Skip to Content

Instrukcja korzystania z Biblioteki

Serwisy:

Ukryty Internet | Wyszukiwarki specjalistyczne tekstów i źródeł naukowych | Translatory online | Encyklopedie i słowniki online

Translator:

Kosmos
Astronomia Astrofizyka
Inne

Kultura
Sztuka dawna i współczesna, muzea i kolekcje

Metoda
Metodologia nauk, Matematyka, Filozofia, Miary i wagi, Pomiary

Materia
Substancje, reakcje, energia
Fizyka, chemia i inżynieria materiałowa

Człowiek
Antropologia kulturowa Socjologia Psychologia Zdrowie i medycyna

Wizje
Przewidywania Kosmologia Religie Ideologia Polityka

Ziemia
Geologia, geofizyka, geochemia, środowisko przyrodnicze

Życie
Biologia, biologia molekularna i genetyka

Cyberprzestrzeń
Technologia cyberprzestrzeni, cyberkultura, media i komunikacja

Działalność
Wiadomości | Gospodarka, biznes, zarządzanie, ekonomia

Technologie
Budownictwo, energetyka, transport, wytwarzanie, technologie informacyjne

Czasopisma z MDPI

Wydawnictwo MDPI publikuje czasopisma Open Access.

The first key point to the successful pollination and fertilization in plants is the pollen-pistil interaction, referring to the cellular and molecular levels, which mainly involve the haploid pollen and the diploid pistil. The process is defined as “siphonogamy”, which starts from the capture of pollen by the epidermis of stigma and ends up with the fusion of sperm with egg. So far, the studies of the pollen-pistil interaction have been explicated around the self-compatibility and self-incompatibility (SI) process in different species from the molecular genetics and biochemistry to cellular and signal levels, especially the mechanism of SI system. Among them, numerous proteomics studies based on the advanced technologies from gel-system to gel-free system were conducted, focusing on the interaction, in order to uncover the mechanism of the process. The current review mainly focuses on the recent developments in proteomics of pollen-pistil interaction from two aspects: self-incompatible and compatible pollination. It might provide a comprehensive insight on the proteins that were involved in the regulation of pollen-pistil interaction.

http://www.mdpi.com/2227-7382/2/4/468 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Overweight and obesity are major problems in today’s society, driving the prevalence of diabetes and its related complications. It is important to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the chronic complications in diabetes in order to develop better therapeutic approaches for these conditions. Some of the most important complications include macrovascular abnormalities, e.g., heart disease and atherosclerosis, and microvascular abnormalities, e.g., retinopathy, nephropathy and neuropathy, in particular diabetic foot ulceration. The highly conserved endogenous small non-coding RNA molecules, the micro RNAs (miRNAs) have in recent years been found to be involved in a number of biological processes, including the pathogenesis of disease. Their main function is to regulate post-transcriptional gene expression by binding to their target messenger RNAs (mRNAs), leading to mRNA degradation, suppression of translation or even gene activation. These molecules are promising therapeutic targets and demonstrate great potential as diagnostic biomarkers for disease. This review aims to describe the most recent findings regarding the important roles of miRNAs in diabetes and its complications, with special attention given to the different phases of diabetic wound healing.

http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4425/5/4/926 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Quantitative and qualitative characterization of fluorinated molecules represents an important task. Fluorine-based medicinal chemistry is a fast-growing research area due to the positive impact of fluorine in drug discovery, and clinical and molecular imaging (e.g., magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography). Common detection methods include fluorinated-based labelling using radioactive isotopes or fluorescent dyes. Nevertheless, these molecular imaging methods can be harmful for health due to the potential instability of fluorochromes and cytoxicity of radioisotopes. Therefore, these methods often require expensive precautionary measures. In this context, we have developed, validated and patented carbon-fluorine spectroscopy (CFS™), recently renamed Spectro-Fluor™ technology, which among a non-competitive family of in-house made devices called PLIRFA™ (Pulsed Laser Isochronic Raman and Fluorescence Apparatus™), allows reliable detection of Carbon-Fluorine (C-F) bonds. C-F bonds are known to be stable and safe labels once incorporated to any type of molecules, cells, compounds or (nano-) materials. In this pioneered research study, we used Spectro-Fluor™ to assess biomarkers. As a proof-of-principle experiment, we have established a three-step protocol intended to rapid protein detection, which simply consisted of: (i) incorporating a sufficient concentration of an aromatic amino-acid (fluorinated versus non-fluorinated) into cultured cells; (ii) simultaneously isolating the fluorinated protein of interest and the non-fluorinated form of the protein (control) by immune-precipitation; (iii) comparatively analyzing the respective spectrum obtained for the two protein forms by Spectro-Fluor™. Thereby, we were able to differentiate, from colon cancer cells HCT-116, the fluorinated and non-fluorinated forms of p21, a key transcriptional factor and downstream target of p53, the so-called “guardian of the genome”. Taken together, our data again demonstrates the beneficial alternative use of Spectro-Fluor™, which once combined with an innovative methodology permits one to quickly, reliably, safely and cost-effectively detect physiological or pathological proteins in cells.

