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See detailPhenotype Classification of Zebrafish Embryos by Supervised Learning
Jeanray, Nathalie ULiege; Marée, Raphaël ULiege; Pruvot, Benoist et al

in PLoS ONE (2015), 10(1), 01169891-20

Zebrafish is increasingly used to assess biological properties of chemical substances and thus is becoming a specific tool for toxicological and pharmacological studies. The effects of chemical substances ... [more ▼]

Zebrafish is increasingly used to assess biological properties of chemical substances and thus is becoming a specific tool for toxicological and pharmacological studies. The effects of chemical substances on embryo survival and development are generally evaluated manually through microscopic observation by an expert and documented by several typical photographs. Here, we present a methodology to automatically classify brightfield images of wildtype zebrafish embryos according to their defects by using an image analysis approach based on supervised machine learning. We show that, compared to manual classification, automatic classification results in 90 to 100 % agreement with consensus voting of biological experts in nine out of eleven considered defects in 3 days old zebrafish larvae. Automation of the analysis and classification of zebrafish embryo pictures reduces the workload and time required for the biological expert and increases the reproducibility and objectivity of this classification. [less ▲]

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See detailElevated Plasma Soluble ST2 Is Associated with Heart Failure Symptoms and Outcome in Aortic Stenosis.
LANCELLOTTI, Patrizio ULiege; DULGHERU, Raluca Elena ULiege; Magne, Julien et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(9), 0138940

B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is often used as a complementary finding in the diagnostic work-up of patients with aortic stenosis (AS). Whether soluble ST2, a new biomarker of cardiac stretch, is ... [more ▼]

B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is often used as a complementary finding in the diagnostic work-up of patients with aortic stenosis (AS). Whether soluble ST2, a new biomarker of cardiac stretch, is associated with symptomatic status and outcome in asymptomatic AS is unknown. sST2 and BNP levels were measured in 86 patients (74+/-13 years; 59 asymptomatic, 69%) with AS (<1.5 cm2) and preserved left ventricular ejection fraction who were followed-up for 26+/-16 months. Both BNP and sST2 were associated with NYHA class but sST2 (>23 ng/mL, AUC = 0.68, p<0.01) was more accurate to identify asymptomatic patients or those who developed symptoms during follow-up. sST2 was independently related to left atrial index (p<0.0001) and aortic valve area (p = 0.004; model R2 = 0.32). A modest correlation was found with BNP (r = 0.4, p<0.01). During follow-up, 29 asymptomatic patients (34%) developed heart failure symptoms. With multivariable analysis, peak aortic jet velocity (HR = 2.7, p = 0.007) and sST2 level (HR = 1.04, p = 0.03) were independent predictors of cardiovascular events. In AS, sST2 levels could provide complementary information regarding symptomatic status, new onset heart failure symptoms and outcome. It might become a promising biomarker in these patients. [less ▲]

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See detailMembrane Topology and Biochemical Characterization of the Escherichia coli BacA Undecaprenyl-Pyrophosphate Phosphatase.
Manat, Guillaume; El Ghachi, Meriem ULiege; Auger, Rodolphe et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(11), 0142870

Several integral membrane proteins exhibiting undecaprenyl-pyrophosphate (C55-PP) phosphatase activity were previously identified in Escherichia coli that belonged to two distinct protein families: the ... [more ▼]

