Advances in Biology The latest articles from Hindawi Publishing Corporation © 2015 , Hindawi Publishing Corporation . All rights reserved. Application of Molecular Approaches for Understanding Foodborne Salmonella Establishment in Poultry Production Tue, 18 Nov 2014 00:00:00 +0000 Salmonellosis in the United States is one of the most costly foodborne diseases. Given that Salmonella can originate from a wide variety of environments, reduction of this organism at all stages of poultry production is critical. Salmonella species can encounter various environmental stress conditions which can dramatically influence their survival and colonization. Current knowledge of Salmonella species metabolism and physiology in relation to colonization is traditionally based on studies conducted primarily with tissue culture and animal infection models. Consequently, while there is some information about environmental signals that control Salmonella growth and colonization, much still remains unknown. Genetic tools for comprehensive functional genomic analysis of Salmonella offer new opportunities for not only achieving a better understanding of Salmonella pathogens but also designing more effective intervention strategies. Now the function(s) of each single gene in the Salmonella genome can be directly assessed and previously unknown genetic factors that are required for Salmonella growth and survival in the poultry production cycle can be elucidated. In particular, delineating the host-pathogen relationships involving Salmonella is becoming very helpful for identifying optimal targeted gene mutagenesis strategies to generate improved vaccine strains. This represents an opportunity for development of novel vaccine approaches for limiting Salmonella establishment in early phases of poultry production. In this review, an overview of Salmonella issues in poultry, a general description of functional genomic technologies, and their specific application to poultry vaccine developments are discussed. Steven C. Ricke Copyright © 2014 Steven C. Ricke. All rights reserved. Placental Evolution within the Supraordinal Clades of Eutheria with the Perspective of Alternative Animal Models for Human Placentation Thu, 23 Oct 2014 08:50:11 +0000 Here a survey of placental evolution is conducted. Placentation is a key factor for the evolution of placental mammals that had evolved an astonishing diversity. As a temporary organ that does not allow easy access, it is still not well understood. The lack of data also is a restriction for better understanding of placental development, structure, and function in the human. Animal models are essential, because experimental access to the human placenta is naturally restricted. However, there is not a single ideal model that is entirely similar to humans. It is particularly important to establish other models than the mouse, which is characterised by a short gestation period and poorly developed neonates that may provide insights only for early human pregnancy. In conclusion, current evolutionary studies have contributed essentially to providing a pool of experimental models for recent and future approaches that may also meet the requirements of a long gestation period and advanced developmental status of the newborn in the human. Suitability and limitations of taxa as alternative animal models are discussed. However, further investigations especially in wildlife taxa should be conducted in order to learn more about the full evolutionary plasticity of the placenta system. Andrea Mess Copyright © 2014 Andrea Mess. All rights reserved. Sperm RNA as a Mediator of Genomic Plasticity Tue, 14 Oct 2014 10:43:40 +0000 Sperm RNA has been linked recently to trans-generational, non-Mendelian patterns of inheritance. Originally dismissed as “residual” to spermatogenesis, some sperm RNA may have postfertilization functions including the transmission of acquired characteristics. Sperm RNA may help explain how trans-generational effects are transmitted and it may also have implications for assisted reproductive technologies (ART) where sperm are subjected to considerable, ex vivo manual handling. The presence of sperm RNA was originally a controversial topic because nuclear gene expression is switched off in the mature mammalian spermatozoon. With the recent application of next generation sequencing (NGS), an unexpectedly rich and complex repertoire of RNAs has been revealed in the sperm of several species that makes its residual presence counterintuitive. What follows is a personal survey of the science behind our understanding of sperm RNA and its functional significance based on experimental observations from my laboratory as well as many others who have contributed to the field over the years and are continuing to contribute today. The narrative begins with a historical perspective and ends with some educated speculation on where research into sperm RNA is likely to lead us in the next 10 years or so. David Miller Copyright © 2014 David Miller. All rights reserved. Codon Usage Bias in Two Hemipteran Insect