and randomized studies, dietary and biomarker studies, and discussing preventive benefits of anthocyanins and future research directions. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
The Role of the Key Effector of Necroptotic Cell Death, MLKL, in Mouse Models of Disease
Biomolecules 2021, 11(6), 803; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11060803 - 28 May 2021
Cited by 4
Abstract
Necroptosis is an inflammatory form of lytic programmed cell death that is thought to have evolved to defend against pathogens. Genetic deletion of the terminal effector protein—MLKL—shows no overt phenotype in the C57BL/6 mouse strain under conventional laboratory housing conditions. Small molecules that [...] Read more.
Necroptosis is an inflammatory form of lytic programmed cell death that is thought to have evolved to defend against pathogens. Genetic deletion of the terminal effector protein—MLKL—shows no overt phenotype in the C57BL/6 mouse strain under conventional laboratory housing conditions. Small molecules that inhibit necroptosis by targeting the kinase activity of RIPK1, one of the main upstream conduits to MLKL activation, have shown promise in several murine models of non-infectious disease and in phase II human clinical trials. This has triggered in excess of one billion dollars (USD) in investment into the emerging class of necroptosis blocking drugs, and the potential utility of targeting the terminal effector is being closely scrutinised. Here we review murine models of disease, both genetic deletion and mutation, that investigate the role of MLKL. We summarize a series of examples from several broad disease categories including ischemia reperfusion injury, sterile inflammation, pathogen infection and hematological stress. Elucidating MLKL’s contribution to mouse models of disease is an important first step to identify human indications that stand to benefit most from MLKL-targeted drug therapies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cell Death in Cancer and Inflammation: From Pathogenesis to Treatment)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
Oximes: Novel Therapeutics with Anticancer and Anti-Inflammatory Potential
Biomolecules 2021, 11(6), 777; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11060777 - 22 May 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Oximes have been studied for decades because of their significant roles as acetylcholinesterase reactivators. Over the last twenty years, a large number of oximes have been reported with useful pharmaceutical properties, including compounds with antibacterial, anticancer, anti-arthritis, and anti-stroke activities. Many oximes are [...] Read more.
Oximes have been studied for decades because of their significant roles as acetylcholinesterase reactivators. Over the last twenty years, a large number of oximes have been reported with useful pharmaceutical properties, including compounds with antibacterial, anticancer, anti-arthritis, and anti-stroke activities. Many oximes are kinase inhibitors and have been shown to inhibit over 40 different kinases, including AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK), serine/threonine kinases glycogen synthase kinase 3 α/β (GSK-3α/β), Aurora A, B-Raf, Chk1, death-associated protein-kinase-related 2 (DRAK2), phosphorylase kinase (PhK), serum and glucocorticoid-regulated kinase (SGK), Janus tyrosine kinase (JAK), and multiple receptor and non-receptor tyrosine kinases. Some oximes are inhibitors of lipoxygenase 5, human neutrophil elastase, and proteinase 3. The oxime group contains two H-bond acceptors (nitrogen and oxygen atoms) and one H-bond donor (OH group), versus only one H-bond acceptor present in carbonyl groups. This feature, together with the high polarity of oxime groups, may lead to a significantly different mode of interaction with receptor binding sites compared to corresponding carbonyl compounds, despite small changes in the total size and shape of the compound. In addition, oximes can generate nitric oxide. This review is focused on oximes as kinase inhibitors with anticancer and anti-inflammatory activities. Oximes with non-kinase targets or mechanisms of anti-inflammatory activity are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Feature Papers in Biochemistry)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
Mechanisms That Activate 26S Proteasomes and Enhance Protein Degradation
Biomolecules 2021, 11(6), 779; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11060779 - 22 May 2021
Cited by 5
Abstract
Although ubiquitination is widely assumed to be the only regulated step in the ubiquitin–proteasome pathway, recent studies have demonstrated several important mechanisms that regulate the activities of the 26S proteasome. Most proteasomes in cells are inactive but, upon binding a ubiquitinated substrate, become [...] Read more.
