Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia

Oeiras, Portugal

Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia

Oeiras, Portugal
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Oliveira R.F.,ISPA University | Oliveira R.F.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia
Frontiers in Neural Circuits | Year: 2013

Understanding how the brain implements social behavior on one hand, and how social processes feedback on the brain to promote fine-tuning of behavioural output according to changes in the social environment is a major challenge in contemporary neuroscience. A critical step to take this challenge successfully is finding the appropriate level of analysis when relating social to biological phenomena. Given the enormous complexity of both the neural networks of the brain and social systems, the use of a cognitive level of analysis (in an information processing perspective) is proposed here as an explanatory interface between brain and behavior. A conceptual framework for a cognitive approach to comparative social neuroscience is proposed, consisting of the following steps to be taken across different species with varying social systems: (1) identification of the functional building blocks of social skills; (2) identification of the cognitive mechanisms underlying the previously identified social skills; and (3) mapping these information processing mechanisms onto the brain. Teleost fish are presented here as a group of choice to develop this approach, given the diversity of social systems present in closely related species that allows for planned phylogenetic comparisons, and the availability of neurogenetic tools that allows the visualization and manipulation of selected neural circuits in model species such as the zebrafish. Finally, the state-of-the art of zebrafish social cognition and of the tools available to map social cognitive abilities to neural circuits in zebrafish are reviewed. © 2013 Oliveira.

Jin X.,U.S. National Institutes of Health | Jin X.,Salk Institute for Biological Studies | Tecuapetla F.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia | Costa R.M.,U.S. National Institutes of Health | Costa R.M.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia
Nature Neuroscience | Year: 2014

Chunking allows the brain to efficiently organize memories and actions. Although basal ganglia circuits have been implicated in action chunking, little is known about how individual elements are concatenated into a behavioral sequence at the neural level. Using a task in which mice learned rapid action sequences, we uncovered neuronal activity encoding entire sequences as single actions in basal ganglia circuits. In addition to neurons with activity related to the start/stop activity signaling sequence parsing, we found neurons displaying inhibited or sustained activity throughout the execution of an entire sequence. This sustained activity covaried with the rate of execution of individual sequence elements, consistent with motor concatenation. Direct and indirect pathways of basal ganglia were concomitantly active during sequence initiation, but behaved differently during sequence performance, revealing a more complex functional organization of these circuits than previously postulated. These results have important implications for understanding the functional organization of basal ganglia during the learning and execution of action sequences. © 2014 Nature America, Inc.

Surkont J.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia | Pereira-Leal J.B.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia
Molecular biology and evolution | Year: 2016

A complex endomembrane system is one of the hallmarks of Eukaryotes. Vesicle trafficking between compartments is controlled by a diverse protein repertoire, including Rab GTPases. These small GTP-binding proteins contribute identity and specificity to the system, and by working as molecular switches, trigger multiple events in vesicle budding, transport, and fusion. A diverse collection of Rab GTPases already existed in the ancestral Eukaryote, yet, it is unclear how such elaborate repertoire emerged. A novel archaeal phylum, the Lokiarchaeota, revealed that several eukaryotic-like protein systems, including small GTPases, are present in Archaea. Here, we test the hypothesis that the Rab family of small GTPases predates the origin of Eukaryotes. Our bioinformatic pipeline detected multiple putative Rab-like proteins in several archaeal species. Our analyses revealed the presence and strict conservation of sequence features that distinguish eukaryotic Rabs from other small GTPases (Rab family motifs), mapping to the same regions in the structure as in eukaryotic Rabs. These mediate Rab-specific interactions with regulators of the REP/GDI (Rab Escort Protein/GDP dissociation Inhibitor) family. Sensitive structure-based methods further revealed the existence of REP/GDI-like genes in Archaea, involved in isoprenyl metabolism. Our analysis supports a scenario where Rabs differentiated into an independent family in Archaea, interacting with proteins involved in membrane biogenesis. These results further support the archaeal nature of the eukaryotic ancestor and provide a new insight into the intermediate stages and the evolutionary path toward the complex membrane-associated signaling circuits that characterize the Ras superfamily of small GTPases, and specifically Rab proteins. © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Fonseca R.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia
Neurobiology of Learning and Memory | Year: 2016

Age-related cognitive decline is a major concern in society. Here, I discuss recent evidence that shows an age-related modulation of gene transcription by epigenetic modifications. Epigenetic modifications, such as histone acetylation, is unbalanced in aging, with an increase in histone deacetylation, that limits the expression of plasticity-related genes. By modifying the balance towards histone acetylation, histone deacetylase inhibitors present a new pharmacological approach to ameliorate age-related cognitive deficits. © 2016 Elsevier Inc.

Antunes R.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia | Moita M.A.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia
Journal of Neuroscience | Year: 2010

The auditory system has two parallel streams in the brain that have been implicated in auditory fear learning. The lemniscal stream has selective neurons that are tonotopically organized and is thought to be important for sound discrimination. The nonlemniscal stream has less selective neurons, which are not tonotopically organized, and is thought to be important for multimodal processing and for several forms of learning. Therefore, it has been hypothesized that the lemniscal, but not the nonlemniscal, pathway supports discriminative fear to auditory cues. To test this hypothesis we assessed the effect of electrolytic lesions to the ventral, or medial, division of the medial geniculate nucleus (MGv or MGm, which correspond, respectively, to the lemniscal and the nonlemniscal auditory pathway to amygdala) on the acquisition, expression and extinction of fear responses in discriminative auditory fear conditioning, where one tone is followed by shock (conditioned stimulus, CS +), and another is not (CS-). Here we show that with single-trial conditioning control, MGv- and MGm-lesioned male rats acquire nondiscriminative fear of both the CS+ and the CS-. However, after multiple-trial conditioning, control rats discriminate between the CS+ and CS-, whereas MGv- and MGm-lesioned do not. Furthermore, post-training lesions of MGm, but not MGv, lead to impaired expression of discriminative fear. Finally, MGm-lesioned rats display high levels of freezing to both the CS+ and CS- even after an extinction session to the CS+. In summary, our findings suggest that the lemniscal pathway is important for discriminative learning, whereas the nonlemniscal is important for negatively regulating fear responses. Copyright © 2010 the authors.

