Self-assembly of small biomolecules is a prevalent phenomenon that is increasingly being recognised to hold the key to building complex structures from simple monomeric units. Small peptides, in particular ultrashort peptides containing up to seven amino acids, for which our laboratory has found many biomedical applications, exhibit immense potential in this regard. For next-generation applications, more intricate control is required over the self-assembly processes. We seek to find out how subtle moiety variation of peptides can affect self-assembly and nanostructure formation. To this end, we have selected a library of 54 tripeptides, derived from systematic moiety variations from seven tripeptides. Our study reveals that subtle structural changes in the tripeptides can exert profound effects on self-assembly, nanostructure formation, hydrogelation, and even phase transition of peptide nanostructures. By comparing the X-ray crystal structures of two tripeptides, acetylated leucine-leucine-glutamic acid (Ac-LLE) and acetylated tyrosine-leucine-aspartic acid (Ac-YLD), we obtained valuable insights into the structural factors that can influence the formation of supramolecular peptide structures. We believe that our results have major implications on the understanding of the factors that affect peptide self-assembly. In addition, our findings can potentially assist current computational efforts to predict and design self-assembling peptide systems for diverse biomedical applications.
Haidar, Malak; Rchiad, Zineb; Ansari, Hifzur Rahman; Ben Rached, Fathia; Tajeri, Shahin; Latre De Late, Perle; Langsley, Gordon; Pain, Arnab(PLOS Pathogens, Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2018-03-23)[Article]
Theileria annulata is an apicomplexan parasite that infects and transforms bovine macrophages that disseminate throughout the animal causing a leukaemia-like disease called tropical theileriosis. Using deep RNAseq of T. annulata-infected B cells and macrophages we identify a set of microRNAs induced by infection, whose expression diminishes upon loss of the hyper-disseminating phenotype of virulent transformed macrophages. We describe how infection-induced upregulation of miR-126-5p ablates JIP-2 expression to release cytosolic JNK to translocate to the nucleus and trans-activate AP-1-driven transcription of mmp9 to promote tumour dissemination. In non-disseminating attenuated macrophages miR-126-5p levels drop, JIP-2 levels increase, JNK1 is retained in the cytosol leading to decreased c-Jun phosphorylation and dampened AP-1-driven mmp9 transcription. We show that variation in miR-126-5p levels depends on the tyrosine phosphorylation status of AGO2 that is regulated by Grb2-recruitment of PTP1B. In attenuated macrophages Grb2 levels drop resulting in less PTP1B recruitment, greater AGO2 phosphorylation, less miR-126-5p associated with AGO2 and a consequent rise in JIP-2 levels. Changes in miR-126-5p levels therefore, underpin both the virulent hyper-dissemination and the attenuated dissemination of T. annulata-infected macrophages.
Traditional DNA sequencing methods are inefficient, lack the ability to discern the least abundant viral sequences, and ineffective for determining the extent of variability in viral populations. Here, populations of single-stranded DNA plant begomoviral genomes and their associated beta- and alpha-satellite molecules (virus-satellite complexes) (genus, Begomovirus; family, Geminiviridae) were enriched from total nucleic acids isolated from symptomatic, field-infected plants, using rolling circle amplification (RCA). Enriched virus-satellite complexes were subjected to Illumina-Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). CASAVA and SeqMan NGen programs were implemented, respectively, for quality control and for de novo and reference-guided contig assembly of viral-satellite sequences. The authenticity of the begomoviral sequences, and the reproducibility of the Illumina-NGS approach for begomoviral deep sequencing projects, were validated by comparing NGS results with those obtained using traditional molecular cloning and Sanger sequencing of viral components and satellite DNAs, also enriched by RCA or amplified by polymerase chain reaction. As the use of NGS approaches, together with advances in software development, make possible deep sequence coverage at a lower cost; the approach described herein will streamline the exploration of begomovirus diversity and population structure from naturally infected plants, irrespective of viral abundance. This is the first report of the implementation of Illumina-NGS to explore the diversity and identify begomoviral-satellite SNPs directly from plants naturally-infected with begomoviruses under field conditions. 2014 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
Diez Benavente, Ernest; Florez de Sessions, Paola; Moon, Robert W.; Holder, Anthony A.; Blackman, Michael J.; Roper, Cally; Drakeley, Christopher J.; Pain, Arnab; Sutherland, Colin J.; Hibberd, Martin L.; Campino, Susana; Clark, Taane G.(PLOS Genetics, Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2017-09-18)[Article]
The macaque parasite Plasmodium knowlesi is a significant concern in Malaysia where cases of human infection are increasing. Parasites infecting humans originate from genetically distinct subpopulations associated with the long-tailed (Macaca fascicularis (Mf)) or pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina (Mn)). We used a new high-quality reference genome to re-evaluate previously described subpopulations among human and macaque isolates from Malaysian-Borneo and Peninsular-Malaysia. Nuclear genomes were dimorphic, as expected, but new evidence of chromosomal-segment exchanges between subpopulations was found. A large segment on chromosome 8 originating from the Mn subpopulation and containing genes encoding proteins expressed in mosquito-borne parasite stages, was found in Mf genotypes. By contrast, non-recombining organelle genomes partitioned into 3 deeply branched lineages, unlinked with nuclear genomic dimorphism. Subpopulations which diverged in isolation have re-connected, possibly due to deforestation and disruption of wild macaque habitats. The resulting genomic mosaics reveal traits selected by host-vector-parasite interactions in a setting of ecological transition.