Species: Bemisia tabaci and Homalodisca coagulata Mon, 13 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0000 Codon bias is the nonuniform use of synonymous codons which encode the same amino acid. Some codons are more frequently used than others in several organisms, particularly in the highly expressed genes. The spectacular diversity of insects makes them a suitable candidate for analyzing the codon usage bias. Recent expansion in genome sequencing of different insect species provides an opportunity for studying the codon usage bias. Several works on patterns of codon usage bias were done on Drosophila and other related species but only few works were found in Hemiptera order. We analyzed codon usage in two Hemipteran insect species namely Bemisia tabaci and Homalodisca coagulata. Most frequent codons end with A or C at the 3rd codon position. The ENC (a measure of codon bias) value ranges from 43 to 60 (52.80) in B. tabaci but from 49 to 60 (56.69) in H. coagulata. In both insect species, a significant positive correlation was observed between A and A3%, C and C3%, and GC and GC3%, respectively. Our findings suggest that codon usage bias in two Hemipteran insect species is not remarkable and that mutation pressure causes the codon usage pattern in two Hemipteran insect species. Jyotika Sharma, Supriyo Chakraborty, and Arif Uddin Copyright © 2014 Jyotika Sharma et al. All rights reserved. GPCRs: Lipid-Dependent Membrane Receptors That Act as Drug Targets Thu, 02 Oct 2014 06:22:01 +0000 G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest class of molecules involved in signal transduction across cell membranes and represent major targets in the development of novel drug candidates in all clinical areas. Although there have been some recent leads, structural information on GPCRs is relatively rare due to the difficulty associated with crystallization. A specific reason for this is the intrinsic flexibility displayed by GPCRs, which is necessary for their functional diversity. Since GPCRs are integral membrane proteins, interaction of membrane lipids with them constitutes an important area of research in GPCR biology. In particular, membrane cholesterol has been reported to have a modulatory role in the function of a number of GPCRs. The role of membrane cholesterol in GPCR function is discussed with specific example of the receptor. Recent results show that GPCRs are characterized with structural motifs that preferentially associate with cholesterol. An emerging and important concept is oligomerization of GPCRs and its role in GPCR function and signaling. The role of membrane cholesterol in GPCR oligomerization is highlighted. Future research in GPCR biology would offer novel insight in basic biology and provide new avenues for drug discovery. Amitabha Chattopadhyay Copyright © 2014 Amitabha Chattopadhyay. All rights reserved. Health Implications of Electromagnetic Fields, Mechanisms of Action, and Research Needs Tue, 23 Sep 2014 06:39:33 +0000 Electromagnetic fields (EMF) have been implicated to influence a range of bodily functions. Given their ubiquitous nature, widespread applications, and capability to produce deleterious effects, conclusive investigations of the health risks are critical. Accordingly, this paper has been constructed to weigh the bioeffects, possible biointeraction mechanisms, and research areas in bioelectromagnetics seeking immediate attention. The several gaps in the existing knowledge do not permit one to reach a concrete conclusion but possibility for harmful effects cannot be underestimated in absence of consistent findings and causal mechanisms. Several studies with appropriate methodologies reflect the capacity of electromagnetic radiations to cause adverse health effects and there are several credible mechanisms that can account for the observed effects. Hence, need of the hour is to activate comprehensive well-coordinated blind scientific investigations, overcoming all limitations and demerits of previous investigations especially replication studies to concretize the earlier findings. Furthermore, appropriate exposure assessment is crucial for identification of dose-response relation if any, and the elucidation of biological interaction mechanism. For the time being, the public should follow the precautionary principle and limit their exposure as much as possible. Sarika Singh and Neeru Kapoor Copyright © 2014 Sarika Singh and Neeru Kapoor. All rights reserved. Function, Structure, and Evolution of the Major Facilitator Superfamily: The LacY Manifesto Thu, 18 Sep 2014 05:57:40 +0000 The major facilitator superfamily (MFS) is a diverse group of secondary transporters with members found in all kingdoms of life. A paradigm for MFS is the lactose permease (LacY) of Escherichia coli, which couples the stoichiometric translocation of a galactopyranoside and an across the cytoplasmic membrane. LacY has been the test bed for the development of many methods applied for the analysis of transport proteins. X-ray structures of an inward-facing conformation and the