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Concept: Ion


Behavioral output of neural networks depends on a delicate balance between excitatory and inhibitory synaptic connections. However, it is not known whether network formation and stability is constrained by the sign of synaptic connections between neurons within the network. Here we show that switching the sign of a synapse within a neural circuit can reverse the behavioral output. The inhibitory tyramine-gated chloride channel, LGC-55, induces head relaxation and inhibits forward locomotion during the Caenorhabditis elegans escape response. We switched the ion selectivity of an inhibitory LGC-55 anion channel to an excitatory LGC-55 cation channel. The engineered cation channel is properly trafficked in the native neural circuit and results in behavioral responses that are opposite to those produced by activation of the LGC-55 anion channel. Our findings indicate that switches in ion selectivity of ligand-gated ion channels (LGICs) do not affect network connectivity or stability and may provide an evolutionary and a synthetic mechanism to change behavior.

Concepts: Nervous system, Neuron, Caenorhabditis elegans, Action potential, Electrophysiology, Ion, Ion channels, Membrane potential


BACKGROUND: A specific and sensitive UPLC-qTOF-MS/MS method has been developed for the simultaneous determination of curcuminoids. These Curcuminoids comprises of curcumin, a principal curcuminoid and other two namely, demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin obtained from rhizomes of Curcuma longa an ancient Indian curry spice turmeric, family (Zingiberaceae), METHODS: These analytes were separated on a reverse phase C18 column by using a mobile phase of acetonitrile: 5% acetonitrile in water with 0.07% acetic acid (75:25 v/v), flow rate of 100 muL/min was maintained. The qTOF-MS was operated under multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode using electro-spray ionization (ESI) technique with positive ion polarity. The major product ions in the positive mode for curcuminoids were at m/z 369.1066, 339.1023 and 309.0214 respectively. The recovery of the analytes from mouse plasma was optimized using solid phase extraction technique. RESULTS: The total run time was 5 min and the peaks of the compounds, bisdemethoxycurcumin, demethoxycurcumin and curcumin occurred at 2.06, 2.23 and 2.40 min respectively. The calibration curves of bisdemethoxycurcumin, demethoxycurcumin and curcumin were linear over the concentration range of 2–1000 ng/mL (r2, 0.9951), 2–1000 ng/mL (r2, 0.9970) and 2-1000 ng/mL (r2, 0.9906) respectively.Intra-assay and inter-assay accuracy in terms of% bias for curcumin was in between -7.95to +6.21, and -7.03 to + 6.34; for demethoxycurcumin was -6.72 to +6.34, and -7.86 to +6.74 and for bisdesmetoxycurcumin was -8.23 to +6.37 and -8.47 to +7.81. The lower limit of quantitation for curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin was 2.0 ng/mL. Analytes were stable under various conditions (in autosampler, during freeze-thaw, at room temperature, and under deep-freeze conditions). This validated method was used during pharmacokinetic studies of curcumin in the mouse plasma. CONCLUSIONS: A specific, accurate and precise UPLC-qTOF-MS/MS method for the determination of curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin both individually and simultaneously was optimized.

Concepts: Analytical chemistry, Ion, Mouse, Curcuma, Turmeric, Curcumin, Zingiberaceae, Curry


A single cell can form a colony, and ionizing irradiation has long been known to reduce such a cellular clonogenic potential. Analysis of abortive colonies unable to continue to grow should provide important information on the reproductive cell death (RCD) following irradiation. Our previous analysis with a branching process model showed that the RCD in normal human fibroblasts can persist over 16 generations following irradiation with low linear energy transfer (LET) γ-rays. Here we further set out to evaluate the RCD persistency in abortive colonies arising from normal human fibroblasts exposed to high-LET carbon ions (18.3 MeV/u, 108 keV/µm). We found that the abortive colony size distribution determined by biological experiments follows a linear relationship on the log-log plot, and that the Monte Carlo simulation using the RCD probability estimated from such a linear relationship well simulates the experimentally determined surviving fraction and the relative biological effectiveness (RBE). We identified the short-term phase and long-term phase for the persistent RCD following carbon-ion irradiation, which were similar to those previously identified following γ-irradiation. Taken together, our results suggest that subsequent secondary or tertiary colony formation would be invaluable for understanding the long-lasting RCD. All together, our framework for analysis with a branching process model and a colony formation assay is applicable to determination of cellular responses to low- and high-LET radiation, and suggests that the long-lasting RCD is a pivotal determinant of the surviving fraction and the RBE.

