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Current Biology: CB

Leopold Zangemeister, Fabian Grabenhorst, Wolfram Schultz
Economic saving is an elaborate behavior in which the goal of a reward in the future directs planning and decision-making in the present. Here, we measured neural activity while subjects formed simple economic saving strategies to accumulate rewards and then executed their strategies through choice sequences of self-defined lengths. Before the initiation of a choice sequence, prospective activations in the amygdala predicted subjects' internal saving plans and their value up to two minutes before a saving goal was achieved...
October 19, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Francisca Leal, Martin J Cohn
Limb reduction and loss are hallmarks of snake evolution. Although advanced snakes are completely limbless, basal and intermediate snakes retain pelvic girdles and small rudiments of the femur. Moreover, legs may have re-emerged in extinct snake lineages [1-5], suggesting that the mechanisms of limb development were not completely lost in snakes. Here we report that hindlimb development arrests in python embryos as a result of mutations that abolish essential transcription factor binding sites in the limb-specific enhancer of Sonic hedgehog (SHH)...
October 19, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Keqiang Xie, Lesley A Colgan, Maria T Dao, Brian S Muntean, Laurie P Sutton, Cesare Orlandi, Sanford L Boye, Shannon E Boye, Chien-Cheng Shih, Yuqing Li, Baoji Xu, Roy G Smith, Ryohei Yasuda, Kirill A Martemyanov
It is well recognized that G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) can activate Ras-regulated kinase pathways to produce lasting changes in neuronal function. Mechanisms by which GPCRs transduce these signals and their relevance to brain disorders are not well understood. Here, we identify a major Ras regulator, neurofibromin 1 (NF1), as a direct effector of GPCR signaling via Gβγ subunits in the striatum. We find that binding of Gβγ to NF1 inhibits its ability to inactivate Ras. Deletion of NF1 in striatal neurons prevents the opioid-receptor-induced activation of Ras and eliminates its coupling to Akt-mTOR-signaling pathway...
October 18, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Ashwani Jha, Beate Diehl, Catherine Scott, Andrew W McEvoy, Parashkev Nachev
An enduring puzzle in the neuroscience of voluntary action is the origin of the remarkably wide dispersion of the reaction time distribution, an interval far greater than is explained by synaptic or signal transductive noise [1, 2]. That we are able to change our planned actions-a key criterion of volition [3]-so close to the time of their onset implies decision-making must reach deep into the execution of action itself [4-6]. It has been influentially suggested the reaction time distribution therefore reflects deliberate neural procrastination [7], giving alternative response tendencies sufficient time for fair competition in pursuing a decision threshold that determines which one is behaviorally manifest: a race model, where action selection and execution are closely interrelated [8-11]...
October 18, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Louise Goupil, Sid Kouider
Humans adapt their behavior not only by observing the consequences of their actions but also by internally monitoring their performance. This capacity, termed metacognitive sensitivity [1, 2], has traditionally been denied to young children because they have poor capacities in verbally reporting their own mental states [3-5]. Yet, these observations might reflect children's limited capacities for explicit self-reports, rather than limitations in metacognition per se. Indeed, metacognitive sensitivity has been shown to reflect simple computational mechanisms [1, 6-8], and can be found in various non-verbal species [7-10]...
October 18, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Jyotiska Chaudhuri, Neelanjan Bose, Jianke Gong, David Hall, Alexander Rifkind, Dipa Bhaumik, T Harshani Peiris, Manish Chamoli, Catherine H Le, Jianfeng Liu, Gordon J Lithgow, Arvind Ramanathan, X Z Shawn Xu, Pankaj Kapahi
Reactive α-dicarbonyls (α-DCs), like methylglyoxal (MGO), accumulate with age and have been implicated in aging and various age-associated pathologies, such as diabetic complications and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Evolutionarily conserved glyoxalases are responsible for α-DC detoxification; however, their core biochemical regulation has remained unclear. We have established a Caenorhabditis elegans model, based on an impaired glyoxalase (glod-4/GLO1), to broadly study α-DC-related stress...
October 12, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Hana Rakusová, Mohamad Abbas, Huibin Han, Siyuan Song, Hélène S Robert, Jiří Friml
Plants adjust their growth according to gravity. Gravitropism involves gravity perception, signal transduction, and asymmetric growth response, with organ bending as a consequence [1]. Asymmetric growth results from the asymmetric distribution of the plant-specific signaling molecule auxin [2] that is generated by lateral transport, mediated in the hypocotyl predominantly by the auxin transporter PIN-FORMED3 (PIN3) [3-5]. Gravity stimulation polarizes PIN3 to the bottom sides of endodermal cells, correlating with increased auxin accumulation in adjacent tissues at the lower side of the stimulated organ, where auxin induces cell elongation and, hence, organ bending...