Although ubiquitination is widely assumed to be the only regulated step in the ubiquitin–proteasome pathway, recent studies have demonstrated several important mechanisms that regulate the activities of the 26S proteasome. Most proteasomes in cells are inactive but, upon binding a ubiquitinated substrate, become activated by a two-step mechanism requiring an association of the ubiquitin chain with Usp14 and then a loosely folded protein domain with the ATPases. The initial activation step is signaled by Usp14’s UBL domain, and many UBL-domain-containing proteins (e.g., Rad23, Parkin) also activate the proteasome. ZFAND5 is a distinct type of activator that binds ubiquitin conjugates and the proteasome and stimulates proteolysis during muscle atrophy. The proteasome’s activities are also regulated through subunit phosphorylation. Agents that raise cAMP and activate PKA stimulate within minutes Rpn6 phosphorylation and enhance the selective degradation of short-lived proteins. Likewise, hormones, fasting, and exercise, which raise cAMP, activate proteasomes and proteolysis in target tissues. Agents that raise cGMP and activate PKG also stimulate 26S activities but modify different subunit(s) and stimulate also the degradation of long-lived cell proteins. Both kinases enhance the selective degradation of aggregation-prone proteins that cause neurodegenerative diseases. These new mechanisms regulating proteolysis thus have clear physiological importance and therapeutic potential. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Regulating Proteasome Activity)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
DEER Analysis of GPCR Conformational Heterogeneity
Biomolecules 2021, 11(6), 778; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11060778 - 22 May 2021
Cited by 5
Abstract
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) represent a large class of transmembrane helical proteins which are involved in numerous physiological signaling pathways and therefore represent crucial pharmacological targets. GPCR function and the action of therapeutic molecules are defined by only a few parameters, including receptor [...] Read more.
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) represent a large class of transmembrane helical proteins which are involved in numerous physiological signaling pathways and therefore represent crucial pharmacological targets. GPCR function and the action of therapeutic molecules are defined by only a few parameters, including receptor basal activity, ligand affinity, intrinsic efficacy and signal bias. These parameters are encoded in characteristic receptor conformations existing in equilibrium and their populations, which are thus of paramount interest for the understanding of receptor (mal-)functions and rational design of improved therapeutics. To this end, the combination of site-directed spin labeling and EPR spectroscopy, in particular double electron–electron resonance (DEER), is exceedingly valuable as it has access to sub-Angstrom spatial resolution and provides a detailed picture of the number and populations of conformations in equilibrium. This review gives an overview of existing DEER studies on GPCRs with a focus on the delineation of structure/function frameworks, highlighting recent developments in data analysis and visualization. We introduce “conformational efficacy” as a parameter to describe ligand-specific shifts in the conformational equilibrium, taking into account the loose coupling between receptor segments observed for different GPCRs using DEER. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue GPCRs: Structure, Biology and Potential Applications)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
Can Cannabidiol Affect the Efficacy of Chemotherapy and Epigenetic Treatments in Cancer?
Biomolecules 2021, 11(5), 766; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11050766 - 20 May 2021
Cited by 5
Abstract
The success of cannabinoids with chronic neuropathic pain and anxiety has been demonstrated in a multitude of studies. With the high availability of a non-intoxicating compound, cannabidiol (CBD), an over-the-counter medication, has generated heightened interest in its use in the field of oncology. [...] Read more.
The success of cannabinoids with chronic neuropathic pain and anxiety has been demonstrated in a multitude of studies. With the high availability of a non-intoxicating compound, cannabidiol (CBD), an over-the-counter medication, has generated heightened interest in its use in the field of oncology. This review focuses on the widespread therapeutic potential of CBD with regard to enhanced wound healing, lowered toxicity profiles of chemotherapeutics, and augmented antitumorigenic effects. The current literature is sparse with regard to determining the clinically relevant concentrations of CBD given the biphasic nature of the compound’s response. Therefore, there is an imminent need for further dose-finding studies in order to determine the optimal dose of CBD for both intermittent and regular users. We address the potential influence of regular or occasional CBD usage on therapeutic outcomes in ovarian cancer patients. Additionally, as the development of chemoresistance in ovarian cancer results in treatment failure, the potential for CBD to augment the efficacy of conventional chemotherapeutic and epigenetic drugs is a topic of significant importance. Our review is focused on the widespread therapeutic potential of CBD and whether or not a synergistic role exists in combination with epigenetic and classic chemotherapy medications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Novel Indications of Epigenetic Therapy in Cancer)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
A Bittersweet Computational Journey among Glycosaminoglycans
Biomolecules 2021, 11(5), 739; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11050739 - 15 May 2021
Cited by 5
Abstract
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are linear polysaccharides. In proteoglycans (PGs), they are attached to a core protein. GAGs and PGs can be found as free molecules, associated with the extracellular matrix or expressed on the cell membrane. They play a role in the regulation of [...] Read more.
