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Journal: International journal of molecular sciences


Despite the ever-increasing role of pesticides in modern agriculture, their deleterious effects are still underexplored. Here we examine the effect of A6, a pesticide derived from the naturally-occurring α-terthienyl, and structurally related to the endocrine disrupting pesticides anilinopyrimidines, on living zebrafish larvae. We show that both A6 and an anilinopyrimidine, cyprodinyl, decrease larval survival and affect central neurons at micromolar concentrations. Focusing on a superficial and easily observable sensory system, the lateral line system, we found that defects in axonal and sensory cell regeneration can be observed at much lower doses, in the nanomolar range. We also show that A6 accumulates preferentially in lateral line neurons and hair cells. We examined whether A6 affects the expression of putative target genes, and found that genes involved in apoptosis/cell proliferation are down-regulated, as well as genes reflecting estrogen receptor activation, consistent with previous reports that anilinopyrimidines act as endocrine disruptors. On the other hand, canonical targets of endocrine signaling are not affected, suggesting that the neurotoxic effect of A6 may be due to the binding of this compound to a recently identified, neuron-specific estrogen receptor.

Concepts: Effect, Endocrinology, Affect, Sense, Pesticide, Endocrine system, Endocrine disruptor, Neurotoxicity


Cancer-associated stroma (CAS) plays a key role in cancer initiation and progression. Spontaneously occurring canine mammary carcinomas are viewed as excellent models of human breast carcinomas. Considering the importance of CAS for human cancer, it likely plays a central role in canine tumours as well. So far, however, canine CAS lacks characterisation, and it remains unclear whether the biology between CAS from canine and human tumours is comparable. In this proof-of-principle study, using laser-capture microdissection, we isolated CAS and normal stroma from 13 formalin-fixed paraffin embedded canine simple mammary carcinomas and analysed the expression of seven known human CAS markers by RT-qPCR (Reverse Transcription quantitative PCR) and validated some targets by immunohistochemistry. We found that Col1a1 (Collagen1α1), αSMA (alpha Smooth Muscle Actin), FAP (Fibroblast activation protein), PDGFRβ (Platelet-derived growth factor receptor beta), and Caveolin-1 were significantly upregulated in canine CAS, and the expression of CXCL12 (Stromal cell derived factor 1) significantly decreased, whereas MMP2 (Matrix Metalloproteinase 1) and IL6 (Interleukin 6) did not change. Our results suggest strong similarities in CAS biology in canine and human mammary carcinomas but also reveal some differences. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report to provide a comprehensive expression analysis of the most important CAS markers in canine simple mammary carcinomas and further supports the validity of the dog as model for human cancer.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Cancer, Evolution, Molecular biology


UV radiation (UV) is classified as a “complete carcinogen” because it is both a mutagen and a non-specific damaging agent and has properties of both a tumor initiator and a tumor promoter. In environmental abundance, UV is the most important modifiable risk factor for skin cancer and many other environmentally-influenced skin disorders. However, UV also benefits human health by mediating natural synthesis of vitamin D and endorphins in the skin, therefore UV has complex and mixed effects on human health. Nonetheless, excessive exposure to UV carries profound health risks, including atrophy, pigmentary changes, wrinkling and malignancy. UV is epidemiologically and molecularly linked to the three most common types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma, which together affect more than a million Americans annually. Genetic factors also influence risk of UV-mediated skin disease. Polymorphisms of the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) gene, in particular, correlate with fairness of skin, UV sensitivity, and enhanced cancer risk. We are interested in developing UV-protective approaches based on a detailed understanding of molecular events that occur after UV exposure, focusing particularly on epidermal melanization and the role of the MC1R in genome maintenance.

