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Biology, Volume 6, Issue 1 (March 2017)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Biology in 2016
Biology 2017, 6(1), 2; doi:10.3390/biology6010002
Received: 11 January 2017 / Revised: 11 January 2017 / Accepted: 11 January 2017 / Published: 11 January 2017
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Abstract The editors of Biology would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2016.[...] Full article

Research

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Open AccessArticle The Anti-Oxidant Defense System of the Marine Polar Ciliate Euplotes nobilii: Characterization of the MsrB Gene Family
Biology 2017, 6(1), 4; doi:10.3390/biology6010004
Received: 2 November 2016 / Revised: 4 January 2017 / Accepted: 7 January 2017 / Published: 18 January 2017
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Abstract
Organisms living in polar waters must cope with an extremely stressful environment dominated by freezing temperatures, high oxygen concentrations and UV radiation. To shed light on the genetic mechanisms on which the polar marine ciliate, Euplotes nobilii, relies to effectively cope with
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Organisms living in polar waters must cope with an extremely stressful environment dominated by freezing temperatures, high oxygen concentrations and UV radiation. To shed light on the genetic mechanisms on which the polar marine ciliate, Euplotes nobilii, relies to effectively cope with the oxidative stress, attention was focused on methionine sulfoxide reductases which repair proteins with oxidized methionines. A family of four structurally distinct MsrB genes, encoding enzymes specific for the reduction of the methionine-sulfoxide R-forms, were identified from a draft of the E. nobilii transcriptionally active (macronuclear) genome. The En-MsrB genes are constitutively expressed to synthesize proteins markedly different in amino acid sequence, number of CXXC motifs for zinc-ion binding, and presence/absence of a cysteine residue specific for the mechanism of enzyme regeneration. The En-MsrB proteins take different localizations in the nucleus, mitochondria, cytosol and endoplasmic reticulum, ensuring a pervasive protection of all the major subcellular compartments from the oxidative damage. These observations have suggested to regard the En-MsrB gene activity as playing a central role in the genetic mechanism that enables E. nobilii and ciliates in general to live in the polar environment. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Quantitative Profiling of Hydroxy Lipid Metabolites in Mouse Organs Reveals Distinct Lipidomic Profiles and Modifications Due to Elevated n-3 Fatty Acid Levels
Biology 2017, 6(1), 9; doi:10.3390/biology6010009
Received: 21 November 2016 / Revised: 20 January 2017 / Accepted: 22 January 2017 / Published: 4 February 2017
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Abstract
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are precursors of bioactive metabolites and mediators. In this study, the profile of hydroxyeicosatetraenoic (HETE), hydroxyeicosapentaenoic (HEPE) and hydroxydocosahexaenoic (HDHA) acids derived from arachidonic acid (AA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in colon, liver, lung, spleen, muscle,
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Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are precursors of bioactive metabolites and mediators. In this study, the profile of hydroxyeicosatetraenoic (HETE), hydroxyeicosapentaenoic (HEPE) and hydroxydocosahexaenoic (HDHA) acids derived from arachidonic acid (AA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in colon, liver, lung, spleen, muscle, heart and kidney tissue of healthy wildtype mice were characterized, and compared to profiles in organs from transgenic fat-1 mice engineered to express the Caenorhabditis elegans fat-1 gene encoding an n-3 desaturase and thereby with endogenously elevated n-3 PUFA levels. PUFAs were measured using gas chromatography. The lipid metabolites were assayed using LC-MS/MS. AA and DHA were the prominent PUFAs in wildtype and fat-1 mice. EPA levels were low in both groups even though there was a significant increase in fat-1 organs with an up to 12-fold increase in fat-1 spleen and kidney. DHA levels increased by approximately 1.5-fold in fat-1 as compared to wildtype mice. While HETEs remained the same or decreased moderately and HDHAs increased 1- to 3-fold, HEPE formation in fat-1 tissues increased from 8- (muscle) to 44-fold (spleen). These findings indicate distinct profiles of monohydroxy lipid metabolites in different organs and strong utilization of EPA for HEPE formation, by which moderate EPA supplementation might trigger formation of biologically active EPA-derived resolvins. Full article
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Open AccessArticle MetaGaAP: A Novel Pipeline to Estimate Community Composition and Abundance from Non-Model Sequence Data
Biology 2017, 6(1), 14; doi:10.3390/biology6010014
Received: 1 December 2016 / Revised: 6 January 2017 / Accepted: 7 February 2017 / Published: 17 February 2017
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Abstract