Concepts: Cell, Human, Ion, Sievert, Monte Carlo, Monte Carlo method, Monte Carlo methods in finance, Monaco


Interest in hydrogen fuel is growing for automotive applications; however, safe, dense, solid-state hydrogen storage remains a formidable scientific challenge. Metal hydrides offer ample storage capacity and do not require cryogens or exceedingly high pressures for operation. However, hydrides have largely been abandoned because of oxidative instability and sluggish kinetics. We report a new, environmentally stable hydrogen storage material constructed of Mg nanocrystals encapsulated by atomically thin and gas-selective reduced graphene oxide (rGO) sheets. This material, protected from oxygen and moisture by the rGO layers, exhibits exceptionally dense hydrogen storage (6.5 wt% and 0.105 kg H2 per litre in the total composite). As rGO is atomically thin, this approach minimizes inactive mass in the composite, while also providing a kinetic enhancement to hydrogen sorption performance. These multilaminates of rGO-Mg are able to deliver exceptionally dense hydrogen storage and provide a material platform for harnessing the attributes of sensitive nanomaterials in demanding environments.

Concepts: Hydrogen, Hydrogenation, Carbon, Nanomaterials, Ion, Hydrogen economy, Hydride, Hydrogen storage


Helium has a unique phase diagram and below 25 bar it does not form a solid even at the lowest temperatures. Electrostriction leads to the formation of a solid layer of helium around charged impurities at much lower pressures in liquid and superfluid helium. These so-called ‘Atkins snowballs’ have been investigated for several simple ions. Here we form HenC60(+) complexes with n exceeding 100 via electron ionization of helium nanodroplets doped with C60. Photofragmentation of these complexes is measured by merging a tunable narrow-bandwidth laser beam with the ions. A switch from red- to blueshift of the absorption frequency of HenC60(+) on addition of He atoms at n=32 is associated with a phase transition in the attached helium layer from solid to partly liquid (melting of the Atkins snowball). Elaborate molecular dynamics simulations using a realistic force field and including quantum effects support this interpretation.

Concepts: Electric charge, Quantum mechanics, Fundamental physics concepts, Condensed matter physics, Molecule, Atom, Ion, Solid


Graphene oxide membranes show exceptional molecular permeation properties, with promise for many applications. However, their use in ion sieving and desalination technologies is limited by a permeation cutoff of ∼9 Å (ref. 4), which is larger than the diameters of hydrated ions of common salts. The cutoff is determined by the interlayer spacing (d) of ∼13.5 Å, typical for graphene oxide laminates that swell in water. Achieving smaller d for the laminates immersed in water has proved to be a challenge. Here, we describe how to control d by physical confinement and achieve accurate and tunable ion sieving. Membranes with d from ∼9.8 Å to 6.4 Å are demonstrated, providing a sieve size smaller than the diameters of hydrated ions. In this regime, ion permeation is found to be thermally activated with energy barriers of ∼10-100 kJ mol(-1) depending on d. Importantly, permeation rates decrease exponentially with decreasing sieve size but water transport is weakly affected (by a factor of <2). The latter is attributed to a low barrier for the entry of water molecules and large slip lengths inside graphene capillaries. Building on these findings, we demonstrate a simple scalable method to obtain graphene-based membranes with limited swelling, which exhibit 97% rejection for NaCl.

