The advent of online publishing greatly facilitates the dissemination of scientific results. This revolution might have led to the untimely death of many traditional publishing companies, since today’s scientists are perfectly capable of writing, formatting and uploading files to appropriate websites that can be consulted by colleagues and the general public alike. They also have the intellectual resources to criticize each other and organize an anonymous peer review system. The Open Access approach appears promising in this respect, but we cannot ignore that it is fraught with editorial and economic problems. A few powerful publishing companies not only managed to survive, but also rake up considerable profits. Moreover, they succeeded in becoming influential ‘trendsetters’ since they decide which papers deserve to be published. To make money, one must set novel trends, like Christian Dior or Levi’s in fashion, and open new markets, for example in Asia. In doing so, the publishers tend to supplant both national and transnational funding agencies in defining science policy. In many cases, these agencies tend simply to adopt the commercial criteria defined by the journals, forever eager to improve their impact factors. It is not obvious that the publishers of scientific journals, the editorial boards that they appoint, or the people who sift through the vast numbers of papers submitted to a handful of ‘top’ journals are endowed with sufficient insight to set the trends of future science. It seems even less obvious that funding agencies should blindly follow the fashion trends set by the publishers. The perverse relationships between private publishers and public funding agencies may have a toxic effect on science policy.
pp 201-224 Perspectives
pp 225-227 Series
pp 229-237 Brief communications
Citrus Huanglongbing (HLB) also known as citrus greening is one of the most devastating diseases of citrus worldwide. The disease is caused by Candidatus Liberibacter bacterium, vectored by the psyllid Diaphorina citri Kuwayama and Trioza erytreae Del Guercio. Citrus plants infected by the HLB bacterium may not show visible symptoms sometimes for years following infection. The aim of this study was to develop effective gene-specific primer pairs for polymerase chain reaction based method for quick screening of HLB disease. Thirty-two different gene-specific primer pairs, across the Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus genome, were successfully developed. The possibility of these primer pairs for cross-genome amplification across `Ca. Liberibacter africanus’ and `Ca. Liberibacter americanus’ were tested. The applicability of these primer pairs for detection and differentiation of Ca Liberibacter spp. is discussed.
pp 239-243 Brief communications
Bifidobacteria are considered as one of the key genera in intestinal tracts of animals, and their species composition vary depending on the host. The aim of this study was to identify faecal bifidobacteria from Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), housed in Zoological gardens (Ostrava, Czech Republic). Using culturing, bifidobacteria were found in counts 7.60±0.56 log CFU/g. Twenty-six pure strains were isolated from faeces of Asian elephant. The isolates were clustered into two groups according to fingerprinting profiles and fermentation characteristic. Bacteria were identified by a combination of MALDI-TOF MS, PCR methods and sequencing as B. boum (12 isolates) and B. adolescentis (14 isolates). Elephant strains showed different fingerprinting profiles than type and collection strains. Since these two species are frequently isolated from gastrointestinal tract of herbivores, they seem to be typical of animals fed plant diets.
pp 245-249 Brief communications
Internal Ribosome Entry Site (IRES) sequences have been widely used to link the expression of two independent proteins on the same mRNA transcript. Genes encoding fluorescent proteins or drug-resistance enzymes are usually placed downstream of IRES, serving as expression indicators or selection markers. In biological applications where the upstream gene-of-interest is to be expressed at extremely high levels, it is often desirable to purposely reduce IRES downstream gene expression to economize the cellular resources and/or to generate more stringent selection pressure. Here we describe a miniature IRES mutant sequence (IRESmut3) with dramatically diminished co-translational efficiency to fulfill these purposes.
pp 251-258 Articles
In the present study the most efficient 𝑅-factor controlling the ars operon was selected after screening of 39 Escherichia coli isolates by minimum inhibitory concentration test (MIC) studies from water samples of different geographical locations of India. Among all, strain isolated from Hooghly River (West Bengal) was found to have maximum tolerance towards arsenic and was further used for the development of bioreporter bacteria. Cloning of the ars regulatory element along with operator-promotor and luxCDABE from Photobacteria into expression vector has been accomplished by following recombinant DNA protocols. The bioreporter sensor system developed in this study can measure the estimated range of 0.74–60 𝜇g of As/L and is both specific and selective for sensing bioavailable As. The constructed bacterial biosensor was further used for the determination of arsenic ion concentration in different environmental samples of India.