Several integral membrane proteins exhibiting undecaprenyl-pyrophosphate (C55-PP) phosphatase activity were previously identified in Escherichia coli that belonged to two distinct protein families: the BacA protein, which accounts for 75% of the C55-PP phosphatase activity detected in E. coli cell membranes, and three members of the PAP2 phosphatidic acid phosphatase family, namely PgpB, YbjG and LpxT. This dephosphorylation step is required to provide the C55-P carrier lipid which plays a central role in the biosynthesis of various cell wall polymers. We here report detailed investigations of the biochemical properties and membrane topology of the BacA protein. Optimal activity conditions were determined and a narrow-range substrate specificity with a clear preference for C55-PP was observed for this enzyme. Alignments of BacA protein sequences revealed two particularly well-conserved regions and several invariant residues whose role in enzyme activity was questioned by using a site-directed mutagenesis approach and complementary in vitro and in vivo activity assays. Three essential residues Glu21, Ser27, and Arg174 were identified, allowing us to propose a catalytic mechanism for this enzyme. The membrane topology of the BacA protein determined here experimentally did not validate previous program-based predicted models. It comprises seven transmembrane segments and contains in particular two large periplasmic loops carrying the highly-conserved active site residues. Our data thus provide evidence that all the different E. coli C55-PP phosphatases identified to date (BacA and PAP2) catalyze the dephosphorylation of C55-PP molecules on the same (outer) side of the plasma membrane. [less ▲]

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See detailLayman versus Professional Musician: Who Makes the Better Judge?
Larrouy, Pauline ULiege; Magis, David ULiege; Grabenhorst, Matthias et al

in PLoS ONE (2015)

The increasing number of casting shows and talent contests in the media over the past years suggests a public interest in rating the quality of vocal performances. In many of these formats, laymen ... [more ▼]

The increasing number of casting shows and talent contests in the media over the past years suggests a public interest in rating the quality of vocal performances. In many of these formats, laymen alongside music experts act as judges. Whereas experts' judgments are considered objective and reliable when it comes to evaluating singing voice, little is known about laymen’s ability to evaluate peers. On the one hand, layman listeners–who by definition did not have any formal training or regular musical practice–are known to have internalized the musical rules on which singing accuracy is based. On the other hand, lay- man listeners’ judgment of their own vocal skills is highly inaccurate. Also, when compared with that of music experts, their level of competence in pitch perception has proven limited. The present study investigates laypersons' ability to objectively evaluate melodies per- formed by untrained singers. For this purpose, laymen listeners were asked to judge sung melodies. The results were compared with those of music experts who had performed the same task in a previous study. Interestingly, the findings show a high objectivity and reliabil- ity in layman listeners. Whereas both the laymen's and experts' definition of pitch accuracy overlap, differences regarding the musical criteria employed in the rating task were evident. The findings suggest that the effect of expertise is circumscribed and limited and supports the view that laypersons make trustworthy judges when evaluating the pitch accuracy of untrained singers. [less ▲]

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See detailWhat do Pneumocystis organisms tell us about the phylogeography of their hosts? The case of the woodmouse Apodemus sylvaticus in continental Europe and western Mediterranean islands
Demanche, christine; Deville, Manjula; Michaux, Johan ULiege et al

in PLoS ONE (2015), DOI:10.1371

Pneumocystis fungi represent a highly diversified biological group with numerous species, which display a strong host-specificity suggesting a long co-speciation process. In the present study, the ... [more ▼]

Pneumocystis fungi represent a highly diversified biological group with numerous species, which display a strong host-specificity suggesting a long co-speciation process. In the present study, the presence and genetic diversity of Pneumocystis organisms was investigated in 203 lung samples from woodmice (Apodemus sylvaticus) collected on western continental Europe and Mediterranean islands. The presence of Pneumocystis DNA was assessed by nested PCR at both large and small mitochondrial subunit (mtLSU and mtSSU) rRNA loci. Direct sequencing of nested PCR products demonstrated a very high variability among woodmouse-derived Pneumocystis organisms with a total number of 30 distinct combined mtLSU and mtSSU sequence types. However, the genetic divergence among these sequence types was very low (up to 3.87%) and the presence of several Pneumocystis species within Apodemus sylvaticus was considered unlikely. The analysis of the genetic structure of woodmouse-derived Pneumocystis revealed two distinct groups. The first one comprised Pneumocystis from woodmice collected in continental Spain, France and Balearic islands. The second one included Pneumocystis from woodmice collected in continental Italy, Corsica and Sicily. These two genetic groups were in accordance with the two lineages currently described within the host species Apodemus sylvaticus. Pneumocystis organisms are emerging as powerful tools for phylogeographic studies in mammals [less ▲]

