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See detailBee venom and its component apamin as neuroprotective agents in a Parkinson disease mouse model.
Alvarez-Fischer, Daniel; Noelker, Carmen; Vulinovic, Franca et al

in PloS one (2013), 8(4), 61700

Bee venom has recently been suggested to possess beneficial effects in the treatment of Parkinson disease (PD). For instance, it has been observed that bilateral acupoint stimulation of lower hind limbs ... [more ▼]

Bee venom has recently been suggested to possess beneficial effects in the treatment of Parkinson disease (PD). For instance, it has been observed that bilateral acupoint stimulation of lower hind limbs with bee venom was protective in the acute 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) mouse model of PD. In particular, a specific component of bee venom, apamin, has previously been shown to have protective effects on dopaminergic neurons in vitro. However, no information regarding a potential protective action of apamin in animal models of PD is available to date. The specific goals of the present study were to (i) establish that the protective effect of bee venom for dopaminergic neurons is not restricted to acupoint stimulation, but can also be observed using a more conventional mode of administration and to (ii) demonstrate that apamin can mimic the protective effects of a bee venom treatment on dopaminergic neurons. Using the chronic mouse model of MPTP/probenecid, we show that bee venom provides sustained protection in an animal model that mimics the chronic degenerative process of PD. Apamin, however, reproduced these protective effects only partially, suggesting that other components of bee venom enhance the protective action of the peptide. [less ▲]

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See detailKnockdown of Hsc70-5/mortalin induces loss of synaptic mitochondria in a Drosophila Parkinson's disease model.
Zhu, Jun-Yi; Vereshchagina, Natalia; Sreekumar, Vrinda et al

in PloS one (2013), 8(12), 83714

Mortalin is an essential component of the molecular machinery that imports nuclear-encoded proteins into mitochondria, assists in their folding, and protects against damage upon accumulation of ... [more ▼]

Mortalin is an essential component of the molecular machinery that imports nuclear-encoded proteins into mitochondria, assists in their folding, and protects against damage upon accumulation of dysfunctional, unfolded proteins in aging mitochondria. Mortalin dysfunction associated with Parkinson's disease (PD) increases the vulnerability of cultured cells to proteolytic stress and leads to changes in mitochondrial function and morphology. To date, Drosophila melanogaster has been successfully used to investigate pathogenesis following the loss of several other PD-associated genes. We generated the first loss-of-Hsc70-5/mortalin-function Drosophila model. The reduction of Mortalin expression recapitulates some of the defects observed in the existing Drosophila PD-models, which include reduced ATP levels, abnormal wing posture, shortened life span, and reduced spontaneous locomotor and climbing ability. Dopaminergic neurons seem to be more sensitive to the loss of mortalin than other neuronal sub-types and non-neuronal tissues. The loss of synaptic mitochondria is an early pathological change that might cause later degenerative events. It precedes both behavioral abnormalities and structural changes at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) of mortalin-knockdown larvae that exhibit increased mitochondrial fragmentation. Autophagy is concomitantly up-regulated, suggesting that mitochondria are degraded via mitophagy. Ex vivo data from human fibroblasts identifies increased mitophagy as an early pathological change that precedes apoptosis. Given the specificity of the observed defects, we are confident that the loss-of-mortalin model presented in this study will be useful for further dissection of the complex network of pathways that underlie the development of mitochondrial parkinsonism. [less ▲]

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See detailSteady-State Metabolite Concentrations Reflect a Balance between Maximizing Enzyme Efficiency and Minimizing Total Metabolite Load
Tepper, Naama; Noor, Elad; Amador-Noguez, Daniel et al

in PLoS ONE (2013), 8(9), 75370

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See detailA Protein Prioritization Approach Tailored for the FA/BRCA Pathway
Haitjema, Anneke; Brandt, Bernd W.; Ameziane, Najim et al

in PLoS ONE (2013), 8(4), 62017

<sec><title/><p>Fanconi anemia (FA) is a heterogeneous recessive disorder associated with a markedly elevated risk to develop cancer. To date sixteen FA genes have been identified, three of which ... [more ▼]

