Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA)
Recent publications
The spatiotemporal inhomogeneity of the total column NO2 amounts (TCN) in the Seoul Metropolitan Area (SMA), Korea, was quantitatively assessed through year-round (October 2019–May 2021) TROPOMI and ground-based Pandora measurements. The average TCN over the SMA was comparable to that of major Chinese megacities, being consistently high (> 0.8 DU; Dobson Unit) during the daytime (10–17 local standard time). The autocorrelation scores of the Pandora-measured TCNs demonstrated high temporal variability attributed to the spatial inhomogeneity of NO2 emissions within the SMA and near-surface advection. Accordingly, the adequate temporal collocation range for Pandora measurements for the intercomparison with the satellite sensors was considered to be ± 5 min to avoid significant uncertainty from the temporal variability (RMSE < 0.1 DU, R² > 0.96). TROPOMI showed better agreement with conventionally collocated Pandora measurements (0.73 < R² < 0.76, 26–29% negative bias) than the other two satellite sensors (OMI and OMPS) attributed to its highest spatial resolution. The application of the wind-based collocation revealed that the TROPOMI showed a greater negative bias on the upwind side, which was less affected by anthropogenic emissions from the urban area, than the downwind side, and the increasing distance of the TROPOMI pixel from Pandora was the most critical factor deteriorating the intercomparison scores. The FRESCO-S TROPOMI cloud algorithm update to FRESCO-wide yielded a general increase in TROPOMI TCN, especially in the partially cloudy pixels, leaving only 11% (downwind) and 29% (upwind) negative bias from coincident Pandora measurements. Furthermore, the wind-based collocation method revealed the spatial distribution pattern of NOX (NO + NO2) emissions in the SMA, with significant emission sources in the northeastern and southeastern sides of the ground-based Pandora site in Seoul.
The small ribosomal subunit protein Rps15/uS19 is involved in early nucleolar ribosome biogenesis and subsequent nuclear export of pre-40S particles to the cytoplasm. In addition, the C-terminal tail of Rps15 was suggested to play a role in mature ribosomes, namely during translation elongation. Here, we show that Rps15 not only functions in nucleolar ribosome assembly but also in cytoplasmic pre-40S maturation, which is indicated by a strong genetic interaction between Rps15 and the 40S assembly factor Ltv1. Specifically, mutations either in the globular or C-terminal domain of Rps15 when combined with the non-essential ltv1 null allele are lethal or display a strong growth defect. However, not only rps15 ltv1 double mutants but also single rps15 C-terminal deletion mutants exhibit an accumulation of the 20S pre-rRNA in the cytoplasm, indicative of a cytoplasmic pre-40S maturation defect. Since in pre-40S particles, the C-terminal tail of Rps15 is positioned between assembly factors Rio2 and Tsr1, we further tested whether Tsr1 is genetically linked to Rps15, which indeed could be demonstrated. Thus, the integrity of the Rps15 C-terminal tail plays an important role during late pre-40S maturation, perhaps in a quality control step to ensure that only 40S ribosomal subunits with functional Rps15 C-terminal tail can efficiently enter translation. As mutations in the C-terminal tail of human RPS15 have been observed in connection with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, it is possible that apart from defects in translation, an impaired late pre-40S maturation step in the cytoplasm could also be a reason for this disease.
Eukaryotic ribosome biogenesis involves the synthesis of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and its stepwise folding into the unique structure present in mature ribosomes. rRNA folding starts already co-transcriptionally in the nucleolus and continues when pre-ribosomal particles further maturate in the nucleolus and upon their transit to the nucleoplasm and cytoplasm. While the approximate order of folding of rRNA subdomains is known, especially from cryo-EM structures of pre-ribosomal particles, the actual mechanisms of rRNA folding are less well understood. Both small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) and proteins have been implicated in rRNA folding. snoRNAs hybridize to precursor rRNAs (pre-rRNAs) and thereby prevent premature folding of the respective rRNA elements. Ribosomal proteins (r-proteins) and ribosome assembly factors might have a similar function by binding to rRNA elements and preventing their premature folding. Besides that, a small group of ribosome assembly factors are thought to play a more active role in rRNA folding. In particular, multiple RNA helicases participate in individual ribosome assembly steps, where they are believed to coordinate RNA folding/unfolding events or the release of proteins from the rRNA. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on mechanisms of RNA folding and on the specific function of the individual RNA helicases involved. As the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the organism in which ribosome biogenesis and the role of RNA helicases in this process is best studied, we focused our review on insights from this model organism, but also make comparisons to other organisms where applicable.
Research has established an association between disgust propensity and stigmatizing reactions against obese individuals. We conducted two online experiments (n = 544) with the moral machine paradigm to investigate a disgust-related bias against obese humans and animals (cats, dogs). We focused on three different facets of trait disgust: pathogen/core disgust, moral disgust, and self-disgust. Participants were presented with dilemmas consisting of two persons or animals (one non-obese, one obese) crossing a street. The participants had to decide which person (animal) had to be sacrificed by an unavoidable car accident. We calculated logistic regression analyses to estimate the relationship between the three domains of trait disgust, sex, and body mass index (BMI) of the participants and the tendency to sacrifice more obese than non-obese humans/ animals. Participants showed a pronounced obesity bias against humans, which was negatively associated with their BMI and positively with their self-disgust (disgust directed toward physical aspects of the self). The obesity bias against animals was less pronounced and could not be predicted based on disgust variables. This study identified self-disgust as the strongest predictor of negative reactions against obese persons. This finding points to the association between internalized and externalized negative body attitudes.