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See detailCarnosol Inhibits Pro-Inflammatory and Catabolic Mediators of Cartilage Breakdown in Human Osteoarthritic Chondrocytes and Mediates Cross-Talk between Subchondral Bone Osteoblasts and Chondrocytes.
Sanchez, Christelle ULiege; Horcajada, Marie-Noelle; Membrez Scalfo, Fanny et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(8), 0136118

AIM: The aim of this work was to evaluate the effects of carnosol, a rosemary polyphenol, on pro-inflammatory and catabolic mediators of cartilage breakdown in chondrocytes and via bone-cartilage ... [more ▼]

AIM: The aim of this work was to evaluate the effects of carnosol, a rosemary polyphenol, on pro-inflammatory and catabolic mediators of cartilage breakdown in chondrocytes and via bone-cartilage crosstalk. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Osteoarthritic (OA) human chondrocytes were cultured in alginate beads for 4 days in presence or absence of carnosol (6 nM to 9 muM). The production of aggrecan, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-3, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP)-1, interleukin (IL)-6 and nitric oxide (NO) and the expression of type II collagen and ADAMTS-4 and -5 were analyzed. Human osteoblasts from sclerotic (SC) or non-sclerotic (NSC) subchondral bone were cultured for 3 days in presence or absence of carnosol before co-culture with chondrocytes. Chondrocyte gene expression was analyzed after 4 days of co-culture. RESULTS: In chondrocytes, type II collagen expression was significantly enhanced in the presence of 3 muM carnosol (p = 0.008). MMP-3, IL-6, NO production and ADAMTS-4 expression were down-regulated in a concentration-dependent manner by carnosol (p<0.01). TIMP-1 production was slightly increased at 3 muM (p = 0.02) and ADAMTS-5 expression was decreased from 0.2 to 9 muM carnosol (p<0.05). IL-6 and PGE2 production was reduced in the presence of carnosol in both SC and NSC osteoblasts while alkaline phosphatase activity was not changed. In co-culture experiments preincubation of NSC and SC osteoblasts wih carnosol resulted in similar effects to incubation with anti-IL-6 antibody, namely a significant increase in aggrecan and decrease in MMP-3, ADAMTS-4 and -5 gene expression by chondrocytes. CONCLUSIONS: Carnosol showed potent inhibition of pro-inflammatory and catabolic mediators of cartilage breakdown in chondrocytes. Inhibition of matrix degradation and enhancement of formation was observed in chondrocytes cocultured with subchondral osteoblasts preincubated with carnosol indicating a cross-talk between these two cellular compartments, potentially mediated via inhibition of IL-6 in osteoblasts as similar results were obtained with anti-IL-6 antibody. [less ▲]

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See detailImpact of Pre-Transplant Anti-T Cell Globulin (ATG) on Immune Recovery after Myeloablative Allogeneic Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplantation.
SERVAIS, Sophie ULiege; Menten-Dedoyart, Catherine; Beguin, Yves ULiege et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(6), 0130026

