• Volume 26, Issue 2

      June 2001,   pages  121-284

    • Clipboard: Ant and human farmers face similar problems

      Renee M Borges

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    • Clipboard: Of fragrant shapes and colourful sounds: The world of a synaesthete

      Anindya Sinha

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    • Commentary: Eradication of foot-and-mouth disease: a foot in mouth proposition

      M S Shaila

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    • Commentary: Understanding intercellular communication in the brain: Identified neuromuscular synapses of the fruitfly Drosophila serve as a model

      Erich Buchner

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    • Commentary: Cell fate choice and social evolution in Dictyostelium discoideum: Interplay of morphogens and heterogeneities

      Trupti S Kawli Sonia Kaushik

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    • The roots of ancient medicine: an historical outline

      B V Subbarayappa

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    • Why genetic information processing could have a quantum basis

      Apoorva Patel

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      Living organisms are not just random collections of organic molecules. There is continuous information processing going on in the apparent bouncing around of molecules of life. Optimization criteria in this information processing can be searched for using the laws of physics. Quantum dynamics can explain why living organisms have 4 nucleotide bases and 20 amino acids, as optimal solutions of the molecular assembly process. Experiments should be able to tell whether evolution indeed took advantage of quantum dynamics or not.

    • Hydra constitutively expresses transcripts involved in vertebrate neural differentiation

      Sandipan Chatterjee Shweta Lahudkar N N Godbole Surendra Ghaskadbi

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      The diploblastic Hydra is among the most primitive multicellular organisms. Using cross-hybridization with Xenopus probes, noggin-like transcripts were detected in the hypostome and basal disc of adult Hydra (Pelmatohydra oligactis), regions with properties similar to that of the amphibian organizer. This points to the possibility of a close molecular similarity between the Xenopus and Hydra organizers. The constitutive expression of a noggin-like gene in Hydra may be responsible for its regenerative capacity.

    • Ammonia differentially suppresses the cAMP chemotaxis of anterior-like cells and prestalk cells in Dictyostelium discoideum

      Ira N Feit Erika J Medynski Michael J Rothrock

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      A drop assay for chemotaxis to cAMP confirms that both anterior-like cells (ALC) and prestalk cells (pst cells) respond to cAMP gradients. We present evidence that the chemotactic response of both ALC and pst cells is suppressed by ammonia, but a higher concentration of ammonia is required to suppress the response in pst cells. ALC show a chemotactic response to cAMP when moving on a substratum of prespore cells in isolated slug posteriors incubated under oxygen. ALC chemotaxis on a prespore cell substratum is suppressed by the same concentration of ammonia that suppresses ALC chemotaxis on the agar substratum in drop assays. Chemotaxis suppression is mediated by the unprotonated (NH3) species of ammonia. The observed suppression, by ammonia, of ALC chemotaxis to cAMP supports our earlier hypothesis that ammonia is the tip-produced suppressor of such chemotaxis. We discuss implications of ammonia sensitivity of pst cells and ALC with regard to the movement and localization of ALC and pst cells in the slug and to the roles played by ALC in fruiting body formation. In addition, we suggest that a progressive decrease in sensitivity to ammonia is an important part of the maturation of ALC into pst cells.

    • The wings of Bombyx mori develop from larval discs exhibiting an early differentiated state: a preliminary report

      Madhuri Kango-Singh Amit Singh K P Gopinathan

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      Lepidopteran insects present a complex organization of appendages which develop by various mechanisms. In the mulberry silkworm, Bombyx mori a pair of meso- and meta-thoracic discs located on either side in the larvae gives rise to the corresponding fore- and hind-wings of the adult. These discs do not experience massive cell rearrangements during metamorphosis and display the adult wing vein pattern. We have analysed wing development in B. mori by two approaches, viz., expression of patterning genes in larval wing discs, and regulatory capacities of larval discs following explantation or perturbation. Expression of Nubbin is seen all over the presumptive wing blade domains unlike in Drosophila, where it is confined to the hinge and the wing pouch. Excision of meso- and meta-thoracic discs during the larval stages resulted in emergence of adult moths lacking the corresponding wings without any loss of thoracic tissues suggesting independent origin of wing and thoracic primordia. The expression of wingless and distal-less along the dorsal/ventral margin in wing discs correlated well with their expression profile in adult Drosophila wings. Partially excised wing discs did not show in situ regeneration or duplication suggesting their early differentiation. The presence of adult wing vein patterns discernible in larval wing discs and the patterns of marker gene expression as well as the inability of these discs to regulate growth suggested that wing differentiation is achieved early in B. mori. The timings of morphogenetic events are different and the wing discs behave like presumptive wing buds opening out as wing blades in B. mori unlike evagination of only the pouch region as wing blades seen in Drosophila.