pp 259-265 Articles
It has been suggested that proteins serve as major salivary buffers below pH5. It remains unclear, however, which salivary proteins are responsible for these buffering properties. The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the correlation between salivary concentration of total protein, amylase, mucin, immunoglobulin A (IgA), albumin and total salivary protein buffering capacity at a pH range of 4–5. In addition, the buffering capacity and the number of carboxylic acid moieties of single proteins were assessed.
Stimulated saliva samples were collected at 9:00, 13:00 and 17:00 from 4 healthy volunteers on 3 successive days. The buffering capacities were measured for total salivary protein or for specific proteins. Also, the concentration of total protein, amylase, mucin, IgA and albumin were analysed.
Within the limits of the current study, it was found that salivary protein buffering capacity was highly positively correlated with total protein, amylase and IgA concentrations. A weak correlation was observed for both albumin and mucin individually. Furthermore, the results suggest that amylase contributed to 35% of the salivary protein buffering capacity in the pH range of 4–5.
pp 267-278 Articles
A unique DNA repair and recombination gene (recN) sequence for identification and intraspecific molecular typing of bacterial wilt pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum and its comparative analysis with ribosomal DNA sequences
Ribosomal gene sequences are a popular choice for identification of bacterial species and, often, for making phylogenetic interpretations. Although very popular, the sequences of 16S rDNA and 16-23S intergenic sequences often fail to differentiate closely related species of bacteria. The availability of complete genome sequences of bacteria, in the recent years, has accelerated the search for new genome targets for phylogenetic interpretations. The recently published full genome data of nine strains of R. solanacearum, which causes bacterial wilt of crop plants, has provided enormous genomic choices for phylogenetic analysis in this globally important plant pathogen. We have compared a gene candidate recN, which codes for DNA repair and recombination function, with 16S rDNA/16-23S intergenic ribosomal gene sequences for identification and intraspecific phylogenetic interpretations in R. solanacearum. recN gene sequence analysis of R. solanacearum revealed subgroups within phylotypes (or newly proposed species within plant pathogenic genus, Ralstonia), indicating its usefulness for intraspecific genotyping. The taxonomic discriminatory power of recN gene sequence was found to be superior to ribosomal DNA sequences. In all, the recN-sequence-based phylogenetic tree generated with the Bayesian model depicted 21 haplotypes against 15 and 13 haplotypes obtained with 16S rDNA and 16-23S rDNA intergenic sequences, respectively. Besides this, we have observed high percentage of polymorphic sites (S 23.04%), high rate of mutations (Eta 276) and high codon bias index (CBI 0.60), which makes the recN an ideal gene candidate for intraspecific molecular typing of this important plant pathogen.
pp 279-289 Articles
DNA polymerization products by Klenow fragment (KF) are blunt-ended. In the present study, we found that the Klenow fragment mutants with partial deletions of thumb subdomain were unable to extend primers to the 5′ terminal of templates, thus creating 5′ overhanging sticky ends 2 nt long. We termed this phenomenon as PmTP (premature termination of polymerization). The KF mutants produced homogenous sticky-ended products only under mild reaction conditions, whereas under vigorous reaction conditions, the sticky ends were prone to be blunt-ended. It was also identified that deletions of more than four residues of KF thumb subdomain could induce PmTP, and two-residue deletion of KF thumb subdomain only induced PmTP in a lower-concentration situation. Structure modelling analysis suggested that shortening or destruction of 𝛼 helix H1 at the tip of the thumb subdomain was crucial to PmTP, while the conserved residues in front of 𝛼 helix was less important. PmTP might be caused by the reduced DNA-binding affinity of the mutants. The sticky ends made by PmTP have potential applications in gene splicing and molecular cloning techniques.