Alcohol use is one of the world's leading causes of death and disease, although only a small proportion of individuals develop persistent alcohol use disorder (AUD). The identification of vulnerable individuals prior to their chronic intoxication remains of highest importance. We propose here to adapt current methodologies for identifying rats at risk of losing control over alcohol intake by modeling diagnostic criteria for AUD: Inability to abstain during a signaled period of reward unavailability, increased motivation assessed in a progressive effortful task and persistent alcohol intake despite aversive foot shocks. Factor analysis showed that these three addiction criteria loaded on one underlying construct indicating that they represent a latent construct of addiction trait. Further, not only vulnerable rats displayed higher ethanol consumption, and higher preference for ethanol over sweetened solutions, but they also exhibited pre-existing higher anxiety as compared to resilient rats. In conclusion, the present preclinical model confirms that development of an addiction trait not only requires prolonged exposure to alcohol, but also depends on endophenotype like anxiety that predispose a minority of individuals to lose control over alcohol consumption.
Prior, Kimberley F.; van der Veen, Daan R.; O’Donnell, Aidan J.; Cumnock, Katherine; Schneider, David; Pain, Arnab; Subudhi, Amit; Ramaprasad, Abhinay; Rund, Samuel S. C.; Savill, Nicholas J.; Reece, Sarah E.(PLOS Pathogens, Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2018-02-26)[Article]
Circadian rhythms enable organisms to synchronise the processes underpinning survival and reproduction to anticipate daily changes in the external environment. Recent work shows that daily (circadian) rhythms also enable parasites to maximise fitness in the context of ecological interactions with their hosts. Because parasite rhythms matter for their fitness, understanding how they are regulated could lead to innovative ways to reduce the severity and spread of diseases. Here, we examine how host circadian rhythms influence rhythms in the asexual replication of malaria parasites. Asexual replication is responsible for the severity of malaria and fuels transmission of the disease, yet, how parasite rhythms are driven remains a mystery. We perturbed feeding rhythms of hosts by 12 hours (i.e. diurnal feeding in nocturnal mice) to desynchronise the host’s peripheral oscillators from the central, light-entrained oscillator in the brain and their rhythmic outputs. We demonstrate that the rhythms of rodent malaria parasites in day-fed hosts become inverted relative to the rhythms of parasites in night-fed hosts. Our results reveal that the host’s peripheral rhythms (associated with the timing of feeding and metabolism), but not rhythms driven by the central, light-entrained circadian oscillator in the brain, determine the timing (phase) of parasite rhythms. Further investigation reveals that parasite rhythms correlate closely with blood glucose rhythms. In addition, we show that parasite rhythms resynchronise to the altered host feeding rhythms when food availability is shifted, which is not mediated through rhythms in the host immune system. Our observations suggest that parasites actively control their developmental rhythms. Finally, counter to expectation, the severity of disease symptoms expressed by hosts was not affected by desynchronisation of their central and peripheral rhythms. Our study at the intersection of disease ecology and chronobiology opens up a new arena for studying host-parasite-vector coevolution and has broad implications for applied bioscience.