Next generation sequencing and bioinformatic approaches are increasingly used to quantify microorganisms within populations by analysis of ‘meta-barcode’ data. This approach relies on comparison of amplicon sequences of ‘barcode’ regions from a population with public-domain databases of reference sequences. However, for many organisms
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Next generation sequencing and bioinformatic approaches are increasingly used to quantify microorganisms within populations by analysis of ‘meta-barcode’ data. This approach relies on comparison of amplicon sequences of ‘barcode’ regions from a population with public-domain databases of reference sequences. However, for many organisms relevant ‘barcode’ regions may not have been identified and large databases of reference sequences may not be available. A workflow and software pipeline, ‘MetaGaAP,’ was developed to identify and quantify genotypes through four steps: shotgun sequencing and identification of polymorphisms in a metapopulation to identify custom ‘barcode’ regions of less than 30 polymorphisms within the span of a single ‘read’, amplification and sequencing of the ‘barcode’, generation of a custom database of polymorphisms, and quantitation of the relative abundance of genotypes. The pipeline and workflow were validated in a ‘wild type’ Alphabaculovirus isolate, Helicoverpa armigera single nucleopolyhedrovirus (HaSNPV-AC53) and a tissue-culture derived strain (HaSNPV-AC53-T2). The approach was validated by comparison of polymorphisms in amplicons and shotgun data, and by comparison of predicted dominant and co-dominant genotypes with Sanger sequences. The computational power required to generate and search the database effectively limits the number of polymorphisms that can be included in a barcode to 30 or less. The approach can be used in quantitative analysis of the ecology and pathology of non-model organisms. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Epiphytic Terrestrial Algae (Trebouxia sp.) as a Biomarker Using the Free-Air-Carbon Dioxide-Enrichment (FACE) System
Biology 2017, 6(1), 19; doi:10.3390/biology6010019
Received: 15 July 2016 / Revised: 28 February 2017 / Accepted: 28 February 2017 / Published: 7 March 2017
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Abstract
The increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has caused significant environmental changes, particularly to the lower plants such as terrestrial algae and lichens that alter species composition, and therefore can contribute to changes in community landscape. A study to understand how
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The increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has caused significant environmental changes, particularly to the lower plants such as terrestrial algae and lichens that alter species composition, and therefore can contribute to changes in community landscape. A study to understand how increased CO2 in the atmosphere will affect algal density with minimal adjustment on its natural ecosystem, and the suitability of the algae to be considered as a biomarker, has been conducted. The current work was conducted in the Free-Air-Carbon Dioxide-Enrichment (FACE) system located in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Malaysia. CO2 was injected through special valves located along the ring surrounding specimen trees where 10 × 10 cm quadrats were placed. A total of 16 quadrats were randomly placed on the bark of 16 trees located inside the FACE system. This system will allow data collection on the effect of increased CO2 without interfering or changing other parameters of the surrounding environment such as the wind speed, wind direction, humidity, and temperature. The initial density Trebouxia sp. was pre-determined on 1 March 2015, and the final density was taken slightly over a year later, on 15 March 2016. The exposure period of 380 days shed some light in understanding the effect of CO2 on these non-complex, short life cycle lower plants. The results from this research work showed that the density of algae is significantly higher after 380 days exposure to the CO2-enriched environment, at 408.5 ± 38.5 × 104 cells/cm2, compared to the control site at 176.5 ± 6.9 × 104 cells/cm2 (independent t-test, p < 0.001). The distance between the trees and the injector valves is negatively correlated. Quadrats located in the center of the circular ring recorded lower algal density compared to the ones closer to the CO2 injector. Quadrat 16, which was nearing the end of the CO2 valve injector, showed an exceptionally high algal density—2-fold higher than the average density at 796 ± 38.5 × 104 cells/cm2. In contrast, Quadrat 9, which was located in the center of the ring (lower CO2 concentration), recorded only 277 ± 38.5 × 104 cells/cm2, which further supports the previous claim. Based on the data obtained, this study provides useful data in understanding the positive effect of CO2 on algal density, in a natural environment, and suggests the use of epiphytic terrestrial algae as a biomarker. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview Circadian Rhythms and Hormonal Homeostasis: Pathophysiological Implications
Biology 2017, 6(1), 10; doi:10.3390/biology6010010
Received: 1 October 2016 / Revised: 10 January 2017 / Accepted: 23 January 2017 / Published: 4 February 2017
