An epidemiological study on the association between the total leukocyte and neutrophil counts, and risk factors of ischemic heart disease by smoking status in Japanese factory workers.
Several epidemiologic studies have shown the association between total leukocyte count and the risk of developing myocardial infarction. The purpose of this study was to assess the association between the total leukocyte and neutrophil counts and risk factors of ischemic heart disease in 1,384 Japanese factory workers. Total leukocyte and neutrophil counts were significantly higher in current smokers than in non-smokers. Among current smokers, the total leukocyte and neutrophil counts were positively associated with the number of cigarettes smoked daily and the duration of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption. Being independent of smoking habit, the total leukocyte and neutrophil counts were also related to several characteristics recorded at the physical examinations. The total leukocyte and neutrophil counts were positively associated with serum total cholesterol, serum triglyceride and hematocrit levels, and inversely associated with the serum HDL-cholesterol level. No significant associations of the total leukocyte or neutrophil counts were found with the red blood cell count and hemoglobin level. These results suggest that the total leukocyte and neutrophil counts may represent the metabolic condition with a high coronary risk among apparently healthy people. (+info)
Effect of climate conditions and plant developmental stage on the stability of antibodies expressed in transgenic tobacco.
Plants are regarded as a promising system for the production of heterologous proteins. However, little is known about the influence of plant physiology and plant development on the yield and quality of the heterologous proteins produced in plants. To investigate this, tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum cv Samsun NN) was transformed with a single construct that contained behind constitutive promotors the light- and heavy-chain genes of a mouse antibody. The in planta stability of the antibody was analyzed in transgenic plants that were grown under high and low irradiation at 15 degrees C and 25 degrees C. High-light conditions favored the production of biomass, of total soluble protein, and of antibody. The plants grown at 25 degrees C developed faster and contained less antibody per amount of leaf tissue than the plants grown at 15 degrees C. Both endogenous protein and antibody content showed a strong decline during leaf development. The heavy chains of the antibody underwent in planta degradation via relatively stable fragments. In vitro incubations of purified plantibody with leaf extracts of wild-type tobacco indicated the involvement of acidic proteases. It is interesting that the same antibody produced by mouse hybridoma cells exhibited higher stability in this in vitro assay. This may be explained by the assumption that the plant type of N-glycosylation contributes less to the stability of the antibody than the mouse-type of N-glycosylation. The results of this study indicate that proteolytic degradation during plant development can be an important factor affecting yield and homogeneity of heterologous protein produced by transgenic plants. (+info)
Use of a repetitive DNA probe to type clinical and environmental isolates of Aspergillus flavus from a cluster of cutaneous infections in a neonatal intensive care unit.
Aspergillus flavus is second to A. fumigatus as a cause of invasive aspergillosis, but no standard method exists for molecular typing of strains from human sources. A repetitive DNA sequence cloned from A. flavus and subcloned into a pUC19 vector, pAF28, was used to type 18 isolates from diverse clinical, environmental, and geographic sources. The restriction fragment length polymorphisms generated with EcoRI- or PstI-digested genomic DNA and probed with digoxigenin-labeled pAF28 revealed complete concordance between patterns. Eighteen distinct fingerprints were observed. The probe was used to investigate two cases of cutaneous A. flavus infection in low-birth-weight infants in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Both infants were transported by the same ambulance and crew to the NICU on the same day. A. flavus strains of the same genotype were isolated from both infants, from a roll of tape used to fasten their umbilical catheters, from a canvas bag used to store the tape in the ambulance, and from the tape tray in the ambulance isolette. These cases highlight the need to consider exposures in critically ill neonates that might occur during their transport to the NICU and for stringent infection control practices. The hybridization profiles of strains from a second cluster of invasive A. flavus infections in two pediatric hematology-oncology patients revealed a genotype common to strains from a definite case patient and a health care worker. A probable case patient was infected with a strain with a genotype different from that of the strain from the definite case patient but highly related to that of an environmental isolate. The high degree of discrimination and reproducibility obtained with the pAF28 probe underscores its utility for typing clinical and environmental isolates of A. flavus. (+info)
Feedback control of the rate of peat formation.
The role of peatlands in the global carbon cycle is confounded by two inconsistencies. First, peatlands have been a large reservoir for carbon sequestered in the past, but may be either net sources or net sinks at present. Second, long-term rates of peat accumulation (and hence carbon sequestration) are surprisingly steady, despite great variability in the short-term rates of peat formation. Here, we present a feedback mechanism that can explain how fine-scale and short-term variability in peat-forming processes is constrained to give steady rates of peat accumulation over longer time-scales. The feedback mechanism depends on a humpbacked relationship between the rate of peat formation and the thickness of the aerobic surface layer (the acrotelm), such that individual microforms (hummocks, lawns, hollows and pools) expand or contract vertically in response to fluctuations in the position of the water table. Hummocks (but not hollows) 'evolve' to a steady state where changes in acrotelm thickness compensate for climate-mediated variations in surface wetness. With long-term growth of a topographically confined peat deposit, the steady state gradually shifts to a thicker acrotelm (i.e. taller hummocks) and lower rates of peat formation and carbon sequestration. (+info)
Stomatal oscillations at small apertures: indications for a fundamental insufficiency of stomatal feedback-control inherent in the stomatal turgor mechanism.