This paper analyzes the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on household income in Austria, using detailed administrative labor market data, in combination with micro-simulation techniques that enable specific labor market transitions to be modeled. We find that discretionary fiscal policy measures in Austria are key to counteracting the inequality- and poverty-enhancing effect of COVID-19. Additionally, we find that females tend to experience a greater loss in terms of market income. The Austrian tax–benefit system, however, reduces this gender differences. Disposable income has dropped by around 1% for both males and females. By comparison, males profit mainly from short-time work scheme, while females profit especially from other discretionary policy measures, such as the one-off payment for children.
Tin selenide (SnSe) is considered a robust candidate for thermoelectric applications due to its very high thermoelectric figure of merit, ZT, with values of 2.6 in p-type and 2.8 in n-type single crystals. Sn has been replaced with various lower group dopants to achieve successful p-type doping in SnSe with high ZT values. A known, facile, and powerful alternative way to introduce a hole carrier is to use a natural single Sn vacancy, VSn. Through transport and scanning tunneling microscopy studies, we discovered that VSn are dominant in high-quality (slow cooling rate) SnSe single crystals, while multiple vacancies, Vmulti, are dominant in low-quality (high cooling rate) single crystals. Surprisingly, both VSn and Vmulti help to increase the power factors of SnSe, whereas samples with dominant VSn have superior thermoelectric properties in SnSe single crystals. Additionally, the observation that Vmulti are good p-type sources observed in relatively low-quality single crystals is useful in thermoelectric applications because polycrystalline SnSe can be used due to its mechanical strength; this substance is usually fabricated at very high cooling speeds.
Objective MazF is a sequence-specific endoribonuclease-toxin of the MazEF toxin–antitoxin system. MazF cleaves single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA) regions at adenine–cytosine–adenine (ACA) sequences in the bacterium Escherichia coli . The MazEF system has been used in various biotechnology and synthetic biology applications. In this study, we infer how ectopic mazF overexpression affects production of heterologous proteins. To this end, we quantified the levels of fluorescent proteins expressed in E. coli from reporters translated from the ACA-containing or ACA-less messenger RNAs (mRNAs). Additionally, we addressed the impact of the 5′-untranslated region of these reporter mRNAs under the same conditions by comparing expression from mRNAs that comprise (canonical mRNA) or lack this region (leaderless mRNA). Results Flow cytometry analysis indicates that during mazF overexpression, fluorescent proteins are translated from the canonical as well as leaderless mRNAs. Our analysis further indicates that longer mazF overexpression generally increases the concentration of fluorescent proteins translated from ACA-less mRNAs, however it also substantially increases bacterial population heterogeneity. Finally, our results suggest that the strength and duration of mazF overexpression should be optimized for each experimental setup, to maximize the heterologous protein production and minimize the amount of phenotypic heterogeneity in bacterial populations, which is unfavorable in biotechnological processes.
To understand how potential gene manipulations affect in vitro microglia, we provide a set of short protocols to evaluate microglia identity and function. We detail steps for immunostaining to determine microglia identity. We describe three functional assays for microglia: phagocytosis, calcium response following ATP stimulation, and cytokine expression upon inflammatory stimuli. We apply these protocols to human induced-pluripotent-stem-cell (hiPSC)-derived microglia, but they can be also applied to other in vitro microglial models including primary mouse microglia. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Bartalska et al. (2022).
We investigate the local self-sustained process underlying spiral turbulence in counter-rotating Taylor–Couette flow using a periodic annular domain, shaped as a parallelogram, two of whose sides are aligned with the cylindrical helix described by the spiral pattern. The primary focus of the study is placed on the emergence of drifting–rotating waves (DRW) that capture, in a relatively small domain, the main features of coherent structures typically observed in developed turbulence. The transitional dynamics of the subcritical region, far below the first instability of the laminar circular Couette flow, is determined by the upper and lower branches of DRW solutions originated at saddle-node bifurcations. The mechanism whereby these solutions self-sustain, and the chaotic dynamics they induce, are conspicuously reminiscent of other subcritical shear flows. Remarkably, the flow properties of DRW persist even as the Reynolds number is increased beyond the linear stability threshold of the base flow. Simulations in a narrow parallelogram domain stretched in the azimuthal direction to revolve around the apparatus a full turn confirm that self-sustained vortices eventually concentrate into a localised pattern. The resulting statistical steady state satisfactorily reproduces qualitatively, and to a certain degree also quantitatively, the topology and properties of spiral turbulence as calculated in a large periodic domain of sufficient aspect ratio that is representative of the real system.
