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by Keyword: Gene

Palma-Florez, S, Lagunas, A, Mir, M, (2024). Neurovascular unit on a chip: the relevance and maturity as an advanced in vitro model Neural Regeneration Research 19, 1165-1166

Brewer, MK, Torres, P, Ayala, V, Portero-Otin, M, Pamplona, R, Andrés-Benito, P, Ferrer, I, Guinovart, JJ, Duran, J, (2024). Glycogen accumulation modulates life span in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Journal Of Neurochemistry 168, 744-759

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease characterized by the progressive loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord. Glial cells, including astrocytes and microglia, have been shown to contribute to neurodegeneration in ALS, and metabolic dysfunction plays an important role in the progression of the disease. Glycogen is a soluble polymer of glucose found at low levels in the central nervous system that plays an important role in memory formation, synaptic plasticity, and the prevention of seizures. However, its accumulation in astrocytes and/or neurons is associated with pathological conditions and aging. Importantly, glycogen accumulation has been reported in the spinal cord of human ALS patients and mouse models. In the present work, using the SOD1G93A mouse model of ALS, we show that glycogen accumulates in the spinal cord and brainstem during symptomatic and end stages of the disease and that the accumulated glycogen is associated with reactive astrocytes. To study the contribution of glycogen to ALS progression, we generated SOD1G93A mice with reduced glycogen synthesis (SOD1G93A GShet mice). SOD1G93A GShet mice had a significantly longer life span than SOD1G93A mice and showed lower levels of the astrocytic pro-inflammatory cytokine Cxcl10, suggesting that the accumulation of glycogen is associated with an inflammatory response. Supporting this, inducing an increase in glycogen synthesis reduced life span in SOD1G93A mice. Altogether, these results suggest that glycogen in reactive astrocytes contributes to neurotoxicity and disease progression in ALS.© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Neurochemistry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Society for Neurochemistry.

JTD Keywords: activation, astrocytes, brain, contributes, expression, glycogen, impairment, mice, motor neurons, neurodegeneration, reactive astrocytes, spinal cord, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Astrocytes, Glycogen, Motor neurons, Motor-neuron degeneration, Neurodegeneration, Spinal cord


Molina, Brenda G, Fuentes, Judith, Aleman, Carlos, Sanchez, Samuel, (2024). Merging BioActuation and BioCapacitive properties: A 3D bioprinted devices to self-stimulate using self-stored energy Biosensors & Bioelectronics 251, 116117

Biofabrication of three-dimensional (3D) cultures through the 3D Bioprinting technique opens new perspectives and applications of cell-laden hydrogels. However, to continue with the progress, new BioInks with specific properties must be carefully designed. In this study, we report the synthesis and 3D Bioprinting of an electroconductive BioInk made of gelatin/fibrinogen hydrogel, C2C12 mouse myoblast and 5% w/w of conductive poly (3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) nanoparticles (PEDOT NPs). The influence of PEDOT NPs, incorporated in the cellladen BioInk, not only showed a positive effect in cells viability, differentiation and myotube functionalities, also allowed the printed constructs to behaved as BioCapacitors. Such devices were able to electrochemically store a significant amount of energy (0.5 mF/cm2), enough to self-stimulate as BioActuator, with typical contractions ranging from 27 to 38 mu N, during nearly 50 min. The biofabrication of 3D constructs with the proposed electroconductive BioInk could lead to new devices for tissue engineering, biohybrid robotics or bioelectronics.

JTD Keywords: 3d bioprinting, Animal, Animals, Bioactuator, Bioactuators, Biocapacitor, Biofabrication, Bioprinting, Biosensing techniques, C2c12 myoblasts, Cells, Chemistry, Electric conductivity, Electroconductive, Electroconductive bioink, Ethylenedioxythiophenes, Genetic procedures, Hydrogel, Hydrogels, Mice, Mouse, Pedot nps, Pedot nps,3d bioprinting,electroconductive bioink,bioactuator,biocapacito, Poly (3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) nanoparticle, Printing, three-dimensional, Procedures, Skeletal-muscle,cytotoxicity,polymer, Synthesis (chemical), Three dimensional printing, Tissue engineering, Tissue scaffolds


Claussnitzer, Melina, Parikh, Victoria N, Wagner, Alex H, Arbesfeld, Jeremy A, Bult, Carol J, Firth, Helen V, Muffley, Lara A, Ba, Alex N Nguyen, Riehle, Kevin, Roth, Frederick P, Tabet, Daniel, Bolognesi, Benedetta, Glazer, Andrew M, Rubin, Alan F, (2024). Minimum information and guidelines for reporting a multiplexed assay of variant effect Genome Biology 25, 100

Multiplexed assays of variant effect (MAVEs) have emerged as a powerful approach for interrogating thousands of genetic variants in a single experiment. The flexibility and widespread adoption of these techniques across diverse disciplines have led to a heterogeneous mix of data formats and descriptions, which complicates the downstream use of the resulting datasets. To address these issues and promote reproducibility and reuse of MAVE data, we define a set of minimum information standards for MAVE data and metadata and outline a controlled vocabulary aligned with established biomedical ontologies for describing these experimental designs.

JTD Keywords: Genomics, standards, genetic variants, multiplexed assays of variant effect, mave, deep mutational scanning, dm


Monteil, VM, Wright, SC, Dyczynski, M, Kellner, MJ, Appelberg, S, Platzer, SW, Ibrahim, A, Kwon, H, Pittarokoilis, I, Mirandola, M, Michlits, G, Devignot, S, Elder, E, Abdurahman, S, Bereczky, S, Bagci, B, Youhanna, S, Aastrup, T, Lauschke, VM, Salata, C, Elaldi, N, Weber, F, Monserrat, N, Hawman, DW, Feldmann, H, Horn, M, Penninger, JM, Mirazimi, A, (2024). Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus uses LDLR to bind and enter host cells Nature Microbiology ,

Climate change and population densities accelerated transmission of highly pathogenic viruses to humans, including the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV). Here we report that the Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor (LDLR) is a critical receptor for CCHFV cell entry, playing a vital role in CCHFV infection in cell culture and blood vessel organoids. The interaction between CCHFV and LDLR is highly specific, with other members of the LDLR protein family failing to bind to or neutralize the virus. Biosensor experiments demonstrate that LDLR specifically binds the surface glycoproteins of CCHFV. Importantly, mice lacking LDLR exhibit a delay in CCHFV-induced disease. Furthermore, we identified the presence of Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) on CCHFV particles. Our findings highlight the essential role of LDLR in CCHFV infection, irrespective of ApoE presence, when the virus is produced in tick cells. This discovery holds profound implications for the development of future therapies against CCHFV. Laboratory and clinical strains of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus use LDLR to bind and enter host cells in blood vessel organoids and mice. Infection can also occur through ApoE, possibly present on virus particles.

JTD Keywords: Cholesterol, Clathrin, Entry requires, Genetics, Localization, Protei, Receptor


Humbert, P, Kampleitner, C, De Lima, J, Brennan, MA, Lodoso-Torrecilla, I, Sadowska, JM, Blanchard, F, Canal, C, Ginebra, MP, Hoffmann, O, Layrolle, P, (2024). Phase composition of calcium phosphate materials affects bone formation by modulating osteoclastogenesis Acta Biomaterialia 176, 417-431

Human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSCs) seeded on calcium phosphate (CaP) bioceramics are extensively explored in bone tissue engineering and have recently shown effective clinical outcomes. In previous pre-clinical studies, hMSCs-CaP-mediated bone formation was preceded by osteoclastogenesis at the implantation site. The current study evaluates to what extent phase composition of CaPs affects the osteoclast response and ultimately influence bone formation. To this end, four different CaP bioceramics were used, hydroxyapatite (HA), beta-tricalcium phosphate (beta-TCP) and two biphasic composites of HA/beta- TCP ratios of 60/40 and 20/80 respectively, for in vitro osteoclast differentiation and correlation with in vivo osteoclastogenesis and bone formation. All ceramics allowed osteoclast formation in vitro from mouse and human precursors, except for pure HA, which significantly impaired their maturation. Ectopic implantation alongside hMSCs in subcutis sites of nude mice revealed new bone formation at 8 weeks in all conditions with relative amounts for beta-TCP > biphasic CaPs > HA. Surprisingly, while hMSCs were essential for osteoinduction, their survival did not correlate with bone formation. By contrast, the degree of early osteoclastogenesis (2 weeks) seemed to define the extent of subsequent bone formation. Together, our findings suggest that the osteoclastic response could be used as a predictive marker in hMSC-CaPbased bone regeneration and strengthens the need to understand the underlying mechanisms for future biomaterial development. Statement of significance The combination of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) and calcium phosphate (CaP) materials has demonstrated its safety and efficacy for bone regeneration in clinical trials, despite our insufficient understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms. Osteoclasts were previously suggested as key mediators between the early inflammatory phase following biomaterial implantation and the subsequent bone formation. Here we compared the affinity of osteoclasts for various CaP materials with different ratios of hydroxyapatite to beta-tricalcium phosphate. We found that osteoclast formation, both in vitro and at early stages in vivo, correlates with bone formation when the materials were implanted alongside MSCs in mice. Surprisingly, MSC survival did not correlate with bone formation, suggesting that the number or phenotype of osteoclasts formed was more important. (c) 2024 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of Acta Materialia Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ )

JTD Keywords: Acid phosphatase tartrate resistant isoenzyme, Animal, Animal cell, Animal experiment, Animal tissue, Animals, Article, Beta-tricalcium phosphate, Bioceramics, Biocompatible materials, Biomaterial, Bone, Bone development, Bone formation, Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate, Calcium phosphate materials, Calcium phosphates, Cd14 antigen, Cell differentiation, Cell engineering, Cell maturation, Cell survival, Ceramics, Chemical composition, Controlled study, Correlation analysis, Correlation coefficient, Data correlation, Durapatite, Engraftment, Flowcharting, Human, Human cell, Human mesenchymal stromal cell, Human mesenchymal stromal cells, Humans, Hydroxyapatite, Hydroxyapatites, In vitro study, In vivo study, In-vitro, In-vivo, Mammals, Marrow stromal cells, Material composition, Material compositions, Mesenchymal stroma cell, Mesenchymal stromal cells, Mice, Mice, nude, Monocyte, Mouse, Nonhuman, Nude mouse, Ossification, Osteoclast, Osteoclastogenesis, Osteoclasts, Osteogenesis, Osteoinduction, Phase composition, Regeneration strategies, Resorption, Scaffolds, Stem-cells, Subcutaneous tissue, Tissue engineering, Transmission control protocol, Tri-calcium phosphates, Vimentin


Villasante, A, Corominas, J, Alcon, C, Garcia-Lizarribar, A, Mora, J, Lopez-Fanarraga, M, Samitier, J, (2024). Identification of GB3 as a Novel Biomarker of Tumor-Derived Vasculature in Neuroblastoma Using a Stiffness-Based Model Cancers 16, 1060

Simple Summary Neuroblastoma (NB), a prevalent childhood cancer, presents challenges in treatment due to its cellular diversity and the presence of tumor-derived endothelial cells (TECs) associated with chemoresistance. We lack specific biomarkers for TECs, hindering effective therapies. We developed a stiffness-based in vitro platform simulating arterial and venous conditions to address this gap. Notably, adrenergic NB cells transdifferentiated into TECs where there was an arterial-like stiffness, while mesenchymal cells did not. This platform facilitated the identification of Globotriaosylceramide (GB3) as a novel TEC biomarker. Moreover, we harnessed Shiga toxin-functionalized nanoparticles for the specific targeting of GB3-positive cells, showing promise for future therapeutic strategies. Our study provides insights into NB heterogeneity, offers a predictive tool for assessing aggressiveness, and introduces potential targets for precision therapies.Abstract Neuroblastoma (NB) is a childhood cancer in sympathetic nervous system cells. NB exhibits cellular heterogeneity, with adrenergic and mesenchymal states displaying distinct tumorigenic potentials. NB is highly vascularized, and blood vessels can form through various mechanisms, including endothelial transdifferentiation, leading to the development of tumor-derived endothelial cells (TECs) associated with chemoresistance. We lack specific biomarkers for TECs. Therefore, identifying new TEC biomarkers is vital for effective NB therapies. A stiffness-based platform simulating human arterial and venous stiffness was developed to study NB TECs in vitro. Adrenergic cells cultured on arterial-like stiffness transdifferentiated into TECs, while mesenchymal state cells did not. The TECs derived from adrenergic cells served as a model to explore new biomarkers, with a particular focus on GB3, a glycosphingolipid receptor implicated in angiogenesis, metastasis, and drug resistance. Notably, the TECs unequivocally expressed GB3, validating its novelty as a marker. To explore targeted therapeutic interventions, nanoparticles functionalized with the non-toxic subunit B of the Shiga toxin were generated, because they demonstrated a robust affinity for GB3-positive cells. Our results demonstrate the value of the stiffness-based platform as a predictive tool for assessing NB aggressiveness, the discovery of new biomarkers, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of targeted therapeutic strategies.

JTD Keywords: Alternative vasculature, Angiogenesis, Cells, Differentiation, Gb3, Neuroblastoma, Origin, Tumor-derived endothelial cells


Hafa, L, Breideband, L, Posada, LR, Torras, N, Martinez, E, Stelzer, EHK, Pampaloni, F, (2024). Light Sheet-Based Laser Patterning Bioprinting Produces Long-Term Viable Full-Thickness Skin Constructs Advanced Materials 36, e2306258

Tissue engineering holds great promise for biomedical research and healthcare, offering alternatives to animal models and enabling tissue regeneration and organ transplantation. Three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting stands out for its design flexibility and reproducibility. Here, we present an integrated fluorescent light sheet bioprinting and imaging system that combines high printing speed (0.66 mm3 /s) and resolution (9 μm) with light sheet-based imaging. This approach employs direct laser patterning and a static light sheet for confined voxel crosslinking in photocrosslinkable materials. The developed bioprinter enables real-time monitoring of hydrogel crosslinking using fluorescent recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) and brightfield imaging as well as in situ light sheet imaging of cells. Human fibroblasts encapsulated in a thiol-ene click chemistry-based hydrogel exhibited high viability (83% ± 4.34%) and functionality. Furthermore, full-thickness skin constructs displayed characteristics of both epidermal and dermal layers and remained viable for 41 days. The integrated approach demonstrates the capabilities of light sheet bioprinting, offering high speed, resolution, and real-time characterization. Future enhancements involving solid-state laser scanning devices such as acousto-optic deflectors and modulators will further enhance resolution and speed, opening new opportunities in light-based bioprinting and advancing tissue engineering. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: cadherin, collagen, culture, differentiation, fluorescence microscopy, full-thickness skin model, hydrogels, light sheet bioprinter, light sheet fluorescence microscopy, proliferation, survival, tissue engineering, Animal, Animals, Biofabrication, Bioprinting, Cell culture, Crosslinking, Fluorescence, Fluorescence microscopy, Full-thickness skin model, Hair follicle, Human, Humans, Hydrogel, Hydrogels, Image resolution, Laser patterning, Light sheet, Light sheet bioprinter, Light sheet fluorescence microscopy, Molecular biology, Photobleaching, Printing, three-dimensional, Procedures, Reproducibility, Reproducibility of results, Skin model, Three dimensional printing, Tissue, Tissue engineering, Tissue regeneration, Tissue scaffolds, Tissues engineerings


Farré, R, Rodríguez-Lázaro, MA, Otero, J, Gavara, N, Sunyer, R, Farré, N, Gozal, D, Almendros, I, (2024). Low-cost, open-source device for simultaneously subjecting rodents to different circadian cycles of light, food, and temperature Frontiers In Physiology 15, 1356787

Exposure of experimental rodents to controlled cycles of light, food, and temperature is important when investigating alterations in circadian cycles that profoundly influence health and disease. However, applying such stimuli simultaneously is difficult in practice. We aimed to design, build, test, and open-source describe a simple device that subjects a conventional mouse cage to independent cycles of physiologically relevant environmental variables. The device is based on a box enclosing the rodent cage to modify the light, feeding, and temperature environments. The device provides temperature-controlled air conditioning (heating or cooling) by a Peltier module and includes programmable feeding and illumination. All functions are set by a user-friendly front panel for independent cycle programming. Bench testing with a model simulating the CO2 production of mice in the cage showed: a) suitable air renewal (by measuring actual ambient CO2), b) controlled realistic illumination at the mouse enclosure (measured by a photometer), c) stable temperature control, and d) correct cycling of light, feeding, and temperature. The cost of all the supplies (retail purchased by e-commerce) was <300 US$. Detailed technical information is open-source provided, allowing for any user to reliably reproduce or modify the device. This approach can considerably facilitate circadian research since using one of the described low-cost devices for any mouse group with a given light-food-temperature paradigm allows for all the experiments to be performed simultaneously, thereby requiring no changes in the light/temperature of a general-use laboratory. 1 Introduction

JTD Keywords: Animal experiment, Animal model, Animal research, Article, Circadian alteration, Circadian rhythm, Commercial phenomena, Controlled study, Cycling, Energy consumption, Energy-expenditure, Experimental model, Feeding, Food, Food availability, Illumination, Intermittent fasting, Light, Light cycle, Light dark cycle, Mouse, Nonhuman, Open source technology, Open-source hardware, Performance, Photography, Research, Rhythms, Rodent, Temperature, Temperature cycle


Dhawan, U, Williams, JA, Windmill, JFC, Childs, P, Gonzalez-Garcia, C, Dalby, MJ, Salmeron-Sanchez, M, (2024). Engineered Surfaces That Promote Capture of Latent Proteins to Facilitate Integrin-Mediated Mechanical Activation of Growth Factors Advanced Materials , 2310789

Conventional osteogenic platforms utilize active growth factors to repair bone defects that are extensive in size, but they can adversely affect patient health. Here, an unconventional osteogenic platform is reported that functions by promoting capture of inactive osteogenic growth factor molecules to the site of cell growth for subsequent integrin-mediated activation, using a recombinant fragment of latent transforming growth factor beta-binding protein-1 (rLTBP1). It is shown that rLTBP1 binds to the growth-factor- and integrin-binding domains of fibronectin on poly(ethyl acrylate) surfaces, which immobilizes rLTBP1 and promotes the binding of latency associated peptide (LAP), within which inactive transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-beta 1) is bound. rLTBP1 facilitates the interaction of LAP with integrin beta 1 and the subsequent mechanically driven release of TGF-beta 1 to stimulate canonical TGF-beta 1 signaling, activating osteogenic marker expression in vitro and complete regeneration of a critical-sized bone defect in vivo. An osteogenic platform that functions by capturing inactive growth factor molecules is engineered to overcome conventional challenges associated with the use of active growth factors. The platform triggers capture of inactive transforming growth factor beta-1 for its subsequent integrin-mediated activation which activates osteogenic downstream signaling in vitro and fully repairs critical-sized bone defect in vivo. image

JTD Keywords: Bone, Bone defect, Bone regeneration, Cell proliferation, Cells, Chemical activation, Defects, Differentiation, Fibronectin, Growth factor, Growth factors, Integrins, Latency associated peptides, Ltbp1, Osteogenic, Recombinant proteins, Release, Repair, Tgf-beta, Tgf-β1, Transforming growth factors


Pahuja, A, Corredera, IG, Moya-Rull, D, Garreta, E, Montserrat, N, (2024). Engineering physiological environments to advance kidney organoid models from human pluripotent stem cells Current Opinion In Cell Biology 86, 102306

During embryogenesis, the mammalian kidney arises because of reciprocal interactions between the ureteric bud (UB) and the metanephric mesenchyme (MM), driving UB branching and nephron induction. These morphogenetic processes involve a series of cellular rearrangements that are tightly controlled by gene regulatory networks and signaling cascades. Here, we discuss how kidney developmental studies have informed the definition of procedures to obtain kidney organoids from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). Moreover, bioengineering techniques have emerged as potential solutions to externally impose controlled microenvironments for organoid generation from hPSCs. Next, we summarize some of these advances with major focus On recent works merging hPSC-derived kidney organoids (hPSC-kidney organoids) with organ-on-chip to develop robust models for drug discovery and disease modeling applications. We foresee that, in the near future, coupling of different organoid models through bioengineering approaches will help advancing to recreate organ-to-organ crosstalk to increase our understanding on kidney disease progression in the human context and search for new therapeutics.Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: Animal, Animals, Bioengineering, Cell differentiation, Embryo development, Embryology, Embryonic structures, Gene regulatory network, Human, Humans, Kidney, Kidney development, Kidney mesenchyme cell, Kidney organoid, Mammal, Mammals, Mesenchyme, Metanephric mesenchyme, Microenvironment, Nephron, Nephrons, Organoid, Organoids, Physiology, Pluripotent stem cell, Pluripotent stem cells, Review, Signal transduction, Ureteric bud


Liu, M, Zhang, C, Gong, XM, Zhang, T, Lian, MM, Chew, EGY, Cardilla, A, Suzuki, K, Wang, HM, Yuan, Y, Li, Y, Naik, MY, Wang, YX, Zhou, BR, Soon, WZ, Aizawa, E, Li, P, Low, JH, Tandiono, M, Montagud, E, Moya-Rull, D, Esteban, CR, Luque, Y, Fang, ML, Khor, CC, Montserrat, N, Campistol, JM, Belmonte, JCI, Foo, JN, Xia, Y, (2024). Kidney organoid models reveal cilium-autophagy metabolic axis as a therapeutic target for PKD both in vitro and in vivo Cell Stem Cell 31, 52-70.e8

Human pluripotent stem cell -derived kidney organoids offer unprecedented opportunities for studying polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which still has no effective cure. Here, we developed both in vitro and in vivo organoid models of PKD that manifested tubular injury and aberrant upregulation of renin-angiotensin aldosterone system. Single -cell analysis revealed that a myriad of metabolic changes occurred during cystogenesis, including defective autophagy. Experimental activation of autophagy via ATG5 overexpression or primary cilia ablation significantly inhibited cystogenesis in PKD kidney organoids. Employing the organoid xenograft model of PKD, which spontaneously developed tubular cysts, we demonstrate that minoxidil, a potent autophagy activator and an FDA -approved drug, effectively attenuated cyst formation in vivo. This in vivo organoid model of PKD will enhance our capability to discover novel disease mechanisms and validate candidate drugs for clinical translation.

JTD Keywords: Adenylate kinase, Adult, Animal cell, Animal experiment, Animal model, Animal tissue, Article, Autophagosome, Autophagy, Autophagy (cellular), Autosomal-dominant, Calcium homeostasis, Cilia, Cilium, Cohort analysis, Controlled study, Cyclic amp, Disease, Dominant polycystic kidney, Enzyme linked immunosorbent assay, Epithelium, Exon, Expression, Female, Food and drug administration, Framework, Generation, Growth, Hepatitis a virus cellular receptor 1, Human, Human cell, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, In vitro study, In vivo study, Kidney, Kidney organoid, Kidney polycystic disease, Male, Minoxidil, Mouse, Mutations, Nonhuman, Organoid, Organoids, Platelet derived growth factor beta receptor, Pluripotent stem-cells, Polycystic kidney diseases, Protein kinase lkb1, Renin, Sequestosome 1, Single cell analysis, Single cell rna seq, Small nuclear rna, Tunel assay, Upregulation, Western blotting, Whole exome sequencing


Nauryzgaliyeva, Z, Corredera, IG, Garreta, E, Montserrat, N, (2023). Harnessing mechanobiology for kidney organoid research Frontiers In Cell And Developmental Biology 11, 1273923

Recently, organoids have emerged as revolutionizing tools with the unprecedented potential to recreate organ-specific microanatomy in vitro. Upon their derivation from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), organoids reveal the blueprints of human organogenesis, further allowing the faithful recapitulation of their physiology. Nevertheless, along with the evolution of this field, advanced research exposed the organoids' shortcomings, particularly regarding poor reproducibility rates and overall immatureness. To resolve these challenges, many studies have started to underscore the relevance of mechanical cues as a relevant source to induce and externally control hPSCs differentiation. Indeed, established organoid generation protocols from hPSCs have mainly relyed on the biochemical induction of fundamental signalling pathways present during kidney formation in mammals, whereas mechanical cues have largely been unexplored. This review aims to discuss the pertinence of (bio) physical cues within hPSCs-derived organoid cultures, while deciphering their effect on morphogenesis. Moreover, we will explore state-of-the-art mechanobiology techniques as revolutionizing means for understanding the underlying role of mechanical forces in biological processes in organoid model systems.

JTD Keywords: development, hpscs, mechanobiology, nephrogenesis, Activated ion-channel, Development, Extracellular-matrix viscoelasticity, Forces, Hpscs, Ips cells, Mechanical regulation, Mechanobiology, Nephrogenesis, Nephron progenitors, Organoids, Pluripotent stem-cells, Self-renewal, Substrate mechanics, Tissue


Pereira, Ines, Lopez-Martinez, Maria J, Samitier, Josep, (2023). Advances in current in vitro models on neurodegenerative diseases Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 11, 1260397

Many neurodegenerative diseases are identified but their causes and cure are far from being well-known. The problem resides in the complexity of the neural tissue and its location which hinders its easy evaluation. Although necessary in the drug discovery process, in vivo animal models need to be reduced and show relevant differences with the human tissues that guide scientists to inquire about other possible options which lead to in vitro models being explored. From organoids to organ-on-a-chips, 3D models are considered the cutting-edge technology in cell culture. Cell choice is a big parameter to take into consideration when planning an in vitro model and cells capable of mimicking both healthy and diseased tissue, such as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), are recognized as good candidates. Hence, we present a critical review of the latest models used to study neurodegenerative disease, how these models have evolved introducing microfluidics platforms, 3D cell cultures, and the use of induced pluripotent cells to better mimic the neural tissue environment in pathological conditions.

JTD Keywords: 3d in vitro models, bioprinting, ipsc cell culture, microfluidic device, 3d in vitro models, Bioprinting, Blood-brain-barrier, Cerebral organoids, Culture model, Endothelial-cells, Expression profile, Extracellular-matrix, Ipsc cell culture, Microfluidic device, Neurodegenerative diseases, On-a-chip, Pluripotent stem-cells, Shear-stress, Substrate stiffness


Pedraz, L, Torrents, E, (2023). An easy method for quantification of anaerobic and microaerobic gene expression with fluorescent reporter proteins Biotechniques 75, 250-255

Fluorescent proteins, such as green fluorescent proteins, are invaluable tools for detecting and quantifying gene expression in high-throughput reporter gene assays. However, they introduce significant inaccuracies in studies involving microaerobiosis or anaerobiosis, as oxygen is required for the maturation of these proteins' chromophores. In this study, the authors highlight the errors incurred by using fluorescent proteins under limited oxygenation by comparing standard fluorescence-based reporter gene assays to quantitative real-time PCR data in the study of a complex oxygen-regulated gene network. Furthermore, a solution to perform quantification of anaerobic and microaerobic gene expression with fluorescent reporter proteins using a microplate reader with an oxygen control system and applying pulses of full oxygenation before fluorescence measurements is provided.

JTD Keywords: fluorescent proteins, gene expression, gfp, microaerobiosis, promoters, reporter gene assay, transcriptional fusion, Anaerobiosis, Fluorescent proteins, Gene expression, Gfp, Microaerobiosis, Pseudomonas-aeruginosa, Reporter gene assay, Transcriptional fusion


Farré, R, Navajas, D, (2023). Ventilation Mechanics Seminars In Respiratory And Critical Care Medicine 44, 511-525

A fundamental task of the respiratory system is to operate as a mechanical gas pump ensuring that fresh air gets in close contact with the blood circulating through the lung capillaries to achieve O2 and CO2 exchange. To ventilate the lungs, the respiratory muscles provide the pressure required to overcome the viscoelastic mechanical load of the respiratory system. From a mechanical viewpoint, the most relevant respiratory system properties are the resistance of the airways (R aw), and the compliance of the lung tissue (C L) and chest wall (C CW). Both airflow and lung volume changes in spontaneous breathing and mechanical ventilation are determined by applying the fundamental mechanical laws to the relationships between the pressures inside the respiratory system (at the airway opening, alveolar, pleural, and muscular) and R aw, C L, and C CW. These relationships also are the basis of the different methods available to measure respiratory mechanics during spontaneous and artificial ventilation. Whereas a simple mechanical model (R aw, C L, and C CW) describes the basic understanding of ventilation mechanics, more complex concepts (nonlinearity, inhomogeneous ventilation, or viscoelasticity) should be employed to better describe and measure ventilation mechanics in patients.Thieme. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: airway-resistance, alveolar, compliance, dilution, elastance, flow, inhomogeneous ventilation, input impedance, lung-volume, mechanical ventilation, monitoring, pendelluft, pleural pressure, respiratory-distress-syndrome, viscoelasticity, Chest-wall mechanics, Resistance


Macedo, MH, Torras, N, García-Díaz, M, Barrias, C, Sarmento, B, Martínez, E, (2023). The shape of our gut: Dissecting its impact on drug absorption in a 3D bioprinted intestinal model Biomaterials Advances 153, 213564

The small intestine is a complex organ with a characteristic architecture and a major site for drug and nutrient absorption. The three-dimensional (3D) topography organized in finger-like protrusions called villi increases surface area remarkably, granting a more efficient absorption process. The intestinal mucosa, where this process occurs, is a multilayered and multicell-type tissue barrier. In vitro intestinal models are routinely used to study different physiological and pathological processes in the gut, including compound absorption. Still, standard models are typically two-dimensional (2D) and represent only the epithelial barrier, lacking the cues offered by the 3D architecture and the stromal components present in vivo, often leading to inaccurate results. In this work, we studied the impact of the 3D architecture of the gut on drug transport using a bioprinted 3D model of the intestinal mucosa containing both the epithelial and the stromal compartments. Human intestinal fibroblasts were embedded in a previously optimized hydrogel bioink, and enterocytes and goblet cells were seeded on top to mimic the intestinal mucosa. The embedded fibroblasts thrived inside the hydrogel, remodeling the surrounding extracellular matrix. The epithelial cells fully covered the hydrogel scaffolds and formed a uniform cell layer with barrier properties close to in vivo. In particular, the villus-like model revealed overall increased permeability compared to a flat counterpart composed by the same hydrogel and cells. In addition, the efflux activity of the P-glycoprotein (P-gp) transporter was significantly reduced in the villus-like scaffold compared to a flat model, and the genetic expression of other drugs transporters was, in general, more relevant in the villus-like model. Globally, this study corroborates that the presence of the 3D architecture promotes a more physiological differentiation of the epithelial barrier, providing more accurate data on drug absorbance measurements.Copyright © 2023. Published by Elsevier B.V.

JTD Keywords: 3d architecture, alkaline-phosphatase, caco-2 cells, culture, drug development, efflux proteins, gene-expression, human-colon, intestinal absorption, intestinal models, microenvironment, paracellular transport, permeability, photopolymerization, villi, 3d architecture, 3d bioprinting, Drug development, In-vitro, Intestinal absorption, Intestinal models, Photopolymerization, Villi


Tejedera-Villafranca, A, Montolio, M, Ramón-Azcón, J, Fernández-Costa, JM, (2023). Mimicking sarcolemmal damage in vitro: a contractile 3D model of skeletal muscle for drug testing in Duchenne muscular dystrophy Biofabrication 15, 45024

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the most prevalent neuromuscular disease diagnosed in childhood. It is a progressive and wasting disease, characterized by a degeneration of skeletal and cardiac muscles caused by the lack of dystrophin protein. The absence of this crucial structural protein leads to sarcolemmal fragility, resulting in muscle fiber damage during contraction. Despite ongoing efforts, there is no cure available for DMD patients. One of the primary challenges is the limited efficacy of current preclinical tools, which fail in modeling the biological complexity of the disease. Human-based three-dimensional (3D) cell culture methods appear as a novel approach to accelerate preclinical research by enhancing the reproduction of pathophysiological processes in skeletal muscle. In this work, we developed a patient-derived functional 3D skeletal muscle model of DMD that reproduces the sarcolemmal damage found in the native DMD muscle. These bioengineered skeletal muscle tissues exhibit contractile functionality, as they responded to electrical pulse stimulation. Sustained contractile regimes induced the loss of myotube integrity, mirroring the pathological myotube breakdown inherent in DMD due to sarcolemmal instability. Moreover, damaged DMD tissues showed disease functional phenotypes, such as tetanic fatigue. We also evaluated the therapeutic effect of utrophin upregulator drug candidates on the functionality of the skeletal muscle tissues, thus providing deeper insight into the real impact of these treatments. Overall, our findings underscore the potential of bioengineered 3D skeletal muscle technology to advance DMD research and facilitate the development of novel therapies for DMD and related neuromuscular disorders.

JTD Keywords: 3d cell culture, disease modeling, drug testing, duchenne muscular dystrophy, sarcolemmal damage, skeletal muscle, 3d cell culture, Animal-models, Disease modeling, Dmso, Drug testing, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Gene, Image, Mechanisms, Sarcolemmal damage, Skeletal muscle, Tissue engineering


Rubio-Canalejas, A, Pedraz, L, Torrents, E, (2023). ReViTA: A novel in vitro transcription system to study gene regulation New Biotechnology 76, 41-48

ReViTA (Reverse in VitroTranscription Assay) is a novel in vitro transcription-based method to study gene expression under the regulation of specific transcription factors. The ReViTA system uses a plasmid with a control sequence, the promoter region of the studied gene, the transcription factor of interest, and an RNA polymerase saturated with σ70. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the method; thus, as a proof of concept, two different transcription factors were used, a transcriptional inducer, AlgR, and a repressor, LexA, from Pseudomonas aeruginosa. After the promoters were incubated with the transcription factors, the plasmid was transcribed into RNA and reverse transcribed to cDNA. Gene expression was measured using qRTPCR. Using the ReViTA plasmid, transcription induction of 55% was observed when AlgR protein was added and a 27% transcription reduction with the repressor LexA, compared with the samples without transcription factors. The results demonstrated the correct functioning of ReViTA as a novel method to study transcription factors and gene expression. Thus, ReViTA could be a rapid and accessible in vitro method to evaluate genes and regulators of various species.Crown Copyright © 2023. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: binding, dna-polymerase-iv, gene expression, in vitro transcription, lexa, rpos, transcription factor, transcriptional regulation, Gene expression, Response sigma-factor, Transcriptional regulation


Colombi S, Macor LP, Ortiz-Membrado L, Pérez-Amodio S, Jiménez-Piqué E, Engel E, Pérez-Madrigal MM, García-Torres J, Alemán C, (2023). Enzymatic Degradation of Polylactic Acid Fibers Supported on a Hydrogel for Sustained Release of Lactate Acs Applied Bio Materials 6, 3889-3901

The incorporation of exogenous lactate into cardiac tissues is a regenerative strategy that is rapidly gaining attention. In this work, two polymeric platforms were designed to achieve a sustained release of lactate, combining immediate and prolonged release profiles. Both platforms contained electrospun poly(lactic acid) (PLA) fibers and an alginate (Alg) hydrogel. In the first platform, named L/K(x)/Alg-PLA, lactate and proteinase K (x mg of enzyme per 1 g of PLA) were directly loaded into the Alg hydrogel, into which PLA fibers were assembled. In the second platform, L/Alg-K(x)/PLA, fibers were produced by electrospinning a proteinase K:PLA solution and, subsequently, assembled within the lactate-loaded hydrogel. After characterizing the chemical, morphological, and mechanical properties of the systems, as well as their cytotoxicity, the release profiles of the two platforms were determined considering different amounts of proteinase K (x = 5.2, 26, and 52 mg of proteinase K per 1 g of PLA), which is known to exhibit a broad cleavage activity. The profiles obtained using L/Alg-K(x)/PLA platforms with x = 26 and 52 were the closest to the criteria that must be met for cardiac tissue regeneration. Finally, the amount of lactate directly loaded in the Alg hydrogel for immediate release and the amount of protein in the electrospinning solution were adapted to achieve a constant lactate release of around 6 mM per day over 1 or 2 weeks. In the optimized bioplatform, in which 6 mM lactate was loaded in the hydrogel, the amount of fibers was increased by a factor of ×3, the amount of enzyme was adjusted to 40 mg per 1 g of PLA, and a daily lactate release of 5.9 ± 2.7 mM over a period of 11 days was achieved. Accordingly, the engineered device fully satisfied the characteristics and requirements for heart tissue regeneration.

JTD Keywords: biodegradable fibers, cardiac tissue regeneration, cell, drug-release, elastic-modulus, electrospinning, heart, nanoindentation, plasma treatment, proteinase, scaffold, stiffness, Alginate, Biodegradable fibers, Cardiac tissue regeneration, Electrospinning, Nanoindentation, Plasma treatment, Proteinase, Skeletal-muscle


Qi, C, Gutierrez, SS, Lavriha, P, Othman, A, Lopez-Pigozzi, D, Bayraktar, E, Schuster, D, Picotti, P, Zamboni, N, Bortolozzi, M, Gervasio, FL, Korkhov, VM, (2023). Structure of the connexin-43 gap junction channel in a putative closed state Elife 12, RP87616

Gap junction channels (GJCs) mediate intercellular communication by connecting two neighbouring cells and enabling direct exchange of ions and small molecules. Cell coupling via connexin-43 (Cx43) GJCs is important in a wide range of cellular processes in health and disease (Churko and Laird, 2013; Liang et al., 2020; Poelzing and Rosenbaum, 2004), yet the structural basis of Cx43 function and regulation has not been determined until now. Here, we describe the structure of a human Cx43 GJC solved by cryo-EM and single particle analysis at 2.26 Å resolution. The pore region of Cx43 GJC features several lipid-like densities per Cx43 monomer, located close to a putative lateral access site at the monomer boundary. We found a previously undescribed conformation on the cytosolic side of the pore, formed by the N-terminal domain and the transmembrane helix 2 of Cx43 and stabilized by a small molecule. Structures of the Cx43 GJC and hemichannels (HCs) in nanodiscs reveal a similar gate arrangement. The features of the Cx43 GJC and HC cryo-EM maps and the channel properties revealed by molecular dynamics simulations suggest that the captured states of Cx43 are consistent with a closed state.© 2023, Qi, Acosta Gutierrez et al.

JTD Keywords: cryo-em, dehydroepiandrosterone dhea, expression, gap junction channel, gene, gja1 mutations, hemichannel, membrane protein, phenotype, protein, structure, system, visualization, Biochemistry, Chemical biology, Connexin-43, Cryo-em, Gap junction channel, Hemichannel, Human, Membrane protein, Molecular biophysics, Oculodentodigital dysplasia, Structural biology, Structure


Heras-Parets, A, Ginebra, MP, Manero, JM, Guillem-Marti, J, (2023). Guiding Fibroblast Activation Using an RGD‐Mutated Heparin Binding II Fragment of Fibronectin for Gingival Titanium Integration Advanced Healthcare Materials 12, e2203307

The formation of a biological seal around the neck of titanium (Ti) implants is critical for ensuring integration at the gingival site and for preventing bacterial colonization that may lead to periimplantitis. This process is guided by activated fibroblasts, named myofibroblasts, which secrete extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and ECM-degrading enzymes resolving the wound. However, in some cases, Ti is not able to attract and activate fibroblasts to a sufficient extent, which may compromise the success of the implant. Fibronectin (FN) is an ECM component found in wounds that is able to guide soft tissue healing through the adhesion of cells and attraction of growth factors (GFs). However, clinical use of FN functionalized Ti implants is problematic because FN is difficult to obtain, and is sensitive to degradation. Herein, functionalizing Ti with a modified recombinant heparin binding II (HBII) domain of FN, mutated to include an Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) sequence for promoting both fibroblast adhesion and GF attraction, is aimed at. The HBII-RGD domain is able to stimulate fibroblast adhesion, spreading, proliferation, migration, and activation to a greater extent than the native HBII, reaching values closer to those of full-length FN suggesting that it might induce the formation of a biological sealing.© 2023 The Authors. Advanced Healthcare Materials published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.

JTD Keywords: alpha-4-beta-1, beta, cell-binding, collagen, extracellular-matrix, fibroblast activation, fibronectin, growth factors, integrins, metalloproteinases, myofibroblasts, proliferation, soft-tissue integration, titanium, Biological-activities, Fibroblast activation, Titanium


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


Colom-Cadena, M, Davies, C, Sirisi, S, Lee, JE, Simzer, EM, Tzioras, M, Querol-Vilaseca, M, Sánchez-Aced, E, Chang, YY, Holt, K, McGeachan, RI, Rose, J, Tulloch, J, Wilkins, L, Smith, C, Andrian, T, Belbin, O, Pujals, S, Horrocks, MH, Lleó, A, Spires-Jones, TL, (2023). Synaptic oligomeric tau in Alzheimer's disease - A potential culprit in the spread of tau pathology through the brain Neuron 111, 2170-+

In Alzheimer's disease, fibrillar tau pathology accumulates and spreads through the brain and synapses are lost. Evidence from mouse models indicates that tau spreads trans-synaptically from pre- to postsynapses and that oligomeric tau is synaptotoxic, but data on synaptic tau in human brain are scarce. Here we used sub-diffraction-limit microscopy to study synaptic tau accumulation in postmortem temporal and occipital cortices of human Alzheimer's and control donors. Oligomeric tau is present in pre- and postsynaptic terminals, even in areas without abundant fibrillar tau deposition. Furthermore, there is a higher proportion of oligomeric tau compared with phosphorylated or misfolded tau found at synaptic terminals. These data suggest that accumulation of oligomeric tau in synapses is an early event in pathogenesis and that tau pathology may progress through the brain via trans-synaptic spread in human disease. Thus, specifically reducing oligomeric tau at synapses may be a promising therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer's disease.Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: accumulation, alpha-synuclein, array tomography, cognitive impairment, dendritic spines, mouse model, neurodegeneration, neurons, synapses, Alzheimer, Amyloid-beta, Synapse, Tau


Marín-Llauradó, A, Kale, S, Ouzeri, A, Golde, T, Sunyer, R, Torres-Sánchez, A, Latorre, E, Gómez-González, M, Roca-Cusachs, P, Arroyo, M, Trepat, X, (2023). Mapping mechanical stress in curved epithelia of designed size and shape Nature Communications 14, 4014

The function of organs such as lungs, kidneys and mammary glands relies on the three-dimensional geometry of their epithelium. To adopt shapes such as spheres, tubes and ellipsoids, epithelia generate mechanical stresses that are generally unknown. Here we engineer curved epithelial monolayers of controlled size and shape and map their state of stress. We design pressurized epithelia with circular, rectangular and ellipsoidal footprints. We develop a computational method, called curved monolayer stress microscopy, to map the stress tensor in these epithelia. This method establishes a correspondence between epithelial shape and mechanical stress without assumptions of material properties. In epithelia with spherical geometry we show that stress weakly increases with areal strain in a size-independent manner. In epithelia with rectangular and ellipsoidal cross-section we find pronounced stress anisotropies that impact cell alignment. Our approach enables a systematic study of how geometry and stress influence epithelial fate and function in three-dimensions.© 2023. The Author(s).

JTD Keywords: cell, forces, morphogenesis, tension, E-cadherin


Fowler, DM, Adams, DJ, Gloyn, AL, Hahn, WC, Marks, DS, Muffley, LA, Neal, JT, Roth, FP, Rubin, AF, Starita, LM, Hurles, ME, Ahituv, N, Bahcal, OG, Baldridge, D, Berg, JS, Berger, AH, Bianchi, AH, Bolognesi, B, Boutros, M, Brenner, S, Brush, MH, Bryant, V, Bult, CJ, Bulyk, M, Call, M, Carter, H, Claussnitzer, M, Chen, F, Cline, MS, Cuperus, JT, Dawood, M, De Jong, HN, Dias, M, Dunn, M, Engreitz, J, Farh, K, Febbo, PG, Fields, S, Findlay, GM, Firth, H, Fraser, JS, Frazer, J, Frontini, M, Romero, IG, Glazer, AM, Guler, M, Hartmann-Petersen, R, Houlston, R, Huang, KL, Hutter, CM, Jagannathan, S, James, RG, Kampmann, M, Karchin, R, Kinney, JB, Komor, AC, Kosuri, S, Lehner, B, Lindorff-Larsen, K, Lombard, Z, MacArthur, DG, Martin, M, McDermott, U, McNulty, SM, Ba, ANN, O'Donnell-Luria, A, O'Roak, BJ, Parikh, VN, Parts, L, Pazin, MJ, Pesaran, T, Petrovski, S, Queitsch, C, Root, DE, Shendure, J, Spurdle, AB, Taylor, KL, Turnbull, C, Villen, J, Vissers, LELM, Wagner, AH, Wakefield, MJ, Weile, J, Xiao, J, (2023). An Atlas of Variant Effects to understand the genome at nucleotide resolution Genome Biology 24, 147

Sequencing has revealed hundreds of millions of human genetic variants, and continued efforts will only add to this variant avalanche. Insufficient information exists to interpret the effects of most variants, limiting opportunities for precision medicine and comprehension of genome function. A solution lies in experimental assessment of the functional effect of variants, which can reveal their biological and clinical impact. However, variant effect assays have generally been undertaken reactively for individual variants only after and, in most cases long after, their first observation. Now, multiplexed assays of variant effect can characterise massive numbers of variants simultaneously, yielding variant effect maps that reveal the function of every possible single nucleotide change in a gene or regulatory element. Generating maps for every protein encoding gene and regulatory element in the human genome would create an 'Atlas' of variant effect maps and transform our understanding of genetics and usher in a new era of nucleotide-resolution functional knowledge of the genome. An Atlas would reveal the fundamental biology of the human genome, inform human evolution, empower the development and use of therapeutics and maximize the utility of genomics for diagnosing and treating disease. The Atlas of Variant Effects Alliance is an international collaborative group comprising hundreds of researchers, technologists and clinicians dedicated to realising an Atlas of Variant Effects to help deliver on the promise of genomics.