pp 291-299 Articles
Bacillus subtilis under nutritional deprivation exhibits several physiological responses such as synthesis of degradative enzymes, motility, competence, sporulation, etc. At the onset of post-exponential phase the global response regulator, Spo0A, directly or indirectly activates the expression of genes involved in the above processes. These genes are repressed during the exponential phase by a group of proteins called transition state regulators, e.g. AbrB, ScoC and SinR. One such post-exponentially expressed gene is epr, which encodes a minor extracellular serine protease and is involved in the swarming motility of B. subtilis. Deletion studies of the upstream region of epr promoter revealed that epr is co-repressed by transition state regulators, SinR and ScoC. Our study shows that Spo0A positively regulates epr expression by nullifying the repressive effect of co-repressors, SinR and ScoC. We demonstrate via in vitro mobility shift assays that Spo0A binds to the upstream region of epr promoter and in turn occludes the binding site of one of the co-repressor, SinR. This explains the mechanism behind the positive regulatory effect of Spo0A on epr expression.
pp 301-309 Articles
Germ band retraction (GBR) stage is one of the important stages during insect development. It is associated with an extensive epithelial morphogenesis and may also be pivotal in generation of morphological diversity in insects. Despite its importance, only a handful of studies report the transcriptome repertoire of this stage in insects. Here, we report generation, annotation and analysis of ESTs from the embryonic stage (16–22 h post fertilization) of laboratory-reared Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes. A total of 1002 contigs were obtained upon clustering of 1140 high-quality ESTs, which demonstrates an astonishingly low transcript redundancy (12.1%). Putative functions were assigned only to 213 contigs (21%), comprising mainly of transcripts encoding protein synthesis machinery. Approximately 78% of the transcripts remain uncharacterized, illustrating a lack of sequence information about the genes expressed in the embryonic stages of mosquitoes. This study highlights several novel transcripts, which apart from insect development, may significantly contribute to the essential biological complexity underlying insect viability in adverse environments. Nonetheless, the generated sequence information from this work provides a comprehensive resource for genome annotation, microarray development, phylogenetic analysis and other molecular biology applications in entomology.
pp 311-315 Articles
Classic characteristics are poor predictors of the risk of thromboembolism. Thus, better markers for the carotid atheroma plaque formation and symptom causing are needed. Our objective was to study by microarray analysis gene expression of genes involved in homeostasis of iron and heme in carotid atheroma plaque from the same patient. mRNA gene expression was measured by an Affymetrix GeneChip Human Gene 1.0 ST arrays (Affymetrix, Santa Clara, CA, USA) using RNA prepared from 68 specimens of endarteriectomy from 34 patients. Two genes involved in iron-heme homeostasis, CD163 and heme oxygenase (HO-1), were analysed in 34 plaques. CD163 (2.18, 𝑝=1.45E−08) and HO-1 (fold-change 2.67, 𝑝=2.07E−09) mRNAs were induced. We suggest that atheroma plaques show a more pronounced induction of CD163 and HO-1. Although further evidence is needed, our results support previous data. To our knowledge, this is the first report comparing gene expression between intact arterial tissue and carotid plaque using microarray analysis.
pp 317-328 Articles
Salicylic acid (SA) has been implicated in determining the outcome of interactions between many plants and their pathogens. Global changes in response to this phytohormone have been observed at the transcript level, but little is known of how it induces changes in protein abundance. To this end we have investigated the effect of 1 mM SA on soluble proteins of Arabidopsis thaliana leaves by proteomic analysis. An initial study at transcript level has been performed on temporal landscape, which revealed that induction of most of the SA-responsive genes occurs within 3 to 6 h post treatment (HPT) and the expression peaked within 24 HPT. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) coupled with MALDI-TOF MS/MS analysis has been used to identify differentially expressed proteins and 63 spots have been identified successfully. This comparative proteomic profiling of SA treated leaves versus control leaves demonstrated the changes of many defence related proteins like pathogenesis related protein 10a (PR10a), disease-resistance-like protein, putative late blight-resistance protein, WRKY4, MYB4, etc. along with gross increase in the rate of energy production, while other general metabolism rate is slightly toned down, presumably signifying a transition from ‘normal mode’ to ‘defence mode’.