most recent structure of an almost occluded conformation confirm many conclusions from previous studies. Although structure models are critical, they are insufficient to explain the catalysis of transport. The clues to understanding transport are based on the principles of enzyme kinetics. Secondary transport is a dynamic process—static snapshots of X-ray crystallography describe it only partially. However, without structural information, the underlying chemistry is virtually impossible to conclude. A large body of biochemical/biophysical data derived from systematic studies of site-directed mutants in LacY suggests residues critically involved in the catalysis, and a working model for the symport mechanism that involves alternating access of the binding site is presented. The general concepts derived from the bacterial LacY are examined for their relevance to other MFS transporters. M. Gregor Madej Copyright © 2014 M. Gregor Madej. All rights reserved. The Application of Genomic Technologies to Investigate the Inheritance of Economically Important Traits in Goats Wed, 17 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0000 Goat genomics has evolved at a low pace because of a lack of molecular tools and sufficient investment. Whilst thousands and hundreds of quantitative trait loci (QTL) have been identified in cattle and sheep, respectively, about nine genome scans have been performed in goats dealing with traits as conformation, growth, fiber quality, resistance to nematodes, and milk yield and composition. In contrast, a great effort has been devoted to the characterization of candidate genes and their association with milk, meat, and reproduction phenotypes. In this regard, causal mutations have been identified in the -casein gene that has a strong effect on milk composition and the PIS locus that is linked to intersexuality and polledness. In recent times, the development of massive parallel sequencing technologies has allowed to build a reference genome for goats as well as to monitor the expression of mRNAs and microRNAs in a broad array of tissues and experimental conditions. Besides, the recent design of a 52K SNP chip is expected to have a broad impact in the analysis of the genetic architecture of traits of economic interest as well as in the study of the population structure of goats at a worldwide scale. Marcel Amills Copyright © 2014 Marcel Amills. All rights reserved. Neutralization of Virus Infectivity by Antibodies: Old Problems in New Perspectives Tue, 09 Sep 2014 07:29:40 +0000 Neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) can be both sufficient and necessary for protection against viral infections, although they sometimes act in concert with cellular immunity. Successful vaccines against viruses induce NAbs but vaccine candidates against some major viral pathogens, including HIV-1, have failed to induce potent and effective such responses. Theories of how antibodies neutralize virus infectivity have been formulated and experimentally tested since the 1930s; and controversies about the mechanistic and quantitative bases for neutralization have continually arisen. Soluble versions of native oligomeric viral proteins that mimic the functional targets of neutralizing antibodies now allow the measurement of the relevant affinities of NAbs. Thereby the neutralizing occupancies on virions can be estimated and related to the potency of the NAbs. Furthermore, the kinetics and stoichiometry of NAb binding can be compared with neutralizing efficacy. Recently, the fundamental discovery that the intracellular factor TRIM21 determines the degree of neutralization of adenovirus has provided new mechanistic and quantitative insights. Since TRIM21 resides in the cytoplasm, it would not affect the neutralization of enveloped viruses, but its range of activity against naked viruses will be important to uncover. These developments bring together the old problems of virus neutralization—mechanism, stoichiometry, kinetics, and efficacy—from surprising new angles. P. J. Klasse Copyright © 2014 P. J. Klasse. All rights reserved. DNA Barcoding on Bacteria: A Review Tue, 26 Aug 2014 12:36:21 +0000 Bacteria are omnipotent and they can be found everywhere. The study of bacterial pathogens has been happening from olden days to prevent epidemics, food spoilage, losses in agricultural production, and loss of lives. Modern techniques in DNA based species identification are considered. So, there is a need to acquire simple and quick identification technique. Hence, this review article covers the efficacy of DNA barcoding of bacteria. Routine DNA barcoding involves the production of PCR amplicons from particular regions to sequence them and these sequence data are used to identify or “barcode” that organism to make a distinction from other species. D. E. Lebonah, A. Dileep, K. Chandrasekhar, S. Sreevani, B. Sreedevi, and J. Pramoda Kumari Copyright © 2014 D.E. Lebonah et al. All rights reserved. Biological Treatment of Textile Effluent Using Candida zeylanoides and Saccharomyces cerevisiae Isolated