75 research outputs found

    Strong Eukaryotic IRESs Have Weak Secondary Structure

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    BACKGROUND: The objective of this work was to investigate the hypothesis that eukaryotic Internal Ribosome Entry Sites (IRES) lack secondary structure and to examine the generality of the hypothesis. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: IRESs of the yeast and the fruit fly are located in the 5'UTR immediately upstream of the initiation codon. The minimum folding energy (MFE) of 60 nt RNA segments immediately upstream of the initiation codons was calculated as a proxy of secondary structure stability. MFE of the reverse complements of these 60 nt segments was also calculated. The relationship between MFE and empirically determined IRES activity was investigated to test the hypothesis that strong IRES activity is associated with weak secondary structure. We show that IRES activity in the yeast and the fruit fly correlates strongly with the structural stability, with highest IRES activity found in RNA segments that exhibit the weakest secondary structure. CONCLUSIONS: We found that a subset of eukaryotic IRESs exhibits very low secondary structure in the 5'-UTR sequences immediately upstream of the initiation codon. The consistency in results between the yeast and the fruit fly suggests a possible shared mechanism of cap-independent translation initiation that relies on an unstructured RNA segment

    Use of Nafamostat Mesilate as an Anticoagulant during Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation

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    Although the incidence of bleeding complications during extracorporeal membrane oxygenator (ECMO) support has decreased in various trials, bleeding is still the most fatal complication. We investigated the ideal dosage and efficacy of nafamostat mesilate for use with ECMO in patients with acute cardiac or respiratory failure. We assessed 73 consecutive patients who received ECMO due to acute cardiac or respiratory failure between January 2006 and December 2009. To evaluate the efficacy of nafamostat mesilate, we divided the patients into 2 groups according to the anticoagulants used during ECMO support. All patients of nafamostat mesilate group were male with a mean age of 49.2 yr. Six, 3, 5, and 3 patients were diagnosed with acute myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest, septic shock, and acute respiratory distress syndrome, respectively. The mean dosage of nafamostat mesilate was 0.64 mg/kg/hr, and the mean duration of ECMO was 270.7 hr. The daily volume of transfused packed red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma, and cryoprecipitate and the number of complications related to hemorrhage and thrombosis was lower in the nafamostat mesilate group than in the heparin group. Nafamostat mesilate should be considered as an alternative anticoagulant to heparin to reduce bleeding complications during ECMO

    AUG_hairpin: prediction of a downstream secondary structure influencing the recognition of a translation start site

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    <p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>The translation start site plays an important role in the control of translation efficiency of eukaryotic mRNAs. The recognition of the start AUG codon by eukaryotic ribosomes is considered to depend on its nucleotide context. However, the fraction of eukaryotic mRNAs with the start codon in a suboptimal context is relatively large. It may be expected that mRNA should possess some features providing efficient translation, including the proper recognition of a translation start site. It has been experimentally shown that a downstream hairpin located in certain positions with respect to start codon can compensate in part for the suboptimal AUG context and also increases translation from non-AUG initiation codons. Prediction of such a compensatory hairpin may be useful in the evaluation of eukaryotic mRNA translation properties.</p> <p>Results</p> <p>We evaluated interdependency between the start codon context and mRNA secondary structure at the CDS beginning: it was found that a suboptimal start codon context significantly correlated with higher base pairing probabilities at positions 13 – 17 of CDS of human and mouse mRNAs. It is likely that the downstream hairpins are used to enhance translation of some mammalian mRNAs <it>in vivo</it>. Thus, we have developed a tool, <it>AUG_hairpin</it>, to predict local stem-loop structures located within the defined region at the beginning of mRNA coding part. The implemented algorithm is based on the available published experimental data on the CDS-located stem-loop structures influencing the recognition of upstream start codons.</p> <p>Conclusion</p> <p>An occurrence of a potential secondary structure downstream of start AUG codon in a suboptimal context (or downstream of a potential non-AUG start codon) may provide researchers with a testable assumption on the presence of additional regulatory signal influencing mRNA translation initiation rate and the start codon choice. <it>AUG_hairpin</it>, which has a convenient Web-interface with adjustable parameters, will make such an evaluation easy and efficient.</p

    Socio-demographic factors associated with smoking and smoking cessation among 426,344 pregnant women in New South Wales, Australia