pp 329-337 Articles
Rapid and accurate identification of bacterial pathogens is a fundamental goal of clinical microbiology. The diagnosis and surveillance of diseases is dependent, to a great extent, on laboratory services, which cannot function without effective reliable reagents and diagnostics. Despite the advancement in microbiology diagnosis globally, resource-limited countries still struggle to provide an acceptable diagnosis quality which helps in clinical disease management and improve their mortality and morbidity data. During this study an indigenous product, Quick Test Strip (QTS) NE, was developed for the rapid identification of biochemically slower group of Gram-negative oxidase-positive bacilli that covers 19 different bacterial genera. Some of the members belonging to these groups are well-established human pathogens, e.g. various species of Vibrio, Pseudomonas, Burkholderia, Aeromonas, Achromobacter and Stenotrophomonas. This study also evaluates the performance of QTS-NE by comparing with genotypic characterization methods. A total of 232 clinical and reference bacterial isolates were tested by three different methods. QTS-NE provides 100% concordant results with other rapid identification and molecular characterization methods and confirms the potential to be used in clinical diagnosis.
pp 339-349 Articles
The diversity of the diet of grasshoppers (Acrididae, Orthoptera) is related to multiple factors, including the chemoreceptors on the antennae, palps and on the epipharyngeal face of the labrum. In the present study, we sought to understand the nature of the diet of 12 Moroccan acridian species and to try to relate various aspects of their diet to the number of labrum sensilla. If the effect of the labrum size on the number of sensilla is removed, four groups of species are recorded:
These observations show the close relationship between the diet and the number of labrum sensilla. However, Sphingonotus rubescens, a polyphagous species, is an exception to this trend as it harbours a medium number of sensilla. We propose that the modification in the number of labrum sensilla is a result of a progressive adaptation to a different diet and does not represent its cause.
pp 351-361 Articles
Tor2 is an activator of the Rom2/Rho1 pathway that regulates 𝛼-factor internalization. Since the recruitment of endocytic proteins such as actin-binding proteins and the amphiphysins precedes the internalization of 𝛼-factor, we hypothesized that loss of Tor function leads to an alteration in the dynamics of the endocytic proteins. We report here that endocytic proteins, Abp1 and Rvs167, are less recruited to endocytic sites not only in tor2 but also tor1 mutants. Furthermore, we found that the endocytic proteins Rvs167 and Sjl2 are completely mistargeted to the cytoplasm in tor1𝛥tor2ts double mutant cells. We also demonstrate here that the efficiency of endocytic internalization or scission in all tor mutants was drastically decreased. In agreement with the Sjl2 mislocalization, we found that in tor1𝛥tor2ts double mutant cells, as well as other tor mutant cells, the overall PIP2 level was dramatically increased. Finally, the cell wall chitin content in tor2ts and tor1𝛥tor2ts mutant cells was also significantly increased. Taken together, both functional Tor proteins, Tor1 and Tor2, are essentially required for proper endocytic protein dynamics at the early stage of endocytosis.
pp 363-371 Articles
In response to hypoxia, tissues have to implement numerous mechanisms to enhance oxygen delivery, including the activation of angiogenesis. This work investigates the angiogenic response of the hypoxic caudate putamen after several recovery times.
Adult Wistar rats were submitted to acute hypoxia and analysed after 0 h, 24 h and 5 days of reoxygenation. Expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alfa (HIF-1𝛼) and angiogenesis-related genes including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), adrenomedullin (ADM) and transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-𝛽1) was determined by both RT-PCR and ELISA. For vessel labelling, lectin location and expression were analysed using histochemical and image processing techniques (fractal dimension).
Expression of Hif-1𝛼, Vegf, Adm and Tgf-𝛽 1 mRNA rose immediately after hypoxia and this increase persisted in some cases after 5 days post-hypoxia. While VEGF and TGF-𝛽1 protein levels increased parallel to mRNA expression, ADM remained unaltered. The quantification of the striatal vessel network showed a significant augmentation at 24 h of reoxygenation.