from Soil Mon, 25 Aug 2014 06:03:31 +0000 This study evaluates the efficacy of yeasts isolated from soil in the treatment of textile wastewater. Two yeast species were isolated from soil; they were identified as Candida zeylanoides and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The yeasts were inoculated into flask containing effluent and incubated for 15 days. Saccharomyces cerevisiae showed the most significant treatment capacity with a 66% reduction in BOD; this was followed closely by Candida zeylanoides with 57.3% reduction in BOD and a consortium of the two species showed the least remediation potential of 36.9%. The use of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida zeylanoides in treatment of textile wastewater will help to limit the adverse environmental and health implications associated with disposal of untreated effluent into water bodies. O. P. Abioye, O. T. Mustapha, and S. A. Aransiola Copyright © 2014 O. P. Abioye et al. All rights reserved. In Silico Identification and Characterization of Potential Drug Targets in Bovine Herpes Virus 4, Causing Bovine Mastitis Thu, 07 Aug 2014 10:53:15 +0000 The purpose of this study is to deal with aetiology causing bovine mastitis; bovine herpes virus is also responsible for causing bovine mastitis but studies on viruses have been neglected as historical mastitis research has concentrated only on bacterial pathogens. Therefore, present study aims to make an in silico identification and characterization of potential drug targets in bovine herpes virus 4 by computational methods using various bioinformatics tools. In the current investigation 5 proteins of BoHV 4 were found to be nonhomologous to the host Bos taurus; these nonhomology proteins were believed to be inevitable proteins of BoHV 4 as they were specific to the virus; however 378 proteins were homologous to the host protein. The in silico physicochemical characterization of 5 proteins of BoHV 4 indicated that all the proteins of the virus were having more or less similar characteristics. Perhaps the knowledge of the present study may help in drug discovery which have high affinity to target site. Possible drug discovery to manage bovine mastitis with a help of bioinformatics tool is more significant and, specific and, reduces time and complications involved in clinical trials. Mahantesh M. Kurjogi and Basappa B. Kaliwal Copyright © 2014 Mahantesh M. Kurjogi and Basappa B. Kaliwal. All rights reserved. Effects of the Hormone Kisspeptin on Reproductive Hormone Release in Humans Tue, 05 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0000 The kisspeptins are a family of neuropeptides which act as upstream stimulators of gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons. Kisspeptin signalling is prerequisite to establishing the normal human reproductive phenotype; loss of function mutations in the KISS1 or KISS1R gene produces normosmic hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism in humans and mice, whilst increased activation of KISS1R causes precocious puberty. Administration of exogenous kisspeptin to human subjects stimulates an acute gonadotrophin rise. Serum kisspeptin levels also markedly increase during pregnancy. The identification of kisspeptin has been one of the biggest discoveries in the field of reproductive endocrinology, since the isolation and sequencing of GnRH in 1977, and has generated a novel research avenue which has received much attention over the past decade. This research has delineated many properties of the KISS1-KISS1R system, but there is still further work to do. Understanding kisspeptin’s role throughout our reproductive lifetime should help us better understand—and therefore treat—disorders of reproductive function. Promisingly, the current data supports the potential to develop kisspeptin based therapies. As an outlook article this paper focusses predominantly on our groups recent investigations into the effects of kisspeptin administration to humans and the potential therapeutic role of kisspeptin. Joanne L. Calley and Waljit S. Dhillo Copyright © 2014 Joanne L. Calley and Waljit S. Dhillo. All rights reserved. Identification and Expression of a Putative Facilitative Urea Transporter in Three Species of True Frogs (Ranidae): Implications for Terrestrial Adaptation Wed, 23 Jul 2014 09:38:15 +0000 Urea transporters (UTs) help mediate the transmembrane movement of urea and therefore are likely important in amphibian osmoregulation. Although UTs contribute to urea reabsorption in anuran excretory organs, little is known about the protein’s distribution and functions in other tissues, and their importance in the evolutionary adaptation of amphibians to their environment remains unclear. To address these questions, we obtained a partial sequence of a putative UT and examined relative abundance of this protein in tissues of the wood frog (Rana sylvatica), leopard frog (R. pipiens), and mink frog (R. septentrionalis), closely related species that are adapted to different habitats. Using immunoblotting techniques, we