Chloroplasts move toward weak light to increase photosynthetic efficiency, and migrate away from strong light to protect chloroplasts from photodamage and eventual cell death. These chloroplast behaviors were first observed more than 100 years ago, but the underlying mechanism has only recently been identified. Ideal plant materials, such as fern gametophytes for photobiological and cell biological approaches, and Arabidopsis thaliana for genetic analyses, have been used along with sophisticated methods, such as partial cell irradiation and time-lapse video recording under infrared light to study chloroplast movement. These studies have revealed precise chloroplast behavior, and identified photoreceptors, other relevant protein components, and novel actin filament structures required for chloroplast movement. In this review, our findings regarding chloroplast and nuclear movements are described.
A major goal of synthetic biology is to control cell behavior. RNA-mediated genetic switches (RNA switches) are devices that serve this purpose, as they can control gene expressions in response to input signals. In general, RNA switches consist of two domains: an aptamer domain, which binds to an input molecule, and an actuator domain, which controls the gene expression. An input binding to the aptamer can cause the actuator to alter the RNA structure, thus changing access to translation machinery. The assembly of multiple RNA switches has led to complex gene circuits for cell therapies, including the selective killing of pathological cells and purification of cell populations. The inclusion of RNA binding proteins, such as L7Ae, increases the repertoire and precision of the circuit. In this short review, we discuss synthetic RNA switches for gene regulation and their potential therapeutic applications.
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are represented by ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD), both of which involve chronic intestinal inflammation. Recent evidence has indicated that gut immunological homeostasis is maintained by the interaction between host immunity and intestinal microbiota. A variety of innate immune cells promote or suppress T cell differentiation and activation in response to intestinal bacteria or their metabolites. Some commensal bacteria species or bacterial metabolites enhance or repress host immunity by inducing T helper (Th) 17 cells or regulatory T cells. Intestinal epithelial cells between host immune cells and intestinal microbiota contribute to the separation of these populations and modulate host immune responses to intestinal microbiota. Therefore, the imbalance between host immunity and intestinal microbiota caused by host genetic predisposition or abnormal environmental factors promote susceptibility to intestinal inflammation.
Due to intrinsically low levels of antioxidant enzyme expression and activity, insulin producing pancreatic β-cells are particularly susceptible to free radical attack. In diabetes mellitus, which is accompanied by high levels of oxidative stress, this feature of β-cells significantly contributes to their damage and dysfunction. In light of the documented pro-survival effect of chemokine C-X-C Ligand 12 (CXCL12) on pancreatic β-cells, we examined its potential role in antioxidant protection. We report that CXCL12 overexpression enhanced the resistance of rat insulinoma (Rin-5F) and primary pancreatic islet cells to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). CXCL12 lowered the levels of DNA damage and lipid peroxidation and preserved insulin expression. This effect was mediated through an increase in catalase (CAT) activity. By activating downstream p38, Akt and ERK kinases, CXCL12 facilitated Nrf2 nuclear translocation and enhanced its binding to the CAT gene promoter, inducing constitutive CAT expression and activity that was essential for protecting β-cells from H2O2.
Phylogenetic analyses using mitochondrial DNA sequences of several kinds of beetles have shown that their evolution included a silent stage in which no morphological changes took place. We thus propose a new category of evolutionary process called “silent evolution”.