by Keyword: Action

Cassani M, Fernandes S, Oliver-De La Cruz J, Durikova H, Vrbsky J, Patočka M, Hegrova V, Klimovic S, Pribyl J, Debellis D, Skladal P, Cavalieri F, Caruso F, Forte G, (2023). YAP Signaling Regulates the Cellular Uptake and Therapeutic Effect of Nanoparticles Advanced Science , e2302965

Interactions between living cells and nanoparticles are extensively studied to enhance the delivery of therapeutics. Nanoparticles size, shape, stiffness, and surface charge are regarded as the main features able to control the fate of cell-nanoparticle interactions. However, the clinical translation of nanotherapies has so far been limited, and there is a need to better understand the biology of cell-nanoparticle interactions. This study investigates the role of cellular mechanosensitive components in cell-nanoparticle interactions. It is demonstrated that the genetic and pharmacologic inhibition of yes-associated protein (YAP), a key component of cancer cell mechanosensing apparatus and Hippo pathway effector, improves nanoparticle internalization in triple-negative breast cancer cells regardless of nanoparticle properties or substrate characteristics. This process occurs through YAP-dependent regulation of endocytic pathways, cell mechanics, and membrane organization. Hence, the study proposes targeting YAP may sensitize triple-negative breast cancer cells to chemotherapy and increase the selectivity of nanotherapy.© 2023 The Authors. Advanced Science published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.

JTD Keywords: Bio-nano interactions, Cancer treatment, Mechanobiology, Nanoparticles, Yap-signaling

Torras N, Zabalo J, Abril E, Carré A, García-Díaz M, Martínez E, (2023). A bioprinted 3D gut model with crypt-villus structures to mimic the intestinal epithelial-stromal microenvironment Biomaterials Advances 153, 213534

The intestine is a complex tissue with a characteristic three-dimensional (3D) crypt-villus architecture, which plays a key role in the intestinal function. This function is also regulated by the intestinal stroma that actively supports the intestinal epithelium, maintaining the homeostasis of the tissue. Efforts to account for the 3D complex structure of the intestinal tissue have been focused mainly in mimicking the epithelial barrier, while solutions to include the stromal compartment are scarce and unpractical to be used in routine experiments. Here we demonstrate that by employing an optimized bioink formulation and the suitable printing parameters it is possible to produce fibroblast-laden crypt-villus structures by means of digital light projection stereolithography (DLP-SLA). This process provides excellent cell viability, accurate spatial resolution, and high printing throughput, resulting in a robust biofabrication approach that yields functional gut mucosa tissues compatible with conventional testing techniques.Copyright © 2023 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: 3d microstructure, barrier, cells, epithelial-stromal interactions, gelma-pegda soft hydrogels, growth, hydrogel, intestinal mucosa model, methacrylamide, microfabrication, proliferation, scaffold, stereolithography, 3d bioprinting, 3d microstructure, Epithelial-stromal interactions, Fibroblasts, Gelma-pegda soft hydrogels, Intestinal mucosa model

Malandain, N, Sanz-Fraile, H, Farre, R, Otero, J, Roig, A, Laromaine, A, (2023). Cell-Laden 3D Hydrogels of Type I Collagen Incorporating Bacterial Nanocellulose Fibers Acs Applied Bio Materials 6, 3638-3647

There is a growing interest in developing natural hydrogel-based scaffolds to culture cells in a three-dimensional (3D) millieu that better mimics the in vivo cells' microenvironment. A promising approach is to use hydrogels from animal tissues, such as decellularized extracellular matrices; however, they usually exhibit suboptimal mechanical properties compared to native tissue and their composition with hundreds of different protein complicates to elucidate which stimulus triggers cell's responses. As simpler scaffolds, type I collagen hydrogels are used to study cell behavior in mechanobiology even though they are also softer than native tissues. In this work, type I collagen is mixed with bacterial nanocellulose fibers (BCf) to develop reinforced scaffolds with mechanical properties suitable for 3D cell culture. BCf were produced from blended pellicles biosynthesized from Komagataeibacter xylinus. Then, BCf were mixed with concentrated collagen from rat-tail tendons to form composite hydrogels. Confocal laser scanning microscopy and scanning electron microscopy images confirmed the homogeneous macro- and microdistribution of both natural polymers. Porosity analysis confirmed that BCf do not disrupt the scaffold structure. Tensile strength and rheology measurements demonstrated the reinforcement action of BCf (43% increased stiffness) compared to the collagen hydrogel while maintaining the same viscoelastic response. Additionally, this reinforcement of collagen hydrogels with BCf offers the possibility to mix cells before gelation and then proceed to the culture of the 3D cell scaffolds. We obtained scaffolds with human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells or human fibroblasts within the composite hydrogels, allowing a homogeneous 3D viable culture for at least 7 days. A smaller surface shrinkage in the reinforced hydrogels compared to type I collagen hydrogels confirmed the strengthening of the composite hydrogels. These collagen hydrogels reinforced with BCf might emerge as a promising platform for 3D in vitro organ modeling, tissue-engineering applications, and suitable to conduct fundamental mechanobiology studies.

JTD Keywords: 3d cell culture, bacterial cellulose, collagen, composite hydrogels, 3d cell culture, Bacterial cellulose, Cellulose/collagen composite, Collagen, Composite hydrogels, Contraction, Cross-linking, Cytocompatibility, Fibroblasts, Matrix, Mechanical-properties, Reinforcement, Stiffness, Tissue engineering

Noguchi H, Walani N, Arroyo M, (2023). Estimation of anisotropic bending rigidities and spontaneous curvatures of crescent curvature-inducing proteins from tethered-vesicle experimental data Soft Matter 19, 5300-5310

The Bin/amphiphysin/Rvs (BAR) superfamily proteins have a crescent binding domain and bend biomembranes along the domain axis. However, their anisotropic bending rigidities and spontaneous curvatures have not been experimentally determined. Here, we estimated these values from the bound protein densities on tethered vesicles using a mean-field theory of anisotropic bending energy and orientation-dependent excluded volume. The dependence curves of the protein density on the membrane curvature are fitted to the experimental data for the I-BAR and N-BAR domains reported by C. Prevost et al. Nat. Commun., 2015, 6, 8529 and F.-C. Tsai et al. Soft Matter, 2021, 17, 4254-4265, respectively. For the I-BAR domain, all three density curves of different chemical potentials exhibit excellent fits with a single parameter set of anisotropic bending energy. When the classical isotropic bending energy is used instead, one of the curves can be fitted well, but the others exhibit large deviations. In contrast, for the N-BAR domain, two curves are not well fitted simultaneously the anisotropic model, although it is significantly improved compared to the isotropic model. This deviation likely suggests a cluster formation of the N-BAR domains.

JTD Keywords: Membrane-mediated interactions,elastic properties,bar,shape,mechanisms,inclusions,generation,polymers,driven,bod

Javier-Reyna R, Avalos-Padilla Y, Marion S, (2023). Editorial: Vesicular transport, the actin cytoskeleton and their involvement in virulence mechanisms during host-parasite interaction Frontiers In Cellular And Infection Microbiology 13, 1229067

Espanol, Montserrat, Davis, Emilia, Meslet, Eliott, Mestres, Gemma, Montufar, Edgar B., Ginebra, Maria-Pau, (2023). Effect of moisture on the reactivity of alpha-tricalcium phosphate Ceramics International 49, 18228-18237

Garcia, Luna, Palma-Florez, Sujey, Espinosa, Victor, Soleimani Rokni, Fatemeh, Lagunas, Anna, Mir, Mònica, García-Celma, María José, Samitier, Josep, Rodríguez-Abreu, Carlos, Grijalvo, Santiago, (2023). Ferulic acid-loaded polymeric nanoparticles prepared from nano-emulsion templates facilitate internalisation across the blood?brain barrier in model membranes Nanoscale 15, 7929-7944

Ferulic acid-loaded PLGA NPs were synthesised via low-energy emulsification methods utilising nano-emulsion templating including permeabilisation efficiency assessed using an in vitro organ-on-a-chip system that simulates the blood-brain barrier.

JTD Keywords: alzheimers-disease, curcumin, energy, nanocarriers, nanoemulsions, plga nanoparticles, polyreactions, release, transport, Drug-delivery-systems

Cominetti, O, Agarwal, S, Oller-Moreno, S, (2023). Editorial: Advances in methods and tools for multi-omics data analysis Frontiers In Molecular Biosciences 10, 1186822

Eills J, Budker D, Cavagnero S, Chekmenev EY, Elliott SJ, Jannin S, Lesage A, Matysik J, Meersmann T, Prisner T, Reimer JA, Yang H, Koptyug IV, (2023). Spin Hyperpolarization in Modern Magnetic Resonance Chemical Reviews 123, 1417-1551

Magnetic resonance techniques are successfully utilized in a broad range of scientific disciplines and in various practical applications, with medical magnetic resonance imaging being the most widely known example. Currently, both fundamental and applied magnetic resonance are enjoying a major boost owing to the rapidly developing field of spin hyperpolarization. Hyperpolarization techniques are able to enhance signal intensities in magnetic resonance by several orders of magnitude, and thus to largely overcome its major disadvantage of relatively low sensitivity. This provides new impetus for existing applications of magnetic resonance and opens the gates to exciting new possibilities. In this review, we provide a unified picture of the many methods and techniques that fall under the umbrella term "hyperpolarization" but are currently seldom perceived as integral parts of the same field. Specifically, before delving into the individual techniques, we provide a detailed analysis of the underlying principles of spin hyperpolarization. We attempt to uncover and classify the origins of hyperpolarization, to establish its sources and the specific mechanisms that enable the flow of polarization from a source to the target spins. We then give a more detailed analysis of individual hyperpolarization techniques: the mechanisms by which they work, fundamental and technical requirements, characteristic applications, unresolved issues, and possible future directions. We are seeing a continuous growth of activity in the field of spin hyperpolarization, and we expect the field to flourish as new and improved hyperpolarization techniques are implemented. Some key areas for development are in prolonging polarization lifetimes, making hyperpolarization techniques more generally applicable to chemical/biological systems, reducing the technical and equipment requirements, and creating more efficient excitation and detection schemes. We hope this review will facilitate the sharing of knowledge between subfields within the broad topic of hyperpolarization, to help overcome existing challenges in magnetic resonance and enable novel applications.

JTD Keywords: electron-paramagnetic-resonance, high-resolution nmr, hydrogen-induced polarization, level anti-crossings, long-lived states, parahydrogen-induced polarization, photosynthetic reaction-center, reversible exchange catalysis, solid-state nmr, Dynamic-nuclear-polarization

Pintado-Grima C, Santos J, Iglesias V, Manglano-Artuñedo Z, Pallarès I, Ventura S, (2023). Exploring cryptic amyloidogenic regions in prion-like proteins from plants Frontiers In Plant Science 13, 1060410

Prion-like domains (PrLDs) are intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) of low sequence complexity with a similar composition to yeast prion domains. PrLDs-containing proteins have been involved in different organisms' regulatory processes. Regions of moderate amyloid propensity within IDRs have been shown to assemble autonomously into amyloid fibrils. These sequences tend to be rich in polar amino acids and often escape from the detection of classical bioinformatics screenings that look for highly aggregation-prone hydrophobic sequence stretches. We defined them as cryptic amyloidogenic regions (CARs) and recently developed an integrated database that collects thousands of predicted CARs in IDRs. CARs seem to be evolutionary conserved among disordered regions because of their potential to stablish functional contacts with other biomolecules. Here we have focused on identifying and characterizing CARs in prion-like proteins (pCARs) from plants, a lineage that has been poorly studied in comparison with other prionomes. We confirmed the intrinsic amyloid potential for a selected pCAR from Arabidopsis thaliana and explored functional enrichments and compositional bias of pCARs in plant prion-like proteins.Copyright © 2023 Pintado-Grima, Santos, Iglesias, Manglano-Artuñedo, Pallarès and Ventura.

JTD Keywords: aggregation, aromatic residues, bioinformatics, domains, functional interactions, identify proteins, plants, prediction, prion-like domains, q/n-rich, regulator, sup35, yeast, Bioinformatics, Cryptic amyloidogenic regions, Functional interactions, Plants, Prion-like domains, Rna-binding proteins

Wang, ZH, Klingner, A, Magdanz, V, Hoppenreijs, MW, Misra, S, Khalil, ISM, (2023). Flagellar Propulsion of Sperm Cells Against a Time-Periodic Interaction Force Advanced Biology 7, 2200210

Sperm cells undergo complex interactions with external environments, such as a solid-boundary, fluid flow, as well as other cells before arriving at the fertilization site. The interaction with the oviductal epithelium, as a site of sperm storage, is one type of cell-to-cell interaction that serves as a selection mechanism. Abnormal sperm cells with poor swimming performance, the major cause of male infertility, are filtered out by this selection mechanism. In this study, collinear bundles, consisting of two sperm cells, generate propulsive thrusts along opposite directions and allow to observe the influence of cell-to-cell interaction on flagellar wave-patterns. The developed elasto-hydrodynamic model demonstrates that steric and adhesive forces lead to highly symmetrical wave-pattern and reduce the bending amplitude of the propagating wave. It is measured that the free cells exhibit a mean flagellar curvature of 6.4 +/- 3.5 rad mm(-1) and a bending amplitude of 13.8 +/- 2.8 rad mm(-1). After forming the collinear bundle, the mean flagellar curvature and bending amplitude are decreased to 1.8 +/- 1.1 and 9.6 +/- 1.4 rad mm(-1), respectively. This study presents consistent theoretical and experimental results important for understanding the adaptive behavior of sperm cells to the external time-periodic force encountered during sperm-egg interaction.

JTD Keywords: bovine sperm cells, cell-to-cell interaction, flagellar propulsion, Bovine sperm cells, Cell-to-cell interaction, Cilia, Filaments, Flagellar propulsion, Hydrodynamic models, Mechanism, Micro-video, Model, Motility, Thermotaxis, Transformations, Transition

Bertran, Oscar, Martí, Didac, Torras, Juan, Turon, Pau, Alemán, Carlos, (2022). Computer simulations on oxidative stress-induced reactions in SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein: a multi-scale approach Molecular Diversity 26, 3143-3155

Abstract Oxidative stress, which occurs when an organism is exposed to an adverse stimulus that results in a misbalance of antioxidant and pro-oxidants species, is the common denominator of diseases considered as a risk factor for SARS-CoV-2 lethality. Indeed, reactive oxygen species caused by oxidative stress have been related to many virus pathogenicity. In this work, simulations have been performed on the receptor binding domain of SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein to study what residues are more susceptible to be attacked by ·OH, which is one of the most reactive radicals associated to oxidative stress. The results indicate that isoleucine (ILE) probably plays a crucial role in modification processes driven by radicals. Accordingly, QM/MM-MD simulations have been conducted to study both the ·OH-mediated hydrogen abstraction of ILE residues and the induced modification of the resulting ILE radical through hydroxylation or nitrosylation reactions. All in all, in silico studies show the importance of the chemical environment triggered by oxidative stress on the modifications of the virus, which is expected to help for foreseeing the identification or development of antioxidants as therapeutic drugs. Graphic abstract

JTD Keywords: atom abstraction, damage, density functionals, hydrogen abstraction, isoleucine, molecular dynamics, pathogenesis, protein, reactive oxygen species, receptor binding domain, residues, spike protein, Amino-acids, Hydrogen abstraction, Isoleucine, Molecular dynamics, Reactive oxygen species, Receptor binding domain, Spike protein

Burgués J, Doñate S, Esclapez MD, Saúco L, Marco S, (2022). Characterization of odour emissions in a wastewater treatment plant using a drone-based chemical sensor system Science Of The Total Environment 846, 157290

Conventionally, odours emitted by different sources present in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are measured by dynamic olfactometry, where a human panel sniffs and analyzes air bags collected from the plant. Although the method is considered the gold standard, the process is costly, slow, and infrequent, which does not allow operators to quickly identify and respond to problems. To better monitor and map WWTP odour emissions, here we propose a small rotary-wing drone equipped with a lightweight (1.3-kg) electronic nose. The "sniffing drone" sucks in air via a ten-meter (33-foot) tube and delivers it to a sensor chamber where it is analyzed in real-time by an array of 21 gas sensors. From the sensor signals, machine learning (ML) algorithms predict the odour concentration that a human panel using the EN13725 methodology would report. To calibrate and validate the predictive models, the drone also carries a remotely controlled sampling device (compliant with EN13725:2022) to collect sample air in bags for post-flight dynamic olfactometry. The feasibility of the proposed system is assessed in a WWTP in Spain through several measurement campaigns covering diverse operating regimes of the plant and meteorological conditions. We demonstrate that training the ML algorithms with dynamic (transient) sensor signals measured in flight conditions leads to better performance than the traditional approach of using steady-state signals measured in the lab via controlled exposures to odour bags. The comparison of the electronic nose predictions with dynamic olfactometry measurements indicates a negligible bias between the two measurement techniques and 95 % limits of agreement within a factor of four. This apparently large disagreement, partly caused by the high uncertainty of olfactometric measurements (typically a factor of two), is more than offset by the immediacy of the predictions and the practical advantages of using a drone-based system.Copyright © 2022. Published by Elsevier B.V.

JTD Keywords: calibration, chemical sensors, drone, dynamic olfactometry, electronic nose, odourquantification, olfaction, volatile organic-compounds, wwtp, Calibration, Chemical sensors, Drone, Dynamic olfactometry, Electronic nose, Environmental monitoring, Odour quantification, Olfaction, Variable selection methods, Wwtp

Zambarda C, Pérez González C, Schoenit A, Veits N, Schimmer C, Jung R, Ollech D, Christian J, Roca-Cusachs P, Trepat X, Cavalcanti-Adam EA, (2022). Epithelial cell cluster size affects force distribution in response to EGF-induced collective contractility European Journal Of Cell Biology 101, 151274

Several factors present in the extracellular environment regulate epithelial cell adhesion and dynamics. Among them, growth factors such as EGF, upon binding to their receptors at the cell surface, get internalized and directly activate the acto-myosin machinery. In this study we present the effects of EGF on the contractility of epithelial cancer cell colonies in confined geometry of different sizes. We show that the extent to which EGF triggers contractility scales with the cluster size and thus the number of cells. Moreover, the collective contractility results in a radial distribution of traction forces, which are dependent on integrin β1 peripheral adhesions and transmitted to neighboring cells through adherens junctions. Taken together, EGF-induced contractility acts on the mechanical crosstalk and linkage between the cell-cell and cell-matrix compartments, regulating collective responses.Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier GmbH.. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: actin, activation, actomyosin, adherens junctions, adhesion, e-cadherin, egf, maturation, mechanical regulation, micropatterning, migration, traction forces, transduction, transmission, Actomyosin, Adherens junctions, Collective contractility, Egf, Epidermal-growth-factor, Micropatterning, Traction forces

Martens KJA, Gobes M, Archontakis E, Brillas RR, Zijlstra N, Albertazzi L, Hohlbein J, (2022). Enabling Spectrally Resolved Single-Molecule Localization Microscopy at High Emitter Densities Nano Letters 22, 8618-8625

Single-molecule localization microscopy (SMLM) is a powerful super-resolution technique for elucidating structure and dynamics in the life- and material sciences. Simultaneously acquiring spectral information (spectrally resolved SMLM, sSMLM) has been hampered by several challenges: an increased complexity of the optical detection pathway, lower accessible emitter densities, and compromised spatio-spectral resolution. Here we present a single-component, low-cost implementation of sSMLM that addresses these challenges. Using a low-dispersion transmission grating positioned close to the image plane, the +1stdiffraction order is minimally elongated and is analyzed using existing single-molecule localization algorithms. The distance between the 0th and 1st order provides accurate information on the spectral properties of individual emitters. This method enables a 5-fold higher emitter density while discriminating between fluorophores whose peak emissions are less than 15 nm apart. Our approach can find widespread use in single-molecule applications that rely on distinguishing spectrally different fluorophores under low photon conditions.

JTD Keywords: cells, multicolor imaging, nanoscopy, particle tracking, point accumulation for imaging in nanoscale topography (paint), precision, single-molecule fo?rster resonance energy transfer (smfret), stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (storm), Diffraction-limit, Multicolor imaging, Point accumulation for imaging in nanoscale topography (paint), Single-molecule förster resonance energy transfer (smfret), Single-molecule spectroscopy, Stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (storm)

Hino N, Matsuda K, Jikko Y, Maryu G, Sakai K, Imamura R, Tsukiji S, Aoki K, Terai K, Hirashima T, Trepat X, Matsuda M, (2022). A feedback loop between lamellipodial extension and HGF-ERK signaling specifies leader cells during collective cell migration Developmental Cell 57, 2290-2304

Upon the initiation of collective cell migration, the cells at the free edge are specified as leader cells; however, the mechanism underlying the leader cell specification remains elusive. Here, we show that lamellipodial extension after the release from mechanical confinement causes sustained extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation and underlies the leader cell specification. Live-imaging of Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells and mouse epidermis through the use of Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based biosensors showed that leader cells exhibit sustained ERK activation in a hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)-dependent manner. Meanwhile, follower cells exhibit oscillatory ERK activation waves in an epidermal growth factor (EGF) signaling-dependent manner. Lamellipodial extension at the free edge increases the cellular sensitivity to HGF. The HGF-dependent ERK activation, in turn, promotes lamellipodial extension, thereby forming a positive feedback loop between cell extension and ERK activation and specifying the cells at the free edge as the leader cells. Our findings show that the integration of physical and biochemical cues underlies the leader cell specification during collective cell migration.Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: activation, c-met, contact inhibition, focal adhesions, heparan-sulfate, mechanical forces, morphogenesis, rho, stress fibers, Collective cell migration, Erk, Feedback regulation, Fret, Growth-factor receptor, Hgf, Lamellipodia, Leader cell specification, Signal transduction, Traction force, Wound healing

Morcillo I Soler P, Hidalgo C, Fekete Z, Zalanyi L, Khalil ISM, Yeste M, Magdanz V, (2022). Bundle formation of sperm: Influence of environmental factors Frontiers In Endocrinology 13, 957684

Cooperative behaviour of sperm is one of the mechanisms that plays a role in sperm competition. It has been observed in several species that spermatozoa interact with each other to form agglomerates or bundles. In this study, we investigate the effect of physical and biochemical factors that will most likely promote bundle formation in bull sperm. These factors include fluid viscosity, swim-up process, post-thaw incubation time and media additives which promote capacitation. While viscosity does not seem to influence the degree of sperm bundling, swim-up, post-thaw migration time and suppressed capacitation increase the occurrence of sperm bundles. This leads to the conclusion that sperm bundling is a result of hydrodynamic and adhesive interactions between the cells which occurs frequently during prolonged incubation times.Copyright © 2022 Morcillo i Soler, Hidalgo, Fekete, Zalanyi, Khalil, Yeste and Magdanz.

JTD Keywords: acrosome reaction, adhesion, bundling, capacitation, cell-cell interaction, cooperation, cooperative behaviour, fertilization, mammals, membrane, motility, progesterone, sperm competition, sperm migration, sperm selection, Bovine spermatozoa, Bundling, Cell-cell interaction, Cooperative behaviour, Sperm competition, Sperm migration, Sperm selection, Spermatozoa

Phuyal, Santosh, Djaerff, Elena, Le Roux, Anabel‐Lise, Baker, Martin J, Fankhauser, Daniela, Mahdizadeh, Sayyed Jalil, Reiterer, Veronika, Parizadeh, Amirabbas, Felder, Edward, Kahlhofer, Jennifer C, Teis, David, Kazanietz, Marcelo G, Geley, Stephan, Eriksson, Leif, Roca‐Cusachs, Pere, Farhan, Hesso, (2022). Mechanical strain stimulates COPII-dependent secretory trafficking via Rac1 Embo Journal 41, e110596

Cells are constantly exposed to various chemical and physical stimuli. While much has been learned about the biochemical factors that regulate secretory trafficking from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), much less is known about whether and how this trafficking is subject to regulation by mechanical signals. Here, we show that subjecting cells to mechanical strain both induces the formation of ER exit sites (ERES) and accelerates ER-to-Golgi trafficking. We found that cells with impaired ERES function were less capable of expanding their surface area when placed under mechanical stress and were more prone to develop plasma membrane defects when subjected to stretching. Thus, coupling of ERES function to mechanotransduction appears to confer resistance of cells to mechanical stress. Furthermore, we show that the coupling of mechanotransduction to ERES formation was mediated via a previously unappreciated ER-localized pool of the small GTPase Rac1. Mechanistically, we show that Rac1 interacts with the small GTPase Sar1 to drive budding of COPII carriers and stimulates ER-to-Golgi transport. This interaction therefore represents an unprecedented link between mechanical strain and export from the ER.© 2022 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.