October 8, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Jennifer L Hoy, Iryna Yavorska, Michael Wehr, Cristopher M Niell
The ability to genetically identify and manipulate neural circuits in the mouse is rapidly advancing our understanding of visual processing in the mammalian brain [1, 2]. However, studies investigating the circuitry that underlies complex ethologically relevant visual behaviors in the mouse have been primarily restricted to fear responses [3-5]. Here, we show that a laboratory strain of mouse (Mus musculus, C57BL/6J) robustly pursues, captures, and consumes live insect prey and that vision is necessary for mice to perform the accurate orienting and approach behaviors leading to capture...
October 8, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Paul S Shamble, Gil Menda, James R Golden, Eyal I Nitzany, Katherine Walden, Tsevi Beatus, Damian O Elias, Itai Cohen, Ronald N Miles, Ronald R Hoy
Jumping spiders (Salticidae) are famous for their visually driven behaviors [1]. Here, however, we present behavioral and neurophysiological evidence that these animals also perceive and respond to airborne acoustic stimuli, even when the distance between the animal and the sound source is relatively large (∼3 m) and with stimulus amplitudes at the position of the spider of ∼65 dB sound pressure level (SPL). Behavioral experiments with the jumping spider Phidippus audax reveal that these animals respond to low-frequency sounds (80 Hz; 65 dB SPL) by freezing-a common anti-predatory behavior characteristic of an acoustic startle response...
October 6, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Nancy Chen, Elissa J Cosgrove, Reed Bowman, John W Fitzpatrick, Andrew G Clark
Understanding the population genetic consequences of declining population size is important for conserving the many species worldwide facing severe decline [1]. Thorough empirical studies on the impacts of population reduction at a genome-wide scale in the wild are scarce because they demand huge field and laboratory investments [1, 2]. Previous studies have demonstrated the importance of gene flow in introducing genetic variation to small populations [3], but few have documented both genetic and fitness consequences of decreased immigration through time in a natural population [4-6]...
October 6, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Ying Zhang, Xiaoyu Guo, Juan Dong
Cell polarization is commonly used for the regulation of stem cell asymmetric division in both animals and plants. Stomatal development in Arabidopsis, a process that produces breathing pores in the epidermis, requires asymmetric cell division to differentiate highly specialized guard cells while maintaining a stem cell population [1, 2]. The BREAKING OF ASYMMETRY IN THE STOMATAL LINEAGE (BASL) protein exhibits a polarized localization pattern in the cell and is required for differential cell fates resulting from asymmetric cell division [3]...
October 5, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Leyla Kocgozlu, Thuan Beng Saw, Anh Phuong Le, Ivan Yow, Murat Shagirov, Eunice Wong, René-Marc Mège, Chwee Teck Lim, Yusuke Toyama, Benoit Ladoux
The control of tissue growth, which is a key to maintain the protective barrier function of the epithelium, depends on the balance between cell division and cell extrusion rates [1, 2]. Cells within confluent epithelial layers undergo cell extrusion, which relies on cell-cell interactions [3] and actomyosin contractility [4, 5]. Although it has been reported that cell extrusion is also dependent on cell density [6, 7], the contribution of tissue mechanics, which is tightly regulated by cell density [8-12], to cell extrusion is still poorly understood...
October 5, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Alexander Klotz, Jens Georg, Lenka Bučinská, Satoru Watanabe, Viktoria Reimann, Witold Januszewski, Roman Sobotka, Dieter Jendrossek, Wolfgang R Hess, Karl Forchhammer
The molecular and physiological mechanisms involved in the transition of microbial cells from a resting state to the active vegetative state are critically relevant for solving problems in fields ranging from microbial ecology to infection microbiology. Cyanobacteria that cannot fix nitrogen are able to survive prolonged periods of nitrogen starvation as chlorotic cells in a dormant state. When provided with a usable nitrogen source, these cells re-green within 48 hr and return to vegetative growth. Here we investigated the resuscitation of chlorotic Synechocystis sp...
