Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Journal of biosciences


The role of protein-lipid interactions is increasingly recognized to be of importance in numerous biological processes. Bioinformatics is being increasingly used as a helpful tool in studying protein-lipid interactions. Especially recently developed approaches recognizing lipid binding regions in proteins can be implemented. In this study one of those bioinformatics approaches specialized in identifying lipid binding helical regions in proteins is expanded. The approach is explored further by features which can be easily obtained manually. Some interesting examples of members of the amphitropic protein family have been investigated in order to demonstrate the additional features of this bioinformatics approach. The results in this study seem to indicate interesting characteristics of amphitropic proteins and provide insight into the mechanistic functioning and overall understanding of this intriguing class of proteins. Additionally, the results demonstrate that the presented bioinformatics approach might be either an interesting starting point in protein-lipid interactions studies or a good tool for selecting new focus points for more detailed experimental research of proteins with known overall protein-lipid binding abilities.

Concepts: DNA, Proteins, Protein, Bioinformatics, Molecular biology, Metabolism, Proteome, Cdx protein family


This article reviews the production of different phenotypes from the same genotype in the same environment by stochastic cellular events, nonlinear mechanisms during patterning and morphogenesis, and probabilistic self-reinforcing circuitries in the adult life. These aspects of phenotypic variation are summarized under the term ‘stochastic developmental variation’ (SDV) in the following. In the past, SDV has been viewed primarily as a nuisance, impairing laboratory experiments, pharmaceutical testing, and true-to-type breeding. This article also emphasizes the positive biological effects of SDV and discusses implications for genotype-to-phenotype mapping, biological individuation, ecology, evolution, and applied biology. There is strong evidence from experiments with genetically identical organisms performed in narrowly standardized laboratory set-ups that SDV is a source of phenotypic variation in its own right aside from genetic variation and environmental variation. It is obviouslymediated bymolecular and higher-order epigeneticmechanisms. Comparison of SDV in animals, plants, fungi, protists, bacteria, archaeans, and viruses suggests that it is a ubiquitous and phylogenetically old phenomenon. In animals, it is usually smallest for morphometric traits and highest for life history traits and behaviour. SDV is thought to contribute to phenotypic diversity in all populations but is particularly relevant for asexually reproducing and genetically impoverished populations, where it generates individuality despite genetic uniformity. In each generation, SDV produces a range of phenotypes around a well-adapted target phenotype, which is interpreted as a bet-hedging strategy to cope with the unpredictability of dynamic environments. At least some manifestations of SDV are heritable, adaptable, selectable, and evolvable, and therefore, SDV may be seen as a hitherto overlooked evolution factor. SDV is also relevant for husbandry, agriculture, and medicine because most pathogens are asexuals that exploit this third source of phenotypic variation tomodify infectivity and resistance to antibiotics. Since SDV affects all types of organisms and almost all aspects of life, it urgently requires more intense research and a better integration into biological thinking.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Natural selection, Genotype, Evolution, Biology, Organism, Life


Malaria is a major public health concern in Northeast India with a preponderance of drug-resistant strains. Until recently the partner drug for artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) was sulphadoxine pyrimethamine (SP). Antifolate drug resistance has been associated with the mutations at dihydropteroate synthase (dhps) and dihydrofolatereductase (dhfr) genes. This study investigated antifolate drug resistance at the molecular level. A total of 249 fever cases from Arunachal Pradesh, NE India, were screened for malaria, and of these, 75 were found to be positive for Plasmodium falciparum. Samples were sequenced and analysed with the help of BioEdit and ClustalW. Three novel point mutations were found in the dhps gene with 10 haplotypes along with the already reported mutations. A single haplotype having quadruple mutation was found in the dhfr gene. The study reports higher degree of antifolate drug resistance as evidenced by the presence of multiple point mutations in dhps and dhfr genes. The findings of this study strongly discourage the use SP as a partner drug in ACT.