These results reveal that not only short-term hypoxia, but also the subsequent reoxygenation period, up-regulate the angiogenic pathway in the rat caudate putamen as a neuroprotective mechanism to hypoxia that seeks to maintain a proper blood supply to the hypoxic tissue, thereby minimizing the adverse effects of oxygen deprivation.
pp 373-383 Articles
With an aim to study the mechanism of adaptation to acute hypoxic periods by hypoxia-tolerant catfish, Clarias batrachus, the mass-specific metabolic rate (VO2) along with its hematological parameters, metabolic response and antioxidant enzyme activities were studied. During progressive hypoxia, C. batrachus was found to be an oxyconformer and showed a steady decline in its aquatic oxygen consumption rate. When C. batrachus was exposed for different periods at experimental hypoxia level (0.98±0.1 mg/L, DO), hemoglobin and hematocrit concentrations were increased, along with decrease in mean cellular hemoglobin concentration, which reflected a physiological adaptation to enhance oxygen transport capacity. Significant increase in serum glucose and lactate concentration as well as lactate dehydrogenase activity was observed. Antioxidant enzymes were found to operate independently of one another, while total glutathione concentration was unaffected in any of the tissues across treatments. These observations suggested that hypoxia resulted in the development of oxidative stress and C. batrachus was able to respond through increase in the oxygen carrying capacity, metabolic depression and efficient antioxidant defense system to survive periods of acute hypoxia.
pp 385-389 Articles
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a multifactorial disease caused by the interplay of environmental risk factors with multiple predisposing genes. The present study was undertaken to evaluate the role of DNA repair efficiency and oxidative stress and antioxidant status in CAD patients. Malonaldehyde (MDA), which is an indicator of oxidative stress, and mean break per cell (b/c) values, which is an indicator of decreased DNA repair efficiency, were found to be significantly increased in patients compared to normal controls (𝑃 < 0.05) whereas ascorbic acid and GSH were found to be lower among patients than the control group. It has been found that elevated oxidative stress decreased antioxidant level and decreased DNA repair efficiency can contribute to the development of CAD. This study also showed that high MDA, low ascorbic acid and GSH were significantly associated with high b/c value.
pp 391-395 Articles
This study aimed to establish an allometric scaling relationship between the frequency of intestinal contractions and body mass of different mammalian species. The frequency of intestinal contractions of rabbit, guinea pig, rat and mouse were measured using an isolated organ system. The isolated rings were prepared from proximal segments of jejunums and the frequency of contractions was recorded by an isometric force procedure. The coefficients of the obtained allometric equation were ascertained by computation of least squares after logarithmic transformation of both body mass and frequency. Significant differences (𝑝 <0.001) were shown in the frequency of contractions between different species. The highest frequency that corresponded to the mice was 57.7 min−1 and the 95% confidence interval (CI) ranged from 45.4 to 70, while rabbits showed the lowest frequency (12.71 min−1, CI: 8.6–16.8). Logarithms of frequency were statistically proportional to logarithms of body mass (r=0.99; 𝑝 < 0.001). The data fitted an equation 𝐹 = 18:51 𝐵-0.31 and the 95% confidence interval of the exponent ranged from −0.30 to −0.32. The results of this study suggest that it is probably possible to extrapolate the intestinal contraction frequency of other mammalian species by the means of allometry scaling.
pp 397-408 Articles
A protocol for a simple and reliable dot-blot immunoassay was developed and optimized to test work of art samples for the presence of specific proteinaceus material (i.e. ovalbumin-based). The analytical protocol has been extensively set up with respect, among the other, to protein extraction conditions, to densitometric analysis and to the colorimetric reaction conditions. Feasibility evaluation demonstrated that a commercial scanner and a free image analysis software can be used for the data acquisition and elaboration, thus facilitating the application of the proposed protocol to commonly equipped laboratories and to laboratories of museums and conservation centres. The introduction of method of standard additions in the analysis of fresh and artificially aged laboratory-prepared samples, containing egg white and various pigments, allowed us to evaluate the matrix effect and the effect of sample aging and to generate threshold density values useful for the detection of ovalbumin in samples from ancient works of art. The efficacy of the developed dot-blot immunoassay was proved testing microsamples from 13th–16th century mural paintings of Saint Francesco Church in Lodi (Italy). Despite the aging, the altered conditions of conservation, the complex matrix, and the micro-size of samples, the presence of ovalbumin was detected in all those mural painting samples where mass-spectrometry-based proteomic analysis unambiguously detected ovalbumin peptides.