JTD Keywords: functional genomics, genome interpretation, global alliance, multiplexed assay of variant effect, saturation mutagenesis, Functional genomics, Genome interpretation, Global alliance, Multiplexed assay of variant effect, Saturation mutagenesis, Variant effect


Pietroforte, S, Monasterio, MB, Ferrer-Vaquer, A, Irimia, M, Ibáñez, E, Popovic, M, Vassena, R, Zambelli, F, (2023). Specific processing of meiosis-related transcript is linked to final maturation in human oocytes Molecular Human Reproduction 29, gaad021

Human meiosis in oocytes entails an intricate regulation of the transcriptome to support late oocyte growth and early embryo development, both crucial to reproductive success. Currently, little is known about the co- and post-transcriptional mRNA processing mechanisms regulating the last meiotic phases, which contribute to transcriptome complexity and influence translation rates. We analyzed gene expression changes, splicing and pre-mRNA processing in an RNA sequencing set of 40 human oocytes at different meiotic maturation stages, matured both in vivo and in vitro. We found abundant untranslated region (UTR) processing, mostly at the 3' end, of meiosis-related genes between the germinal vesicle (GV) and metaphase II (MII) stages, supported by the differential expression of spliceosome and pre-mRNA processing related genes. Importantly, we found very few differences among GV oocytes across several durations of IVM, as long as they did not reach MII, suggesting an association of RNA processing and successful meiosis transit. Changes in protein isoforms are minor, although specific and consistent for genes involved in chromosome organization and spindle assembly. In conclusion, we reveal a dynamic transcript remodeling during human female meiosis, and show how pre-mRNA processing, specifically 3'UTR shortening, drives a selective translational regulation of transcripts necessary to reach final meiotic maturation.© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.

JTD Keywords: 3 & prime, alternative splicing, gene expression, meiosis, oocyte competence, program, rna, splicing, untranslated region processing, untranslated regions, 3′ untranslated region processing, 3′ untranslated regions, Alternative splicing, Expression, Gene expression, Human oocytes, Meiosis, Oocyte competence, Splicing


Schierwagen, R, Gu, WY, Brieger, A, Brüne, B, Ciesek, S, Dikic, I, Dimmeler, S, Geisslinger, G, Greten, FR, Hermann, E, Hildt, E, Kempf, VAJ, Klein, S, Koch, I, Mühl, H, Müller, V, Peiffer, KH, Kestner, RI, Piiper, A, Rohde, G, Scholich, K, Schulz, MH, Storf, H, Toptan, T, Vasa-Nicotera, M, Vehreschild, MJGT, Weigert, A, Wild, PJ, Zeuzem, S, Engelmann, C, Schaefer, L, Welsch, C, Trebicka, J, (2023). Pathogenetic mechanisms and therapeutic approaches of acute-to-chronic liver failure American Journal Of Physiology-Cell Physiology 325, C129-C140

Liver cirrhosis is the end stage of all chronic liver diseases and contributes significantly to overall mortality of 2% globally. The age-standardized mortality from liver cirrhosis in Europe is between 10 and 20% and can be explained by not only the development of liver cancer but also the acute deterioration in the patient's overall condition. The development of complications including accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites), bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract (variceal bleeding), bacterial infections, or a decrease in brain function (hepatic encephalopathy) define an acute decompensation that requires therapy and often leads to acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) by different precipitating events. However, due to its complexity and organ-spanning nature, the pathogenesis of ACLF is poorly understood, and the common underlying mechanisms leading to the development of organ dysfunction or failure in ACLF are still elusive. Apart from general intensive care interventions, there are no specific therapy options for ACLF. Liver transplantation is often not possible in these patients due to contraindications and a lack of prioritization. In this review, we describe the framework of the ACLF-I project consortium funded by the Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts (HMWK) based on existing findings and will provide answers to these open questions.

JTD Keywords: 12/15-lipoxygenase, combination, inflammation, interleukin-22, metabolism, mortality, organ failure, portal-hypertension, receptor, regeneration, systemic inflammation, systems medicine, translational hepatology, Decompensated cirrhosis, Organ failure, Systemic inflammation, Systems medicine, Translational hepatology


Abenza, JF, Rossetti, L, Mouelhi, M, Burgués, J, Andreu, I, Kennedy, K, Roca-Cusachs, P, Marco, S, García-Ojalvo, J, Trepat, X, (2023). Mechanical control of the mammalian circadian clock via YAP/TAZ and TEAD Journal Of Cell Biology 222, e202209120

Autonomous circadian clocks exist in nearly every mammalian cell type. These cellular clocks are subjected to a multilayered regulation sensitive to the mechanochemical cell microenvironment. Whereas the biochemical signaling that controls the cellular circadian clock is increasingly well understood, mechanisms underlying regulation by mechanical cues are largely unknown. Here we show that the fibroblast circadian clock is mechanically regulated through YAP/TAZ nuclear levels. We use high-throughput analysis of single-cell circadian rhythms and apply controlled mechanical, biochemical, and genetic perturbations to study the expression of the clock gene Rev-erbα. We observe that Rev-erbα circadian oscillations are disrupted with YAP/TAZ nuclear translocation. By targeted mutations and overexpression of YAP/TAZ, we show that this mechanobiological regulation, which also impacts core components of the clock such as Bmal1 and Cry1, depends on the binding of YAP/TAZ to the transcriptional effector TEAD. This mechanism could explain the impairment of circadian rhythms observed when YAP/TAZ activity is upregulated, as in cancer and aging.© 2023 Abenza et al.

JTD Keywords: activation, dynamics, forces, growth, hippo pathway, liver, platform, time, transcription, Gene-expression


Martinez-Torres, S, Mesquida-Veny, F, Del Rio, JA, Hervera, A, (2023). Injury-induced activation of the endocannabinoid system promotes axon regeneration Iscience 26, 106814

Regeneration after a peripheral nerve injury still remains a challenge, due to the limited regenerative potential of axons after injury. While the endocannabinoid system (ECS) has been widely studied for its neuroprotective and analgesic effects, its role in axonal regeneration and during the conditioning lesion remains unexplored. In this study, we observed that a peripheral nerve injury induces axonal regeneration through an increase in the endocannabinoid tone. We also enhanced the regenerative capacity of dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons through the inhibition of endocannabinoid degradative enzyme MAGL or a CB1R agonist. Our results suggest that the ECS, via CB1R and PI3K-pAkt pathway activation, plays an important role in promoting the intrinsic regenerative capacity of sensory neurons after injury.© 2023 The Author(s).

JTD Keywords: brain, gene-expression, lesion, nerve, receptors, targets, Clinical neuroscience, Drugs, Endogenous cannabinoid system, Molecular medicine


van Aalen, EA, Rosier, BJHM, Jansen, T, Wouters, SFA, Vermathen, RT, van der Veer, HJ, Lozano, JY, Mughal, S, Fernández-Costa, J, Ramón-Azcón, J, den Toonder, JMJ, Merkx, M, (2023). Integrated Bioluminescent Immunoassays for High-Throughput Sampling and Continuous Monitoring of Cytokines Analytical Chemistry 95, 8922-8931

Immunoassays show great potential for the detection of low levels of cytokines, due to their high sensitivity and excellent specificity. There is a particular demand for biosensors that enable both high-throughput screening and continuous monitoring of clinically relevant cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα). To this end, we here introduce a novel bioluminescent immunoassay based on the ratiometric plug-and-play immunodiagnostics (RAPPID) platform, with an improved intrinsic signal-to-background and an >80-fold increase in the luminescent signal. The new dRAPPID assay, comprising a dimeric protein G adapter connected via a semiflexible linker, was applied to detect the secretion of IL-6 by breast carcinoma cells upon TNFα stimulation and the production of low concentrations of IL-6 (∼18 pM) in an endotoxin-stimulated human 3D muscle tissue model. Moreover, we integrated the dRAPPID assay in a newly developed microfluidic device for the simultaneous and continuous monitoring of changes in IL-6 and TNFα in the low-nanomolar range. The luminescence-based read-out and the homogeneous nature of the dRAPPID platform allowed for detection with a simple measurement setup, consisting of a digital camera and a light-sealed box. This permits the usage of the continuous dRAPPID monitoring chip at the point of need, without the requirement for complex or expensive detection techniques.

JTD Keywords: cells, code, elisa, il-6, inflammation, kits, pathogenesis, procalcitonin, release, Interleukin-6


Rey-Viñolas, S, Valls-Lacalle, L, Pérez-Amodio, S, Castaño, O, Mateos-Timoneda, MA, Engel, E, (2023). Biodegradable and bioactive personalized implant for guided bone regeneration (94238135204) Tissue Engineering Part a 29, 177-178

Ferre-Torres, J, Noguera-Monteagudo, A, Lopez-Canosa, A, Romero-Arias, JR, Barrio, R, Castaño, O, Hernandez-Machado, A, (2023). Modelling of chemotactic sprouting endothelial cells through an extracellular matrix Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 11, 1145550

Sprouting angiogenesis is a core biological process critical to vascular development. Its accurate simulation, relevant to multiple facets of human health, is of broad, interdisciplinary appeal. This study presents an in-silico model replicating a microfluidic assay where endothelial cells sprout into a biomimetic extracellular matrix, specifically, a large-pore, low-concentration fibrin-based porous hydrogel, influenced by chemotactic factors. We introduce a novel approach by incorporating the extracellular matrix and chemotactic factor effects into a unified term using a single parameter, primarily focusing on modelling sprouting dynamics and morphology. This continuous model naturally describes chemotactic-induced sprouting with no need for additional rules. In addition, we extended our base model to account for matrix sensing and degradation, crucial aspects of angiogenesis. We validate our model via a hybrid in-silico experimental method, comparing the model predictions with experimental results derived from the microfluidic setup. Our results underscore the intricate relationship between the extracellular matrix structure and angiogenic sprouting, proposing a promising method for predicting the influence of the extracellular matrix on angiogenesis.Copyright © 2023 Ferre-Torres, Noguera-Monteagudo, Lopez-Canosa, Romero-Arias, Barrio, Castaño and Hernandez-Machado.

JTD Keywords: angiogenesis, biomimmetic, chemotaxis, endothelial cells, filopodia, growth, in silico model, mathematical models, mechanisms, metalloproteinase, migration, morphogenesis, phase field, pore-size, simulation, Angiogenesis, Biomimmetic, Chemotaxis, Endothelial cells, Extracellular matrix, In silico model, Mathematical models, Phase field, Tip cells


Oliver-Cervelló, L, Martin-Gómez, H, Gonzalez-Garcia, C, Salmeron-Sanchez, M, Ginebra, MP, Mas-Moruno, C, (2023). Protease-degradable hydrogels with multifunctional biomimetic peptides for bone tissue engineering Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 11, 1192436

Mimicking bone extracellular matrix (ECM) is paramount to develop novel biomaterials for bone tissue engineering. In this regard, the combination of integrin-binding ligands together with osteogenic peptides represents a powerful approach to recapitulate the healing microenvironment of bone. In the present work, we designed polyethylene glycol (PEG)-based hydrogels functionalized with cell instructive multifunctional biomimetic peptides (either with cyclic RGD-DWIVA or cyclic RGD-cyclic DWIVA) and cross-linked with matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs)-degradable sequences to enable dynamic enzymatic biodegradation and cell spreading and differentiation. The analysis of the intrinsic properties of the hydrogel revealed relevant mechanical properties, porosity, swelling and degradability to engineer hydrogels for bone tissue engineering. Moreover, the engineered hydrogels were able to promote human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) spreading and significantly improve their osteogenic differentiation. Thus, these novel hydrogels could be a promising candidate for applications in bone tissue engineering, such as acellular systems to be implanted and regenerate bone or in stem cells therapy.Copyright © 2023 Oliver-Cervelló, Martin-Gómez, Gonzalez-Garcia, Salmeron-Sanchez, Ginebra and Mas-Moruno.

JTD Keywords: biomaterials, cross-linking, dwiva, functionalization, hydrogel, integrin, kinetics, marrow stromal cells, matrices, multifunctionality, myogenic differentiation, osteogenic differentiation, regeneration, stem-cells, Biomimetic peptides, Dwiva, Functionalization, Hydrogel, Multifunctionality, Osteogenic differentiation, Poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels


Macor, LP, Colombi, S, Tamarit, JL, Engel, E, Pérez-Madrigal, MM, García-Torres, J, Alemán, C, (2023). Immediate-sustained lactate release using alginate hydrogel assembled to proteinase K/polymer electrospun fibers International Journal Of Biological Macromolecules 238, 124117

This work proposes a microfibers-hydrogel assembled composite as delivery vehicle able to combine into a single system both burst and prolonged release of lactate. The prolonged release of lactate has been achieved by electrospinning a mixture of polylactic acid and proteinase K (26.0 mg of proteinase K and 0.99 g of PLA dissolved in 6 mL of 2:1 chloroform:acetone in the optimal case), which is a protease that catalyzes the degradation of polylactic acid into lactate. The degradation of microfibers into lactate reflects that proteinase K preserves its enzymatic activity even after the electrospinning process because of the mild operational conditions used. Besides, burst release is obtained from the lactate-loaded alginate hydrogel. The successful assembly between the lactate-loaded hydrogel and the polylactic acid/proteinase K fibers has been favored by applying a low-pressure (0.3 mbar at 300 W) oxygen plasma treatment, which transforms hydrophobic fibers into hydrophilic while the enzymatic activity is still maintained. The composite displays both fast (< 24 h) and sustained (> 10 days) lactate release, and allows the modulation of the release by adjusting either the amount of loaded lactate or the amount of active enzyme.Copyright © 2023. Published by Elsevier B.V.

JTD Keywords: biodegradable fibers, proteases, regeneration, repair, Alginate, Biodegradable fibers, Myocardial-infarction, Proteases


Andrés-Benito, P, Iñigo-Marco, I, Brullas, M, Carmona, M, del Rio, JA, Fernández-Irigoyen, J, Santamaría, E, Povedano, M, Ferrer, I, (2023). Proteostatic modulation in brain aging without associated Alzheimer's disease-and age-related neuropathological changes Aging-Us 15, 3295-3330

(Phospho)proteomics of old-aged subjects without cognitive or behavioral symptoms, and without AD-neuropathological changes and lacking any other neurodegenerative alteration will increase understanding about the physiological state of human brain aging without associate neurological deficits and neuropathological lesions.(Phospho)proteomics using conventional label-free- and SWATH-MS (Sequential window acquisition of all theoretical fragment ion spectra mass spectrometry) has been assessed in the frontal cortex (FC) of individuals without NFTs, senile plaques (SPs) and age-related co-morbidities classified by age (years) in four groups; group 1 (young, 30-44); group 2 (middle-aged: MA, 45-52); group 3 (early-elderly, 64-70); and group 4 (late-elderly, 75-85).Protein levels and deregulated protein phosphorylation linked to similar biological terms/functions, but involving different individual proteins, are found in FC with age. The modified expression occurs in cytoskeleton proteins, membranes, synapses, vesicles, myelin, membrane transport and ion channels, DNA and RNA metabolism, ubiquitin-proteasome-system (UPS), kinases and phosphatases, fatty acid metabolism, and mitochondria. Dysregulated phosphoproteins are associated with the cytoskeleton, including microfilaments, actin-binding proteins, intermediate filaments of neurons and glial cells, and microtubules; membrane proteins, synapses, and dense core vesicles; kinases and phosphatases; proteins linked to DNA and RNA; members of the UPS; GTPase regulation; inflammation; and lipid metabolism. Noteworthy, protein levels of large clusters of hierarchically-related protein expression levels are stable until 70. However, protein levels of components of cell membranes, vesicles and synapses, RNA modulation, and cellular structures (including tau and tubulin filaments) are markedly altered from the age of 75. Similarly, marked modifications occur in the larger phosphoprotein clusters involving cytoskeleton and neuronal structures, membrane stabilization, and kinase regulation in the late elderly.Present findings may increase understanding of human brain proteostasis modifications in the elderly in the subpopulation of individuals not having AD neuropathological change and any other neurodegenerative change in any telencephalon region.

JTD Keywords: (phospho)proteomics, cortex, cytoskeleton, hippocampus, kinases, membranes, mitochondria, mitochondrial-function, pathological process, phosphoproteome analysis, phosphorylation, proteome, quantitative proteomics, synapsis, tau-protein, therapeutic target, (phospho)proteomics, Brain aging, Cytoskeleton, Kinases, Membranes, Mitochondria, Neurodegenerative diseases, Proteome, Synapsis


Andrés-Benito, P, Carmona, M, Pirla, MJ, Torrejón-Escribano, B, del Rio, J, Ferrer, I, (2023). Dysregulated Protein Phosphorylation as Main Contributor of Granulovacuolar Degeneration at the First Stages of Neurofibrillary Tangles Pathology Neuroscience 518, 119-140

The hippocampus of cases with neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) pathology classified as stages I–II, III–IV, and V–VI without comorbidities, and middle-aged (MA) individuals with no NFT pathology, were examined to learn about the composition of granulovacuolar degeneration (GVD). Our results confirm the presence of CK1-?, p38-P Thr180/Tyr182, SAPK/JNK-P Thr183/Thr185, GSK-3?/?-P Tyr279/Tyr216, and GSK-3? Ser9 in the cytoplasmic granules in a subset of neurons of the CA1 and CA2 subfields of the hippocampus. Also, we identify the presence of PKA ?/?-P Thr197, SRC-P Tyr416, PAK1-P Ser199/Ser204, CAMK2A-P Tyr197, and PKCG-P Thr655 in cytoplasmic granules in cases with NFT pathology, but not in MA cases. Our results also confirm the presence of ?-catenin-P Ser45/Thr41, IRE?-P Ser274, eIF2?-P Ser51, TDP-43-P Ser403-404 (but absent TDP-43), and ubiquitin in cytoplasmic granules. Other components of the cytoplasmic granules are MAP2-P Thr1620/1623, MAP1B-P Thr1265, ADD1-P Ser726, and ADD1/ADD1-P Ser726/Ser713, in addition to several tau species including 3Rtau, 4Rtau, and tau-P Ser262. The analysis of GVD at progressive stages of NFT pathology reveals the early appearance of phosphorylated kinases and proteins in cytoplasmic granules at stages I–II, before the appearance of pre-tangles and NFTs. Most of these granules are not surrounded by LAMP1-positive membranes. Markers of impaired ubiquitin-protesome system, abnormal reticulum stress response, and altered endocytic and autophagic pathways occur in a subpopulation of neurons containing cytoplasmic granules, and they appear later. These observations suggest early phosphorylation of kinases leading to their activation, and resulting in the abnormal phosphorylation of various substrates, including tau, as a main alteration at the first stages of GVD. © 2021 The Author(s)

JTD Keywords: alzheimer's disease, alzheimers association guidelines, alzheimer’s disease, brain aging, cyclin-dependent kinase-5, granulovacuolar degeneration, kinases, national institute, neuropathologic assessment, p38 kinase, progressive supranuclear palsy, protein phosphorylation, tau, tau pathology, up-regulation, upstream activator, Alzheimer's disease, Brain aging, Glycogen-synthase kinase-3, Granulovacuolar degeneration, Kinases, Protein phosphorylation, Tau


Andrzejak, RG, Espinoso, A, (2023). Chimera states in multiplex networks: Chameleon-like across-layer synchronization Chaos 33, 53112

Different across-layer synchronization types of chimera states in multilayer networks have been discovered recently. We investigate possible relations between them, for example, if the onset of some synchronization type implies the onset of some other type. For this purpose, we use a two-layer network with multiplex inter-layer coupling. Each layer consists of a ring of non-locally coupled phase oscillators. While oscillators in each layer are identical, the layers are made non-identical by introducing mismatches in the oscillators' mean frequencies and phase lag parameters of the intra-layer coupling. We use different metrics to quantify the degree of various across-layer synchronization types. These include phase-locking between individual interacting oscillators, amplitude and phase synchronization between the order parameters of each layer, generalized synchronization between the driver and response layer, and the alignment of the incoherent oscillator groups' position on the two rings. For positive phase lag parameter mismatches, we get a cascaded onset of synchronization upon a gradual increase of the inter-layer coupling strength. For example, the two order parameters show phase synchronization before any of the interacting oscillator pairs does. For negative mismatches, most synchronization types have their onset in a narrow range of the coupling strength. Weaker couplings can destabilize chimera states in the response layer toward an almost fully coherent or fully incoherent motion. Finally, in the absence of a phase lag mismatch, sufficient coupling turns the response dynamics into a replica of the driver dynamics with the phases of all oscillators shifted by a constant lag.© 2023 Author(s). Published under an exclusive license by AIP Publishing.

JTD Keywords: chaos, Generalized synchronization


Pesce, M, Duda, GN, Forte, G, Girao, H, Raya, A, Roca-Cusachs, P, Sluijter, JPG, Tschöpe, C, Van Linthout, S, (2023). Cardiac fibroblasts and mechanosensation in heart development, health and disease Nature Reviews Cardiology 20, 309-324

The term 'mechanosensation' describes the capacity of cells to translate mechanical stimuli into the coordinated regulation of intracellular signals, cellular function, gene expression and epigenetic programming. This capacity is related not only to the sensitivity of the cells to tissue motion, but also to the decryption of tissue geometric arrangement and mechanical properties. The cardiac stroma, composed of fibroblasts, has been historically considered a mechanically passive component of the heart. However, the latest research suggests that the mechanical functions of these cells are an active and necessary component of the developmental biology programme of the heart that is involved in myocardial growth and homeostasis, and a crucial determinant of cardiac repair and disease. In this Review, we discuss the general concept of cell mechanosensation and force generation as potent regulators in heart development and pathology, and describe the integration of mechanical and biohumoral pathways predisposing the heart to fibrosis and failure. Next, we address the use of 3D culture systems to integrate tissue mechanics to mimic cardiac remodelling. Finally, we highlight the potential of mechanotherapeutic strategies, including pharmacological treatment and device-mediated left ventricular unloading, to reverse remodelling in the failing heart.© 2022. Springer Nature Limited.

JTD Keywords: cardiomyocyte proliferation, cross-linking, extracellular-matrix, focal adhesions, gene-expression, mechanical regulation, myocardial-infarction, substrate stiffness affects, t-cells, Ventricular assist device


Rubio-Canalejas, A, Admella, J, Pedraz, L, Torrents, E, (2023). Pseudomonas aeruginosa Nonphosphorylated AlgR Induces Ribonucleotide Reductase Expression under Oxidative Stress Infectious Conditions Msystems 8,

The emergence of multidrug-resistant bacteria is a serious problem worldwide. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a pathogen that causes severe infections because it can form a biofilm that protects it from immune system mechanisms such as the production of oxidative stress. Ribonucleotide reductases are essential enzymes which synthesize deoxyribonucleotides used in the replication of DNA.

JTD Keywords: algr, biofilm, galleria mellonella, nrdj, oxidative stress, Gene-expression, Ribonucleotide reductase


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

Selt, F, Sigaud, R, Valinciute, G, Sievers, P, Zaman, J, Alco, C, Schmid, S, Peterziel, H, Tsai, JW, Guiho, R, Martínez-Barbera, JP, Pusch, S, Deng, J, Zhai, YF, van Tilburg, CM, Schuhman, MU, Damaty, AEL, Bandopadhayay, P, Herold-Mende, C, von Deimling, A, Pfister, SM, Montero, J, Capper, D, Oehme, I, Sahm, F, Jones, DTW, Witt, O, Milde, T, (2023). BH3 mimetics targeting BCL-XL impact the senescent compartment of pilocytic astrocytoma Neuro-Oncology 25, 735-747

Background Pilocytic astrocytoma (PA) is the most common pediatric brain tumor and a mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-driven disease. Oncogenic MAPK-signaling drives the majority of cells into oncogene-induced senescence (OIS). While OIS induces resistance to antiproliferative therapies, it represents a potential vulnerability exploitable by senolytic agents. Methods We established new patient-derived PA cell lines that preserve molecular features of the primary tumors and can be studied in OIS and proliferation depending on expression or repression of the SV40 large T antigen. We determined expression of anti-apoptotic BCL-2 members in these models and primary PA. Dependence of senescent PA cells on anti-apoptotic BCL-2 members was investigated using a comprehensive set of BH3 mimetics. Results Senescent PA cells upregulate BCL-XL upon senescence induction and show dependency on BCL-XL for survival. BH3 mimetics with high affinity for BCL-XL (BCL-XLi) reduce metabolic activity and induce mitochondrial apoptosis in senescent PA cells at nano-molar concentrations. In contrast, BH3 mimetics without BCL-XLi activity, conventional chemotherapy, and MEK inhibitors show no effect. Conclusions Our data demonstrate that BCL-XL is critical for survival of senescent PA tumor cells and provides proof-of-principle for the use of clinically available BCL-XL-dependent senolytics.

JTD Keywords: bcl-xl, bh3 mimetics, oncogene-induced senescence, Bcl-xl, Bh3 mimetics, Expression, Family, Inhibitor, Low-grade glioma, Navitoclax, Oncogene-induced senescence, Pilocytic astrocytoma, Stem-cells


Overby, SJ, Cerro-Herreros, E, Espinosa-Espinosa, J, González-Martínez, I, Moreno, N, Fernández-Costa, JM, Balaguer-Trias, J, Ramón-Azcón, J, Pérez-Alonso, M, Moller, T, Llamusí, B, Artero, R, (2023). BlockmiR AONs as Site-Specific Therapeutic MBNL Modulation in Myotonic Dystrophy 2D and 3D Muscle Cells and HSALR Mice Pharmaceutics 15, 1118

The symptoms of Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1 (DM1) are multi-systemic and life-threatening. The neuromuscular disorder is rooted in a non-coding CTG microsatellite expansion in the DM1 protein kinase (DMPK) gene that, upon transcription, physically sequesters the Muscleblind-like (MBNL) family of splicing regulator proteins. The high-affinity binding occurring between the proteins and the repetitions disallow MBNL proteins from performing their post-transcriptional splicing regulation leading to downstream molecular effects directly related to disease symptoms such as myotonia and muscle weakness. In this study, we build on previously demonstrated evidence showing that the silencing of miRNA-23b and miRNA-218 can increase MBNL1 protein in DM1 cells and mice. Here, we use blockmiR antisense technology in DM1 muscle cells, 3D mouse-derived muscle tissue, and in vivo mice to block the binding sites of these microRNAs in order to increase MBNL translation into protein without binding to microRNAs. The blockmiRs show therapeutic effects with the rescue of mis-splicing, MBNL subcellular localization, and highly specific transcriptomic expression. The blockmiRs are well tolerated in 3D mouse skeletal tissue inducing no immune response. In vivo, a candidate blockmiR also increases Mbnl1/2 protein and rescues grip strength, splicing, and histological phenotypes.

JTD Keywords: antisense oligonucleotides, aon, blockmir, brain, expression, genes, mbnl, mir-218, mir-23b, mirna, muscleblind, myotonic dystrophy 1, phenotypes, proteins, type-1, Messenger-rna, Muscleblind, Myotonic dystrophy 1


Schamberger, B, Ziege, R, Anselme, K, Ben Amar, M, Bykowski, M, Castro, APG, Cipitria, A, Coles, RA, Dimova, R, Eder, M, Ehrig, S, Escudero, LM, Evans, ME, Fernandes, PR, Fratzl, P, Geris, L, Gierlinger, N, Hannezo, E, Iglic, A, Kirkensgaard, JJK, Kollmannsberger, P, Kowalewska, L, Kurniawan, NA, Papantoniou, I, Pieuchot, L, Pires, THV, Renner, LD, Sageman-Furnas, AO, Schroder-Turk, GE, Sengupta, A, Sharma, VR, Tagua, A, Tomba, C, Trepat, X, Waters, SL, Yeo, EF, Roschger, A, Bidan, CM, Dunlop, JWC, (2023). Curvature in Biological Systems: Its Quantification, Emergence, and Implications across the Scales Advanced Materials 35, 2206110

Surface curvature both emerges from, and influences the behavior of, living objects at length scales ranging from cell membranes to single cells to tissues and organs. The relevance of surface curvature in biology is supported by numerous experimental and theoretical investigations in recent years. In this review, first, a brief introduction to the key ideas of surface curvature in the context of biological systems is given and the challenges that arise when measuring surface curvature are discussed. Giving an overview of the emergence of curvature in biological systems, its significance at different length scales becomes apparent. On the other hand, summarizing current findings also shows that both single cells and entire cell sheets, tissues or organisms respond to curvature by modulating their shape and their migration behavior. Finally, the interplay between the distribution of morphogens or micro-organisms and the emergence of curvature across length scales is addressed with examples demonstrating these key mechanistic principles of morphogenesis. Overall, this review highlights that curved interfaces are not merely a passive by-product of the chemical, biological, and mechanical processes but that curvature acts also as a signal that co-determines these processes.© 2023 The Authors. Advanced Materials published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.

JTD Keywords: biological systems, butterfly wing scales, cubic membranes, extracellular-matrix, geometry, mechanotransduction, membrane curvature, morphogenesis, neotissue growth, pattern-formation, soft materials, surface curvature, tissue-growth, Biological systems, Collective cell-migration, Surface curvature


Fontcuberta-PiSunyer, M, García-Alamán, A, Prades, É, Téllez, N, Alves-Figueiredo, H, Ramos-Rodríguez, M, Enrich, C, Fernandez-Ruiz, R, Cervantes, S, Clua, L, Ramón-Azcón, J, Broca, C, Wojtusciszyn, A, Montserrat, N, Pasquali, L, Novials, A, Servitja, JM, Vidal, J, Gomis, R, Gasa, R, (2023). Direct reprogramming of human fibroblasts into insulin-producing cells using transcription factors Commun Biol 6, 256

Direct lineage reprogramming of one somatic cell into another without transitioning through a progenitor stage has emerged as a strategy to generate clinically relevant cell types. One cell type of interest is the pancreatic insulin-producing β cell whose loss and/or dysfunction leads to diabetes. To date it has been possible to create β-like cells from related endodermal cell types by forcing the expression of developmental transcription factors, but not from more distant cell lineages like fibroblasts. In light of the therapeutic benefits of choosing an accessible cell type as the cell of origin, in this study we set out to analyze the feasibility of transforming human skin fibroblasts into β-like cells. We describe how the timed-introduction of five developmental transcription factors (Neurog3, Pdx1, MafA, Pax4, and Nkx2-2) promotes conversion of fibroblasts toward a β-cell fate. Reprogrammed cells exhibit β-cell features including β-cell gene expression and glucose-responsive intracellular calcium mobilization. Moreover, reprogrammed cells display glucose-induced insulin secretion in vitro and in vivo. This work provides proof-of-concept of the capacity to make insulin-producing cells from human fibroblasts via transcription factor-mediated direct reprogramming.© 2023. The Author(s).

JTD Keywords: adult, beta-cells, differentiation, direct conversion, genes, in-vivo, islets, maturation, pancreatic progenitors, Pluripotent stem-cells


Ye, Z, Qi, YP, Zhang, AQ, Karels, BJ, Aparicio, C, (2023). Biomimetic Mineralization of Fibrillar Collagen with Strontium-doped Hydroxyapatite Acs Macro Letters 12, 408-414

Fibrillar collagen structures mineralized with hydroxyapatite using the polymer-induced liquid precursor (PILP) process have been explored as synthetic models for studying biomineralization of human hard tissues and have also been applied in the fabrication of scaffolds for hard tissue regeneration. Strontium has important biological functions in bone and has been used as a therapeutic agent for treating diseases that result in bone defects, such as osteoporosis. Here, we developed a strategy to mineralize collagen with Sr-doped hydroxyapatite (HA) using the PILP process. Doping with Sr altered the crystal lattice of HA and inhibited the degree of mineralization in a concentration-dependent manner, but did not affect the unique formation of intrafibrillar minerals using the PILP. The Sr-doped HA nanocrystals were aligned in the [001] direction but did not recapitulate the parallel alignment of the c-axis of pure Ca HA in relation to the collagen fiber long axis. The mimicry of doping Sr in PILP-mineralized collagen can help understand the doping of Sr in natural hard tissues and during treatment. The fibrillary mineralized collagen with Sr-doped HA will be explored in future work as biomimetic and bioactive scaffolds for regeneration of bone and tooth dentin.

JTD Keywords: bone regeneration, osteoblast differentiation, osteoporosis, ranelate, risk, scaffolds, women, Intrafibrillar mineralization


Navalon-Lopez, M, Dols-Perez, A, Grijalvo, S, Fornaguera, C, Borros, S, (2023). Unravelling the role of individual components in pBAE/polynucleotide polyplexes in the synthesis of tailored carriers for specific applications: on the road to rational formulations Nanoscale Advances 5, 1611-1623

Our study of pBAE polyplexes unveil their insight distribution and peptide-dependent properties. This analysis makes the gap from bench to bedside closer due to the possibility to select the most appropriate oligopeptide combination depending on the application.

JTD Keywords: gene delivery, Poly(beta-amino ester)s


Duran, J, (2023). Role of Astrocytes in the Pathophysiology of Lafora Disease and Other Glycogen Storage Disorders Cells 12, 722

Lafora disease is a rare disorder caused by loss of function mutations in either the EPM2A or NHLRC1 gene. The initial symptoms of this condition are most commonly epileptic seizures, but the disease progresses rapidly with dementia, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and cognitive deterioration and has a fatal outcome within 5–10 years after onset. The hallmark of the disease is the accumulation of poorly branched glycogen in the form of aggregates known as Lafora bodies in the brain and other tissues. Several reports have demonstrated that the accumulation of this abnormal glycogen underlies all the pathologic traits of the disease. For decades, Lafora bodies were thought to accumulate exclusively in neurons. However, it was recently identified that most of these glycogen aggregates are present in astrocytes. Importantly, astrocytic Lafora bodies have been shown to contribute to pathology in Lafora disease. These results identify a primary role of astrocytes in the pathophysiology of Lafora disease and have important implications for other conditions in which glycogen abnormally accumulates in astrocytes, such as Adult Polyglucosan Body disease and the buildup of Corpora amylacea in aged brains.

JTD Keywords: abnormal glycogen, accumulation, aggregation, bodies, branching enzyme deficiency, corpora-amylacea, epilepsy, glycogen, lafora disease, mice, mouse model, neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation, progressive myoclonus epilepsy, ubiquitin ligase, Glycogen, Neuroinflammation, Polyglucosan body disease


De Lama-Odría, MD, del Valle, LJ, Puiggalí, J, (2023). Lanthanides-Substituted Hydroxyapatite for Biomedical Applications International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 24, 3446

Lately, there has been an increasing demand for materials that could improve tissue regenerative therapies and provide antimicrobial effects. Similarly, there is a growing need to develop or modify biomaterials for the diagnosis and treatment of different pathologies. In this scenario, hydroxyapatite (HAp) appears as a bioceramic with extended functionalities. Nevertheless, there are certain disadvantages related to the mechanical properties and lack of antimicrobial capacity. To circumvent them, the doping of HAp with a variety of cationic ions is emerging as a good alterative due to the different biological roles of each ion. Among many elements, lanthanides are understudied despite their great potential in the biomedical field. For this reason, the present review focuses on the biological benefits of lanthanides and how their incorporation into HAp can alter its morphology and physical properties. A comprehensive section of the applications of lanthanides-substituted HAp nanoparticles (HAp NPs) is presented to unveil the potential biomedical uses of these systems. Finally, the need to study the tolerable and non-toxic percentages of substitution with these elements is highlighted.

JTD Keywords: biolabeling, biomedicine, biosensors, bone regeneration, calcium, cancer treatment, cationic ions, cell imaging, cerium, doped hap, hydroxyapatite, implants, in-vitro bioactivity, lanthanides-substitutions, lanthanidessubstitutions, nanoparticles, radiation synovectomy, sm-153 particulate hydroxyapatite, structural-characterization, theragnostics, theranostic nanoplatforms, Europium-doped hydroxyapatite, Hydroxyapatite, Theragnostics


Matejcic, M, Trepat, X, (2023). Mechanobiological approaches to synthetic morphogenesis: learning by building Trends In Cell Biology 33, 95-111

Tissue morphogenesis occurs in a complex physicochemical microenvironment with limited experimental accessibility. This often prevents a clear identification of the processes that govern the formation of a given functional shape. By applying state-of-the-art methods to minimal tissue systems, synthetic morphogenesis aims to engineer the discrete events that are necessary and sufficient to build specific tissue shapes. Here, we review recent advances in synthetic morphogenesis, highlighting how a combination of microfabrication and mechanobiology is fostering our understanding of how tissues are built.Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: cell dynamics, elongation, endothelial-cells, epithelium, growth, lumen, mechanical tension, patterns, self-organization, synthetic morphogenesis, tissue folding, tissue mechanics, topological defects, Stem-cells, Tissue shape


Elosegui-Artola, A, Gupta, A, Najibi, AJ, Seo, BR, Garry, R, Tringides, CM, de Lazaro, I, Darnell, M, Guo, W, Zhou, Q, Weitze, DA, Mahadevan, L, Mooney, DJ, (2023). Matrix viscoelasticity controls spatiotemporal tissue organization Nature Materials 22, 117-+

Biomolecular and physical cues of the extracellular matrix environment regulate collective cell dynamics and tissue patterning. Nonetheless, how the viscoelastic properties of the matrix regulate collective cell spatial and temporal organization is not fully understood. Here we show that the passive viscoelastic properties of the matrix encapsulating a spheroidal tissue of breast epithelial cells guide tissue proliferation in space and in time. Matrix viscoelasticity prompts symmetry breaking of the spheroid, leading to the formation of invading finger-like protrusions, YAP nuclear translocation and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition both in vitro and in vivo in a Arp2/3-complex-dependent manner. Computational modelling of these observations allows us to establish a phase diagram relating morphological stability with matrix viscoelasticity, tissue viscosity, cell motility and cell division rate, which is experimentally validated by biochemical assays and in vitro experiments with an intestinal organoid. Altogether, this work highlights the role of stress relaxation mechanisms in tissue growth dynamics, a fundamental process in morphogenesis and oncogenesis.© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

JTD Keywords: in-vitro, migration, morphogenesis, stiffness, Intestinal stem-cell


Júnior, C, Ulldemolins, A, Narciso, M, Almendros, I, Farré, R, Navajas, D, López, J, Eroles, M, Rico, F, Gavara, N, (2023). Multi-Step Extracellular Matrix Remodelling and Stiffening in the Development of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 24, 1708

The extracellular matrix (ECM) of the lung is a filamentous network composed mainly of collagens, elastin, and proteoglycans that provides structural and physical support to its populating cells. Proliferation, migration and overall behaviour of those cells is greatly determined by micromechanical queues provided by the ECM. Lung fibrosis displays an aberrant increased deposition of ECM which likely changes filament organization and stiffens the ECM, thus upregulating the profibrotic profile of pulmonary cells. We have previously used AFM to assess changes in the Young’s Modulus (E) of the ECM in the lung. Here, we perform further ECM topographical, mechanical and viscoelastic analysis at the micro- and nano-scale throughout fibrosis development. Furthermore, we provide nanoscale correlations between topographical and elastic properties of the ECM fibres. Firstly, we identify a softening of the ECM after rats are instilled with media associated with recovery of mechanical homeostasis, which is hindered in bleomycin-instilled lungs. Moreover, we find opposite correlations between fibre stiffness and roughness in PBS- vs bleomycin-treated lung. Our findings suggest that changes in ECM nanoscale organization take place at different stages of fibrosis, with the potential to help identify pharmacological targets to hinder its progression.

JTD Keywords: atomic force microscopy, cells, deposition, extracellular matrix, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, mechanisms, mechanosensing, membranes, micromechanical properties, pathogenesis, stiffness, tissues, viscoelasticity, Extracellular matrix, Induced lung fibrosis, Mechanosensing


Woythe, L, Tholen, MME, Rosier, BJHM, Albertazzi, L, (2023). Single-Particle Functionality Imaging of Antibody-Conjugated Nanoparticles in Complex Media Acs Applied Bio Materials 6, 171-181

The properties of nanoparticles (NPs) can change upon contact with serum components, occluding the NP surface by forming a biomolecular corona. It is believed that targeted NPs can lose their functionality due to this biological coating, thus losing specificity and selectivity toward target cells and leading to poor therapeutic efficiency. A better understanding of how the biomolecular corona affects NP ligand functionality is needed to maintain NP targeting capabilities. However, techniques that can quantify the functionality of NPs at a single-particle level in a complex medium are limited and often laborious in sample preparation, measurement, and analysis. In this work, the influence of serum exposure on the functionality of antibody-functionalized NPs was quantified using a straightforward total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy method and evaluated in cell uptake studies. The single-particle resolution of TIRF reveals the interparticle functionality heterogeneity and the substantial differences between NPs conjugated with covalent and noncovalent methods. Notably, only NPs covalently conjugated with a relatively high amount of antibodies maintain their functionality to a certain extent and still showed cell specificity and selectivity toward high receptor density cells after incubation in full serum. The presented study emphasizes the importance of single-particle functional characterization of NPs in complex media, contributing to the understanding and design of targeted NPs that retain their cell specificity and selectivity in biologically relevant conditions.

JTD Keywords: binding, biomolecular corona, cell selectivity, heterogeneity, nanoparticle conjugation, protein corona, tirf microscopy, Active targeting, Biomolecular corona, Cell selectivity, Heterogeneity, Nanoparticle conjugation, Tirf microscopy


Moussa, DG, Sharma, AK, Mansour, TA, Witthuhn, B, Perdigao, J, Rudney, JD, Aparicio, C, Gomez, A, (2022). Functional signatures of ex-vivo dental caries onset Journal Of Oral Microbiology 14, 2123624

The etiology of dental caries remains poorly understood. With the advent of next-generation sequencing, a number of studies have focused on the microbial ecology of the disease. However, taxonomic associations with caries have not been consistent. Researchers have also pursued function-centric studies of the caries microbial communities aiming to identify consistently conserved functional pathways. A major question is whether changes in microbiome are a cause or a consequence of the disease. Thus, there is a critical need to define conserved functional signatures at the onset of dental caries.Since it is unethical to induce carious lesions clinically, we developed an innovative longitudinal ex-vivo model integrated with the advanced non-invasive multiphoton second harmonic generation bioimaging to spot the very early signs of dental caries, combined with 16S rRNA short amplicon sequencing and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry-based targeted metabolomics.For the first time, we induced longitudinally monitored caries lesions validated with the scanning electron microscope. Consequently, we spotted the caries onset and, associated with it, distinguished five differentiating metabolites - Lactate, Pyruvate, Dihydroxyacetone phosphate, Glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate (upregulated) and Fumarate (downregulated). Those metabolites co-occurred with certain bacterial taxa; Streptococcus, Veillonella, Actinomyces, Porphyromonas, Fusobacterium, and Granulicatella, regardless of the abundance of other taxa.These findings are crucial for understanding the etiology and dynamics of dental caries, and devising targeted interventions to prevent disease progression.© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

JTD Keywords: bacteria, biofilms, children, dental caries, generation, genomics, longitudinal model, metabolism, metabolomics, microscopy, non-invasive bioimaging, oral microbiome, plaque, restorations, signatures, Dental caries, Field-emission sem, Signatures


Ferrer, I, Andrés-Benito, P, Carmona, M, del Rio, JA, (2022). Common and Specific Marks of Different Tau Strains Following Intra-Hippocampal Injection of AD, PiD, and GGT Inoculum in hTau Transgenic Mice International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 15940

Heterozygous hTau mice were used for the study of tau seeding. These mice express the six human tau isoforms, with a high predominance of 3Rtau over 4Rtau. The following groups were assessed: (i) non-inoculated mice aged 9 months (n = 4); (ii) Alzheimer's Disease (AD)-inoculated mice (n = 4); (iii) Globular Glial Tauopathy (GGT)-inoculated mice (n = 4); (iv) Pick's disease (PiD)-inoculated mice (n = 4); (v) control-inoculated mice (n = 4); and (vi) inoculated with vehicle alone (n = 2). AD-inoculated mice showed AT8-immunoreactive neuronal pre-tangles, granular aggregates, and dots in the CA1 region of the hippocampus, dentate gyrus (DG), and hilus, and threads and dots in the ipsilateral corpus callosum. GGT-inoculated mice showed unique or multiple AT8-immunoreactive globular deposits in neurons, occasionally extended to the proximal dendrites. PiD-inoculated mice showed a few loose pre-tangles in the CA1 region, DG, and cerebral cortex near the injection site. Coiled bodies were formed in the corpus callosum in AD-inoculated mice, but GGT-inoculated mice lacked globular glial inclusions. Tau deposits in inoculated mice co-localized active kinases p38-P and SAPK/JNK-P, thus suggesting active phosphorylation of the host tau. Tau deposits were absent in hTau mice inoculated with control homogenates and vehicle alone. Deposits in AD-inoculated hTau mice contained 3Rtau and 4Rtau; those in GGT-inoculated mice were mainly stained with anti-4Rtau antibodies, but a small number of deposits contained 3Rtau. Deposits in PiD-inoculated mice were stained with anti-3Rtau antibodies, but rare neuronal, thread-like, and dot-like deposits showed 4Rtau immunoreactivity. These findings show that tau strains produce different patterns of active neuronal seeding, which also depend on the host tau. Unexpected 3Rtau and 4Rtau deposits after inoculation of homogenates from 4R and 3R tauopathies, respectively, suggests the regulation of exon 10 splicing of the host tau during the process of seeding, thus modulating the plasticity of the cytoskeleton.

JTD Keywords: alzheimer's disease (ad), alzheimers-disease, brain, corticobasal degeneration, globular glial tauopathy (ggt), htau, isoforms, pathological tau, pick's disease (pid), picks-disease, propagation, protein, seeding, tau splicing, tauopathy, Alzheimer’s disease (ad), Globular glial tauopathy (ggt), Htau, Paired helical filaments, Pick’s disease (pid), Seeding, Tau, Tau splicing


Bertran, O, Martí, D, Torras, J, Turon, P, Alemán, C, (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


Mesquida-Veny, F, Martínez-Torres, S, Del Río, JA, Hervera, A, (2022). Genetic control of neuronal activity enhances axonal growth only on permissive substrates Molecular Medicine 28, 97

Abstract Background Neural tissue has limited regenerative ability. To cope with that, in recent years a diverse set of novel tools has been used to tailor neurostimulation therapies and promote functional regeneration after axonal injuries. Method In this report, we explore cell-specific methods to modulate neuronal activity, including opto- and chemogenetics to assess the effect of specific neuronal stimulation in the promotion of axonal regeneration after injury. Results Opto- and chemogenetic stimulations of neuronal activity elicited increased in vitro neurite outgrowth in both sensory and cortical neurons, as well as in vivo regeneration in the sciatic nerve, but not after spinal cord injury. Mechanistically, inhibitory substrates such as chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans block the activity induced increase in axonal growth. Conclusions We found that genetic modulations of neuronal activity on both dorsal root ganglia and corticospinal motor neurons increase their axonal growth capacity but only on permissive environments.

