Post-ingestive feedbacks and associative learning regulate the intake of unsuitable sterols in a generalist grasshopper.
Behavioural studies of the grasshopper Schistocerca americana were undertaken to identify the mechanisms that regulate the intake of dietary sterols. In the first experiment, grasshoppers were allowed to feed on spinach, a plant containing only unsuitable sterols; immediately after this first meal, a suitable or unsuitable sterol was injected into the haemolymph. Grasshoppers injected with unsuitable sterols had second meals on spinach that were significantly shorter than those of grasshoppers injected with suitable sterols, indicating that unsuitable dietary sterols are detected post-ingestively. In the second experiment, grasshoppers were fed food containing only unsuitable sterols and were then presented with glass-fibre discs containing different concentrations of a suitable sterol or sucrose only (the control). The results suggest that grasshoppers do not use a direct feedback operating on mouthpart chemoreceptors to regulate their intake of suitable sterols. In the third experiment, grasshoppers were presented with artificial diets containing different sterols and flavours, and feeding was observed over a sequence of meals. The results from both the first and last experiments suggest a role for associative learning in regulating the intake of unsuitable sterols. (+info)
Association of snRNA genes with coiled bodies is mediated by nascent snRNA transcripts.
BACKGROUND: Coiled bodies are nuclear organelles that are highly enriched in small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs) and certain basal transcription factors. Surprisingly, coiled bodies not only contain mature U snRNPs but also associate with specific chromosomal loci, including gene clusters that encode U snRNAs and histone messenger RNAs. The mechanism(s) by which coiled bodies associate with these genes is completely unknown. RESULTS: Using stable cell lines, we show that artificial tandem arrays of human U1 and U2 snRNA genes colocalize with coiled bodies and that the frequency of the colocalization depends directly on the transcriptional activity of the array. Association of the genes with coiled bodies was abolished when the artificial U2 arrays contained promoter mutations that prevent transcription or when RNA polymerase II transcription was globally inhibited by alpha-amanitin. Remarkably, the association was also abolished when the U2 snRNA coding regions were replaced by heterologous sequences. CONCLUSIONS: The requirement for the U2 snRNA coding region indicates that association of snRNA genes with coiled bodies is mediated by the nascent U2 RNA itself, not by DNA or DNA-bound proteins. Our data provide the first evidence that association of genes with a nuclear organelle can be directed by an RNA and suggest an autogenous feedback regulation model. (+info)
Bcl-2 regulates amplification of caspase activation by cytochrome c.
Caspases, a family of specific proteases, have central roles in apoptosis . Caspase activation in response to diverse apoptotic stimuli involves the relocalisation of cytochrome c from mitochondria to the cytoplasm where it stimulates the proteolytic processing of caspase precursors. Cytochrome c release is controlled by members of the Bcl-2 family of apoptosis regulators  . The anti-apoptotic members Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL may also control caspase activation independently of cytochrome c relocalisation or may inhibit a positive feedback mechanism    . Here, we investigate the role of Bcl-2 family proteins in the regulation of caspase activation using a model cell-free system. We found that Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL set a threshold in the amount of cytochrome c required to activate caspases, even in soluble extracts lacking mitochondria. Addition of dATP (which stimulates the procaspase-processing factor Apaf-1  ) overcame inhibition of caspase activation by Bcl-2, but did not prevent the control of cytochrome c release from mitochondria by Bcl-2. Cytochrome c release was accelerated by active caspase-3 and this positive feedback was negatively regulated by Bcl-2. These results provide evidence for a mechanism to amplify caspase activation that is suppressed at several distinct steps by Bcl-2, even after cytochrome c is released from mitochondria. (+info)
A strategy for enhancing the transcriptional activity of weak cell type-specific promoters.
Cell type- and tissue-specific promoters play an important role in the development of site-selective vectors for gene therapy. A large number of highly specific promoters has been described, but their applicability is often hampered by their inefficient transcriptional activity. In this study, we describe a new strategy for enhancing the activity of weak promoters without loss of specificity. The basic principle of this strategy is to establish a positive feedback loop which is initiated by transcription from a cell type-specific promoter. This was achieved by using a cell type-specific promoter to drive the simultaneous expression of the desired effector/reporter gene product and a strong artificial transcriptional activator which stimulates transcription through appropriate binding sites in the promoter. Using a VP16-LexA chimeric transcription factor, we show that this approach leads to a 14- to > 100-fold enhancement of both the endothelial cell-specific von Willebrand factor promoter and the gastrointestinal-specific sucrase-isomaltase promoter while maintaining approximately 30- to > 100-fold cell type specificity. (+info)
Differential regulation of p21waf-1/cip-1 and Mdm2 by etoposide: etoposide inhibits the p53-Mdm2 autoregulatory feedback loop.