    • Differential expression of syntaxin-1 and synaptophysin in the developing and adult human retina

      T C Nag Shashi Wadhwa

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      Synaptophysin and syntaxin-1 are membrane proteins that associate with synaptic vesicles and presynaptic active zones at nerve endings, respectively. The former is known to be a good marker of synaptogenesis; this aspect, however, is not clear with syntaxin-1. In this study, the expression of both proteins was examined in the developing human retina and compared with their distribution in postnatal to adult retinas, by immunohistochemistry. In the inner plexiform layer, both were expressed simultaneously at 11–12 weeks of gestation, when synaptogenesis reportedly begins in the central retina. In the outer plexiform layer, however, the immunoreactivities were prominent by 16 weeks of gestation. Their expression in both plexiform layers followed a centre-to-periphery gradient. The immunoreactivities for both proteins were found in the immature photoreceptor, amacrine and ganglion cells; however, synaptophysin was differentially localized in bipolar cells and their axons, and syntaxin was present in some horizontal cells. In postnatal-to-adult retinas, synaptophysin immunoreactivity was prominent in photo-receptor terminals lying in the outer plexiform layer; on the contrary, syntaxin-1 was present in a thin immunoreactive band in this layer. In the inner plexiform layer, however, both were homogeneously distributed. Our study suggests that

      1. syntaxin-1 appears in parallel with synapse formation;
      2. synaptogenesis in the human retina might follow a centre-to-periphery gradient;
      3. syntaxin-1 is likely to be absent from ribbon synapses of the outer plexiform layer, but may occur at presynaptic terminals of photoreceptor and horizontal cells, as is apparent from its localization in these cells, which is hitherto unreported for any vertebrate retina.
    • The Escherichia coli antiterminator protein BglG stabilizes the 5' region of the bgl mRNA

      Abhilasha Gulati S Mahadevan

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      The 𝛽-glucoside utilization (bgl) genes of Escherichia coli are positively regulated by the product of the bglG gene, which functions as an antiterminator by binding to specific sequences present within the bgl mRNA. BglG is inactivated by phosphorylation in the absence of 𝛽-glucosides by BglF, the bgl-specific component of the phosphotransferase system (PTS). Here, we present evidence for an additional function for BglG, namely the stabilization of the 5— end of the bgl mRNA. Half-life measurements of the promoter-proximal region of the bgl mRNA indicate a five fold enhancement of stability in the presence of active (unphosphorylated) BglG. This enhancement is lost when the binding of BglG to mRNA is prevented by deletion of the binding site. Interestingly, stabilization by BglG does not extend to downstream sequences. The enhanced stability of the upstream sequences suggest that BglG remains bound to its target on the mRNA even after the downstream sequences have been degraded. Implications of these observations for the mechanism of positive regulation of the operon by BglG are discussed.

    • Functional magnetic resonance imaging of the primary motor cortex in humans: response to increased functional demands

      S Khushu S S Kumaran R P Tripathi A Gupta P C Jain V Jain

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      Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have been performed on 20 right handed volunteers at 1.5 Tesla using echo planar imaging (EPI) protocol. Index finger tapping invoked localized activation in the primary motor area. Consistent and highly reproducible activation in the primary motor area was observed in six different sessions of a volunteer over a period of one month. Increased tapping rate resulted in increase in the blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) signal intensity as well as the volume/area of activation (pixels) in the contralateral primary motor area up to tapping rate of 120 taps/min (2 Hz), beyond which it saturates. Activation in supplementary motor area was also observed. The obtained results are correlated to increased functional demands.