<sec><title/><p>Fanconi anemia (FA) is a heterogeneous recessive disorder associated with a markedly elevated risk to develop cancer. To date sixteen FA genes have been identified, three of which predispose heterozygous mutation carriers to breast cancer. The FA proteins work together in a genome maintenance pathway, the so-called FA/BRCA pathway which is important during the <italic>S</italic> phase of the cell cycle. Since not all FA patients can be linked to (one of) the sixteen known complementation groups, new FA genes remain to be identified. In addition the complex FA network remains to be further unravelled. One of the FA genes, <italic>FANCI</italic>, has been identified via a combination of bioinformatic techniques exploiting FA protein properties and genetic linkage. The aim of this study was to develop a prioritization approach for proteins of the entire human proteome that potentially interact with the FA/BRCA pathway or are novel candidate FA genes. To this end, we combined the original bioinformatics approach based on the properties of the first thirteen FA proteins identified with publicly available tools for protein-protein interactions, literature mining (Nermal) and a protein function prediction tool (FuncNet). Importantly, the three newest FA proteins FANCO/RAD51C, FANCP/SLX4, and XRCC2 displayed scores in the range of the already known FA proteins. Likewise, a prime candidate FA gene based on next generation sequencing and having a very low score was subsequently disproven by functional studies for the FA phenotype. Furthermore, the approach strongly enriches for GO terms such as DNA repair, response to DNA damage stimulus, and cell cycle-regulated genes. Additionally, overlaying the top 150 with a haploinsufficiency probability score, renders the approach more tailored for identifying breast cancer related genes. This approach may be useful for prioritization of putative novel FA or breast cancer genes from next generation sequencing efforts.</p></sec> [less ▲]

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See detailComparing the MicroRNA Spectrum between Serum and Plasma
Wang, K.; Yuan, Y.; Cho, J. H. et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(7), 41561

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding RNAs that regulate various biological processes, primarily through interaction with messenger RNAs. The levels of specific, circulating miRNAs in blood have been ... [more ▼]

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding RNAs that regulate various biological processes, primarily through interaction with messenger RNAs. The levels of specific, circulating miRNAs in blood have been shown to associate with various pathological conditions including cancers. These miRNAs have great potential as biomarkers for various pathophysiological conditions. In this study we focused on different sample types’ effects on the spectrum of circulating miRNA in blood. Using serum and corresponding plasma samples from the same individuals, we observed higher miRNA concentrations in serum samples compared to the corresponding plasma samples. The difference between serum and plasma miRNA concentration showed some associations with miRNA from platelets, which may indicate that the coagulation process may affect the spectrum of extracellular miRNA in blood. Several miRNAs also showed platform dependent variations in measurements. Our results suggest that there are a number of factors that might affect the measurement of circulating miRNA concentration. Caution must be taken when comparing miRNA data generated from different sample types or measurement platforms [less ▲]

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See detailA Novel Network Integrating a miRNA-203/SNAI1 Feedback Loop which Regulates Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition.
Moes, Michèle UL; Le Béchec, Antony UL; Crespo, Isaac UL et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(4), 35440

Background: The majority of human cancer deaths are caused by metastasis. The metastatic dissemination is initiated by the breakdown of epithelial cell homeostasis. During this phenomenon, referred to as ... [more ▼]

Background: The majority of human cancer deaths are caused by metastasis. The metastatic dissemination is initiated by the breakdown of epithelial cell homeostasis. During this phenomenon, referred to as epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), cells change their genetic and trancriptomic program leading to phenotypic and functional alterations. The challenge of understanding this dynamic process resides in unraveling regulatory networks involving master transcription factors (e.g. SNAI1/2, ZEB1/2 and TWIST1) and microRNAs. Here we investigated microRNAs regulated by SNAI1 and their potential role in the regulatory networks underlying epithelial plasticity. Results: By a large-scale analysis on epithelial plasticity, we highlighted miR-203 and its molecular link with SNAI1 and the miR-200 family, key regulators of epithelial homeostasis. During SNAI1-induced EMT in MCF7 breast cancer cells, miR-203 and miR-200 family members were repressed in a timely correlated manner. Importantly, miR-203 repressed endogenous SNAI1, forming a double negative miR203/SNAI1 feedback loop. We integrated this novel miR203/SNAI1 with the known miR200/ZEB feedback loops to construct an a priori EMT core network. Dynamic simulations revealed stable epithelial and mesenchymal states, and underscored the crucial role of the miR203/SNAI1 feedback loop in state transitions underlying epithelial plasticity. Conclusion: By combining computational biology and experimental approaches, we propose a novel EMT core network integrating two fundamental negative feedback loops, miR203/SNAI1 and miR200/ZEB. Altogether our analysis implies that this novel EMT core network could function as a switch controlling epithelial cell plasticity during differentiation and cancer progression. [less ▲]

