23,265 research outputs found

    Kenya at war : Al-Shabaab and its enemies in Eastern Africa

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    Kenya's invasion of southern Somalia, which began in October 2011, has turned into an occupation of attrition ā€“ while ā€œblowbackā€ from the invasion has consolidated in a series of deadly Al-Shabaab attacks within Kenya. This article reviews the background to the invasion, Operation Linda Nchi, and the prosecution of the war by Kenya's Defence Forces up to the capture of the city of Kismayo and the contest to control its lucrative port. The second section discusses Al-Shabaab's response, showing how the movement has reinvented itself to take the struggle into Kenya. We conclude that while the military defeat of Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia seems inevitable, such a victory may become irrelevant to Kenya's ability to make a political settlement with its Somali and wider Muslim communities at home

    Cardiovascular ephrinB2 function is essential for embryonic angiogenesis

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    EphrinB2, a transmembrane ligand of EphB receptor tyrosine kinases, is specifically expressed in arteries. In ephrinB2 mutant embryos, there is a complete arrest of angiogenesis. However, ephrinB2 expression is not restricted to vascular endothelial cells, and it has been proposed that its essential function may be exerted in adjacent mesenchymal cells. We have generated mice in which ephrinB2 is specifically deleted in the endothelium and endocardium of the developing vasculature and heart. We find that such a vascular-specific deletion of ephrinB2 results in angiogenic remodeling defects identical to those seen in the conventional ephrinB2 mutants. These data indicate that ephrinB2 is required specifically in endothelial and endocardial cells for angiogenesis, and that ephrinB2 expression in perivascular mesenchyme is not sufficient to compensate for the loss of ephrinB2 in these vascular cells

    Multi-level Monte Carlo for continuous time Markov chains, with applications in biochemical kinetics

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    We show how to extend a recently proposed multi-level Monte Carlo approach to the continuous time Markov chain setting, thereby greatly lowering the computational complexity needed to compute expected values of functions of the state of the system to a specified accuracy. The extension is non-trivial, exploiting a coupling of the requisite processes that is easy to simulate while providing a small variance for the estimator. Further, and in a stark departure from other implementations of multi-level Monte Carlo, we show how to produce an unbiased estimator that is significantly less computationally expensive than the usual unbiased estimator arising from exact algorithms in conjunction with crude Monte Carlo. We thereby dramatically improve, in a quantifiable manner, the basic computational complexity of current approaches that have many names and variants across the scientific literature, including the Bortz-Kalos-Lebowitz algorithm, discrete event simulation, dynamic Monte Carlo, kinetic Monte Carlo, the n-fold way, the next reaction method,the residence-time algorithm, the stochastic simulation algorithm, Gillespie's algorithm, and tau-leaping. The new algorithm applies generically, but we also give an example where the coupling idea alone, even without a multi-level discretization, can be used to improve efficiency by exploiting system structure. Stochastically modeled chemical reaction networks provide a very important application for this work. Hence, we use this context for our notation, terminology, natural scalings, and computational examples.Comment: Improved description of the constants in statement of Theorem

    MASH1 activates expression of the paired homeodomain transcription factor Phox2a, and couples pan-neuronal and subtype-specific components of autonomic neuronal identity

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    We have investigated the genetic circuitry underlying the determination of neuronal identity, using mammalian peripheral autonomic neurons as a model system. Previously, we showed that treatment of neural crest stem cells (NCSCs) with bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) leads to an induction of MASH1 expression and consequent autonomic neuronal differentiation. We now show that BMP2 also induces expression of the paired homeodomain transcription factor Phox2a, and the GDNF/NTN signalling receptor tyrosine kinase c-RET. Constitutive expression of MASH1 in NCSCs from a retroviral vector, in the absence of exogenous BMP2, induces expression of both Phox2a and c-RET in a large fraction of infected colonies, and also promotes morphological neuronal differentiation and expression of pan-neuronal markers. In vivo, expression of Phox2a in autonomic ganglia is strongly reduced in Mash1 -/- embryos. These loss- and gain-of-function data suggest that MASH1 positively regulates expression of Phox2a, either directly or indirectly. Constitutive expression of Phox2a, by contrast to MASH1, fails to induce expression of neuronal markers or a neuronal morphology, but does induce expression of c-RET. These data suggest that MASH1 couples expression of pan-neuronal and subtype-specific components of autonomic neuronal identity, and support the general idea that identity is established by combining subprograms involving cascades of transcription factors, which specify distinct components of neuronal phenotype

    Early specification of sensory neuron fate revealed by expression and function of neurogenins in the chick embryo

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    The generation of sensory and autonomic neurons from the neural crest requires the functions of two classes of basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors, the Neurogenins (NGNs) and MASH-1, respectively (Fode, C., Gradwohl, G., Morin, X., Dierich, A., LeMeur, M., Goridis, C. and Guillemot, F. (1998) Neuron 20, 483-494; Guillemot, F., Lo, L.-C., Johnson, J. E., Auerbach, A., Anderson, D. J. and Joyner, A. L. (1993) Cell 75, 463-476; Ma, Q., Chen, Z. F., Barrantes, I. B., de la Pompa, J. L. and Anderson, D. J. (1998 Neuron 20, 469-482). We have cloned two chick NGNs and found that they are expressed in a subset of neural crest cells early in their migration. Ectopic expression of the NGNs in vivo biases migrating neural crest cells to localize in the sensory ganglia, and induces the expression of sensory neuron-appropriate markers in non-sensory crest derivatives. Surprisingly, the NGNs can also induce the expression of multiple pan-neuronal and sensory-specific markers in the dermomyotome, a mesodermal derivative. Taken together, these data suggest that a subset of neural crest cells may already be specified for a sensory neuron fate early in migration, as a consequence of NGN expression