found the protein to be abundant in the osmoregulatory organs but also present in visceral organs, suggesting that UTs play both osmoregulatory and nonosmoregulatory roles in amphibians. UT abundance seems to relate to the species’ habitat preference, as levels of the protein were higher in the terrestrial R. sylvatica, intermediate in the semiaquatic R. pipiens, and quite low in the aquatic R. septentrionalis. These findings suggest that, in amphibians, UTs are involved in various physiological processes, including solute and water dynamics, and that they have played a role in adaptation to the osmotic challenges of terrestrial environments. Andrew J. Rosendale, Jon P. Costanzo, Andor J. Kiss, and Richard E. Lee Jr. Copyright © 2014 Andrew J. Rosendale et al. All rights reserved. Antiobesity and Hypolipidemic Activity of Moringa oleifera Leaves against High Fat Diet-Induced Obesity in Rats Thu, 10 Jul 2014 11:43:57 +0000 In the present study, the methanolic extract of Moringa oleifera leaves (MEMOL) was evaluated for antiobesity activity in rats. The antiobesity potential of MEMOL was studied against high fat diet-induced obesity (HFD) in rats. In this study, chronic administration of HFD in rats produced hypercholesterolemia (116.2 ± 0.27 mg/dL), which led to an increase in the body weight (225 gr), total cholesterol, triglycerides (263.0 ± 4.69 mg/dL), and attenuation in the levels of HDL (34.51 ± 2.20 mg/dL) as well as changes in body temperature of animals. Treatment of obese rats with MEMOL for 49 days resulted in a significant () change in body weight, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL level along with a significant () increase in body temperature as compared to the HFD-induced obesity. MEMOL treated rats also showed a significant decrease in the level of liver biomarkers, organ weight, and blood glucose level. Further, rats treated with MEMOL (200 mg and 400 mg/kg) show reduced atherogenic index (1.7 ± 0.6 and 0.87 ± 0.76). The results indicate that the rats treated with Moringa oleifera (MO) have significantly attenuated the body weight without any change in the feed intake and also elicited significant thermogenic effect and to act as hypolipidemic and thermogenic property in obesity related disorders. Souravh Bais, Guru Sewak Singh, and Ramica Sharma Copyright © 2014 Souravh Bais et al. All rights reserved. The Basis of Muscle Regeneration Wed, 09 Jul 2014 07:24:13 +0000 Muscle regeneration recapitulates many aspects of embryonic myogenesis and is an important homeostatic process of the adult skeletal muscle, which, after development, retains the capacity to regenerate in response to appropriate stimuli, activating the muscle compartment of stem cells, namely, satellite cells, as well as other precursor cells. Moreover, significant evidence suggests that while stem cells represent an important determinant for tissue regeneration, a “qualified” environment is necessary to guarantee and achieve functional results. It is therefore plausible that the loss of control over these cell fate decisions could lead to a pathological transdifferentiation, leading to pathologic defects in the regenerative process. This review provides an overview about the general aspects of muscle development and discusses the cellular and molecular aspects that characterize the five interrelated and time-dependent phases of muscle regeneration, namely, degeneration, inflammation, regeneration, remodeling, and maturation/functional repair. Antonio Musarò Copyright © 2014 Antonio Musarò. All rights reserved. Advances in Human Biology: Combining Genetics and Molecular Biophysics to Pave the Way for Personalized Diagnostics and Medicine Mon, 07 Jul 2014 08:52:50 +0000 Advances in several biology-oriented initiatives such as genome sequencing and structural genomics, along with the progress made through traditional biological and biochemical research, have opened up a unique opportunity to better understand the molecular effects of human diseases. Human DNA can vary significantly from person to person and determines an individual’s physical characteristics and their susceptibility to diseases. Armed with an individual’s DNA sequence, researchers and physicians can check for defects known to be associated with certain diseases by utilizing various databases. However, for unclassified DNA mutations or in order to reveal molecular mechanism behind the effects, the mutations have to be mapped onto the corresponding networks and macromolecular structures and then analyzed to reveal their effect on the wild type properties of biological processes involved. Predicting the effect of DNA mutations on individual’s health is typically referred to as personalized or companion diagnostics. Furthermore, once the molecular mechanism of the mutations is revealed, the patient should be given drugs which are the most appropriate for the individual genome, referred to as pharmacogenomics. Altogether, the shift in focus in medicine towards more genomic-oriented practices is the foundation of personalized medicine. The