293 research outputs found

    Mechanics and dynamics of X-chromosome pairing at X inactivation

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    At the onset of X-chromosome inactivation, the vital process whereby female mammalian cells equalize X products with respect to males, the X chromosomes are colocalized along their Xic (X-inactivation center) regions. The mechanism inducing recognition and pairing of the X’s remains, though, elusive. Starting from recent discoveries on the molecular factors and on the DNA sequences (the so-called "pairing sites") involved, we dissect the mechanical basis of Xic colocalization by using a statistical physics model. We show that soluble DNA-specific binding molecules, such as those experimentally identified, can be indeed sufficient to induce the spontaneous colocalization of the homologous chromosomes but only when their concentration, or chemical affinity, rises above a threshold value as a consequence of a thermodynamic phase transition. We derive the likelihood of pairing and its probability distribution. Chromosome dynamics has two stages: an initial independent Brownian diffusion followed, after a characteristic time scale, by recognition and pairing. Finally, we investigate the effects of DNA deletion/insertions in the region of pairing sites and compare model predictions to available experimental data

    Oyster reef restoration fails to recoup global historic ecosystem losses despite substantial biodiversity gain

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    This is the final version. Available on open access from the American Association for the Advancement of Science via the DOI in this recordHuman activities have led to degradation of ecosystems globally. The lost ecosystem functions and services accumulate from the time of disturbance to the full recovery of the ecosystem and can be quantified as a "recovery debt," providing a valuable tool to develop better restoration practices that accelerate recovery and limit losses. Here, we quantified the recovery of faunal biodiversity and abundance toward a predisturbed state following structural restoration of oyster habitats globally. We found that while restoration initiates a rapid increase in biodiversity and abundance of reef-associated species within 2 years, recovery rate then decreases substantially, leaving a global shortfall in recovery of 35% below a predisturbed state. While efficient restoration methods boost recovery and minimize recovery shortfalls, the time to full recovery is yet to be quantified. Therefore, potential future coastal development should weigh up not only the instantaneous damage to ecosystem functions but also the potential for generational loss of services.Hong Kong Post-Doctoral FellowshipEnvironment and Conservation Fund Hong KongFaculty of Science (HKU) Rising Star Fun

    Extracellular DNA Chelates Cations and Induces Antibiotic Resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilms

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    Biofilms are surface-adhered bacterial communities encased in an extracellular matrix composed of DNA, bacterial polysaccharides and proteins, which are up to 1000-fold more antibiotic resistant than planktonic cultures. To date, extracellular DNA has been shown to function as a structural support to maintain Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm architecture. Here we show that DNA is a multifaceted component of P. aeruginosa biofilms. At physiologically relevant concentrations, extracellular DNA has antimicrobial activity, causing cell lysis by chelating cations that stabilize lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and the outer membrane (OM). DNA-mediated killing occurred within minutes, as a result of perturbation of both the outer and inner membrane (IM) and the release of cytoplasmic contents, including genomic DNA. Sub-inhibitory concentrations of DNA created a cation-limited environment that resulted in induction of the PhoPQ- and PmrAB-regulated cationic antimicrobial peptide resistance operon PA3552–PA3559 in P. aeruginosa. Furthermore, DNA-induced expression of this operon resulted in up to 2560-fold increased resistance to cationic antimicrobial peptides and 640-fold increased resistance to aminoglycosides, but had no effect on β-lactam and fluoroquinolone resistance. Thus, the presence of extracellular DNA in the biofilm matrix contributes to cation gradients, genomic DNA release and inducible antibiotic resistance. DNA-rich environments, including biofilms and other infection sites like the CF lung, are likely the in vivo environments where extracellular pathogens such as P. aeruginosa encounter cation limitation

