(1/2017) Genome-wide bioinformatic and molecular analysis of introns in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Introns have typically been discovered in an ad hoc fashion: introns are found as a gene is characterized for other reasons. As complete eukaryotic genome sequences become available, better methods for predicting RNA processing signals in raw sequence will be necessary in order to discover genes and predict their expression. Here we present a catalog of 228 yeast introns, arrived at through a combination of bioinformatic and molecular analysis. Introns annotated in the Saccharomyces Genome Database (SGD) were evaluated, questionable introns were removed after failing a test for splicing in vivo, and known introns absent from the SGD annotation were added. A novel branchpoint sequence, AAUUAAC, was identified within an annotated intron that lacks a six-of-seven match to the highly conserved branchpoint consensus UACUAAC. Analysis of the database corroborates many conclusions about pre-mRNA substrate requirements for splicing derived from experimental studies, but indicates that splicing in yeast may not be as rigidly determined by splice-site conservation as had previously been thought. Using this database and a molecular technique that directly displays the lariat intron products of spliced transcripts (intron display), we suggest that the current set of 228 introns is still not complete, and that additional intron-containing genes remain to be discovered in yeast. The database can be accessed at http://www.cse.ucsc.edu/research/compbi o/yeast_introns.html.  (+info)

(2/2017) Computerized analysis of abnormal asymmetry in digital chest radiographs: evaluation of potential utility.

The purpose of this study was to develop and test a computerized method for the fully automated analysis of abnormal asymmetry in digital posteroanterior (PA) chest radiographs. An automated lung segmentation method was used to identify the aerated lung regions in 600 chest radiographs. Minimal a priori lung morphology information was required for this gray-level thresholding-based segmentation. Consequently, segmentation was applicable to grossly abnormal cases. The relative areas of segmented right and left lung regions in each image were compared with the corresponding area distributions of normal images to determine the presence of abnormal asymmetry. Computerized diagnoses were compared with image ratings assigned by a radiologist. The ability of the automated method to distinguish normal from asymmetrically abnormal cases was evaluated by using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis, which yielded an area under the ROC curve of 0.84. This automated method demonstrated promising performance in its ability to detect abnormal asymmetry in PA chest images. We believe this method could play a role in a picture archiving and communications (PACS) environment to immediately identify abnormal cases and to function as one component of a multifaceted computer-aided diagnostic scheme.  (+info)

(3/2017) Unexpected crucial role of residue 225 in serine proteases.

Residue 225 in serine proteases of the chymotrypsin family is Pro or Tyr in more than 95% of nearly 300 available sequences. Proteases with Y225 (like some blood coagulation and complement factors) are almost exclusively found in vertebrates, whereas proteases with P225 (like degradative enzymes) are present from bacteria to human. Saturation mutagenesis of Y225 in thrombin shows that residue 225 affects ligand recognition up to 60,000-fold. With the exception of Tyr and Phe, all residues are associated with comparable or greatly reduced catalytic activity relative to Pro. The crystal structures of three mutants that differ widely in catalytic activity (Y225F, Y225P, and Y225I) show that although residue 225 makes no contact with substrate, it drastically influences the shape of the water channel around the primary specificity site. The activity profiles obtained for thrombin also suggest that the conversion of Pro to Tyr or Phe documented in the vertebrates occurred through Ser and was driven by a significant gain (up to 50-fold) in catalytic activity. In fact, Ser and Phe are documented in 4% of serine proteases, which together with Pro and Tyr account for almost the entire distribution of residues at position 225. The unexpected crucial role of residue 225 in serine proteases explains the evolutionary selection of residues at this position and shows that the structural determinants of protease activity and specificity are more complex than currently believed. These findings have broad implications in the rational design of enzymes with enhanced catalytic properties.  (+info)

(4/2017) Molecular identification of human G-substrate, a possible downstream component of the cGMP-dependent protein kinase cascade in cerebellar Purkinje cells.

G-substrate, an endogenous substrate for cGMP-dependent protein kinase, exists almost exclusively in cerebellar Purkinje cells, where it is possibly involved in the induction of long-term depression. A G-substrate cDNA was identified by screening expressed sequence tag databases from a human brain library. The deduced amino acid sequence of human G-substrate contained two putative phosphorylation sites (Thr-68 and Thr-119) with amino acid sequences [KPRRKDT(p)PALH] that were identical to those reported for rabbit G-substrate. G-substrate mRNA was expressed almost exclusively in the cerebellum as a single transcript. The human G-substrate gene was mapped to human chromosome 7p15 by radiation hybrid panel analysis. In vitro translation products of the cDNA showed an apparent molecular mass of 24 kDa on SDS/PAGE which was close to that of purified rabbit G-substrate (23 kDa). Bacterially expressed human G-substrate is a heat-stable and acid-soluble protein that cross-reacts with antibodies raised against rabbit G-substrate. Recombinant human G-substrate was phosphorylated efficiently by cGMP-dependent protein kinase exclusively at Thr residues, and it was recognized by antibodies specific for rabbit phospho-G-substrate. The amino acid sequences surrounding the sites of phosphorylation in G-substrate are related to those around Thr-34 and Thr-35 of the dopamine- and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein DARPP-32 and inhibitor-1, respectively, two potent inhibitors of protein phosphatase 1. However, purified G-substrate phosphorylated by cGMP-dependent protein kinase inhibited protein phosphatase 2A more effectively than protein phosphatase 1, suggesting a distinct role as a protein phosphatase inhibitor.  (+info)

(5/2017) Cloning, expression, and genetic mapping of Sema W, a member of the semaphorin family.