http://www.mdpi.com/2075-4418/4/4/140 2014/10/04 - 12:22

A team of astronomers has recently reported an anomalous retrograde precession of the perihelion of Saturn amounting  to ∆ω˙ SATURN =  −0.006(2) arcsec per century (arcsec cy−1). This unexplained precession was obtained after taking into account all classical and relativistic effects in the context of the highly refined EPM2008 ephemerides. More recent analyzes have not confirmed this effect, but they have found similar discrepancies in other planets. Our objective in this paper is to discuss a non-standard model involving transversal gravitomagnetism generated by the Sun as a possible source of these anomalies. In order to compute the Lense–Thirring perturbations induced by the suggested interaction, we should consider the orientation of the Sun’s rotational axis in Carrington elements and the inclination of the planetary orbits with respect to the ecliptic plane. We find that an extra component of the gravitomagnetic field not predicted by General Relativity could explain the reported anomalies without conflicting with the Gravity Probe B experiment and the orbits of the geodynamics satellites.

http://www.mdpi.com/2075-4434/2/4/466 2014/10/04 - 12:22

This literature review examines the changing roles of ethnic enclaves, the question of their authenticity, and their value as commodified spaces, giving special attention to Little Italy neighborhoods in the United States. Understanding the roles of ethnic enclaves requires some understanding about immigrants’ identities. For some theorists, immigrants become blended into society over the course of generations; for other theorists, descendants of immigrants sometimes retain their cultural heritage and traits, helping form a multicultural or pluralist society. In the traditional sense, ethnic enclaves consist of both ethnic residents and ethnic businesses (such as restaurants, shops, and grocers). One way that ethnic enclaves change is when the area experiences a demographic shift, and people from outside the ethnic group move their residences and businesses to the neighborhood, resulting in the area becoming diversified in people and businesses. A second way that an ethnic enclave changes is when the ethnic group shrinks, but the shops and other businesses remain, resulting in the area becoming diversified in residents but not businesses. This latter situation may encourage commodification of the neighborhood’s ethnic identity, where a municipality or business association seeks to preserve an enclave’s ethnic reputation for tourism purposes. This commodification has implications for many individuals and groups within the enclave as well as outside of it.

http://www.mdpi.com/2076-328X/4/4/341 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Monitoring volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from exhaled breath has been used to determine exposures of humans to chemicals. Prior to analysis of VOCs, breath samples are often collected with canisters or bags and concentrated. The Bio-VOC breath sampler, a commercial sampling device, has been recently introduced to the market with growing use. The main advantage for this sampler is to collect the last portion of exhaled breath, which is more likely to represent the air deep in the lungs. However, information about the Bio-VOC sampler is somewhat limited. Therefore, we have thoroughly evaluated the sampler here. We determined the volume of the breath air collected in the sampler was approximately 88 mL. When sampling was repeated multiple times, with the succeeding exhalations applied to a single sorbent tube, we observed linear relationships between the normalized peak intensity and the number of repeated collections with the sampler in many of the breath VOCs detected. No moisture effect was observed on the Tenax sorbent tubes used. However, due to the limitation in the collection volume, the use of the Bio-VOC sampler is recommended only for detection of VOCs present at high concentrations unless repeated collections of breath samples on the sampler are conducted.

http://www.mdpi.com/2218-1989/4/4/879 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Cotton is and has been a large cash crop in the United States and abroad for many years. Part of the widespread interest and utility of this product is due to its attractive chemical and physical properties for use in textiles. The textile industry could benefit from the presentation of a quick, reliable method to classify U.S. from foreign cottons so that the appropriate tariffs can be levied for non-American cottons. In addition, there is some interest in avoiding cotton identity theft. Thus, an accurate and precise instrumental method would be of interest to correctly identify the country of origin of cotton. This study provides an analytical method to identify domestic and foreign cotton fibers using near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy coupled with principal component analysis (PCA). Samples from American cottons were evaluated along with a representative amount of international samples. The results provide a proof of concept that indicates that PCA analysis can be used to separate the respective domestic and foreign cotton groups.

http://www.mdpi.com/2079-6439/2/4/264 2014/10/04 - 12:22

We analytically calculate some orbital effects induced by the Lorentz-invariance/ momentum-conservation   parameterized   post-Newtonian (PPN)  parameter α3 in   a gravitationally bound binary system made of a primary orbited by a test particle.  We neither restrict ourselves to any particular orbital configuration nor to specific orientations of the primary’s spin axis ψˆ.  We use our results to put preliminary  upper bounds on α3 in the weak-field regime by using the latest data from Solar System’s planetary dynamics. By linearly combining the supplementary perihelion  precessions ∆ϖ  of the Earth, Mars and Saturn, determined by astronomers with the Ephemerides of Planets and the Moon (EPM) 2011 ephemerides for the general relativistic  values of the PPN parameters β = γ = 1, we infer |\lesssim α3 |ß 6 × 10−10.   Our result is about three orders of magnitude better than the previous weak-field  constraints existing  in the literature and of the same  order of magnitude of the constraint expected from the future BepiColombo mission to Mercury. It is, by construction, independent of the other preferred-frame PPN parameters α1, α2, both preliminarily constrained down to a ≈ 10−6 level. Future analyses should be performed by explicitly including α3 and a selection  of other PPN parameters in the models fitted by the astronomers to the observations and estimating them in dedicated covariance analyses.

