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F1000 Biology Reports

David L Glanzman
How can memories outlast the molecules from which they are made? Answers to this fundamental question have been slow coming but are now emerging. A novel kinase, an isoform of protein kinase C (PKC), PKMzeta, has been shown to be critical to the maintenance of some types of memory. Inhibiting the catalytic properties of this kinase can erase well-established memories without altering the ability of the erased synapse to be retrained. This article provides an overview of the literature linking PKMzeta to memory maintenance and identifies some of the controversial issues that surround the bold implications of the existing data...
2013: F1000 Biology Reports
Sergei P Atamas, Svetlana P Chapoval, Achsah D Keegan
Cytokines are small, secreted proteins that control immune responses. Within the lung, they can control host responses to injuries or infection, resulting in clearance of the insult, repair of lung tissue, and return to homeostasis. Problems can arise when this response is over exuberant and/or cytokine production becomes dysregulated. In such cases, chronic and repeated inflammatory reactions and cytokine production can be established, leading to airway remodeling and fibrosis with unintended, maladaptive consequences...
2013: F1000 Biology Reports
Joël Janin, Michael J E Sternberg
An 'intrinsically disordered protein' (IDP) is assumed to be unfolded in the cell and perform its biological function in that state. We contend that most intrinsically disordered proteins are in fact proteins waiting for a partner (PWPs), parts of a multi-component complex that do not fold correctly in the absence of other components. Flexibility, not disorder, is an intrinsic property of proteins, exemplified by X-ray structures of many enzymes and protein-protein complexes. Disorder is often observed with purified proteins in vitro and sometimes also in crystals, where it is difficult to distinguish from flexibility...
2013: F1000 Biology Reports
Vladimir N Uversky, A Keith Dunker
The classical 'lock-and-key' and 'induced-fit' mechanisms for binding both originated in attempts to explain features of enzyme catalysis. For both of these mechanisms and for their recent refinements, enzyme catalysis requires exquisite spatial and electronic complementarity between the substrate and the catalyst. Thus, binding models derived from models originally based on catalysis will be highly biased towards mechanisms that utilize structural complementarity. If mere binding without catalysis is the endpoint, then the structural requirements for the interaction become much more relaxed...
2013: F1000 Biology Reports
Hoon Choi, Takeo Watanabe
Perceptual learning is defined as long-term improvement in perceptual abilities as a result of perceptual experiences. It is controversial as to whether perceptual learning is associated with changes in a sensory region of the brain or not. Here, we review research that supports, or otherwise, the sensory change hypothesis and discuss what needs to be done in the future to answer this question more definitively.
2012: F1000 Biology Reports
Andrea L Sweigart, John H Willis
In just the last few years, plant geneticists have made tremendous progress in identifying the molecular genetic basis of postzygotic reproductive isolation. With more than a dozen genes now cloned, it is clear that plant hybrid incompatibilities usually evolve via two or more mutational steps, as is predicted by the Dobzhansky-Muller model. There is evidence that natural selection or random genetic drift can be responsible for these incompatibilities.
2012: F1000 Biology Reports
Céline Helsmoortel, Geert Vandeweyer, R Frank Kooy
Over the last decade, the detection of chromosomal abnormalities has shifted from conventional karyotyping under a light microscope to molecular detection using microarrays. The latter technology identified copy number variation as a major source of variation in the human genome; moreover, copy number variants were found responsible for 10-20% of cases of intellectual disability. Recent technological advances in microarray technology have also enabled the detection of very small local chromosomal rearrangements, sometimes affecting the function of only a single gene...
2012: F1000 Biology Reports
Michael A Webster
Sensory systems constantly adapt their responses to match the current environment. These adjustments occur at many levels of the system and increasingly appear to calibrate even for highly abstract perceptual representations of the stimulus. The similar effects of adaptation across very different stimulus domains point to common design principles but also continue to raise questions about the purpose of adaptation.
2012: F1000 Biology Reports
Kristina Kusche-Vihrog, Hans Oberleithner
Excessive amounts of salt in food, as usually consumed worldwide, affect the vascular system, leading to high blood pressure and premature disabilities. Salt entering the vascular bed after a salty meal is transiently bound to the endothelial glycocalyx, a negatively charged biopolymer lining the inner surface of the blood vessels. This barrier protects the endothelium against salt overload. A poorly-developed glycocalyx increases the salt permeability of the vascular system and the amount of salt being deposited in the body, which affects organ function...
2012: F1000 Biology Reports
Mark Peakman
Vaccination is the administration of antigenic material to stimulate the immune system to develop adaptive immunity to a disease. As the most successful prophylactic in medical history, there is now an emerging interest as to whether vaccination can be applied in autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. These are diseases of failed immune regulation; vaccination in this context aims to exploit the power of antigenic material to stimulate immune homeostasis in the form of active, adaptive, regulatory immune responses...
