2010 Vol. 31, No. 1

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Many animals produced a diversity of venoms and secretions to adapt the changes of environments through the long history of evolution. The components including a large quantity of specific and highly active peptides and proteins have become good research models for protein structure-function and also served as tools and novel clues for illustration of human disease mechanisms. At the same time, they are rich natural resources for new drug development. Through the valuable venomous animal resources of China, researchers at the Kunming Institute of Zoology, CAS have carried out animal toxin research over 30 years. This paper reviews the main work conducted on snake venoms, amphibian and insect secretions, and the development from single component to venomics, from biochemical characterization to human disease mechanisms, from crude venom to rational drug design along with a short perspective on future studies.
Trefoil factor (TFF) family is a group of peptides with one or several trefoil factor domains in their structure, which are highly conserved in evolution, and are characterized by heat and enzymatic digestion resistance. The mammalian TFFs have three members(TFF1-3), and the gastrointestinal tract and the airway system are major organs of their expression and secretion. At certain physiological conditions, with a tissue-specific distribution,TFF plays an important role in mucosal protection and wound healing. But in the malignant tissues, TFF is widely expressed,correlated strongly with the genesis, metastasis and invasion of tumor cells. These phenomena indicated that TFF may be a possible common mediator of oncogenic responses to different stimuli. The biological functions of TFF involve complex regulatory processes. Single chain TFF may activate cell membrane receptors and induce specific signaling transduction. On the other hand, TFF can form a complex with other proteins to exert its biological effects. In clinical medicine, TFF is primarily applied as drugs in the mucosal protection, in the prevention and the treatment of mucosal damage-related diseases and as pathological biomarkers of tumors. At present the first hand actions and the molecular mechanisms related to TFFs are still the major challenges in TFF research. Furthermore, the discovery of the naturally occurring complex of TFF and crystallins is highly valuable to the understanding of the biological functions and action mechanisms of TFF.
Insect antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are an important group of insect innate immunity effectors. Insect AMPs are cationic and contain less than 100 amino acid residues. According to structure, insect AMPs can be divided into a limited number of families. The diverse antimicrobial spectrum of insect AMPs may indicate different modes of action. Research on the model organism Drosophila indicate that insect AMPs gene regulation involves multiple signaling pathways and a large number of signaling molecules.
Eukaryotic mitochondrion generally possess a definite and canonical structure and function. However, in the unicellular parasitic protozoa, various atypical mitochondria with respect to the number, structure, and function, have been discovered consecutively, revealing the variability, plasticity and rich diversity of mitochondrion. Here, we review the mitochondrial diversity in diverse parasitic protozoa, and the underlying reason for such diversity — the adaptive evolution of mitochondrion to the micro-oxygen or anaero parasitic environment of these parasites is also analyzed and discussed.
microRNAs (miRNAs) in higher multicellular eukaryotes have been extensively studied in recent years. Great progresses have also been achieved for miRNAs in unicellular eukaryotes. All these studies not only enrich our knowledge about the complex expression regulation system in diverse organisms, but also have evolutionary significance for understanding the origin of this system. In this review, Authors summarize the recent advance in the studies of miRNA in unicellular eukaryotes, including that on the most primitive unicellular eukaryote—Giardia. The origin and evolution of miRNA system is also discussed.
Saccades may play an important role in mental disorders research and diagnosis. Not only can saccade be used to help researchers to acquire the early and specific neuropathological changes, but also be a criterion of new drug development and drug efficacy tests. Abnormalities of saccadic eye movement appear in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and major depressive disorder patients, but difficulties for its applications arise from unclear processes of neuropathological development and individual differences in patients. Establishing nonhuman primates’ model of mental disorders and monitoring saccadic parameters during the model construction will help us to overcome such difficulties.
The study on learning and memory is one of the striking subjects in neuroscience today. In the cerebral cortex, it is has been proved that, the hippocampus, the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampal-prefrontal cortical circuit are important to working memory. In this paper, we review findings of the anatomical and electrophysiological characteristics of the hippocampal-prefrontal cortical circuit and the roles of these three structures in working memory.
Non-human primate models are widely used in research of AIDS mechanism, transmission, vaccine and drugs. Dendritic cells (DC), as antigen presenting cells linking the innate immunity and acquired immunity, play a pivotal role in AIDS progression. Studies on the change of DC subsets number, phenotype and function in AIDS non-human primate models are important for revealing some mechanism of AIDS progression. This article reviews the progress in DC subsets of non-human primate AIDS models, which will provide an avenue for further study in AIDS.
As the HIV/AIDS pandemic continues unabated, novel prophylactic strategy for the spread of HIV are urgently needed. Topical microbicides are designed to prevent transmission of HIV when applied vaginally or rectally. Although there are many microbicide candidates in the pipeline, animal models for evaluating their safety and efficacy are urgently needed. On the basis of comparing the non-primate small animal models and the non-human primate animal models in evaluating safety and efficacy of HIV microbicides, this review summarizes the major advantages and disadvantages of the relevant animal models. The suggested direction of research that would benefit the development of microbicides is also reviewed.