Concepts: DNA, Molecular biology, Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Mass drug administration, Plasmodium, Antibiotic resistance, Point mutation


Microbial transglutaminase (MTG) gene (mtg) from Streptomyces hygroscopicus H197 strain was cloned by PCR and mutated by deleting a specific 84 bp fragment using overlapping extension PCR. The mutant MTG and the wild MTG genes expressed by recombinant plasmid pET32a+- mutant mtg and pET32a+ -mtg, respectively, and were harvested by alternating freeze-thaw steps and purified by Ni column. The purified mutant MTG and the wild MTG exhibited 0.22 U/mg and 0.16 U/mg activity, respectively, and 0.69 U/mg and 0.54 U/mg activity, respectively, after activated by trypsin. The molecular weight of mutant MTG was estimated as 67 kDa by SDS-PAGE. Both MTGs showed optimum activity at pH 6-8 for hydroxamate formation from N-CBZ-Gln-Gly and hydroxylamine, and exhibited higher stability at 40°C and 1-3% salinity. The two types of MTG were not stable in the presence of Zn(II), Cu(II), Hg(II), Pb(II), Fe(III), and Ag(I), suggesting that they could possess a thiol group. In addition, the mutant MTG and the wild MTG were strongly affected by ethanol. Furthermore, the mutant MTG was obviously (P less than 0.05 or P less than 0.01) more stable than the wild MTG at 50°C and 60°C, at pH 4, 5, and 9, at 7 % and 9 % salinity, 30 % and 35 % ethanol concentration, and in the presence of Li(I) and Ag(I). The polyhydroxy compounds as protein stabilizers could elevate MTG stability.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Mutation, Bacteria, Molecular biology, Mutant, Streptomyces


Gastric cancer is one of the lethal causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. The incidence and mortality rates of this disease is comparatively higher in China. In the current study, we evaluated the anticancer effects of Thymoquinone (TQ) against gastric cancer cells (MGC80-3 and SGC-7901) and normal noncancerous GES-1 cells and attempted to investigate the underlying mechanism. Our results indicated that TQ exhibited significant growth inhibitory effects on gastric cancer cells (MGC80-3 and SGC-7901). However, lower cytotoxicity was observed against normal GES-1 cells. Moreover, TQ could inhibit the colony formation potential of MGC80-3 and SGC-7901 cells in a dose-dependent manner. TQ also inhibited cell migration ability of the gastric cancer cells and down-regulated the expression of the mesenchymal genes such as N-cadherin, Vimentin, and TWIST. However, the epithelial markers such as E-cadherin and cytokeratin-19 were distinctly up-regulated in TQ-treated gastric cancer cells. Since PI3K/Akt/ mTOR plays an important role in progression and tumorigenesis, we also investigated the effect of TQ on PI3K/Akt/mTOR signalling pathway in gastric cancer cells. It was observed that TQ down-regulated the expression of some of the key proteins of this pathway. Taken together, we conclude that TQ may prove lead molecule for the treatment of gastric cancer.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Gene expression, Cell, Cancer, Metastasis, Oncology


Neuroblastoma is the most common extracranial solid tumour in children, and differentiation is considered its most appropriate therapy. In this work, we studied effects of miR-124 overexpression on differentiation in M17 cell line as a model of neuroblastoma cancer. Influence of miR-124 overexpression on differentiation in M17 cells was studied. M17 cells were infected with lentivirus that contained miR-124 precursor sequence and followed for 2 weeks to differentiate. Ectopic expression of miR-124 in M17 cells changed the shape of spherical undifferentiated cells to cells with extended neurites that formed neuronal networks. Overexpression of MiR-124 respectively increased the expression level of markers of β-Tubulin III, MAP2, SYN, NF-M and Nestin by 16-, 5-, 4-, 2.3- and 2-folds at the messenger RNA level. MiR-124 overexpression also increased the protein levels of β-Tubulin III and MAP2. Moreover, exogenous expression of miR-124 significantly increased the intracellular calcium in differentiated M17 cells. Since miR-124 is naturally expressed in neuronal cells and is downregulated in neuroblastoma cancer cells, differentiation with this type of microRNA can be a novel treatment for neuroblastoma cancer.

Concepts: DNA, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Cancer, Oncology, Messenger RNA, Cellular differentiation, Neuroblastoma


Bacteria live in environments with dynamic changes. To sense and respond to different external stimuli, bacteria make use of various sensor-response circuits, called two-component systems (TCSs). A TCS comprises a histidine protein kinase (HK) sensing environmental stimuli and a response regulator protein (RR) regulating downstream genes. The two components are coupled via a phosphorylation control mechanism. In a recent study, we adopted an optogenetics approach to re-engineer the sensor HKs in Escherichia coli as a light-sensing fusion protein. We constructed a light-controllable HK by replacing the original signal-specific sensing domain of HK with the light-sensing domain of Cph1 from Cyanobacteria Synechocystis, so that HK can be investigated by red light. Here, we extended the study to other 16 HK-RR TCSs and constructed a library of light-responsible HK-Cph1 chimeras. By taking the NarX-NarL system as an example, we demonstrated the light responsiveness of the constructed chimera and investigated the frequency response of the NarXNarL system. The constructed library serves as a toolkit for future TCS study using optogenetics approach.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Bacteria, Evolution, Amino acid, Signal transduction, Escherichia coli, Protein kinase