JTD Keywords: activation, chemogenetics, electrical-stimulation, expression, functional recovery, increases, injury, motor cortex, neuronal activity, optogenetics, permissive substrate, promotes recovery, regeneration, Optogenetics, Regeneration, Spinal-cord


Elyaderani, AK, De Lama-Odría, MD, Del Valle, LJ, Puiggalí, J, (2022). Multifunctional Scaffolds Based on Emulsion and Coaxial Electrospinning Incorporation of Hydroxyapatite for Bone Tissue Regeneration International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 15016

Tissue engineering is nowadays a powerful tool to restore damaged tissues and recover their normal functionality. Advantages over other current methods are well established, although a continuous evolution is still necessary to improve the final performance and the range of applications. Trends are nowadays focused on the development of multifunctional scaffolds with hierarchical structures and the capability to render a sustained delivery of bioactive molecules under an appropriate stimulus. Nanocomposites incorporating hydroxyapatite nanoparticles (HAp NPs) have a predominant role in bone tissue regeneration due to their high capacity to enhance osteoinduction, osteoconduction, and osteointegration, as well as their encapsulation efficiency and protection capability of bioactive agents. Selection of appropriated polymeric matrices is fundamental and consequently great efforts have been invested to increase the range of properties of available materials through copolymerization, blending, or combining structures constituted by different materials. Scaffolds can be obtained from different processes that differ in characteristics, such as texture or porosity. Probably, electrospinning has the greater relevance, since the obtained nanofiber membranes have a great similarity with the extracellular matrix and, in addition, they can easily incorporate functional and bioactive compounds. Coaxial and emulsion electrospinning processes appear ideal to generate complex systems able to incorporate highly different agents. The present review is mainly focused on the recent works performed with Hap-loaded scaffolds having at least one structural layer composed of core/shell nanofibers.

JTD Keywords: bone tissue, coaxial electrospinning, composite nanofibers, drug-release behavior, emulsion electrospinning, hydroxyapatite, in-vitro evaluation, mechanical-properties, osteogenic differentiation, pickering emulsions, protein adsorption, structured scaffolds, surface-initiated polymerization, tissue regeneration, Bone tissue, Coaxial electrospinning, Emulsion electrospinning, Hydroxyapatite, Multifunctional scaffolds, Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) phb patches, Tissue regeneration


Casanellas, Ignasi, Jiang, Hongkai, David, Carolyn M, Vida, Yolanda, Perez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Samitier, Josep, Lagunas, Anna, (2022). Substrate adhesion determines migration during mesenchymal cell condensation in chondrogenesis Journal Of Cell Science 135, 260241

Mesenchymal condensation is a prevalent morphogenetic transition that is essential in chondrogenesis. However, the current understanding of condensation mechanisms is limited. In vivo, progenitor cells directionally migrate from the surrounding loose mesenchyme towards regions of increasing matrix adherence (the condensation centers), which is accompanied by the upregulation of fibronectin. Here, we focused on the mechanisms of cell migration during mesenchymal cell condensation and the effects of matrix adherence. Dendrimer-based nanopatterns of the cell-adhesive peptide arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD), which is present in fibronectin, were used to regulate substrate adhesion. We recorded collective and single-cell migration of mesenchymal stem cells, under chondrogenic induction, using live-cell imaging. Our results show that the cell migration mode of single cells depends on substrate adhesiveness, and that cell directionality controls cell condensation and the fusion of condensates. Inhibition experiments revealed that cell-cell interactions mediated by N-cadherin (also known as CDH2) are also pivotal for directional migration of cell condensates by maintaining cell-cell cohesion, thus suggesting a fine interplay between cell-matrix and cell-cell adhesions. Our results shed light on the role of cell interactions with a fibronectin-depositing matrix during chondrogenesis in vitro, with possible applications in regenerative medicine. This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.© 2022. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.

JTD Keywords: alpha-v-beta-3, arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, chondrogenesis, dynamics, expression, fibronectin, gastrulation, involvement, mechanisms, mesenchymal condensation, model, nanopatterned substrates, rgd, Arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, Cell migration, Chondrogenesis, Mesenchymal condensation, N-cadherin, Nanopatterned substrates, Rgd


Cañellas-Socias, A, Cortina, C, Hernando-Momblona, X, Palomo-Ponce, S, Mulholland, EJ, Turon, G, Mateo, L, Conti, S, Roman, O, Sevillano, M, Slebe, F, Stork, D, Caballé-Mestres, A, Berenguer-Llergo, A, Alvarez-Varela, A, Fenderico, N, Novellasdemunt, L, Jiménez-Gracia, L, Sipka, T, Bardia, L, Lorden, P, Colombelli, J, Heyn, H, Trepat, X, Tejpar, S, Sancho, E, Tauriello, DVF, Leedham, S, Attolini, CSO, Batlle, E, (2022). Metastatic recurrence in colorectal cancer arises from residual EMP1+ cells Nature 611, 603-613

Around 30-40% of patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) undergoing curative resection of the primary tumour will develop metastases in the subsequent years1. Therapies to prevent disease relapse remain an unmet medical need. Here we uncover the identity and features of the residual tumour cells responsible for CRC relapse. An analysis of single-cell transcriptomes of samples from patients with CRC revealed that the majority of genes associated with a poor prognosis are expressed by a unique tumour cell population that we named high-relapse cells (HRCs). We established a human-like mouse model of microsatellite-stable CRC that undergoes metastatic relapse after surgical resection of the primary tumour. Residual HRCs occult in mouse livers after primary CRC surgery gave rise to multiple cell types over time, including LGR5+ stem-like tumour cells2-4, and caused overt metastatic disease. Using Emp1 (encoding epithelial membrane protein 1) as a marker gene for HRCs, we tracked and selectively eliminated this cell population. Genetic ablation of EMP1high cells prevented metastatic recurrence and mice remained disease-free after surgery. We also found that HRC-rich micrometastases were infiltrated with T cells, yet became progressively immune-excluded during outgrowth. Treatment with neoadjuvant immunotherapy eliminated residual metastatic cells and prevented mice from relapsing after surgery. Together, our findings reveal the cell-state dynamics of residual disease in CRC and anticipate that therapies targeting HRCs may help to avoid metastatic relapse.© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

JTD Keywords: colonization, defines, human colon, mutations, plasticity, retrieval, stem-cells, subtypes, underlie, Animal, Animal cell, Animal experiment, Animal model, Animal tissue, Animals, Article, Cancer, Cancer growth, Cancer immunotherapy, Cancer inhibition, Cancer recurrence, Cancer staging, Cell, Cell adhesion, Cell migration, Cell population, Cell surface receptor, Cohort analysis, Colorectal cancer, Colorectal neoplasms, Colorectal tumor, Comprehensive molecular characterization, Controlled study, Crispr-cas9 system, Cytoskeleton, Disease exacerbation, Disease progression, Dynamics, Emp1 gene, Epithelial membrane protein-1, Extracellular matrix, Flow cytometry, Fluorescence intensity, Gene expression, Genetics, Human, Human cell, Humans, Immune response, Immunofluorescence, In situ hybridization, Marker gene, Metastasis potential, Mice, Minimal residual disease, Mouse, Neoplasm proteins, Neoplasm recurrence, local, Neoplasm, residual, Nonhuman, Pathology, Phenotype, Prevention and control, Protein, Receptors, cell surface, Single cell rna seq, Tumor, Tumor protein, Tumor recurrence


Altay, Gizem, Abad-Lazaro, Aina, Gualda, Emilio J, Folch, Jordi, Insa, Claudia, Tosi, Sebastien, Hernando-Momblona, Xavier, Batlle, Eduard, Loza-Alvarez, Pablo, Fernandez-Majada, Vanesa, Martinez, Elena, (2022). Modeling Biochemical Gradients In Vitro to Control Cell Compartmentalization in a Microengineered 3D Model of the Intestinal Epithelium Advanced Healthcare Materials 11, 2201172

Gradients of signaling pathways within the intestinal stem cell (ISC) niche are instrumental for cellular compartmentalization and tissue function, yet how are they sensed by the epithelium is still not fully understood. Here a new in vitro model of the small intestine based on primary epithelial cells (i), apically accessible (ii), with native tissue mechanical properties and controlled mesh size (iii), 3D villus-like architecture (iv), and precisely controlled biomolecular gradients of the ISC niche (v) is presented. Biochemical gradients are formed through hydrogel-based scaffolds by free diffusion from a source to a sink chamber. To confirm the establishment of spatiotemporally controlled gradients, light-sheet fluorescence microscopy and in-silico modeling are employed. The ISC niche biochemical gradients coming from the stroma and applied along the villus axis lead to the in vivo-like compartmentalization of the proliferative and differentiated cells, while changing the composition and concentration of the biochemical factors affects the cellular organization along the villus axis. This novel 3D in vitro intestinal model derived from organoids recapitulates both the villus-like architecture and the gradients of ISC biochemical factors, thus opening the possibility to study in vitro the nature of such gradients and the resulting cellular response.© 2022 The Authors. Advanced Healthcare Materials published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.

JTD Keywords: 3d architectures, biomolecular gradients, colon, crypt, engineering organoids, hydrogels, identification, in silico modeling, intestinal stem cell niches, light sheet fluorescence microscopy, niche, permeability, photolithography, regeneration, villus, wnt, 3d architectures, Biomolecular gradients, Engineering organoids, In silico modeling, Intestinal stem cell niches, Light sheet fluorescence microscopy, Photolithography, Stem-cell


Widhe, M, Diez-Escudero, A, Liu, YL, Ringstrom, N, Ginebra, MP, Persson, C, Hedhammar, M, Mestres, G, (2022). Functionalized silk promotes cell migration into calcium phosphate cements by providing macropores and cell adhesion motifs Ceramics International 48, 31449-31460

Calcium phosphate cements (CPCs) are attractive synthetic bone grafts as they possess osteoconductive and osteoinductive properties. Their biomimetic synthesis grants them an intrinsic nano-and microporosity that resembles natural bone and is paramount for biological processes such as protein adhesion, which can later enhance cell adhesion. However, a main limitation of CPCs is the lack of macroporosity, which is crucial to allow cell colonization throughout the scaffold. Moreover, CPCs lack specific motifs to guide cell interactions through their membrane proteins. In this study, we explore a strategy targeting simultaneously both macroporosity and cell binding motifs within CPCs by the use of recombinant silk. A silk protein functionalized with the cell binding motif RGD serves as foaming template of CPCs to achieve biomimetic hydroxyapatite (HA) scaffolds with multiscale porosity. The synergies of RGD-motifs in the silk macroporous template and the biomimetic features of HA are explored for their potential to enhance mesenchymal stem cell adhesion, proliferation, migration and differentiation. Macroporous Silk-HA scaffolds improve initial cell adhesion compared to a macroporous HA in the absence of silk, and importantly, the presence of silk greatly enhances cell migration into the scaffold. Additionally, cell proliferation and osteogenic differentiation are achieved in the scaffolds.

JTD Keywords: Bioceramics, Bone, Bone regeneration, Composites, Degradation, Fabrication, Hydroxyapatite, Hydroxyapatite scaffolds, Injectability, Porosity, Recombinant spider silk, Rgd motifs, Silk, Stem-cells


Mochi, F, Scatena, E, Rodriguez, D, Ginebra, MP, Del Gaudio, C, (2022). Scaffold-based bone tissue engineering in microgravity: potential, concerns and implications Npj Microgravity 8, 45

One of humanity's greatest challenges is space exploration, which requires an in-depth analysis of the data continuously collected as a necessary input to fill technological gaps and move forward in several research sectors. Focusing on space crew healthcare, a critical issue to be addressed is tissue regeneration in extreme conditions. In general, it represents one of the hottest and most compelling goals of the scientific community and the development of suitable therapeutic strategies for the space environment is an urgent need for the safe planning of future long-term manned space missions. Osteopenia is a commonly diagnosed disease in astronauts due to the physiological adaptation to altered gravity conditions. In order to find specific solutions to bone damage in a reduced gravity environment, bone tissue engineering is gaining a growing interest. With the aim to critically investigate this topic, the here presented review reports and discusses bone tissue engineering scenarios in microgravity, from scaffolding to bioreactors. The literature analysis allowed to underline several key points, such as the need for (i) biomimetic composite scaffolds to better mimic the natural microarchitecture of bone tissue, (ii) uniform simulated microgravity levels for standardized experimental protocols to expose biological materials to the same testing conditions, and (iii) improved access to real microgravity for scientific research projects, supported by the so-called democratization of space.© 2022. The Author(s).

JTD Keywords: biomaterials, collagen/hydroxyapatite, composite scaffolds, in-vitro, mineralization, proliferation, regenerative medicine, stem-cells, vivo, Hydroxyapatite scaffolds


Archontakis, E, Woythe, L, van Hoof, B, Albertazzi, L, (2022). Mapping the relationship between total and functional antibodies conjugated to nanoparticles with spectrally-resolved direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (SR-dSTORM) Nanoscale Advances 4, 4402-4409

Antibody-functionalized nanoparticles (NPs) have shown numerous benefits in drug delivery and biosensing, improving the specificity of cell targeting and analyte detection, respectively. However, one of the main challenges is the lack of control over antibody orientation on the NP surface. Popular and easy conjugation strategies, such as carbodiimide-based conjugations, lead to a random orientation of antibodies on the NPs, compromising ligand functionality and contributing to undesired biological effects and reduced target recognition. While new methods for more controlled NP functionalization have been proposed, there is a lack of techniques that can elucidate the orientation of the antibodies at the single-particle level to determine the conjugation outcome and, therefore, the NPs' potential in selective targeting. Here, spectrally-resolved direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (SR-dSTORM), an optical super-resolution technique, is introduced to quantify the relationship between total and functional NP conjugated cetuximab antibodies at the single-particle level. An evident single-particle heterogeneity in total and functional cetuximab is observed, leading to particles with different functional : total ratios. Additionally, the results indicate that the functional : total ratio of cetuximab highly depends on the conjugated cetuximab concentration. Overall, SR-dSTORM represents a direct approach for the NP structure-functionality relationship quantification, providing a platform to improve antibody-conjugated NPs characterization and facilitating their rational design.

JTD Keywords: Heterogeneity, Superresolution microscopy


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


Barbacena, P, Dominguez-Cejudo, M, Fonseca, CG, Gómez-González, M, Faure, LM, Zarkada, G, Pena, A, Pezzarossa, A, Ramalho, D, Giarratano, Y, Ouarné, M, Barata, D, Fortunato, IC, Misikova, LH, Mauldin, I, Carvalho, Y, Trepat, X, Roca-Cusachs, P, Eichmann, A, Bernabeu, MO, Franco, CA, (2022). Competition for endothelial cell polarity drives vascular morphogenesis in the mouse retina Developmental Cell 57, 2321-2333

Blood-vessel formation generates unique vascular patterns in each individual. The principles governing the apparent stochasticity of this process remain to be elucidated. Using mathematical methods, we find that the transition between two fundamental vascular morphogenetic programs-sprouting angiogenesis and vascular remodeling-is established by a shift of collective front-to-rear polarity of endothelial cells in the mouse retina. We demonstrate that the competition between biochemical (VEGFA) and mechanical (blood-flow-induced shear stress) cues controls this collective polarity shift. Shear stress increases tension at focal adhesions overriding VEGFA-driven collective polarization, which relies on tension at adherens junctions. We propose that vascular morphogenetic cues compete to regulate individual cell polarity and migration through tension shifts that translates into tissue-level emergent behaviors, ultimately leading to uniquely organized vascular patterns.Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: activation, angiogenesis, dynamics, flow, forces, image, mechanisms, vinculin, Angiogenesis, Cell polarity, Fluid shear, Mechanobiology, Morphogenesis, Shear stress


Hutson, TH, Hervera, A, (2022). Editorial: Biochemical and genetic tools to investigate the underlying mechanisms and treatment of sensorimotor pathologies Frontiers In Molecular Neuroscience 15, 1041458

Clark, AG, Maitra, A, Jacques, C, Bergert, M, Perez-Gonzalez, C, Simon, A, Lederer, L, Diz-Munoz, A, Trepat, X, Voituriez, R, Vignjevic, DM, (2022). Self-generated gradients steer collective migration on viscoelastic collagen networks Nature Materials 21, 1200-1210

Growing evidence suggests that the physical properties of the cellular microenvironment influence cell migration. However, it is not currently understood how active physical remodelling by cells affects migration dynamics. Here we report that cell clusters seeded on deformable collagen-I networks display persistent collective migration despite not showing any apparent intrinsic polarity. Clusters generate transient gradients in collagen density and alignment due to viscoelastic relaxation of the collagen networks. Combining theory and experiments, we show that crosslinking collagen networks or reducing cell cluster size results in reduced network deformation, shorter viscoelastic relaxation time and smaller gradients, leading to lower migration persistence. Traction force and Brillouin microscopy reveal asymmetries in force distributions and collagen stiffness during migration, providing evidence of mechanical cross-talk between cells and their substrate during migration. This physical model provides a mechanism for self-generated directional migration on viscoelastic substrates in the absence of internal biochemical polarity cues.; Cell clusters mechanically reorganize viscoelastic collagen networks, resulting in transient gradients in collagen density, alignment and stiffness that promote spontaneous persistent migration.

JTD Keywords: Cell-migration, Design, Invasion, Limits, Mechanics, Microscopy, Morphogenesis, Motility, Rear, Rigidity


Lopez-Canosa, A, Perez-Amodio, S, Engel, E, Castano, O, (2022). Microfluidic 3D Platform to Evaluate Endothelial Progenitor Cell Recruitment by Bioactive Materials Acta Biomaterialia 151, 264-277

Most of the conventional in vitro models to test biomaterial-driven vascularization are too simplistic to recapitulate the complex interactions taking place in the actual cell microenvironment, which results in a poor prediction of the in vivo performance of the material. However, during the last decade, cell culture models based on microfluidic technology have allowed attaining unprecedented levels of tissue biomimicry. In this work, we propose a microfluidic-based 3D model to evaluate the effect of bioactive biomaterials capable of releasing signalling cues (such as ions or proteins) in the recruitment of endogenous endothelial progenitor cells, a key step in the vascularization process. The usability of the platform is demonstrated using experimentally-validated finite element models and migration and proliferation studies with rat endothelial progenitor cells (rEPCs) and bone marrow-derived rat mesenchymal stromal cells (BM-rMSCs). As a proof of concept of biomaterial evaluation, the response of rEPCs to an electrospun composite made of polylactic acid with calcium phosphates nanoparticles (PLA+CaP) was compared in a co-culture microenvironment with BM-rMSC to a regular PLA control. Our results show a significantly higher rEPCs migration and the upregulation of several pro-inflammatory and proangiogenic proteins in the case of the PLA+CaP. The effects of osteopontin (OPN) on the rEPCs migratory response were also studied using this platform, suggesting its important role in mediating their recruitment to a calcium-rich microenvironment. This new tool could be applied to screen the capacity of a variety of bioactive scaffolds to induce vascularization and accelerate the preclinical testing of biomaterials. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: : For many years researchers have used neovascularization models to evaluate bioactive biomaterials both in vitro, with low predictive results due to their poor biomimicry and minimal control over cell cues such as spatiotemporal biomolecule signaling, and in vivo models, presenting drawbacks such as being highly costly, time-consuming, poor human extrapolation, and ethically controversial. We describe a compact microphysiological platform designed for the evaluation of proangiogenesis in biomaterials through the quantification of the level of sprouting in a mimicked endothelium able to react to gradients of biomaterial-released signals in a fibrin-based extracellular matrix. This model is a useful tool to perform preclinical trustworthy studies in tissue regeneration and to better understand the different elements involved in the complex process of vascularization.Copyright © 2022. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

JTD Keywords: angiogenesis, bioactive materials, bone regeneration, bone-formation, calcium-phosphate, extracellular calcium, in-vitro, interstitial flow, ion release, microfluidic model, signalling gradient, substitutes, tissue engineering, vascularization, vegf, Ion release, Mesenchymal stem-cells, Tissue engineering, Vascularization


Fernández-Garibay, X, Gómez-Florit, M, Domingues, RMA, Gomes, ME, Fernández-Costa, JM, Ramón-Azcón, J, (2022). Xeno-free bioengineered human skeletal muscle tissue using human platelet lysate-based hydrogels Biofabrication 14, 45015

Abstract Bioengineered human skeletal muscle tissues have emerged in the last years as new in vitro systems for disease modeling. These bioartificial muscles are classically fabricated by encapsulating human myogenic precursor cells in a hydrogel scaffold that resembles the extracellular matrix. However, most of these hydrogels are derived from xenogenic sources, and the culture media is supplemented with animal serum, which could interfere in drug testing assays. On the contrary, xeno-free biomaterials and culture conditions in tissue engineering offer increased relevance for developing human disease models. In this work, we used human platelet lysate-based nanocomposite hydrogels (HUgel) as scaffolds for human skeletal muscle tissue engineering. These hydrogels consist of human platelet lysate reinforced with cellulose nanocrystals (a-CNC) that allow tunable mechanical, structural, and biochemical properties for the 3D culture of stem cells. Here, we developed hydrogel casting platforms to encapsulate human muscle satellite stem cells in HUgel. The a-CNC content was modulated to enhance matrix remodeling, uniaxial tension, and self-organization of the cells, resulting in the formation of highly aligned, long myotubes expressing sarcomeric proteins. Moreover, the bioengineered human muscles were subjected to electrical stimulation, and the exerted contractile forces were measured in a non-invasive manner. Overall, our results demonstrated that the bioengineered human skeletal muscles could be built in xeno-free cell culture platforms to assess tissue functionality, which is promising for drug development applications.

JTD Keywords: 3d culture, generation, identification, image, manipulate, matrigel, mechanics, model, platelet lysate, scaffolds, skeletal muscle, tissue engineering, xeno-free, Platform, Skeletal muscle, Xeno-free


Oliver-Cervelló, L, Martin-Gómez, H, Mandakhbayar, N, Jo, YW, Cavalcanti-Adam, EA, Kim, HW, Ginebra, MP, Lee, JH, Mas-Moruno, C, (2022). Mimicking Bone Extracellular Matrix: From BMP-2-Derived Sequences to Osteogenic-Multifunctional Coatings Advanced Healthcare Materials 11, e2201339

Cell-material interactions are regulated by mimicking bone extracellular matrix on the surface of biomaterials. In this regard, reproducing the extracellular conditions that promote integrin and growth factor (GF) signaling is a major goal to trigger bone regeneration. Thus, the use of synthetic osteogenic domains derived from bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2) is gaining increasing attention, as this strategy is devoid of the clinical risks associated with this molecule. In this work, the wrist and knuckle epitopes of BMP-2 are screened to identify peptides with potential osteogenic properties. The most active sequences (the DWIVA motif and its cyclic version) are combined with the cell adhesive RGD peptide (linear and cyclic variants), to produce tailor-made biomimetic peptides presenting the bioactive cues in a chemically and geometrically defined manner. Such multifunctional peptides are next used to functionalize titanium surfaces. Biological characterization with mesenchymal stem cells demonstrates the ability of the biointerfaces to synergistically enhance cell adhesion and osteogenic differentiation. Furthermore, in vivo studies in rat calvarial defects prove the capacity of the biomimetic coatings to improve new bone formation and reduce fibrous tissue thickness. These results highlight the potential of mimicking integrin-GF signaling with synthetic peptides, without the need for exogenous GFs.© 2022 The Authors. Advanced Healthcare Materials published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.

JTD Keywords: adhesion formation, bmp-2, cell adhesions, in-vivo, integrin, mesenchymal stem-cells, morphogenetic protein-2, multifunctionality, osteoblastic differentiation, osteogenic differentiation, rgd-dwiva, rgd-peptides, titanium biofunctionalization, titanium surfaces, Biomimetic peptides, Cell adhesions, Marrow stromal cells, Multifunctionality, Osteogenic differentiation, Rgd-dwiva, Titanium biofunctionalization


De Lama-Odría, MD, Del Valle, LJ, Puiggalí, J, (2022). Hydroxyapatite Biobased Materials for Treatment and Diagnosis of Cancer International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 11352

Great advances in cancer treatment have been undertaken in the last years as a consequence of the development of new antitumoral drugs able to target cancer cells with decreasing side effects and a better understanding of the behavior of neoplastic cells during invasion and metastasis. Specifically, drug delivery systems (DDS) based on the use of hydroxyapatite nanoparticles (HAp NPs) are gaining attention and merit a comprehensive review focused on their potential applications. These are derived from the intrinsic properties of HAp (e.g., biocompatibility and biodegradability), together with the easy functionalization and easy control of porosity, crystallinity and morphology of HAp NPs. The capacity to tailor the properties of DLS based on HAp NPs has well-recognized advantages for the control of both drug loading and release. Furthermore, the functionalization of NPs allows a targeted uptake in tumoral cells while their rapid elimination by the reticuloendothelial system (RES) can be avoided. Advances in HAp NPs involve not only their use as drug nanocarriers but also their employment as nanosystems for magnetic hyperthermia therapy, gene delivery systems, adjuvants for cancer immunotherapy and nanoparticles for cell imaging.

JTD Keywords: antitumoral, cancer, cell imaging, controlled-release, drug-carrier, efficient drug-delivery, fatty-acid-metabolism, fe3o4 nanoparticles, gene delivery, hydroxyapatite, hyperthermia, immunotherapy, in-vitro, magnetic hydroxyapatite, nano-hydroxyapatite, protein adsorption, tumor-growth, Calcium-phosphate nanoparticles, Cancer, Immunotherapy


Sala-Jarque, J, Zimkowska, K, Avila, J, Ferrer, I, del Rio, JA, (2022). Towards a Mechanistic Model of Tau-Mediated Pathology in Tauopathies: What Can We Learn from Cell-Based In Vitro Assays? International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 11527

Tauopathies are a group of neurodegenerative diseases characterized by the hyperphosphorylation and deposition of tau proteins in the brain. In Alzheimer's disease, and other related tauopathies, the pattern of tau deposition follows a stereotypical progression between anatomically connected brain regions. Increasing evidence suggests that tau behaves in a "prion-like" manner, and that seeding and spreading of pathological tau drive progressive neurodegeneration. Although several advances have been made in recent years, the exact cellular and molecular mechanisms involved remain largely unknown. Since there are no effective therapies for any tauopathy, there is a growing need for reliable experimental models that would provide us with better knowledge and understanding of their etiology and identify novel molecular targets. In this review, we will summarize the development of cellular models for modeling tau pathology. We will discuss their different applications and contributions to our current understanding of the "prion-like" nature of pathological tau.

JTD Keywords: neurodegeneration, seeding, spreading, Culture model, Efficient generation, Extracellular tau, Familial alzheimers-disease, Microtubule-associated protein, Mouse model, Neurodegeneration, Neurofibrillary tangles, Paired helical filaments, Pathogenic tau, Pluripotent stem-cells, Seeding, Spreading, Tauopathies


Fernandez-Vazquez, J, Cabrer-Panes, JD, Aberg, A, Juarez, A, Madrid, C, Gaviria-Cantin, T, Fernandez-Coll, L, Vargas-Sinisterra, AF, Jimenez, CJ, Balsalobre, C, (2022). ppGpp, the General Stress Response Alarmone, Is Required for the Expression of the alpha-Hemolysin Toxin in the Uropathogenic Escherichia coli Isolate, J96 International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 12256

ppGpp is an intracellular sensor that, in response to different types of stress, coordinates the rearrangement of the gene expression pattern of bacteria to promote adaptation and survival to new environmental conditions. First described to modulate metabolic adaptive responses, ppGpp modulates the expression of genes belonging to very diverse functional categories. In Escherichia coli, ppGpp regulates the expression of cellular factors that are important during urinary tract infections. Here, we characterize the role of this alarmone in the regulation of the hlyCABD(II) operon of the UPEC isolate J96, encoding the toxin alpha-hemolysin that induces cytotoxicity during infection of bladder epithelial cells. ppGpp is required for the expression of the alpha-hemolysin encoded in hlyCABD(II) by stimulating its transcriptional expression. Prototrophy suppressor mutations in a ppGpp-deficient strain restore the alpha-hemolysin expression from this operon to wild-type levels, confirming the requirement of ppGpp for its expression. ppGpp stimulates hlyCABD(II) expression independently of RpoS, RfaH, Zur, and H-NS. The expression of hlyCABD(II) is promoted at 37 degrees C and at low osmolarity. ppGpp is required for the thermoregulation but not for the osmoregulation of the hlyCABD(II) operon. Studies in both commensal and UPEC isolates demonstrate that no UPEC specific factor is strictly required for the ppGpp-mediated regulation described. Our data further support the role of ppGpp participating in the coordinated regulation of the expression of bacterial factors required during infection.

JTD Keywords: gene regulation, ppgpp, upec, Alpha-hemolysin, Bacterial signal molecule, Determinants, Environmental-regulation, Gene regulation, H-ns, Ppgpp, Protein, Regulator, Rfah, Secretion, Transcription, Upec, Virulence, Α-hemolysin


Matera, C, Calvé, P, Casadó-Anguera, V, Sortino, R, Gomila, AMJ, Moreno, E, Gener, T, Delgado-Sallent, C, Nebot, P, Costazza, D, Conde-Berriozabal, S, Masana, M, Hernando, J, Casadó, V, Puig, MV, Gorostiza, P, (2022). Reversible Photocontrol of Dopaminergic Transmission in Wild-Type Animals International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 10114

Understanding the dopaminergic system is a priority in neurobiology and neuropharmacology. Dopamine receptors are involved in the modulation of fundamental physiological functions, and dysregulation of dopaminergic transmission is associated with major neurological disorders. However, the available tools to dissect the endogenous dopaminergic circuits have limited specificity, reversibility, resolution, or require genetic manipulation. Here, we introduce azodopa, a novel photoswitchable ligand that enables reversible spatiotemporal control of dopaminergic transmission. We demonstrate that azodopa activates D1-like receptors in vitro in a light-dependent manner. Moreover, it enables reversibly photocontrolling zebrafish motility on a timescale of seconds and allows separating the retinal component of dopaminergic neurotransmission. Azodopa increases the overall neural activity in the cortex of anesthetized mice and displays illumination-dependent activity in individual cells. Azodopa is the first photoswitchable dopamine agonist with demonstrated efficacy in wild-type animals and opens the way to remotely controlling dopaminergic neurotransmission for fundamental and therapeutic purposes.

JTD Keywords: azobenzene, behavior, brainwave, d-1, dopamine, gpcr, in vivo electrophysiology, inhibitors, optogenetics, optopharmacology, photochromism, photopharmacology, photoswitch, stimulation, zebrafish, Azobenzene, Receptors, Zebrafish


Safi, W, Marco, A, Moya, D, Prado, P, Garreta, E, Montserrat, N, (2022). Assessing kidney development and disease using kidney organoids and CRISPR engineering Frontiers In Cell And Developmental Biology 10, 948395

The differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) towards organoids is one of the biggest scientific advances in regenerative medicine. Kidney organoids have not only laid the groundwork for various organ-like tissue systems but also provided insights into kidney embryonic development. Thus, several protocols for the differentiation of renal progenitors or mature cell types have been established. Insights into the interplay of developmental pathways in nephrogenesis and determination of different cell fates have enabled the in vitro recapitulation of nephrogenesis. Here we first provide an overview of kidney morphogenesis and patterning in the mouse model in order to dissect signalling pathways that are key to define culture conditions sustaining renal differentiation from hPSCs. Secondly, we also highlight how genome editing approaches have provided insights on the specific role of different genes and molecular pathways during renal differentiation from hPSCs. Based on this knowledge we further review how CRISPR/Cas9 technology has enabled the recapitulation and correction of cellular phenotypes associated with human renal disease. Last, we also revise how the field has positively benefited from emerging technologies as single cell RNA sequencing and discuss current limitations on kidney organoid technology that will take advantage from bioengineering solutions to help standardizing the use of this model systems to study kidney development and disease.Copyright © 2022 Safi, Marco, Moya, Prado, Garreta and Montserrat.

JTD Keywords: crispr, directed differentiation, epithelial-cells, expression, kidney engineering, kidney organoids, model, mouse, nephrogenesis, nephron number, podocytes, progenitor, Crispr, Kidney engineering, Kidney organoids, Nephrogenesis, Pluripotent stem cells, Pluripotent stem-cells


Azagra, M, Pose, E, De Chiara, F, Perez, M, Avitabile, E, Servitja, JM, Brugnara, L, Ramon-Azcón, J, Marco-Rius, I, (2022). Ammonium quantification in human plasma by proton nuclear magnetic resonance for staging of liver fibrosis in alcohol-related liver disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease Nmr In Biomedicine 35, e4745

Liver fibrosis staging is a key element driving the prognosis of patients with chronic liver disease. Currently, biopsy is the only technique capable of diagnosing liver fibrosis in patients with alcohol-related liver disease (ArLD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) unequivocally. Non-invasive (e.g. plasma-based) biomarker assays are attractive tools to diagnose and stage disease, yet must prove that they are reliable and sensitive to be used clinically. Here we demonstrate 1 H nuclear magnetic resonance as a method to rapidly quantify the endogenous concentration of ammonium ions from human plasma extracts and show their ability to report upon early and advanced stages of ArLD and NAFLD. We show that, irrespective of the disease aetiology, ammonium concentration is a more robust and informative marker of fibrosis stage than current clinically assessed blood hepatic biomarkers. Subject to validation in larger cohorts, the study indicates that the method can provide accurate and rapid staging of ArLD and NAFLD without need for an invasive biopsy.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: ammonium quantification, blood biomarkers, chronic liver disease, disease biomarkers, hepatic dysfunction, nmr, pathogenesis, Ammonium quantification, Hepatic dysfunction, Hepatic-encephalopathy


Ordoño, J, Pérez-Amodio, S, Ball, K, Aguirre, A, Engel, E, (2022). The generation of a lactate-rich environment stimulates cell cycle progression and modulates gene expression on neonatal and hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes Biomaterials Advances 139, 213035

In situ tissue engineering strategies are a promising approach to activate the endogenous regenerative potential of the cardiac tissue helping the heart to heal itself after an injury. However, the current use of complex reprogramming vectors for the activation of reparative pathways challenges the easy translation of these therapies into the clinic. Here, we evaluated the response of mouse neonatal and human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes to the presence of exogenous lactate, thus mimicking the metabolic environment of the fetal heart. An increase in cardiomyocyte cell cycle activity was observed in the presence of lactate, as determined through Ki67 and Aurora-B kinase. Gene expression and RNA-sequencing data revealed that cardiomyocytes incubated with lactate showed upregulation of BMP10, LIN28 or TCIM in tandem with downregulation of GRIK1 or DGKK among others. Lactate also demonstrated a capability to modulate the production of inflammatory cytokines on cardiac fibroblasts, reducing the production of Fas, Fraktalkine or IL-12p40, while stimulating IL-13 and SDF1a. In addition, the generation of a lactate-rich environment improved ex vivo neonatal heart culture, by affecting the contractile activity and sarcomeric structures and inhibiting epicardial cell spreading. Our results also suggested a common link between the effect of lactate and the activation of hypoxia signaling pathways. These findings support a novel use of lactate in cardiac tissue engineering, modulating the metabolic environment of the heart and thus paving the way to the development of lactate-releasing platforms for in situ cardiac regeneration.Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: cardiac regeneration, cardiac tissue engineering, cell cycle, failure, growth, heart regeneration, induced pluripotent stem cells, ischemia, lactate, metabolic environment, metabolism, mouse, proliferation, repair, Bone morphogenetic protein-10, Cardiac tissue engineering, Cardiomyocytes, Cell cycle, Induced pluripotent stem cells, Lactate, Metabolic environment


Bernabeu, M, Aznar, S, Prieto, A, Huttener, M, Juarez, A, (2022). Differential Expression of Two Copies of the irmA Gene in the Enteroaggregative E. coli Strain 042 Microbiology Spectrum 10, e0045422

Gene duplications occur in prokaryotic genomes at a detectable frequency. In many instances, the biological function of the duplicates is unknown, and hence, the significance of the presence of multiple copies of these genes remains unclear.; Gene duplications significantly impact the gene repertoires of both eukaryotic and prokaryotic microorganisms. The genomes of pathogenic Escherichia coli strains share a group of duplicated genes whose function is mostly unknown. The irmA gene is one of the duplicates encoded in several pathogenic E. coli strains. The function of its gene product was investigated in the uropathogenic E. coli strain CFT073, which contains a single functional copy. The IrmA protein structure mimics that of human interleukin receptors and likely plays a role during infection. The enteroaggregative E. coli strain 042 contains two functional copies of the irmA gene. In the present work, we investigated their biological roles. The irmA_4509 allele is expressed under several growth conditions. Its expression is modulated by the global regulators OxyR and Hha, with optimal expression at 37 degrees C and under nutritional stress conditions. Expression of the irmA_2244 allele can only be detected when the irmA_4509 allele is knocked out. Differences in the promoter regions of both alleles account for their differential expression. Our results show that under several environmental conditions, the expression of the IrmA protein in strain 042 is dictated by the irmA_4509 allele. The irmA_2244 allele appears to play a backup role to ensure IrmA expression when the irmA_4509 allele loses its function. IMPORTANCE Gene duplications occur in prokaryotic genomes at a detectable frequency. In many instances, the biological function of the duplicates is unknown, and hence, the significance of the presence of multiple copies of these genes remains unclear. In pathogenic E. coli isolates, the irmA gene can be present either as a single copy or in two or more copies. We focused our work on studying why a different pathogenic E. coli strain encodes two functional copies of the irmA gene. We show that under several environmental conditions, one of the alleles dictates IrmA expression, and the second remains silent. The latter allele is only expressed when the former is silenced. The presence of more than one functional copy of the irmA gene in some pathogenic E. coli strains can result in sufficient expression of this virulence factor during the infection process.

JTD Keywords: 042, aec69, enteroaggregative e. coli, gene duplications, 042, Adaptation, Aec69, Aggregative adherence, Chromosomal genes, Coli, Duplication, Enteroaggregative e, Escherichia-coli, Evolution, Gene duplications, Hha/ymoa, Irma, Mechanism, Outer-membrane, Protein


Duch, P, Diaz-Valdivia, N, Ikemori, R, Gabasa, M, Radisky, ES, Arshakyan, M, Gea-Sorli, S, Mateu-Bosch, A, Bragado, P, Carrasco, JL, Mori, H, Ramirez, J, Teixido, C, Reguart, N, Fillat, C, Radisky, DC, Alcaraz, J, (2022). Aberrant TIMP-1 overexpression in tumor-associated fibroblasts drives tumor progression through CD63 in lung adenocarcinoma Matrix Biology 111, 207-225

Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) is an important regulator of extracellular matrix turnover that has been traditionally regarded as a potential tumor suppressor owing to its inhibitory effects of matrix metal-loproteinases. Intriguingly, this interpretation has been challenged by the consistent observation that increased expression of TIMP-1 is associated with poor prognosis in virtually all cancer types including lung cancer, supporting a tumor-promoting function. However, how TIMP-1 is dysregulated within the tumor micro-environment and how it drives tumor progression in lung cancer is poorly understood. We analyzed the expression of TIMP-1 and its cell surface receptor CD63 in two major lung cancer subtypes: lung adenocarci-noma (ADC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and defined the tumor-promoting effects of their interac-tion. We found that TIMP-1 is aberrantly overexpressed in tumor-associated fibroblasts (TAFs) in ADC compared to SCC. Mechanistically, TIMP-1 overexpression was mediated by the selective hyperactivity of the pro-fibrotic TGF-61/SMAD3 pathway in ADC-TAFs. Likewise, CD63 was upregulated in ADC compared to SCC cells. Genetic analyses revealed that TIMP-1 secreted by TGF-61-activated ADC-TAFs is both nec-essary and sufficient to enhance growth and invasion of ADC cancer cells in culture, and that tumor cell expression of CD63 was required for these effects. Consistently, in vivo analyses revealed that ADC cells co-injected with fibroblasts with reduced SMAD3 or TIMP-1 expression into immunocompromised mice attenu-ated tumor aggressiveness compared to tumors bearing parental fibroblasts. We also found that high TIMP1 and CD63 mRNA levels combined define a stronger prognostic biomarker than TIMP1 alone. Our results identify an excessive stromal TIMP-1 within the tumor microenvironment selectively in lung ADC, and implicate it in a novel tumor-promoting TAF-carcinoma crosstalk, thereby pointing to TIMP-1/CD63 interaction as a novel therapeutic target in lung cancer. (c) 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

JTD Keywords: cancer-associated fibroblast, cd63, fibrosis, smad3, tgf-β1, timp-1, Angiogenesis, Cancer cells, Cancer-associated fibroblast, Cd63, Expression, Fibrosis, Hepatocellular-carcinoma, Metalloproteinases, Nintedanib, Prognostic-significance, Protein, Smad3, Squamous-cell carcinoma, Tgf-? 1, Tgf-β1, Timp-1, Tissue inhibitor, Tumor microenvironment


Astro, V, Ramirez-Calderon, G, Pennucci, R, Caroli, J, Saera-Vila, A, Cardona-Londono, K, Forastieri, C, Fiacco, E, Maksoud, F, Alowaysi, M, Sogne, E, Falqui, A, Gonzalez, F, Montserrat, N, Battaglioli, E, Mattevi, A, Adamo, A, (2022). Fine-tuned KDM1A alternative splicing regulates human cardiomyogenesis through an enzymatic-independent mechanism Iscience 25, 104665

The histone demethylase KDM1A is a multi- faceted regulator of vital developmental processes, including mesodermal and cardiac tube formation during gastrulation. However, it is unknown whether the fine-tuning of KDM1A splicing isoforms, already shown to regulate neuronal maturation, is crucial for the specification and maintenance of cell identity during cardiogenesis. Here, we discovered a temporal modulation of ubKDM1A and KDM1A+2a during human and mice fetal cardiac development and evaluated their impact on the regulation of cardiac differentiation. We revealed a severely impaired cardiac differentiation in KDM1A(-/-) hESCs that can be rescued by re-expressing ubKDM1A or catalytically impaired ubKDM1A-K661A, but not by KDM1A+2a or KDM1A+2a-K661A. Conversely, KDM1A+2a(-/-) hESCs give rise to functional cardiac cells, displaying increased beating amplitude and frequency and enhanced expression of critical cardiogenic markers. Our findings prove the existence of a divergent scaffolding role of KDM1A splice variants, independent of their enzymatic activity, during hESC differentiation into cardiac cells.

JTD Keywords: cell biology, molecular mechanism of gene regulation, omics, Bhlh transcription factor, Corest, Differentiation, Dna, Embryonic stem-cells, Heart, Lsd1, Phosphorylation, Proteins, Stem cells research, Swirm domain


Mesquida-Veny, F, Martinez-Torres, S, Del Rio, JA, Hervera, A, (2022). Nociception-Dependent CCL21 Induces Dorsal Root Ganglia Axonal Growth via CCR7-ERK Activation Frontiers In Immunology 13, 880647

While chemokines were originally described for their ability to induce cell migration, many studies show how these proteins also take part in many other cell functions, acting as adaptable messengers in the communication between a diversity of cell types. In the nervous system, chemokines participate both in physiological and pathological processes, and while their expression is often described on glial and immune cells, growing evidence describes the expression of chemokines and their receptors in neurons, highlighting their potential in auto- and paracrine signalling. In this study we analysed the role of nociception in the neuronal chemokinome, and in turn their role in axonal growth. We found that stimulating TRPV1(+) nociceptors induces a transient increase in CCL21. Interestingly we also found that CCL21 enhances neurite growth of large diameter proprioceptors in vitro. Consistent with this, we show that proprioceptors express the CCL21 receptor CCR7, and a CCR7 neutralizing antibody dose-dependently attenuates CCL21-induced neurite outgrowth. Mechanistically, we found that CCL21 binds locally to its receptor CCR7 at the growth cone, activating the downstream MEK-ERK pathway, that in turn activates N-WASP, triggering actin filament ramification in the growth cone, resulting in increased axonal growth.

JTD Keywords: axonal growth, ccl21, ccr7, mek-erk, Actin dynamics, Axonal growth, Ccl21, Ccr7, Cell-migration, Central-nervous-system, Chemokine, Ligands, Mek-erk, Microglia, Neurons, Neuropathic pain, Nociception, Phosphorylation, Regeneration


Varea, O, Guinovart, JJ, Duran, J, (2022). Malin restoration as proof of concept for gene therapy for Lafora disease Brain Commun 4, fcac168

Abstract Lafora disease is a fatal neurodegenerative childhood dementia caused by loss-of-function mutations in either the laforin or malin gene. The hallmark of the disease is the accumulation of abnormal glycogen aggregates known as Lafora bodies (LBs) in the brain and other tissues. These aggregates are responsible for the pathological features of the disease. As a monogenic disorder, Lafora disease is a good candidate for gene therapy-based approaches. However, most patients are diagnosed after the appearance of the first symptoms and thus when LBs are already present in the brain. In this context, it was not clear whether the restoration of a normal copy of the defective gene (either laforin or malin) would prove effective. Here we evaluated the effect of restoring malin in a malin-deficient mouse model of Lafora disease as a proof of concept for gene replacement therapy. To this end, we generated a malin-deficient mouse in which malin expression can be induced at a certain time. Our results reveal that malin restoration at an advanced stage of the disease arrests the accumulation of LBs in brain and muscle, induces the degradation of laforin and glycogen synthase bound to the aggregates, and ameliorates neuroinflammation. These results identify malin restoration as the first therapeutic strategy to show effectiveness when applied at advanced stages of Lafora disease.

