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Cultivating Scholarship: The Role of Institutional Repositories in Health Sciences Libraries

Thu, 05/08/2014 - 12:03pm

The early promise of institutional repositories is beginning to bear fruit. Medical libraries with institutional repositories, like other academic libraries, have found that their repositories support new ways of engaging with researchers and meeting the challenges posed by the transformation in scholarly communication over the past decade exemplified by open access, the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy, campus-based publishing, and the sharing of research data. Institutional repositories can grow and thrive in academic health sciences libraries and be a vital component in the provision of library services to faculty, researchers, staff, and students.

The Nef-like effect of murine leukemia virus glycosylated gag on HIV-1 infectivity is mediated by its cytoplasmic domain and depends on the AP-2 adaptor complex

Wed, 05/07/2014 - 3:39pm

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Nef enhances the infectivity of progeny virions. However, Nef is dispensable for the production of HIV-1 virions of optimal infectivity if the producer cells are superinfected with certain gammaretroviruses. In the case of the ecotropic Moloney murine leukemia virus (M-MLV), the Nef-like effect is mediated by the glycosylated Gag (glycoGag) protein. We now show that the N-terminal intracellular domain of the type II transmembrane protein glycoGag is responsible for its effect on HIV-1 infectivity. In the context of a fully active minimal M-MLV glycoGag construct, truncations of the cytoplasmic domain led to a near total loss of activity. Furthermore, the cytoplasmic domain of M-MLV glycoGag was fully sufficient to transfer the activity to an unrelated type II transmembrane protein. Although the intracellular region of glycoGag is relatively poorly conserved even among ecotropic and xenotropic MLVs, it was also fully sufficient for the rescue of nef-deficient HIV-1 when derived from a xenotropic virus. A mutagenic analysis showed that only a core region of the intracellular domain that exhibits at least some conservation between murine and feline leukemia viruses is crucial for activity. In particular, a conserved YXXL motif in the center of this core region was critical. In addition, expression of the μ2 subunit of the AP-2 adaptor complex in virus producer cells was essential for activity. We conclude that the ability to enhance HIV-1 infectivity is a conserved property of the MLV glycoGag cytoplasmic domain and involves AP-2-mediated endocytosis.

IMPORTANCE: The Nef protein of HIV-1 and the entirely unrelated glycosylated Gag (glycoGag) protein of a murine leukemia virus (MLV) similarly enhance the infectiousness of HIV-1 particles by an unknown mechanism. MLV glycoGag is an alternative version of the structural viral Gag protein with an extra upstream region that provides a cytosolic domain and a plasma membrane anchor. We now show for the first time that the cytosolic domain of MLV glycoGag contains all the information needed to enhance HIV-1 infectivity and that this function of the cytosolic domain is conserved despite limited sequence conservation. Within the cytosolic domain, a motif that resembles a cellular sorting signal is critical for activity. Furthermore, the enhancement of HIV-1 infectivity depends on an endocytic cellular protein that is known to interact with such sorting signals. Together, our findings implicate the endocytic machinery in the enhancement of HIV-1 infectivity by MLV glycoGag.

C. elegans sirtuins

Wed, 05/07/2014 - 3:39pm

The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) has four Sir2 paralogs, sir-2.1, sir-2.2, sir-2.3, and sir-2.4. Thus far, most of the research tools to study worm sirtuins have been developed for sir-2.1, due to its homology to yeast SIR2 and human SIRT1. Here, we have compiled a listing of the currently available strains (including both loss-of-function alleles and transgenics), antibodies, and RNAi constructs relevant to studies on all C. elegans sirtuin family members. We also describe the methods used in the analysis of C. elegans sirtuin function, including life span analysis, various stress-resistance assays, and fat content analysis and provide an overview of all phenotypic data relevant to C. elegans sir-2.1.

Ceramide transfer protein deficiency compromises organelle function and leads to senescence in primary cells

Wed, 05/07/2014 - 3:39pm

Ceramide transfer protein (CERT) transfers ceramide from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the Golgi complex. Its deficiency in mouse leads to embryonic death at E11.5. CERT deficient embryos die from cardiac failure due to defective organogenesis, but not due to ceramide induced apoptotic or necrotic cell death. In the current study we examined the effect of CERT deficiency in a primary cell line, namely, mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). We show that in MEFs, unlike in mutant embryos, lack of CERT does not lead to increased ceramide but causes an accumulation of hexosylceramides. Nevertheless, the defects due to defective sphingolipid metabolism that ensue, when ceramide fails to be trafficked from ER to the Golgi complex, compromise the viability of the cell. Therefore, MEFs display an incipient ER stress. While we observe that ceramide trafficking from ER to the Golgi complex is compromised, the forward transport of VSVG-GFP protein is unhindered from ER to Golgi complex to the plasma membrane. However, retrograde trafficking of the plasma membrane-associated cholera toxin B to the Golgi complex is reduced. The dysregulated sphingolipid metabolism also leads to increased mitochondrial hexosylceramide. The mitochondrial functions are also compromised in mutant MEFs since they have reduced ATP levels, have increased reactive oxygen species, and show increased glutathione reductase activity. Live-cell imaging shows that the mutant mitochondria exhibit reduced fission and fusion events. The mitochondrial dysfunction leads to an increased mitophagy in the CERT mutant MEFs. The compromised organelle function compromise cell viability and results in premature senescence of these MEFs.

