Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Cellular respiration


A singular adaptive phenotype of a parthenogenetic insect species (Acyrthosiphon pisum) was selected in cold conditions and is characterized by a remarkable apparition of a greenish colour. The aphid pigments involve carotenoid genes well defined in chloroplasts and cyanobacteria and amazingly present in the aphid genome, likely by lateral transfer during evolution. The abundant carotenoid synthesis in aphids suggests strongly that a major and unknown physiological role is related to these compounds beyond their canonical anti-oxidant properties. We report here that the capture of light energy in living aphids results in the photo induced electron transfer from excited chromophores to acceptor molecules. The redox potentials of molecules involved in this process would be compatible with the reduction of the NAD(+) coenzyme. This appears as an archaic photosynthetic system consisting of photo-emitted electrons that are in fine funnelled into the mitochondrial reducing power in order to synthesize ATP molecules.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Electron, Bacteria, Evolution, Adenosine triphosphate, Insect, Redox, Cellular respiration


ABSTRACT Male circumcision reduces female-to-male HIV transmission. Hypothesized mechanisms for this protective effect include decreased HIV target cell recruitment and activation due to changes in the penis microbiome. We compared the coronal sulcus microbiota of men from a group of uncircumcised controls (n = 77) and from a circumcised intervention group (n = 79) at enrollment and year 1 follow-up in a randomized circumcision trial in Rakai, Uganda. We characterized microbiota using16S rRNA gene-based quantitative PCR (qPCR) and pyrosequencing, log response ratio (LRR), Bayesian classification, nonmetric multidimensional scaling (nMDS), and permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PerMANOVA). At baseline, men in both study arms had comparable coronal sulcus microbiota; however, by year 1, circumcision decreased the total bacterial load and reduced microbiota biodiversity. Specifically, the prevalence and absolute abundance of 12 anaerobic bacterial taxa decreased significantly in the circumcised men. While aerobic bacterial taxa also increased postcircumcision, these gains were minor. The reduction in anaerobes may partly account for the effects of circumcision on reduced HIV acquisition. IMPORTANCE The bacterial changes identified in this study may play an important role in the HIV risk reduction conferred by male circumcision. Decreasing the load of specific anaerobes could reduce HIV target cell recruitment to the foreskin. Understanding the mechanisms that underlie the benefits of male circumcision could help to identify new intervention strategies for decreasing HIV transmission, applicable to populations with high HIV prevalence where male circumcision is culturally less acceptable.

Concepts: HIV, Cellular respiration, Foreskin, Penis, Circumcision, Glans penis, Frenulum of prepuce of penis, Foreskin restoration


Glyphosate tolerant genetically modified (GM) maize NK603 was assessed as ‘substantially equivalent’ to its isogenic counterpart by a nutrient composition analysis in order to be granted market approval. We have applied contemporary in depth molecular profiling methods of NK603 maize kernels (sprayed or unsprayed with Roundup) and the isogenic corn to reassess its substantial equivalence status. Proteome profiles of the maize kernels revealed alterations in the levels of enzymes of glycolysis and TCA cycle pathways, which were reflective of an imbalance in energy metabolism. Changes in proteins and metabolites of glutathione metabolism were indicative of increased oxidative stress. The most pronounced metabolome differences between NK603 and its isogenic counterpart consisted of an increase in polyamines including N-acetyl-cadaverine (2.9-fold), N-acetylputrescine (1.8-fold), putrescine (2.7-fold) and cadaverine (28-fold), which depending on context can be either protective or a cause of toxicity. Our molecular profiling results show that NK603 and its isogenic control are not substantially equivalent.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Antioxidant, Oxidative phosphorylation, Cellular respiration, Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, Glycolysis