JTD Keywords: accumulation, gene therapy, glycogen, lafora disease, neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation, neurons, targets, Carbohydrate-binding domain, Glycogen, Neuroinflammation


Clua-Ferre, L, De Chiara, F, Rodriguez-Comas, J, Comelles, J, Martinez, E, Godeau, AL, Garcia-Alaman, A, Gasa, R, Ramon-Azcon, J, (2022). Collagen-Tannic Acid Spheroids for beta-Cell Encapsulation Fabricated Using a 3D Bioprinter Advanced Materials Technologies 7, 2101696

Type 1 Diabetes results from autoimmune response elicited against β-cell antigens. Nowadays, insulin injections remain the leading therapeutic option. However, injection treatment fails to emulate the highly dynamic insulin release that β-cells provide. 3D cell-laden microspheres have been proposed during the last years as a major platform for bioengineering insulin-secreting constructs for tissue graft implantation and a model for in vitro drug screening platforms. Current microsphere fabrication technologies have several drawbacks: the need for an oil phase containing surfactants, diameter inconsistency of the microspheres, and high time-consuming processes. These technologies have widely used alginate for its rapid gelation, high processability, and low cost. However, its low biocompatible properties do not provide effective cell attachment. This study proposes a high-throughput methodology using a 3D bioprinter that employs an ECM-like microenvironment for effective cell-laden microsphere production to overcome these limitations. Crosslinking the resulting microspheres with tannic acid prevents collagenase degradation and enhances spherical structural consistency while allowing the diffusion of nutrients and oxygen. The approach allows customization of microsphere diameter with extremely low variability. In conclusion, a novel bio-printing procedure is developed to fabricate large amounts of reproducible microspheres capable of secreting insulin in response to extracellular glucose stimuli.© 2022 The Authors. Advanced Materials Technologies published by Wiley‐VCH GmbH.

JTD Keywords: 3d bioprinter, beta-cell, biomaterial, collagen, encapsulation, mechanics, microspheres, survival, 3d bioprinter, ?-cell, Advanced material technologies, Biocompatibility, Cell encapsulations, Cells, Collagen, Cross-linking, Cytology, Drug delivery, Encapsulation, Fabrication, Flavonoids, Gelation, In-vitro, Insulin injections, Insulin release, Microspheres, Tannic acid, Tannins, Throughput, Tissue grafts, Type 1 diabetes, Β‐cell


Castagna, R, Kolarski, D, Durand-de Cuttoli, R, Maleeva, G, (2022). Orthogonal Control of Neuronal Circuits and Behavior Using Photopharmacology Journal Of Molecular Neuroscience 72, 1433-1442

Over the last decades, photopharmacology has gone far beyond its proof-of-concept stage to become a bona fide approach to study neural systems in vivo. Indeed, photopharmacological control has expanded over a wide range of endogenous targets, such as receptors, ion channels, transporters, kinases, lipids, and DNA transcription processes. In this review, we provide an overview of the recent progresses in the in vivo photopharmacological control of neuronal circuits and behavior. In particular, the use of small aquatic animals for the in vivo screening of photopharmacological compounds, the recent advances in optical modulation of complex behaviors in mice, and the development of adjacent techniques for light and drug delivery in vivo are described.

JTD Keywords: brain circuits, circadian rhythm, in vivo photomodulation, in vivo technology, neuronal receptors, Architecture, Azobenzene photoswitches, Brain circuits, Channels, Circadian rhythm, In vivo photomodulation, In vivo technology, Light, Modulator, Neuronal receptors, Optical control, Optogenetics, Pharmacology, Photopharmacology, Receptors, Systems


Chulia-Peris, L, Carreres-Rey, C, Gabasa, M, Alcaraz, J, Carretero, J, Pereda, J, (2022). Matrix Metalloproteinases and Their Inhibitors in Pulmonary Fibrosis: EMMPRIN/CD147 Comes into Play International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 6894

Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is characterized by aberrant extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition, activation of fibroblasts to myofibroblasts and parenchymal disorganization, which have an impact on the biomechanical traits of the lung. In this context, the balance between matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) is lost. Interestingly, several MMPs are overexpressed during PF and exhibit a clear profibrotic role (MMP-2, -3, -8, -11, -12 and -28), but a few are antifibrotic (MMP-19), have both profibrotic and antifibrotic capacity (MMP7), or execute an unclear (MMP-1, -9, -10, -13, -14) or unknown function. TIMPs are also overexpressed in PF; hence, the modulation and function of MMPs and TIMP are more complex than expected. EMMPRIN/CD147 (also known as basigin) is a transmembrane glycoprotein from the immunoglobulin superfamily (IgSF) that was first described to induce MMP activity in fibroblasts. It also interacts with other molecules to execute non-related MMP aactions well-described in cancer progression, migration, and invasion. Emerging evidence strongly suggests that CD147 plays a key role in PF not only by MMP induction but also by stimulating fibroblast myofibroblast transition. In this review, we study the structure and function of MMPs, TIMPs and CD147 in PF and their complex crosstalk between them.

JTD Keywords: basigin, cd147, emmprin, mmps, timps, Basigin, Cd147, Cell-surface, Emmprin, Extracellular-matrix, Gelatinase-b, Gene-expression profiles, Growth-factor-beta, Immunoglobulin superfamily, Induced lung injury, Inducer emmprin, Mmps, Pulmonary fibrosis, Timps, Tissue inhibitor, Transforming growth-factor-beta-1


Bohner, M, Maazouz, Y, Ginebra, MP, Habibovic, P, Schoenecker, JG, Seeherman, H, van den Beucken, JJJP, Witte, F, (2022). Sustained local ionic homeostatic imbalance caused by calcification modulates inflammation to trigger heterotopic ossification Acta Biomaterialia 145, 1-24

Heterotopic ossification (HO) is a condition triggered by an injury leading to the formation of mature lamellar bone in extraskeletal soft tissues. Despite being a frequent complication of orthopedic and trauma surgery, brain and spinal injury, the etiology of HO is poorly understood. The aim of this study is to evaluate the hypothesis that a sustained local ionic homeostatic imbalance (SLIHI) created by mineral formation during tissue calcification modulates inflammation to trigger HO. This evaluation also considers the role SLIHI could play for the design of cell-free, drug-free osteoinductive bone graft substitutes. The evaluation contains five main sections. The first section defines relevant concepts in the context of HO and provides a summary of proposed causes of HO. The second section starts with a detailed analysis of the occurrence and involvement of calcification in HO. It is followed by an explanation of the causes of calcification and its consequences. This allows to speculate on the potential chemical modulators of inflammation and triggers of HO. The end of this second section is devoted to in vitro mineralization tests used to predict the ectopic potential of materials. The third section reviews the biological cascade of events occurring during pathological and material-induced HO, and attempts to propose a quantitative timeline of HO formation. The fourth section looks at potential ways to control HO formation, either acting on SLIHI or on inflammation. Chemical, physical, and drug-based approaches are considered. Finally, the evaluation finishes with a critical assessment of the definition of osteoinduction.

JTD Keywords: apatite, beta-tricalcium phosphate, bone, bone graft, bone morphogenetic protein, demineralized bone-matrix, experimental myositis-ossificans, extracellular calcium, heterotopic ossification, in-vitro, inflammation, multinucleated giant-cells, osteoinduction, spinal-cord-injury, total hip-arthroplasty, traumatic brain-injury, Apatite, Calcium-sensing receptor, Osteoinduction


Raymond, Y, Lehmann, C, Thorel, E, Benitez, R, Riveiro, A, Pou, J, Manzanares, MC, Franch, J, Canal, C, Ginebra, MP, (2022). 3D printing with star-shaped strands: A new approach to enhance in vivo bone regeneration Biomaterials Advances 137, 212807

Concave surfaces have shown to promote bone regeneration in vivo. However, bone scaffolds obtained by direct ink writing, one of the most promising approaches for the fabrication of personalized bone grafts, consist mostly of convex surfaces, since they are obtained by microextrusion of cylindrical strands. By modifying the geometry of the nozzle, it is possible to print 3D structures composed of non-cylindrical strands and favor the presence of concave surfaces. In this work, we compare the in vivo performance of 3D-printed calcium phosphate scaffolds with either conventional cylindrical strands or star-shaped strands, in a rabbit femoral condyle model. Mono cortical defects, drilled in contralateral positions, are randomly grafted with the two scaffold configurations, with identical composition. The samples are explanted eight weeks post-surgery and assessed by ??-CT and resin embedded histological observations. The results reveal that the scaffolds containing star-shaped strands have better osteoconductive properties, guiding the newly formed bone faster towards the core of the scaffolds, and enhance bone regeneration, although the increase is not statistically significant (p > 0.05). This new approach represents a turning point towards the optimization of pore shape in 3D-printed bone grafts, further boosting the possibilities that direct ink writing technology offers for patient-specific applications.

JTD Keywords: 3d printing, biomimetic calcium phosphate, bone regeneration, in vivo, pore architecture, 3d printing, Architecture, Biomimetic calcium phosphate, Bone regeneration, Calcium-phosphate scaffolds, Geometry, Growth, Implants, In vivo, Induction, Microporosity, Osteoinduction, Pore architecture, Scaffold, Surfaces, Tissue


Mir, Monica, Palma-Florez, Sujey, Lagunas, Anna, Jose Lopez-Martinez, Maria, Samitier, Josep, (2022). Biosensors Integration in Blood-Brain Barrier-on-a-Chip: Emerging Platform for Monitoring Neurodegenerative Diseases Acs Sensors 7, 1237-1247

Over the most recent decades, the development of new biological platforms to study disease progression and drug efficacy has been of great interest due to the high increase in the rate of neurodegenerative diseases (NDDs). Therefore, blood-brain barrier (BBB) as an organ-on-a-chip (OoC) platform to mimic brain-barrier performance could offer a deeper understanding of NDDs as well as a very valuable tool for drug permeability testing for new treatments. A very attractive improvement of BBB-oC technology is the integration of detection systems to provide continuous monitoring of biomarkers in real time and a fully automated analysis of drug permeably, rendering more efficient platforms for commercialization. In this Perspective, an overview of the main BBB-oC configurations is introduced and a critical vision of the BBB-oC platforms integrating electronic read out systems is detailed, indicating the strengths and weaknesses of current devices, proposing the great potential for biosensors integration in BBB-oC. In this direction, we name potential biomarkers to monitor the evolution of NDDs related to the BBB and/or drug cytotoxicity using biosensor technology in BBB-oC.

JTD Keywords: biosensors, blood−brain barrier (bbb), neurodegenerative diseases (ndds), organ-on-a-chip (ooc), Bbb, Biosensors, Blood-brain barrier (bbb), Electrical-resistance, Electrochemical biosensors, Endothelial-cells, In-vitro model, Matrix metalloproteinases, Mechanisms, Neurodegenerative diseases (ndds), Organ-on-a-chip (ooc), Permeability, Stress, Transendothelial electrical resistance (teer), Transepithelial, Transepithelial/transendothelial electrical resistance (teer), Transport


Rätze, MAK, Koorman, T, Sijnesael, T, Bassey-Archibong, B, van de Ven, R, Enserink, L, Visser, D, Jaksani, S, Viciano, I, Bakker, ERM, Richard, F, Tutt, A, O'Leary, L, Fitzpatrick, A, Roca-Cusachs, P, van Diest, PJ, Desmedt, C, Daniel, JM, Isacke, CM, Derksen, PWB, (2022). Loss of E-cadherin leads to Id2-dependent inhibition of cell cycle progression in metastatic lobular breast cancer Oncogene 41, 2932-2944

Invasive lobular breast carcinoma (ILC) is characterized by proliferative indolence and long-term latency relapses. This study aimed to identify how disseminating ILC cells control the balance between quiescence and cell cycle re-entry. In the absence of anchorage, ILC cells undergo a sustained cell cycle arrest in G0/G1 while maintaining viability. From the genes that are upregulated in anchorage independent ILC cells, we selected Inhibitor of DNA binding 2 (Id2), a mediator of cell cycle progression. Using loss-of-function experiments, we demonstrate that Id2 is essential for anchorage independent survival (anoikis resistance) in vitro and lung colonization in mice. Importantly, we find that under anchorage independent conditions, E-cadherin loss promotes expression of Id2 in multiple mouse and (organotypic) human models of ILC, an event that is caused by a direct p120-catenin/Kaiso-dependent transcriptional de-repression of the canonical Kaiso binding sequence TCCTGCNA. Conversely, stable inducible restoration of E-cadherin expression in the ILC cell line SUM44PE inhibits Id2 expression and anoikis resistance. We show evidence that Id2 accumulates in the cytosol, where it induces a sustained and CDK4/6-dependent G0/G1 cell cycle arrest through interaction with hypo-phosphorylated Rb. Finally, we find that Id2 is indeed enriched in ILC when compared to other breast cancers, and confirm cytosolic Id2 protein expression in primary ILC samples. In sum, we have linked mutational inactivation of E-cadherin to direct inhibition of cell cycle progression. Our work indicates that loss of E-cadherin and subsequent expression of Id2 drive indolence and dissemination of ILC. As such, E-cadherin and Id2 are promising candidates to stratify low and intermediate grade invasive breast cancers for the use of clinical cell cycle intervention drugs.

JTD Keywords: anoikis resistance, carcinoma, d1, differentiation, gene-expression, growth, id2, proliferation, repression, Mammary epithelial-cells


Noguchi, H, Tozzi, C, Arroyo, M, (2022). Binding of anisotropic curvature-inducing proteins onto membrane tubes Soft Matter 18, 3384-3394

We studied how anisotropic proteins are orientationally ordered and change the radius of membrane tubes using mean-field theory with an orientation-dependent excluded volume interaction.

JTD Keywords: bar, density, driven, generation, inclusions, invagination, mechanisms, monte-carlo, tubulation, Mediated aggregation


Almici, Enrico, Chiappini, Vanessa, Lopez-Marquez, Aristides, Badosa, Carmen, Blazquez, Blanca, Caballero, David, Montero, Joan, Natera-de Benito, Daniel, Nascimento, Andres, Roldan, Monica, Lagunas, Anna, Jimenez-Mallebrera, Cecilia, Samitier, Josep, (2022). Personalized in vitro Extracellular Matrix Models of Collagen VI-Related Muscular Dystrophies Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 10, 851825

Collagen VI-related dystrophies (COL6-RDs) are a group of rare congenital neuromuscular dystrophies that represent a continuum of overlapping clinical phenotypes that go from the milder Bethlem myopathy (BM) to the severe Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy, for which there is no effective treatment. Mutations in one of the three Collagen VI genes alter the incorporation of this protein into the extracellular matrix (ECM), affecting the assembly and the structural integrity of the whole fibrillar network. Clinical hallmarks of COL6-RDs are secondary to the ECM disruption and include muscle weakness, proximal joint contractures, and distal hyperlaxity. Although some traits have been identified in patients’ ECMs, a correlation between the ECM features and the clinical phenotype has not been established, mainly due to the lack of predictive and reliable models of the pathology. Herein, we engineered a new personalized pre-clinical model of COL6-RDs using cell-derived matrices (CDMs) technology to better recapitulate the complexity of the native scenario. We found that CDMs from COL6-RD patients presented alterations in ECM structure and composition, showing a significantly decreased Collagen VI secretion, especially in the more severe phenotypes, and a decrease in Fibrillin-1 inclusion. Next, we examined the Collagen VI-mediated deposition of Fibronectin in the ECM, finding a higher alignment, length, width, and straightness than in patients with COL6-RDs. Overall, these results indicate that CDMs models are promising tools to explore the alterations that arise in the composition and fibrillar architecture due to mutations in Collagen VI genes, especially in early stages of matrix organization. Ultimately, CDMs derived from COL6-RD patients may become relevant pre-clinical models, which may help identifying novel biomarkers to be employed in the clinics and to investigate novel therapeutic targets and treatments. Copyright © 2022 Almici, Chiappini, López-Márquez, Badosa, Blázquez, Caballero, Montero, Natera-de Benito, Nascimento, Roldán, Lagunas, Jiménez-Mallebrera and Samitier.

JTD Keywords: alpha-3 chain, binding, collagen vi related muscular dystrophy, decellularisation, decellularized matrices, deficiency, expression, extracellular matrix, fibroblasts, fibronectin, in vitro model, patient-derived ecms, skeletal-muscle, ullrich, Cell-derived matrices, Collagen, Collagen vi related muscular dystrophy, Decellularisation, Decellularization, Extracellular matrices, Extracellular matrix, Genes, In vitro model, In-vitro, In-vitro models, Matrix, Matrix model, Muscular dystrophy, Pathology, Patient-derived ecm, Patient-derived ecms, Pre-clinical


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-+

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


Sans, J, Arnau, M, Sanz, V, Turon, P, Alemán, C, (2022). Hydroxyapatite-based biphasic catalysts with plasticity properties and its potential in carbon dioxide fixation Chemical Engineering Journal 433, 133512

The design of catalysts with controlled selectivity at will, also known as catalytic plasticity, is a very attractive approach for the recycling of carbon dioxide (CO2). In this work, we study how catalytically active hydroxyapatite (HAp) and brushite (Bru) interact synergistically, allowing the production of formic acid or acetic acid depending on the HAp/Bru ratio in the catalyst. Raman, wide angle X-ray scattering, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy studies, combined with an exhaustive revision of the crystalline structure of the catalyst at the atomic level, allowed to discern how the Bru phase can be generated and stabilized at high temperatures. Results clearly indicate that the presence of OH– groups to maintain the crystalline structural integrity in conjunction with Ca2+ ions less bonded to the lattice fixate carbon into C1, C2 and C3 molecules from CO2 and allow the evolution from formic to acetic acid and acetone. In this way, the plasticity of the HAp-Bru system is demonstrated, representing a promising green alternative to the conventional metal-based electrocatalysts used for CO2 fixation. Thus, the fact that no electric voltage is necessary for the CO2 reduction has a very favorable impact in the final energetic net balance of the carbon fixation reaction. © 2021

JTD Keywords:

ethanol production & nbsp, brushite, co2 reduction, conversion, electrocatalytic reduction, electrode, formate, heterogeneous catalysis & nbsp, hydrogen evolution, insights, monetite, polarized hydroxyapatite,

, Acetic acid, Acetone, Biphasic catalyst, Brushite, Calcium phosphate, Carbon dioxide, Carbon dioxide fixation, Catalysis, Catalyst selectivity, Co 2 reduction, Co2 reduction, Electrocatalysts, Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, Electrochemical reduction, Electrochemical-impedance spectroscopies, Ethanol production, Formic acid, Heterogeneous catalysis, Hydroxyapatite, Ph, Polarized hydroxyapatite, Property, Reduction, Scanning electron microscopy, Temperature programmed desorption, Wide angle x-ray scattering, X ray photoelectron spectroscopy, X ray scattering, ]+ catalyst


Marte, L, Boronat, S, Barrios, R, Barcons-Simon, A, Bolognesi, B, Cabrera, M, Ayté, J, Hidalgo, E, (2022). Expression of Huntingtin and TDP-43 Derivatives in Fission Yeast Can Cause Both Beneficial and Toxic Effects International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 3950

Many neurodegenerative disorders display protein aggregation as a hallmark, Huntingtin and TDP-43 aggregates being characteristic of Huntington disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, respectively. However, whether these aggregates cause the diseases, are secondary by-products, or even have protective effects, is a matter of debate. Mutations in both human proteins can modulate the structure, number and type of aggregates, as well as their toxicity. To study the role of protein aggregates in cellular fitness, we have expressed in a highly tractable unicellular model different variants of Huntingtin and TDP-43. They each display specific patterns of aggregation and toxicity, even though in both cases proteins have to be very highly expressed to affect cell fitness. The aggregation properties of Huntingtin, but not of TDP-43, are affected by chaperones such as Hsp104 and the Hsp40 couple Mas5, suggesting that the TDP-43, but not Huntingtin, derivatives have intrinsic aggregation propensity. Importantly, expression of the aggregating form of Huntingtin causes a significant extension of fission yeast lifespan, probably as a consequence of kidnapping chaperones required for maintaining stress responses off. Our study demonstrates that in general these prion-like proteins do not cause toxicity under normal conditions, and in fact they can protect cells through indirect mechanisms which up-regulate cellular defense pathways. © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

JTD Keywords: aggregation, antioxidant, degradation, features, fission yeast, gene, huntingtin, neurodegenerative diseases, pap1, polyglutamine toxicity, protein aggregation, proteins, stress, tdp-43, Amyotrophic-lateral-sclerosis, Chaperone, Chemistry, Dna binding protein, Dna-binding proteins, Fission yeast, Genetics, Human, Humans, Huntingtin, Metabolism, Molecular chaperones, Neurodegenerative diseases, Prion, Prions, Protein aggregate, Protein aggregates, Protein aggregation, Schizosaccharomyces, Tdp-43


Soriente, A, Amodio, SP, Fasolino, I, Raucci, MG, Demitri, C, Engel, E, Ambrosio, L, (2022). ANTI-INFLAMMATORY, PRO-ANGIOGENIC AND OSTEOGENIC PROPERTIES OF CS SCAFFOLD FOR BONE FRACTURE TREATMENT (Abstract 899) Tissue Engineering Part a 28, S253-S253

Several studies are aimed at developing systems based on naturaland biocompatible polymers for bone tissue engineering. Here, weemphasized how the bio-activation of chitosan (CS)-based scaffoldsby organic and inorganic signals is able to promote osteogenesis,angiogenesis and to modulate the inflammation response by usingin vitro models to mimic bone fracture microenvironment. CSscaffolds by using two different approaches based on inorganic andorganic compounds, were bio-activated respectively1. The expres-sion of inflammatory mediators was investigated (TGF-band IL-6).Additionally, to assess the effect of CS scaffold on angiogenesis,CD31 expression, cell adhesion, proliferation, migration and tubeformation by HUVECs were detected. The results highlighted thatinorganic and organic signals promote cell proliferation and differ-entiation without significant differences between the material groups.In particular, scaffolds bio-activated by using inorganic signals(hydroxyapatite nanoparticles) inhibit pro-inflammatory mediator’sproduction (IL-1band IL-6), induce anti-inflammatory cytokinegeneration (IL-10) and reduce nitric monoxide metabolites (nitrites).Conversely, scaffolds bio-activated by using organic signals (BMP-2mimicking peptide) were able to decrease pro-inflammatory markerswithout any effect on anti-inflammatory cytokines levels and on ni-trites. Furthermore, scaffolds promote angiogenesis by increasingcell proliferation, migration and tube formation with best resultsobtained for BMP based-scaffolds. Our results support the conceptthat CS biomaterials may be novel multi-target devices to treat bonerelated inflammation stimulating neo-vascularization of tissue-en-gineered constructs.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The study was supported by OPENLAB. The authors thank Mariarosaria Bonetti for lab technicalsupport & data elaboration and Dr. Roberta Marzella for support toproject management.

JTD Keywords: Angiogenesis, Chitosan/pegda based scaffolds, Osteogenesis


Woythe, L, Madhikar, P, Feiner-Gracia, N, Storm, C, Albertazzi, L, (2022). A Single-Molecule View at Nanoparticle Targeting Selectivity: Correlating Ligand Functionality and Cell Receptor Density Acs Nano 16, 3785-3796

Antibody-functionalized nanoparticles (NPs) are commonly used to increase the targeting selectivity toward cells of interest. At a molecular level, the number of functional antibodies on the NP surface and the density of receptors on the target cell determine the targeting interaction. To rationally develop selective NPs, the single-molecule quantitation of both parameters is highly desirable. However, techniques able to count molecules with a nanometric resolution are scarce. Here, we developed a labeling approach to quantify the number of functional cetuximabs conjugated to NPs and the expression of epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFRs) in breast cancer cells using direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM). The single-molecule resolution of dSTORM allows quantifying molecules at the nanoscale, giving a detailed insight into the distributions of individual NP ligands and cell receptors. Additionally, we predicted the fraction of accessible antibody-conjugated NPs using a geometrical model, showing that the total number exceeds the accessible number of antibodies. Finally, we correlated the NP functionality, cell receptor density, and NP uptake to identify the highest cell uptake selectivity regimes. We conclude that single-molecule functionality mapping using dSTORM provides a molecular understanding of NP targeting, aiding the rational design of selective nanomedicines.

JTD Keywords: active targeting, active targeting dstorm, antibodies, dstorm, heterogeneity, multivalency, nanomedicine, nanoparticle functionality, size, super-resolution microscopy, surface, Active targeting, Antibodies, Cell membranes, Cell receptors, Cytology, Direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy, Dstorm, Heterogeneity, Ligands, Medical nanotechnology, Molecules, Nanomedicine, Nanoparticle functionality, Nanoparticle targeting, Nanoparticles, Optical reconstruction, Single molecule, Stochastic systems, Stochastics, Super-resolution microscopy, Superresolution microscopy


Bonilla-Pons, SA, Nakagawa, S, Bahima, EG, Fernández-Blanco, A, 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


Aydin, O, Passaro, AP, Raman, R, Spellicy, SE, Weinberg, RP, Kamm, RD, Sample, M, Truskey, GA, Zartman, J, Dar, RD, Palacios, S, Wang, J, Tordoff, J, Montserrat, N, Bashir, R, Saif, MTA, Weiss, R, (2022). Principles for the design of multicellular engineered living systems Apl Bioengineering 6, 10903

Remarkable progress in bioengineering over the past two decades has enabled the formulation of fundamental design principles for a variety of medical and non-medical applications. These advancements have laid the foundation for building multicellular engineered living systems (M-CELS) from biological parts, forming functional modules integrated into living machines. These cognizant design principles for living systems encompass novel genetic circuit manipulation, self-assembly, cell–cell/matrix communication, and artificial tissues/organs enabled through systems biology, bioinformatics, computational biology, genetic engineering, and microfluidics. Here, we introduce design principles and a blueprint for forward production of robust and standardized M-CELS, which may undergo variable reiterations through the classic design-build-test-debug cycle. This Review provides practical and theoretical frameworks to forward-design, control, and optimize novel M-CELS. Potential applications include biopharmaceuticals, bioreactor factories, biofuels, environmental bioremediation, cellular computing, biohybrid digital technology, and experimental investigations into mechanisms of multicellular organisms normally hidden inside the “black box” of living cells.

JTD Keywords: cell-fate specification, endothelial-cells, escherichia-coli, extracellular-matrix, gene-expression noise, nuclear hormone-receptors, pluripotent stem-cells, primitive endoderm, transcription factors, Artificial tissues, Assembly cells, Biological parts, Biological systems, Bioremediation, Blood-brain-barrier, Cell engineering, Cell/matrix communication, Design principles, Environmental technology, Functional modules, Fundamental design, Genetic circuits, Genetic engineering, Living machines, Living systems, Medical applications, Molecular biology, Synthetic biology


Gouveia, VM, Rizzello, L, Vidal, B, Nunes, C, Poma, A, Lopez-Vasquez, C, Scarpa, E, Brandner, S, Oliveira, A, Fonseca, JE, Reis, S, Battaglia, G, (2022). Targeting Macrophages and Synoviocytes Intracellular Milieu to Augment Anti-Inflammatory Drug Potency Advanced Therapeutics 5, 2100167

Hüttener, M, Hergueta, J, Bernabeu, M, Prieto, A, Aznar, S, Merino, S, Tomás, J, Juárez, A, (2022). Roles of Proteins Containing Immunoglobulin-Like Domains in the Conjugation of Bacterial Plasmids Msphere 7, e00978-21

Transmission of a plasmid from one bacterial cell to another, in several instances, underlies the dissemination of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes. The process requires well-characterized enzymatic machinery that facilitates cell-to-cell contact and the transfer of the plasmid.

JTD Keywords: antimicrobial resistance, bacterial ig-like proteins, bacterial lg-like proteins, chromosomal genes, identification, inca/c, mutational analysis, plasmid conjugation, products, r-factors, resistance plasmids, salmonella-enterica, sequence, Antimicrobial resistance, Bacterial ig-like proteins, Escherichia-coli, Plasmid conjugation


Raymond, Y, Johansson, L, Thorel, E, Ginebra, MP, (2022). Translation of three-dimensional printing of ceramics in bone tissue engineering and drug delivery Mrs Bulletin 47, 59-69

Garreta, E, Nauryzgaliyeva, Z, Marco, A, Safi, W, Montserrat, N, (2022). Dissecting nephron morphogenesis using kidney organoids from human pluripotent stem cells Current Opinion In Genetics & Development 72, 22-29

During kidney development the emergence of complex multicellular shapes such as the nephron (the functional unit of the kidney) rely on spatiotemporally coordinated developmental programs. These involve gene regulatory networks, signaling pathways and mechanical forces, that work in concert to shape and form the nephron(s). The generation of kidney organoids from human pluripotent stem cells now represent an unprecedented experimental set up to study these processes. Here we discuss the potential applications of kidney organoids to advance our knowledge of how mechanical forces and cell fate specification spatiotemporally interact to orchestrate nephron patterning and morphogenesis in humans. Progress in innovative techniques for quantifying and perturbing these processes in a controlled manner will be crucial. A mechanistic understanding of the multicellular dynamic processes occurring during nephrogenesis will pave the way to unveil new mechanisms of human kidney disease. © 2021

JTD Keywords: differentiation, dynamics, induction, lumen formation, models, mouse, organogenesis, reveals, tubules, Divergent features


Pellegrini, P, Hervera, A, Varea, O, Brewer, MK, López-Soldado, I, Guitart, A, Aguilera, M, Prats, N, del Río, JA, Guinovart, JJ, Duran, J, (2022). Lack of p62 Impairs Glycogen Aggregation and Exacerbates Pathology in a Mouse Model of Myoclonic Epilepsy of Lafora Molecular Neurobiology 59, 1214-1229

Lafora disease (LD) is a fatal childhood-onset dementia characterized by the extensive accumulation of glycogen aggregates—the so-called Lafora Bodies (LBs)—in several organs. The accumulation of LBs in the brain underlies the neurological phenotype of the disease. LBs are composed of abnormal glycogen and various associated proteins, including p62, an autophagy adaptor that participates in the aggregation and clearance of misfolded proteins. To study the role of p62 in the formation of LBs and its participation in the pathology of LD, we generated a mouse model of the disease (malinKO) lacking p62. Deletion of p62 prevented LB accumulation in skeletal muscle and cardiac tissue. In the brain, the absence of p62 altered LB morphology and increased susceptibility to epilepsy. These results demonstrate that p62 participates in the formation of LBs and suggest that the sequestration of abnormal glycogen into LBs is a protective mechanism through which it reduces the deleterious consequences of its accumulation in the brain. © 2021, The Author(s).

JTD Keywords: accumulation, astrocytes, autophagy receptors, contributes, deficient mice, epilepsy, glycogen, lafora bodies, lafora disease, malin, metabolism, neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation, p62, polyglucosan bodies, temporal-lobe epilepsy, Epilepsy, Glycogen, Inclusion-body formation, Lafora bodies, Lafora disease, Malin, Neuroinflammation, P62


Matamoros-Angles, A, Hervera, A, Soriano, J, Marti, E, Carulla, P, Llorens, F, Nuvolone, M, Aguzzi, A, Ferrer, I, Gruart, A, Delgado-Garcia, JM, Del Rio, JA, (2022). Analysis of co-isogenic prion protein deficient mice reveals behavioral deficits, learning impairment, and enhanced hippocampal excitability Bmc Biology 20, 17

Background Cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) is a cell surface GPI-anchored protein, usually known for its role in the pathogenesis of human and animal prionopathies. However, increasing knowledge about the participation of PrP(C) in prion pathogenesis contrasts with puzzling data regarding its natural physiological role. PrP(C) is expressed in a number of tissues, including at high levels in the nervous system, especially in neurons and glial cells, and while previous studies have established a neuroprotective role, conflicting evidence for a synaptic function has revealed both reduced and enhanced long-term potentiation, and variable observations on memory, learning, and behavior. Such evidence has been confounded by the absence of an appropriate knock-out mouse model to dissect the biological relevance of PrP(C), with some functions recently shown to be misattributed to PrP(C) due to the presence of genetic artifacts in mouse models. Here we elucidate the role of PrP(C) in the hippocampal circuitry and its related functions, such as learning and memory, using a recently available strictly co-isogenic Prnp(0/0) mouse model (Prnp(ZH3/ZH3)). Results We performed behavioral and operant conditioning tests to evaluate memory and learning capabilities, with results showing decreased motility, impaired operant conditioning learning, and anxiety-related behavior in Prnp(ZH3/ZH3) animals. We also carried in vivo electrophysiological recordings on CA3-CA1 synapses in living behaving mice and monitored spontaneous neuronal firing and network formation in primary neuronal cultures of Prnp(ZH3/ZH3) vs wildtype mice. PrP(C) absence enhanced susceptibility to high-intensity stimulations and kainate-induced seizures. However, long-term potentiation (LTP) was not enhanced in the Prnp(ZH3/ZH3) hippocampus. In addition, we observed a delay in neuronal maturation and network formation in Prnp(ZH3/ZH3) cultures. Conclusion Our results demonstrate that PrP(C) promotes neuronal network formation and connectivity. PrP(C) mediates synaptic function and protects the synapse from excitotoxic insults. Its deletion may underlie an epileptogenic-susceptible brain that fails to perform highly cognitive-demanding tasks such as associative learning and anxiety-like behaviors.

JTD Keywords: anxiety, behavior, cellular prion protein, epilepsy, hippocampus, Anxiety, Behavior, Cellular prion protein, Developmental expression, Epilepsy, Gene-expression, Hippocampus, Kainate-induced seizures, Lacking, Ltp, Memory, Messenger-rna, Motor behavior, Mouse, Prp


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, e74623

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


Andrés-Benito, P, Carmona, M, Jordán, M, Fernández-Irigoyen, J, Santamaría, E, del Rio, JA, Ferrer, I, (2022). Host Tau Genotype Specifically Designs and Regulates Tau Seeding and Spreading and Host Tau Transformation Following Intrahippocampal Injection of Identical Tau AD Inoculum International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 718

Several studies have demonstrated the different characteristics of tau seeding and spreading following intracerebral inoculation in murine models of tau-enriched fractions of brain homogenates from AD and other tauopathies. The present study is centered on the importance of host tau in tau seeding and the molecular changes associated with the transformation of host tau into abnormal tau. The brains of three adult murine genotypes expressing different forms of tau—WT (murine 4Rtau), hTau (homozygous transgenic mice knock-out for murine tau protein and heterozygous expressing human forms of 3Rtau and 4Rtau proteins), and mtWT (homozygous transgenic mice knock-out for murine tau protein)—were analyzed following unilateral hippocampal inoculation of sarkosyl-insoluble tau fractions from the same AD and control cases. The present study reveals that (a) host tau is mandatory for tau seeding and spreading following tau inoculation from sarkosyl-insoluble fractions obtained from AD brains; (b) tau seeding does not occur following intracerebral inoculation of sarkosyl-insoluble fractions from controls; (c) tau seeding and spreading are characterized by variable genotype-dependent tau phosphorylation and tau nitration, MAP2 phosphorylation, and variable activation of kinases that co-localize with abnormal tau deposits; (d) transformation of host tau into abnormal tau is an active process associated with the activation of specific kinases; (e) tau seeding is accompanied by modifications in tau splicing, resulting in the expression of new 3Rtau and 4Rtau isoforms, thus indicating that inoculated tau seeds have the capacity to model exon 10 splicing of the host mapt or MAPT with a genotype-dependent pattern; (e) selective regional and cellular vulnerabilities, and different molecular compositions of the deposits, are dependent on the host tau of mice injected with identical AD tau inocula.

JTD Keywords: 3rtau and 4rtau, alzheimer's disease, alzheimer’s disease, brains, granulovacuolar degeneration, host tau, htau, intranuclear distribution, messenger-rna, pathological tau, propagation, protein-kinases, seeding and spreading, tauopathies, transmission, 3rtau and 4rtau, Alzheimers-disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Host tau, Htau, Seeding and spreading, Tauopathies


Guallar-Garrido, S, Almiñana-Rapún, F, Campo-Pérez, V, Torrents, E, Luquin, M, Julián, E, (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


Ballester, BR, Antenucci, F, Maier, M, Coolen, ACC, Verschure, PFMJ, (2021). Estimating upper-extremity function from kinematics in stroke patients following goal-oriented computer-based training Journal Of Neuroengineering And Rehabilitation 18, 186

Introduction: After a stroke, a wide range of deficits can occur with varying onset latencies. As a result, assessing impairment and recovery are enormous challenges in neurorehabilitation. Although several clinical scales are generally accepted, they are time-consuming, show high inter-rater variability, have low ecological validity, and are vulnerable to biases introduced by compensatory movements and action modifications. Alternative methods need to be developed for efficient and objective assessment. In this study, we explore the potential of computer-based body tracking systems and classification tools to estimate the motor impairment of the more affected arm in stroke patients. Methods: We present a method for estimating clinical scores from movement parameters that are extracted from kinematic data recorded during unsupervised computer-based rehabilitation sessions. We identify a number of kinematic descriptors that characterise the patients' hemiparesis (e.g., movement smoothness, work area), we implement a double-noise model and perform a multivariate regression using clinical data from 98 stroke patients who completed a total of 191 sessions with RGS. Results: Our results reveal a new digital biomarker of arm function, the Total Goal-Directed Movement (TGDM), which relates to the patients work area during the execution of goal-oriented reaching movements. The model's performance to estimate FM-UE scores reaches an accuracy of R-2: 0.38 with an error (sigma: 12.8). Next, we evaluate its reliability (r = 0.89 for test-retest), longitudinal external validity (95% true positive rate), sensitivity, and generalisation to other tasks that involve planar reaching movements (R-2: 0.39). The model achieves comparable accuracy also for the Chedoke Arm and Hand Activity Inventory (R-2: 0.40) and Barthel Index (R-2: 0.35). Conclusions: Our results highlight the clinical value of kinematic data collected during unsupervised goal-oriented motor training with the RGS combined with data science techniques, and provide new insight into factors underlying recovery and its biomarkers.

JTD Keywords: interactive feedback, motion classification, motion sensing, multivariate regression, posture monitoring, rehabilitation, stroke, Adult, Aged, Analytic method, Arm movement, Article, Barthel index, Brain hemorrhage, Cerebrovascular accident, Chedoke arm and hand activity inventory, Clinical protocol, Cognitive defect, Computer analysis, Controlled study, Convergent validity, Correlation coefficient, Disease severity, External validity, Female, Fugl meyer assessment for the upper extremity, Functional assessment, Functional status assessment, General health status assessment, Hemiparesis, Human, Interactive feedback, Ischemic stroke, Kinematics, Major clinical study, Male, Mini mental state examination, Motion classification, Motion sensing, Motor analog scale, Movement, Multivariate regression, Muscle function, Posture monitoring, Probability, Recovery, Rehabilitation, Reliability, Retrospective study, Stroke, Stroke patient, Test retest reliability, Therapy, Total goal directed movement, Upper extremities, Upper limb, Upper-limb, Wolf motor function test


Raymond, Y, Pastorino, D, Ginebreda, I, Maazouz, Y, Ortiz, M, Manzanares, MC, Ginebra, MP, (2021). Computed tomography and histological evaluation of xenogenic and biomimetic bone grafts in three-wall alveolar defects in minipigs Clinical Oral Investigations 25, 6695-6706

Objectives This study aimed to compare the performance of a xenograft (XG) and a biomimetic synthetic graft (SG) in three-wall alveolar defects in minipigs by means of 3D computerised tomography and histology. Materials and methods Eight minipigs were used. A total of eight defects were created in the jaw of each animal, three of which were grafted with XGs, three with SGs, and two were left empty as a negative control. The allocation of the different grafts was randomised. Four animals were euthanised at 6 weeks and four at 12 weeks. The grafted volume was then measured by spiral computed tomography to assess volume preservation. Additionally, a histological analysis was performed in undecalcified samples by backscattered scanning electron microscopy and optical microscopy after Masson's trichrome staining. Results A linear mixed-effects model was applied considering four fixed factors (bone graft type, regeneration time, anatomic position, and maxilla/mandible) and one random factor (animal). The SG exhibited significantly larger grafted volume (19%) than the XG. The anterior sites preserved better the grafted volume than the posterior ones. Finally, regeneration time had a positive effect on the grafted volume. Histological observations revealed excellent osseointegration and osteoconductive properties for both biomaterials. Some concavities found in the spheroidal morphologies of SGs were associated with osteoclastic resorption. Conclusions Both biomaterials met the requirements for bone grafting, i.e. biocompatibility, osseointegration, and osteoconduction. Granule morphology was identified as an important factor to ensure a good volume preservation.

JTD Keywords: bone graft, bone regeneration, in vivo, miniature swine, synthetic graft, 3-dimensional changes, Anorganic bovine bone, Autogenous bone, Bio-oss, Biomaterials, Bone graft, Bone regeneration, Calcium-phosphate, Hydroxyapatite, In vivo, Miniature swine, Sinus floor augmentation, Substitute, Synthetic graft, Volume, Xenograft


Garreta, E, Nauryzgaliyeva, Z, Montserrat, N, (2021). Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived kidney organoids toward clinical implementations Curr Opin Biomed Eng 20, 100346

The generation of kidney organoids from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) has represented a relevant scientific achievement in the organoid field. Importantly, hPSC-derived kidney organoids contain multiple nephron-like structures that exhibit some renal functional characteristics and have the capacity to respond to nephrotoxic agents. In this review, we first discuss how bioengineering approaches can help overcome current kidney organoid challenges. Next, we focus on recent works exploiting kidney organoids for drug screening and disease modeling applications. Finally, we provide a state of the art on current research toward the potential application of kidney organoids and renal cells derived from hPSCs for future renal replacement therapies.

JTD Keywords: Bioengineering, Converting enzyme-ii, Crispr/cas9 gene editing, Disease, Disease modeling, Extracellular-matrix, Generation, Human pluripotent stem cells, Kidney organoids, Kidney regeneration, Model, Mouse, Reveals, Scaffold, Transplantation


Prieto, A, Bernabeu, M, Sánchez-Herrero, JF, Pérez-Bosque, A, Mir, L, Bäuer, C, Colladcy, C, Hüttener, M, Juárez, A, (2021). Modulation of AggR levels reveals features of virulence regulation in enteroaggregative E. coli Commun Biol 4, 1295

Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) strains are one of the diarrheagenic pathotypes. EAEC strains harbor a virulence plasmid (pAA2) that encodes, among other virulence determinants, the aggR gene. The expression of the AggR protein leads to the expression of several virulence determinants in both plasmids and chromosomes. In this work, we describe a novel mechanism that influences AggR expression. Because of the absence of a Rho-independent terminator in the 3?UTR, aggR transcripts extend far beyond the aggR ORF. These transcripts are prone to PNPase-mediated degradation. Structural alterations in the 3?UTR result in increased aggR transcript stability, leading to increased AggR levels. We therefore investigated the effect of increased AggR levels on EAEC virulence. Upon finding the previously described AggR-dependent virulence factors, we detected novel AggR-regulated genes that may play relevant roles in EAEC virulence. Mutants exhibiting high AggR levels because of structural alterations in the aggR 3?UTR show increased mobility and increased pAA2 conjugation frequency. Furthermore, among the genes exhibiting increased fold change values, we could identify those of metabolic pathways that promote increased degradation of arginine, fatty acids and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), respectively. In this paper, we discuss how the AggR-dependent increase in specific metabolic pathways activity may contribute to EAEC virulence.

JTD Keywords: aggregative adherence, arginine metabolism, biofilm formation, escherichia-coli, gene-expression, messenger-rna, operon, persistent diarrhea, untranslated region, Fimbria-i expression


Villasante, A, Godier-Furnemont, A, Hernandez-Barranco, A, Le Coq, J, Boskovic, J, Peinado, H, Mora, J, Samitier, J, Vunjak-Novakovic, G, (2021). Horizontal transfer of the stemness-related markers EZH2 and GLI1 by neuroblastoma-derived extracellular vesicles in stromal cells Translational Research 237, 82-97

Neuroblastoma (NB) is the most common extracranial pediatric solid cancer originating from undifferentiated neural crest cells. NB cells express EZH2 and GLI1 genes that are known to maintain the undifferentiated phenotype of cancer stem cells (CSC) in NB. Recent studies suggest that tumor-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) can regulate the transformation of surrounding cells into CSC by transferring tumor-specific molecules they contain. However, the horizontal transfer of EVs molecules in NB remains largely unknown. We report the analysis of NB-derived EVs in bioengineered models of NB that are based on a collagen 1/hyaluronic acid scaffold designed to mimic the native tumor niche. Using these models, we observed an enrichment of GLI1 and EZH2 mRNAs in NB-derived EVs. As a consequence of the uptake of NB-derived EVs, the host cells increased the expression levels of GLI1 and EZH2. These results suggest the alteration of the expression profile of stromal cells through an EV-based mechanism, and point the GLI1 and EZH2 mRNAs in the EV cargo as diagnostic biomarkers in NB.