    Genetic Diversity among Enterococcus faecalis

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    Enterococcus faecalis, a ubiquitous member of mammalian gastrointestinal flora, is a leading cause of nosocomial infections and a growing public health concern. The enterococci responsible for these infections are often resistant to multiple antibiotics and have become notorious for their ability to acquire and disseminate antibiotic resistances. In the current study, we examined genetic relationships among 106 strains of E. faecalis isolated over the past 100 years, including strains identified for their diversity and used historically for serotyping, strains that have been adapted for laboratory use, and isolates from previously described E. faecalis infection outbreaks. This collection also includes isolates first characterized as having novel plasmids, virulence traits, antibiotic resistances, and pathogenicity island (PAI) components. We evaluated variation in factors contributing to pathogenicity, including toxin production, antibiotic resistance, polymorphism in the capsule (cps) operon, pathogenicity island (PAI) gene content, and other accessory factors. This information was correlated with multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) data, which was used to define genetic lineages. Our findings show that virulence and antibiotic resistance traits can be found within many diverse lineages of E. faecalis. However, lineages have emerged that have caused infection outbreaks globally, in which several new antibiotic resistances have entered the species, and in which virulence traits have converged. Comparing genomic hybridization profiles, using a microarray, of strains identified by MLST as spanning the diversity of the species, allowed us to identify the core E. faecalis genome as consisting of an estimated 2057 unique genes

    Effects of bed net use, female size, and plant abundance on the first meal choice (blood vs sugar) of the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae

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    <p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>The purpose of this study was to determine whether the sugar-or-blood meal choice of <it>Anopheles gambiae </it>females one day after emergence is influenced by blood-host presence and accessibility, nectariferous plant abundance, and female size. This tested the hypothesis that the initial meal of female <it>An. gambiae </it>is sugar, even when a blood host is available throughout the night, and, if not, whether the use of a bed net diverts mosquitoes to sugar sources.</p> <p>Methods</p> <p>Females and males <1-day post-emergence were released in a mesocosm. Overnight they had access to either one or six <it>Senna didymobotrya </it>plants. Simultaneously they had access to a human blood host, either for 8 h or for only 30 min at dusk and dawn (the remainder of the night being excluded by an untreated bed net). In a third situation, the blood host was not present. All mosquitoes were collected in the morning. Their wing lengths, an indicator of pre-meal energetic state, were measured, and their meal choice was determined by the presence of midgut blood and of fructose.</p> <p>Results</p> <p>Female sugar feeding after emergence was facultative. When a blood host was accessible for 8 h per night, 92% contained blood, and only 3.7% contained sugar. Even with the use of a bed net, 78% managed to obtain a blood meal during the 30 min of accessibility at dusk or dawn, but 14% of females were now fructose-positive. In the absence of a blood host, and when either one or six plants were available, a total of 21.7% and 23.6% of females and 30.8% and 43.5% of males contained fructose, respectively. Feeding on both sugar and blood was more likely with bed net use and with greater plant abundance. Further, mosquitoes that fed on both resources were more often small and had taken a sugar meal earlier than the blood meal. The abundance of sugar hosts also affected the probability of sugar feeding by males and the amount of fructose obtained by both males and females.</p> <p>Conclusion</p> <p>Even in an abundance of potential sugar sources, female <it>An. gambiae </it>appear to prefer a nearby human source of blood. However, the decision to take sugar was more likely if energy reserves were low. Results probably would differ if sugar hosts were more attractive or yielded larger sugar meals. The diversion of energetically deprived mosquitoes to sugar sources suggests a possible synergy between bed nets and sugar-based control methods.</p

    Prior immunity helps to explain wave-like behaviour of pandemic influenza in 1918-9

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    <p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>The ecology of influenza may be more complex than is usually assumed. For example, despite multiple waves in the influenza pandemic of 1918-19, many people in urban locations were apparently unaffected. Were they unexposed, or protected by pre-existing cross-immunity in the first wave, by acquired immunity in later waves, or were their infections asymptomatic?</p> <p>Methods</p> <p>We modelled all these possibilities to estimate parameters to best explain patterns of repeat attacks in 24,706 individuals potentially exposed to summer, autumn and winter waves in 12 English populations during the 1918-9 pandemic.</p> <p>Results</p> <p>Before the summer wave, we estimated that only 52% of persons (95% credibility estimates 41-66%) were susceptible, with the remainder protected by prior immunity. Most people were exposed, as virus transmissibility was high with R<sub>0 </sub>credibility estimates of 3.10-6.74. Because of prior immunity, estimates of effective R at the start of the summer wave were lower at 1.57-3.96. Only 25-66% of exposed and susceptible persons reported symptoms. After each wave, 33-65% of protected persons became susceptible again before the next wave through waning immunity or antigenic drift. Estimated rates of prior immunity were less in younger populations (19-59%) than in adult populations (38-66%), and tended to lapse more frequently in the young (49-92%) than in adults (34-76%).</p> <p>Conclusions</p> <p>Our model for pandemic influenza in 1918-9 suggests that pre-existing immune protection, presumably induced by prior exposure to seasonal influenza, may have limited the pandemic attack-rate in urban populations, while the waning of that protection likely contributed to recurrence of pandemic waves in exposed cities. In contrast, in isolated populations, pandemic attack rates in 1918-9 were much higher than in cities, presumably because prior immunity was less in populations with infrequent prior exposure to seasonal influenza. Although these conclusions cannot be verified by direct measurements of historical immune mechanisms, our modelling inferences from 1918-9 suggest that the spread of the influenza A (H1N1) 2009 pandemic has also been limited by immunity from prior exposure to seasonal influenza. Components of that immunity, which are measurable, may be short-lived, and not necessarily correlated with levels of HI antibody.</p

