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  • 1
    ISSN: 1460-9568
    Source: Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
    Topics: Medicine
    Notes: Although neural progenitor cells (NPCs) may provide a source of new neurons to alleviate neural trauma, little is known about their electrical properties as they differentiate. We have previously shown that single NPCs from the adult rat hippocampus can be cloned in the presence of heparan sulphate chains purified from the hippocampus, and that these cells can be pushed into a proliferative phenotype with the mitogen FGF2 [Chipperfield, H., Bedi, K.S., Cool, S.M. & Nurcombe, V. (2002) Int. J. Dev. Biol., 46, 661–670]. In this study, the active and passive electrical properties of both undifferentiated and differentiated adult hippocampal NPCs, from 0 to 12 days in vitro as single-cell preparations, were investigated. Sparsely plated, undifferentiated NPCs had a resting membrane potential of ≈ −90 mV and were electrically inexcitable. In 〉 70%, ATP and benzoylbenzoyl-ATP evoked an inward current and membrane depolarization, whereas acetylcholine, noradrenaline, glutamate and GABA had no detectable effect. In Fura-2-loaded undifferentiated NPCs, ATP and benzoylbenzoyl-ATP evoked a transient increase in the intracellular free Ca2+ concentration, which was dependent on extracellular Ca2+ and was inhibited reversibly by pyridoxalphosphate-6-azophenyl-2′-4′-disulphonic acid (PPADS), a P2 receptor antagonist. After differentiation, NPC-derived neurons became electrically excitable, expressing voltage-dependent TTX-sensitive Na+ channels, low- and high-voltage-activated Ca2+ channels and delayed-rectifier K+ channels. Differentiated cells also possessed functional glutamate, GABA, glycine and purinergic (P2X) receptors. Appearance of voltage-dependent and ligand-gated ion channels appears to be an important early step in the differentiation of NPCs.
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  • 2
    Electronic Resource
    Electronic Resource
    Oxford, UK : Blackwell Science Ltd
    Molecular microbiology 55 (2005), S. 0 
    ISSN: 1365-2958
    Source: Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
    Topics: Biology , Medicine
    Notes: Sporulation in the Gram-positive bacterium, Bacillus subtilis, has been used as an excellent model system to study cell differentiation for almost half a century. This research has given us a detailed picture of the genetic, physiological and biochemical mechanisms that allow bacteria to survive harsh environmental conditions by forming highly robust spores. Although many basic aspects of this process are now understood in great detail, including the crystal and NMR structures of some of the key proteins and their complexes, bacterial sporulation still continues to be a highly attractive model for studying various cell processes at a molecular level. There are several reasons for such scientific interest. First, some of the complex steps in sporulation are not fully understood and/or are only described by ‘controversial’ models. Second, intensive research on unicellular development of a single microorganism, B. subtilis, left us largely unaware of the multitude of diverse sporulation mechanisms in many other Gram-positive endospore and exospore formers. This diversity would likely be increased if we were to include sporulation processes in the Gram-negative spore formers. Spore formers have great potential in applied research. They have been used for many years as biodosimeters and as natural insecticides, exploited in the industrial production of enzymes, antibiotics, used as probiotics and, more, exploited as possible vectors for drug delivery, vaccine antigens and other immunomodulating molecules. This report describes these and other aspects of current fundamental and applied spore research that were presented at European Spores Conference held in Smolenice Castle, Slovakia, June 2004.
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  • 3
    ISSN: 1365-2958
    Source: Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
    Topics: Biology , Medicine
    Notes: SpoIVB is the critical determinant for intercompartmental signalling of pro-σK processing during sporulation in Bacillus subtilis. We show here that the SpoIVB serine peptidase can cleave the SpoIVFA protein, which is one component of the pro-σK processing complex. SpoIVFA has been shown elsewhere (Rudner, D.Z., and Losick, R., 2002, Genes Dev 16: 1007–1018) to tether BofA and SpoIVFB in a membrane-embedded heteroligomeric complex in which BofA directly inhibits the activity of SpoIVFB. Cleavage of SpoIVFA would provide the necessary signal to dissolve this complex and release BofA-mediated inhibition on the zinc metalloprotease, SpoIVFB, that is responsible for cleaving pro-σK to its mature form. We also show that the SpoIVB PDZ domain is required for self-recognition and trans cleavage of SpoIVB and is probably also used to target an internal motif within the C-terminal region of SpoIVFA exposed in the space between the inner and outer forespore membranes. This work reveals the mechanism of intercompartmental signalling and provides a unified model as to how σK-directed gene expression in the mother cell is co-ordinated with events in the forespore chamber.