progress made in these rapidly developing fields is outlined. Emil Alexov Copyright © 2014 Emil Alexov. All rights reserved. Importance of Biofilms in Urinary Tract Infections: New Therapeutic Approaches Wed, 02 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0000 Bacterial biofilms play an important role in urinary tract infections (UTIs), being responsible for persistence infections causing relapses and acute prostatitis. Bacterial forming biofilm are difficult to eradicate due to the antimicrobial resistant phenotype that this structure confers being combined therapy recommended for the treatment of biofilm-associated infections. However, the presence of persistent cells showing reduced metabolism that leads to higher levels of antimicrobial resistance makes the search for new therapeutic tools necessary. Here, a review of these new therapeutic approaches is provided including catheters coated with hydrogels or antibiotics, nanoparticles, iontophoresis, biofilm enzyme inhibitors, liposomes, bacterial interference, bacteriophages, quorum sensing inhibitors, low-energy surface acoustic waves, and antiadhesion agents. In conclusion, new antimicrobial drugs that inhibit bacterial virulence and biofilm formation are needed. Sara M. Soto Copyright © 2014 Sara M. Soto. All rights reserved. Translational Research: From Biological Discovery to Public Benefit (or Not) Mon, 30 Jun 2014 11:03:24 +0000 Advances in biology are occurring at a breathtaking pace today, from genetic insights facilitated by the Human Genome Project and next generation DNA sequencing technologies, to global nucleic acid and proteomic expression measurement using new high-throughput methods. Less publicized in recent years, yet still the central driver of progress, are the steadily proceeding biological insights gained through tried and true hypothesis-driven investigation into the complex worlds of metabolism, growth, development, and regulation. Certainly, the basic science ecosystem is productive and this portends well for the myriad new applications that will benefit mankind; drugs, vaccines, devices, and related economic growth—or perhaps not—in stark contrast to the generation of fundamental biological knowledge are inefficiencies in applying this information to real-world problems, especially those of the clinic. While investigation hums along at light speed, translation often does not. The good news is that obstacles to progress are tractable. The bad news, however, is that these problems are difficult. The present paper examines translational research from multiple perspectives, beginning with a historical account and proceeding to the current state of the art. Included are descriptions of successes and challenges, along with conjecture on how the field may need to evolve in the future. Michael R. Emmert-Buck Copyright © 2014 Michael R. Emmert-Buck. All rights reserved. Cross Talk between Cellular Regulatory Networks Mediated by Shared Proteins Wed, 25 Jun 2014 06:08:21 +0000 Moonlighting proteins mediate cross talk between different pathways and cellular control networks. Sometimes, they even coordinate subsequent steps in the same pathway. For this Outlook paper we asked the question, which cellular processes employ multifunctional proteins (MFPs) and what makes them so attractive to cells and organisms. After reviewing their widespread occurrence, we will focus on higher eukaryotic model systems and on few examples that are linked to ongoing work in our laboratory. We will discuss the activities of transcription factor IIH (TFIIH), and its subcomplexes containing Xpd and Cdk7, and we will cover an aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase (LysRS) and DEAD box RNA helicases. Furthermore, we will analyze how cells are able to properly regulate the different biological activities of multifunctional proteins and which advantages such proteins offer to cells and organisms. Finally we also note that the proteins we discuss are linked to tumor formation or recruited by viruses that coopt the multifunctional protein for yet another purpose. Christine Dolde, Jiongming Lu, and Beat Suter Copyright © 2014 Christine Dolde et al. All rights reserved. Migrating into Genomics with the Neural Crest Sun, 22 Jun 2014 05:51:11 +0000 Neural crest cells are a fascinating embryonic cell type, unique to vertebrates, which arise within the central nervous system but emigrate soon after its formation and migrate to numerous and sometimes distant locations in the periphery. Following their migratory phase, they differentiate into diverse derivatives ranging from peripheral neurons and glia to skin melanocytes and craniofacial cartilage and bone. The molecular underpinnings underlying initial induction of prospective neural crest cells at the neural plate border to their migration and differentiation have been modeled in the form of a putative gene regulatory network. This review describes experiments performed in my laboratory in the past few years aimed to test and elaborate this gene regulatory network from both an embryonic