The creatine kinase(CK) cDNA from the mandarin fish Siniperca chuatsi was cloned by RT-PCR and rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE) methods. The structural characteristics and phylogeny of this gene were analyzed. Sequence analysis revealed a 1 586 bp cDNA sequence containing 92 bp 5′-untranslated region, 348 bp 3′-untranslated region and 1146 bp open reading frame (ORF), which encoded 381 amino acids. Conserved sequence blocks of vertebrate CKs and diagnostic boxes for the muscle CK(M-CK) isozyme were identified in S. chuatsi CK. Siniperca chuatsi CK showed a higher similarity with vertebrates M-CK isozyme than other CK isozymes (Brain CK, Mitochondrial CKs) and grouped with M-CK isozyme in CK phylogeny, which strongly supported that S. chuatsi CK belongs to M-CK isozyme type. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR analysis demonstrated that the M-CK transcript expression varied among the different tissues and was detected at a high level in skin, ovary, kidney, stomach, muscle and heart, but lower in eye, brain and liver.
Based on the online bioinformatics analysis and alignment results, three RNAi sequences target to the Mus musculus Bicc1 gene were obtained. The three interference fragments were synthesized and cloned into pRS-Hush shRNA Vector. The Bicc1 eukaryotic expression vector pEGFP-C3-Bicc1 was constructed, tagging the GFP to the N-terminal of the Bicc1 protein. The pEGFP-C3-Bicc1 and three pRS-Hush-RNAi were co-transfected into the cultured HEK-293 cells line, respectively. The two RNAi (pRS-Hush-RNAi-Bicc1-N/-C) that could knock-down the Bicc1 expression levels in HEK-293cells significantly were confirmed by cell immunofluorescent staining, semi-quantitative PCR and Western blotting. The results demonstrate that we have successfully obtained two efficent Bicc1 RNAi sequences, which lays a foundation for further studying on the construction of Bicc1 knock-down stable cell lines and biological function of mouse Bicc1 product.
Interleukin-1β(IL-1β) is an important porinflammatory cytokine that exert wide biological functions in the central nervous system (CNS). Voltage-gated Ca2+ channels in plasma membrane are essential components of Ca2+ signal whose change on pathological conditions is closely related to processes of diseases. Although both IL-1βand Ca2+ channels have key roles in injury and disease of the brain, so far their relations have been reported in few studies. The effects of IL-1βon Ca2+ channels in cultured cortical neurons of rats were investigated using patch-clamp recording in present research. Our results showed that both 10 and 50 ng/mL of IL-1βtreatment inhibit the Ca2+ currents in time and dose dependent manner, without the change of activation properties of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels (VGCC)s.
A diagram of motor neuron pool of ventral horn of spinal cord gray matter in toad was first delineated. Different concentrations (1,0.5,0.1,0.01 mol/L) of excitatory amino acid L-Glu or physiological saline (0.65% NaCl) were then microinjected into the motor neuron pool in a urethane-anaesthetized toad. The contraction curve of the gastrocnemius was then recorded by the BL-420 Physiological Signal Recording. We took the maximal tension, the duration of rising phase, the velocity of tension variation, and the duration of descending phase as the parameters to study the characteristic of gastrocnemius contractility. It was found that the gastrocnemius contractility of all the 4 groups was tetanus but differed in degree, especially the maximal tension, and velocity of tension variation. In contrast to physiological saline, gastrocnemius contracted by the stimulation of L-Glu, and the contraction parameter showed dose-effect relationships except for the duration of descending phase, which was caused by the combination rate of L-Glu and the receptor.
Based on the data acquired within the Zhoushan fishing ground and its adjacent area (29°30′ −31°30′ N, 121°30′ −124°30′ E), species composition, abundance, and species diversity of zooplankton were sampled by plankton net (50 cm mouth-diameter, 145 cm net length, 0.505 mm mesh-aperture) during August 2006. The results identified 93 species (exclude Larvae) from the samples, among which Copepods were the most diverse with 50 species. According to the standard of IRI (the species with IRI above 0.02 were regarded as dominant species in this paper), there were 12 dominant species: Euchaeta concinna, Dolioletta gegenbauri, Sagitta enflata, Sagitta bedoti, Calanus sinicus, Undinula vulgaris, Canthocalanus paupe, Macruran larvae, Diphyes chamissoni, Centropages dorsispinatus, Evadne tergestina, Acartia pacifica. The stations of high abundance were mainly in the southern part and oceanic sea, and low in the northern and near shore waters. Zooplankton in the Zhoushan fishing ground and its adjacent area exhibited high in evenness (0.70), high species number and high diversity indices (4.98). By hierarchical cluster analysis and non-metric multidimensional scaling (MDS) assisted analyzing, zooplankton in Zhoushan fishing ground and its adjacent area could be formed into three assemblages joining at a distance of 17.13%. The biota-environment matching (BIOENV) analysis showed that the abundance of zooplankton was correlated closely not only to salinity, nitrate, silicate, but also to the Cd and Pb.
China; Yunnan; Avian; New record; Anthreptes malacensis