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  • 4
    ISSN: 1365-2958
    Source: Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
    Topics: Biology , Medicine
    Notes: SpoIVB is essential for intercompartmental signalling in the σK-checkpoint of Bacillus subtilis. SpoIVB is synthesized in the spore chamber and is the signal which activates proteolytic processing of pro-σK to its mature and active form σK. We show here that SpoIVB is a serine peptidase of the SA clan. Expression of SpoIVB in Escherichia coli has shown that SpoIVB is able to self-cleave into at least three discrete products, and in vitro studies have shown cleavage in trans. Autoproteolysis of SpoIVB is tightly linked to the initiation of the two developmental functions of this protein, signalling of pro-σK processing and a yet, uncharacterized, second function which is essential for the formation of heat-resistant spores. In B. subtilis, SpoIVB is synthesized as a zymogen and is subject to two levels of proteolysis. First, autoproteolysis generating intermediate products, at least one of which is proposed to be the active form, followed by processing by one or more enzymes to smaller species. This could provide a mechanism for switching off the active SpoIVB intermediate(s) and suggests a similarity to other proteolytic cascades such as those found in blood coagulation.
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  • 5
    ISSN: 1365-2486
    Source: Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
    Topics: Biology , Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Geography
    Notes: Large-scale ecological surveillance data were analysed to determine the locations of apparent eutrophication effects across common British vegetation types between 1990 and 1998. Plant species composition was recorded from a total of 9514 fixed plots located in a stratified, random sample of 501 1 km squares across Britain. Changes in plant species composition along a gradient of substrate fertility were inferred from statistical tests of change in mean Ellenberg fertility value calculated for each fixed plot. Plots were grouped by eight vegetation types, five landscape features (hedges, road verges, watercourse banks, small biotopes, larger units in fields and unenclosed land) and six environmental zones. Tests of change in mean Ellenberg value were carried out on all combinations of these strata. Decision tree modelling was used to identify groups of test outcomes sharing the same direction of change and where each group was defined by a minimum number of strata. Post hoc power analysis was used to select statistically non-significant test outcomes that could be used to infer stability in the sampled sub-population.Out of a total of 142 tests of change in fertility value, 67% were increases, 8% were reductions and 25% indicated stability. The best overall predictor of increases in fertility value, and therefore of shifts in favour of plants suited to higher substrate fertility, was vegetation type. Irrespective of landscape feature and environmental zone, increased means were associated with infertile grasslands, moorland, upland woodlands and heath/bog. Already highly fertile grasslands and woodland assemblages in lowland Britain remained largely stable. The small number of decreasing test outcomes were associated with arable land in Scotland, Wales and western England. These patterns of change are hypothesized to reflect pervasive land-use drivers combined with the inherent responsiveness of the vegetation.
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  • 6
    ISSN: 1365-2516
    Source: Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
    Topics: Medicine
    Notes: Recombinant factor VIIa (rfVIIa) has been widely used for the treatment and prevention of bleeding episodes in haemophiliacs with high-titre inhibitors. High single doses are the treatment of choice for joint and muscle bleeds in those patients. There are only a few reports on the value of rfVIIa in cirrhotic patients with haemostatic impairment but this drug can consistently correct the prothrombin time in these individuals. We report a case of a good response to a single high dose of rfVIIa in a patient with advanced liver disease who suffered from severe refractory postoperative haematuria.
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  • 7
    Electronic Resource
    Electronic Resource
    Oxford UK : Blackwell Science Ltd
    Haemophilia 7 (2001), S. 0 
    ISSN: 1365-2516
    Source: Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
    Topics: Medicine
    Notes: The combination of interferon (IFN) and ribavirin is the current gold standard for treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection with sustained remission rates of 35–40% being achieved in haemophilic patients. A similar beneficial effect of this combined therapy has been suggested even for patients with compensated liver cirrhosis and some authors have reported a possible role for IFN and ribavirin in the prevention or delay in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a well known complication of HCV infection in haemophiliacs. The absence, due to design difficulties, of definite randomized controlled clinical trials remains a handicap for the routine use of specific therapy of HCV infected patients with the aim of preventing HCC. A discussion of these important issues has been performed in this paper.