The Mdm2 protein is frequently overexpressed in human non-seminomatous germ cell tumours and transitional carcinoma of the bladder where it may contribute to tolerance of wtp53. Mdm2 forms an autoregulatory feedback loop with p53; the Mdm2 gene is responsive to transactivation by p53 and once synthesized the Mdm2 protein terminates the p53 response. We show here that the topoisomerase poison etoposide, like ultra violet irradiation, inhibits Mdm2 synthesis. Cytotoxic concentrations of etoposide (IC90 for > 3 h) result in inhibition of Mdm2 induction at both the RNA and protein level. Rapid apoptosis ensues. Global transcription is not inhibited: p21waf-1/cip1 and GADD45 expression increase in a dose dependent manner. Inhibition of Mdm2 synthesis depends on the continuous presence of etoposide, suggesting the DNA damage may prevent transcription. Downregulation of Mdm2 transcript occurs in cells expressing HPV16-E6 suggesting that inhibition of Mdm2 transcription is p53-independent. When cells are -treated with a pulse (1 h) of etoposide and reincubated in drug free medium, Mdm2 synthesis commences immediately after damage is repaired (3 h) and the p53 response is attenuated. Induction of apoptosis and loss of clonogenicity are 3-5-fold lower under pulse treatment conditions. This is the first observation of inhibition of Mdm2 transcription following treatment with topoisomerase (topo II) poisons, a feature that may be useful in tumour types where p53 is tolerated by overexpression of Mdm2. (+info)
Reciprocal control of T helper cell and dendritic cell differentiation.
It is not known whether subsets of dendritic cells provide different cytokine microenvironments that determine the differentiation of either type-1 T helper (TH1) or TH2 cells. Human monocyte (pDC1)-derived dendritic cells (DC1) were found to induce TH1 differentiation, whereas dendritic cells (DC2) derived from CD4+CD3-CD11c- plasmacytoid cells (pDC2) induced TH2 differentiation by use of a mechanism unaffected by interleukin-4 (IL-4) or IL-12. The TH2 cytokine IL-4 enhanced DC1 maturation and killed pDC2, an effect potentiated by IL-10 but blocked by CD40 ligand and interferon-gamma. Thus, a negative feedback loop from the mature T helper cells may selectively inhibit prolonged TH1 or TH2 responses by regulating survival of the appropriate dendritic cell subset. (+info)
Randomised controlled trial of effect of feedback on general practitioners' prescribing in Australia.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect on general practitioners' prescribing of feedback on their levels of prescribing. DESIGN: Randomised controlled trial. SETTING: General practice in rural Australia. PARTICIPANTS: 2440 full time recognised general practitioners practising in non-urban areas. INTERVENTION: Two sets of graphical displays (6 months apart) of their prescribing rates for 2 years, relative to those of their peers, were posted to participants. Data were provided for five main drug groups and were accompanied by educational newsletters. The control group received no information on their prescribing. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Prescribing rates in the intervention and control groups for the five main drug groups, total prescribing and potential substitute prescribing and ordering before and after the interventions. RESULTS: The intervention and control groups had similar baseline characteristics (age, sex, patient mix, practices). Median prescribing rates for the two groups were almost identical before and after the interventions. Any changes in prescribing observed in the intervention group were also seen in the control group. There was no evidence that feedback reduced the variability in prescribing nor did it differentially affect the very high or very low prescribers. CONCLUSIONS: The form of feedback evaluated here-mailed, unsolicited, centralised, government sponsored, and based on aggregate data-had no impact on the prescribing levels of general practitioners. (+info)
Inhibition of cellular growth by increased guanine nucleotide pools. Characterization of an Escherichia coli mutant with a guanosine kinase that is insensitive to feedback inhibition by GTP.
In Escherichia coli the enzyme guanosine kinase phosphorylates guanosine to GMP, which is further phosphorylated to GDP and GTP by other enzymes. Here I report that guanosine kinase is subject to efficient feedback inhibition by the end product of the pathway, GTP, and that this regulation is abolished by a previously described mutation, gsk-3, in the structural gene for guanosine kinase (Hove-Jensen, B., and Nygaard, P. (1989) J. Gen. Microbiol. 135, 1263-1273). Consequently, the gsk-3 mutant strain was extremely sensitive to guanosine, which caused the guanine nucleotide pools to increase dramatically, thereby initiating a cascade of metabolic changes that eventually led to growth arrest. By isolation and characterization of guanosine-resistant derivatives of the gsk-3 mutant, some of the crucial steps in this deleterious cascade of events were found to include the following: first, conversion of GMP to adenine nucleotides via GMP reductase, encoded by the guaC gene; second, inhibition of phosphoribosylpyrophosphate synthetase by an adenine nucleotide, presumably ADP, causing starvation for histidine, tryptophan, and pyrimidines, all of which require PRPP for their synthesis; third, accumulation of the regulatory nucleotide guanosine 5',3'-bispyrophosphate (ppGpp), a general transcriptional inhibitor synthesized by the relA gene product in response to amino acid starvation. (+info)