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    BACKGROUND: This study explores the socio-demographic characteristics of pregnant women who continue to smoke during the pregnancy, and identifies the characteristics of the smokers who were likely to quit smoking during the pregnancy period. METHODS: This was secondary analysis of the New South Wales (NSW) Midwives Data Collection (MDC) 1999–2003, a surveillance system covering all births in NSW public and private hospitals, as well as home births. Bivariate and multiple logistic regression analyses were performed to explore the associations between socio-demographic characteristics and smoking behaviour during pregnancy. RESULTS: Data from 426,344 pregnant women in NSW showed that 17.0% continued to smoke during pregnancy. The smoking rate was higher among teenage mothers, those with an Aboriginal (indigenous) background, and lower among more affluent and overseas-born mothers. This study also found that unbooked confinements, and lack of antenatal care in the first trimester were strongly associated with increased risk of smoking during pregnancy. About 4.0% of the smoking women reported they may quit smoking during their pregnancy. Findings showed that mothers born overseas, of higher socio-economic status, first time mothers and those who attended antenatal care early showed an increased likelihood of smoking cessation during pregnancy. Those who were heavy smokers were less likely to quit during pregnancy. CONCLUSION: Although the prevalence of smoking during pregnancy has been declining, it remains a significant public health concern. Smoking cessation programs should target the population subgroups of women at highest risk of smoking and who are least likely to quit. Effective antismoking interventions could reduce the obstetric and perinatal complications of smoking in pregnancy

    Dynamic Energy Landscapes of Riboswitches Help Interpret Conformational Rearrangements and Function

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    Riboswitches are RNAs that modulate gene expression by ligand-induced conformational changes. However, the way in which sequence dictates alternative folding pathways of gene regulation remains unclear. In this study, we compute energy landscapes, which describe the accessible secondary structures for a range of sequence lengths, to analyze the transcriptional process as a given sequence elongates to full length. In line with experimental evidence, we find that most riboswitch landscapes can be characterized by three broad classes as a function of sequence length in terms of the distribution and barrier type of the conformational clusters: low-barrier landscape with an ensemble of different conformations in equilibrium before encountering a substrate; barrier-free landscape in which a direct, dominant “downhill” pathway to the minimum free energy structure is apparent; and a barrier-dominated landscape with two isolated conformational states, each associated with a different biological function. Sharing concepts with the “new view” of protein folding energy landscapes, we term the three sequence ranges above as the sensing, downhill folding, and functional windows, respectively. We find that these energy landscape patterns are conserved in various riboswitch classes, though the order of the windows may vary. In fact, the order of the three windows suggests either kinetic or thermodynamic control of ligand binding. These findings help understand riboswitch structure/function relationships and open new avenues to riboswitch design

    Internally coupled ears in living mammals.

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    It is generally held that the right and left middle ears of mammals are acoustically isolated from each other, such that mammals must rely on neural computation to derive sound localisation cues. There are, however, some unusual species in which the middle ear cavities intercommunicate, in which case each ear might be able to act as a pressure-difference receiver. This could improve sound localisation at lower frequencies. The platypus Ornithorhynchus is apparently unique among mammals in that its tympanic cavities are widely open to the pharynx, a morphology resembling that of some non-mammalian tetrapods. The right and left middle ear cavities of certain talpid and golden moles are connected through air passages within the basicranium; one experimental study on Talpa has shown that the middle ears are indeed acoustically coupled by these means. Having a basisphenoid component to the middle ear cavity walls could be an important prerequisite for the development of this form of interaural communication. Little is known about the hearing abilities of platypus, talpid and golden moles, but their audition may well be limited to relatively low frequencies. If so, these mammals could, in principle, benefit from the sound localisation cues available to them through internally coupled ears. Whether or not they actually do remains to be established experimentally.This is the final version of the article. It first appeared from Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00422-015-0675-

    Full-length human placental sFlt-1-e15a isoform induces distinct maternal phenotypes of preeclampsia in mice