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See detailUsing rule-based machine learning for candidate disease gene prioritization and sample classification of cancer gene expression data
Glaab, Enrico UL; Bacardit, Jaume; Garibaldi, Jonathan M. et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(7), 39932-39932

Microarray data analysis has been shown to provide an effective tool for studying cancer and genetic diseases. Although classical machine learning techniques have successfully been applied to find ... [more ▼]

Microarray data analysis has been shown to provide an effective tool for studying cancer and genetic diseases. Although classical machine learning techniques have successfully been applied to find informative genes and to predict class labels for new samples, common restrictions of microarray analysis such as small sample sizes, a large attribute space and high noise levels still limit its scientific and clinical applications. Increasing the interpretability of prediction models while retaining a high accuracy would help to exploit the information content in microarray data more effectively. For this purpose, we evaluate our rule-based evolutionary machine learning systems, BioHEL and GAssist, on three public microarray cancer datasets, obtaining simple rule-based models for sample classification. A comparison with other benchmark microarray sample classifiers based on three diverse feature selection algorithms suggests that these evolutionary learning techniques can compete with state-of-the-art methods like support vector machines. The obtained models reach accuracies above 90% in two-level external cross-validation, with the added value of facilitating interpretation by using only combinations of simple if-then-else rules. As a further benefit, a literature mining analysis reveals that prioritizations of informative genes extracted from BioHEL’s classification rule sets can outperform gene rankings obtained from a conventional ensemble feature selection in terms of the pointwise mutual information between relevant disease terms and the standardized names of top-ranked genes. [less ▲]

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See detailRegrowing the adult brain: NF-kappaB controls functional circuit formation and tissue homeostasis in the dentate gyrus.
Imielski, Yvonne; Schwamborn, Jens Christian UL; Luningschror, Patrick et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(2), 30838

Cognitive decline during aging is correlated with a continuous loss of cells within the brain and especially within the hippocampus, which could be regenerated by adult neurogenesis. Here we show that ... [more ▼]

Cognitive decline during aging is correlated with a continuous loss of cells within the brain and especially within the hippocampus, which could be regenerated by adult neurogenesis. Here we show that genetic ablation of NF-kappaB resulted in severe defects in the neurogenic region (dentate gyrus) of the hippocampus. Despite increased stem cell proliferation, axogenesis, synaptogenesis and neuroprotection were hampered, leading to disruption of the mossy fiber pathway and to atrophy of the dentate gyrus during aging. Here, NF-kappaB controls the transcription of FOXO1 and PKA, regulating axogenesis. Structural defects culminated in behavioral impairments in pattern separation. Re-activation of NF-kappaB resulted in integration of newborn neurons, finally to regeneration of the dentate gyrus, accompanied by a complete recovery of structural and behavioral defects. These data identify NF-kappaB as a crucial regulator of dentate gyrus tissue homeostasis suggesting NF-kappaB to be a therapeutic target for treating cognitive and mood disorders. [less ▲]

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See detailProtein dynamics governed by interfaces of high polarity and low packing density.
Espinosa Angarica, Vladimir UL; Sancho, Javier

in PloS one (2012), 7(10), 48212

The folding pathway, three-dimensional structure and intrinsic dynamics of proteins are governed by their amino acid sequences. Internal protein surfaces with physicochemical properties appropriate to ... [more ▼]