    • Chromium uptake by Saccharomyces cerevisiae and isolation of glucose tolerance factor from yeast biomass

      Vlatka Gulan Zetic Vesna Stehlik-Tomas Slobodan Grba Lavoslav Lutilsky Damir Kozlek

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      Fermentations with yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae in semiaerobic and in static conditions with the addition of chromic chloride into the used molasses medium were analysed. It was proved that the addition of optimal amounts of CrCl3 into the basal medium enhanced the kinetics of alcohol fermentations. The addition of 200 mg/l CrCl3 into the medium stimulated both the yeast growth and the ethanol production in all experimental conditions. On the other hand, the results showed that Cr3+ ions were incorporated into yeast cells during fermentation. Under these conditions the accumulation of Cr3+ ions was performed by yeast cells during the exponential growth phase, and with enriched amounts of 30–45 𝜇g/gd.m. of cells.

      Yeast biomass enriched with chromium ions was extracted with 0.1 mol/l NH4OH assuming that the extracts had the glucose tolerance factor (GTF). Then the extracts were passed through a gel-filtration column in order to isolate and purify the GTF. The presence of GTF in the purified fractions was determined by measuring the absorbance at 260 nm.

      It is evident from the obtained results that the added purified fractions enhanced the rates of CO2 production as well as the glucose utilization during alcoholic fermentation. As expected, the enhancement of both rates depended on the amounts of extracts added to the fermentation substrate. Thus, it is evident that purified extracts contained the GTF compound, and that Cr3+ ions were bonded to the protein molecule.

    • Dose-dependent differential effect of hemin on protein synthesis and cell proliferation in Leishmania donovani promastigotes cultured in vitro

      Jayanta K Pal Manisha Joshi-Purandare

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      Leishmania donovani requires an exogenous source of heme for growth and transformation. In in vitro culture of the free-living promastigotes, exogenously added hemin enhances cell proliferation. In this investigation, the question of the function of heme with particular reference to protein synthesis and cell proliferation has been addressed. The results of in vitro cell culture experiments demonstrated that hemin (10 𝜇M) alone is suitable for supporting optimum level of protein synthesis, and thereby cell proliferation of promastigotes to an extent that it can replace fetal bovine serum. However, in situ labelling experiments along with Western blots revealed that high concentration of hemin (50 𝜇M) reduced the level of protein synthesis in general and of 𝛽-tubulin in particular with a concomitant induction of hsp90, and induced consequent morphological changes that are observed during in situ transformation of promastigotes in mammalian macrophages. These results therefore suggest that sudden exposure to high concentration of heme in mammalian macrophages may be one of the key factors that trigger promastigote to amastigote transformation in L. donovani. Furthermore, hemin with its dual characteristic could be used as a tool to understand molecular mechanism of cell proliferation and transformation in these parasites.

    • Olfaction in the Colorado potato beetle: Ultrastructure of antennal sensilla in Leptinotarsa sp

      A Sen B K Mitchell

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      Sensillae on the antennae of the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata are described using scanning (SEM) and transmission (TEM) electron microscopy and compared with SEM observations of antennal sensilla in L. haldemani and L. texana. In all the three species, 13 distinct sensillar types were identified with a higher density of sensilla in the more polyphagous species, L. decemlineata than in the moderately host specific L. haldemani and the highly host specific L. texana. Cuticular specializations and the predominance of olfactory sensilla are discussed in relation to host specificity in the three species.

    • Chemistry of clitoral gland secretions of the laboratory rat: Assessment of behavioural response to identified compounds

      S Kannan G Archunan

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      The present investigations were carried out to find out the chemical nature of clitoral gland extracts and their involvement in reproductive and social behaviour. Homogenates of clitoral glands of mature estrous female rats were extracted with 𝑛-hexane and dichloromethane (1 : 1 ratio v/v) and analysed by gas chromatography linked mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Three peaks were found to be in higher concentration, which were identified as 6,11-dihydro-dibenz-b,e-oxepin-11-one (I); 2,6,10-dodecatrien-1-ol-3,7,11-trimethyl(Z) (II); and 1,2-benzene-dicarboxylic acid butyl(2-ethylpropyl) ester (III).Odour preference tests demonstrated that the first compound attracted conspecifics of the opposite sex. By contrast, the second and third compounds were found to attract both sexes. The results conclude that the clitoral gland of laboratory rat contains three major chemical compounds which have a unique function in maintaining social and reproductive status.

    • Ovarian steroid sulphate functions as priming pheromone in male Barilius bendelisis (Ham.)

