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    ABSTRACT: To understand why cross-species infection of prion disease often results in inefficient transmission and reduced protein conversion, most research has focused on defining the effect of variations in PrP primary structures, including sequence compatibility of substrate and seed. By contrast, little research has been aimed at investigating structural differences between different variants of PrP(C) and secondary structural requirements for efficient conversion. This is despite a clear role for molecular chaperones in formation of prions in non-mammalian systems, indicating the importance of secondary/tertiary structure during the conversion process. Recent data from our laboratory on the cellular location of disease-specific prion cofactors supports the critical role of specific secondary structural motifs and the stability of these motifs in determining the efficiency of disease-specific prion protein conversion. In this paper we summarize our recent results and build on the hypothesis previously suggested by Wuthrich and colleagues, that stability of certain regions of the prion protein is crucial for protein conversion to abnormal isoforms in vivo. It is suggested that one role for molecular cofactors in the conversion process is to stabilize PrP(C) structure in a form that is amenable for conversion to PrP(Sc).
    Prion 10/2014; 4(4):235-42. DOI:10.4161/pri.4.4.13394
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    ABSTRACT: Macrophage colony-stimulating factor (CSF1) controls the proliferation and differentiation of cells of the mononuclear phagocyte system. CSF1, alongside a second ligand, interleukin-34 (IL-34), acts by binding to a cell surface receptor (CSF1R). We previously cloned and expressed pig CSF1 and IL-34. Here we produced a pig CSF1R-Ig+pFUSE Fc fusion protein and used it as an immunogen to produce three monoclonal antibodies (ROS8G11, ROS3A5 and ROS3B10) targeted against porcine CSF1R. Specific binding of each monoclonal antibody was confirmed by ELISA, western blot, flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry. The antibodies did not block CSF1 signalling. The surface expression of CSF1R in pig peripheral blood was restricted to CD14-positive monocytes and was also detected on lung macrophages. These antibodies provided an opportunity to investigate the increase of available CSF1R during pig BMDM differentiation. The new monoclonal antibodies provide useful reagents to support the study of monocyte and macrophage biology in the pig.
    Developmental & Comparative Immunology 07/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.dci.2014.07.001
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    ABSTRACT: The European Network for Cancer Research in Children and Adolescents consortium organized a workshop in Rome, in June 2012, on "Biology-Driven Drug Development Renal Tumors Workshop" to discuss the current knowledge in pediatric renal cancers and to recommend directions for further research. Wilms tumor is the most common renal tumor of childhood and represents a success of pediatric oncology, with cure rates of more than 85% of cases. However, a substantial minority (∼25%) responds poorly to current therapies and requires "high-risk" treatment or relapse. Moreover, the successfully treated majority are vulnerable to the late effects of treatment, with nearly one quarter reporting severe chronic health conditions by 25 years of follow-up. Main purposes of this meeting were to advance our understanding on the molecular drivers in Wilms tumor, their heterogeneity and interdependencies; to provide updates on the clinical-pathologic associations with biomarkers; to identify eligible populations for targeted drugs; and to model opportunities to use preclinical model systems and prioritize targeted agents for early phase clinical trials. At least three different pathways are involved in Wilms tumor; this review represents the outcome of the workshop discussion on the WNT/β-catenin pathway in Wilms tumorigenesis. Mol Cancer Ther; 12(12); 1-9. ©2013 AACR.
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 11/2013; 12(12). DOI:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-13-0335
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    ABSTRACT: The WT1 gene was originally identified through its involvement in the development of Wilms tumours. The gene is characterized by a plethora of different isoforms with, in some cases, clearly different functions in transcriptional control and RNA metabolism. Many different mouse models for Wt1 have already been generated, and these are increasingly providing new information on the molecular roles of Wt1 in normal development and disease. In this review we discuss the different models that have been generated and what they have taught us about the role of Wt1 in the kidney.