The folding pathway, three-dimensional structure and intrinsic dynamics of proteins are governed by their amino acid sequences. Internal protein surfaces with physicochemical properties appropriate to modulate conformational fluctuations could play important roles in folding and dynamics. We show here that proteins contain buried interfaces of high polarity and low packing density, coined as LIPs: Light Interfaces of high Polarity, whose physicochemical properties make them unstable. The structures of well-characterized equilibrium and kinetic folding intermediates indicate that the LIPs of the corresponding native proteins fold late and are involved in local unfolding events. Importantly, LIPs can be identified using very fast and uncomplicated computational analysis of protein three-dimensional structures, which provides an easy way to delineate the protein segments involved in dynamics. Since LIPs can be retained while the sequences of the interacting segments diverge significantly, proteins could in principle evolve new functional features reusing pre-existing encoded dynamics. Large-scale identification of LIPS may contribute to understanding evolutionary constraints of proteins and the way protein intrinsic dynamics are encoded. [less ▲]

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See detailThe complex exogenous RNA spectra in human plasma: an interface with human gut biota?
Wang, K.; Li, H.; Yuan, Y. et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(12),

Human plasma has long been a rich source for biomarker discovery. It has recently become clear that plasma RNA molecules, such as microRNA, in addition to proteins are common and can serve as biomarkers ... [more ▼]

Human plasma has long been a rich source for biomarker discovery. It has recently become clear that plasma RNA molecules, such as microRNA, in addition to proteins are common and can serve as biomarkers. Surveying human plasma for microRNA biomarkers using next generation sequencing technology, we observed that a significant fraction of the circulating RNA appear to originate from exogenous species. With careful analysis of sequence error statistics and other controls, we demonstrated that there is a wide range of RNA from many different organisms, including bacteria and fungi as well as from other species. These RNAs may be associated with protein, lipid or other molecules protecting them from RNase activity in plasma. Some of these RNAs are detected in intracellular complexes and may be able to influence cellular activities under in vitro conditions. These findings raise the possibility that plasma RNAs of exogenous origin may serve as signaling molecules mediating for example the human-microbiome interaction and may affect and/or indicate the state of human health [less ▲]

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See detailMolecular interface of S100A8 with cytochrome b558 and NADPH oxidase activation
Berthier, Sylvie; Nguyen, Minh Vu Chong UL; Baillet, Athan et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(7),

S100A8 and S100A9 are two calcium binding Myeloid Related Proteins, and important mediators of inflammatory diseases. They were recently introduced as partners for phagocyte NADPH oxidase regulation ... [more ▼]

S100A8 and S100A9 are two calcium binding Myeloid Related Proteins, and important mediators of inflammatory diseases. They were recently introduced as partners for phagocyte NADPH oxidase regulation. However, the precise mechanism of their interaction remains elusive. We had for aim (i) to evaluate the impact of S100 proteins on NADPH oxidase activity; (ii) to characterize molecular interaction of either S100A8, S100A9, or S100A8/S100A9 heterocomplex with cytochrome b558; and (iii) to determine the S100A8 consensus site involved in cytochrome b558/S100 interface. Recombinant full length or S100A9-A8 truncated chimera proteins and ExoS-S100 fusion proteins were expressed in E. coli and in P. aeruginosa respectively. Our results showed that S100A8 is the functional partner for NADPH oxidase activation contrary to S100A9, however, the loading with calcium and a combination with phosphorylated S100A9 are essential in vivo. Endogenous S100A9 and S100A8 colocalize in differentiated and PMA stimulated PLB985 cells, with Nox2/gp91phox and p22phox. Recombinant S100A8, loaded with calcium and fused with the first 129 or 54 N-terminal amino acid residues of the P. aeruginosa ExoS toxin, induced a similar oxidase activation in vitro, to the one observed with S100A8 in the presence of S100A9 in vivo. This suggests that S100A8 is the essential component of the S100A9/S100A8 heterocomplex for oxidase activation. In this context, recombinant full-length rS100A9-A8 and rS100A9-A8 truncated 90 chimera proteins as opposed to rS100A9-A8 truncated 86 and rS100A9-A8 truncated 57 chimeras, activate the NADPH oxidase function of purified cytochrome b558 suggesting that the C-terminal region of S100A8 is directly involved in the molecular interface with the hemoprotein. The data point to four strategic 87HEES90 amino acid residues of the S100A8 C-terminal sequence that are involved directly in the molecular interaction with cytochrome b558 and then in the phagocyte NADPH oxidase activation. © 2012 Berthier et al. [less ▲]