With increasing urbanization and industrialization, the prevalence of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) has steadily been rising over the past two decades. IBD involves flares of gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation accompanied by microbiota perturbations. However, microbial mechanisms that trigger such flares remain elusive. Here, we analyzed the association of the emerging pathogen atypical enteropathogenic E. coli (aEPEC) with IBD disease activity. The presence of diarrheagenic E. coli was assessed in stool samples from 630 IBD patients and 234 age- and sex-matched controls without GI symptoms. Microbiota was analyzed with 16S ribosomal RNA gene amplicon sequencing, and 57 clinical aEPEC isolates were subjected to whole-genome sequencing and in vitro pathogenicity experiments including biofilm formation, epithelial barrier function and the ability to induce pro-inflammatory signaling. The presence of aEPEC correlated with laboratory, clinical and endoscopic disease activity in ulcerative colitis (UC), as well as microbiota dysbiosis. In vitro, aEPEC strains induce epithelial p21-activated kinases, disrupt the epithelial barrier and display potent biofilm formation. The effector proteins espV and espG2 distinguish aEPEC cultured from UC and Crohn’s disease patients, respectively. EspV-positive aEPEC harbor more virulence factors and have a higher pro-inflammatory potential, which is counteracted by 5-ASA. aEPEC may tip a fragile immune–microbiota homeostasis and thereby contribute to flares in UC. aEPEC isolates from UC patients display properties to disrupt the epithelial barrier and to induce pro-inflammatory signaling in vitro.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and epilepsy are frequently comorbid neurodevelopmental disorders. Extensive research has demonstrated shared pathological pathways, etiologies, and phenotypes. Many risk factors for these disorders, like genetic mutations and environmental pressures, are linked to changes in childhood brain development, which is a critical period for their manifestation. Decades of research have yielded many signatures for ASD and epilepsy, some shared and others unique or opposing. The anatomical, physiological, and behavioral correlates of these disorders are discussed in this chapter in the context of understanding shared pathological pathways. We end with important takeaways on the presentation, prevention, intervention, and policy changes for ASD and epilepsy. This chapter aims to explore the complexity of these disorders, both in etiology and phenotypes, with the further goal of appreciating the expanse of unknowns still to explore about the brain.
We demonstrate the formation of robust zero-energy modes close to magnetic impurities in the iron-based superconductor FeSe1−xTex. We find that the Zeeman field generated by the impurity favors a spin-triplet interorbital pairing as opposed to the spin-singlet intraorbital pairing prevalent in the bulk. The preferred spin-triplet pairing preserves time-reversal symmetry and is topological, as robust, topologically protected zero modes emerge at the boundary between regions with different pairing states. Moreover, the zero modes form Kramers doublets that are insensitive to the direction of the spin polarization or to the separation between impurities. We argue that our theoretical results are consistent with recent experimental measurements on FeSe1−xTex.
Germline determination is essential for species survival and evolution in multicellular organisms. In most flowering plants, formation of the female germline is initiated with specification of one megaspore mother cell (MMC) in each ovule; however, the molecular mechanism underlying this key event remains unclear. Here we report that spatially restricted auxin signaling promotes MMC fate in Arabidopsis. Our results show that the microRNA160 (miR160) targeted gene ARF17 (AUXIN RESPONSE FACTOR17) is required for promoting MMC specification by genetically interacting with the SPL/NZZ (SPOROCYTELESS/NOZZLE) gene. Alterations of auxin signaling cause formation of supernumerary MMCs in an ARF17- and SPL/NZZ-dependent manner. Furthermore, miR160 and ARF17 are indispensable for attaining a normal auxin maximum at the ovule apex via modulating the expression domain of PIN1 (PIN-FORMED1) auxin transporter. Our findings elucidate the mechanism by which auxin signaling promotes the acquisition of female germline cell fate in plants.
Continuous-time neural networks are a class of machine learning systems that can tackle representation learning on spatiotemporal decision-making tasks. These models are typically represented by continuous differential equations. However, their expressive power when they are deployed on computers is bottlenecked by numerical differential equation solvers. This limitation has notably slowed down the scaling and understanding of numerous natural physical phenomena such as the dynamics of nervous systems. Ideally, we would circumvent this bottleneck by solving the given dynamical system in closed form. This is known to be intractable in general. Here, we show that it is possible to closely approximate the interaction between neurons and synapses—the building blocks of natural and artificial neural networks—constructed by liquid time-constant networks efficiently in closed form. To this end, we compute a tightly bounded approximation of the solution of an integral appearing in liquid time-constant dynamics that has had no known closed-form solution so far. This closed-form solution impacts the design of continuous-time and continuous-depth neural models. For instance, since time appears explicitly in closed form, the formulation relaxes the need for complex numerical solvers. Consequently, we obtain models that are between one and five orders of magnitude faster in training and inference compared with differential equation-based counterparts. More importantly, in contrast to ordinary differential equation-based continuous networks, closed-form networks can scale remarkably well compared with other deep learning instances. Lastly, as these models are derived from liquid networks, they show good performance in time-series modelling compared with advanced recurrent neural network models.
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Am Campus 1, A-3400, Klosterneuburg, Austria
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Professor Thomas A. Henzinger, IST Austria President
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