pp 749-753 December 2011
pp 755-760 December 2011
pp 761-768 December 2011 Perspectives
pp 769-772 December 2011 Series
pp 773-779 December 2011 Articles
In this study, a potent fibrinolytic enzyme-producing bacterium was isolated from soybean flour and identified as Bacillus subtilis K42 and assayed in vitro for its thrombolytic potential. The molecular weight of the purified enzyme was 20.5 kDa and purification increased its specific activity 390-fold with a recovery of 14%. Maximal activity was attained at a temperature of 40°C (stable up to 65°C) and pH of 9.4 (range: 6.5–10.5). The enzyme retained up to 80% of its original activity after pre-incubation for a month at 4°C with organic solvents such as diethyl ether (DE), toluene (TO), acetonitrile (AN), butanol (BU), ethyl acetate (EA), ethanol (ET), acetone (AC), methanol (ME), isopropanol (IP), diisopropyl fluorophosphate (DFP), tosyl-lysyl-chloromethylketose (TLCK), tosyl-phenylalanyl chloromethylketose (TPCK), phenylmethylsulfonylfluoride (PMSF) and soybean trypsin inhibitor (SBTI). Aprotinin had little effect on this activity. The presence of ethylene diaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), a metal-chelating agent and two metallo protease inhibitors, 2,2′-bipyridine and 𝑜-phenanthroline, repressed the enzymatic activity significantly. This, however, could be restored by adding Co2+ to the medium. The clotting time of human blood serum in the presence of this enzyme reached a relative PTT of 241.7% with a 3.4-fold increase, suggesting that this enzyme could be an effective antithrombotic agent.
pp 781-791 December 2011 Articles
The sea anemone Stichodactyla helianthus produces two pore-forming proteins, sticholysins I and II (St I and St II). Despite their high identity (93%), these toxins exhibit differences in hemolytic activity that can be related to those found in their N-terminal. To clarify the contribution of the N-terminal amino acid residues to the activity of the toxins, we synthesized peptides spanning residues 1–31 of St I (StI1-31) or 1–30 of St II (StII1-30) and demonstrated that StII1-30 promotes erythrocyte lysis to a higher extent than StI1-31. For a better understanding of the molecular mechanism underlying the peptide activity, here we studied their binding to lipid monolayers and pemeabilizing activity in liposomes. For this, we examined the effect on peptide membranotropic activity of including phospatidic acid and cholesterol in a lipid mixture of phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin. The results suggest the importance of continuity of the 1–10 hydrophobic sequence in StII1-30 for displaying higher binding and activity, in spite of both peptides’ abilities to form pores in giant unilamellar vesicles. Thus, the different peptide membranotropic action is explained in terms of the differences in hydrophobic and electrostatic peptide properties as well as the enhancing role of membrane inhomogeneities.
pp 793-808 December 2011 Articles
Dimeric banana lectin and calsepa, tetrameric artocarpin and octameric heltuba are mannose-specific 𝛽-prism I fold lectins of nearly the same tertiary structure. MD simulations on individual subunits and the oligomers provide insights into the changes in the structure brought about in the protomers on oligomerization, including swapping of the N-terminal stretch in one instance. The regions that undergo changes also tend to exhibit dynamic flexibility during MD simulations. The internal symmetries of individual oligomers are substantially retained during the calculations. Energy minimization and simulations were also carried out on models using all possible oligomers by employing the four different protomers. The unique dimerization pattern observed in calsepa could be traced to unique substitutions in a peptide stretch involved in dimerization. The impossibility of a specific mode of oligomerization involving a particular protomer is often expressed in terms of unacceptable steric contacts or dissociation of the oligomer during simulations. The calculations also led to a rationale for the observation of a heltuba tetramer in solution although the lectin exists as an octamer in the crystal, in addition to providing insights into relations among evolution, oligomerization and ligand binding.
pp 809-816 December 2011 Articles
We report studies on loss of heme at or below pH 3.0 from two clinically important hemoglobin variants, HbE and HbS, in the presence and absence of phopholipid membranes. The kinetics of heme loss has been studied at pH 3.0 to simulate the same at a faster rate than at physiological pH, for spectroscopic investigation. Results obtained from the study clearly establish the probable fate of the lost heme to partition into the phospholipid bilayer independent of the pH range. This is also of particular importance to membranes containing the aminophospholipid and cholesterol which are predominantly localized in the inner leaflet of erythrocytes. Absorption measurements indicated such loss of heme when the Soret peak at 415 nm blue-shifted to 380 nm at pH 3.0. The extent of this blue shift decreased from 35 nm to ∼15 nm in the presence of small unilammelar vesicles of both dimyristoyl- and dioleoyl-based phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine, indicating partitioning of the released heme in the membrane bilayer. The kinetics of heme loss was faster from HbE than HbA and HbS, obeying first-order reaction kinetics. Released heme could be involved in the premature destruction of erythrocytes in hemoglobin disorders.