JTD Keywords: exosomes, genes, lines, maintenance, pathway, proliferation, rna, stemness, tumor, Cancer


Brennan, MA, Monahan, DS, Brulin, B, Gallinetti, S, Humbert, P, Tringides, C, Canal, C, Ginebra, MP, Layrolle, P, (2021). Biomimetic versus sintered macroporous calcium phosphate scaffolds enhanced bone regeneration and human mesenchymal stromal cell engraftment in calvarial defects Acta Biomaterialia 135, 689-704

In contrast to sintered calcium phosphates (CaPs) commonly employed as scaffolds to deliver mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) targeting bone repair, low temperature setting conditions of calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) yield biomimetic topology with high specific surface area. In this study, the healing capacity of CDHA administering MSCs to bone defects is evaluated for the first time and compared with sintered beta-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) constructs sharing the same interconnected macroporosity. Xeno-free expanded human bone marrow MSCs attached to the surface of the hydrophobic β-TCP constructs, while infiltrating the pores of the hydrophilic CDHA. Implantation of MSCs on CaPs for 8 weeks in calvaria defects of nude mice exhibited complete healing, with bone formation aligned along the periphery of β-TCP, and conversely distributed within the pores of CDHA. Human monocyte-osteoclast differentiation was inhibited in vitro by direct culture on CDHA compared to β-TCP biomaterials and indirectly by administration of MSC-conditioned media generated on CDHA, while MSCs increased osteoclastogenesis in both CaPs in vivo. MSC engraftment was significantly higher in CDHA constructs, and also correlated positively with bone in-growth in scaffolds. These findings demonstrate that biomimetic CDHA are favorable carriers for MSC therapies and should be explored further towards clinical bone regeneration strategies. Statement of significance: Delivery of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) on calcium phosphate (CaP) biomaterials enhances reconstruction of bone defects. Traditional CaPs are produced at high temperature, but calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) prepared at room temperature yields a surface structure more similar to native bone mineral. The objective of this study was to compare the capacity of biomimetic CDHA scaffolds with sintered β-TCP scaffolds for bone repair mediated by MSCs for the first time. In vitro, greater cell infiltration occurred in CDHA scaffolds and following 8 weeks in vivo, MSC engraftment was higher in CDHA compared to β-TCP, as was bone in-growth. These findings demonstrate the impact of material features such as surface structure, and highlight that CDHA should be explored towards clinical bone regeneration strategies.

JTD Keywords: beta-tricalcium phosphate, bone regeneration, calcium deficient hydroxyapatite, differentiation, engraftment, human bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells, hydroxyapatite scaffolds, in-vitro, inhibition, osteogenesis, osteoinduction, stem-cells, surface-topography, tissue, Beta-tricalcium phosphate, Bone regeneration, Calcium deficient hydroxyapatite, Engraftment, Human bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells


Konka, J, Buxadera-Palomero, J, Espanol, M, Ginebra, MP, (2021). 3D printing of hierarchical porous biomimetic hydroxyapatite scaffolds: Adding concavities to the convex filaments Acta Biomaterialia 134, 744-759

Porosity plays a key role on the osteogenic performance of bone scaffolds. Direct Ink Writing (DIW) allows the design of customized synthetic bone grafts with patient-specific architecture and controlled macroporosity. Being an extrusion-based technique, the scaffolds obtained are formed by arrays of cylindrical filaments, and therefore have convex surfaces. This may represent a serious limitation, as the role of surface curvature and more specifically the stimulating role of concave surfaces in osteoinduction and bone growth has been recently highlighted. Hence the need to design strategies that allow the introduction of concave pores in DIW scaffolds. In the current study, we propose to add gelatin microspheres as a sacrificial material in a self-setting calcium phosphate ink. Neither the phase transformation responsible for the hardening of the scaffold nor the formation of characteristic network of needle-like hydroxyapatite crystals was affected by the addition of gelatin microspheres. The partial dissolution of the gelatin resulted in the creation of spherical pores throughout the filaments and exposed on the surface, increasing filament porosity from 0.2 % to 67.9 %. Moreover, the presence of retained gelatin proved to have a significant effect on the mechanical properties, reducing the strength but simultaneously giving the scaffolds an elastic behavior, despite the high content of ceramic as a continuous phase. Notwithstanding the inherent difficulty of in vitro cultures with this highly reactive material an enhancement of MG-63 cell proliferation, as well as better spreading of hMSCs was recorded on the developed scaffolds. Statement of significance: Recent studies have stressed the role that concave surfaces play in tissue regeneration and, more specifically, in osteoinduction and osteogenesis. Direct ink writing enables the production of patient-specific bone grafts with controlled architecture. However, besides many advantages, it has the serious limitation that the surfaces obtained are convex. In this article, for the first time we develop a strategy to introduce concave pores in the printed filaments of biomimetic hydroxyapatite by incorporation and partial dissolution of gelatin microspheres. The retention of part of the gelatin results in a more elastic behavior compared to the brittleness of hydroxyapatite scaffolds, while the needle-shaped nanostructure of biomimetic hydroxyapatite is maintained and gelatin-coated concave pores on the surface of the filaments enhance cell spreading. © 2021 The Authors

JTD Keywords: 3d printing, bioceramics, biomimetic, bone, bone regeneration, concavity, concavity, bone regeneration, gelatin, hydrogel, hydroxyapatite, microspheres, osteoinduction, porosity, porous filament, substitutes, tissue-growth, 3d printing, Biomimetic, Calcium-phosphate scaffolds, Concavity, bone regeneration, Gelatin, Hydroxyapatite, Porous filament


Torabi, N, Qiu, XK, López-Ortiz, M, Loznik, M, Herrmann, A, Kermanpur, A, Ashrafi, A, Chiechi, RC, (2021). Fullerenes Enhance Self-Assembly and Electron Injection of Photosystem i in Biophotovoltaic Devices Langmuir 37, 11465-11473

This paper describes the fabrication of microfluidic devices with a focus on controlling the orientation of photosystem I (PSI) complexes, which directly affects the performance of biophotovoltaic devices by maximizing the efficiency of the extraction of electron/hole pairs from the complexes. The surface chemistry of the electrode on which the complexes assemble plays a critical role in their orientation. We compared the degree of orientation on self-assembled monolayers of phenyl-C61-butyric acid and a custom peptide on nanostructured gold electrodes. Biophotovoltaic devices fabricated with the C61 fulleroid exhibit significantly improved performance and reproducibility compared to those utilizing the peptide, yielding a 1.6-fold increase in efficiency. In addition, the C61-based devices were more stable under continuous illumination. Our findings show that fulleroids, which are well-known acceptor materials in organic photovoltaic devices, facilitate the extraction of electrons from PSI complexes without sacrificing control over the orientation of the complexes, highlighting this combination of traditional organic semiconductors with biomolecules as a viable approach to coopting natural photosynthetic systems for use in solar cells.

JTD Keywords: architecture, arrays, construction, metal, nanotubes, performance, photosynthetic proteins, polymer-fullerene, solar-cells, Photocurrent generation


Tura-Ceide, O, Smolders, VFED, Aventin, N, Morén, C, Guitart-Mampel, M, Blanco, I, Piccari, L, Osorio, J, Rodríguez, C, Rigol, M, Solanes, N, Malandrino, A, Kurakula, K, Goumans, MJ, Quax, PHA, Peinado, VI, Castellà, M, Barberà, JA, (2021). Derivation and characterisation of endothelial cells from patients with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension Scientific Reports 11, 18797

Pulmonary endarterectomy (PEA) resected material offers a unique opportunity to develop an in vitro endothelial cell model of chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH). We aimed to comprehensively analyze the endothelial function, molecular signature, and mitochondrial profile of CTEPH-derived endothelial cells to better understand the pathophysiological mechanisms of endothelial dysfunction behind CTEPH, and to identify potential novel targets for the prevention and treatment of the disease. Isolated cells from specimens obtained at PEA (CTEPH-EC), were characterized based on morphology, phenotype, and functional analyses (in vitro and in vivo tubule formation, proliferation, apoptosis, and migration). Mitochondrial content, morphology, and dynamics, as well as high-resolution respirometry and oxidative stress, were also studied. CTEPH-EC displayed a hyperproliferative phenotype with an increase expression of adhesion molecules and a decreased apoptosis, eNOS activity, migration capacity and reduced angiogenic capacity in vitro and in vivo compared to healthy endothelial cells. CTEPH-EC presented altered mitochondrial dynamics, increased mitochondrial respiration and an unbalanced production of reactive oxygen species and antioxidants. Our study is the foremost comprehensive investigation of CTEPH-EC. Modulation of redox, mitochondrial homeostasis and adhesion molecule overexpression arise as novel targets and biomarkers in CTEPH.

JTD Keywords: angiogenesis, cd31, dysfunction, expression, pathogenesis, thrombus, C-reactive protein


Rodríguez-Contreras, A, Torres, D, Rafik, B, Ortiz-Hernandez, M, Ginebra, MP, Calero, JA, Manero, JM, Ruperez, E, (2021). Bioactivity and antibacterial properties of calcium- and silver-doped coatings on 3D printed titanium scaffolds Surface & Coatings Technology 421, 127476

One of the major problems faced by metallic implants is the high probability of bacterial infections, with significant consequences for the patient. In this work, a thermochemical treatment is proposed to obtain silver-doped calcium titanate coatings on the Ti surface to improve the bioactivity of porous 3D-printed Ti structures and simultaneously provide them with antibacterial properties. A complete characterization of the new coating, the study of the ion release and the analysis of its cytotoxicity were carried out together with evaluation of the natural apatite forming in simulated body fluid (SBF). Moreover, the antibacterial properties of the coatings were assessed against Pseudomona aeruginosa and Escherichia coli as gram-negative and Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis as gram-positive bacterial strains. Ag ions were integrated into the Ca titanate layer and Ag nanoparticles were formed within the entire 3D Ti surface. Ca and Ag ions were released from both porous and solid samples into the Hanks' solution for 48 h. The treated surfaces showed no cytotoxicity and an apatite layer precipitated on the entire porous surface when the samples were immersed in SBF. The release of Ag from the surface had a strong antibacterial effect and prevented bacterial adhesion and proliferation on the surface. Moreover, the nanostructured topography of the coating resulted also in a reduction of bacterial adhesion and proliferation, even in absence of Ag. In conclusion, the cost-effective approach here reported provided protection against the most predominant bacterial colonizers to the Ti porous implants, while maintaining their bioactivity.

JTD Keywords: 3d-printing, alkaline, antibacterial activity, arthroplasty, bacterial adhesion, biomaterials, generation, ions, nanoparticles, osseointegration, silver, surface-layer, titanium implants, toxicity, 3d-printing, Antibacterial activity, Biomaterials, Porous structures, Silver, Ti metal, Titanium implants


Rial-Hermida, MI, Rey-Rico, A, Blanco-Fernandez, B, Carballo-Pedrares, N, Byrne, EM, Mano, JF, (2021). Recent Progress on Polysaccharide-Based Hydrogels for Controlled Delivery of Therapeutic Biomolecules Acs Biomaterials Science & Engineering 7, 4102-4127

A plethora of applications using polysaccharides have been developed in recent years due to their availability as well as their frequent nontoxicity and biodegradability. These polymers are usually obtained from renewable sources or are byproducts of industrial processes, thus, their use is collaborative in waste management and shows promise for an enhanced sustainable circular economy. Regarding the development of novel delivery systems for biotherapeutics, the potential of polysaccharides is attractive for the previously mentioned properties and also for the possibility of chemical modification of their structures, their ability to form matrixes of diverse architectures and mechanical properties, as well as for their ability to maintain bioactivity following incorporation of the biomolecules into the matrix. Biotherapeutics, such as proteins, growth factors, gene vectors, enzymes, hormones, DNA/RNA, and antibodies are currently in use as major therapeutics in a wide range of pathologies. In the present review, we summarize recent progress in the development of polysaccharide-based hydrogels of diverse nature, alone or in combination with other polymers or drug delivery systems, which have been implemented in the delivery of biotherapeutics in the pharmaceutical and biomedical fields. © 2021 American Chemical Society.

JTD Keywords: biodegradable dextran hydrogels, biotherapeutics, bone morphogenetic protein-2, carrageenan-based hydrogels, chitosan-based hydrogels, controlled delivery, controlled-release, cross-linked hydrogels, growth-factor delivery, hydrogels, in-vitro characterization, polysaccharides, self-healing hydrogel, stimuli-responsiveness, tissue engineering, Antibodies, Bioactivity, Biodegradability, Biomedical fields, Biomolecules, Biotherapeutics, Chemical modification, Circular economy, Controlled delivery, Controlled drug delivery, Delivery systems, Drug delivery system, Functional polymers, Hyaluronic-acid hydrogels, Hydrogels, Industrial processs, Polysaccharides, Recent progress, Renewable sources, Stimuli-responsiveness, Targeted drug delivery, Tissue engineering, Waste management


Berishvili, E, Casiraghi, F, Amarelli, C, Scholz, H, Piemonti, L, Berney, T, Montserrat, N, (2021). Mini-organs forum: how to advance organoid technology to organ transplant community Transplant International 34, 1588-1593

The generation of human mini-organs, the so-called organoids, is one of the biggest scientific advances in regenerative medicine. This technology exploits traditional three-dimensional culture techniques that support cell-autonomous self-organization responses of stem cells to derive micrometer to millimeter size versions of human organs. The convergence of the organoid technology with organ transplantation is still in its infancy but this alliance is expected to open new venues to change the way we conduct both transplant and organoid research. In this Forum we provide a summary on early achievements facilitating organoid derivation and culture. We further discuss on early advances of organoid transplantation also offering a comprehensive overview of current limitations and challenges to instruct organoid maturation. We expect that this Forum sets the ground for initial discussions between stem cell biologists, bioengineers, and the transplant community to better direct organoid basic research to advance the organ transplantation field.

JTD Keywords: in-vitro, matrix, mice, organoids, regenerative medicine, vivo, Intestinal stem-cell, Organoids, Regenerative medicine


Alcaraz, J, Ikemori, R, Llorente, A, Díaz-Valdivia, N, Reguart, N, Vizoso, M, (2021). Epigenetic reprogramming of tumor-associated fibroblasts in lung cancer: Therapeutic opportunities Cancers 13, 3782

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. The desmoplastic stroma of lung cancer and other solid tumors is rich in tumor-associated fibroblasts (TAFs) exhibiting an activated/myofibroblast-like phenotype. There is growing awareness that TAFs support key steps of tumor progression and are epigenetically reprogrammed compared to healthy fibroblasts. Although the mechanisms underlying such epigenetic reprogramming are incompletely understood, there is increasing evidence that they involve interactions with either cancer cells, pro-fibrotic cytokines such as TGF-β, the stiffening of the surrounding extracellular matrix, smoking cigarette particles and other environmental cues. These aberrant interactions elicit a global DNA hypomethylation and a selective transcriptional repression through hypermethylation of the TGF-β transcription factor SMAD3 in lung TAFs. Likewise, similar DNA methylation changes have been reported in TAFs from other cancer types, as well as histone core modifications and altered microRNA expression. In this review we summarize the evidence of the epigenetic reprogramming of TAFs, how this reprogramming contributes to the acquisition and maintenance of a tumor-promoting phenotype, and how it provides novel venues for therapeutic intervention, with a special focus on lung TAFs.

JTD Keywords: cancer-associated fibroblasts, desmoplasia, dna methylation, epigenetics, expression, genomic dna, lung cancer, mechanical memory, myofibroblast differentiation, pulmonary fibroblasts, smoking, stromal fibroblasts, tgf-?, tgf-beta, tgf-β, transforming growth-factor-beta-1, tumor stroma, Cancer-associated fibroblasts, Carcinoma-associated fibroblasts, Desmoplasia, Epigenetics, Lung cancer, Smoking, Tgf-β, Tumor stroma


Calistri, A, Luganini, A, Mognetti, B, Elder, E, Sibille, G, Conciatori, V, Del Vecchio, C, Sainas, S, Boschi, D, Montserrat, N, Mirazimi, A, Lolli, ML, Gribaudo, G, Parolin, C, (2021). The new generation hdhodh inhibitor meds433 hinders the in vitro replication of sars-cov-2 and other human coronaviruses Microorganisms 9, 1731

Although coronaviruses (CoVs) have long been predicted to cause zoonotic diseases and pandemics with high probability, the lack of effective anti-pan-CoVs drugs rapidly usable against the emerging SARS-CoV-2 actually prevented a promptly therapeutic intervention for COVID-19. Development of host-targeting antivirals could be an alternative strategy for the control of emerging CoVs infections, as they could be quickly repositioned from one pandemic event to another. To contribute to these pandemic preparedness efforts, here we report on the broad-spectrum CoVs antiviral activity of MEDS433, a new inhibitor of the human dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (hDHODH), a key cellular enzyme of the de novo pyrimidine biosynthesis pathway. MEDS433 in-hibited the in vitro replication of hCoV-OC43 and hCoV-229E, as well as of SARS-CoV-2, at low nanomolar range. Notably, the anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity of MEDS433 against SARS-CoV-2 was also observed in kidney organoids generated from human embryonic stem cells. Then, the antiviral activity of MEDS433 was reversed by the addition of exogenous uridine or the product of hDHODH, the orotate, thus confirming hDHODH as the specific target of MEDS433 in hCoVs-infected cells. Taken together, these findings suggest MEDS433 as a potential candidate to develop novel drugs for COVID-19, as well as broad-spectrum antiviral agents exploitable for future CoVs threats.

JTD Keywords: antiviral activity, biosynthesis, broad-spectrum antiviral, combination treatment, coronavirus, dipyridamole, hdhodh inhibitor, organoids, pyrimidine, pyrimidine biosynthesis, sars-cov-2, target, virus-infection, Antiviral activ-ity, Broad-spectrum antiviral, Combination treatment, Coronavirus, Gene-expression, Hdhodh inhibitor, Organoids, Pyrimidine biosynthesis, Sars-cov-2


Duran, J, Hervera, A, Markussen, KH, Varea, O, Lopez-Soldado, I, Sun, RC, del Rio, JA, Gentry, MS, Guinovart, JJ, (2021). Astrocytic glycogen accumulation drives the pathophysiology of neurodegeneration in Lafora disease Brain 144, 2349-2360

The hallmark of Lafora disease, a fatal neurodegenerative disorder, is the accumulation of intracellular glycogen aggregates called Lafora bodies. Until recently, it was widely believed that brain Lafora bodies were present exclusively in neurons and thus that Lafora disease pathology derived from their accumulation in this cell population. However, recent evidence indicates that Lafora bodies are also present in astrocytes. To define the role of astrocytic Lafora bodies in Lafora disease pathology, we deleted glycogen synthase specifically from astrocytes in a mouse model of the disease (malin(KO)). Strikingly, blocking glycogen synthesis in astrocytes-thus impeding Lafora bodies accumulation in this cell type-prevented the increase in neurodegeneration markers, autophagy impairment, and metabolic changes characteristic of the malin(KO) model. Conversely, mice that over-accumulate glycogen in astrocytes showed an increase in these markers. These results unveil the deleterious consequences of the deregulation of glycogen metabolism in astrocytes and change the perspective that Lafora disease is caused solely by alterations in neurons.

JTD Keywords: Bodies, Deficient mice, Epilepsy, Glycogen, Impairment, Lafora disease, Malin, Modulation, Mouse model, Neurodegeneration, Neuroinflammation, Neurons, Progressive myoclonus epilepsy, Seizure susceptibility, Synthase


Ortiz C, Schierwagen R, Schaefer L, Klein S, Trepat X, Trebicka J, (2021). Extracellular Matrix Remodeling in Chronic Liver Disease Current Tissue Microenvironment Reports 2, 41-52

Abstract Purpose of the Review This review aims to summarize the current knowledge of the extracellular matrix remodeling during hepatic fibrosis. We discuss the diverse interactions of the extracellular matrix with hepatic cells and the surrounding matrix in liver fibrosis, with the focus on the molecular pathways and the mechanisms that regulate extracellular matrix remodeling. Recent Findings The extracellular matrix not only provides structure and support for the cells, but also controls cell behavior by providing adhesion signals and by acting as a reservoir of growth factors and cytokines. Summary Hepatic fibrosis is characterized by an excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix. During fibrogenesis, the natural remodeling process of the extracellular matrix varies, resulting in the excessive accumulation of its components, mainly collagens. Signals released by the extracellular matrix induce the activation of hepatic stellate cells, which are the major source of extracellular matrix and most abundant myofibroblasts in the liver. Graphical abstract

JTD Keywords: collagen, extracellular matrix, hepatic stellate cell, liver fibrosis, metalloproteinases, Tgf-?1, Tgf-β1


Barbero-Castillo, A, Riefolo, F, Matera, C, Caldas-Martínez, S, Mateos-Aparicio, P, Weinert, JF, Garrido-Charles, A, Claro, E, Sanchez-Vives, MV, Gorostiza, P, (2021). Control of Brain State Transitions with a Photoswitchable Muscarinic Agonist Advanced Science 8, 2005027

The ability to control neural activity is essential for research not only in basic neuroscience, as spatiotemporal control of activity is a fundamental experimental tool, but also in clinical neurology for therapeutic brain interventions. Transcranial-magnetic, ultrasound, and alternating/direct current (AC/DC) stimulation are some available means of spatiotemporal controlled neuromodulation. There is also light-mediated control, such as optogenetics, which has revolutionized neuroscience research, yet its clinical translation is hampered by the need for gene manipulation. As a drug-based light-mediated control, the effect of a photoswitchable muscarinic agonist (Phthalimide-Azo-Iper (PAI)) on a brain network is evaluated in this study. First, the conditions to manipulate M2 muscarinic receptors with light in the experimental setup are determined. Next, physiological synchronous emergent cortical activity consisting of slow oscillations-as in slow wave sleep-is transformed into a higher frequency pattern in the cerebral cortex, both in vitro and in vivo, as a consequence of PAI activation with light. These results open the way to study cholinergic neuromodulation and to control spatiotemporal patterns of activity in different brain states, their transitions, and their links to cognition and behavior. The approach can be applied to different organisms and does not require genetic manipulation, which would make it translational to humans.

JTD Keywords: brain states, light-mediated control, muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, neuromodulation, Activation, Alternating/direct currents, Basal forebrain, Brain, Brain states, Clinical research, Clinical translation, Controlled drug delivery, Cortex, Forebrain cholinergic system, Genetic manipulations, Higher frequencies, Hz oscillation, Light‐, Light-mediated control, Mediated control, Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, Muscarinic agonists, Muscarinic receptor, Neurology, Neuromodulation, Neurons, Noradrenergic modulation, Parvalbumin-positive interneurons, Photopharmacology, Receptor-binding, Slow, Spatiotemporal control, Spatiotemporal patterns


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


Velasco-Mallorqui, F, Rodriguez-Comas, J, Ramon-Azcon, J, (2021). Cellulose-based scaffolds enhance pseudoislets formation and functionality Biofabrication 13, 35044

In vitro research for the study of type 2 diabetes (T2D) is frequently limited by the availability of a functional model for islets of Langerhans. To overcome the limitations of obtaining pancreatic islets from different sources, such as animal models or human donors, immortalized cell lines as the insulin-producing INS1E beta-cells have appeared as a valid alternative to model insulin-related diseases. However, immortalized cell lines are mainly used in flat surfaces or monolayer distributions, not resembling the spheroid-like architecture of the pancreatic islets. To generate islet-like structures, the use of scaffolds appeared as a valid tool to promote cell aggregations. Traditionally-used hydrogel encapsulation methods do not accomplish all the requisites for pancreatic tissue engineering, as its poor nutrient and oxygen diffusion induces cell death. Here, we use cryogelation technology to develop a more resemblance scaffold with the mechanical and physical properties needed to engineer pancreatic tissue. This study shows that carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) cryogels prompted cells to generate beta-cell clusters in comparison to gelatin-based scaffolds, that did not induce this cell organization. Moreover, the high porosity achieved with CMC cryogels allowed us to create specific range pseudoislets. Pseudoislets formed within CMC-scaffolds showed cell viability for up to 7 d and a better response to glucose over conventional monolayer cultures. Overall, our results demonstrate that CMC-scaffolds can be used to control the organization and function of insulin-producing beta-cells, representing a suitable technique to generate beta-cell clusters to study pancreatic islet function.

JTD Keywords: biomaterial, cryogel, pancreatic islets, scaffold, tissue engineering, ?-cell, Architecture, Beta-cell, Beta-cell heterogeneity, Biomaterial, Carboxymethyl cellulose, Cell culture, Cell death, Cell engineering, Cell organization, Cells, Cellulose, Cryogel, Cryogels, Cytoarchitecture, Delivery, Encapsulation methods, Gelation, Gene-expression, Immortalized cells, Insulin, Insulin secretory responses, Islets of langerhans, Mechanical and physical properties, Monolayer culture, Monolayers, Pancreatic islets, Pancreatic tissue, Pancreatic-islets, Proliferation, Scaffold, Scaffolds, Scaffolds (biology), Size, Tissue, Tissue engineering, Β-cell


Pérez-González, C, Ceada, G, Greco, F, Matejcic, M, Gómez-González, M, Castro, N, Menendez, A, Kale, S, Krndija, D, Clark, AG, Gannavarapu, VR, Alvarez-Varela, A, Roca-Cusachs, P, Batlle, E, Vignjevic, DM, Arroyo, M, Trepat, X, (2021). Mechanical compartmentalization of the intestinal organoid enables crypt folding and collective cell migration Nature Cell Biology 23, 745-757

Intestinal organoids capture essential features of the intestinal epithelium such as crypt folding, cellular compartmentalization and collective movements. Each of these processes and their coordination require patterned forces that are at present unknown. Here we map three-dimensional cellular forces in mouse intestinal organoids grown on soft hydrogels. We show that these organoids exhibit a non-monotonic stress distribution that defines mechanical and functional compartments. The stem cell compartment pushes the extracellular matrix and folds through apical constriction, whereas the transit amplifying zone pulls the extracellular matrix and elongates through basal constriction. The size of the stem cell compartment depends on the extracellular-matrix stiffness and endogenous cellular forces. Computational modelling reveals that crypt shape and force distribution rely on cell surface tensions following cortical actomyosin density. Finally, cells are pulled out of the crypt along a gradient of increasing tension. Our study unveils how patterned forces enable compartmentalization, folding and collective migration in the intestinal epithelium. Perez-Gonzalez et al. explore the mechanical properties of intestinal organoids, and report the existence of distinct mechanical domains and that cells are pulled out of the central crypt along a gradient of increasing tension.

JTD Keywords: Forces, Growth, Gut, Monolayers, Morphogenesis, Reveal, Stem-cells, Tension


Andrian, T, Delcanale, P, Pujals, S, Albertazzi, L, (2021). Correlating Super-Resolution Microscopy and Transmission Electron Microscopy Reveals Multiparametric Heterogeneity in Nanoparticles Nano Letters 21, 5360-5368

The functionalization of nanoparticles with functional moieties is a key strategy to achieve cell targeting in nanomedicine. The interplay between size and ligand number is crucial for the formulation performance and needs to be properly characterized to understand nanoparticle structure-activity relations. However, there is a lack of methods able to measure both size and ligand number at the same time and at the single particle level. Here, we address this issue by introducing a correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM) method combining super-resolution microscopy (SRM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging. We apply our super-resCLEM method to characterize the relationship between size and ligand number and density in PLGA-PEG nanoparticles. We highlight how heterogeneity found in size can impact ligand distribution and how a significant part of the nanoparticle population goes completely undetected in the single-technique analysis. Super-resCLEM holds great promise for the multiparametric analysis of other parameters and nanomaterials.

JTD Keywords: cellular uptake, correlative light and electron microscopy (clem), density, electron microscopy (em), functionalization, heterogeneity, nanomedicine, nanoparticles, pegylation, plga, progress, quantification, size, Correlative light and electron microscopy (clem), Electron microscopy (em), Heterogeneity, Nanomedicine, Nanoparticles, Physicochemical characterization, Super-resolution microscopy (srm)


Perez-Amodio, S, Rubio, N, Vila, OF, Navarro-Requena, C, Castaño, O, Sanchez-Ferrero, A, Marti-Munoz, J, Alsina-Giber, M, Blanco, J, Engel, E, (2021). Polymeric Composite Dressings Containing Calcium-Releasing Nanoparticles Accelerate Wound Healing in Diabetic Mice Advances In Wound Care 10, 301-316

Objective: Wound healing is a complex process that involves the interaction between different cell types and bioactive factors. Impaired wound healing is characterized by a loss in synchronization of these interactions, resulting in nonhealing chronic wounds. Chronic wounds are a socioeconomic burden, one of the most prominent clinical manifestations of diabetes, however, they lack satisfactory treatment options. The objective of this study was to develop polymeric composites that deliver ions having wound healing properties and evaluate its performance using a pressure ulcer model in diabetic mice. Approach: To develop a polymeric composite wound dressing containing ion-releasing nanoparticles for chronic wound healing. This composite was chemically and physically characterized and evaluated using a pressure ulcer wound model in diabetic (db/db) mice to explore their potential as novel wound dressing. Results: This dressing exhibits a controlled ion release and a goodin vitrobioactivity. The polymeric composite dressing treatment stimulates angiogenesis, collagen synthesis, granulation tissue formation, and accelerates wound closure of ischemic wounds created in diabetic mice. In addition, the performance of the newly designed composite is remarkably better than a commercially available dressing frequently used for the treatment of low-exuding chronic wounds. Innovation: The developed nanoplatforms are cell- and growth factor free and control the host microenvironment resulting in enhanced wound healing. These nanoplatforms are available by cost-effective synthesis with a defined composition, offering an additional advantage in potential clinical application. Conclusion: Based on the obtained results, these polymeric composites offer an optimum approach for chronic wound healing without adding cells or external biological factors.

JTD Keywords: angiogenesis, bioactive dressings, chronic wounds, Angiogenesis, Bioactive dressings, Bioactive glass, Bioglass, Cells, Chronic wounds, Diabetes, Endothelial growth-factor, Expression, Hydrogel, Induction


Ojosnegros, S, Seriola, A, Godeau, AL, Veiga, A, (2021). Embryo implantation in the laboratory: an update on current techniques Human Reproduction Update 27, 501-530

BACKGROUND: The embryo implantation process is crucial for the correct establishment and progress of pregnancy. During implantation, the blastocyst trophectoderm cells attach to the epithelium of the endometrium, triggering intense cell-to-cell crosstalk that leads to trophoblast outgrowth, invasion of the endometrial tissue, and formation of the placenta. However, this process, which is vital for embryo and foetal development in utero, is still elusive to experimentation because of its inaccessibility. Experimental implantation is cumbersome and impractical in adult animal models and is inconceivable in humans. OBJECTIVE AND RATIONALE: A number of custom experimental solutions have been proposed to recreate different stages of the implantation process in vitro, by combining a human embryo (or a human embryo surrogate) and endometrial cells (or a surrogate for the endometrial tissue). In vitro models allow rapid high-throughput interrogation of embryos and cells, and efficient screening of molecules, such as cytokines, drugs, or transcription factors, that control embryo implantation and the receptivity of the endometrium. However, the broad selection of available in vitro systems makes it complicated to decide which system best fits the needs of a specific experiment or scientific question. To orient the reader, this review will explore the experimental options proposed in the literature, and classify them into amenable categories based on the embryo/cell pairs employed. The goal is to give an overview of the tools available to study the complex process of human embryo implantation, and explain the differences between them, including the advantages and disadvantages of each system. SEARCH METHODS: We performed a comprehensive review of the literature to come up with different categories that mimic the different stages of embryo implantation in vitro, ranging from initial blastocyst apposition to later stages of trophoblast invasion or gastrulation. We will also review recent breakthrough advances on stem cells and organoids, assembling embryo-like structures and endometrial tissues. OUTCOMES: We highlight the most relevant systems and describe the most significant experiments. We focus on in vitro systems that have contributed to the study of human reproduction by discovering molecules that control implantation, including hormones, signalling molecules, transcription factors and cytokines. WIDER IMPLICATIONS: The momentum of this field is growing thanks to the use of stem cells to build embryo-like structures and endometrial tissues, and the use of bioengineering to extend the life of embryos in culture. We propose to merge bioengineering methods derived from the fields of stem cells and reproduction to develop new systems covering a wider window of the implantation process.

JTD Keywords: in vitro models, blastocyst, blastocyst-like structures, early-pregnancy, endometrial cells, epidermal-growth-factor, gene-expression, implantation, in vitro models, in-vitro model, indian hedgehog, organoids, receptivity, self-organization, spheroids, trophoblast, trophoblast invasion, uterine receptivity, Blastocyst, Blastocyst-like structures, Early-pregnancy, Endometrial cells, Endometrial stromal cells, Epidermal-growth-factor, Gene-expression, Implantation, In vitro models, In-vitro model, Indian hedgehog, Organoids, Receptivity, Self-organization, Spheroids, Trophoblast, Trophoblast invasion, Uterine receptivity


Mesquida-Veny, F, Del Río, JA, Hervera, A, (2021). Macrophagic and microglial complexity after neuronal injury Progress In Neurobiology 200, 101970

© 2020 Elsevier Ltd Central nervous system (CNS) injuries do not heal properly in contrast to normal tissue repair, in which functional recovery typically occurs. The reason for this dichotomy in wound repair is explained in part by macrophage and microglial malfunction, affecting both the extrinsic and intrinsic barriers to appropriate axonal regeneration. In normal healing tissue, macrophages promote the repair of injured tissue by regulating transitions through different phases of the healing response. In contrast, inflammation dominates the outcome of CNS injury, often leading to secondary damage. Therefore, an understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying this dichotomy is critical to advance in neuronal repair therapies. Recent studies highlight the plasticity and complexity of macrophages and microglia beyond the classical view of the M1/M2 polarization paradigm. This plasticity represents an in vivo continuous spectrum of phenotypes with overlapping functions and markers. Moreover, macrophage and microglial plasticity affect many events essential for neuronal regeneration after injury, such as myelin and cell debris clearance, inflammation, release of cytokines, and trophic factors, affecting both intrinsic neuronal properties and extracellular matrix deposition. Until recently, this complexity was overlooked in the translation of therapies modulating these responses for the treatment of neuronal injuries. However, recent studies have shed important light on the underlying molecular mechanisms of this complexity and its transitions and effects on regenerative events. Here we review the complexity of macrophages and microglia after neuronal injury and their roles in regeneration, as well as the underlying molecular mechanisms, and we discuss current challenges and future opportunities for treatment.

JTD Keywords: chemokines and cytokines, macrophages, microglia, neuroinflammation, neuronal injury, regeneration, Chemokines and cytokines, Macrophages, Microglia, Neuroinflammation, Neuronal injury, Regeneration


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


Badia, M, Bolognesi, B, (2021). Assembling the right type of switch: Protein condensation to signal cell death Current Opinion In Cell Biology 69, 55-61

© 2020 Elsevier Ltd Protein phase transitions are particularly amenable for cell signalling as these highly cooperative processes allow cells to make binary decisions in response to relatively small intracellular changes. The different processes of condensate formation and the distinct material properties of the resulting condensates provide a dictionary to modulate a range of decisions on cell fate. We argue that, on the one hand, the reversibility of liquid demixing offers a chance to arrest cell growth under specific circumstances. On the other hand, the transition to amyloids is better suited for terminal decisions such as those leading to apoptosis and necrosis. Here, we review recent examples of both scenarios, highlighting how mutations in signalling proteins affect the formation of biomolecular condensates with drastic effects on cell survival.

JTD Keywords: amyloid, cell death, deep mutagenesis, llps, rna-binding proteins, Amyloid, Cell death, Deep mutagenesis, Llps, Rna-binding proteins


Rubi-Sans, G, Cano-Torres, I, Perez-Amodio, S, Blanco-Fernandez, B, Mateos-Timoneda, MA, Engel, E, (2021). Development and Angiogenic Potential of Cell-Derived Microtissues Using Microcarrier-Template Biomedicines 9, 232

Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine approaches use biomaterials in combination with cells to regenerate lost functions of tissues and organs to prevent organ transplantation. However, most of the current strategies fail in mimicking the tissue's extracellular matrix properties. In order to mimic native tissue conditions, we developed cell-derived matrix (CDM) microtissues (MT). Our methodology uses poly-lactic acid (PLA) and Cultispher(R) S microcarriers' (MCs') as scaffold templates, which are seeded with rat bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (rBM-MSCs). The scaffold template allows cells to generate an extracellular matrix, which is then extracted for downstream use. The newly formed CDM provides cells with a complex physical (MT architecture) and biochemical (deposited ECM proteins) environment, also showing spontaneous angiogenic potential. Our results suggest that MTs generated from the combination of these two MCs (mixed MTs) are excellent candidates for tissue vascularization. Overall, this study provides a methodology for in-house fabrication of microtissues with angiogenic potential for downstream use in various tissue regenerative strategies.

JTD Keywords: angiogenesis, cell-derived matrix, cultispher® s, microtissue, poly-lactic acid microcarriers, Angiogenesis, Cell-derived matrix, Cultispher (r) s, Microtissue, Poly-lactic acid microcarriers, Rat bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells


Puiggali-Jou, A, Ordoño, J, del Valle, LJ, Pérez-Amodio, S, Engel, E, Alemán, C, (2021). Tuning multilayered polymeric self-standing films for controlled release of L-lactate by electrical stimulation Journal Of Controlled Release 330, 669-683

© 2020 Elsevier B.V. We examine different approaches for the controlled release of L-lactate, which is a signaling molecule that participates in tissue remodeling and regeneration, such as cardiac and muscle tissue. Robust, flexible, and self-supported 3-layers films made of two spin-coated poly(lactic acid) (PLA) layers separated by an electropolymerized poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) layer, are used as loading and delivery systems. Films with outer layers prepared using homochiral PLA and with nanoperforations of diameter 146 ± 70 experience more bulk erosion, which also contributes to the release of L-lactic acid, than those obtained using heterochiral PLA and with nanoperforations of diameter 66 ± 24. Moreover, the release of L-lactic acid as degradation product is accelerated by applying biphasic electrical pulses. The four approaches used for loading extra L-lactate in the 3-layered films were: incorporation of L-lactate at the intermediate PEDOT layer as primary dopant agent using (1) organic or (2) basic water solutions as reaction media; (3) substitution at the PEDOT layer of the ClO4− dopant by L-lactate using de-doping and re-doping processes; and (4) loading of L-lactate at the outer PLA layers during the spin-coating process. Electrical stimuli were applied considering biphasic voltage pulses and constant voltages (both negative and positive). Results indicate that the approach used to load the L-lactate has a very significant influence in the release regulation process, affecting the concentration of released L-lactate up to two orders of magnitude. Among the tested approaches, the one based on the utilization of the outer layers for loading, approach (4), can be proposed for situations requiring prolonged and sustained L-lactate release over time. The biocompatibility and suitability of the engineered films for cardiac tissue engineering has also been confirmed using cardiac cells.

JTD Keywords: biphasic voltage pulse, cardiac tissue regeneration, cardiomyocytes proliferation, conducting polymer, nanoperforated films, sustained delivery, Biphasic voltage pulse, Cardiac tissue regeneration, Cardiomyocytes proliferation, Conducting polymer, Nanoperforated films, Sustained delivery


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


Mateu-Sanz, M, Tornin, J, Ginebra, MP, Canal, C, (2021). Cold Atmospheric Plasma: A New Strategy Based Primarily on Oxidative Stress for Osteosarcoma Therapy Journal Of Clinical Medicine 10, 893

Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone tumor, and its first line of treatment presents a high failure rate. The 5-year survival for children and teenagers with osteosarcoma is 70% (if diagnosed before it has metastasized) or 20% (if spread at the time of diagnosis), stressing the need for novel therapies. Recently, cold atmospheric plasmas (ionized gases consisting of UV-Vis radiation, electromagnetic fields and a great variety of reactive species) and plasma-treated liquids have been shown to have the potential to selectively eliminate cancer cells in different tumors through an oxidative stress-dependent mechanism. In this work, we review the current state of the art in cold plasma therapy for osteosarcoma. Specifically, we emphasize the mechanisms unveiled thus far regarding the action of plasmas on osteosarcoma. Finally, we review current and potential future approaches, emphasizing the most critical challenges for the development of osteosarcoma therapies based on this emerging technique.

JTD Keywords: cancer stem cells, cold atmospheric plasma, osteosarcoma, oxidative stress, plasma treated liquids, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, Antineoplastic activity, Antineoplastic agent, Cancer chemotherapy, Cancer stem cell, Cancer stem cells, Cancer surgery, Cancer survival, Cell therapy, Cold atmospheric plasma, Cold atmospheric plasma therapy, Electromagnetism, Human, In vitro study, Intracellular signaling, Oncogene, Osteosarcoma, Oxidative stress, Plasma treated liquids, Reactive nitrogen species, Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, Reactive oxygen metabolite, Review, Tumor microenvironment


Seuma, M, Faure, AJ, Badia, M, Lehner, B, Bolognesi, B, (2021). The genetic landscape for amyloid beta fibril nucleation accurately discriminates familial Alzheimer's disease mutations Elife 10, e63364

Plaques of the amyloid beta (A beta) peptide are a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most common form of dementia. Mutations in A beta also cause familial forms of AD (fAD). Here, we use deep mutational scanning to quantify the effects of >14,000 mutations on the aggregation of A beta. The resulting genetic landscape reveals mechanistic insights into fibril nucleation, including the importance of charge and gatekeeper residues in the disordered region outside of the amyloid core in preventing nucleation. Strikingly, unlike computational predictors and previous measurements, the empirical nucleation scores accurately identify all known dominant fAD mutations in A beta, genetically validating that the mechanism of nucleation in a cell-based assay is likely to be very similar to the mechanism that causes the human disease. These results provide the first comprehensive atlas of how mutations alter the formation of any amyloid fibril and a resource for the interpretation of genetic variation in A beta.

JTD Keywords: aggregation, kinetics, oligomers, onset, rates, state, Aggregation, Alzheimer's, Amyloid, Computational biology, Deep mutagenesis, Genetics, Genomics, Kinetics, Nucleation, Oligomers, Onset, Precursor protein, Rates, S. cerevisiae, State, Systems biology


Soriente, A, Amodio, SP, Fasolino, I, Raucci, MG, Demitri, C, Engel, E, Ambrosio, L, (2021). Chitosan/PEGDA based scaffolds as bioinspired materials to control in vitro angiogenesis Materials Science & Engineering C-Materials For Biological Applications 118, 111420

© 2020 Elsevier B.V. In the current work, our purpose was based on the assessment of bioactive chitosan (CS)/Poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) based scaffolds ability to stimulate in vitro angiogenesis process. The bioactivation of the scaffolds was accomplished by using organic (BMP-2 peptide) and inorganic (hydroxyapatite nanoparticles) cues. In particular, the properties of the materials in terms of biological response promotion on human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) were studied by using in vitro angiogenesis tests based on cell growth and proliferation. Furthermore, our interest was to examine the scaffolds capability to modulate two important steps involved in angiogenesis process: migration and tube formation of cells. Our data underlined that bioactive signals on CS/PEGDA scaffolds surface induce a desirable effect on angiogenic response concerning angiogenic marker expression (CD-31) and endothelial tissue formation (tube formation). Taken together, the results emphasized the concept that bioactive CS/PEGDA scaffolds may be novel implants for stimulating neovascularization of tissue-engineered constructs in regenerative medicine field.

JTD Keywords: angiogenesis, bmp-2 peptide, chitosan/pegda based scaffolds, human umbilical vein endothelial cells huvecs, Angiogenesis, Bmp-2 peptide, Chitosan/pegda based scaffolds, Human umbilical vein endothelial cells huvecs, Osteogenesis


Watt, AC, Cejas, P, DeCristo, MJ, Metzger, O, Lam, EYN, Qiu, XT, BrinJones, H, Kesten, N, Coulson, R, Font-Tello, A, Lim, K, Vadhi, R, Daniels, VW, Montero, J, Taing, L, Meyer, CA, Gilan, O, Bell, CC, Korthauer, KD, Giambartolomei, C, Pasaniuc, B, Seo, JH, Freedman, ML, Ma, CT, Ellis, MJ, Krop, I, Winer, E, Letai, A, Brown, M, Dawson, MA, Long, HW, Zhao, JJ, Goel, S, (2021). CDK4/6 inhibition reprograms the breast cancer enhancer landscape by stimulating AP-1 transcriptional activity Nature Cancer 2, 34-+

Goel and colleagues show that CDK4/6 inhibition induces global chromatin changes mediated by AP-1 factors, which mediate key biological and clinical effects in breast cancer. Pharmacologic inhibitors of cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6 (CDK4/6) were designed to induce cancer cell cycle arrest. Recent studies have suggested that these agents also exert other effects, influencing cancer cell immunogenicity, apoptotic responses and differentiation. Using cell-based and mouse models of breast cancer together with clinical specimens, we show that CDK4/6 inhibitors induce remodeling of cancer cell chromatin characterized by widespread enhancer activation, and that this explains many of these effects. The newly activated enhancers include classical super-enhancers that drive luminal differentiation and apoptotic evasion, as well as a set of enhancers overlying endogenous retroviral elements that are enriched for proximity to interferon-driven genes. Mechanistically, CDK4/6 inhibition increases the level of several activator protein-1 transcription factor proteins, which are in turn implicated in the activity of many of the new enhancers. Our findings offer insights into CDK4/6 pathway biology and should inform the future development of CDK4/6 inhibitors.