JTD Keywords: cells, copii, docking, endoplasmic reticulum, endoplasmic-reticulum, er, gtpase, mechanobiology, proliferation, protein, reticulum exit sites, web server, Copii, Fast interaction refinement, Mechanobiology

Zamora RA, López-Ortiz M, Sales-Mateo M, Hu C, Croce R, Maniyara RA, Pruneri V, Giannotti MI, Gorostiza P, (2022). Light- and Redox-Dependent Force Spectroscopy Reveals that the Interaction between Plastocyanin and Plant Photosystem I Is Favored when One Partner Is Ready for Electron Transfer Acs Nano 16, 15155-15164

Photosynthesis is a fundamental process that converts photons into chemical energy, driven by large protein complexes at the thylakoid membranes of plants, cyanobacteria, and algae. In plants, water-soluble plastocyanin (Pc) is responsible for shuttling electrons between cytochrome b6f complex and the photosystem I (PSI) complex in the photosynthetic electron transport chain (PETC). For an efficient turnover, a transient complex must form between PSI and Pc in the PETC, which implies a balance between specificity and binding strength. Here, we studied the binding frequency and the unbinding force between suitably oriented plant PSI and Pc under redox control using single molecule force spectroscopy (SMFS). The binding frequency (observation of binding-unbinding events) between PSI and Pc depends on their respective redox states. The interaction between PSI and Pc is independent of the redox state of PSI when Pc is reduced, and it is disfavored in the dark (reduced P700) when Pc is oxidized. The frequency of interaction between PSI and Pc is higher when at least one of the partners is in a redox state ready for electron transfer (ET), and the post-ET situation (PSIRed-PcOx) leads to lower binding. In addition, we show that the binding of ET-ready PcRed to PSI can be regulated externally by Mg2+ ions in solution.

JTD Keywords: architecture, binding-site, complexes, ferredoxin, force spectroscopy, induced structural-changes, interprotein electron transfer, light-dependent interaction, mg2+ concentration, photosystem i, plastocyanin, probe, recognition, reduction, Force spectroscopy, Interprotein electron transfer, Light-dependent interaction, Photosynthetic reaction-center, Photosystem i, Plastocyanin, Single molecule measurements

Wells-Cembrano, Karen, Sala-Jarque, Júlia, del Rio, Jose A., (2022). Development of a simple and versatile in vitro method for production, stimulation, and analysis of bioengineered muscle Plos One 17, e0272610

In recent years, 3D in vitro modeling of human skeletal muscle has emerged as a subject of increasing interest, due to its applicability in basic studies or screening platforms. These models strive to recapitulate key features of muscle architecture and function, such as cell alignment, maturation, and contractility in response to different stimuli. To this end, it is required to culture cells in biomimetic hydrogels suspended between two anchors. Currently available protocols are often complex to produce, have a high rate of breakage, or are not adapted to imaging and stimulation. Therefore, we sought to develop a simplified and reliable protocol, which still enabled versatility in the study of muscle function. In our method, we have used human immortalized myoblasts cultured in a hydrogel composed of MatrigelTM and fibrinogen, to create muscle strips suspended between two VELCROTM anchors. The resulting muscle constructs show a differentiated phenotype and contractile activity in response to electrical, chemical and optical stimulation. This activity is analyzed by two alternative methods, namely contraction analysis and calcium analysis with Fluo-4 AM. In all, our protocol provides an optimized version of previously published methods, enabling individual imaging of muscle bundles and straightforward analysis of muscle response with standard image analysis software. This system provides a start-to-finish guide on how to produce, validate, stimulate, and analyze bioengineered muscle. This ensures that the system can be quickly established by researchers with varying degrees of expertise, while maintaining reliability and similarity to native muscle.

JTD Keywords: cells, contraction, models, Differentiation

García-Díaz, María, Cendra, Maria del Mar, Alonso-Roman, Raquel, Urdániz, María, Torrents, Eduard, Martínez, Elena, (2022). Mimicking the Intestinal Host–Pathogen Interactions in a 3D In Vitro Model: The Role of the Mucus Layer Pharmaceutics 14, 1552

The intestinal mucus lines the luminal surface of the intestinal epithelium. This mucus is a dynamic semipermeable barrier and one of the first-line defense mechanisms against the outside environment, protecting the body against chemical, mechanical, or biological external insults. At the same time, the intestinal mucus accommodates the resident microbiota, providing nutrients and attachment sites, and therefore playing an essential role in the host–pathogen interactions and gut homeostasis. Underneath this mucus layer, the intestinal epithelium is organized into finger-like protrusions called villi and invaginations called crypts. This characteristic 3D architecture is known to influence the epithelial cell differentiation and function. However, when modelling in vitro the intestinal host–pathogen interactions, these two essential features, the intestinal mucus and the 3D topography are often not represented, thus limiting the relevance of the models. Here we present an in vitro model that mimics the small intestinal mucosa and its interactions with intestinal pathogens in a relevant manner, containing the secreted mucus layer and the epithelial barrier in a 3D villus-like hydrogel scaffold. This 3D architecture significantly enhanced the secretion of mucus. In infection with the pathogenic adherent invasive E. coli strain LF82, characteristic of Crohn’s disease, we observed that this secreted mucus promoted the adhesion of the pathogen and at the same time had a protective effect upon its invasion. This pathogenic strain was able to survive inside the epithelial cells and trigger an inflammatory response that was milder when a thick mucus layer was present. Thus, we demonstrated that our model faithfully mimics the key features of the intestinal mucosa necessary to study the interactions with intestinal pathogens.

JTD Keywords: 3d in vitro models, barrier function, bile-salts, cells, drug-delivery, host-pathogen interaction, host–pathogen interaction, hydrogels, ileal mucosa, infection, intestinal models, intestinal mucus, microbiome, patient, responses, 3d in vitro models, Intestinal mucus, Invasive escherichia-coli

Engel, AK, Verschure, PFMJ, Kragic, D, Polani, D, Effenberg, AO, Konig, P, (2022). Editorial: Sensorimotor Foundations of Social Cognition Frontiers In Human Neuroscience 16, 971133-971133

Lopez-Mengual, A, Segura-Feliu, M, Sunyer, R, Sanz-Fraile, H, Otero, J, Mesquida-Veny, F, Gil, V, Hervera, A, Ferrer, I, Soriano, J, Trepat, X, Farre, R, Navajas, D, del Rio, JA, (2022). Involvement of Mechanical Cues in the Migration of Cajal-Retzius Cells in the Marginal Zone During Neocortical Development Frontiers In Cell And Developmental Biology 10, 886110

Emerging evidence points to coordinated action of chemical and mechanical cues during brain development. At early stages of neocortical development, angiogenic factors and chemokines such as CXCL12, ephrins, and semaphorins assume crucial roles in orchestrating neuronal migration and axon elongation of postmitotic neurons. Here we explore the intrinsic mechanical properties of the developing marginal zone of the pallium in the migratory pathways and brain distribution of the pioneer Cajal-Retzius cells. These neurons are generated in several proliferative regions in the developing brain (e.g., the cortical hem and the pallial subpallial boundary) and migrate tangentially in the preplate/marginal zone covering the upper portion of the developing cortex. These cells play crucial roles in correct neocortical layer formation by secreting several molecules such as Reelin. Our results indicate that the motogenic properties of Cajal-Retzius cells and their perinatal distribution in the marginal zone are modulated by both chemical and mechanical factors, by the specific mechanical properties of Cajal-Retzius cells, and by the differential stiffness of the migratory routes. Indeed, cells originating in the cortical hem display higher migratory capacities than those generated in the pallial subpallial boundary which may be involved in the differential distribution of these cells in the dorsal-lateral axis in the developing marginal zone.

JTD Keywords: atomic force microscopy, cajal-retzius cells, cortical development, marginal zone, mechanical cues, Atomic force microscopy, Cajal-retzius cells, Central-nervous-system, Cortical development, Cortical hem, Developing cerebral-cortex, Expression, Growth, Marginal zone, Mechanical cues, Mouse, Neuronal migration, Nogo receptor, Olfactory ensheathing cells, Tangential migration, Traction force microscopy

Martí D, Martín-Martínez E, Torras J, Betran O, Turon P, Alemán C, (2022). In silico study of substrate chemistry effect on the tethering of engineered antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 detection: Amorphous silica vs gold Colloids And Surfaces B-Biointerfaces 213, 112400

The influence of the properties of different solid substrates on the tethering of two antibodies, IgG1-CR3022 and IgG1-S309, which were specifically engineered for the detection of SARS-CoV-2, has been examined at the molecular level using conventional and accelerated Molecular Dynamics (cMD and aMD, respectively). Two surfaces with very different properties and widely used in immunosensors for diagnosis, amorphous silica and the most stable facet of the face-centered cubic gold structure, have been considered. The effects of such surfaces on the structure and orientation of the immobilized antibodies have been determined by quantifying the tilt and hinge angles that describe the orientation and shape of the antibody, respectively, and the dihedrals that measure the relative position of the antibody arms with respect to the surface. Results show that the interactions with amorphous silica, which are mainly electrostatic due to the charged nature of the surface, help to preserve the orientation and structure of the antibodies, especially of the IgG1-CR3022, indicating that the primary sequence of those antibodies also plays some role. Instead, short-range van der Waals interactions with the inert gold surface cause a higher degree tilting and fraying of the antibodies with respect to amorphous silica. The interactions between the antibodies and the surface also affect the correlation among the different angles and dihedrals, which increases with their strength. Overall, results explain why amorphous silica substrates are frequently used to immobilize antibodies in immunosensors. © 2022 The Authors

JTD Keywords: amorphous silica, antibody immobilization, enzyme, gol d, gold, immobilization, immunosensor, molecu l a r dynamics, molecular dynamics, protein adsorption, sars-cov-2 immunosensor, simulations, spike protein, surface interactions, target, vaccine, Amorphous silica, Antibodies, Antibody engineering, Antibody immobilization, Antibody structure, Article, Chemical detection, Computer model, Controlled study, Dihedral angle, Gold, In-silico, Molecular dynamics, Molecular levels, Molecular-dynamics, Nonhuman, Property, Sars, Sars-cov-2 immunosensor, Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, Silica, Silico studies, Silicon dioxide, Solid substrates, Structure analysis, Substrate chemistry, Substrates, Van der waals forces, Virus detection

Karkali, K, Tiwari, P, Singh, A, Tlili, S, Jorba, I, Navajas, D, Munoz, JJ, Saunders, TE, Martin-Blanco, E, (2022). Condensation of the Drosophila nerve cord is oscillatory and depends on coordinated mechanical interactions Developmental Cell 57, 867-882

During development, organs reach precise shapes and sizes. Organ morphology is not always obtained through growth; a classic counterexample is the condensation of the nervous system during Drosophila embryogenesis. The mechanics underlying such condensation remain poorly understood. Here, we characterize the condensation of the embryonic ventral nerve cord (VNC) at both subcellular and tissue scales. This analysis reveals that condensation is not a unidirectional continuous process but instead occurs through oscillatory contractions. The VNC mechanical properties spatially and temporally vary, and forces along its longitudinal axis are spatially heterogeneous. We demonstrate that the process of VNC condensation is dependent on the coordinated mechanical activities of neurons and glia. These outcomes are consistent with a viscoelastic model of condensation, which incorporates time delays and effective frictional interactions. In summary, we have defined the progressive mechanics driving VNC condensation, providing insights into how a highly viscous tissue can autonomously change shape and size.

JTD Keywords: actomyosin, central nervous system, drosophila, glia, mechanics, morphogenesis, neuron, ventral nerve cord, Collagen-iv, Contraction, Forces, Gene, Glial-cells, Migration, Morphogenesis, Quantification, System, Tissue, Viscolelastic model

Tejedera-Villafranca, A, Mangas-Florencio, L, Yeste, J, Ramon-Azcon, J, Fernandez-Costa, JM, (2022). A FUNCTIONAL 3D SKELETAL MUSCLE MODEL FOR DUCHENNE MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY FOR THE EVALUATION OF POTENTIAL THERAPIES (Abstract 2157) Tissue Engineering Part a 28, S612

Research into the development of therapeutic strategies is basedmainly on animal models and cell cultures. The ability to extrapolatedata from them is limited, and research on new drugs cannot beperformed efficiently. This is especially dramatic in rare diseases,which are intrinsically very heterogeneous. The generation of ad-vanced models using tissue engineering and patient-derived cellsallows fabricating new platforms for studying pathological processesand discovering new potential drugs. Here, we developed a patient-derived 3D functional skeletal muscle for Duchenne muscular dys-trophy (DMD). DMD is the most prevalent neuromuscular diseasediagnosed during childhood. The disease is characterized by pro-gressive degeneration of skeletal and cardiac muscle caused by thelack of dystrophin protein. Although there are several molecules indrug development for DMD, there is no treatment available for pa-tients to date. By using a 3D-printed casting mold, we encapsulatedpatient-derived myogenic precursor cells in a fibrin-composite ma-trix. This platform incorporated two flexible T-shaped pillars thatprovided continuous tension to the tissue, thus allowing the orien-tation of the muscle fibers. Our 3D muscle model expressed maturemuscle markers and responded to electric pulse stimulation (EPS).Besides, contraction dynamics between DMD and control tissueswere shown to be different. Moreover, an increase of damagemarkers after EPS was observed in DMD but not in healthy tissues.Finally, the tissues will be integrated into a microfluidic device tomonitor drug administration. Eventually, the microfluidic systemwill be connected to a biosensors system for the real-time detectionof biomarkers.

JTD Keywords: Casting, Contraction dynamics, Muscular dystrophy

Bonilla-Pons SÀ, Nakagawa S, Bahima EG, Fernández-Blanco Á, Pesaresi M, D'Antin JC, Sebastian-Perez R, Greco D, Domínguez-Sala E, Gómez-Riera R, Compte RIB, Dierssen M, Pulido NM, Cosma MP, (2022). Müller glia fused with adult stem cells undergo neural differentiation in human retinal models Ebiomedicine 77, 103914

Visual impairments are a critical medical hurdle to be addressed in modern society. Müller glia (MG) have regenerative potential in the retina in lower vertebrates, but not in mammals. However, in mice, in vivo cell fusion between MG and adult stem cells forms hybrids that can partially regenerate ablated neurons.We used organotypic cultures of human retina and preparations of dissociated cells to test the hypothesis that cell fusion between human MG and adult stem cells can induce neuronal regeneration in human systems. Moreover, we established a microinjection system for transplanting human retinal organoids to demonstrate hybrid differentiation.We first found that cell fusion occurs between MG and adult stem cells, in organotypic cultures of human retina as well as in cell cultures. Next, we showed that the resulting hybrids can differentiate and acquire a proto-neural electrophysiology profile when the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway is activated in the adult stem cells prior fusion. Finally, we demonstrated the engraftment and differentiation of these hybrids into human retinal organoids.We show fusion between human MG and adult stem cells, and demonstrate that the resulting hybrid cells can differentiate towards neural fate in human model systems. Our results suggest that cell fusion-mediated therapy is a potential regenerative approach for treating human retinal dystrophies.This work was supported by La Caixa Health (HR17-00231), Velux Stiftung (976a) and the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, (BFU2017-86760-P) (AEI/FEDER, UE), AGAUR (2017 SGR 689, 2017 SGR 926).Published by Elsevier B.V.

JTD Keywords: cell fusion, expression, fusion, ganglion-cells, in-vitro, mouse, müller glia, neural differentiation, organoids, regeneration, retina regeneration, stem cells, stromal cells, transplantation, 4',6 diamidino 2 phenylindole, 5' nucleotidase, Agarose, Alcohol, Arpe-19 cell line, Article, Beta catenin, Beta tubulin, Bone-marrow-cells, Bromophenol blue, Buffer, Calcium cell level, Calcium phosphate, Calretinin, Canonical wnt signaling, Cd34 antigen, Cell culture, Cell fusion, Cell viability, Coculture, Complementary dna, Confocal microscopy, Cornea transplantation, Cryopreservation, Cryoprotection, Crystal structure, Current clamp technique, Dimethyl sulfoxide, Dodecyl sulfate sodium, Edetic acid, Electrophysiology, Endoglin, Fetal bovine serum, Fibroblast growth factor 2, Flow cytometry, Fluorescence activated cell sorting, Fluorescence intensity, Glyceraldehyde 3 phosphate dehydrogenase, Glycerol, Glycine, Hoe 33342, Immunofluorescence, Immunohistochemistry, Incubation time, Interleukin 1beta, Lentivirus vector, Matrigel, Mercaptoethanol, Microinjection, Mueller cell, Müller glia, N methyl dextro aspartic acid, Nerve cell differentiation, Neural differentiation, Nitrogen, Nonhuman, Organoids, Paraffin, Paraffin embedding, Paraformaldehyde, Patch clamp technique, Penicillin derivative, Phenolsulfonphthalein, Phenotype, Phosphate buffered saline, Phosphoprotein phosphatase inhibitor, Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, Potassium chloride, Povidone iodine, Promoter region, Proteinase inhibitor, Real time polymerase chain reaction, Receptor type tyrosine protein phosphatase c, Restriction endonuclease, Retina, Retina dystrophy, Retina regeneration, Retinol, Rhodopsin, Rna extraction, Stem cell, Stem cells, Subcutaneous fat, Tunel assay, Visual impairment, Western blotting

Dhiman, Shikha, Andrian, Teodora, Gonzalez, Beatriz Santiago, Tholen, Marrit ME., Wang, Yuyang, Albertazzi, Lorenzo, (2022). Can super-resolution microscopy become a standard characterization technique for materials chemistry? Chemical Science 13, 2152-2166

The characterization of newly synthesized materials is a cornerstone of all chemistry and nanotechnology laboratories. For this purpose, a wide array of analytical techniques have been standardized and are used routinely by laboratories across the globe. With these methods we can understand the structure, dynamics and function of novel molecular architectures and their relations with the desired performance, guiding the development of the next generation of materials. Moreover, one of the challenges in materials chemistry is the lack of reproducibility due to improper publishing of the sample preparation protocol. In this context, the recent adoption of the reporting standard MIRIBEL (Minimum Information Reporting in Bio–Nano Experimental Literature) for material characterization and details of experimental protocols aims to provide complete, reproducible and reliable sample preparation for the scientific community. Thus, MIRIBEL should be immediately adopted in publications by scientific journals to overcome this challenge. Besides current standard spectroscopy and microscopy techniques, there is a constant development of novel technologies that aim to help chemists unveil the structure of complex materials. Among them super-resolution microscopy (SRM), an optical technique that bypasses the diffraction limit of light, has facilitated the study of synthetic materials with multicolor ability and minimal invasiveness at nanometric resolution. Although still in its infancy, the potential of SRM to unveil the structure, dynamics and function of complex synthetic architectures has been highlighted in pioneering reports during the last few years. Currently, SRM is a sophisticated technique with many challenges in sample preparation, data analysis, environmental control and automation, and moreover the instrumentation is still expensive. Therefore, SRM is currently limited to expert users and is not implemented in characterization routines. This perspective discusses the potential of SRM to transition from a niche technique to a standard routine method for material characterization. We propose a roadmap for the necessary developments required for this purpose based on a collaborative effort from scientists and engineers across disciplines.

JTD Keywords: blinking, fluorophore, intramolecular spirocyclization, localization, nanoparticles, resolution limit, reveals, single-molecule fluorescence, stimulated-emission, Characterization techniques, Diffraction, Distributed computer systems, Environmental management, Information reporting, Material chemistry, Materials characterization, Minimum information, Optical reconstruction microscopy, Optical resolving power, Sample preparation, Structure dynamics, Structure functions, Super-resolution microscopy, Synthesized materials

Pérez-González, Carlos, Ceada, Gerardo, Matejcic, Marija, Trepat, Xavier, (2022). Digesting the mechanobiology of the intestinal epithelium Current Opinion In Genetics & Development 72, 82-90

The dizzying life of the homeostatic intestinal epithelium is governed by a complex interplay between fate, form, force and function. This interplay is beginning to be elucidated thanks to advances in intravital and ex vivo imaging, organoid culture, and biomechanical measurements. Recent discoveries have untangled the intricate organization of the forces that fold the monolayer into crypts and villi, compartmentalize cell types, direct cell migration, and regulate cell identity, proliferation and death. These findings revealed that the dynamic equilibrium of the healthy intestinal epithelium relies on its ability to precisely coordinate tractions and tensions in space and time. In this review, we discuss recent findings in intestinal mechanobiology, and highlight some of the many fascinating questions that remain to be addressed in this emerging field.Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: crypt fission, designer matrices, differentiation, growth, gut, migration, model, scaffold, tissue mechanics, Cell migration, Cell proliferation, Ex vivo study, Human tissue, Intestine epithelium, Monolayer culture, Organoid, Review, Stem-cell, Tension, Traction therapy

Martí, Didac, Alemán, Carlos, Ainsley, Jon, Ahumada, Oscar, Torras, Juan, (2022). IgG1-b12–HIV-gp120 Interface in Solution: A Computational Study Journal Of Chemical Information And Modeling 62, 359-371

The use of broadly neutralizing antibodies against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) has been shown to be a promising therapeutic modality in the prevention of HIV infection. Understanding the b12-gp120 binding mechanism under physiological conditions may assist the development of more broadly effective antibodies. In this work, the main conformations and interactions between the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of spike glycoprotein gp120 of HIV-1 and the IgG1-b12 mAb are studied. Accelerated molecular dynamics (aMD) and ab initio hybrid molecular dynamics have been combined to determine the most persistent interactions between the most populated conformations of the antibody-antigen complex under physiological conditions. The results show the most persistent receptor-binding mapping in the conformations of the antibody-antigen interface in solution. The binding-free-energy decomposition reveals a small enhancement in the contribution played by the CDR-H3 region to the b12-gp120 interface compared to the crystal structure.

JTD Keywords: antibody, complex, functionals, gp120 envelope glycoprotein, hiv, immunodeficiency-virus, noncovalent interactions, simulations, software integration, Ab initio, Accelerated molecular dynamics, Accelerated molecular-dynamics, Antibodies, Antigens, Binding energy, Binding mechanisms, Computational studies, Crystal structure, Diseases, Free energy, Hiv infection, Human immunodeficiency virus, Molecular dynamics, Neutralizing antibodies, Physiological condition, Physiology, Receptor-binding domains, Therapeutic modality, Viruses

Gawish R, Starkl P, Pimenov L, Hladik A, Lakovits K, Oberndorfer F, Cronin SJF, Ohradanova-Repic A, Wirnsberger G, Agerer B, Endler L, Capraz T, Perthold JW, Cikes D, Koglgruber R, Hagelkruys A, Montserrat N, Mirazimi A, Boon L, Stockinger H, Bergthaler A, Oostenbrink C, Penninger JM, Knapp S, (2022). ACE2 is the critical in vivo receptor for SARS-CoV-2 in a novel COVID-19 mouse model with TNF-and IFNy-driven immunopathology Elife 11,

Despite tremendous progress in the understanding of COVID-19, mechanistic insight into immunological, disease-driving factors remains limited. We generated maVie16, a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV-2, by serial passaging of a human isolate. In silico modeling revealed how only three Spike mutations of maVie16 enhanced interaction with murine ACE2. maVie16 induced profound pathology in BALB/c and C57BL/6 mice, and the resulting mouse COVID-19 (mCOVID-19) replicated critical aspects of human disease, including early lymphopenia, pulmonary immune cell infiltration, pneumonia, and specific adaptive immunity. Inhibition of the proinflammatory cyto-kines IFN? and TNF substantially reduced immunopathology. Importantly, genetic ACE2-deficiency completely prevented mCOVID-19 development. Finally, inhalation therapy with recombinant ACE2 fully protected mice from mCOVID-19, revealing a novel and efficient treatment. Thus, we here present maVie16 as a new tool to model COVID-19 for the discovery of new therapies and show that disease severity is determined by cytokine-driven immunopathology and critically dependent on ACE2 in vivo. © Gawish et al.

