Eukaryotic DNA is hierarchically packaged into chromatin to fit inside the nucleus. Dynamics of the chromatin structure plays a critical role in transcriptional regulation and other biological processes that involve DNA, such as DNA replication and DNA repair. Many factors, including histone variants, histone modification, DNA methylation and the binding of non-histone architectural proteins regulate the structure of chromatin. Although the structure of nucleosomes, the fundamental repeating unit of chromatin, is clear, there is still much discussion on the higher-order levels of chromatin structure. Identifying the structural details and dynamics of higher-order chromatin fibers is therefore very important for understanding the organization and regulation of gene activities. Here, we review studies on the dynamics of chromatin higher-order structure and its relationship with gene transcription.
The aim of synthetic biology is to design artificial biological systems for novel applications. From an engineering perspective, construction of biological systems of defined functionality in a hierarchical way is fundamental to this emerging field. Here, we highlight some current advances on design of several basic building blocks in synthetic biology including the artificial gene control elements, synthetic circuits and their assemblies into devices and modules. Such engineered basic building blocks largely expand the synthetic toolbox and contribute to our understanding of the underlying design principles of living cells.
microRNAs (miRNAs) are 20–24 nucleotide (nt) RNAs that regulate eukaryotic gene expression post-transcriptionally by the degradation or translational inhibition of their target messenger RNAs (mRNAs). To identify miRNA target genes will help a lot by understanding their biological functions. Sophisticated computational approaches for miRNA target prediction, and effective biological techniques for validating these targets now play a central role in elucidating their functions. Owing to the imperfect complementarity of animal miRNAs with their targets, it is difficult to judge the accuracy of the prediction. Complexity of regulation by miRNA-mediated targets at protein and mRNAs levels has made it more challenging to identify the targets. To date, only a few miRNAs targets are confirmed. In this article, we review the methods of miRNA target prediction and the experimental validation for their corresponding mRNA targets in animals.
Morphogenesis and maturation of viral particles is an essential step of viral replication. An infectious herpesviral particle has a multilayered architecture, and contains a large DNA genome, a capsid shell, a tegument and an envelope spiked with glycoproteins. Unique to herpesviruses, tegument is a structure that occupies the space between the nucleocapsid and the envelope and contains many virus encoded proteins called tegument proteins. Historically the tegument has been described as an amorphous structure, but increasing evidence supports the notion that there is an ordered addition of tegument during virion assembly, which is consistent with the important roles of tegument proteins in the assembly and egress of herpesviral particles. In this review we first give an overview of the herpesvirus assembly and egress process. We then discuss the roles of selected tegument proteins in each step of the process, i.e., primary envelopment, deenvelopment, secondary envelopment and transport of viral particles. We also suggest key issues that should be addressed in the near future.
Polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) is a key regulator of cell division in eukaryotic cells. In this short review, we briefly summarized the well-established functions modulated by Plk1 during mitosis. Beyond mitosis, we focused mainly on the unexpected processes in which Plk1 emerges as a critical player, including microtubule dynamics, DNA replication, chromosome dynamics, p53 regulation, and recovery from the G2 DNA-damage checkpoint. Our discussion is mainly based on the critical substrates targeted by Plk1 during these cellular events and the functional significance associated with each phosphorylation event.
The emergence of total drug-resistant tuberculosis (TDR-TB) has made the discovery of new therapies for tuberculosis urgent. The cytoplasmic enzymes of peptidoglycan biosynthesis have generated renewed interest as attractive targets for the development of new antimycobacterials. One of the cytoplasmic enzymes, uridine diphosphate (UDP)-MurNAc-tripeptide ligase (MurE), catalyses the addition of meso-diaminopimelic acid (
Tyrosine aminotransferase (TAT) catalyzes the transamination of tyrosine and other aromatic amino acids. The enzyme is thought to play a role in tyrosinemia type II, hepatitis and hepatic carcinoma recovery. The objective of this study is to investigate its biochemical and structural characteristics and substrate specificity in order to provide insight regarding its involvement in these diseases. Mouse TAT (mTAT) was cloned from a mouse cDNA library, and its recombinant protein was produced using
Complement proteins in blood recognize charged particles. The anionic phospholipid (aPL) cardiolipin binds both complement proteins C1q and factor H. C1q is an activator of the complement classical pathway, while factor H is an inhibitor of the alternative pathway. To examine opposing effects of C1q and factor H on complement activation by aPL, we surveyed C1q and factor H binding, and complement activation by aPL, either coated on microtitre plates or in liposomes. Both C1q and factor H bound to all aPL tested, and competed directly with each other for binding. All the aPL activated the complement classical pathway, but negligibly the alternative pathway, consistent with accepted roles of C1q and factor H. However, in this system, factor H, by competing directly with C1q for binding to aPL, acts as a direct regulator of the complement classical pathway. This regulatory mechanism is distinct from its action on the alternative pathway. Regulation of classical pathway activation by factor H was confirmed by measuring C4 activation by aPL in human sera in which the C1q:factor H molar ratio was adjusted over a wide range. Thus factor H, which is regarded as a down-regulator only of the alternative pathway, has a distinct role in downregulating activation of the classical complement pathway by aPL. A factor H homologue, β2-glycoprotein-1, also strongly inhibits C1q binding to cardiolipin. Recombinant globular domains of C1q A, B and C chains bound aPL similarly to native C1q, confirming that C1q binds aPL via its globular heads.