by Keyword: NAM

Fonte M, Fontinha D, Moita D, Caño-Prades O, Avalos-Padilla Y, Fernàndez-Busquets X, Prudêncio M, Gomes P, Teixeira C, (2023). New 4-(N-cinnamoylbutyl)aminoacridines as potential multi-stage antiplasmodial leads European Journal Of Medicinal Chemistry 258, 115575

A novel family of 4-aminoacridine derivatives was obtained by linking this heteroaromatic core to different trans-cinnamic acids. The 4-(N-cinnamoylbutyl)aminoacridines obtained exhibited in vitro activity in the low- or sub-micromolar range against (i) hepatic stages of Plasmodium berghei, (ii) erythrocytic forms of Plasmodium falciparum, and (iii) early and mature gametocytes of Plasmodium falciparum. The most active compound, having a meta-fluorocinnamoyl group linked to the acridine core, was 20- and 120-fold more potent, respectively, against the hepatic and gametocyte stages of Plasmodium infection than the reference drug, primaquine. Moreover, no cytotoxicity towards mammalian and red blood cells at the concentrations tested was observed for any of the compounds under investigation. These novel conjugates represent promising leads for the development of new multi-target antiplasmodials.Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: agents, analogs, antimalarial, artemisinin, blood-stage, cinnamic acid, gametocyte, hybrid, liver-stage, malaria, multi-target, plasmodium-falciparum, primaquine, quinacrine, resistance, Acridine, Antimalarial, Blood-stage, Cinnamic acid, Cinnamic acid-derivatives, Gametocyte, Hybrid, Liver-stage, Multi-target

Valenti S, Arioli M, Jamett A, Tamarit JL, Puiggalí J, Macovez R, (2023). Amorphous solid dispersions of curcumin in a poly(ester amide): Antiplasticizing effect on the glass transition and macromolecular relaxation dynamics, and controlled release International Journal Of Pharmaceutics 644, 123333

In order to exploit the pharmacological potential of natural bioactive molecules with low water solubility, such as curcumin, it is necessary to develop formulations, such as amorphous polymer dispersions, which allow a constant release rate and at the same time avoid possible toxicity effects of the crystalline form of the molecule under scrutiny. In this study, polymer dispersions of curcumin were obtained in PADAS, a biodegradable semicrystalline copolymer based on 1,12-dodecanediol, sebacic acid and alanine. The dispersions were fully characterized by means of differential scanning calorimetry and broadband dielectric spectroscopy, and the drug release profile was measured in a simulated body fluid. Amorphous homogeneous binary dispersions were obtained for curcumin mass fraction between 30 and 50%. Curcumin has significantly higher glass transition temperature Tg (≈ 347 K) than the polymer matrix (≈274-277 K depending on the molecular weight), and dispersions displayed Tg's intermediate between those of the pure amorphous components, implying that curcumin acts as an effective antiplasticizer for PADAS. Dielectric spectroscopy was employed to assess the relaxation dynamics of the binary dispersion with 30 wt% curcumin, as well as that of each (amorphous) component separately. The binary dispersion was characterized by a single structural relaxation, a single Johari-Goldstein process, and two local intramolecular processes, one for each component. Interestingly, the latter processes scaled with the Tg of the sample, indicating that they are viscosity-sensitive. In addition, both the pristine polymer and the dispersion exhibited an interfacial Maxwell-Wagner relaxation, likely due to spatial heterogeneities associated with phase disproportionation in this polymer. The release of curcumin from the dispersion in a simulated body fluid followed a Fickian diffusion profile, and 51% of the initial curcumin content was released in 48 h.Copyright © 2023. Published by Elsevier B.V.

JTD Keywords: antioxidant, bioavailability, dielectric spectroscopy, domain havriliak-negami, glass transition temperature, kinetic stability, molecular mobility, nm pores, phase-behavior, physical stability, release kinetics, temperature, thermodynamic quantities, time, Amorphous formulations, Dielectric spectroscopy, Glass transition temperature, Kinetic stability, Kohlrausch-williams-watts, Molecular mobility, Release kinetics

Bodrenko, I, Ceccarelli, M, Acosta-Gutierrez, S, (2023). The mechanism of an electrostatic nanofilter: overcoming entropy with electrostatics Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 25, 26497-26506

General porins are nature's sieving machinery in the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. Their unique hourglass-shaped architecture is highly conserved among different bacterial membrane proteins and other biological channels. These biological nanopores have been designed to protect the interior of the bacterial cell from leakage of toxic compounds while selectively allowing the entry of the molecules needed for cell growth and function. The mechanism of transport through porins is of utmost and direct interest for drug discovery, extending toward nanotechnology applications for blue energy, separations, and sequencing. Here we present a theoretical framework for analysing the filter of general porins in relation to translocating molecules with the aid of enhanced molecular simulations quantitatively. Using different electrostatic probes in the form of a series of related molecules, we describe the nature of this filter and how to finely tune permeability by exploiting electrostatic interactions between the pore and the translocating molecule. Eventually, we show how enhanced simulations constitute today a valid tool for characterising the mechanism and quantifying energetically the transport of molecules through nanopores. General porins are nature's sieving machinery in the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. In the diffusive transport process of molecules, electrostatic interactions can help to decrease the entropic free energy barrier.

JTD Keywords: Channel, Diffusion barrier, Electric-field, Molecular-dynamics, Outer-membrane permeability, Permeation, Porins, Simulations, Translocation, Transport

Liu, TY, De Pace, C, Huang, RD, Bruno, G, Shao, T, Tian, YP, Chen, B, Chen, L, Luo, K, Gong, QY, Ruiz-Pérez, L, Battaglia, G, Tian, XH, (2023). An Iridium (III) complex revealing cytoskeleton nanostructures under super-resolution nanoscopy and liquid-phase electron microscopy Sensors And Actuators B-Chemical 388, 133839

Live cell actin visualization is fundamental for exploring cellular motility, cytokinesis, intracellular transport, and other correlated functions. The current imaging techniques that allow imaging of actin in its native environment are optical and electron microscopy. Such imaging techniques offer high enough resolution to investigate the ultrastructure of actin however they come at the expense of actin integrity. Inspired by the lack of suitable probes that preserve actin's integrity, we designed a cyclometalated Ir (III) complex that interacts with live cells and displays light switch behaviour upon specific actin binding. The exceptional photophysical properties of the proposed probe allow unprecedented resolution of cytoskeleton ultrastructures under stimulated emission depletion (STED) super-resolution nanoscopy. Moreover, the Ir complex enables the capability of visualizing actin polymers and periodicity under correlative light electron microscopy (CLEM) and liquid-phase electron microscopy (LPEM) at similar to 8 nm resolution.

JTD Keywords: Actin dynamics, Actin targeting, Adhesion, Cells, Clem, Fluorescent, Iridium (iii) complex, Lead, Light, Lpem, Super-resolution ultrastructures

Nong J, Glassman PM, Myerson JW, Zuluaga-Ramirez V, Rodriguez-Garcia A, Mukalel A, Omo-Lamai S, Walsh LR, Zamora ME, Gong X, Wang Z, Bhamidipati K, Kiseleva RY, Villa CH, Greineder CF, Kasner SE, Weissman D, Mitchell MJ, Muro S, Persidsky Y, Brenner JS, Muzykantov VR, Marcos-Contreras OA, (2023). Targeted Nanocarriers Co-Opting Pulmonary Intravascular Leukocytes for Drug Delivery to the Injured Brain Acs Nano 17, 13121-13136

Ex vivo-loaded white blood cells (WBC) can transfer cargo to pathological foci in the central nervous system (CNS). Here we tested affinity ligand driven in vivo loading of WBC in order to bypass the need for ex vivo WBC manipulation. We used a mouse model of acute brain inflammation caused by local injection of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α). We intravenously injected nanoparticles targeted to intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (anti-ICAM/NP). We found that (A) at 2 h, >20% of anti-ICAM/NP were localized to the lungs; (B) of the anti-ICAM/NP in the lungs >90% were associated with leukocytes; (C) at 6 and 22 h, anti-ICAM/NP pulmonary uptake decreased; (D) anti-ICAM/NP uptake in brain increased up to 5-fold in this time interval, concomitantly with migration of WBCs into the injured brain. Intravital microscopy confirmed transport of anti-ICAM/NP beyond the blood-brain barrier and flow cytometry demonstrated complete association of NP with WBC in the brain (98%). Dexamethasone-loaded anti-ICAM/liposomes abrogated brain edema in this model and promoted anti-inflammatory M2 polarization of macrophages in the brain. In vivo targeted loading of WBC in the intravascular pool may provide advantages of coopting WBC predisposed to natural rapid mobilization from the lungs to the brain, connected directly via conduit vessels.

JTD Keywords: drug delivery, icam-1, inflammation, lung injury, messenger-rna, migration, model, nanoparticles, neutrophils, pharmacokinetics, t-cells, white bloodcells, Adhesion molecules, Brain, Drug delivery, Inflammation, Nanoparticles, Pharmacokinetics, White blood cells

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

Gregori-Pla C, Zirak P, Cotta G, Bramon P, Blanco I, Serra I, Mola A, Fortuna A, Solà-Soler J, Giraldo Giraldo BF, Durduran T, Mayos M, (2023). How does obstructive sleep apnea alter cerebral hemodynamics? Sleep 46, zsad122-zsad122

We aimed to characterize the cerebral hemodynamic response to obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea events, and evaluate their association to polysomnographic parameters. The characterization of the cerebral hemodynamics in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may add complementary information to further the understanding of the severity of the syndrome beyond the conventional polysomnography.Severe OSA patients were studied during night sleep while monitored by polysomnography. Transcranial, bed-side diffuse correlation spectroscopy (DCS) and frequency-domain near-infrared diffuse correlation spectroscopy (NIRS-DOS) were used to follow microvascular cerebral hemodynamics in the frontal lobes of the cerebral cortex. Changes in cerebral blood flow (CBF), total hemoglobin concentration (THC), and cerebral blood oxygen saturation (StO2) were analyzed.We considered 3283 obstructive apnea/hypopnea events from sixteen OSA patients (Age (median, interquartile range) 57 (52-64.5); females 25%; AHI (apnea-hypopnea index) 84.4 (76.1-93.7)). A biphasic response (maximum/minimum followed by a minimum/maximum) was observed for each cerebral hemodynamic variable (CBF, THC, StO2), heart rate and peripheral arterial oxygen saturation (SpO2). Changes of the StO2 followed the dynamics of the SpO2, and were out of phase from the THC and CBF. Longer events were associated with larger CBF changes, faster responses and slower recoveries. Moreover, the extrema of the response to obstructive hypopneas were lower compared to apneas (p < .001).Obstructive apneas/hypopneas cause profound, periodic changes in cerebral hemodynamics, including periods of hyper- and hypo-perfusion and intermittent cerebral hypoxia. The duration of the events is a strong determinant of the cerebral hemodynamic response, which is more pronounced in apnea than hypopnea events.© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Sleep Research Society.

JTD Keywords: cerebral hemodynamics, desaturation, diffuse correlation spectroscopy, duration, hypopnea, hypoxemia, near-infrared spectroscopy, optical pathlength, oxygenation, severity, sleep disorder, spectroscopy, tissue, Blood-flow, Cerebral hemodynamics, Diffuse correlation spectroscopy, Near-infrared spectroscopy, Obstructive sleep apnea, Sleep disorder

Tampieri, Francesco, Espona-Noguera, Albert, Labay, Cédric, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, Yusupov, Maksudbek, Bogaerts, Annemie, Canal, Cristina, (2023). Does non-thermal plasma modify biopolymers in solution? A chemical and mechanistic study for alginate Biomaterials Science 11, 4845-4858

The mutual interaction between reactive species generated by non-thermal plasma and biopolymers in solution causes oxidative modifications that can have an impact in biomedical applications.

JTD Keywords: atmospheric plasma, cellulose, dftb3, gas, oxidation, parameterization, simulations, water, Molecular-dynamics

Juste-Lanas Y, Díaz-Valdivia N, Llorente A, Ikemori R, Bernardo A, Arshakyan M, Borau C, Ramírez J, Ruffinelli JC, Nadal E, Reguart N, García-Aznar JM, Alcaraz J, (2023). 3D collagen migration patterns reveal a SMAD3-dependent and TGF-β1-independent mechanism of recruitment for tumour-associated fibroblasts in lung adenocarcinoma British Journal Of Cancer 128, 967-981

The TGF-β1 transcription factor SMAD3 is epigenetically repressed in tumour-associated fibroblasts (TAFs) from lung squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) but not adenocarcinoma (ADC) patients, which elicits a compensatory increase in SMAD2 that renders SCC-TAFs less fibrotic. Here we examined the effects of altered SMAD2/3 in fibroblast migration and its impact on the desmoplastic stroma formation in lung cancer.We used a microfluidic device to examine descriptors of early protrusions and subsequent migration in 3D collagen gels upon knocking down SMAD2 or SMAD3 by shRNA in control fibroblasts and TAFs.High SMAD3 conditions as in shSMAD2 fibroblasts and ADC-TAFs exhibited a migratory advantage in terms of protrusions (fewer and longer) and migration (faster and more directional) selectively without TGF-β1 along with Erk1/2 hyperactivation. This enhanced migration was abrogated by TGF-β1 as well as low glucose medium and the MEK inhibitor Trametinib. In contrast, high SMAD2 fibroblasts were poorly responsive to TGF-β1, high glucose and Trametinib, exhibiting impaired migration in all conditions.The basal migration advantage of high SMAD3 fibroblasts provides a straightforward mechanism underlying the larger accumulation of TAFs previously reported in ADC compared to SCC. Moreover, our results encourage using MEK inhibitors in ADC-TAFs but not SCC-TAFs.© 2022. The Author(s).

JTD Keywords: cancer, cell, degradation, nintedanib, osteoblast migration, phenotype, progression, protrusion dynamics, smad3, Growth-factor-beta

Overby, Sarah J., Cerro-Herreros, Estefanía, Espinosa-Espinosa, Jorge, González-Martínez, Irene, Moreno, Nerea, Fernández-Costa, Juan M., Balaguer-Trias, Jordina, Ramón-Azcón, Javier, Pérez-Alonso, Manuel, Møller, Thorleif, Llamusí, Beatriz, Artero, Rubén, (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

Guillem-Marti, Jordi, Vidal, Elia, Girotti, Alessandra, Heras-Parets, Aina, Torres, Diego, Arias, Francisco Javier, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, Rodriguez-Cabello, Jose Carlos, Manero, Jose Maria, (2023). Functionalization of 3D-Printed Titanium Scaffolds with Elastin-like Recombinamers to Improve Cell Colonization and Osteoinduction Pharmaceutics 15, 872

The 3D printing of titanium (Ti) offers countless possibilities for the development of personalized implants with suitable mechanical properties for different medical applications. However, the poor bioactivity of Ti is still a challenge that needs to be addressed to promote scaffold osseointegration. The aim of the present study was to functionalize Ti scaffolds with genetically modified elastin-like recombinamers (ELRs), synthetic polymeric proteins containing the elastin epitopes responsible for their mechanical properties and for promoting mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) recruitment, proliferation, and differentiation to ultimately increase scaffold osseointegration. To this end, ELRs containing specific cell-adhesive (RGD) and/or osteoinductive (SNA15) moieties were covalently attached to Ti scaffolds. Cell adhesion, proliferation, and colonization were enhanced on those scaffolds functionalized with RGD-ELR, while differentiation was promoted on those with SNA15-ELR. The combination of both RGD and SNA15 into the same ELR stimulated cell adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation, although at lower levels than those for every single moiety. These results suggest that biofunctionalization with SNA15-ELRs could modulate the cellular response to improve the osseointegration of Ti implants. Further investigation on the amount and distribution of RGD and SNA15 moieties in ELRs could improve cell adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation compared to the present study.

JTD Keywords: 3d printing, adhesion, biofunctionalization, elastin-like recombinamers, functionalization, hydroxyapatite, osseointegration, polymers, purification, technology, titanium, 3d printing, Surfaces, Titanium

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

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

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

Mouloudakis, Kostas, Bodenstedt, Sven, Azagra, Marc, Mitchell, Morgan W., Marco-Rius, Irene, Tayler, Michael CD., (2023). Real-Time Polarimetry of Hyperpolarized 13C Nuclear Spins Using an Atomic Magnetometer Journal Of Physical Chemistry Letters 14, 1192-1197

We introduce a method for nondestructive quantification of nuclear spin polarization, of relevance to hyperpolarized spin tracers widely used in magnetic resonance from spectroscopy to in vivo imaging. In a bias field of around 30 nT we use a high-sensitivity miniaturized 87Rb-vapor magnetometer to measure the field generated by the sample, as it is driven by a windowed dynamical decoupling pulse sequence that both maximizes the nuclear spin lifetime and modulates the polarization for easy detection. We demonstrate the procedure applied to a 0.08 M hyperpolarized [1-13C]-pyruvate solution produced by dissolution dynamic nuclear polarization, measuring polarization repeatedly during natural decay at Earth's field. Application to real-time and continuous quality monitoring of hyperpolarized substances is discussed.

