Scientific reproducibility has been at the forefront of many news stories and there exist numerous initiatives to help address this problem. We posit that a contributor is simply a lack of specificity that is required to enable adequate research reproducibility. In particular, the inability to uniquely identify research resources, such as antibodies and model organisms, makes it difficult or impossible to reproduce experiments even where the science is otherwise sound. In order to better understand the magnitude of this problem, we designed an experiment to ascertain the “identifiability” of research resources in the biomedical literature. We evaluated recent journal articles in the fields of Neuroscience, Developmental Biology, Immunology, Cell and Molecular Biology and General Biology, selected randomly based on a diversity of impact factors for the journals, publishers, and experimental method reporting guidelines. We attempted to uniquely identify model organisms (mouse, rat, zebrafish, worm, fly and yeast), antibodies, knockdown reagents (morpholinos or RNAi), constructs, and cell lines. Specific criteria were developed to determine if a resource was uniquely identifiable, and included examining relevant repositories (such as model organism databases, and the Antibody Registry), as well as vendor sites. The results of this experiment show that 54% of resources are not uniquely identifiable in publications, regardless of domain, journal impact factor, or reporting requirements. For example, in many cases the organism strain in which the experiment was performed or antibody that was used could not be identified. Our results show that identifiability is a serious problem for reproducibility. Based on these results, we provide recommendations to authors, reviewers, journal editors, vendors, and publishers. Scientific efficiency and reproducibility depend upon a research-wide improvement of this substantial problem in science today.
Behaviours such as smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, and unhealthy alcohol consumption are leading risk factors for death. We assessed the Canadian burden attributable to these behaviours by developing, validating, and applying a multivariable predictive model for risk of all-cause death.
Candida albicans is an opportunistic and polymorphic fungal pathogen that causes mucosal, disseminated and invasive infections in humans. Transition from the yeast form to the hyphal form is one of the key virulence factors in C. albicans contributing to macrophage evasion, tissue invasion and biofilm formation. Nontoxic small molecules that inhibit C. albicans yeast-to-hypha conversion and hyphal growth could represent a valuable source for understanding pathogenic fungal morphogenesis, identifying drug targets and serving as templates for the development of novel antifungal agents. Here, we have identified the triterpenoid saponin family of gymnemic acids (GAs) as inhibitor of C. albicans morphogenesis. GAs were isolated and purified from Gymnema sylvestre leaves, the Ayurvedic traditional medicinal plant used to treat diabetes. Purified GAs had no effect on the growth and viability of C. albicans yeast cells but inhibited its yeast-to-hypha conversion under several hypha-inducing conditions, including the presence of serum. Moreover, GAs promoted the conversion of C. albicans hyphae into yeast cells under hypha inducing conditions. They also inhibited conidial germination and hyphal growth of Aspergillus sp. Finally, GAs inhibited the formation of invasive hyphae from C. albicans-infected Caenorhabditis elegans worms and rescued them from killing by C. albicans. Hence, GAs could be useful for various antifungal applications due to their traditional use in herbal medicine.
Intracellular triacylglycerol (TAG) is a ubiquitous energy storage lipid also involved in lipid homeostasis and signaling. Comparatively, little is known about TAG’s role in other cellular functions. Here we show a pro-longevity function of TAG in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In yeast strains derived from natural and laboratory environments a correlation between high levels of TAG and longer chronological lifespan was observed. Increased TAG abundance through the deletion of TAG lipases prolonged chronological lifespan of laboratory strains, while diminishing TAG biosynthesis shortened lifespan without apparently affecting vegetative growth. TAG-mediated lifespan extension was independent of several other known stress response factors involved in chronological aging. Because both lifespan regulation and TAG metabolism are conserved, this cellular pro-longevity function of TAG may extend to other organisms.
Over the last decade, the genome-scale metabolic models have been playing increasingly important roles in elucidating metabolic characteristics of biological systems for a wide range of applications including, but not limited to, system-wide identification of drug targets and production of high value biochemical compounds. However, these genome-scale metabolic models must be able to first predict known in vivo phenotypes before it is applied towards these applications with high confidence. One benchmark for measuring the in silico capability in predicting in vivo phenotypes is the use of single-gene mutant libraries to measure the accuracy of knockout simulations in predicting mutant growth phenotypes.
