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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


In endothermic species, heat released as a product of metabolism ensures stable internal temperature throughout the organism, despite varying environmental conditions. Mitochondria are major actors in this thermogenic process. Part of the energy released by the oxidation of respiratory substrates drives ATP synthesis and metabolite transport, but a substantial proportion is released as heat. Using a temperature-sensitive fluorescent probe targeted to mitochondria, we measured mitochondrial temperature in situ under different physiological conditions. At a constant external temperature of 38 °C, mitochondria were more than 10 °C warmer when the respiratory chain (RC) was fully functional, both in human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells and primary skin fibroblasts. This differential was abolished in cells depleted of mitochondrial DNA or treated with respiratory inhibitors but preserved or enhanced by expressing thermogenic enzymes, such as the alternative oxidase or the uncoupling protein 1. The activity of various RC enzymes was maximal at or slightly above 50 °C. In view of their potential consequences, these observations need to be further validated and explored by independent methods. Our study prompts a critical re-examination of the literature on mitochondria.

Concepts: DNA, Photosynthesis, Bacteria, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Mitochondrion, Oxidative phosphorylation, 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


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


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


Selective study of the electron transport chain components in living mitochondria is essential for fundamental biophysical research and for the development of new medical diagnostic methods. However, many important details of inter- and intramembrane mitochondrial processes have remained in shadow due to the lack of non-invasive techniques. Here we suggest a novel label-free approach based on the surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to monitor the redox state and conformation of cytochrome c in the electron transport chain in living mitochondria. We demonstrate that SERS spectra of living mitochondria placed on hierarchically structured silver-ring substrates provide exclusive information about cytochrome c behavior under modulation of inner mitochondrial membrane potential, proton gradient and the activity of ATP-synthetase. Mathematical simulation explains the observed enhancement of Raman scattering due to high concentration of electric near-field and large contact area between mitochondria and nanostructured surfaces.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Adenosine triphosphate, Mitochondrion, Oxidative phosphorylation, Cellular respiration, Electron transport chain, Cytochrome c, Chemiosmosis


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


Metabolic activity is intimately linked to T cell fate and function. Using high-resolution mass spectrometry, we generated dynamic metabolome and proteome profiles of human primary naive T cells following activation. We discovered critical changes in the arginine metabolism that led to a drop in intracellular L-arginine concentration. Elevating L-arginine levels induced global metabolic changes including a shift from glycolysis to oxidative phosphorylation in activated T cells and promoted the generation of central memory-like cells endowed with higher survival capacity and, in a mouse model, anti-tumor activity. Proteome-wide probing of structural alterations, validated by the analysis of knockout T cell clones, identified three transcriptional regulators (BAZ1B, PSIP1, and TSN) that sensed L-arginine levels and promoted T cell survival. Thus, intracellular L-arginine concentrations directly impact the metabolic fitness and survival capacity of T cells that are crucial for anti-tumor responses.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Enzyme, Oxidative phosphorylation, Cellular respiration, Metabolic pathway


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