Latest Articles

Open AccessReview
Control of Hepatitis B Virus by Cytokines
Viruses 2017, 9(1), 18; doi:10.3390/v9010018 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection remains a major public health problem worldwide with more than 240 million individuals chronically infected. Current treatments can control HBV replication to a large extent, but cannot eliminate HBV infection. Cytokines have been shown to control HBV replication
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Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection remains a major public health problem worldwide with more than 240 million individuals chronically infected. Current treatments can control HBV replication to a large extent, but cannot eliminate HBV infection. Cytokines have been shown to control HBV replication and contribute to HBV cure in different models. Cytokines play an important role in limiting acute HBV infection in patients and mediate a non-cytolytic clearance of the virus. In this review, we summarize the effects of cytokines and cytokine-induced cellular signaling pathways on different steps of the HBV life cycle, and discuss possible strategies that may contribute to the eradication of HBV through innate immune activation. Full article
Open AccessArticle
A Glimpse of Nucleo-Cytoplasmic Large DNA Virus Biodiversity through the Eukaryotic Genomics Window
Viruses 2017, 9(1), 17; doi:10.3390/v9010017 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDV) are a group of extremely complex double-stranded DNA viruses, which are major parasites of a variety of eukaryotes. Recent studies showed that certain eukaryotes contain fragments of NCLDV DNA integrated in their genome, when surprisingly many of
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The nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDV) are a group of extremely complex double-stranded DNA viruses, which are major parasites of a variety of eukaryotes. Recent studies showed that certain eukaryotes contain fragments of NCLDV DNA integrated in their genome, when surprisingly many of these organisms were not previously shown to be infected by NCLDVs. We performed an update survey of NCLDV genes hidden in eukaryotic sequences to measure the incidence of this phenomenon in common public sequence databases. A total of 66 eukaryotic genomic or transcriptomic datasets—many of which are from algae and aquatic protists—contained at least one of the five most consistently conserved NCLDV core genes. Phylogenetic study of the eukaryotic NCLDV-like sequences identified putative new members of already recognized viral families, as well as members of as yet unknown viral clades. Genomic evidence suggested that most of these sequences resulted from viral DNA integrations rather than contaminating viruses. Furthermore, the nature of the inserted viral genes helped predicting original functional capacities of the donor viruses. These insights confirm that genomic insertions of NCLDV DNA are common in eukaryotes and can be exploited to delineate the contours of NCLDV biodiversity. Full article
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Open AccessComment
Comment on Hicham Bahi, et al. Effects of Urbanization and Seasonal Cycle on the Surface Urban Heat Island Patterns in the Coastal Growing Cities: A Case Study of Casablanca, Morocco. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 829
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(1), 91; doi:10.3390/rs9010091 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
A statement in this recently published paper makes a point that is largely at odds with the main point of the paper that is cited. Stating that higher air temperatures lead to greater evapotranspiration is an oversimplification; the true story is more complex.
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A statement in this recently published paper makes a point that is largely at odds with the main point of the paper that is cited. Stating that higher air temperatures lead to greater evapotranspiration is an oversimplification; the true story is more complex. Although this is by no means central to the conclusions of the paper being commented on, we have demonstrated the danger in taking too literally the idea that air temperature determines potential evapotranspiration. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Satellite Attitude Determination and Map Projection Based on Robust Image Matching
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(1), 90; doi:10.3390/rs9010090 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Small satellites have limited payload and their attitudes are sometimes difficult to determine from the limited onboard sensors alone. Wrong attitudes lead to inaccurate map projections and measurements that require post-processing correction. In this study, we propose an automated and robust scheme that
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Small satellites have limited payload and their attitudes are sometimes difficult to determine from the limited onboard sensors alone. Wrong attitudes lead to inaccurate map projections and measurements that require post-processing correction. In this study, we propose an automated and robust scheme that derives the satellite attitude from its observation images and known satellite position by matching land features from an observed image and from well-registered base-map images. The scheme combines computer vision algorithms (i.e., feature detection, and robust optimization) and geometrical constraints of the satellite observation. Applying the proposed method to UNIFORM-1 observations, which is a 50 kg class small satellite, satellite attitudes were determined with an accuracy of 0.02°, comparable to that of star trackers, if the satellite position is accurately determined. Map-projected images can be generated based on the accurate attitudes. Errors in the satellite position can add systematic errors to derived attitudes. The proposed scheme focuses on determining satellite attitude with feature detection algorithms applying to raw satellite images, unlike image registration studies which register already map-projected images. By delivering accurate attitude determination and map projection, the proposed method can improve the image geometries of small satellites, and thus reveal fine-scale information about the Earth. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Wheat Bran Does Not Affect Postprandial Plasma Short-Chain Fatty Acids from 13C-inulin Fermentation in Healthy Subjects
Nutrients 2017, 9(1), 83; doi:10.3390/nu9010083 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Wheat bran (WB) is a constituent of whole grain products with beneficial effects for human health. Within the human colon, such insoluble particles may be colonized by specific microbial teams which can stimulate cross-feeding, leading to a more efficient carbohydrate fermentation and an