Concepts: DNA, Cancer, Ultraviolet, Oncology, Squamous cell carcinoma, Basal cell carcinoma, Skin cancer, Sunscreen


Gut bacteria are an important component of the microbiota ecosystem in the human gut, which is colonized by 1014 microbes, ten times more than the human cells. Gut bacteria play an important role in human health, such as supplying essential nutrients, synthesizing vitamin K, aiding in the digestion of cellulose, and promoting angiogenesis and enteric nerve function. However, they can also be potentially harmful due to the change of their composition when the gut ecosystem undergoes abnormal changes in the light of the use of antibiotics, illness, stress, aging, bad dietary habits, and lifestyle. Dysbiosis of the gut bacteria communities can cause many chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, cancer, and autism. This review summarizes and discusses the roles and potential mechanisms of gut bacteria in human health and diseases.

Concepts: Immune system, Medicine, Epidemiology, Human, Bacteria, Gut flora, Nutrition, Death


Lysosomes clear macromolecules, maintain nutrient and cholesterol homeostasis, participate in tissue repair, and in many other cellular functions. To assume these tasks, lysosomes rely on their large arsenal of acid hydrolases, transmembrane proteins and membrane-associated proteins. It is therefore imperative that, post-synthesis, these proteins are specifically recognized as lysosomal components and are correctly sorted to this organelle through the endosomes. Lysosomal transmembrane proteins contain consensus motifs in their cytosolic regions (tyrosine- or dileucine-based) that serve as sorting signals to the endosomes, whereas most lysosomal acid hydrolases acquire mannose 6-phosphate (Man-6-P) moieties that mediate binding to two membrane receptors with endosomal sorting motifs in their cytosolic tails. These tyrosine- and dileucine-based motifs are tickets for boarding in clathrin-coated carriers that transport their cargo from the trans-Golgi network and plasma membrane to the endosomes. However, increasing evidence points to additional mechanisms participating in the biogenesis of lysosomes. In some cell types, for example, there are alternatives to the Man-6-P receptors for the transport of some acid hydrolases. In addition, several “non-consensus” sorting motifs have been identified, and atypical transport routes to endolysosomes have been brought to light. These “unconventional” or “less known” transport mechanisms are the focus of this review.

Concepts: Protein, Cell, Cell membrane, Golgi apparatus, Organelle, Endoplasmic reticulum, Transmembrane protein, Lysosome


Electrochemically activated solutions (ECAS) are generated by electrolysis of NaCl solutions, and demonstrate broad spectrum antimicrobial activity and high environmental compatibility. The biocidal efficacy of ECAS at the point of production is widely reported in the literature, as are its credentials as a “green biocide.” Acidic ECAS are considered most effective as biocides at the point of production and ill suited for extended storage. Acidic ECAS samples were stored at 4 °C and 20 °C in glass and polystyrene containers for 398 days, and tested for free chlorine, pH, ORP and bactericidal activity throughout. ORP and free chlorine (mg/L) in stored ECAS declined over time, declining at the fastest rate when stored at 20 °C in polystyrene and at the slowest rate when stored at 4 °C in glass. Bactericidal efficacy was also affected by storage and ECAS failed to produce a 5 log(10) reduction on five occasions when stored at 20 °C. pH remained stable throughout the storage period. This study represents the longest storage evaluation of the physiochemical parameters and bactericidal efficacy of acidic ECAS within the published literature and reveals that acidic ECAS retain useful bactericidal activity for in excess of 12 months, widening potential applications.

Concepts: Acid, Electrochemistry, Effectiveness, PH, Sodium hydroxide, Chlorine, Antimicrobial, Biocide


Biomolecular self-assembly is a fundamental process in all organisms. As primary components of the life molecular machinery, proteins have a vast array of resources available to them for self-assembly in a functional structure. Protein self-assembly, however, can also occur in an aberrant way, giving rise to non-native aggregated structures responsible for severe, progressive human diseases that have a serious social impact. Different neurodegenerative disorders, like Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, and spongiform encephalopathy diseases, have in common the presence of insoluble protein aggregates, generally termed “amyloid,” that share several physicochemical features: a fibrillar morphology, a predominantly beta-sheet secondary structure, birefringence upon staining with the dye Congo red, insolubility in common solvents and detergents, and protease resistance. Conformational constrains, hydrophobic and stacking interactions can play a key role in the fibrillogenesis process and protein-protein and peptide-peptide interactions-resulting in self-assembly phenomena of peptides yielding fibrils-that can be modulated and influenced by natural biomolecules. Small organic molecules, which possess both hydrophilic and hydrophobic moieties able to bind to peptide/protein molecules through hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic and aromatic interactions, are potential candidates against amyloidogenesis. In this review some significant case examples will be critically discussed.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Oxygen, Amyloid, Hydrogen bond, Biochemistry, Organic chemistry, Beta sheet


