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News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Plastic bags have become a kind of modern-day consumer addiction. A staggering 1 trillion are used by people each year. A good proportion of those end up in the world’s landfills, decomposing at negligible rates. But a caterpillar bred as fishing bait may have a solution to the mounting bag problem: its appetite for plastic, according to new observations reported in the journal Current Biology. The wax worm, which is the larvae of the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella) in Europe, traditionally lives as a parasite in beehives, eating the wax. But scientists from the University of Cambridge and the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain made a serendipitous discovery – while beekeeping. Federica Bertocchini, an amateur beekeeper had removed the parasitic worms from her honeycombs and placed them in normal plastic shopping bags. But the next time she picked them up, they were riddled with holes, they report. “Wax is a polymer, a sort of ‘natural plastic,’ and has a chemical structure not dissimilar to polyethylene,” said Bertocchini, the lead author, of the Spanish Institute. That discovery prompted an investigation. A hundred worms were put into a plastic bag from a supermarket. Forty minutes later, holes started to appear. After 12 hours, the plastic had been reduced by 92 mg. The reduction in mass is much greater than other biodegrading accelerants. For instance, a newly isolated bacterium called Ideonella sakaiensis was shown to break down plastics at just 0.13 mg over 24 hours. The worms were also digesting the plastic – and not just chewing it up, they showed. The byproduct of ethylene glycol, the moderately toxic compound active in antifreeze and other chemicals, was produced by the worms, they showed. Exactly how the transformation was happening remains to be determined. But the scientists said they believe it is the hydrocarbons themselves that are being broken in the process. “Nevertheless, given the fast rate of biodegradation reported here, these findings have potential for significant biotechnological applications,” they conclude.


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Plastic bags have become a kind of modern-day consumer addiction. A staggering 1 trillion are used by people each year. A good proportion of those end up in the world’s landfills, decomposing at negligible rates. But a caterpillar bred as fishing bait may have a solution to the mounting bag problem: its appetite for plastic, according to new observations reported in the journal Current Biology. The wax worm, which is the larvae of the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella) in Europe, traditionally lives as a parasite in beehives, eating the wax. But scientists from the University of Cambridge and the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain made a serendipitous discovery – while beekeeping. Federica Bertocchini, an amateur beekeeper had removed the parasitic worms from her honeycombs and placed them in normal plastic shopping bags. But the next time she picked them up, they were riddled with holes, they report. “Wax is a polymer, a sort of ‘natural plastic,’ and has a chemical structure not dissimilar to polyethylene,” said Bertocchini, the lead author, of the Spanish Institute. That discovery prompted an investigation. A hundred worms were put into a plastic bag from a supermarket. Forty minutes later, holes started to appear. After 12 hours, the plastic had been reduced by 92 mg. The reduction in mass is much greater than other biodegrading accelerants. For instance, a newly isolated bacterium called Ideonella sakaiensis was shown to break down plastics at just 0.13 mg over 24 hours. The worms were also digesting the plastic – and not just chewing it up, they showed. The byproduct of ethylene glycol, the moderately toxic compound active in antifreeze and other chemicals, was produced by the worms, they showed. Exactly how the transformation was happening remains to be determined. But the scientists said they believe it is the hydrocarbons themselves that are being broken in the process. “Nevertheless, given the fast rate of biodegradation reported here, these findings have potential for significant biotechnological applications,” they conclude.


News Article | April 24, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

A moth caterpillar on a plastic bag during a scientific experiment in Santander on April 17, 2017 (AFP Photo/Cesar HERNANDEZ) Paris (AFP) - A moth caterpillar commonly bred to provide fish bait feasts on a notoriously resistant plastic, scientists reported Monday, raising hopes the creature can help manage the global problem of plastic-bag pollution. "This discovery could be an important tool for helping to get rid of the polyethylene plastic waste accumulated in landfill sites and oceans," said Cambridge University professor Paolo Bombelli, co-author of a study published in the journal Current Biology. Polyethylene represents 40 percent of Europe's demand for plastic products, mostly in the form of packaging and shopping bags. Taking many years to biodegrade, these objects constitute a serious hazard for the environment, especially for sea life, when they are not recycled. In the European Union, 38 percent of plastic is thrown out in landfills. The promising discovery centers on the wax worm -- the name for the caterpillar larva of Galleria mellonella, or greater wax moth. In its pre-caterpillar form, the species is commercially raised as maggots to provide fish bait and aquarium food. The moth is also a scourge of apiculture, laying its eggs in the precious honeycomb of beehives. The find happened by accident at the home of the study's lead author, Federica Bertocchini, a biologist at the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain. "When I went to clean them for reuse in the spring, they were infested with (wax) worms," the researcher told AFP. "So I put them in a bag. Then, after a while, I saw the bag was full of holes and these caterpillars were crawling all around my place." Startled by the caterpillar's voracious appetite, Bertocchini and a team from Cambridge University decided to conduct experiments to find out just how much, and how quickly, the pests could consume environmentally harmful plastic. They placed hundreds of the small, yellowish creatures on top of a supermarket plastic bag. Within 40 minutes, holes began to form. Twelve hours later, the caterpillars had consumed 92 milligrammes (0.003 of an ounce) of the stuff, far swifter than fungus and bacteria would have taken. In their next test, the biologists confirmed that the larvae fully digest a plastic meal, breaking down its chemical components. Covering a plastic bag with mashed-up caterpillars produced a similar results, suggesting that an enzyme or some other compound was at work. "The caterpillar produces something that breaks the chemical bond, perhaps in its salivary glands or a symbiotic bacteria in its gut," Bertocchini said. The answer may lay in the worm's habitat and eating habits. Growing in bee colonies, the moth larvae feed on beeswax, a digestive process that scientists believe may be similar to breaking down polyethylene. "Wax is a polymer, a sort of 'natural plastic,' and has a chemical structure not dissimilar to polyethylene," Bertocchini suggested. It remains unclear if a single enzyme or a combination of molecules are responsible for degrading plastic. But biologists hope to identify and reproduce the active agent artificially. "Using million of caterpillars on top of plastic bags would not be feasible," Bertocchini said. Manufactured on a large scale, the plastic-degrading substance would, in theory, take the form of an environmentally harmless liquid that could be used in plastic treatment facilities.