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are linear polysaccharides. In proteoglycans (PGs), they are attached to a core protein. GAGs and PGs can be found as free molecules, associated with the extracellular matrix or expressed on the cell membrane. They play a role in the regulation of a wide array of physiological and pathological processes by binding to different proteins, thus modulating their structure and function, and their concentration and availability in the microenvironment. Unfortunately, the enormous structural diversity of GAGs/PGs has hampered the development of dedicated analytical technologies and experimental models. Similarly, computational approaches (in particular, molecular modeling, docking and dynamics simulations) have not been fully exploited in glycobiology, despite their potential to demystify the complexity of GAGs/PGs at a structural and functional level. Here, we review the state-of-the art of computational approaches to studying GAGs/PGs with the aim of pointing out the “bitter” and “sweet” aspects of this field of research. Furthermore, we attempt to bridge the gap between bioinformatics and glycobiology, which have so far been kept apart by conceptual and technical differences. For this purpose, we provide computational scientists and glycobiologists with the fundamentals of these two fields of research, with the aim of creating opportunities for their combined exploitation, and thereby contributing to a substantial improvement in scientific knowledge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Structural and Functional Approach to the Glycan Diversity)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
Phototheranostics Using Erythrocyte-Based Particles
Biomolecules 2021, 11(5), 729; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11050729 - 13 May 2021
Cited by 7
Abstract
There has been a recent increase in the development of delivery systems based on red blood cells (RBCs) for light-mediated imaging and therapeutic applications. These constructs are able to take advantage of the immune evasion properties of the RBC, while the addition of [...] Read more.
There has been a recent increase in the development of delivery systems based on red blood cells (RBCs) for light-mediated imaging and therapeutic applications. These constructs are able to take advantage of the immune evasion properties of the RBC, while the addition of an optical cargo allows the particles to be activated by light for a number of promising applications. Here, we review some of the common fabrication methods to engineer these constructs. We also present some of the current light-based applications with potential for clinical translation, and offer some insight into future directions in this exciting field. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
The Pentose Phosphate Pathway in Yeasts–More Than a Poor Cousin of Glycolysis
Biomolecules 2021, 11(5), 725; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11050725 - 12 May 2021
Cited by 8
Abstract
The pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) is a route that can work in parallel to glycolysis in glucose degradation in most living cells. It has a unidirectional oxidative part with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase as a key enzyme generating NADPH, and a non-oxidative part involving the [...] Read more.
The pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) is a route that can work in parallel to glycolysis in glucose degradation in most living cells. It has a unidirectional oxidative part with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase as a key enzyme generating NADPH, and a non-oxidative part involving the reversible transketolase and transaldolase reactions, which interchange PPP metabolites with glycolysis. While the oxidative branch is vital to cope with oxidative stress, the non-oxidative branch provides precursors for the synthesis of nucleic, fatty and aromatic amino acids. For glucose catabolism in the baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, where its components were first discovered and extensively studied, the PPP plays only a minor role. In contrast, PPP and glycolysis contribute almost equally to glucose degradation in other yeasts. We here summarize the data available for the PPP enzymes focusing on S. cerevisiae and Kluyveromyces lactis, and describe the phenotypes of gene deletions and the benefits of their overproduction and modification. Reference to other yeasts and to the importance of the PPP in their biotechnological and medical applications is briefly being included. We propose future studies on the PPP in K. lactis to be of special interest for basic science and as a host for the expression of human disease genes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fungal Metabolism - Enzymes and Bioactive Compounds)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
Regulation of Tissue Inflammation by 12-Lipoxygenases
Biomolecules 2021, 11(5), 717; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11050717 - 11 May 2021
Cited by 11
Abstract
Lipoxygenases (LOXs) are lipid metabolizing enzymes that catalyze the di-oxygenation of polyunsaturated fatty acids to generate active eicosanoid products. 12-lipoxygenases (12-LOXs) primarily oxygenate the 12th carbon of its substrates. Many studies have demonstrated that 12-LOXs and their eicosanoid metabolite 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoate (12-HETE), have significant [...] Read more.
