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Trending Papers in biochemistry

The crystal structure of the 5-HT2a receptor when bound to LSD
From Paper: Structure of a Hallucinogen-Activated Gq-Coupled 5-HT2A Serotonin Receptor
Published: Sep 2020
  • These findings could help pharmacologists design drugs that elicit the therapeutic effects of psychedelic hallucinogens without unwanted side-effects
  • This study determined the active-state structure of the 5-HT2a receptor when bound to LSD - a prototypical psychedelic hallucinogen
Submitted by Patrick Joyce
Exploring the peyote cactus transcriptome to understand the genes involved in mescaline biosynthesis
From Paper: De novo sequencing and analysis of Lophophora williamsii transcriptome, and searching for putative genes involved in mescaline biosynthesis
Published: Sep 2015
  • This report provides a catalogue of specific candidate genes that may be further expressed in model systems in order to confirm their role in mescaline biosynthesis
  • The mescaline biosynthetic pathway is poorly understood - in order to identify relevant genes, the researchers sequenced and assembled 307.2 mega-base pairs of transcriptome data
Submitted by Arye Lipman
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Reduced insulin signaling in adulthood increases fitness and longevity in a primitive model organism
From Paper: Reduced insulin signalling in adulthood protects soma and germline under mutation accumulation
Published: Aug 2020
  • Fitness of the surviving UV-induced MA lines was higher under daf-2 RNAi
  • This C. elegans study consisted of a mutation accumulation (MA) experiment with downregulated insulin signaling in half of the 400 MA lines by silencing daf-2 gene expression using RNA interference (RNAi) across 40 generations
Submitted by Patrick Joyce
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Light powered CO2 fixation in artificial chloroplasts
From Paper: Light-powered CO2 fixation in a chloroplast mimic with natural and synthetic parts
Tobias J. Erb
Hybrid approach catches lightPlant chloroplasts enclose two major photosynthetic processes: light reactions, which generate the energy carriers adenosine triphosphate and reduced nicotinamide dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH), and dark reactions, which use these molecules to fix carbon dioxide and build biomass. Miller et al. appropriated natural components, thylakoid membranes from spinach, for the light reactions and showed that these could be coupled to a synthetic enzymatic cycle that fixes carbon dioxide within water-in-oil droplets. The composition of the droplets could be tuned and optimized and the metabolic activity monitored in real time by NADPH fluorescence (see the Perspective by Gaut and Adamala). These chloroplast-mimicking droplets bring together natural and synthetic components in a small space and are amenable to further functionalization to perform complex biosynthetic tasks.Science, this issue p. 649; see also p. 587Nature integrates complex biosynthetic and energy-converting tasks within compartments such as chloroplasts and mitochondria. Chloroplasts convert light into chemical energy, driving carbon dioxide fixation. We used microfluidics to develop a chloroplast mimic by encapsulating and operating photosynthetic membranes in cell-sized droplets. These droplets can be energized by light to power enzymes or enzyme cascades and analyzed for their catalytic properties in multiplex and real time. We demonstrate how these microdroplets can be programmed and controlled by adjusting internal compositions and by using light as an external trigger. We showcase the capability of our platform by integrating the crotonyl–coenzyme A (CoA)/ethylmalonyl-CoA/hydroxybutyryl-CoA (CETCH) cycle, a synthetic network for carbon dioxide conversion, to create an artificial photosynthetic system that interfaces the natural and the synthetic biological worlds.Natural photosynthetic components power a synthetic CO2 fixation pathway in picoliter droplets.Natural photosynthetic components power a synthetic CO2 fixation pathway in picoliter droplets.
Submitted by plant biology
Β-1,4-glucanase is used by parasitic plants to naturally graft themselves onto host plants
From Paper: Host-parasite tissue adhesion by a secreted type of β-1,4-glucanase in the parasitic plant Phtheirospermum japonicum
  • The results show a gene encoding a secreted type of β-1,4-glucanase plays an important role for plant parasitism
  • This study conducted comparative transcriptome analyses on both infection and grafting by P. japonicum on Arabidopsis to understand the molecular basis of tissue adhesion between distant plant species
Submitted by Patrick Joyce
Addition of a ketone to the diet of mice with Alzheimer's Disease normalizes their behavior suggesting that mild ketosis has positive benefits for the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients
From Paper: A Dietary Ketone Ester Normalizes Abnormal Behavior in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease
  • The authors believe these findings suggest that mild ketosis could be an effective intervention to reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease in human patients
  • Hippocampal concentrations of n-acetyl-aspartate predicted the outcome of several Alzheimer's Disease behaviors in the mice, and this compound was elevated in the ketone ester test group
Submitted by Patrick Joyce
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Genome-Wide Analysis of PHOSPHOLIPID:DIACYLGLYCEROL ACYLTRANSFERASE (PDAT) Genes in Plants Reveals the Eudicot-Wide PDAT Gene Expansion and Altered Selective Pressures Acting on the Core Eudicot PDAT Paralogs
Published: Mar 2015
PHOSPHOLIPID:DIACYLGLYCEROL ACYLTRANSFERASE (PDAT) is an enzyme that catalyzes the transfer of a fatty acyl moiety from the sn-2 position of a phospholipid to the sn-3-position of sn-1,2-diacylglyerol, thus forming triacylglycerol and a lysophospholipid. Although the importance of PDAT in triacylglycerol biosynthesis has been illustrated in some previous studies, the evolutionary relationship of plant PDATs has not been studied in detail. In this study, we investigated the evolutionary relationship of the PDAT gene family across the green plants using a comparative phylogenetic framework. We found that the PDAT candidate genes are present in all examined green plants, including algae, lowland plants (a moss and a lycophyte), monocots, and eudicots. Phylogenetic analysis revealed the evolutionary division of the PDAT gene family into seven major clades. The separation is supported by the conservation and variation in the gene structure, protein properties, motif patterns, and/or selection constraints. We further demonstrated that there is a eudicot-wide PDAT gene expansion, which appears to have been mainly caused by the eudicot-shared ancient gene duplication and subsequent species-specific segmental duplications. In addition, selection pressure analyses showed that different selection constraints have acted on three core eudicot clades, which might enable paleoduplicated PDAT paralogs to either become nonfunctionalized or develop divergent expression patterns during evolution. Overall, our study provides important insights into the evolution of the plant PDAT gene family and explores the evolutionary mechanism underlying the functional diversification among the core eudicot PDAT paralogs.
