10 March 2010

Last week in Science

The review presents the most interesting, according to the Genomeweb site reviewer, publications in the journals of Science publishing group.

Another target for old age pills: Nrf2

In a review of Stress-Activated Cap'n'collar Transcription Factors in Aging and Human Disease published in the latest issue of the journal Science Signaling, Gerasimos Sykiotis from the University of Rochester and Dirk Bohmann from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston summarize data on the Cap'n'collar gene family (Cnc), protein the products of which are one of the factors at the cellular level that prevent the action of oxidative stress and, as a result, aging and the development of age–related diseases. Cnc transcription factors were found in various representatives of the animal kingdom (CncC – in fruit flies, SKN-1 – in Caenorhabditis elegans worms, Nrf1, Nrf2, and Nrf3 – in vertebrates).

Scientists cite the results of previous studies that have established a link between mutations of the Nrf2 gene, leading to a decrease in its protein synthesis, and various pathologies of the skin, respiratory system and gastrointestinal tract in humans. There is also evidence that, in addition to preventing the development of age-related diseases in humans and rodents, Cnc factors contribute to prolonging the life of invertebrates. Experts note that, despite the life-prolonging and antioxidant effect, the activity of Cnc factors decreases in aging laboratory animals and in people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases and progressive respiratory tract lesions. Based on these facts, scientists suggest that the development of drugs aimed at restoring the functioning of Nrf2 is promising in terms of preventing and treating age-related diseases.

Stroke Protection: PcGIn another article in the latest issue of Science Signaling, Polycomb Group Proteins as Epigenetic Mediators of Neuroprotection in Ischemic Tolerance, a group of American and British scientists working under the leadership of An Zhou found that the development of ischemic tolerance of brain cells (temporary increase in the resistance of brain cells to insufficient blood supply after sublethal ischemic effects) is accompanied by increased the production of proteins of the family 

Polycomb Group (PcG), transcriptional repressors whose main function is to suppress the production of some other proteins. Knockdown (temporary suppression of the production of the corresponding protein) of PcG genes prevented the development of ischemic tolerance. The scientists also found the target of PcG proteins – two genes encoding potassium channel proteins, the levels of which were reduced in ischemic-tolerant brain cells. Knockdown of these genes also caused the establishment of ischemic tolerance in cultured neurons. The established relationship between the increased content of PcG proteins in neurons and the development of ischemic tolerance of brain cells suggests the existence of a hitherto unknown mechanism of neuroprotection (the process of adaptation of neurons to new functional conditions), in which PcG proteins are involved.

Fungal or bacterial infection: differential diagnosis by blood gene profileIn the article Blood Gene Expression Signatures Predict Invasive Candidiasis, published this week in the journal Science Translational Medicine, a group of scientists from Duke University, working under the leadership of Geoffrey Ginsburg, offers a new paradigm in the diagnosis of infectious diseases.

Candidemia (the presence of Candida fungi in the blood) ranks fourth in prevalence among blood infections. The most common type of fungi that cause candidemia is Candida albicans. Efforts aimed at reducing morbidity and mortality from candidemia are often offset by the inadequacy and duration of the analysis itself, characteristic of existing diagnostic methods. Scientists have developed (so far – on mice) a model of the genetic profile of the blood characteristic of the body's response to infection with fungi, which makes it possible to clearly distinguish between candidemia and bacteremia caused by the widespread bacterium Staphylococcus aureus.

Daria Chervyakova
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on Genomeweb materials: This Week in Science, March 05, 2010 


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