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Abstract
Over recent years, a deeper comprehension of the molecular mechanisms that control biological clocks and circadian rhythms has been achieved. In fact, many studies have contributed to unravelling the importance of the molecular clock for the regulation of our physiology, including hormonal and
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Over recent years, a deeper comprehension of the molecular mechanisms that control biological clocks and circadian rhythms has been achieved. In fact, many studies have contributed to unravelling the importance of the molecular clock for the regulation of our physiology, including hormonal and metabolic homeostasis. Here we will review the structure, organisation and molecular machinery that make our circadian clock work, and its relevance for the proper functioning of physiological processes. We will also describe the interconnections between circadian rhythms and endocrine homeostasis, as well as the underlying consequences that circadian dysregulations might have in the development of several pathologic affections. Finally, we will discuss how a better knowledge of such relationships might prove helpful in designing new therapeutic approaches for endocrine and metabolic diseases. Full article
Open AccessReview A Molecular View of Kinetochore Assembly and Function
Biology 2017, 6(1), 5; doi:10.3390/biology6010005
Received: 13 December 2016 / Revised: 16 January 2017 / Accepted: 17 January 2017 / Published: 24 January 2017
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Abstract
Kinetochores are large protein assemblies that connect chromosomes to microtubules of the mitotic and meiotic spindles in order to distribute the replicated genome from a mother cell to its daughters. Kinetochores also control feedback mechanisms responsible for the correction of incorrect microtubule attachments,
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Kinetochores are large protein assemblies that connect chromosomes to microtubules of the mitotic and meiotic spindles in order to distribute the replicated genome from a mother cell to its daughters. Kinetochores also control feedback mechanisms responsible for the correction of incorrect microtubule attachments, and for the coordination of chromosome attachment with cell cycle progression. Finally, kinetochores contribute to their own preservation, across generations, at the specific chromosomal loci devoted to host them, the centromeres. They achieve this in most species by exploiting an epigenetic, DNA-sequence-independent mechanism; notable exceptions are budding yeasts where a specific sequence is associated with centromere function. In the last 15 years, extensive progress in the elucidation of the composition of the kinetochore and the identification of various physical and functional modules within its substructure has led to a much deeper molecular understanding of kinetochore organization and the origins of its functional output. Here, we provide a broad summary of this progress, focusing primarily on kinetochores of humans and budding yeast, while highlighting work from other models, and present important unresolved questions for future studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Mitotic Chromosome Segregation)
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Open AccessReview Concerted Flexibility of Chromatin Structure, Methylome, and Histone Modifications along with Plant Stress Responses
Biology 2017, 6(1), 3; doi:10.3390/biology6010003
Received: 17 November 2016 / Revised: 5 January 2017 / Accepted: 10 January 2017 / Published: 16 January 2017
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Abstract
The spatial organization of chromosome structure within the interphase nucleus, as well as the patterns of methylome and histone modifications, represent intersecting layers that influence genome accessibility and function. This review is focused on the plastic nature of chromatin structure and epigenetic marks
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The spatial organization of chromosome structure within the interphase nucleus, as well as the patterns of methylome and histone modifications, represent intersecting layers that influence genome accessibility and function. This review is focused on the plastic nature of chromatin structure and epigenetic marks in association to stress situations. The use of chemical compounds (epigenetic drugs) or T-DNA-mediated mutagenesis affecting epigenetic regulators (epi-mutants) are discussed as being important tools for studying the impact of deregulated epigenetic backgrounds on gene function and phenotype. The inheritability of epigenetic marks and chromatin configurations along successive generations are interpreted as a way for plants to “communicate” past experiences of stress sensing. A mechanistic understanding of chromatin and epigenetics plasticity in plant response to stress, including tissue- and genotype-specific epigenetic patterns, may help to reveal the epigenetics contributions for genome and phenotype regulation. Full article
Open AccessReview Mechanisms to Avoid and Correct Erroneous Kinetochore-Microtubule Attachments
Biology 2017, 6(1), 1; doi:10.3390/biology6010001
Received: 3 November 2016 / Revised: 24 December 2016 / Accepted: 28 December 2016 / Published: 5 January 2017