BACKGROUND: Pre-transplant infusion of rabbit anti-T cell globulin (ATG) is increasingly used as prevention of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Pre-transplant infusion of rabbit anti-T cell globulin (ATG) is increasingly used as prevention of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (PBSCT). However, the precise impact of pre-transplant ATG on immune recovery after PBSCT is still poorly documented. METHODS: In the current study, we compared immune recovery after myeloablative PBSCT in 65 patients who either received (n = 37) or did not (n = 28) pre-transplant ATG-Fresenius (ATG-F). Detailed phenotypes of circulating T, B, natural killer (NK) and invariant NKT (iNKT) cells were analyzed by multicolor flow cytometry at serial time-points from day 40 to day 365 after transplantation. Thymic function was also assessed by sjTREC quantification. Serious infectious events were collected up to 2 years post-transplantation. RESULTS: Pre-transplant ATG-F had a prolonged (for at least up to 1-year) and selective negative impact on the T-cell pool, while it did not impair the recovery of B, NK nor iNKT cells. Among T cells, ATG-F selectively compromised the recovery of naive CD4+, central memory CD4+ and naive CD8+ cells, while it spared effector memory T and regulatory T cells. Levels of sjTRECs were similar in both cohorts at 1-year after PBSCT, suggesting that ATG-F unlikely impaired thymopoiesis at long-term after PBSCT. Finally, the incidence and rate of serious infections were similar in both groups, while ATG-F patients had a lower incidence of grade II-IV acute graft-versus-host disease. CONCLUSIONS: Pre-transplant ATG-F induces long-lasting modulation of the circulating T-cell pool after myeloablative PBSCT, that may participate in preventing graft-versus-host disease without deeply compromising anti-pathogen defenses. [less ▲]

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See detailNon Digestible Oligosaccharides Modulate the Gut Microbiota to Control the Development of Leukemia and Associated Cachexia in Mice.
Bindels, Laure B.; Neyrinck, Audrey M.; Salazar, Nuria et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(6), 0131009

We tested the hypothesis that changing the gut microbiota using pectic oligosaccharides (POS) or inulin (INU) differently modulates the progression of leukemia and related metabolic disorders. Mice were ... [more ▼]

We tested the hypothesis that changing the gut microbiota using pectic oligosaccharides (POS) or inulin (INU) differently modulates the progression of leukemia and related metabolic disorders. Mice were transplanted with Bcr-Abl-transfected proB lymphocytes mimicking leukemia and received either POS or INU in their diet (5%) for 2 weeks. Combination of pyrosequencing, PCR-DGGE and qPCR analyses of the 16S rRNA gene revealed that POS decreased microbial diversity and richness of caecal microbiota whereas it increased Bifidobacterium spp., Roseburia spp. and Bacteroides spp. (affecting specifically B. dorei) to a higher extent than INU. INU supplementation increased the portal SCFA propionate and butyrate, and decreased cancer cell invasion in the liver. POS treatment did not affect hepatic cancer cell invasion, but was more efficient than INU to decrease the metabolic alterations. Indeed, POS better than INU delayed anorexia linked to cancer progression. In addition, POS treatment increased acetate in the caecal content, changed the fatty acid profile inside adipose tissue and counteracted the induction of markers controlling beta-oxidation, thereby hampering fat mass loss. Non digestible carbohydrates with prebiotic properties may constitute a new nutritional strategy to modulate gut microbiota with positive consequences on cancer progression and associated cachexia. [less ▲]

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See detailMultifactorial Optimization of Contrast-Enhanced Nanofocus Computed Tomography for Quantitative Analysis of Neo-Tissue Formation in Tissue Engineering Constructs.
Sonnaert, Maarten; Kerckhofs, Greet; Papantoniou, Ioannis et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(6), 0130227

To progress the fields of tissue engineering (TE) and regenerative medicine, development of quantitative methods for non-invasive three dimensional characterization of engineered constructs (i.e. cells ... [more ▼]