Abdel-Haleem, Alyaa M.; Hefzi, Hooman; Mineta, Katsuhiko; Gao, Xin; Gojobori, Takashi; Palsson, Bernhard O.; Lewis, Nathan E.; Jamshidi, Neema(PLOS Computational Biology, Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2018-01-04)[Article]
Several antimalarial drugs exist, but differences between life cycle stages among malaria species pose challenges for developing more effective therapies. To understand the diversity among stages and species, we reconstructed genome-scale models (GEMs) of metabolism for five life cycle stages and five species of Plasmodium spanning the blood, transmission, and mosquito stages. The stage-specific models of Plasmodium falciparum uncovered stage-dependent changes in central carbon metabolism and predicted potential targets that could affect several life cycle stages. The species-specific models further highlight differences between experimental animal models and the human-infecting species. Comparisons between human- and rodent-infecting species revealed differences in thiamine (vitamin B1), choline, and pantothenate (vitamin B5) metabolism. Thus, we show that genome-scale analysis of multiple stages and species of Plasmodium can prioritize potential drug targets that could be both anti-malarials and transmission blocking agents, in addition to guiding translation from non-human experimental disease models.
Siddiqui, Amber; Pinel, I.; Prest, E.I.; Bucs, Szilard; van Loosdrecht, M.C.M.; Kruithof, J.C.; Vrouwenvelder, Johannes S.(DESALINATION AND WATER TREATMENT, Desalination Publications, 2017-05-30)[Article]
Biocides may be used to control biofouling in spiral-wound reverse osmosis (RO) and nanofiltration (NF) systems. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of biocide 2,2-dibromo-3-ni-trilopropionamide (DBNPA) dosage on biofouling control. Preventive biofouling control was studied applying a continuous dosage of substrate (0.5 mg/L) and DBNPA (1 mg/L). Curative biofouling control was studied on pre-grown biofilms, once again applying a continuous dosage of substrate (0.5 mg acetate C/L) and DBNPA (1 and 20 mg/L). Biofouling studies were performed in membrane fouling simulators (MFSs) supplied with biodegradable substrate and DBNPA. The pressure drop was monitored in time and at the end of the study, the accumulated biomass in MFS was quantified by adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and total organic carbon (TOC) analysis. Continuous dosage of DBNPA (1 mg/L) prevented pressure drop increase and biofilm accumulation in the MFSs during a run time of 7 d, showing that biofouling can be managed by preventive DBNPA dosage. For biofouled systems, continuous dosage of DBNPA (1 and 20 mg/L) inactivated the accumulated biomass but did not restore the original pressure drop and did not remove the accumulated inactive cells and extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), indicating DBNPA dosage is not suitable for curative biofouling control.
Reid, Adam James; Vermont, Sarah J.; Cotton, James A.; Harris, David; Hill-Cawthorne, Grant A.; Könen-Waisman, Stephanie; Latham, Sophia M.; Mourier, Tobias; Norton, Rebecca; Quail, Michael A.; Sanders, Mandy; Shanmugam, Dhanasekaran; Sohal, Amandeep; Wasmuth, James D.; Brunk, Brian; Grigg, Michael E.; Howard, Jonathan C.; Parkinson, John; Roos, David S.; Trees, Alexander J.; Berriman, Matthew; Pain, Arnab; Wastling, Jonathan M.(PLoS Pathogens, Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2012-03-22)[Article]
Toxoplasma gondii is a zoonotic protozoan parasite which infects nearly one third of the human population and is found in an extraordinary range of vertebrate hosts. Its epidemiology depends heavily on horizontal transmission, especially between rodents and its definitive host, the cat. Neospora caninum is a recently discovered close relative of Toxoplasma, whose definitive host is the dog. Both species are tissue-dwelling Coccidia and members of the phylum Apicomplexa; they share many common features, but Neospora neither infects humans nor shares the same wide host range as Toxoplasma, rather it shows a striking preference for highly efficient vertical transmission in cattle. These species therefore provide a remarkable opportunity to investigate mechanisms of host restriction, transmission strategies, virulence and zoonotic potential. We sequenced the genome of N. caninum and transcriptomes of the invasive stage of both species, undertaking an extensive comparative genomics and transcriptomics analysis. We estimate that these organisms diverged from their common ancestor around 28 million years ago and find that both genomes and gene expression are remarkably conserved. However, in N. caninum we identified an unexpected expansion of surface antigen gene families and the divergence of secreted virulence factors, including rhoptry kinases. Specifically we show that the rhoptry kinase ROP18 is pseudogenised in N. caninum and that, as a possible consequence, Neospora is unable to phosphorylate host immunity-related GTPases, as Toxoplasma does. This defense strategy is thought to be key to virulence in Toxoplasma. We conclude that the ecological niches occupied by these species are influenced by a relatively small number of gene products which operate at the host-parasite interface and that the dominance of vertical transmission in N. caninum may be associated with the evolution of reduced virulence in this species.
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