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    ABSTRACT: The atrial volume receptor reflex arc serves to regulate plasma volume. Atrial volume receptors located in the endocardium of the atrial wall undergo mechanical deformation as blood is returned to the atria of the heart. The mechanosensitive channel(s) responsible for regulating plasma volume remain to be determined. Here we report that the TRP channel family members TRPC1 and TRPV4 were expressed in sensory nerve endings in the atrial endocardium. Furthermore, TRPC1 and TRPV4 were coincident with the nerve ending vesicle marker synaptophysin. Calcitonin gene related peptide was exclusively confined to the myo- and epicardium of the atria. The small conductance Ca(2+)-activated K(+) channels (SK2 and SK4) were also present, however there was no relationship between SK and TRP channels. SK2 channels were expressed in nerves in the epicardium, while SK4 channels were in some regions of the endocardium but appeared to be present in epithelial cells rather than sensory endings. In conclusion, we have provided the first evidence for TRPC1 and TRPV4 channels as potential contributors to mechanosensation in the atrial volume receptors.
    Neuroscience 03/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: LINC (Linker of Nucleoskeleton and Cytoskeleton) complex is an evolutionary conserved structure that spans the entire nuclear envelope (NE), and integrates the nuclear interior with the cytoskeleton, in order to support a diverse array of fundamental biological processes. A key component of the LINC complex are nesprins (Nuclear Envelope SPectrin Repeat proteINS) that were initially described as large integral NE proteins. However, nesprin genes are complex and generate many variants, which occupy various sub-cellular compartments suggesting additional functions. Hence, the potential involvement of nesprins in disease has expanded immensely on what we already know. That is, nesprins are implicated in diseases such as: cancer, myopathies, arthrogryposis, neurological disorders and hearing loss. Here we review nesprins by providing an in depth account of their structure, molecular interactions and cellular functions with relevance to their potential roles in disease. Specifically, we speculate about possible pathomechanisms underlying nesprin-associated diseases.
    Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology 12/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: We have recently developed a range of synthetic retinoid analogues which include the compounds EC23 and EC19. They are stable on exposure to light and are predicted to be resistant to the normal metabolic processes involved in the inactivation of retinoids in vivo. Based on the position of the terminal carboxylic acid groups in the compounds we suggest that EC23 is a structural analogue of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), and EC19 is an analogue of 13-cis retinoic acid. Their effects on the differentiation of pluripotent stem cells has been previously described in vitro and are consistent with this hypothesis. We present herein the first description of the effects of these molecules in vivo. Retinoids were applied to the anterior limb buds of chicken embryos in ovo via ion-exchange beads. We found that retinoid EC23 produces effects on the wing digits similar to ATRA, but does so at two orders of magnitude lower concentration. When larger quantities of EC23 are applied, a novel phenotype is obtained involving production of multiple digit 1s on the anterior limb. This corresponds to differential effects of ATRA and EC23 on sonic hedgehog (shh) expression in the developing limb bud. With EC23 application we also find digit 1 phenotypes similar to thumb duplications described in the clinical literature. EC23 and ATRA are shown to have effects on the entire proximal-distal axis of the limb, including hitherto undescribed effects on the scapula. This includes suppression of expression of the scapula marker Pax1. EC23 also produces effects similar to those of ATRA on the developing face, producing reductions of the upper beak at concentrations two orders of magnitude lower than ATRA. In contrast, EC19, which is structurally very similar to EC23, has novel, less severe effects on the face and rarely alters limb development. EC19 and ATRA are effective at similar concentrations. These results further demonstrate the ability of retinoids to influence embryonic development. Moreover, EC23 represents a useful new tool to investigate developmental processes and probe the mechanisms underlying congenital abnormalities in vertebrates including man.
    Journal of Anatomy 12/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Artificial epidermis can be reconstituted in vitro by seeding primary epidermal cells (keratinocytes) onto a supportive substrate and then growing the developing skin equivalent at the air-liquid interface. In vitro skin models are widely used to study skin biology and for industrial drug and cosmetic testing. Here, we describe updated methods for growing 3-dimensional skin equivalents using de-vitalized, de-epidermalized dermis (DED) substrates including methods for DED substrate preparation, cell seeding, growth conditions, and fixation procedures.
    Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 11/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: This study describes the development of a functional porous polymer for use as a scaffold to support 3D hepatocyte culture. A high internal phase emulsion (HIPE) is prepared containing the monomers styrene (STY), divinylbenzene (DVB), and 2-ethylhexyl acrylate (EHA) in the external oil phase and the monomer acrylic acid (Aa) in the internal aqueous phase. Upon thermal polymerization with azobisisobutyronitrile (AIBN), the resulting porous polymer (polyHIPE) is found to have an open-cell morphology and a porosity of 89%, both suitable characteristics for 3D cell scaffold applications. X-ray photo-electron spectroscopy reveals that the polyHIPE surface contained 7.5% carboxylic acid functionality, providing a useful substrate for subsequent surface modifications and bio-conjugations. Initial bio-compatibility assessments with human hepatocytes show that the acid functionality does not have any detrimental effect on cell adhesion. It is therefore believed that this material can be a useful precursor scaffold towards 3D substrates that offer tailored surface functionality for enhanced cell adhesion.
    Macromolecular Rapid Communications 11/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The histamine field has moved on rapidly in the last four years, with expansion in roles and clinical development, particularly in the newest two of four histamine receptors. This themed volume is a testament to this expansion with 16 original and review articles spanning a wide spectrum of histamine-related topics, with therapeutic translational relevance to addiction, dementias, anxiety disorders, cancers, vestibular disorders, migraine and autoimmune disorders. This article is part of a themed issue on Histamine Pharmacology Update. To view the other articles in this issue visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2013.170.issue-1.