2012: F1000 Biology Reports
David Crews, Andrea C Gore
Epigenetics is a perspective, not a set of techniques. Molecular biology and genetics are the dominant disciplines in biology today, but practitioners of these fields have only recently 'rediscovered' the importance of the environment. This has led to increasing research into molecular epigenetics and the interface between the environment and gene regulation. Beyond the study of epigenetic mechanisms at the level of the gene, more investigation of epigenetic outcomes at the level of both the individual organism and the evolution of the population is needed...
2012: F1000 Biology Reports
Joshua S Weitz, Steven W Wilhelm
Viruses are the most abundant life forms on Earth, with an estimated 10(31) total viruses globally. The majority of these viruses infect microbes, whether bacteria, archaea or microeukaryotes. Given the importance of microbes in driving global biogeochemical cycles, it would seem, based on numerical abundances alone, that viruses also play an important role in the global cycling of carbon and nutrients. However, the importance of viruses in controlling host populations and ecosystem functions, such as the regeneration, storage and export of carbon and other nutrients, remains unresolved...
2012: F1000 Biology Reports
Graydon B Gonsalvez, Roy M Long
RNA localization is a mechanism to post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression. Eukaryotic organisms ranging from fungi to mammals localize mRNAs to spatially restrict synthesis of specific proteins to distinct regions of the cytoplasm. In this review, we provide a general summary of RNA localization pathways in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Xenopus, Drosophila and mammalian neurons.
2012: F1000 Biology Reports
Jed A Fuhrman
Microbes dominate most global biogeochemical cycles, and microbial metagenomics (studying the collective microbial genomes) provides invaluable new insights into microbial systems, independent of cultivation. Metagenomic approaches targeting specific genes, e.g. small subunit (ssu) ribosomal RNA (rRNA), can be used to investigate microbial community organization by efficiently showing which taxa of organisms are present, while shotgun approaches show all genes and can indicate what functions the organisms are capable of...
2012: F1000 Biology Reports
Oksana Kaidanovich-Beilin, Danielle S Cha, Roger S McIntyre
Evidence supporting the concurrence of metabolic disturbances (e.g. insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity) and neuropsychiatric disorders has been demonstrated in both human and animal studies, suggesting the possibility that they have shared pathophysiological mechanisms. During the past decade, our understanding for the role of insulin in both normal and abnormal central nervous system (CNS) processes has become increasingly refined. Evidence indicates that insulin is a pleiotropic peptide, critical to neurotrophism, neuroplasticity, and neuromodulation...
2012: F1000 Biology Reports
Justin I Odegaard, Ajay Chawla
Vertebrate tissues comprise precise admixtures of parenchymal and hematopoietic cells, whose interactions are vital to proper tissue function. By regulating this interaction, vertebrates are able to mitigate environmental stress and coordinate dramatic physiologic adaptations. For instance, under conditions of chronic nutrient excess, leukocyte recruitment and activation increase in an effort to decrease excess nutrient storage and alleviate adipocyte stress. While basal equilibria may be reestablished upon normalization of nutrient intake, a new set point characterized by insulin resistance and chronic inflammation is established if the stress persists...
2012: F1000 Biology Reports
Savraj S Grewal
The question of how growth and size are controlled has fascinated generations of biologists. However, the underlying mechanisms still remain unclear. The last year or so has seen a flurry of reports on the control of growth and body size in Drosophila, and a central theme to these papers is the idea of signaling between organs as a control mechanism for overall body growth and development. While this concept is obviously not new, these fly studies now open up the possibility of using a genetically tractable system to dissect in detail how organ-to-organ communication dictates body size...
2012: F1000 Biology Reports
Anna Ajduk, Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz
Despite many recent advances in the field of reproductive biology and medicine, the efficiency of in vitro fertilization procedures remains relatively low. There is a need for a reliable and non-invasive method of embryo selection to ensure that only embryos with the highest developmental potential are chosen for transfer to mothers-to-be. Here, we compare various methods currently used for assessing embryonic viability, such as examination of embryonic morphology, quality of the genetic material, or metabolism...
2012: F1000 Biology Reports
Heather Youngs, Chris Somerville
The inclusion of cellulosic ethanol in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 and the revised Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) has spurred development of the first commercial scale cellulosic ethanol biorefineries. These efforts have also revived interest in the development of dedicated energy crops selected for biomass productivity and for properties that facilitate conversion of biomass to liquid fuels. While many aspects of developing these feedstocks are compatible with current agricultural activities, improving biomass productivity may provide opportunities to expand the potential for biofuel production beyond the classical research objectives associated with improving traditional food and feed crops...
2012: F1000 Biology Reports
Ruoning Wang, Douglas R Green
During the adaptive immune response, lymphocytes undergo dramatic changes in metabolism that accompany the proliferative burst and differentiation into functional subsets. This brief overview focuses on recent advances in understanding the mechanisms of this metabolic reprogramming in T lymphocytes.
2012: F1000 Biology Reports
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