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See detailEffects of cold pressor stress on the human startle response
Deuter, C. E.; Kuehl, L. K.; Blumenthal, T. D. et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(11), 49866-49866

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See detailTRIM32 regulates skeletal muscle stem cell differentiation and is necessary for normal adult muscle regeneration.
Nicklas, Sarah; Otto, Anthony; Wu, Xiaoli et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(1), 30445

Limb girdle muscular dystrophy type 2H (LGMD2H) is an inherited autosomal recessive disease of skeletal muscle caused by a mutation in the TRIM32 gene. Currently its pathogenesis is entirely unclear ... [more ▼]

Limb girdle muscular dystrophy type 2H (LGMD2H) is an inherited autosomal recessive disease of skeletal muscle caused by a mutation in the TRIM32 gene. Currently its pathogenesis is entirely unclear. Typically the regeneration process of adult skeletal muscle during growth or following injury is controlled by a tissue specific stem cell population termed satellite cells. Given that TRIM32 regulates the fate of mammalian neural progenitor cells through controlling their differentiation, we asked whether TRIM32 could also be essential for the regulation of myogenic stem cells. Here we demonstrate for the first time that TRIM32 is expressed in the skeletal muscle stem cell lineage of adult mice, and that in the absence of TRIM32, myogenic differentiation is disrupted. Moreover, we show that the ubiquitin ligase TRIM32 controls this process through the regulation of c-Myc, a similar mechanism to that previously observed in neural progenitors. Importantly we show that loss of TRIM32 function induces a LGMD2H-like phenotype and strongly affects muscle regeneration in vivo. Our studies implicate that the loss of TRIM32 results in dysfunctional muscle stem cells which could contribute to the development of LGMD2H. [less ▲]

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See detailAutophagy Mediates the Delivery of Thrombogenic Tissue Factor to Neutrophil Extracellular Traps in Human Sepsis
Kambas, Konstantinos; Mitroulis, Ioannis; Apostolidou, Eirini et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(9),

Background: Sepsis is associated with systemic inflammatory responses and induction of coagulation system. Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) constitute an antimicrobial mechanism, recently implicated ... [more ▼]

Background: Sepsis is associated with systemic inflammatory responses and induction of coagulation system. Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) constitute an antimicrobial mechanism, recently implicated in thrombosis via platelet entrapment and aggregation. Methodology/Principal Findings: In this study, we demonstrate for the first time the localization of thrombogenic tissue factor (TF) in NETs released by neutrophils derived from patients with gram-negative sepsis and normal neutrophils treated with either serum from septic patients or inflammatory mediators involved in the pathogenesis of sepsis. Localization of TF in acidified autophagosomes was observed during this process, as indicated by positive LC3B and LysoTracker staining. Moreover, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibition with 3-MA or inhibition of endosomal acidification with bafilomycin A1 hindered the release of TF-bearing NETs. TF present in NETs induced thrombin generation in culture supernatants, which further resulted in protease activated receptor-1 signaling. Conclusions/Significance: This study demonstrates the involvement of autophagic machinery in the extracellular delivery of TF in NETs and the subsequent activation of coagulation cascade, providing evidence for the implication of this process in coagulopathy and inflammatory response in sepsis. © 2012 Kambas et al. [less ▲]

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See detailContextualization procedure and modeling of monocyte specific TLR signaling.
Aurich, Maike Kathrin UL; Thiele, Ines UL

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(12), 49978

Innate immunity is the first line of defense against invasion of pathogens. Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling is involved in a variety of human diseases extending far beyond immune system-related ... [more ▼]