To progress the fields of tissue engineering (TE) and regenerative medicine, development of quantitative methods for non-invasive three dimensional characterization of engineered constructs (i.e. cells/tissue combined with scaffolds) becomes essential. In this study, we have defined the most optimal staining conditions for contrast-enhanced nanofocus computed tomography for three dimensional visualization and quantitative analysis of in vitro engineered neo-tissue (i.e. extracellular matrix containing cells) in perfusion bioreactor-developed Ti6Al4V constructs. A fractional factorial 'design of experiments' approach was used to elucidate the influence of the staining time and concentration of two contrast agents (Hexabrix and phosphotungstic acid) and the neo-tissue volume on the image contrast and dataset quality. Additionally, the neo-tissue shrinkage that was induced by phosphotungstic acid staining was quantified to determine the operating window within which this contrast agent can be accurately applied. For Hexabrix the staining concentration was the main parameter influencing image contrast and dataset quality. Using phosphotungstic acid the staining concentration had a significant influence on the image contrast while both staining concentration and neo-tissue volume had an influence on the dataset quality. The use of high concentrations of phosphotungstic acid did however introduce significant shrinkage of the neo-tissue indicating that, despite sub-optimal image contrast, low concentrations of this staining agent should be used to enable quantitative analysis. To conclude, design of experiments allowed us to define the most optimal staining conditions for contrast-enhanced nanofocus computed tomography to be used as a routine screening tool of neo-tissue formation in Ti6Al4V constructs, transforming it into a robust three dimensional quality control methodology. [less ▲]

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See detailIdentification of the neutralizing epitopes of Merkel cell polyomavirus major capsid protein within the BC and EF surface loops.
Fleury, Maxime J. J.; Nicol, Jérôme ULiege; Samimi, Mahtab et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(3), 0121751

Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) is the first polyomavirus clearly associated with a human cancer, i.e. the Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). Polyomaviruses are small naked DNA viruses that induce a robust ... [more ▼]

Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) is the first polyomavirus clearly associated with a human cancer, i.e. the Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). Polyomaviruses are small naked DNA viruses that induce a robust polyclonal antibody response against the major capsid protein (VP1). However, the polyomavirus VP1 capsid protein epitopes have not been identified to date. The aim of this study was to identify the neutralizing epitopes of the MCPyV capsid. For this goal, four VP1 mutants were generated by insertional mutagenesis in the BC, DE, EF and HI loops between amino acids 88-89, 150-151, 189-190, and 296-297, respectively. The reactivity of these mutants and wild-type VLPs was then investigated with anti-VP1 monoclonal antibodies and anti-MCPyV positive human sera. The findings together suggest that immunodominant conformational neutralizing epitopes are present at the surface of the MCPyV VLPs and are clustered within BC and EF loops. [less ▲]

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See detailZebrafish bone and general physiology are differently affected by hormones or changes in gravity.
Aceto, Jessica ULiege; Nourizadeh-Lillabadi, Rasoul; Marée, Raphaël ULiege et al

in PLoS ONE (2015), 10(6), 1-42

Teleost fish such as zebrafish (Danio rerio) are increasingly used for physiological, genetic and developmental studies. Our understanding of the physiological consequences of altered gravity in an entire ... [more ▼]

Teleost fish such as zebrafish (Danio rerio) are increasingly used for physiological, genetic and developmental studies. Our understanding of the physiological consequences of altered gravity in an entire organism is still incomplete. We used altered gravity and drug treatment experiments to evaluate their effects specifically on bone formation and more generally on whole genome gene expression. By combining morphometric tools with an objective scoring system for the state of development for each element in the head skeleton and specific gene expression analysis, we confirmed and characterized in detail the decrease or increase of bone formation caused by a 5 day treatment (from 5dpf to 10 dpf) of, respectively parathyroid hormone (PTH) or vitamin D3 (VitD3). Microarray transcriptome analysis after 24 hours treatment reveals a general effect on physiology upon VitD3 treatment, while PTH causes more specifically developmental effects. Hypergravity (3g from 5dpf to 9 dpf) exposure results in a significantly larger head and a significant increase in bone formation for a subset of the cranial bones. Gene expression analysis after 24 hrs at 3g revealed differential expression of genes involved in the development and function of the skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine and cardiovascular systems. Finally, we propose a novel type of experimental approach, the "Reduced Gravity Paradigm", by keeping the developing larvae at 3g hypergravity for the first 5 days before returning them to 1g for one additional day. 5 days exposure to 3g during these early stages also caused increased bone formation, while gene expression analysis revealed a central network of regulatory genes (hes5, sox10, lgals3bp, egr1, edn1, fos, fosb, klf2, gadd45ba and socs3a) whose expression was consistently affected by the transition from hyper- to normal gravity. [less ▲]