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  • 8
    ISSN: 1460-9568
    Source: Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
    Topics: Medicine
    Notes: Previous studies of gastrocnemius muscle reinnervation showed specific normalization of the proportion and diameter of fast type 2b muscle fibres following NT-3 delivery to the proximal stump of the cut sciatic nerve. Here, we investigate if normalization was related to greater improvement of muscle reinnervation of fast (extensor digitorum longus; EDL) than slow (soleus) motor units. NT-3-impregnated (NT-3 group) or plain fibronectin (FN group) mats were inserted into a sciatic nerve gap. Neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) labelled with TRITC-α-bungarotoxin were colabelled with calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) or 4E2 antisera and imaged using confocal microscopy. CGRP and 4E2 were used as markers for newly reinnervated and structurally mature NMJs, respectively. At 40 days postsurgery, denervated NMJs in EDL and soleus muscles of both groups presented a 50% decrease of surface area due to decreased width. At day 80 in EDL, more NMJs were reinnervated by CGRP-immunoreactive terminals in the NT-3 (7.1%) than in the FN group (4.2%); there was no difference between groups for soleus. At 120 days, 4E2-immunoreactive NMJs were more numerous in EDL of the NT-3 (40.0%) than in the FN group (7.3%), unlike in soleus (NT-3, 1.6%; FN, 1.8%), and presented a partial size recovery. These results indicate that NT-3 preferentially improves reinnervation of fast muscles over slow muscle, although the mechanism of this improvement is still unclear.
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  • 9
    ISSN: 1471-4159
    Source: Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
    Topics: Medicine
    Notes: Kainate receptors (KARs) modulate synaptic transmission at both pre-synaptic and post-synaptic sites. The overlap in the distribution of KA-2 and GluR6/7 subunits in several brain regions suggests the co-assembly of these subunits in native KARs. The molecular mechanisms that control the assembly and surface expression of KARs are unknown. Unlike GluR5–7, the KA-2 subunit is unable to form functional homomeric KAR channels. We expressed the KA-2 subunit alone or in combination with other KAR subunits in HEK-293 cells. The cell surface expression of the KAR subunit homo- and heteromers were analysed using biotinylation and agonist-stimulated cobalt uptake. While GluR6 or GluR7 homomers were expressed on the cell surface, KA-2 alone was retained within the endoplasmic reticulum. We found that the cell surface expression of KA-2 was dramatically increased by co-expression with either of the low-affinity KAR subunits GluR5–7. However, co-expression with other related ionotropic glutamate receptor subunits (GluR1 and NR1) does not facilitate the cell surface expression of KA-2. The analysis of subcellular fractions of neocortex revealed that synaptic KARs have a relatively high KA-2 content compared to microsomal ones. Thus, KA-2 is likely to contain an endoplasmic reticulum retention signal that is shielded on assembly with other KAR subunits.
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  • 10
    ISSN: 1471-4159
    Source: Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
    Topics: Medicine
    Notes: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most commonly diagnosed form of dementia in the elderly. Predominantly this disease is sporadic in nature with only a small percentage of patients exhibiting a familial trait. Early-onset AD may be explained by single gene defects; however, most AD cases are late onset (〉 65 years) and, although there is no known definite cause for this form of the disease, there are several known risk factors. Of these, the ε4 allele of the apolipoprotein E (apoE) gene (APOE) is a major risk factor. The ε4 allele of APOE is one of three (ɛ2 ɛ3 and ɛ4) common alleles generated by cysteine/arginine substitutions at two polymorphic sites. The possession of the ɛ4 allele is recognized as the most common identifiable genetic risk factor for late-onset AD across most populations. Unlike the pathogenic mutations in the amyloid precursor or those in the presenilins, APOEɛ4 alleles increase the risk for AD but do not guarantee disease, even when present in homozygosity. In addition to the cysteine/arginine polymorphisms at the ɛ2/ɛ3/ɛ4 locus, polymorphisms within the proximal promoter of the APOE gene may lead to increased apoE levels by altering transcription of the APOE gene. Here we review the genetic and biochemical evidence supporting the hypothesis that regulation of apoE protein levels may contribute to the risk of AD, distinct from the well known polymorphisms at the ɛ2/ɛ3/ɛ4 locus.
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