(9/4610) Relationships between environmental organochlorine contaminant residues, plasma corticosterone concentrations, and intermediary metabolic enzyme activities in Great Lakes herring gull embryos.

Experiments were conducted to survey and detect differences in plasma corticosterone concentrations and intermediary metabolic enzyme activities in herring gull (Larus argentatus) embryos environmentally exposed to organochlorine contaminants in ovo. Unincubated fertile herring gull eggs were collected from an Atlantic coast control site and various Great Lakes sites in 1997 and artificially incubated in the laboratory. Liver and/or kidney tissues from approximately half of the late-stage embryos were analyzed for the activities of various intermediary metabolic enzymes known to be regulated, at least in part, by corticosteroids. Basal plasma corticosterone concentrations were determined for the remaining embryos. Yolk sacs were collected from each embryo and a subset was analyzed for organochlorine contaminants. Regression analysis of individual yolk sac organochlorine residue concentrations, or 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin equivalents (TEQs), with individual basal plasma corticosterone concentrations indicated statistically significant inverse relationships for polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins/polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDDs/PCDFs), total polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), non-ortho PCBs, and TEQs. Similarly, inverse relationships were observed for the activities of two intermediary metabolic enzymes (phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase and malic enzyme) when regressed against PCDDs/PCDFs. Overall, these data suggest that current levels of organochlorine contamination may be affecting the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis and associated intermediary metabolic pathways in environmentally exposed herring gull embryos in the Great Lakes.  (+info)

(10/4610) The relationship between the free concentrations of Ca2+ and Ca2+-calmodulin in intact cells.

Using stably expressed fluorescent indicator proteins, we have determined for the first time the relationship between the free Ca2+ and Ca2+-calmodulin concentrations in intact cells. A similar relationship is obtained when the free Ca2+ concentration is externally buffered or when it is transiently increased in response to a Ca2+-mobilizing agonist. Below a free Ca2+ concentration of 0.2 microM, no Ca2+-calmodulin is detectable. A global maximum free Ca2+-calmodulin concentration of approximately 45 nM is produced when the free Ca2+ concentration exceeds 3 microM, and a half-maximal concentration is produced at a free Ca2+ concentration of 1 microM. Data for fractional saturation of the indicators suggest that the total concentration of calmodulin-binding proteins is approximately 2-fold higher than the total calmodulin concentration. We conclude that high-affinity calmodulin targets (Kd /= 100 nM) occurs only where free Ca2+-calmodulin concentrations can be locally enhanced.  (+info)

(11/4610) Development of diving capacity in emperor penguins.

To compare the diving capacities of juvenile and adult emperor penguins Aptenodytes forsteri, and to determine the physiological variables underlying the diving ability of juveniles, we monitored diving activity in juvenile penguins fitted with satellite-linked time/depth recorders and examined developmental changes in body mass (Mb), hemoglobin concentration, myoglobin (Mb) content and muscle citrate synthase and lactate dehydrogenase activities. Diving depth, diving duration and time-at-depth histograms were obtained from two fledged juveniles during the first 2.5 months after their depature from the Cape Washingon colony in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. During this period, values of all three diving variables increased progressively. After 8-10 weeks at sea, 24-41 % of transmitted maximum diving depths were between 80 and 200 m. Although most dives lasted less than 2 min during the 2 month period, 8-25 % of transmitted dives in the last 2 weeks lasted 2-4 min. These values are lower than those previously recorded in adults during foraging trips. Of the physiological variables examined during chick and juvenile development, only Mb and Mb content did not approach adult values. In both near-fledge chicks and juveniles, Mb was 50-60 % of adult values and Mb content was 24-31 % of adult values. This suggests that the increase in diving capacity of juveniles at sea will be most dependent on changes in these factors.  (+info)

(12/4610) Isolation of Lyme disease Borrelia from puffins (Fratercula arctica) and seabird ticks (Ixodes uriae) on the Faeroe Islands.

This is the first report on the isolation of Lyme disease Borrelia from seabirds on the Faeroe Islands and the characteristics of its enzootic cycle. The major components of the Borrelia cycle include the puffin (Fratercula arctica) as the reservoir and Ixodes uriae as the vector. The importance of this cycle and its impact on the spread of human Lyme borreliosis have not yet been established. Borrelia spirochetes isolated from 2 of 102 sampled puffins were compared to the borreliae previously obtained from seabird ticks, I. uriae. The rrf-rrl intergenic spacer and the rrs and the ospC genes were sequenced and a series of phylogenetic trees were constructed. Sequence data and restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis grouped the strains together with Borrelia garinii. In a seroepidemiological survey performed with residents involved in puffin hunting on the Faeroe Islands, 3 of 81 serum samples were found to be positive by two commonly used clinical tests: a flagellin-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and Western blotting. These three positive serum samples also had high optical density values in a whole-cell ELISA. The finding of seropositive Faeroe Islanders who are regularly exposed to I. uriae indicate that there may be a transfer of B. garinii by this tick species to humans.  (+info)

(13/4610) Tissue-specific distribution of breast-muscle-type and leg-muscle-type troponin T isoforms in birds.

In order to show the tissue-specific distribution of troponin T (TnT) isoforms in avian skeletal muscles, their expression was examined by electrophoresis of the breast and leg muscles of seven avian species and immunoblotting with the antiserum against fast skeletal muscle TnT. It has been reported in the chicken that breast-muscle-type (B-type) and leg-muscle-type (L-type) TnT isoforms are expressed specifically in the adult breast and leg muscles, respectively. Their differential expression patterns were confirmed in all birds examined in this study. The expression of a segment encoded by the exon x series of TnT was also examined by immunoblotting with the antiserum against a synthetic peptide derived from the exon x3 sequence, because the segment has been shown to be included exclusively in the B-type, but not in the L-type TnT. The expression of the segment was found only in the breast muscle, but not in the leg muscle of all birds examined. TnT cDNA sequences from the duck breast and leg muscles were determined and showed that only B-type TnT had an exon x-related sequence, suggesting that the expression of B-type TnT containing the exon x-derived segment is conserved consistently in the birds.  (+info)

(14/4610) Avian encephalomyelitis virus is a picornavirus and is most closely related to hepatitis A virus.

The complete RNA genome of avian encephalomyelitis virus (AEV) has been molecularly cloned and sequenced. This revealed AEV to be a member of the Picornaviridae and consequently it is the first avian picornavirus for which the genome has been sequenced. Excluding the poly(A) tail the genome comprises 7032 nucleotides, which is shorter than that of any mammalian picornavirus sequenced to date. An open reading frame commencing at nucleotide 495 and terminating at position 6896 (6402 nucleotides) potentially encodes a polyprotein of 2134 amino acids. The polyprotein sequence has 39% overall amino acid identity with hepatitis A virus (HAV; genus Hepatovirus), compared to 19 to 21% for viruses from the other five picornavirus genera. Eleven cleavage products were predicted. The highest identity (49%) with HAV was in the P1 region, encoding the capsid proteins. The 5' and 3' untranslated regions (UTRs) comprise 494 and 136 nucleotides, respectively. The 5' UTR is the shortest of any picornavirus sequenced to date and, unlike HAV, it does not contain a long polypyrimidine tract.  (+info)

(15/4610) Geographic distribution and evolution of Sindbis virus in Australia.

The molecular epidemiology and evolution of Sindbis (SIN) virus in Australia was examined. Several SIN virus strains isolated from other countries were also included in the analysis. Two regions of the virus genome were sequenced including a 418 bp region of the E2 gene and a 484 bp region containing part of the junction region and the 5' end of the C gene. Analysis of the nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequence data from 40 SIN virus isolates clearly separated the Paleoarctic/Ethiopian and Oriental/Australian genetic types of SIN virus. Examination of the Australian strains showed a temporal rather than geographic relationship. This is consistent with the virus having migratory birds as the major vertebrate host, as it allows for movement of virus over vast areas of the continent over a relatively short period of time. The results suggest that the virus is being periodically redistributed over the continent from an enzootic focus of evolving SIN virus. However, SIN virus strains isolated from mosquitoes collected in the south-west of Australia appear to represent a new SIN virus lineage, which is distinct from the Paleoarctic/Ethiopian and Oriental/Australian lineages. Given the widespread geographic dispersal of the Paleoarctic/Ethiopian and Oriental/Australian lineages, it is surprising that the South-west genetic type is so restricted in its area of circulation. Nucleotide sequence data from the C gene of the prototype strain of the alphavirus Whataroa were also determined. This virus was found to be genetically distinct from the SIN virus isolates included in the present study; however, it is clearly SIN-like and appears to have evolved from a SIN-like ancestral virus.  (+info)

(16/4610) Neural crest can form cartilages normally derived from mesoderm during development of the avian head skeleton.

The lateral wall of the avian braincase, which is indicative of the primitive amniote condition, is formed from mesoderm. In contrast, mammals have replaced this portion of their head skeleton with a nonhomologous bone of neural crest origin. Features that characterize the local developmental environment may have enabled a neural crest-derived skeletal element to be integrated into a mesodermal region of the braincase during the course of evolution. The lateral wall of the braincase lies along a boundary in the head that separates neural crest from mesoderm, and also, neural crest cells migrate through this region on their way to the first visceral arch. Differences in the availability of one skeletogenic population versus the other may determine the final composition of the lateral wall of the braincase. Using the quail-chick chimeric system, this investigation tests if populations of neural crest, when augmented and expanded within populations of mesoderm, will give rise to the lateral wall of the braincase. Results demonstrate that neural crest can produce cartilages that are morphologically indistinguishable from elements normally generated by mesoderm. These findings (1) indicate that neural crest can respond to the same cues that both promote skeletogenesis and enable proper patterning in mesoderm, (2) challenge hypotheses on the nature of the boundary between neural crest and mesoderm in the head, and (3) suggest that changes in the allocation of migrating cells could have enabled a neural crest-derived skeletal element to replace a mesodermal portion of the braincase during evolution.  (+info)