• Context dependency of in-flight responses by Manduca sexta moths to ambient differences in relative humidity

      Wolfin, Michael S.; Raguso, Robert A.; Davidowitz, Goggy; Goyret, Joaquin; Univ Arizona, Dept Entomol (COMPANY BIOLOGISTS LTD, 2018-06)
      The use of sensory information to control behavior usually involves the integration of sensory input from different modalities. This integration is affected by behavioral states and experience, and it is also sensitive to the spatiotemporal patterns of stimulation and other general contextual cues. Following the finding that hawkmoths can use relative humidity (RH) as a proxy for nectar content during close-range foraging, we evaluate here whether RH could be used during locomotive flight under two simulated contexts in a wind tunnel: (1) dispersion and (2) search phase of the foraging behavior. Flying moths showed a bias towards air with a higher RH in a context devoid of foraging stimuli, but the addition of visual and olfactory floral stimuli elicited foraging responses that overrode the behavioral effects of RH. We discuss the results in relation to the putative adaptive value of the context-dependent use of sensory information.
    • Failure to identify modifiers of NEBULIN-related nemaline myopathy in two pre-clinical models of the disease

      Qiu, Boyang; Ruston, Julie; Granzier, Henk; Justice, Monica J; Dowling, James J; Univ Arizona, Dept Physiol (COMPANY BIOLOGISTS LTD, 2019-09-18)
      Nemaline myopathy is a rare neuromuscular disorder that affects 1 in 50,000 live births, with prevalence as high as 1 in 20,000 in certain populations. 13 genes have been linked to nemaline myopathy (NM), all of which are associated with the thin filament of the muscle sarcomere. Of the 13 associated genes, mutations in NEBULIN (NEB) accounts for up to 50% of all cases. Currently, the disease is incompletely understood and there are no available therapeutics for patients. To address this urgent need for effective treatments for patients affected by NM, we conducted a large scale chemical screen in a zebrafish model of NEB-related NM and an N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU)-based genetic screen in a mouse model of NEB exon 55 deletion, the most common NEB mutation in NM patients. Neither screen was able to identify a candidate for therapy development, highlighting the need to transition from conventional chemical therapeutics to gene-based therapies for the treatment of NM.
    • GATA2 controls lymphatic endothelial cell junctional integrity and lymphovenous valve morphogenesis through

      Mahamud, Md Riaj; Geng, Xin; Ho, Yen-Chun; Cha, Boksik; Kim, Yuenhee; Ma, Jing; Chen, Lijuan; Myers, Greggory; Camper, Sally; Mustacich, Debbie; et al. (COMPANY BIOLOGISTS LTD, 2019-11-05)
      Mutations in the transcription factor GATA2 cause lymphedema. GATA2 is necessary for the development of lymphatic valves and lymphovenous valves, and for the patterning of lymphatic vessels. Here, we report that GATA2 is not necessary for valvular endothelial cell (VEC) differentiation. Instead, GATA2 is required for VEC maintenance and morphogenesis. GATA2 is also necessary for the expression of the cell junction molecules VE-cadherin and claudin 5 in lymphatic vessels. We identified miR-126 as a target of GATA2, and miR-126-/- embryos recapitulate the phenotypes of mice lacking GATA2. Primary human lymphatic endothelial cells (HLECs) lacking GATA2 (HLECΔGATA2) have altered expression of claudin 5 and VE-cadherin, and blocking miR-126 activity in HLECs phenocopies these changes in expression. Importantly, overexpression of miR-126 in HLECΔGATA2 significantly rescues the cell junction defects. Thus, our work defines a new mechanism of GATA2 activity and uncovers miR-126 as a novel regulator of mammalian lymphatic vascular development.
    • Haploinsufficiency of mechanistic target of rapamycin ameliorates bag3 cardiomyopathy in adult zebrafish