    The Ser82 RAGE variant affects lung function and serum RAGE in smokers and sRAGE production in vitro

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    Introduction: Genome-Wide Association Studies have identified associations between lung function measures and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and chromosome region 6p21 containing the gene for the Advanced Glycation End Product Receptor (AGER, encoding RAGE). We aimed to (i) characterise RAGE expression in the lung, (ii) identify AGER transcripts, (iii) ascertain if SNP rs2070600 (Gly82Ser C/T) is associated with lung function and serum sRAGE levels and (iv) identify whether the Gly82Ser variant is functionally important in altering sRAGE levels in an airway epithelial cell model. Methods: Immunohistochemistry was used to identify RAGE protein expression in 26 human tissues and qPCR was used to quantify AGER mRNA in lung cells. Gene expression array data was used to identify AGER expression during lung development in 38 fetal lung samples. RNA-Seq was used to identify AGER transcripts in lung cells. sRAGE levels were assessed in cells and patient serum by ELISA. BEAS2B-R1 cells were transfected to overexpress RAGE protein with either the Gly82 or Ser82 variant and sRAGE levels identified. Results: Immunohistochemical assessment of 6 adult lung samples identified high RAGE expression in the alveoli of healthy adults and individuals with COPD. AGER/RAGE expression increased across developmental stages in human fetal lung at both the mRNA (38 samples) and protein levels (20 samples). Extensive AGER splicing was identified. The rs2070600T (Ser82) allele is associated with higher FEV1, FEV1/FVC and lower serum sRAGE levels in UK smokers. Using an airway epithelium model overexpressing the Gly82 or Ser82 variants we found that HMGB1 activation of the RAGE-Ser82 receptor results in lower sRAGE production. Conclusions: This study provides new information regarding the expression profile and potential role of RAGE in the human lung and shows a functional role of the Gly82Ser variant. These findings advance our understanding of the potential mechanisms underlying COPD particularly for carriers of this AGER polymorphism

    Women's Preferences for Treatment of Perinatal Depression and Anxiety : A Discrete Choice Experiment

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    Perinatal depression and anxiety (PNDA) are an international healthcare priority, associated with significant short- and long-term problems for women, their children and families. Effective treatment is available but uptake is suboptimal: some women go untreated whilst others choose treatments without strong evidence of efficacy. Better understanding of women's preferences for treatment is needed to facilitate uptake of effective treatment. To address this issue, a discrete choice experiment (DCE) was administered to 217 pregnant or postnatal women in Australia, who were recruited through an online research company and had similar sociodemographic characteristics to Australian data for perinatal women. The DCE investigated preferences regarding cost, treatment type, availability of childcare, modality and efficacy. Data were analysed using logit-based models accounting for preference and scale heterogeneity. Predicted probability analysis was used to explore relative attribute importance and policy change scenarios, including how these differed by women's sociodemographic characteristics. Cost and treatment type had the greatest impact on choice, such that a policy of subsidising effective treatments was predicted to double their uptake compared with the base case. There were differences in predicted uptake associated with certain sociodemographic characteristics: for example, women with higher educational attainment were more likely to choose effective treatment. The findings suggest policy directions for decision makers whose goal is to reduce the burden of PNDA on women, their children and families
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