JTD Keywords: covid-19 mouse model, covid-19 therapy, cytokine storm, immunology, inflammation, mavie16, mouse, mouse-adapted sars-cov-2, program, recombinant soluble ace2, tmprss2, Adaptive immunity, Angiotensin converting enzyme 2, Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, Animal, Animal cell, Animal experiment, Animal model, Animal tissue, Animals, Apoptosis, Article, Bagg albino mouse, Breathing rate, Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, C57bl mouse, Cell composition, Cell infiltration, Controlled study, Coronavirus disease 2019, Coronavirus spike glycoprotein, Covid-19, Cytokeratin 18, Cytokine production, Dipeptidyl carboxypeptidase, Disease model, Disease models, animal, Disease severity, Drosophila-melanogaster, Enzyme linked immunosorbent assay, Expression vector, Flow cytometry, Gamma interferon, Gene editing, Gene expression, Gene mutation, Genetic engineering, Genetics, Glycosylation, High mobility group b1 protein, Histology, Histopathology, Immune response, Immunocompetent cell, Immunology, Immunopathology, Interferon-gamma, Interleukin 2, Metabolism, Mice, inbred balb c, Mice, inbred c57bl, Mouse-adapted sars-cov-2, Myeloperoxidase, Neuropilin 1, Nonhuman, Nucleocapsid protein, Pathogenicity, Peptidyl-dipeptidase a, Pyroptosis, Recombinant soluble ace2, Renin angiotensin aldosterone system, Rna extraction, Rna isolation, Sars-cov-2, Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, Spike glycoprotein, coronavirus, T lymphocyte activation, Trabecular meshwork, Tumor necrosis factor, Virology, Virus load, Virus replication, Virus transmission, Virus virulence

Guallar-Garrido, Sandra, Almiñana-Rapún, Farners, Campo-Pérez, Víctor, Torrents, Eduard, Luquin, Marina, Julián, Esther, (2022). BCG Substrains Change Their Outermost Surface as a Function of Growth Media Vaccines 10, 40

Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) efficacy as an immunotherapy tool can be influenced by the genetic background or immune status of the treated population and by the BCG substrain used. BCG comprises several substrains with genetic differences that elicit diverse phenotypic characteristics. Moreover, modifications of phenotypic characteristics can be influenced by culture conditions. However, several culture media formulations are used worldwide to produce BCG. To elucidate the influence of growth conditions on BCG characteristics, five different substrains were grown on two culture media, and the lipidic profile and physico-chemical properties were evaluated. Our results show that each BCG substrain displays a variety of lipidic profiles on the outermost surface depending on the growth conditions. These modifications lead to a breadth of hydrophobicity patterns and a different ability to reduce neutral red dye within the same BCG substrain, suggesting the influence of BCG growth conditions on the interaction between BCG cells and host cells.

JTD Keywords: cell wall, efficacy, glycerol, hydrophobicity, lipid, neutral red, pdim, pgl, protein, strains, viability, virulence, Acylglycerol, Albumin, Article, Asparagine, Bacterial cell wall, Bacterial gene, Bacterium culture, Bcg vaccine, Catalase, Cell wall, Chloroform, Controlled study, Escherichia coli, Gene expression, Genomic dna, Glycerol, Glycerol monomycolate, Hexadecane, Housekeeping gene, Hydrophobicity, Immune response, Immunogenicity, Immunotherapy, Lipid, Lipid fingerprinting, Magnesium sulfate, Mercaptoethanol, Methanol, Methylglyoxal, Molybdatophosphoric acid, Mycobacterium bovis bcg, Neutral red, Nonhuman, Pdim, Petroleum ether, Pgl, Phenotype, Physical chemistry, Real time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, Rna 16s, Rna extraction, Rv0577, Staining, Thin layer chromatography, Unclassified drug

Perez-Madrigal, MM, Gilb, AM, Casanovas, J, Jimenez, AI, Macor, LP, Aleman, C, (2022). Self-assembly pathways in a triphenylalanine peptide capped with aromatic groups Colloids And Surfaces B-Biointerfaces 216, 112522

Peptide derivatives and, most specifically, their self-assembled supramolecular structures are being considered in the design of novel biofunctional materials. Although the self-assembly of triphenylalanine homopeptides has been found to be more versatile than that of homopeptides containing an even number of residues (i.e. diphe-nylalanine and tetraphenylalanine), only uncapped triphenylalanine (FFF) and a highly aromatic analog blocked at both the N-and C-termini with fluorenyl-containing groups (Fmoc-FFF-OFm), have been deeply studied before. In this work, we have examined the self-assembly of a triphenylalanine derivative bearing 9-fluorenylme-thyloxycarbonyl and benzyl ester end-capping groups at the N-and C-termini, respectively (Fmoc-FFF-OBzl). The antiparallel arrangement clearly dominates in beta-sheets formed by Fmoc-FFF-OBzl, whereas the parallel and antiparallel dispositions are almost isoenergetic in Fmoc-FFF-OFm beta-sheets and the parallel one is slightly favored for FFF. The effects of both the peptide concentration and the mediu m on the self-assembly process have been examined considering Fmoc-FFF-OBzl solutions in a wide variety of solvent:co-solvent mixtures. In addi-tion, Fmoc-FFF-OBzl supramolecular structures have been compared to those obtained for FFF and Fmoc-FFF-OFm under identical experimental conditions. The strength of pi-pi stacking interactions involving the end-capping groups plays a crucial role in the nucleation and growth of supramolecular structures, which de-termines the resulting morphology. Finally, the influence of a non-invasive external stimulus, ultrasounds, on the nucleation and growth of supramolecular structures has been examined. Overall, FFF-based peptides provide a wide range of supramolecular structures that can be of interest in the biotechnological field.

JTD Keywords: aromatic interactions, beta-sheet, hierarchical structures, phenylalanine homopeptides, supramolecular structures, Amino-acids, Aromatic interactions, Beta-sheet, Fmoc, Hierarchical struc tures, Hydrogels, Phenylalanine homopeptides, Solvent, Spectroscopy, Supramolecular structures, Triphenylalanine

De Corato, M, Arroyo, M, (2022). A theory for the flow of chemically responsive polymer solutions: Equilibrium and shear-induced phase separation Journal Of Rheology 66, 813-835

Chemically responsive polymers are macromolecules that respond to local variations of the chemical composition of the solution by changing their conformation, with notable examples including polyelectrolytes, proteins, and DNA. The polymer conformation changes can occur in response to changes in the pH, the ionic strength, or the concentration of a generic solute that interacts with the polymer. These chemical stimuli can lead to drastic variations of the polymer flexibility and even trigger a transition from a coil to a globule polymer conformation. In many situations, the spatial distribution of the chemical stimuli can be highly inhomogeneous, which can lead to large spatial variations of polymer conformation and of the rheological properties of the mixture. In this paper, we develop a theory for the flow of a mixture of solute and chemically responsive polymers. The approach is valid for generic flows and inhomogeneous distributions of polymers and solutes. To model the polymer conformation changes introduced by the interactions with the solute, we consider the polymers as linear elastic dumbbells whose spring stiffness depends on the solute concentration. We use Onsager's variational formalism to derive the equations governing the evolution of the variables, which unveils novel couplings between the distribution of dumbbells and that of the solute. Finally, we use a linear stability analysis to show that the governing equations predict an equilibrium phase separation and a distinct shear-induced phase separation whereby a homogeneous distribution of solute and dumbbells spontaneously demix. Similar phase transitions have been observed in previous experiments using stimuli-responsive polymers and may play an important role in living systems. (C) 2022 The Society of Rheology.

JTD Keywords: Coil-globule transition, Constitutive equation, Dilute-solutions, Dumbbell model, Dynamics, Macromolecules, Nonequilibrium thermodynamics, Polyelectrolytes, Polymer migration, Polymer phase separation, Polymers, Predictions, Rheology, Shear-induced phase separation, Solute-polymer interactions, Stress, Viscoelasticity

Nyga, Agata, Muñoz, Jose J., Dercksen, Suze, Fornabaio, Giulia, Uroz, Marina, Trepat, Xavier, Baum, Buzz, Matthews, Helen K., Conte, Vito, (2021). Oncogenic RAS instructs morphological transformation of human epithelia via differential tissue mechanics Science Advances 7, eabg6467

Freire R, Fernandez L, Mallafré-Muro C, Martín-Gómez A, Madrid-Gambin F, Oliveira L, Pardo A, Arce L, Marco S, (2021). Full workflows for the analysis of gas chromatography—ion mobility spectrometry in foodomics: Application to the analysis of iberian ham aroma Sensors 21,

Gas chromatography—ion mobility spectrometry (GC-IMS) allows the fast, reliable, and inexpensive chemical composition analysis of volatile mixtures. This sensing technology has been successfully employed in food science to determine food origin, freshness and preventing alimentary fraud. However, GC-IMS data is highly dimensional, complex, and suffers from strong non-linearities, baseline problems, misalignments, peak overlaps, long peak tails, etc., all of which must be corrected to properly extract the relevant features from samples. In this work, a pipeline for signal pre-processing, followed by four different approaches for feature extraction in GC-IMS data, is presented. More precisely, these approaches consist of extracting data features from: (1) the total area of the reactant ion peak chromatogram (RIC); (2) the full RIC response; (3) the unfolded sample matrix; and (4) the ion peak volumes. The resulting pipelines for data processing were applied to a dataset consisting of two different quality class Iberian ham samples, based on their feeding regime. The ability to infer chemical information from samples was tested by comparing the classification results obtained from partial least-squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) and the samples’ variable importance for projection (VIP) scores. The choice of a feature extraction strategy is a trade-off between the amount of chemical information that is preserved, and the computational effort required to generate the data models.

JTD Keywords: authenticity, classification, electronic-nose, feature extraction, food analysis, gc-ims, headspace, least-squares, models, pld-da, pre-processing, quality, sensory analysis, wine, Feature extraction, Food analysis, Gc-ims, Hs-gc-ims, Pld-da, Pre-processing

Cendra MdM, Torrents E, (2021). Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms and their partners in crime Biotechnology Advances 49, 107734

Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms and the capacity of the bacterium to coexist and interact with a broad range of microorganisms have a substantial clinical impact. This review focuses on the main traits of P. aeruginosa biofilms, such as the structural composition and regulatory networks involved, placing particular emphasis on the clinical challenges they represent in terms of antimicrobial susceptibility and biofilm infection clearance. Furthermore, the ability of P. aeruginosa to grow together with other microorganisms is a significant pathogenic attribute with clinical relevance; hence, the main microbial interactions of Pseudomonas are especially highlighted and detailed throughout this review. This article also explores the infections caused by single and polymicrobial biofilms of P. aeruginosa and the current models used to recreate them under laboratory conditions. Finally, the antimicrobial and antibiofilm strategies developed against P. aeruginosa mono and multispecies biofilms are detailed at the end of this review.

JTD Keywords: aeruginosa models, antibiotic-resistance, antimicrobials, bacterial biofilms, biofilms, c-di-gmp, chronic infections, enterococcus-faecalis, extracellular dna, in-vitro, lectin pa-iil, p, p. aeruginosa models, polymicrobial, polymicrobial interactions, staphylococcus-aureus, Antimicrobials, Biofilms, Chronic infections, P. aeruginosa models, Polymicrobial, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Urinary-tract-infection

Castillo-Escario Y, Kumru H, Valls-Solé J, García-Alen L, Jané R, Vidal J, (2021). Quantitative evaluation of trunk function and the StartReact effect during reaching in patients with cervical and thoracic spinal cord injury Journal Of Neural Engineering 18,

Objective. Impaired trunk stability is frequent in spinal cord injury (SCI), but there is a lack of quantitative measures for assessing trunk function. Our objectives were to: (a) evaluate trunk muscle activity and movement patterns during a reaching task in SCI patients, (b) compare the impact of cervical (cSCI) and thoracic (tSCI) injuries in trunk function, and (c) investigate the effects of a startling acoustic stimulus (SAS) in these patients. Approach. Electromyographic (EMG) and smartphone accelerometer data were recorded from 15 cSCI patients, nine tSCI patients, and 24 healthy controls, during a reaching task requiring trunk tilting. We calculated the response time (RespT) until pressing a target button, EMG onset latencies and amplitudes, and trunk tilt, lateral deviation, and other movement features from accelerometry. Statistical analysis was applied to analyze the effects of group (cSCI, tSCI, control) and condition (SAS, non-SAS) in each outcome measure. Main results. SCI patients, especially those with cSCI, presented significantly longer RespT and EMG onset latencies than controls. Moreover, in SCI patients, forward trunk tilt was accompanied by significant lateral deviation. RespT and EMG latencies were remarkably shortened by the SAS (the so-called StartReact effect) in tSCI patients and controls, but not in cSCI patients, who also showed higher variability. Significance. The combination of EMG and smartphone accelerometer data can provide quantitative measures for the assessment of trunk function in SCI. Our results show deficits in postural control and compensatory strategies employed by SCI patients, including delayed responses and higher lateral deviations, possibly to improve sitting balance. This is the first study investigating the StartReact responses in trunk muscles in SCI patients and shows that the SAS significantly accelerates RespT in tSCI, but not in cSCI, suggesting an increased cortical control exerted by these patients.

JTD Keywords: accelerometer, electromyography, impairment, individuals, movements, postural stability, reaction-time, reliability, sitting balance, smartphone, spinal cord injury, startle, startreact, strategies, stroke, trunk, Accelerometer, Electromyography, Sitting balance, Smartphone, Spinal cord injury, Startreact, Trunk

Andreu, I, Falcones, B, Hurst, S, Chahare, N, Quiroga, X, Le Roux, AL, Kechagia, Z, Beedle, AEM, Elosegui-Artola, A, Trepat, X, Farre, R, Betz, T, Almendros, I, Roca-Cusachs, P, (2021). The force loading rate drives cell mechanosensing through both reinforcement and cytoskeletal softening Nature Communications 12, 4229

Cell response to force regulates essential processes in health and disease. However, the fundamental mechanical variables that cells sense and respond to remain unclear. Here we show that the rate of force application (loading rate) drives mechanosensing, as predicted by a molecular clutch model. By applying dynamic force regimes to cells through substrate stretching, optical tweezers, and atomic force microscopy, we find that increasing loading rates trigger talin-dependent mechanosensing, leading to adhesion growth and reinforcement, and YAP nuclear localization. However, above a given threshold the actin cytoskeleton softens, decreasing loading rates and preventing reinforcement. By stretching rat lungs in vivo, we show that a similar phenomenon may occur. Our results show that cell sensing of external forces and of passive mechanical parameters (like tissue stiffness) can be understood through the same mechanisms, driven by the properties under force of the mechanosensing molecules involved. Cells sense mechanical forces from their environment, but the precise mechanical variable sensed by cells is unclear. Here, the authors show that cells can sense the rate of force application, known as the loading rate, with effects on YAP nuclear localization and cytoskeletal stiffness remodelling.

JTD Keywords: Actin cytoskeleton, Actin filament, Actin-filament, Adhesion, Animal, Animals, Atomic force microscopy, Breathing, Cell, Cell adhesion, Cell culture, Cell nucleus, Cells, cultured, Cytoplasm, Extracellular-matrix, Fibroblast, Fibroblasts, Fibronectin, Frequency, Gene knockdown, Gene knockdown techniques, Genetics, Germfree animal, Integrin, Intracellular signaling peptides and proteins, Knockout mouse, Lung, Male, Mechanotransduction, Mechanotransduction, cellular, Metabolism, Mice, Mice, knockout, Microscopy, atomic force, Mouse, Optical tweezers, Paxillin, Physiology, Primary cell culture, Pxn protein, mouse, Rat, Rats, Rats, sprague-dawley, Respiration, Signal peptide, Softening, Specific pathogen-free organisms, Sprague dawley rat, Stress, Substrate, Substrate rigidity, Talin, Talin protein, mouse, Tln2 protein, mouse, Traction, Transmission, Ultrastructure, Yap1 protein, rat

Covington JA, Marco S, Persaud KC, Schiffman SS, Troy Nagle H, (2021). Artificial Olfaction in the 21st Century Ieee Sensors Journal 21, 12969-12990

The human olfactory system remains one of the most challenging biological systems to replicate. Humans use it without thinking, where it can equally offer protection from harm and bring enjoyment in equal measure. It is the system’s ability to detect and analyze complex odors, without the need for specialized infra-structure, that is the envy of many scientists. The field of artificial olfaction has recruited and stimulated interdisciplinary research and commercial development for several applications that include malodor measurement, medical diagnostics, food and beverage quality, environment and security. Over the last century, innovative engineers and scientists have been focused on solving a range of problems associated with measurement and control of odor. The IEEE Sensors Journal has published Special Issues on olfaction in 2002 and 2012. Here we continue that coverage. In this article, we summarize early work in the 20th Century that served as the foundation upon which we have been building our odor-monitoring instrumental and measurement systems. We then examine the current state of the art that has been achieved over the last two decades as we have transitioned into the 21st Century. Much has been accomplished, but great progress is needed in sensor technology, system design, product manufacture and performance standards. In the final section, we predict levels of performance and ubiquitous applications that will be realized during in the mid to late 21st Century.

JTD Keywords: air-quality, breath analysis, calibration transfer, chemical sensor arrays, chemosensor arrays, drift compensation, electronic nose, gas sensors, headspace sampling, machine learning, machine olfaction, odor detection, plume structure, voc analysis, Artificial olfaction, Electrodes, Electronic nose, Electronic nose technology, Headspace sampling, Instruments, Machine learning, Machine olfaction, Monitoring, Odor detection, Olfactory, Sensor phenomena and characterization, Sensors, Temperature sensors, Voc analysis

Guix M, Mestre R, Patiño T, de Corato M, Fuentes J, Zarpellon G, Sánchez S, (2021). Biohybrid soft robots with self-stimulating skeletons Science Robotics 6, abe7577

Bioinspired hybrid soft robots that combine living and synthetic components are an emerging field in the development of advanced actuators and other robotic platforms (i.e., swimmers, crawlers, and walkers). The integration of biological components offers unique characteristics that artificial materials cannot precisely replicate, such as adaptability and response to external stimuli. Here, we present a skeletal muscle–based swimming biobot with a three-dimensional (3D)–printed serpentine spring skeleton that provides mechanical integrity and self-stimulation during the cell maturation process. The restoring force inherent to the spring system allows a dynamic skeleton compliance upon spontaneous muscle contraction, leading to a cyclic mechanical stimulation process that improves the muscle force output without external stimuli. Optimization of the 3D-printed skeletons is carried out by studying the geometrical stiffnesses of different designs via finite element analysis. Upon electrical actuation of the muscle tissue, two types of motion mechanisms are experimentally observed: directional swimming when the biobot is at the liquid-air interface and coasting motion when it is near the bottom surface. The integrated compliant skeleton provides both the mechanical self-stimulation and the required asymmetry for directional motion, displaying its maximum velocity at 5 hertz (800 micrometers per second, 3 body lengths per second). This skeletal muscle–based biohybrid swimmer attains speeds comparable with those of cardiac-based biohybrid robots and outperforms other muscle-based swimmers. The integration of serpentine-like structures in hybrid robotic systems allows self-stimulation processes that could lead to higher force outputs in current and future biomimetic robotic platforms. Copyright © 2021 The Authors, some rights reserved;

JTD Keywords: actuators, design, fabrication, mechanics, mems, myotubes, platform, tissue, 3d printers, Agricultural robots, Biological components, Biomimetic processes, Electrical actuation, Geometrical stiffness, Intelligent robots, Liquefied gases, Liquid-air interface, Mechanical integrity, Mechanical stimulation, Muscle, Muscle contractions, Phase interfaces, Robotics, Serpentine, Springs (components), Threedimensional (3-d)

Pérez-López B, Mir M, (2021). Commercialized diagnostic technologies to combat SARS-CoV2: Advantages and disadvantages Talanta 225, 121898

© 2020 Elsevier B.V. The current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic is indicated by a huge number of infections, high lethality, and rapid spread. These circumstances have stopped the activity of almost the entire world, affecting severely the global economy. A rapid diagnosis of the Covid-19 and a generalized testing protocol is essential to fight against the pandemic and to maintain health control in the population. Principal biosensing and diagnostic technologies used to monitor the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 are based on specific genomic analysis and rapid immune tests, both with different technology platforms that include advantages and disadvantages. Most of the in vitro diagnosis companies are competing to be the first on validating under different regulations their technology for placing their platforms for Covid-19 detection as fast as possible in this big international market. A comprehensive analysis of the commercialized technologies for the genomic based sensing and the antibody/antigen detection methods devoted to Covid-19 diagnosis is described in this review, which have been detailed and listed under different countries regulations. The effectiveness of the described technologies throughout the different stages of the disease and a critical comparison of the emerging technologies in the market to counterattack this pandemic have been discussed.

JTD Keywords: covid-19, in vitro diagnosis (ivd), lateral flow immunoassay, point of care (poc), reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (rt-pcr), sars-cov-2, Covid-19, In vitro diagnosis (ivd), Lateral flow immunoassay, Point of care (poc), Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (rt-pcr), Sars-cov-2

Woythe L, Tito NB, Albertazzi L, (2021). A quantitative view on multivalent nanomedicine targeting Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 169, 1-21

© 2020 The Authors Although the concept of selective delivery has been postulated over 100 years ago, no targeted nanomedicine has been clinically approved so far. Nanoparticles modified with targeting ligands to promote the selective delivery of therapeutics towards a specific cell population have been extensively reported. However, the rational design of selective particles is still challenging. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of quantitative theoretical and experimental understanding of the interactions involved in cell targeting. In this review, we discuss new theoretical models and experimental methods that provide a quantitative view of targeting. We show the new advancements in multivalency theory enabling the rational design of super-selective nanoparticles. Furthermore, we present the innovative approaches to obtain key targeting parameters at the single-cell and single molecule level and their role in the design of targeting nanoparticles. We believe that the combination of new theoretical multivalent design and experimental methods to quantify receptors and ligands aids in the rational design and clinical translation of targeted nanomedicines.

JTD Keywords: binding-kinetics, biological identity, biomolecular corona, blood-brain-barrier, drug-delivery, gold nanoparticles, multivalency, nanotechnology, protein corona, quantitative characterization, rational design, super-selectivity, superresolution microscopy, tumor heterogeneity, Ligand-receptor interactions, Multivalency, Nanotechnology, Quantitative characterization, Rational design, Super-selectivity

Sans, J, Sanz, V, del Valle, LJ, Puiggali, J, Turon, P, Aleman, C, (2021). Optimization of permanently polarized hydroxyapatite catalyst. Implications for the electrophotosynthesis of amino acids by nitrogen and carbon fixation Journal Of Catalysis 397, 98-107

The enhanced catalytic activity of permanently polarized hydroxyapatite, which is achieved using a thermally stimulated polarization process, largely depends on both the experimental conditions used to prepare crystalline hydroxyapatite from its calcium and phosphate precursors and the polarization process parameters. A mineral similar to brushite, which is an apatitic phase that can evolve to hydroxyapatite, is found at the surface of highly crystalline hydroxyapatite. It appears after chemical precipitation and hydrothermal treatment performed at 150 degrees C for 24 h followed by a sinterization at 1000 degrees C and a polarization treatment by applying a voltage of 500 Vat high temperature. Both the high crystallinity and the presence of brushite-like phase on the electrophotocatalyst affect the nitrogen and carbon fixation under mild reaction conditions (95 degrees C and 6 bar) and the synthesis of glycine and alanine from a simple gas mixture containing N-2, CO2, CH4 and H2O. Thus, the Gly/Ala ratio can be customized by controlling the presence of brushite on the surface of the catalyst, enabling to develop new strategies to regulate the production of amino acids by nitrogen and carbon fixation. (C) 2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: Amino acids, Brushite, Carbon, Carbon dioxide fixation, Catalyst activity, Catalytic apatites, Chemical precipitation, Crystalline hydroxyapatite, Crystallinity, Decomposition, Enhanced catalytic activity, Experimental conditions, Heterogeneous catalysis, High crystallinity, Hydrothermal synthesis, Hydrothermal treatments, Hydroxyapatite, Lactic-acid, Mild reaction conditions, Molecular nitrogen fixation, Nitrogen, Nitrogen fixation, Phosphate, Polarization, Precipitation (chemical), Process parameters, Thermally stimulated polarization

Vilanova, E., Ciodaro, P. J., Bezerra, F. F., Santos, G. R. C., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Anselmetti, D., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Mourão, P. A. S., (2020). Adhesion of freshwater sponge cells mediated by carbohydrate-carbohydrate interactions requires low environmental calcium Glycobiology 30, (9), 710-721

Marine ancestors of freshwater sponges had to undergo a series of physiological adaptations to colonize harsh and heterogeneous limnic environments. Besides reduced salinity, river-lake systems also have calcium concentrations far lower than seawater. Cell adhesion in sponges is mediated by calcium-dependent multivalent self-interactions of sulfated polysaccharide components of membrane-bound proteoglycans named aggregation factors. Cells of marine sponges require seawater average calcium concentration (10 mM) to sustain adhesion promoted by aggregation factors. We demonstrate here that the freshwater sponge Spongilla alba can thrive in a calcium-poor aquatic environment and that their cells are able to aggregate and form primmorphs with calcium concentrations 40-fold lower than that required by marine sponges cells. We also find that their gemmules need calcium and other micronutrients to hatch and generate new sponges. The sulfated polysaccharide purified from S. alba has sulfate content and molecular size notably lower than those from marine sponges. Nuclear magnetic resonance analyses indicated that it is composed of a central backbone of non- and 2-sulfated α- and β-glucose units decorated with branches of α-glucose. Assessments with atomic force microscopy/single-molecule force spectroscopy show that S. alba glucan requires 10-fold less calcium than sulfated polysaccharides from marine sponges to self-interact efficiently. Such an ability to retain multicellular morphology with low environmental calcium must have been a crucial evolutionary step for freshwater sponges to successfully colonize inland waters.