      Ding, Yonghe; Dvornikov, Alexey V; Ma, Xiao; Zhang, Hong; Wang, Yong; Lowerison, Matthew; Packard, Rene R; Wang, Lei; Chen, Jun; Zhang, Yuji; et al. (COMPANY BIOLOGISTS LTD, 2019-10-01)
      The adult zebrafish is an emerging vertebrate model for studying human cardiomyopathies; however, whether the simple zebrafish heart can model different subtypes of cardiomyopathies, such as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), remains elusive. Here, we generated and characterized an inherited DCM model in adult zebrafish and used this model to search for therapeutic strategies. We employed transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN) genome editing technology to generate frame-shift mutants for the zebrafish ortholog of human BCL2-associated athanogene 3 (BAG3), an established DCM-causative gene. As in mammals, the zebrafish bag3 homozygous mutant (bag3e2/e2 ) exhibited aberrant proteostasis, as indicated by impaired autophagy flux and elevated ubiquitinated protein aggregation. Through comprehensive phenotyping analysis of the mutant, we identified phenotypic traits that resembled DCM phenotypes in mammals, including cardiac chamber enlargement, reduced ejection fraction characterized by increased end-systolic volume/body weight (ESV/BW), and reduced contractile myofibril activation kinetics. Nonbiased transcriptome analysis identified the hyperactivation of the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling in bag3e2/e2 mutant hearts. Further genetic studies showed that mtorxu015/+ , an mTOR haploinsufficiency mutant, repaired abnormal proteostasis, improved cardiac function and rescued the survival of the bag3e2/e2 mutant. This study established the bag3e2/e2 mutant as a DCM model in adult zebrafish and suggested mtor as a candidate therapeutic target gene for BAG3 cardiomyopathy.
    • Influence of symbiotic and non-symbiotic bacteria on pheromone production in nematodes (Nematoda, Steinernematidae)

      Roder, Alexandra C; Wang, Yuting; Butcher, Rebecca A; Stock, S Patricia; Univ Arizona, Dept Entomol, Forbes Bldg Rm 410; Univ Arizona, Sch Anim & Comparat Biomed Sci (COMPANY BIOLOGISTS LTD, 2019-09-25)
      In this study, we assessed the effect of symbiotic (cognate and non-cognate) and non-symbiotic bacteria on ascaroside production of first-generation adults in two Steinernema spp.: S. carpocapsae All strain and S. feltiae SN strain. Each nematode species was reared under three bacterial scenarios: (1) cognate symbiotic, (2) non-cognate symbiotic strain and (3) non-cognate symbiotic species. Our results showed S. carpocapsae produced four quantifiable ascaroside molecules: asc-C5, asc-C6, asc-C7 and asc-C11, whereas in S. feltiae only three molecules were detected: asc-C5, asc-C7 and asc-C11. Bacterial conditions did not significantly affect the quantity of the secreted ascarosides in first-generation adults of S. carpocapsae However, in S. feltiae, Xenorhabdus nematophila All strain influenced the production of two ascaroside molecules: asc-C5 and asc-C11.
    • Learning of bimodal versus unimodal signals in restrained bumble bees

      Riveros, Andre J; Leonard, Anne S; Gronenberg, Wulfila; Papaj, Daniel R; Univ Arizona, Dept Ecol & Evolutionary Biol; Univ Arizona, Dept Neurosci (COMPANY BIOLOGISTS LTD, 2020-05-18)
      Similar to animal communication displays, flowers emit complex signals that attract pollinators. Signal complexity could lead to higher cognitive load for pollinators, impairing performance, or might benefit them by facilitating learning, memory and decision making. Here, we evaluated learning and memory in foragers of the bumble bee Bombus impatiens trained to simple (unimodal) versus complex (bimodal) signals under restrained conditions. Use of a proboscis extension response protocol enabled us to control the timing and duration of stimuli presented during absolute and differential learning tasks. Overall, we observed broad variation in performance under the two conditions, with bees trained to compound bimodal signals learning and remembering as well as, better than or more poorly than bees trained to unimodal signals. Interestingly, the outcome of training was affected by the specific colour-odour combination. Among unimodal stimuli, the performance with odour stimuli was higher than with colour stimuli, suggesting that olfactory signals played a more significant role in the compound bimodal condition. This was supported by the fact that after 24 h, most bimodal-treatment bees responded to odour but not visual stimuli. We did not observe differences in latency of response, suggesting that signal composition affected decision accuracy, not speed. We conclude that restrained bumble bee workers exhibit broad variation of responses to bimodal stimuli and that components of the bimodal signal may not be used equivalently. The analysis of bee performance under restrained conditions enables accurate control of the multimodal stimuli provided to individuals and to study the interaction of individual components within a compound.
    • Multiple spectral channels in branchiopods. I. Vision in dim light and neural correlates