    Stochastic Representations of Ion Channel Kinetics and Exact Stochastic Simulation of Neuronal Dynamics

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    In this paper we provide two representations for stochastic ion channel kinetics, and compare the performance of exact simulation with a commonly used numerical approximation strategy. The first representation we present is a random time change representation, popularized by Thomas Kurtz, with the second being analogous to a "Gillespie" representation. Exact stochastic algorithms are provided for the different representations, which are preferable to either (a) fixed time step or (b) piecewise constant propensity algorithms, which still appear in the literature. As examples, we provide versions of the exact algorithms for the Morris-Lecar conductance based model, and detail the error induced, both in a weak and a strong sense, by the use of approximate algorithms on this model. We include ready-to-use implementations of the random time change algorithm in both XPP and Matlab. Finally, through the consideration of parametric sensitivity analysis, we show how the representations presented here are useful in the development of further computational methods. The general representations and simulation strategies provided here are known in other parts of the sciences, but less so in the present setting.Comment: 39 pages, 6 figures, appendix with XPP and Matlab cod

    Comparison of the generic neuronal differentiation and neuron subtype specification functions of mammalian achaete-scute and atonal homologs in cultured neural progenitor cells

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    In the vertebrate peripheral nervous system, the proneural genes neurogenin 1 and neurogenin 2 (Ngn1 and Ngn2), and Mash1 are required for sensory and autonomic neurogenesis, respectively. In cultures of neural tube-derived, primitive PNS progenitors NGNs promote expression of sensory markers and MASH1 that of autonomic markers. These effects do not simply reflect enhanced neuronal differentiation, suggesting that both bHLH factors also specify neuronal identity like their Drosophila counterparts. At high concentrations of BMP2 or in neural crest stem cells (NCSCs), however, NGNs like MASH1 promote only autonomic marker expression. These data suggest that that the identity specification function of NGNs is more sensitive to context than is that of MASH1. In NCSCs, MASH1 is more sensitive to Notch-mediated inhibition of neurogenesis and cell cycle arrest, than are the NGNs. Thus, the two proneural genes differ in other functional properties besides the neuron subtype identities they can promote. These properties may explain cellular differences between MASH1- and NGN-dependent lineages in the timing of neuronal differentiation and cell cycle exit

    Identification of dividing, determined sensory neuron precursors in the mammalian neural crest

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    Sensory and autonomic neurons of the vertebrate peripheral nervous system are derived from the neural crest. Here we use the expression of lineage-specific transcription factors as a means to identify neuronal subtypes that develop in rat neural crest cultures grown in a defined medium. Sensory neurons, identified by expression of the POU-domain transcription factor Brn-3.0, develop from dividing precursors that differentiate within 2 days following emigration from the neural tube. Most of these precursors generate sensory neurons even when challenged with BMP2, a factor that induces autonomic neurogenesis in many other cells in the explants. Moreover, BMP2 fails to prevent expression of the sensory-specific basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors neurogenin1, neurogenin2 and neuroD, although it induces expression of the autonomic-specific bHLH factor MASH1 and the paired homeodomain factor Phox2a in other cells. These data suggest that there are mitotically active precursors in the mammalian neural crest that can generate sensory neurons even in the presence of a strong autonomic-inducing cue. Further characterization of the neurons generated from such precursors indicates that, under these culture conditions, they exhibit a proprioceptive and/or mechanosensory, but not nociceptive, phenotype. Such precursors may therefore correspond to a lineally (Frank, E. and Sanes, J. (1991) Development 111, 895-908) and genetically (Ma, Q., Fode, C., Guillemot, F. and Anderson, D. J. (1999) Genes Dev. 13, in press) distinct subset of early-differentiating precursors of large-diameter sensory neurons identified in vivo

    Allatostatin-A neurons inhibit feeding behavior in adult Drosophila

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    How the brain translates changes in internal metabolic state or perceived food quality into alterations in feeding behavior remains poorly understood. Studies in Drosophila larvae have yielded information about neuropeptides and circuits that promote feeding, but a peptidergic neuron subset whose activation inhibits feeding in adult flies, without promoting metabolic changes that mimic the state of satiety, has not been identified. Using genetically based manipulations of neuronal activity, we show that activation of neurons (or neuroendocrine cells) expressing the neuropeptide allatostatin A (AstA) inhibits or limits several starvation-induced changes in feeding behavior in adult Drosophila, including increased food intake and enhanced behavioral responsiveness to sugar. Importantly, these effects on feeding behavior are observed in the absence of any measurable effects on metabolism or energy reserves, suggesting that AstA neuron activation is likely a consequence, not a cause, of metabolic changes that induce the state of satiety. These data suggest that activation of AstA-expressing neurons promotes food aversion and/or exerts an inhibitory influence on the motivation to feed and implicate these neurons and their associated circuitry in the mechanisms that translate the state of satiety into alterations in feeding behavior
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