    Pediatric Nephrology 11/2013; 29(4). DOI:10.1007/s00467-013-2673-7
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    ABSTRACT: Herpesviruses encode miRNAs that target both virus and host genes; however their role in herpesvirus biology is poorly understood. We previously identified eight miRNAs encoded by OvHV-2; the causative agent of malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) and have now investigated the role of these miRNAs in regulating expression of OvHV-2 genes that play important roles in virus biology. ORF 20 (cell cycle inhibition), ORF 50 (reactivation) and ORF 73 (latency maintenance) each contain predicted targets for several OvHV-2 miRNAs. Co-transfection of miRNA mimics with luciferase reporter constructs containing the predicted targets showed the 5 UTRs of ORF 20 and ORF73 contain functional targets for ovhv-miR-2 and ovhv2-miR-8 respectively, and the 3UTR of ORF 50 contains a functional target for ovhv2-miR-5. Transfection of BJ1035 cells (an OvHV-2 infected bovine T cell line) with the relevant miRNA mimic resulted in a significant decrease in ORF 50 and a smaller but non-significant decrease in ORF 20. However, we were unable to demonstrate a decrease in ORF73. MCF is a disease of dysregulated lymphocyte proliferation, miRNA inhibition of ORF 20 expression may play a role in this aberrant lymphocyte proliferation. The proteins encoded by ORFs 50 and 73 play opposing roles in latency, it has been hypothesized that miRNA-induced inhibition of virus genes acts to ensure that fluctuations in virus mRNA levels do not result in reactivation in conditions that are unfavourable for viral replication, our data would support this hypothesis.
    Journal of General Virology 10/2013; DOI:10.1099/vir.0.059303-0
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    ABSTRACT: Stabilisation of β-catenin, through inhibition of Glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) activity, in conjunction with inhibition of the enzyme MEK, promotes self-renewal of naïve-type mouse embryonic stem cells (ESC). In developmentally more advanced, primed-type, epiblast stem cells (EpiSC), however, β-catenin activity induces differentiation. We investigated the response of rat ESCs to β-catenin signalling and found that when maintained on feeder-support cells in the presence of a MEK inhibitor alone (1i culture), the derivation efficiency, growth, karyotypic stability, transcriptional profile, and differentiation potential of rat ESC cultures was similar to that of cell lines established using both MEK and GSK3 inhibitors (2i culture). Equivalent mouse ESCs, by comparison, differentiated in identical 1i conditions, consistent with insufficient β-catenin activity. This interspecies difference in reliance on GSK3 inhibition corresponded with higher overall levels of β-catenin activity in rat ESCs. Indeed, rat ESCs displayed widespread expression of the mesendoderm-associated β-catenin targets, Brachyury and Cdx2 in 2i medium, and overt differentiation upon further increases in β-catenin activity. In contrast, mouse ESC were resistant to differentiation at similarly elevated doses of GSK3 inhibitor. Interestingly, without feeder support, moderate levels of GSK3 inhibition were necessary to support effective growth of rat ESC, confirming the conserved role for β-catenin in ESC self-renewal. This work identifies β-catenin signalling as a molecular rheostat in rat ESC, regulating self-renewal in a dose-dependent manner, and highlights the potential importance of controlling flux in this signalling pathway to achieve effective stabilisation of naïve pluripotency.
    Stem Cells 10/2013; 31(10). DOI:10.1002/stem.1466
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Interest in pluripotent livestock stem cells has been with us for over 2 decades, and although much has been claimed over the years, it is only recently that real progress has been achieved. The recent developments have revolved around the ability to reprogramm somatic cells to become induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Progress has been achieved in porcine, bovine, equine, and ovine species; but for each species, the extent of progress is different. I review the position of ovine iPSCs and comment on the two main drivers for this work-to produce "better" cells for nuclear transfer and to develop a good in vitro system to study the early development of ruminants.
