25 research outputs found

    Molecular Mechanisms Regulating Chronological Aging and Cell Death in the Toxic Dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis

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    The toxic dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis, forms nearly annual blooms in the Gulf of Mexico that persist for many months in coastal waters, causing extensive marine animal mortalities and human health impacts. The molecular mechanisms that contribute to cell survival in high density, low growth blooms, and the mechanisms leading to often rapid bloom demise are not well understood. The studies presented in this dissertation investigate the existence and involvement of a programmed cell death-like (PCD-like) pathway in the demise of K. brevis cultures following oxidative stress and chronological aging. Firstly, to gain an understanding of the molecular processes that underlie chronological aging in this dinoflagellate, a microarray study was carried out and identified extensive transcriptomic remodeling during the transition into stationary phase indicative of a shift in the metabolic and signaling requirements for survival in a quiescent non-dividing phase. To better understand the connection between the transcriptomic context identified in the microarray study and the presence of a PCO-like pathway in K. brevis, hallmark morphological and biochemical changes (DNA fragmentation, caspase-like activity, and caspase 3-like protein expression) were used to define PCD-like morphological changes following chronological aging and oxidative stress. Targeted in silico bioinformatic mining was used to identify enzymes potentially responsible for the activities observed, as well as the substrates. Finally, K. brevis S-adenosylmethionine synthetase (KbAdoMetS), a putative caspase substrate predicted from the bioinformatics screen, was examined using MALDI-TOF MS to confirm the validity of the bioinformatics approach. Taken together, this work identified that K. brevis contains morphological changes indicative of a caspase-dependent PCD-like pathway and that KbAdoMetS is a caspase 3-like substrate. Finally, we sought to characterize the presence of metacaspases in Karenia brevis, and specifically evaluated the role of metacaspase 1 (KbMC1) during chronological aging and death in culture. Immunocytochemistry, subcellular fractionation, and western blotting results using a custom KbMC1 peptide antibody indicate that KbMC1 may be involved in PCD-like execution through its chloroplastic localization with proposed interactions with the photosynthetic machinery. This study provides the first comprehensive investigation of the molecular processes regulating chronological aging and execution of PCD-like death in a toxic dinoflagellate

    Kelp carbon sink potential decreases with warming due to accelerating decomposition

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    Cycling of organic carbon in the ocean has the potential to mitigate or exacerbate global climate change, but major questions remain about the environmental controls on organic carbon flux in the coastal zone. Here, we used a field experiment distributed across 28° of latitude, and the entire range of 2 dominant kelp species in the northern hemisphere, to measure decomposition rates of kelp detritus on the seafloor in relation to local environmental factors. Detritus decomposition in both species were strongly related to ocean temperature and initial carbon content, with higher rates of biomass loss at lower latitudes with warmer temperatures. Our experiment showed slow overall decomposition and turnover of kelp detritus and modeling of coastal residence times at our study sites revealed that a significant portion of this production can remain intact long enough to reach deep marine sinks. The results suggest that decomposition of these kelp species could accelerate with ocean warming and that low-latitude kelp forests could experience the greatest increase in remineralization with a 9% to 42% reduced potential for transport to long-term ocean sinks under short-term (RCP4.5) and long-term (RCP8.5) warming scenarios. However, slow decomposition at high latitudes, where kelp abundance is predicted to expand, indicates potential for increasing kelp-carbon sinks in cooler (northern) regions. Our findings reveal an important latitudinal gradient in coastal ecosystem function that provides an improved capacity to predict the implications of ocean warming on carbon cycling. Broad-scale patterns in organic carbon decomposition revealed here can be used to identify hotspots of carbon sequestration potential and resolve relationships between carbon cycling processes and ocean climate at a global scale.publishedVersio

    Hospital admission and emergency care attendance risk for SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) compared with alpha (B.1.1.7) variants of concern: a cohort study

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    Background: The SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) variant was first detected in England in March, 2021. It has since rapidly become the predominant lineage, owing to high transmissibility. It is suspected that the delta variant is associated with more severe disease than the previously dominant alpha (B.1.1.7) variant. We aimed to characterise the severity of the delta variant compared with the alpha variant by determining the relative risk of hospital attendance outcomes. Methods: This cohort study was done among all patients with COVID-19 in England between March 29 and May 23, 2021, who were identified as being infected with either the alpha or delta SARS-CoV-2 variant through whole-genome sequencing. Individual-level data on these patients were linked to routine health-care datasets on vaccination, emergency care attendance, hospital admission, and mortality (data from Public Health England's Second Generation Surveillance System and COVID-19-associated deaths dataset; the National Immunisation Management System; and NHS Digital Secondary Uses Services and Emergency Care Data Set). The risk for hospital admission and emergency care attendance were compared between patients with sequencing-confirmed delta and alpha variants for the whole cohort and by vaccination status subgroups. Stratified Cox regression was used to adjust for age, sex, ethnicity, deprivation, recent international travel, area of residence, calendar week, and vaccination status. Findings: Individual-level data on 43 338 COVID-19-positive patients (8682 with the delta variant, 34 656 with the alpha variant; median age 31 years [IQR 17–43]) were included in our analysis. 196 (2·3%) patients with the delta variant versus 764 (2·2%) patients with the alpha variant were admitted to hospital within 14 days after the specimen was taken (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 2·26 [95% CI 1·32–3·89]). 498 (5·7%) patients with the delta variant versus 1448 (4·2%) patients with the alpha variant were admitted to hospital or attended emergency care within 14 days (adjusted HR 1·45 [1·08–1·95]). Most patients were unvaccinated (32 078 [74·0%] across both groups). The HRs for vaccinated patients with the delta variant versus the alpha variant (adjusted HR for hospital admission 1·94 [95% CI 0·47–8·05] and for hospital admission or emergency care attendance 1·58 [0·69–3·61]) were similar to the HRs for unvaccinated patients (2·32 [1·29–4·16] and 1·43 [1·04–1·97]; p=0·82 for both) but the precision for the vaccinated subgroup was low. Interpretation: This large national study found a higher hospital admission or emergency care attendance risk for patients with COVID-19 infected with the delta variant compared with the alpha variant. Results suggest that outbreaks of the delta variant in unvaccinated populations might lead to a greater burden on health-care services than the alpha variant. Funding: Medical Research Council; UK Research and Innovation; Department of Health and Social Care; and National Institute for Health Research