    British Journal of Pharmacology 09/2013; 170(1):1-3.
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding the evolution of diversity and the resulting systematics in marine systems is confounded by the lack of clear boundaries in oceanic habitats, especially for highly mobile species like marine mammals. Dolphin populations and sibling species often show differentiation between coastal and offshore habitats, similar to the pelagic/littoral or benthic differentiation seen for some species of fish. Here we test the hypothesis that lineages within the polytypic genus Tursiops track past changes in the environment reflecting ecological drivers of evolution facilitated by habitat release. We used a known recent time point for calibration (the opening of the Bosphorus) and whole mitochondrial genome (mitogenome) sequences for high phylogenetic resolution. The pattern of lineage formation suggested an origin in Australasia and several early divisions involving forms currently inhabiting coastal habitats. Radiation in pelagic environments was relatively recent, and was likely followed by a return to coastal habitat in some regions. The timing of some nodes defining different ecotypes within the genus clustered near the two most recent interglacial transitions. A signal for an increase in diversification was also seen for dates after the last glacial maximum. Together these data suggest the tracking of habitat preference during geographic expansions, followed by transition points reflecting habitat shifts, which were likely associated with periods of environmental change.
    Systematic Biology 08/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The cause and mechanism of development of Alzheimer's disease (AD) remain unexplained. Hyperactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, denoted by adrenal cortisol hypersecretion, is a recognised feature of the condition but generally disregarded as causative, due to lack of association between AD and other hypercortisolemic states. However, a meta-analysis of published studies suggests a need for reappraisal. A specific circadian rhythm of cortisol hypersecretion pertains at mild-to-moderate AD stages, entailing increased levels at the circadian peak from a low nadir. This is in contrast to the continuously elevated levels that are characteristic of other hypercortisolemic states, e.g. Cushing's disease or major depression. This previously overlooked detail provides a starting premise here: that equating the form of hypercortisolism in AD with that in other states is inappropriate, as phasic and chronic elevation elicit different neuroendocrine effects. Theoretical implications are discussed in this review. Given the capacity of glucocorticoids and corticotropin-releasing hormone to induce AD-associated pathologies, I suggest a role for circadian cortisol hypersecretion in the initiation of sporadic AD; and propose a temporal mechanism for AD development featuring neuroinflammation-mediated suppression of central glucocorticoid receptor (GR) signaling. This latter may represent a critical phase in AD development, where the density of functional GR is proposed to underlie the "cognitive reserve". Supporting evidence for this mechanism is drawn from the brain regional locations of AD neuropathologies, and from risk factors for AD development (aging, ApoE-4 genotype, and hypertension). Thus, it is argued that basal hypercortisolemia merits further scrutiny regarding AD causation and development.
    Current Alzheimer research 07/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The impacts of large dams on the hydrology and ecology of river systems are well understood, yet the impacts of low-head structures are poorly known. While impacts of small weirs on upstream-migrating fish have long been mitigated by fish ladders, it is assumed that downstream migration of surface-oriented fishes is unaffected under natural flow regimes. To test this, the effects of low-head weirs and the influence of river flow on the migration of brown trout (Salmo trutta) smolts in the River Tweed, UK, were examined. Movements of acoustic tagged smolts were quantified in 2010 and 2011 using automatic listening stations and manual tracking throughout the migration route. In both years, smolts exhibited major losses, most likely due to predators, with escapement rates of 19% in 2010 and 45% in 2011. Loss rates were greater in 2010 when flows were frequently below Q95 (20% of study period) compared to 2011 when more typical flows predominated (0% of study period below Q95). Smolts experienced significantly longer delays at weirs during 2010 than 2011, associated with the different hydrographs during emigration as well as weir design. Flow comparisons within the study periods and historical records show that low flows experienced in 2010 were not unusual. The swimming behaviour of smolts in relation to flow conditions differed between years, with smolts in 2010 increasing their rate of movement in relation to increasing flow at a faster rate than smolts in 2011. This is the first study to demonstrate river flow impacts on the migration success of wild salmonid smolts at small weirs. Because small weirs are common in rivers and because spring-summer low-flow periods may become more frequent with climate change (based on UKCIP09 models) and altered river hydrology, further research and improved management is needed to reduce the impacts of low river flows in combination with low-head weirs on salmonid smolt migration.
    Science of The Total Environment 05/2013; 458-460C:435-443.
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    ABSTRACT: The MtrCDE multidrug pump, from Neisseria gonorrhoeae, is assembled from the inner and outer membrane proteins MtrD and MtrE, which are connected by the periplasmic membrane fusion protein MtrC. Although it is clear that MtrD delivers drugs to the channel of MtrE, it remains unclear how drug delivery and channel opening are connected. We used a vancomycin sensitivity assay to test for opening of the MtrE channel. Cells expressing MtrE or MtrE-E434K were insensitive to vancomycin; but became moderately and highly sensitive to vancomycin respectively, when coexpressed with MtrC, suggesting that the MtrE channel opening requires MtrC binding and is energy-independent. Cells expressing wild-type MtrD, in an MtrCE background, were vancomycin-insensitive, but moderately sensitive in an MtrCE-E434K background. The mutation of residues involved in proton translocation inactivated MtrD and abolished drug efflux, rendered both MtrE and MtrE-E434K vancomycin-insensitive; imply that the pump-component interactions are preserved, and that the complex is stable in the absence of proton flux, thus sealing the open end of MtrE. Following the energy-dependent dissociation of the tripartite complex, the MtrE channel is able to reseal, while MtrE-E434K is unable to do so, resulting in the vancomycin-sensitive phenotype. Thus, our findings suggest that opening of the OMP via interaction with the MFP is energy-independent, while both drug export and complex dissociation require active proton flux.
    Molecular Microbiology 04/2013;
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