JTD Keywords: Abemaciclib, Androgen receptor, Animal experiment, Animal model, Animal tissue, Apoptosis, Article, Breast cancer, C-jun, Cancer cell, Carcinoembryonic antigen related cell adhesion molecule 1, Caspase 3, Cell cycle arrest, Cells, Chromatin, Chromatin immunoprecipitation, Controlled study, Cyclin dependent kinase 4, Cyclin dependent kinase 6, Dna damage, Epidermal growth factor receptor 2, Estrogen receptor, Female, Flow cytometry, Fulvestrant, Hla drb1 antigen, Human, Human cell, Immunoblotting, Immunogenicity, Immunoprecipitation, Interferon, Luciferase assay, Mcf-7 cell line, Mda-mb-231 cell line, Microarray analysis, Morphogenesis, Mouse, Nonhuman, Palbociclib, Protein, Protein expression, Rb, Resistance, Rna polymerase ii, Rna sequence, Selective-inhibition, Senescence, Short tandem repeat, Signal transduction, Tamoxifen, Transcription elongation, Transcription factor, Transcription factor ap 1, Transcriptome, Tumor biopsy, Tumor differentiation, Tumor spheroid, Tumor xenograft, Vinculin, Whole exome sequencing


Costa, JD, Ballester, BR, Verschure, PFMJ, (2021). A Rehabilitation Wearable Device to Overcome Post-stroke Learned Non-use. Methodology, Design and Usability Communications In Computer And Information Science 1538, 198-205

After a stroke, a great number of patients experience persistent motor impairments such as hemiparesis or weakness in one entire side of the body. As a result, the lack of use of the paretic limb might be one of the main contributors to functional loss after clinical discharge. We aim to reverse this cycle by promoting the use of the paretic limb during activities of daily living (ADLs). To do so, we describe the key components of a system composed of a wearable bracelet (i.e., a smartwatch) and a mobile phone, designed to bring a set of neurorehabilitation principles that promote acquisition, retention and generalization of skills to the home of the patient. A fundamental question is whether the loss in motor function derived from learned–non–use may emerge as a consequence of decision–making processes for motor optimization. Our system is based on well-established rehabilitation strategies that aim to reverse this behaviour by increasing the reward associated with action execution and implicitly reducing the expected cost of using the paretic limb, following the notion of reinforcement–induced movement therapy (RIMT). Here we validate an accelerometer-based measure of arm use and its capacity to discriminate different activities that require increasing movement of the arm. The usability and acceptance of the device as a rehabilitation tool is tested using a battery of self–reported and objective measurements obtained from acute/subacute patients and healthy controls. We believe that an extension of these technologies will allow for the deployment of unsupervised rehabilitation paradigms during and beyond hospitalization time. © 2021, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

JTD Keywords: adls, hemiparesis, learned non-use, wearables, Activities of daily living, Adls, Functional loss, Generalisation, Hemiparesis, Learned non-use, Motor impairments, Neurorehabilitation [], Patient experiences, Stroke, Wearable devices, Wearable technology, Wearables


Sans, J., Armelin, E., Sanz, V., Puiggalí, J., Turon, P., Alemán, C., (2020). Breaking-down the catalyst used for the electrophotosynthesis of amino acids by nitrogen and carbon fixation Journal of Catalysis 389, 646-656

The electrophotocatalytic synthesis of Glycine and Alanine from a simple gas mixture containing N2, CO2, CH4 and H2O under mild reaction conditions (95 °C and 6 bar) was recently developed using a catalyst formed by permanently polarized hydroxyapatite, which is achieved using a thermally stimulated polarization process, coated with two layers of aminotris(methylenephosphonic acid) (ATMP) separated by an intermediate layer of zirconyl chloride (ZC). This work reports the optimization of the ATMP- and ZC-coating content by examining the influence of their concentration of each component in each layer on the structural and electrochemical properties of the catalyst. After exhaustive analyses, such properties have been related with the efficiency of the catalysts prepared using different ATMP- and ZC-concentrations to yield Gly and Ala amino acids by fixing nitrogen from N2 and carbon from CO2 and CH4. Results show that, although the concentrations of ATMP and ZC in the first and the intermediate layers are important, the third layer plays a predominant role as is responsible of the apparition of supramolecular structures on the surface and the capacitive behavior of the coating

JTD Keywords: Carbon dioxide fixation, Electrocatalyst, Heterogeneous catalysis, Phosphonic acid, Photocatalyst, Polarized hydroxyapatite, Surface chemistry, Zirconyl chloride


Olate-Moya, F., Arens, L., Wilhelm, M., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Engel, E., Palza, H., (2020). Chondroinductive alginate-based hydrogels having graphene oxide for 3D printed scaffold fabrication ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 12, (4), 4343-4357

Scaffolds based on bioconjugated hydrogels are attractive for tissue engineering because they can partly mimic human tissue characteristics. For example, they can further increase their bioactivity with cells. However, most of the hydrogels present problems related to their processability, consequently limiting their use in 3D printing to produce tailor-made scaffolds. The goal of this work is to develop bioconjugated hydrogel nanocomposite inks for 3D printed scaffold fabrication through a micro-extrusion process having improved both biocompatibility and processability. The hydrogel is based on a photocrosslinkable alginate bioconjugated with both gelatin and chondroitin sulfate in order to mimic the cartilage extracellular matrix, while the nanofiller is based on graphene oxide to enhance the printability and cell proliferation. Our results show that the incorporation of graphene oxide into the hydrogel inks considerably improved the shape fidelity and resolution of 3D printed scaffolds because of a faster viscosity recovery post extrusion of the ink. Moreover, the nanocomposite inks produce anisotropic threads after the 3D printing process because of the templating of the graphene oxide liquid crystal. The in vitro proliferation assay of human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hADMSCs) shows that bioconjugated scaffolds present higher cell proliferation than pure alginate, with the nanocomposites presenting the highest values at long times. Live/Dead assay otherwise displays full viability of hADMSCs adhered on the different scaffolds at day 7. Notably, the scaffolds produced with nanocomposite hydrogel inks were able to guide the cell proliferation following the direction of the 3D printed threads. In addition, the bioconjugated alginate hydrogel matrix induced chondrogenic differentiation without exogenous pro-chondrogenesis factors as concluded from immunostaining after 28 days of culture. This high cytocompatibility and chondroinductive effect toward hADMSCs, together with the improved printability and anisotropic structures, makes these nanocomposite hydrogel inks a promising candidate for cartilage tissue engineering based on 3D printing.

JTD Keywords: 3D printing, Chondrogenesis, Graphene oxide, Hydrogels, Liquid crystals


Hoogduijn, M.J., Montserrat, N., van der Laan, L.J.W., Dazzi, F., Perico, N., Kastrup, J., Gilbo, N., Ploeg, R.J., Roobrouck, V., Casiraghi, F., Johnson, C.L., Franquesa, M., Dahlke, M.H., Massey, E., Hosgood, S., Reinders, M.E.J., (2020). The emergence of regenerative medicine in organ transplantation: 1st European Cell Therapy and Organ Regeneration Section meeting Transplant International 33, (8), 833-840

Regenerative medicine is emerging as a novel field in organ transplantation. In September 2019, the European Cell Therapy and Organ Regeneration Section (ECTORS) of the European Society for Organ Transplantation (ESOT) held its first meeting to discuss the state-of-the-art of regenerative medicine in organ transplantation. The present article highlights the key areas of interest and major advances in this multidisciplinary field in organ regeneration and discusses its implications for the future of organ transplantation.

JTD Keywords: Cell therapy, Machine perfusion, Mesenchymal stromal cell, Organoid, Regeneration, Transplantation


Sanchez-Herrero, J. F., Bernabeu, M., Prieto, A., Hüttener, M., Juárez, A., (2020). Gene duplications in the genomes of staphylococci and enterococci Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences 7, 160

Gene duplications are a feature of bacterial genomes. In the present work we analyze the extent of gene duplications in the genomes of three microorganisms that belong to the Firmicutes phylum and that are etiologic agents of several nosocomial infections: Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecium, and Enterococcus faecalis. In all three groups, there is an irregular distribution of duplications in the genomes of the strains analyzed. Whereas in some of the strains duplications are scarce, hundreds of duplications are present in others. In all three species, mobile DNA accounts for a large percentage of the duplicated genes: phage DNA in S. aureus, and plasmid DNA in the enterococci. Duplicates also include core genes. In all three species, a reduced group of genes is duplicated in all strains analyzed. Duplication of the deoC and rpmG genes is a hallmark of S. aureus genomes. Duplication of the gene encoding the PTS IIB subunit is detected in all enterococci genomes. In E. faecalis it is remarkable that the genomes of some strains encode duplicates of the prgB and prgU genes. They belong to the prgABCU cluster, which responds to the presence of the peptide pheromone cCF10 by expressing the surface adhesins PrgA, PrgB, and PrgC.

JTD Keywords: Bacterial genomics, Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium, Gene duplication, Staphylococcus aureus


Eixarch, Herena, Calvo-Barreiro, Laura, Costa, Carme, Reverter-Vives, Gemma, Castillo, Mireia, Gil, Vanessa, Del Río, José Antonio, Montalban, Xavier, Espejo, Carmen, (2020). Inhibition of the BMP signaling pathway ameliorated established clinical symptoms of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis Neurotherapeutics 17, 1988–2003

Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are secreted growth factors that belong to the transforming growth factor beta superfamily. BMPs have been implicated in physiological processes, but they are also involved in many pathological conditions. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated disease of the central nervous system (CNS); however, its etiology remains elusive. Some evidence points to BMPs as important players in the pathogenesis of inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. In the present work, we studied the expression of BMP2, BMP4, BMP5, BMP6, BMP7, BMP type II receptor, and noggin in the immune system during different phases of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Major changes in the expression of BMPs took place in the initial phases of EAE. Indeed, those changes mainly affected BMP6 (whose expression was abrogated), BMP2, and BMP7 (whose expression was increased). In addition, we showed that in vivo inhibition of the BMP signaling pathway with small molecules ameliorated the already established clinical symptoms of EAE, as well as the CNS histopathological features. At the immune level, we observed an expansion of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) in mice treated with small molecules that inhibit the BMP signaling pathway. pDCs could play an important role in promoting the expansion of antigen-specific regulatory T cells. Altogether, our data suggest a role for BMPs in early immune events that take place in myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)-induced EAE. In addition, the clinical outcome of the disease was improved when the BMP signaling pathway was inhibited in mice that presented established EAE symptoms.

JTD Keywords: Bone morphogenetic protein, DMH1, Dorsomorphin, Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, Immune response, Multiple sclerosis.


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


Mas, S., Torro, A., Fernández, L., Bec, N., Gongora, C., Larroque, C., Martineau, P., de Juan, A., Marco, S., (2020). MALDI imaging mass spectrometry and chemometric tools to discriminate highly similar colorectal cancer tissues Talanta 208, 120455

Intratumour heterogeneity due to cancer cell clonal evolution and microenvironment composition and tumor differences due to genetic variations between patients suffering of the same cancer pathology play a crucial role in patient response to therapies. This study is oriented to show that matrix-assisted laser-desorption ionization-Mass spectrometry imaging (MALDI-MSI), combined with an advanced multivariate data processing pipeline can be used to discriminate subtle variations between highly similar colorectal tumors. To this aim, experimental tumors reproducing the emergence of drug-resistant clones were generated in athymic mice using subcutaneous injection of different mixes of two isogenic cell lines, the irinotecan-resistant HCT116-SN50 (R) and its sibling human colon adenocarcinoma sensitive cell line HCT116 (S). Because irinotecan-resistant and irinotecan-sensitive are derived from the same original parental HCT116 cell line, their genetic characteristics and molecular compositions are closely related. The multivariate data processing pipeline proposed relies on three steps: (a) multiset multivariate curve resolution (MCR) to separate biological contributions from background; (b) multiset K-means segmentation using MCR scores of the biological contributions to separate between tumor and necrotic parts of the tissues; and (c) partial-least squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) applied to tumor pixel spectra to discriminate between R and S tumor populations. High levels of correct classification rates (0.85), sensitivity (0.92) and specificity (0.77) for the PLS-DA classification model were obtained. If previously labelled tissue is available, the multistep modeling strategy proposed constitutes a good approach for the identification and characterization of highly similar phenotypic tumor subpopulations that could be potentially applicable to any kind of cancer tissue that exhibits substantial heterogeneity. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.

JTD Keywords: Chemometrics, Colorectal cancer, MALDI imaging, Multivariate analysis, Tumor heterogeneity


Diaz-Lucena, Daniela, Escaramis, G., Villar-Piqué, Anna, Hermann, Peter, Schmitz, Matthias, Varges, Daniela, Santana, Isabel, del Rio, José Antonio, Martí, E., Ferrer, Isidre, Baldeiras, I., Zerr, Inga, Llorens, Franc, (2020). A new tetra-plex fluorimetric assay for the quantification of cerebrospinal fluid β-amyloid42, total-tau, phospho-tau and α-synuclein in the differential diagnosis of neurodegenerative dementia Journal of Neurology 267, (9), 2567-2581

Background: Differential diagnosis of neurodegenerative dementia is currently supported by biomarkers including cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tests. Among them, CSF total-tau (t-tau), phosphorylated tau (p-tau) and β-amyloid42 (Aβ42) are considered core biomarkers of neurodegeneration. In the present work, we hypothesize that simultaneous assessment of these biomarkers together with CSF α-synuclein (α-syn) will significantly improve the differential diagnostic of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. To that aim, we characterized the analytical and clinical performance of a new tetra-plex immunoassay that simultaneously quantifies CSF Aβ42, t-tau, p-tau and α-syn in the differential diagnosis of neurodegenerative dementia. Methods: Biomarkers' concentrations were measured in neurological controls (n = 38), Alzheimer's disease (n = 35), Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (n = 37), vascular dementia (n = 28), dementia with Lewy bodies/Parkinson's disease dementia (n = 27) and frontotemporal dementia (n = 34) using the new tetra-plex assay and established single-plex assays. Biomarker's performance was evaluated and diagnostic accuracy in the discrimination of diagnostic groups was determined using partial least squares discriminant analysis. Results: The tetra-plex assay presented accuracies similar to individual single-plex assays with acceptable analytical performance. Significant correlations were observed between tetra-plex and single-plex assays. Using partial least squares discriminant analysis, Alzheimer's disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease were well differentiated, reaching high accuracies in the discrimination from the rest of diagnostic groups. Conclusions: The new tetra-plex assay coupled with multivariate analytical approaches becomes a valuable asset for the differential diagnosis of neurodegenerative dementia and related applications.

JTD Keywords: Neurodegenerative dementia, Cerebrospinal fluid, Biomarker, Amyloid beta, Total-tau, Phospho-tau, α-Synuclein, Multiplexing


Vodovotz, Y., Barnard, N., Hu, F. B., Jakicic, J., Lianov, L., Loveland, D., Buysse, D., Szigethy, E., Finkel, T., Sowa, G., Verschure, P., Williams, K., Sanchez, E., Dysinger, W., Maizes, V., Junker, C., Phillips, E., Katz, D., Drant, S., Jackson, R. J., Trasande, L., Woolf, S., Salive, M., South-Paul, J., States, S. L., Roth, L., Fraser, G., Stout, R., Parkinson, M. D., (2020). Prioritized research for the prevention, treatment, and reversal of chronic disease: recommendations from the lifestyle medicine research summit Frontiers in Medicine 7, 585744

Declining life expectancy and increasing all-cause mortality in the United States have been associated with unhealthy behaviors, socioecological factors, and preventable disease. A growing body of basic science, clinical research, and population health evidence points to the benefits of healthy behaviors, environments and policies to maintain health and prevent, treat, and reverse the root causes of common chronic diseases. Similarly, innovations in research methodologies, standards of evidence, emergence of unique study cohorts, and breakthroughs in data analytics and modeling create new possibilities for producing biomedical knowledge and clinical translation. To understand these advances and inform future directions research, The Lifestyle Medicine Research Summit was convened at the University of Pittsburgh on December 4–5, 2019. The Summit's goal was to review current status and define research priorities in the six core areas of lifestyle medicine: plant-predominant nutrition, physical activity, sleep, stress, addictive behaviors, and positive psychology/social connection. Forty invited subject matter experts (1) reviewed existing knowledge and gaps relating lifestyle behaviors to common chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, many cancers, inflammatory- and immune-related disorders and other conditions; and (2) discussed the potential for applying cutting-edge molecular, cellular, epigenetic and emerging science knowledge and computational methodologies, research designs, and study cohorts to accelerate clinical applications across all six domains of lifestyle medicine. Notably, federal health agencies, such as the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration have begun to adopt “whole-person health and performance” models that address these lifestyle and environmental root causes of chronic disease and associated morbidity, mortality, and cost. Recommendations strongly support leveraging emerging research methodologies, systems biology, and computational modeling in order to accelerate effective clinical and population solutions to improve health and reduce societal costs. New and alternative hierarchies of evidence are also be needed in order to assess the quality of evidence and develop evidence-based guidelines on lifestyle medicine. Children and underserved populations were identified as prioritized groups to study. The COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately impacts people with chronic diseases that are amenable to effective lifestyle medicine interventions, makes the Summit's findings and recommendations for future research particularly timely and relevant.

JTD Keywords: Chronic disease, Epigenetics, In silico modeling, Inflammation, Lifestyle medicine, Nutrition, Physical activity, Research methodologies


Torres, S., Abdullah, Z., Brol, M. J., Hellerbrand, C., Fernandez, M., Fiorotto, R., Klein, S., Königshofer, P., Liedtke, C., Lotersztajn, S., Nevzorova, Y. A., Schierwagen, R., Reiberger, T., Uschner, F. E., Tacke, F., Weiskirchen, R., Trebicka, J., (2020). Recent advances in practical methods for liver cell biology: A short overview International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21, (6), 2027

Molecular and cellular research modalities for the study of liver pathologies have been tremendously improved over the recent decades. Advanced technologies offer novel opportunities to establish cell isolation techniques with excellent purity, paving the path for 2D and 3D microscopy and high-throughput assays (e.g., bulk or single-cell RNA sequencing). The use of stem cell and organoid research will help to decipher the pathophysiology of liver diseases and the interaction between various parenchymal and non-parenchymal liver cells. Furthermore, sophisticated animal models of liver disease allow for the in vivo assessment of fibrogenesis, portal hypertension and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and for the preclinical testing of therapeutic strategies. The purpose of this review is to portray in detail novel in vitro and in vivo methods for the study of liver cell biology that had been presented at the workshop of the 8th meeting of the European Club for Liver Cell Biology (ECLCB-8) in October of 2018 in Bonn, Germany.

JTD Keywords: Fibrogenesis, Hepatic stellate cells, Hepatocellular cancer, In vitro models, Steatosis


Bolognesi, Benedetta, Faure, Andre J., Seuma, Mireia, Schmiedel, Jörrn M., Tartaglia, Gian Gaetano, Lehner, Ben, (2019). The mutational landscape of a prion-like domain Nature Communications 10, (1), 4162

Insoluble protein aggregates are the hallmarks of many neurodegenerative diseases. For example, aggregates of TDP-43 occur in nearly all cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, whether aggregates cause cellular toxicity is still not clear, even in simpler cellular systems. We reasoned that deep mutagenesis might be a powerful approach to disentangle the relationship between aggregation and toxicity. We generated >50,000 mutations in the prion-like domain (PRD) of TDP-43 and quantified their toxicity in yeast cells. Surprisingly, mutations that increase hydrophobicity and aggregation strongly decrease toxicity. In contrast, toxic variants promote the formation of dynamic liquid-like condensates. Mutations have their strongest effects in a hotspot that genetic interactions reveal to be structured in vivo, illustrating how mutagenesis can probe the in vivo structures of unstructured proteins. Our results show that aggregation of TDP-43 is not harmful but protects cells, most likely by titrating the protein away from a toxic liquid-like phase.

JTD Keywords: Computational biology and bioinformatics, Genomics, Mechanisms of disease, Neurodegeneration, Systems biology


Feiner-Gracia, N., Olea, R. A., Fitzner, R., El Boujnouni, N., Van Asbeck, A. H., Brock, R., Albertazzi, L., (2019). Super-resolution imaging of structure, molecular composition, and stability of single oligonucleotide polyplexes Nano Letters 19, (5), 2784-2792

The successful application of gene therapy relies on the development of safe and efficient delivery vectors. Cationic polymers such as cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) can condense genetic material into nanoscale particles, called polyplexes, and induce cellular uptake. With respect to this point, several aspects of the nanoscale structure of polyplexes have remained elusive because of the difficulty in visualizing the molecular arrangement of the two components with nanometer resolution. This limitation has hampered the rational design of polyplexes based on direct structural information. Here, we used super-resolution imaging to study the structure and molecular composition of individual CPP-mRNA polyplexes with nanometer accuracy. We use two-color direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM) to unveil the impact of peptide stoichiometry on polyplex structure and composition and to assess their destabilization in blood serum. Our method provides information about the size and composition of individual polyplexes, allowing the study of such properties on a single polyplex basis. Furthermore, the differences in stoichiometry readily explain the differences in cellular uptake behavior. Thus, quantitative dSTORM of polyplexes is complementary to the currently used characterization techniques for understanding the determinants of polyplex activity in vitro and inside cells.

JTD Keywords: dSTORM, Gene delivery, Polyplexes, Stability, Super-resolution microscopy


Hervera, A., Zhou, L., Palmisano, I., McLachlan, E., Kong, G., Hutson, T. H., Danzi, M. C., Lemmon, V. P., Bixby, J. L., Matamoros-Angles, A., Forsberg, K., De Virgiliis, F., Matheos, D. P., Kwapis, J., Wood, M. A., Puttagunta, R., del Río, J. A., Di Giovanni, S., (2019). PP4-dependent HDAC3 dephosphorylation discriminates between axonal regeneration and regenerative failure EMBO Journal 38, (13), e101032

The molecular mechanisms discriminating between regenerative failure and success remain elusive. While a regeneration-competent peripheral nerve injury mounts a regenerative gene expression response in bipolar dorsal root ganglia (DRG) sensory neurons, a regeneration-incompetent central spinal cord injury does not. This dichotomic response offers a unique opportunity to investigate the fundamental biological mechanisms underpinning regenerative ability. Following a pharmacological screen with small-molecule inhibitors targeting key epigenetic enzymes in DRG neurons, we identified HDAC3 signalling as a novel candidate brake to axonal regenerative growth. In vivo, we determined that only a regenerative peripheral but not a central spinal injury induces an increase in calcium, which activates protein phosphatase 4 that in turn dephosphorylates HDAC3, thus impairing its activity and enhancing histone acetylation. Bioinformatics analysis of ex vivo H3K9ac ChIPseq and RNAseq from DRG followed by promoter acetylation and protein expression studies implicated HDAC3 in the regulation of multiple regenerative pathways. Finally, genetic or pharmacological HDAC3 inhibition overcame regenerative failure of sensory axons following spinal cord injury. Together, these data indicate that PP4-dependent HDAC3 dephosphorylation discriminates between axonal regeneration and regenerative failure.

JTD Keywords: Calcium, HDAC3, Nerve regeneration, Spinal cord injury, Transcription


Barba, A., Diez-Escudero, A., Espanol, M., Bonany, M., Sadowska, J. M., Guillem-Marti, J., Öhman-Mägi, C., Persson, C., Manzanares, M. C., Franch, J., Ginebra, M. P., (2019). Impact of biomimicry in the design of osteoinductive bone substitutes: Nanoscale matters ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 11, (9), 8818-8830

Bone apatite consists of carbonated calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) nanocrystals. Biomimetic routes allow fabricating synthetic bone grafts that mimic biological apatite. In this work, we explored the role of two distinctive features of biomimetic apatites, namely, nanocrystal morphology (plate vs needle-like crystals) and carbonate content, on the bone regeneration potential of CDHA scaffolds in an in vivo canine model. Both ectopic bone formation and scaffold degradation were drastically affected by the nanocrystal morphology after intramuscular implantation. Fine-CDHA foams with needle-like nanocrystals, comparable in size to bone mineral, showed a markedly higher osteoinductive potential and a superior degradation than chemically identical coarse-CDHA foams with larger plate-shaped crystals. These findings correlated well with the superior bone-healing capacity showed by the fine-CDHA scaffolds when implanted intraosseously. Moreover, carbonate doping of CDHA, which resulted in small plate-shaped nanocrystals, accelerated both the intrinsic osteoinduction and the bone healing capacity, and significantly increased the cell-mediated resorption. These results suggest that tuning the chemical composition and the nanostructural features may allow the material to enter the physiological bone remodeling cycle, promoting a tight synchronization between scaffold degradation and bone formation.

JTD Keywords: Biomimetic, Calcium phosphate, Carbonated apatite, Foaming, Nanostructure, Osteogenesis, Osteoinduction


Sadowska, J. M., Guillem-Marti, J., Ginebra, M. P., (2019). The influence of physicochemical properties of biomimetic hydroxyapatite on the in vitro behavior of endothelial progenitor cells and their interaction with mesenchymal stem cells Advanced Healthcare Materials 8, (2), 1801138

Calcium phosphate (CaP) substrates are successfully used as bone grafts due to their osteogenic properties. However, the influence of the physicochemical features of CaPs in angiogenesis is frequently neglected despite it being a crucial process for bone regeneration. The present work focuses on analyzing the effects of textural parameters of biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) and sintered beta-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP), such as specific surface area, surface roughness, and microstructure, on the behavior of rat endothelial progenitor cells (rEPCs) and their crosstalk with rat mesenchymal stem cells (rMSCs). The higher reactivity of CDHA results in low proliferation rates in monocultured and cocultured systems. This effect is especially pronounced for rMSCs alone, and for CDHA with a fine microstructure. In terms of angiogenic and osteogenic gene expressions, the upregulation of particular genes is especially enhanced for needle-like CDHA compared to plate-like CDHA and β-TCP, suggesting the importance not only of the chemistry of the substrate, but also of its textural features. Moreover, the coculture of rEPCs and rMSCs on needle-like CDHA results in early upregulation of osteogenic modulator, i.e., protein deglycase 1 might be a possible cause of overexpression of osteogenic-related genes on the same substrate.

JTD Keywords: Angiogenesis, Calcium phosphates, Cocultures, Osteogenesis


Sadowska, J. M., Wei, F., Guo, J., Guillem-Marti, J., Lin, Z., Ginebra, M. P., Xiao, Y., (2019). The effect of biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite and sintered β-tricalcium phosphate on osteoimmune reaction and osteogenesis Acta Biomaterialia 96, 605-618

Biomaterial implantation triggers inflammatory reactions. Understanding the effect of physicochemical features of biomaterials on the release of inflammatory cytokines from immune cells would be of great interest in view of designing bone graft materials to enhance the healing of bone defects. The present work investigated the interactions of two chemically and texturally different calcium phosphate (CaPs) substrates with macrophages, one of the main innate immune cells, and its further impact on osteogenic differentiation of bone forming cells. The behaviour of macrophages seeded on biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) and sintered β-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) was assessed in terms of the release of inflammatory cytokines and osteoclastogenic factors. The osteogenic differentiation of bone progenitor cells (bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) and osteoblastic cell line (SaOS-2)) were subsequently studied by incubating with the conditioned medium induced by macrophage-CaPs interaction in order to reveal the effect of immune cell reaction to CaPs on osteogenic differentiation. It was found that the incubation of macrophages with CaPs substrates caused a decrease of pro-inflammatory cytokines, more pronounced for β-TCP compared with CDHA showing significantly decreased IL-6, TNF-a, and iNOS. However, the macrophage-CDHA interaction resulted in a more favourable environment for osteogenic differentiation of osteoblasts with more collagen type I production and osteogenic genes (Runx2, BSP) expression, suggesting that osteogenic differentiation of bone cells is not only determined by the nature of biomaterials, but also significantly influenced by the inflammatory environment generated by the interaction of immune cells and biomaterials. Statement of Significance: The field of osteoimmunology highlights the importance of the cross-talk between immune and bone cells for effective bone regeneration. This tight interaction opens the door to new strategies that encompass the development of smart cell-instructive biomaterials which performance covers the events from early inflammation to osteogenesis. The present work links the anti-inflammatory and osteoimmunomodulatory features of synthetic bone grafts to their chemistry and texture, focussing on the cross-talk between macrophages and two major orchestrators of bone healing, namely primary mesenchymal stem cells and osteoblasts. The results emphasize the importance of the microenvironment created through the interaction between the substrate and the immune cells as it can stimulate osteogenic events and subsequently foster bone healing.

JTD Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Immunomodulation, Inflammation, Osteogenesis, Osteoimmunomodulation


Garcia-Puig, A., Mosquera, J. L., Jiménez-Delgado, S., García-Pastor, C., Jorba, I., Navajas, D., Canals, F., Raya, A., (2019). Proteomics analysis of extracellular matrix remodeling during zebrafish heart regeneration Molecular & cellular proteomics 18, (9), 1745-1755

Adult zebrafish, in contrast to mammals, are able to regenerate their hearts in response to injury or experimental amputation. Our understanding of the cellular and molecular bases that underlie this process, although fragmentary, has increased significantly over the last years. However, the role of the extracellular matrix (ECM) during zebrafish heart regeneration has been comparatively rarely explored. Here, we set out to characterize the ECM protein composition in adult zebrafish hearts, and whether it changed during the regenerative response. For this purpose, we first established a decellularization protocol of adult zebrafish ventricles that significantly enriched the yield of ECM proteins. We then performed proteomic analyses of decellularized control hearts and at different times of regeneration. Our results show a dynamic change in ECM protein composition, most evident at the earliest (7 days post-amputation) time-point analyzed. Regeneration associated with sharp increases in specific ECM proteins, and with an overall decrease in collagens and cytoskeletal proteins. We finally tested by atomic force microscopy that the changes in ECM composition translated to decreased ECM stiffness. Our cumulative results identify changes in the protein composition and mechanical properties of the zebrafish heart ECM during regeneration.

JTD Keywords: Animal models, Atomic force microscopy, Cardiovascular disease, Cardiovascular function or biology, Developmental biology, Extracellular matrix, Heart regeneration, Proteomic analysis


Bernabeu, M., Sánchez-Herrero, J. F., Huedo, P., Prieto, A., Hüttener, M., Rozas, J., Juárez, A., (2019). Gene duplications in the E. coli genome: Common themes among pathotypes BMC Genomics 20, (1), 313

Background: Gene duplication underlies a significant proportion of gene functional diversity and genome complexity in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Although several reports in the literature described the duplication of specific genes in E. coli, a detailed analysis of the extent of gene duplications in this microorganism is needed. Results: The genomes of the E. coli enteroaggregative strain 042 and other pathogenic strains contain duplications of the gene that codes for the global regulator Hha. To determine whether the presence of additional copies of the hha gene correlates with the presence of other genes, we performed a comparative genomic analysis between E. coli strains with and without hha duplications. The results showed that strains harboring additional copies of the hha gene also encode the yeeR irmA (aec69) gene cluster, which, in turn, is also duplicated in strain 042 and several other strains. The identification of these duplications prompted us to obtain a global map of gene duplications, first in strain 042 and later in other E. coli genomes. Duplications in the genomes of the enteroaggregative strain 042, the uropathogenic strain CFT073 and the enterohemorrhagic strain O145:H28 have been identified by a BLASTp protein similarity search. This algorithm was also used to evaluate the distribution of the identified duplicates among the genomes of a set of 28 representative E. coli strains. Despite the high genomic diversity of E. coli strains, we identified several duplicates in the genomes of almost all studied pathogenic strains. Most duplicated genes have no known function. Transcriptomic analysis also showed that most of these duplications are regulated by the H-NS/Hha proteins. Conclusions: Several duplicated genes are widely distributed among pathogenic E. coli strains. In addition, some duplicated genes are present only in specific pathotypes, and others are strain specific. This gene duplication analysis shows novel relationships between E. coli pathotypes and suggests that newly identified genes that are duplicated in a high percentage of pathogenic E. coli isolates may play a role in virulence. Our study also shows a relationship between the duplication of genes encoding regulators and genes encoding their targets.

JTD Keywords: Escherichia coli 042, Gene duplication, H-NS, Hha, Pathotypes


Tozzi, C., Walani, N., Arroyo, M., (2019). Out-of-equilibrium mechanochemistry and self-organization of fluid membranes interacting with curved proteins New Journal of Physics 21, (9), 093004

The function of biological membranes is controlled by the interaction of the fluid lipid bilayer with various proteins, some of which induce or react to curvature. These proteins can preferentially bind or diffuse towards curved regions of the membrane, induce or stabilize membrane curvature and sequester membrane area into protein-rich curved domains. The resulting tight interplay between mechanics and chemistry is thought to control organelle morphogenesis and dynamics, including traffic, membrane mechanotransduction, or membrane area regulation and tension buffering. Despite all these processes are fundamentally dynamical, previous work has largely focused on equilibrium and a self-consistent theoretical treatment of the dynamics of curvature sensing and generation has been lacking. Here, we develop a general theoretical and computational framework based on a nonlinear Onsager's formalism of irreversible thermodynamics for the dynamics of curved proteins and membranes. We develop variants of the model, one of which accounts for membrane curving by asymmetric crowding of bulky off-membrane protein domains. As illustrated by a selection of test cases, the resulting governing equations and numerical simulations provide a foundation to understand the dynamics of curvature sensing, curvature generation, and more generally membrane curvature mechano-chemistry.

JTD Keywords: Curvature generation, Curvature sensing, Lipid bilayers, Membrane proteins


Diez-Escudero, A., Torreggiani, E., Di Pompo, G., Espanol, M., Persson, C., Ciapetti, G., Baldini, N., Ginebra, M. P., (2019). Effect of calcium phosphate heparinization on the in vitro inflammatory response and osteoclastogenesis of human blood precursor cells Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine 13, (7), 1217-1229

The immobilization of natural molecules on synthetic bone grafts stands as a strategy to enhance their biological interactions. During the early stages of healing, immune cells and osteoclasts (OC) modulate the inflammatory response and resorb the biomaterial, respectively. In this study, heparin, a naturally occurring molecule in the bone extracellular matrix, was covalently immobilized on biomimetic calcium‐deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA). The effect of heparin‐functionalized CDHA on inflammation and osteoclastogenesis was investigated using primary human cells and compared with pristine CDHA and beta-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP). Biomimetic substrates led to lower oxidative stresses by neutrophils and monocytes than sintered β-TCP, even though no further reduction was induced by the presence of heparin. In contrast, heparinized CDHA fostered osteoclastogenesis. Optical images of stained TRAP positive cells showed an earlier and higher presence of multinucleated cells, compatible with OC at 14 days, while pristine CDHA and β-TCP present OC at 21–28 days. Although no statistically significant differences were found in the OC activity, microscopy images evidenced early stages of degradation on heparinized CDHA, compatible with osteoclastic resorption. Overall, the results suggest that the functionalization with heparin fostered the formation and activity of OC, thus offering a promising strategy to integrate biomaterials in the bone remodelling cycle by increasing their OC-mediated resorption.

JTD Keywords: Biomaterial, Heparin, Hydroxyapatite, Inflammation, Osteoclastogenesis


Casanellas, Ignasi, Lagunas, Anna, Vida, Yolanda, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Andrades, José A., Becerra, José, Samitier, Josep, (2019). Matrix nanopatterning regulates mesenchymal differentiation through focal adhesion size and distribution according to cell fate Biomimetics Biomimetic Nanotechnology for Biomedical Applications (NanoBio&Med 2018) , MDPI (Barcelona, Spain) 4, (2), 43

Extracellular matrix remodeling plays a pivotal role during mesenchyme patterning into different lineages. Tension exerted from cell membrane receptors bound to extracellular matrix ligands is transmitted by the cytoskeleton to the cell nucleus inducing gene expression. Here, we used dendrimer-based arginine–glycine–aspartic acid (RGD) uneven nanopatterns, which allow the control of local surface adhesiveness at the nanoscale, to unveil the adhesive requirements of mesenchymal tenogenic and osteogenic commitments. Cell response was found to depend on the tension resulting from cell–substrate interactions, which affects nuclear morphology and is regulated by focal adhesion size and distribution.

JTD Keywords: Arginine–glycine–aspartic acid (RGD), Nanopattern, Mesenchymal stem cells, Tenogenesis, Osteogenesis, Cell nuclei, Focal adhesions


Fuentes-Mera, L., Camacho, A., Engel, E., Pérez-Silos, V., Lara-Arias, J., Marino-Martínez, I., Peña-Martínez, V., (2019). Therapeutic potential of articular cartilage regeneration using tissue engineering based on multiphase designs Cartilage Tissue Engineering and Regeneration Techniques (ed. Nikolopoulos, Dimitrios D., Safos, George K., Dimitrios, Kalpaxis), IntechOpen (Budapest, Hungary) , 331-359

Articular cartilage tissue possesses poor ability to regenerate; as the lesion progresses, it extends to the underlying subchondral bone and an osteochondral (OC) defect appears complicating the therapeutic approaches. Cartilage tissue engineering has become a very active research area capable of contributing to medical technology innovation. In this regard, the development of new biomaterials in combination with cells represents one of the best alternatives for the treatment of OC injuries. In the last decades, the strategies have been designed without considering the cartilage as a complex tissue with a functionally stratified three-dimensional structure. Today, efforts are focused on creating a starting point in the process of cartilage formation with the development of a multiphase implants that recapitulates the cartilage as an OC unit, which improves its integration. This chapter will focus on a review of tissue engineering based on multiphase designs for cartilage and OC injuries, highlighting the importance of the biomaterial selection, and also the relevance of a biomimetic approach to reach a suitable microenvironment for the differentiation and maturation of the chondral tissue.

JTD Keywords: Osteochondral regeneration, Cartilage tissue engineering, Multiphasic designs, Biofunctionalization, Vascularization


Hervera, A., De Virgiliis, F., Palmisano, I., Zhou, L., Tantardini, E., Kong, G., Hutson, T., Danzi, M. C., Perry, R. B. T., Santos, C. X. C., Kapustin, A. N., Fleck, R. A., Del Río, J. A., Carroll, T., Lemmon, V., Bixby, J. L., Shah, A. M., Fainzilber, M., Di Giovanni, S., (2018). Reactive oxygen species regulate axonal regeneration through the release of exosomal NADPH oxidase 2 complexes into injured axons Nature Cell Biology 20, (3), 307-319

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) contribute to tissue damage and remodelling mediated by the inflammatory response after injury. Here we show that ROS, which promote axonal dieback and degeneration after injury, are also required for axonal regeneration and functional recovery after spinal injury. We find that ROS production in the injured sciatic nerve and dorsal root ganglia requires CX3CR1-dependent recruitment of inflammatory cells. Next, exosomes containing functional NADPH oxidase 2 complexes are released from macrophages and incorporated into injured axons via endocytosis. Once in axonal endosomes, active NOX2 is retrogradely transported to the cell body through an importin-β1–dynein-dependent mechanism. Endosomal NOX2 oxidizes PTEN, which leads to its inactivation, thus stimulating PI3K–phosporylated (p-)Akt signalling and regenerative outgrowth. Challenging the view that ROS are exclusively involved in nerve degeneration, we propose a previously unrecognized role of ROS in mammalian axonal regeneration through a NOX2–PI3K–p-Akt signalling pathway.

JTD Keywords: Adult neurogenesis, Endocytosis, Exocytosis, Monocytes and macrophages, Stress signalling


Castaño, O., Pérez-Amodio, S., Navarro, C., Mateos-Timoneda, M.A., Engel, E., (2018). Instructive microenvironments in skin wound healing: Biomaterials as signal releasing platforms Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 129, 95-117

Skin wound healing aims to repair and restore tissue through a multistage process that involves different cells and signalling molecules that regulate the cellular response and the dynamic remodelling of the extracellular matrix. Nowadays, several therapies that combine biomolecule signals (growth factors and cytokines) and cells are being proposed. However, a lack of reliable evidence of their efficacy, together with associated issues such as high costs, a lack of standardization, no scalable processes, and storage and regulatory issues, are hampering their application. In situ tissue regeneration appears to be a feasible strategy that uses the body's own capacity for regeneration by mobilizing host endogenous stem cells or tissue-specific progenitor cells to the wound site to promote repair and regeneration. The aim is to engineer instructive systems to regulate the spatio-temporal delivery of proper signalling based on the biological mechanisms of the different events that occur in the host microenvironment. This review describes the current state of the different signal cues used in wound healing and skin regeneration, and their combination with biomaterial supports to create instructive microenvironments for wound healing.

JTD Keywords: Instructive biomaterials, Skin regeneration, Wound healing, Signalling release, In situ tissue engineering


Del Río, J. A., Ferrer, Isidre, Gavín, R., (2018). Role of cellular prion protein in interneuronal amyloid transmission Progress in Neurobiology 165-167, 87-102

Several studies have indicated that certain misfolded amyloids composed of tau, β-amyloid or α-synuclein can be transferred from cell to cell, suggesting the contribution of mechanisms reminiscent of those by which infective prions spread through the brain. This process of a ‘prion-like’ spreading between cells is also relevant as a novel putative therapeutic target that could block the spreading of proteinaceous aggregates throughout the brain which may underlie the progressive nature of neurodegenerative diseases. The relevance of β-amyloid oligomers and cellular prion protein (PrPC) binding has been a focus of interest in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). At the molecular level, β-amyloid/PrPC interaction takes place in two differently charged clusters of PrPC. In addition to β-amyloid, participation of PrPC in α-synuclein binding and brain spreading also appears to be relevant in α-synucleopathies. This review summarizes current knowledge about PrPC as a putative receptor for amyloid proteins and the physiological consequences of these interactions..

JTD Keywords: Cellular prion protein, Amyloid, Proteinaceous species, ‘prion-like’ spreading, Spreading, Neurodegeneration


Sadowska, Joanna M., Wei, Fei, Guo, Jia, Guillem-Marti, Jordi, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, Xiao, Yin, (2018). Effect of nano-structural properties of biomimetic hydroxyapatite on osteoimmunomodulation Biomaterials 181, 318-332

Immune cells are sensitive to the microstructural and textural properties of materials. Tuning the structural features of synthetic bone grafts could be a valuable strategy to regulate the specific response of the immune system, which in turn modulates the activity of bone cells. The aim of this study was to analyse the effect of the structural characteristics of biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) on the innate immune response of macrophages and the subsequent impact on osteogenesis and osteoclastogenesis. Murine RAW 264.7 cells were cultured, under standard and inflammatory conditions, on chemically identical CDHA substrates that varied in microstructure and porosity. The impact on osteogenesis was evaluated by incubating osteoblastic cells (SaOS-2) with RAW-CDHA conditioned extracts. The results showed that macrophages were sensitive to different textural and structural properties of CDHA. Under standard conditions, the impact of inflammatory cytokine production by RAW cells cultured on CDHA played a significant role in the degradation of substrates, suggesting the impact of resorptive behaviour of RAW cells on biomimetic surfaces. Osteoblast differentiation was stimulated by the conditioned media collected from RAW cells cultured on needle-like nanostructured CDHA. The results demonstrated that needle-like nanostructured CDHA was able to generate a favourable osteoimmune environment to regulate osteoblast differentiation and osteogenesis. Under inflammatory conditions, the incubation of RAW cells with less porous CDHA resulted in a decreased gene expression and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

JTD Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Biomimetic hydroxyapatite, Osteoimmunomodulation, Inflammation, Osteogenesis, Osteoclastogesis


Raymond, Santiago, Maazouz, Yassine, Montufar, Edgar B., Perez, Roman A., González, Borja, Konka, Joanna, Kaiser, Jozef, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, (2018). Accelerated hardening of nanotextured 3D-plotted self-setting calcium phosphate inks Acta Biomaterialia 75, 451-462

Direct ink writing (DIW) techniques open up new possibilities for the fabrication of patient-specific bone grafts. Self-setting calcium phosphate inks, which harden at low temperature, allow obtaining nanostructured scaffolds with biomimetic properties and enhanced bioactivity. However, the slow hardening kinetics hampers the translation to the clinics. Different hydrothermal treatments for the consolidation of DIW scaffolds fabricated with an α-tricalcium phosphate /pluronic F127 ink were explored, comparing them with a biomimetic treatment. Three different scaffold architectures were analysed. The hardening process, associated to the conversion of α-tricalcium phosphate to hydroxyapatite was drastically accelerated by the hydrothermal treatments, reducing the time for complete reaction from 7 days to 30 minutes, while preserving the scaffold architectural integrity and retaining the nanostructured features. β-tricalcium phosphate was formed as a secondary phase, and a change of morphology from plate-like to needle-like crystals in the hydroxyapatite phase was observed. The binder was largely released during the treatment. The hydrothermal treatment resulted in a 30% reduction of the compressive strength, associated to the residual presence of β-tricalcium phosphate. Biomimetic and hydrothermally treated scaffolds supported the adhesion and proliferation of rat mesenchymal stem cells, indicating a good suitability for bone tissue engineering applications. Statement of Significance: 3D plotting has opened up new perspectives in the bone regeneration field allowing the customisation of synthetic bone grafts able to fit patient-specific bone defects. Moreover, this technique allows the control of the scaffolds’ architecture and porosity. The present work introduces a new method to harden biomimetic hydroxyapatite 3D-plotted scaffolds which avoids high-temperature sintering. It has two main advantages: i) it is fast and simple, reducing the whole fabrication process from the several days required for the biomimetic processing to a few hours; and ii) it retains the nanostructured character of biomimetic hydroxyapatite and allows controlling the porosity from the nano- to the macroscale. Moreover, the good in vitro cytocompatibility results support its suitability for cell-based bone regeneration therapies.

JTD Keywords: Calcium phosphate, Hydroxyapatite, Biomimetic, Bone regeneration, 3D plotting, Direct ink writing, Bone graft


Barba, Albert, Maazouz, Yassine, Diez-Escudero, Anna, Rappe, Katrin, Espanol, Montserrat, Montufar, Edgar B., Öhman-Mägi, Caroline, Persson, Cecilia, Fontecha, Pedro, Manzanares, Maria-Cristina, Franch, Jordi, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, (2018). Osteogenesis by foamed and 3D-printed nanostructured calcium phosphate scaffolds: Effect of pore architecture Acta Biomaterialia 79, 135-147

There is an urgent need of synthetic bone grafts with enhanced osteogenic capacity. This can be achieved by combining biomaterials with exogenous growth factors, which however can have numerous undesired side effects, but also by tuning the intrinsic biomaterial properties. In a previous study, we showed the synergistic effect of nanostructure and pore architecture of biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) scaffolds in enhancing osteoinduction, i.e. fostering the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells to bone forming cells. This was demonstrated by assessing bone formation after implanting the scaffolds intramuscularly. The present study goes one step forward, since it analyzes the effect of the geometrical features of the same CDHA scaffolds, obtained either by 3D-printing or by foaming, on the osteogenic potential and resorption behaviour in a bony environment. After 6 and 12 weeks of intraosseous implantation, both bone formation and material degradation had been drastically affected by the macropore architecture of the scaffolds. Whereas nanostructured CDHA was shown to be highly osteoconductive both in the robocast and foamed scaffolds, a superior osteogenic capacity was observed in the foamed scaffolds, which was associated with their higher intrinsic osteoinductive potential. Moreover, they showed a significantly higher cell-mediated degradation than the robocast constructs, with a simultaneous and progressive replacement of the scaffold by new bone. In conclusion, these results demonstrate that the control of macropore architecture is a crucial parameter in the design of synthetic bone grafts, which allows fostering both material degradation and new bone formation. Statement of Significance: 3D-printing technologies open new perspectives for the design of patient-specific bone grafts, since they allow customizing the external shape together with the internal architecture of implants. In this respect, it is important to design the appropriate pore geometry to maximize the bone healing capacity of these implants. The present study analyses the effect of pore architecture of nanostructured hydroxyapatite scaffolds, obtained either by 3D-printing or foaming, on the osteogenic potential and scaffold resorption in an in vivo model. While nanostructured hydroxyapatite showed excellent osteoconductive properties irrespective of pore geometry, we demonstrated that the spherical, concave macropores of foamed scaffolds significantly promoted both material resorption and bone regeneration compared to the 3D-printed scaffolds with orthogonal-patterned struts and therefore prismatic, convex macropores.