and evolutionary perspective. The rapid advances in genomic technology in the last decade have greatly expanded our knowledge of important transcriptional inputs and epigenetic influences on neural crest development. The results reveal new players and new connections in the neural crest gene regulatory network and suggest that it has an ancient origin at the base of the vertebrate tree. Marianne E. Bronner Copyright © 2014 Marianne E. Bronner. All rights reserved. Effects of Sucrose and Other Additives on In Vitro Growth and Development of Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea L.) Mon, 16 Jun 2014 12:49:13 +0000 Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower) is being used for the preparation of more than 240 extracts, salves, and tinctures to help cure diseases like rabies, cold, and upper respiratory infections. Hence, efforts were made to develop a culture medium for successful in vitro culturing of cornflower and to regenerate buds and induce roots to enable mass propagation of selected clones. Of the three levels of sucrose tested as a supplement to MS media (Murashige and Skoog’s medium, 1962) 3% showed better rooting of buds and appeared morphologically normal and identical as compared to those grown at higher and lower concentrations (2 and 4%). The additives hydrolyzed lactabumin (0.0, 100, 300, and 900 mgL−1), peptone (0.0, 100, 300, and 900 mgL−1), and yeast (0.0, 100, 300, and 900 mgL−1) to media containing 0.3 mgL−1 BA (6-benzyladenine) and 0.01 mgL−1 NAA (naphthaleneacetic acid-plant growth regulators) has negatively influenced proliferation of shoots. The higher concentrations of the above have delayed the development of plantlets. Shoot multiplication was enhanced by coconut water with 2% being the best among 4 and 8% tested. Shoot organogenesis was not influenced by copper sulphate (0, 1.5, 3, 6, and 12 mgL−1) and silver nitrate (0.0, 0.5, 2.5, and 12.5 mgL−1) supplements and at higher concentrations of the above inhibited plant growth. Dahanayake Nilanthi and Yue-Sheng Yang Copyright © 2014 Dahanayake Nilanthi and Yue-Sheng Yang. All rights reserved. Evolutionary History of Terrestrial Pathogens and Endoparasites as Revealed in Fossils and Subfossils Thu, 12 Jun 2014 12:20:08 +0000 The present work uses fossils and subfossils to decipher the origin and evolution of terrestrial pathogens and endoparasites. Fossils, as interpreted by morphology or specific features of their hosts, furnish minimum dates for the origin of infectious agents, coevolution with hosts, and geographical locations. Subfossils, those that can be C14 dated (roughly under 50,000 years) and are identified by morphology as well as molecular and immunological techniques, provide time periods when humans became infected with various diseases. The pathogen groups surveyed include viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and select multicellular endoparasites including nematodes, trematodes, cestodes, and insect parasitoids in the terrestrial environment. George Poinar Jr. Copyright © 2014 George Poinar Jr. All rights reserved. Role of Orphan Nuclear Receptor DAX-1/NR0B1 in Development, Physiology, and Disease Tue, 20 May 2014 07:27:03 +0000 DAX-1/NR0B1 is an unusual orphan receptor that has a pivotal role in the development and function of steroidogenic tissues and of the reproductive axis. Recent studies have also indicated that this transcription factor has an important function in stem cell biology and in several types of cancer. Here I critically review the most important findings on the role of DAX-1 in development, physiology, and disease of endocrine tissues since the cloning of its gene twenty years ago. Enzo Lalli Copyright © 2014 Enzo Lalli. All rights reserved. The Role of TWIST in Angiogenesis and Cell Migration in Giant Cell Tumor of Bone Wed, 14 May 2014 11:29:27 +0000 Giant cell tumor of bone (GCT) is a bone tumor consisting of numerous multinucleated osteoclastic giant cells involved in bone resorption and neoplastic osteoblast-like stromal cells responsible for tumor growth. The tumor occasionally metastasizes to the lung; however, factors leading to metastasis in this tumor are unknown. The TWIST-1 protein (also referred to as TWIST) has been suggested to be involved in epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and tumor progression in some cancers. In this study we investigated the functional role of TWIST in GCT cell angiogenesis and migration. Overexpression of TWIST in neoplastic GCT stromal cells significantly increased mRNA and protein expression of VEGF and VEGFR1 in vitro, whereas knockdown of TWIST resulted in decreased VEGF and VEGFR1 expression. A stable cell line with TWIST overexpression resulted in features of EMT including increased cell migration and downregulation of E-cadherin. The results of our study indicate that TWIST may play an important role in angiogenesis and cell migration in GCT. Shalini Singh, Isabella W. Y. Mak, Divya Handa, and Michelle Ghert Copyright © 2014 Shalini Singh et al. All rights reserved. The Role of