http://www.mdpi.com/2075-4434/2/4/482 2014/10/04 - 12:22

A high-temperature pressure sensor realized by the post-fire metallization on zirconia ceramic is presented. The pressure signal can be read out wirelessly through the magnetic coupling between the reader antenna and the sensor due to that the sensor is equivalent to an inductive-capacitive (LC) resonance circuit which has a pressure-sensitive resonance frequency. Considering the excellent mechanical properties in high-temperature environment, multilayered zirconia ceramic tapes were used to fabricate the pressure-sensitive structure. Owing to its low resistivity, sliver paste was chosen to form the electrical circuit via post-fire metallization, thereby enhancing the quality factor compared to sensors fabricated by cofiring with a high-melting-point metal such as platinum, tungsten or manganese. The design, fabrication, and experiments are demonstrated and discussed in detail. Experimental results showed that the sensor can operate at 600 °C with quite good coupling. Furthermore, the average sensitivity is as high as 790 kHz/bar within the measurement range between 0 and 1 Bar.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-666X/5/4/814 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Network transformations are the techniques to obtain new functional schemes from available circuits. They are systematic methodologies, since each transformation technique can be applied to many circuits to obtain the desired functions or characteristics. A convenient network transformation method, exploiting different circuit transformations, for deriving linear sinusoidal oscillators from biquadratic band pass filters is proposed. This method with generality can be applied to any band pass filter. The oscillation frequency of the new obtained oscillator is identical to the center frequency of the original band pass filter, and the useful properties of the selected band pass filter can be retained. Two examples are illustrated to confirm the feasibility of the proposed approach. The workability of the obtained oscillators is verified with PSPICE simulations.

http://www.mdpi.com/2076-3417/4/4/482 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Design and assessment activities associated with a biopharmaceutical process are performed at different levels of detail, based on the stage of development that the product is in. Preliminary “back-of-the envelope” assessments are performed early in the development lifecycle, whereas detailed design and evaluation are performed prior to the construction of a new facility. Both the preliminary and detailed design of integrated biopharmaceutical processes can be greatly assisted by the use of process simulators, discrete event simulators or finite capacity scheduling tools. This report describes the use of such tools for bioprocess development, design, and manufacturing. The report is divided into three sections. Section One provides introductory information and explains the purpose of bioprocess simulation. Section Two focuses on the detailed modeling of a single batch bioprocess that represents the manufacturing of a therapeutic monoclonal antibody (MAb). This type of analysis is typically performed by engineers engaged in the development and optimization of such processes. Section Three focuses on production planning and scheduling models for multiproduct plants.

http://www.mdpi.com/2306-5354/1/4/154 2014/10/04 - 12:22

In the pursuit towards attaining sustainability, arrays of greener pathways are being carved to address the needs of the diverse chemical universe. [...]

http://www.mdpi.com/2076-3417/4/4/493 2014/10/04 - 12:22

In this review article, we discuss the current state of computational modelling of the nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-ΚB) signalling pathway. NF-ΚB is a transcription factor, which is ubiquitous within cells and controls a number of immune responses, including inflammation and apoptosis. The NF-ΚB signalling pathway is tightly regulated, commencing with activation at the cell membrane, signal transduction through various components within the cytoplasm, translocation of NF-ΚB into the nucleus and, finally, the transcription of various genes relating to the innate and adaptive immune responses. There have been a number of computational (mathematical) models developed of the signalling pathway over the past decade. This review describes how these approaches have helped advance our understanding of NF-ΚB control.

http://www.mdpi.com/2079-3197/2/4/131 2014/10/04 - 12:22

CD8 T-cells are critical  in controlling infection by intracellular  pathogens. Upon encountering antigen presenting cells, T-cell receptor activation promotes the differentiation of naïve CD8 T-cells into strongly proliferating  activated and effector stages. We propose a 2D-multiscale computational model to study the maturation of CD8 T-cells in a lymph node controlled by their molecular profile. A novel molecular pathway is presented and converted into an ordinary differential  equation model, coupled with a cellular Potts model to describe cell-cell interactions. Key molecular  players such as activated IL2 receptor and Tbet levels  control the differentiation  from naïve into activated and effector stages, respectively,  while caspases and Fas-Fas ligand interactions control cell apoptosis.  Coupling  this molecular model to the cellular scale successfully  reproduces  qualitatively the evolution of total CD8 T-cell counts observed in mice lymph node, between Day 3 and 5.5 post-infection. Furthermore, this model allows us to make testable predictions  of the evolution of the different CD8 T-cell stages.