      J P Bhatt M S Sajwan

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      The study reveals that pre-ovulatory females of the fish Barilius bendelisis (Ham.) release sex steroids and their conjugates into the water and that a steroid sulphate of these compounds functions as a potent sex pheromone which stimulates milt production in conspecific males prior to spawning. Since males exposed to the purified sub-fraction III of the steroid sulphate fraction have increased milt volume and more spermatozoa with greater motility, the function of this priming pheromone appears to be to enhance male spawning success.

      High turbulence and faster water currents render the hillstream ecosystem extremely challenging for chemical communication. Therefore, ovulatory female fish secrete highly water soluble steroid sulphates for rapid pheromonal action in males. Inhibited milt volume in olfactory tract lesioned (OTL) males exposed to the steroid sulphate fraction and 17𝛼,20𝛽-dihydroxy-4-pregnen-3-one supports the concept that the pheromonally induced priming effect in male fish is mediated through olfactory pathways.

    • Determination of age, longevity and age at reproduction of the frog Microhyla ornata by skeletochronology

      Suresh M Kumbar Katti Pancharatna

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      Skeletochronological estimation of age, longevity, age at sexual maturity and breeding of Microhyla ornata was done. Frogs (𝑛 = 62) were collected locally in August (rainy season) 1997 and brought to the laboratory. Body mass and snout-vent-length (SVL) of each frog was recorded; the 4th toe of both the hind limbs was clipped under anaesthesia, fixed in 10% formalin, demineralized in 5% nitric acid and processed for histology. Limb bones (femur, humerus, tibiofibula and radioulna) of 6 large sized frogs were also processed for skeletochronology in order to study the rate of resorption. Gonads of 25 frogs (belonging to different body size ranges) were processed for histology in order to ascertain the gametogenic status of individual frogs. One to four growth rings consisting of growth zones and lines of arrested growth (LAGs) were noticed in frogs of different body sizes; the number of LAGs remained identical in all the limb bones and phalanges in 5 out of 6 frogs. Back calculation indicated that the resorption rate is very low in this frog. Male frogs possessed sperm bundles in seminiferous tubules in the 1st year, while females showed yolky follicles in the ovary in the 2nd year. Frogs found in amplexus were 3–5 years old. The results suggest that this frog may live for a maximum of 5 years in the natural population.

    • Topoisomerase II poisoning by indazole and imidazole complexes of ruthenium

      Y N Vashisht Gopal Anand K Kondapi

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      Trans-imidazolium (bis imidazole) tetrachloro ruthenate (RuIm) and trans-indazolium (bis indazole) tetrachloro ruthenate (RuInd) are ruthenium coordination complexes, which were first synthesized and exploited for their anticancer activity. These molecules constitute two of the few most effective anticancer ruthenium compounds. The clinical use of these compounds however was hindered due to toxic side effects on the human body. Our present study on topoisomerase II poisoning by these compounds shows that they effectively poison the activity of topoisomerase II by forming a ternary cleavage complex of DNA, drug and topoisomerase II. The thymidine incorporation assays show that the inhibition of cancer cell proliferation correlates with topoisomerase II poisoning. The present study on topoisomerase II poisoning by these two compounds opens a new avenue for renewing further research on these compounds. This is because they could be effective lead candidates for the development of more potent and less toxic ruthenium containing topoisomerase II poisons. Specificity of action on this molecular target may reduce the toxic effects of these ruthenium-containing molecules and thus improve their therapeutic index.

    • Application of InterPro for the functional classification of the proteins of fish origin in SWISS-PROT and TrEMBL

      Margaret Biswas Alex Kanapin Rolf Apweiler

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      InterPro (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/interpro/) is an integrated documentation resource for protein families, domains and sites, developed initially as a means of rationalizing the complementary efforts of the PROSITE, PRINTS, Pfam and ProDom database projects. It is a useful resource that aids the functional classification of proteins. Almost 90% of the actinopterygii protein sequences from SWISS-PROT and TrEMBL can be classified using InterPro. Over 30% of the actinopterygii protein sequences currently in SWISS-PROT and TrEMBL are of mitochondrial origin, the majority of which belong to the cytochrome b/b6 family. InterPro also gives insights into the domain composition of the classified proteins and has applications in the functional classification of newly determined sequences lacking biochemical characterization, and in comparative genome analysis. A comparison of the actinopterygii protein sequences against the sequences of other eukaryotes confirms the high representation of eukaryotic protein kinase in the organisms studied. The comparisons also show that, based on InterPro families, the trans-species evolution of MHC class I and II molecules in mammals and teleost fish can be recognized.

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