    Changes in symptomatology, reinfection, and transmissibility associated with the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7: an ecological study

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    Background The SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 was first identified in December, 2020, in England. We aimed to investigate whether increases in the proportion of infections with this variant are associated with differences in symptoms or disease course, reinfection rates, or transmissibility. Methods We did an ecological study to examine the association between the regional proportion of infections with the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant and reported symptoms, disease course, rates of reinfection, and transmissibility. Data on types and duration of symptoms were obtained from longitudinal reports from users of the COVID Symptom Study app who reported a positive test for COVID-19 between Sept 28 and Dec 27, 2020 (during which the prevalence of B.1.1.7 increased most notably in parts of the UK). From this dataset, we also estimated the frequency of possible reinfection, defined as the presence of two reported positive tests separated by more than 90 days with a period of reporting no symptoms for more than 7 days before the second positive test. The proportion of SARS-CoV-2 infections with the B.1.1.7 variant across the UK was estimated with use of genomic data from the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium and data from Public Health England on spike-gene target failure (a non-specific indicator of the B.1.1.7 variant) in community cases in England. We used linear regression to examine the association between reported symptoms and proportion of B.1.1.7. We assessed the Spearman correlation between the proportion of B.1.1.7 cases and number of reinfections over time, and between the number of positive tests and reinfections. We estimated incidence for B.1.1.7 and previous variants, and compared the effective reproduction number, Rt, for the two incidence estimates. Findings From Sept 28 to Dec 27, 2020, positive COVID-19 tests were reported by 36 920 COVID Symptom Study app users whose region was known and who reported as healthy on app sign-up. We found no changes in reported symptoms or disease duration associated with B.1.1.7. For the same period, possible reinfections were identified in 249 (0·7% [95% CI 0·6–0·8]) of 36 509 app users who reported a positive swab test before Oct 1, 2020, but there was no evidence that the frequency of reinfections was higher for the B.1.1.7 variant than for pre-existing variants. Reinfection occurrences were more positively correlated with the overall regional rise in cases (Spearman correlation 0·56–0·69 for South East, London, and East of England) than with the regional increase in the proportion of infections with the B.1.1.7 variant (Spearman correlation 0·38–0·56 in the same regions), suggesting B.1.1.7 does not substantially alter the risk of reinfection. We found a multiplicative increase in the Rt of B.1.1.7 by a factor of 1·35 (95% CI 1·02–1·69) relative to pre-existing variants. However, Rt fell below 1 during regional and national lockdowns, even in regions with high proportions of infections with the B.1.1.7 variant. Interpretation The lack of change in symptoms identified in this study indicates that existing testing and surveillance infrastructure do not need to change specifically for the B.1.1.7 variant. In addition, given that there was no apparent increase in the reinfection rate, vaccines are likely to remain effective against the B.1.1.7 variant. Funding Zoe Global, Department of Health (UK), Wellcome Trust, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UK), National Institute for Health Research (UK), Medical Research Council (UK), Alzheimer's Society

    Genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in a UK university identifies dynamics of transmission

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    AbstractUnderstanding SARS-CoV-2 transmission in higher education settings is important to limit spread between students, and into at-risk populations. In this study, we sequenced 482 SARS-CoV-2 isolates from the University of Cambridge from 5 October to 6 December 2020. We perform a detailed phylogenetic comparison with 972 isolates from the surrounding community, complemented with epidemiological and contact tracing data, to determine transmission dynamics. We observe limited viral introductions into the university; the majority of student cases were linked to a single genetic cluster, likely following social gatherings at a venue outside the university. We identify considerable onward transmission associated with student accommodation and courses; this was effectively contained using local infection control measures and following a national lockdown. Transmission clusters were largely segregated within the university or the community. Our study highlights key determinants of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and effective interventions in a higher education setting that will inform public health policy during pandemics.</jats:p

    Genomic assessment of quarantine measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2 importation and transmission

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    Mitigation of SARS-CoV-2 transmission from international travel is a priority. We evaluated the effectiveness of travellers being required to quarantine for 14-days on return to England in Summer 2020. We identified 4,207 travel-related SARS-CoV-2 cases and their contacts, and identified 827 associated SARS-CoV-2 genomes. Overall, quarantine was associated with a lower rate of contacts, and the impact of quarantine was greatest in the 16–20 age-group. 186 SARS-CoV-2 genomes were sufficiently unique to identify travel-related clusters. Fewer genomically-linked cases were observed for index cases who returned from countries with quarantine requirement compared to countries with no quarantine requirement. This difference was explained by fewer importation events per identified genome for these cases, as opposed to fewer onward contacts per case. Overall, our study demonstrates that a 14-day quarantine period reduces, but does not completely eliminate, the onward transmission of imported cases, mainly by dissuading travel to countries with a quarantine requirement

    Retrospective evaluation of whole exome and genome mutation calls in 746 cancer samples