The pathological development of lens epithelial cells (LECs) leads to posterior capsular opacification (PCO). This study was undertaken to investigate the effects of microRNA-486-5p (miR-486-5p) on TGF-β2-induced proliferation, invasion and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in the lens epithelial cell line SRA01/04, and to explore the underlying molecular mechanisms. The expression of miR-486-5p in TGF-β2-induced SRA01/04 cells was down-regulated, and the expression of Smad2, p-Smad2 and p-Smad3 was up-regulated. A dual-luciferase reporter assay revealed that miR-486-5p directly targets the 30'-UTR of Smad2. MiR-486-5p mimic transfection markedly down-regulated the expression levels of Smad2, thus inhibiting the expression of p-Smad2 and p-Smad3. MiR-486-5p overexpression in SRA01/04 cells markedly suppressed TGF-β2-induced proliferation and invasion, inhibited protein expression of CDK2 and CDK4, down-regulated fibronectin, α-SMA and vimentin and up-regulated E-cadherin; these effects were partly reversed by Smad2 overexpression. In short, these data show that miR-486-5p overexpression can inhibit TGF-β2-induced proliferation, invasion and EMT in SRA01/04 cells by repressing Smad2/Smad3 signalling, implying that miR-486-5p may be an effective target to interfere in the progression of PCO.

Concepts: Gene expression, Cell, Epithelium, Cornea, Target Corporation


Tumour cells distinguish from normal cells by fermenting glucose to lactate in presence of sufficient oxygen and functional mitochondria (Warburg effect). Crabtree effect was invoked to explain the biochemical basis of Warburg effect by suggesting that excess glucose suppresses mitochondrial respiration. It is known that the Warburg effect and Crabtree effect are displayed by Saccharomyces cerevisiae, during growth on abundant glucose. Beyond this similarity, it was also demonstrated that expression of human pro-apoptotic proteins in S. cerevisiae such as Bax and p53 caused apoptosis. Here, we demonstrate that p53 expression in S. cerevisiae (Crabtree-positive yeast) causes increase in ROS levels and apoptosis when cells are growing on non-fermentable carbon sources but not on fermentable carbon sources, a feature similar to tumour cells. In contrast, in Kluyveromyces lactis (Crabtree-negative yeast) p53 causes increase in ROS levels and apoptosis regardless of the carbon source. Interestingly, the increased ROS levels and apoptosis are correlated to increased oxygen uptake in both S. cerevisiae and K. lactis. Based on these results, we suggest that at least in yeast, fermentation per se does not prevent the escape from apoptosis. Rather, the Crabtree effect plays a crucial role in determining whether the cells should undergo apoptosis or not.

Concepts: Protein, Carbon dioxide, Cancer, Cellular respiration, Yeast, Cell cycle, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Brewing


In continuation of our studies on the bioaccessibility of phenolic compounds from food grains as influenced by domestic processing, we examined the uptake of phenolics from native/sprouted finger millet (Eleucine coracana) and green gram (Vigna radiata) and native/heat-processed onion (Allium cepa) in human Caco-2 cells. Absorption of pure phenolic compounds, as well as the uptake of phenolic compounds from finger millet, green gram, and onion, was investigated in Caco-2 monolayer model. Transport of individual phenolic compounds from apical compartment to the basolateral compartment across Caco-2 monolayer was also investigated. Sprouting enhanced the uptake of syringic acid from both these grains. Open-pan boiling reduced the uptake of quercetin from the onion. Among pure phenolic compounds, syringic acid was maximally absorbed, while the flavonoid isovitexin was least absorbed. Apparent permeability coefficient P(app) of phenolic compounds from their standard solutions was 2.02 x 10-6cm/s to 8.94 x 10-6cm/s. Sprouting of grains enhanced the uptake of syringic acid by the Caco-2 cells. Open-pan boiling drastically reduced the uptake of quercetin from the onion. The permeability of phenolic acids across Caco-2 monolayer was higher than those of flavonoids.

Concepts: Nutrition, Catechin, Quercetin, Flavonoid, Phenols, Phenolic compounds in wine, Myricetin, Onion