Volume 25, Issue 2
June 2000, pages 121-209
pp 121-122 June 2000
pp 123-124 June 2000
pp 125-131 June 2000
pp 133-141 June 2000 Perspectives
pp 143-156 June 2000 Articles
The number of 𝛽-turns in a representative set of 426 protein three-dimensional crystal structures selected from the recent Protein Data Bank has nearly doubled and the number of 𝛾-turns in a representative set of 320 proteins has increased over seven times since the previous analysis. 𝛽-turns (7153) and 𝛾-turns (911) extracted from these proteins were used to derive a revised set of type-dependent amino acid positional preferences and potentials. Compared with previous results, the preference for proline, methionine and tryptophan has increased and the preference for glutamine, valine, glutamic acid and alanine has decreased for 𝛽-turns. Certain new amino acid preferences were observed for both turn types and individual amino acids showed turn-type dependent positional preferences. The rationale for new amino acid preferences are discussed in the light of hydrogen bonds and other interactions involving the turns. Where main-chain hydrogen bonds of the type NH(𝑖 + 3)→CO(𝑖) were not observed for some 𝛽-turns, other main-chain hydrogen bonds or solvent interactions were observed that possibly stabilize such 𝛽-turns. A number of unexpected isolated 𝛽-turns with proline at 𝑖 + 2 position were also observed. The NH(𝑖 + 2)→CO(𝑖) hydrogen bond was observed for almost all 𝛾-turns. Nearly 20% classic 𝛾-turns and 43% inverse 𝛾-turns are isolated turns.
pp 157-161 June 2000 Articles
Effect of pH and temperature on the binding of bilirubin to human erythrocyte membranes was studied by incubating the membranes at different pH and temperatures and determining the bound bilirubin. At all pH values, the amount of membrane-bound bilirubin increased with the increase in bilirubin-to-albumin molar ratios (B/As), being highest at lower pH values in all cases. Further, linear increase in bound bilirubin with the increase in bilirubin concentration in the incubate was observed at a constant B/A and at all pH values. However, the slope value increased with the decrease in pH suggesting more bilirubin binding to membranes at lower pH values. Increase in bilirubin binding at lower pH can be explained on the basis of increased free bilirubin concentration as well as more conversion of bilirubin dianion to monoanion. Temperature dependence of bilirubin binding to membranes was observed within the temperature range of 7°–60°C, showing minimum binding at 27°C and 37°C which increased on either side. Increase in bilirubin binding at temperatures lower than 20°C and higher than 40°C can be ascribed to the change in membrane topography as well as bilirubin-albumin interaction.
pp 163-172 June 2000 Articles
Morphological characteristics of the antennal flagellum and its sensilla chaetica with character displacement in the sandfly Phlebotomus argentipes Annandale and Brunetti sensu lato (Diptera: Psychodidae)
Using light microscope and scanning electron microscope, the external morphological characteristics of the antennal flagellum and its sensilla are described in the sandfly, Phlebotomus argentipes Annandale and Brunetti sensu lato, a well known vector of visceral leishmaniasis in India. A revised terminology is given for the antennal segments to bring phlebotomine more in line with other subfamilies and families while a description of antennal sensilla is provided for the first time in phlebotomine sandflies. Each flagellum consists of scape, pedicel, flagellomeres I to XIII and apiculus. The antennal segments contain scales and sensilla and the latter consist of sensilla trichodea, s. basiconica, s. auricillica, s. coeloconica and s. chaetica and their putative functions are discussed.
The sensilla chaeticum hitherto known as antennal ascoid in the phlebotomine sandflies was used to differentiate within and between species. Differences in its relative size to the flagellomere between the populations of P. argentipes collected from the endemic and non-endemic areas in Tamil Nadu state, southern India were established. These differences are considered to be a character displacement as means of premating reproductive isolating mechanism among the populations/members of species complex.
pp 173-179 June 2000 Articles
The luminal surface of the chemosensory epithelia of the main olfactory organ of terrestrial vertebrates is covered by a layer of fluid. The source of this fluid layer varies among vertebrates. Little is known regarding the relative development of the sources of fluid (sustentacular cells and Bowman’s glands) in reptiles, especially in gekkotan lizards (despite recent assertions of olfactory speciality). This study examined the extent and morphology of the main olfactory organ in several Australian squamate reptiles, including three species of gekkotans, two species of skinks and one snake species. The olfactory mucosa of two gekkotan species (Christinus marmoratus and Strophurus intermedius) is spread over a large area of the nasal cavity. Additionally, the sustentacular cells of all three gekkotan species contained a comparatively reduced number of secretory granules, in relation to the skinks or snake examined. These observations imply that the gekkotan olfactory system may function differently from that of either skinks or snakes. Similar variation in secretory granule abundance was previously noted between mammalian and non-mammalian olfactory sustentacular cells. The observations in gekkotans suggests that the secretory capacity of the non-mammalian olfactory sustentacular cells show far more variation than initially thought.
pp 181-190 June 2000 Articles
The vomeronasal organ is a poorly understood accessory olfactory organ, present in many tetrapods. In mammals, amphibians and lepidosaurian reptiles, it is an encapsulated structure with a central, fluid-filled lumen. The morphology of the lubricatory system of the vomeronasal organ (the source of this fluid) varies among classes, being either intrinsic (mammalian and caecilian amphibian vomeronasal glands) or extrinsic (anuran and urodele nasal glands). In the few squamate reptiles thus far examined, there are no submucosal vomeronasal glands. In this study, we examined the vomeronasal organs of several species of Australian squamates using histological, histochemical and ultrastructural techniques, with the goal of determining the morphology of the lubricatory system in the vomeronasal organ. Histochemically, the fluid within the vomeronasal organ of all squamates is mucoserous, though it is uncertain whether mucous and serous constituents constitute separate components. The vomeronasal organ produces few secretory granules intrinsically, implying an extrinsic source for the luminal fluid. Of three possible candidates, the Harderian gland is the most likely extrinsic source of this secretion.
pp 191-195 June 2000 Articles
One cannot assume that resemblances between the mechanical devices of human technology and those produced by the evolutionary process reflect either specific copying of nature by people or some particular point of functional superiority. A third alternative is that the two mechanical contexts derive quite different advantages from a given arrangement. While this latter might appear unlikely, one can argue that it underlies such things as the use of conical shapes, helical tensile structures, spheres and cylinders, beams and columns of relatively low torsional stiffness, and geodesic shells.
pp 197-209 June 2000 Review article
We discuss some of the biological and mathematical issues involved in understanding and modelling the bursting electrical activity in pancreatic 𝛽-cells. These issues include single-cell versus islet behaviour, parameter heterogeneity, channel noise, the effects of hormones, neurotransmitters, and ions, and multiple slow biophysical processes. Some of the key experimental and modelling studies are described, and some of the major open questions are discussed.