CIB is an Open Access & Online only journal Communicative & Integrative Biology serves as a platform for the synthesis of the biological sciences. The main focus centers around organismal communication, however, Communicative & Integrative Biology deals with communication at all levels of biological organization from subcellular organelles to societies, ecosystems and the biosphere as a whole. In particular, "Sensory Ecology" represents a new rapidly emerging field which combines animal and plant communication and signaling (biosemiotics) with cognition, evolution, ecology and behavioral ecology, as well as biophysics and neuroethology.
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Authors of research papers accepted to be published in Communicative & Integrative Biology will be charged a $1000 Open Access publication fee. For Invited Review Articles and Short Communications the Open Access fee is $750; For Invited Article Addenda and Mini-Reviews, the fee is $500.
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Mitochondrial calcium uniporter, MiRNA and cancer: Live and let die
Mitochondrial calcium uniporter, MiRNA and cancer: Live and let die
Mitochondria receive calcium (Ca2+) signals from endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and decode them into pro-apoptotic inputs, which lead to cell death. Therefore, mitochondrial Ca2+ overload is considered a fundamental trigger of the apoptotic process, and several oncogenes and tumor suppressors modify the activity of protein involved in Ca2+ homeostasis to control apoptosis. The identification of the channel responsible for mitochondrial Ca2+ entry, the Mitochondrial Ca2+Uniporter (MCU), together with its regulatory components, MICU1 and MCUR1, provides new molecular tools to investigate this process. Recent data have also shown that miR-25 decreases mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake through selective MCU downregulation, conferring resistance to apoptotic challenges. MCU appears to be downregulated in human colon cancer samples, and accordingly, miR-25 is aberrantly expressed, indicating the importance of mitochondrial Ca2+ regulation in cancer cell survival.
Cracking the bioelectric code: Probing endogenous ionic controls of pattern formation
Patterns of resting potential in non-excitable cells of living tissue are now known to be instructive signals for pattern formation during embryogenesis, regeneration and cancer suppression. The development of molecular-level techniques for tracking ion flows and functionally manipulating the activity of ion channels and pumps has begun to reveal the mechanisms by which voltage gradients regulate cell behaviors and the assembly of complex large-scale structures. A recent paper demonstrated that a specific voltage range is necessary for demarcation of eye fields in the frog embryo. Remarkably, artificially setting other somatic cells to the eye-specific voltage range resulted in formation of eyes in aberrant locations, including tissues that are not in the normal anterior ectoderm lineage: eyes could be formed in the gut, on the tail, or in the lateral plate mesoderm. These data challenge the existing models of eye fate restriction and tissue competence maps, and suggest the presence of a bioelectric code—a mapping of physiological properties to anatomical outcomes. This Addendum summarizes the current state of knowledge in developmental bioelectricity, proposes three possible interpretations of the bioelectric code that functionally maps physiological states to anatomical outcomes, and highlights the biggest open questions in this field. We also suggest a speculative hypothesis at the intersection of cognitive science and developmental biology: that bioelectrical signaling among non-excitable cells coupled by gap junctions simulates neural network-like dynamics, and underlies the information processing functions required by complex pattern formation in vivo. Understanding and learning to control the information stored in physiological networks will have transformative implications for developmental biology, regenerative medicine and synthetic bioengineering.
Endocannabinoid-binding CB1 and TRPV1 receptors as modulators of sperm capacitation
Mammalian spermatozoa reach the ability to fertilize only after they complete a complex series of physical-chemical modification, the capacitation. Recently, the endocannabinoid-binding type-1cannabinoid receptor (CB1) and transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channel have been proposed to play a key role in the control of capacitation. In particular CB1, acting via a Gi protein/cAMP/PKA pathway, maintains low cAMP levels in early stages of post ejaculatory life of male gametes. By this way it promotes the maintenance of membrane stability, thus avoiding the premature fusion of plasma membrane (PM) and outer acrosome membrane (OAM), which is mandatory for the exocytosis of acrosome content. TRPV1, on the contrary, becomes active during the latest stages of capacitation, and allows the rapid increase in intracellular calcium concentration that leads to the removal of the F-actin network interposed between PM and OAM, leading to their fusion and, ultimately, to the acrosome reaction.