JTD Keywords: performance, polarization, Atomic magnetometers, Bias field, High sensitivity, Hyperpolarized, In-vivo imaging, Magnetic resonance, Magnetic-resonance, Magnetic-resonance,polarizatio, Magnetic-resonance,polarization,performanc, Magnetometers, Non destructive, Nuclear spins, Nuclear-spin polarization, Rb vapors, Real- time, Spin dynamics, Spin polarization

Álvarez Z, Ortega JA, Sato K, Sasselli IR, Kolberg-Edelbrock AN, Qiu R, Marshall KA, Nguyen TP, Smith CS, Quinlan KA, Papakis V, Syrgiannis Z, Sather NA, Musumeci C, Engel E, Stupp SI, Kiskinis E, (2023). Artificial extracellular matrix scaffolds of mobile molecules enhance maturation of human stem cell-derived neurons Cell Stem Cell 30, 219-238

Human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) technologies offer a unique resource for modeling neurological diseases. However, iPSC models are fraught with technical limitations including abnormal aggregation and inefficient maturation of differentiated neurons. These problems are in part due to the absence of synergistic cues of the native extracellular matrix (ECM). We report on the use of three artificial ECMs based on peptide amphiphile (PA) supramolecular nanofibers. All nanofibers display the laminin-derived IKVAV signal on their surface but differ in the nature of their non-bioactive domains. We find that nanofibers with greater intensity of internal supramolecular motion have enhanced bioactivity toward hiPSC-derived motor and cortical neurons. Proteomic, biochemical, and functional assays reveal that highly mobile PA scaffolds caused enhanced β1-integrin pathway activation, reduced aggregation, increased arborization, and matured electrophysiological activity of neurons. Our work highlights the importance of designing biomimetic ECMs to study the development, function, and dysfunction of human neurons.Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: differentiation, force-field, laminin, migration, nanostructures, peptide amphiphiles, spinal-cord, statistical-model, supramolecular materials, Coarse-grained model, Dynamics, Extracellular matrix, Ikvav, Ipsc-derived neurons, Laminin, Neuronal maturation, Peptide amphiphiles, Supramolecular motion, Supramolecular nanofibers

Matejčić, Marija, Trepat, Xavier, (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

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

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

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

Pallares, ME, Pi-Jauma, I, Fortunato, IC, Grazu, V, Gomez-Gonzalez, M, Roca-Cusachs, P, de la Fuente, JM, Alert, R, Sunyer, R, Casademunt, J, Trepat, X, (2023). Stiffness-dependent active wetting enables optimal collective cell durotaxis Nature Physics 19, 279-289

The directed migration of cellular clusters enables morphogenesis, wound healing and collective cancer invasion. Gradients of substrate stiffness direct the migration of cellular clusters in a process called collective durotaxis, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Here we unveil a connection between collective durotaxis and the wetting properties of cellular clusters. We show that clusters of cancer cells dewet soft substrates and wet stiff ones. At intermediate stiffness-at the crossover from low to high wettability-clusters on uniform-stiffness substrates become maximally motile, and clusters on stiffness gradients exhibit optimal durotaxis. Durotactic velocity increases with cluster size, stiffness gradient and actomyosin activity. We demonstrate this behaviour on substrates coated with the cell-cell adhesion protein E-cadherin and then establish its generality on substrates coated with extracellular matrix. We develop an active wetting model that explains collective durotaxis in terms of a balance between in-plane active traction and tissue contractility and out-of-plane surface tension. Finally, we show that the distribution of cluster displacements has a heavy tail, with infrequent but large cellular hops that contribute to durotactic migration. Our study demonstrates a physical mechanism of collective durotaxis, through both cell-cell and cell-substrate adhesion ligands, based on the wetting properties of active droplets.

JTD Keywords: Adhesion, Dynamics, E-cadherin, Gradient, Migration, Model, Motility, Movements, Rigidity, Substrate stiffness

Munoz-Galan, H, Molina, BG, Bertran, O, Perez-Madrigal, MM, Aleman, C, (2022). Combining rapid and sustained insulin release from conducting hydrogels for glycemic control br European Polymer Journal 181, 111670

Innovative insulin delivery systems contemplate combining multi-pharmacokinetic profiles for glycemic control. Two device configurations have been designed for the controlled release of insulin using the same chemical compounds. The first insulin delivery system, which displays a rapid release response that, in addition, is enhanced on a short time scale by electrical stimulation, consists on an insulin layer sandwiched between a conducting poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) film and a poly-gamma-glutamic acid (gamma-PGA) hydrogel. The second system is constituted by gamma-PGA hydrogel loaded with insulin and PEDOT nanoparticles by in situ gelation. In this case, the insulin release, which only starts after the degradation of the hydrogel over time (i.e. on a long time scale), is slow and sustained. The combination of an on-demand and fast release profile with a sustained and slow profile, which act on different time scales, would result in a very efficient regulation of diabetes therapy in comparison to current systems, allowing to control both fast and sustained glycemic events. Considering that the two systems developed in this work are based on the same chemical components, future work will be focused on the combination of the two kinetic profiles by re-engineering a unique insulin release device using gamma-PGA, PEDOT and insulin.

JTD Keywords: Conducting polymer, Constant, Diabetes, Diabetes-mellitus, Drug-delivery, Electrodes, Electrostimulation, Glucose-responsive hydrogels, Hydrogel, Molecular dynamics, Molecular-dynamics, Nanogels, Nanoparticles, Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene), Risk

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

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

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

Cao, HZ, Zhong, SQ, Shen, Y, Lv, MQ, Zhu, YH, Tian, YP, Luo, K, Huang, W, Battaglia, G, Gong, QY, Tian, XH, (2022). MtDNA specific fluorescent probe uncovering mitochondrial nucleoids dynamics during programmed cell death under super-resolution nanoscopy Chemical Engineering Journal 449, 137763

Mitochondrial nucleoids or mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) encodes for a variety of enzymes and proteins that are essential for oxidative phosphorylation, mitochondrial fussion/fission and apoptotic processes. However, visulization of mtDNA dynamics in response to external stumili has not yet been achieved. Herein, we developed a fluorescent probe, named BDP, that is capable of specifically bind to mtDNA in vitro and in living cells, without interfering mitochondrial functions. Its large Stokes-Shift and red-emission tail render its suitability for stimulated emission depletion (STED) visulization of mtDNA dynamics in living cells. We sucessfully demonstrated for the first time how apoptotic induced anti-cancer drug could impact on mitochondrial nucleoids, and the morphology evolution of mtDNA from segmentation to dispersion was recorded, in a single mitochondria at nanoscale.

JTD Keywords: Dna, Mitochondrial dna (mtdna), Pyridine salt derivatives, Stimulated emission depletion (sted), Tumor

Casanellas I, Jiang H, David CM, Vida Y, Pérez-Inestrosa E, Samitier J, Lagunas A, (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

Gomila AMJ, Pérez-Mejías G, Nin-Hill A, Guerra-Castellano A, Casas-Ferrer L, Ortiz-Tescari S, Díaz-Quintana A, Samitier J, Rovira C, De la Rosa MA, Díaz-Moreno I, Gorostiza P, Giannotti MI, Lagunas A, (2022). Phosphorylation disrupts long-distance electron transport in cytochrome c Nature Communications 13, 7100

It has been recently shown that electron transfer between mitochondrial cytochrome c and the cytochrome c1 subunit of the cytochrome bc1 can proceed at long-distance through the aqueous solution. Cytochrome c is thought to adjust its activity by changing the affinity for its partners via Tyr48 phosphorylation, but it is unknown how it impacts the nanoscopic environment, interaction forces, and long-range electron transfer. Here, we constrain the orientation and separation between cytochrome c1 and cytochrome c or the phosphomimetic Y48pCMF cytochrome c, and deploy an array of single-molecule, bulk, and computational methods to investigate the molecular mechanism of electron transfer regulation by cytochrome c phosphorylation. We demonstrate that phosphorylation impairs long-range electron transfer, shortens the long-distance charge conduit between the partners, strengthens their interaction, and departs it from equilibrium. These results unveil a nanoscopic view of the interaction between redox protein partners in electron transport chains and its mechanisms of regulation.© 2022. The Author(s).

JTD Keywords: apoptosis, binding, cardiolipin, complex, dynamics, force, respiration, structural basis, tyrosine phosphorylation, Histone chaperone activity

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

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

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

Romero, D, Calvo, M, Le Rolle, V, Behar, N, Mabo, P, Hernandez, A, (2022). Multivariate ensemble classification for the prediction of symptoms in patients with Brugada syndrome Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing 60, 81-94

Identification of asymptomatic patients at higher risk for suffering cardiac events remains controversial and challenging in Brugada syndrome (BS). In this work, we proposed an ECG-based classifier to predict BS-related symptoms, by merging the most predictive electrophysiological features derived from the ventricular depolarization and repolarization periods, along with autonomic-related markers. The initial feature space included local and dynamic ECG markers, assessed during a physical exercise test performed in 110 BS patients (25 symptomatic). Morphological, temporal and spatial properties quantifying the ECG dynamic response to exercise and recovery were considered. Our model was obtained by proposing a two-stage feature selection process that combined a resampled-based regularization approach with a wrapper model assessment for balancing, simplicity and performance. For the classification step, an ensemble was constructed by several logistic regression base classifiers, whose outputs were fused using a performance-based weighted average. The most relevant predictors corresponded to the repolarization interval, followed by two autonomic markers and two other makers of depolarization dynamics. Our classifier allowed for the identification of novel symptom-related markers from autonomic and dynamic ECG responses during exercise testing, suggesting the need for multifactorial risk stratification approaches in order to predict future cardiac events in asymptomatic BS patients.

JTD Keywords: brugada syndrome, depolarization disorders, ensemble classifier, heart-rate recovery, Acute myocardial-ischemia, Autonomics, Brugada syndrome, Brugadum syndrome, Cardiac death, Depolarization, Depolarization disorder, Depolarization disorders, Dynamic ecg, Electrocardiography, Electrophysiology, Ensemble classifier, Ensemble-classifier, Events, Exercise, Forecasting, Heart, Heart-rate, Heart-rate recovery, Prognosis, Qrs, Quantification, Recovery, Repolarization, Sudden cardiac death

El Hauadi K, Resina L, Zanuy D, Esteves T, Ferreira FC, Pérez-Madrigal MM, Alemán C, (2022). Dendritic Self-assembled Structures from Therapeutic Charged Pentapeptides Langmuir 38, 12905-12914

CRENKA [Cys-Arg-(NMe)Glu-Lys-Ala, where (NMe)Glu refers to N-methyl-Glu], an anti-cancer pentapeptide that induces prostate tumor necrosis and significant reduction in tumor growth, was engineered to increase the resistance to endogenous proteases of its parent peptide, CREKA (Cys-Arg-Glu-Lys-Ala). Considering their high tendency to aggregate, the self-assembly of CRENKA and CREKA into well-defined and ordered structures has been examined as a function of peptide concentration and pH. Spectroscopic studies and atomistic molecular dynamics simulations reveal significant differences between the secondary structures of CREKA and CRENKA. Thus, the restrictions imposed by the (NMe)Glu residue reduce the conformational variability of CRENKA with respect to CREKA, which significantly affects the formation of well-defined and ordered self-assembly morphologies. Aggregates with poorly defined morphology are obtained from solutions with low and moderate CREKA concentrations at pH 4, whereas well-defined dendritic microstructures with fractal geometry are obtained from CRENKA solutions with similar peptide concentrations at pH 4 and 7. The formation of dendritic structures is proposed to follow a two-step mechanism: (1) pseudo-spherical particles are pre-nucleated through a diffusion-limited aggregation process, pre-defining the dendritic geometry, and (2) such pre-nucleated structures coalesce by incorporating conformationally restrained CRENKA molecules from the solution to their surfaces, forming a continuous dendritic structure. Instead, no regular assembly is obtained from solutions with high peptide concentrations, as their dynamics is dominated by strong repulsive peptide-peptide electrostatic interactions, and from solutions at pH 10, in which the total peptide charge is zero. Overall, results demonstrate that dendritic structures are only obtained when the molecular charge of CRENKA, which is controlled through the pH, favors kinetics over thermodynamics during the self-assembly process.

JTD Keywords: aggregation, amphiphilic peptides, breast-cancer, cells, design, oxidative stress, resistance, strategy, Molecular-dynamics

Sans, J, Arnau, M, Sanz, V, Turon, P, Aleman, C, (2022). Fine-tuning of polarized hydroxyapatite for the catalytic conversion of dinitrogen to ammonium under mild conditions Chemical Engineering Journal 446, 137440

Polarized hydroxyapatite (p-HAp), a calcium phosphate catalyst obtained at high temperature under intense electric field, has been used for the synthesis of ammonium starting from N2 and liquid water at low pressure (<6 bar) and temperatures below 120 C. The success of the nitrogen fixation process has been demonstrated by isotope labelling experiments using 15N2. Considering the optimal reaction conditions for the production of ammonium, the yield is as high as 154.6 +/- 25.8 mu mol/g of catalyst. The proposed synthesis exhibits three important advantages for its utilization in green chemistry environmental processes related to the recycling of polluted air. These are: i) the catalysts converts CO2 into valuable chemical products in addition of transforming N2 in ammonium; ii) the final energy balance is very favorable since no external electrical field is necessary to promote nitrogen and carbon fixation reactions; and iii) products are easily transferred to water favoring their extraction and avoiding the saturation of the catalyst.

JTD Keywords: Adsorbed nitrogen, Air pollution, Amino-acids, Electrophotosynthesis, Environmental process, Facile synthesis, Fixation, Functionalization, Hydroxyapatite, Nitride, Nitrogen reduction, Polarized catalyst

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

Cable, J, Arlotta, P, Parker, KK, Hughes, AJ, Goodwin, K, Mummery, CL, Kamm, RD, Engle, SJ, Tagle, DA, Boj, SF, Stanton, AE, Morishita, Y, Kemp, ML, Norfleet, DA, May, EE, Lu, A, Bashir, R, Feinberg, AW, Hull, SM, Gonzalez, AL, Blatchley, MR, Pulido, NM, Morizane, R, McDevitt, TC, Mishra, D, Mulero-Russe, A, (2022). Engineering multicellular living systems-A Keystone Symposia report Annals Of The New York Academy Of Sciences 1518, 183-195

The ability to engineer complex multicellular systems has enormous potential to inform our understanding of biological processes and disease and alter the drug development process. Engineering living systems to emulate natural processes or to incorporate new functions relies on a detailed understanding of the biochemical, mechanical, and other cues between cells and between cells and their environment that result in the coordinated action of multicellular systems. On April 3-6, 2022, experts in the field met at the Keystone symposium "Engineering Multicellular Living Systems" to discuss recent advances in understanding how cells cooperate within a multicellular system, as well as recent efforts to engineer systems like organ-on-a-chip models, biological robots, and organoids. Given the similarities and common themes, this meeting was held in conjunction with the symposium "Organoids as Tools for Fundamental Discovery and Translation".

JTD Keywords: computational, engineered living, engineered organs, multicellular, Brain organoids, Cell diversity, Computational, Dynamics, Engineered living, Engineered organs, Heart, Maturation, Model, Multicellular, Mycobacterium-tuberculosis, Quantitative-analysis, Systems, Tissue deformation

Checa, Marti, Jin, Xin, Millan-Solsona, Ruben, Neumayer, Sabine M., Susner, Michael A., McGuire, Michael A., OHara, Andrew, Gomila, Gabriel, Maksymovych, Petro, Pantelides, Sokrates T., Collins, Liam, (2022). Revealing Fast Cu-Ion Transport and Enhanced Conductivity at the CuInP2S6?In4/3P2S6 Heterointerface Acs Nano 16, 15347-15357

Van der Waals layered ferroelectrics, such as CuInP2S6 (CIPS), offer a versatile platform for miniaturization of ferroelectric device technologies. Control of the targeted composition and kinetics of CIPS synthesis enables the formation of stable self-assembled heterostructures of ferroelectric CIPS and nonferroelectric In4/3P2S6 (IPS). Here, we use quantitative scanning probe microscopy methods combined with density functional theory (DFT) to explore in detail the nanoscale variability in dynamic functional properties of the CIPS-IPS heterostructure. We report evidence of fast ionic transport which mediates an appreciable out-of-plane electromechanical response of the CIPS surface in the paraelectric phase. Further, we map the nanoscale dielectric and ionic conductivity properties as we thermally stimulate the ferroelectric-paraelectric phase transition, recovering the local dielectric behavior during this phase transition. Finally, aided by DFT, we reveal a substantial and tunable conductivity enhancement at the CIPS/IPS interface, indicating the possibility of engineering its interfacial properties for next generation device applications.

JTD Keywords: copper indium thiophosphate, diffusion, elastic band method, ferroelectrics, ionic conductor, migration, nanoscale, phase transition, piezoresponse force microscopy, scanning dielectric microscopy, transition, Copper indium thiophosphate, Initio molecular-dynamics, Scanning dielectric microscopy

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

Tuveri, GM, Ceccarelli, M, Pira, A, Bodrenko, IV, (2022). The Optimal Permeation of Cyclic Boronates to Cross the Outer Membrane via the Porin Pathway Antibiotics 11, 840

We investigated the diffusion of three cyclic boronates formulated as beta-lactamase inhibitors through the porin OmpF to evaluate their potential to cross OM via the porin pathway. The three nonbeta-lactam molecules diffuse through the porin eyelet region with the same mechanism observed for beta-lactam molecules and diazobicyclooctan derivatives, with the electric dipole moment aligned with the transversal electric field. In particular, the BOH group can interact with both the basic ladder and the acidic loop L3, which is characteristic of the size-constricted region of this class of porins. On one hand, we confirm that the transport of small molecules through enterobacter porins has a common general mechanism; on the other, the class of cyclic boronate molecules does not seem to have particular difficulties in diffusing through enterobacter porins, thus representing a good scaffold for new anti-infectives targeting Gram-negative bacteria research.

JTD Keywords: beta-lactamase inhibitors, cyclic boronates, diffusion current, metadynamics, molecular dynamics simulations, permeation, Antibiotics, Beta-lactamase inhibitors, Cyclic boronates, Diffusion, Diffusion current, Discovery, Electric-field, Metadynamics, Molecular dynamics simulations, Molecular-dynamics simulations, Nanopores, Permeability, Permeation, Porins, Rules, Translocation

Sans, Jordi, Arnau, Marc, Turon, Pau, Alemán, Carlos, (2022). Permanently polarized hydroxyapatite, an outstanding catalytic material for carbon and nitrogen fixation Materials Horizons 9, 1566-1576

Permanently polarized hydroxyapatite is a new material with electrical enhanced properties. This review discusses the advances in this material in terms of structure, properties and catalytic activity of green processes.