JTD Keywords: Osteogenesis, Pore architecture, 3D-printing, Foaming, Calcium phosphate


Diez-Escudero, A., Espanol, M., Bonany, M., Lu, X., Persson, C., Ginebra, M. P., (2018). Heparinization of beta tricalcium phosphate: Osteo-immunomodulatory effects Advanced Healthcare Materials 7, (5), 1700867

Immune cells play a vital role in regulating bone dynamics. This has boosted the interest in developing biomaterials that can modulate both the immune and skeletal systems. In this study, calcium phosphates discs (i.e., beta-tricalcium phosphate, β-TCP) are functionalized with heparin to investigate the effects on immune and stem cell responses. The results show that the functionalized surfaces downregulate the release of hydrogen peroxide and proinflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin 1 beta) from human monocytes and neutrophils, compared to nonfunctionalized discs. The macrophages show both elongated and round shapes on the two ceramic substrates, but the morphology of cells on heparinized β-TCP tends toward a higher elongation after 72 h. The heparinized substrates support rat mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) adhesion and proliferation, and anticipate the differentiation toward the osteoblastic lineage as compared to β-TCP and control. The coupling between the inflammatory response and osteogenesis is assessed by culturing MSCs with the macrophage supernatants. The downregulation of inflammation in contact with the heparinized substrates induces higher expression of bone-related markers by MSCs.

JTD Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Heparinization, Inflammation, Osteogenesis


Alcaraz, J., Otero, J., Jorba, I., Navajas, D., (2018). Bidirectional mechanobiology between cells and their local extracellular matrix probed by atomic force microscopy Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology 73, 71-81

There is growing recognition that the mechanical interactions between cells and their local extracellular matrix (ECM) are central regulators of tissue development, homeostasis, repair and disease progression. The unique ability of atomic force microscopy (AFM) to probe quantitatively mechanical properties and forces at the nanometer or micrometer scales in all kinds of biological samples has been instrumental in the recent advances in cell and tissue mechanics. In this review we illustrate how AFM has provided important insights on our current understanding of the mechanobiology of cells, ECM and cell-ECM bidirectional interactions, particularly in the context of soft acinar tissues like the mammary gland or pulmonary tissue. AFM measurements have revealed that intrinsic cell micromechanics is cell-type specific, and have underscored the prominent role of β1 integrin/FAK(Y397) signaling and the actomyosin cytoskeleton in the mechanoresponses of both parenchymal and stromal cells. Moreover AFM has unveiled that the micromechanics of the ECM obtained by tissue decellularization is unique for each anatomical compartment, which may support both its specific function and cell differentiation. AFM has also enabled identifying critical mechanoregulatory proteins involved in branching morphogenesis (MMP14) and acinar differentiation (α3β1 integrin), and has clarified the role of altered tissue mechanics and architecture in a variety of pathologic conditions. Critical technical issues of AFM mechanical measurements like tip geometry effects are also discussed.

JTD Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Beta1 integrin, Elastic modulus, Extracellular matrix, Morphogenesis, Tissue decellularization


Casanellas, Ignasi, García-Lizarribar, Andrea, Lagunas, Anna, Samitier, Josep, (2018). Producing 3D biomimetic nanomaterials for musculoskeletal system regeneration Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 6, Article 128

The human musculoskeletal system is comprised mainly of connective tissues such as cartilage, tendon, ligaments, skeletal muscle and skeletal bone. These tissues support the structure of the body, hold and protect the organs, and are responsible of movement. Since it is subjected to continuous strain, the musculoskeletal system is prone to injury by excessive loading forces or aging, whereas currently available treatments are usually invasive and not always effective. Most of the musculoskeletal injuries require surgical intervention facing a limited post-surgery tissue regeneration, especially for widespread lesions. Therefore, many tissue engineering approaches have been developed tackling musculoskeletal tissue regeneration. Materials are designed to meet the chemical and mechanical requirements of the native tissue three-dimensional (3D) environment, thus facilitating implant integration while providing a good reabsorption rate. With biological systems operating at the nanoscale, nanoengineered materials have been developed to support and promote regeneration at the interprotein communication level. Such materials call for a great precision and architectural control in the production process fostering the development of new fabrication techniques. In this mini review, we would like to summarize the most recent advances in 3D nanoengineered biomaterials for musculoskeletal tissue regeneration, with especial emphasis on the different techniques used to produce them.

JTD Keywords: Nanofiber, 3D printing, Musculoskeletal, Regeneration, Scaffold, Tissue Engineering, Stimuli-responsive


Farré, Ramon, Otero, Jordi, Almendros, Isaac, Navajas, Daniel, (2018). Bioengineered lungs: A challenge and an opportunity Archivos de Bronconeumología 54, (1), 31-38

Lung biofabrication is a new tissue engineering and regenerative development aimed at providing organs for potential use in transplantation. Lung biofabrication is based on seeding cells into an acellular organ scaffold and on culturing them in an especial purpose bioreactor. The acellular lung scaffold is obtained by decellularizing a non-transplantable donor lung by means of conventional procedures based on application of physical, enzymatic and detergent agents. To avoid immune recipient's rejection of the transplanted bioengineered lung, autologous bone marrow/adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells, lung progenitor cells or induced pluripotent stem cells are used for biofabricating the bioengineered lung. The bioreactor applies circulatory perfusion and mechanical ventilation with physiological parameters to the lung during biofabrication. These physical stimuli to the organ are translated into the stem cell local microenvironment - e.g. shear stress and cyclic stretch - so that cells sense the physiological conditions in normally functioning mature lungs. After seminal proof of concept in a rodent model was published in 2010, the hypothesis that lungs can be biofabricated is accepted and intense research efforts are being devoted to the topic. The current experimental evidence obtained so far in animal tests and in ex vivo human bioengineered lungs suggests that the date of first clinical tests, although not immediate, is coming. Lung bioengineering is a disrupting concept that poses a challenge for improving our basic science knowledge and is also an opportunity for facilitating lung transplantation in future clinical translation.

JTD Keywords: Tissue engineering, Regenerative medicine, Lung transplantation, Lung repair, Lung regeneration


Mata, A., Gil, V., Pérez-Clausell, J., Dasilva, M., González-Calixto, M. C., Soriano, E., García-Verdugo, J. M., Sanchez-Vives, M. V., Del Río, J. A., (2018). New functions of Semaphorin 3E and its receptor PlexinD1 during developing and adult hippocampal formation Scientific Reports 8, (1), 1381

The development and maturation of cortical circuits relies on the coordinated actions of long and short range axonal guidance cues. In this regard, the class 3 semaphorins and their receptors have been seen to be involved in the development and maturation of the hippocampal connections. However, although the role of most of their family members have been described, very few data about the participation of Semaphorin 3E (Sema3E) and its receptor PlexinD1 during the development and maturation of the entorhino-hippocampal (EH) connection are available. In the present study, we focused on determining their roles both during development and in adulthood. We determined a relevant role for Sema3E/PlexinD1 in the layer-specific development of the EH connection. Indeed, mice lacking Sema3E/PlexinD1 signalling showed aberrant layering of entorhinal axons in the hippocampus during embryonic and perinatal stages. In addition, absence of Sema3E/PlexinD1 signalling results in further changes in postnatal and adult hippocampal formation, such as numerous misrouted ectopic mossy fibers. More relevantly, we describe how subgranular cells express PlexinD1 and how the absence of Sema3E induces a dysregulation of the proliferation of dentate gyrus progenitors leading to the presence of ectopic cells in the molecular layer. Lastly, Sema3E mutant mice displayed increased network excitability both in the dentate gyrus and the hippocampus proper.

JTD Keywords: Adult neurogenesis, Axon and dendritic guidance


Menal, M. J., Jorba, I., Torres, M., Montserrat, J. M., Gozal, D., Colell, A., Piñol-Ripoll, G., Navajas, D., Almendros, I., Farré, R., (2018). Alzheimer's disease mutant mice exhibit reduced brain tissue stiffness compared to wild-type mice in both normoxia and following intermittent hypoxia mimicking sleep apnea Frontiers in Neurology 9, Article 1

Background: Evidence from patients and animal models suggests that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and that AD is associated with reduced brain tissue stiffness. Aim: To investigate whether intermittent hypoxia (IH) alters brain cortex tissue stiffness in AD mutant mice exposed to IH mimicking OSA. Methods: Six-eight month old (B6C3-Tg(APPswe,PSEN1dE9)85Dbo/J) AD mutant mice and wild-type (WT) littermates were subjected to IH (21% O2 40 s to 5% O2 20 s; 6 h/day) or normoxia for 8 weeks. After euthanasia, the stiffness (E) of 200-μm brain cortex slices was measured by atomic force microscopy. Results: Two-way ANOVA indicated significant cortical softening and weight increase in AD mice compared to WT littermates, but no significant effects of IH on cortical stiffness and weight were detected. In addition, reduced myelin was apparent in AD (vs. WT), but no significant differences emerged in the cortex extracellular matrix components laminin and glycosaminoglycans when comparing baseline AD and WT mice. Conclusion: AD mutant mice exhibit reduced brain tissue stiffness following both normoxia and IH mimicking sleep apnea, and such differences are commensurate with increased edema and demyelination in AD.

JTD Keywords: Animal model, Atomic force microscopy, Brain mechanics, Cortex stiffness, Neurodegenerative disease


Garreta, E., González, F., Montserrat, N., (2018). Studying kidney disease using tissue and genome engineering in human pluripotent stem cells Nephron 138, 48-59

Kidney morphogenesis and patterning have been extensively studied in animal models such as the mouse and zebrafish. These seminal studies have been key to define the molecular mechanisms underlying this complex multistep process. Based on this knowledge, the last 3 years have witnessed the development of a cohort of protocols allowing efficient differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) towards defined kidney progenitor populations using two-dimensional (2D) culture systems or through generating organoids. Kidney organoids are three-dimensional (3D) kidney-like tissues, which are able to partially recapitulate kidney structure and function in vitro. The current possibility to combine state-of-the art tissue engineering with clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated systems 9 (Cas9)-mediated genome engineering provides an unprecedented opportunity for studying kidney disease with hPSCs. Recently, hPSCs with genetic mutations introduced through CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome engineering have shown to produce kidney organoids able to recapitulate phenotypes of polycystic kidney disease and glomerulopathies. This mini review provides an overview of the most recent advances in differentiation of hPSCs into kidney lineages, and the latest implementation of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology in the organoid setting, as promising platforms to study human kidney development and disease.

JTD Keywords: Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated systems 9, Disease modeling, Gene editing, Human pluripotent stem cells, Kidney genetics, Tissue engineering


Casanellas, Ignasi, Lagunas, Anna, Tsintzou, Iro, Vida, Yolanda, Collado, Daniel, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Rodríguez-Pereira, Cristina, Magalhaes, Joana, Gorostiza, Pau, Andrades, José A., Becerra, José, Samitier, Josep, (2018). Dendrimer-based uneven nanopatterns to locally control surface adhesiveness: A method to direct chondrogenic differentiation Journal of Visualized Experiments Bioengineering, (131), e56347

Cellular adhesion and differentiation is conditioned by the nanoscale disposition of the extracellular matrix (ECM) components, with local concentrations having a major effect. Here we present a method to obtain large-scale uneven nanopatterns of arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD)-functionalized dendrimers that permit the nanoscale control of local RGD surface density. Nanopatterns are formed by surface adsorption of dendrimers from solutions at different initial concentrations and are characterized by water contact angle (CA), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and scanning probe microscopy techniques such as scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The local surface density of RGD is measured using AFM images by means of probability contour maps of minimum interparticle distances and then correlated with cell adhesion response and differentiation. The nanopatterning method presented here is a simple procedure that can be scaled up in a straightforward manner to large surface areas. It is thus fully compatible with cell culture protocols and can be applied to other ligands that exert concentration-dependent effects on cells.

JTD Keywords: Bioengineering, Dendrimer, Nanopattern, Arginine-Glycine-Aspartic Acid (RGD), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Cell Adhesion, Mesenchymal Stem Cells (Mscs), Chondrogenesis


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


Perez-Mockus, Gantas, Mazouni, Khalil, Roca, Vanessa, Corradi, Giulia, Conte, Vito, Schweisguth, François, (2017). Spatial regulation of contractility by Neuralized and Bearded during furrow invagination in Drosophila Nature Communications 8, (1), 1594

Embryo-scale morphogenesis arises from patterned mechanical forces. During Drosophila gastrulation, actomyosin contractility drives apical constriction in ventral cells, leading to furrow formation and mesoderm invagination. It remains unclear whether and how mechanical properties of the ectoderm influence this process. Here, we show that Neuralized (Neur), an E3 ubiquitin ligase active in the mesoderm, regulates collective apical constriction and furrow formation. Conversely, the Bearded (Brd) proteins antagonize maternal Neur and lower medial–apical contractility in the ectoderm: in Brd-mutant embryos, the ventral furrow invaginates properly but rapidly unfolds as medial MyoII levels increase in the ectoderm. Increasing contractility in the ectoderm via activated Rho similarly triggers furrow unfolding whereas decreasing contractility restores furrow invagination in Brd-mutant embryos. Thus, the inhibition of Neur by Brd in the ectoderm differentiates the mechanics of the ectoderm from that of the mesoderm and patterns the activity of MyoII along the dorsal–ventral axis.

JTD Keywords: Drosophila, Gastrulation, Morphogenesis


Hernández-Vega, Amayra, Marsal, María, Pouille, Philippe-Alexandre, Tosi, Sébastien, Colombelli, Julien, Luque, Tomás, Navajas, Daniel, Pagonabarraga, Ignacio, Martín-Blanco, Enrique, (2017). Polarized cortical tension drives zebrafish epiboly movements EMBO Journal 36, (1), 25-41

The principles underlying the biomechanics of morphogenesis are largely unknown. Epiboly is an essential embryonic event in which three tissues coordinate to direct the expansion of the blastoderm. How and where forces are generated during epiboly, and how these are globally coupled remains elusive. Here we developed a method, hydrodynamic regression (HR), to infer 3D pressure fields, mechanical power, and cortical surface tension profiles. HR is based on velocity measurements retrieved from 2D+T microscopy and their hydrodynamic modeling. We applied HR to identify biomechanically active structures and changes in cortex local tension during epiboly in zebrafish. Based on our results, we propose a novel physical description for epiboly, where tissue movements are directed by a polarized gradient of cortical tension. We found that this gradient relies on local contractile forces at the cortex, differences in elastic properties between cortex components and the passive transmission of forces within the yolk cell. All in all, our work identifies a novel way to physically regulate concerted cellular movements that might be instrumental for the mechanical control of many morphogenetic processes.

JTD Keywords: Epiboly, Hydrodynamics, Mechanics, Morphogenesis, Zebrafish


Feiner-Gracia, Natalia, Beck, Michaela, Pujals, Sílvia, Tosi, Sébastien, Mandal, Tamoghna, Buske, Christian, Linden, Mika, Albertazzi, Lorenzo, (2017). Super-resolution microscopy unveils dynamic heterogeneities in nanoparticle protein corona Small 13, (41), 1701631

The adsorption of serum proteins, leading to the formation of a biomolecular corona, is a key determinant of the biological identity of nanoparticles in vivo. Therefore, gaining knowledge on the formation, composition, and temporal evolution of the corona is of utmost importance for the development of nanoparticle-based therapies. Here, it is shown that the use of super-resolution optical microscopy enables the imaging of the protein corona on mesoporous silica nanoparticles with single protein sensitivity. Particle-by-particle quantification reveals a significant heterogeneity in protein absorption under native conditions. Moreover, the diversity of the corona evolves over time depending on the surface chemistry and degradability of the particles. This paper investigates the consequences of protein adsorption for specific cell targeting by antibody-functionalized nanoparticles providing a detailed understanding of corona-activity relations. The methodology is widely applicable to a variety of nanostructures and complements the existing ensemble approaches for protein corona study.

JTD Keywords: Heterogeneity, Mesoporous silica nanoparticles, Protein corona, Super-resolution imaging, Targeting


Oliveira, H., Catros, S., Castano, O., Rey, Sylvie, Siadous, R., Clift, D., Marti-Munoz, J., Batista, M., Bareille, R., Planell, J., Engel, E., Amédée, J., (2017). The proangiogenic potential of a novel calcium releasing composite biomaterial: Orthotopic in vivo evaluation Acta Biomaterialia 54, 377-385

Insufficient angiogenesis remains a major hurdle in current bone tissue engineering strategies. An extensive body of work has focused on the use of angiogenic factors or endothelial progenitor cells. However, these approaches are inherently complex, in terms of regulatory and methodologic implementation, and present a high cost. We have recently demonstrate the potential of electrospun poly(lactic acid) (PLA) fiber-based membranes, containing calcium phosphate (CaP) ormoglass particles, to elicit angiogenesis in vivo, in a subcutaneous model in mice. Here we have devised an injectable composite, containing CaP glass-ceramic particles, dispersed within a (Hydroxypropyl)methyl cellulose (HPMC) matrix, with the capacity to release calcium in a more sustained fashion. We show that by tuning the release of calcium in vivo, in a rat bone defect model, we could improve both bone formation and increase angiogenesis. The bone regeneration kinetics was dependent on the Ca2+ release rate, with the faster Ca2+ release composite gel showing improved bone repair at 3 weeks, in relation to control. In the same line, improved angiogenesis could be observed for the same gel formulation at 6 weeks post implantation. This methodology allows to integrate two fundamental processes for bone tissue regeneration while using a simple, cost effective, and safe approach. Statement of Significance In current bone tissue engineering approaches the achievement of sufficient angiogenesis, during tissue regeneration, is a major limitation in order to attain full tissue functionality. Recently, we have shown that calcium ions, released by the degradation of calcium phosphate ormoglasses (CaP), are effective angiogenic promoters, in both in vitro and in a subcutaneous implantation model. Here, we devised an injectable composite, containing CaP glass-ceramic particles, dispersed within a HPMC matrix, enabling the release of calcium in a more sustained fashion. We show that by tuning the release of calcium in vivo, in a rat bone defect model, we could improve both bone formation and increase angiogenesis. This simple and cost effective approach holds great promise to translate to the clinics.

JTD Keywords: Angiogenesis, Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate ormoglasses


Li, Haiyue, Xu, Bin, Zhou, Enhua H., Sunyer, Raimon, Zhang, Yanhang, (2017). Multiscale measurements of the mechanical properties of collagen matrix ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering 3, (11), 2815-2824

The underlying mechanisms by which extracellular matrix (ECM) mechanics influences cell and tissue function remain to be elucidated because the events associated with this process span size scales from tissue to molecular level. Furthermore, ECM has an extremely complex hierarchical 3D structure and the load distribution is highly dependent on the architecture and mechanical properties of ECM. In the present study, the macro- and microscale mechanical properties of collagen gel were studied. Dynamic rheological testing was performed to study the macroscale mechanical properties of collagen gel. The microscale mechanical properties of collagen gel were measured using optical magnetic twisting cytometry (OMTC). Ferromagnetic beads embedded in the matrix were used as mechanical probes. Our study on the multiscale mechanical properties of collage matrix suggests several interesting differences between macro and microscale mechanical properties originated from the scales of measurements. At the macroscopic scale, storage and loss modulus increase with collagen concentrations. Nonaffine collagen fibril structural network deformation plays an important role in determining the macroscopic mechanical properties of the collagen matrix. At the microscopic scale, however, the local mechanical properties are less sensitive to changes in collagen concentration because of the more immediate/direct deformation of collagen fibrils in the OMTC measurements through forces exerted by locally attached ferromagnetic beads. The loss modulus is more affected by the local interstitial fluid environment, leading to a rather dramatic increase in viscosity with frequency, especially at higher frequencies (>10 Hz). A finite element model was developed to study the geometric factors in the OMTC measurements when the collagen matrix was considered to be hyperelastic. Our results show that the geometric factors are dependent on collagen concentration, or the stiffness of matrix, when nonlinear material properties of the matrix are considered, and thus interpretation of the apparent modulus from OMTC measurements should be conducted carefully.

JTD Keywords: Keywords: collagen, Extracellular matrix, Geometric factor, Nonaffine deformation, Optical magnetic twisting cytometry


Sachot, N., Roguska, A., Planell, J. P., Lewandowska, M., Engel, E., Castaño, O., (2017). Fast-degrading PLA/ORMOGLASS fibrous composite scaffold leads to a calcium-rich angiogenic environment International Journal of Nanomedicine 12, 4901-4919

The success of scaffold implantation in acellular tissue engineering approaches relies on the ability of the material to interact properly with the biological environment. This behavior mainly depends on the design of the graft surface and, more precisely, on its capacity to biodegrade in a well-defined manner (nature of ions released, surface-to-volume ratio, dissolution profile of this release, rate of material resorption, and preservation of mechanical properties). The assessment of the biological behavior of temporary templates is therefore very important in tissue engineering, especially for composites, which usually exhibit complicated degradation behavior. Here, blended polylactic acid (PLA) calcium phosphate ORMOGLASS (organically modified glass) nanofibrous mats have been incubated up to 4 weeks in physiological simulated conditions, and their morphological, topographical, and chemical changes have been investigated. The results showed that a significant loss of inorganic phase occurred at the beginning of the immersion and the ORMOGLASS maintained a stable composition afterward throughout the degradation period. As a whole, the nanostructured scaffolds underwent fast and heterogeneous degradation. This study reveals that an angiogenic calcium-rich environment can be achieved through fast-degrading ORMOGLASS/PLA blended fibers, which seems to be an excellent alternative for guided bone regeneration.

JTD Keywords: Angiogenesis, Calcium release, Electrospinning, Fast degradation, Nanofibers, ORMOGLASSES


Crespo, Anna, Pedraz, Lucas, Van Der Hofstadt, Marc, Gomila, Gabriel, Torrents, Eduard, (2017). Regulation of ribonucleotide synthesis by the Pseudomonas aeruginosa two-component system AlgR in response to oxidative stress Scientific Reports 7, (1), 17892

Ribonucleotide reductases (RNR) catalyze the last step of deoxyribonucleotide synthesis, and are therefore essential to DNA-based life. Three forms of RNR exist: classes I, II, and III. While eukaryotic cells use only class Ia RNR, bacteria can harbor any combination of classes, granting them adaptability. The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa surprisingly encodes all three classes, allowing it to thrive in different environments. Here we study an aspect of the complex RNR regulation whose molecular mechanism has never been elucidated, the well-described induction through oxidative stress, and link it to the AlgZR two-component system, the primary regulator of the mucoid phenotype. Through bioinformatics, we identify AlgR binding locations in RNR promoters, which we characterize functionally through EMSA and physically through AFM imaging. Gene reporter assays in different growth models are used to study the AlgZR-mediated control on the RNR network under various environmental conditions and physiological states. Thereby, we show that the two-component system AlgZR, which is crucial for bacterial conversion to the mucoid phenotype associated with chronic disease, controls the RNR network and directs how the DNA synthesis pathway is modulated in mucoid and non-mucoid biofilms, allowing it to respond to oxidative stress.

JTD Keywords: Bacterial genes, Bacteriology, Pathogens


Crespo, A., Gavaldà, J., Julián, E., Torrents, E., (2017). A single point mutation in class III ribonucleotide reductase promoter renders Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 inefficient for anaerobic growth and infection Scientific Reports 7, (1), 13350

Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain PAO1 has become the reference strain in many laboratories. One enzyme that is essential for its cell division is the ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) enzyme that supplies the deoxynucleotides required for DNA synthesis and repair. P. aeruginosa is one of the few microorganisms that encodes three different RNR classes (Ia, II and III) in its genome, enabling it to grow and adapt to diverse environmental conditions, including during infection. In this work, we demonstrate that a lack of RNR activity induces cell elongation in P. aeruginosa PAO1. Moreover, RNR gene expression during anaerobiosis differs among P. aeruginosa strains, with class III highly expressed in P. aeruginosa clinical isolates relative to the laboratory P. aeruginosa PAO1 strain. A single point mutation was identified in the P. aeruginosa PAO1 strain class III RNR promoter region that disrupts its anaerobic transcription by the Dnr regulator. An engineered strain that induces the class III RNR expression allows P. aeruginosa PAO1 anaerobic growth and increases its virulence to resemble that of clinical strains. Our results demonstrate that P. aeruginosa PAO1 is adapted to laboratory conditions and is not the best reference strain for anaerobic or infection studies.

JTD Keywords: Bacterial genes, Cellular microbiology, Pathogens


Diez-Escudero, A., Espanol, M., Montufar, E. B., Di Pompo, G., Ciapetti, G., Baldini, N., Ginebra, M. P., (2017). Focus ion beam/scanning electron microscopy characterization of osteoclastic resorption of calcium phosphate substrates Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods , 23, (2), 118-124

This article presents the application of dual focused ion beam/scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) imaging for preclinical testing of calcium phosphates with osteoclast precursor cells and how this high-resolution imaging technique is able to reveal microstructural changes at a level of detail previously not possible. Calcium phosphate substrates, having similar compositions but different microstructures, were produced using low-and high-Temperature processes (biomimetic calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite [CDHA] and stoichiometric sintered hydroxyapatite, respectively). Human osteoclast precursor cells were cultured for 21 days before evaluating their resorptive potential on varying microstructural features. Alternative to classical morphological evaluation of osteoclasts (OC), FIB-SEM was used to observe the subjacent microstructure by transversally sectioning cells and observing both the cells and the substrates. Resorption pits, indicating OC activity, were visible on the smoother surface of high-Temperature sintered hydroxyapatite. FIB-SEM analysis revealed signs of acidic degradation on the grain surface under the cells, as well as intergranular dissolution. No resorption pits were evident on the surface of the rough CDHA substrates. However, whereas no degradation was detected by FIB sections in the material underlying some of the cells, early stages of OC-mediated acidic degradation were observed under cells with more spread morphology. Collectively, these results highlight the potential of FIB to evaluate the resorptive activity of OC, even in rough, irregular, or coarse surfaces where degradation pits are otherwise difficult to visualize.

JTD Keywords: Bone Regeneration, Calcium Phosphate, Focus Ion Beam, Osteoclast, Resorption, Scanning Electron Microscopy


Castellanos, M. I., Guillem-Marti, J., Mas-Moruno, C., Díaz-Ricart, M., Escolar, G., Ginebra, M. P., Gil, F. J., Pegueroles, M., Manero, J. M., (2017). Cell adhesive peptides functionalized on CoCr alloy stimulate endothelialization and prevent thrombogenesis and restenosis Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A , 105, (4), 973-983

Immobilization of bioactive peptide sequences on CoCr surfaces is an effective route to improve endothelialization, which is of great interest for cardiovascular stents. In this work, we explored the effect of physical and covalent immoblization of RGDS, YIGSR and their equimolar combination peptides on endothelial cells (EC) and smooth muscle cell (SMC) adhesion and on thrombogenicity. We extensively investigated using RT-qPCR, the expression by ECs cultured on functionalised CoCr surfaces of different genes. Genes relevant for adhesion (ICAM-1 and VCAM-1), vascularization (VEGFA, VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2) and anti-thrombogenicity (tPA and eNOS) were over-expressed in the ECs grown to covalently functionalized CoCr surfaces compared to physisorbed and control surfaces. Pro-thrombogenic genes expression (PAI-1 and vWF) decreased over time. Cell co-cultures of ECs/SMCs found that functionalization increased the amount of adhered ECs onto modified surfaces compared to plain CoCr, independently of the used peptide and the strategy of immobilization. SMCs adhered less compared to ECs in all surfaces. All studied peptides showed a lower platelet cell adhesion compared to TCPS. Covalent functionalization of CoCr surfaces with an equimolar combination of RGDS and YIGSR represented prevailing strategy to enhance the early stages of ECs adhesion and proliferation, while preventing SMCs and platelet adhesion.

JTD Keywords: Cell coculture, CoCr alloy, Functionalization, Gene expression, Platelet adhesion


Schwab, S., Lehmann, J., Lutz, P., Jansen, C., Appenrodt, B., Lammert, F., Strassburg, C. P., Spengler, U., Nischalke, H. D., Trebicka, J., (2017). Influence of genetic variations in the SOD1 gene on the development of ascites and spontaneous bacterial peritonitis in decompensated liver cirrhosis European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology , 29, (7), 800-804

Background The balance between generation and elimination of reactive oxygen species by superoxide dismutase (SOD) is crucially involved in the pathophysiology of liver cirrhosis. Reactive oxygen species damage cells and induce inflammation/fibrosis, but also play a critical role in immune defense from pathogens. As both processes are involved in the development of liver cirrhosis and its complications, genetic variation of the SOD1 gene was investigated. Patients and methods Two SOD1 single nucleotide polymorphisms (rs1041740 and rs3844942) were analyzed in 49 cirrhotic patients undergoing liver transplantation. In addition, 344 cirrhotic patients with ascites were analyzed in a cohort of 521 individuals in terms of the relationship of these polymorphisms with spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP). Results Although rs3844942 showed no associations with complications of cirrhosis, we observed a significant association between rs1041740 and the presence of ascites and SBP in the discovery cohort of patients with cirrhosis. Importantly, the association with SBP was not confirmed in the validation cohort of patients with ascites. By contrast, a trend toward lower SBP rates was observed in carriers of rs1041740. In this cohort, rs1041740 was not associated with survival. Conclusion These data suggest a complex role of SOD1 in different processes leading to complications of liver cirrhosis. rs1041740 might be associated with the development of ascites and possibly plays a role in SBP once ascites has developed.

JTD Keywords: Ascites, Genetic polymorphism, Liver cirrhosis, Reactive oxygen stress, Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, Superoxide dismutases


Urrea, Laura, Ferrer, Isidro, Gavín, Rosalina, del Río, José Antonio, (2017). The cellular prion protein (PrPC) as neuronal receptor for α-synuclein Prion , 11, (4), 226-233

The term ‘prion-like’ is used to define some misfolded protein species that propagate intercellularly, triggering protein aggregation in recipient cells. For cell binding, both direct plasma membrane interaction and membrane receptors have been described for particular amyloids. In this respect, emerging evidence demonstrates that several β-sheet enriched proteins can bind to the cellular prion protein (PrPC). Among other interactions, the physiological relevance of the binding between β-amyloid and PrPC has been a relevant focus of numerous studies. At the molecular level, published data point to the second charged cluster domain of the PrPC molecule as the relevant binding domain of the β-amyloid/PrPC interaction. In addition to β-amyloid, participation of PrPC in binding α-synuclein, responsible for neurodegenerative synucleopathies, has been reported. Although results indicate relevant participation of PrPC in the spreading of α-synuclein in living mice, the physiological relevance of the interaction remains elusive. In this comment, we focus our attention on summarizing current knowledge of PrPC as a receptor for amyloid proteins and its physiological significance, with particular focus on α-synuclein.

JTD Keywords: α-synuclein, Charged cluster domain, Interneuronal transport, LAG3, Neurodegeneration, PrPC, Parkinson disease


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


Xia, Yun, Montserrat, Nuria, Campistol, Josep M., Izpisua Belmonte, Juan Carlos, Remuzzi, Giuseppe, Williams, David F., (2017). Lineage reprogramming toward kidney regeneration Kidney Transplantation, Bioengineering and Regeneration (ed. Orlando, G., Remuzzi, Giuseppe, Williams, David F.), Academic Press (London, UK) , 1167-1175

We have known for decades that it is possible to switch the phenotype of one somatic cell type into another. Such epigenetic rewiring processes can be artificially managed and even reversed by using a defined set of transcription factors. Lineage reprogramming is very often defined as a process of converting one cell type into another without going through a pluripotent state, providing great promise for regenerative medicine. However, the identification of key transcription factors for lineage reprogramming is limited, due to the exhaustive and expensive experimental processes. Accumulating knowledge of genetic and epigenetic regulatory networks that are critical for defining a specific lineage provides unprecedented opportunities to model and predict pioneering factors that may drive directional lineage reprogramming to obtain the desired cell type.

JTD Keywords: Reprogramming, Pluripotency, Differentiation, Lineage specification, Epigenetic regulatory network, Regeneration


Parmar, J., Vilela, D., Pellicer, E., Esqué-de los Ojos, D., Sort, J., Sánchez, S., (2016). Reusable and long-lasting active microcleaners for heterogeneous water remediation Advanced Functional Materials 26, (23), 4152-4161

Self-powered micromachines are promising tools for future environmental remediation technology. Waste-water treatment and water reuse is an essential part of environmental sustainability. Herein, we present reusable Fe/Pt multi-functional active microcleaners that are capable of degrading organic pollutants (malachite green and 4-nitrophenol) by generated hydroxyl radicals via a Fenton-like reaction. Various different properties of microcleaners, such as the effect of their size, short-term storage, long-term storage, reusability, continuous swimming capability, surface composition, and mechanical properties, are studied. It is found that these microcleaners can continuously swim for more than 24 hours and can be stored more than 5 weeks during multiple cleaning cycles. The produced microcleaners can also be reused, which reduces the cost of the process. During the reuse cycles the outer iron surface of the Fe/Pt microcleaners generates the in-situ, heterogeneous Fenton catalyst and releases a low concentration of iron into the treated water, while the mechanical properties also appear to be improved due to both its surface composition and structural changes. The microcleaners are characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), nanoindentation, and finite-element modeling (FEM).

JTD Keywords: Catalysts, Heterogeneous catalysis, Microcleaners, Micromotors, Nanorobots, Wastewater treatment


Garreta, E., de Oñate, L., Fernández-Santos, M. E., Oria, R., Tarantino, C., Climent, A. M., Marco, A., Samitier, M., Martínez, Elena, Valls-Margarit, M., Matesanz, R., Taylor, D. A., Fernández-Avilés, F., Izpisua Belmonte, J. C., Montserrat, N., (2016). Myocardial commitment from human pluripotent stem cells: Rapid production of human heart grafts Biomaterials 98, 64-78

Genome editing on human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) together with the development of protocols for organ decellularization opens the door to the generation of autologous bioartificial hearts. Here we sought to generate for the first time a fluorescent reporter human embryonic stem cell (hESC) line by means of Transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) to efficiently produce cardiomyocyte-like cells (CLCs) from hPSCs and repopulate decellularized human heart ventricles for heart engineering. In our hands, targeting myosin heavy chain locus (MYH6) with mCherry fluorescent reporter by TALEN technology in hESCs did not alter major pluripotent-related features, and allowed for the definition of a robust protocol for CLCs production also from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) in 14 days. hPSCs-derived CLCs (hPSCs-CLCs) were next used to recellularize acellular cardiac scaffolds. Electrophysiological responses encountered when hPSCs-CLCs were cultured on ventricular decellularized extracellular matrix (vdECM) correlated with significant increases in the levels of expression of different ion channels determinant for calcium homeostasis and heart contractile function. Overall, the approach described here allows for the rapid generation of human cardiac grafts from hPSCs, in a total of 24 days, providing a suitable platform for cardiac engineering and disease modeling in the human setting.

JTD Keywords: Cardiac function, Extracellular matrix, Gene targeting, Pluripotent stem cells


Oliveira, Hugo, Catros, Sylvain, Boiziau, Claudine, Siadous, Robin, Marti-Munoz, Joan, Bareille, Reine, Rey, Sylvie, Castano, Oscar, Planell, Josep, Amédée, Joëlle, Engel, Elisabeth, (2016). The proangiogenic potential of a novel calcium releasing biomaterial: Impact on cell recruitment Acta Biomaterialia 29, 435-445

Abstract In current bone tissue engineering strategies the achievement of sufficient angiogenesis during tissue regeneration is still a major limitation in order to attain full functionality. Several strategies have been described to tackle this problem, mainly by the use of angiogenic factors or endothelial progenitor cells. However, when facing a clinical scenario these approaches are inherently complex and present a high cost. As such, more cost effective alternatives are awaited. Here, we demonstrate the potential of electrospun poly(lactic acid) (PLA) fiber-based membranes, containing calcium phosphate ormoglass (CaP) particles, to elicit angiogenesis in vivo, in a subcutaneous model in mice. We show that the current approach elicited the local expression of angiogenic factors, associated to a chemotactic effect on macrophages, and sustained angiogenesis into the biomaterial. As both PLA and CaP are currently accepted for clinical application these off-the-shelf novel membranes have great potential for guided bone regeneration applications. Statement of significance In current bone tissue engineering approaches the achievement of sufficient angiogenesis, during tissue regeneration, is a major limitation in order to attain full tissue functionality. Recently, our group has found that calcium ions released by the degradation of calcium phosphate ormoglasses (CaP) are effective angiogenic promoters. Based on this, in this work we successfully produced hybrid fibrous mats with different contents of CaP nanoparticles and thus with different calcium ion release rates, using an ormoglass – poly(lactic acid) blend approach. We show that these matrices, upon implantation in a subcutaneous site, could elicit the local expression of angiogenic factors, associated to a chemotactic effect on macrophages, and sustained angiogenesis into the biomaterial, in a CaP dose dependent manner. This off-the-shelf cost effective approach presents great potential to translate to the clinics.

JTD Keywords: Angiogenesis, Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate ormoglass


Eguizabal, C., Herrera, L., De Oñate, L., Montserrat, N., Hajkova, P., Izpisua Belmonte, J. C., (2016). Characterization of the epigenetic changes during human gonadal primordial germ cells reprogramming Stem Cells , 34, (9), 2418-2428

Abstract: Epigenetic reprogramming is a central process during mammalian germline development. Genome-wide DNA demethylation in primordial germ cells (PGCs) is a prerequisite for the erasure of epigenetic memory, preventing the transmission of epimutations to the next generation. Apart from DNA demethylation, germline reprogramming has been shown to entail reprogramming of histone marks and chromatin remodelling. Contrary to other animal models, there is limited information about the epigenetic dynamics during early germ cell development in humans. Here, we provide further characterization of the epigenetic configuration of the early human gonadal PGCs. We show that early gonadal human PGCs are DNA hypomethylated and their chromatin is characterized by low H3K9me2 and high H3K27me3 marks. Similarly to previous observations in mice, human gonadal PGCs undergo dynamic chromatin changes concomitant with the erasure of genomic imprints. Interestingly, and contrary to mouse early germ cells, expression of BLIMP1/PRDM1 persists in through all gestational stages in human gonadal PGCs and is associated with nuclear lysine-specific demethylase-1. Our work provides important additional information regarding the chromatin changes associated with human PGCs development between 6 and 13 weeks of gestation in male and female gonads.

JTD Keywords: Epigenetic, Human primordial germ cells, Reprograming


Wills, C. R., Malandrino, A., Van Rijsbergen, M., Lacroix, D., Ito, K., Noailly, J., (2016). Simulating the sensitivity of cell nutritive environment to composition changes within the intervertebral disc Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids 90, 108-123

Altered nutrition in the intervertebral disc affects cell viability and can generate catabolic cascades contributing to extracellular matrix (ECM) degradation. Such degradation is expected to affect couplings between disc mechanics and nutrition, contributing to accelerate degenerative processes. However, the relation of ECM changes to major biophysical events within the loaded disc remains unclear. A L4-L5 disc finite element model including the nucleus (NP), annulus (AF) and endplates was used and coupled to a transport-cell viability model. Solute concentrations and cell viability were evaluated along the mid-sagittal plane path. A design of experiment (DOE) was performed. DOE parameters corresponded to AF and NP biochemical tissue measurements in discs with different degeneration grades. Cell viability was not affected by any parameter combinations defined. Nonetheless, the initial water content was the parameter that affected the most the solute contents, especially glucose. Calculations showed that altered NP composition could negatively affect AF cell nutrition. Results suggested that AF and NP tissue degeneration are not critical to nutrition-related cell viability at early-stage of disc degeneration. However, small ECM degenerative changes may alter significantly disc nutrition under mechanical loads. Coupling disc mechano-transport simulations and enzyme expression studies could allow identifying spatiotemporal sequences related to tissue catabolism.

JTD Keywords: Cell nutrition, Finite element analysis, Intervertebral disc degeneration, Multiphysics, Tissue composition


Crespo, Anna, Pedraz, Lucas, Astola, Josep, Torrents, Eduard, (2016). Pseudomonas aeruginosa exhibits deficient biofilm formation in the absence of class II and III ribonucleotide reductases due to hindered anaerobic growth Frontiers in Microbiology 7, Article 688

Chronic lung infections by the ubiquitous and extremely adaptable opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa correlate with the formation of a biofilm, where bacteria grow in association with an extracellular matrix and display a wide range of changes in gene expression and metabolism. This leads to increased resistance to physical stress and antibiotic therapies, while enhancing cell-to-cell communication. Oxygen diffusion through the complex biofilm structure generates an oxygen concentration gradient, leading to the appearance of anaerobic microenvironments. Ribonucleotide reductases (RNRs) are a family of highly sophisticated enzymes responsible for the synthesis of the deoxyribonucleotides, and they constitute the only de novo pathway for the formation of the building blocks needed for DNA synthesis and repair. P. aeruginosa is one of the few bacteria encoding all three known RNR classes (Ia, II, and III). Class Ia RNRs are oxygen dependent, class II are oxygen independent, and class III are oxygen sensitive. A tight control of RNR activity is essential for anaerobic growth and therefore for biofilm development. In this work we explored the role of the different RNR classes in biofilm formation under aerobic and anaerobic initial conditions and using static and continuous-flow biofilm models. We demonstrated the importance of class II and III RNR for proper cell division in biofilm development and maturation. We also determined that these classes are transcriptionally induced during biofilm formation and under anaerobic conditions. The molecular mechanism of their anaerobic regulation was also studied, finding that the Anr/Dnr system is responsible for class II RNR induction. These data can be integrated with previous knowledge about biofilms in a model where these structures are understood as a set of layers determined by oxygen concentration and contain cells with different RNR expression profiles, bringing us a step closer to the understanding of this complex growth pattern, essential for P. aeruginosa chronic infections.

JTD Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Ribonucleotide Reductases, Vitamin B 12, Anaerobic metabolism, Biofilm formation, DNA Synthesis, Oxygen diffusion, nrd genes.


Tahirbegi, I.B., Pardo, W.A., Alvira, M., Mir, M., Samitier, J., (2016). Amyloid Aβ 42, a promoter of magnetite nanoparticle formation in Alzheimer's disease Nanotechnology 27, (46), 465102

The accumulation of iron oxides - mainly magnetite - with amyloid peptide is a key process in the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the mechanism for biogeneration of magnetite inside the brain of someone with AD is still unclear. The iron-storing protein ferritin has been identified as the main magnetite-storing molecule. However, accumulations of magnetite in AD are not correlated with an increase in ferritin, leaving this question unresolved. Here we demonstrate the key role of amyloid peptide Aβ 42, one of the main hallmarks of AD, in the generation of magnetite nanoparticles in the absence of ferritin. The capacity of amyloid peptide to bind and concentrate iron hydroxides, the basis for the formation of magnetite, benefits the spontaneous synthesis of these nanoparticles, even under unfavorable conditions for their formation. Using scanning and transmission electron microscopy, electron energy loss spectroscopy and magnetic force microscopy we characterized the capacity of amyloid peptide Aβ 42 to promote magnetite formation.

JTD Keywords: Alzheimer disease (AD), amyloid peptide Ab42, magnetite nanoparticle, metallobiomolecule, iron oxide, neurodegenerative brain diseases


del Río, J. A., Gavín, R., (2016). Functions of the cellular prion protein, the end of Moore's law, and Ockham's razor theory Prion , 10, (1), 25-40

Since its discovery the cellular prion protein (encoded by the Prnp gene) has been associated with a large number of functions. The proposed functions rank from basic cellular processes such as cell cycle and survival to neural functions such as behavior and neuroprotection, following a pattern similar to that of Moore's law for electronics. In addition, particular interest is increasing in the participation of Prnp in neurodegeneration. However, in recent years a redefinition of these functions has begun, since examples of previously attributed functions were increasingly re-associated with other proteins. Most of these functions are linked to so-called “Prnp-flanking genes” that are close to the genomic locus of Prnp and which are present in the genome of some Prnp mouse models. In addition, their role in neuroprotection against convulsive insults has been confirmed in recent studies. Lastly, in recent years a large number of models indicating the participation of different domains of the protein in apoptosis have been uncovered. However, after more than 10 years of molecular dissection our view is that the simplest mechanistic model in PrPC-mediated cell death should be considered, as Ockham's razor theory suggested.

JTD Keywords: Neurodegeneration, Prion, PrP


González, F., (2016). CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing in human pluripotent stem cells: Harnessing human genetics in a dish Developmental Dynamics , 245, (7), 788-806

Abstract: Because of their extraordinary differentiation potential, human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) can differentiate into virtually any cell type of the human body, providing a powerful platform not only for generating relevant cell types useful for cell replacement therapies, but also for modeling human development and disease. Expanding this potential, structures resembling human organs, termed organoids, have been recently obtained from hPSCs through tissue engineering. Organoids exhibit multiple cell types self-organizing into structures recapitulating in part the physiology and the cellular interactions observed in the organ in vivo, offering unprecedented opportunities for human disease modeling. To fulfill this promise, tissue engineering in hPSCs needs to be supported by robust and scalable genome editing technologies. With the advent of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology, manipulating the genome of hPSCs has now become an easy task, allowing modifying their genome with superior precision, speed, and throughput. Here we review current and potential applications of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology in hPSCs and how they contribute to establish hPSCs as a model of choice for studying human genetics.

