• Volume 30, Issue 4

September 2005,   pages  407-549

• Clipboard: J D Bernal and the replication of the genetic material – hindsight on foresight

• Commentary: Early human settlements as an opportunity for infectious microorganisms

• Commentary: In memoriam: Ernst Mayr (1904–2005)

• Commentary: Ernst Mayr in Japan, October 1994

• Commentary: Ernst Mayr – teacher, mentor, friend

• Commentary: Ernst Mayr and the complexity of life

• A destiny to fulfill

• Living in a physical world IV. Moving heat around

• What history tells us II. The discovery of chaperone function

• Ion-swimming speed variation of Vibrio cholerae cells

In the present work we report the variation in swimming speed of Vibrio cholerae with respect to the change in concentration of sodium ions in the medium. We have also studied the variation in swimming speed with respect to temperature. We find that the swimming speed initially shows a linear increase with the increase of the sodium ions in the medium and then plateaus. The range within which the swimming speed attains saturation is approximately the same at different temperatures.

• Structural organization of the transfer RNA operon I of Vibrio cholerae: Differences between classical and El Tor strains

Nine major transfer RNA (tRNA) gene clusters were analysed in various Vibrio cholerae strains. Of these, only the tRNA operon I was found to differ significantly in V. cholerae classical (sixth pandemic) and El Tor (seventh pandemic) strains. Amongst the sixteen tRNA genes contained in this operon, genes for tRNA Gln3 (CAA) and tRNA Leu6 (CUA) were absent in classical strains as compared to El Tor strains. The observation strongly supported the view that the above two pandemic strains constitute two different clones.

• Kinetics of fatty acid binding ability of glycated human serum albumin

Kinetics of fatty acid binding ability of glycated human serum albumin (HSA) were investigated by fluorescent displacement technique with 1-anilino-8-naphtharene sulphonic acid (ANS method), and photometric detection of nonesterified-fatty-acid (NEFA method). Changing of binding affinities of glycated HSA toward oleic acid, linoleic acid, lauric acid, and caproic acid, were not observed by the ANS method. However, decreases of binding capacities after 55 days glycation were confirmed by the NEFA method in comparison to control HSA. The decrease in binding affinities was: oleic acid (84%), linoleic acid (84%), lauric acid (87%), and caproic acid (90%), respectively. The decreases were consistent with decrease of the intact lysine residues in glycated HSA. The present observation indicates that HSA promptly loses its binding ability to fatty acid as soon as the lysine residues at fatty acid binding sites are glycated.

• Amelioration of altered antioxidant status and membrane linked functions by vanadium and Trigonella in alloxan diabetic rat brains

Trigonella foenum graecum seed powder (TSP) and sodium orthovanadate (SOV) have been reported to have antidiabetic effects. However, SOV exerts hypoglycemic effects at relatively high doses with several toxic effects. We used low doses of vanadate in combination with TSP and evaluated their antidiabetic effects on antioxidant enzymes and membrane-linked functions in diabetic rat brains. In rats, diabetes was induced by alloxan monohydrate (15 mg/100 g body wt.) and they were treated with 2 IU insulin, 0.6 mg/ml SOV, 5% TSP and a combination of 0.2 mg/ml SOV with 5% TSP for 21 days. Blood glucose levels, activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), Na+/K+ ATPase, membrane lipid peroxidation and fluidity were determined in different fractions of whole brain after 21 days of treatment. Diabetic rats showed high blood glucose (𝑃 < 0.001), decreased activities of SOD, catalase and Na+/K+ ATPase (𝑃 < 0.01, 𝑃 < 0.001 and 𝑃 < 0.01), increased levels of GPx and MDA (𝑃 < 0.01 and 𝑃 < 0.001) and decreased membrane fluidity (𝑃 < 0.01). Treatment with different antidiabetic compounds restored the above-altered parameters. Combined dose of Trigonella and vanadate was found to be the most effective treatment in normalizing these alterations. Lower doses of vanadate could be used in combination with TSP to effectively counter diabetic alterations without any toxic effects.

• Enhanced analgesic effect of morphine-nimodipine combination after intraspinal administration as compared to systemic administration in mice

Calcium plays an important role in the pathophysiology of pain. A number of studies have investigated the effect of L-type calcium channel blockers on the analgesic response of morphine. However, the results are conflicting. In the present study, the antinociceptive effect of morphine (2.5 𝜇g) and nimodipine (1 𝜇g) co-administered intraspinally in mice was observed using the tail flick test. It was compared to the analgesic effect of these drugs (morphine – 250 𝜇g subcutaneously; nimodipine – 100 𝜇g intraperitoneally) after systemic administration. Nimodipine is highly lipophilic and readily crosses the blood brain barrier. Addition of nimodipine to morphine potentiated the analgesic response of the latter when administered through the intraspinal route but not when administered through systemic route. It may be due to direct inhibitory effect of morphine and nimodipine on neurons of superficial laminae of the spinal cord after binding to 𝜇-opioid receptors and L-type calcium channels respectively.

