Volume 23, Issue 1
March 1998, pages 3-85
pp 3-7 March 1998 Perspectives
pp 9-13 March 1998
Indolicidin is a 13-residue broad-spectrum antibacterial peptide isolated from bovine neutrophils. The primary structure of the peptide ILPWKWPWWPWRR-amide (IL) reveals an unusually high percentage of tryptophan residues. IL and its analogues where proline residues have been replaced by alanine (ILA) and trp replaced by phe (ILF) show comparable antibacterial activitieso While IL and ILA are haemolytic, ILF does not have this property. Since aromatic residues would strongly favour partitioning of the peptide into the lipid bilayer interface, the biological activities of IL and its analogues could conceivably arise due perturbation of the lipid bilayer of membranes. We have therefore investigated the interaction of IL and its analogues with lipid vesicles. Peptides IL and ILA bind to lipid vesicles composed of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanol amine: phosphatidyl glycerol: cardiolipin. The position of λmax and I- quenching experiments suggest that the trp residues are localized at the membrane interface and not associated with the hydrophobic core of the lipid bilayer in both the peptides. Hence, membrane permeabilization is likely to occur due to deformation of the membrane surface rather than formation of transmembrane channels by indolicidin and its analogues. Peptides ILA, IL and ILF cause the release of entrapped carboxyfluorescein from phosphatidyl choline vesicles. The peptide-lipid ratios indicate that ILF is less effective than IL and ILA in permeabilizing lipid vesicles, correlating with their haemolytic activities.
pp 15-18 March 1998
In this study we have localized glutamate (GLU) in fetal (14–25 weeks gestation, Wg) human retinas by immunohistochemistry. At 14 Wg, GLU-immunoreactivity (IR) was localized only in the central part of retina, showing a prominently labelled nerve fiber layero A few ganglion cells and displaced amacrine cells were very weakly labelled. At 17 Wg, GLU was localized conspicuously in many ganglion cells, displaced amacrine cells, some amacrine cells and the prospective photoreceptor cell bodies in the neuroepithelial layero With progressive development at 20 and 25 Wg, the IR for GLU was found additionally in the Müller cell endfeet, some bipolar cells as well as in the horizontal cells that were aligned in a row along the outer border of the inner nuclear layer of the central retinao The photoreceptor cell bodies in the outer nuclear layer were also prominently immunopositive for GLU. The developmental distribution of GLU in the human retina tends to indicate that it plays an important role in the differentiation and maturation of retinal neurons.
pp 19-23 March 1998
With a view to diagnosing tuberculosis in populations in endemic areas, excretory-secretory antigen fraction(Mtb EST-6) of purifiedMycobacterium tuberculosis H37Ra and affinity purified polyclonal antibodies againstMtb EST were used to detect both antibodies and circulating antigen in the sera of patients and disease-free individuals. Indirect stick penicillinase ELISA system usingMtb EST-6 detected antigen-specific IgG antibody in 84% of sputum positive, 77% of sputum negative pulmonary tuberculosis patients and 7% of healthy and 11% of subjects with nontub~rculosis diseases. Similarly, a sandwich penicillinase ELISA system using affinity purified antiMtb EST antibodies detected circulating antigen in 83% and 61% of sputum positive and negative pulmonary tuberculosis subjects. In contrast only 24% of healthy and 18% of disease controls showed seropositivity. Antibody assay showed higher sensitivity and specificity (83% and 91% respectively) compared to antigen detection (sensitivity of 79% and specificity of 79%). However, by concomitant use of both assays it was possible to enhance the specificity of detection to 98%, though sensitivity was reduced marginally to 70%. The present study confirms the presence of both antigen and specific antibodies in the circulation during clinical disease and draws attention to the utility ofMtb EST-6 as a diagnostic marker of pulmonary tuberculosis.
pp 25-31 March 1998
To ascertain the anthelmintic efficacy ofFlemingia vestita (an indigenous leguminous plant of Meghalaya, having putative anthelmintic usage), its crude root-tuber peel extract and active chemical principle, genistein, were testedin vitro with reference to esterase activity in the fowl tapeworm,Raillietina echinobothrida. With the localization of non-specific esterases (NSE) and cholinesterase (ChE), the organization of the cholinergic components of the nervous system in toto could be visualized in the cestodeo The specific ChE in the parasite is acetylcholinesterase (AChE). Both NSE and ChE were found in close association with the central and peripheral nervous components, besides being present in the tegument and muscular parts of the terminal male genitalia. The whole tissue homogenate of the parasite also showed a high AChE activity. After exposure to the crude peel extract (50 mg/ml of the incubation medium) and to genistein (0.5 mg/ml), a pronounced decline in the visible stain intensity in the cholinergic components of the nervous system and in the tegument was noticeable, indicating extremely reduced activity of NSE and ChE in these sites. The total AChE activity was also reduced to 4907% and 56–77%, following treatment with the peel extract and genistein, respectively. The reference drug, praziquantel (0.01 mg/ml) also caused reduction in the enzyme activity, somewhat at par with the genistein treatment. Genistein appears to have a transtegumental mode of action. Alteration in the AChE activity points towards acetylcholine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter in cestodes, as the potential target of action.