the Actin Cytoskeleton and Lipid Rafts in the Localization and Function of the ABCC1 Transporter Mon, 05 May 2014 06:40:20 +0000 ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters are known to be important factors in multidrug resistance of tumor cells. Lipid rafts have been implicated in their localization in the plasma membrane, where they function as drug efflux pumps. This specific localization in rafts may support the activity of ABC/Abc transporters. This raises questions regarding the nature and composition of the lipid rafts that harbor ABC/Abc transporters and the dependence of ABC/Abc transporters—concerning their localization and activity—on lipid raft constituents. Here we review our work of the past 10 years aimed at evaluating whether ABC/Abc transporters are dependent on a particular membrane environment for their function. What is the nature of this membrane environment and which of the lipid raft constituents are important for this dependency? It turns out that cortical actin is of major importance for stabilizing the localization and function of the ABC/Abc transporter, provided it is localized in an actin-dependent subtype of lipid rafts, as is the case for human ABCC1/multidrug resistance-related protein 1 (MRP1) and rodent Abcc1/Mrp1 but not human ABCB1/P-glycoprotein (PGP). On the other hand, sphingolipids do not appear to be modulators of ABCC1/MRP1 (or Abcc1/Mrp1), even though they are coregulated during drug resistance development. Jan Willem Kok, Karin Klappe, and Ina Hummel Copyright © 2014 Jan Willem Kok et al. All rights reserved. The Biosynthesis of the Molybdenum Cofactor in Escherichia coli and Its Connection to FeS Cluster Assembly and the Thiolation of tRNA Tue, 29 Apr 2014 07:24:15 +0000 The thiolation of biomolecules is a complex process that involves the activation of sulfur. The L-cysteine desulfurase IscS is the main sulfur mobilizing protein in Escherichia coli that provides the sulfur from L-cysteine to several important biomolecules in the cell such as iron sulfur (FeS) clusters, molybdopterin (MPT), thiamine, and thionucleosides of tRNA. Various proteins mediate the transfer of sulfur from IscS to various biomolecules using different interaction partners. A direct connection between the sulfur-containing molecules FeS clusters, thiolated tRNA, and the molybdenum cofactor (Moco) has been identified. The first step of Moco biosynthesis involves the conversion of 5′GTP to cyclic pyranopterin monophosphate (cPMP), a reaction catalyzed by a FeS cluster containing protein. Formed cPMP is further converted to MPT by insertion of two sulfur atoms. The sulfur for this reaction is provided by the L-cysteine desulfurase IscS in addition to the involvement of the TusA protein. TusA is also involved in the sulfur transfer for the thiolation of tRNA. This review will describe the biosynthesis of Moco in E. coli in detail and dissects the sulfur transfer pathways for Moco and tRNA and their connection to FeS cluster biosynthesis. Silke Leimkühler Copyright © 2014 Silke Leimkühler. All rights reserved. Colorful World of Microbes: Carotenoids and Their Applications Sun, 13 Apr 2014 12:18:04 +0000 Microbial cells accumulate pigments under certain culture conditions, which have very important industrial applications. Microorganisms can serve as sources of carotenoids, the most widespread group of naturally occurring pigments. More than 750 structurally different yellow, orange, and red colored molecules are found in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes with an estimated market of $ 919 million by 2015. Carotenoids protect cells against photooxidative damage and hence found important applications in environment, food and nutrition, disease control, and as potent antimicrobial agents. In addition to many research advances, this paper reviews concerns with recent evaluations, applications of microbial pigments, and recommendations for future researches with an understanding of evolution and biosynthetic pathways along with other relevant aspects. Kushwaha Kirti, Saini Amita, Saraswat Priti, Agarwal Mukesh Kumar, and Saxena Jyoti Copyright © 2014 Kushwaha Kirti et al. All rights reserved. The Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor and Personality Thu, 27 Mar 2014 07:30:23 +0000 The study of the biological basis of personality is a timely research endeavor, with the aim of deepening our understanding of human nature. In recent years, a growing body of research has investigated the role of the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the context of individual differences across human beings, with a focus on personality traits. A large number of different approaches have been chosen to illuminate the role of BDNF for personality, ranging from the measurement of BDNF in the serum/plasma to molecular genetics to (genetic) brain imaging. The present review provides the reader with an overview of the current state of affairs in the context of BDNF and personality. Christian Montag Copyright © 2014 Christian Montag. All rights reserved.