Continuous measurements of stomatal aperture simultaneously with gas exchange during periods of stomatal oscillations are reported for the first time. Measurements were performed in the field on attached leaves of undisturbed Sambucus nigra L. plants which were subjected to step-wise increases of PPFD. Oscillations only occurred when stomatal apertures were small under high water vapour mole fraction difference between leaf and atmosphere (DeltaW). They consisted of periodically repeated opening movements transiently leading to very small apertures. Measurements of the area of the stomatal complex in parallel to the determination of aperture were used to record volume changes of guard cells even if stomata were closed. Stomatal opening upon a light stimulus required an antecedent guard cell swelling before a slit occurred. After opening of the slit the guard cells again began to shrink which, with some delay, led to complete closure. Opening and closing were rhythmically repeated. The time-lag until initial opening was different for each individual stoma. This led to counteracting movements of closely adjacent stomata. The tendency to oscillate at small apertures is interpreted as being a failure of smoothly damped feedback regulation at the point of stomatal opening: Volume changes are ineffective for transpiration if stomata are still closed; however, at the point of initial opening transpiration rate rises steeply. This discontinuity together with the rather long time constants inherent in the stomatal turgor mechanism makes oscillatory overshooting responses likely if at high DeltaW the 'nominal value' of gas exchange demands a small aperture. (+info)
Genetic evidence for adaptation-driven incipient speciation of Drosophila melanogaster along a microclimatic contrast in "Evolution Canyon," Israel.
Substantial genetic differentiation, as great as among species, exists between populations of Drosophila melanogaster inhabiting opposite slopes of a small canyon. Previous work has shown that prezygotic sexual isolation and numerous differences in stress-related phenotypes have evolved between D. melanogaster populations in "Evolution Canyon," Israel, in which slopes 100-400 m apart differ dramatically in aridity, solar radiation, and associated vegetation. Because the canyon's width is well within flies' dispersal capabilities, we examined genetic changes associated with local adaptation and incipient speciation in the absence of geographical isolation. Here we report remarkable genetic differentiation of microsatellites and divergence in the regulatory region of hsp70Ba which encodes the major inducible heat shock protein of Drosophila, in the two populations. Additionally, an analysis of microsatellites suggests a limited exchange of migrants and lack of recent population bottlenecks. We hypothesize that adaptation to the contrasting microclimates overwhelms gene flow and is responsible for the genetic and phenotypic divergence between the populations. (+info)
Sexual and reproductive behaviour of Drosophila melanogaster from a microclimatically interslope differentiated population of "Evolution Canyon" (Mount Carmel, Israel).
The strong microscale interslope environmental differences in "Evolution Canyon" provide an excellent natural model for sympatric speciation. Our previous studies revealed significant slope-specific differences for a fitness complex of Drosophila. This complex involved either adaptation traits (tolerance to high temperature, different viability and longevity pattern) or behavioural differentiation, manifested in habitat choice and non-random mating. This remarkable differentiation has evolved despite a very small interslope distance (a few hundred metres only). Our hypothesis is that strong interslope microclimatic contrast caused differential selection for fitness-related traits accompanied by behavioural differentiation and reinforced by some sexual isolation, which started incipient speciation. Here we describe the results of a systematic analysis of sexual behaviour in a non-choice situation and several reproductive parameters of D. melanogaster populations from the opposite slopes of "Evolution Canyon". The evidence indicates that: (i) mate choice derives from differences in mating propensity and discrimination; (ii) females from the milder north-facing slope discriminate strongly against males of the opposite slope; (iii) both sexes of the south-facing slope display distinct reproductive and behavioural patterns with females showing increased fecundity, shorter time before remating and relatively higher receptivity, and males showing higher mating propensity. These patterns represent adaptive life strategies contributing to higher fitness. (+info)
Yield in cereals is a function of seed number and weight; both parameters are largely controlled by seed sink strength. The allosteric enzyme ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (AGP) plays a key role in regulating starch biosynthesis in cereal seeds and is likely the most important determinant of seed sink strength. Plant AGPs are heterotetrameric, consisting of two large and two small subunits. We transformed wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) with a modified form of the maize (Zea mays L.) Shrunken2 gene (Sh2r6hs), which encodes an altered AGP large subunit. The altered large subunit gives rise to a maize AGP heterotetramer with decreased sensitivity to its negative allosteric effector, orthophosphate, and more stable interactions between large and small subunits. The Sh2r6hs transgene was still functional after five generations in wheat. Developing seeds from Sh2r6hs transgenic wheat exhibited increased AGP activity in the presence of a range of orthophosphate concentrations in vitro. Transgenic Sh2r6hs wheat lines produced on average 38% more seed weight per plant. Total plant biomass was increased by 31% in Sh2r6hs plants. Results indicate increased availability and utilization of resources in response to enhanced seed sink strength, increasing seed yield, and total plant biomass. (+info)