Gozzelino R.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia | Jeney V.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia | Soares M.P.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia
Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology | Year: 2010

Heme oxygenases (HO) catabolize free heme, that is, iron (Fe) protoporphyrin (IX), into equimolar amounts of Fe2+, carbon monoxide (CO), and biliverdin. The stress-responsive HO-1 isoenzyme affords protection against programmed cell death. The mechanism underlying this cytoprotective effect relies on the ability of HO-1 to catabolize free heme and prevent it from sensitizing cells to undergo programmed cell death. This cytoprotective effect inhibits the pathogenesis of a variety of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases. Copyright © 2010 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.

Teixeira L.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia
Briefings in Functional Genomics | Year: 2012

Drosophila melanogaster is an established model organism for the study of host-pathogen interactions. The sequencing of its genome allowed the prediction of all the genes encoded in it and, consequently, enabled a more comprehensive view of its immune responses. Whole-genome transcription analyses of Drosophila response to bacteria, fungi, parasitoids and viruses allow a comparison of the response between different classes of microorganisms and between pathogens of the same class. Overall, there is great diversity in the immune responses but there are a few pathways that are frequently activated. These studies provide a better understanding of how the host resists the infection and responds to the associated damage. Moreover, the data give insights into how microorganisms can manipulate their host and successfully establish an infection. © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

Athanasiadis A.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia
Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology | Year: 2012

The involvement of A to I RNA editing in antiviral responses was first indicated by the observation of genomic hyper-mutation for several RNA viruses in the course of persistent infections. However, in only a few cases an antiviral role was ever demonstrated and surprisingly, it turns out that ADARs - the RNA editing enzymes - may have a prominent pro-viral role through the modulation/down-regulation of the interferon response. A key role in this regulatory function of RNA editing is played by ADAR1, an interferon inducible RNA editing enzyme. A distinguishing feature of ADAR1, when compared with other ADARs, is the presence of a Z-DNA binding domain, Zalpha. Since the initial discovery of the specific and high affinity binding of Zalpha to CpG repeats in a left-handed helical conformation, other proteins, all related to the interferon response pathway, were shown to have similar domains throughout the vertebrate lineage. What is the biological function of this domain family remains unclear but a significant body of work provides pieces of a puzzle that points to an important role of Zalpha domains in the recognition of foreign nucleic acids in the cytoplasm by the innate immune system. Here we will provide an overview of our knowledge on ADAR1 function in interferon response with emphasis on Zalpha domains. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Gomes M.G.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2012

Recurrent episodes of tuberculosis (TB) can be due to relapse of latent infection or exogenous reinfection, and discrimination is crucial for control planning. Molecular genotyping of Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates offers concrete opportunities to measure the relative contribution of reinfection in recurrent disease. Here, a mathematical model of TB transmission is fitted to data from 14 molecular epidemiology studies, enabling the estimation of relevant epidemiological parameters. Meta-analysis reveals that rates of reinfection after successful treatment are higher than rates of new TB, raising an important question about the underlying mechanism. We formulate two alternative mechanisms within our model framework: (i) infection increases susceptibility to reinfection or (ii) infection affects individuals differentially, thereby recruiting high-risk individuals to the group at risk for reinfection. The second mechanism is better supported by the fittings to the data, suggesting that reinfection rates are inflated through a population phenomenon that occurs in the presence of heterogeneity in individual risk of infection. As a result, rates of reinfection are higher when measured at the population level even though they might be lower at the individual level. Finally, differential host recruitment is modulated by transmission intensity, being less pronounced when incidence is high.

Baena-Gonzalez E.,Instituto Gulbenkian Of Ciencia
Molecular Plant | Year: 2010

Maintenance of homeostasis is pivotal to all forms of life. In the case of plants, homeostasis is constantly threatened by the inability to escape environmental fluctuations, and therefore sensitive mechanisms must have evolved to allow rapid perception of environmental cues and concomitant modification of growth and developmental patterns for adaptation and survival. Re-establishment of homeostasis in response to environmental perturbations requires reprogramming of metabolism and gene expression to shunt energy sources from growth-related biosynthetic processes to defense, acclimation, and, ultimately, adaptation. Failure to mount an initial 'emergency' response may result in nutrient deprivation and irreversible senescence and cell death. Early signaling events largely determine the capacity of plants to orchestrate a successful adaptive response. Early events, on the other hand, are likely to be shared by different conditions through the generation of similar signals and before more specific responses are elaborated. Recent studies lend credence to this hypothesis, underpinning the importance of a shared energy signal in the transcriptional response to various types of stress. Energy deficiency is associated with most environmental perturbations due to their direct or indirect deleterious impact on photosynthesis and/or respiration. Several systems are known to have evolved for monitoring the available resources and triggering metabolic, growth, and developmental decisions accordingly. In doing so, energy-sensing systems regulate gene expression at multiple levels to allow flexibility in the diversity and the kinetics of the stress response.

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