Lipoxygenases (LOXs) are lipid metabolizing enzymes that catalyze the di-oxygenation of polyunsaturated fatty acids to generate active eicosanoid products. 12-lipoxygenases (12-LOXs) primarily oxygenate the 12th carbon of its substrates. Many studies have demonstrated that 12-LOXs and their eicosanoid metabolite 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoate (12-HETE), have significant pathological implications in inflammatory diseases. Increased level of 12-LOX activity promotes stress (both oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum)-mediated inflammation, leading to damage in these tissues. 12-LOXs are also associated with enhanced cellular migration of immune cells—a characteristic of several metabolic and autoimmune disorders. Genetic depletion or pharmacological inhibition of the enzyme in animal models of various diseases has shown to be protective against disease development and/or progression in animal models in the setting of diabetes, pulmonary, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease, suggesting a translational potential of targeting the enzyme for the treatment of several disorders. In this article, we review the role of 12-LOXs in the pathogenesis of several diseases in which chronic inflammation plays an underlying role. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Bioactive Lipids in Inflammation, Diabetes and Cancer)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
Salicylic Acid Biosynthesis and Metabolism: A Divergent Pathway for Plants and Bacteria
Biomolecules 2021, 11(5), 705; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11050705 - 09 May 2021
Cited by 8
Abstract
Salicylic acid (SA) is an active secondary metabolite that occurs in bacteria, fungi, and plants. SA and its derivatives (collectively called salicylates) are synthesized from chorismate (derived from shikimate pathway). SA is considered an important phytohormone that regulates various aspects of plant growth, [...] Read more.
Salicylic acid (SA) is an active secondary metabolite that occurs in bacteria, fungi, and plants. SA and its derivatives (collectively called salicylates) are synthesized from chorismate (derived from shikimate pathway). SA is considered an important phytohormone that regulates various aspects of plant growth, environmental stress, and defense responses against pathogens. Besides plants, a large number of bacterial species, such as Pseudomonas, Bacillus, Azospirillum, Salmonella, Achromobacter, Vibrio, Yersinia, and Mycobacteria, have been reported to synthesize salicylates through the NRPS/PKS biosynthetic gene clusters. This bacterial salicylate production is often linked to the biosynthesis of small ferric-ion-chelating molecules, salicyl-derived siderophores (known as catecholate) under iron-limited conditions. Although bacteria possess entirely different biosynthetic pathways from plants, they share one common biosynthetic enzyme, isochorismate synthase, which converts chorismate to isochorismate, a common precursor for synthesizing SA. Additionally, SA in plants and bacteria can undergo several modifications to carry out their specific functions. In this review, we will systematically focus on the plant and bacterial salicylate biosynthesis and its metabolism. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
Biostimulants Application: A Low Input Cropping Management Tool for Sustainable Farming of Vegetables
Biomolecules 2021, 11(5), 698; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11050698 - 07 May 2021
Cited by 11
Abstract
Biostimulants, are a diverse class of compounds including substances or microorganism which have positive impacts on plant growth, yield and chemical composition as well as boosting effects to biotic and abiotic stress tolerance. The major plant biostimulants are hydrolysates of plant or animal [...] Read more.
Biostimulants, are a diverse class of compounds including substances or microorganism which have positive impacts on plant growth, yield and chemical composition as well as boosting effects to biotic and abiotic stress tolerance. The major plant biostimulants are hydrolysates of plant or animal protein and other compounds that contain nitrogen, humic substances, extracts of seaweeds, biopolymers, compounds of microbial origin, phosphite, and silicon, among others. The mechanisms involved in the protective effects of biostimulants are varied depending on the compound and/or crop and mostly related with improved physiological processes and plant morphology aspects such as the enhanced root formation and elongation, increased nutrient uptake, improvement in seed germination rates and better crop establishment, increased cation exchange, decreased leaching, detoxification of heavy metals, mechanisms involved in stomatal conductance and plant transpiration or the stimulation of plant immune systems against stressors. The aim of this review was to provide an overview of the application of plant biostimulants on different crops within the framework of sustainable crop management, aiming to gather critical information regarding their positive effects on plant growth and yield, as well as on the quality of the final product. Moreover, the main limitations of such practice as well as the future prospects of biostimulants research will be presented. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
SARS-CoV-2 Mpro: A Potential Target for Peptidomimetics and Small-Molecule Inhibitors
Biomolecules 2021, 11(4), 607; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11040607 - 19 Apr 2021
Cited by 19
Abstract
The uncontrolled spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 during 2020–2021 is one of the most devastating events in the history, with remarkable impacts on the health, economic systems, and habits of the entire world population. While some effective [...] Read more.