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Wheat bran (WB) is a constituent of whole grain products with beneficial effects for human health. Within the human colon, such insoluble particles may be colonized by specific microbial teams which can stimulate cross-feeding, leading to a more efficient carbohydrate fermentation and an increased butyrate production. We investigated the extent to which WB fractions with different properties affect the fermentation of other carbohydrates in the colon. Ten healthy subjects performed four test days, during which they consumed a standard breakfast supplemented with 10 g 13C-inulin. A total of 20 g of a WB fraction (unmodified WB, wheat bran with a reduced particle size (WB RPS), or de-starched pericarp-enriched wheat bran (PE WB)) was also added to the breakfast, except for one test day, which served as a control. Blood samples were collected at regular time points for 14 h, in order to measure 13C-labeled short-chain fatty acid (SCFA; acetate, propionate and butyrate) concentrations. Fermentation of 13C-inulin resulted in increased plasma SCFA for about 8 h, suggesting that a sustained increase in plasma SCFA can be achieved by administering a moderate dose of carbohydrates, three times per day. However, the addition of a single dose of a WB fraction did not further increase the 13C-SCFA concentrations in plasma, nor did it stimulate cross-feeding (Wilcoxon signed ranks test). Full article
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Open AccessReview
Exploring the CK2 Paradox: Restless, Dangerous, Dispensable
Pharmaceuticals 2017, 10(1), 11; doi:10.3390/ph10010011 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The history of protein kinase CK2 is crowded with paradoxes and unanticipated findings. Named after a protein (casein) that is not among its physiological substrates, CK2 remained in search of its targets for more than two decades after its discovery in 1954, but
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The history of protein kinase CK2 is crowded with paradoxes and unanticipated findings. Named after a protein (casein) that is not among its physiological substrates, CK2 remained in search of its targets for more than two decades after its discovery in 1954, but it later came to be one of the most pleiotropic protein kinases. Being active in the absence of phosphorylation and/or specific stimuli, it looks unsuitable to participate in signaling cascades, but its “lateral” implication in a variety of signaling pathways is now soundly documented. At variance with many “onco-kinases”, CK2 is constitutively active, and no oncogenic CK2 mutant is known; still high CK2 activity correlates to neoplasia. Its pleiotropy and essential role may cast doubts on the actual “druggability” of CK2; however, a CK2 inhibitor is now in Phase II clinical trials for the treatment of cancer, and cell clones viable in the absence of CK2 are providing information about the mechanism by which cancer becomes addicted to high CK2 levels. A phosphoproteomics analysis of these CK2 null cells suggests that CK2 pleiotropy may be less pronounced than expected and supports the idea that the phosphoproteome generated by this kinase is flexible and not rigidly pre-determined. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Combustion Synthesis during Flame Spraying (“CAFSY”) for the Production of Catalysts on Substrates
Coatings 2017, 7(1), 14; doi:10.3390/coatings7010014 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Combustion-assisted flame spraying (“CAFSY”) has been used to produce catalytically active nickel aluminide coatings on ceramic substrates. Their catalytic activity was studied in CO2 (dry) reforming of methane, which is particularly significant for environmental protection as well as production of synthesis gas
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Combustion-assisted flame spraying (“CAFSY”) has been used to produce catalytically active nickel aluminide coatings on ceramic substrates. Their catalytic activity was studied in CO2 (dry) reforming of methane, which is particularly significant for environmental protection as well as production of synthesis gas (CO + H2). By varying the CAFSY processing parameters, it is possible to obtain a range of Ni–Al alloys with various ratios of catalytically active phases on the substrate. The influence of the number of coating layers and the type of substrate on the final catalyst composition and on the catalytic activity of the CAFSY coatings was studied and is presented here. The morphology and microstructure of the composite coatings were determined by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) elemental analysis, X-ray diffraction (XRD), and Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET) specific area analysis. Catalytic tests for dry reforming of methane were carried out using crushed pellets from the coatings at temperatures of 750–900 °C, and gas chromatography showed that methane conversion approached 88% whereas that of carbon dioxide reached 100%. The H2/CO ratio in the synthesis gas produced by the reaction varied from about 0.7 to over 1.2, depending on the catalyst and substrate type and testing temperature. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Hyperfine Structure and Isotope Shifts in Dy II
Atoms 2017, 5(1), 5; doi:10.3390/atoms5010005 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Using fast-ion-beam laser-fluorescence spectroscopy (FIBLAS), we have measured the hyperfine structure (hfs) of 14 levels and an additional four transitions in Dy II and the isotope shifts (IS) of 12 transitions in the wavelength range of 422–460 nm. These are the first precision
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Using fast-ion-beam laser-fluorescence spectroscopy (FIBLAS), we have measured the hyperfine structure (hfs) of 14 levels and an additional four transitions in Dy II and the isotope shifts (IS) of 12 transitions in the wavelength range of 422–460 nm. These are the first precision measurements of this kind in Dy II. Along with hfs and IS, new undocumented transitions were discovered within 3 GHz of the targeted transitions. These atomic data are essential for astrophysical studies of chemical abundances, allowing correction for saturation and the effects of blended lines. Lanthanide abundances are important in diffusion modeling of stellar interiors, and in the mechanisms and history of nucleosynthesis in the universe. Hfs and IS also play an important role in the classification of energy levels, and provide a benchmark for theoretical atomic structure calculations. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Membrane Operations for Process Intensification in Desalination
Appl. Sci. 2017, 7(1), 100; doi:10.3390/app7010100 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Process intensification strategy (PIS) is emerging as an interesting guideline to revolutionize process industry in terms of improved efficiency and sustainability. Membrane engineering has appeared as a strong candidate to implement PIS. The most significant progress has been observed in desalination where substantial
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Process intensification strategy (PIS) is emerging as an interesting guideline to revolutionize process industry in terms of improved efficiency and sustainability. Membrane engineering has appeared as a strong candidate to implement PIS. The most significant progress has been observed in desalination where substantial reduction in overall energy demand, environmental footprint, and process hazards has already been accomplished. Recent developments in membrane engineering are shaping the desalination industry into raw materials and energy production where fresh water will be produced as a byproduct. The present study discusses the current and perspective role of membrane engineering in achieving the objectives of PIS in the field of desalination. Full article
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