JTD Keywords: Carbohydrate interactions, Evolutionary adaptation, Porifera, Proteoglycans, Sulfated polysaccharides

Morgese, G., de Waal, B. F. M., Varela-Aramburu, S., Palmans, A. R. A., Albertazzi, L., Meijer, E. W., (2020). Anchoring supramolecular polymers to human red blood cells by combining dynamic covalent and non-covalent chemistries Angewandte Chemie - International Edition 59, (39), 17229-17233

Understanding cell/material interactions is essential to design functional cell-responsive materials. While the scientific literature abounds with formulations of biomimetic materials, only a fraction of them focused on mechanisms of the molecular interactions between cells and material. To provide new knowledge on the strategies for materials/cell recognition and binding, supramolecular benzene-1,3,5-tricarboxamide copolymers bearing benzoxaborole moieties are anchored on the surface of human erythrocytes via benzoxaborole/sialic-acid binding. This interaction based on both dynamic covalent and non-covalent chemistries is visualized in real time by means of total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. Exploiting this imaging method, we observe that the functional copolymers specifically interact with the cell surface. An optimal fiber affinity towards the cells as a function of benzoxaborole concentration demonstrates the crucial role of multivalency in these cell/material interactions.

JTD Keywords: Boronic acid, Cell/material interactions, Multivalency, Red blood cells, Supramolecular polymers

Del Mar Cendra, Maria, Torrents, Eduard, (2020). Differential adaptability between reference strains and clinical isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa into the lung epithelium intracellular lifestyle Virulence 11, (1), 862-876

Intracellular invasion is an advantageous mechanism used by pathogens to evade host defense and antimicrobial therapy. In patients, the intracellular microbial lifestyle can lead to infection persistence and recurrence, thus worsening outcomes. Lung infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, especially in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, are often aggravated by intracellular invasion and persistence of the pathogen. Proliferation of the infectious species relies on a continuous deoxyribonucleotide (dNTP) supply, for which the ribonucleotide reductase enzyme (RNR) is the unique provider. The large genome plasticity of P. aeruginosa and its ability to rapidly adapt to different environments are challenges for studying the pathophysiology associated with this type of infection. Using different reference strains and clinical isolates of P. aeruginosa independently combined with alveolar (A549) and bronchial (16HBE14o- and CF-CFBE41o-) epithelial cells, we analyzed host–pathogen interactions and intracellular bacterial persistence with the aim of determining a cell type-directed infection promoted by the P. aeruginosa strains. The oscillations in cellular toxicity and oxygen consumption promoted by the intracellular persistence of the strains were also analyzed among the different infectious lung models. Significantly, we identified class II RNR as the enzyme that supplies dNTPs to intracellular P. aeruginosa. This discovery could contribute to the development of RNR-targeted strategies against the chronicity occurring in this type of lung infection. Overall our study demonstrates that the choice of bacterial strain is critical to properly study the type of infectious process with relevant translational outcomes.

JTD Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Intracellular persistence, Lung, Epithelial cells, Clinical isolates, Host-pathogen interactions, Intracellular lifestyle, Chronic infections, Cystic fibrosis, Ribonucleotide reductase

Burgués, Javier, Marco, Santiago, (2020). Feature extraction for transient chemical sensor signals in response to turbulent plumes: Application to chemical source distance prediction Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 320, 128235

This paper describes the design of a linear phase low-pass differentiator filter with a finite impulse response (FIR) for extracting transient features of gas sensor signals (the so-called “bouts”). The detection of these bouts is relevant for estimating the distance of a gas source in a turbulent plume. Our current proposal addresses the shortcomings of previous ‘bout’ estimation methods, namely: (i) they were based in non-causal digital filters precluding real time operation, (ii) they used non-linear phase filters leading to waveform distortions and (iii) the smoothing action was achieved by two filters in cascade, precluding an easy tuning of filter performance. The presented method is based on a low-pass FIR differentiator, plus proper post-processing, allowing easy algorithmic implementation for real-time robotic exploration. Linear phase filters preserve signal waveform in the bandpass region for maximum reliability concerning both ‘bout’ detection and amplitude estimation. As a case study, we apply the proposed filter to predict the source distance from recordings obtained with metal oxide (MOX) gas sensors in a wind tunnel. We first perform a joint optimization of the cut-off frequency of the filter and the bout amplitude threshold, for different wind speeds, uncovering interesting relationships between these two parameters. We demonstrate that certain combinations of parameters can reduce the prediction error to 8 cm (in a distance range of 1.45 m) improving previously reported performances in the same dataset by a factor of 2.5. These results are benchmarked against traditional source distance estimators such as the mean, variance and maximum of the response. We also study how the length of the measurement window affects the performance of different signal features, and how to select the filter parameters to make the predictive models more robust to changes in wind speed. Finally, we provide a MATLAB implementation of the bout detection algorithm and all analysis code used in this study.

JTD Keywords: Gas sensors, Differentiator, Low pass filter, Metal oxide semiconductor, MOX sensors, Signal processing, Feature extraction, Gas source localization, Robotics

Burgués, Javier, Hernández, Victor, Lilienthal, Achim J., Marco, Santiago, (2020). Gas distribution mapping and source localization using a 3D grid of metal oxide semiconductor sensors Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 304, 127309

The difficulty to obtain ground truth (i.e. empirical evidence) about how a gas disperses in an environment is one of the major hurdles in the field of mobile robotic olfaction (MRO), impairing our ability to develop efficient gas source localization strategies and to validate gas distribution maps produced by autonomous mobile robots. Previous ground truth measurements of gas dispersion have been mostly based on expensive tracer optical methods or 2D chemical sensor grids deployed only at ground level. With the ever-increasing trend towards gas-sensitive aerial robots, 3D measurements of gas dispersion become necessary to characterize the environment these platforms can explore. This paper presents ten different experiments performed with a 3D grid of 27 metal oxide semiconductor (MOX) sensors to visualize the temporal evolution of gas distribution produced by an evaporating ethanol source placed at different locations in an office room, including variations in height, release rate and air flow. We also studied which features of the MOX sensor signals are optimal for predicting the source location, considering different lengths of the measurement window. We found strongly time-varying and counter-intuitive gas distribution patterns that disprove some assumptions commonly held in the MRO field, such as that heavy gases disperse along ground level. Correspondingly, ground-level gas distributions were rarely useful for localizing the gas source and elevated measurements were much more informative. We make the dataset and the code publicly available to enable the community to develop, validate, and compare new approaches related to gas sensing in complex environments.

JTD Keywords: Mobile robotic olfaction, Metal oxide gas sensors, Signal processing, Sensor networks, Gas source localization, Gas distribution mapping

Casanellas, Ignasi, Lagunas, Anna, Vida, Yolanda, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Andrades, J. A., Becerra, J., Samitier, Josep, (2020). The Janus role of adhesion in chondrogenesis International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21, (15), 5269

Tackling the first stages of the chondrogenic commitment is essential to drive chondrogenic differentiation to healthy hyaline cartilage and minimize hypertrophy. During chondrogenesis, the extracellular matrix continuously evolves, adapting to the tissue adhesive requirements at each stage. Here, we take advantage of previously developed nanopatterns, in which local surface adhesiveness can be precisely tuned, to investigate its effects on prechondrogenic condensation. Fluorescence live cell imaging, immunostaining, confocal microscopy and PCR analysis are used to follow the condensation process on the nanopatterns. Cell tracking parameters, condensate morphology, cell–cell interactions, mechanotransduction and chondrogenic commitment are evaluated in response to local surface adhesiveness. Results show that only condensates on the nanopatterns of high local surface adhesiveness are stable in culture and able to enter the chondrogenic pathway, thus highlighting the importance of controlling cell–substrate adhesion in the tissue engineering strategies for cartilage repair.

JTD Keywords: Dendrimer, Nanopatterning, RGD, Mesenchymal cell condensation, Cell–cell interactions, YAP, Chondrogenesis

Moya-Andérico, Laura, Admella, Joana, Fernandes, Rodrigo, Torrents, Eduard, (2020). Monitoring Gene Expression during a Galleria mellonella Bacterial Infection Microorganisms 8, (11), 1798

Galleria mellonella larvae are an alternative in vivo model that has been extensively used to study the virulence and pathogenicity of different bacteria due to its practicality and lack of ethical constraints. However, the larvae possess intrinsic autofluorescence that obstructs the use of fluorescent proteins to study bacterial infections, hence better methodologies are needed. Here, we report the construction of a promoter probe vector with bioluminescence expression as well as the optimization of a total bacterial RNA extraction protocol to enhance the monitoring of in vivo infections. By employing the vector to construct different gene promoter fusions, variable gene expression levels were efficiently measured in G. mellonella larvae at various time points during the course of infection and without much manipulation of the larvae. Additionally, our optimized RNA extraction protocol facilitates the study of transcriptional gene levels during an in vivo infection. The proposed methodologies will greatly benefit bacterial infection studies as they can contribute to a better understanding of the in vivo infection processes and pathogen–mammalian host interactions.

JTD Keywords: Galleria mellonella, P. aeruginosa, Hemolymph, Hemocytes, Bioluminescence, Promoter probe vector, Optimized RNA extraction, Ribonucleotide reductases

Palacio, F., Fonollosa, J., Burgués, J., Gomez, J. M., Marco, S., (2020). Pulsed-temperature metal oxide gas sensors for microwatt power consumption IEEE Access 8, 70938-70946

Metal Oxide (MOX) gas sensors rely on chemical reactions that occur efficiently at high temperatures, resulting in too-demanding power requirements for certain applications. Operating the sensor under a Pulsed-Temperature Operation (PTO), by which the sensor heater is switched ON and OFF periodically, is a common practice to reduce the power consumption. However, the sensor performance is degraded as the OFF periods become larger. Other research works studied, generally, PTO schemes applying waveforms to the heater with time periods of seconds and duty cycles above 20%. Here, instead, we explore the behaviour of PTO sensors working under aggressive schemes, reaching power savings of 99% and beyond with respect to continuous heater stimulation. Using sensor sensitivity and the limit of detection, we evaluated four Ultra Low Power (ULP) sensors under different PTO schemes exposed to ammonia, ethylene, and acetaldehyde. Results show that it is possible to operate the sensors with total power consumption in the range of microwatts. Despite the aggressive power reduction, sensor sensitivity suffers only a moderate decline and the limit of detection may degrade up to a factor five. This is, however, gas-dependent and should be explored on a case-by-case basis since, for example, the same degradation has not been observed for ammonia. Finally, the run-in time, i.e., the time required to get a stable response immediately after switching on the sensor, increases when reducing the power consumption, from 10 minutes to values in the range of 10–20 hours for power consumptions smaller than 200 microwatts.

JTD Keywords: Robot sensing systems, Temperature sensors, Heating systems, Gas detectors, Power demand, Sensitivity, Electronic nose, gas sensors, low-power operation, machine olfaction, pulsed-temperature operation, temperature modulation

Guerrero, O., Verschure, P., (2020). Distributed adaptive control: An ideal cognitive architecture candidate for managing a robotic recycling plant Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 9th International Conference, Living Machines 2020 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer International Publishing (Freiburg, Germany) 12413, 153-164

In the past decade, society has experienced notable growth in a variety of technological areas. However, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has not been embraced yet. Industry 4.0 imposes several challenges which include the necessity of new architectural models to tackle the uncertainty that open environments represent to cyber-physical systems (CPS). Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) recycling plants stand for one of such open environments. Here, CPSs must work harmoniously in a changing environment, interacting with similar and not so similar CPSs, and adaptively collaborating with human workers. In this paper, we support the Distributed Adaptive Control (DAC) theory as a suitable Cognitive Architecture for managing a recycling plant. Specifically, a recursive implementation of DAC (between both single-agent and large-scale levels) is proposed to meet the expected demands of the European Project HR-Recycler. Additionally, with the aim of having a realistic benchmark for future implementations of the recursive DAC, a micro-recycling plant prototype is presented.

JTD Keywords: Cognitive architecture, Distributed Adaptive Control, Recycling plant, Navigation, Motor control, Human-Robot Interaction

Freire, Ismael T., Urikh, D., Arsiwalla, X. D., Verschure, P., (2020). Machine morality: From harm-avoidance to human-robot cooperation Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 9th International Conference, Living Machines 2020 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer International Publishing (Freiburg, Germany) 12413, 116-127

We present a new computational framework for modeling moral decision-making in artificial agents based on the notion of ‘Machine Morality as Cooperation’. This framework integrates recent advances from cross-disciplinary moral decision-making literature into a single architecture. We build upon previous work outlining cognitive elements that an artificial agent would need for exhibiting latent morality, and we extend it by providing a computational realization of the cognitive architecture of such an agent. Our work has implications for cognitive and social robotics. Recent studies in human neuroimaging have pointed to three different decision-making processes, Pavlovian, model-free and model-based, that are defined by distinct neural substrates in the brain. Here, we describe how computational models of these three cognitive processes can be implemented in a single cognitive architecture by using the distributed and hierarchical organization proposed by the DAC theoretical framework. Moreover, we propose that a pro-social drive to cooperate exists at the Pavlovian level that can also bias the rest of the decision system, thus extending current state-of-the-art descriptive models based on harm-aversion.

JTD Keywords: Morality, Moral decision-making, Computational models, Cognitive architectures, Cognitive robotics, Human-robot interaction

Vouloutsi, V., Chesson, A., Blancas, M., Guerrero, O., Verschure, P., (2020). The use of social sensorimotor contingencies in humanoid robots Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 9th International Conference, Living Machines 2020 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer International Publishing (Freiburg, Germany) 12413, 378-389

This pilot study investigates the role of social sensorimotor contingencies as exhibited from a humanoid robot to allow mutual understanding and social entrainment in a group social activity. The goal is to evaluate whether sensorimotor contingencies can lead to transparent and understandable interactions while we explore the dimension of personality. We propose the task of taking a selfie with a robot and a group of humans as the benchmark to evaluate the social sensorimotor contingencies displayed. We have constructed two models of interaction with an introverted and extroverted robot. We also seek to address the gap in research in context and personality of social sensorimotor contingencies in HRI and contribute to the field of personality in social robotics by determining what type of behaviour of the robot attracts certain personalities in humans in group settings. Although the sample size was small, and there were no significant differences between conditions, results suggest that the expression of sensorimotor contingencies can lead to successful coupling and interactions.

JTD Keywords: Human-robot interaction, Personality, Social robots, Social sensorimotor contingencies

Vouloutsi, Vasiliki, Mura, Anna, Tauber, F., Speck, T., Prescott, T. J., Verschure, P., (2020). Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 9th International Conference, Living Machines 2020, Freiburg, Germany, July 28–30, 2020, Proceedings , Springer, Cham (Lausanne, Switzerland) 12413, 1-428

This book constitutes the proceedings of the )th International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems, Living Machines 2020, held in Freiburg, Germany, in July 2020. Due to COVID-19 pandemic the conference was held virtually. The 32 full and 7 short papers presented in this volume were carefully reviewed and selected from 45 submissions. They deal with research on novel life-like technologies inspired by the scientific investigation of biological systems, biomimetics, and research that seeks to interface biological and artificial systems to create biohybrid systems.

JTD Keywords: Artificial intelligence, Soft robotics, Biomimetics, Insect navigation, Synthetic nervous system, Computer vision, Bio-inspired materials, Visual homing, Locomotion+, Image processing, Intelligent robots, Human-robot interaction, Machine learning, Snake robot, Mobile robots, Robotic systems, Drosophila, Robots, Sensors, Signal processing

Gil, V., Del Río, J. A., (2019). Generation of 3-d collagen-based hydrogels to analyze axonal growth and behavior during nervous system development Journal of Visualized Experiments , (148), e59481

This protocol uses natural type I collagen to generate three-dimensional (3-D) hydrogel for monitoring and analyzing the axonal growth. The protocol is centered on culturing small pieces of embryonic or early postnatal rodent brains inside a 3-D hydrogel formed by the rat tail tendon-derived type I collagen with specific porosity. Tissue pieces are cultured inside the hydrogel and confronted to specific brain fragments or genetically-modified cell aggregates to produce and secrete molecules suitable for creating a gradient inside the porous matrix. The steps of this protocol are simple and reproducible but include critical steps to be considered carefully during its development. Moreover, the behavior of growing axons can be monitored and analyzed directly using a phase-contrast microscope or mono/multiphoton fluorescence microscope after fixation by immunocytochemical methods.

JTD Keywords: 3-D hydrogel cultures, Axonal growth, Cell transfection, Chemoattraction, Chemorepulsion, Embryonic nervous system, Issue 148, Neuroscience, Tissue explants

Campillo, N., Falcones, B., Otero, J., Colina, R., Gozal, D., Navajas, D., Farré, R., Almendros, I., (2019). Differential oxygenation in tumor microenvironment modulates macrophage and cancer cell crosstalk: Novel experimental settingand proof of concept Frontiers in Oncology 9, 43

Hypoxia is a common characteristic of many solid tumors that has been associated with tumor aggressiveness. Limited diffusion of oxygen generates a gradient of oxygen availability from the blood vessel to the interstitial space and may underlie the recruitment of macrophages fostering cancer progression. However, the available data based on the recruitment of circulating cells to the tumor microenvironment has been so far carried out by conventional co-culture systems which ignore the hypoxic gradient between the vessel to the tumor interstitium. Here, we have designed a novel easy-to-build cell culture device that enables evaluation of cellular cross-talk and cell migration while they are being simultaneously exposed to different oxygenation environments. As a proof-of-concept of the potential role of differential oxygenation among interacting cells we have evaluated the activation and recruitment of macrophages in response to hypoxic melanoma, breast, and kidney cancer cells. We found that hypoxic melanoma and breast cancer cells co-cultured with normoxic macrophages enhanced their directional migration. By contrast, hypoxic kidney cells were not able to increase their recruitment. We also identified well-described hypoxia-induced pathways which could contribute in the immune cell recruitment (VEGFA and PTGS2 genes). Moreover, melanoma and breast cancer increased their proliferation. However, oxygenation levels affected neither kidney cancer cell proliferation nor gene expression, which in turn resulted in no significant changes in macrophage migration and polarization. Therefore, the cell culture device presented here provides an excellent opportunity for researchers to reproduce the in vivo hypoxic gradients in solid tumors and to study their role in recruiting circulating cells to the tumor in specific types of cancer.

JTD Keywords: Hypoxia gradient, Macrophage motility, Models of host-tumor interactions, Novel assay technology, Tumor progression

Vouloutsi, V., Grechuta, K., Verschure, P., (2019). Evaluation of the facial expressions of a humanoid robot Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 8th International Conference, Living Machines 2019 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer International Publishing (Nara, Japan) 11556, 365-368

Facial expressions are salient social features that crucial in communication, and humans are capable of reading the messages faces convey and the emotions they display. Robots that interact with humans will need to employ similar communication channels for successful interactions. Here, we focus on the readability of the facial expressions of a humanoid robot. We conducted an online survey where participants evaluated emotional stimuli and assessed the robot’s expressions. Results suggest that the robot’s facial expressions are correctly recognised and the appraisal of the robots expressive elements are consistent with the literature.

JTD Keywords: Emotion recognition, Facial expressions, Human-robot interaction

Burgues, J., Marco, S., (2019). Feature extraction of gas sensor signals for gas source localization ISOEN 2019 18th International Symposium on Olfaction and Electronic Nose , IEEE (Fukuoka, Japan) , 1-3

This paper explores which signal features of a gas sensor are optimum for assessing the proximity to a gas source in an open environment. Specifically, we compare three statistical descriptors of the signal (mean, variance and maximum response) against the 'bout' frequency, a feature computed in the derivative of the response. The experimental setup includes a generator of turbulent plumes and a sensing board composed of three metal oxide (MOX) sensors of different types. The main conclusion is that the maximum response is the most robust feature across the three sensors. The 'bout' frequency can be very sensitive to an additional parameter (the noise threshold).

JTD Keywords: Feature extraction, Gas plume, Gas sensors, Gas source localization, MOX, Signal processing

López-Carral, Héctor, Santos-Pata, D., Zucca, R., Verschure, P., (2019). How you type is what you type: Keystroke dynamics correlate with affective content ACII 2019 8th International Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction , IEEE (Cabride, UK) , 1-5

Estimating the affective state of a user during a computer task traditionally relies on either subjective reports or analysis of physiological signals, facial expressions, and other measures. These methods have known limitations, can be intrusive and may require specialized equipment. An alternative would be employing a ubiquitous device of everyday use such as a standard keyboard. Here we investigate if we can infer the emotional state of a user by analyzing their typing patterns. To test this hypothesis, we asked 400 participants to caption a set of emotionally charged images taken from a standard database with known ratings of arousal and valence. We computed different keystroke pattern dynamics, including keystroke duration (dwell time) and latency (flight time). By computing the mean value of all of these features for each image, we found a statistically significant negative correlation between dwell times and valence, and between flight times and arousal. These results highlight the potential of using keystroke dynamics to estimate the affective state of a user in a non-obtrusive way and without the need for specialized devices.

JTD Keywords: Feature extraction, Correlation, Keyboards, Task analysis, Statistical analysis, Affective computing, Standards, Keystroke, Keyboard, Typing, Arousal, Valence, Affect

Arsiwalla, X. D., Freire, I. T., Vouloutsi, V., Verschure, P., (2019). Latent morality in algorithms and machines Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 8th International Conference, Living Machines 2019 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer, Cham (Nara, Japan) 11556, 309-315

Can machines be endowed with morality? We argue that morality in the descriptive or epistemic sense can be extended to artificial systems. Following arguments from evolutionary game-theory, we identify two main ingredients required to operationalize this notion of morality in machines. The first, being a group theory of mind, and the second, being an assignment of valence. We make the case for the plausibility of these operations in machines without reference to any form of intentionality or consciousness. The only systems requirements needed to support the above two operations are autonomous goal-directed action and the ability to interact and learn from the environment. Following this we have outlined a theoretical framework based on conceptual spaces and valence assignments to gauge latent morality in autonomous machines and algorithms.

JTD Keywords: Autonomous systems, Ethics of algorithms, Goal-directed action, Philosophy of morality, Qualia, Theory of mind

Martinez-Hernandez, Uriel, Vouloutsi, Vasiliki, Mura, Anna, Mangan, Michael, Asada, Minoru, Prescott, T. J., Verschure, P., (2019). Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 8th International Conference, Living Machines 2019, Nara, Japan, July 9–12, 2019, Proceedings , Springer, Cham (Lausanne, Switzerland) 11556, 1-384

This book constitutes the proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems, Living Machines 2019, held in Nara, Japan, in July 2019. The 26 full and 16 short papers presented in this volume were carefully reviewed and selected from 45 submissions. They deal with research on novel life-like technologies inspired by the scientific investigation of biological systems, biomimetics, and research that seeks to interface biological and artificial systems to create biohybrid systems.