JTD Keywords: CRISPR/Cas9, Disease modeling, Human genetics, Human pluripotent stem cells, Tissue and genome engineering


Malandrino, Andrea, Pozo, Jose Maria, Castro-Mateos, Isaac, Frangi, Alejandro F., van Rijsbergen, Marc M., Ito, Keita, Wilke, Hans-Joachim, Dao, Tien Tuan, Ho Ba Tho, Marie-Christine, Noailly, Jerome, (2015). On the relative relevance of subject-specific geometries and degeneration-specific mechanical properties for the study of cell death in human intervertebral disc models Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 3, (Article 5), 1-15

Capturing patient- or condition-specific intervertebral disk (IVD) properties in finite element models is outmost important in order to explore how biomechanical and biophysical processes may interact in spine diseases. However, disk degenerative changes are often modeled through equations similar to those employed for healthy organs, which might not be valid. As for the simulated effects of degenerative changes, they likely depend on specific disk geometries. Accordingly, we explored the ability of continuum tissue models to simulate disk degenerative changes. We further used the results in order to assess the interplay between these simulated changes and particular IVD morphologies, in relation to disk cell nutrition, a potentially important factor in disk tissue regulation. A protocol to derive patient-specific computational models from clinical images was applied to different spine specimens. In vitro, IVD creep tests were used to optimize poro-hyperelastic input material parameters in these models, in function of the IVD degeneration grade. The use of condition-specific tissue model parameters in the specimen-specific geometrical models was validated against independent kinematic measurements in vitro. Then, models were coupled to a transport-cell viability model in order to assess the respective effects of tissue degeneration and disk geometry on cell viability. While classic disk poro-mechanical models failed in representing known degenerative changes, additional simulation of tissue damage allowed model validation and gave degeneration-dependent material properties related to osmotic pressure and water loss, and to increased fibrosis. Surprisingly, nutrition-induced cell death was independent of the grade-dependent material properties, but was favored by increased diffusion distances in large IVDs. Our results suggest that in situ geometrical screening of IVD morphology might help to anticipate particular mechanisms of disk degeneration.

JTD Keywords: Intervertebral Disc Degeneration, Finite element modelling, Lumbar spine, Poroelasticity, Damage model, Subject-specific modelling, Disc cell nutrition


Kovtun, A., Goeckelmann, M. J., Niclas, A. A., Montufar, E. B., Ginebra, M. P., Planell, J. A., Santin, M., Ignatius, A., (2015). In vivo performance of novel soybean/gelatin-based bioactive and injectable hydroxyapatite foams Acta Biomaterialia Elsevier Ltd 12, (1), 242-249

Major limitations of calcium phosphate cements (CPCs) are their relatively slow degradation rate and the lack of macropores allowing the ingrowth of bone tissue. The development of self-setting cement foams has been proposed as a suitable strategy to overcome these limitations. In previous work we developed a gelatine-based hydroxyapatite foam (G-foam), which exhibited good injectability and cohesion, interconnected porosity and good biocompatibility in vitro. In the present study we evaluated the in vivo performance of the G-foam. Furthermore, we investigated whether enrichment of the foam with soybean extract (SG-foam) increased its bioactivity. G-foam, SG-foam and non-foamed CPC were implanted in a critical-size bone defect in the distal femoral condyle of New Zealand white rabbits. Bone formation and degradation of the materials were investigated after 4, 12 and 20 weeks using histological and biomechanical methods. The foams maintained their macroporosity after injection and setting in vivo. Compared to non-foamed CPC, cellular degradation of the foams was considerably increased and accompanied by new bone formation. The additional functionalization with soybean extract in the SG-foam slightly reduced the degradation rate and positively influenced bone formation in the defect. Furthermore, both foams exhibited excellent biocompatibility, implying that these novel materials may be promising for clinical application in non-loaded bone defects.

JTD Keywords: Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate cement, Gelatine, Rabbit model, Soybean


Solórzano, Carla, Srikumar, Shabarinath, Canals, Rocío, Juárez, Antonio, Paytubi, Sonia, Madrid, Cristina, (2015). Hha has a defined regulatory role that is not dependent upon H-NS or StpA Frontiers in Microbiology 6, Article 773

The Hha family of proteins is involved in the regulation of gene expression in enterobacteria by forming complexes with H-NS-like proteins. Whereas several amino acid residues of both proteins participate in the interaction, some of them play a key role. Residue D48 of Hha protein is essential for the interaction with H-NS, thus the D48N substitution in Hha protein abrogates H-NS/Hha interaction. Despite being a paralog of H-NS protein, StpA interacts with HhaD48N with higher affinity than with the wild type Hha protein. To analyze whether Hha is capable of acting independently of H-NS and StpA, we conducted transcriptomic analysis on the hha and stpA deletion strains and the hhaD48N substitution strain of Salmonella Typhimurium using a custom microarray. The results obtained allowed the identification of 120 genes regulated by Hha in an H-NS/StpA-independent manner, 38% of which are horizontally acquired genes. A significant number of the identified genes are involved in functions related to cell motility, iron uptake, and pathogenicity. Thus, motility assays, siderophore detection and intra-macrophage replication assays were performed to confirm the transcriptomic data. Our findings point out the importance of Hha protein as an independent regulator in S. Typhimurium, highlighting a regulatory role on virulence.

JTD Keywords: Salmonella, Gene regulation, Motility, Pathogenicity island, H-NS, HHA, STPA


Sachot, Nadège, Castano, Oscar, Planell, Josep A., Engel, Elisabeth, (2015). Optimization of blend parameters for the fabrication of polycaprolactone-silicon based ormoglass nanofibers by electrospinning Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part B: Applied Biomaterials , 103, (6), 1287–1293

Electrospinning is a method that can be used to efficiently produce scaffolds that mimic the fibrous structure of natural tissue, such as muscle structures or the extracellular matrix of bone. The technique is often used as a way of depositing composites (organic/inorganic materials) to obtain bioactive nanofibers which have the requisite mechanical properties for use in tissue engineering. However, many factors can influence the formation and collection of fibers, including experimental variables such as the parameters of the solution of the electrospun slurry. In this study, we assessed the influence of the polymer concentration, glass content and glass hydrolysis level on the morphology and thickness of fibers produced by electrospinning for a PCL-(Si-Ca-P2) bioactive ormoglass—organically modified glass—blend. Based on previous assays, this combination of materials shows good angiogenic and osteogenic properties, which gives it great potential for use in tissue engineering. The results of our study showed that blend preparation directly affected the features of the resulting fibers, and when the parameters of the blend are precisely controlled, fibers with a regular diameter could be produced fairly easily when 2,2,2-trifluoroethanol was used as a solvent instead of tetrahydrofuran. The diameter of the homogeneous fibers ranged from 360 to 620 nm depending on the experimental conditions used. This demonstrates that experimental optimization of the electrospinning process is crucial in order to obtain a deposit of hybrid nanofibers with a regular shape.

JTD Keywords: Si-based glasses, Ormoglass, Electrospinning, Hybrid materials, Bioactivity, Angiogenesis


Álvarez, Z., Castaño, O., Castells, A. A., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., Alcántara, S., (2014). Neurogenesis and vascularization of the damaged brain using a lactate-releasing biomimetic scaffold Biomaterials 35, (17), 4769-4781

Regenerative medicine strategies to promote recovery following traumatic brain injuries are currently focused on the use of biomaterials as delivery systems for cells or bioactive molecules. This study shows that cell-free biomimetic scaffolds consisting of radially aligned electrospun poly-l/dl lactic acid (PLA70/30) nanofibers release l-lactate and reproduce the 3D organization and supportive function of radial glia embryonic neural stem cells. The topology of PLA nanofibers supports neuronal migration while l-lactate released during PLA degradation acts as an alternative fuel for neurons and is required for progenitor maintenance. Radial scaffolds implanted into cavities made in the postnatal mouse brain fostered complete implant vascularization, sustained neurogenesis, and allowed the long-term survival and integration of the newly generated neurons. Our results suggest that the endogenous central nervous system is capable of regeneration through the invivo dedifferentiation induced by biophysical and metabolic cues, with no need for exogenous cells, growth factors, or genetic manipulation.

JTD Keywords: Lactate, Nanofibers, Neural stem cells, Neurogenesis, Regeneration, Vascularization


Castaño, O., Sachot, N., Xuriguera, E., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Park, J. H., Jin, G. Z., Kim, T. H., Kim, J. H., Kim, H. W., (2014). Angiogenesis in bone regeneration: Tailored calcium release in hybrid fibrous scaffolds ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 6, (10), 7512-7522

In bone regeneration, silicon-based calcium phosphate glasses (Bioglasses) have been widely used since the 1970s. However, they dissolve very slowly because of their high amount of Si (SiO2 > 45%). Recently, our group has found that calcium ions released by the degradation of glasses in which the job of silicon is done by just 5% of TiO2 are effective angiogenic promoters, because of their stimulation of a cell-membrane calcium sensing receptor (CaSR). Based on this, other focused tests on angiogenesis have found that Bioglasses also have the potential to be angiogenic promoters even with high contents of silicon (80%); however, their slow degradation is still a problem, as the levels of silicon cannot be decreased any lower than 45%. In this work, we propose a new generation of hybrid organically modified glasses, ormoglasses, that enable the levels of silicon to be reduced, therefore speeding up the degradation process. Using electrospinning as a faithful way to mimic the extracellular matrix (ECM), we successfully produced hybrid fibrous mats with three different contents of Si (40, 52, and 70%), and thus three different calcium ion release rates, using an ormoglass–polycaprolactone blend approach. These mats offered a good platform to evaluate different calcium release rates as osteogenic promoters in an in vivo subcutaneous environment. Complementary data were collected to complement Ca2+ release analysis, such as stiffness evaluation by AFM, ζ-potential, morphology evaluation by FESEM, proliferation and differentiation analysis, as well as in vivo subcutaneous implantations. Material and biological characterization suggested that compositions of organic/inorganic hybrid materials with a Si content equivalent to 40%, which were also those that released more calcium, were osteogenic. They also showed a greater ability to form blood vessels. These results suggest that Si-based ormoglasses can be considered an efficient tool for calcium release modulation, which could play a key role in the angiogenic promoting process.

JTD Keywords: Biological materials, Blood vessels, Calcium, Electrospinning, Glass, Hybrid materials, Silicon oxides, Sol-gel process, Sol-gels, Angiogenesis, Biological characterization, Calcium phosphate glass, Calcium-sensing receptors, Degradation process, Extracellular matrices, Organic/inorganic hybrid materials, ormoglasses, Silicon


Navarro, S., Moleiro, V., Molina-Estevez, F. J., Lozano, M. L., Chinchon, R., Almarza, E., Quintana-Bustamante, O., Mostoslavsky, G., Maetzig, T., Galla, M., Heinz, N., Schiedlmeier, B., Torres, Y., Modlich, U., Samper, E., Río, P., Segovia, J. C., Raya, A., Güenechea, G., Izpisua-Belmonte, J. C., Bueren, J. A., (2014). Generation of iPSCs from genetically corrected Brca2 hypomorphic cells: Implications in cell reprogramming and stem cell therapy Stem Cells , 32, (2), 436-446

Fanconi anemia (FA) is a complex genetic disease associated with a defective DNA repair pathway known as the FA pathway. In contrast to many other FA proteins, BRCA2 participates downstream in this pathway and has a critical role in homology-directed recombination (HDR). In our current studies, we have observed an extremely low reprogramming efficiency in cells with a hypomorphic mutation in Brca2 (Brca2Δ27/Δ27), that was associated with increased apoptosis and defective generation of nuclear RAD51 foci during the reprogramming process. Gene complementation facilitated the generation of Brca2Δ27/Δ27 induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) with a disease-free FA phenotype. Karyotype analyses and comparative genome hybridization arrays of complemented Brca2Δ27/Δ27 iPSCs showed, however, the presence of different genetic alterations in these cells, most of which were not evident in their parental Brca2 Δ27/Δ27 mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Gene-corrected Brca2Δ27/Δ27 iPSCs could be differentiated in vitro toward the hematopoietic lineage, although with a more limited efficacy than WT iPSCs or mouse embryonic stem cells, and did not engraft in irradiated Brca2Δ27/Δ27 recipients. Our results are consistent with previous studies proposing that HDR is critical for cell reprogramming and demonstrate that reprogramming defects characteristic of Brca2 mutant cells can be efficiently overcome by gene complementation. Finally, based on analysis of the phenotype, genetic stability, and hematopoietic differentiation potential of gene-corrected Brca2Δ27/Δ27 iPSCs, achievements and limitations in the application of current reprogramming approaches in hematopoietic stem cell therapy are also discussed.

JTD Keywords: Bone marrow aplasia, Cellular therapy, Fanconi anemia, Gene therapy, Hematopoietic stem cells, Induced pluripotent stem cells


Vila, O. F., Martino, M. M., Nebuloni, L., Kuhn, G., Pérez-Amodio, S., Müller, R., Hubbell, J. A., Rubio, N., Blanco, J., (2014). Bioluminescent and micro-computed tomography imaging of bone repair induced by fibrin-binding growth factors Acta Biomaterialia 10, (10), 4377-4389

In this work we have evaluated the capacity of bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) and fibrin-binding platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB) to support cell growth and induce bone regeneration using two different imaging technologies to improve the understanding of structural and organizational processes participating in tissue repair. Human mesenchymal stem cells from adipose tissue (hAMSCs) expressing two luciferase genes, one under the control of the cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter and the other under the control of a tissue-specific promoter (osteocalcin or platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule), were seeded in fibrin matrices containing BMP-2 and fibrin-binding PDGF-BB, and further implanted intramuscularly or in a mouse calvarial defect. Then, cell growth and bone regeneration were monitored by bioluminescence imaging (BLI) to analyze the evolution of target gene expression, indicative of cell differentiation towards the osteoblastic and endothelial lineages. Non-invasive imaging was supplemented with micro-computed tomography (μCT) to evaluate bone regeneration and high-resolution μCT of vascular casts. Results from BLI showed hAMSC growth during the first week in all cases, followed by a rapid decrease in cell number; as well as an increment of osteocalcin but not PECAM-1 expression 3 weeks after implantation. Results from μCT show that the delivery of BMP-2 and PDGF-BB by fibrin induced the formation of more bone and improves vascularization, resulting in more abundant and thicker vessels, in comparison with controls. Although the inclusion of hAMSCs in the fibrin matrices made no significant difference in any of these parameters, there was a significant increment in the connectivity of the vascular network in defects treated with hAMSCs.

JTD Keywords: Angiogenesis, Bioluminescence imaging, Bone regeneration, Fibrin, Mesenchymal stem cell


González-Vázquez, A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2014). Extracellular calcium and CaSR drive osteoinduction in mesenchymal stromal cells Acta Biomaterialia 10, (6), 2824–2833

Bone is the main store of calcium and progenitor cells in the body. During the resorption process, the local calcium concentration reaches 8-40 mM, and the surrounding cells are exposed to these fluctuations in calcium. This stimulus is a signal that is detected through the calcium sensing receptor (CaSR), which modulates chemotactic and proliferative G protein-dependent signaling pathways. The objective of the present work is to evaluate the roles of extracellular calcium ([Ca2+]o) and the CaSR in osteoinduction. Rat bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (rBMSCs) were stimulated with 10 mM of Ca2+. Several experiments were conducted to demonstrate the effect of [Ca2+]o on chemotaxis, proliferation and differentiation on the osteoblastic lineage. It was found that [Ca2+]o induces rBMSCs to migrate and proliferate in a concentration-dependent manner. Real-time polymerase chain reaction and immunofluorescence also revealed that 10 mM Ca2+ stimulates overexpression of osteogenic markers in rBMSCs, including alkaline phosphatase (ALP), bone sialoprotein, collagen Ia1 and osteocalcin. Functional assays determining ALP activity and mineralization tests both corroborate the increased expression of these markers in rBMSCs stimulated with Ca2+. Moreover, CaSR blockage inhibited the cellular response to stimulation with high concentrations of [Ca2+]o, revealing that the CaSR is a key modulator of these cellular responses.

JTD Keywords: Calcium sensing receptor (CaSR), Extracellular calcium, Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), Osteoinduction, Regenerative medicine


Oberhansl, S., Garcia, A., Lagunas, A., Prats-Alfonso, E., Hirtz, M., Albericio, F., Fuchs, H., Samitier, J., Martinez, Elena, (2014). Mesopattern of immobilised bone morphogenetic protein-2 created by microcontact printing and dip-pen nanolithography influence C2C12 cell fate RSC Advances 4, (100), 56809-56815

Dip-pen nanolithography and microcontact printing were used to fabricate mesopatterned substrates for cell differentiation experiments. A biotin-thiol was patterned on gold substrates and subsequently functionalised with streptavidin and biotinylated bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2). The feasibility of mesopatterned substrates containing immobilised BMP-2 was proven by obtaining similar differentiation outcomes compared to the growth factor in solution. Therefore, these substrates might be suitable for replacing conventional experiments with BMP-2 in solution.

JTD Keywords: Bone morphogenetic protein-2, C2C12 cells, Dip-pen nanolithography, Micro contact printing


Torrents, Eduard, (2014). Ribonucleotide reductases: Essential Enzymes for bacterial life Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology , 4, 1-9

Ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) is a key enzyme that mediates the synthesis of deoxyribonucleotides, the DNA precursors, for DNA synthesis in every living cell. This enzyme converts ribonucleotides to deoxyribonucleotides, the building blocks for DNA replication, and repair. Clearly, RNR enzymes have contributed to the appearance of genetic material that exists today, being essential for the evolution of all organisms on Earth. The strict control of RNR activity and dNTP pool sizes is important, as pool imbalances increase mutation rates, replication anomalies, and genome instability. Thus, RNR activity should be finely regulated allosterically and at the transcriptional level. In this review we examine the distribution, the evolution, and the genetic regulation of bacterial RNRs. Moreover, this enzyme can be considered an ideal target for anti-proliferative compounds designed to inhibit cell replication in eukaryotic cells (cancer cells), parasites, viruses, and bacteria.

JTD Keywords: Anaerobiosis, Transcription Factors, Evolution, Gene regulation, Ribonucleotide reductase, DNA Synthesis, NrdR,nrd


Melo, E., Cárdenes, N., Garreta, E., Luque, T., Rojas, M., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2014). Inhomogeneity of local stiffness in the extracellular matrix scaffold of fibrotic mouse lungs Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials , 37, 186-195

Lung disease models are useful to study how cell engraftment, proliferation and differentiation are modulated in lung bioengineering. The aim of this work was to characterize the local stiffness of decellularized lungs in aged and fibrotic mice. Mice (2- and 24-month old; 14 of each) with lung fibrosis (N=20) and healthy controls (N=8) were euthanized after 11 days of intratracheal bleomycin (fibrosis) or saline (controls) infusion. The lungs were excised, decellularized by a conventional detergent-based (sodium-dodecyl sulfate) procedure and slices of the acellular lungs were prepared to measure the local stiffness by means of atomic force microscopy. The local stiffness of the different sites in acellular fibrotic lungs was very inhomogeneous within the lung and increased according to the degree of the structural fibrotic lesion. Local stiffness of the acellular lungs did not show statistically significant differences caused by age. The group of mice most affected by fibrosis exhibited local stiffness that were ~2-fold higher than in the control mice: from 27.2±1.64 to 64.8±7.1. kPa in the alveolar septa, from 56.6±4.6 to 99.9±11.7. kPa in the visceral pleura, from 41.1±8.0 to 105.2±13.6. kPa in the tunica adventitia, and from 79.3±7.2 to 146.6±28.8. kPa in the tunica intima. Since acellular lungs from mice with bleomycin-induced fibrosis present considerable micromechanical inhomogeneity, this model can be a useful tool to better investigate how different degrees of extracellular matrix lesion modulate cell fate in the process of organ bioengineering from decellularized lungs.

JTD Keywords: Ageing, Atomic force microscopy, Decellularization, Lung fibrosis, Tissue engineering, Atomic force microscopy, Biological organs, Peptides, Sodium dodecyl sulfate, Sodium sulfate, Tissue engineering, Ageing, Decellularization, Extracellular matrices, Healthy controls, Inhomogeneities, Lung fibrosis, Micro-mechanical, Statistically significant difference, Mammals, bleomycin, adventitia, animal experiment, animal model, article, atomic force microscopy, bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis, cell fate, controlled study, extracellular matrix, female, intima, lung alveolus, lung fibrosis, lung mechanics, mechanical probe, microenvironment, mouse, nonhuman, pleura, priority journal, rigidity, tissue engineering


Pérez-Amodio, Soledad, Engel, Elisabeth, (2014). Bone biology and Regeneration Bio-Ceramics with Clinical Applications (ed. Vallet-Regí, M.), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (Chichester, UK) , 315-342

Each bone of the skeleton constantly undergoes modeling during life to help it to adapt to changing biomechanical forces as well as remodeling to remove old bone and replace it with new, mechanically stronger bone to help preserve bone strength. Bone remodeling involves the removal of mineralized bone by osteoclasts, followed by the formation of bone matrix through the osteoblasts that subsequently become mineralized. All these assets make bone a suitable model for regeneration. Bone tissue can be grossly divided into inorganic mineral material (mostly HA), and organic material from cells and the extracellular matrix. This chapter outlines some of the bone diseases such as osteoporosis and Paget's disease. Bone can be considered as a biphasic composite material, with two phases: one the mineral and the other collagen. This combination confers better mechanical properties on the tissue than each component itself.

JTD Keywords: Bone biology, Bone cells, Bone diseases, Bone extracellular matrix, Bone mechanics, Bone remodeling, Bone tissue regeneration, Skeleton


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


Aviles, AngelicaI, Casals, Alicia, (2014). On genetic algorithms optimization for heart motion compensation Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing ROBOT2013: First Iberian Robotics Conference (ed. Armada, Manuel A., Sanfeliu, Alberto, Ferre, Manuel), Springer International Publishing 252, 237-244

Heart motion compensation is a challenging problem within medical robotics and it is still considered an open research area due to the lack of robustness. As it can be formulated as an energy minimization problem, an optimization technique is needed. The selection of an adequate method has a significant impact over the global solution. For this reason, a new methodology is presented here for solving heart motion compensation in which the central topic is oriented to increase robustness with the goal of achieving a balance between efficiency and efficacy. Particularly, genetic algorithms are used as optimization technique since they can be adapted to any real application, complex and oriented to work in real-time problems.

JTD Keywords: Genetic Algorithms, Deformation, Stochastic Optimization, Beating Heart Surgery, Robotic Assisted Surgery


Gorostiza, Pau, Arosio, Daniele, Bregestovski, Piotr, (2013). Molecular probes and switches for functional analysis of receptors, ion channels and synaptic networks Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 6, (Article 48), 1-2

Izquierdo-Serra, Mercè, Trauner, Dirk, Llobet, Artur, Gorostiza, Pau, (2013). Optical modulation of neurotransmission using calcium photocurrents through the ion channel LiGluR Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 6, (Article 3), 1-6

A wide range of light-activated molecules (photoswitches and phototriggers) have been used to the study of computational properties of an isolated neuron by acting pre and postsynaptically. However, new tools are being pursued to elicit a presynaptic calcium influx that triggers the release of neurotransmitters, most of them based in calcium-permeable Channelrhodopsin-2 mutants. Here we describe a method to control exocytosis of synaptic vesicles through the use of a light-gated glutamate receptor (LiGluR), which has recently been demonstrated that supports secretion by means of calcium influx in chromaffin cells. Expression of LiGluR in hippocampal neurons enables reversible control of neurotransmission with light, and allows modulating the firing rate of the postsynaptic neuron with the wavelength of illumination. This method may be useful for the determination of the complex transfer function of individual synapses.

JTD Keywords: Calcium, Neurotransmission, Optogenetics, Neural coding, Firing rate, Optical control, Synaptic transfer function


Ordoñez-Gutiérrez, L., Torres, J. M., Gavín, R., Antón, M., Arroba-Espinosa, A. I., Espinosa, J. C., Vergara, C., del Río, J. A., Wandosell, F., (2013). Cellular prion protein modulates β-amyloid deposition in aged APP/PS1 transgenic mice Neurobiology of Aging , 34, (12), 2793-2804

Alzheimer's disease and prion diseases are neuropathological disorders that are caused by abnormal processing and aggregation of amyloid and prion proteins. Interactions between amyloid precursor protein (APP) and PrPc proteins have been described at the neuron level. Accordingly to this putative interaction, we investigated whether β-amyloid accumulation may affect prion infectivity and, conversely, whether different amounts of PrP may affect β-amyloid accumulation. For this purpose, we used the APPswe/PS1dE9 mouse line, a common model of Alzheimer's disease, crossed with mice that either overexpress (Tga20) or that lack prion protein (knock-out) to generate mice that express varying amounts of prion protein and deposit β-amyloid. On these mouse lines, we investigated the influence of each protein on the evolution of both diseases. Our results indicated that although the presence of APP/PS1 and β-amyloid accumulation had no effect on prion infectivity, the accumulation of β-amyloid deposits was dependent on PrPc, whereby increasing levels of prion protein were accompanied by a significant increase in β-amyloid aggregation associated with aging.

JTD Keywords: Aging, Amyloid, Neurodegeneration, Prion, Signaling


Perez, R. A., Altankov, G., Jorge-Herrero, E., Ginebra, M. P., (2013). Micro- and nanostructured hydroxyapatite-collagen microcarriers for bone tissue-engineering applications Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine 7, (5), 353-361

Novel hydroxyapatite (HA)-collagen microcarriers (MCs) with different micro/nanostructures were developed for bone tissue-engineering applications. The MCs were fabricated via calcium phosphate cement (CPC) emulsion in oil. Collagen incorporation in the liquid phase of the CPC resulted in higher MC sphericity. The MCs consisted of a porous network of entangled hydroxyapatite crystals, formed as a result of the CPC setting reaction. The addition of collagen to the MCs, even in an amount as small as 0.8wt%, resulted in an improved interaction with osteoblast-like Saos-2 cells. The micro/nanostructure and the surface texture of the MCs were further tailored by modifying the initial particle size of the CPC. A synergistic effect between the presence of collagen and the nanosized HA crystals was found, resulting in significantly enhanced alkaline phosphatase activity on the collagen-containing nanosized HA MCs.

JTD Keywords: Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate cement, Cell response, Collagen, Hydroxyapatite, Microcarrier


Llorens, F., Carulla, P., Villa, A., Torres, J. M., Fortes, P., Ferrer, Isidro, Del Río, J. A., (2013). PrPC regulates epidermal growth factor receptor function and cell shape dynamics in Neuro2a cells Journal of Neurochemistry , 127, (1), 124-138

The prion protein (PrP) plays a key role in prion disease pathogenesis. Although the misfolded and pathologic variant of this protein (PrPSC) has been studied in depth, the physiological role of PrPC remains elusive and controversial. PrPC is a cell-surface glycoprotein involved in multiple cellular functions at the plasma membrane, where it interacts with a myriad of partners and regulates several intracellular signal transduction cascades. However, little is known about the gene expression changes modulated by PrPC in animals and in cellular models. In this article, we present PrPC-dependent gene expression signature in N2a cells and its implication in the most overrepresented functions: cell cycle, cell growth and proliferation, and maintenance of cell shape. PrPC over-expression enhances cell proliferation and cell cycle re-entrance after serum stimulation, while PrPC silencing slows down cell cycle progression. In addition, MAP kinase and protein kinase B (AKT) pathway activation are under the regulation of PrPC in asynchronous cells and following mitogenic stimulation. These effects are due in part to the modulation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) by PrPC in the plasma membrane, where the two proteins interact in a multimeric complex. We also describe how PrPC over-expression modulates filopodia formation by Rho GTPase regulation mainly in an AKT-Cdc42-N-WASP-dependent pathway.

JTD Keywords: Cell signaling, Cellular prion protein, Filopodia, Gene expression, Microarray, Proliferation


Izquierdo-Serra, Mercè, Trauner, Dirk, Llobet, Artur, Gorostiza, Pau, (2013). Optical control of calcium-regulated exocytosis Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - General Subjects , 1830, (3), 2853-2860

Background Neurons signal to each other and to non-neuronal cells as those in muscle or glands, by means of the secretion of neurotransmitters at chemical synapses. In order to dissect the molecular mechanisms of neurotransmission, new methods for directly and reversibly triggering neurosecretion at the presynaptic terminal are necessary. Here we exploit the calcium permeability of the light-gated channel LiGluR in order to reversibly manipulate cytosolic calcium concentration, thus controlling calcium-regulated exocytosis. Methods Bovine chromaffin cells expressing LiGluR were stimulated with light. Exocytic events were detected by amperometry or by whole-cell patch-clamp to quantify membrane capacitance and calcium influx. Results Amperometry reveals that optical stimulation consistently triggers exocytosis in chromaffin cells. Secretion of catecholamines can be adjusted between zero and several Hz by changing the wavelength of illumination. Differences in secretion efficacy are found between the activation of LiGluR and native voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs). Our results show that the distance between sites of calcium influx and vesicles ready to be released is longer when calcium influx is triggered by LiGluR instead of native VGCCs. Conclusion and general significance LiGluR activation directly and reversibly increases the intracellular calcium concentration. Light-gated calcium influx allows for the first time to control calcium-regulated exocytosis without the need of applying depolarizing solutions or voltage clamping in chromaffin cells. Thus, LiGluR is a useful tool to study the secretory mechanisms and their spatiotemporal patterns in neurotransmission, and opens a window to study other calcium-dependent processes such as muscular contraction or cell migration.

JTD Keywords: Optical control, Calcium, Exocytosis, Light-gated glutamate receptor (LiGluR), Neurotransmission, Optogenetics


Bueno, M., Paganetti, H., Duch, M. A., Schuemann, J., (2013). An algorithm to assess the need for clinical Monte Carlo dose calculation for small proton therapy fields based on quantification of tissue heterogeneity Medical Physics , 40, (8), 081704

Purpose: In proton therapy, complex density heterogeneities within the beam path constitute a challenge to dose calculation algorithms. This might question the reliability of dose distributions predicted by treatment planning systems based on analytical dose calculation. For cases in which substantial dose errors are expected, resorting to Monte Carlo dose calculations might be essential to ensure a successful treatment outcome and therefore the benefit is worth a presumably long computation time. The aim of this study was to define an indicator for the accuracy of dose delivery based on analytical dose calculations in treatment planning systems for small proton therapy fields to identify those patients for which Monte Carlo dose calculation is warranted. Methods: Fourteen patients treated at our facility with small passively scattered proton beams (apertures diameters below 7 cm) were selected. Plans were generated in the XiO treatment planning system in combination with a pencil beam algorithm developed at the Massachusetts General Hospital and compared to Monte Carlo dose calculations. Differences in the dose to the 50% of the gross tumor volume (D50, GTV) were assessed in a field-by-field basis. A simple and fast methodology was developed to quantify the inhomogeneity of the tissue traversed by a single small proton beam using a heterogeneity index (HI) - a concept presented by Plugfelder [Med. Phys. 34, 1506-1513 (2007)10.1118/1. 2710329] for scanned proton beams. Finally, the potential correlation between the error made by the pencil beam based treatment planning algorithm for each field and the level of tissue heterogeneity traversed by the proton beam given by the HI was evaluated. Results: Discrepancies up to 5.4% were found in D50 for single fields, although dose differences were within clinical tolerance levels (<3%) when combining all of the fields involved in the treatment. The discrepancies found for each field exhibited a strong correlation to their associated HI-values (Spearman's ρ = 0.8, p < 0.0001); the higher the level of tissue inhomogeneities for a particular field, the larger the error by the analytical algorithm. With the established correlation a threshold for HI can be set by choosing a tolerance level of 2-3% - commonly accepted in radiotherapy. Conclusions: The HI is a good indicator for the accuracy of proton field delivery in terms of GTV prescription dose coverage when small fields are delivered. Each HI-value was obtained from the CT image in less than 3 min on a computer with 2 GHz CPU allowing implementation of this methodology in clinical routine. For HI-values exceeding the threshold, either a change in beam direction (if feasible) or a recalculation of the dose with Monte Carlo would be highly recommended.

JTD Keywords: Heterogeneities, Heterogeneity index, Monte Carlo, Proton therapy, Small fields


Vila, Olaia F., Bagó, Juli R., Navarro, Melba, Alieva, Maria, Aguilar, Elisabeth, Engel, Elisabeth, Planell, Josep, Rubio, Nuria, Blanco, Jerónimo, (2013). Calcium phosphate glass improves angiogenesis capacity of poly(lactic acid) scaffolds and stimulates differentiation of adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stromal cells to the endothelial lineage Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A , 101A, (4), 932-941

The angiogenic capacity of a new biomaterial composite of poly(lactic acid) and calcium phosphate glass (PLA/CaP) was analyzed by noninvasive bioluminescence imaging (BLI) and histological procedures. Human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stromal cells expressing cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter regulated Photinus pyralis luciferase (hAMSC-PLuc) grew up to 30 times the initial cell load, in vitro, when seeded in PLA/CaP scaffolds, but suffered an initial growth crisis followed by recovery when the scaffolds were subcutaneously implanted in SCID mice. To analyze changes in gene expression, hAMSC-PLuc cells were double labeled with a CMV promoter regulated Renilla reniformis luciferase and a Photinus pyralis luciferase reporter regulated by either the PECAM promoter or a hypoxia response element (HRE) artificial promoter and seeded in PLA/CaP and PLA scaffolds implanted in SCID mice. Analysis by BLI showed that hAMSCs in scaffolds were induced to differentiate to the endothelial lineage and did this faster in PLA/CaP than in PLA scaffolds. Endothelial differentiation correlated with a decrease in the activity of HRE regulated luciferase expression, indicative of a reduction of hypoxia. Histological analysis showed that PLA/CaP scaffolds were colonized by a functional host vascular system. Moreover, colonization by isolectin B4 positive host cells was more effective in PLA/CaP than in PLA scaffolds, corroborating BLI results.

JTD Keywords: Scaffold, Bioluminescence imaging, Cell differentiation, Angiogenesis, Mesenchymal stromal cells


Sánchez-Danes, A., Benzoni, P., Memo, M., Dell'Era, P., Raya, A., Consiglio, A., (2013). Induced pluripotent stem cell-based studies of Parkinson's disease: Challenges and promises CNS and Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets , 12, (8), 1114-1127

A critical step in the development of effective therapeutics to treat Parkinson's disease (PD) is the identification of molecular pathogenic mechanisms underlying this chronically progressive neurodegenerative disease. However, while animal models have provided valuable information about the molecular basis of PD, the lack of faithful cellular and animal models that recapitulate human pathophysiology is delaying the development of new therapeutics. The reprogramming of somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) using delivery of defined combinations of transcription factors is a groundbreaking discovery that opens great opportunities for modeling human diseases, including PD, since iPSC can be generated from patients and differentiated into disease-relevant cell types, which would capture the patients' genetic complexity. Furthermore, human iPSC-derived neuronal models offer unprecedented access to early stages of the disease, allowing the investigation of the events that initiate the pathologic process in PD. Recently, human iPSC-derived neurons from patients with familial and sporadic PD have been generated and importantly they recapitulate some PD-related cell phenotypes, including abnormal α-synuclein accumulation in vitro, and alterations in the autophagy machinery. This review highlights the current PD iPSC-based models and discusses the potential future research directions of this field.

JTD Keywords: Human cellular model, Induced pluripotent stem cells, Neurodegenerative disease, Parkinson's disease


Riggio, C., Nocentini, S., Catalayud, M. P., Goya, G. F., Cuschieri, A., Raffa, V., del Río, J. A., (2013). Generation of magnetized olfactory ensheathing cells for regenerative studies in the central and peripheral nervous tissue International Journal of Molecular Sciences 14, (6), 10852-10868

As olfactory receptor axons grow from the peripheral to the central nervous system (CNS) aided by olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs), the transplantation of OECs has been suggested as a plausible therapy for spinal cord lesions. The problem with this hypothesis is that OECs do not represent a single homogeneous entity, but, instead, a functionally heterogeneous population that exhibits a variety of responses, including adhesion and repulsion during cell-matrix interactions. Some studies report that the migratory properties of OECs are compromised by inhibitory molecules and potentiated by chemical gradients. In this paper, we report a system based on modified OECs carrying magnetic nanoparticles as a proof of concept experiment enabling specific studies aimed at exploring the potential of OECs in the treatment of spinal cord injuries. Our studies have confirmed that magnetized OECs (i) survive well without exhibiting stress-associated cellular responses; (ii) in vitro, their migration can be modulated by magnetic fields; and (iii) their transplantation in organotypic slices of spinal cord and peripheral nerve showed positive integration in the model. Altogether, these findings indicate the therapeutic potential of magnetized OECs for CNS injuries.

JTD Keywords: Magnetic nanoparticle, Nerve regeneration, Olfactory ensheathing cell, Organotypic culture


Ginebra, M. P., Canal, C., Espanol, M., Pastorino, D., Montufar, E. B., (2012). Calcium phosphate cements as drug delivery materials Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 64, (12), 1090-1110

Calcium phosphate cements are used as synthetic bone grafts, with several advantages, such as their osteoconductivity and injectability. Moreover, their low-temperature setting reaction and intrinsic porosity allow for the incorporation of drugs and active principles in the material. It is the aim of the present work to: a) provide an overview of the different approaches taken in the application of calcium phosphate cements for drug delivery in the skeletal system, and b) identify the most significant achievements. The drugs or active principles associated to calcium phosphate cements are classified in three groups, i) low molecular weight drugs; ii) high molecular weight biomolecules; and iii) ions.

JTD Keywords: Antibiotic, Bioceramic, Biomaterial, Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate cement, Ceramic matrix, Growth factor, Hydroxyapatite, Ions, Protein


Sánchez-Danés, A., Richaud-Patin, Y., Carballo-Carbajal, I., Jiménez-Delgado, S., Caig, C., Mora, S., Di Guglielmo, C., Ezquerra, M., Patel, B., Giralt, A., Canals, J. M., Memo, M., Alberch, J., López-Barneo, J., Vila, M., Cuervo, A. M., Tolosa, E., Consiglio, A., Raya, A., (2012). Disease-specific phenotypes in dopamine neurons from human iPS-based models of genetic and sporadic Parkinson's disease EMBO Molecular Medicine 4, (5), 380-395

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) offer an unprecedented opportunity to model human disease in relevant cell types, but it is unclear whether they could successfully model age-related diseases such as Parkinson's disease (PD). Here, we generated iPSC lines from seven patients with idiopathic PD (ID-PD), four patients with familial PD associated to the G2019S mutation in the Leucine-Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2) gene (LRRK2-PD) and four age- and sex-matched healthy individuals (Ctrl). Over long-time culture, dopaminergic neurons (DAn) differentiated from either ID-PD- or LRRK2-PD-iPSC showed morphological alterations, including reduced numbers of neurites and neurite arborization, as well as accumulation of autophagic vacuoles, which were not evident in DAn differentiated from Ctrl-iPSC. Further induction of autophagy and/or inhibition of lysosomal proteolysis greatly exacerbated the DAn morphological alterations, indicating autophagic compromise in DAn from ID-PD- and LRRK2-PD-iPSC, which we demonstrate occurs at the level of autophagosome clearance. Our study provides an iPSC-based in vitro model that captures the patients' genetic complexity and allows investigation of the pathogenesis of both sporadic and familial PD cases in a disease-relevant cell type.

JTD Keywords: Autophagy, Disease modeling, LRRK2 mutation, Neurodegeneration, Pluripotent stem cells


McLenachan, S., Menchon, C., Raya, A., Consiglio, A., Edel, M. J., (2012). Cyclin A(1) is essential for setting the pluripotent state and reducing tumorigenicity of induced pluripotent stem cells Stem Cells and Development , 21, (15), 2891-2899

The proper differentiation and threat of cancer rising from the application of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are major bottlenecks in the field and are thought to be inherently linked to the pluripotent nature of iPS cells. To address this question, we have compared iPS cells to embryonic stem cells (ESCs), the gold standard of ground state pluripotency, in search for proteins that may improve pluripotency of iPS cells. We have found that when reprogramming somatic cells toward pluripotency, 1%-5% of proteins of 5 important cell functions are not set to the correct expression levels compared to ESCs, including mainly cell cycle proteins. We have shown that resetting cyclin A1 protein expression of early- passage iPS cells closer to the ground state pluripotent state of mouse ESCs improves the pluripotency and reduces the threat of cancer of iPS cells. This work is a proof of principle that reveals that setting expression of certain proteins correctly during reprogramming is essential for achieving ESC- state pluripotency. This finding would be of immediate help to those researchers in different fields of iPS cell work that specializes in cell cycle, apoptosis, cell adhesion, cell signaling, and cytoskeleton.

JTD Keywords: Self-renewal, IPS cells, Ground-state, C-MYC, Generation, Pathway, Disease, Mice, Link, P53


Aguirre, A., Gonzalez, A., Navarro, M., Castano, O., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2012). Control of microenvironmental cues with a smart biomaterial composite promotes endothelial progenitor cell angiogenesis European Cells & Materials , 24, 90-106

Smart biomaterials play a key role when aiming at successful tissue repair by means of regenerative medicine approaches, and are expected to contain chemical as well as mechanical cues that will guide the regenerative process. Recent advances in the understanding of stem cell biology and mechanosensing have shed new light onto the importance of the local microenvironment in determining cell fate. Herein we report the biological properties of a bioactive, biodegradable calcium phosphate glass/polylactic acid composite biomaterial that promotes bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) mobilisation, differentiation and angiogenesis through the creation of a controlled bone healing-like microenvironment. The angiogenic response is triggered by biochemical and mechanical cues provided by the composite, which activate two synergistic cell signalling pathways: a biochemical one mediated by the calcium-sensing receptor and a mechanosensitive one regulated by non-muscle myosin II contraction. Together, these signals promote a synergistic response by activating EPCs-mediated VEGF and VEGFR-2 synthesis, which in turn promote progenitor cell homing, differentiation and tubulogenesis. These findings highlight the importance of controlling microenvironmental cues for stem/progenitor cell tissue engineering and offer exciting new therapeutical opportunities for biomaterialbased vascularisation approaches and clinical applications.

JTD Keywords: Calcium phosphate glass composite, Smart biomaterial, Endothelial progenitor cell, Angiogenesis, Mechanosensing, Calcium-sensing receptor


Comelles, J., Hortigüela, V., Samitier, J., Martinez, E., (2012). Versatile gradients of covalently bound proteins on microstructured substrates Langmuir 28, (38), 13688-13697

In this work, we propose an easy method to produce highly tunable gradients of covalently bound proteins on topographically modified poly(methyl methacrylate). We used a rnicrofluidic approach to obtain linear gradients with high slope (0.5 pmol.cm(-2).mm(-1)), relevant at the single-cell level. These protein gradients were characterized using fluorescence microscopy and surface plasmon resonance. Both experimental results and theoretical modeling on the protein gradients generated have proved them to be highly reproducible, stable up to 7 days, and easily tunable. This method enables formation of versatile cell culture platforms combining both complex biochemical and physical cues in an attempt to approach in vitro cell culture methods to in vivo cellular microenvironments.

JTD Keywords: Cell-migration, Microfluidic channel, Surface, Streptavidin, Molecules, Topography, Mechanisms, Generation, Responses, Guidance


Valle-Delgado, J. J., Liepina, I., Lapidus, D., Sabaté, R., Ventura, S., Samitier, J., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2012). Self-assembly of human amylin-derived peptides studied by atomic force microscopy and single molecule force spectroscopy Soft Matter 8, (4), 1234-1242

The self-assembly of peptides and proteins into amyloid fibrils of nanometric thickness and up to several micrometres in length, a phenomenon widely observed in biological systems, has recently aroused a growing interest in nanotechnology and nanomedicine. Here we have applied atomic force microscopy and single molecule force spectroscopy to study the amyloidogenesis of a peptide derived from human amylin and of its reverse sequence. The spontaneous formation of protofibrils and their orientation along well-defined directions on graphite and DMSO-coated graphite substrates make the studied peptides interesting candidates for nanotechnological applications. The measured binding forces between peptides correlate with the number of hydrogen bonds between individual peptides inside the fibril structure according to molecular dynamics simulations.

JTD Keywords: Amyloid fibril, Amyloidogenesis, Binding forces, Fibril structure, Graphite substrate, Molecular dynamics simulations, Nanometrics, Protofibrils, Single molecule force spectroscopy, Spontaneous formation, Atomic force microscopy, Atomic spectroscopy, Graphite, Hydrogen bonds, Medical nanotechnology, Molecular dynamics, Molecular physics, Self assembly, Thickness measurement, Peptides


Colomer-Farrarons, J., Miribel-Català , P., Juanola-Feliu, E., Samitier, J., (2012). A proof-of-concept of a multi-harvesting power source in a low-voltage CMOS technology IEEE Computer Society 2012 IEEE International Conference on Green Computing and Communications, Conference on Internet of Things, and Conference on Cyber, Physical and Social Computing , IEEE (Besancon, France) , 655-659

This paper presents a view of the state of the art in the field of energy harvesting solutions focused on discrete to integrated solutions in the range of low-power generation, from a few microwatts to several nanowatts. A view of commercial solutions to the new trends in new self-powered smart sensors operating without the use of any kind of battery will be presented. A specific solution developed in our laboratory will be used as an example of application.

JTD Keywords: Electric power generation, Energy scavenging, Low-power electronics, Power conditioning


Castaño, O., Eltohamy, M., Kim, H. W., (2012). Electrospinning technology in tissue regeneration Nanotechnology in Regenerative Medicine - Methods and Protocols (Methods in Molecular Biology) (ed. Navarro, M., Planell, J. A.), Springer (New York, USA) 811, 127-140

Electrospinning is one of the most versatile and effective tools to produce nanostructured fibers in the biomedical science fields. The nanofibrous structure with diameters from tens to hundreds of nanometers largely mimics the native extracellular matrix (ECM) of many tissues. Thus far, a range of compositions including polymers and ceramics and their composites/hybrids have been successfully applied for generating electrospun nanofibers. Different processing tools in electrospinning set-ups and assemblies are currently developed to tune the morphology and properties of nanofibers. Herein, we demonstrate the electrospinning process and the electrospun biomaterials for specific use in tissue regeneration with some examples, involving different material combinations and fiber morphologies.

JTD Keywords: Ceramic, Composites, Electrospinning, Nanofi bers, Nanostructured fi bers, Polymer,