2017 Vol. 38, No. 4

Full issue
Review
Epilepsy, characterized by spontaneous recurrent seizures (SRS), is a serious and common neurological disorder afflicting an estimated 1% of the population worldwide. Animal experiments, especially those utilizing small laboratory rodents, remain essential to understanding the fundamental mechanisms underlying epilepsy and to prevent, diagnose, and treat this disease. While much attention has been focused on epileptogenesis in animal models of epilepsy, there is little discussion on SRS, the hallmark of epilepsy. This is in part due to the technical difficulties of rigorous SRS detection. In this review, we comprehensively summarize both genetic and acquired models of SRS and discuss the methodology used to monitor and detect SRS in mice and rats.
Article
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common skin cancer worldwide, with incidence rates continuing to increase. Ultraviolet radiation is the major environmental risk factor and dysregulation of the Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway has been identified in most BCCs. The treatment of locally advanced and metastatic BBCs is still a challenge and requires a better animal model than the widely used rodents for drug development and testing. Chinese tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri chinensis) are closely related to primates, bearing many physiological and biochemical advantages over rodents for characterizing human diseases. Here, we successfully established a Chinese tree shrew BCC model by infecting tail skins with lentiviral SmoA1, an active form of Smoothened (Smo) used to constitutively activate the Hh signaling pathway. The pathological characteristics were verified by immunohistochemical analysis. Interestingly, BCC progress was greatly enhanced by the combined usage of lentiviral SmoA1 and shRNA targeting Chinese tree shrew p53. This work provides a useful animal model for further BCC studies and future drug discoveries.
Reports
During the regeneration of the tail in the arboreal New Zealand gecko (Hoplodactylus maculatus) a new set of tail scales, modified into pads bearing setae 5-20 μm long, is also regenerated. Stages of the formation of these specialized scales from epidermal pegs that invaginate the dermis of the regenerating tail are described on the basis of light and electron microscopic images. Within the pegs a differentiating clear layer interfaces with the spinulae and setae of the Oberhäutchen according to a process similar to that described for the digital pads. A layer of clear cytoplasm surrounds the growing tiny setae and eventually cornifies around them and their spatular ends, later leaving the new setae freestanding on the epidermal surface. The fresh adhesive pads help the gecko to maintain the prehensile function of its regenerated tail as together with the axial skeleton (made of a cylinder of elastic cartilage) the pads allow the regenerated tail to curl around twigs and small branches just like the original tail. The regeneration of caudal adhesive pads represents an ideal system to study the cellular processes that determine setal formation under normal or experimental manipulation as the progressive phases of the formation of the setae can be sequentially analyzed.
In the human the peptide Humanin is produced from the small Humanin gene which is embedded as a gene-within-a-gene in the 16S ribosomal molecule of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). The peptide itself appears to be significant in the prevention of cell death in many tissues and improve cognition in animal models. By using simple data mining techniques, it is possible to show that 99.4% of the human Humanin sequences in the GenBank database are unaffected by mutations. However, in other vertebrates, pseudogenization of the Humanin gene is a common feature; occurring apparently randomly in some species and not others. The persistence, or loss, of a functional Humanin gene may be an important factor in laboratory animals, especially if they are being used as animal models in studies of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The exact reason why Humanin underwent pseudogenization in some vertebrate species during their evolution remains to be determined. This study was originally planned to review the available information about Humanin and it was a surprise to be able to show that pseudogenization has occurred in a gene in the mtDNA and is not restricted solely to chromosomal genes.
Letter to the editor
The distribution of the capped langur (Trachypithecus pileatus) in China has become controversial since Shortridge’s langur (Trachypithecus shortridgei) was upgraded to a full species. The capped langur is considered to be distributed in northeast India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and northwest Myanmar only (Brandon-Jones et al., 2004; Choudhury, 2008, 2014; Das et al., 2008; Groves, 2001). In our field survey, however, we obtained photos of the capped langur, demonstrating its existence in China.
The sun bear, Helarctos malayanus (Raffles, 1821), is a forest-dependent bear species distributed in tropical Southeast Asia. The species was previously reported from scattered localities in southwestern China, which is at the northeastern edge of its global range. Due to the scarcity of reliable recent records, some authorities cast doubt on the continued existence of sun bear in China. Here we present the rediscovery of this species in Yingjiang County, western Yunnan Province, China, near the international border with Myanmar’s Kachin State.
In this study, we sequenced the complete mitochondrial DNA genome (mitogenome) of the Zhengyang Yellow chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) by next-generation sequencing technology. Samples were taken from Zhumadian city, Henan Province, China. The complete mitogenome was 16 785 bp in size, and had a nucleotide composition of 30.3% (A), 23.7% (T), 32.5% (C), and 13.5% (G), with a high AT content of 54.0%. The assembled mitogenome exhibited typical mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) structure, including a non-coding control region, two rRNA genes, 13 protein-coding genes, and 22 tRNA genes. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that this mitogenome defined a novel sub-haplogroup B3 within haplogroup B. These results should provide essential information for chicken domestication and insight into the evolution of genomes.