    09/2013; DOI:10.1089/cell.2013.0039
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    ABSTRACT: SUMMARY The co-occurrence of different pathogen species and their simultaneous infection of hosts are common, and may affect host health outcomes. Co-infecting pathogens may interact synergistically (harming the host more) or antagonistically (harming the host less) compared with single infections. Here we have tested associations of infections and their co-infections with variation in growth rate using a subset of 455 animals of the Infectious Diseases of East Africa Livestock (IDEAL) cohort study surviving to one year. Data on live body weight, infections with helminth parasites and haemoparasites were collected every 5 weeks during the first year of life. Growth of zebu cattle during the first year of life was best described by a linear growth function. A large variation in daily weight gain with a range of 0·03-0·34 kg, and a mean of 0·135 kg (0·124, 0·146; 95% CI) was observed. After controlling for other significant covariates in mixed effects statistical models, the results revealed synergistic interactions (lower growth rates) with Theileria parva and Anaplasma marginale co-infections, and antagonistic interactions (relatively higher growth rates) with T. parva and Theileria mutans co-infections, compared with infections with T. parva only. Additionally, helminth infections can have a strong negative effect on the growth rates but this is burden-dependent, accounting for up to 30% decrease in growth rate in heavily infected animals. These findings present evidence of pathogen-pathogen interactions affecting host growth, and we discuss possible mechanisms that may explain observed directions of interactions as well as possible modifications to disease control strategies when co-infections are present.
    Parasitology 09/2013; 140(14):1-10. DOI:10.1017/S0031182013001261
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    ABSTRACT: This study has found numerous novel genetic variants of GA-insensitive dwarfing genes with potential agricultural value for crop improvement. The cultivar, Spica is a tall genotype and possesses the wild-type genes of Rht-A1a, Rht-B1a and Rht-D1a. The cultivar Quarrion possesses a null mutant in the DELLA motif in each of the 3 genomes. This is a first report of a null mutant of Rht-A1. In addition, novel null mutants which differ from reported null alleles of Rht-B1b, Rht-B1e and Rht-D1b have been found in Quarrion, Carnamah and Whistler. The accession, Aus1408 has an allele of Rht-B1 with a mutation in the conserved 'TVHYNP' N-terminal signal binding domain with possible implications on its sensitivity to GA. Mutations in the conserved C-terminal GRAS domain of Rht-A1 alleles with possible effects on expression have been found in WW1842, Quarrion and Drysdale. Genetic variants with putative spliceosomal introns in the GRAS domain have been found in all accessions except Spica. Genome-specific cis-sequences about 124 bp upstream of the start codon of the Rht-1 gene have been identified for each of the three genomes.
    PLoS ONE 07/2013; 8(7):e69690. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0069690
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    ABSTRACT: Historically, sheep have been selectively bred for desirable traits including wool characteristics. However, recent moves towards extensive farming and reduced farm labour have seen a renewed interest in Easycare breeds. The aim of this study was to quantify the underlying genetic architecture of wool shedding in an Easycare flock. Wool shedding scores were collected from 565 pedigreed commercial Easycare sheep from 2002 to 2010. The wool scoring system was based on a 10-point (0-9) scale, with score 0 for animals retaining full fleece and 9 for those completely shedding. DNA was sampled from 200 animals of which 48 with extreme phenotypes were genotyped using a 50-k SNP chip. Three genetic analyses were performed: heritability analysis, complex segregation analysis to test for a major gene hypothesis and a genome-wide association study to map regions in the genome affecting the trait. Phenotypes were treated as a continuous or binary variable and categories. High estimates of heritability (0.80 when treated as a continuous, 0.65-0.75 as binary and 0.75 as categories) for shedding were obtained from linear mixed model analyses. Complex segregation analysis gave similar estimates (0.80 ± 0.06) to those above with additional evidence for a major gene with dominance effects. Mixed model association analyses identified four significant (P < 0.05) SNPs. Further analyses of these four SNPs in all 200 animals revealed that one of the SNPs displayed dominance effects similar to those obtained from the complex segregation analyses. In summary, we found strong genetic control for wool shedding, demonstrated the possibility of a single putative dominant gene controlling this trait and identified four SNPs that may be in partial linkage disequilibrium with gene(s) controlling shedding.
    Animal Genetics 07/2013; 44(6). DOI:10.1111/age.12070
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