Delgado-Calle J.,University of Cantabria | Fernandez A.F.,University of Oviedo | Sainz J.,Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria | Zarrabeitia M.T.,University of Cantabria | And 6 more authors.
Arthritis and Rheumatism | Year: 2013

Objective To determine genome-wide methylation profiles of bone from patients with hip osteoarthritis (OA) and those with osteoporotic (OP) hip fractures. Methods Trabecular bone pieces were obtained from the central part of the femoral head of 27 patients with hip fractures and 26 patients with hip OA. DNA was isolated, and methylation was explored with Illumina methylation arrays. RNA was extracted, pooled, and deep-sequenced to obtain the whole transcriptome. Differentially methylated regions were identified, and connections between genes with differentially methylated regions were explored by pathway and text-mining analyses. Results After quality control, methylation of 23,367 CpG sites (13,463 genes) was analyzed. There was a genome-wide inverse relationship between methylation and gene expression in both patient groups. Comparison of OP and OA bones revealed 241 CpG sites, located in 228 genes, with significant differences in methylation (false discovery rate <0.05). Of them, 217 were less methylated in OP than in OA. The absolute methylation differences were >5% in 128 CpG sites and >10% in 45 CpG sites. The differentially methylated genes were enriched for association with bone traits in the genome-wide association study catalog. Pathway analysis and text-mining analysis with Gene Relationships Across Implicated Loci software revealed enrichment in genes participating in glycoprotein metabolism or cell differentiation, and particularly in the homeobox superfamily of transcription factors. Conclusion Genome-wide methylation profiling of bone samples revealed differentially methylated regions in OP and OA. These regions were enriched in genes associated with cell differentiation and skeletal embryogenesis, such as those in the homeobox superfamily, suggesting the existence of a developmental component in the predisposition to these disorders. Copyright © 2013 by the American College of Rheumatology.


Campa V.M.,Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria | Capilla A.,Autonoma University of Madrid | Varela M.J.,University of Santiago de Compostela | De La Rocha A.M.A.,Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

The activation of G-protein coupled receptors by agonist compounds results in diverse biological responses in cells, such as the endocytosis process consisting in the translocation of receptors from the plasma membrane to the cytoplasm within internalizing vesicles or endosomes. In order to functionally evaluate endocytosis events resulted from pharmacological responses, we have developed an image analysis method -the Q-Endosomes algorithm- that specifically discriminates the fluorescent signal originated at endosomes from that one observed at the plasma membrane in images obtained from living cells by fluorescence microscopy. Mu opioid (MOP) receptor tagged at the carboxy-terminus with yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) and permanently expressed in HEK293 cells was used as experimental model to validate this methodology. Time-course experiments performed with several agonists resulted in different sigmoid curves depending on the drug used to initiate MOP receptor endocytosis. Thus, endocytosis resulting from the simultaneous activation of co-expressed MOP and serotonin 5-HT2C receptors by morphine plus serotonin was significantly different, in kinetics as well as in maximal response parameters, from the one caused by DAMGO, sufentanyl or methadone. Therefore, this analytical tool permits the pharmacological characterization of receptor endocytosis in living cells with functional and temporal resolution. © 2015 Campa et al.