Organic solar cells have the potential to become a low-cost sustainable energy source. Understanding the photoconversion mechanism is key to the design of efficient organic solar cells. In this review, we discuss the processes involved in the photo-electron conversion mechanism, which may be subdivided into exciton harvesting, exciton transport, exciton dissociation, charge transport and extraction stages. In particular, we focus on the role of energy transfer as described by F¨orster resonance energy transfer (FRET) theory in the photoconversion mechanism. FRET plays a major role in exciton transport, harvesting and dissociation. The spectral absorption range of organic solar cells may be extended using sensitizers that efficiently transfer absorbed energy to the photoactive materials. The limitations of F¨orster theory to accurately calculate energy transfer rates are discussed. Energy transfer is the first step of an efficient two-step exciton dissociation process and may also be used to preferentially transport excitons to the heterointerface, where efficient exciton dissociation may occur. However, FRET also competes with charge transfer at the heterointerface turning it in a potential loss mechanism. An energy cascade comprising both energy transfer and charge transfer may aid in separating charges and is briefly discussed. Considering the extent to which the photo-electron conversion efficiency is governed by energy transfer, optimisation of this process offers the prospect of improved organic photovoltaic performance and thus aids in realising the potential of organic solar cells.

Concepts: Energy, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Organic solar cell, Energy conversion, Förster resonance energy transfer, Photovoltaic module, Alternative energy


The use of the products derived from the olive tree on human health dates back centuries. In several civilizations, the olive tree had and still has a very strong cultural and religious symbolism. Notably, the official seal and emblem of the World Health Organization features the rod of Asclepius over a world map surrounded by olive tree branches, chosen as a symbol of peace and health. Recently, accumulating experimental, clinical and epidemiological data have provided support to the traditional beliefs of the beneficial effect provided by olive derivates. In particular, the polyphenols present in olive leaves, olives, virgin (unrefined) olive oil and olive mill waste are potent antioxidant and radical scavengers with anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties. Here, we review the positive impact on human health of oleuropein, the most prevalent polyphenol present in olives. In addition, we provide data collected in our laboratory on the role of oleuropein in counteracting lipid accumulation in a mouse model of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Olive, Olive oil, Oleuropein, Oleocanthal, Olive leaf, Olives


Apolipoprotein M (apoM) is a plasma apolipoprotein that mainly associates with high-density lipoproteins. Hence, most studies on apoM so far have investigated its effect on and association with lipid metabolism and atherosclerosis. The insight into apoM biology recently took a major turn. ApoM was identified as a carrier of the bioactive lipid sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P). S1P activates five different G-protein-coupled receptors, known as the S1P-receptors 1-5 and, hence, affects a wide range of biological processes, such as lymphocyte trafficking, angiogenesis, wound repair and even virus suppression and cancer. The ability of apoM to bind S1P is due to a lipophilic binding pocket within the lipocalin structure of the apoM molecule. Mice overexpressing apoM have increased plasma S1P concentrations, whereas apoM-deficient mice have decreased S1P levels. ApoM-S1P is able to activate the S1P-receptor-1, affecting the function of endothelial cells, and apoM-deficient mice display impaired endothelial permeability in the lung. This review will focus on the putative biological roles of the new apoM-S1P axis in relation to lipoprotein metabolism, lipid disorders and atherosclerosis.

Concepts: Cholesterol, Atherosclerosis, Angiogenesis, Blood vessel, Lipoprotein, Endothelium, Lipid, Lipids