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Concept: Imprinting


The ability to identify and retain logical relations between stimuli and apply them to novel stimuli is known as relational concept learning. This has been demonstrated in a few animal species after extensive reinforcement training, and it reveals the brain’s ability to deal with abstract properties. Here we describe relational concept learning in newborn ducklings without reinforced training. Newly hatched domesticated mallards that were briefly exposed to a pair of objects that were either the same or different in shape or color later preferred to follow pairs of new objects exhibiting the imprinted relation. Thus, even in a seemingly rigid and very rapid form of learning such as filial imprinting, the brain operates with abstract conceptual reasoning, a faculty often assumed to be reserved to highly intelligent organisms.

Concepts: Imprint, Logic, Object, Abstraction, Learning, Imprinting, Cognition


Filial imprinting in precocial birds is the process of forming a social attachment during a sensitive or critical period, restricted to the first few days after hatching. Imprinting is considered to be part of early learning to aid the survival of juveniles by securing maternal care. Here we show that the thyroid hormone 3,5,3'-triiodothyronine (T(3)) determines the start of the sensitive period. Imprinting training in chicks causes rapid inflow of T(3), converted from circulating plasma thyroxine by Dio2, type 2 iodothyronine deiodinase, in brain vascular endothelial cells. The T(3) thus initiates and extends the sensitive period to last more than 1 week via non-genomic mechanisms and primes subsequent learning. Even in non-imprinted chicks whose sensitive period has ended, exogenous T(3) enables imprinting. Our findings indicate that T(3) determines the start of the sensitive period for imprinting and has a critical role in later learning.

Concepts: Learning, Thyroid, Ethology, Endothelium, Developmental psychology, Imprinting, Thyroid hormone, Critical period


With the aim of elucidating the neural mechanisms of early learning, we studied the role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in visual imprinting in birds. The telencephalic neural circuit connecting the visual Wulst and intermediate medial mesopallium is critical for imprinting, and the core region of the hyperpallium densocellulare (HDCo), situated at the center of this circuit, has a key role in regulating the activity of the circuit. We found that the number of BDNF mRNA-positive cells in the HDCo was elevated during the critical period, particularly at its onset, on the day of hatching (P0). After imprinting training on P1, BDNF mRNA-positive cells in the HDCo increased in number, and tyrosine phosphorylation of TrkB was observed. BDNF infusion into the HDCo at P1 induced imprinting, even with a weak training protocol that does not normally induce imprinting. In contrast, K252a, an antagonist of Trk, inhibited imprinting. Injection of BDNF at P7, after the critical period, did not elicit imprinting. These results suggest that BDNF promotes the induction of imprinting through TrkB exclusively during the critical period.

Concepts: Nervous system, Imprinting, Phosphorylation, Critical period, Neurotrophins, Nerve growth factor, Neurotrophin, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor


Sexual imprinting is important for kin recognition and for promoting outbreeding, and has been a driving force for evolution; however, little is known about sexual imprinting by auditory cues in mammals. Male mice emit song-like ultrasonic vocalizations that possess strain-specific characteristics.

Concepts: Male, Learning, Human development, Human, Sex, Ethology, Kin recognition, Imprinting


Imprinting disorders (IDs) are a group of eight rare but probably underdiagnosed congenital diseases affecting growth, development and metabolism. They are caused by similar molecular changes affecting regulation, dosage or the genomic sequence of imprinted genes. Each ID is characterised by specific clinical features, and, as each appeared to be associated with specific imprinting defects, they have been widely regarded as separate entities. However, they share clinical characteristics and can show overlapping molecular alterations. Nevertheless, IDs are usually studied separately despite their common underlying (epi)genetic aetiologies, and their basic pathogenesis and long-term clinical consequences remain largely unknown. Efforts to elucidate the aetiology of IDs are currently fragmented across Europe, and standardisation of diagnostic and clinical management is lacking. The new consortium (European network of congenital imprinting disorders) now aims to promote better clinical care and scientific investigation of imprinting disorders by establishing a concerted multidisciplinary alliance of clinicians, researchers, patients and families. By encompassing all IDs and establishing a wide ranging and collaborative network, brings together a wide variety of expertise and interests to engender new collaborations and initiatives.

Concepts: Etiology, Imprinting, Medicine, DNA, Genomics, Gene, Genome, Collaboration


Visual system development is light-experience dependent, which strongly implicates epigenetic mechanisms in light-regulated maturation. Among many epigenetic processes, genomic imprinting is an epigenetic mechanism through which monoallelic gene expression occurs in a parent-of-origin-specific manner. It is unknown if genomic imprinting contributes to visual system development. We profiled the transcriptome and imprintome during critical periods of mouse visual system development under normal- and dark-rearing conditions using B6/CAST F1 hybrid mice. We identified experience-regulated, isoform-specific, and brain region-specific imprinted genes. We also found imprinted microRNAs were predominantly clustered into the Dlk1-Dio3 imprinted locus with light experience affecting some imprinted miRNA expression. Our findings provide the first comprehensive analysis of light-experience regulation of the transcriptome and imprintome during critical periods of visual system development. Our results may contribute to therapeutic strategies for visual impairments and circadian rhythm disorders resulting from a dysfunctional imprintome.