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See detailThe alpha2,3-Sialyltransferase Encoded by Myxoma Virus Is a Virulence Factor that Contributes to Immunosuppression.
Boutard, Berengere; Vankerckhove, Sophie; Markine-Goriaynoff, Nicolas et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(2), 0118806

Myxoma virus (MYXV) induces a lethal disease called Myxomatosis in European rabbits. MYXV is one of the rare viruses that encodes an alpha2,3-sialyltransferase through its M138L gene. In this study, we ... [more ▼]

Myxoma virus (MYXV) induces a lethal disease called Myxomatosis in European rabbits. MYXV is one of the rare viruses that encodes an alpha2,3-sialyltransferase through its M138L gene. In this study, we showed that although the absence of the enzyme was not associated with any in vitro deficit, the M138L deficient strains are highly attenuated in vivo. Indeed, while all rabbits infected with the parental and the revertant strains died within 9 days post-infection from severe myxomatosis, all but one rabbit inoculated with the M138L deficient strains survived the infection. In primary lesions, this resistance to the infection was associated with an increased ability of innate immune cells, mostly neutrophils, to migrate to the site of virus replication at 4 days post-infection. This was followed by the development of a better specific immune response against MYXV. Indeed, at day 9 post-infection, we observed an important proliferation of lymphocytes and an intense congestion of blood vessels in lymph nodes after M138L knockouts infection. Accordingly, in these rabbits, we observed an intense mononuclear cell infiltration throughout the dermis in primary lesions and higher titers of neutralizing antibodies. Finally, this adaptive immune response provided protection to these surviving rabbits against a challenge with the MYXV WT strain. Altogether, these results show that expression of the M138L gene contributes directly or indirectly to immune evasion by MYXV. In the future, these results could help us to better understand the pathogenesis of myxomatosis but also the importance of glycans in regulation of immune responses. [less ▲]

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See detailA Membrane-Type-1 Matrix Metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) - Discoidin Domain Receptor 1 Axis Regulates Collagen-Induced Apoptosis in Breast Cancer Cells.
Assent, Delphine; Bourgot, Isabelle ULiege; Hennuy, Benoît ULiege et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(3), 0116006

During tumour dissemination, invading breast carcinoma cells become confronted with a reactive stroma, a type I collagen-rich environment endowed with anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic properties. To ... [more ▼]

During tumour dissemination, invading breast carcinoma cells become confronted with a reactive stroma, a type I collagen-rich environment endowed with anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic properties. To develop metastatic capabilities, tumour cells must acquire the capacity to cope with this novel microenvironment. How cells interact with and respond to their microenvironment during cancer dissemination remains poorly understood. To address the impact of type I collagen on the fate of tumour cells, human breast carcinoma MCF-7 cells were cultured within three-dimensional type I collagen gels (3D COL1). Using this experimental model, we have previously demonstrated that membrane type-1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP), a proteinase overexpressed in many aggressive tumours, promotes tumour progression by circumventing the collagen-induced up-regulation of BIK, a pro-apoptotic tumour suppressor, and hence apoptosis. Here we performed a transcriptomic analysis to decipher the molecular mechanisms regulating 3D COL1-induced apoptosis in human breast cancer cells. Control and MT1-MMP expressing MCF-7 cells were cultured on two-dimensional plastic plates or within 3D COL1 and a global transcriptional time-course analysis was performed. Shifting the cells from plastic plates to 3D COL1 activated a complex reprogramming of genes implicated in various biological processes. Bioinformatic analysis revealed a 3D COL1-mediated alteration of key cellular functions including apoptosis, cell proliferation, RNA processing and cytoskeleton remodelling. By using a panel of pharmacological inhibitors, we identified discoidin domain receptor 1 (DDR1), a receptor tyrosine kinase specifically activated by collagen, as the initiator of 3D COL1-induced apoptosis. Our data support the concept that MT1-MMP contributes to the inactivation of the DDR1-BIK signalling axis through the cleavage of collagen fibres and/or the alteration of DDR1 receptor signalling unit, without triggering a drastic remodelling of the transcriptome of MCF-7 cells. [less ▲]