The purpose this study was to examine the effects of caffeine ingestion on performance and energy expenditure (anaerobic and aerobic contribution) during a 4-km cycling time trial (TT) performed after a carbohydrate (CHO) availability-lowering exercise protocol. After preliminary and familiarization trials, seven amateur cyclists performed three 4-km cycling TT in a double-blind, randomized and crossover design. The trials were performed either after no previous exercise (CON), or after a CHO availability-lowering exercise protocol (DEP) performed in the previous evening, followed by either placebo (DEP-PLA) or 5 of caffeine intake (DEP-CAF) 1 hour before the trial. Performance was reduced (-2.1%) in DEP-PLA vs CON (421.0±12.3 vs 412.4±9.7 s). However, performance was restored in DEP-CAF (404.6±17.1 s) compared with DEP-PLA, while no differences were found between DEP-CAF and CON. The anaerobic contribution was increased in DEP-CAF compared with both DEP-PLA and CON (67.4±14.91, 47. 3±14.6 and 55.3±14.0 W, respectively), and this was more pronounced in the first 3 km of the trial. Similarly, total anaerobic work was higher in DEP-CAF than in the other conditions. The integrated electromyographic activity, plasma lactate concentration, oxygen uptake, aerobic contribution and total aerobic work were not different between the conditions. The reduction in performance associated with low CHO availability is reversed with caffeine ingestion due to a higher anaerobic contribution, suggesting that caffeine could access an anaerobic “reserve” that is not used under normal conditions.

Concepts: Oxygen, Cellular respiration, Cycling, Caffeine, The Trial, Aerobic exercise, Anaerobic exercise, Individual time trial


ABSTRACT Fe(II)-oxidizing aerobic bacteria are poorly understood, due in part to the difficulties involved in laboratory cultivation. Specific challenges include (i) providing a steady supply of electrons as Fe(II) while (ii) managing rapid formation of insoluble Fe(III) oxide precipitates and (iii) maintaining oxygen concentrations in the micromolar range to minimize abiotic Fe(II) oxidation. Electrochemical approaches offer an opportunity to study bacteria that require problematic electron donors or acceptors in their respiration. In the case of Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria, if the electron transport machinery is able to oxidize metals at the outer cell surface, electrodes poised at potentials near those of natural substrates could serve as electron donors, eliminating concentration issues, side reactions, and mineral end products associated with metal oxidation. To test this hypothesis, the marine isolate Mariprofundus ferrooxydans PV-1, a neutrophilic obligate Fe(II)-oxidizing autotroph, was cultured using a poised electrode as the sole energy source. When cells grown in Fe(II)-containing medium were transferred into a three-electrode electrochemical cell, a cathodic (negative) current representing electron uptake by bacteria was detected, and it increased over a period of weeks. Cultures scraped from a portion of the electrode and transferred into sterile reactors consumed electrons at a similar rate. After three transfers in the absence of Fe(II), electrode-grown biofilms were studied to determine the relationship between donor redox potential and respiration rate. Electron microscopy revealed that under these conditions, M. ferrooxydans PV-1 attaches to electrodes and does not produce characteristic iron oxide stalks but still appears to exhibit bifurcate cell division. IMPORTANCE Electrochemical cultivation, supporting growth of bacteria with a constant supply of electron donors or acceptors, is a promising tool for studying lithotrophic species in the laboratory. Major pitfalls present in standard cultivation methods used for metal-oxidizing microbes can be avoided by the use of an electrode as the sole electron donor. Electrochemical cultivation also offers a window into the poorly understood metabolism of microbes such as obligate Fe(II), Mn(II), or S(0) oxidizers by replacing the electron source with the controlled surface of an electrode. The elucidation of redox-dependent behavior of these microbes could enhance industrial applications tuned to oxidation of specific metals, provide insight into how bacteria evolved to compete with oxygen for reactive metal species, and model geochemical impacts of their metabolism in the environment.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Bacteria, Redox, Electrochemistry, Cellular respiration, Electrode, Electrochemical cell, Electrolysis


Glioma is the most common form of primary malignant brain tumor in adults, with approximately 4 cases per 100 000 people each year. Gliomas, like many tumors, are thought to primarily metabolize glucose for energy production; however, the reliance upon glycolysis has recently been called into question. In this study, we aimed to identify the metabolic fuel requirements of human glioma cells.