JTD Keywords: ammonia, bone, copper hydroxyapatite, electrophotosynthesis, nanoparticles, oxidation, phase-transition, reduction, Amino-acids

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

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

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

Ebisuya, M, Trepat, X, (2022). Tension hones body segmentation around the clock Nature 605, 432-433

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

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

JTD Keywords: Casting, Contraction dynamics, Muscular dystrophy

Espinoso A, Andrzejak RG, (2022). Phase irregularity: A conceptually simple and efficient approach to characterize electroencephalographic recordings from epilepsy patients Physical Review e 105, 034212

The severe neurological disorder epilepsy affects almost 1% of the world population. For patients who suffer from pharmacoresistant focal-onset epilepsy, electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings are essential for the localization of the brain area where seizures start. Apart from the visual inspection of the recordings, quantitative EEG signal analysis techniques proved to be useful for this purpose. Among other features, regularity versus irregularity and phase coherence versus phase independence allowed characterizing brain dynamics from the measured EEG signals. Can phase irregularities also characterize brain dynamics? To address this question, we use the univariate coefficient of phase velocity variation, defined as the ratio of phase velocity standard deviation and the mean phase velocity. Beyond that, as a bivariate measure we use the classical mean phase coherence to quantify the degree of phase locking. All phase-based measures are combined with surrogates to test null hypotheses about the dynamics underlying the signals. In the first part of our analysis, we use the Rössler model system to study our approach under controlled conditions. In the second part, we use the Bern-Barcelona EEG database which consists of focal and nonfocal signals extracted from seizure-free recordings. Focal signals are recorded from brain areas where the first seizure EEG signal changes can be detected, and nonfocal signals are recorded from areas that are not involved in the seizure at its onset. Our results show that focal signals have less phase variability and more phase coherence than nonfocal signals. Once combined with surrogates, the mean phase velocity proved to have the highest discriminative power between focal and nonfocal signals. In conclusion, conceptually simple and easy to compute phase-based measures can help to detect features induced by epilepsy from EEG signals. This holds not only for the classical mean phase coherence but even more so for univariate measures of phase irregularity. © 2022 American Physical Society.

JTD Keywords: brain, entropy, epileptogenic networks, functional connectivity, hilbert transform, seizure onset, surrogate data, synchronization, time-series, Biomedical signal processing, Brain areas, Brain dynamics, Dynamics, Electroencephalographic signals, Electroencephalography, Electrophysiology, Intracranial eeg signals, Localisation, Neurological disorders, Neurology, Phase based, Phase coherence, Signal detection, Simple++, Univariate, Velocity, World population

Valenti, Sofia, del Valle, Luis Javier, Romanini, Michela, Mitjana, Meritxell, Puiggalí, Jordi, Tamarit, Josep Lluís, Macovez, Roberto, (2022). Drug-Biopolymer Dispersions: Morphology- and Temperature- Dependent (Anti)Plasticizer Effect of the Drug and Component-Specific Johari–Goldstein Relaxations International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23,

Amorphous molecule-macromolecule mixtures are ubiquitous in polymer technology and are one of the most studied routes for the development of amorphous drug formulations. For these applications it is crucial to understand how the preparation method affects the properties of the mixtures. Here, we employ differential scanning calorimetry and broadband dielectric spectroscopy to investigate dispersions of a small-molecule drug (the Nordazepam anxiolytic) in biodegradable polylactide, both in the form of solvent-cast films and electrospun microfibres. We show that the dispersion of the same small-molecule compound can have opposite (plasticizing or antiplasticizing) effects on the segmental mobility of a biopolymer depending on preparation method, temperature, and polymer enantiomerism. We compare two different chiral forms of the polymer, namely, the enantiomeric pure, semicrystalline L-polymer (PLLA), and a random, fully amorphous copolymer containing both L and D monomers (PDLLA), both of which have lower glass transition temperature (Tg) than the drug. While the drug has a weak antiplasticizing effect on the films, consistent with its higher Tg, we find that it actually acts as a plasticizer for the PLLA microfibres, reducing their Tg by as much as 14 K at 30%-weight drug loading, namely, to a value that is lower than the Tg of fully amorphous films. The structural relaxation time of the samples similarly depends on chemical composition and morphology. Most mixtures displayed a single structural relaxation, as expected for homogeneous samples. In the PLLA microfibres, the presence of crystalline domains increases the structural relaxation time of the amorphous fraction, while the presence of the drug lowers the structural relaxation time of the (partially stretched) chains in the microfibres, increasing chain mobility well above that of the fully amorphous polymer matrix. Even fully amorphous homogeneous mixtures exhibit two distinct Johari–Goldstein relaxation processes, one for each chemical component. Our findings have important implications for the interpretation of the Johari–Goldstein process as well as for the physical stability and mechanical properties of microfibres with small-molecule additives.

JTD Keywords: amorphous pharmaceuticals, beta-relaxation, constant loss, crystallization, dielectric spectroscopy, dynamics, formulation morphology, glass transition, molecular mobility, nanofibers, polylactide, polymer enantiomerism, secondary relaxations, valium metabolite, viscous-liquids, Amorphous pharmaceuticals, Glass-transition, Secondary relaxations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jain, A, Calo, A, Barcelo, D, Kumar, M, (2022). Supramolecular systems chemistry through advanced analytical techniques Analytical And Bioanalytical Chemistry 414, 5105-5119

Supramolecular chemistry is the quintessential backbone of all biological processes. It encompasses a wide range from the metabolic network to the self-assembled cytoskeletal network. Combining the chemical diversity with the plethora of functional depth that biological systems possess is a daunting task for synthetic chemists to emulate. The only route for approaching such a challenge lies in understanding the complex and dynamic systems through advanced analytical techniques. The supramolecular complexity that can be successfully generated and analyzed is directly dependent on the analytical treatment of the system parameters. In this review, we illustrate advanced analytical techniques that have been used to investigate various supramolecular systems including complex mixtures, dynamic self-assembly, and functional nanomaterials. The underlying theme of such an overview is not only the exceeding detail with which traditional experiments can be probed but also the fact that complex experiments can now be attempted owing to the analytical techniques that can resolve an ensemble in astounding detail. Furthermore, the review critically analyzes the current state of the art analytical techniques and suggests the direction of future development. Finally, we envision that integrating multiple analytical methods into a common platform will open completely new possibilities for developing functional chemical systems.

JTD Keywords: analytical techniques, dynamic self-assembly, high-speed afm, liquid cell tem, Analytical technique, Analytical techniques, Biological process, Chemical analysis, Chemical diversity, Complex networks, Cytoskeletal network, Dynamic self-assembly, High-speed afm, Hydrogels, In-situ, Liquid cell tem, Metabolic network, Microscopy, Nanoscale, Proteins, Self assembly, Supramolecular chemistry, Supramolecular systems, System chemistry, Systems chemistry

Tejo-Otero A, Fenollosa-Artés F, Achaerandio I, Rey-Vinolas S, Buj-Corral I, Mateos-Timoneda MÁ, Engel E, (2022). Soft-Tissue-Mimicking Using Hydrogels for the Development of Phantoms Gels 8,

With the currently available materials and technologies it is difficult to mimic the mechanical properties of soft living tissues. Additionally, another significant problem is the lack of information about the mechanical properties of these tissues. Alternatively, the use of phantoms offers a promising solution to simulate biological bodies. For this reason, to advance in the state-of-the-art a wide range of organs (e.g., liver, heart, kidney as well as brain) and hydrogels (e.g., agarose, polyvinyl alcohol –PVA–, Phytagel –PHY– and methacrylate gelatine –GelMA–) were tested regarding their mechanical properties. For that, viscoelastic behavior, hardness, as well as a non-linear elastic mechanical response were measured. It was seen that there was a significant difference among the results for the different mentioned soft tissues. Some of them appear to be more elastic than viscous as well as being softer or harder. With all this information in mind, a correlation between the mechanical properties of the organs and the different materials was performed. The next conclusions were drawn: (1) to mimic the liver, the best material is 1% wt agarose; (2) to mimic the heart, the best material is 2% wt agarose; (3) to mimic the kidney, the best material is 4% wt GelMA; and (4) to mimic the brain, the best materials are 4% wt GelMA and 1% wt agarose. Neither PVA nor PHY was selected to mimic any of the studied tissues. © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

JTD Keywords: brain, composite hydrogel, dynamic mechanical analysis, elastography, hardness, hydrogels, in-vitro, liver, materials, mechanical-properties, mimicking, soft tissues, tissue scaffolding, viscoelasticity, warner-braztler shear test, warner–braztler shear test, Dynamic mechanical analysis, Hardness, Hydrogels, Materials, Mimicking, Soft tissues, Tissue scaffolding, Viscoelastic characterization, Viscoelasticity, Warner–braztler shear test

Zeinali, Reza, del Valle, Luis J., Franco, Lourdes, Yousef, Ibraheem, Rintjema, Jeroen, Alemán, Carlos, Bravo, Fernando, Kleij, Arjan W., Puiggalí, Jordi, (2022). Biobased Terpene Derivatives: Stiff and Biocompatible Compounds to Tune Biodegradability and Properties of Poly(butylene succinate) Polymers 14, 161

Different copolymers incorporating terpene oxide units (e.g., limonene oxide) have been evaluated considering thermal properties, degradability, and biocompatibility. Thus, polycarbonates and polyesters derived from aromatic, monocyclic and bicyclic anhydrides have been considered. Furthermore, ring substitution with myrcene terpene has been evaluated. All polymers were amorphous when evaluated directly from synthesis. However, spherulites could be observed after the slow evaporation of diluted chloroform solutions of polylimonene carbonate, with all isopropene units possessing an R configuration. This feature was surprising considering the reported information that suggested only the racemic polymer was able to crystallize. All polymers were thermally stable and showed a dependence of the maximum degradation rate temperature (from 242 °C to 342 °C) with the type of terpene oxide. The graduation of glass transition temperatures (from 44 °C to 172 °C) was also observed, being higher than those corresponding to the unsubstituted polymers. The chain stiffness of the studied polymers hindered both hydrolytic and enzymatic degradation while a higher rate was detected when an oxidative medium was assayed (e.g., weight losses around 12% after 21 days of exposure). All samples were biocompatible according to the adhesion and proliferation tests performed with fibroblast cells. Hydrophobic and mechanically consistent films (i.e., contact angles between 90° and 110°) were obtained after the evaporation of chloroform from the solutions, having different ratios of the studied biobased polyterpenes and poly(butylene succinate) (PBS). The blend films were comparable in tensile modulus and tensile strength with the pure PBS (e.g., values of 330 MPa and 7 MPa were determined for samples incorporating 30 wt.% of poly(PA-LO), the copolyester derived from limonene oxide and phthalic anhydride. Blends were degradable, biocompatible and appropriate to produce oriented-pore and random-pore scaffolds via a thermally-induced phase separation (TIPS) method and using 1,4-dioxane as solvent. The best results were attained with the blend composed of 70 wt.% PBS and 30 wt.% poly(PA-LO). In summary, the studied biobased terpene derivatives showed promising properties to be used in a blended form for biomedical applications such as scaffolds for tissue engineering.

JTD Keywords: alternating copolymerization, biobased materials, biodegradability, composites, crystallization, cyclohexene oxide, induced phase-separation, limonene oxide, mechanical-properties, polyesters, scaffolds, spherulites, terpene derivatives, thermal properties, thermally-induced phase separation, Acetone, Bio-based, Bio-based materials, Biobased materials, Biocompatibility, Biodegradability, Butenes, Cell culture, Chlorine compounds, Degradation, Evaporation, Glass transition, Limonene oxide, Monoterpenes, Phase separation, Poly (butylenes succinate), Polybutylene succinate, Property, Ring-opening copolymerization, Scaffolds, Spheru-lites, Tensile strength, Terpene derivatives, Thermal properties, Thermally induced phase separation, Thermally-induced phase separation, Thermally?induced phase separation, Thermodynamic properties, Thermogravimetric analysis

Casanellas, I, Lagunas, A, Vida, Y, Perez-Inestrosa, E, Rodriguez-Pereira, C, Magalhaes, J, Andrades, JA, Becerra, J, Samitier, J, (2022). Nanoscale ligand density modulates gap junction intercellular communication of cell condensates during chondrogenesis Nanomedicine 17, 775-791

Aim: To unveil the influence of cell-matrix adhesions in the establishment of gap junction intercellular communication (GJIC) during cell condensation in chondrogenesis. Materials & methods: Previously developed nanopatterns of the cell adhesive ligand arginine-glycine-aspartic acid were used as cell culture substrates to control cell adhesion at the nanoscale. In vitro chondrogenesis of mesenchymal stem cells was conducted on the nanopatterns. Cohesion and GJIC were evaluated in cell condensates. Results: Mechanical stability and GJIC are enhanced by a nanopattern configuration in which 90% of the surface area presents adhesion sites separated less than 70 nm, thus providing an onset for cell signaling. Conclusion: Cell-matrix adhesions regulate GJIC of mesenchymal cell condensates during in vitro chondrogenesis from a threshold configuration at the nanoscale.

JTD Keywords: arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, arginine–glycine–aspartic acid, cell adhesion, condensation, dendrimer-based nanopatterning, gap junction intercellular communication, Actin, Adhesion, Arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, Cell adhesion, Collagen, Condensation, Connexin-43, Dendrimer-based nanopatterning, Dynamics, Extracellular-matrix, Fibronectin, Gap junction intercellular communication, Mesenchymal stem cells, Permeability, Phenotype, Vinculin

Wagner, AM, Eto, H, Joseph, A, Kohyama, S, Haraszti, T, Zamora, RA, Vorobii, M, Giannotti, MI, Schwille, P, Rodriguez-Emmenegger, C, (2022). Dendrimersome Synthetic Cells Harbor Cell Division Machinery of Bacteria Advanced Materials 34, e2202364

The integration of active cell machinery with synthetic building blocks is the bridge toward developing synthetic cells with biological functions and beyond. Self-replication is one of the most important tasks of living systems, and various complex machineries exist to execute it. In Escherichia coli, a contractile division ring is positioned to mid-cell by concentration oscillations of self-organizing proteins (MinCDE), where it severs membrane and cell wall. So far, the reconstitution of any cell division machinery has exclusively been tied to liposomes. Here, the reconstitution of a rudimentary bacterial divisome in fully synthetic bicomponent dendrimersomes is shown. By tuning the membrane composition, the interaction of biological machinery with synthetic membranes can be tailored to reproduce its dynamic behavior. This constitutes an important breakthrough in the assembly of synthetic cells with biological elements, as tuning of membrane-divisome interactions is the key to engineering emergent biological behavior from the bottom-up.

JTD Keywords: bacterial cell division, bottom-up synthetic biology, dendrimersomes, dynamic min patterns, ftsz assembly, Bacterial cell division, Bottom-up synthetic biology, Dendrimersomes, Dynamic min patterns, Dynamics, Ftsz assembly, Ftsz filaments, Mind, Organization, Pole oscillation, Polymersome membranes, Proteins, Rapid pole, Synthetic cells, Vesicles

Rosales-Rojas, R, Zuniga-Bustos, M, Salas-Sepulveda, F, Galaz-Araya, C, Zamora, RA, Poblete, H, (2022). Self-Organization Dynamics of Collagen-like Peptides Crosslinking Is Driven by Rose-Bengal-Mediated Electrostatic Bridges Pharmaceutics 14, 1148

The present work focuses on the computational study of the structural micro-organization of hydrogels based on collagen-like peptides (CLPs) in complex with Rose Bengal (RB). In previous studies, these hydrogels computationally and experimentally demonstrated that when RB was activated by green light, it could generate forms of stable crosslinked structures capable of regenerating biological tissues such as the skin and cornea. Here, we focus on the structural and atomic interactions of two collagen-like peptides (collagen-like peptide I (CLPI), and collagen-like peptide II, (CLPII)) in the presence and absence of RB, highlighting the acquired three-dimensional organization and going deep into the stabilization effect caused by the dye. Our results suggest that the dye could generate a ternary ground-state complex between collagen-like peptide fibers, specifically with positively charged amino acids (Lys in CLPI and Arg in CLPII), thus stabilizing ordered three-dimensional structures. The discoveries generated in this study provide the structural and atomic bases for the subsequent rational development of new synthetic peptides with improved characteristics for applications in the regeneration of biological tissues during photochemical tissue bonding therapies.

JTD Keywords: collagen-like peptide, crosslinking, molecular dynamics, qm/mm simulations, rose bengal, Anastomosis, Collagen-like peptide, Crosslinking, Green light, Mm simulations, Molecular dynamics, Molecular-dynamics, Photochemical tissue bonding therapies, Qm, Rose bengal

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

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

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

Chacon, DS, Santos, MDM, Bonilauri, B, Vilasboa, J, da Costa, CT, da Silva, IB, Torres, TD, de Araujo, TF, Roque, AD, Pilon, AC, Selegatto, DM, Freire, RT, Reginaldo, FPS, Voigt, EL, Zuanazzi, JAS, Scortecci, KC, Cavalheiro, AJ, Lopes, NP, Ferreira, LD, Santos, LVD, Fontes, W, de Sousa, MV, Carvalho, PC, Fett-Neto, AG, Giordani, RB, (2022). Non-target molecular network and putative genes of flavonoid biosynthesis in Erythrina velutina Willd., a Brazilian semiarid native woody plant Frontiers In Plant Science 13, 947558

Erythrina velutina is a Brazilian native tree of the Caatinga (a unique semiarid biome). It is widely used in traditional medicine showing anti-inflammatory and central nervous system modulating activities. The species is a rich source of specialized metabolites, mostly alkaloids and flavonoids. To date, genomic information, biosynthesis, and regulation of flavonoids remain unknown in this woody plant. As part of a larger ongoing research goal to better understand specialized metabolism in plants inhabiting the harsh conditions of the Caatinga, the present study focused on this important class of bioactive phenolics. Leaves and seeds of plants growing in their natural habitat had their metabolic and proteomic profiles analyzed and integrated with transcriptome data. As a result, 96 metabolites (including 43 flavonoids) were annotated. Transcripts of the flavonoid pathway totaled 27, of which EvCHI, EvCHR, EvCHS, EvCYP75A and EvCYP75B1 were identified as putative main targets for modulating the accumulation of these metabolites. The highest correspondence of mRNA vs. protein was observed in the differentially expressed transcripts. In addition, 394 candidate transcripts encoding for transcription factors distributed among the bHLH, ERF, and MYB families were annotated. Based on interaction network analyses, several putative genes of the flavonoid pathway and transcription factors were related, particularly TFs of the MYB family. Expression patterns of transcripts involved in flavonoid biosynthesis and those involved in responses to biotic and abiotic stresses were discussed in detail. Overall, these findings provide a base for the understanding of molecular and metabolic responses in this medicinally important species. Moreover, the identification of key regulatory targets for future studies aiming at bioactive metabolite production will be facilitated.