pp 33-36 March 1998
To study the effect of elevated CO2 concentration on plant growth and photosynthesis, two clones ofHevea brasiliensis were grown in polybags and exposed to elevated concentration (700±25ppm) for 60 days. There was higher biomass accumulation, leaf area and better growth when compared to ambient air grown plantso From A/Ci curves it is clear that photosynthetic rates increases with increase in CO2 concentrations. After 60 days of exposure to higher CO2 concentration, a decrease in the carbon assimilation rate was noticed.
pp 37-41 March 1998
Three different experiments with colliding artificial molecules, made of binary strings, are reported. Rules of evolution are designed such that the innovative collisions, i.e., those producing new species at the end of a reaction, become a negligible part of total number of collisions after a sufficiently large number of collisions have taken place. The distribution of species in the final mixture according to their bit size as well as the decay profile of the reactive and the innovative collisions are obtained. It is seen that the prescribed rules are sufficient to characterize a self-regulatory feature of the evolving system.
pp 43-45 March 1998
Self-cleaving infectious RNAs found in many plant viruses and viroids can also cleave intrans and form hammerhead type secondary structure. It has been observed that the cleavage site must contain the triplet GUC. Also, in other cases, the sequence XUY holds good where X = A, C, G, U and Y = A, C, U but not G. The high electronegative nature of guanosine holds the key to its resistance to cleavage which does not allow hybrid formation between the ribozyme and substrate strands. Guanosine resistance to cleavage might have been the starting thrust for the evolution of a translational initiation codon from XUG. A hypothesis is proposed in this regard and its evolutionary consequences are discussed briefly.
pp 47-54 March 1998
Protein sequences of the SWISS-PROT data bank were analysed by fractal techniques and harmonic analysis. In both cases, the results show the presence of self-affinity, a kind of self-similarity, in the sequences. Self-similarity is a sign of fractality and fractality is a consequence of a chaotic dynamical process. The evolution of the protein sequences is modelled as a dynamical system. The abundance of the fractal form in biology and creation of fractal forms as a result of “chaos” is already established. It may be noted that the word “chaos” here implies that most predictable processes can also become unpredictable under certain conditions, and that the most unpredictable processes are not as unpredictable as they are expected to be. In evolutionary dynamics, this allows scope for mutations and variations in otherwise predictable situations, potentially leading to increased diversity.
pp 55-71 March 1998
The advent of automated DNA sequencing techniques has led to an explosive growth in the number and length of DNAs sequenced frpm different organisms. While this has resulted in a large accumulation of data in the DNA databases, it has also called for the development of suitable techniques for rapid viewing and analysis of the data. Over the last few years several methods have been proposed that address these issues and represent a DNA sequence in a compact graphical form in one-, two- or three-dimensions that can be expanded as necessary to help visualize the patterns in gene sequences and aid in in-depth analysis. Graphical techniques have been found to be useful in highlighting local and global base dominances, to identify regions of extensive repetitive sequences, differentiate between coding and non-coding regions, and to be indicative of evolutionary divergences. Analysis with graphical methods have also provided insights into new structures in DNA sequences such as fractals and long range correlations, and some measures have been developed that help quantify the visual patterns.
This review presents a comprehensive study of the graphical representation methods and their applications in viewing and analysing long DNA sequences and evaluates the merits of each of these from a practical viewpoint with prescriptions on domains of applicability of each method. A discussion on the comparative merits and demerits of the various methods and possible future developments have also been included.
pp 73-85 March 1998
Caecilians are legless amphibians quite characteristic of the Western Ghats. Fourteen out of 16 Indian species occur in the Western Ghats and all are endemic. The present paper deals with the biology of caecilians with reference to external morphology and general breeding behaviour. It consolidates information on 26 morphological parameters which are used in caecilian identification. Metric multidimensional scaling of 16 species of caecilians using pair-wise euclidian distances calculated on the basis of 11 important morphometric parameters clearly depicts morphological distances between different species and more so the genera, thereby validating the classification. A field guide has been developed for the identification of caecilians based on a survey made all over the Western Ghats, observation of holotypes at the Natural History Museum, London and review of the literature. The study also reveals the microhabitat requirements of the caecilians. Further, the localities of caecilian distribution in the Western Ghats are mapped. The taxonomy of Indian caecilians is discussed.