http://www.mdpi.com/2079-3197/2/4/159 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Understanding the link between greenspace patterns and land surface temperature is very important for mitigating the urban heat island (UHI) effect and is also useful for planners and decision-makers for providing a sustainable design for urban greenspace. Although coupling remote sensing data with a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model has widely been used to examine interactions between UHI and greenspace patterns, the paper aims to examine the impact of five theoretical models of greenspace patterns on land surface temperature based on the improvement of the accuracy of CFD modeling by the combination of LiDAR data with remote sensing images to build a 3D urban model. The simulated results demonstrated that the zonal pattern always had the obvious cooling effects when there are no large buildings or terrain obstacles. For ambient environments, the building or terrain obstacles and the type of greenspace have the hugest influence on mitigating the UHI, but the greenspace area behaves as having the least cooling effect. A dotted greenspace pattern shows the best cooling effect in the central area or residential district within a city, while a radial and a wedge pattern may result in a “cold source” for the urban thermal environment.

http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/6/10/6799 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Increasing energy costs are at the origin of the great progress in the field of phase change materials (PCMs). The present work aims at studying the application of clathrate hydrates as PCMs in buildings. Clathrate hydrates are crystalline structures in which guest molecules are enclosed in the crystal lattice of water molecules. Clathrate hydrates can form also at ambient pressure and present a high latent heat, and for this reason, they are good candidates for being used as PCMs. The parameter that makes a PCM suitable to be used in buildings is, first of all, a melting temperature at about 25 °C. The paper provides an overview of groups of clathrate hydrates, whose physical and chemical characteristics could meet the requirements needed for their application in buildings. Simulations with a dynamic building simulation tool are carried out to evaluate the performance of clathrate hydrates in enhancing thermal comfort through the moderation of summer temperature swings and, therefore, in reducing energy consumption. Simulations suggest that clathrate hydrates have a potential in terms of improvement of indoor thermal comfort and a reduction of energy consumption for cooling. Cooling effects of 0.5 °C and reduced overheating hours of up to 1.1% are predicted.

http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/6/10/6815 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Sun simulators are employed to test the performance of photovoltaic (PV) devices, according to the standard International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61215. Economical and technical analysis show that PV manufacturers need to integrate Sun simulators in the production process and, in particular, at the end of the production chain in order to measure the I-V curve and to evaluate the peak power of PV devices. Sun simulators need specific lamps to simulate the solar spectrum and a specific filter to simulate atmosphere absorbance. Such a filter can cost over €6 per square centimeter. The aim of this work is to develop an alternative filter. In particular, both chemical analysis and spectrophotometric measurements are carried out to evaluate if the Air Mass (AM) 1.5 G filter can be replaced by a cheaper material. Preliminary simulations show how specific compounds coated on a glass surface can absorb the Sun spectrum, such as the AM 1.5 filter, but with lower costs.

http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/6/10/6830 2014/10/04 - 12:22

The challenge of managing forests for the production of commercial non-timber forest products (NTFPs) lies in promoting economic development by maintaining and even increasing production while simultaneously maintaining or improving ecological conditions. The discussion of forest management therefore encompasses a wide range of social, economic, political, and ecological questions. Empirically, it is clear that both market and government failure can lead to unsustainable management in commercial NTFP use. How can we manage the market and at the same time formulate good policies? Taking cases from Southwest China, this paper critically examines the current development of NTFP commercialization in the mountainous region of Southwest China. It focuses particularly on three pieces of research on mushroom collection and marketing. By examining empirical data, the paper analyzes current gaps in the policy and the market in mountainous areas in the context of promoting sustainable use of NTFP. It examines the market structure from the perspective of market failure and explores the government’s failure to promote commercial NTFPs. We recommend economic and political decentralization, capacity building, and government investment as means to improve sustainable management.

http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/6/10/6847 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Companies understand the importance of monitoring and managing their environmental impacts and aim to integrate, with consistent quality control, effective reduce-reuse-recycle programs and risk preventions. By building an integrated sustainable business and development system to meet certain environmental standards, many companies are eligible to be “green” certified. Companies may consider recognizing global visions on sustainability while implementing local best practices. An integrated sustainable business and development system includes talent management, sustainable supply chain, practicing strategies of leveraging resources effectively, implementing social responsibilities, initiating innovative programs of recycling, reducing, and reusing, advancing leaders’ perceptions towards sustainability, reducing innovation barriers, and engaging sustainable practices strategically.

http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/6/10/6862 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Liver disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. As in other fields of medicine, there is a stringent need for non-invasive markers to improve patient diagnostics, monitoring and prognostic ability in liver pathology. Cell-free circulating RNA molecules have been recently acknowledged as an important source of potential medical biomarkers. However, many aspects related to the biology of these molecules remain to be elucidated. In this review, we summarize current concepts related to the origin, transportation and possible functions of cell-free RNA. We outline current development of extracellular RNA-based biomarkers in the main forms of non-inherited liver disease: chronic viral hepatitis, hepatocellular carcinoma, non-alcoholic fatty liver, hepato-toxicity, and liver transplantation. Despite recent technological advances, the lack of standardization in the assessment of these markers makes their adoption into clinical practice difficult. We thus finally review the main factors influencing quantification of circulating RNA. These factors should be considered in the reporting and interpretation of current findings, as well as in the proper planning of future studies, to improve reliability and reproducibility of results.