JTD Keywords: caatinga, erythrina velutina, flavonoids, molecular network, Arabidopsis, Caatinga, Classification, Discovery, Erythrina velutina, Flavonoids, Identification, Mass-spectrometry, Messenger-rna, Metabolism, Molecular network, Natural-products, Protein abundance, Transcriptome

Bouzon-Arnaiz, I, Avalos-Padilla, Y, Biosca, A, Cano-Prades, O, Roman-Alamo, L, Valle, J, Andreu, D, Moita, D, Prudencio, M, Arce, EM, Munoz-Torrero, D, Fernandez-Busquets, X, (2022). The protein aggregation inhibitor YAT2150 has potent antimalarial activity in Plasmodium falciparum in vitro cultures Bmc Biology 20, 197

Background By 2016, signs of emergence of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinin and partner drugs were detected in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Recently, the independent evolution of artemisinin resistance has also been reported in Africa and South America. This alarming scenario calls for the urgent development of new antimalarials with novel modes of action. We investigated the interference with protein aggregation, which is potentially toxic for the cell and occurs abundantly in all Plasmodium stages, as a hitherto unexplored drug target in the pathogen. Results Attempts to exacerbate the P. falciparum proteome's propensity to aggregation by delivering endogenous aggregative peptides to in vitro cultures of this parasite did not significantly affect their growth. In contrast, protein aggregation inhibitors clearly reduced the pathogen's viability. One such compound, the bis(styrylpyridinium) salt YAT2150, exhibited potent antiplasmodial activity with an in vitro IC50 of 90 nM for chloroquine- and artemisinin-resistant lines, arresting asexual blood parasites at the trophozoite stage, as well as interfering with the development of both sexual and hepatic forms of Plasmodium. At its IC50, this compound is a powerful inhibitor of the aggregation of the model amyloid beta peptide fragment 1-40, and it reduces the amount of aggregated proteins in P. falciparum cultures, suggesting that the underlying antimalarial mechanism consists in a generalized impairment of proteostasis in the pathogen. YAT2150 has an easy, rapid, and inexpensive synthesis, and because it fluoresces when it accumulates in its main localization in the Plasmodium cytosol, it is a theranostic agent. Conclusions Inhibiting protein aggregation in Plasmodium significantly reduces the parasite's viability in vitro. Since YAT2150 belongs to a novel structural class of antiplasmodials with a mode of action that potentially targets multiple gene products, rapid evolution of resistance to this drug is unlikely to occur, making it a promising compound for the post-artemisinin era.

JTD Keywords: amyloid pan-inhibitors, antimalarial drugs, malaria, plasmodium falciparum, protein aggregation, Amyloid formation, Amyloid pan-inhibitors, Antimalarial drugs, Colocalization, Cytosolic delivery, Derivatives, Disease, Drug, In-vitro, Malaria, Mechanism, Plasmodium falciparum, Polyglutamine, Protein aggregation, Yat2150

Amil, Adrián Fernández, Verschure, Paul F.M.J., (2021). Supercritical dynamics at the edge-of-chaos underlies optimal decision-making Journal Of Physics-Complexity 2,

Abstract Critical dynamics, characterized by scale-free neuronal avalanches, is thought to underlie optimal function in the sensory cortices by maximizing information transmission, capacity, and dynamic range. In contrast, deviations from criticality have not yet been considered to support any cognitive processes. Nonetheless, neocortical areas related to working memory and decision-making seem to rely on long-lasting periods of ignition-like persistent firing. Such firing patterns are reminiscent of supercritical states where runaway excitation dominates the circuit dynamics. In addition, a macroscopic gradient of the relative density of Somatostatin (SST+) and Parvalbumin (PV+) inhibitory interneurons throughout the cortical hierarchy has been suggested to determine the functional specialization of low- versus high-order cortex. These observations thus raise the question of whether persistent activity in high-order areas results from the intrinsic features of the neocortical circuitry. We used an attractor model of the canonical cortical circuit performing a perceptual decision-making task to address this question. Our model reproduces the known saddle-node bifurcation where persistent activity emerges, merely by increasing the SST+/PV+ ratio while keeping the input and recurrent excitation constant. The regime beyond such a phase transition renders the circuit increasingly sensitive to random fluctuations of the inputs -i.e., chaotic-, defining an optimal SST+/PV+ ratio around the edge-of-chaos. Further, we show that both the optimal SST+/PV+ ratio and the region of the phase transition decrease monotonically with increasing input noise. This suggests that cortical circuits regulate their intrinsic dynamics via inhibitory interneurons to attain optimal sensitivity in the face of varying uncertainty. Hence, on the one hand, we link the emergence of supercritical dynamics at the edge-of-chaos to the gradient of the SST+/PV+ ratio along the cortical hierarchy, and, on the other hand, explain the behavioral effects of the differential regulation of SST+ and PV+ interneurons by neuromodulators like acetylcholine in the presence of input uncertainty.

JTD Keywords: attractor model, cortex, cortical networks, edge-of-chaos, model, nmda receptors, Attractor model, Cortical hierarchies, Decision making, Dynamics, Edge of chaos, Edge-of-chaos, High-order, Higher-order, Inhibitory interneurons, Neurons, Optimal decision making, Persistent activities, Persistent activity, Supercritical, Supercriticality

Le Roux, Anabel-Lise, Tozzi, Caterina, Walani, Nikhil, Quiroga, Xarxa, Zalvidea, Dobryna, Trepat, Xavier, Staykova, Margarita, Arroyo, Marino, Roca-Cusachs, Pere, (2021). Dynamic mechanochemical feedback between curved membranes and BAR protein self-organization Nature Communications 12, 6550

In many physiological situations, BAR proteins reshape membranes with pre-existing curvature (templates), contributing to essential cellular processes. However, the mechanism and the biological implications of this reshaping process remain unclear. Here we show, both experimentally and through modelling, that BAR proteins reshape low curvature membrane templates through a mechanochemical phase transition. This phenomenon depends on initial template shape and involves the co-existence and progressive transition between distinct local states in terms of molecular organization (protein arrangement and density) and membrane shape (template size and spherical versus cylindrical curvature). Further, we demonstrate in cells that this phenomenon enables a mechanotransduction mode, in which cellular stretch leads to the mechanical formation of membrane templates, which are then reshaped into tubules by BAR proteins. Our results demonstrate the interplay between membrane mechanics and BAR protein molecular organization, integrating curvature sensing and generation in a comprehensive framework with implications for cell mechanical responses.

JTD Keywords: aggregation, amphiphysin, domains, vesicles, Article, Cell, Cell component, Curvature, Detection method, Geomembrane, Mechanotransduction, Membrane, Molecular analysis, Phase transition, Physiology, Protein, Self organization

Noble Jesus C, Evans R, Forth J, Estarellas C, Gervasio FL, Battaglia G, (2021). Amphiphilic Histidine-Based Oligopeptides Exhibit pH-Reversible Fibril Formation Acs Macro Letters 10, 984-989

We report the design, simulation, synthesis, and reversible self-assembly of nanofibrils using polyhistidine-based oligopeptides. The inclusion of aromatic amino acids in the histidine block produces distinct antiparallel β-strands that lead to the formation of amyloid-like fibrils. The structures undergo self-assembly in response to a change in pH. This creates the potential to produce well-defined fibrils for biotechnological and biomedical applications that are pH-responsive in a physiologically relevant range.

JTD Keywords: peptide, recognition, Amyloid fibrils

Casellas NM, Albertazzi L, Pujals S, Torres T, García-Iglesias M, (2021). Unveiling Polymerization Mechanism in pH-regulated Supramolecular Fibers in Aqueous Media Chemistry-A European Journal 27, 11056-11060

An amine functionalized C3-symmetric benzotrithiophene (BTT) monomer has been designed and synthetized in order to form pH responsive one-dimensional supramolecular polymers in aqueous media. While most of the reported studies looked at the effect of pH on the size of the aggregates, herein, a detailed mechanistic study is reported, carried out upon modifying the pH to trigger the formation of positively charged ammonium groups. A dramatic and reversible change in the polymerization mechanism and size of the supramolecular fibers is observed and ascribed to the combination of Coulombic repulsive forces and higher monomer solubility. Furthermore, the induced frustrated growth of the fibers is further employed to finely control the one-dimensional supramolecular polymerisation and copolymerization processes.

JTD Keywords: dynamics, ph responsivity, polymerization mechanism, self-assembly, supramolecular chemistry, supramolecular polymers, Ph responsivity, Polymerization mechanism, Polymers, Self-assembly, Supramolecular chemistry, Supramolecular polymers

Lidón L, Llaó-Hierro L, Nuvolone M, Aguzzi A, Ávila J, Ferrer I, Del Río JA, Gavín R, (2021). Tau exon 10 inclusion by prpc through downregulating gsk3? activity International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 22,

Tau protein is largely responsible for tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), where it accumulates in the brain as insoluble aggregates. Tau mRNA is regulated by alternative splicing, and inclusion or exclusion of exon 10 gives rise to the 3R and 4R isoforms respectively, whose balance is physiologically regulated. In this sense, one of the several factors that regulate alternative splicing of tau is GSK3?, whose activity is inhibited by the cellular prion protein (PrPC), which has different physiological functions in neuroprotection and neuronal differentiation. Moreover, a relationship between PrPC and tau expression levels has been reported during AD evolution. For this reason, in this study we aimed to analyze the role of PrPC and the implication of GSK3? in the regulation of tau exon 10 alternative splicing. We used AD human samples and mouse models of PrPC ablation and tau overexpression. In addition, we used primary neuronal cultures to develop functional studies. Our results revealed a paralleled association between PrPC expression and tau 4R isoforms in all models analyzed. In this sense, reduction or ablation of PrPC levels induces an increase in tau 3R/4R balance. More relevantly, our data points to GSK3? activity downstream from PrPC in this phenomenon. Our results indicate that PrPC plays a role in tau exon 10 inclusion through the inhibitory capacity of GSK3?. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

JTD Keywords: alternative splicing, alzheimer's disease, alzheimers-disease, alzheimer’s disease, amyloid-beta, cellular prion protein, frontotemporal dementia, glycogen-synthase kinase-3, gsk3 beta, gsk3?, gsk3β, messenger-rna, microtubule-associated protein tau, neurofibrillary tangles, progressive supranuclear palsy, promotes neuronal differentiation, stem-cells, tauopathies, Alternative splicing, Alzheimer’s disease, Cellular prion protein, Gsk3?, Microtubule-associated protein tau, Tauopathies

Estefan DP, Zucca R, Arsiwalla X, Principe A, Zhang H, Rocamora R, Axmacher N, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). Volitional learning promotes theta phase coding in the human hippocampus Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America 118,

© 2021 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Electrophysiological studies in rodents show that active navigation enhances hippocampal theta oscillations (4–12 Hz), providing a temporal framework for stimulus-related neural codes. Here we show that active learning promotes a similar phase coding regime in humans, although in a lower frequency range (3–8 Hz). We analyzed intracranial electroencephalography (iEEG) from epilepsy patients who studied images under either volitional or passive learning conditions. Active learning increased memory performance and hippocampal theta oscillations and promoted a more accurate reactivation of stimulus-specific information during memory retrieval. Representational signals were clustered to opposite phases of the theta cycle during encoding and retrieval. Critically, during active but not passive learning, the temporal structure of intracycle reactivations in theta reflected the semantic similarity of stimuli, segregating conceptually similar items into more distant theta phases. Taken together, these results demonstrate a multilayered mechanism by which active learning improves memory via a phylogenetically old phase coding scheme.

JTD Keywords: active learning, dynamics, gamma-power, hippocampus, intracranial eeg, movement, navigation, neural phase coding, oscillations, representations, retrieval, rhythm, theta oscillations, toolbox, Active learning, Theta oscillations, Working-memory

De Matteis V, Rizzello L, Ingrosso C, Rinaldi R, (2021). Purification of olive mill wastewater through noble metal nanoparticle synthesis: waste safe disposal and nanomaterial impact on healthy hepatic cell mitochondria Environmental Science And Pollution Research 28, 26154-26171

The exponential increase of waste derived from different human activities points out the importance of their reuse in order to create materials with specific properties that can be used for different applications. In this work, it was showed how the typical Mediterranean organic liquid waste, namely olive mill wastewater (OMWW), obtained during olive oil production, can be turned into an efficient reactive agent for the production of noble metals gold (Au) and silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) with very well-defined physico-chemical properties. More than that, it was demonstrated that this synthetic procedure also leads to a drastic decrease of the organic pollution load of the OMWW, making it safer for environmental disposal and plants irrigation. Then, using healthy hepatic cell line mitochondria, the biological effects induced by these green metal NPs surrounded by a polyphenols shell, with the same NPs synthetized through a standard chemical colloidal reduction process, were compared, finding out that the green NPs are much safer.

JTD Keywords: antioxidants perturbation, green synthesis, gtpase dynamin-related protein 1 expression, mitochondria assessment, physico-chemical properties, Antioxidants perturbation, Green synthesis, Gtpase dynamin-related protein 1 expression, Mitochondria assessment, Physico-chemical properties, Reusability of waste

Abramov A, Maiti B, Keridou I, Puiggalí J, Reiser O, Díaz DD, (2021). A pH-Triggered Polymer Degradation or Drug Delivery System by Light-Mediated Cis/Trans Isomerization of o-Hydroxy Cinnamates Macromolecular Rapid Communications 42, e2100213

A new methodology for the pH-triggered degradation of polymers or for the release of drugs under visible light irradiation based on the cyclization of ortho-hydroxy-cinnamates (oHC) to coumarins is described. The key oHC structural motif can be readily incorporated into the rational design of novel photocleavable polymers via click chemistry. This main-chain moiety undergoes a fast photocleavage when irradiated with 455 nm light provided that a suitable base is added. A series of polyethylene glycol-alt-ortho-hydroxy cinnamate (polyethylene glycol (PEG)(n)-alt-oHC)-based polymers are synthesized and the time-dependent visible-light initiated cleavage of the photoactive monomer and polymer is investigated in solution by a variety of spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques. The photo-degradation behavior of the water-soluble poly(PEG(2000)-alt-oHC) is investigated within a broad pH range (pH = 2.1-11.8), demonstrating fast degradation at pH 11.8, while the stability of the polymer is greatly enhanced at pH 2.1. Moreover, the neat polymer shows long-term stability under daylight conditions, thus allowing its storage without special precautions. In addition, two water-soluble PEG-based drug-carrier molecules (mPEG(2000)-oHC-benzhydrol/phenol) are synthesized and used for drug delivery studies, monitoring the process by UV-vis spectroscopy in an ON/OFF intermittent manner.

JTD Keywords: coumarins, drug delivery, e/z-double bond isomerization, o-hydroxy cinnamates, polymer degradation, Aliphatic compounds, Antioxidant activity, Antitumor, Chromatographic techniques, Chromatography, Cis/trans isomerization, Controlled drug delivery, Coumarin derivatives, Coumarins, Drug delivery, Drug delivery system, E/z-double bond isomerization, Films, Hydrogels, Image enhancement, Light, Long term stability, O-hydroxy cinnamates, Particles, Photoactive monomers, Photodegradation, Polyethylene glycols, Polyethylenes, Polymer degradation, Responsive polymers, Salts, Structural motifs, Synthesis (chemical), Targeted drug delivery, Visible light photocatalysis, Visible-light irradiation

Andrian, T, Pujals, S, Albertazzi, L, (2021). Quantifying the effect of PEG architecture on nanoparticle ligand availability using DNA-PAINT Nanoscale Advances 3, 6876-6881

The importance of PEG architecture on nanoparticle (NP) functionality is known but still difficult to investigate, especially at a single particle level. Here, we apply DNA Point Accumulation for Imaging in Nanoscale Topography (DNA-PAINT), a super-resolution microscopy (SRM) technique, to study the surface functionality in poly(lactide-co-glycolide)-poly(ethylene glycol) (PLGA-PEG) NPs with different PEG structures. We demonstrated how the length of the PEG spacer can influence the accessibility of surface chemical functionality, highlighting the importance of SRM techniques to support the rational design of functionalized NPs.

JTD Keywords: chain-length, density, plga, surface, systems, Chain-length, Density, Dna, Microscopy technique, Nanoparticles, Nanoscale topography, Paint, Peg spacers, Plga, Poly lactide-co-glycolide, Poly-lactide-co-glycolide, Polyethylene glycols, Polylactide-co-glycolide, Single-particle, Super-resolution microscopy, Superresolution microscopy, Surface, Surface chemicals, Surface functionalities, Systems

Marti, D, Martin-Martinez, E, Torras, J, Bertran, O, Turon, P, Aleman, C, (2021). In silico antibody engineering for SARS-CoV-2 detection Computational And Structural Biotechnology Journal 19, 5525-5534

Engineered immunoglobulin-G molecules (IgGs) are of wide interest for the development of detection elements in protein-based biosensors with clinical applications. The strategy usually employed for the de novo design of such engineered IgGs consists on merging fragments of the three-dimensional structure of a native IgG, which is immobilized on the biosensor surface, and of an antibody with an exquisite target specificity and affinity. In this work conventional and accelerated classical molecular dynamics (cMD and aMD, respectively) simulations have been used to propose two IgG-like antibodies for COVID-19 detection. More specifically, the crystal structure of the IgG1 B12 antibody, which inactivates the human immunodeficiency virus-1, has been merged with the structure of the antibody CR3022 Fab tightly bounded to SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain (RBD) and the structure of the 5309 antibody Fab fragment complexed with SARS-CoV-2 RBD. The two constructed antibodies, named IgG1-CR3022 and IgG1-S309, respectively, have been immobilized on a stable gold surface through a linker. Analyses of the influence of both the merging strategy and the substrate on the stability of the two constructs indicate that the IgG1-S309 antibody better preserves the neutralizing structure than the IgG1-CR3022 one. Overall, results indicate that the IgG1-S309 is appropriated for the generation of antibody based sensors for COVID-19 diagnosis. (C) 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of Research Network of Computational and Structural Biotechnology.

