#### International Journal of Molecular Sciences

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ISSN / EISSN : 1422-0067 / 1422-0067
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#### Latest articles in this journal

Published: 1 August 2021
by MDPI
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22158287

Abstract:
Leaf senescence is a genetically regulated developmental process that can be triggered by a variety of internal and external signals, including hormones and environmental stimuli. Among the senescence-associated genes controlling leaf senescence, the transcriptional factors (TFs) comprise a functional class that is highly active at the onset and during the progression of leaf senescence. The plant-specific NAC (NAM, ATAF, and CUC) TFs are essential for controlling leaf senescence. Several members of Arabidopsis AtNAC-SAGs are well characterized as players in elucidated regulatory networks. However, only a few soybean members of this class display well-known functions; knowledge about their regulatory circuits is still rudimentary. Here, we describe the expression profile of soybean GmNAC-SAGs upregulated by natural senescence and their functional correlation with putative AtNAC-SAGs orthologs. The mechanisms and the regulatory gene networks underlying GmNAC081- and GmNAC030-positive regulation in leaf senescence are discussed. Furthermore, new insights into the role of GmNAC065 as a negative senescence regulator are presented, demonstrating extraordinary functional conservation with the Arabidopsis counterpart. Finally, we describe a regulatory circuit which integrates a stress-induced cell death program with developmental leaf senescence via the NRP-NAC-VPE signaling module.
Published: 1 August 2021
by MDPI
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22158286

Abstract:
Colon cancer (CC) is considered a high-risk cancer in developed countries. Its etiology is correlated with a high consumption of red meat and low consumption of plant-based foods, including whole grains. Sorghum bran is rich in polyphenols. This study aimed to determine whether different high-phenolic sorghum brans suppress tumor formation in a genetic CC rodent model and elucidate mechanisms. Tissue culture experiments used colorectal cancer cell lines SW480, HCT-116 and Caco-2 and measured protein expression, and protein activity. The animal model used in this study was APC Min+/mouse model combined with dextram sodium sulfate. High phenolic sorghum bran extract treatment resulted in the inhibition of proliferation and induced apoptosis in CC cell lines. Treatment with high phenolic sorghum bran extracts repressed TNF-α-stimulated NF-κB transactivation and IGF-1-stimulated PI3K/AKT pathway via the downregulation of β-catenin transactivation. Furthermore, high-phenolic sorghum bran extracts activated AMPK and autophagy. Feeding with high-phenolic sorghum bran for 6 weeks significantly suppressed tumor formation in an APC Min/+ dextran sodium sulfate promoted CC mouse model. Our data demonstrates the potential application of high-phenolic sorghum bran as a functional food for the prevention of CC.
Published: 1 August 2021
by MDPI
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22158290

Abstract:
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women. In recent times, survival outcomes have improved dramatically in accordance with our enhanced understanding of the molecular processes driving breast cancer proliferation and development. Refined surgical approaches, combined with novel and targeted treatment options, have aided the personalisation of breast cancer patient care. Despite this, some patients will unfortunately succumb to the disease. In recent times, translational research efforts have been focused on identifying novel biomarkers capable of informing patient outcome; microRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding molecules, which regulate gene expression at a post-transcriptional level. Aberrant miRNA expression profiles have been observed in cancer proliferation and development. The measurement and correlation of miRNA expression levels with oncological outcomes such as response to current conventional therapies, and disease recurrence are being investigated. Herein, we outline the clinical utility of miRNA expression profiles in informing breast cancer prognosis, predicting response to treatment strategies as well as their potential as therapeutic targets to enhance treatment modalities in the era of precision oncology.
Published: 1 August 2021
by MDPI
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22158288

Abstract:
We addressed the issue of C1q autoantigenicity by studying the structural features of the autoepitopes recognized by the polyclonal anti-C1q antibodies present in Lupus Nephritis (LN) sera. We used six fractions of anti-C1q as antigens and selected anti-idiotypic scFv antibodies from the phage library “Griffin.1”. The monoclonal scFv A1 was the most potent inhibitor of the recognition of C1q and its fragments ghA, ghB and ghC, comprising the globular domain gC1q, by the lupus autoantibodies. It was sequenced and in silico folded by molecular dynamics into a 3D structure. The generated 3D model of A1 elucidated CDR similarity to the apical region of gC1q, thus mapping indirectly for the first time a globular autoepitope of C1q. The VH CDR2 of A1 mimicked the ghA sequence GSEAD suggested as a cross-epitope between anti-DNA and anti-C1q antibodies. Other potential inhibitors of the recognition of C1q by the LN autoantibodies among the selected recombinant antibodies were the monoclonal scFv F6, F9 and A12.
Published: 1 August 2021
by MDPI
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22158289

Abstract:
Gliomas are solid tumors of the central nervous system (CNS) that originated from different glial cells. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies these tumors into four groups (I-IV) with increasing malignancy. Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and aggressive type of brain tumor classified as grade IV. GBMs are resistant to conventional therapies with poor prognosis after diagnosis even when the Stupp protocol that combines surgery and radiochemotherapy is applied. Nowadays, few novel therapeutic strategies have been used to improve GBM treatment, looking for higher efficiency and lower side effects, but with relatively modest results. The circadian timing system temporally organizes the physiology and behavior of most organisms and daily regulates several cellular processes in organs, tissues, and even in individual cells, including tumor cells. The potentiality of the function of the circadian clock on cancer cells modulation as a new target for novel treatments with a chronobiological basis offers a different challenge that needs to be considered in further detail. The present review will discuss state of the art regarding GBM biology, the role of the circadian clock in tumor progression, and new chrono-chemotherapeutic strategies applied for GBM treatment.
Published: 31 July 2021
by MDPI
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22158240