      Lessios, Nicolas; Rutowski, Ronald L.; Cohen, Jonathan H.; Sayre, Marcel E.; Strausfeld, Nicholas J.; Univ Arizona, Dept Neurosci (COMPANY BIOLOGISTS LTD, 2018-05)
      Animals that have true color vision possess several spectral classes of photoreceptors. Pancrustaceans (Hexapoda+Crustacea) that integrate spectral information about their reconstructed visual world do so from photoreceptor terminals supplying their second optic neuropils, with subsequent participation of the third (lobula) and deeper centers (optic foci). Here, we describe experiments and correlative neural arrangements underlying convergent visual pathways in two species of branchiopod crustaceans that have to cope with a broad range of spectral ambience and illuminance in ephemeral pools, yet possess just two optic neuropils, the lamina and the optic tectum. Electroretinographic recordings and multimodel inference based on modeled spectral absorptance were used to identify the most likely number of spectral photoreceptor classes in their compound eyes. Recordings from the retina provide support for four color channels. Neuroanatomical observations resolve arrangements in their laminas that suggest signal summation at low light intensities, incorporating chromatic channels. Neuroanatomical observations demonstrate that spatial summation in the lamina of the two species are mediated by quite different mechanisms, both of which allow signals from several ommatidia to be pooled at single lamina monopolar cells. We propose that such summation provides sufficient signal for vision at intensities equivalent to those experienced by insects in terrestrial habitats under dim starlight. Our findings suggest that despite the absence of optic lobe neuropils necessary for spectral discrimination utilized by true color vision, four spectral photoreceptor classes have been maintained in Branchiopoda for vision at very low light intensities at variable ambient wavelengths that typify conditions in ephemeral freshwater habitats.
    • Multiple spectral channels in branchiopods. II. Role in light-dependent behavior and natural light environments

      Lessios, Nicolas; Rutowski, Ronald L.; Cohen, Jonathan H.; Univ Arizona, Dept Neurosci (COMPANY BIOLOGISTS LTD, 2018-05)
      Light is a primary environmental factor used by aquatic invertebrates for depth selection behavior. Many branchiopod crustaceans live in ephemeral aquatic habitats. All branchiopod crustaceans studied to date express four or more visual opsins in their compound eyes. We asked whether two branchiopods, Triops longicaudatus and Streptocephalus mackini, use multiple spectral channels to regulate their position in the water column. At the lowest intensities that elicited photonegative behavior, both species had broad spectral bandwidths, suggesting they use multiple spectral photoreceptor classes. Male S. mackini were more likely to maintain a vertical position 8.0-12.0 cm below the surface than females, independently of whether females were present. Male photopositive behavior at low intensity was restricted to a narrow bandwidth centered at 532 nm, suggesting a single photoreceptor class is used to maintain position above females. We compared ephemeral pools from two regions in Arizona and found that diffuse light attenuation coefficients were two orders of magnitude greater than the most heavily attenuating coastal waters. At less than 1 m of depth, pools were often dimmer than terrestrial habitats under starlight. Soil particle size distribution in each region affected spectral light environments, and behavioral responses of field-caught shrimp were adapted to the spectral properties of their region. The results suggest that branchiopods predominantly use luminance vision summed from multiple spectral photoreceptor classes for depth selection in dim, spectrally variable environments. The neuroanatomical basis for summation is described in a companion paper.
    • A novel and cost-effective ex vivo orthotopic model for the study of human breast cancer in mouse mammary gland organ culture