http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/15/10/17644 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Fruit cracking has long been a topic of great concern for growers and researchers of litchi (Litchi chinensis Sonn.). To understand the molecular mechanisms underlying fruit cracking, high-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) was first used for de novo assembly and characterization of the transcriptome of cracking pericarp of litchi. Comparative transcriptomic analyses were performed on non-cracking and cracking fruits. A total of approximately 26 million and 29 million high quality reads were obtained from the two groups of samples, and were assembled into 46,641 unigenes with an average length of 993 bp. These unigenes can be useful resources for future molecular studies of the pericarp in litchi. Furthermore, four genes (LcAQP, 1; LcPIP, 1; LcNIP, 1; LcSIP, 1) involved in water transport, five genes (LcKS, 2; LcGA2ox, 2; LcGID1, 1) involved in GA metabolism, 21 genes (LcCYP707A, 2; LcGT, 9; Lcβ-Glu, 6; LcPP2C, 2; LcABI1, 1; LcABI5, 1) involved in ABA metabolism, 13 genes (LcTPC, 1; Ca2+/H+ exchanger, 3; Ca2+-ATPase, 4; LcCDPK, 2; LcCBL, 3) involved in Ca transport and 24 genes (LcPG, 5; LcEG, 1; LcPE, 3; LcEXP, 5; Lcβ-Gal, 9; LcXET, 1) involved in cell wall metabolism were identified as genes that are differentially expressed in cracked fruits compared to non-cracked fruits. Our results open new doors to further understand the molecular mechanisms behind fruit cracking in litchi and other fruits, especially Sapindaceae plants.

http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/15/10/17667 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) affects millions of patients each year worldwide. Existing therapies include epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibition using small molecules or antibodies with good efficacy. Unfortunately, intrinsic and acquired resistance to EGFR therapy remains a persistent complication for disease treatment. A greater understanding of the role of EGFR in NSCLC etiology is crucial to improving patient outcomes. In this study, the role of EGFR in tumor angiogenesis was examined in H292 NSCLC cells under the pretense that confluent cells would exhibit a more angiogenic and growth-centered phenotype. Indeed, confluent H292 cells potentiated endothelial cell angiogenesis in co-culture models in an EGFR-dependent manner. While confluent H292 cells did not exhibit any change in EGFR protein expression, EGFR localization to the extracellular membrane was increased. EGFR membrane localization coincided with a comparable potentiation of maximal EGFR phosphorylation and was followed by a 3-fold increase in vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) production as compared to subconfluent cells. EGFR-mediated VEGF-A production was determined to be dependent on signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) activation and not phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling. These results identify unique cell density dependent phenotypes within a monoclonal NSCLC cell line and provide a potential mechanism of resistance to anti-EGFR therapy in metastatic NSCLC.

http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/15/10/17686 2014/10/04 - 12:22

The human skin is not only a target for the protective actions of melatonin, but also a site of melatonin synthesis and metabolism, suggesting an important role for a local melatoninergic system in protection against ultraviolet radiation (UVR) induced damages. While melatonin exerts many effects on cell physiology and tissue homeostasis via membrane bound melatonin receptors, the strong protective effects of melatonin against the UVR-induced skin damage including DNA repair/protection seen at its high (pharmocological) concentrations indicate that these are mainly mediated through receptor-independent mechanisms or perhaps through activation of putative melatonin nuclear receptors. The destructive effects of the UVR are significantly counteracted or modulated by melatonin in the context of a complex intracutaneous melatoninergic anti-oxidative system with UVR-enhanced or UVR-independent melatonin metabolites. Therefore, endogenous intracutaneous melatonin production, together with topically-applied exogenous melatonin or metabolites would be expected to represent one of the most potent anti-oxidative defense systems against the UV-induced damage to the skin. In summary, we propose that melatonin can be exploited therapeutically as a protective agent or as a survival factor with anti-genotoxic properties or as a “guardian” of the genome and cellular integrity with clinical applications in UVR-induced pathology that includes carcinogenesis and skin aging.

http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/15/10/17705 2014/10/04 - 12:22

The exposure to dioxin can compromise pregnancy outcomes and increase the risk of preterm births. 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) has been demonstrated to induce placental hypoxia at the end of pregnancy in a rat model, and hypoxia has been suggested to be the cause of abnormal trophoblast differentiation and placental insufficiency syndromes. In this study, we demonstrate that the non-hypoxic stimulation of human trophoblastic cells by TCDD strongly increased hypoxia inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1α) stabilization. TCDD exposure induced the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide. TCDD-induced HIF-1α stabilization and Akt phosphorylation was inhibited by pretreatment with wortmannin (a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor) or N-acetylcysteine (a ROS scavenger). The augmented HIF-1α stabilization by TCDD occurred via the ROS-dependent activation of the PI3K/Akt pathway. Additionally, a significant increase in invasion and metallomatrix protease-9 activity was found in TCDD-treated cells. The gene expression of vascular endothelial growth factor and placental growth factor was induced upon TCDD stimulation, whereas the protein levels of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ), PPARγ coactivator-1α, mitochondrial transcription factor, and uncoupling protein 2 were decreased. Our results indicate that an activated HIF-1α pathway, elicited oxidative stress, and induced metabolic stress contribute to TCDD-induced trophoblastic toxicity. These findings may provide molecular insight into the TCDD-induced impairment of trophoblast function and placental development.

