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Open AccessReview
To Wnt or Lose: The Missing Non-Coding Linc in Colorectal Cancer
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(9), 2003; doi:10.3390/ijms18092003 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most frequent cancer and one of the leading causes for cancer-related mortality. Aberrant activation of the Wnt signaling is an essential initiating factor in colon carcinogenesis, and a driving force of CRC progression. Recently, long non-coding RNAs
[...] Read more.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most frequent cancer and one of the leading causes for cancer-related mortality. Aberrant activation of the Wnt signaling is an essential initiating factor in colon carcinogenesis, and a driving force of CRC progression. Recently, long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) have emerged as significant players in CRC pathogenesis through diversified mechanisms. Although both Wnt signaling and lncRNAs represent interesting research areas for CRC, an effort of directly connecting these two areas is lacking. To fill in the knowledge gap, we focus on the reported findings of lncRNAs that regulate Wnt signaling or essential Wnt signaling targets. These include several newly discovered lncRNAs originated from the amplified cancer-associated chromosome 8q24 region that surrounds the essential Wnt target MYC gene, lncRNAs reported to be involved in CRC stem cells, and several individual lncRNAs connected to Wnt signaling through other mechanisms. This review will provide essential information that assists in understanding the missing link of lncRNAs to the classical Wnt signaling in CRC. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Size and Shape Controlled Crystallization of Hemoglobin for Advanced Crystallography
Crystals 2017, 7(9), 282; doi:10.3390/cryst7090282 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
While high-throughput screening for protein crystallization conditions have rapidly evolved in the last few decades, it is also becoming increasingly necessary for the control of crystal size and shape as increasing diversity of protein crystallographic experiments. For example, X-ray crystallography (XRC) combined with
[...] Read more.
While high-throughput screening for protein crystallization conditions have rapidly evolved in the last few decades, it is also becoming increasingly necessary for the control of crystal size and shape as increasing diversity of protein crystallographic experiments. For example, X-ray crystallography (XRC) combined with photoexcitation and/or spectrophotometry requires optically thin but well diffracting crystals. By contrast, large-volume crystals are needed for weak signal experiments, such as neutron crystallography (NC) or recently developed X-ray fluorescent holography (XFH). In this article, we present, using hemoglobin as an example protein, some techniques for obtaining the crystals of controlled size, shape, and adequate quality. Furthermore, we describe a few case studies of applications of the optimized hemoglobin crystals for implementing the above mentioned crystallographic experiments, providing some hints and tips for the further progress of advanced protein crystallography. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Calibration of the Water Cloud Model at C-Band for Winter Crop Fields and Grasslands
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(9), 969; doi:10.3390/rs9090969 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
In a perspective to develop an inversion approach for estimating surface soil moisture of crop fields from Sentinel-1/2 data (radar and optical sensors), the Water Cloud Model (WCM) was calibrated from C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)
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In a perspective to develop an inversion approach for estimating surface soil moisture of crop fields from Sentinel-1/2 data (radar and optical sensors), the Water Cloud Model (WCM) was calibrated from C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values collected over crops fields and grasslands. The soil contribution that depends on soil moisture and surface roughness (in addition to SAR instrumental parameters) was simulated using the physical backscattering model IEM (Integral Equation Model). The vegetation descriptor used in the WCM is the NDVI because it can be directly calculated from optical images. A large dataset consisting of radar backscattered signal in Vertical transmit and Vertical receive (VV) and Vertical transmit and Horizontal receive (VH) polarizations with wide range of incidence angle, soil moisture, surface roughness, and NDVI-values was used. It was collected over two agricultural study sites. Results show that the soil contribution to the total radar backscattered signal is lower in VH than in VV because VH is more sensitive to vegetation cover. Thus, the use of VH alone or in addition to VV for retrieving the soil moisture is not advantageous in presence of well-developed vegetation cover. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Giant Strain and Induced Ferroelectricity in Amorphous BaTiO3 Films under Poling
Materials 2017, 10(9), 1107; doi:10.3390/ma10091107 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
We report an effect of giant surface modification of a 5.6 nm thick BaTiO3 film grown on Si (100) substrate under poling by conductive tip of a scanning probe microscope (SPM). The surface can be locally elevated by about 9 nm under
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We report an effect of giant surface modification of a 5.6 nm thick BaTiO3 film grown on Si (100) substrate under poling by conductive tip of a scanning probe microscope (SPM). The surface can be locally elevated by about 9 nm under −20 V applied during scanning, resulting in the maximum strain of 160%. The threshold voltage for the surface modification is about 12 V. The modified topography is stable enough with time and slowly decays after poling with the rate ~0.02 nm/min. Strong vertical piezoresponse after poling is observed, too. Combined measurements by SPM and piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM) prove that the poled material develops high ferroelectric polarization that cannot be switched back even under an oppositely oriented electric field. The topography modification is hypothesized to be due to a strong Joule heating and concomitant interface reaction between underlying Si and BaTiO3. The top layer is supposed to become ferroelectric as a result of local crystallization of amorphous BaTiO3. This work opens up new possibilities to form nanoscale ferroelectric structures useful for various applications. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Getting More Power from Your Flowers: Multi-Functional Flower Strips Enhance Pollinators and Pest Control Agents in Apple Orchards
Insects 2017, 8(3), 101; doi:10.3390/insects8030101 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Flower strips are commonly recommended to boost biodiversity and multiple ecosystem services (e.g., pollination and pest control) on farmland. However, significant knowledge gaps remain regards the extent to which they deliver on these aims. Here, we tested the efficacy of flower strips that