pp 817-821 December 2011 Articles
Repeat-induced point mutation (RIP) is a sexual stage-specific mutational process of Neurospora crassa and other fungi that alters duplicated DNA sequences. Previous studies from our laboratory showed that chromosome segment duplications (Dps) longer than ∼300 kbp can dominantly suppress RIP, presumably by titration of the RIP machinery, and that although Dps < 200 kbp did not individually suppress RIP, they could do so in homozygous and multiply heterozygous crosses, provided the sum of the duplicated DNA exceeds ∼300 kbp. Here we demonstrate suppression of RIP in a subset of progeny carrying the normally sub-threshold 154 kbp Dp(R2394) from a cross of T(R2394) to the wild isolated Carrefour Mme. Gras strain (CMG). Thus, the CMG strain contains a factor that together with Dp(R2394) produces a synthetic RIP suppressor phenotype. It is possible that the factor is a cryptic Dp that together with Dp(R2394) can exceed the size threshold for titration of the RIP machinery and thereby causes RIP suppression.
pp 823-831 December 2011 Articles
Arg72Pro SNP of p53 has been associated with many types of cancer as well as with survival and longevity. We evaluated the Arg72Pro SNP frequencies of a Brazilian birth cohort and their association with current, demographic and birth epidemiological parameters available. In 1982, all hospital births of Pelotas, southern Brazil, were identified and studied prospectively. In 2004–5, blood samples were collected and DNA extracted. PCR-RFLP was used to genotype the Arg72Pro SNP in 3794 individual samples of the Brazil birth cohort and DNA sequencing was performed to confirm the genotypes. The genotype distribution, which was in Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium, showed a predominance of the arginine amino acid with a frequency of 46.9% Arg/Arg, 42.2% Arg/Pro and 10.9% Pro/Pro. The allele frequency was 0.68 of Arginine and 0.32 of Proline. The Arg72Pro SNP genotype and allelic frequency were related to skin colour where proline amino acid was observed more among black subjects, while arginine amino acid was observed more among white subjects. The individuals without family history of cancer and those with low birth weight were associated with arginine amino acid. The Arg72Pro SNP was strongly associated with important epidemiological variables confirming that genetic profiles on cohort studies can improve our understanding of the susceptibility of diseases and its risk factors.
pp 833-843 December 2011 Articles
A legume-type lectin (L-lectin) gene of the red algae Gracilaria fisheri (GFL) was cloned by rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE). The full-length cDNA of GFL was 1714 bp and contained a 1542 bp open reading frame encoding 513 amino acids with a predicted molecular mass of 56.5 kDa. Analysis of the putative amino acid sequence with NCBI-BLAST revealed a high homology (30–68%) with legume-type lectins (L-lectin) from Griffithsia japonica, Clavispora lusitaniae, Acyrthosiphon pisum, Tetraodon nigroviridis and Xenopus tropicalis. Phylogenetic relationship analysis showed the highest sequence identity to a glycoprotein of the red algae Griffithsia japonica (68%) (GenBank number AAM93989). Conserved Domain Database analysis detected an N-terminal carbohydrate recognition domain (CRD), the characteristic of L-lectins, which contained two sugar binding sites and a metal binding site. The secondary structure prediction of GFL showed a 𝛽-sheet structure, connected with turn and coil. The most abundant structural element of GFL was the random coil, while the 𝛼-helixes were distributed at the N- and C-termini, and 21 𝛽-sheets were distributed in the CRD. Computer analysis of three-dimensional structure showed a common feature of L-lectins of GFL, which included an overall globular shape that was composed of a 𝛽-sandwich of two anti-parallel 𝛽-sheets, monosaccharide binding sites, were on the top of the structure and in proximity with a metal binding site. Northern blot analysis using a DIG-labelled probe derived from a partial GFL sequence revealed a hybridization signal of ∼1.7 kb consistent with the length of the full-length GFL cDNA identified by RACE. No detectable band was observed from control total RNA extracted from filamentous green algae.