The semaphorins comprise a large family of membrane-bound and secreted proteins, some of which have been shown to function in axon guidance. We have cloned a transmembrane semaphorin, Sema W, that belongs to the class IV subgroup of the semaphorin family. The mouse and rat forms of Sema W show 97% amino acid sequence identity with each other, and each shows about 91% identity with the human form. The gene for Sema W is divided into 15 exons, up to 4 of which are absent in the human cDNAs that we sequenced. Unlike many other semaphorins, Sema W is expressed at low levels in the developing embryo but was found to be expressed at high levels in the adult central nervous system and lung. Functional studies with purified membrane fractions from COS7 cells transfected with a Sema W expression plasmid showed that Sema W has growth-cone collapse activity against retinal ganglion-cell axons, indicating that vertebrate transmembrane semaphorins, like secreted semaphorins, can collapse growth cones. Genetic mapping of human SEMAW with human/hamster radiation hybrids localized the gene to chromosome 2p13. Genetic mapping of mouse Semaw with mouse/hamster radiation hybrids localized the gene to chromosome 6, and physical mapping placed the gene on bacteria artificial chromosomes carrying microsatellite markers D6Mit70 and D6Mit189. This localization places Semaw within the locus for motor neuron degeneration 2, making it an attractive candidate gene for this disease.  (+info)

(6/2017) Chronic myelogenous leukemia--progress at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center over the past two decades and future directions: first Emil J Freireich Award Lecture.

The purpose of this study was to review the progress in clinical and translational research in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) over the past 20 years at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The CML database updating the clinical and basic research investigations was reviewed as the source of this report. Publications resulting from these investigations were summarized. The long-term results with intensive chemotherapy, IFN-alpha therapy alone or in combination, autologous stem cell transplantation, and new agents such as homoharringtonine and decitabine showed encouraging results. Biological studies related to the BCR-ABL molecular abnormality, other molecular events, and the detection of minimal residual disease were detailed. Future strategies with potential promise in CML were outlined. Significant progress in understanding CML biology and in treating patients afflicted with the disease has occurred. Several therapeutic and research tools are currently investigated, which should hopefully improve further the prognosis of patients with CML.  (+info)

(7/2017) Phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA in type 2 diabetes: maternal history and ancient population expansion.

Several studies have suggested a maternal excess in the transmission of type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes. However, the majority of these reports rely on patients recalling parental disease status and hence are open to criticism. An alternative approach is to study mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) lineages. The hypervariable region 1 of the rapidly evolving noncoding section of mtDNA is suitable for investigating maternal ancestry and has been used extensively to study the origins of human racial groups. We have sequenced this 347-bp section of mtDNA from leukocytes of subjects with type 2 diabetes (n = 63) and age- and race-matched nondiabetic control subjects (n = 57). Consensus sequences for the two study groups were identical. Pairwise sequence analysis showed unimodal distribution of pairwise differences for both groups, suggesting that both populations had undergone expansion in ancient times. The distributions were significantly different (chi2 = 180, df = 11, P < 0.001); mean pairwise differences were 4.7 and 3.8 for the diabetic and control subjects, respectively. These data suggest that the diabetic subjects belong to an ancient maternal lineage that expanded before the major expansion observed in the nondiabetic population. Phylogenetic trees constructed using maximum parsimony, neighbor-joining, Fitch-Margolish, or maximum likelihood methods failed to show the clustering of all (or a subset) of the diabetic subjects into one or more distinct lineages.  (+info)

(8/2017) Molecular basis of fast inactivation in voltage and Ca2+-activated K+ channels: a transmembrane beta-subunit homolog.

Voltage-dependent and calcium-sensitive K+ (MaxiK) channels are key regulators of neuronal excitability, secretion, and vascular tone because of their ability to sense transmembrane voltage and intracellular Ca2+. In most tissues, their stimulation results in a noninactivating hyperpolarizing K+ current that reduces excitability. In addition to noninactivating MaxiK currents, an inactivating MaxiK channel phenotype is found in cells like chromaffin cells and hippocampal neurons. The molecular determinants underlying inactivating MaxiK channels remain unknown. Herein, we report a transmembrane beta subunit (beta2) that yields inactivating MaxiK currents on coexpression with the pore-forming alpha subunit of MaxiK channels. Intracellular application of trypsin as well as deletion of 19 N-terminal amino acids of the beta2 subunit abolished inactivation of the alpha subunit. Conversely, fusion of these N-terminal amino acids to the noninactivating smooth muscle beta1 subunit leads to an inactivating phenotype of MaxiK channels. Furthermore, addition of a synthetic N-terminal peptide of the beta2 subunit causes inactivation of the MaxiK channel alpha subunit by occluding its K+-conducting pore resembling the inactivation caused by the "ball" peptide in voltage-dependent K+ channels. Thus, the inactivating phenotype of MaxiK channels in native tissues can result from the association with different beta subunits.  (+info)