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    <div><p>Objective</p><p>Most anti-angiogenic preeclampsia models in rodents utilized the overexpression of a truncated soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFlt-1) not expressed in any species. Other limitations of mouse preeclampsia models included stressful blood pressure measurements and the lack of postpartum monitoring. We aimed to 1) develop a mouse model of preeclampsia by administering the most abundant human placental sFlt-1 isoform (hsFlt-1-e15a) in preeclampsia; 2) determine blood pressures in non-stressed conditions; and 3) develop a survival surgery that enables the collection of fetuses and placentas and postpartum (PP) monitoring.</p><p>Methods</p><p>Pregnancy status of CD-1 mice was evaluated with high-frequency ultrasound on gestational days (GD) 6 and 7. Telemetry catheters were implanted in the carotid artery on GD7, and their positions were verified by ultrasound on GD13. Mice were injected through tail-vein with adenoviruses expressing hsFlt-1-e15a (n = 11) or green fluorescent protein (GFP; n = 9) on GD8/GD11. Placentas and pups were delivered by cesarean section on GD18 allowing PP monitoring. Urine samples were collected with cystocentesis on GD6/GD7, GD13, GD18, and PPD8, and albumin/creatinine ratios were determined. GFP and hsFlt-1-e15a expression profiles were determined by qRT-PCR. Aortic ring assays were performed to assess the effect of hsFlt-1-e15a on endothelia.</p><p>Results</p><p>Ultrasound predicted pregnancy on GD7 in 97% of cases. Cesarean section survival rate was 100%. Mean arterial blood pressure was higher in hsFlt-1-e15a-treated than in GFP-treated mice (∆MAP = 13.2 mmHg, p = 0.00107; GD18). Focal glomerular changes were found in hsFlt-1-e15a -treated mice, which had higher urine albumin/creatinine ratios than controls (109.3±51.7μg/mg vs. 19.3±5.6μg/mg, p = 4.4x10<sup>-2</sup>; GD18). Aortic ring assays showed a 46% lesser microvessel outgrowth in hsFlt-1-e15a-treated than in GFP-treated mice (p = 1.2x10<sup>-2</sup>). Placental and fetal weights did not differ between the groups. One mouse with liver disease developed early-onset preeclampsia-like symptoms with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).</p><p>Conclusions</p><p>A mouse model of late-onset preeclampsia was developed with the overexpression of hsFlt-1-e15a, verifying the <i>in vivo</i> pathologic effects of this primate-specific, predominant placental sFlt-1 isoform. HsFlt-1-e15a induced early-onset preeclampsia-like symptoms associated with IUGR in a mouse with a liver disease. Our findings support that hsFlt-1-e15a is central to the terminal pathway of preeclampsia, and it can induce the full spectrum of symptoms in this obstetrical syndrome.</p></div

    Syndromic Autism: progressing beyond current levels of description

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    Genetic syndrome groups at high risk of autism comorbidity, like Down syndrome and fragile X syndrome, have been presented as useful models for understanding risk and protective factors involved in the emergence of autistic traits. Yet despite reaching clinical thresholds, these ‘syndromic’ forms of autism appear to differ in significant ways from the idiopathic or ‘non-syndromic’ autism profile. We explore alternative mechanistic explanations for these differences and propose a developmental interpretation of syndromic autism that takes into account the character of the genetic disorder. This interpretation anticipates syndrome-specific autism phenotypes, since the neurocognitive and behavioural expression of the autism is coloured by syndromically defined atypicalities. To uncover the true nature of comorbidities and of autism per se, we argue that it is key to extend definitions of autism to include the perceptual and neurocognitive characteristics of the disorder and then apply this multilevel conceptualization to the study of syndromic autism profiles

    Common and rare variant association analyses in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis identify 15 risk loci with distinct genetic architectures and neuron-specific biology

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    Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease with a lifetime risk of one in 350 people and an unmet need for disease-modifying therapies. We conducted a cross-ancestry genome-wide association study (GWAS) including 29,612 patients with ALS and 122,656 controls, which identified 15 risk loci. When combined with 8,953 individuals with whole-genome sequencing (6,538 patients, 2,415 controls) and a large cortex-derived expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) dataset (MetaBrain), analyses revealed locus-specific genetic architectures in which we prioritized genes either through rare variants, short tandem repeats or regulatory effects. ALS-associated risk loci were shared with multiple traits within the neurodegenerative spectrum but with distinct enrichment patterns across brain regions and cell types. Of the environmental and lifestyle risk factors obtained from the literature, Mendelian randomization analyses indicated a causal role for high cholesterol levels. The combination of all ALS-associated signals reveals a role for perturbations in vesicle-mediated transport and autophagy and provides evidence for cell-autonomous disease initiation in glutamatergic neurons
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