Pharmacological Characterization of 5-HT1A Autoreceptor-Coupled GIRK Channels in Rat Dorsal Raphe 5-HT Neurons

by Alberto Montalbano, Renato Corradetti, Boris Mlinar

G protein-activated inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK) channels in 5-HT neurons are assumed to be principal effectors of 5-hydroxytryptamine 1A (5-HT1A) autoreceptors, but their pharmacology, subunit composition and the role in regulation of 5-HT neuron activity have not been fully elucidated. We sought for a pharmacological tool for assessing the functional role of GIRK channels in 5-HT neurons by characterizing the effects of drugs known to block GIRK channels in the submicromolar range of concentrations. Whole-cell voltage-clamp recording in brainstem slices were used to determine concentration-response relationships for the selected GIRK channel blockers on 5-HT1A autoreceptor-activated inwardly rectifying K+ conductance in rat dorsal raphe 5-HT neurons. 5-HT1A autoreceptor-activated GIRK conductance was completely blocked by the nonselective inwardly rectifying potassium channels blocker Ba2+ (EC50 = 9.4 μM, full block with 100 μM) and by SCH23390 (EC50 = 1.95 μM, full block with 30 μM). GIRK-specific blocker tertiapin-Q blocked 5-HT1A autoreceptor-activated GIRK conductance with high potency (EC50 = 33.6 nM), but incompletely, i.e. ~16% of total conductance resulted to be tertiapin-Q-resistant. U73343 and SCH28080, reported to block GIRK channels with submicromolar EC50s, were essentially ineffective in 5-HT neurons. Our data show that inwardly rectifying K+ channels coupled to 5-HT1A autoreceptors display pharmacological properties generally expected for neuronal GIRK channels, but different from GIRK1-GIRK2 heteromers, the predominant form of brain GIRK channels. Distinct pharmacological properties of GIRK channels in 5-HT neurons should be explored for the development of new therapeutic agents for mood disorders.

Identification and Genome Characterization of the First Sicinivirus Isolate from Chickens in Mainland China by Using Viral Metagenomics

by Hongzhuan Zhou, Shanshan Zhu, Rong Quan, Jing Wang, Li Wei, Bing Yang, Fuzhou Xu, Jinluo Wang, Fuyong Chen, Jue Liu

Unlike traditional virus isolation and sequencing approaches, sequence-independent amplification based viral metagenomics technique allows one to discover unexpected or novel viruses efficiently while bypassing culturing step. Here we report the discovery of the first Sicinivirus isolate (designated as strain JSY) of picornaviruses from commercial layer chickens in mainland China by using a viral metagenomics technique. This Sicinivirus isolate, which contains a whole genome of 9,797 nucleotides (nt) excluding the poly(A) tail, possesses one of the largest picornavirus genome so far reported, but only shares 88.83% and 82.78% of amino acid sequence identity to that of ChPV1 100C (KF979332) and Sicinivirus 1 strain UCC001 (NC_023861), respectively. The complete 939 nt 5′UTR of the isolate strain contains at least twelve stem-loop domains (A–L), representing the highest set of loops reported within Sicinivirus genus. The conserved ‘barbell-like’ structure was also present in the 272 nt 3′UTR of the isolate as that in the 3′ UTR of Sicinivirus 1 strain UCC001. The 8,586 nt large open reading frame encodes a 2,862 amino acids polyprotein precursor. Moreover, Sicinivirus infection might be widely present in commercial chicken farms in Yancheng region of the Jiangsu Province as evidenced by all the tested stool samples from three different farms being positive (17/17) for Sicinivirus detection. This is the first report on identification of Sicinivirus in commercial layer chickens with a severe clinical disease in mainland China, however, further studies are needed to evaluate the pathogenic potential of this picornavirus in chickens.

The Structural Differences between a Glycoprotein Specific F-Box Protein Fbs1 and Its Homologous Protein FBG3

by Taichi Kumanomidou, Kazuya Nishio, Kenji Takagi, Tomomi Nakagawa, Atsuo Suzuki, Takashi Yamane, Fuminori Tokunaga, Kazuhiro Iwai, Arisa Murakami, Yukiko Yoshida, Keiji Tanaka, Tsunehiro Mizushima

The Skp1-Cul1-F-box protein (SCF) complex catalyzes protein ubiquitination in diverse cellular processes and is one of the best-characterized ubiquitin ligases. F-box proteins determine the substrate specificities of SCF ubiquitin ligases. Among these, Fbs1/FBG1/FBXO2, Fbs2/FBG2/FBXO6, and Fbs3/FBG5/FBXO27 recognize the N-glycans of glycoproteins, whereas FBG3/FBXO44 has no sugar-binding activity, despite the high sequence homology and conservation of the residues necessary for oligosaccharide binding between Fbs1–3 and FBG3. Here we determined the crystal structure of the Skp1–FBG3 complex at a resolution of 2.6 Å. The substrate-binding domain of FBG3 is composed of a 10-stranded antiparallel β-sandwich with three helices. Although the overall structure of FBG3 is similar to that of Fbs1, the residues that form the Fbs1 carbohydrate-binding pocket failed to be superposed with the corresponding residues of FBG3. Structure-based mutational analysis shows that distinct hydrogen bond networks of four FBG3 loops, i.e., β2-β3, β5-β6, β7-β8, and β9-β10, prevent the formation of the carbohydrate-binding pocket shown in Fbs1.