Cryptococcus neoformans is a ubiquitous human fungal pathogen. This pathogen can undergo morphotype transition between the yeast and the filamentous form and such morphological transition has been implicated in virulence for decades. Morphotype transition is typically observed during mating, which is governed by pheromone signaling. Paradoxically, components specific to the pheromone signaling pathways play no or minimal direct roles in virulence. Thus, the link between morphotype transition and virulence and the underlying molecular mechanism remain elusive. Here, we demonstrate that filamentation can occur independent of pheromone signaling and mating, and both mating-dependent and mating-independent morphotype transition require the transcription factor Znf2. High expression of Znf2 is necessary and sufficient to initiate and maintain sex-independent filamentous growth under host-relevant conditions in vitro and during infection. Importantly, ZNF2 overexpression abolishes fungal virulence in murine models of cryptococcosis. Thus, Znf2 bridges the sex-independent morphotype transition and fungal pathogenicity. The impacts of Znf2 on morphological switch and pathogenicity are at least partly mediated through its effects on cell adhesion property. Cfl1, a Znf2 downstream factor, regulates morphogenesis, cell adhesion, biofilm formation, and virulence. Cfl1 is the first adhesin discovered in the phylum Basidiomycota of the Kingdom Fungi. Together with previous findings in other eukaryotic pathogens, our findings support a convergent evolution of plasticity in morphology and its impact on cell adhesion as a critical adaptive trait for pathogenesis.
Arsenic toxicity has been studied for a long time due to its effects in humans. Although epidemiological studies have demonstrated multiple effects in human physiology, there are many open questions about the cellular targets and the mechanisms of response to arsenic. Using the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe as model system, we have been able to demonstrate a strong activation of the MAPK Spc1/Sty1 in response to arsenate. This activation is dependent on Wis1 activation and Pyp2 phosphatase inactivation. Using arsenic speciation analysis we have also demonstrated the previously unknown capacity of S. pombe cells to reduce As (V) to As (III). Genetic analysis of several fission yeast mutants point towards the cell cycle phosphatase Cdc25 as a possible candidate to carry out this arsenate reductase activity. We propose that arsenate reduction and intracellular accumulation of arsenite are the key mechanisms of arsenate tolerance in fission yeast.
Drug-induced haploinsufficiency (DIH) in yeast has been considered a valuable tool for drug target identification. A plant metabolite, plumbagin, has potent anticancer activity via reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. However, the detailed molecular targets of plumbagin for ROS generation are not understood. Here, using DIH and heterozygous deletion mutants of the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, we identified 1, 4-phopshatidylinositol 5-kinase (PI5K) its3 as a new molecular target of plumbagin for ROS generation. Plumbagin showed potent anti-proliferative activity (GI(50); 10 µM) and induced cell elongation and septum formation in wild-type S. pombe. Furthermore, plumbagin dramatically increased the intracellular ROS level, and pretreatment with the ROS scavenger, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), protected against growth inhibition by plumbagin, suggesting that ROS play a crucial role in the anti-proliferative activity in S. pombe. Interestingly, significant DIH was observed in an its3-deleted heterozygous mutant, in which ROS generation by plumbagin was higher than that in wild-type cells, implying that its3 contributes to ROS generation by plumbagin in this yeast. In MCF7 human breast cancer cells, plumbagin significantly decreased the level of a human ortholog, 1, 4-phopshatidylinositol 5-kinase (PI5K)-1B, of yeast its3, and knockdown of PI5K-1B using siPI5K-1B increased the ROS level and decreased cell viability. Taken together, these results clearly show that PI5K-1B plays a crucial role in ROS generation as a new molecular target of plumbagin. Moreover, drug target screening using DIH in S. pombe deletion mutants is a valuable tool for identifying molecular targets of anticancer agents.
Deep sequencing now provides detailed snapshots of ribosome occupancy on mRNAs. We leverage these data to parameterize a computational model of translation, keeping track of every ribosome, tRNA, and mRNA molecule in a yeast cell. We determine the parameter regimes in which fast initiation or high codon bias in a transgene increases protein yield and infer the initiation rates of endogenous Saccharomyces cerevisiae genes, which vary by several orders of magnitude and correlate with 5' mRNA folding energies. Our model recapitulates the previously reported 5'-to-3' ramp of decreasing ribosome densities, although our analysis shows that this ramp is caused by rapid initiation of short genes rather than slow codons at the start of transcripts. We conclude that protein production in healthy yeast cells is typically limited by the availability of free ribosomes, whereas protein production under periods of stress can sometimes be rescued by reducing initiation or elongation rates.
Distributed robustness is thought to influence the buffering of random phenotypic variation through the scale-free topology of gene regulatory, metabolic, and protein-protein interaction networks. If this hypothesis is true, then the phenotypic response to the perturbation of particular nodes in such a network should be proportional to the number of links those nodes make with neighboring nodes. This suggests a probability distribution approximating an inverse power-law of random phenotypic variation. Zero phenotypic variation, however, is impossible, because random molecular and cellular processes are essential to normal development. Consequently, a more realistic distribution should have a y-intercept close to zero in the lower tail, a mode greater than zero, and a long (fat) upper tail. The double Pareto-lognormal (DPLN) distribution is an ideal candidate distribution. It consists of a mixture of a lognormal body and upper and lower power-law tails.