Our previous studies demonstrated that the key gluconeogenic enzyme fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase is secreted when Saccharomyces cerevisiae are starved of glucose for a prolonged period of time. In this study, we showed that malate dehydrogenase, isocitrate lyase, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, and cyclophilin A are also secreted in glucose-starved cells. Thus, both gluconeogenic and non-gluconeogenic enzymes are secreted via the non-classical pathway.
It has been a longstanding assumption that the threat of extra-group conflict can promote the expression of socio-positive behavior and cohesion within animal groups. I conducted a comparative analysis on the effect of inter-group conflict (indexed by home range overlap) on within-group affiliation levels (indexed by time engaged in allogrooming) in a sample of 48 primate species. There was no association between the 2 variables in a phylogenetic generalized least squares regression. I conclude that inter-group conflict may at best elicit short-term immediate changes in affiliation levels, but permanently elevated cohesion appears unique to humans with their large-scale social integration and scaled up inter-group conflict.
We previously reported that Sestd1 KO phenocopies Dact1 KO in mice, consistent with a model in which Sestd1 and Dact1 act together to form a crucial functional complex that regulates Vangl2 in the Wnt/Planar Cell Polarity (PCP) pathway. Here, we show that Dvl2, a binding partner of Dact1, also forms complexes with Sestd1, and does so independently of both Dact1 and Vangl2. In cell-based assays, whereas Sestd1 does not alter Dvl2 activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway, Dvl2 enhances activation of Rho family GTPases by Dact1 and Sestd1, consistent with a role in the PCP pathway. In mice, although Dvl2 KO is recessive in an otherwise wild type background, it leads to dominant embryonic lethality in either the Sestd1 or Dact1 KO background. This genetic synergy stands in contrast to the epistasis we have previously reported between Sestd1 and Dact1 KO, and suggests independent or semi-independent functions for Dvl2 vs. Sestd1/Dact1 in the regulation of the PCP pathway during development. In conclusion, biochemical and genetic interactions between Dvl2, Sestd1, and Dact1, in addition to prior reported interactions between these same molecules and Vangl2, suggest that all these gene products can form complexes together and regulate the PCP pathway during mammalian development. However, Sestd1 and Dact1 have a closely allied function in the post-translational regulation of Vangl2 that is at least partially distinct from the functions of Dvl2 in this pathway.
The hair cell provides the transduction of mechanical vibrations in the balance and acoustic sense of all vertebrates that swim, walk, or fly. The current theory places hair cell transduction in a mechanically controlled ion channel. Although the theory of a mechanical input modulating the flow of ions through an ion pore has been a useful tool, it is falsified by experimental data in the literature and can be definitively falsified by a proposed experiment.
Considering that the plasma membrane is host to a variety of mechanical cues in vivo, and the actin cortex is known to support cell shape, it comes as no surprise that the paired membrane-cortex plays a major role in cellular responses to deformation. In a recent study, we applied highly localized forces to HeLa cells in order to examine the deformation response of the membrane and cortex. Direct visualization of the deformation in the loading plane allowed for the characterization of the observed time-dependent strain. Despite large magnitude and long duration loading regimes, the majority of cells recovered their initial pre-deformed morphology within ~2 min. Unexpectedly, perturbed regions above large-volume nuclei were shown to be quite soft and had negligible influence on morphological recovery. The resistance to deformation and ability to recover was found to be largely influenced by the actin network, and dependent upon rho-kinase mediated contractility.
Some coastal squids exhibit male dimorphism (large and small body size) that is linked to mating behaviors. Large “consort” males compete with other, rival males to copulate with a female, and thereby transfer their spermatophores to her internal site around the oviduct. Small “sneaker” males rush to a single female or copulating pair and transfer spermatophores to her external body surface around the seminal receptacle near the mouth. We previously found that in Loligo bleekeri, sneaker sperm are ~50% longer than consort sperm, and only the sneaker sperm, once ejaculated from the spermatophore (sperm mass), form a cluster because of chemoattraction toward their own respiratory CO2. Here, we report that sperm clusters are able to move en masse. Because a fraction of ejaculated sperm from a sneaker’s spermatophore are eventually located in the female’s seminal receptacle, we hypothesize that sperm clustering facilitates collective migration to the seminal receptacle or an egg micropyle. Sperm clustering is regarded as a cooperative behavior that may have evolved by sperm competition and/or physical and physiological constraints imposed by male mating tactics.