Reef Fishes at All Trophic Levels Respond Positively to Effective Marine Protected Areas

by German A. Soler, Graham J. Edgar, Russell J. Thomson, Stuart Kininmonth, Stuart J. Campbell, Terence P. Dawson, Neville S. Barrett, Anthony T. F. Bernard, David E. Galván, Trevor J. Willis, Timothy J. Alexander, Rick D. Stuart-Smith

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) offer a unique opportunity to test the assumption that fishing pressure affects some trophic groups more than others. Removal of larger predators through fishing is often suggested to have positive flow-on effects for some lower trophic groups, in which case protection from fishing should result in suppression of lower trophic groups as predator populations recover. We tested this by assessing differences in the trophic structure of reef fish communities associated with 79 MPAs and open-access sites worldwide, using a standardised quantitative dataset on reef fish community structure. The biomass of all major trophic groups (higher carnivores, benthic carnivores, planktivores and herbivores) was significantly greater (by 40% – 200%) in effective no-take MPAs relative to fished open-access areas. This effect was most pronounced for individuals in large size classes, but with no size class of any trophic group showing signs of depressed biomass in MPAs, as predicted from higher predator abundance. Thus, greater biomass in effective MPAs implies that exploitation on shallow rocky and coral reefs negatively affects biomass of all fish trophic groups and size classes. These direct effects of fishing on trophic structure appear stronger than any top down effects on lower trophic levels that would be imposed by intact predator populations. We propose that exploitation affects fish assemblages at all trophic levels, and that local ecosystem function is generally modified by fishing.

A JAZ Protein in Astragalus sinicus Interacts with a Leghemoglobin through the TIFY Domain and Is Involved in Nodule Development and Nitrogen Fixation

by Yixing Li, Meng Xu, Ning Wang, Youguo Li

Leghemoglobins (Lbs) play an important role in legumes-rhizobia symbiosis. Lbs bind O2 and protect nitrogenase activity from damage by O2 in nodules, therefore, they are regarded as a marker of active nitrogen fixation in nodules. Additionally, Lbs are involved in the nitric oxide (NO) signaling pathway, acting as a NO scavenger during nodule development and nitrogen fixation. However, regulators responsible for Lb expression and modulation of Lb activity have not been characterized. In our previous work, a Jasmonate-Zim-domain (JAZ) protein interacting with a Lb (AsB2510) in Astragalus sinicus was identified and designated AsJAZ1. In this study, the interaction between AsJAZ1 and AsB2510 was verified using a yeast two-hybrid system and in vitro Glutathione S-transferase (GST) pull-down assays, resulting in identification of the interaction domain as a TIFY (previously known as zinc-finger protein expressed in inflorescence meristem, ZIM) domain. TIFY domain is named after the most conserved amino acids within the domain. Bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) was used to confirm the interaction between AsJAZ1 and AsB2510 in tobacco cells, demonstrating that AsJAZ1-AsB2510 interaction was localized to the cell membrane and cytoplasm. Furthermore, the expression patterns and the symbiotic phenotypes of AsJAZ1 were investigated. Knockdown of AsJAZ1 expression via RNA interference led to decreased number of nodules, abnormal development of bacteroids, accumulation of poly-x-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) and loss of nitrogenase activity. Taken together, our results suggest that AsJAZ1 interacts with AsB2510 and participates in nodule development and nitrogen fixation. Our results provide novel insights into the functions of Lbs or JAZ proteins during legume-rhizobia symbiosis.

A Shadowing Problem in the Detection of Overlapping Communities: Lifting the Resolution Limit through a Cascading Procedure

by Jean-Gabriel Young, Antoine Allard, Laurent Hébert-Dufresne, Louis J. Dubé

Community detection is the process of assigning nodes and links in significant communities (e.g. clusters, function modules) and its development has led to a better understanding of complex networks. When applied to sizable networks, we argue that most detection algorithms correctly identify prominent communities, but fail to do so across multiple scales. As a result, a significant fraction of the network is left uncharted. We show that this problem stems from larger or denser communities overshadowing smaller or sparser ones, and that this effect accounts for most of the undetected communities and unassigned links. We propose a generic cascading approach to community detection that circumvents the problem. Using real and artificial network datasets with three widely used community detection algorithms, we show how a simple cascading procedure allows for the detection of the missing communities. This work highlights a new detection limit of community structure, and we hope that our approach can inspire better community detection algorithms.