pp 845-850 December 2011 Articles
The maternally inherited obligate bacteria Wolbachia is known to infect various lepidopteran insects. However, so far only a few butterfly species harbouring this bacterium have been thoroughly studied. The current study aims to identify the infection status of these bacteria in some of the commonly found butterfly species in India. A total of nine butterfly species belonging to four different families were screened using PCR with Wolbachia-specific wsp and ftsZ primers. The presence of the Wolbachia super group ‘B’ in the butterflies Red Pierrot, Talicada nyseus (Guerin) (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) and Blue Mormon, Papilio polymnestor Cramer (Papilionidae), is documented for the first time in India. The study also gives an account on the lifetime fecundity and female-biased sex ratio in T. nyseus, suggesting a putative role for Wolbachia in the observed female-biased sex ratio distortion.
pp 851-855 December 2011 Articles
Behavioural responses to stress can form distinct profiles in a wide range of animals: proactive and reactive profiles or coping styles. Stress responsiveness can also differentiate between the behavioural profiles. The tendency to regain feed intake following transfer to a novel social-isolation tank (the speed of acclimation) can discriminate between proactive or reactive profiles. Consequently, differential stress responsiveness can be linked to this feeding behaviour trait. This study shows that ventilation rates of Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus (L.), correlate with the rate of feeding resumption, following transfer to a novel social-isolation aquarium. Therefore, ventilation rate (VR) indicates coping styles; consequently, VR is a proxy for the way fish will deal with environmental challenges.
pp 857-868 December 2011 Articles
A two-step genetic study on quantitative precursors of coronary artery disease in a homogeneous Indian population: Case–control association discovery and validation by transmission-disequilibrium test
In spite of its strong familiality, gene identification for coronary artery disease (CAD) has not yielded a consistent picture. One major reason for this is that families or cases and controls were not recruited from a homogeneous population. We, therefore, attempted to map genes underlying 10 quantitative traits (QTs) that are known precursors of CAD in a homogeneous population (Marwari) of India. The QTs are apolipoprotein B (ApoB), C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen (FBG), homocysteine (HCY), lipoprotein (a) (LPA), cholesterol – total (CHOL-T), cholesterol – HDL (CHOL-H), cholesterol – LDL (CHOL-L), cholesterol – VLDL (CHOL-V) and triglyceride (TG). We assayed 209 SNPs in 31 genes among members of Marwari families. After log-transformation and covariate-adjustment of the QTs, a two-step analysis was performed. In Step-1, data on unrelated individuals were analysed for association with the SNPs. In Step-2, for validation of Step-1 results, a quantitative transmission-disequilibrium test on parent–offspring data was performed for each SNP found to be significantly associated with a QT in Step-1 on an independent sample set drawn from the same population. Statistically significant results found for the various QTs and SNPs were: rs3774933, rs230528, rs230521, rs1005819 and rs1609798 (intronic, NFKB1) with APOB; rs5361 (Missense, R > S, SELE) and rs4648004 (Intronic, NFKB1) with FBG; rs4220 (Missense, K > R, FGB) with HCY; and rs3025035 (Intronic, VEGFA) with CHOL-H. SNPs in SELE, VEGFA, FGB and NFKB1 genes impact significantly on levels of quantitative precursors of CAD in Marwaris.
pp 869-877 December 2011 Articles
Marine algae have been utilized in food as well as medicine products for a variety of purposes. The purpose of this study was to determine whether an ethanol extract of Polyopes affinis (P.affinis) can inhibit the pathogenesis of T helper 2 (Th2)-mediated allergen-induced airway inflammation in a murine model of asthma. Mice that were sensitized and challenged with ovalbumin (OVA) evidenced typical asthmatic reactions such as the following: an increase in the number of eosinophils in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid; a marked influx of inflammatory cells into the lung around blood vessels and airways as well as the narrowing of the airway luminal; the development of airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR); the presence of pulmonary Th2 cytokines; and the presence of allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) in the serum. The successive intraperitoneal administration of P. affinis ethanolic extracts before the last airway OVA-challenge resulted in a significant inhibition of all asthmatic reactions. These data suggest that P. affinis ethanolic extracts possess therapeutic potential for the treatment of pulmonary allergic disorders such as allergic asthma.