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Abstract
In dividing vertebrate cells multiple microtubules must connect to mitotic kinetochores in a highly stereotypical manner, with each sister kinetochore forming microtubule attachments to only one spindle pole. The exact sequence of events by which this goal is achieved varies considerably from cell
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In dividing vertebrate cells multiple microtubules must connect to mitotic kinetochores in a highly stereotypical manner, with each sister kinetochore forming microtubule attachments to only one spindle pole. The exact sequence of events by which this goal is achieved varies considerably from cell to cell because of the variable locations of kinetochores and spindle poles, and randomness of initial microtubule attachments. These chance encounters with the kinetochores nonetheless ultimately lead to the desired outcome with high fidelity and in a limited time frame, providing one of the most startling examples of biological self-organization. This chapter discusses mechanisms that contribute to accurate chromosome segregation by helping dividing cells to avoid and resolve improper microtubule attachments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Mitotic Chromosome Segregation)
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Open AccessReview STAT5-Interacting Proteins: A Synopsis of Proteins that Regulate STAT5 Activity
Biology 2017, 6(1), 20; doi:10.3390/biology6010020
Received: 20 January 2017 / Revised: 27 February 2017 / Accepted: 6 March 2017 / Published: 11 March 2017
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Abstract
Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription (STATs) are key components of the JAK/STAT pathway. Of the seven STATs, STAT5A and STAT5B are of particular interest for their critical roles in cellular differentiation, adipogenesis, oncogenesis, and immune function. The interactions of STAT5A and STAT5B
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Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription (STATs) are key components of the JAK/STAT pathway. Of the seven STATs, STAT5A and STAT5B are of particular interest for their critical roles in cellular differentiation, adipogenesis, oncogenesis, and immune function. The interactions of STAT5A and STAT5B with cytokine/hormone receptors, nuclear receptors, transcriptional regulators, proto-oncogenes, kinases, and phosphatases all contribute to modulating STAT5 activity. Among these STAT5 interacting proteins, some serve as coactivators or corepressors to regulate STAT5 transcriptional activity and some proteins can interact with STAT5 to enhance or repress STAT5 signaling. In addition, a few STAT5 interacting proteins have been identified as positive regulators of STAT5 that alter serine and tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT5 while other proteins have been identified as negative regulators of STAT5 via dephosphorylation. This review article will discuss how STAT5 activity is modulated by proteins that physically interact with STAT5. Full article
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Open AccessReview Mitotic Spindle Assembly in Land Plants: Molecules and Mechanisms
Biology 2017, 6(1), 6; doi:10.3390/biology6010006
Received: 1 October 2016 / Revised: 29 November 2016 / Accepted: 8 January 2017 / Published: 25 January 2017
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Abstract
In textbooks, the mitotic spindles of plants are often described separately from those of animals. How do they differ at the molecular and mechanistic levels? In this chapter, we first outline the process of mitotic spindle assembly in animals and land plants. We
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In textbooks, the mitotic spindles of plants are often described separately from those of animals. How do they differ at the molecular and mechanistic levels? In this chapter, we first outline the process of mitotic spindle assembly in animals and land plants. We next discuss the conservation of spindle assembly factors based on database searches. Searches of >100 animal spindle assembly factors showed that the genes involved in this process are well conserved in plants, with the exception of two major missing elements: centrosomal components and subunits/regulators of the cytoplasmic dynein complex. We then describe the spindle and phragmoplast assembly mechanisms based on the data obtained from robust gene loss-of-function analyses using RNA interference (RNAi) or mutant plants. Finally, we discuss future research prospects of plant spindles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Mitotic Chromosome Segregation)
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Open AccessReview Metaphase Spindle Assembly
Biology 2017, 6(1), 8; doi:10.3390/biology6010008
Received: 3 October 2016 / Revised: 17 January 2017 / Accepted: 19 January 2017 / Published: 3 February 2017
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Abstract A microtubule-based bipolar spindle is required for error-free chromosome segregation during cell division. In this review I discuss the molecular mechanisms required for the assembly of this dynamic micrometer-scale structure in animal cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Mitotic Chromosome Segregation)