pp 409-412 Mini-reviews
The adaptability of bacteria to extreme cold environments has been demonstrated from time to time by various investigators. Metabolic activity of bacteria at subzero temperatures is also evidenced. Recent studies indicate that bacteria continue both catabolic and anabolic activities at subzero temperatures. Implications of these findings are discussed.
pp 413-416 Mini-reviews
UV-screening by terrestrial plants is a crucial trait since colonization of terrestrial environments has started. In general, it is enabled by phenolic substances. Especially for grasses it remains unclear why plants grown under the absence of UV-B-radiation exhibit nonetheless a high UV-B-screening potential. But this may be explained by the UV-screening effect of the silicon double layer. It was shown for seedlings of soybeans (Glycine max L.) and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) that enhanced silicon supply reduces stress induced by UV-radiation. Even more important is a direct correlation between silicon content in the epidermis near area (intercellular spaces) and the absorption of UV-radiation in this area shown in other papers. The silicon double layer may act like a glass layer and decreases the transmission of UV-radiation at the epidermis near area. In summary, the absorbance/reflection of ultraviolet radiation is dependent on the characteristics of the epidermis near area of leaves, particularly the occurrence (qualitatively and quantitatively) of phenolic substances and/or a silicon double layer in this area. Consequently, UV-screening by plant silicon double layer should get more attention in future research with emphasis on effects of UV-radiation on plant physiology.
pp 417-431 Reviews
Calcineurin, a well-conserved protein phosphatase 2B (PP2B), is a Ca2+-calmodulin–dependent serine/threonine protein phosphatase that is known to be involved in a myriad of cellular processes and signal transduction pathways. The biological role of calcineurin has been extensively studied in diverse groups of organisms. Homologues of mammalian and Drosophila calcineurin subunits exist in the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans. The C. elegans counterpart of the catalytic subunit, calcineurin A, cna-1/tax-6, and the regulatory subunit, calcineurin B, cnb-1, are known to express ubiquitously in multiple tissues including neurons. The characterization of C. elegans calcineurin mutants facilitates identification of its physiological functions and signaling pathways. Genetic interactions between cna-1/tax-6 and cnb-1 mutants with a number of mutants involved in several signaling pathways have exemplified the pivotal role of calcineurin in regulating nematode development, behaviour and lifespan (aging). The present review has been aimed to provide a succinct summary of the multiple functions of calcineurin in C. elegans relating to its development, fertility, proliferation, behaviour and lifespan. Analyses of cna-1/tax-6 and cnb-1 interacting proteins and regulators of the phosphatase in this fascinating worm model have an immense scope to identify potential drug targets in various parasitic nematodes, which cause many diseases inflicting huge economic loss; and also for many human diseases, particularly neurodegenerative and myocardial diseases.
pp 433-449 Reviews
Plants are invaded by an array of pathogens of which only a few succeed in causing disease. The attack by others is countered by a sophisticated immune system possessed by the plants. The plant immune system is broadly divided into two, viz. microbial-associated molecular-patterns-triggered immunity (MTI) and effector-triggered immunity (ETI). MTI confers basal resistance, while ETI confers durable resistance, often resulting in hypersensitive response. Plants also possess systemic acquired resistance (SAR), which provides long-term defense against a broad-spectrum of pathogens. Salicylic-acid-mediated systemic acquired immunity provokes the defense response throughout the plant system during pathogen infection at a particular site. Trans-generational immune priming allows the plant to heritably shield their progeny towards pathogens previously encountered. Plants circumvent the viral infection through RNA interference phenomena by utilizing small RNAs. This review summarizes the molecular mechanisms of plant immune system, and the latest breakthroughs reported in plant defense. We discuss the plant–pathogen interactions and integrated defense responses in the context of presenting an integral understanding in plant molecular immunity.
Volume 42 | Issue 4