JTD Keywords: cr3022, igg1, molecular engineering, s309, Antibodies, Antibody engineering, Biosensors, Chemical detection, Clinical application, Cov, Cr3022, Crystal structure, Design, Diseases, Gold nanoparticles, Igg1, Igg1 antibody, Immobilization, Immunoglobulin g, Immunosensor, In-silico, Merging, Molecular dynamics, Molecular engineering, Orientation, Protein-based biosensors, Receptor-binding domains, S309, Sars, Sensor, Spike protein, Target, Vaccine, Viruses

Praktiknjo, M., Monteiro, S., Grandt, J., Kimer, N., Madsen, J. L., Werge, M. P., William, P., Brol, M. J., Turco, L., Schierwagen, R., Chang, J., Klein, S., Uschner, F. E., Welsch, C., Moreau, R., Schepis, F., Bendtsen, F., Gluud, L. L., Møller, S., Trebicka, J., (2020). Cardiodynamic state is associated with systemic inflammation and fatal acute-on-chronic liver failure Liver International 40, (6), 1457-1466

Background & Aims: Acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) is characterized by high short-term mortality and systemic inflammation (SI). Recently, different cardiodynamic states were shown to independently predict outcomes in cirrhosis. The relationship between cardiodynamic states, SI, and portal hypertension and their impact on ACLF development remains unclear. The aim of this study was therefore to evaluate the interplay of cardiodynamic state and SI on fatal ACLF development in cirrhosis. Results: At inclusion, hemodynamic measures including cardiac index (CI) and hepatic venous pressure gradient of 208 patients were measured. Patients were followed prospectively for fatal ACLF development (primary endpoint). SI was assessed by proinflammatory markers such as interleukins (ILs) 6 and 8 and soluble IL-33 receptor (sIL-33R). Patients were divided according to CI (<3.2; 3.2-4.2; >4.2 L/min/m2) in hypo- (n = 84), normo- (n = 69) and hyperdynamic group (n = 55). After a median follow-up of 3 years, the highest risk of fatal ACLF was seen in hyperdynamic (35%) and hypodynamic patients (25%) compared with normodynamic (14%) (P = .011). Hyperdynamic patients showed the highest rate of SI. The detectable level of IL-6 was an independent predictor of fatal ACLF development. Conclusions: Cirrhotic patients with hyperdynamic and hypodynamic circulation have a higher risk of fatal ACLF. Therefore, the cardiodynamic state is strongly associated with SI, which is an independent predictor of development of fatal ACLF.

JTD Keywords: Acute-on-chronic liver failure, Circulation, Cirrhosis, Hemodynamic, Inflammation

Bertran, O., Saldías, C., Díaz, D. D., Alemán, C., (2020). Molecular dynamics simulations on self-healing behavior of ionene polymer-based nanostructured hydrogels Polymer 211, 123072

The microscopic mechanism accounting for the self-healing attribute of aromatic ionene-forming hydrogels derived from 1,4-diazabicyclo [2.2.2]octane (DABCO) and N,N’-(x-phenylene)dibenzamide (x = ortho-/meta-/para-) is unknown. Interestingly, the self-healing property of such DABCO-containing hydrogels is largely dependent on the polymer topology, the ortho ionene being the only self-healable without adding oppositely charged species. In this work, Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations have been conducted to evaluate the influence of the topology on ionene···ionene and ionene··water interactions, as well as their effect on the self-healing behavior. For this purpose, destabilized and structurally damaged models were produced for ionene hydrogels with ortho, meta and para topologies and used as starting geometries for simulations. These models were allowed to evolve without any restriction during MD production runs and, subsequently, the temporal evolution of ionene···ionene and water···ionene interactions was examined. Analysis of the results indicated that the ortho-isomer rapidly forms unique interactions that are not detected for other two isomers. Thus, in addition to the interactions also identified for the meta-and para-ionenes, the ortho-isomer exhibits the formation of strong intermolecular three-centered (N–)H⋯O (=C)⋯H (–N) hydrogen bonds, intramolecular planar sandwich π-π stacking interactions and Cl−···N+ electrostatic interactions. Furthermore, the amount of intermolecular π-π stacking interactions and the strength of water···polymer interaction are also influenced by the topology, favoring the stabilization of the ortho-ionene reconstituted hydrogels. Overall, the arrangement of the functional groups in the ortho topology favors the formation of more types of ionene···ionene interactions, as well as stronger interactions, than in the meta and para topologies.

JTD Keywords: DABCO, Econstituted hydrogels, Molecular dynamics, Polyelectrolyte hydrogels, Self-healing mechanism

Raote, Ishier, Chabanon, Morgan, Walani, Nikhil, Arroyo, Marino, Garcia-Parajo, Maria F., Malhotra, Vivek, Campelo, Felix, (2020). A physical mechanism of TANGO1-mediated bulky cargo export eLife 9, e59426

The endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-resident protein TANGO1 assembles into a ring around ER exit sites (ERES), and links procollagens in the ER lumen to COPII machinery, tethers, and ER-Golgi intermediate compartment (ERGIC) in the cytoplasm (Raote et al., 2018). Here, we present a theoretical approach to investigate the physical mechanisms of TANGO1 ring assembly and how COPII polymerization, membrane tension, and force facilitate the formation of a transport intermediate for procollagen export. Our results indicate that a TANGO1 ring, by acting as a linactant, stabilizes the open neck of a nascent COPII bud. Elongation of such a bud into a transport intermediate commensurate with bulky procollagens is then facilitated by two complementary mechanisms: (i) by relieving membrane tension, possibly by TANGO1-mediated fusion of retrograde ERGIC membranes and (ii) by force application. Altogether, our theoretical approach identifies key biophysical events in TANGO1-driven procollagen export.

JTD Keywords: Membrane tension, Procollagen export, Secretory pathway, Membrane curvature, Membrane dynamics, Budding

Lanzalaco, S., Turon, P., Weis, C., Mata, C., Planas, E., Alemán, C., Armelin, E., (2020). Toward the new generation of surgical meshes with 4D response: Soft, dynamic, and adaptable Advanced Functional Materials 30, (36), 2004145

Herein, a facile approach toward transforming a 2D polypropylene flexible mesh material into a 4D dynamic system is presented. The versatile platform, composed by a substrate of knitted fibers of isotactic polypropylene (iPP) mesh and a coating of thermosensitive poly(N‐isopropylacrylamide‐co‐N,N’‐methylene bis(acrylamide) (PNIPAAm‐co‐MBA) hydrogel, covalently bonded to the mesh surface, after cold‐plasma surface treatment and radical polymerization, is intended to undergo variations in its geometry via its reversible folding/unfolding behavior. The study is the first to trace the 3D movement of a flat surgical mesh, intended to repair hernia defects, under temperature and humidity control. An infrared thermographic camera and an optical microscope are used to evaluate the macroscopic and microscopic structure stimulus response. The presence of the PP substrate and the distribution of the gel surrounding the PP threads, affect both the PNIPAAM gel expansion/contraction as well as the time of folding/unfolding response. Furthermore, PP‐g‐PNIPAAm meshes show an increase in the bursting strength of ≈16% with respect to the uncoated mesh, offering a strongest and adaptable system for its future implantation in human body. The findings reported offer unprecedented application possibilities in the biomedical field.

JTD Keywords: Dynamic devices, Polypropylene meshes, Surgical implants, Thermosensitive hydrogels

Redondo-Morata, Lorena, Losada-Pérez, Patricia, Giannotti, Marina Inés, (2020). Lipid bilayers: Phase behavior and nanomechanics Current Topics in Membranes (ed. Levitan, Irena, Trache, Andreea), Academic Press (Berlin, Germany) 86, 1-55

Lipid membranes are involved in many physiological processes like recognition, signaling, fusion or remodeling of the cell membrane or some of its internal compartments. Within the cell, they are the ultimate barrier, while maintaining the fluidity or flexibility required for a myriad of processes, including membrane protein assembly. The physical properties of in vitro model membranes as model cell membranes have been extensively studied with a variety of techniques, from classical thermodynamics to advanced modern microscopies. Here we review the nanomechanics of solid-supported lipid membranes with a focus in their phase behavior. Relevant information obtained by quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) as complementary techniques in the nano/mesoscale interface is presented. Membrane morphological and mechanical characterization will be discussed in the framework of its phase behavior, phase transitions and coexistence, in simple and complex models, and upon the presence of cholesterol.

JTD Keywords: Lipid phase behavior, Phase transition, Phase coexistence, Nanomechanics, Thermodynamics, Atomic force microscopy (AFM), Quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D)

Lozano-García, M., Estrada-Petrocelli, L., Moxham, J., Rafferty, G. F., Torres, A., Jolley, C. J., Jané, R. , (2019). Noninvasive assessment of inspiratory muscle neuromechanical coupling during inspiratory threshold loading IEEE Access 7, 183634-183646

Diaphragm neuromechanical coupling (NMC), which reflects the efficiency of conversion of neural activation to transdiaphragmatic pressure (Pdi), is increasingly recognized to be a useful clinical index of diaphragm function and respiratory mechanics in neuromuscular weakness and cardiorespiratory disease. However, the current gold standard assessment of diaphragm NMC requires invasive measurements of Pdi and crural diaphragm electromyography (oesEMGdi), which complicates the measurement of diaphragm NMC in clinical practice. This is the first study to compare invasive measurements of diaphragm NMC (iNMC) using the relationship between Pdi and oesEMGdi, with noninvasive assessment of NMC (nNMC) using surface mechanomyography (sMMGlic) and electromyography (sEMGlic) of lower chest wall inspiratory muscles. Both invasive and noninvasive measurements were recorded in twelve healthy adult subjects during an inspiratory threshold loading protocol. A linear relationship between noninvasive sMMGlic and sEMGlic measurements was found, resulting in little change in nNMC with increasing inspiratory load. By contrast, a curvilinear relationship between invasive Pdi and oesEMGdi measurements was observed, such that there was a progressive increase in iNMC with increasing inspiratory threshold load. Progressive recruitment of lower ribcage muscles, serving to enhance the mechanical advantage of the diaphragm, may explain the more linear relationship between sMMGlic and sEMGlic (both representing lower intercostal plus costal diaphragm activity) than between Pdi and crural oesEMGdi. Noninvasive indices of NMC derived from sEMGlic and sMMGlic may prove to be useful indices of lower chest wall inspiratory muscle NMC, particularly in settings that do not have access to invasive measures of diaphragm function.

JTD Keywords: Cardiovascular system, Diaphragms, Diseases, Electromyography, Medical signal processing, Neurophysiology, Patient monitoring, Pneumodynamics, Inspiratory muscle neuromechanical coupling, Diaphragm neuromechanical coupling, Neural activation, Transdiaphragmatic pressure, Diaphragm function, Respiratory mechanics, Diaphragm NMC, Invasive measurements, Crural diaphragm electromyography, iNMC, Noninvasive assessment, nNMC, Lower chest wall inspiratory muscles, Inspiratory threshold loading protocol, Noninvasive sMMGlic measurements, sEMGlic measurements, oesEMGdi measurements, Inspiratory threshold load, Lower ribcage muscles, Lower intercostal plus costal diaphragm activity, Crural oesEMGdi, Noninvasive indices, sEMGlic sMMGlic, Lower chest wall inspiratory muscle NMC, Surface mechanomyography, Electromyography, Inspiratory threshold loading, Mechanomyography, Neuromechanical coupling, Respiratory muscles

Cozzolino, M., Delcanale, P., Montali, C., Tognolini, M., Giorgio, C., Corrado, M., Cavanna, L., Bianchini, P., Diaspro, A., Abbruzzetti, S., Viappiani, C., (2019). Enhanced photosensitizing properties of protein bound curcumin Life Sciences 233, 116710

Aims: The naturally occurring compound curcumin has been proposed for a number of pharmacological applications. In spite of the promising chemotherapeutic properties of the molecule, the use of curcumin has been largely limited by its chemical instability in water. In this work, we propose the use of water soluble proteins to overcome this issue in perspective applications to photodynamic therapy of tumors. Materials and methods: Curcumin was bound to bovine serum albumin and its photophysical properties was studied as well as its effect on cell viability after light exposure through MTT assay and confocal imaging. Key findings: Bovine serum albumin binds curcumin with moderate affinity and solubilizes the hydrophobic compound preserving its photophysical properties for several hours. Cell viability assays demonstrate that when bound to serum albumin, curcumin is an effective photosensitizer for HeLa cells, with better performance than curcumin alone. Confocal fluorescence imaging reveals that when curcumin is delivered alone, it preferentially associates with mitochondria, whereas curcumin bound to bovine serum albumin is found in additional locations within the cell, a fact that may be related to the higher phototoxicity observed in this case. Significance: The higher bioavailability of the photosensitizing compound curcumin when bound to serum albumin may be exploited to increase the efficiency of the drug in photodynamic therapy of tumors.

JTD Keywords: Cancer, Curcumin, Live cell imaging, Photodynamic therapy

Torres-Sanchez, A., Millan, D., Arroyo, M., (2019). Modelling fluid deformable surfaces with an emphasis on biological interfaces Journal of Fluid Mechanics 872, 218-271

Fluid deformable surfaces are ubiquitous in cell and tissue biology, including lipid bilayers, the actomyosin cortex or epithelial cell sheets. These interfaces exhibit a complex interplay between elasticity, low Reynolds number interfacial hydrodynamics, chemistry and geometry, and govern important biological processes such as cellular traffic, division, migration or tissue morphogenesis. To address the modelling challenges posed by this class of problems, in which interfacial phenomena tightly interact with the shape and dynamics of the surface, we develop a general continuum mechanics and computational framework for fluid deformable surfaces. The dual solid–fluid nature of fluid deformable surfaces challenges classical Lagrangian or Eulerian descriptions of deforming bodies. Here, we extend the notion of arbitrarily Lagrangian–Eulerian (ALE) formulations, well-established for bulk media, to deforming surfaces. To systematically develop models for fluid deformable surfaces, which consistently treat all couplings between fields and geometry, we follow a nonlinear Onsager formalism according to which the dynamics minimizes a Rayleighian functional where dissipation, power input and energy release rate compete. Finally, we propose new computational methods, which build on Onsager’s formalism and our ALE formulation, to deal with the resulting stiff system of higher-order partial differential equations. We apply our theoretical and computational methodology to classical models for lipid bilayers and the cell cortex. The methods developed here allow us to formulate/simulate these models in their full three-dimensional generality, accounting for finite curvatures and finite shape changes.

JTD Keywords: Capsule/cell dynamics, Computational methods, Membranes

Ruiz, A. D., Mejía, J. S., López, J. M., Giraldo, B. F., (2019). Characterization of cardiac and respiratory system of healthy subjects in supine and sitting position Pattern Recognition and Image Analysis ibPRIA 2019: Iberian Conference on Pattern Recognition and Image Analysis (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer, Cham (Madrid, Spain) 11867, 367-377

Studies based on the cardiac and respiratory system have allowed a better knowledge of their behavior to contribute with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases associated with them. The main goal of this project was to analyze the behavior of the cardiorespiratory system in healthy subjects, depending on the body position. The electrocardiography and respiratory flow signals were recorded in two positions, supine and sitting. Each signal was analyzed considering sliding windows of 30 s, with and overlapping of 50%. Temporal and spectral features were extracted from each signal. A total of 187 features were extracted for each window. According to statistical analysis, 148 features showed significant differences when comparing the position of the subject. Afterwards, the classifications methods based on decision trees, k-nearest neighbor and support vector machines were applied to identify the best classification model. The most advantageous performance model was obtained with a linear support vector machine method, with an accuracy of 99.5%, a sensitivity of 99.2% and a specificity of 99.6%. In conclusion, we have observed that the position of the body (supine or sitting) could modulate the cardiac and respiratory system response. New statistical models might provide new tools to analyze the behavior of these systems and the cardiorespiratory interaction complexity.

JTD Keywords: Cardiac dynamics, Respiratory dynamics, Statistical models, Supine and sitting posture

Matera, C., Gomila, A. M. J., Camarero, N., Libergoli, M., Soler, C., Gorostiza, P., (2019). Photochromic antifolate for light-activated chemotherapy Proceedings of SPIE 17th International Photodynamic Association World Congress , SPIE (Cambridge, USA) 11070, 110709H

Although cytotoxic chemotherapy is one of the primary pharmacological treatments for chronic hyperproliferative diseases such as cancer and psoriasis, its efficacy and tolerability are in many cases dramatically limited by off-target toxicity. A promising approach to improve these therapies is to activate the drugs exclusively at their desired place of action. In fact, in those diseases that would benefit from a highly localized treatment, a precise spatiotemporal control over the activity of a chemotherapeutic agent would allow reducing the concentration of active compound outside the targeted region, improving the tolerability of the treatment. Light is a powerful tool in this respect: it offers unparalleled opportunities as a non-invasive regulatory signal for pharmacological applications because it can be delivered with high precision regarding space, time, intensity and wavelength. Photopharmacology represents a new and emerging approach in this regard since the energy of light is used to change the structure of the drug and hence to switch its pharmacological activity on and off on demand. We describe here phototrexate, the first light-regulated inhibitor of the human DHFR. Enzyme and cell viability assays demonstrated that phototrexate behaves as a potent antifolate in its cis configuration, obtained under UVA illumination, and that it is nearly inactive in its dark-relaxed trans form. Experiments in zebrafish confirmed that phototrexate can disrupt folate metabolism in a light-dependent fashion also in vivo. Overall, phototrexate represents a potential candidate towards the development of an innovative photoactivated antifolate chemotherapy.