Concepts: Critical period, Imprinting, RNA, Genetics, DNA methylation, Epigenetics, Gene expression, Gene


We describe a simple and effective strategy to construct molecular imprinting ratiometric fluorescence sensor (MIR sensor) for the visual detection of bovine hemoglobin (BHb) used as a model protein. The sensor was prepared by simply mixing the solution of green and red CdTe quantum dots (QDs), which were embedded in core-shell structured molecularly imprinted polymers and silica nanoparticles, respectively. The resultant hybrid MIR sensor can selectively bind with BHb and thus quench the fluorescence of the green QDs, while the red QDs wrapped with silica is insensitive to BHb with the fluorescence intensity unchanged. As a result, a continuous obvious fluorescence color change from green to red can be observed by naked eyes, with the detection limit of 9.6 nM. Moreover, the MIR sensor was successfully applied to determine BHb in bovine urine samples with satisfactory recoveries at three spiking levels ranging from 95.7-101.5%, indicating great potential application for detecting BHb in real samples. This strategy of using different fluorescence emission materials incorporated to construct a ratiometric fluorescence sensor is reasonable and convenient, which can be extended to the preparation of other ratiometric fluorescence systems for targeted analytes.

Concepts: Light, Imprinting, Red, Quantum dot, Color, Green, Fluorescence, Oxygen


In this work, a molecularly imprinted monolithic column was synthesized by a facile procedure and was applied for specific recognition of domoic acid, an amnesic shellfish poison. The poly(4-vinylpyridine-co-ethylene glycol dimethacrylate) molecularly imprinted monolith was synthesized in a stainless steel column by in situ polymerization. Pentane-1,3,5-tricarboxylic acid was used as a dummy imprinting template instead of the highly toxic and expensive target molecule. It is the first time that a molecularly imprinted monolith is introduced for separation and detection of domoic acid. After optimizing the preparation conditions, the prepared imprinted monolith was systematically characterized and exhibited excellent stability and permeability as a HPLC stationary phase. The results of chromatographic analysis demonstrated that the molecularly imprinted monolith exhibited specific retention and selective recognition toward domoic acid, with an imprinted factor up to 3.77. Furthermore, the molecularly imprinted monolith was successfully applied for selective enrichment of domoic acid from biological samples. Graphical abstract A molecularly imprinted monolith was prepared by using a dummy imprinted template and was successfully applied for specific recognition of domoic acid.

Concepts: Imprinting, Expanded bed adsorption, Analytical chemistry, Stainless steel, Protein, Separation process, High performance liquid chromatography, Chromatography


Sample preparation still remains a great challenge in the analytical workflow representing the most time-consuming and laborious step in analytical procedures. Ideally, sample pre-treatment procedures must be more selective, cheap, quick and environmental friendly. Molecular imprinting technology is a powerful tool in the development of highly selective sample preparation methodologies enabling to preconcentrate the analytes from a complex food matrix. Actually, the design and development of molecularly imprinted polymers-based functional materials that merge an enhancement of selectivity with a controllable and switchable mode of action by means of specific stimulus constitutes a hot research topic in the field of food analysis. Thus, combining the stimuli responsive mechanism and imprinting technology a new generation of materials are emerging. The application of these smart materials in sample preparation is in early stage of development, nevertheless new improvements will promote a new driven in the demanding field of food sample preparation. The new trends in the advancement of food sample preparation using these smart materials will be presented in this review and highlighted the most relevant applications in this particular area of knowledge.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Imprint, Challenge, Merge, Imprinting, Metaphysics


Zipper-like thermoresponsive molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) were prepared based on interpolymer complexation via the synergy of dual functional monomers of acrylamide (AAm) and 2-acrylamide-2-methyl propanesulfonic acid (AMPS) for selective recognition and extraction of estradiol (E2) by temperature regulation. The resulting E2-MIPs attained controlled adsorption and release of E2 in response to temperature change, with higher adsorption capacity (8.78mg/g) and stronger selectivity (imprinting factor was 3.18) at 30°C compared with that at 20 and 40°C; the zipper-like interpolymer interaction between poly(AAm) and poly(AMPS) enabled switchable molecular recognition. The adsorption processes obeyed Langmuir isotherm and pseudo-second-order kinetic models. High recognition selectivity of the MIPs toward E2 was achieved over its structural analogues, and good reusability was displayed over 86% recovery after six adsorption-desorption cycles. Accordingly, the E2-MIPs were empolyed as new adsorbents for selective dispersive solid-phase extraction of E2, and offered low limits of detection and quantification of 4.81 and 16.03μg/L, respectively. Recoveries from goat milk samples ranged from 76.2% to 89.7% with the precisions (relative standard deviations, n = 3, %) of 2.8-3.7% at 30°C. The intelligent E2-MIPs combining good adsorption, special recognition and temperature sensitivity proved to be a promising alternative to the selective identification and controlled extraction/removal of E2 in complicated samples by simple temperature-responsive regulation.

Concepts: Imprint, Sensitivity and specificity, Polymer, Imprinting, Standard deviation, DNA, Adsorption