Concepts: Oncology, Metabolism, Nutrition, Adenosine triphosphate, Cellular respiration, Glioma, Brain tumor, Fatty acid metabolism


Cytochrome c oxidase is a member of the haem copper oxidase superfamily (HCO). HCOs function as the terminal enzymes in the respiratory chain of mitochondria and aerobic prokaryotes, coupling molecular oxygen reduction to transmembrane proton pumping. Integral to the enzyme’s function is the transfer of electrons from cytochrome c to the oxidase via a transient association of the two proteins. Electron entry and exit are proposed to occur from the same site on cytochrome c. Here we report the crystal structure of the caa3-type cytochrome oxidase from Thermus thermophilus, which has a covalently tethered cytochrome c domain. Crystals were grown in a bicontinuous mesophase using a synthetic short-chain monoacylglycerol as the hosting lipid. From the electron density map, at 2.36 Å resolution, a novel integral membrane subunit and a native glycoglycerophospholipid embedded in the complex were identified. Contrary to previous electron transfer mechanisms observed for soluble cytochrome c, the structure reveals the architecture of the electron transfer complex for the fused cupredoxin/cytochrome c domain, which implicates different sites on cytochrome c for electron entry and exit. Support for an alternative to the classical proton gate characteristic of this HCO class is presented.

Concepts: Electron, Bacteria, Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Mitochondrion, Cellular respiration, Cytochrome c, Cytochrome c oxidase


Abnormal vascularization of solid tumours results in the development of microenvironments deprived of oxygen and nutrients that harbour slowly growing and metabolically stressed cells. Such cells display enhanced resistance to standard chemotherapeutic agents and repopulate tumours after therapy. Here we identify the small molecule VLX600 as a drug that is preferentially active against quiescent cells in colon cancer 3-D microtissues. The anticancer activity is associated with reduced mitochondrial respiration, leading to bioenergetic catastrophe and tumour cell death. VLX600 shows enhanced cytotoxic activity under conditions of nutrient starvation. Importantly, VLX600 displays tumour growth inhibition in vivo. Our findings suggest that tumour cells in metabolically compromised microenvironments have a limited ability to respond to decreased mitochondrial function, and suggest a strategy for targeting the quiescent populations of tumour cells for improved cancer treatment.

Concepts: DNA, Cancer, Oncology, Mitochondrion, Cellular respiration, Benign tumor, Tumor, Neoplasm


The propensity of cancer cells to convert high levels of glucose to lactate through aerobic glycolysis has been intensively studied in vitro, and is now understood to be a metabolic adaptation that shunts glucose carbons toward building blocks for the growing cell, as well as producing ATP. Much less is known, however, about the role of aerobic glycolysis and glycolytic enzymes in vivo. A paper in Cancer and Metabolism now documents aerobic glycolysis in the proliferating neural progenitors that form the cerebellum in normal newborn mice, as well as in medulloblastoma tumors derived from these cells in transgenic mice. Hexokinase II is demonstrated to be an essential driver of the observed aerobic glycolysis and the malignancy of the tumors.See research article:½.

Concepts: Oncology, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Glucose, Cellular respiration, Glycolysis, Hexokinase


Porous silicon microcavity (PSiMc) structures were used to immobilize the photosynthetic reaction center (RC) purified from the purple bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides R-26. Two different binding methods were compared by specular reflectance measurements. Structural characterization of PSiMc was performed by scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy. The activity of the immobilized RC was checked by measuring the visible absorption spectra of the externally added electron donor, mammalian cytochrome c. PSi/RC complex was found to oxidize the cytochrome c after every saturating Xe flash, indicating the accessibility of specific surface binding sites on the immobilized RC, for the external electron donor. This new type of bio-nanomaterial is considered as an excellent model for new generation applications of silicon-based electronics and biological redox systems.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Electron, Bacteria, Cellular respiration, Scanning tunneling microscope, Scanning electron microscope, Electron acceptor, Photosynthetic reaction centre