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Open AccessReview Cardiac Channelopathies and Sudden Death: Recent Clinical and Genetic Advances
Biology 2017, 6(1), 7; doi:10.3390/biology6010007
Received: 22 November 2016 / Revised: 17 January 2017 / Accepted: 20 January 2017 / Published: 29 January 2017
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Abstract
Sudden cardiac death poses a unique challenge to clinicians because it may be the only symptom of an inherited heart condition. Indeed, inherited heart diseases can cause sudden cardiac death in older and younger individuals. Two groups of familial diseases are responsible for
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Sudden cardiac death poses a unique challenge to clinicians because it may be the only symptom of an inherited heart condition. Indeed, inherited heart diseases can cause sudden cardiac death in older and younger individuals. Two groups of familial diseases are responsible for sudden cardiac death: cardiomyopathies (mainly hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, and arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy) and channelopathies (mainly long QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome, short QT syndrome, and catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia). This review focuses on cardiac channelopathies, which are characterized by lethal arrhythmias in the structurally normal heart, incomplete penetrance, and variable expressivity. Arrhythmias in these diseases result from pathogenic variants in genes encoding cardiac ion channels or associated proteins. Due to a lack of gross structural changes in the heart, channelopathies are often considered as potential causes of death in otherwise unexplained forensic autopsies. The asymptomatic nature of channelopathies is cause for concern in family members who may be carrying genetic risk factors, making the identification of these genetic factors of significant clinical importance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ion Channels and Disease: Genetic and Transcriptional Channelopathies)
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Open AccessReview The Glutamate Dehydrogenase Pathway and Its Roles in Cell and Tissue Biology in Health and Disease
Biology 2017, 6(1), 11; doi:10.3390/biology6010011
Received: 15 November 2016 / Revised: 10 January 2017 / Accepted: 16 January 2017 / Published: 8 February 2017
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Abstract
Glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) is a hexameric enzyme that catalyzes the reversible conversion of glutamate to α-ketoglutarate and ammonia while reducing NAD(P)+ to NAD(P)H. It is found in all living organisms serving both catabolic and anabolic reactions. In mammalian tissues, oxidative deamination of
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Glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) is a hexameric enzyme that catalyzes the reversible conversion of glutamate to α-ketoglutarate and ammonia while reducing NAD(P)+ to NAD(P)H. It is found in all living organisms serving both catabolic and anabolic reactions. In mammalian tissues, oxidative deamination of glutamate via GDH generates α-ketoglutarate, which is metabolized by the Krebs cycle, leading to the synthesis of ATP. In addition, the GDH pathway is linked to diverse cellular processes, including ammonia metabolism, acid-base equilibrium, redox homeostasis (via formation of fumarate), lipid biosynthesis (via oxidative generation of citrate), and lactate production. While most mammals possess a single GDH1 protein (hGDH1 in the human) that is highly expressed in the liver, humans and other primates have acquired, via duplication, an hGDH2 isoenzyme with distinct functional properties and tissue expression profile. The novel hGDH2 underwent rapid evolutionary adaptation, acquiring unique properties that enable enhanced enzyme function under conditions inhibitory to its ancestor hGDH1. These are thought to provide a biological advantage to humans with hGDH2 evolution occurring concomitantly with human brain development. hGDH2 is co-expressed with hGDH1 in human brain, kidney, testis and steroidogenic organs, but not in the liver. In human cerebral cortex, hGDH1 and hGDH2 are expressed in astrocytes, the cells responsible for removing and metabolizing transmitter glutamate, and for supplying neurons with glutamine and lactate. In human testis, hGDH2 (but not hGDH1) is densely expressed in the Sertoli cells, known to provide the spermatids with lactate and other nutrients. In steroid producing cells, hGDH1/2 is thought to generate reducing equivalents (NADPH) in the mitochondria for the biosynthesis of steroidal hormones. Lastly, up-regulation of hGDH1/2 expression occurs in cancer, permitting neoplastic cells to utilize glutamine/glutamate for their growth. In addition, deregulation of hGDH1/2 is implicated in the pathogenesis of several human disorders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Enzymes of Glutamate Metabolism in Health and Disease)
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Open AccessReview SNP Discovery Using a Pangenome: Has the Single Reference Approach Become Obsolete?