http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/15/10/17733 2014/10/04 - 12:22

To our best knowledge, all of the fungal immunomodulatory proteins (FIPs) have been successfully extracted and identified in Basidomycetes, with only the exception of FIP from ascomycete Nectria haematococca (FIP-nha) discovered through homology alignment most recently. In this work, a gene encoding FIP-nha was synthesized and recombinantly expressed in an Escherichia coli expression system. SDS-PAGE and MALDI-MS analyses of recombinant FIP-nha (rFIP-nha) indicated that the gene was successfully expressed. The yield of the bioactive FIP-nha protein was 42.7 mg/L. In vitro assays of biological activity indicated that the rFIP-nha caused hemagglutination of human and rabbit red blood cells, significantly stimulated mouse spleen lymphocyte proliferation, and enhanced expression of interleukin-2 (IL-2) released from mouse splenocytes, revealing a strong antitumor effect against HL60, HepG2 and MGC823. Through this work, we constructed a rapid and efficient method of FIP production, and suggested that FIP-nha is a valuable candidate for use in future medical care and pharmaceutical products.

http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/15/10/17751 2014/10/04 - 12:22

As the biosynthesis of cylindrospermopsin (CYN) is assumed to depend on nitrogen availability, this study investigated the impact of nitrogen availability on intra- and extracellular CYN and deoxy-CYN (D-CYN) contents in three Aphanizomenon strains from temperate waters. Nitrogen deficient (−N) cultures showed a prolonged growth phase and intracellular toxin accumulation by a factor of 2–6. In contrast, cultures with additional nitrate supply (+N) did not accumulate CYN within the cells. Instead, the maximum conceivable CYN release estimated for dead cells (identified by SYTOX® Green staining) was much lower than the concentrations of dissolved CYN actually observed, suggesting these cultures actively release CYN from intact cells. Furthermore, we found remarkably altered proportions of CYN to D-CYN: as batch cultures grew, the proportion of D-CYN increased by up to 40% in +N medium, whereas D-CYN remained constant or decreased slightly in −N medium. Since +N cultures showed similar toxin patterns as −P cultures with increased extracellular CYNs and higher proportion of D-CYN we conclude that nitrogen limitation may affect the way the cells economize resources, especially the yield from phosphorus pools, and that this has an impact on CYN production and release. For water management, these result imply that nutrient availability not only determines the abundance of potentially CYN-producing cyanobacteria, but also the amount of extracellular CYNs (challenging drinking-water treatment) as well as the ratio of D-CYN to CYN (affecting toxicity).

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6651/6/10/2932 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Among the great number of addictive modules which have been discovered, only a few have been characterized. However, research concerning the adoption of toxins from these systems shows their great potential as a tool for molecular biology and medicine. In our study, we tested two different toxins derived from class II addictive modules, pasAB from plasmid pTF-FC2 (Thiobacillus ferrooxidans) and vapBC 2829Rv (Mycobacterium tuberculosis), in terms of their usefulness as growth inhibitors of human cancer cell lines, namely KYSE 30, MCF-7 and HCT 116. Transfection of the pasB and vapC genes into the cells was conducted with the use of two different expression systems. Cellular effects, such as apoptosis, necrosis and changes in the cell cycle, were tested by applying flow cytometry with immunofluorescence staining. Our findings demonstrated that toxins VapC and PasB demonstrate proapoptotic activity in the human cancer cells, regardless of the expression system used. As for the toxin PasB, observed changes were more subtle than for the VapC. The level of expression for both the genes was monitored by QPCR and did not reveal statistically significant differences within the same cell line.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6651/6/10/2948 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Aim: To analyze changes in access to health care and its determinants in the immigrant and native-born populations in Spain, before and during the economic crisis. Methods: Comparative analysis of two iterations of the Spanish National Health Survey (2006 and 2012). Outcome variables were: unmet need and use of different healthcare levels; explanatory variables: need, predisposing and enabling factors. Multivariate models were performed (1) to compare outcome variables in each group between years, (2) to compare outcome variables between both groups within each year, and (3) to determine the factors associated with health service use for each group and year. Results: unmet healthcare needs decreased in 2012 compared to 2006; the use of health services remained constant, with some changes worth highlighting, such as the decline in general practitioner visits among autochthons and a narrowed gap in specialist visits between the two populations. The factors associated with health service use in 2006 remained constant in 2012. Conclusion: Access to healthcare did not worsen, possibly due to the fact that, until 2012, the national health system may have cushioned the deterioration of social determinants as a consequence of the financial crisis. Further studies are necessary to evaluate the effects of health policy responses to the crisis after 2012.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/10/10182 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Bacterial meningitis is caused by a variety of pathogens and displays an important public health threat all over the world. Despite the necessity to develop customized public health-related research projects, a thorough study of global meningitis research is not present, so far. Therefore, the aim of this study was a combined density-equalizing and scientometric study. To evaluate the scientific efforts of bibliometric methods, density-equalizing algorithms and large-scale data analysis of the Web of Science were applied in the period between 1900 and 2007. From this, 7998 publications on bacterial meningitis have been found. With a number of 2698, most publications have been written by U.S. authors, followed by the UK (912), Germany (749) and France (620). This dominance can also be shown in the international cooperation. The specific citation analyses reveal that the nation with the highest average citation rate (citations per publications) was Norway (26.36), followed by Finland (24.16) and the U.S. (24.06). This study illustrates the architecture of global research on bacterial meningitis and points to the need for customized research programs with a focus on local public health issues in countries with a low development index, but high incidences, to target this global public health problem.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/10/10202 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Detection of urban area extents by means of remotely sensed data is a difficult task, especially because of the multiple, diverse definitions of what an “urban area” is. The models of urban areas listed in technical literature are based on the combination of spectral information with spatial patterns, possibly at different spatial resolutions. Starting from the same data set, “urban area” extraction may thus lead to multiple outputs. If this is done in a well-structured framework, however, this may be considered as an advantage rather than an issue. This paper proposes a novel framework for urban area extent extraction from multispectral Earth Observation (EO) data. The key is to compute and combine spectral and multi-scale spatial features. By selecting the most adequate features, and combining them with proper logical rules, the approach allows matching multiple urban area models. Experimental results for different locations in Brazil and Kenya using High-Resolution (HR) data prove the usefulness and flexibility of the framework.