Exon 9 skipping of apoptotic caspase-2 pre-mRNA is promoted by SRSF3 through interaction with exon 8

Wed, 05/07/2014 - 3:39pm

Alternative splicing plays an important role in gene expression by producing different proteins from a gene. Caspase-2 pre-mRNA produces anti-apoptotic Casp-2S and pro-apoptotic Casp-2L proteins through exon 9 inclusion or skipping. However, the molecular mechanisms of exon 9 splicing are not well understood. Here we show that knockdown of SRSF3 (also known as SRp20) with siRNA induced significant increase of endogenous exon 9 inclusion. In addition, overexpression of SRSF3 promoted exon 9 skipping. Thus we conclude that SRSF3 promotes exon 9 skipping. In order to understand the functional target of SRSF3 on caspase-2 pre-mRNA, we performed substitution and deletion mutagenesis on the potential SRSF3 binding sites that were predicted from previous reports. We demonstrate that substitution mutagenesis of the potential SRSF3 binding site on exon 8 severely disrupted the effects of SRSF3 on exon 9 skipping. Furthermore, with the approach of RNA pulldown and immunoblotting analysis we show that SRSF3 interacts with the potential SRSF3 binding RNA sequence on exon 8 but not with the mutant RNA sequence. In addition, we show that a deletion of 26nt RNA from 5' end of exon 8, a 33nt RNA from 3' end of exon 10 and a 2225nt RNA from intron 9 did not compromise the function of SRSF3 on exon 9 splicing. Therefore we conclude that SRSF3 promotes exon 9 skipping of caspase-2 pre-mRNA by interacting with exon 8. Our results reveal a novel mechanism of caspase-2 pre-mRNA splicing.

PSF contacts exon 7 of SMN2 pre-mRNA to promote exon 7 inclusion

Wed, 05/07/2014 - 3:39pm

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive genetic disease and a leading cause of infant mortality. Deletions or mutations in SMN1, a gene that encodes an SMN protein, which regulates assembly/disassembly of U snRNP and is suggested to direct axonal transport of beta-actin mRNA in neurons, are responsible for most cases of SMA disease. However, humans contain a second SMN gene called SMN2. Unlike SMN1, the majority of SMN2 mRNA don't include exon 7. Here we show that increased expression of PSF significantly promotes inclusion of exon 7 in the SMN2 and SMN1 mRNA, whereas reduced expression of PSF promotes exon 7 skipping in various cell lines and in fibroblast cells from SMA patients. In addition, we present evidence showing that PSF interacts with the GAAGGA enhancer in exon 7. We also demonstrate that a mutation in this enhancer abolishes the effects of PSF on exon 7 splicing. Furthermore we show that the RNA target sequences of PSF and tra2beta in exon 7 are partially overlapped. These results lead us to conclude that PSF interacts with an enhancer in exon 7 to promote exon 7 splicing of SMN2 pre-mRNA.

Regulation of a transcription factor network by Cdk1 coordinates late cell cycle gene expression

Wed, 05/07/2014 - 3:39pm

To maintain genome stability, regulators of chromosome segregation must be expressed in coordination with mitotic events. Expression of these late cell cycle genes is regulated by cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk1), which phosphorylates a network of conserved transcription factors (TFs). However, the effects of Cdk1 phosphorylation on many key TFs are not known. We find that elimination of Cdk1-mediated phosphorylation of four S-phase TFs decreases expression of many late cell cycle genes, delays mitotic progression, and reduces fitness in budding yeast. Blocking phosphorylation impairs degradation of all four TFs. Consequently, phosphorylation-deficient mutants of the repressors Yox1 and Yhp1 exhibit increased promoter occupancy and decreased expression of their target genes. Interestingly, although phosphorylation of the transcriptional activator Hcm1 on its N-terminus promotes its degradation, phosphorylation on its C-terminus is required for its activity, indicating that Cdk1 both activates and inhibits a single TF. We conclude that Cdk1 promotes gene expression by both activating transcriptional activators and inactivating transcriptional repressors. Furthermore, our data suggest that coordinated regulation of the TF network by Cdk1 is necessary for faithful cell division.

Novel Methodology for Using Radiostereometric Analysis to Monitor Fracture Healing

Wed, 05/07/2014 - 11:25am

Background: Radiostereometric Analysis (RSA) is a method for performing highly accurate three-dimensional measurements in-vivo using sequential radiographs. RSA has been used extensively for monitoring prosthesis fixation in hip and knee replacements. Recently, there has been increasing interest in applying RSA towards the monitoring of fracture healing.

Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of using RSA to measure strain, stress, and plate migration in a distal femur fracture model.

Methods: Femoral sawbones with a distal femur fracture were used as models. A distal femur condylar locking compression plate (LCP) was used to reduce the fracture model. Stainless steel screws were used to fasten the plate to the sawbone. In addition, translucent polyester screws were composed, embedded with 1mm steel beads, and fastened to the most proximal and distal portions of the plate. This allowed for recognition by the RSA imaging modality. The femoral sawbones were then placed in a mechanical testing complex and RSA X-rays taken at different forces of compression. The radiographs were analyzed for plate migration using the 1mm steel beads as points of reference.

Results: Preliminary data indicate that it is possible to use a plate model that incorporates a micro-bead system to measure migration. Further analysis will quantify the amount of migration to determine whether significant changes occur at different stages of compression.

Conclusion: The ability to measure plate migration in a Radiostereometric Analysis X-ray model is an important step towards improving the ability of orthopedic surgeons to monitor fracture healing and prevent non-union. The next stage of this research will involve using this model in clinical trials of distal femur fractures and building a database to correlate levels of plate migration with surgical outcome.