Biology 2017, 6(1), 21; doi:10.3390/biology6010021
Received: 13 February 2017 / Revised: 7 March 2017 / Accepted: 8 March 2017 / Published: 11 March 2017
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Abstract
Increasing evidence suggests that a single individual is insufficient to capture the genetic diversity within a species due to gene presence absence variation. In order to understand the extent to which genomic variation occurs in a species, the construction of its pangenome is
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Increasing evidence suggests that a single individual is insufficient to capture the genetic diversity within a species due to gene presence absence variation. In order to understand the extent to which genomic variation occurs in a species, the construction of its pangenome is necessary. The pangenome represents the complete set of genes of a species; it is composed of core genes, which are present in all individuals, and variable genes, which are present only in some individuals. Aside from variations at the gene level, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are also an important form of genetic variation. The advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS) coupled with the heritability of SNPs make them ideal markers for genetic analysis of human, animal, and microbial data. SNPs have also been extensively used in crop genetics for association mapping, quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis, analysis of genetic diversity, and phylogenetic analysis. This review focuses on the use of pangenomes for SNP discovery. It highlights the advantages of using a pangenome rather than a single reference for this purpose. This review also demonstrates how extra information not captured in a single reference alone can be used to provide additional support for linking genotypic data to phenotypic data. Full article
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Open AccessReview The Consequences of Chromosome Segregation Errors in Mitosis and Meiosis
Biology 2017, 6(1), 12; doi:10.3390/biology6010012
Received: 10 November 2016 / Revised: 24 January 2017 / Accepted: 26 January 2017 / Published: 8 February 2017
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Abstract
Mistakes during cell division frequently generate changes in chromosome content, producing aneuploid or polyploid progeny cells. Polyploid cells may then undergo abnormal division to generate aneuploid cells. Chromosome segregation errors may also involve fragments of whole chromosomes. A major consequence of segregation defects
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Mistakes during cell division frequently generate changes in chromosome content, producing aneuploid or polyploid progeny cells. Polyploid cells may then undergo abnormal division to generate aneuploid cells. Chromosome segregation errors may also involve fragments of whole chromosomes. A major consequence of segregation defects is change in the relative dosage of products from genes located on the missegregated chromosomes. Abnormal expression of transcriptional regulators can also impact genes on the properly segregated chromosomes. The consequences of these perturbations in gene expression depend on the specific chromosomes affected and on the interplay of the aneuploid phenotype with the environment. Most often, these novel chromosome distributions are detrimental to the health and survival of the organism. However, in a changed environment, alterations in gene copy number may generate a more highly adapted phenotype. Chromosome segregation errors also have important implications in human health. They may promote drug resistance in pathogenic microorganisms. In cancer cells, they are a source for genetic and phenotypic variability that may select for populations with increased malignance and resistance to therapy. Lastly, chromosome segregation errors during gamete formation in meiosis are a primary cause of human birth defects and infertility. This review describes the consequences of mitotic and meiotic errors focusing on novel concepts and human health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Mitotic Chromosome Segregation)
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Open AccessReview Mechanisms of Chromosome Congression during Mitosis
Biology 2017, 6(1), 13; doi:10.3390/biology6010013
Received: 1 October 2016 / Revised: 7 January 2017 / Accepted: 28 January 2017 / Published: 17 February 2017
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Abstract
Chromosome congression during prometaphase culminates with the establishment of a metaphase plate, a hallmark of mitosis in metazoans. Classical views resulting from more than 100 years of research on this topic have attempted to explain chromosome congression based on the balance between opposing