• Indian herb Sanjeevani' (Selaginella bryopteris) can promote growth and protect against heat shock and apoptotic activities of ultra violet and oxidative stress

Selaginella bryopteris is a lithophyte with remarkable ressurection capabilities. It is full of medicinal properties, hence also known as ‘Sanjeevani’ (one that infuses life). For lack of credible scientific evidence the plant is not in active use as a medicinal herb. We provide scientific evidence for why S. bryopteris is known as ‘Sanjeevani’.

The aqueous extract of S. bryopteris possesses growth-promoting activity as well as protective action against stress-induced cell death in a number of experimental cell systems including mammalian cells. Treatment of the cells in culture with 10% aqueous extract enhanced cell growth by about 41% in Sf9 cells and 78% in mammalian cells. Pre-treatment of cells with the Selaginella extract (SE) (1–2.5%) protected against oxidative stress (H2O2)-induced cell death. The killing potential of ultra violet (UV) was also significantly reduced when the cells were pre-treated with SE for 1 h. Thermal radiation suppressed cell growth by about 50%. Pre-treatment of cells with SE for 1 h afforded complete protection against heat-induced growth suppression. SE may possess anti-stress and antioxidant activities that could be responsible for the observed effects. Chemical analysis shows that SE contains hexoses and proteins. Taken together, S. bryopteris extract may help in stress-induced complications including those due to heat shock.

• Contribution of root respiration to soil respiration in a C3/C4 mixed grassland

The spatial and temporal variations of soil respiration were studied from May 2004 to June 2005 in a C3/C4 mixed grassland of Japan. The linear regression relationship between soil respiration and root biomass was used to determine the contribution of root respiration to soil respiration. The highest soil respiration rate of 11.54 𝜇mol m–2 s–1 was found in August 2004 and the lowest soil respiration rate of 4.99 𝜇mol m–2 s–1 was found in April 2005. Within-site variation was smaller than seasonal change in soil respiration. Root biomass varied from 0.71 kg m–2 in August 2004 to 1.02 in May 2005. Within-site variation in root biomass was larger than seasonal variation. Root respiration rate was highest in August 2004 (5.7 𝜇mol m–2 s–1) and lowest in October 2004 (1.7 𝜇mol m–2 s–1). Microbial respiration rate was highest in August 2004 (5.8 𝜇mol m–2 s–1) and lowest in April 2005 (2.59 𝜇mol m–2 s–1). We estimated that the contribution of root respiration to soil respiration ranged from 31% in October to 51% in August of 2004, and from 45% to 49% from April to June 2005.

• Will transgenic plants adversely affect the environment?

Transgenic insecticidal plants based on Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) endotoxins, on proteinase inhibitors and on lectins, and transgenic herbicide tolerant plants are widely used in modern agriculture. The results of the studies on likelihood and non-likelihood of adverse effects of transgenic plants on the environment including:

1. effects on nontarget species;
2. invasiveness;
3. potential for transgenes to escape’ into the environment by horizontal gene transfer; and
4. adverse effects on soil biota are reviewed.

In general, it seems that large-scale implementation of transgenic insecticidal and herbicide tolerant plants do not display considerable negative effects on the environments and, moreover, at least some transgenic plants can improve the corresponding environments and human health because their production considerably reduces the load of chemical insecticides and herbicides.

• Detergent-resistant membranes in human erythrocytes and their connection to the membrane-skeleton

In cell membranes, local inhomogeneity in the lateral distribution of lipids and proteins is thought to exist in vivo in the form of lipid ‘rafts’, microdomains enriched in cholesterol and sphingolipids, and in specific classes of proteins, that appear to play specialized roles for signal transduction, cell-cell recognition, parasite or virus infection, and vesicular trafficking. These structures are operationally defined as membranes resistant to solubilization by nonionic detergents at 4°C (detergent-resistant membranes, DRMs). This definition appears to be necessary and sufficient, although additional manoeuvres, not always described with sufficient detail, may be needed to ensure isolation of DRMs, like mechanical homogenization, and changes in the pH and/or ionic strength of the solubilization medium. We show here for the human erythrocyte that the different conditions adopted may lead to the isolation of qualitatively and quantitatively different DRM fractions, thus contributing to the complexity of the notion itself of lipid raft. A significant portion of erythrocyte DRMs enriched in reported lipid raft markers, such as flotillin-1, flotillin-2 and GM1, is anchored to the spectrin membrane-skeleton via electrostatic interactions that can be disrupted by the simultaneous increase in pH and ionic strength of the solubilization medium.

• # Journal of Biosciences

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