JTD Keywords: Artificial intelligence, Biomimetics, Computer architecture, Human robot interaction, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Humanoid robot, Image processing, Learning algorithms, Mobile robots, Multipurpose robots, Neural networks, Quadruped robots, Reinforcement learning, Robot learning, Robotics, Robots, Sensor, Sensors, Swarm robotics, User interfaces

Fischer, Tobias, Puigbò, Jordi-Ysard, Camilleri, Daniel, Nguyen, Phuong D. H., Moulin-Frier, Clément, Lallée, Stéphane, Metta, Giorgio, Prescott, Tony J., Demiris, Yiannis, Verschure, P., (2018). iCub-HRI: A software framework for complex human-robot interaction scenarios on the iCub humanoid robot Frontiers in Robotics and AI , 5, (22), Article 22

Generating complex, human-like behaviour in a humanoid robot like the iCub requires the integration of a wide range of open source components and a scalable cognitive architecture. Hence, we present the iCub-HRI library which provides convenience wrappers for components related to perception (object recognition, agent tracking, speech recognition, touch detection), object manipulation (basic and complex motor actions) and social interaction (speech synthesis, joint attention) exposed as a C++ library with bindings for Java (allowing to use iCub-HRI within Matlab) and Python. In addition to previously integrated components, the library allows for simple extension to new components and rapid prototyping by adapting to changes in interfaces between components. We also provide a set of modules which make use of the library, such as a high-level knowledge acquisition module and an action recognition module. The proposed architecture has been successfully employed for a complex human-robot interaction scenario involving the acquisition of language capabilities, execution of goal-oriented behaviour and expression of a verbal narrative of the robot's experience in the world. Accompanying this paper is a tutorial which allows a subset of this interaction to be reproduced. The architecture is aimed at researchers familiarising themselves with the iCub ecosystem, as well as expert users, and we expect the library to be widely used in the iCub community.

JTD Keywords: Robotics, iCub Humanoid, YARP, Software architecture, C++, Python, Java, Human-robot interaction

González-García, C., Cantini, M., Ballester-Beltrán, J., Altankov, G., Salmerón-Sánchez, M., (2018). The strength of the protein-material interaction determines cell fate Acta Biomaterialia 77, 74-84

Extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins are key mediators of cell/material interactions. The surface density and conformation of these proteins adsorbed on the material surface influence cell adhesion and the cellular response. We have previously shown that subtle variations in surface chemistry lead to drastic changes in the conformation of adsorbed fibronectin (FN). On poly(ethyl acrylate) (PEA), FN unfolds and displays domains for cell adhesion and FN-FN interaction, whereas on poly(methyl acrylate) (PMA) – with only one methyl group less – FN remains globular as it is in solution. The effect of the strength of the protein/material interaction in cell response, and its relation to protein density and conformation, has received limited attention so far. In this work, we used FN-functionalized AFM cantilevers to evaluate, via force spectroscopy, the strength of interaction between fibronectin and the underlying polymer which controls FN conformation (PEA and PMA). We found that the strength of FN/PEA interaction is significantly higher than FN/PMA, which limits the mobility of FN layer on PEA, reduces the ability of cells to mechanically reorganize FN and then leads to enhanced proteolysis and degradation of the surrounding matrix with compromised cell viability. By contrast, both PEA and PMA support cell adhesion when FN density is increased and also in the presence of serum or other serum proteins, including vitronectin (VN) and bovine serum albumin (BSA), which provide a higher degree of mobility to the matrix. Statement of Significance: The identification of parameters influencing cell response is of paramount importance for the design of biomaterials that will act as synthetic scaffolds for cells to anchor, grow and, eventually, become specialised tissues. Cells interact with materials through an intermediate layer of proteins adsorbed on the material surface. It is known that the density and conformation of these proteins determine cell behaviour. Here we show that the strength of protein/material interactions, which has received very limited attention so far, is key to understand the cellular response to biomaterials. Very strong protein/material interactions reduce the ability of cells to mechanically reorganize proteins at the material interface which results in enhanced matrix degradation, leading ultimately to compromised cell viability.

JTD Keywords: Fibronectin adsorption, Fibronectin remodeling, Protein mobility, Protein-material interaction strength

Solórzano, A., Rodríguez-Pérez, R., Padilla, M., Graunke, T., Fernandez, L., Marco, S., Fonollosa, J., (2018). Multi-unit calibration rejects inherent device variability of chemical sensor arrays Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 265, 142-154

Inherent sensor variability limits mass-production applications for metal oxide (MOX) gas sensor arrays because calibration for replicas of a sensor array needs to be performed individually. Recently, calibration transfer strategies have been proposed to alleviate calibration costs of new replicas, but they still require the acquisition of transfer samples. In this work, we present calibration models that can be extended to uncalibrated replicas of sensor arrays without acquiring new samples, i.e., general or global calibration models. The developed methodology consists in including multiple replicas of a sensor array in the calibration process such that sensor variability is rejected by the general model. Our approach was tested using replicas of a MOX sensor array in the classification task of six gases and synthetic air, presented at different background humidity and concentration levels. Results showed that direct transfer of individual calibration models provides poor classification accuracy. However, we also found that general calibration models kept predictive performance when were applied directly to new copies of the sensor array. Moreover, we explored, through feature selection, whether particular combinations of sensors and operating temperatures can provide predictive performances equivalent to the calibration model with the complete array, favoring thereby the existence of more robust calibration models.

JTD Keywords: Gas sensor array, MOX sensor, Robust calibration, Calibration transfer, Machine olfaction

Fernandez, L., Yan, J., Fonollosa, J., Burgués, J., Gutierrez, A., Marco, S., (2018). A practical method to estimate the resolving power of a chemical sensor array: Application to feature selection Frontiers in Chemistry 6, Article 209

A methodology to calculate analytical figures of merit is not well established for detection systems that are based on sensor arrays with low sensor selectivity. In this work, we present a practical approach to estimate the Resolving Power of a sensory system, considering non-linear sensors and heteroscedastic sensor noise. We use the definition introduced by Shannon in the field of communication theory to quantify the number of symbols in a noisy environment, and its version adapted by Gardner and Barlett for chemical sensor systems. Our method combines dimensionality reduction and the use of algorithms to compute the convex hull of the empirical data to estimate the data volume in the sensor response space. We validate our methodology with synthetic data and with actual data captured with temperature-modulated MOX gas sensors. Unlike other methodologies, our method does not require the intrinsic dimensionality of the sensor response to be smaller than the dimensionality of the input space. Moreover, our method circumvents the problem to obtain the sensitivity matrix, which usually is not known. Hence, our method is able to successfully compute the Resolving Power of actual chemical sensor arrays. We provide a relevant figure of merit, and a methodology to calculate it, that was missing in the literature to benchmark broad-response gas sensor arrays.

JTD Keywords: Gas sensor array, MOX sensors, Resolving Power, Sensor resolution, Dimensionality reduction, Machine olfaction

Moulin-Frier, C., Fischer, T., Petit, M., Pointeau, G., Puigbo, J., Pattacini, U., Low, S. C., Camilleri, D., Nguyen, P., Hoffmann, M., Chang, H. J., Zambelli, M., Mealier, A., Damianou, A., Metta, G., Prescott, T. J., Demiris, Y., Dominey, P. F., Verschure, P. F. M. J., (2018). DAC-h3: A proactive robot cognitive architecture to acquire and express knowledge about the world and the self IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems 10, (4), 1005-1022

This paper introduces a cognitive architecture for a humanoid robot to engage in a proactive, mixed-initiative exploration and manipulation of its environment, where the initiative can originate from both the human and the robot. The framework, based on a biologically-grounded theory of the brain and mind, integrates a reactive interaction engine, a number of state-of-the art perceptual and motor learning algorithms, as well as planning abilities and an autobiographical memory. The architecture as a whole drives the robot behavior to solve the symbol grounding problem, acquire language capabilities, execute goal-oriented behavior, and express a verbal narrative of its own experience in the world. We validate our approach in human-robot interaction experiments with the iCub humanoid robot, showing that the proposed cognitive architecture can be applied in real time within a realistic scenario and that it can be used with naive users.

JTD Keywords: Autobiographical Memory., Biology, Cognition, Cognitive Robotics, Computer architecture, Distributed Adaptive Control, Grounding, Human-Robot Interaction, Humanoid robots, Robot sensing systems, Symbol Grounding

Verschure, P., (2018). The architecture of mind and brain Living machines: A handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems (ed. Prescott, T. J., Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P.), Oxford Scholarship (Oxford, UK) , 338-345

The components of a Living Machine must be integrated into a functioning whole, which requires a detailed understanding of the architecture of living machines. This chapter starts with a conceptual and historical analysis which from Plato brings us to nineteenth-century neuroscience and early concepts of the layered structure of nervous systems. These concepts were further captured in the cognitive behaviorism of Tolman and came to full fruition in the cognitive revolution of the second half of the twentieth century. Verschure subsequently describes the most relevant proposals of cognitive architectures followed by an overview of the few proposals stemming from modern neuroscience on the architecture of the brain. Subsequently, we will look at contemporary contenders that mediate between cognitive and brain architecture. An important challenge to any model of cognitive architectures is how to benchmark it. Verschure proposes the Unified Theories of Embodied Minds (UTEM) benchmark which advances from Newell’s classic Unified Theories of Cognition benchmark.

JTD Keywords: Architecture, Mind, Brain, Organization, System, Virtualization, Abstraction layers

Vouloutsi, Vasiliki, Verschure, P., (2018). Emotions and self-regulation Living Machines: A Handbook of Research in Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems (ed. Prescott, T. J., Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P.), Oxford Scholarship (Oxford, UK) , 327-337

This chapter takes the view that emotions of living machines can be seen from the perspective of self-regulation and appraisal. We will first look at the pragmatic needs to endow machines with emotions and subsequently describe some of the historical background of the science of emotions and its different interpretations and links to affective neuroscience. Subsequently, we argue that emotions can be cast in terms of self-regulation where they provide for a descriptor of the state of the homeostatic processes that maintain the relationship between the agent and its internal and external environment. We augment the notion of homeostasis with that of allostasis which signifies a change from stability through a fixed equilibrium to stability through continuous change. The chapter shows how this view can be used to create complex living machines where emotions are anchored in the need fulfillment of the agent, in this case considering both utilitarian and epistemic needs.

JTD Keywords: Emotion, Motivation, Needs, Appraisal, Self-regulation, Homeostasis, Allostasis, Human–robot interaction, James–Lange theory

Verschure, P., (2018). Capabilities Living machines: A handbook of research in biomimetics and biohybrid systems (ed. Prescott, T. J., Lepora, Nathan, Verschure, P.), Oxford Scholarship (Oxford, UK) , 211-217

This chapter introduces the “Capabilities” section of the Handbook of Living Machines. Where the previous section considered building blocks, we recognize that components or modules do not automatically make systems. Hence, in the remainder of this handbook, the emphasis is toward the capabilities of living systems and their emulation in artifacts. Capabilities often arise from the integration of multiple components and thus sensitize us to the need to develop a system-level perspective on living machines. Here we summarize and consider the 14 contributions in this section which cover perception, action, cognition, communication, and emotion, and the integration of these through cognitive architectures into systems that can emulate the full gamut of integrated behaviors seen in animals including, potentially, our own capacity for consciousness.

JTD Keywords: Action, Cognition, Cognitive architecture, Communication, Consciousness, Emotion, Perception

Venkova, Tatiana, Juárez, Antonio, Espinosa, Manuel, (2017). Editorial: Modulating prokaryotic lifestyle by DNA-binding proteins: Learning from (apparently) simple systems Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences 3, Article 86

Within the research in Molecular Biology, one important field along the years has been the analyses on how prokaryotes regulate the expression of their genes and what the consequences of these activities are. Prokaryotes have attracted the interests of researchers not only because the processes taking place in their world are important to cells, but also because many of the effects often can be readily measured, both at the single cell level and in large populations. Contributing to the interest of the present topic is the fact that modulation of gene activity involves the sensing of intra- and inter-cellular conditions, DNA binding and DNA dynamics, and interaction with the replication/transcription machinery of the cell. All of these processes are fundamental to the operation of a biological entity and they condition its lifestyle. Further, the discoveries achieved in the bacterial world have been of ample use in eukaryotes. In addition to the fundamental interest of understanding modulation of prokaryotic lifestyle by DNA-binding proteins, there is an added interest from the healthcare point of view. As it is well-known the antibiotic-resistance strains of pathogenic bacteria are a major world problem, so that there is an urgent need of innovative approaches to tackle it. Human and animal infectious diseases impose staggering costs worldwide in terms of loss of human life and livestock, diminished productivity, and the heavy economic burden of disease. The global dimension of international trade, personal travel, and population migration expands at an ever-accelerating rate. This increasing mobility results in broader and quicker dissemination of bacterial pathogens and in rapid spread of antibiotic resistance. The majority of the newly acquired resistances are horizontally spread among bacteria of the same or different species by processes of lateral (horizontal) gene transfer, so that discovery of new antibiotics is not the definitive solution to fighting infectious diseases. There is an absolute need of finding novel alternatives to the “classical” approach to treat infections by bacterial pathogens, and these new ways must include the exploration and introduction of novel antibacterials, the development of alternative strategies, and the finding of novel bacterial targets. However, all these approaches will result in a stalemate if we, researchers, are not able to achieve a better understanding of the mechanistic processes underlying bacterial gene expression. It is, then, imperative to continue gaining insight into the basic mechanisms by which bacterial cells regulate the expression of their genes. That is why our Research Topic hosted by Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences was timely, and the output of it offers novel and up-to-date points of view to the “simple” bacterial world.

JTD Keywords: DNA-protein interactions, Gene regulation in Prokaryotes, Replication control, Regulation of Bacterial Gene Expression, Global Regulatory Networks

Parmar, J., Villa, K., Vilela, D., Sánchez, S., (2017). Platinum-free cobalt ferrite based micromotors for antibiotic removal Applied Materials Today 9, 605-611

Self-propelled micromotors have previously shown to enhance pollutant removal compared to non-motile nano-micro particles. However, these systems are expensive, difficult to scale-up and require surfactant for efficient work. Efficient and inexpensive micromotors are desirable for their practical applications in water treatment technologies. We describe cobalt-ferrite based micromotors (CFO micromotors) fabricated by a facile and scalable synthesis, that produce hydroxyl radicals via Fenton-like reaction and take advantage of oxygen gas generated during this reaction for self-propulsion. Once the reaction is complete, the CFO micromotors can be easily separated and collected due to their magnetic nature. The CFO micromotors are demonstrated for highly efficient advanced oxidative removal of tetracycline antibiotic from the water. Furthermore, the effects of different concentrations of micromotors and hydrogen peroxide on the antibiotic degradation were studied, as well as the generation of the highly reactive hydroxyl radicals responsible for the oxidation reaction.

JTD Keywords: Degradation, Fenton reaction, Microbots, Nanomotors, Self-propelled Micromotors, Water treatment

Obiols-Rabasa, M., Oncins, G., Sanz, F., Tadros, T. F., Solans, C., Levecke, B., Booten, K., Esquena, J., (2017). Investigation of the elastic and adhesion properties of adsorbed hydrophobically modified inulin films on latex particles using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects , 524, 185-192

Graft polymer surfactants provide very good colloidal stability because of strong steric repulsions between adsorbed surfactant films. The elastic and adhesion properties of adsorbed hydrophobically modified inulin polymer surfactant (INUTEC NRA) have been directly measured using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) measurements. For this purpose, poly(methyl methacrylate/butyl acrylate), P(MMA/BuA), latexes prepared in the presence of the hydrophobically modified inulin (INUTEC NRA) were used. These latexes (diameter 118 nm and polydispersity index of 1.05) showed a very high colloidal stability in water and in the presence of electrolyte (up to 0.2 mol dm−3 KBr). The latexes were deposited on mica, which was silanated to enhance the adhesion of the latex particles to the surface. A silicon nitride tip with approximately 10 nm diameter that also contained an adsorbed layer of surfactant was used in the AFM apparatus. The tip was allowed to approach, contact thereafter the particles with an applied force of 12.5 nN, and finally detach from the film. Both elastic (Young’s) modulus of the film and adhesion force were studied. The results showed that the adsorbed surfactant films are highly elastic and their elastic modulus and adhesion force did not change significantly with the presence of Na2SO4 up to 0.05 mol dm−3. The high elastic contribution to the steric interaction ensures strong repulsion between the latex particles both in water and at high electrolyte concentrations. In addition, the lack of dependence of adhesion force on electrolyte concentration ensures uniform deposition of the latex particles on a flat substrate as for example in coating applications. These results show the advantages of using a graft polymer surfactant for enhancing the stability of particle suspensions, as illustrated in previous investigations.

JTD Keywords: AFM, Colloidal stability, Interaction forces, Steric repulsion

Pomareda, V., Magrans, R., Jiménez-Soto, J., Martínez, D., Tresánchez, M., Burgués, J., Palacín, J., Marco, S., (2017). Chemical source localization fusing concentration information in the presence of chemical background noise Sensors 17, (4), 904

We present the estimation of a likelihood map for the location of the source of a chemical plume dispersed under atmospheric turbulence under uniform wind conditions. The main contribution of this work is to extend previous proposals based on Bayesian inference with binary detections to the use of concentration information while at the same time being robust against the presence of background chemical noise. For that, the algorithm builds a background model with robust statistics measurements to assess the posterior probability that a given chemical concentration reading comes from the background or from a source emitting at a distance with a specific release rate. In addition, our algorithm allows multiple mobile gas sensors to be used. Ten realistic simulations and ten real data experiments are used for evaluation purposes. For the simulations, we have supposed that sensors are mounted on cars which do not have among its main tasks navigating toward the source. To collect the real dataset, a special arena with induced wind is built, and an autonomous vehicle equipped with several sensors, including a photo ionization detector (PID) for sensing chemical concentration, is used. Simulation results show that our algorithm, provides a better estimation of the source location even for a low background level that benefits the performance of binary version. The improvement is clear for the synthetic data while for real data the estimation is only slightly better, probably because our exploration arena is not able to provide uniform wind conditions. Finally, an estimation of the computational cost of the algorithmic proposal is presented.

JTD Keywords: Machine olfaction, Odor robots, Chemical sensors, Bayesian inference

Solorzano, A., Fonollosa, J., Fernandez, L., Eichmann, J., Marco, S., (2017). Fire detection using a gas sensor array with sensor fusion algorithms IEEE Conference Publications ISOCS/IEEE International Symposium on Olfaction and Electronic Nose (ISOEN) , IEEE (Montreal, Canada) , 1-3

Conventional fire alarms are based on smoke detection. Nevertheless, in some fire scenarios volatiles are released before smoke. Fire detectors based only on chemical sensors have already been proposed as they may provide faster response, but they are still prone to false alarms in the presence of nuisances. These systems rely heavily on pattern recognition techniques to discriminate fires from nuisances. In this context, it is important to test the systems according to international standards for fires and testing the system against a diversity of nuisances. In this work, we investigate the behavior of a gas sensor array coupled to sensor fusion algorithms for fire detection when exposed to standardized fires and several nuisances. Results confirmed the ability to detect fires (97% Sensitivity), although the system still produces a significant rate of false alarms (35%) for nuisances not presented in the training set.

JTD Keywords: Fire alarm, Gas sensor array, Machine Olfaction, Multisensor system, Sensor fusion

Planell, J. A., Navarro, M., Engel, E., (2017). Developing targeted biocomposites in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine Biomedical Composites (ed. Ambrosio, L.), Woodhead Publishing (Duxfor, UK) Biomaterials, 569-587

Regenerative medicine is a relatively new field with new requirements for smart materials, where composites will have a strong role to play. The new paradigm of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering requires biomaterials with high specificity, where physical and chemical properties are duly tailored and combined with appropriate mechanical and degradation features in order to trigger specific cell events and functions involved in the regenerative process. In this chapter, the chemical, physical, and biological elements that have to be targeted by biocomposites in regenerative medicine are described.

JTD Keywords: Biocomposite, Regenerative medicine, Tissue engineering, Scaffolds, Cell/material interactions

Klein, S., Schierwagen, R., Uschner, F. E., Trebicka, J., (2017). Mouse and rat models of induction of hepatic fibrosis and assessment of portal hypertension Fibrosis (Methods in Molecular Biology) (ed. Rittié, L.), Humana Press (New York, USA) 1627, 91-116

Portal hypertension either develops due to progressive liver fibrosis or is the consequence of vascular liver diseases such as portal vein thrombosis or non-cirrhotic portal hypertension. This chapter focuses on different rodent models of liver fibrosis with portal hypertension and also in few non-cirrhotic portal hypertension models. Importantly, after the development of portal hypertension, the proper assessment of drug effects in the portal and systemic circulation should be discussed. The last part of the chapter is dedicated in these techniques to assess the in vivo hemodynamics and the ex vivo techniques of the isolated liver perfusion and vascular contractility.

JTD Keywords: Aortic ring contraction, Bile duct ligation, Carbon tetrachloride, Colored microsphere technique, High-fat diet, Isolated in situ liver perfusion, Methionine-choline-deficient diet, Partial portal vein ligation, Portal hypertension

Solano-Collado, Virtu, Hüttener, Márrio, Espinosa, Manuel, Juárez, Antonio, Bravo, Alicia, (2016). MgaSpn and H-NS: Two unrelated global regulators with similar DNA-binding properties Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences 3, Article 60

Global regulators play an essential role in the adaptation of bacterial cells to specific niches. Bacterial pathogens thriving in the tissues and organs of their eukaryotic hosts are a well-studied example. Some of the proteins that recognize local DNA structures rather than specific nucleotide sequences act as global modulators in many bacteria, both Gram-negative and -positive. To this class of regulators belong the H-NS-like proteins, mainly identified in γ-Proteobacteria, and the MgaSpn-like proteins identified in Firmicutes. H-NS and MgaSpn from Escherichia coli and Streptococcus pneumoniae, respectively, neither have sequence similarity nor share structural domains. Nevertheless, they display common features in their interaction with DNA, namely: (i) they bind to DNA in a non-sequence-specific manner, (ii) they have a preference for intrinsically curved DNA regions, and (iii) they are able to form multimeric complexes on linear DNA. Using DNA fragments from the hemolysin operon regulatory region of the E. coli plasmid pHly152, we show in this work that MgaSpn is able to recognize particular regions on extended H-NS binding sites. Such regions are either located at or flanked by regions of potential bendability. Moreover, we show that the regulatory region of the pneumococcal P1623B promoter, which is recognized by MgaSpn, contains DNA motifs that are recognized by H-NS. These motifs are adjacent to regions of potential bendability. Our results suggest that both regulatory proteins recognize similar structural characteristics of DNA.

JTD Keywords: Global transcriptional regulators, Nucleoid-associated proteins, Mga/AtxA family, Protein-DNA interactions, DNA bendability

Fernanda, Andrade, Pedro, Fonte, Ana, Costa, Cassilda Cunha, Reis, Rute, Nunes, Andreia, Almeida, Domingos, Ferreira, Mireia, Oliva, Bruno, Sarmento, (2016). Pharmacological and toxicological assessment of innovative self-assembled polymeric micelles as powders for insulin pulmonary delivery Nanomedicine 11, (17), 2305-2317

Aim: Explore the use of polymeric micelles in the development of powders intended for pulmonary delivery of biopharmaceuticals, using insulin as a model protein. Materials & methods: Formulations were assessed in vitro for aerosolization properties and in vivo for efficacy and safety using a streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat model. Results: Powders presented good aerosolization properties like fine particle fraction superior to 40% and a mass median aerodynamic diameter inferior of 6 μm. Endotracheally instilled powders have shown a faster onset of action than subcutaneous administration of insulin at a dose of 10 IU/kg, with pharmacological availabilities up to 32.5% of those achieved by subcutaneous route. Additionally, micelles improved the hypoglycemic effect of insulin. Bronchoalveolar lavage screening for toxicity markers (e.g., lactate dehydrogenase, cytokines) revealed no signs of lung inflammation and cytotoxicity 14 days postadministration. Conclusion: Developed powders showed promising safety and efficacy characteristics for the systemic delivery of insulin by pulmonary administration.