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Chromosome congression during prometaphase culminates with the establishment of a metaphase plate, a hallmark of mitosis in metazoans. Classical views resulting from more than 100 years of research on this topic have attempted to explain chromosome congression based on the balance between opposing pulling and/or pushing forces that reach an equilibrium near the spindle equator. However, in mammalian cells, chromosome bi-orientation and force balance at kinetochores are not required for chromosome congression, whereas the mechanisms of chromosome congression are not necessarily involved in the maintenance of chromosome alignment after congression. Thus, chromosome congression and maintenance of alignment are determined by different principles. Moreover, it is now clear that not all chromosomes use the same mechanism for congressing to the spindle equator. Those chromosomes that are favorably positioned between both poles when the nuclear envelope breaks down use the so-called “direct congression” pathway in which chromosomes align after bi-orientation and the establishment of end-on kinetochore-microtubule attachments. This favors the balanced action of kinetochore pulling forces and polar ejection forces along chromosome arms that drive chromosome oscillatory movements during and after congression. The other pathway, which we call “peripheral congression”, is independent of end-on kinetochore microtubule-attachments and relies on the dominant and coordinated action of the kinetochore motors Dynein and Centromere Protein E (CENP-E) that mediate the lateral transport of peripheral chromosomes along microtubules, first towards the poles and subsequently towards the equator. How the opposite polarities of kinetochore motors are regulated in space and time to drive congression of peripheral chromosomes only now starts to be understood. This appears to be regulated by position-dependent phosphorylation of both Dynein and CENP-E and by spindle microtubule diversity by means of tubulin post-translational modifications. This so-called “tubulin code” might work as a navigation system that selectively guides kinetochore motors with opposite polarities along specific spindle microtubule populations, ultimately leading to the congression of peripheral chromosomes. We propose an integrated model of chromosome congression in mammalian cells that depends essentially on the following parameters: (1) chromosome position relative to the spindle poles after nuclear envelope breakdown; (2) establishment of stable end-on kinetochore-microtubule attachments and bi-orientation; (3) coordination between kinetochore- and arm-associated motors; and (4) spatial signatures associated with post-translational modifications of specific spindle microtubule populations. The physiological consequences of abnormal chromosome congression, as well as the therapeutic potential of inhibiting chromosome congression are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Mitotic Chromosome Segregation)
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Open AccessReview Anaphase A: Disassembling Microtubules Move Chromosomes toward Spindle Poles
Biology 2017, 6(1), 15; doi:10.3390/biology6010015
Received: 30 December 2016 / Revised: 4 February 2017 / Accepted: 10 February 2017 / Published: 17 February 2017
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Abstract
The separation of sister chromatids during anaphase is the culmination of mitosis and one of the most strikingly beautiful examples of cellular movement. It consists of two distinct processes: Anaphase A, the movement of chromosomes toward spindle poles via shortening of the connecting
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The separation of sister chromatids during anaphase is the culmination of mitosis and one of the most strikingly beautiful examples of cellular movement. It consists of two distinct processes: Anaphase A, the movement of chromosomes toward spindle poles via shortening of the connecting fibers, and anaphase B, separation of the two poles from one another via spindle elongation. I focus here on anaphase A chromosome-to-pole movement. The chapter begins by summarizing classical observations of chromosome movements, which support the current understanding of anaphase mechanisms. Live cell fluorescence microscopy studies showed that poleward chromosome movement is associated with disassembly of the kinetochore-attached microtubule fibers that link chromosomes to poles. Microtubule-marking techniques established that kinetochore-fiber disassembly often occurs through loss of tubulin subunits from the kinetochore-attached plus ends. In addition, kinetochore-fiber disassembly in many cells occurs partly through ‘flux’, where the microtubules flow continuously toward the poles and tubulin subunits are lost from minus ends. Molecular mechanistic models for how load-bearing attachments are maintained to disassembling microtubule ends, and how the forces are generated to drive these disassembly-coupled movements, are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms of Mitotic Chromosome Segregation)
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Open AccessReview Selectin Ligands Sialyl-Lewis a and Sialyl-Lewis x in Gastrointestinal Cancers
Biology 2017, 6(1), 16; doi:10.3390/biology6010016
Received: 10 January 2017 / Revised: 17 February 2017 / Accepted: 20 February 2017 / Published: 23 February 2017
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Abstract
The tetrasaccharide structures Siaα2,3Galβ1,3(Fucα1,4)GlcNAc and Siaα2,3Galβ1,4(Fucα1,3)GlcNAc constitute the epitopes of the carbohydrate antigens sialyl-Lewis a (sLea) and sialyl-Lewis x (sLex), respectively, and are the minimal requirement for selectin binding to their counter-receptors. Interaction of sLex expressed on the
