2013 Vol. 34, No. E3

Display Method:
Bitter taste reception is presumably associated with dietary selection, preventing animals from ingesting potentially harmful compounds. Accordingly, carnivores, who encounter these toxic substances less often, should have fewer genes associated with bitter taste reception compared with herbivores and omnivores. To investigate the genetic basis of bitter taste reception, we confirmed bitter taste receptor (T2R) genes previously found in the genome sequences of two herbivores (cow and horse), two omnivores (mouse and rat) and one carnivore (dog). We also identified, for the first time, the T2R repertoire from the genome of other four carnivore species (ferret, giant panda, polar bear and cat) and detected 17-20 bitter receptor genes from the five carnivore genomes, including 12-16 intact genes, 0-1 partial but putatively functional genes, and 3-8 pseudogenes. Both the intact T2R genes and the total T2R gene number among carnivores were the smallest among the tested species, supporting earlier speculations that carnivores have fewer T2R genes, herbivores an intermediate number, and omnivores the largest T2R gene repertoire. To further explain the genetic basis for this disparity, we constructed a phylogenetic tree, which showed most of the T2R genes from the five carnivores were one-to-one orthologs across the tree, suggesting that carnivore T2Rs were conserved among mammals. Similarly, the small carnivore T2R family size was likely due to rare duplication events. Collectively, these results strengthen arguments for the connection between T2R gene family size, diet and habit.
Mostly fed with grass in fresh or conserved form, cattle and other livestock have to cope with silicate defence bodies from plants (phytoliths) and environmental silicates (grit), which abrade tooth enamel and could additionally interact with various salivary proteins. To detect potential candidates for silicate-binding proteins, bovine whole saliva was incubated with grass-derived phytoliths and silicates. Interactions of salivary proteins with pulverized bovine dental enamel and dentine were additionally analysed. After intense washing, the powder fractions were loaded onto 1D-polyacrylamide gels, most prominent adhesive protein bands were cut out and proteins were identified by mass spectrometry within three independent replicates. All materials were mainly bound by bovine odorant-binding protein, bovine salivary protein 30×103 and carbonic anhydrase VI. The phytolith/silicate fraction showed additional stronger interaction with haemoglobin β and lactoperoxidase. Conceivably, the binding of these proteins to the surfaces may contribute to biological processes occurring on them.
Floped (official name Ooep) is specifically and abundantly expressed in mouse oocytes and embryonic stem cells (ESCs). Depletion of Floped from oocytes leads to early embryonic arrest at the 2-cell stage. Although crucial in cleavage stage development, its roles in early embryos as well as in ESCs remain completely unknown. Here, we compared the efficiency of mouse ESC derivation from inner cell mass (ICM) with and without Floped to study its possible roles in mESCs. Derivation rates of mESC from wild-type, heterozygous, and homozygous blastocysts were 33.3%, 21.43%, and 3.85%, respectively, indicating that Floped-/- blastocysts had significantly decreased derivation rates. Respective outgrowth appearing rate five days after blastocyst attachment were 83.3%, 85.7%, and 15.4%. Morphologically, the outgrowth of ICM from Floped-/- blastocysts appeared severely death three to five days after blastocyst attachment, and the respective derived stem cells showed long-term instability with long-standing epithelial-like colonies. This result suggests a possible role of Floped in the course of ICM-ESCs transition.
Chronic ingestion of high concentrations of hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] in drinking water induces intestinal tumors in mice; however, information on its toxicity on intestinal smooth muscle cells is limited. The present study aimed to assess the in vitro and in vivo toxicological effects of Cr(VI) on intestinal smooth muscle cells. Human intestinal smooth muscle cells (HISM cells) were cultured with different concentrations of Cr(VI) to evaluate effects on cell proliferation ability, oxidative stress levels, and antioxidant system. Furthermore, tissue sections in Cr(VI) exposed rabbits were analyzed to evaluate toxicity on intestinal muscle cells in vivo. Gene chips were utilized to assess differential gene expression profiles at the genome-wide level in 1 μmol/L Cr(VI) treated cells. Intestinal tissue biopsy results showed that Cr(VI) increased the incidences of diffuse epithelial hyperplasia in intestinal jejunum but caused no obvious damage to the structure of the muscularis. Cell proliferation analysis revealed that high concentrations (≥64 μmol/L) but not low concentrations of Cr(VI) (≤16 μmol/L) significantly inhibited the growth of HISM cells. For oxidative stress levels, the expression of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO) was elevated at high concentrations (≥64 μmol/L) but not at low concentrations of Cr(VI) (≤16 μmol/L). In addition, dose-dependent increases in the activity of oxidized glutathione (GSSH)/total-glutathione (T-GSH) were also observed. Gene chip screened 491 differentially expressed genes including genes associated with cell apoptosis, oxidations, and cytoskeletons. Some of these differentially expressed genes may be unique to smooth muscle cells in response to Cr(VI) induction.
The mean firing rate of visual cortical neurons is reduced after prolonged visual stimulation, but the underlying process by which this occurs as well as the biological significance of this phenomenon remains unknown. Computational neuroscience studies indicate that high-frequency bursts in stimulus-driven responses can be transmitted across synapses more reliably than isolated spikes, and thus may carry accurate stimulus-related information. Our research examined whether or not adaptation affects the burst firing property of visual cortical neurons by examining changes in the burst firing changes of V1 neurons during adaptation to the preferred visual stimulus. The results show that adaptation to prolonged visual stimulation significantly decreased burst frequency (bursts/s) and burst length (spikes/burst), but increased burst duration and the interspike interval within bursts. These results suggest that the adaptation of V1 neurons to visual stimulation may result in a decrease of feedforward response gain but an increase of functional activities from lateral and/or feedback connections, which could lead to a reduction in the effectiveness of adapted neurons in transmitting information to its driven neurons.