JTD Keywords: Cancer, Dermatology, Methotrexate, Photoactivated chemotherapy, Photodynamic therapy, Phototherapy, Psoriasis, Rheumatoid arthritis

Matera, Carlo, Gomila-Juaneda, Alexandre, Camarero, Núria, Libergoli, Michela, Soler, Concepció, Gorostiza, Pau, (2018). A photoswitchable antimetabolite for targeted photoactivated chemotherapy Journal of the American Chemical Society 140, (46), 15764-15773

The efficacy and tolerability of systemically administered anticancer agents are limited by their off-target effects. Precise spatiotemporal control over their cytotoxic activity would allow improving chemotherapy treatments, and light-regulated drugs are well suited to this purpose. We have developed phototrexate, the first photoswitchable inhibitor of the human dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), as a photochromic analog of methotrexate, a widely prescribed chemotherapeutic drug to treat cancer and psoriasis. Quantification of the light-regulated DHFR enzymatic activity, cell proliferation, and in vivo effects in zebrafish show that phototrexate behaves as a potent antifolate in its photoactivated cis configuration, and that it is nearly inactive in its dark-relaxed trans form. Thus, phototrexate constitutes a proof-of-concept to design light-regulated cytotoxic small molecules, and a step forward to develop targeted anticancer photochemotherapies with localized efficacy and reduced adverse effects.

JTD Keywords: Photopharmacology, Photodynamic therapy, Antiproliferative, Arthritis, Psoriasis, Nanomedicine

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

Pallarès, Irantzu, de Groot, Natalia S., Iglesias, Valentín, Sant'Anna, Ricardo, Biosca, Arnau, Fernàndez-Busquets, Xavier, Ventura, Salvador, (2018). Discovering putative prion-like proteins in Plasmodium falciparum: A computational and experimental analysis Frontiers in Microbiology 9, Article 1737

Prions are a singular subset of proteins able to switch between a soluble conformation and a self-perpetuating amyloid state. Traditionally associated with neurodegenerative diseases, increasing evidence indicates that organisms exploit prion-like mechanisms for beneficial purposes. The ability to transit between conformations is encoded in the so-called prion domains, long disordered regions usually enriched in glutamine/asparagines residues. Interestingly, Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the most virulent form of malaria, is exceptionally rich in proteins bearing long Q/N-rich sequence stretches, accounting for roughly 30% of the proteome. This biased composition suggests that these protein regions might correspond to prion-like domains (PrLDs) and potentially form amyloid assemblies. To investigate this possibility, we performed a stringent computational survey for Q/N-rich PrLDs on P. falciparum. Our data indicate that ~10% of P. falciparum protein sequences have prionic signatures, and that this subproteome is enriched in regulatory proteins, such as transcription factors and RNA-binding proteins. Furthermore, we experimentally demonstrate for several of the identified PrLDs that, despite their disordered nature, they contain inner short sequences able to spontaneously self-assemble into amyloid-like structures. Although the ability of these sequences to nucleate the conformational conversion of the respective full-length proteins should still be demonstrated, our analysis suggests that, as previously described for other organisms, prion-like proteins might also play a functional role in P. falciparum.

JTD Keywords: Plasmodium, Protein aggregation, Amyloid, Prion, Q-N-rich sequences, Protein Disorder

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

Bianchi, M. V., Awaja, F., Altankov, G., (2017). Dynamic adhesive environment alters the differentiation potential of young and ageing mesenchymal stem cells Materials Science and Engineering: C 78, 467-474

Engineering dynamic stem cell niche-like environment offers opportunity to obtain better control of the fate of stem cells. We identified, for the first time, that periodic changes in the adhesive environment of human adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADSCs) alters dramatically their asymmetric division but not their ability for symmetric renewal. Hereby, we used smart thermo-responsive polymer (PNIPAM) to create a dynamic adhesive environment for ADSCs by applying periodic temperature cycles to perturb adsorbed adhesive proteins to substratum interaction. Cumulative population doubling time (CPDT) curves showed insignificant decline in the symmetric cell growth studied for up to 13th passages accompanied with small changes in the overall cell morphology and moderately declined fibronectin (FN) matrix deposition probably as a functional consequence of ADSCs ageing. However, a substantial alteration in the differentiation potential of ADSCs from both early and late passages (3rd and 14th, respectively) was found when the cells were switched to osteogenic differentiation conditions. This behavior was evidenced by the significantly altered alkaline phosphatase activity and Ca deposition (Alizarin red) assayed at 3, 14 and 21 day in comparison to the control samples of regular TC polystyrene processed under same temperature settings.

JTD Keywords: Cell ageing, Dynamic adhesive environment, Extracellular matrix, Mesenchymal stem cells, PNIPAM, Stem cell niche, Symmetric and asymmetric cell growth, Thermo-cycling, Thermo-responsive polymer

Gómez-Santacana, Xavier, Dalton, James A. R., Rovira, Xavier, Pin, Jean Philippe, Goudet, Cyril, Gorostiza, Pau, Giraldo, Jesús, Llebaria, Amadeu, (2017). Positional isomers of bispyridine benzene derivatives induce efficacy changes on mGlu5 negative allosteric modulation European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 127, 567-576

Modulation of metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGlu5) with partial allosteric antagonists has received increased interest due to their favourable in vivo activity profiles compared to the unfavourable side-effects of full inverse agonists. Here we report on a series of bispyridine benzene derivatives with a functional molecular switch affecting antagonistic efficacy, shifting from inverse agonism to partial antagonism with only a single change in the substitution pattern of the benzene ring. These efficacy changes are explained through computational docking, revealing two different receptor conformations of different energetic stability and different positional isomer binding preferences.

JTD Keywords: mGlu5, Isomers, Partial efficacy, NAM, Antagonist, Inverse agonist

Trapero, J. I., Arizmendi, C. J., Gonzalez, H., Forero, C., Giraldo, B. F., (2017). Nonlinear dynamic analysis of the cardiorespiratory system in patients undergoing the weaning process Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 39th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Seogwipo, South Korea) , 3493-3496

In this work, the cardiorespiratory pattern of patients undergoing extubation process is studied. First, the respiratory and cardiac signals were resampled, next the Symbolic Dynamics (SD) technique was implemented, followed of a dimensionality reduction applying Forward Selection (FS) and Moving Window with Variance Analysis (MWVA) methods. Finally, the Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA) and Support Vector Machines (SVM) classifiers were used. The study analyzed 153 patients undergoing weaning process, classified into 3 groups: Successful Group (SG: 94 patients), Failed Group (FG: 39 patients), and patients who had been successful during the extubation and had to be reintubated before 48 hours, Reintubated Group (RG: 21 patients). According to the results, the best classification present an accuracy higher than 88.98 ± 0.013% in all proposed combinations.

JTD Keywords: Support vector machines, Standards, Time series analysis, Resonant frequency, Nonlinear dynamical systems, Ventilation

Vila, M., García, A., Girotti, A., Alonso, M., Rodríguez-Cabello, J. C., González-Vázquez, A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., Buján, J., Garcíaa-Honduvilla, N., Vallet-Regí, M., (2016). 3D silicon doped hydroxyapatite scaffolds decorated with Elastin-like Recombinamers for bone regenerative medicine Acta Biomaterialia 45, 349-356

The current study reports on the manufacturing by rapid prototyping technique of three-dimensional (3D) scaffolds based on silicon substituted hydroxyapatite with Elastin-like Recombinamers (ELRs) functionalized surfaces. Silicon doped hydroxyapatite (Si-HA), with Ca10(PO4)5.7(SiO4)0.3(OH)1.7h0.3 nominal formula, was surface functionalized with two different types of polymers designed by genetic engineering: ELR-RGD that contain cell attachment specific sequences and ELR-SNA15/RGD with both hydroxyapatite and cells domains that interact with the inorganic phase and with the cells, respectively. These hybrid materials were subjected to in vitro assays in order to clarify if the ELRs coating improved the well-known biocompatible and bone regeneration properties of calcium phosphates materials. The in vitro tests showed that there was a total and homogeneous colonization of the 3D scaffolds by Bone marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (BMSCs). In addition, the BMSCs were viable and able to proliferate and differentiate into osteoblasts. Statement of Significance Bone tissue engineering is an area of increasing interest because its main applications are directly related to the rising life expectancy of the population, which promotes higher rates of several bone pathologies, so innovative strategies are needed for bone tissue regeneration therapies. Here we use the rapid prototyping technology to allow moulding ceramic 3D scaffolds and we use different bio-polymers for the functionalization of their surfaces in order to enhance the biological response. Combining the ceramic material (silicon doped hydroxyapatite, Si-HA) and the Elastin like Recombinamers (ELRs) polymers with the presence of the integrin-mediate adhesion domain alone or in combination with SNA15 peptide that possess high affinity for hydroxyapatite, provided an improved Bone marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (BMSCs) differentiation into osteoblastic linkage.

JTD Keywords: Bone marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (BMSCs), Bone repair, Elastin-like Recombinamers (ELRs), Rapid prototyped 3D scaffolds, Silicon doped hydroxyapatite (Si-HA), Tissue engineering

A. R. Dalton, J., Lans, I., Rovira, X., Malhaire, F., Gómez-Santacana, X., Pittolo, S., Gorostiza, P., Llebaria, A., Goudet, C., Pin, J-P., Giraldo, J., (2016). Shining light on an mGlu5 photoswitchable NAM: A theoretical perspective Current Neuropharmacology , 14, (5), 441-454

Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) are important drug targets because of their involvement in several neurological diseases. Among mGluRs, mGlu5 is a particularly high-profile target because its positive or negative allosteric modulation can potentially treat schizophrenia or anxiety and chronic pain, respectively. Here, we computationally and experimentally probe the functional binding of a novel photoswitchable mGlu5 NAM, termed alloswitch-1, which loses its NAM functionality under violet light. We show alloswitch-1 binds deep in the allosteric pocket in a similar fashion to mavoglurant, the co-crystallized NAM in the mGlu5 transmembrane domain crystal structure. Alloswitch-1, like NAM 2-Methyl-6-(phenylethynyl)pyridine (MPEP), is significantly affected by P655M mutation deep in the allosteric pocket, eradicating its functionality. In MD simulations, we show alloswitch-1 and MPEP stabilize the co-crystallized water molecule located at the bottom of the allosteric site that is seemingly characteristic of the inactive receptor state. Furthermore, both NAMs form H-bonds with S809 on helix 7, which may constitute an important stabilizing interaction for NAM-induced mGlu5 inactivation. Alloswitch-1, through isomerization of its amide group from trans to cis is able to form an additional interaction with N747 on helix 5. This may be an important interaction for amide-containing mGlu5 NAMs, helping to stabilize their binding in a potentially unusual cis-amide state. Simulated conformational switching of alloswitch-1 in silico suggests photoisomerization of its azo group from trans to cis may be possible within the allosteric pocket. However, photoexcited alloswitch-1 binds in an unstable fashion, breaking H-bonds with the protein and destabilizing the co-crystallized water molecule. This suggests photoswitching may have destabilizing effects on mGlu5 binding and functionality.

JTD Keywords: Allosteric modulation, Docking, Metabotropic glutamate receptor, Molecular dynamics, Mutation, Protein structure, Transmembrane domain

Van Der Hofstadt, M., Hüttener, M., Juárez, A., Gomila, G., (2015). Nanoscale imaging of the growth and division of bacterial cells on planar substrates with the atomic force microscope Ultramicroscopy , 154, 29-36

Abstract With the use of the atomic force microscope (AFM), the Nanomicrobiology field has advanced drastically. Due to the complexity of imaging living bacterial processes in their natural growing environments, improvements have come to a standstill. Here we show the in situ nanoscale imaging of the growth and division of single bacterial cells on planar substrates with the atomic force microscope. To achieve this, we minimized the lateral shear forces responsible for the detachment of weakly adsorbed bacteria on planar substrates with the use of the so called dynamic jumping mode with very soft cantilever probes. With this approach, gentle imaging conditions can be maintained for long periods of time, enabling the continuous imaging of the bacterial cell growth and division, even on planar substrates. Present results offer the possibility to observe living processes of untrapped bacteria weakly attached to planar substrates.

JTD Keywords: Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), Living cell imaging, Bacteria division, Gelatine immobilization, Dynamic jumping mode

Sheik, S., Marco, S., Huerta, R., Fonollosa, J., (2014). Continuous prediction in chemoresisitive gas sensors using reservoir computing Procedia Engineering 28th European Conference on Solid-State Transducers (EUROSENSORS 2014) , Eurosensors (Brescia, Italy) 87, 843-846

Although Metal Oxide (MOX) sensors are predominant choices to perform fundamental tasks of chemical detection, their use has been mainly limited to relatively controlled scenarios where a gas sensor array is first exposed to a reference, then to the gas sample, and finally to the reference again to recover the initial state. In this paper we propose the use of MOX sensors along with Reservoir Computing algorithms to identify chemicals of interest. Our approach allows continuous gas monitoring in simple experimental setups without the requirement of acquiring recovery transient of the sensors, thereby making the system specifically suitable for online monitoring applications.

JTD Keywords: Chemical sensing, Reservoir computing, Gas sensors, Dynamic gas mixtures, Electronic nose

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

Casals, Alicia, Fedele, Pasquale, Marek, Tadeusz, Molfino, Rezia, Muscolo, GiovanniGerardo, Recchiuto, CarmineTommaso, (2014). A robotic suit controlled by the human brain for people suffering from quadriplegia Lecture Notes in Computer Science Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems (ed. Natraj, Ashutosh, Cameron, Stephen, Melhuish, Chris, Witkowski, Mark), Springer Berlin Heidelberg , 294-295

The authors present an introductory work for the implementation of an international cooperative project aimed at designing, developing and validating a new generation of ergonomic robotic suits, wearable by the users and controlled by the human brain. The aim of the proposers is to allow the motion of people affected by paralysis or with reduced motor abilities. Therefore, the project will focus on the fusion between neuroergonomics and robotics, also by means of brain-machine interfaces. Breakthrough solutions will compose the advanced robotic suit, endowed with soft structures to increment safety and human comfort, and with an advanced real-time control that takes into account the interaction with the human body.

JTD Keywords: Neuroergonomics, Brain computer interfaces, Robotics, Robotic suits, Compliant actuators, Exoskeleton, EEG, Dynamic balance control

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gonzalez, H., Acevedo, H., Arizmendi, C., Giraldo, B. F., (2013). Methodology for determine the moment of disconnection of patients of the mechanical ventilation using discrete wavelet transform Complex Medical Engineering (CME) 2013 ICME International Conference , IEEE (Beijing, China) , 483-486

The process of weaning from mechanical ventilation is one of the challenges in intensive care units. 66 patients under extubation process (T-tube test) were studied: 33 patients with successful trials and 33 patients who failed to maintain spontaneous breathing and were reconnected. Each patient was characterized using 7 time series from respiratory signals, and for each serie was evaluated the discrete wavelet transform. It trains a neural network for discriminating between patients from the two groups.

JTD Keywords: discrete wavelet transforms, neural nets, patient treatment, pneumodynamics, time series, ventilation, T-tube test, discrete wavelet transform, extubation process, intensive care units, mechanical ventilation, moment of disconnection, neural network, patients, respiratory signals, spontaneous breathing, time series, weaning, Mechanical Ventilation, Neural Networks, Time series from respiratory signals, Wavelet Transform

Jané, R., Lazaro, J., Ruiz, P., Gil, E., Navajas, D., Farre, R., Laguna, P., (2013). Obstructive Sleep Apnea in a rat model: Effects of anesthesia on autonomic evaluation from heart rate variability measures CinC 2013 Computing in Cardiology Conference (CinC) , IEEE (Zaragoza, Spain) , 1011-1014

Rat model of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a realistic approach for studying physiological mechanisms involved in sleep. Rats are usually anesthetized and autonomic nervous system (ANS) could be blocked. This study aimed to assess the effect of anesthesia on ANS activity during OSA episodes. Seven male Sprague-Dawley rats were anesthetized intraperitoneally with urethane (1g/kg). The experiments were conducted applying airway obstructions, simulating 15s-apnea episodes for 15 minutes. Five signals were acquired: respiratory pressure and flow, SaO2, ECG and photoplethysmography (PPG). In total, 210 apnea episodes were studied. Normalized power spectrum of Pulse Rate Variability (PRV) was analyzed in the Low Frequency (LF) and High Frequency (HF) bands, for each episode in consecutive 15s intervals (before, during and after the apnea). All episodes showed changes in respiratory flow and SaO2 signal. Conversely, decreases in the amplitude fluctuations of PPG (DAP) were not observed. Normalized LF presented extremely low values during breathing (median=7,67%), suggesting inhibition of sympathetic system due to anesthetic effect. Subtle increases of LF were observed during apnea. HRV and PPG analysis during apnea could be an indirect tool to assess the effect and deep of anesthesia.

JTD Keywords: electrocardiography, fluctuations, medical disorders, medical signal detection, medical signal processing, neurophysiology, photoplethysmography, pneumodynamics, sleep, ECG, SaO2 flow, SaO2 signal, airway obstructions, amplitude fluctuations, anesthesia effects, anesthetized nervous system, autonomic evaluation, autonomic nervous system, breathing, heart rate variability, high-frequency bands, low-frequency bands, male Sprague-Dawley rats, normalized power spectrum, obstructive sleep apnea, photoplethysmography, physiological mechanisms, pulse rate variability, rat model, respiratory flow, respiratory pressure, signal acquisition, sympathetic system inhibition, time 15 min, time 15 s, Abstracts, Atmospheric modeling, Computational modeling, Electrocardiography, Rats, Resonant frequency

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

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

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

Arimon, M., Sanz, F., Giralt, E., Carulla, N., (2012). Template-assisted lateral growth of amyloid-β42 fibrils studied by differential labeling with gold nanoparticles Bioconjugate Chemistry , 23, (1), 27-32

Amyloid-β protein (Aβ) aggregation into amyloid fibrils is central to the origin and development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), yet this highly complex process is poorly understood at the molecular level. Extensive studies have shown that Aβ fibril growth occurs through fibril elongation, whereby soluble molecules add to the fibril ends. Nevertheless, fibril morphology strongly depends on aggregation conditions. For example, at high ionic strength, Aβ fibrils laterally associate into bundles. To further study the mechanisms leading to fibril growth, we developed a single-fibril growth assay based on differential labeling of two Aβ42 variants with gold nanoparticles. We used this assay to study Aβ42 fibril growth under different conditions and observed that bundle formation is preceded by lateral interaction of soluble Aβ42 molecules with pre-existing fibrils. Based on this data, we propose template-assisted lateral fibril growth as an additional mechanism to elongation for Aβ42 fibril growth.