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Flower strips are commonly recommended to boost biodiversity and multiple ecosystem services (e.g., pollination and pest control) on farmland. However, significant knowledge gaps remain regards the extent to which they deliver on these aims. Here, we tested the efficacy of flower strips that targeted different subsets of beneficial arthropods (pollinators and natural enemies) and their ecosystem services in cider apple orchards. Treatments included mixes that specifically targeted: (1) pollinators (‘concealed-nectar plants’); (2) natural enemies (‘open-nectar plants’); or (3) both groups concurrently (i.e., ‘multi-functional’ mix). Flower strips were established in alleyways of four orchards and compared to control alleyways (no flowers). Pollinator (e.g., bees) and natural enemy (e.g., parasitoid wasps, predatory flies and beetles) visitation to flower strips, alongside measures of pest control (aphid colony densities, sentinel prey predation), and fruit production, were monitored in orchards over two consecutive growing seasons. Targeted flower strips attracted either pollinators or natural enemies, whereas mixed flower strips attracted both groups in similar abundance to targeted mixes. Natural enemy densities on apple trees were higher in plots containing open-nectar plants compared to other treatments, but effects were stronger for non-aphidophagous taxa. Predation of sentinel prey was enhanced in all flowering plots compared to controls but pest aphid densities and fruit yield were unaffected by flower strips. We conclude that ‘multi-functional’ flower strips that contain flowering plant species with opposing floral traits can provide nectar and pollen for both pollinators and natural enemies, but further work is required to understand their potential for improving pest control services and yield in cider apple orchards. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
A Method for Medical Diagnosis Based on Optical Fluence Rate Distribution at Tissue Surface
Materials 2017, 10(9), 1104; doi:10.3390/ma10091104 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Optical differentiation is a promising tool in biomedical diagnosis mainly because of its safety. The optical parameters’ values of biological tissues differ according to the histopathology of the tissue and hence could be used for differentiation. The optical fluence rate distribution on tissue
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Optical differentiation is a promising tool in biomedical diagnosis mainly because of its safety. The optical parameters’ values of biological tissues differ according to the histopathology of the tissue and hence could be used for differentiation. The optical fluence rate distribution on tissue boundaries depends on the optical parameters. So, providing image displays of such distributions can provide a visual means of biomedical diagnosis. In this work, an experimental setup was implemented to measure the spatially-resolved steady state diffuse reflectance and transmittance of native and coagulated chicken liver and native and boiled breast chicken skin at 635 and 808 nm wavelengths laser irradiation. With the measured values, the optical parameters of the samples were calculated in vitro using a combination of modified Kubelka-Munk model and Bouguer-Beer-Lambert law. The estimated optical parameters values were substituted in the diffusion equation to simulate the fluence rate at the tissue surface using the finite element method. Results were verified with Monte-Carlo simulation. The results obtained showed that the diffuse reflectance curves and fluence rate distribution images can provide discrimination tools between different tissue types and hence can be used for biomedical diagnosis. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin as a Possible Mediator of Leiomyoma Growth during Pregnancy: Molecular Mechanisms
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(9), 2014; doi:10.3390/ijms18092014 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Uterine fibroids are the most common gynecologic benign tumors. Studies supporting a strong pregnancy-related growth of leiomyomas generally claimed a crucial role of sex steroid hormones. However, sex steroids are unlikely the unique actors involved as estrogen and progesterone achieve a pick serum
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Uterine fibroids are the most common gynecologic benign tumors. Studies supporting a strong pregnancy-related growth of leiomyomas generally claimed a crucial role of sex steroid hormones. However, sex steroids are unlikely the unique actors involved as estrogen and progesterone achieve a pick serum concentration in the last trimester while leiomyomas show a typical increase during the first trimester. Given the rapid exponential raise in serum human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (hCG) at the beginning of gestation, we conducted a review to assess the potential role of hCG in the striking growth of leiomyomas during initial pregnancy. Fibroid growth during initial pregnancy seems to correlate to the similar increase of serum hCG levels until 12 weeks of gestation. The presence of functional Luteinizing Hormone/human Chorionic Gonadotropin (LH/hCG) receptors was demonstrated on leiomyomas. In vitro treatment of leiomyoma cells with hCG determines an up to 500% increase in cell number after three days. Expression of cyclin E and cyclin-dependent kinase 1 was significantly increased in leiomyoma cells by hCG treatment. Moreover, upon binding to the receptor, hCG stimulates prolactin secretion in leiomyoma cells, promoting cell proliferation via the mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade. Fibroid enlargement during initial pregnancy may be regulated by serum hCG. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Orness For Idempotent Aggregation Functions
Axioms 2017, 6(3), 25; doi:10.3390/axioms6030025 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Aggregation functions are mathematical operators that merge given data in order to obtain a global value that preserves the information given by the data as much as possible. In most practical applications, this value is expected to be between the infimum and the
[...] Read more.
Aggregation functions are mathematical operators that merge given data in order to obtain a global value that preserves the information given by the data as much as possible. In most practical applications, this value is expected to be between the infimum and the supremum of the given data, which is guaranteed only when the aggregation functions are idempotent. Ordered weighted averaging (OWA) operators are particular cases of this kind of function, with the particularity that the obtained global value depends on neither the source nor the expert that provides each datum, but only on the set of values. They have been classified by means of the orness—a measurement of the proximity of an OWA operator to the OR-operator. In this paper, the concept of orness is extended to the framework of idempotent aggregation functions defined both on the real unit interval and on a complete lattice with a local finiteness condition. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperEditorial
Introduction: Drosophila—A Model System for Developmental Biology
J. Dev. Biol. 2017, 5(3), 9; doi:10.3390/jdb5030009 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Drosophila melanogaster, known colloquially as the fruit fly, remains one of the most commonly used model organisms for biomedical science.[...] Full article

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