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See detailThe aerodynamic cost of head morphology in bats: maybe not as bad as it seems
Vanderelst, Dieter; Peremans, Herbert; Abdul Razak, Norizham et al

in PLoS ONE (2015), 10(3), 0118545

At first sight, echolocating bats face a difficult trade-off. As flying animals, they would benefit from a streamlined geometric shape to reduce aerodynamic drag and increase flight efficiency. However ... [more ▼]

At first sight, echolocating bats face a difficult trade-off. As flying animals, they would benefit from a streamlined geometric shape to reduce aerodynamic drag and increase flight efficiency. However, as echolocating animals, their pinnae generate the acoustic cues necessary for navigation and foraging. Moreover, species emitting sound through their nostrils often feature elaborate noseleaves that help in focussing the emitted echolocation pulses. Both pinnae and noseleaves reduce the streamlined character of a bat’s morphology. It is generally assumed that by compromising the streamlined charactered of the geometry, the head morphology generates substantial drag, thereby reducing flight efficiency. In contrast, it has also been suggested that the pinnae of bats generate lift forces counteracting the detrimental effect of the increased drag. However, very little data exist on the aerodynamic properties of bat pinnae and noseleaves. In this work, the aerodynamic forces generated by the heads of seven species of bats, including noseleaved bats, are measured by testing detailed 3D models in a wind tunnel. Models of Myotis daubentonii, Macrophyllum macrophyllum, Micronycteris microtis, Eptesicus fuscus, Rhinolophus formosae, Rhinolophus rouxi and Phyllostomus discolor are tested. The results confirm that non-streamlined facial morphologies yield considerable drag forces but also generate substantial lift. The net effect is a slight increase in the lift-to-drag ratio. Therefore, there is no evidence of high aerodynamic costs associated with the morphology of bat heads [less ▲]

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See detailTime-varying respiratory system elastance: a physiological model for patients who are spontaneously breathing.
Chiew, Yeong Shiong; Pretty, Christopher; Docherty, Paul D. et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(1), 0114847

BACKGROUND: Respiratory mechanics models can aid in optimising patient-specific mechanical ventilation (MV), but the applications are limited to fully sedated MV patients who have little or no ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Respiratory mechanics models can aid in optimising patient-specific mechanical ventilation (MV), but the applications are limited to fully sedated MV patients who have little or no spontaneously breathing efforts. This research presents a time-varying elastance (Edrs) model that can be used in spontaneously breathing patients to determine their respiratory mechanics. METHODS: A time-varying respiratory elastance model is developed with a negative elastic component (Edemand), to describe the driving pressure generated during a patient initiated breathing cycle. Data from 22 patients who are partially mechanically ventilated using Pressure Support (PS) and Neurally Adjusted Ventilatory Assist (NAVA) are used to investigate the physiology relevance of the time-varying elastance model and its clinical potential. Edrs of every breathing cycle for each patient at different ventilation modes are presented for comparison. RESULTS: At the start of every breathing cycle initiated by patient, Edrs is < 0. This negativity is attributed from the Edemand due to a positive lung volume intake at through negative pressure in the lung compartment. The mapping of Edrs trajectories was able to give unique information to patients' breathing variability under different ventilation modes. The area under the curve of Edrs (AUCEdrs) for most patients is > 25 cmH2Os/l and thus can be used as an acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) severity indicator. CONCLUSION: The Edrs model captures unique dynamic respiratory mechanics for spontaneously breathing patients with respiratory failure. The model is fully general and is applicable to both fully controlled and partially assisted MV modes. [less ▲]