Concepts: Ammonia, Water, Molecule, Atom, Chemical bond, Sodium chloride, Ion, Sodium


The single-span membrane protein KCNE3 modulates a variety of voltage-gated ion channels in diverse biological contexts. In epithelial cells, KCNE3 regulates the function of the KCNQ1 potassium ion (K(+)) channel to enable K(+) recycling coupled to transepithelial chloride ion (Cl(-)) secretion, a physiologically critical cellular transport process in various organs and whose malfunction causes diseases, such as cystic fibrosis (CF), cholera, and pulmonary edema. Structural, computational, biochemical, and electrophysiological studies lead to an atomically explicit integrative structural model of the KCNE3-KCNQ1 complex that explains how KCNE3 induces the constitutive activation of KCNQ1 channel activity, a crucial component in K(+) recycling. Central to this mechanism are direct interactions of KCNE3 residues at both ends of its transmembrane domain with residues on the intra- and extracellular ends of the KCNQ1 voltage-sensing domain S4 helix. These interactions appear to stabilize the activated “up” state configuration of S4, a prerequisite for full opening of the KCNQ1 channel gate. In addition, the integrative structural model was used to guide electrophysiological studies that illuminate the molecular basis for how estrogen exacerbates CF lung disease in female patients, a phenomenon known as the “CF gender gap.”

Concepts: Protein, Cell membrane, Action potential, Ion channel, Voltage-gated ion channel, Cystic fibrosis, Ion, Voltage-gated potassium channel


Lattice oxygen can play an intriguing role in electrochemical processes, not only maintaining structural stability, but also influencing electron and ion transport properties in high-capacity oxide cathode materials for Li-ion batteries. Here, we report the design of a gas-solid interface reaction to achieve delicate control of oxygen activity through uniformly creating oxygen vacancies without affecting structural integrity of Li-rich layered oxides. Theoretical calculations and experimental characterizations demonstrate that oxygen vacancies provide a favourable ionic diffusion environment in the bulk and significantly suppress gas release from the surface. The target material is achievable in delivering a discharge capacity as high as 301 mAh g(-1) with initial Coulombic efficiency of 93.2%. After 100 cycles, a reversible capacity of 300 mAh g(-1) still remains without any obvious decay in voltage. This study sheds light on the comprehensive design and control of oxygen activity in transition-metal-oxide systems for next-generation Li-ion batteries.

Concepts: Cathode, Oxygen, Oxide, Ion, Rechargeable battery, Lithium-ion battery, Lithium, Lithium-ion polymer battery


The way conduction electrons respond to ultrafast external perturbations in low dimensional materials is at the core of the design of future devices for (opto)electronics, photodetection and spintronics. Highly charged ions provide a tool for probing the electronic response of solids to extremely strong electric fields localized down to nanometre-sized areas. With ion transmission times in the order of femtoseconds, we can directly probe the local electronic dynamics of an ultrathin foil on this timescale. Here we report on the ability of freestanding single layer graphene to provide tens of electrons for charge neutralization of a slow highly charged ion within a few femtoseconds. With values higher than 10(12) A cm(-2), the resulting local current density in graphene exceeds previously measured breakdown currents by three orders of magnitude. Surprisingly, the passing ion does not tear nanometre-sized holes into the single layer graphene. We use time-dependent density functional theory to gain insight into the multielectron dynamics.

Concepts: Electron, Electromagnetism, Electric charge, Magnetic field, Fundamental physics concepts, Maxwell's equations, Electric current, Ion


It has long been known that the resting potential of tumor cells is depolarized relative to their normal counterparts. More recent work has provided evidence that resting potential is not just a readout of cell state: it regulates cell behavior as well. Thus, the ability to control resting potential in vivo would provide a powerful new tool for the study and treatment of tumors, a tool capable of revealing living-state physiological information impossible to obtain using molecular tools applied to isolated cell components. Here we describe the first use of optogenetics to manipulate ion-flux mediated regulation of membrane potential specifically to prevent and cause regression of oncogene-induced tumors. Injection of mutant-KRAS mRNA induces tumor-like structures with many documented similarities to tumors, in Xenopus tadpoles. We show that expression and activation of either ChR2D156A, a blue-light activated cation channel, or Arch, a green-light activated proton pump, both of which hyperpolarize cells, significantly lowers the incidence of KRAS tumor formation. Excitingly, we also demonstrate that activation of co-expressed light-activated ion translocators after tumor formation significantly increases the frequency with which the tumors regress in a process called normalization. These data demonstrate an optogenetic approach to dissect the biophysics of cancer. Moreover, they provide proof-of-principle for a novel class of interventions, directed at regulating cell state by targeting physiological regulators that can over-ride the presence of mutations.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Cancer, Oncology, Cell membrane, Tumor, Ion, Regulation