October 5, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Jeffrey Michael Hubbard, Urs Lucas Böhm, Andrew Prendergast, Po-En Brian Tseng, Morgan Newman, Caleb Stokes, Claire Wyart
In the vertebrate spinal cord, cerebrospinal fluid-contacting neurons (CSF-cNs) are GABAergic neurons whose functions are only beginning to unfold. Recent evidence indicates that CSF-cNs detect local spinal bending and relay this mechanosensory feedback information to motor circuits, yet many CSF-cN targets remain unknown. Using optogenetics, patterned illumination, and in vivo electrophysiology, we show here that CSF-cNs provide somatic inhibition to fast motor neurons and excitatory sensory interneurons involved in the escape circuit...
October 4, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Margarida Gonçalves, Ana Pontes, Pedro Almeida, Raquel Barbosa, Marta Serra, Diego Libkind, Mathias Hutzler, Paula Gonçalves, José Paulo Sampaio
Beer is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages and is produced by the fermentation of sugars derived from starches present in cereal grains. Contrary to lager beers, made by bottom-fermenting strains of Saccharomyces pastorianus, a hybrid yeast, ale beers are closer to the ancient beer type and are fermented by S. cerevisiae, a top-fermenting yeast. Here, we use population genomics to investigate (1) the closest relatives of top-fermenting beer yeasts; (2) whether top-fermenting yeasts represent an independent domestication event separate from those already described; (3) whether single or multiple beer yeast domestication events can be inferred; and (4) whether top-fermenting yeasts represent non-recombinant or recombinant lineages...
October 4, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Steven K Schwartz, William E Wagner, Eileen A Hebets
In a number of species, males are cannibalized by females after mating (reviewed in [1, 2]), and some males actually appear to facilitate their own cannibalism (reviewed in [3]). Such self-sacrifice can evolve if being eaten sufficiently enhances either fertilization success (mating effort) or offspring number or fitness (paternal effort). While there is some support for the mating-effort hypothesis, few studies have found support for paternal effort. We used two experiments to test the paternal-effort hypothesis in the dark fishing spider, Dolomedes tenebrosus...
October 4, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Maria J S Guerreiro, Lisa Putzar, Brigitte Röder
Recent neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that a brief period of congenital blindness induces long-lasting reorganization within the visual cortex of sight-recovery humans [1, 2]. However, the behavioral consequences of this cross-modal reorganization are not yet known. Here we investigated this question by examining the transfer of motion aftereffects across the visual and auditory modalities within six individuals who had been born blind due to dense bilateral cataracts and regained sight when they were treated at 5-24 months of age...
October 1, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Timothy O'Leary, Eve Marder
Many species of cold-blooded animals experience substantial and rapid fluctuations in body temperature. Because biological processes are differentially temperature dependent, it is difficult to understand how physiological processes in such animals can be temperature robust [1-8]. Experiments have shown that core neural circuits, such as the pyloric circuit of the crab stomatogastric ganglion (STG), exhibit robust neural activity in spite of large (20°C) temperature fluctuations [3, 5, 7, 8]. This robustness is surprising because (1) each neuron has many different kinds of ion channels with different temperature dependencies (Q10s) that interact in a highly nonlinear way to produce firing patterns and (2) across animals there is substantial variability in conductance densities that nonetheless produce almost identical firing properties...
October 1, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Delyan R Mutavchiev, Marcin Leda, Kenneth E Sawin
The Rho family GTPase Cdc42 is a key regulator of eukaryotic cellular organization and cell polarity [1]. In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, active Cdc42 and associated effectors and regulators (the "Cdc42 polarity module") coordinate polarized growth at cell tips by controlling the actin cytoskeleton and exocytosis [2-4]. Localization of the Cdc42 polarity module to cell tips is thus critical for its function. Here we show that the fission yeast stress-activated protein kinase Sty1, a homolog of mammalian p38 MAP kinase, regulates localization of the Cdc42 polarity module...
October 1, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Emily E LeDue, Kevin Mann, Ellen Koch, Bonnie Chu, Roslyn Dakin, Michael D Gordon
Nutrient deprivation can lead to dramatic changes in feeding behavior, including acceptance of foods that are normally rejected. In flies, this behavioral shift depends in part on reciprocal sensitization and desensitization of sweet and bitter taste, respectively. However, the mechanisms for bitter taste modulation remain unclear. Here, we identify a set of octopaminergic/tyraminergic neurons, named OA-VLs, that directly modulate bitter sensory neuron output in response to starvation. OA-VLs are in close proximity to bitter sensory neuron axon terminals and show reduced tonic firing following starvation...
October 1, 2016: Current Biology: CB
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