JTD Keywords: AFM, Beta-Amyloid Fibrils, Polymorphism, Association, Elongation, Dynamics, State

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

Redondo-Morata, Lorena, Oncins, Gerard, Sanz, Fausto, (2012). Force spectroscopy reveals the effect of different ions in the nanomechanical behavior of phospholipid model membranes: The case of potassium cation Biophysical Journal , 102, (1), 66-74

How do metal cations affect the stability and structure of phospholipid bilayers? What role does ion binding play in the insertion of proteins and the overall mechanical stability of biological membranes? Investigators have used different theoretical and microscopic approaches to study the mechanical properties of lipid bilayers. Although they are crucial for such studies, molecular-dynamics simulations cannot yet span the complexity of biological membranes. In addition, there are still some experimental difficulties when it comes to testing the ion binding to lipid bilayers in an accurate way. Hence, there is a need to establish a new approach from the perspective of the nanometric scale, where most of the specific molecular phenomena take place. Atomic force microscopy has become an essential tool for examining the structure and behavior of lipid bilayers. In this work, we used force spectroscopy to quantitatively characterize nanomechanical resistance as a function of the electrolyte composition by means of a reliable molecular fingerprint that reveals itself as a repetitive jump in the approaching force curve. By systematically probing a set of bilayers of different composition immersed in electrolytes composed of a variety of monovalent and divalent metal cations, we were able to obtain a wealth of information showing that each ion makes an independent and important contribution to the gross mechanical resistance and its plastic properties. This work addresses the need to assess the effects of different ions on the structure of phospholipid membranes, and opens new avenues for characterizing the (nano)mechanical stability of membranes.

JTD Keywords: Molecular-dynamics simulation, Liquid expanded monolayers, Lipid-bilayers, Hofmeister series, Monovalent salt, Phosphatidylcholine, Microscopy, Binding, Surfaces, NaCl

Giraldo, B.F., Gaspar, B.W., Caminal, P., Benito, S., (2012). Analysis of roots in ARMA model for the classification of patients on weaning trials Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 34th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (San Diego, USA) , 698-701

One objective of mechanical ventilation is the recovery of spontaneous breathing as soon as possible. Remove the mechanical ventilation is sometimes more difficult that maintain it. This paper proposes the study of respiratory flow signal of patients on weaning trials process by autoregressive moving average model (ARMA), through the location of poles and zeros of the model. A total of 151 patients under extubation process (T-tube test) were analyzed: 91 patients with successful weaning (GS), 39 patients that failed to maintain spontaneous breathing and were reconnected (GF), and 21 patients extubated after the test but before 48 hours were reintubated (GR). The optimal model was obtained with order 8, and statistical significant differences were obtained considering the values of angles of the first four poles and the first zero. The best classification was obtained between GF and GR, with an accuracy of 75.3% on the mean value of the angle of the first pole.

JTD Keywords: Analytical models, Biological system modeling, Computational modeling, Estimation, Hospitals, Poles and zeros, Ventilation, Autoregressive moving average processes, Patient care, Patient monitoring, Pneumodynamics, Poles and zeros, Ventilation, ARMA model, T-tube test, Autoregressive moving average model, Extubation process, Mechanical ventilation, Optimal model, Patient classification, Respiratory flow signal, Roots, Spontaneous breathing, Weaning trials

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

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

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

Garde, A., Giraldo, B.F., Jané, R., Latshang, T.D., Turk, A.J., Hess, T., Bosch, M-.M., Barthelmes, D., Hefti, J.P., Maggiorini, M., Hefti, U., Merz, T.M., Schoch, O.D., Bloch, K.E., (2012). Periodic breathing during ascent to extreme altitude quantified by spectral analysis of the respiratory volume signal Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 34th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (San Diego, USA) , 707-710

High altitude periodic breathing (PB) shares some common pathophysiologic aspects with sleep apnea, Cheyne-Stokes respiration and PB in heart failure patients. Methods that allow quantifying instabilities of respiratory control provide valuable insights in physiologic mechanisms and help to identify therapeutic targets. Under the hypothesis that high altitude PB appears even during physical activity and can be identified in comparison to visual analysis in conditions of low SNR, this study aims to identify PB by characterizing the respiratory pattern through the respiratory volume signal. A number of spectral parameters are extracted from the power spectral density (PSD) of the volume signal, derived from respiratory inductive plethysmography and evaluated through a linear discriminant analysis. A dataset of 34 healthy mountaineers ascending to Mt. Muztagh Ata, China (7,546 m) visually labeled as PB and non periodic breathing (nPB) is analyzed. All climbing periods within all the ascents are considered (total climbing periods: 371 nPB and 40 PB). The best crossvalidated result classifying PB and nPB is obtained with Pm (power of the modulation frequency band) and R (ratio between modulation and respiration power) with an accuracy of 80.3% and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 84.5%. Comparing the subjects from 1st and 2nd ascents (at the same altitudes but the latter more acclimatized) the effect of acclimatization is evaluated. SaO2 and periodic breathing cycles significantly increased with acclimatization (p-value <; 0.05). Higher Pm and higher respiratory frequencies are observed at lower SaO2, through a significant negative correlation (p-value <; 0.01). Higher Pm is observed at climbing periods visually labeled as PB with >; 5 periodic breathing cycles through a significant positive correlation (p-value <; 0.01). Our data demonstrate that quantification of the respiratory volum- signal using spectral analysis is suitable to identify effects of hypobaric hypoxia on control of breathing.

JTD Keywords: Frequency domain analysis, Frequency modulation, Heart, Sleep apnea, Ventilation, Visualization, Cardiology, Medical disorders, Medical signal processing, Plethysmography, Pneumodynamics, Sensitivity analysis, Sleep, Spectral analysis, Cheyne-Stokes respiration, Climbing periods, Dataset, Heart failure patients, High altitude PB, High altitude periodic breathing, Hypobaric hypoxia, Linear discriminant analysis, Pathophysiologic aspects, Physical activity, Physiologic mechanisms, Power spectral density, Receiver operating characteristic curve, Respiratory control, Respiratory frequency, Respiratory inductive plethysmography, Respiratory pattern, Respiratory volume signal, Sleep apnea, Spectral analysis, Spectral parameters

Mesquita, J., Poree, F., Carrault, G., Fiz, J. A., Abad, J., Jané, R., (2012). Respiratory and spontaneous arousals in patients with Sleep Apnea Hypopnea Syndrome Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 34th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (San Diego, USA) , 6337-6340

Sleep in patients with Sleep Apnea-Hypopnea Syndrome (SAHS) is frequently interrupted with arousals. Increased amounts of arousals result in shortening total sleep time and repeated sleep-arousal change can result in sleep fragmentation. According to the American Sleep Disorders Association (ASDA) an arousal is a marker of sleep disruption representing a detrimental and harmful feature for sleep. The nature of arousals and its role on the regulation of the sleep process raises controversy and has sparked the debate in the last years. In this work, we analyzed and compared the EEG spectral content of respiratory and spontaneous arousals on a database of 45 SAHS subjects. A total of 3980 arousals (1996 respiratory and 1984 spontaneous) were analyzed. The results showed no differences between the spectral content of the two kinds of arousals. Our findings raise doubt as to whether these two kinds of arousals are truly triggered by different organic mechanisms. Furthermore, they may also challenge the current beliefs regarding the underestimation of the importance of spontaneous arousals and their contribution to sleep fragmentation in patients suffering from SAHS.

JTD Keywords: Adaptive filters, Correlation, Databases, Electroencephalography, Hospitals, Sleep apnea, Electroencephalography, Medical signal processing, Pneumodynamics, Sleep, EEG spectral content, Organic mechanism, Respiratory, Sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome, Sleep fragmentation, Spectral content, Spontaneous arousal

Angelini, Thomas E., Hannezo, Edouard, Trepat, Xavier, Marquez, Manuel, Fredberg, Jeffrey J., Weitz, David A., (2011). Glass-like dynamics of collective cell migration Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108, (12), 4714-4719

Collective cell migration in tissues occurs throughout embryonic development, during wound healing, and in cancerous tumor invasion, yet most detailed knowledge of cell migration comes from single-cell studies. As single cells migrate, the shape of the cell body fluctuates dramatically through cyclic processes of extension, adhesion, and retraction, accompanied by erratic changes in migration direction. Within confluent cell layers, such subcellular motions must be coupled between neighbors, yet the influence of these subcellular motions on collective migration is not known. Here we study motion within a confluent epithelial cell sheet, simultaneously measuring collective migration and subcellular motions, covering a broad range of length scales, time scales, and cell densities. At large length scales and time scales collective migration slows as cell density rises, yet the fastest cells move in large, multicell groups whose scale grows with increasing cell density. This behavior has an intriguing analogy to dynamic heterogeneities found in particulate systems as they become more crowded and approach a glass transition. In addition we find a diminishing self-diffusivity of short-wavelength motions within the cell layer, and growing peaks in the vibrational density of states associated with cooperative cell-shape fluctuations. Both of these observations are also intriguingly reminiscent of a glass transition. Thus, these results provide a broad and suggestive analogy between cell motion within a confluent layer and the dynamics of supercooled colloidal and molecular fluids approaching a glass transition.

JTD Keywords: Active matter, Cell mechanics, Jamming, Collective cell dynamics, Nonequilibrium

Melchels, Ferry P. W., Tonnarelli, Beatrice, Olivares, Andy L., Martin, Ivan, Lacroix, Damien, Feijen, Jan, Wendt, David J., Grijpma, Dirk W., (2011). The influence of the scaffold design on the distribution of adhering cells after perfusion cell seeding Biomaterials 32, (11), 2878-2884

In natural tissues, the extracellular matrix composition, cell density and physiological properties are often non-homogeneous. Here we describe a model system, in which the distribution of cells throughout tissue engineering scaffolds after perfusion seeding can be influenced by the pore architecture of the scaffold. Two scaffold types, both with gyroid pore architectures, were designed and built by stereolithography: one with isotropic pore size (412 ± 13 [mu]m) and porosity (62 ± 1%), and another with a gradient in pore size (250-500 [mu]m) and porosity (35%-85%). Computational fluid flow modelling showed a uniform distribution of flow velocities and wall shear rates (15-24 s-1) for the isotropic architecture, and a gradient in the distribution of flow velocities and wall shear rates (12-38 s-1) for the other architecture. The distribution of cells throughout perfusion-seeded scaffolds was visualised by confocal microscopy. The highest densities of cells correlated with regions of the scaffolds where the pores were larger, and the fluid velocities and wall shear rates were the highest. Under the applied perfusion conditions, cell deposition is mainly determined by local wall shear stress, which, in turn, is strongly influenced by the architecture of the pore network of the scaffold.

JTD Keywords: Scaffolds, Microstructure, Cell adhesion, Confocal microscopy, Image analysis, Computational fluid dynamics

Llorens, Franc, Hummel, Manuela, Pastor, Xavier, Ferrer, Anna, Pluvinet, Raquel, Vivancos, Ana, Castillo, Ester, Iraola, Susana, Mosquera, Ana M., Gonzalez, Eva, Lozano, Juanjo, Ingham, Matthew, Dohm, Juliane C., Noguera, Marc, Kofler, Robert, Antonio del Rio, Jose, Bayes, Monica, Himmelbauer, Heinz, Sumoy, Lauro, (2011). Multiple platform assessment of the EGF dependent transcriptome by microarray and deep tag sequencing analysis BMC Genomics 12, 326

Background: Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) is a key regulatory growth factor activating many processes relevant to normal development and disease, affecting cell proliferation and survival. Here we use a combined approach to study the EGF dependent transcriptome of HeLa cells by using multiple long oligonucleotide based microarray platforms (from Agilent, Operon, and Illumina) in combination with digital gene expression profiling (DGE) with the Illumina Genome Analyzer. Results: By applying a procedure for cross-platform data meta-analysis based on RankProd and GlobalAncova tests, we establish a well validated gene set with transcript levels altered after EGF treatment. We use this robust gene list to build higher order networks of gene interaction by interconnecting associated networks, supporting and extending the important role of the EGF signaling pathway in cancer. In addition, we find an entirely new set of genes previously unrelated to the currently accepted EGF associated cellular functions. Conclusions: We propose that the use of global genomic cross-validation derived from high content technologies (microarrays or deep sequencing) can be used to generate more reliable datasets. This approach should help to improve the confidence of downstream in silico functional inference analyses based on high content data.

JTD Keywords: Gene-expression measurements, Quality-control maqc, Cancer-cell-lines, Real-time pcr, Oligonucleotide microarrays, Phosphorylation dynamics, In-vivo, Networks, Signal, Technologies

Cagido, Viviane Ramos, Zin, Walter Araujo, Ramirez, Jose, Navajas, Daniel, Farre, Ramon, (2011). Alternating ventilation in a rat model of increased abdominal pressure Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology , 175, (3), 310-315

During alternating ventilation (AV) one lung is inflating while the other is deflating. Considering the possible respiratory and hemodynamic advantages of AV, we investigated its effects during increased intra-abdominal pressure (IAP = 10 mmHg). In Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 6, 270–375 g) the main bronchi were independently cannulated, and respiratory mechanics determined while animals underwent different ventilatory patterns: synchronic ventilation without increased IAP (SV-0), elevated IAP during SV (SV-10), and AV with elevated IAP (AV-10). Thirty-three other animals (SV-0, n = 10; SV-10, n = 11 and AV-10, n = 12) were ventilated during 3 h. Mean arterial pressure (MAP), and lung histology were assessed. Increased IAP resulted in significantly higher elastances (p < 0.001), being AV-10 lower than SV-10 (p < 0.020). SV-10 showed higher central venous pressure (p < 0.003) than S-0; no change was observed in AV-10. Wet/dry lung weight ratio was lower in AV-10 than SV-10 (p = 0.009). Application of AV reduced hemodynamic and lung impairments induced by increased IAP during SV.

JTD Keywords: Alternating ventilation, Respiratory mechanics, Intra-abdominal pressure, Hemodynamic, Mechanical ventilation, Animal model

Garcia-Manyes, S., Redondo-Morata, L., Oncins, G., Sanz, F., (2010). Nanomechanics of lipid bilayers: Heads or tails? Journal of the American Chemical Society American Chemical Society 132, (37), 12874-12886

Understanding the effect of mechanical stress on membranes is of primary importance in biophysics. Here we use force spectroscopy AFM to quantitatively characterize the nanomechanical stability of supported lipid bilayers as a function of their chemical composition. The onset of plastic deformation reveals itself as a repetitive jump in the approaching force curve, which represents a molecular fingerprint for the bilayer mechanical stability. By systematically probing a set of chemically distinct supported lipid bilayers (SLBs), we first show that both the headgroup and tail have a decisive effect on their mechanical properties. While the mechanical stability of the probed SLBs linearly increases by 3.3 nN upon the introduction of each additional -CH2- in the chain, it exhibits a significant dependence on the phospholipid headgroup, ranging from 3 nN for DPPA to 66 nN for DPPG. Furthermore, we also quantify the reduction of the membrane mechanical stability as a function of the number of unsaturations and molecular branching in the chemical structure of the apolar tails. Finally, we demonstrate that, upon introduction of cholesterol and ergosterol, contrary to previous belief the mechanical stability of membranes not only increases linearly in the liquid phase (DLPC) but also for phospholipids present in the gel phase (DPPC). Our results are discussed in the framework of the continuum nucleation model. This work highlights the compelling effect of subtle variations in the chemical structure of phospholipid molecules on the membrane response when exposed to mechanical forces, a mechanism of common occurrence in nature.

JTD Keywords: Atomic-force microscopy, Molecular-dynamics simulation, Aqueous-electrolyte solutions, Supported planar membranes, Phospholipid-bilayers, Biological-membranes, Physical-properties, Fluid membranes, Model membranes, Chain-length

Santoro, R., Olivares, A. L., Brans, G., Wirz, D., Longinotti, C., Lacroix, D., Martin, I., Wendt, D., (2010). Bioreactor based engineering of large-scale human cartilage grafts for joint resurfacing Biomaterials 31, (34), 8946-8952

Apart from partial or total joint replacement, no surgical procedure is currently available to treat large and deep cartilage defects associated with advanced diseases such as osteoarthritis. In this work, we developed a perfusion bioreactor system to engineer human cartilage grafts in a size with clinical relevance for unicompartmental resurfacing of human knee joints (50 mm diameter x 3 mm thick). Computational fluid dynamics models were developed to optimize the flow profile when designing the perfusion chamber. Using the developed system, human chondrocytes could be seeded throughout large 50 mm diameter scaffolds with a uniform distribution. Following two weeks culture, tissues grown in the bioreactor were viable and homogeneously cartilaginous, with biomechanical properties approaching those of native cartilage. In contrast, tissues generated by conventional manual production procedures were highly inhomogeneous and contained large necrotic regions. The unprecedented engineering of human cartilage tissues in this large-scale opens the practical perspective of grafting functional biological substitutes for the clinical treatment for extensive cartilage defects, possibly in combination with surgical or pharmacological therapies to support durability of the implant. Ongoing efforts are aimed at integrating the up-scaled bioreactor based processes within a fully automated and closed manufacturing system for safe, standardized, and GMP compliant production of large-scale cartilage grafts.