JTD Keywords: Fine particle fraction, Inhalation, Insulin, In vivo, Pharmacological availability, Polymeric micelles, Pulmonary toxicity

Przybyla, L., Lakins, J. N., Sunyer, R., Trepat, X., Weaver, V. M., (2016). Monitoring developmental force distributions in reconstituted embryonic epithelia Methods , 94, 101-113

The way cells are organized within a tissue dictates how they sense and respond to extracellular signals, as cues are received and interpreted based on expression and organization of receptors, downstream signaling proteins, and transcription factors. Part of this microenvironmental context is the result of forces acting on the cell, including forces from other cells or from the cellular substrate or basement membrane. However, measuring forces exerted on and by cells is difficult, particularly in an in vivo context, and interpreting how forces affect downstream cellular processes poses an even greater challenge. Here, we present a simple method for monitoring and analyzing forces generated from cell collectives. We demonstrate the ability to generate traction force data from human embryonic stem cells grown in large organized epithelial sheets to determine the magnitude and organization of cell-ECM and cell-cell forces within a self-renewing colony. We show that this method can be used to measure forces in a dynamic hESC system and demonstrate the ability to map intracolony protein localization to force organization.

JTD Keywords: Epiblast, Human embryonic stem cells, Mechanotransduction, Monolayer stress microscopy, Self-organization, Traction force

Lozano-Garcia, M., Fiz, J. A., Jané, R., (2016). Automatic differentiation of normal and continuous adventitious respiratory sounds using ensemble empirical mode decomposition and instantaneous frequency IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics 20, (2), 486-497

Differentiating normal from adventitious respiratory sounds (RS) is a major challenge in the diagnosis of pulmonary diseases. Particularly, continuous adventitious sounds (CAS) are of clinical interest because they reflect the severity of certain diseases. This study presents a new classifier that automatically distinguishes normal sounds from CAS. It is based on the multi-scale analysis of instantaneous frequency (IF) and envelope (IE) calculated after ensemble empirical mode decomposition (EEMD). These techniques have two major advantages over previous techniques: high temporal resolution is achieved by calculating IF-IE and a priori knowledge of signal characteristics is not required for EEMD. The classifier is based on the fact that the IF dispersion of RS signals markedly decreases when CAS appear in respiratory cycles. Therefore, CAS were detected by using a moving window to calculate the dispersion of IF sequences. The study dataset contained 1494 RS segments extracted from 870 inspiratory cycles recorded from 30 patients with asthma. All cycles and their RS segments were previously classified as containing normal sounds or CAS by a highly experienced physician to obtain a gold standard classification. A support vector machine classifier was trained and tested using an iterative procedure in which the dataset was randomly divided into training (65%) and testing (35%) sets inside a loop. The SVM classifier was also tested on 4592 simulated CAS cycles. High total accuracy was obtained with both recorded (94.6% ± 0.3%) and simulated (92.8% ± 3.6%) signals. We conclude that the proposed method is promising for RS analysis and classification.

JTD Keywords: Diseases, Dispersion, Empirical mode decomposition, Feature extraction, Informatics, Support vector machines

Arcentales, A., Rivera, P., Caminal, P., Voss, A., Bayés-Genís, A., Giraldo, B. F., (2016). Analysis of blood pressure signal in patients with different ventricular ejection fraction using linear and non-linear methods Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 38th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Orlando, USA) , 2700-2703

Changes in the left ventricle function produce alternans in the hemodynamic and electric behavior of the cardiovascular system. A total of 49 cardiomyopathy patients have been studied based on the blood pressure signal (BP), and were classified according to the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) in low risk (LR: LVEF>35%, 17 patients) and high risk (HR: LVEF≤35, 32 patients) groups. We propose to characterize these patients using a linear and a nonlinear methods, based on the spectral estimation and the recurrence plot, respectively. From BP signal, we extracted each systolic time interval (STI), upward systolic slope (BPsl), and the difference between systolic and diastolic BP, defined as pulse pressure (PP). After, the best subset of parameters were obtained through the sequential feature selection (SFS) method. According to the results, the best classification was obtained using a combination of linear and nonlinear features from STI and PP parameters. For STI, the best combination was obtained considering the frequency peak and the diagonal structures of RP, with an area under the curve (AUC) of 79%. The same results were obtained when comparing PP values. Consequently, the use of combined linear and nonlinear parameters could improve the risk stratification of cardiomyopathy patients.

JTD Keywords: Feature extraction, Blood pressure, Heart rate, Estimation, Data mining, Covariance matrices, Hospitals

Argerich, S., Herrera, S., Benito, S., Giraldo, J., (2016). Evaluation of periodic breathing in respiratory flow signal of elderly patients using SVM and linear discriminant analysis Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 38th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Orlando, USA) , 4276-4279

Aging population is a major concern that is reflected in the increase of chronic diseases. Heart Failure (HF) is one of the most common chronic diseases of elderly people that is punctuated with acute episodes, which result in hospitalization. The periodic modulation of the amplitude of the breathing pattern is proved to be one of the multiple symptoms of an acute episode, and thus, the features extracted from its characterization contribute in the improvement of the first diagnosis of the clinical practice. The main objective of this study is to evaluate if the features extracted from the breathing pattern along with common clinical variables are reliable enough to detect Periodic Breathing (PB). A dataset of 44 elderly patients containing clinical information and a short record of electrocardiogram and respiratory flow signal was used to train two machine learning classification methods: Support Vector Machine (SVM) and Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA). All the available clinical parameters within the dataset along with the parameters characterizing the respiratory pattern were used to classify the observations into two groups. SVM classification was optimized and performed using a = -8 and C = 10.04 giving an accuracy of 88.2 % sensitivity of 90 % and specificity of 85.7 % Similar results were achieved with LDA classifying with an accuracy of 82.4 %, a sensitivity of 81.8% and specificity of 83.3 % PB has been accurately detected using both classifiers.

JTD Keywords: Support vector machines, Feature extraction, Training, Senior citizens, Standards, Training data, Hospitals

Brask, J. B., Singla-Buxarrais, G., Uroz, M., Vincent, R., Trepat, X., (2015). Compressed sensing traction force microscopy Acta Biomaterialia 26, 286-294

Adherent cells exert traction forces on their substrate, and these forces play important roles in biological functions such as mechanosensing, cell differentiation and cancer invasion. The method of choice to assess these active forces is traction force microscopy (TFM). Despite recent advances, TFM remains highly sensitive to measurement noise and exhibits limited spatial resolution. To improve the resolution and noise robustness of TFM, here we adapt techniques from compressed sensing (CS) to the reconstruction of the traction field from the substrate displacement field. CS enables the recovery of sparse signals at higher resolution from lower resolution data. Focal adhesions (FAs) of adherent cells are spatially sparse implying that traction fields are also sparse. Here we show, by simulation and by experiment, that the CS approach enables circumventing the Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem to faithfully reconstruct the traction field at a higher resolution than that of the displacement field. This allows reaching state-of-the-art resolution using only a medium magnification objective. We also find that CS improves reconstruction quality in the presence of noise. Statement of Significance A great scientific advance of the past decade is the recognition that physical forces determine an increasing list of biological processes. Traction force microscopy which measures the forces that cells exert on their surroundings has seen significant recent improvements, however the technique remains sensitive to measurement noise and severely limited in spatial resolution. We exploit the fact that the force fields are sparse to boost the spatial resolution and noise robustness by applying ideas from compressed sensing. The novel method allows high resolution on a larger field of view. This may in turn allow better understanding of the cell forces at the multicellular level, which are known to be important in wound healing and cancer invasion.

JTD Keywords: Compressed sensing, High resolution, Traction force microscopy

Reginensi, Diego, Carulla, Patricia, Nocentini, Sara, Seira, Oscar, Serra-Picamal, Xavier, Torres-Espín, Abel, Matamoros-Angles, Andreu, Gavín, Rosalina, Moreno-Flores, María Teresa, Wandosell, Francisco, Samitier, Josep, Trepat, Xavier, Navarro, Xavier, del Río, José Antonio, (2015). Increased migration of olfactory ensheathing cells secreting the Nogo receptor ectodomain over inhibitory substrates and lesioned spinal cord Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences , 72, (14), 2719-2737

Olfactory ensheathing cell (OEC) transplantation emerged some years ago as a promising therapeutic strategy to repair injured spinal cord. However, inhibitory molecules are present for long periods of time in lesioned spinal cord, inhibiting both OEC migration and axonal regrowth. Two families of these molecules, chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans (CSPG) and myelin-derived inhibitors (MAIs), are able to trigger inhibitory responses in lesioned axons. Mounting evidence suggests that OEC migration is inhibited by myelin. Here we demonstrate that OEC migration is largely inhibited by CSPGs and that inhibition can be overcome by the bacterial enzyme Chondroitinase ABC. In parallel, we have generated a stable OEC cell line overexpressing the Nogo receptor (NgR) ectodomain to reduce MAI-associated inhibition in vitro and in vivo. Results indicate that engineered cells migrate longer distances than unmodified OECs over myelin or oligodendrocyte-myelin glycoprotein (OMgp)-coated substrates. In addition, they also show improved migration in lesioned spinal cord. Our results provide new insights toward the improvement of the mechanisms of action and optimization of OEC-based cell therapy for spinal cord lesion.

JTD Keywords: Olfactory ensheathing cells, Traction force microscopy, Chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans, Cell migration, Nogo receptor ectodomain

Mrkonji, Garcia-Elias, A., Pardo-Pastor, C., Bazellières, E., Trepat, X., Vriens, J., Ghosh, D., Voets, T., Vicente, R., Valverde, M. A., (2015). TRPV4 participates in the establishment of trailing adhesions and directional persistence of migrating cells Pflugers Archiv European Journal of Physiology , 467, (10), 2107-2119

Calcium signaling participates in different cellular processes leading to cell migration. TRPV4, a non-selective cation channel that responds to mechano-osmotic stimulation and heat, is also involved in cell migration. However, the mechanistic involvement of TRPV4 in cell migration is currently unknown. We now report that expression of the mutant channel TRPV4-121AAWAA (lacking the phosphoinositide-binding site 121KRWRK125 and the response to physiological stimuli) altered HEK293 cell migration. Altered migration patterns included periods of fast and persistent motion followed by periods of stalling and turning, and the extension of multiple long cellular protrusions. TRPV4-WT overexpressing cells showed almost complete loss of directionality with frequent turns, no progression, and absence of long protrusions. Traction microscopy revealed higher tractions forces in the tail of TRPV4-121AAWAA than in TRPV4-WT expressing cells. These results are consistent with a defective and augmented tail retraction in TRPV4-121AAWAA- and TRPV4-WT-expressing cells, respectively. The activity of calpain, a protease implicated in focal adhesion (FA) disassembly, was decreased in TRPV4-121AAWAA compared with TRPV4-WT-expressing cells. Consistently, larger focal adhesions were seen in TRPV4-121AAWAA compared with TRPV4-WT-expressing HEK293 cells, a result that was also reproduced in T47D and U87 cells. Similarly, overexpression of the pore-dead mutant TRPV4-M680D resumed the TRPV4-121AAWAA phenotype presenting larger FA. The migratory phenotype obtained in HEK293 cells overexpressing TRPV4-121AAWAA was mimicked by knocking-down TRPC1, a cationic channel that participates in cell migration. Together, our results point to the participation of TRPV4 in the dynamics of trailing adhesions, a function that may require the interplay of TRPV4 with other cation channels or proteins present at the FA sites.

JTD Keywords: Calcium, Calpain, Focal adhesion, Migration, Traction forces, TRPV4

Fonollosa, J., Neftci, E., Huerta, R., Marco, S., (2015). Evaluation of calibration transfer strategies between Metal Oxide gas sensor arrays Procedia Engineering EUROSENSORS 2015 , Elsevier (Freiburg, Germany) 120, 261-264

Abstract Inherent variability of chemical sensors makes necessary individual calibration of chemical detection systems. This shortcoming has traditionally limited usability of systems based on Metal Oxide (MOX) sensor arrays and prevented mass-production for some applications. Here, aiming at exploring transfer calibration between electronic nose systems, we exposed five identical 8-sensor detection units to controlled gas conditions. Our results show that a calibration model provides more accurate predictions when the tested board is included in the calibration dataset. However, we show that previously built calibration models can be extended to other units using a reduced number of measurements. While baseline correction seems imperative for successful baseline correction, among the different tested strategies, piecewise direct standardization provides more accurate predictions.

JTD Keywords: Electronic nose, Calibration, MOX sensor, Machine Olfaction

Serra-Picamal, Xavier, Conte, Vito, Sunyer, Raimon, Muñoz, José J., Trepat, Xavier, (2015). Mapping forces and kinematics during collective cell migration Methods in Cell Biology - Biophysical Methods in Cell Biology (ed. Wilson, L., Tran, P.), Academic Press (Santa Barbara, USA) 125, 309-330

Abstract Fundamental biological processes including morphogenesis and tissue repair require cells to migrate collectively. In these processes, epithelial or endothelial cells move in a cooperative manner coupled by intercellular junctions. Ultimately, the movement of these multicellular systems occurs through the generation of cellular forces, exerted either on the substrate via focal adhesions (cell–substrate forces) or on neighboring cells through cell–cell junctions (cell–cell forces). Quantitative measurements of multicellular forces and kinematics with cellular or subcellular resolution have become possible only in recent years. In this chapter, we describe some of these techniques, which include particle image velocimetry to map cell velocities, traction force microscopy to map forces exerted by cells on the substrate, and monolayer stress microscopy to map forces within and between cells. We also describe experimental protocols to perform these measurements. The combination of these techniques with high-resolution imaging tools and molecular perturbations will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying collective cell migration in health and disease.

JTD Keywords: Collective cell migration, Monolayer stress microscopy, Traction force microscopy

Vinagre, M., Aranda, J., Casals, A., Aranda, J., Casals, A., (2015). A new relational geometric feature for human action recognition Lecture Notes in Electrical Engineering (ed. Ferrier, J.L., Gusikhin, O., Madani, K., Sasiadek, J.), Springer (Lausanne, Switzerland) 325, 263-278

Pose-based features have demonstrated to outperform low-levelappearance features in human action recognition. New RGB-D cameras provide locations of human joints with which geometric correspondences can be easily calculated. In this article, a new geometric correspondence between joints called Trisarea feature is presented. It is defined as the area of the triangle formed by three joints. Relevant triangles describing human pose are identified and it is shown how the variation over time of the selected Trisarea features constitutes a descriptor of human action. Experimental results show a comparison with other methods and demonstrate how this Trisarea-based representation can be applied to human action recognition.

JTD Keywords: Action descriptor, Action recognition, Pose-based feature

Cuervo, A., Dans, P. D., Carrascosa, J. L., Orozco, M., Gomila, G., Fumagalli, L., (2014). Direct measurement of the dielectric polarization properties of DNA Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111, (35), E3624-E3630

The electric polarizability of DNA, represented by the dielectric constant, is a key intrinsic property that modulates DNA interaction with effector proteins. Surprisingly, it has so far remained unknown owing to the lack of experimental tools able to access it. Here, we experimentally resolved it by detecting the ultraweak polarization forces of DNA inside single T7 bacteriophages particles using electrostatic force microscopy. In contrast to the common assumption of low-polarizable behavior like proteins (εr ~ 2–4), we found that the DNA dielectric constant is ~ 8, considerably higher than the value of ~ 3 found for capsid proteins. State-of-the-art molecular dynamic simulations confirm the experimental findings, which result in sensibly decreased DNA interaction free energy than normally predicted by Poisson–Boltzmann methods. Our findings reveal a property at the basis of DNA structure and functions that is needed for realistic theoretical descriptions, and illustrate the synergetic power of scanning probe microscopy and theoretical computation techniques.

JTD Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Atomistic simulations, DNA packaging, DNA-ligand binding, Poisson-Boltzmann equation, capsid protein, DNA, double stranded DNA, amino acid composition, article, atomic force microscopy, bacteriophage, bacteriophage T7, dielectric constant, dipole, DNA binding, DNA packaging, DNA structure, electron microscopy, ligand binding, nonhuman, polarization, priority journal, protein analysis, protein DNA interaction, scanning probe microscopy, static electricity, virion, virus capsid, virus particle, atomic force microscopy, atomistic simulations, DNA packaging, DNA-ligand binding, Poisson-Boltzmann equation, Bacteriophage T7, Capsid, Cations, Dielectric Spectroscopy, DNA, DNA, Viral, DNA-Binding Proteins, Electrochemical Techniques, Ligands, Microscopy, Atomic Force, Models, Chemical, Nuclear Proteins

Fresco-Cala, B., Jimenez-Soto, J. M., Cardenas, S., Valcarcel, M., (2014). Single-walled carbon nanohorns immobilized on a microporous hollow polypropylene fiber as a sorbent for the extraction of volatile organic compounds from water samples Microchimica Acta , 181, (9-10), 1117-1124

We have evaluated the behavior of single-walled carbon nanohorns as a sorbent for headspace and direct immersion (micro)solid phase extraction using volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as model analytes. The conical carbon nanohorns were first oxidized in order to increase their solubility in water and organic solvents. A microporous hollow polypropylene fiber served as a mechanical support that provides a high surface area for nanoparticle retention. The extraction unit was directly placed in the liquid sample or the headspace of an aqueous standard or a water sample to extract and preconcentrate the VOCs. The variables affecting extraction have been optimized. The VOCs were then identified and quantified by GC/MS. We conclude that direct immersion of the fiber is the most adequate method for the extraction of VOCs from both liquid samples and headspace. Detection limits range from 3.5 to 4.3 ng L-1 (excepted for toluene with 25 ng L-1), and the precision (expressed as relative standard deviation) is between 3.9 and 9.6 %. The method was applied to the determination of toluene, ethylbenzene, various xylene isomers and styrene in bottled, river and tap waters, and the respective average recoveries of spiked samples are 95.6, 98.2 and 86.0 %.

JTD Keywords: (Micro)solid phase extraction, Nanotechnology, Oxidized single-walled carbon nanohorns, Volatiles compounds, Waters

Rajzer, I., Menaszek, E., Kwiatkowski, R., Planell, J. A., Castaño, O., (2014). Electrospun gelatin/poly(ε-caprolactone) fibrous scaffold modified with calcium phosphate for bone tissue engineering Materials Science and Engineering: C 44, 183-190

In this study gelatin (Gel) modified with calcium phosphate nanoparticles (SG5) and polycaprolactone (PCL) were used to prepare a 3D bi-layer scaffold by collecting electrospun PCL and gelatin/SG5 fibers separately in the same collector. The objective of this study was to combine the desired properties of PCL and Gel/SG5 in the same scaffold in order to enhance mineralization, thus improving the ability of the scaffold to bond to the bone tissue. The scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and the wide angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD) measurements confirmed that SG5 nanoparticles were successfully incorporated into the fibrous gelatin matrix. The composite Gel/SG5/PCL scaffold exhibited more enhanced mechanical properties than individual Gel and Gel/SG5 scaffolds. The presence of SG5 nanoparticles accelerated the nucleation and growth of apatite crystals on the surface of the composite Gel/SG5/PCL scaffold in simulated body fluid (SBF). The osteoblast response in vitro to developed electrospun scaffolds (PCL and Gel/SG5/PCL) was investigated by using normal human primary NHOst cell lines. NHOst cell culture studies showed that higher alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and better mineralization were obtained in the case of composite materials than in pure PCL scaffolds. The mechanically strong PCL scaffold served as a skeleton, while the Gel/SG5 fibers facilitated cell spreading and mineralization of the scaffold.

JTD Keywords: Bilayer fibrous scaffold, Ceramic nanoparticles, Electrospinning, Gelatin, Polycaprolactone, Biomechanics, Bone, Calcium phosphate, Cell culture, Electrospinning, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, Mechanical properties, Mineralogy, Nanoparticles, Phosphatases, Polycaprolactone, Scanning electron microscopy, X ray diffraction, Polycaprolactone, Alkaline phosphatase activity, Bone tissue engineering, Calcium phosphate nanoparticles, Ceramic nanoparticles, Fibrous scaffolds, Gelatin, Simulated body fluids, Wide-angle x-ray diffraction, Electrospuns, Scaffolds (biology), Electrospinning

Vinagre, M., Aranda, J., Casals, A., (2014). An interactive robotic system for human assistance in domestic environments Computers Helping People with Special Needs (ed. Miesenberger, K., Fels, D., Archambault, D., Pe, Zagler), Springer International Publishing 8548, 152-155

This work introduces an interactive robotic system for assistance, conceived to tackle some of the challenges that domestic environments impose. The system is organized into a network of heterogeneous components that share both physical and logical functions to perform complex tasks. It consists of several robots for object manipulation, an advanced vision system that supplies in-formation about objects in the scene and human activity, and a spatial augmented reality interface that constitutes a comfortable means for interacting with the system. A first analysis based on users' experiences confirms the importance of having a friendly user interface. The inclusion of context awareness from visual perception enriches this interface allowing the robotic system to become a flexible and proactive assistant.

JTD Keywords: Accessibility, Activity Recognition, Ambient Intelligence, Human-Robot Interaction, Robot Assistance, Augmented reality, Complex networks, Computer vision, User interfaces, Accessibility, Activity recognition, Ambient intelligence, Domestic environments, Heterogeneous component, Interactive robotics, Robot assistance, Spatial augmented realities, Human assistance, Robotics

Nevola, L., Martín-Quirós, A., Eckelt, K., Camarero, N., Tosi, S., Llobet, A., Giralt, E., Gorostiza, P., (2013). Light-regulated stapled peptides to inhibit protein-protein interactions involved in clathrin-mediated endocytosis Angewandte Chemie - International Edition 52, (30), 7704-7708

Control of membrane traffic: Photoswitchable inhibitors of protein-protein interactions were applied to photoregulate clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) in living cells. Traffic light (TL) peptides acting as "stop" and "go" signals for membrane traffic can be used to dissect the role of CME in receptor internalization and in cell growth, division, and differentiation.

JTD Keywords: Clathrin-mediated endocytosis, Optopharmacology, Peptides, Photoswitches, Protein-protein interactions

Montufar, E. B., Maazouz, Y., Ginebra, M. P., (2013). Relevance of the setting reaction to the injectability of tricalcium phosphate pastes Acta Biomaterialia 9, (4), 6188-6198

The aim of the present work was to analyze the influence of the setting reaction on the injectability of tricalcium phosphate (TCP) pastes. Even if the injection was performed early after mixing powder and liquid, powder reactivity was shown to play a significant role in the injectability of TCP pastes. Significant differences were observed between the injection behavior of non-hardening β-TCP pastes and that of self-hardening α-TCP pastes. The differences were more marked at low liquid-to-powder ratios, using fine powders and injecting through thin needles. α-TCP was, in general, less injectable than β-TCP and required higher injection loads. Moreover, clogging was identified as a mechanism hindering or even preventing injectability, different and clearly distinguishable from the filter-pressing phenomenon. α-TCP pastes presented transient clogging episodes, which were not observed in β-TCP pastes with equivalent particle size distribution. Different parameters affecting powder reactivity were also shown to affect paste injectability. Thus, whereas powder calcination resulted in an increased injectability due to lower particle reactivity, the addition of setting accelerants, such as hydroxyapatite nanoparticles, tended to reduce the injectability of the TCP pastes, especially if adjoined simultaneously with a Na2HPO4 solution. Although, as a general trend, faster-setting pastes were less injectable, some exceptions to this rule were found. For example, whereas in the absence of setting accelerants fine TCP powders were more injectable than the coarse ones, in spite of their shorter setting times, this trend was inverted when setting accelerants were added, and coarse powders were more injectable than the fine ones.

JTD Keywords: Calcium phosphate cement, Hydroxyapatite, Injectability, Setting reaction, Tricalcium phosphate

Garde, Ainara, Voss, Andreas, Caminal, Pere, Benito, Salvador, Giraldo, Beatriz F., (2013). SVM-based feature selection to optimize sensitivity-specificity balance applied to weaning Computers in Biology and Medicine , 43, (5), 533-540

Classification algorithms with unbalanced datasets tend to produce high predictive accuracy over the majority class, but poor predictive accuracy over the minority class. This problem is very common in biomedical data mining. This paper introduces a Support Vector Machine (SVM)-based optimized feature selection method, to select the most relevant features and maintain an accurate and well-balanced sensitivity–specificity result between unbalanced groups. A new metric called the balance index (B) is defined to implement this optimization. The balance index measures the difference between the misclassified data within each class. The proposed optimized feature selection is applied to the classification of patients' weaning trials from mechanical ventilation: patients with successful trials who were able to maintain spontaneous breathing after 48 h and patients who failed to maintain spontaneous breathing and were reconnected to mechanical ventilation after 30 min. Patients are characterized through cardiac and respiratory signals, applying joint symbolic dynamic (JSD) analysis to cardiac interbeat and breath durations. First, the most suitable parameters (C+,C−,σ) are selected to define the appropriate SVM. Then, the feature selection process is carried out with this SVM, to maintain B lower than 40%. The best result is obtained using 6 features with an accuracy of 80%, a B of 18.64%, a sensitivity of 74.36% and a specificity of 82.42%.

