A tyrosine-rich domain within homeodomain transcription factor Nkx2-5 is an essential element in the early cardiac transcriptional regulatory machinery. (1/33)

Homeodomain factor Nkx2-5 is a central component of the transcription factor network that guides cardiac development; in humans, mutations in NKX2.5 lead to congenital heart disease (CHD). We have genetically defined a novel conserved tyrosine-rich domain (YRD) within Nkx2-5 that has co-evolved with its homeodomain. Mutation of the YRD did not affect DNA binding and only slightly diminished transcriptional activity of Nkx2-5 in a context-specific manner in vitro. However, the YRD was absolutely essential for the function of Nkx2-5 in cardiogenesis during ES cell differentiation and in the developing embryo. Furthermore, heterozygous mutation of all nine tyrosines to alanine created an allele with a strong dominant-negative-like activity in vivo: ES cell<-->embryo chimaeras bearing the heterozygous mutation died before term with cardiac malformations similar to the more severe anomalies seen in NKX2.5 mutant families. These studies suggest a functional interdependence between the NK2 class homeodomain and YRD in cardiac development and evolution, and establish a new model for analysis of Nkx2-5 function in CHD.  (+info)

On the depth and scale of metabolic rate variation: scaling of oxygen consumption rates and enzymatic activity in the Class Cephalopoda (Mollusca). (2/33)

Recent ecological theory depends, for predictive power, on the apparent similarity of metabolic rates within broad taxonomic or functional groups of organisms (e.g. invertebrates or ectotherms). Such metabolic commonality is challenged here, as I demonstrate more than 200-fold variation in metabolic rates independent of body mass and temperature in a single class of animals, the Cephalopoda, over seven orders of magnitude size range. I further demonstrate wide variation in the slopes of metabolic scaling curves. The observed variation in metabolism reflects differential selection among species for locomotory capacity rather than mass or temperature constraints. Such selection is highest among epipelagic squids (Lolignidae and Ommastrephidae) that, as adults, have temperature-corrected metabolic rates higher than mammals of similar size.  (+info)

A model biological neural network: the cephalopod vestibular system. (3/33)

Artificial neural networks (ANNs) have become increasingly sophisticated and are widely used for the extraction of patterns or meaning from complicated or imprecise datasets. At the same time, our knowledge of the biological systems that inspired these ANNs has also progressed and a range of model systems are emerging where there is detailed information not only on the architecture and components of the system but also on their ontogeny, plasticity and the adaptive characteristics of their interconnections. We describe here a biological neural network contained in the cephalopod statocysts; the statocysts are analogous to the vertebrae vestibular system and provide the animal with sensory information on its orientation and movements in space. The statocyst network comprises only a small number of cells, made up of just three classes of neurons but, in combination with the large efferent innervation from the brain, forms an 'active' sense organs that uses feedback and feed-forward mechanisms to alter and dynamically modulate the activity within cells and how the various components are interconnected. The neurons are fully accessible to physiological investigation and the system provides an excellent model for describing the mechanisms underlying the operation of a sophisticated neural network.  (+info)

Ethics and invertebrates: a cephalopod perspective. (4/33)

This paper first explores 3 philosophical bases for attitudes to invertebrates, Contractarian/Kantian, Utilitarian, and Rights-based, and what they lead us to conclude about how we use and care for these animals. We next discuss the problems of evaluating pain and suffering in invertebrates, pointing out that physiological responses to stress are widely similar across the animal kingdom and that most animals show behavioral responses to potentially painful stimuli. Since cephalopods are often used as a test group for consideration of pain, distress and proper conditions for captivity and handling, we evaluate their behavioral and cognitive capacities. Given these capacities, we then discuss practical issues: minimization of their pain and suffering during harvesting for food; ensuring that captive cephalopods are properly cared for, stimulated and allowed to live as full a life as possible; and, lastly, working for their conservation.  (+info)

Cephalopod dynamic camouflage: bridging the continuum between background matching and disruptive coloration. (5/33)


Mechanisms and behavioural functions of structural coloration in cephalopods. (6/33)


Stable isotopes document the trophic structure of a deep-sea cephalopod assemblage including giant octopod and giant squid. (7/33)


Do cephalopods communicate using polarized light reflections from their skin? (8/33)