Innate immunity is the first line of defense against invasion of pathogens. Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling is involved in a variety of human diseases extending far beyond immune system-related diseases, affecting a number of different tissues and cell-types. Computational models often do not account for cell-type specific differences in signaling networks. Investigation of these differences and its phenotypic implications could increase understanding of cell signaling and processes such as inflammation. The wealth of knowledge for TLR signaling has been recently summarized in a stoichiometric signaling network applicable for constraint-based modeling and analysis (COBRA). COBRA methods have been applied to investigate tissue-specific metabolism using omics data integration. Comparable approaches have not been conducted using signaling networks. In this study, we present ihsTLRv2, an updated TLR signaling network accounting for the association of 314 genes with 558 network reactions. We present a mapping procedure for transcriptomic data onto signaling networks and demonstrate the generation of a monocyte-specific TLR network. The generated monocyte network is characterized through expression of a specific set of isozymes rather than reduction of pathway contents. While further tailoring the network to a specific stimulation condition, we observed that the quantitative changes in gene expression due to LPS stimulation affected the tightly connected set of genes. Differential expression influenced about one third of the entire TLR signaling network, in particular, NF-kappaB activation. Thus, a cell-type and condition-specific signaling network can provide functional insight into signaling cascades. Furthermore, we demonstrate the energy dependence of TLR signaling pathways in monocytes. [less ▲]

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See detailAnalysing the role of UVB-induced translational inhibition and PP2Ac deactivation in NF-kappaB signalling using a minimal mathematical model.
Witt, Johannes; Konrath, Fabian; Sawodny, Oliver et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(7), 40274

Activation of nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) by interleukin-1beta (IL-1) usually results in an anti-apoptotic activity that is rapidly terminated by a negative feedback loop involving NF-kappaB ... [more ▼]

Activation of nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) by interleukin-1beta (IL-1) usually results in an anti-apoptotic activity that is rapidly terminated by a negative feedback loop involving NF-kappaB dependent resynthesis of its own inhibitor IkappaBalpha. However, apoptosis induced by ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) is not attenuated, but significantly enhanced by co-stimulation with IL-1 in human epithelial cells. Under these conditions NF-kappaB remains constitutively active and turns into a pro-apoptotic factor by selectively repressing anti-apoptotic genes. Two different mechanisms have been separately proposed to explain UV-induced lack of IkappaBalpha recurrence: global translational inhibition as well as deactivation of the Ser/Thr phosphatase PP2Ac. Using mathematical modelling, we show that the systems behaviour requires a combination of both mechanisms, and we quantify their contribution in different settings. A mathematical model including both mechanisms is developed and fitted to various experimental data sets. A comparison of the model results and predictions with model variants lacking one of the mechanisms shows that both mechanisms are present in our experimental setting. The model is successfully validated by the prediction of independent data. Weak constitutive IKKbeta phosphorylation is shown to be a decisive process in IkappaBalpha degradation induced by UVB stimulation alone, but irrelevant for (co-)stimulations with IL-1. In silico knockout experiments show that translational inhibition is predominantly responsible for lack of IkappaBalpha recurrence following IL-1+UVB stimulation. In case of UVB stimulation alone, cooperation of both processes causes the observed decrease of IkappaBalpha. This shows that the processes leading to activation of transcription factor NF-kappaB upon stimulation with ultraviolet B radiation with and without interleukin-1 costimulation are more complex than previously thought, involving both a cross talk of UVB induced translational inhibition and PP2Ac deactivation. The importance of each of the mechanisms depends on the specific cellular setting. [less ▲]

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See detailA systems biology approach to drug targets in Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm.
Sigurdsson, Gunnar; Fleming, Ronan MT UL; Heinken, Almut Katrin UL et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(4), 34337

Antibiotic resistance is an increasing problem in the health care system and we are in a constant race with evolving bacteria. Biofilm-associated growth is thought to play a key role in bacterial ... [more ▼]

Antibiotic resistance is an increasing problem in the health care system and we are in a constant race with evolving bacteria. Biofilm-associated growth is thought to play a key role in bacterial adaptability and antibiotic resistance. We employed a systems biology approach to identify candidate drug targets for biofilm-associated bacteria by imitating specific microenvironments found in microbial communities associated with biofilm formation. A previously reconstructed metabolic model of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) was used to study the effect of gene deletion on bacterial growth in planktonic and biofilm-like environmental conditions. A set of 26 genes essential in both conditions was identified. Moreover, these genes have no homology with any human gene. While none of these genes were essential in only one of the conditions, we found condition-dependent genes, which could be used to slow growth specifically in biofilm-associated PA. Furthermore, we performed a double gene deletion study and obtained 17 combinations consisting of 21 different genes, which were conditionally essential. While most of the difference in double essential gene sets could be explained by different medium composition found in biofilm-like and planktonic conditions, we observed a clear effect of changes in oxygen availability on the growth performance. Eight gene pairs were found to be synthetic lethal in oxygen-limited conditions. These gene sets may serve as novel metabolic drug targets to combat particularly biofilm-associated PA. Taken together, this study demonstrates that metabolic modeling of human pathogens can be used to identify oxygen-sensitive drug targets and thus, that this systems biology approach represents a powerful tool to identify novel candidate antibiotic targets. [less ▲]