pp 879-885 December 2011 Articles
Podophyllotoxin (PPT) and its derivatives exert significant anti-cancer activities, and one derivative etoposide is often utilized to treat various cancers in the clinic. The aim of the present study is to investigate the inhibitory effects of PPT on major cytochrome P450 (CYP) isoforms in human livers. Inhibition of CYP3A4, CYP2C9, CYP2C8, CYP2D6, CYP2E1 and CYP2A6 by PPT was investigated in the human liver microsomal system. Time-dependent inhibition of CYP3A4 by PPT was also evaluated. The results showed that PPT strongly exhibited inhibitory effects on CYP3A4 and CYP2C9 in a concentration-dependent manner. Half inhibition concentration (IC50) was 1.1±0.3 and 4.6±0.3 𝜇M for CYP3A4 and CYP2C9, respectively. Inhibition kinetic analysis showed that PPT exhibited competitive inhibition towards CYP3A4 and CYP2C9 with Ki of 1.6 and 2.0 𝜇M, respectively. Additionally, PPT exerted time-dependent inhibition towards CYP3A4 and the kinetic parameters were 4.4±2.1 𝜇M and 0.06±0.01 min–1 for KI and kinact, respectively. Our experimental data indicate that potential drug–drug interaction (DDI) might exist when PPT is co-administered with the substrates which mainly undergo CYP3A4- or CYP2C9-mediated metabolism.
pp 887-895 December 2011 Articles
Morphological parallelism between South American cavioid rodents and small artiodactyls from the Old World has been postulated for a long time. Our study deals with this question from the point of view of biomechanical characteristics of the long bones. For this, cross-sectional area, second moment of the area, polar moment, athletic ability indicators and strength were calculated for the long bones (i.e. humerus, radius, femur and tibia) of five species of cavioids and two species of artiodactyls. Regressions of all these variables to body mass were established. Regarding the cross-sectional area, the confidence intervals show that the exponents calculated are not significantly different from the geometrical predicted value. The exponents obtained for the second moment of area and the polar moment are not significantly different from the geometrical prediction, except for the humerus. The two indicators of athletic ability scaled as expected, but the bending indicator of athletic ability of the femur was not correlated to body mass. The exponent calculated for femur strength is not different from zero, while the strength of the humerus decreases slightly with the body mass. Additional statistical tests (ANCOVAs) showed no difference between the values of these variables calculated for the samples studied of artiodactyls and rodents. The present results are consistent with the hypothesis that there is significant evolutionary parallelism between cavioid rodents and small artiodactyls.
pp 897-910 December 2011 Articles
The silk egg case and orb web of spiders are elaborate structures that are assembled from a number of components. We analysed the structure, the amino acid and fibre compositions, and the tensile properties of the silk fibres of the egg case of Nephila clavata. SEM shows that the outer and inner covers of the egg case consist of thick, medium and thin silk fibres. The silk fibres of the outer cover of the egg case are probably produced by the major and minor ampullate glands. The silk fibres of the inner cover of the egg case from cylindrical glands appears to be distinct from the silk fibres of the major ampullate glands based on their micro-morphology, mole percent amino acid composition and types, and tensile behaviour and properties. Collectively, our investigations show that N. clavata uses silk fibres from relatively few glands in varying combinations to achieve different physical and chemical properties (e.g., color, diameter, morphology and amino acid composition) and functional and mechanical properties in the different layers of the egg case.
pp 911-919 December 2011 Mini-review
This paper is an introduction to gravitational and space life sciences and a summary of key achievements in the field. Current global research is focused on understanding the effects of gravity/microgravity onmicrobes, cells, plants, animals and humans. It is now established that many plants and animals can progress through several generations in microgravity. Astrobiology is emerging as an exciting field promoting research in biospherics and fabrication of controlled environmental life support systems. India is one of the 14-nation International Space Exploration Coordination Group (2007) that hopes that someday humans may live and work on other planets within the Solar System. The vision statement of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) includes planetary exploration and human spaceflight. While a leader in several fields of space science, India is yet to initiate serious research in gravitational and life sciences. Suggestions are made here for establishing a full-fledged Indian space life sciences programme.
pp 921-928 December 2011 Review
Proteins, the main players in current biological systems, are produced on ribosomes by sequential amide bond (peptide bond) formations between amino-acid-bearing tRNAs. The ribosome is an exquisite super-complex of RNA-proteins, containing more than 50 proteins and at least 3 kinds of RNAs. The combination of a variety of side chains of amino acids (typically 20 kinds with some exceptions) confers proteins with extraordinary structure and functions. The origin of peptide bond formation and the ribosome is crucial to the understanding of life itself. In this article, a possible evolutionary pathway to peptide bond formation machinery (proto-ribosome) will be discussed, with a special focus on the RNA minihelix (primordial form of modern tRNA) as a starting molecule. Combining the present data with recent experimental data, we can infer that the peptidyl transferase center (PTC) evolved from a primitive system in the RNA world comprising tRNA-like molecules formed by duplication of minihelix-like small RNA.