The uncontrolled spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 during 2020–2021 is one of the most devastating events in the history, with remarkable impacts on the health, economic systems, and habits of the entire world population. While some effective vaccines are nowadays approved and extensively administered, the long-term efficacy and safety of this line of intervention is constantly under debate as coronaviruses rapidly mutate and several SARS-CoV-2 variants have been already identified worldwide. Then, the WHO’s main recommendations to prevent severe clinical complications by COVID-19 are still essentially based on social distancing and limitation of human interactions, therefore the identification of new target-based drugs became a priority. Several strategies have been proposed to counteract such viral infection, including the repurposing of FDA already approved for the treatment of HIV, HCV, and EBOLA, inter alia. Among the evaluated compounds, inhibitors of the main protease of the coronavirus (Mpro) are becoming more and more promising candidates. Mpro holds a pivotal role during the onset of the infection and its function is intimately related with the beginning of viral replication. The interruption of its catalytic activity could represent a relevant strategy for the development of anti-coronavirus drugs. SARS-CoV-2 Mpro is a peculiar cysteine protease of the coronavirus family, responsible for the replication and infectivity of the parasite. This review offers a detailed analysis of the repurposed drugs and the newly synthesized molecules developed to date for the treatment of COVID-19 which share the common feature of targeting SARS-CoV-2 Mpro, as well as a brief overview of the main enzymatic and cell-based assays to efficaciously screen such compounds. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
A Comprehensive Review of Cholinesterase Modeling and Simulation
Biomolecules 2021, 11(4), 580; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11040580 - 15 Apr 2021
Cited by 8
Abstract
The present article reviews published efforts to study acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase structure and function using computer-based modeling and simulation techniques. Structures and models of both enzymes from various organisms, including rays, mice, and humans, are discussed to highlight key structural similarities in the [...] Read more.
The present article reviews published efforts to study acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase structure and function using computer-based modeling and simulation techniques. Structures and models of both enzymes from various organisms, including rays, mice, and humans, are discussed to highlight key structural similarities in the active site gorges of the two enzymes, such as flexibility, binding site location, and function, as well as differences, such as gorge volume and binding site residue composition. Catalytic studies are also described, with an emphasis on the mechanism of acetylcholine hydrolysis by each enzyme and novel mutants that increase catalytic efficiency. The inhibitory activities of myriad compounds have been computationally assessed, primarily through Monte Carlo-based docking calculations and molecular dynamics simulations. Pharmaceutical compounds examined herein include FDA-approved therapeutics and their derivatives, as well as several other prescription drug derivatives. Cholinesterase interactions with both narcotics and organophosphate compounds are discussed, with the latter focusing primarily on molecular recognition studies of potential therapeutic value and on improving our understanding of the reactivation of cholinesterases that are bound to toxins. This review also explores the inhibitory properties of several other organic and biological moieties, as well as advancements in virtual screening methodologies with respect to these enzymes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cholinesterase Research)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Review
The 40-Year Mystery of Insect Odorant-Binding Proteins
Biomolecules 2021, 11(4), 509; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11040509 - 30 Mar 2021
Cited by 20
Abstract
The survival of insects depends on their ability to detect molecules present in their environment. Odorant-binding proteins (OBPs) form a family of proteins involved in chemoreception. While OBPs were initially found in olfactory appendages, recently these proteins were discovered in other chemosensory and [...] Read more.
The survival of insects depends on their ability to detect molecules present in their environment. Odorant-binding proteins (OBPs) form a family of proteins involved in chemoreception. While OBPs were initially found in olfactory appendages, recently these proteins were discovered in other chemosensory and non-chemosensory organs. OBPs can bind, solubilize and transport hydrophobic stimuli to chemoreceptors across the aqueous sensilla lymph. In addition to this broadly accepted “transporter role”, OBPs can also buffer sudden changes in odorant levels and are involved in hygro-reception. The physiological roles of OBPs expressed in other body tissues, such as mouthparts, pheromone glands, reproductive organs, digestive tract and venom glands, remain to be investigated. This review provides an updated panorama on the varied structural aspects, binding properties, tissue expression and functional roles of insect OBPs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect Receptors: Biochemical, Physiological and Molecular Studies)
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Review
Current Status and Future Perspectives of Androgen Receptor Inhibition Therapy for Prostate Cancer: A Comprehensive Review
Biomolecules 2021, 11(4), 492; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11040492 - 25 Mar 2021
Cited by 7
Abstract
The androgen receptor (AR) is one of the main components in the development and progression of prostate cancer (PCa), and treatment strategies are mostly directed toward manipulation of the AR pathway. In the metastatic setting, androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) is the foundation of [...] Read more.