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See detailMultiscale modeling of metabolism and macromolecular synthesis in E. coli and its application to the evolution of codon usage.
Thiele, Ines UL; Fleming, Ronan MT UL; Que, Richard et al

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(9), 45635

Biological systems are inherently hierarchal and multiscale in time and space. A major challenge of systems biology is to describe biological systems as a computational model, which can be used to derive ... [more ▼]

Biological systems are inherently hierarchal and multiscale in time and space. A major challenge of systems biology is to describe biological systems as a computational model, which can be used to derive novel hypothesis and drive experiments leading to new knowledge. The constraint-based reconstruction and analysis approach has been successfully applied to metabolism and to the macromolecular synthesis machinery assembly. Here, we present the first integrated stoichiometric multiscale model of metabolism and macromolecular synthesis for Escherichia coli K12 MG1655, which describes the sequence-specific synthesis and function of almost 2000 gene products at molecular detail. We added linear constraints, which couple enzyme synthesis and catalysis reactions. Comparison with experimental data showed improvement of growth phenotype prediction with the multiscale model over E. coli's metabolic model alone. Many of the genes covered by this integrated model are well conserved across enterobacters and other, less related bacteria. We addressed the question of whether the bias in synonymous codon usage could affect the growth phenotype and environmental niches that an organism can occupy. We created two classes of in silico strains, one with more biased codon usage and one with more equilibrated codon usage than the wildtype. The reduced growth phenotype in biased strains was caused by tRNA supply shortage, indicating that expansion of tRNA gene content or tRNA codon recognition allow E. coli to respond to changes in codon usage bias. Our analysis suggests that in order to maximize growth and to adapt to new environmental niches, codon usage and tRNA content must co-evolve. These results provide further evidence for the mutation-selection-drift balance theory of codon usage bias. This integrated multiscale reconstruction successfully demonstrates that the constraint-based modeling approach is well suited to whole-cell modeling endeavors. [less ▲]

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See detailEvolutionary conservation and network structure characterize genes of phenotypic relevance for mitosis in human
Ostaszewski, Marek UL; Eifes, Serge UL; del Sol Mesa, Antonio UL

in PLoS ONE (2012), 7(5), 36488

The impact of gene silencing on cellular phenotypes is difficult to establish due to the complexity of interactions in the associated biological processes and pathways. A recent genome-wide RNA knock-down ... [more ▼]

The impact of gene silencing on cellular phenotypes is difficult to establish due to the complexity of interactions in the associated biological processes and pathways. A recent genome-wide RNA knock-down study both identified and phenotypically characterized a set of important genes for the cell cycle in HeLa cells. Here, we combine a molecular interaction network analysis, based on physical and functional protein interactions, in conjunction with evolutionary information, to elucidate the common biological and topological properties of these key genes. Our results show that these genes tend to be conserved with their corresponding protein interactions across several species and are key constituents of the evolutionary conserved molecular interaction network. Moreover, a group of bistable network motifs is found to be conserved within this network, which are likely to influence the network stability and therefore the robustness of cellular functioning. They form a cluster, which displays functional homogeneity and this cluster is significantly enriched in genes phenotypically relevant for mitosis. Additional results reveal a relationship between specific cellular processes and the phenotypic outcomes induced by gene silencing. This study introduces new ideas regarding the relationship between genotype and phenotype in the context of the cell cycle. We show that the analysis of molecular interaction networks can result in the identification of genes relevant to cellular processes, which is a promising avenue for future research. [less ▲]

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