Posts Tagged ‘directly’

Aging Collection Marks First of Many Interdisciplinary Troves for Researchers

In the first of what will be a monthly series, SAGE Publishing will open up articles in a specific area of public interest – note, not in a specific discipline – to help researchers pursue knowledge outside of their usual silos. This month, SAGE (the parent of Social Science space) launched an interdisciplinary microsite on […]

The post Aging Collection Marks First of Many Interdisciplinary Troves for Researchers appeared first on Social Science Space.

Genetic and mechanistic diversity of piRNA 3′-end formation

Small regulatory RNAs guide Argonaute (Ago) proteins in a sequence-specific manner to their targets and therefore have important roles in eukaryotic gene silencing. Of the three small RNA classes, microRNAs and short interfering RNAs are processed from double-stranded precursors into defined 21- to 23-mers by Dicer, an endoribonuclease with intrinsic ruler function. PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs)—the 22–30-nt-long guides for PIWI-clade Ago proteins that silence transposons in animal gonads—are generated independently of Dicer from single-stranded precursors. piRNA 5′ ends are defined either by Zucchini, the Drosophila homologue of mitoPLD—a mitochondria-anchored endonuclease, or by piRNA-guided target cleavage. Formation of piRNA 3′ ends is poorly understood. Here we report that two genetically and mechanistically distinct pathways generate piRNA 3′ ends in Drosophila. The initiating nucleases are either Zucchini or the PIWI-clade proteins Aubergine (Aub) or Ago3. While Zucchini-mediated cleavages directly define mature piRNA 3′ ends, Aub/Ago3-mediated cleavages liberate pre-piRNAs that require extensive resection by the 3′-to-5′ exoribonuclease Nibbler (Drosophila homologue of Mut-7). The relative activity of these two pathways dictates the extent to which piRNAs are directed to cytoplasmic or nuclear PIWI-clade proteins and thereby sets the balance between post-transcriptional and transcriptional silencing. Notably, loss of both Zucchini and Nibbler reveals a minimal, Argonaute-driven small RNA biogenesis pathway in which piRNA 5′ and 3′ ends are directly produced by closely spaced Aub/Ago3-mediated cleavage events. Our data reveal a coherent model for piRNA biogenesis, and should aid the mechanistic dissection of the processes that govern piRNA 3′-end formation.

Tracking the ultrafast motion of a single molecule by femtosecond orbital imaging

Watching a single molecule move on its intrinsic timescale has been one of the central goals of modern nanoscience, and calls for measurements that combine ultrafast temporal resolution with atomic spatial resolution. Steady-state experiments access the requisite spatial scales, as illustrated by direct imaging of individual molecular orbitals using scanning tunnelling microscopy or the acquisition of tip-enhanced Raman and luminescence spectra with sub-molecular resolution. But tracking the intrinsic dynamics of a single molecule directly in the time domain faces the challenge that interactions with the molecule must be confined to a femtosecond time window. For individual nanoparticles, such ultrafast temporal confinement has been demonstrated by combining scanning tunnelling microscopy with so-called lightwave electronics, which uses the oscillating carrier wave of tailored light pulses to directly manipulate electronic motion on timescales faster even than a single cycle of light. Here we build on ultrafast terahertz scanning tunnelling microscopy to access a state-selective tunnelling regime, where the peak of a terahertz electric-field waveform transiently opens an otherwise forbidden tunnelling channel through a single molecular state. It thereby removes a single electron from an individual pentacene molecule’s highest occupied molecular orbital within a time window shorter than one oscillation cycle of the terahertz wave. We exploit this effect to record approximately 100-femtosecond snapshot images of the orbital structure with sub-ångström spatial resolution, and to reveal, through pump/probe measurements, coherent molecular vibrations at terahertz frequencies directly in the time domain. We anticipate that the combination of lightwave electronics and the atomic resolution of our approach will open the door to visualizing ultrafast photochemistry and the operation of molecular electronics on the single-orbital scale.

A cannabinoid link between mitochondria and memory

Cellular activity in the brain depends on the high energetic support provided by mitochondria, the cell organelles which use energy sources to generate ATP. Acute cannabinoid intoxication induces amnesia in humans and animals, and the activation of type-1 cannabinoid receptors present at brain mitochondria membranes (mtCB1) can directly alter mitochondrial energetic activity. Although the pathological impact of chronic mitochondrial dysfunctions in the brain is well established, the involvement of acute modulation of mitochondrial activity in high brain functions, including learning and memory, is unknown. Here, we show that acute cannabinoid-induced memory impairment in mice requires activation of hippocampal mtCB1 receptors. Genetic exclusion of CB1 receptors from hippocampal mitochondria prevents cannabinoid-induced reduction of mitochondrial mobility, synaptic transmission and memory formation. mtCB1 receptors signal through intra-mitochondrial Gαi protein activation and consequent inhibition of soluble-adenylyl cyclase (sAC). The resulting inhibition of protein kinase A (PKA)-dependent phosphorylation of specific subunits of the mitochondrial electron transport system eventually leads to decreased cellular respiration. Hippocampal inhibition of sAC activity or manipulation of intra-mitochondrial PKA signalling or phosphorylation of the Complex I subunit NDUFS2 inhibit bioenergetic and amnesic effects of cannabinoids. Thus, the G protein-coupled mtCB1 receptors regulate memory processes via modulation of mitochondrial energy metabolism. By directly linking mitochondrial activity to memory formation, these data reveal that bioenergetic processes are primary acute regulators of cognitive functions.

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