The androgen receptor (AR) is one of the main components in the development and progression of prostate cancer (PCa), and treatment strategies are mostly directed toward manipulation of the AR pathway. In the metastatic setting, androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) is the foundation of treatment in patients with hormone-sensitive prostate cancer (HSPC). However, treatment response is short-lived, and the majority of patients ultimately progress to castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Surmountable data from clinical trials have shown that the maintenance of AR signaling in the castration environment is accountable for disease progression. Study results indicate multiple factors and survival pathways involved in PCa. Based on these findings, the alternative molecular pathways involved in PCa progression can be manipulated to improve current regimens and develop novel treatment modalities in the management of CRPC. In this review, the interaction between AR signaling and other molecular pathways involved in tumor pathogenesis and its clinical implications in metastasis and advanced disease will be discussed, along with a thorough overview of current and ongoing novel treatments for AR signaling inhibition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Androgen Receptors in Health and Diseases)
Review
Antiviral Cyanometabolites—A Review
Biomolecules 2021, 11(3), 474; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11030474 - 22 Mar 2021
Cited by 7
Abstract
Global processes, such as climate change, frequent and distant travelling and population growth, increase the risk of viral infection spread. Unfortunately, the number of effective and accessible medicines for the prevention and treatment of these infections is limited. Therefore, in recent years, efforts [...] Read more.
Global processes, such as climate change, frequent and distant travelling and population growth, increase the risk of viral infection spread. Unfortunately, the number of effective and accessible medicines for the prevention and treatment of these infections is limited. Therefore, in recent years, efforts have been intensified to develop new antiviral medicines or vaccines. In this review article, the structure and activity of the most promising antiviral cyanobacterial products are presented. The antiviral cyanometabolites are mainly active against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other enveloped viruses such as herpes simplex virus (HSV), Ebola or the influenza viruses. The majority of the metabolites are classified as lectins, monomeric or dimeric proteins with unique amino acid sequences. They all show activity at the nanomolar range but differ in carbohydrate specificity and recognize a different epitope on high mannose oligosaccharides. The cyanobacterial lectins include cyanovirin-N (CV-N), scytovirin (SVN), microvirin (MVN), Microcystisviridis lectin (MVL), and Oscillatoria agardhii agglutinin (OAA). Cyanobacterial polysaccharides, peptides, and other metabolites also have potential to be used as antiviral drugs. The sulfated polysaccharide, calcium spirulan (CA-SP), inhibited infection by enveloped viruses, stimulated the immune system’s response, and showed antitumor activity. Microginins, the linear peptides, inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), therefore, their use in the treatment of COVID-19 patients with injury of the ACE2 expressing organs is considered. In addition, many cyanobacterial extracts were revealed to have antiviral activities, but the active agents have not been identified. This fact provides a good basis for further studies on the therapeutic potential of these microorganisms. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
Neuropathology of Animal Prion Diseases
Biomolecules 2021, 11(3), 466; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11030466 - 21 Mar 2021
Cited by 9
Abstract
Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases are a fatal group of infectious, inherited and spontaneous neurodegenerative diseases affecting human and animals. They are caused by the conversion of cellular prion protein (PrPC) into a misfolded pathological isoform (PrPSc or [...] Read more.
Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases are a fatal group of infectious, inherited and spontaneous neurodegenerative diseases affecting human and animals. They are caused by the conversion of cellular prion protein (PrPC) into a misfolded pathological isoform (PrPSc or prion- proteinaceous infectious particle) that self-propagates by conformational conversion of PrPC. Yet by an unknown mechanism, PrPC can fold into different PrPSc conformers that may result in different prion strains that display specific disease phenotype (incubation time, clinical signs and lesion profile). Although the pathways for neurodegeneration as well as the involvement of brain inflammation in these diseases are not well understood, the spongiform changes, neuronal loss, gliosis and accumulation of PrPSc are the characteristic neuropathological lesions. Scrapie affecting small ruminants was the first identified TSE and has been considered the archetype of prion diseases, though atypical and new animal prion diseases continue to emerge highlighting the importance to investigate the lesion profile in naturally affected animals. In this report, we review the neuropathology and the neuroinflammation of animal prion diseases in natural hosts from scrapie, going through the zoonotic bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the chronic wasting disease (CWD) to the newly identified camel prion disease (CPD). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Prion Diseases: A Natural Model for Neurodegenerative Disorders)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
New Avenues for Parkinson’s Disease Therapeutics: Disease-Modifying Strategies Based on the Gut Microbiota
Biomolecules 2021, 11(3), 433; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11030433 - 15 Mar 2021
Cited by 11
Abstract
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a multifactorial neurodegenerative disorder that currently affects 1% of the population over the age of 60 years, and for which no disease-modifying treatments exist. Neurodegeneration and neuropathology in different brain areas are manifested as both motor and non-motor symptoms [...] Read more.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a multifactorial neurodegenerative disorder that currently affects 1% of the population over the age of 60 years, and for which no disease-modifying treatments exist. Neurodegeneration and neuropathology in different brain areas are manifested as both motor and non-motor symptoms in patients. Recent interest in the gut–brain axis has led to increasing research into the gut microbiota changes in PD patients and their impact on disease pathophysiology. As evidence is piling up on the effects of gut microbiota in disease development and progression, another front of action has opened up in relation to the potential usage of microbiota-based therapeutic strategies in treating gastrointestinal alterations and possibly also motor symptoms in PD. This review provides status on the different strategies that are in the front line (i.e., antibiotics; probiotics; prebiotics; synbiotics; dietary interventions; fecal microbiota transplantation, live biotherapeutic products), and discusses the opportunities and challenges the field of microbiome research in PD is facing. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
RAS Nanoclusters: Dynamic Signaling Platforms Amenable to Therapeutic Intervention
Biomolecules 2021, 11(3), 377; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11030377 - 03 Mar 2021
Cited by 8
Abstract
RAS proteins are mutated in approximately 20% of all cancers and are generally associated with poor clinical outcomes. RAS proteins are localized to the plasma membrane and function as molecular switches, turned on by partners that receive extracellular mitogenic signals. In the on-state, [...] Read more.
RAS proteins are mutated in approximately 20% of all cancers and are generally associated with poor clinical outcomes. RAS proteins are localized to the plasma membrane and function as molecular switches, turned on by partners that receive extracellular mitogenic signals. In the on-state, they activate intracellular signal transduction cascades. Membrane-bound RAS molecules segregate into multimers, known as nanoclusters. These nanoclusters, held together through weak protein–protein and protein–lipid associations, are highly dynamic and respond to cellular input signals and fluctuations in the local lipid environment. Disruption of RAS nanoclusters results in downregulation of RAS-mediated mitogenic signaling. In this review, we discuss the propensity of RAS proteins to display clustering behavior and the interfaces that are associated with these assemblies. Strategies to therapeutically disrupt nanocluster formation or the stabilization of signaling incompetent RAS complexes are discussed. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review
Age-Related Skeletal Muscle Dysfunction Is Aggravated by Obesity: An Investigation of Contractile Function, Implications and Treatment
Biomolecules 2021, 11(3), 372; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom11030372 - 02 Mar 2021
Cited by 6
Abstract
Obesity is a global epidemic and coupled with the unprecedented growth of the world’s older adult population, a growing number of individuals are both old and obese. Whilst both ageing and obesity are associated with an increased prevalence of chronic health conditions and [...] Read more.
Obesity is a global epidemic and coupled with the unprecedented growth of the world’s older adult population, a growing number of individuals are both old and obese. Whilst both ageing and obesity are associated with an increased prevalence of chronic health conditions and a substantial economic burden, evidence suggests that the coincident effects exacerbate negative health outcomes. A significant contributor to such detrimental effects may be the reduction in the contractile performance of skeletal muscle, given that poor muscle function is related to chronic disease, poor quality of life and all-cause mortality. Whilst the effects of ageing and obesity independently on skeletal muscle function have been investigated, the combined effects are yet to be thoroughly explored. Given the importance of skeletal muscle to whole-body health and physical function, the present study sought to provide a review of the literature to: (1) summarise the effect of obesity on the age-induced reduction in skeletal muscle contractile function; (2) understand whether obesity effects on skeletal muscle are similar in young and old muscle; (3) consider the consequences of these changes to whole-body functional performance; (4) outline important future work along with the potential for targeted intervention strategies to mitigate potential detrimental effects. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop