An effective approach for analyzing "prefinished" genomic sequence data.
Ongoing efforts to sequence the human genome are already generating large amounts of data, with substantial increases anticipated over the next few years. In most cases, a shotgun sequencing strategy is being used, which rapidly yields most of the primary sequence in incompletely assembled sequence contigs ("prefinished" sequence) and more slowly produces the final, completely assembled sequence ("finished" sequence). Thus, in general, prefinished sequence is produced in excess of finished sequence, and this trend is certain to continue and even accelerate over the next few years. Even at a prefinished stage, genomic sequence represents a rich source of important biological information that is of great interest to many investigators. However, analyzing such data is a challenging and daunting task, both because of its sheer volume and because it can change on a day-by-day basis. To facilitate the discovery and characterization of genes and other important elements within prefinished sequence, we have developed an analytical strategy and system that uses readily available software tools in new combinations. Implementation of this strategy for the analysis of prefinished sequence data from human chromosome 7 has demonstrated that this is a convenient, inexpensive, and extensible solution to the problem of analyzing the large amounts of preliminary data being produced by large-scale sequencing efforts. Our approach is accessible to any investigator who wishes to assimilate additional information about particular sequence data en route to developing richer annotations of a finished sequence. (+info
A computational screen for methylation guide snoRNAs in yeast.
Small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) are required for ribose 2'-O-methylation of eukaryotic ribosomal RNA. Many of the genes for this snoRNA family have remained unidentified in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, despite the availability of a complete genome sequence. Probabilistic modeling methods akin to those used in speech recognition and computational linguistics were used to computationally screen the yeast genome and identify 22 methylation guide snoRNAs, snR50 to snR71. Gene disruptions and other experimental characterization confirmed their methylation guide function. In total, 51 of the 55 ribose methylated sites in yeast ribosomal RNA were assigned to 41 different guide snoRNAs. (+info
Referenceless interleaved echo-planar imaging.
Interleaved echo-planar imaging (EPI) is an ultrafast imaging technique important for applications that require high time resolution or short total acquisition times. Unfortunately, EPI is prone to significant ghosting artifacts, resulting primarily from system time delays that cause data matrix misregistration. In this work, it is shown mathematically and experimentally that system time delays are orientation dependent, resulting from anisotropic physical gradient delays. This analysis characterizes the behavior of time delays in oblique coordinates, and a new ghosting artifact caused by anisotropic delays is described. "Compensation blips" are proposed for time delay correction. These blips are shown to remove the effects of anisotropic gradient delays, eliminating the need for repeated reference scans and postprocessing corrections. Examples of phantom and in vivo images are shown. (+info
An evaluation of elongation factor 1 alpha as a phylogenetic marker for eukaryotes.
Elongation factor 1 alpha (EF-1 alpha) is a highly conserved ubiquitous protein involved in translation that has been suggested to have desirable properties for phylogenetic inference. To examine the utility of EF-1 alpha as a phylogenetic marker for eukaryotes, we studied three properties of EF-1 alpha trees: congruency with other phyogenetic markers, the impact of species sampling, and the degree of substitutional saturation occurring between taxa. Our analyses indicate that the EF-1 alpha tree is congruent with some other molecular phylogenies in identifying both the deepest branches and some recent relationships in the eukaryotic line of descent. However, the topology of the intermediate portion of the EF-1 alpha tree, occupied by most of the protist lineages, differs for different phylogenetic methods, and bootstrap values for branches are low. Most problematic in this region is the failure of all phylogenetic methods to resolve the monophyly of two higher-order protistan taxa, the Ciliophora and the Alveolata. JACKMONO analyses indicated that the impact of species sampling on bootstrap support for most internal nodes of the eukaryotic EF-1 alpha tree is extreme. Furthermore, a comparison of observed versus inferred numbers of substitutions indicates that multiple overlapping substitutions have occurred, especially on the branch separating the Eukaryota from the Archaebacteria, suggesting that the rooting of the eukaryotic tree on the diplomonad lineage should be treated with caution. Overall, these results suggest that the phylogenies obtained from EF-1 alpha are congruent with other molecular phylogenies in recovering the monophyly of groups such as the Metazoa, Fungi, Magnoliophyta, and Euglenozoa. However, the interrelationships between these and other protist lineages are not well resolved. This lack of resolution may result from the combined effects of poor taxonomic sampling, relatively few informative positions, large numbers of overlapping substitutions that obscure phylogenetic signal, and lineage-specific rate increases in the EF-1 alpha data set. It is also consistent with the nearly simultaneous diversification of major eukaryotic lineages implied by the "big-bang" hypothesis of eukaryote evolution. (+info
Hierarchical cluster analysis applied to workers' exposures in fiberglass insulation manufacturing.
The objectives of this study were to explore the application of cluster analysis to the characterization of multiple exposures in industrial hygiene practice and to compare exposure groupings based on the result from cluster analysis with that based on non-measurement-based approaches commonly used in epidemiology. Cluster analysis was performed for 37 workers simultaneously exposed to three agents (endotoxin, phenolic compounds and formaldehyde) in fiberglass insulation manufacturing. Different clustering algorithms, including complete-linkage (or farthest-neighbor), single-linkage (or nearest-neighbor), group-average and model-based clustering approaches, were used to construct the tree structures from which clusters can be formed. Differences were observed between the exposure clusters constructed by these different clustering algorithms. When contrasting the exposure classification based on tree structures with that based on non-measurement-based information, the results indicate that the exposure clusters identified from the tree structures had little in common with the classification results from either the traditional exposure zone or the work group classification approach. In terms of the defining homogeneous exposure groups or from the standpoint of health risk, some toxicological normalization in the components of the exposure vector appears to be required in order to form meaningful exposure groupings from cluster analysis. Finally, it remains important to see if the lack of correspondence between exposure groups based on epidemiological classification and measurement data is a peculiarity of the data or a more general problem in multivariate exposure analysis. (+info
A new filtering algorithm for medical magnetic resonance and computer tomography images.
Inner views of tubular structures based on computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance (MR) data sets may be created by virtual endoscopy. After a preliminary segmentation procedure for selecting the organ to be represented, the virtual endoscopy is a new postprocessing technique using surface or volume rendering of the data sets. In the case of surface rendering, the segmentation is based on a grey level thresholding technique. To avoid artifacts owing to the noise created in the imaging process, and to restore spurious resolution degradations, a robust Wiener filter was applied. This filter working in Fourier space approximates the noise spectrum by a simple function that is proportional to the square root of the signal amplitude. Thus, only points with tiny amplitudes consisting mostly of noise are suppressed. Further artifacts are avoided by the correct selection of the threshold range. Afterwards, the lumen and the inner walls of the tubular structures are well represented and allow one to distinguish between harmless fluctuations and medically significant structures. (+info
Efficacy of ampicillin plus ceftriaxone in treatment of experimental endocarditis due to Enterococcus faecalis strains highly resistant to aminoglycosides.
The purpose of this work was to evaluate the in vitro possibilities of ampicillin-ceftriaxone combinations for 10 Enterococcus faecalis strains with high-level resistance to aminoglycosides (HLRAg) and to assess the efficacy of ampicillin plus ceftriaxone, both administered with humanlike pharmacokinetics, for the treatment of experimental endocarditis due to HLRAg E. faecalis. A reduction of 1 to 4 dilutions in MICs of ampicillin was obtained when ampicillin was combined with a fixed subinhibitory ceftriaxone concentration of 4 micrograms/ml. This potentiating effect was also observed by the double disk method with all 10 strains. Time-kill studies performed with 1 and 2 micrograms of ampicillin alone per ml or in combination with 5, 10, 20, 40, and 60 micrograms of ceftriaxone per ml showed a > or = 2 log10 reduction in CFU per milliliter with respect to ampicillin alone and to the initial inoculum for all 10 E. faecalis strains studied. This effect was obtained for seven strains with the combination of 2 micrograms of ampicillin per ml plus 10 micrograms of ceftriaxone per ml and for six strains with 5 micrograms of ceftriaxone per ml. Animals with catheter-induced endocarditis were infected intravenously with 10(8) CFU of E. faecalis V48 or 10(5) CFU of E. faecalis V45 and were treated for 3 days with humanlike pharmacokinetics of 2 g of ampicillin every 4 h, alone or combined with 2 g of ceftriaxone every 12 h. The levels in serum and the pharmacokinetic parameters of the humanlike pharmacokinetics of ampicillin or ceftriaxone in rabbits were similar to those found in humans treated with 2 g of ampicillin or ceftriaxone intravenously. Results of the therapy for experimental endocarditis caused by E. faecalis V48 or V45 showed that the residual bacterial titers in aortic valve vegetations were significantly lower in the animals treated with the combinations of ampicillin plus ceftriaxone than in those treated with ampicillin alone (P < 0.001). The combination of ampicillin and ceftriaxone showed in vitro and in vivo synergism against HLRAg E. faecalis. (+info
The muscle chloride channel ClC-1 has a double-barreled appearance that is differentially affected in dominant and recessive myotonia.
Single-channel recordings of the currents mediated by the muscle Cl- channel, ClC-1, expressed in Xenopus oocytes, provide the first direct evidence that this channel has two equidistant open conductance levels like the Torpedo ClC-0 prototype. As for the case of ClC-0, the probabilities and dwell times of the closed and conducting states are consistent with the presence of two independently gated pathways with approximately 1.2 pS conductance enabled in parallel via a common gate. However, the voltage dependence of the common gate is different and the kinetics are much faster than for ClC-0. Estimates of single-channel parameters from the analysis of macroscopic current fluctuations agree with those from single-channel recordings. Fluctuation analysis was used to characterize changes in the apparent double-gate behavior of the ClC-1 mutations I290M and I556N causing, respectively, a dominant and a recessive form of myotonia. We find that both mutations reduce about equally the open probability of single protopores and that mutation I290M yields a stronger reduction of the common gate open probability than mutation I556N. Our results suggest that the mammalian ClC-homologues have the same structure and mechanism proposed for the Torpedo channel ClC-0. Differential effects on the two gates that appear to modulate the activation of ClC-1 channels may be important determinants for the different patterns of inheritance of dominant and recessive ClC-1 mutations. (+info