http://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/14/10/18337 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Shrinking water  resources all over the world and increasing  costs of water consumption  have prompted  water users  and distribution companies  to come up with water conserving strategies. We have proposed an energy-efficient  smart water monitoring application in [1], using low power RFIDs. In the home environment,  there exist many primary interferences within a room, such as cell-phones,  Bluetooth  devices, TV signals, cordless phones and WiFi devices.  In order to reduce the interference  from our proposed RFID network for these primary  devices, we have proposed a cooperating  underlay  RFID cognitive network for our smart application on water.  These underlay  RFIDs should strictly adhere to the interference thresholds to work in parallel with the primary wireless devices [2].  This work is an extension of our previous  ventures proposed in [2,3], and we enhanced the previous efforts by introducing  a new system model and RFIDs.  Our proposed scheme is mutually energy efficient and maximizes the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) for the RFID link, while keeping the interference levels for the primary  network below a certain threshold. A closed form expression for the probability density function (pdf) of the SNR at the destination reader/writer and outage probability are derived. Analytical results are verified through simulations. It is also shown that in comparison to non-cognitive selective cooperation,  this scheme performs  better in the low SNR region for cognitive networks. Moreover, the hidden Markov model’s (HMM) multi-level variant hierarchical hidden Markov model (HHMM) approach is used for pattern recognition and event detection for the data received for this system [4]. Using this model, a feedback and decision algorithm is also developed.  This approach has been applied  to simulated water pressure data from RFID motes, which were embedded in metallic water pipes.

http://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/14/10/18353 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Marine sponges harbour complex microbial communities of ecological and biotechnological importance. Here, we propose the application of the widespread sponge family Irciniidae as an appropriate model in microbiology and biochemistry research. Half a gram of one Irciniidae specimen hosts hundreds of bacterial species—the vast majority of which are difficult to cultivate—and dozens of fungal and archaeal species. The structure of these symbiont assemblages is shaped by the sponge host and is highly stable over space and time. Two types of quorum-sensing molecules have been detected in these animals, hinting at microbe-microbe and host-microbe signalling being important processes governing the dynamics of the Irciniidae holobiont. Irciniids are vulnerable to disease outbreaks, and concerns have emerged about their conservation in a changing climate. They are nevertheless amenable to mariculture and laboratory maintenance, being attractive targets for metabolite harvesting and experimental biology endeavours. Several bioactive terpenoids and polyketides have been retrieved from Irciniidae sponges, but the actual producer (host or symbiont) of these compounds has rarely been clarified. To tackle this, and further pertinent questions concerning the functioning, resilience and physiology of these organisms, truly multi-layered approaches integrating cutting-edge microbiology, biochemistry, genetics and zoology research are needed.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-3397/12/10/5089 2014/10/04 - 12:22

We have found the following error in the title of this article, which was recently published in Mar. Drugs [1]: a word “paper” has been inserted at the beginning of title by mistake. [...]

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-3397/12/10/5123 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Two novel aspochalasins, 20-β-methylthio-aspochalsin Q (named as aspochalasin V), (1) and aspochalasin W (2), were isolated from culture broth of Aspergillus sp., which was found in the gut of a marine isopod Ligia oceanica. The structures were determined on the basis of NMR and mass spectral data analysis. This is the first report about methylthio-substituted aspochalasin derivatives. Cytotoxicity against the prostate cancer PC3 cell line and HCT116 cell line was assayed using the MTT method. Apochalasin V showed moderate activity at IC50 values of 30.4 and 39.2 μM, respectively.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-3397/12/10/5124 2014/10/04 - 12:22

The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of pinocembrin on brain ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury and the potential involvement of autophagy activity changes in the penumbra area in the mechanisms of pinocembrin activity. Focal cerebral I/R model was induced by middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) for 2 h followed by 24 h reperfusion. Pinocembrin was administered intravenously at different doses (1, 3, and 10 mg/kg, respectively) at the onset of reperfusion. Neurological function, brain infarction and brain swelling ratio were evaluated. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) method and immunohistochemical analysis (Caspase-3) were used to evaluate apoptosis in the penumbra cortex. Two key proteins of autophagy, LC3B and Beclin1, were detected by western blot. The results showed that pinocembrin-treatment could significantly reduce neurological deficit scores, infarct volume, cerebral edema and improve pathological lesion in the I/R rats. Pinocembrin-treatment could also reduce the number of TUNEL-positive and Caspase-3-positive neurons, and upregulate the expression of LC3B and Beclin1 in penumbra area. These results suggested that pinocembrin could protect the brain against I/R injury, and the possible mechanisms might be attributed to inhibition of apoptosis and reversed autophagy activity in penumbra area.

http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/19/10/15786 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Arbutus unedo L. (strawberry tree) has a circum-Mediterranean distribution, being found in western, central and southern Europe, north-eastern Africa (excluding Egypt and Libya) and the Canary Islands and western Asia. Fruits of the strawberry tree are generally used for preparing alcoholic drinks (wines, liqueurs and brandies), jams, jellies and marmalades, and less frequently eaten as fresh fruit, despite their pleasing appearance. An overview of the chemical composition of different parts of the plant, strawberry tree honey and strawberry tree brandy will be presented. The biological properties of the different parts of A. unedo and strawberry tree honey will be also overviewed.

http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/19/10/15799 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Single-molecule fluorescence techniques are ideally suited to provide information about the structure-function-dynamics relationship of a biomolecule as static and dynamic heterogeneity can be easily detected. However, what type of single-molecule fluorescence technique is suited for which kind of biological question and what are the obstacles on the way to a successful single-molecule microscopy experiment? In this review, we provide practical insights into fluorescence-based single-molecule experiments aiming for scientists who wish to take their experiments to the single-molecule level. We especially focus on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) experiments as these are a widely employed tool for the investigation of biomolecular mechanisms. We will guide the reader through the most critical steps that determine the success and quality of diffusion-based confocal and immobilization-based total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. We discuss the specific chemical and photophysical requirements that make fluorescent dyes suitable for single-molecule fluorescence experiments. Most importantly, we review recently emerged photoprotection systems as well as passivation and immobilization strategies that enable the observation of fluorescently labeled molecules under biocompatible conditions. Moreover, we discuss how the optical single-molecule toolkit has been extended in recent years to capture the physiological complexity of a cell making it even more relevant for biological research.

http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/19/10/15824 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Silicon VDMOS power MOSFET technology is being supplanted by UMOS (or trench) power MOSFET technology. Designers of spaceborne power electronics systems incorporating this newer power MOSFET technology need to be aware of several unique threats that this technology may encounter in space. Space radiation threats to UMOS power devices include vulnerabilities to SEB, SEGR, and microdose. There have been relatively few studies presented or published on the effects of radiation on this device technology. The S-O-A knowledge of UMOS power device degradation and failure under heavy-ion exposure is reviewed.

http://www.mdpi.com/2079-9292/3/4/582 2014/10/04 - 12:22

Organic electronics, such as displays, photovoltaics and electronics circuits and components, offer several advantages over the conventional inorganic-based electronics because they are inexpensive, flexible, unbreakable, optically transparent, lightweight and have low power consumption. In particular, organic displays exhibit high brightness, fast response time, wide viewing angle, and low operating voltage. [...]

http://www.mdpi.com/2079-9292/3/4/594 2014/10/04 - 12:22

The aim of this study was to estimate the determinants of residential water demand for chief towns of every Italian province, in the period 2007–2009, using the linear mixed-effects model estimated with the restricted-maximum-likelihood method. Results confirmed that the applied tariff had a negative effect on residential water consumption and that it was a relevant driver of domestic water consumption. Moreover, income per capita had a positive effect on water consumption. Among measured climatic and geographical features, precipitation and altitude exerted a strongly significant negative effect on water consumption, while temperature did not influence water demand. Further, data show that small towns in terms of population served were characterized by lower levels of consumption. Water utilities ownership itself did not have a significant effect on water consumption but tariffs were significantly lower and residential water consumption was higher in towns where the water service was managed by publicly owned water utilities. However, further research is needed to gain a better understanding of the connection between ownership of water utilities and water prices and water consumption.

http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/6/10/2929 2014/10/04 - 12:22