pp 929-937 December 2011 Review
Rhabdoviridae, characterized by bullet-shaped viruses, is known for its diverse host range, which includes plants, arthropods, fishes and humans. Understanding the viral–host interactions of this family can prove beneficial in developing effective therapeutic strategies. The host proteins interacting with animal rhabdoviruses have been reviewed in this report. Several important host proteins commonly interacting with animal rhabdoviruses are being reported, some of which, interestingly, have molecular features, which can serve as potential antiviral targets. This review not only provides the generalized importance of the functions of animal rhabdovirus-associated host proteins for the first time but also compares them among the two most studied viruses, i.e. Rabies virus (RV) and Vesicular Stomatitis virus (VSV). The comparative data can be used for studying emerging viruses such as Chandipura virus (CHPV) and the lesser studied viruses such as Piry virus (PIRYV) and Isfahan virus (ISFV) of the Rhabdoviridae family.
pp 939-950 December 2011 Review
Anhydrobiosis is a phenomenon related to the partial or total desiccation of living organisms, keeping their vital functions after rehydration. The desiccated state in prokaryotes has been widely studied, mainly due to the broad spectrum of the anhydrobiosis applications. In this review, we present the basic theoretical concepts related to anhydrobiosis, focusing on bacterial species. An update about desiccation tolerance in bacteria is given; and the general mechanisms of desiccation tolerance and desiccation damage are described. In addition, we show how the study of anhydrobiosis in prokaryotes has established the theoretical and practical basis for the development of the drying technologies. With regard to the desiccation tolerance in bacteria, although many mechanisms remain undiscovered at the molecular level, important research about the physiology of the anhydrobiotic state and its applications has been performed, and here we provide the most recent information about this subject. On the other hand, the most widely used drying technologies and their particular applications in several fields are described (e.g. medicine, agriculture and food industry). Finally, topics on the stability of desiccated bacterial cells are treated, concluding with the necessity of focusing the research on the mathematical modelling of the desiccated state in bacteria.
pp 951-956 December 2011 Review
The plastid terminal oxidase (PTOX) is a plastoquinol oxidase localized in the plastids of plants. It is able to transfer electrons from plastoquinone (PQ) to molecular oxygen with the formation of water. Recent studies have suggested that PTOX is beneficial for plants under environmental stresses, since it is involved in the synthesis of photoprotective carotenoids and chlororespiration, which could potentially protect the chloroplast electron transport chain (ETC) from over-reduction. The absence of PTOX in plants usually results in photo-bleached variegated leaves and impaired adaptation to environment alteration. Although PTOX level and activity has been found to increase under a wide range of stress conditions, the functions of plant PTOX in stress responses are still disputed now. In this paper, the possible physiological roles of PTOX in plant stress responses are discussed based on the recent progress.
pp 957-961 December 2011 Review
Although questioned on several occasions, the existence of cancer stem cells (CSCs) has been confirmed by a number of studies on experimental animal models. Nevertheless, it was shown that CSC hypotheses have several limitations and inconsistencies regarding the explanation of CSC origin, CSC identification and isolation, possible heterogeneity within CSC population, as well as methodology issues in some studies that were carried out in order to prove CSC existence. The aim of this article is to give a short and comprehensive review of recent advances concerning CSC hypothesis and to describe its impact on modern molecular physiology and pharmacology research.
pp 963-981 December 2011 Review
Functional traits (FTs) integrate the ecological and evolutionary history of a species, and can potentially be used to predict its response as well as its influence on ecosystem functioning. Study of inter-specific variation in the FTs of plants aids in classifying species into plant functional types (PFTs) and provides insights into fundamental patterns and trade-offs in plant form and functioning and the effect of changing species composition on ecosystem functions. Specifically, this paper focuses on those FTs that make a species successful in the dry tropical environment. Following a brief overview, we discuss plant FTs that may be particularly relevant to tropical deciduous forests (TDFs). We consider the traits under the following categories: leaf traits, stem and root traits, reproductive traits, and traits particularly relevant to water availability. We compile quantitative information on functional traits of dry tropical forest species. We also discuss trait-based grouping of plants into PFTs. We recognize that there is incomplete knowledge about many FTs and their effects on TDFs and point out the need for further research on PFTs of TDF species, which can enable prediction of the dynamics of these forests in the face of disturbance and global climate change. Correlations between structural and ecophysiological traits and ecosystem functioning should also be established which could make it possible to generate predictions of changes in ecosystem services from changes in functional composition.
pp 1003-1005 December 2011
Volume 44 | Issue 3
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