JTD Keywords: Support vector machines, Balance index, Sensitivity-specificity balance, Cardiorespiratory interaction, Joint symbolic dynamics, Feature selection, Weaning procedure

Giraldo, B. F., Tellez, J. P., Herrera, S., Benito, S., (2013). Analysis of heart rate variability in elderly patients with chronic heart failure during periodic breathing CinC 2013 Computing in Cardiology Conference (CinC) , IEEE (Zaragoza, Spain) , 991-994

Assessment of the dynamic interactions between cardiovascular signals can provide valuable information that improves the understanding of cardiovascular control. Heart rate variability (HRV) analysis is known to provide information about the autonomic heart rate modulation mechanism. Using the HRV signal, we aimed to obtain parameters for classifying patients with and without chronic heart failure (CHF), and with periodic breathing (PB), non-periodic breathing (nPB), and Cheyne-Stokes respiration (CSR) patterns. An electrocardiogram (ECG) and a respiratory flow signal were recorded in 36 elderly patients: 18 patients with CHF and 18 patients without CHF. According to the clinical criteria, the patients were classified into the follow groups: 19 patients with nPB pattern, 7 with PB pattern, 4 with Cheyne-Stokes respiration (CSR), and 6 non-classified patients (problems with respiratory signal). From the HRV signal, parameters in the time and frequency domain were calculated. Frequency domain parameters were the most discriminant in comparisons of patients with and without CHF: PTot (p = 0.02), PLF (p = 0.022) and fpHF (p = 0.021). For the comparison of the nPB vs. CSR patients groups, the best parameters were RMSSD (p = 0.028) and SDSD (p = 0.028). Therefore, the parameters appear to be suitable for enhanced diagnosis of decompensated CHF patients and the possibility of developed periodic breathing and a CSR pattern.

JTD Keywords: cardiovascular system, diseases, electrocardiography, frequency-domain analysis, geriatrics, medical signal processing, patient diagnosis, pneumodynamics, signal classification, Cheyne-Stokes respiration patterns, ECG, autonomic heart rate modulation mechanism, cardiovascular control, cardiovascular signals, chronic heart failure, decompensated CHF patients, dynamic interaction assessment, elderly patients, electrocardiogram, enhanced diagnosis, frequency domain parameters, heart rate variability analysis, patient classification, periodic breathing, respiratory flow signal recording, Electrocardiography, Frequency modulation, Frequency-domain analysis, Heart rate variability, Senior citizens, Standards

Marco, S., Gutiérrez-Gálvez, A., Lansner, A., Martinez, D., Rospars, J. P., Beccherelli, R., Perera, A., Pearce, T., Vershure, P., Persaud, K., (2013). Biologically inspired large scale chemical sensor arrays and embedded data processing Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS VI , SPIE Digital Library (Grenoble, France) 8763, 1-15

Biological olfaction outperforms chemical instrumentation in specificity, response time, detection limit, coding capacity, time stability, robustness, size, power consumption, and portability. This biological function provides outstanding performance due, to a large extent, to the unique architecture of the olfactory pathway, which combines a high degree of redundancy, an efficient combinatorial coding along with unmatched chemical information processing mechanisms. The last decade has witnessed important advances in the understanding of the computational primitives underlying the functioning of the olfactory system. EU Funded Project NEUROCHEM (Bio-ICT-FET- 216916) has developed novel computing paradigms and biologically motivated artefacts for chemical sensing taking inspiration from the biological olfactory pathway. To demonstrate this approach, a biomimetic demonstrator has been built featuring a large scale sensor array (65K elements) in conducting polymer technology mimicking the olfactory receptor neuron layer, and abstracted biomimetic algorithms have been implemented in an embedded system that interfaces the chemical sensors. The embedded system integrates computational models of the main anatomic building blocks in the olfactory pathway: The olfactory bulb, and olfactory cortex in vertebrates (alternatively, antennal lobe and mushroom bodies in the insect). For implementation in the embedded processor an abstraction phase has been carried out in which their processing capabilities are captured by algorithmic solutions. Finally, the algorithmic models are tested with an odour robot with navigation capabilities in mixed chemical plumes.

JTD Keywords: Antennal lobes, Artificial olfaction, Computational neuroscience, Olfactory bulbs, Plume tracking, Abstracting, Actuators, Algorithms, Biomimetic processes, Chemical sensors, Conducting polymers, Data processing, Flavors, Odors, Robots, Smart sensors, Embedded systems

Arcentales, A., Voss, A., Caminal, P., Bayes-Genis, A., Domingo, M. T., Giraldo, B. F., (2013). Characterization of patients with different ventricular ejection fractions using blood pressure signal analysis CinC 2013 Computing in Cardiology Conference (CinC) , IEEE (Zaragoza, Spain) , 795-798

Ischemic and dilated cardiomyopathy are associated with disorders of myocardium. Using the blood pressure (BP) signal and the values of the ventricular ejection fraction, we obtained parameters for stratifying cardiomyopathy patients as low- and high-risk. We studied 48 cardiomyopathy patients characterized by NYHA ≥2: 19 patients with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and 29 patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy (ICM). The left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) percentage was used to classify patients in low risk (LR: LVEF > 35%, 17 patients) and high risk (HR: LVEF ≤ 35%, 31 patients) groups. From the BP signal, we extracted the upward systolic slope (BPsl), the difference between systolic and diastolic BP (BPA), and systolic time intervals (STI). When we compared the LR and HR groups in the time domain analysis, the best parameters were standard deviation (SD) of 1=STI, kurtosis (K) of BPsl, and K of BPA. In the frequency domain analysis, very low frequency (VLF) and high frequency (HF) bands showed statistically significant differences in comaprisons of LR and HR groups. The area under the curve of power spectral density was the best parameter in all classifications, and particularly in the very-low-and high- frequency bands (p <; 0.001). These parameters could help to improve the risk stratification of cardiomyopathy patients.

JTD Keywords: blood pressure measurement, cardiovascular system, diseases, medical disorders, medical signal processing, statistical analysis, time-domain analysis, BP signal, HR groups, LR groups, blood pressure signal analysis, cardiomyopathy patients, diastolic BP, dilated cardiomyopathy, frequency domain analysis, high-frequency bands, ischemic cardiomyopathy, left ventricular ejection fraction, low-frequency bands, myocardium disorders, patient characterization, power spectral density curve, standard deviation, statistical significant differences, systolic BP, systolic slope, systolic time intervals, time domain analysis, ventricular ejection fraction, Abstracts, Databases, Parameter extraction, Telecommunication standards, Time-frequency analysis

Giraldo, B. F., Chaparro, J. A., Caminal, P., Benito, S., (2013). Characterization of the respiratory pattern variability of patients with different pressure support levels Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 35th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Osaka, Japan) , 3849-3852

One of the most challenging problems in intensive care is still the process of discontinuing mechanical ventilation, called weaning process. Both an unnecessary delay in the discontinuation process and a weaning trial that is undertaken too early are undesirable. In this study, we analyzed respiratory pattern variability using the respiratory volume signal of patients submitted to two different levels of pressure support ventilation (PSV), prior to withdrawal of the mechanical ventilation. In order to characterize the respiratory pattern, we analyzed the following time series: inspiratory time, expiratory time, breath duration, tidal volume, fractional inspiratory time, mean inspiratory flow and rapid shallow breathing. Several autoregressive modeling techniques were considered: autoregressive models (AR), autoregressive moving average models (ARMA), and autoregressive models with exogenous input (ARX). The following classification methods were used: logistic regression (LR), linear discriminant analysis (LDA) and support vector machines (SVM). 20 patients on weaning trials from mechanical ventilation were analyzed. The patients, submitted to two different levels of PSV, were classified as low PSV and high PSV. The variability of the respiratory patterns of these patients were analyzed. The most relevant parameters were extracted using the classifiers methods. The best results were obtained with the interquartile range and the final prediction errors of AR, ARMA and ARX models. An accuracy of 95% (93% sensitivity and 90% specificity) was obtained when the interquartile range of the expiratory time and the breath duration time series were used a LDA model. All classifiers showed a good compromise between sensitivity and specificity.

JTD Keywords: autoregressive moving average processes, feature extraction, medical signal processing, patient care, pneumodynamics, signal classification, support vector machines, time series, ARX, autoregressive modeling techniques, autoregressive models with exogenous input, autoregressive moving average model, breath duration time series, classification method, classifier method, discontinuing mechanical ventilation, expiratory time, feature extraction, final prediction errors, fractional inspiratory time, intensive care, interquartile range, linear discriminant analysis, logistic regression analysis, mean inspiratory flow, patient respiratory volume signal, pressure support level, pressure support ventilation, rapid shallow breathing, respiratory pattern variability characterization, support vector machines, tidal volume, weaning trial, Analytical models, Autoregressive processes, Biological system modeling, Estimation, Support vector machines, Time series analysis, Ventilation

Santano-Martínez, R., Leiva-González, R., Avazbeigi, M., Gutiérrez-Gálvez, A., Marco, S., (2013). Identification of molecular properties coding areas in rat's olfactory bulb by rank products Proceedings of the International Conference on Bio-Inspired Systems and Signal Processing BIOSIGNALS 2013 , SciTePress (Barcelona, Spain) , 383-387

Neural coding of chemical information is still under strong debate. It is clear that, in vertebrates, neural representation in the olfactory bulb is a key for understanding a putative odour code. To explore this code, in this work we have studied a public dataset of radio images of 2-Deoxyglucose uptake (2-DG) in the olfactory bulb of rats in response to diverse odorants using univariate pixel selection algorithms: rank-products and Mann-Whitney U (MWU) test. Initial results indicate that some chemical properties of odorants preferentially activate certain areas of the rat olfactory bulb. While non-parametric test (MWU) has difficulties to detect these regions, rank-product provides a higher power of detection.

JTD Keywords: 2-Deoxyglucose uptake, Chemotopy, Feature selection, Odour coding, Olfaction, Olfactory bulb

Hernando, D., Alcaine, A., Pueyo, E., Laguna, P., Orini, M., Arcentales, A., Giraldo, B., Voss, A., Bayes-Genis, A., Bailon, R., (2013). Influence of respiration in the very low frequency modulation of QRS slopes and heart rate variability in cardiomyopathy patients CinC 2013 Computing in Cardiology Conference (CinC) , IEEE (Zaragoza, Spain) , 117-120

This work investigates the very low frequency (VLF) modulation of QRS slopes and heart rate variability (HRV). Electrocardiogram (ECG) and respiratory flow signal were acquired from patients with dilated cardiomyopathy and ischemic cardiomyopathy. HRV as well as the upward QRS slope (IUS) and downward QRS slope (IDS) were extracted from the ECG. The relation between HRV and QRS slopes in the VLF band was measured using ordinary coherence in 5-minute segments. Partial coherence was then used to remove the influence that respiration simultaneously exerts on HRV and QRS slopes. A statistical threshold was determined, below which coherence values were considered not to represent a linear relation. 7 out of 276 segments belonging to 5 out of 29 patients for IUS and 10 segments belonging to 5 patients for IDS presented a VLF modulation in QRS slopes, HRV and respiration. In these segments spectral coherence was statistically significant, while partial coherence decreased, indicating that the coupling HRV and QRS slopes was related to respiration. 4 segments had a partial coherence value below the threshold for IUS, 3 segments for IDS. The rest of the segments also presented a notable decrease in partial coherence, but still above the threshold, which means that other non-linearly effects may also affect this modulation.

JTD Keywords: diseases, electrocardiography, feature extraction, medical signal processing, pneumodynamics, statistical analysis, ECG, QRS slopes, cardiomyopathy patients, dilated cardiomyopathy, electrocardiogram, feature extraction, heart rate variability, ischemic cardiomyopathy, ordinary coherence, partial coherence value, respiration, respiratory flow signal acquisition, spectral coherence, statistical threshold, time 5 min, very low frequency modulation, Coherence, Educational institutions, Electrocardiography, Frequency modulation, Heart rate variability

Fernandez, L., Gutierrez-Galvez, A., Marco, S., (2013). Multi-way analysis of diversity and redundancy factors in large MOX gas sensor data Metal Oxide-based Sensors 14th International Meeting on Chemical Sensors - IMCS 2012 , AMA Science Portal (Nuremberg, Germany) P2.07, 1279-1280

We propose the use of multi-way methods to analyze the contribution of diversity and redundancy to odor identification and concentration estimation in a large chemical sensor array. We use a chemical sensing system based on a large array of metal oxide sensors (MOX) and inspired on the diversity and redundancy of the olfactory epithelium. In order to analyze the role of diversity (different sensor type and temperature modulation) and redundancy (replicates of sensors and different load resistors) in odor quantification and discrimination tasks, we have acquired two datasets and modeled the data using multi-way techniques.

JTD Keywords: Artificial Olfaction, Large array, MOX gas sensor, Multi-way methods

Giraldo, B. F., Tellez, J. P., Herrera, S., Benito, S., (2013). Study of the oscillatory breathing pattern in elderly patients Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 35th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Osaka, Japan) , 5228-5231

Some of the most common clinical problems in elderly patients are related to diseases of the cardiac and respiratory systems. Elderly patients often have altered breathing patterns, such as periodic breathing (PB) and Cheyne-Stokes respiration (CSR), which may coincide with chronic heart failure. In this study, we used the envelope of the respiratory flow signal to characterize respiratory patterns in elderly patients. To study different breathing patterns in the same patient, the signals were segmented into windows of 5 min. In oscillatory breathing patterns, frequency and time-frequency parameters that characterize the discriminant band were evaluated to identify periodic and non-periodic breathing (PB and nPB). In order to evaluate the accuracy of this characterization, we used a feature selection process, followed by linear discriminant analysis. 22 elderly patients (7 patients with PB and 15 with nPB pattern) were studied. The following classification problems were analyzed: patients with either PB (with and without apnea) or nPB patterns, and patients with CSR versus PB, CSR versus nPB and PB versus nPB patterns. The results showed 81.8% accuracy in the comparisons of nPB and PB patients, using the power of the modulation peak. For the segmented signal, the power of the modulation peak, the frequency variability and the interquartile ranges provided the best results with 84.8% accuracy, for classifying nPB and PB patients.

JTD Keywords: cardiovascular system, diseases, feature extraction, geriatrics, medical signal processing, oscillations, pneumodynamics, signal classification, time-frequency analysis, Cheyne-Stokes respiration, apnea, cardiac systems, chronic heart failure, classification problems, discriminant band, diseases, elderly patients, feature selection process, frequency variability, interquartile ranges, linear discriminant analysis, nonperiodic breathing, oscillatory breathing pattern, periodic breathing, respiratory How signal, respiratory systems, signal segmentation, time 5 min, time-frequency parameters, Accuracy, Aging, Frequency modulation, Heart, Senior citizens, Time-frequency analysis

Nocentini, S., Reginensi, D., Garcia, S., Carulla, P., Moreno-Flores, Wandosell, F., Trepat, X., Bribian, A., Del Rí, (2012). Myelin-associated proteins block the migration of olfactory ensheathing cells: an in vitro study using single-cell tracking and traction force microscopy Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences , 69, (10), 1689-1703

Newly generated olfactory receptor axons grow from the peripheral to the central nervous system aided by olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs). Thus, OEC transplantation has emerged as a promising therapy for spinal cord injuries and for other neural diseases. However, these cells do not present a uniform population, but instead a functionally heterogeneous population that exhibits a variety of responses including adhesion, repulsion, and crossover during cell–cell and cell–matrix interactions. Some studies report that the migratory properties of OECs are compromised by inhibitory molecules and potentiated by chemical gradients. Here, we demonstrated that rodent OECs express all the components of the Nogo receptor complex and that their migration is blocked by myelin. Next, we used cell tracking and traction force microscopy to analyze OEC migration and its mechanical properties over myelin. Our data relate the decrease of traction force of OEC with lower migratory capacity over myelin, which correlates with changes in the F-actin cytoskeleton and focal adhesion distribution. Lastly, OEC traction force and migratory capacity is enhanced after cell incubation with the Nogo receptor inhibitor NEP1-40.

JTD Keywords: Ensheathing glia, Traction force, microscopy, Migration, Myelin-associated inhibitors

Hernansanz, A., Zerbato, D., Gasperotti, L., Scandola, M., Casals, A., Fiorini, P., (2012). Assessment of virtual fixtures for the development of basic skills in robotic surgery International Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery CARS 2012 Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery , Springer (Pisa, Italy) 7 (Supplement 1) - Surgical Modelling, Simulation and Education, S186-S188

Teleoperation, by adequately adapting computer interfaces, can benefit from the knowledge on human factors and psychomotor models in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency in the execution of a task. While scaling is one of the performances frequently used in teleoperation tasks that require high precision, such as surgery, this article presents a scaling method that considers the system dynamics as well. The proposed dynamic scaling factor depends on the apparent position and velocity of the robot and targets. Such scaling improves the performance of teleoperation interfaces, thereby reducing user's workload.

JTD Keywords: Human-robot interaction, Throughput, Scaling functions, Motor control performance

Muñoz, L. M., Casals, A., (2012). Dynamic scaling interface for assisted teleoperation IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) , IEEE (Minnesota, USA) , 4288-4293

Teleoperation, by adequately adapting computer interfaces, can benefit from the knowledge on human factors and psychomotor models in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency in the execution of a task. While scaling is one of the performances frequently used in teleoperation tasks that require high precision, such as surgery, this article presents a scaling method that considers the system dynamics as well. The proposed dynamic scaling factor depends on the apparent position and velocity of the robot and targets. Such scaling improves the performance of teleoperation interfaces, thereby reducing user's workload.

JTD Keywords: Human-robot interaction, Motor control performance, Scaling functions, Throughput

Chaparro, J.A., Giraldo, B.F., Caminal, P., Benito, S., (2012). Performance of respiratory pattern parameters in classifiers for predict weaning process Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 34th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (San Diego, USA) , 4349-4352

Weaning trials process of patients in intensive care units is a complex clinical procedure. 153 patients under extubation process (T-tube test) were studied: 94 patients with successful trials (group S), 38 patients who failed to maintain spontaneous breathing and were reconnected (group F), and 21 patients with successful test but that had to be reintubated before 48 hours (group R). The respiratory pattern of each patient was characterized through the following time series: inspiratory time (TI), expiratory time (TE), breathing cycle duration (TTot), tidal volume (VT), inspiratory fraction (TI/TTot), half inspired flow (VT/TI), and rapid shallow index (f/VT), where f is respiratory rate. Using techniques as autoregressive models (AR), autoregressive moving average models (ARMA) and autoregressive models with exogenous input (ARX), the most relevant parameters of the respiratory pattern were obtained. We proposed the evaluation of these parameters using classifiers as logistic regression (LR), linear discriminant analysis (LDA), support vector machines (SVM) and classification and regression tree (CART) to discriminate between patients from groups S, F and R. An accuracy of 93% (98% sensitivity and 82% specificity) has been obtained using CART classification.

JTD Keywords: Accuracy, Indexes, Logistics, Regression tree analysis, Support vector machines, Time series analysis, Autoregressive moving average processes, Medical signal processing, Pattern classification, Pneumodynamics, Regression analysis, Sensitivity, Signal classification, Support vector machines, Time series, SVM, T-tube testing, Autoregressive models-with-exogenous input, Autoregressive moving average models, Breathing cycle duration, Classification-and-regression tree, Expiratory time, Extubation process, Half inspired flow, Inspiratory fraction, Inspiratory time, Intensive care units, Linear discriminant analysis, Logistic regression, Rapid shallow index, Respiratory pattern parameter performance, Sensitivity, Spontaneous breathing, Support vector machines, Tidal volume, Time 48 hr, Time series, Weaning process classifiers

Amigo, L. E., Fernandez, Q., Giralt, X., Casals, A., Amat, J., (2012). Study of patient-orthosis interaction forces in rehabilitation therapies IEEE Conference Publications 4th IEEE RAS & EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (BioRob) , IEEE (Roma, Italy) , 1098-1103

The design of mechanical joints that kinematically behave as their biological counterparts is a challenge that if not addressed properly can cause inadequate forces transmission between robot and patient. This paper studies the interaction forces in rehabilitation therapies of the elbow joint. To measure the effect of orthosis-patient misalignments, a force sensor with a novel distributed architecture has been designed and used for this study. A test-bed based on an industrial robot acting as a virtual exoskeleton that emulates the action of a therapist has been developed and the interaction forces analyzed.

JTD Keywords: Force, Force measurement, Force sensors, Joints, Medical treatment, Robot sensing systems, Force sensors, Medical robotics, Patient rehabilitation, Biological counterparts, Distributed architecture, Elbow joint, Force sensor, Inadequate forces transmission, Industrial robot, Mechanical joints design, Orthosis-patient misalignments, Patient-orthosis interaction forces, Rehabilitation therapies, Robot, Test-bed, Virtual exoskeleton

Auffarth, Benjamin, Gutierrez-Galvez, Agustín, Marco, Santiago, (2011). Continuous spatial representations in the olfactory bulb may reflect perceptual categories Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 5, (82), 1-8

In sensory processing of odors, the olfactory bulb is an important relay station, where odor representations are noise-filtered, sharpened, and possibly re-organized. An organization by perceptual qualities has been found previously in the piriform cortex, however several recent studies indicate that the olfactory bulb code reflects behaviorally relevant dimensions spatially as well as at the population level. We apply a statistical analysis on 2-deoxyglucose images, taken over the entire bulb of glomerular layer of the rat, in order to see how the recognition of odors in the nose is translated into a map of odor quality in the brain. We first confirm previous studies that the first principal component could be related to pleasantness, however the next higher principal components are not directly clear. We then find mostly continuous spatial representations for perceptual categories. We compare the space spanned by spatial and population codes to human reports of perceptual similarity between odors and our results suggest that perceptual categories could be already embedded in glomerular activations and that spatial representations give a better match than population codes. This suggests that human and rat perceptual dimensions of odorant coding are related and indicates that perceptual qualities could be represented as continuous spatial codes of the olfactory bulb glomerulus population.

JTD Keywords: Glomeruli, Memory organization, Odor quality, Olfaction, Olfactory bulb, Perceptual categories, Population coding, Spatial coding

Ivon Rodriguez-Villarreal, Angeles, Tarn, Mark D., Madden, Leigh A., Lutz, Julia B., Greenman, John, Samitier, Josep, Pamme, Nicole, (2011). Flow focussing of particles and cells based on their intrinsic properties using a simple diamagnetic repulsion setup Lab on a Chip 11, (7), 1240-1248

The continuous flow focussing and manipulation of particles and cells are important factors in microfluidic applications for performing accurate and reproducible procedures downstream. Many particle focussing methods require complex setups or channel designs that can limit the process and its applications. Here, we present diamagnetic repulsion as a simple means of focussing objects in continuous flow, based only on their intrinsic properties without the requirement of any label. Diamagnetic polystyrene particles were suspended in a paramagnetic medium and pumped through a capillary between a pair of permanent magnets, whereupon the particles were repelled by each magnet into the central axis of the capillary, thus achieving focussing. By investigating this effect, we found that the focussing was greatly enhanced with (i) increased magnetic susceptibility of the medium, (ii) reduced flow rate of the suspension, (iii) increased particle size, and (iv) increased residence time in the magnetic field. Furthermore, we applied diamagnetic repulsion to the flow focussing of living, label-free HaCaT cells.