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See detailHydrophobin Fusion of an Influenza Virus Hemagglutinin Allows High Transient Expression in Nicotiana benthamiana, Easy Purification and Immune Response with Neutralizing Activity
Jacquet, Nicolas; Navarre, Catherine; Desmecht, Daniel ULiege et al

in PLoS ONE (2014), 9(12), 115944

The expression of recombinant hemagglutinin in plants is a promising alternative to the current egg-based production system for the influenza vaccines. Protein-stabilizing fusion partners have been ... [more ▼]

The expression of recombinant hemagglutinin in plants is a promising alternative to the current egg-based production system for the influenza vaccines. Protein-stabilizing fusion partners have been developed to overcome the low production yields and the high downstream process costs associated with the plant expression system. In this context, we tested the fusion of hydrophobin I to the hemagglutinin ectodomain of the influenza A (H1N1)pdm09 virus controlled by the hybrid En2PMA4 transcriptional promoter to rapidly produce high levels of recombinant antigen by transient expression in agro-infiltrated Nicotiana benthamiana leaves. The fusion increased the expression level by a factor of ∼2.5 compared to the unfused protein allowing a high accumulation level of 8.6% of the total soluble proteins. Hemagglutinin was located in ER-derived protein bodies and was successfully purified by combining an aqueous-two phase partition system and a salting out step. Hydrophobin interactions allowed the formation of high molecular weight hemagglutinin structures, while unfused proteins were produced as monomers. Purified protein was shown to be biologically active and to induce neutralizing antibodies after mice immunization. Hydrophobin fusion to influenza hemagglutinin might therefore be a promising approach for rapid, easy, and low cost production of seasonal or pandemic influenza vaccines in plants. [less ▲]

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See detailBacterial Community Composition in Three Freshwater Reservoirs of Different Alkalinity and Trophic Status
Llirós, Marc; Inceoğlu, Özgul; García-Armisen, Tamara et al

in PLoS ONE (2014)

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See detailFirst Evidence of a Volatile Sex Pheromone in Lady Beetles
Fassotte, Bérénice ULiege; Fischer, Christophe ULiege; Durieux, Delphine ULiege et al

in PLoS ONE (2014)

To date, volatile sex pheromones have not been identified in the Coccinellidae family; yet, various studies have suggested that such semiochemicals exist. Here, we collected volatile chemicals released by ... [more ▼]

To date, volatile sex pheromones have not been identified in the Coccinellidae family; yet, various studies have suggested that such semiochemicals exist. Here, we collected volatile chemicals released by virgin females of the multicolored Asian lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis (Pallas), which were either allowed or not allowed to feed on aphids. Virgin females in the presence of aphids, exhibited “calling behavior”, which is commonly associated with the emission of a sex pheromone in several Coleoptera species. These calling females were found to release a blend of volatile compounds that is involved in the remote attraction (i.e., from a distance) of males. Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) analyses revealed that (–)-β-caryophyllene was the major constituent of the volatile blend (ranging from 80 to 86%), with four other chemical components also being present; β-elemene, methyl-eugenol, α-humulene, and α-bulnesene. In a second set of experiments, the emission of the five constituents identified from the blend was quantified daily over a 9-day period after exposure to aphids. We found that the quantity of all five chemicals significantly increased across the experimental period. Finally, we evaluated the activity of a synthetic blend of these chemicals by performing bioassays which demonstrated the same attractive effect in males only. The results confirm that female H. axyridis produce a volatile sex pheromone. These findings have potential in the development of more specific and efficient biological pest-control management methods aimed at manipulating the behavior of this invasive lady beetle. [less ▲]

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