Abstract:
The execution step in apoptosis is the permeabilization of the outer mitochondrial membrane, controlled by Bcl-2 family proteins. The physical interactions between the different proteins in this family and their relative abundance literally determine the fate of the cells. These interactions, however, are difficult to quantify, as they occur in a lipid membrane and involve proteins with multiple conformations and stoichiometries which can exist both in soluble and membrane. Here we focus on the interaction between two core Bcl-2 family members, the executor pore-forming protein Bax and the truncated form of the activator protein Bid (tBid), which we imaged at the single particle level in a mitochondria-like planar supported lipid bilayer. We inferred the conformation of the proteins from their mobility, and detected their transient interactions using a novel single particle cross-correlation analysis. We show that both tBid and Bax have at least two different conformations at the membrane, and that their affinity for one another increases by one order of magnitude (with a 2D-${K}_{D}$ decreasing from ≃$1.6\phantom{\rule{3.33333pt}{0ex}}/{\mathrm{m}}^{2}$ to ≃$0.1\phantom{\rule{3.33333pt}{0ex}}/{\mathrm{m}}^{2}$) when they pass from their loosely membrane-associated to their transmembrane form. We conclude by proposing an updated molecular model for the activation of Bax by tBid.
Published: 31 July 2021
by MDPI
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22158242

Abstract:
The immune system defends the body against certain tumor cells and against foreign agents such as fungi, parasites, bacteria, and viruses. One of its main roles is to distinguish endogenous components from non-self-components. An unproperly functioning immune system is prone to primary immune deficiencies caused by either primary immune deficiencies such as genetic defects or secondary immune deficiencies such as physical, chemical, and in some instances, psychological stressors. In the manuscript, we will provide a brief overview of the immune system and immunotoxicology. We will also describe the biochemical mechanisms of immunotoxicants and how to evaluate immunotoxicity.
Published: 31 July 2021
by MDPI
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22158243

Abstract:
The emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria through the abuse and long-term use of antibiotics is a serious health problem worldwide. Therefore, novel antimicrobial agents that can cure an infection from MDR bacteria, especially gram-negative bacteria, are urgently needed. Antimicrobial peptides, part of the innate immunity system, have been studied to find bactericidal agents potent against MDR bacteria. However, they have many problems, such as restrained systemic activity and cytotoxicity. In a previous study, we suggested that the K58–R78 domain of Romo1, a mitochondrial protein encoded by the nucleus, was a promising treatment candidate for sepsis caused by MDR bacteria. Here, we performed sequence optimization to enhance the antimicrobial activity of this peptide and named it as AMPR-22 (antimicrobial peptide derived from Romo1). It showed broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity against 17 sepsis-causing bacteria, including MDR strains, by inducing membrane permeabilization. Moreover, treatment with AMPR-22 enabled a remarkable survival rate in mice injected with MDR bacteria in a murine model of sepsis. Based on these results, we suggest that AMPR-22 could be prescribed as a first-line therapy (prior to bacterial identification) for patients diagnosed with sepsis.
Published: 31 July 2021
by MDPI
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22158244

Abstract:
The parietal cortex of rodents participates in sensory and spatial processing, movement planning, and decision-making, but much less is known about its role in associative learning and memory formation. The present study aims to examine the involvement of the parietal association cortex (PtA) in associative fear memory acquisition and retrieval in mice. Using ex vivo c-Fos immunohistochemical mapping and in vivo Fos-EGFP two-photon imaging, we show that PtA neurons were specifically activated both during acquisition and retrieval of cued fear memory. Fos immunohistochemistry revealed specific activation of the PtA neurons during retrieval of the 1-day-old fear memory. In vivo two-photon Fos-EGFP imaging confirmed this result and in addition detected specific c-Fos responses of the PtA neurons during acquisition of cued fear memory. To allow a more detailed study of the long-term activity of such PtA engram neurons, we generated a Fos-Cre-GCaMP transgenic mouse line that employs the Targeted Recombination in Active Populations (TRAP) technique to detect calcium events specifically in cells that were Fos-active during conditioning. We show that gradual accumulation of GCaMP3 in the PtA neurons of Fos-Cre-GCaMP mice peaks at the 4th day after fear learning. We also describe calcium transients in the cell bodies and dendrites of the TRAPed neurons. This provides a proof-of-principle for TRAP-based calcium imaging of PtA functions during memory processes as well as in experimental models of fear- and anxiety-related psychiatric disorders and their specific therapies.
Published: 31 July 2021
by MDPI
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Volume 22; doi:10.3390/ijms22158246

Abstract:
Many lepidopteran larvae produce silk feeding shelters and cocoons to protect themselves and the developing pupa. As caterpillars evolved, the quality of the silk, shape of the cocoon, and techniques in forming and leaving the cocoon underwent a number of changes. The silk of Pseudoips prasinana has previously been studied using X-ray analysis and classified in the same category as that of Bombyx mori, suggesting that silks of both species have similar properties despite their considerable phylogenetic distance. In the present study, we examined P. prasinana silk using ‘omics’ technology, including silk gland RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and a mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis of cocoon proteins. We found that although the central repetitive amino acid sequences encoding crystalline domains of fibroin heavy chain molecules are almost identical in both species, the resulting fibers exhibit quite different mechanical properties. Our results suggest that these differences are most probably due to the higher content of fibrohexamerin and fibrohexamerin-like molecules in P. prasinana silk. Furthermore, we show that whilst P. prasinana cocoons are predominantly made of silk similar to that of other Lepidoptera, they also contain a second, minor silk type, which is present only at the escape valve.