JTD Keywords: Feeble magnetic substances, On-chip, Blood-cells, Microfluidic device, Separation, Field, Levitation, Magnetophoresis, Fractionation, Nanoparticles

Krishnan, Ramaswamy, Klumpers, Darinka D., Park, Chan Y., Rajendran, Kavitha, Trepat, Xavier, van Bezu, Jan, van Hinsbergh, Victor W. M., Carman, Christopher V., Brain, Joseph D., Fredberg, Jeffrey J., Butler, James P., van Nieuw Amerongen, Geerten P., (2011). Substrate stiffening promotes endothelial monolayer disruption through enhanced physical forces American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology , 300, (1), C146-C154

A hallmark of many, sometimes life-threatening, inflammatory diseases and disorders is vascular leakage. The extent and severity of vascular leakage is broadly mediated by the integrity of the endothelial cell (EC) monolayer, which is in turn governed by three major interactions: cell-cell and cell-substrate contacts, soluble mediators, and biomechanical forces. A potentially critical but essentially uninvestigated component mediating these interactions is the stiffness of the substrate to which the endothelial monolayer is adherent. Accordingly, we investigated the extent to which substrate stiffening influences endothelial monolayer disruption and the role of cell-cell and cell-substrate contacts, soluble mediators, and physical forces in that process. Traction force microscopy showed that forces between cell and cell and between cell and substrate were greater on stiffer substrates. On stiffer substrates, these forces were substantially enhanced by a hyperpermeability stimulus (thrombin, 1 U/ml), and gaps formed between cells. On softer substrates, by contrast, these forces were increased far less by thrombin, and gaps did not form between cells. This stiffness-dependent force enhancement was associated with increased Rho kinase activity, whereas inhibition of Rho kinase attenuated baseline forces and lessened thrombin-induced inter-EC gap formation. Our findings demonstrate a central role of physical forces in EC gap formation and highlight a novel physiological mechanism. Integrity of the endothelial monolayer is governed by its physical microenvironment, which in normal circumstances is compliant but during pathology becomes stiffer.

JTD Keywords: Contraction, Human umbilical vein endothelial cells, Permeability, Traction force, Cell-cell contact, Cell-substrate contact, Substrate stiffness, Rho kinase, Vascular endothelial cadherin, Thrombin

Gugutkov, Dencho, Gonzalez-Garcia, Cristina, Altankov, George, Salmeron-Sanchez, Manuel, (2011). Fibrinogen organization at the cell-material interface directs endothelial cell behavior Journal of Bioactive and Compatible Polymers , 26, (4), 375-387

Fibrinogen (FG) adsorption on surfaces with controlled fraction of -OH groups was investigated with AFM and correlated to the initial interaction of primary endothelial cells (HUVEC). The -OH content was tailored making use of a family of copolymers consisting of ethyl acrylate (EA) and hydroxyl ethyl acrylate (HEA) in different ratios. The supramolecular distribution of FG changed from an organized network-like structure on the most hydrophobic surface (-OH(0)) to dispersed molecular aggregate one as the fraction of -OH groups increases, indicating a different conformation by the adsorbed protein. The best cellular interaction was observed on the most hydrophobic (-OH(0)) surface where FG assembled in a fibrin-like appearance in the absence of any thrombin. Likewise, focal adhesion formation and actin cytoskeleton development was poorer as the fraction of hydroxy groups on the surface was increased. The biological activity of the surface-induced FG network to provide 3D cues in a potential tissue engineered scaffold, making use of electrospun PEA fibers (-OH(0)), seeded with human umbilical vein endothelial cells was investigated. The FG assembled on the polymer fibers gave rise to a biologically active network able to direct cell orientation along the fibers (random or aligned), promote cytoskeleton organization and focal adhesion formation.

JTD Keywords: Fibrinogen, Cell-material interactions, HUVEC, Electrospun fibers, Fibrinogen organization, Cell-material interface, Endothelial cell behavior, Ethyl acrylate, Hydroxyl ethyl acrylate

Tahirbegi, I. B., Mir, M., (2011). Slit-wave model for band structures in solid state physics Modern Physics Letters B , 25, (3), 151-161

The reason behind the entire development in silicon technology was band models in solid state physics. However, the theories postulated in order to give response to this phenomenon do not explain all kinds of materials. In a bid to overcome this limitation, we approach the problem from another point of view. In this work, the wave properties of the electrons from the external orbitals of the atoms and its diffraction patterns through the lattice structure of the material have been used to explain the band structure of metals, semiconductor and insulators. In order to probe this hypothesis, a simulation has been used and according to the relation between the lattice constant and the atomic diameter, the splitting of the bands have been observed for different kind of materials, showing a strong correlation between the simulation and the experimental results.

JTD Keywords: Electrical band structure, Band gap, Fraunhofer diffraction, Semiconductor, Insulator

Moore, S. W., Roca-Cusachs, P., Sheetz, M. P., (2010). Stretchy proteins on stretchy substrates: The important elements of integrin-mediated rigidity sensing Developmental Cell 19, (2), 194-206

Matrix and tissue rigidity guides many cellular processes, including the differentiation of stem cells and the migration of cells in health and disease. Cells actively and transiently test rigidity using mechanisms limited by inherent physical parameters that include the strength of extracellular attachments, the pulling capacity on these attachments, and the sensitivity of the mechanotransduction system. Here, we focus on rigidity sensing mediated through the integrin family of extracellular matrix receptors and linked proteins and discuss the evidence supporting these proteins as mechanosensors.

JTD Keywords: Focal adhesion kinase, Atomic Force Microscopy, Smooth-muscle cells, Traction forces, Living cells, Mechanical force, Locomoting cells

Morgenstern, C., Schwaibold, M., Randerath, W., Bolz, A., Jané, R., (2010). Automatic non-invasive differentiation of obstructive and central hypopneas with nasal airflow compared to esophageal pressure Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) , 6142-6145

The differentiation of obstructive and central respiratory events is a major challenge in the diagnosis of sleep disordered breathing. Esophageal pressure (Pes) measurement is the gold-standard method to identify these events but its invasiveness deters its usage in clinical routine. Flattening patterns appear in the airflow signal during episodes of inspiratory flow limitation (IFL) and have been shown with invasive techniques to be useful to differentiate between central and obstructive hypopneas. In this study we present a new method for the automatic non-invasive differentiation of obstructive and central hypopneas solely with nasal airflow. An overall of 36 patients underwent full night polysomnography with systematic Pes recording and a total of 1069 hypopneas were manually scored by human experts to create a gold-standard annotation set. Features were automatically extracted from the nasal airflow signal to train and test our automatic classifier (Discriminant Analysis). Flattening patterns were non-invasively assessed in the airflow signal using spectral and time analysis. The automatic non-invasive classifier obtained a sensitivity of 0.71 and an accuracy of 0.69, similar to the results obtained with a manual non-invasive classification algorithm. Hence, flattening airflow patterns seem promising for the non-invasive differentiation of obstructive and central hypopneas.

JTD Keywords: Practical, Experimental/ biomedical measurement, Feature extraction, Flow measurement, Medical disorders, Medical signal processing, Patient diagnosis, Pneumodynamics, Pressure measurement, Signal classification, Sleep, Spectral analysis/ automatic noninvasive differentiation, Obstructive hypopnea, Central hypopnea, Inspiratory flow limitation, Nasal airflow, Esophageal pressure, Polysomnography, Feature extraction, Discriminant analysis, Spectral analysis

Aranda, J., Vinagre, M., Marti n, E. X., Casamitjana, M., Casals, A., (2010). Friendly human-machine interaction in an adapted robotized kitchen Computers Helping People with Special Needs 12th International Conference, ICCHP 2010 (ed. Miesenberger, K., Klaus, J., Zagler, W., Karshmer, A.), Springer (Vienna, Austria) 1, 312-319

The concept and design of a friendly human-machine interaction system for an adapted robotized kitchen is presented. The kitchen is conceived in a modular way in order to be adaptable to a great diversity in level and type of assistance needs. An interaction manager has been developed which assist the user to control the system actions dynamically according to the given orders and the present state of the environment. Real time enhanced perception of the scenario is achieved by means of a 3D computer vision system. The main goal of the present project is to provide this kitchen with the necessary intelligent behavior to be able to actuate efficiently by interpreting the users' will.

JTD Keywords: Human computer interaction, Intelligent robots, Robot vision

Casals, A., (2010). Human – Robot cooperation techniques in surgery ICINCO 2010 7th International conference on Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics , Springer (Madeira, Portugal) , 1-4

The growth of robotics in the surgical field is consequence of the progress in all its related areas, as: perception, instrumentation, actuators, materials, computers, and so. However, the lack of intelligence of current robots makes teleoperation an essential means for robotizing the Operating Room (OR), helping in the improvement of surgical procedures and making the best of the human-robot couple, as it already happens in other robotic application fields. The assistance a teleoperated system can provide is the result of the control strategies that can combine the high performance of computers with the surgeon knowledge, expertise and will. In this lecture, an overview of teleoperation techniques and operating modes suitable in the OR is presented, considering different cooperation levels. A special emphasis will be put on the selection of the most adequate interfaces currently available, able to operate in such quite special environments.

JTD Keywords: Medical Robotics, Human Robot Interaction, Human Machine Interfaces, Surgical Robots

Mesquita, J., Fiz, J. A., Solà, J., Morera, J., Jané, R., (2010). Regular and non regular snore features as markers of SAHS Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) , 6138-6141

Sleep Apnea-Hypopnea Syndrome (SAHS) diagnosis is still done with an overnight multi-channel polysomnography. Several efforts are being made to study profoundly the snore mechanism and discover how it can provide an opportunity to diagnose the disease. This work introduces the concept of regular snores, defined as the ones produced in consecutive respiratory cycles, since they are produced in a regular way, without interruptions. We applied 2 thresholds (TH/sub adaptive/ and TH/sub median/) to the time interval between successive snores of 34 subjects in order to select regular snores from the whole all-night snore sequence. Afterwards, we studied the effectiveness that parameters, such as time interval between successive snores and the mean intensity of snores, have on distinguishing between different levels of SAHS severity (AHI (Apnea-Hypopnea Index)<5h/sup -1/, AHI<10 h/sup -1/, AHI<15h/sup -1/, AHI<30h/sup -1/). Results showed that TH/sub adaptive/ outperformed TH/sub median/ on selecting regular snores. Moreover, the outcome achieved with non-regular snores intensity features suggests that these carry key information on SAHS severity.

JTD Keywords: Practical, Experimental/ acoustic signal processing, Bioacoustics, Biomedical measurement, Diseases, Feature extraction, Medical signal processing, Patient diagnosis, Pneumodynamics, Sleep/ nonregular snore features, SAHS markers, Sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome, Overnight multichannel polysomnography, Snore mechanism

Andonovski, B., Ponsa, P., Casals, A., (2010). Towards the development of a haptics guideline in human-robot systems 3rd International Conference on Human System Interactions (HSI) 3rd International Conference on Human System Interactions (HSI) (ed. Pardela, T.), IEEE (Rzeszow, Poland) , 380-387

The main goal of this work is to propose a haptics guideline in human-robot systems focused on the relationship between the human and robot task, the use of a physical interface and the object to manipulate. With this aim, this guideline presents two main parts: a set of heuristic indicators and a qualitative evaluation. In order to assess its ergonomic validation, an application over a well known haptics interface is presented. The final goal of this work is the study of possible applications in regular laboratory conditions in order to improve the design and use of human-robot haptic interfaces in telerobotics applications.

JTD Keywords: Haptic interface design, Human-robot interaction, Surgical applications, Teleoperation

Salmeron-Sanchez, M., Altankov, G., (2010). Cell-Protein-Material interaction in tissue engineering Tissue Engineering (ed. Eberli, D.), Intech (Vukovar, Croatia) , 77-102

The initial cellular events that take place at the biomaterials interface mimic to a certain extent the natural adhesive interaction of cells with the extracellular matrix (ECM) (Spie, 2002; Griffin & Naughton, 2002; Grinnell, 1986). In fact, the living cells cannot interact directly with foreign materials, but they readily attach to the adsorbed layer of proteins (upon contact with physiological fluids in vivo or culture medium in vitro) such as fibronectin (FN), vitronectin (VN), fibrinogen (FG), representing the so-called soluble matrix proteins in the biological fluids (Grinnell 1986).

JTD Keywords: Tissue Engineering, Protein-material interaction, ECM, Biomaterials

Sunyer, R., Trepat, X., Fredberg, J. J., Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2009). The temperature dependence of cell mechanics measured by atomic force microscopy Physical Biology 6, (2), 25009

The cytoskeleton is a complex polymer network that regulates the structural stability of living cells. Although the cytoskeleton plays a key role in many important cell functions, the mechanisms that regulate its mechanical behaviour are poorly understood. Potential mechanisms include the entropic elasticity of cytoskeletal filaments, glassy-like inelastic rearrangements of cross-linking proteins and the activity of contractile molecular motors that sets the tensional stress (prestress) borne by the cytoskeleton filaments. The contribution of these mechanisms can be assessed by studying how cell mechanics depends on temperature. The aim of this work was to elucidate the effect of temperature on cell mechanics using atomic force microscopy. We measured the complex shear modulus (G*) of human alveolar epithelial cells over a wide frequency range (0.1-25.6 Hz) at different temperatures (13-37 degrees C). In addition, we probed cell prestress by mapping the contractile forces that cells exert on the substrate by means of traction microscopy. To assess the role of actomyosin contraction in the temperature-induced changes in G* and cell prestress, we inhibited the Rho kinase pathway of the myosin light chain phosphorylation with Y-27632. Our results show that with increasing temperature, cells become stiffer and more solid-like. Cell prestress also increases with temperature. Inhibiting actomyosin contraction attenuated the temperature dependence of G* and prestress. We conclude that the dependence of cell mechanics with temperature is dominated by the contractile activity of molecular motors.

JTD Keywords: Membrane Stress Failure, Frog Skeletal-Muscle, Extracellular-Matrix, Glass-Transition, Energy Landscape, Actin-Filaments, Living Cell, Single, Traction, Cytoskeleton

Malandrino, A., Planell, J. A., Lacroix, D., (2009). Statistical factorial analysis on the poroelastic material properties sensitivity of the lumbar intervertebral disc under compression, flexion and axial rotation Journal of Biomechanics 42, (16), 2780-2788

A statistical factorial analysis approach was conducted on a poroelastic finite element model of a lumbar intervertebral disc to analyse the influence of six material parameters (permeabilities of annulus, nucleus, trabecular vertebral bone, cartilage endplate and Young's moduli of annulus and nucleus) on the displacement, fluid pore pressure and velocity fields. Three different loading modes were investigated: compression, flexion and axial rotation. Parameters were varied considering low and high levels in agreement with values found in the literature for both healthy and degenerated lumbar discs. Results indicated that annulus stiffness and cartilage endplate permeability have a strong effect on the overall fluid- and solid-phase responses in all loading conditions studied. Nucleus stiffness showed its main relevance in compression while annulus permeability influenced mainly the annular pressure field. This study confirms the permeability's central role in biphasic modelling and highlights for the lumbar disc which experiments of material property characterization should be performed. Moreover, such sensitivity study gives important guidelines in poroelastic material modelling and finite element disc validation.

JTD Keywords: Intervertebral disc, Permeability, Fractional factorial design, Design of experiments, Finite element analysis

Gimenez-Oya, V., Villacanas, O., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Rubio-Martinez, J., Imperial, S., (2009). Mimicking direct protein-protein and solvent-mediated interactions in the CDP-methylerythritol kinase homodimer: a pharmacophore-directed virtual screening approach Journal of Molecular Modeling , 15, (8), 997-1007

The 2C-methylerythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway for the biosynthesis of isopentenyl pyrophosphate and its isomer dimethylallyl pyrophosphate, which are the precursors of isoprenoids, is present in plants, in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and in most eubacteria, including pathogenic agents. However, the MEP pathway is absent from fungi and animals, which have exclusively the mevalonic acid pathway. Given the characteristics of the MEP pathway, its enzymes represent potential targets for the generation of selective antibacterial, antimalarial and herbicidal molecules. We have focussed on the enzyme 4-(cytidine 5'-diphospho)-2-C-methyl-D: -erythritol kinase (CMK), which catalyses the fourth reaction step of the MEP pathway. A molecular dynamics simulation was carried out on the CMK dimer complex, and protein-protein interactions analysed, considering also water-mediated interactions between monomers. In order to find small molecules that bind to CMK and disrupt dimer formation, interactions observed in the dynamics trajectory were used to model a pharmacophore used in database searches. Using an intensity-fading matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry approach, one compound was found to interact with CMK. The data presented here indicate that a virtual screening approach can be used to identify candidate molecules that disrupt the CMK-CMK complex. This strategy can contribute to speeding up the discovery of new antimalarial, antibacterial, and herbicidal compounds.

JTD Keywords: Solvent-mediated interactions, Protein-protein interactions, Molecular dynamics, Drug design, Intensisty-fading MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry

Munoz, L. M., Casals, A., (2009). Improving the human-robot interface through adaptive multispace transformation IEEE Transactions on Robotics , 25, (5), 1208-1213

Teleoperation is essential for applications in which, despite the availability of a precise geometrical definition of the working area, a task cannot be explicitly programmed. This paper describes a method of assisted teleoperation that improves the execution of such tasks in terms of ergonomics, precision, and reduction of execution time. The relationships between the operating spaces corresponding to the human-robot interface triangle are analyzed. The proposed teleoperation aid is based on applying adaptive transformations between these spaces.

JTD Keywords: Human factors, Human-robot interaction, Teleoperation

Puig, F., Gavara, N., Sunyer, R., Carreras, A., Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2009). Stiffening and contraction induced by dexamethasone in alveolar epithelial cells Experimental Mechanics , 49, (1), 47-55

The structural integrity of the alveolar monolayer, which is compromised during lung inflammation, is determined by the balance between cell-cell and cell-matrix tethering forces and the centripetal forces owing to cell viscoelasticity and contraction. Dexamethasone is an anti-inflammatory glucocorticoid with protective effects in lung injury. To determine the effects of Dexamethasone on the stiffness and contractility of alveolar epithelial cells. Cell stiffness (G') and average traction exerted by the cell (T) were measured by magnetic twisting cytometry and by traction microscopy, respectively. A549 cells were treated 24 h with Dexamethasone (1 mu M) or vehicle (control). G' and T were measured before and 5 min after challenge with the inflammatory mediator Thrombin (0.5 U/ml). Changes induced by Dexamethasone in actin cytoskeleton polymerization were assessed by the fluorescent ratio between F-actin and G-actin obtained by staining cells with phalloidin and DNase I. Dexamethasone significantly increased G' and T by 56% (n = 11; p < 0.01) and by 80% (n = 17; p < 0.05), respectively. Dexamethasone also increased F/G-actin ratio from 2.68 +/- 0.07 to 2.96 +/- 0.09 (n = 10; p < 0.05). The relative increase in stiffness and contraction induced by Thrombin in control cells was significantly (p < 0.05) reduced by Dexamethasone treatment: from 190 to 98% in G' and from 318 to 105% in T. The cytoskeleton remodelling and the increase in cell stiffness and contraction induced by Dexamethasone could account for its protective effect in the alveolar epithelium when subjected to inflammatory challenge.

JTD Keywords: Cell mechanics, Cytoskeleton, Magnetic twisting cytometry, Traction microscopy, Respiratory diseases

Casals, A., Frigola, M., Amat, J., (2009). Robotics, a valuable tool in surgery Revista Iberoamericana de Automatica e Informatica Industrial , 6, (1), 5-19

Continuous advances on diagnostic techniques based on medical images, as well as the incorporation of new techniques in surgical instruments are progressively changing the new surgical procedures. Also, new minimally invasive techniques, which are currently highly consolidated, have produced significant advances, both from the technological and from the surgical treatment perspectives. The limitations that the manual realization of surgical interventions implies, in what refers to precision and accessibility, can be tackled with the help of robotics. In the same way, sensor based robot control techniques are opening new possibilities for the introduction of more improvements in these procedures, either relying on teleoperation, in which the surgeon and the robot establish their best synergy to get the optimal results, or by means of the automation of some specific actions or tasks. In this article the effect of robotics in the evolution of surgical techniques is described. Starting with a review of the robotics application fields, the article continues analyzing the methods and technologies involved in the process of robotizing surgical procedures, as well as the surgeon-robot interaction systems.

JTD Keywords: Robotics, Medical Applications, Teleoperation, Biomedical Systems, Computer Aided Surgery, Human-Machine Interaction

Rodriguez-Segui, S. A., Bucior, I., Burger, M. M., Errachid, A., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2009). Application of the quartz crystal microbalance to the study of multivalent carbohydrate-carbohydrate adhesion Sensor Letters 6th Maghreb-Europe Meeting on Materials and Their Applications for Devices and Physical, Chemical and Biological Sensors , AMER SCIENTIFIC PUBLISHERS (Rabat, Morocco) 7, (5), 782-787

Carbohydrate-carbohydrate interactions in cell adhesion are being increasingly explored as important players in cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions that are characterized by finelytuned on-off rates. The emerging field of glycomics requires the application of new methodologies to the study of the generally weak and multivalent carbohydrate binding sites. Here we use the quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) for the analysis of the self-binding activity of the g200 glycan, a molecule of marine sponge origin that is responsible for Ca2+-dependent species-specific cell adhesion. The QCM has the advantages over other highly sensitive techniques of having only one of the interacting partners bound to a surface, and of lacking microfluidics circuits prone to be clogged by self-aggregating glycans. Our results show that g200 self-interaction is negligible in the absence of Ca2+. Different association kinetics at low and high Ca2+ concentrations suggest the existence of two different Ca2+ binding sites in g200. Finally, the observation of a non-saturable binding indicates that g200 has more than one self-adhesion site per molecule. This work represents the first report to date using the QCM to study carbohydrate-carbohydrate interactions involved in cell adhesion.

JTD Keywords: Ca2+-dependent binding, Carbohydrate-carbohydrate interaction, Cell adhesion, Proteoglycan, Quartz crystal microbalance, Sponges

Banos, R. C., Pons, J. I., Madrid, C., Juarez, A., (2008). A global modulatory role for the Yersinia enterocolitica H-NS protein Microbiology , 154, (5), 1281-1289

The H-NS protein plays a significant role in the modulation of gene expression in Gram-negative bacteria. Whereas isolation and characterization of hns mutants in Escherichia coli, Salmonella and Shigella represented critical steps to gain insight into the modulatory role of H-NS, it has hitherto not been possible to isolate hns mutants in Yersinia. The hns mutation is considered to be deleterious in this genus. To study the modulatory role of H-NS in Yersinia we circumvented hns lethality by expressing in Y. enterocolitica a truncated H-NS protein known to exhibit anti-H-NS activity in E. coli (H-NST(EPEC)). Y. enterocolitica cells expressing H-NST(EPEC) showed an altered growth rate and several differences in the protein expression pattern, including the ProV protein, which is modulated by H-NS in other enteric bacteria. To further confirm that H-NST(EPEC) expression in Yersinia can be used to demonstrate H-NS-dependent regulation in this genus, we used this approach to show that H-NS modulates expression of the YmoA protein.

JTD Keywords: Bacterial Proteins/biosynthesis/genetics/ physiology, DNA-Binding Proteins/biosynthesis/genetics/ physiology, Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional, Gene Expression Profiling, Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial, Genes, Essential, Proteome/analysis, RNA, Bacterial/biosynthesis, RNA, Messenger/biosynthesis, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, Sequence Deletion, Yersinia enterocolitica/chemistry/genetics/growth & development/ physiology

Rodriguez, Segui, Bucior, I., Burger, M. M., Samitier, J., Errachid, A., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2007). Application of a bio-QCM to study carbohydrates self-interaction in presence of calcium Transducers '07 & Eurosensors Xxi, Digest of Technical Papers 14th International Conference on Solid-State Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems , IEEE (Lyon, France) 1-2, 1995-1998

In the past years, the quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) has been successfully applied to follow interfacial physical chemistry phenomena in a label free and real time manner. However, carbohydrate self adhesion has only been addressed partially using this technique. Carbohydrates play an important role in cell adhesion, providing a highly versatile form of attachment, suitable for biologically relevant recognition events in the initial steps of adhesion. Here, we provide a QCM study of carbohydrates' self-recognition in the presence of calcium, based on a species-specific cell recognition model provided by marine sponges. Our results show a difference in adhesion kinetics when varying either the calcium concentration (with a constant carbohydrate concentration) or the carbohydrate concentration (with constant calcium concentration).

JTD Keywords: Biomedical materials, Calcium, Cellular biophysics, Microbalances, Porous materials, Quartz, Surface chemistry/ bio-QCM, Carbohydrates self-interaction, Quartz crystal microbalance, Interfacial physical chemistry phenomena, Carbohydrate self adhesion, Biologically relevant recognition events, Marine sponges, Adhesion kinetics, Calcium concentration, Carbohydrate concentration, Biosensors, Biomedical materials, Surface chemistry, Cellular biophysics