JTD Keywords: Bioreactor, Cartilage repair, Computational fluid dynamics, Scale-up, Regenerative medicine, Tissue engineering

Estevez, M., Fernandez-Ulibarri, I., Martinez, E., Egea, G., Samitier, J., (2010). Changes in the internal organization of the cell by microstructured substrates Soft Matter 6, (3), 582-590

Surface features at the micro and nanometre scale have been shown to influence and even determine cell behaviour and cytoskeleton organization through direct mechanotransductive pathways. Much less is known about the function and internal distribution of organelles of cells grown on topographically modified surfaces. In this study, the nanoimprint lithography technique was used to manufacture poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) sheets with a variety of features in the micrometre size range. Normal rat kidney (NRK) fibroblasts were cultured on these substrates and immunofluorescence staining assays were performed to visualize cell adhesion, the organization of the cytoskeleton and the morphology and subcellular positioning of the Golgi complex. The results show that different topographic features at the micrometric scale induce different rearrangements of the cell cytoskeleton, which in turn alter the positioning and morphology of the Golgi complex. Microposts and microholes alter the mechanical stability of the Golgi complex by modifying the actin cytoskeleton organization leading to the compaction of the organelle. These findings prove that physically modified surfaces are a valuable tool with which to study the dynamics of cell cytoskeleton organization and its subsequent repercussion on internal cell organization and associated function.

JTD Keywords: Actin stress fibers, Golgi-complex, Focal adhesions, Cytoskeletal organization, Osteoblast adhesion, Mammalian-cells, Micron-scale, Nanoscale, Dynamics, Rho

Harder, A., Walhorn, V., Dierks, T., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Anselmetti, D., (2010). Single-molecule force spectroscopy of cartilage aggrecan self-adhesion Biophysical Journal , 99, (10), 3498-3504

We investigated self-adhesion between highly negatively charged aggrecan macromolecules extracted from bovine cartilage extracellular matrix by performing atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging and single-molecule force spectroscopy (SMFS) in saline solutions. By controlling the density of aggrecan molecules on both the gold substrate and the gold-coated tip surface at submonolayer densities, we were able to detect and quantify the Ca2+-dependent homodimeric interaction between individual aggrecan molecules at the single-molecule level. We found a typical nonlinear sawtooth profile in the AFM force-versus-distance curves with a molecular persistence length of I-p = 0.31 +/- 0.04 nm. This is attributed to the stepwise dissociation of individual glycosaminoglycan (GAG) side chains in aggrecans, which is very similar to the known force fingerprints of other cell adhesion proteoglycan systems. After studying the GAG-GAG dissociation in a dynamic, loading-rate-dependent manner (dynamic SMFS) and analyzing the data according to the stochastic Bell-Evans model for a thermally activated decay of a metastable state under an external force, we estimated for the single glycan interaction a mean lifetime of tau = 7.9 +/- 4.9 s and a reaction bond length of x(beta) = 0.31 +/- 0.08 nm. Whereas the x(beta)-value compares well with values from other cell adhesion carbohydrate recognition motifs in evolutionary distant marine sponge proteoglycans, the rather short GAG interaction lifetime reflects high intermolecular dynamics within aggrecan complexes, which may be relevant for the viscoelastic properties of cartilage tissue.

JTD Keywords: Bovine nasal cartilage, Articular-cartilage, Sinorhizobium-meliloti, Proteoglycan, Microscopy, DNA, Macromolecules, Binding, Protein, Glycosaminoglycans

Caminal, P., Giraldo, B. F., Vallverdu, M., Benito, S., Schroeder, R., Voss, A., (2010). Symbolic dynamic analysis of relations between cardiac and breathing cycles in patients on weaning trials Annals of Biomedical Engineering , 38, (8), 2542-52

Traditional time-domain techniques of data analysis are often not sufficient to characterize the complex dynamics of the cardiorespiratory interdependencies during the weaning trials. In this paper, the interactions between the heart rate (HR) and the breathing rate (BR) were studied using joint symbolic dynamic analysis. A total of 133 patients on weaning trials from mechanical ventilation were analyzed: 94 patients with successful weaning (group S) and 39 patients that failed to maintain spontaneous breathing (group F). The word distribution matrix enabled a coarse-grained quantitative assessment of short-term nonlinear analysis of the cardiorespiratory interactions. The histogram of the occurrence probability of the cardiorespiratory words presented a higher homogeneity in group F than in group S, measured with a higher number of forbidden words in group S as well as a higher number of words whose probability of occurrence is higher than a probability threshold in group S. The discriminant analysis revealed the best results when applying symbolic dynamic variables. Therefore, we hypothesize that joint symbolic dynamic analysis provides enhanced information about different interactions between HR and BR, when comparing patients with successful weaning and patients that failed to maintain spontaneous breathing in the weaning procedure.

JTD Keywords: Dynamical nonlinearities analysis, Cardiorespiratory interdependencies, Joint symbolic dynamic, Weaning procedure

Garde, A., Schroeder, R., Voss, A., Caminal, P., Benito, S., Giraldo, B., (2010). Patients on weaning trials classified with support vector machines Physiological Measurement , 31, (7), 979-993

The process of discontinuing mechanical ventilation is called weaning and is one of the most challenging problems in intensive care. An unnecessary delay in the discontinuation process and an early weaning trial are undesirable. This study aims to characterize the respiratory pattern through features that permit the identification of patients' conditions in weaning trials. Three groups of patients have been considered: 94 patients with successful weaning trials, who could maintain spontaneous breathing after 48 h ( GSucc ); 39 patients who failed the weaning trial ( GFail ) and 21 patients who had successful weaning trials, but required reintubation in less than 48 h ( GRein ). Patients are characterized by their cardiorespiratory interactions, which are described by joint symbolic dynamics (JSD) applied to the cardiac interbeat and breath durations. The most discriminating features in the classification of the different groups of patients ( GSucc , GFail and GRein ) are identified by support vector machines (SVMs). The SVM-based feature selection algorithm has an accuracy of 81% in classifying GSucc versus the rest of the patients, 83% in classifying GRein versus GSucc patients and 81% in classifying GRein versus the rest of the patients. Moreover, a good balance between sensitivity and specificity is achieved in all classifications.

JTD Keywords: Mechanical ventilation, Weaning, Support vector machines, Joint symbolic dynamics

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

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

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

Garde, A., Sörnmo, L., Jané, R., Giraldo, B. F., (2010). Correntropy-based nonlinearity test applied to patients with chronic heart failure Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) , 2399-2402

In this study we propose the correntropy function as a discriminative measure for detecting nonlinearities in the respiratory pattern of chronic heart failure (CHF) patients with periodic or nonperiodic breathing pattern (PB or nPB, respectively). The complexity seems to be reduced in CHF patients with higher risk level. Correntropy reflects information on both, statistical distribution and temporal structure of the underlying dataset. It is a suitable measure due to its capability to preserve nonlinear information. The null hypothesis considered is that the analyzed data is generated by a Gaussian linear stochastic process. Correntropy is used in a statistical test to reject the null hypothesis through surrogate data methods. Various parameters, derived from the correntropy and correntropy spectral density (CSD) to characterize the respiratory pattern, presented no significant differences when extracted from the iteratively refined amplitude adjusted Fourier transform (IAAFT) surrogate data. The ratio between the powers in the modulation and respiratory frequency bands R was significantly different in nPB patients, but not in PB patients, which reflects a higher presence of nonlinearities in nPB patients than in PB patients.

JTD Keywords: Practical, Theoretical or Mathematical, Experimental/cardiology diseases, Fourier transforms, Medical signal processing, Pattern classification, Pneumodynamics, Spectral analysis, Statistical analysis, Stochastic processes/ correntropy based nonlinearity test, Chronic heart failure, Correntropy function, Respiratory pattern nonlinearities, CHF patients, Nonperiodic breathing pattern, Dataset statistical distribution, Dataset temporal structure, Nonlinear information, Null hypothesis, Gaussian linear stochastic process, Statistical test, Correntropy spectral density, Iteratively refined amplitude adjusted Fourier transform, Surrogate data, Periodic breathing pattern

Correa, L. S., Laciar, E., Mut, V., Giraldo, B. F., Torres, A., (2010). Multi-parameter analysis of ECG and Respiratory Flow signals to identify success of patients on weaning trials Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) -----, 6070-6073

Statistical analysis, power spectral density, and Lempel Ziv complexity, are used in a multi-parameter approach to analyze four temporal series obtained from the Electrocardiographic and Respiratory Flow signals of 126 patients on weaning trials. In which, 88 patients belong to successful group (SG), and 38 patients belong to failure group (FG), i.e. failed to maintain spontaneous breathing during trial. It was found that mean values of cardiac inter-beat and breath durations give higher values for SG than for FG; Kurtosis coefficient of the spectrum of the rapid shallow breathing index is higher for FG; also Lempel Ziv complexity mean values associated with the respiratory flow signal are bigger for FG. Patients were then classified with a pattern recognition neural network, obtaining 80% of correct classifications (81.6% for FG and 79.5% for SG).

JTD Keywords: Electrocardiography, Medical signal processing, Neural nets, Pattern recognition, Pneumodynamics, Signal classification, Statistical analysis, ECG, Kurtosis coefficient, Lempel Ziv complexity, Breath durations, Cardiac interbeat durations, Electrocardiography, Multiparameter analysis, Pattern recognition neural network, Power spectral density, Respiratory flow signals, Signal classification, Spontaneous breathing, Statistical analysis, Weaning trials

Leder, R. S., Schlotthauer, G., Penzel, T., Jané, R., (2010). The natural history of the sleep and respiratory engineering track at EMBC 1988 to 2010 Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) , 288-291

Sleep science and respiratory engineering as medical subspecialties and research areas grew up side-by-side with biomedical engineering. The formation of EMBS in the 1950's and the discovery of REM sleep in the 1950's led to parallel development and interaction of sleep and biomedical engineering in diagnostics and therapeutics.

JTD Keywords: Practical/ biomedical equipment, Biomedical measurement, Patient diagnosis, Patient monitoring, Patient treatment, Pneumodynamics, Sleep/ sleep engineering, Respiratory engineering, Automatic sleep analysis, Automatic sleep interpretation systems, Breathing, Biomedical, Engineering, Diagnostics, Therapeutics, REM sleep, Portable, Measurement, Ambulatory measurement, Monitoring

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

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

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

Arcentales, A., Giraldo, B. F., Caminal, P., Diaz, I., Benito, S., (2010). Spectral analysis of the RR series and the respiratory flow signal on patients in weaning process Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Buenos Aires, Argentina) , 2485-2488

A considerable number of patients in weaning process have problems to keep spontaneous breathing during the trial and after it. This study proposes to extract characteristic parameters of the RR series and respiratory flow signal according to the patients' condition in weaning test. Three groups of patients have been considered: 93 patients with successful trials (group S), 40 patients that failed to maintain spontaneous breathing (group F), and 21 patients who had successful weaning trials, but that had to be reintubated before 48 hours (group R). The characterization was performed using spectral analysis of the signals, through the power spectral density, cross power spectral density and Coherence method. The parameters were extracted on the three frequency bands (VLF, LF and HF), and the principal statistical differences between groups were obtained in bands of VLF and HF. The results show an accuracy of 76.9% in the classification of the groups S and F.

JTD Keywords: Biomedical measurement, Electrocardiography, Medical signal processing, Pneumodynamics, Spectral analysis, RR series, Coherence method, Cross power spectral density, Electrocardiography, Principal statistical differences, Respiratory flow signal, Spectral analysis, Spontaneous breathing, Weaning test

Fumagalli, L., Ferrari, G., Sampietro, M., Gomila, G., (2009). Quantitative nanoscale dielectric microscopy of single-layer supported biomembranes Nano Letters 9, (4), 1604-1608

We present the experimental demonstration of low-frequency dielectric constant imaging of single-layer supported biomembranes at the nanoscale. The dielectric constant image has been quantitatively reconstructed by combining the thickness and local capacitance obtained using a scanning force microscope equipped with a sub-attofarad low-frequency capacitance detector. This work opens new possibilities for studying bioelectric phenomena and the dielectric properties of biological membranes at the nanoscale.

JTD Keywords: Atomic-force microscopy, Nnear-field microscopy, Purple membrane, Scanning capacitance, Biological-systems, Fluid, Spectroscopy, Resolution, Proteins, Dynamics

Roca-Cusachs, P., Gauthier, N. C., del Rio, A., Sheetz, M. P., (2009). Clustering of alpha(5)beta(1) integrins determines adhesion strength whereas alpha(v)beta(3) and talin enable mechanotransduction Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106, (38), 16245-16250

A key molecular link between cells and the extracellular matrix is the binding between fibronectin and integrins alpha(5)beta(1) and alpha(v)beta(3). However, the roles of these different integrins in establishing adhesion remain unclear. We tested the adhesion strength of fibronectin-integrin-cytoskeleton linkages by applying physiological nanonewton forces to fibronectin-coated magnetic beads bound to cells. We report that the clustering of fibronectin domains within 40 nm led to integrin alpha(5)beta(1) recruitment, and increased the ability to sustain force by over six-fold. This force was supported by alpha(5)beta(1) integrin clusters. Importantly, we did not detect a role of either integrin alpha(v)beta(3) or talin 1 or 2 in maintaining adhesion strength. Instead, these molecules enabled the connection to the cytoskeleton and reinforcement in response to an applied force. Thus, high matrix forces are primarily supported by clustered alpha(5)beta(1) integrins, while less stable links to alpha(v)beta(3) integrins initiate mechanotransduction, resulting in reinforcement of integrin-cytoskeleton linkages through talin-dependent bonds.

JTD Keywords: Cell-adhesion, Mechanical force, Vinculin-binding, Fibronectin, Activation, Dynamics, Domain, Alpha-v-beta-3, Translocation, Bonds

Milan, J. L., Planell, J. A., Lacroix, D., (2009). Computational modelling of the mechanical environment of osteogenesis within a polylactic acid-calcium phosphate glass scaffold Biomaterials 30, (25), 4219-4226

A computational model based on finite element method (FEM) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is developed to analyse the mechanical stimuli in a composite scaffold made of polylactic acid (PLA) matrix with calcium phosphate glass (Glass) particles. Different bioreactor loading conditions were simulated within the scaffold. In vitro perfusion conditions were reproduced in the model. Dynamic compression was also reproduced in an uncoupled fluid-structure scheme: deformation level was studied analyzing the mechanical response of scaffold alone under static compression while strain rate was studied considering the fluid flow induced by compression through fixed scaffold. Results of the model show that during perfusion test an inlet velocity of 25mum/s generates on scaffold surface a fluid flow shear stress which may stimulate osteogenesis. Dynamic compression of 5% applied on the PLA-Glass scaffold with a strain rate of 0.005s(-1) has the benefit to generate mechanical stimuli based on both solid shear strain and fluid flow shear stress on large scaffold surface area. Values of perfusion inlet velocity or compression strain rate one order of magnitude lower may promote cell proliferation while values one order of magnitude higher may be detrimental for cells. FEM-CFD scaffold models may help to determine loading conditions promoting bone formation and to interpret experimental results from a mechanical point of view.

JTD Keywords: Bone tissue engineering, Scaffold, Finite element analysis, Computational fluid dynamics, Mechanical stimuli

Olivares, A. L., Marshal, E., Planell, J. A., Lacroix, D., (2009). Finite element study of scaffold architecture design and culture conditions for tissue engineering Biomaterials 30, (30), 6142-6149

Tissue engineering scaffolds provide temporary mechanical support for tissue regeneration and transfer global mechanical load to mechanical stimuli to cells through its architecture. In this study the interactions between scaffold pore morphology, mechanical stimuli developed at the cell microscopic level, and culture conditions applied at the macroscopic scale are studied on two regular scaffold structures. Gyroid and hexagonal scaffolds of 55% and 70% porosity were modeled in a finite element analysis and were submitted to an inlet fluid flow or compressive strain. A mechanoregulation theory based on scaffold shear strain and fluid shear stress was applied for determining the influence of each structures on the mechanical stimuli on initial conditions. Results indicate that the distribution of shear stress induced by fluid perfusion is very dependent on pore distribution within the scaffold. Gyroid architectures provide a better accessibility of the fluid than hexagonal structures. Based on the mechanoregulation theory, the differentiation process in these structures was more sensitive to inlet fluid flow than axial strain of the scaffold. This study provides a computational approach to determine the mechanical stimuli at the cellular level when cells are cultured in a bioreactor and to relate mechanical stimuli with cell differentiation.

JTD Keywords: Tissue engineering, Scaffold, Rapid prototyping, Computational fluid dynamics, Finite element

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

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

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

Gustavsson, J., Altankov, G., Errachid, A., Samitier, J., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2008). Surface modifications of silicon nitride for cellular biosensor applications Journal of Materials Science-Materials in Medicine , 19, (4), 1839-1850

Thin films of silicon nitride (Si3N4) can be used in several kinds of micro-sized biosensors as a material to monitor fine environmental changes related to the process of bone formation in vitro. We found however that Si3N4 does not provide optimal conditions for osseointegration as osteoblast-like MG-63 cells tend to detach from the surface when cultured over confluence. Therefore Si3N4 was modified with self-assembled monolayers bearing functional end groups of primary amine (NH2) and carboxyl (COOH) respectively. Both these modifications enhanced the interaction with confluent cell layers and thus improve osseointegration over Si3N4. Furthermore it was observed that the NH2 functionality increased the adsorption of fibronectin (FN), promoted cell proliferation, but delayed the differentiation. We also studied the fate of pre-adsorbed and secreted FN from cells to learn more about the impact of above functionalities for the development of provisional extracellular matrix on materials interface. Taken together our data supports that Si3N4 has low tissue integration but good cellular biocompatibility and thus is appropriate in cellular biosensor applications such as the ion-sensitive field effect transistor (ISFET). COOH and NH2 chemistries generally improve the interfacial tissue interaction with the sensor and they are therefore suitable substrates for monitoring cellular growth or matrix deposition using electrical impedance spectroscopy.

JTD Keywords: Adsorption, Amines/chemistry, Biocompatible Materials/ chemistry, Biosensing Techniques, Cell Differentiation, Cell Line, Cell Proliferation, Electric Impedance, Extracellular Matrix/metabolism, Fibronectins/chemistry, Humans, Materials Testing, Osteoblasts/ cytology, Silicon Compounds/ chemistry, Surface Properties