Submitted by xue pan
NAD modulates DNA methylation and cell differentiation
  • NAD+ treated cells exhibit significant morphological and phenotypical changes that correspond to myeloid differentiation
  • Impairment of DNMT1 enzymatic activity by NAD-promoted ADP-ribosylation, leads to demethylation and transcriptional activation of CEBPA gene
Submitted by Patrick Joyce
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Substrate preferences of long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase and diacylglycerol acyltransferase contribute to enrichment of flax seed oil with α-linolenic acid
Published: Apr 2018
Seed oil from flax (Linum usitatissimum) is enriched in α-linolenic acid (ALA; 18:3Δ9cis,12cis,15cis), but the biochemical processes underlying the enrichment of flax seed oil with this polyunsaturated fatty acid are not fully elucidated. Here, a potential process involving the catalytic actions of long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase (LACS) and diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT) is proposed for ALA enrichment in triacylglycerol (TAG). LACS catalyzes the ATP-dependent activation of free fatty acid to form acyl-CoA, which in turn may serve as an acyl-donor in the DGAT-catalyzed reaction leading to TAG. To test this hypothesis, flax LACS and DGAT cDNAs were functionally expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains to probe their possible involvement in the enrichment of TAG with ALA. Among the identified flax LACSs, LuLACS8A exhibited significantly enhanced specificity for ALA over oleic acid (18:1Δ9cis) or linoleic acid (18:2Δ9cis,12cis). Enhanced α-linolenoyl-CoA specificity was also observed in the enzymatic assay of flax DGAT2 (LuDGAT2-3), which displayed ∼20 times increased preference toward α-linolenoyl-CoA over oleoyl-CoA. Moreover, when LuLACS8A and LuDGAT2-3 were co-expressed in yeast, both in vitro and in vivo experiments indicated that the ALA-containing TAG enrichment process was operative between LuLACS8A- and LuDGAT2-3-catalyzed reactions. Overall, the results support the hypothesis that the cooperation between the reactions catalyzed by LACS8 and DGAT2 may represent a route to enrich ALA production in the flax seed oil.
Submitted by xue pan
In Vivo and in Vitro Evidence for Biochemical Coupling of Reactions Catalyzed by Lysophosphatidylcholine Acyltransferase and Diacylglycerol Acyltransferase
Published: Jul 2015
Seed oils of flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) and many other plant species contain substantial amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is the major site for PUFA synthesis. The exact mechanisms of how these PUFAs are channeled from PC into triacylglycerol (TAG) needs to be further explored. By using in vivo and in vitro approaches, we demonstrated that the PC deacylation reaction catalyzed by the reverse action of acyl-CoA:lysophosphatidylcholine acyltransferase (LPCAT) can transfer PUFAs on PC directly into the acyl-CoA pool, making these PUFAs available for the diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT)-catalyzed reaction for TAG production. Two types of yeast mutants were generated for in vivo and in vitro experiments, respectively. Both mutants provide a null background with no endogenous TAG forming capacity and an extremely low LPCAT activity. In vivo experiments showed that co-expressing flax DGAT1-1 and LPCAT1 in the yeast quintuple mutant significantly increased 18-carbon PUFAs in TAG with a concomitant decrease of 18-carbon PUFAs in phospholipid. We further showed that after incubation of sn-2-[14C]acyl-PC, formation of [14C]TAG was only possible with yeast microsomes containing both LPCAT1 and DGAT1-1. Moreover, the specific activity of overall LPCAT1 and DGAT1-1 coupling process exhibited a preference for transferring 14C-labeled linoleoyl or linolenoyl than oleoyl moieties from the sn-2 position of PC to TAG. Together, our data support the hypothesis of biochemical coupling of the LPCAT1-catalyzed reverse reaction with the DGAT1-1-catalyzed reaction for incorporating PUFAs into TAG. This process represents a potential route for enriching TAG in PUFA content during seed development in flax.
Submitted by xue pan
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