      Gupta, Akash; Gupta, Geetanjali; Mehta, Rajeshwari R; Ivancic, David Z; Walker, Rashidra R; Patel, Jankiben R; Gallegos, Karen M; Davidson, A Michael; Khan, Seema A; Mehta, Rajendra G; et al. (COMPANY BIOLOGISTS LTD, 2020-05-29)
      Mouse mammary organ culture (MMOC) is used to evaluate the efficacy of chemopreventive agents against the development of carcinogen-induced preneoplastic lesions and is highly correlative to in vivo carcinogenesis models. Here, we developed a new ex vivo MMOC model, by introducing human breast cancer cells into the mouse mammary gland. This novel model, termed human breast cancer in MMOC (BCa-MMOC), mimics in vivo orthotopic breast cancer mouse models. To develop this model, estradiol- and progesterone-sensitized female mice were injected with letrozole-sensitive and -resistant T47D breast cancer cells in the mammary glands and then euthanized. The glands were cultured in vitro with hormone-supplemented media. On day 25, the glands were fixed and processed by histopathology and immunohistochemistry to evaluate for the presence of T47D cells, growth pattern, cancer markers and estradiol responsiveness. Histopathological analyses demonstrated an identical pattern of growth between the breast cancer cells injected ex vivo and in vivo Interestingly, clusters of cancer cells in the mammary gland stroma appeared similar to those observed in human breast tumors. The injected T47D cells survived and proliferated for 15 days maintaining expression of estrogen receptor alpha (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and aromatase. The aromatase-overexpressing T47D grown in the BCa-MMOC sufficiently metabolized estrogen, resulting in enhanced cell proliferation, induction of estrogen target genes (i.e. ER and PR-B), and showed typical changes to estrogenic milieu. In summary, here we show a novel, inexpensive ex vivo model, to potentially study the effects of therapeutic agents on cancer cells grown in an orthotopic micromilieu.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.
    • Octopamine mobilizes lipids from honey bee (Apis mellifera) hypopharyngeal glands

      Corby-Harris, Vanessa; Deeter, Megan E; Snyder, Lucy; Meador, Charlotte; Welchert, Ashley C; Hoffman, Amelia; Obernesser, Bethany T; Univ Arizona, Dept Entomol (COMPANY BIOLOGISTS LTD, 2020-04-16)
      Recent widespread honey bee (Apis mellifera) colony loss is attributed to a variety of stressors, including parasites, pathogens, pesticides and poor nutrition. In principle, we can reduce stress-induced declines in colony health by either removing the stressor or increasing the bees' tolerance to the stressor. This latter option requires a better understanding than we currently have of how honey bees respond to stress. Here, we investigated how octopamine, a stress-induced hormone that mediates invertebrate physiology and behavior, influences the health of young nurse-aged bees. Specifically, we asked whether octopamine induces abdominal lipid and hypopharyngeal gland (HG) degradation, two physiological traits of stressed nurse bees. Nurse-aged workers were treated topically with octopamine and their abdominal lipid content, HG size and HG autophagic gene expression were measured. Hemolymph lipid titer was measured to determine whether tissue degradation was associated with the release of nutrients from these tissues into the hemolymph. The HGs of octopamine-treated bees were smaller than control bees and had higher levels of HG autophagy gene expression. Octopamine-treated bees also had higher levels of hemolymph lipid compared with control bees. Abdominal lipids did not change in response to octopamine. Our findings support the hypothesis that the HGs are a rich source of stored energy that can be mobilized during periods of stress.
    • Serine 319 phosphorylation is necessary and sufficient to induce a Cx37 conformation that leads to arrested cell cycling

      Taylor, Samantha-Su Z.; Jacobsen, Nicole L.; Pontifex, Tasha K.; Langlais, Paul; Burt, Janis M.; Univ Arizona, Coll Med; Univ Arizona, Dept Physiol; Univ Arizona, Dept Med (COMPANY BIOLOGISTS LTD, 2020-06-18)
      Connexin 37 (Cx37; protein product of GJA4) expression profoundly suppresses proliferation of rat insulinoma (Rin) cells in a manner dependent on gap junction channel (GJCh) functionality and the presence and phosphorylation status of its C-terminus (CT). In Rin cells, growth is arrested upon induced Cx37 expression and serine 319 (S319) is frequently phosphorylated. Here, we show that preventing phosphorylation at this site (alanine substitution; S319A) relieved Cx37 of its growth-suppressive effect whereas mimicking phosphorylation at this site (aspartate substitution; S319D) enhanced the growth-suppressive properties of Cx37. Like wild-type Cx37 (Cx37-WT), Cx37-S319D GJChs and hemichannels (HChs) preferred the closed state, rarely opening fully, and gated slowly. In contrast, Cx37-S319A channels preferred open states, opened fully and gated rapidly. These data indicate that phosphorylation-dependent conformational differences in Cx37 protein and channel function underlie Cx37-induced growth arrest versus growth-permissive phenotypes. That the closed state of Cx37-WT and Cx37-S319D GJChs and HChs favors growth arrest suggests that rather than specific permeants mediating cell cycle arrest, the closed conformation instead supports interaction of Cx37 with growth regulatory proteins that result in growth arrest.