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Berlin, Germany

The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany is one of the sixteen research centers of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. Wikipedia.

Introducing human genes into mice offers the opportunity to analyze their in vivo function or to obtain therapeutic molecules. For proper gene regulation, or in case of multigene families, megabase (Mb)-sized DNA fragments often have to be used. Yeast artificial chromosome (YAC)-mediated transgenesis is irreplaceable for this purpose, because alternative methods such as the use of bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) cannot introduce DNA fragments larger than 500 kb into the mouse germ line. However, YAC libraries often contain only partial gene loci. Time-consuming reconstruction of YACs, genetic instability and the difficulty in obtaining intact YAC DNA above a certain size impede the generation of humanized mice. Here we describe how to reconstruct YACs containing Mb-sized human DNA, such as the T cell receptor-α (TRA) gene locus, thus facilitating the introduction of large DNA fragments into the mouse germ line. Fusion of YAC-containing yeast and embryonic stem (ES) cells avoids the need for YAC DNA purification. These ES cells are then used to stably introduce the functional TRA gene locus into the mouse germ line. The protocol takes ∼1 year to complete, from reconstruction of the entire TRA gene locus from YACs containing partial but overlapping TRA regions to germline transmission of the YAC. Source

Heuberger J.,Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine
Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology

The epithelial-mesenchymal transition is essential in both embryonic development and the progression of carcinomas. Wnt signaling and cadherin-mediated adhesion have been implicated in both processes; clarifying their role will depend on linking them to rearrangements of cellular structure and behavior. beta-Catenin is an essential molecule both in cadherin-mediated cell adhesion and in canonical Wnt signaling. Numerous experiments have shown that the loss of cadherin-mediated cell adhesion can promote beta-catenin release and signaling; this is accomplished by proteases, protein kinases and other molecules. Cadherin loss can also signal to several other regulatory pathways. Additionally, many target genes of Wnt signaling influence cadherin adhesion. The most conspicuous of these Wnt target genes encode the transcription factors Twist and Slug, which directly inhibit the E-cadherin gene promoter. Other Wnt/beta-catenin target genes encode metalloproteases or the cell adhesion molecule L1, which favor the degradation of E-cadherin. These factors provide a mechanism whereby cadherin loss and increased Wnt signaling induce epithelial-mesenchymal transition in both carcinomas and development. Source

In current clinical practice, T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is commonly applied to quantify the accumulated multiple sclerosis (MS)lesion load, whereas T1-weighted sequences are used to differentiate edema, blood-brain barrier breakdown by contrast enhancement, and irreversible brain tissue damage(commonly called " black holes" owing to the loss of signal intensity in T1-weighted sequences). Black holes are histopathologically associated with axonal loss and severe tissue destruction. In addition, double inversion recovery techniques were developed to improve the sensitivity to cortical lesions. To demonstrate the potential of ultrahigh-field 3-dimensional T1-weighted imaging using magnetization-prepared rapid acquisition and multiple gradient echoes(MPRAGE) to detect and characterize white and gray matter pathology in MS. Comparative study. The patients with MS were recruited from the outpatient clinics of the Neuro Cure Clinical Research Center and underwent 7-T brain MRI at the Berlin Ultrahigh Field Facility, both of which are in Berlin, Germany. Twenty patients with relapsing-remitting MS and 14 healthy controls underwent 7-T brain MRI, using a 24-channel receive head coil, and a subgroup of 18 patients with relapsing-remitting MS also underwent 1.5-T brain MRI. The imaging protocol included 2-dimensional T2-weighted fast low-angle shot (FLASH) and turbo inversion recovery magnitude (TIRM) sequences. For 3-dimensional T1-weighted imaging, the MPRAGE sequence was used. Each sequence was initially examined independently in separate analyses by an investigator blinded to all other data. In a second study, all detected lesions were retrospectively analyzed in a side-by-side comparison of all sequences. By use of 7-T T2-weighted FLASH imaging, 604 cerebral lesions were detected in the patients with relapsing-remitting MS (mean, 30.2 lesions per patient[range, 2-107 lesions per patient]), but none were detected in healthy controls. Cortical pathology was visible in 10 patients (6 cortical lesions and 37 leukocortical lesions). Within the 7-T acquisitions, each lesion detected at T2-weighted sequences and/or double inversion recovery sequences was also clearly delineated on corresponding MPRAGE sequences in side-by-side analysis.However, at 1.5 T, the MPRAGE images depicted only 452 of 561 lesions visualized in T2-weighted sequences and/or double inversion recovery sequences. In contrast,when analyzing each sequence separately, we found that the 7-T MPRAGE depicted more lesions than the 7-TFLASH (728 lesions vs 584 lesions), and almost twice as many as the 1.5-T MPRAGE (399 lesions). The 7-TMPRAGE also improved the detection of cortical and leukocortical lesions (15 lesions vs 58 lesions). At ultrahigh-field strength, T1-weighted MPRAGE is highly sensitive in detecting MS plaques within the white and the gray brain parenchyma. Our results indicate structural damage beyond demyelination in every lesion depicted, which is in accordance with postmortem histopathological studies. The 7-T MPRAGE clearly delineated every cortical lesion that was visualized by any other MRI sequence at 1.5 or 7 T. Source

In addition to endocytosis-mediated cellular uptake, hydrophilic cell-penetrating peptides are able to traverse biological membranes in a non-endocytic mode termed transduction, resulting in immediate bioavailability. Here we analysed structural requirements for the non-endocytic uptake mode of arginine-rich cell-penetrating peptides, by a combination of live-cell microscopy, molecular dynamics simulations and analytical ultracentrifugation. We demonstrate that the transduction efficiency of arginine-rich peptides increases with higher peptide structural rigidity. Consequently, cyclic arginine-rich cell-penetrating peptides showed enhanced cellular uptake kinetics relative to their linear and more flexible counterpart. We propose that guanidinium groups are forced into maximally distant positions by cyclization. This orientation increases membrane contacts leading to enhanced cell penetration. Source

Grossmann K.S.,Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine
Advances in cancer research

Deregulation of signaling pathways, through mutation or other molecular changes, can ultimately result in disease. The tyrosine phosphatase Shp2 has emerged as a major regulator of receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) and cytokine receptor signaling. In the last decade, germline mutations in the human PTPN11 gene, encoding Shp2, were linked to Noonan (NS) and LEOPARD syndromes, two multisymptomatic developmental disorders that are characterized by short stature, craniofacial defects, cardiac defects, and mental retardation. Somatic Shp2 mutations are also associated with several types of human malignancies, such as the most common juvenile leukemia, juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML). Whereas NS and JMML are caused by gain-of-function (GOF) mutations of Shp2, loss-of-function (LOF) mutations are thought to be associated with LEOPARD syndrome. Animal models that carry conditional LOF and GOF mutations have allowed a better understanding of the mechanism of Shp2 function in disease, and shed light on the role of Shp2 in signaling pathways that control decisive events during embryonic development or during cellular transformation/tumorigenesis. Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Source

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