Correction: Vocalisations of Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) in the Bremer Canyon, Western Australia

by Rebecca Wellard, Christine Erbe, Leila Fouda, Michelle Blewitt

Enhanced Biological Behavior of In Vitro Human Gingival Fibroblasts on Cold Plasma-Treated Zirconia

by Miao Zheng, Yang Yang, Xiao-Qiang Liu, Ming-Yue Liu, Xiao-Fei Zhang, Xin Wang, He-Ping Li, Jian-Guo Tan


To evaluate whether atmospheric-pressure dielectric-barrier-discharge plasma treatment of zirconia enhances its biocompatibility with human gingival fibroblasts.

Materials and Methods

The zirconia disks were divided into four groups and treated using helium atmospheric-pressure dielectric-barrier-discharge plasmas for 30, 60 or 90 s or left untreated. The surface morphology, wettability and chemical elements were analyzed. Fibroblasts density, morphology, morphometry and attachment-related genes expression were measured at different time points from 3 to 72 h.


After plasma treatment, the surface morphology and roughness remained the same, while the contact angle decreased from 78.31° to 43.71°, and the surface C/O ratio decreased from 3.17 to 0.89. The surficial areas and perimeters of HGFs were increased two-fold in the treated groups at 3 h. Fibroblasts density increased on treated disks at all time points, especially the ones treated for 60 s. Attachment-related genes in the groups treated for 30 and 60 s were significantly higher at 3 and 24 h.


The helium atmospheric-pressure dielectric-barrier-discharge plasma treatment enhances the biological behavior of fibroblasts on zirconia by increasing the expression of attachment-related genes within 24 h and promoting the cell density during longer culture times. Wettability of zirconia, an important physicochemical property, has a vital influence on the cell behaviors.

Anxious or Depressed and Still Happy?

by Philip Spinhoven, Bernet M. Elzinga, Erik Giltay, Brenda W. J. H. Penninx

This study aimed to examine cross-sectionally to what extent persons with higher symptom levels or a current or past emotional disorder report to be less happy than controls and to assess prospectively whether time-lagged measurements of extraversion and neuroticism predict future happiness independent of time-lagged measurements of emotional disorders or symptom severity. A sample of 2142 adults aged 18–65, consisting of healthy controls and persons with current or past emotional disorder according to DSM-IV criteria completed self-ratings for happiness and emotional well-being and symptom severity. Lagged measurements of personality, symptom severity and presence of anxiety and depressive disorder at T0 (year 0), T2 (year 2) and T4 (year 4) were used to predict happiness and emotional well-being at T6 (year 6) controlling for demographics. In particular persons with more depressive symptoms, major depressive disorder, social anxiety disorder and comorbid emotional disorders reported lower levels of happiness and emotional well-being. Depression symptom severity and to a lesser extent depressive disorder predicted future happiness and emotional well-being at T6. Extraversion and to a lesser extent neuroticism also consistently forecasted future happiness and emotional well-being independent of concurrent lagged measurements of emotional disorders and symptoms. A study limitation is that we only measured happiness and emotional well-being at T6 and our measures were confined to hedonistic well-being and did not include psychological and social well-being. In sum, consistent with the two continua model of emotional well-being and mental illness, a ‘happy’ personality characterized by high extraversion and to a lesser extent low neuroticism forecasts future happiness and emotional well-being independent of concurrently measured emotional disorders or symptom severity levels. Boosting positive emotionality may be an important treatment goal for persons personally inclined to lower levels of happiness.

Towards a Supertree of Arthropoda: A Species-Level Supertree of the Spiny, Slipper and Coral Lobsters (Decapoda: Achelata)

by Katie E. Davis, Thomas W. Hesketh, Cyrille Delmer, Matthew A. Wills

While supertrees have been built for many vertebrate groups (notably birds, mammals and dinosaurs), invertebrates have attracted relatively little attention. The paucity of supertrees of arthropods is particularly surprising given their economic and ecological importance, as well as their overwhelming contribution to biodiversity. The absence of comprehensive archives of machine-readable source trees, coupled with the need for software implementing repeatable protocols for managing them, has undoubtedly impeded progress. Here we present a supertree of Achelata (spiny, slipper and coral lobsters) as a proof of concept, constructed using new supertree specific software (the Supertree Toolkit; STK) and following a published protocol. We also introduce a new resource for archiving and managing published source trees. Our supertree of Achelata is synthesised from morphological and molecular source trees, and represents the most complete species-level tree of the group to date. Our findings are consistent with recent taxonomic treatments, confirming the validity of just two families: Palinuridae and Scyllaridae; Synaxidae were resolved within Palinuridae. Monophyletic Silentes and Stridentes lineages are recovered within Palinuridae, and all sub-families within Scyllaridae are found to be monophyletic with the exception of Ibacinae. We demonstrate the feasibility of building larger supertrees of arthropods, with the ultimate objective of building a complete species-level phylogeny for the entire phylum using a divide and conquer strategy.