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The tetrasaccharide structures Siaα2,3Galβ1,3(Fucα1,4)GlcNAc and Siaα2,3Galβ1,4(Fucα1,3)GlcNAc constitute the epitopes of the carbohydrate antigens sialyl-Lewis a (sLea) and sialyl-Lewis x (sLex), respectively, and are the minimal requirement for selectin binding to their counter-receptors. Interaction of sLex expressed on the cell surface of leucocytes with E-selectin on endothelial cells allows their arrest and promotes their extravasation. Similarly, the rolling of cancer cells ectopically expressing the selectin ligands on endothelial cells is potentially a crucial step favoring the metastatic process. In this review, we focus on the biosynthetic steps giving rise to selectin ligand expression in cell lines and native tissues of gastrointestinal origin, trying to understand whether and how they are deregulated in cancer. We also discuss the use of such molecules in the diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancers, particularly in light of recent data questioning the ability of colon cancers to express sLea and the possible use of circulating sLex in the early detection of pancreatic cancer. Finally, we reviewed the data dealing with the mechanisms that link selectin ligand expression in gastrointestinal cells to cancer malignancy. This promising research field seems to require additional data on native patient tissues to reach more definitive conclusions. Full article
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Open AccessReview Glutamine-Glutamate Cycle Flux Is Similar in Cultured Astrocytes and Brain and Both Glutamate Production and Oxidation Are Mainly Catalyzed by Aspartate Aminotransferase
Biology 2017, 6(1), 17; doi:10.3390/biology6010017
Received: 20 December 2016 / Revised: 6 February 2017 / Accepted: 14 February 2017 / Published: 24 February 2017
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Abstract
The glutamine-glutamate cycle provides neurons with astrocyte-generated glutamate/γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and oxidizes glutamate in astrocytes, and it returns released transmitter glutamate/GABA to neurons after astrocytic uptake. This review deals primarily with the glutamate/GABA generation/oxidation, although it also shows similarity between metabolic rates in
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The glutamine-glutamate cycle provides neurons with astrocyte-generated glutamate/γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and oxidizes glutamate in astrocytes, and it returns released transmitter glutamate/GABA to neurons after astrocytic uptake. This review deals primarily with the glutamate/GABA generation/oxidation, although it also shows similarity between metabolic rates in cultured astrocytes and intact brain. A key point is identification of the enzyme(s) converting astrocytic α-ketoglutarate to glutamate and vice versa. Most experiments in cultured astrocytes, including those by one of us, suggest that glutamate formation is catalyzed by aspartate aminotransferase (AAT) and its degradation by glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH). Strongly supported by results shown in Table 1 we now propose that both reactions are primarily catalyzed by AAT. This is possible because the formation occurs in the cytosol and the degradation in mitochondria and they are temporally separate. High glutamate/glutamine concentrations abolish the need for glutamate production from α-ketoglutarate and due to metabolic coupling between glutamate synthesis and oxidation these high concentrations render AAT-mediated glutamate oxidation impossible. This necessitates the use of GDH under these conditions, shown by insensitivity of the oxidation to the transamination inhibitor aminooxyacetic acid (AOAA). Experiments using lower glutamate/glutamine concentration show inhibition of glutamate oxidation by AOAA, consistent with the coupled transamination reactions described here. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Enzymes of Glutamate Metabolism in Health and Disease)
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Open AccessReview Ornithine Aminotransferase, an Important Glutamate-Metabolizing Enzyme at the Crossroads of Multiple Metabolic Pathways
Biology 2017, 6(1), 18; doi:10.3390/biology6010018
Received: 26 October 2016 / Revised: 23 February 2017 / Accepted: 24 February 2017 / Published: 7 March 2017
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Abstract
Ornithine δ-aminotransferase (OAT, E.C. 2.6.1.13) catalyzes the transfer of the δ-amino group from ornithine (Orn) to α-ketoglutarate (aKG), yielding glutamate-5-semialdehyde and glutamate (Glu), and vice versa. In mammals, OAT is a mitochondrial enzyme, mainly located in the liver, intestine, brain, and kidney. In
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Ornithine δ-aminotransferase (OAT, E.C. 2.6.1.13) catalyzes the transfer of the δ-amino group from ornithine (Orn) to α-ketoglutarate (aKG), yielding glutamate-5-semialdehyde and glutamate (Glu), and vice versa. In mammals, OAT is a mitochondrial enzyme, mainly located in the liver, intestine, brain, and kidney. In general, OAT serves to form glutamate from ornithine, with the notable exception of the intestine, where citrulline (Cit) or arginine (Arg) are end products. Its main function is to control the production of signaling molecules and mediators, such as Glu itself, Cit, GABA, and aliphatic polyamines. It is also involved in proline (Pro) synthesis. Deficiency in OAT causes gyrate atrophy, a rare but serious inherited disease, a further measure of the importance of this enzyme. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Enzymes of Glutamate Metabolism in Health and Disease)
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