Infante J.,University of Cantabria | Infante J.,CIBER ISCIII | Prieto C.,Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria | Sierra M.,University of Cantabria | And 11 more authors.
Neurobiology of Aging | Year: 2015

The commonest known cause of Parkinson's disease (PD) is the G2019S mutation of the LRRK2 gene, but this mutation is not sufficient for causing PD, and many carriers of the mutation never develop PD symptoms during life. Differences at the expression level of certain genes, resulting from either genetic variations or environmental interactions, might be one of the mechanisms underlying differential risks for developing both idiopathic and genetic PD. To identify the genes involved in PD pathogenesis, we compared genome-wide gene expression (RNA-seq) in peripheral blood of 20 PD patients carrying the G2019S mutation of the LRRK2 gene, 20 asymptomatic carriers of the mutation, 20 subjects with idiopathic PD, 20 controls and 7 PD patients before and after initiating dopaminergic therapy. We identified 13 common genes (. ADARB2, CEACAM6, CNTNAP2, COL19A1, DEF4, DRAXIN, FCER2, HBG1, NCAPG2, PVRL2, SLC2A14, SNCA, and TCL1B) showing significant differential expression between G2019S-associated PD and asymptomatic carriers and also between idiopathic PD and controls but not between untreated and treated patients. Some of these genes are functionally involved in the processes known to be involved in PD pathogenesis, such as Akt signaling, glucose metabolism, or immunity. We consider that these genes merit further attention in future studies as potential candidate genes involved in both idiopathic and LRRK2-G2019S-associated forms of PD. © 2015 Elsevier Inc.


PubMed | Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria, University of Santiago de Compostela, Autonoma University of Madrid and Institute of Physics of Cantabria
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2015

The activation of G-protein coupled receptors by agonist compounds results in diverse biological responses in cells, such as the endocytosis process consisting in the translocation of receptors from the plasma membrane to the cytoplasm within internalizing vesicles or endosomes. In order to functionally evaluate endocytosis events resulted from pharmacological responses, we have developed an image analysis method -the Q-Endosomes algorithm- that specifically discriminates the fluorescent signal originated at endosomes from that one observed at the plasma membrane in images obtained from living cells by fluorescence microscopy. Mu opioid (MOP) receptor tagged at the carboxy-terminus with yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) and permanently expressed in HEK293 cells was used as experimental model to validate this methodology. Time-course experiments performed with several agonists resulted in different sigmoid curves depending on the drug used to initiate MOP receptor endocytosis. Thus, endocytosis resulting from the simultaneous activation of co-expressed MOP and serotonin 5-HT2C receptors by morphine plus serotonin was significantly different, in kinetics as well as in maximal response parameters, from the one caused by DAMGO, sufentanyl or methadone. Therefore, this analytical tool permits the pharmacological characterization of receptor endocytosis in living cells with functional and temporal resolution.


Okumus B.,Harvard University | Landgraf D.,Harvard University | Lai G.C.,Harvard University | Bakhsi S.,Harvard University | And 12 more authors.
Nature Communications | Year: 2016

Many key regulatory proteins in bacteria are present in too low numbers to be detected with conventional methods, which poses a particular challenge for single-cell analyses because such proteins can contribute greatly to phenotypic heterogeneity. Here we develop a microfluidics-based platform that enables single-molecule counting of low-abundance proteins by mechanically slowing-down their diffusion within the cytoplasm of live Escherichia coli (E. coli) cells. Our technique also allows for automated microscopy at high throughput with minimal perturbation to native physiology, as well as viable enrichment/retrieval. We illustrate the method by analysing the control of the master regulator of the E. coli stress response, RpoS, by its adapter protein, SprE (RssB). Quantification of SprE numbers shows that though SprE is necessary for RpoS degradation, it is expressed at levels as low as 3-4 molecules per average cell cycle, and fluctuations in SprE are approximately Poisson distributed during exponential phase with no sign of bursting.


Crespo-Facorro B.,University of Cantabria | Crespo-Facorro B.,Centro Investigacion Biomedica en Red Salud Mental | Prieto C.,Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria | Sainz J.,Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria
International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology | Year: 2014

Background: Despite the widespread use of antipsychotics, little is known of the molecular bases behind the action of antipsychotic drugs. A genome-wide study is needed to characterize the genes that affect the clinical response and their adverse effects. Methods: Here we show the analysis of the blood transcriptome of 22 schizophrenia patients before and after medication with atypical antipsychotics by next-generation sequencing. Results: We found that 17 genes, among the 21 495 genes analyzed, have significantly-altered expression after medication (pvalue adjusted [Padj] <0.05). Six genes (ADAMTS2, CD177, CNTNAP3, ENTPD2, RFX2, and UNC45B) out of the 17 are among the 200 genes that we characterized with differential expression in a previous study between antipsychotic-naïve schizophrenia patients and controls (Sainz et al., 2013). This number of schizophrenia-altered expression genes is significantly higher than expected by chance (Chi-test, Padj 1.19E-50), suggesting that at least part of the antipsychotic beneficial effects is exerted by modulating the expression of these genes. Interestingly, all six of these genes were overexpressed in patients and reverted to control levels of expression after treatment. We also found a significant enrichment of genes related to obesity and diabetes, known adverse affects of antipsychotics. Conclusions: These results may facilitate understanding of unknown molecular mechanisms behind schizophrenia symptoms and the molecular mechanisms of antipsychotic drugs. © The Author 2015.

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