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See detailFunctional specialization for auditory-spatial processing in the occipital cortex of congenitally blind humans
Collignon, Olivier; Vandewalle, Gilles ULg; Voss, Patrice et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2011), 108(11), 4435-40

The study of the congenitally blind (CB) represents a unique opportunity to explore experience-dependant plasticity in a sensory region deprived of its natural inputs since birth. Although several studies ... [more ▼]

The study of the congenitally blind (CB) represents a unique opportunity to explore experience-dependant plasticity in a sensory region deprived of its natural inputs since birth. Although several studies have shown occipital regions of CB to be involved in nonvisual processing, whether the functional organization of the visual cortex observed in sighted individuals (SI) is maintained in the rewired occipital regions of the blind has only been recently investigated. In the present functional MRI study, we compared the brain activity of CB and SI processing either the spatial or the pitch properties of sounds carrying information in both domains (i.e., the same sounds were used in both tasks), using an adaptive procedure specifically designed to adjust for performance level. In addition to showing a substantial recruitment of the occipital cortex for sound processing in CB, we also demonstrate that auditory-spatial processing mainly recruits the right cuneus and the right middle occipital gyrus, two regions of the dorsal occipital stream known to be involved in visuospatial/motion processing in SI. Moreover, functional connectivity analyses revealed that these reorganized occipital regions are part of an extensive brain network including regions known to underlie audiovisual spatial abilities (i.e., intraparietal sulcus, superior frontal gyrus). We conclude that some regions of the right dorsal occipital stream do not require visual experience to develop a specialization for the processing of spatial information and to be functionally integrated in a preexisting brain network dedicated to this ability. [less ▲]

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See detailInterplay between spontaneous and induced brain activity during human non-rapid eye movement sleep.
Dang Vu, Thien Thanh ULg; Bonjean, Maxime; Schabus, Manuel et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2011), 108(37), 15438-43

Humans are less responsive to the surrounding environment during sleep. However, the extent to which the human brain responds to external stimuli during sleep is uncertain. We used simultaneous EEG and ... [more ▼]

Humans are less responsive to the surrounding environment during sleep. However, the extent to which the human brain responds to external stimuli during sleep is uncertain. We used simultaneous EEG and functional MRI to characterize brain responses to tones during wakefulness and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Sounds during wakefulness elicited responses in the thalamus and primary auditory cortex. These responses persisted in NREM sleep, except throughout spindles, during which they became less consistent. When sounds induced a K complex, activity in the auditory cortex was enhanced and responses in distant frontal areas were elicited, similar to the stereotypical pattern associated with slow oscillations. These data show that sound processing during NREM sleep is constrained by fundamental brain oscillatory modes (slow oscillations and spindles), which result in a complex interplay between spontaneous and induced brain activity. The distortion of sensory information at the thalamic level, especially during spindles, functionally isolates the cortex from the environment and might provide unique conditions favorable for off-line memory processing. [less ▲]

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See detailOptimal concentrations in nectar feeding
Kim, Wonjung; Gilet, Tristan ULg; Bush, John W.M.

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2011), 108(40), 16618

Nectar drinkers must feed quickly and efficiently due to the threat of predation. While the sweetest nectar offers the greatest ener- getic rewards, the sharp increase of viscosity with sugar concentra ... [more ▼]

Nectar drinkers must feed quickly and efficiently due to the threat of predation. While the sweetest nectar offers the greatest ener- getic rewards, the sharp increase of viscosity with sugar concentra- tion makes it the most difficult to transport. We here demonstrate that the sugar concentration that optimizes energy transport depends exclusively on the drinking technique employed. We iden- tify three nectar drinking techniques: active suction, capillary suction, and viscous dipping. For each, we deduce the dependence of the volume intake rate on the nectar viscosity and thus infer an optimal sugar concentration consistent with laboratory mea- surements. Our results provide the first rationale for why suction feeders typically pollinate flowers with lower sugar concentration nectar than their counterparts that use viscous dipping. [less ▲]

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See detailIntegrated logic circuits using single-atom transistors
Mol, J.; Verduijn, J.; Levine, R. D. et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2011), 108(34), 13969-13972

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See detailOn the strong and selective isotope effect in the UV excitation of N2 with implications toward the nebula and Martian atmosphere
Muskatel, B. H.; Remacle, Françoise ULg; Thiemens, Mark et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2011), 108(15), 6020-6025

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See detailCrucial role of a shared extracellular loop in apamin sensitivity and maintenance of pore shape of small-conductance calcium-activated potassium (SK) channel
Weatherall, Kate; Seutin, Vincent ULg; Liégeois, Jean-François ULg et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2011), 108(45), 18488-18493

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See detailOceanic islands are not sinks of biodiversity in spore-producing plants
Hutsemekers, Virginie ULg; Shaw, A. J.; Szvovenyi, P. et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2011), 108

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See detailSpectral quality of light modulates emotional brain responses in humans
Vandewalle, Gilles ULg; Schwartz, S.; Grandjean, D. et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2010), 107(45), 19549-54

Light therapy can be an effective treatment for mood disorders, suggesting that light is able to affect mood state in the long term. As a first step to understand this effect, we hypothesized that light ... [more ▼]

Light therapy can be an effective treatment for mood disorders, suggesting that light is able to affect mood state in the long term. As a first step to understand this effect, we hypothesized that light might also acutely influence emotion and tested whether short exposures to light modulate emotional brain responses. During functional magnetic resonance imaging, 17 healthy volunteers listened to emotional and neutral vocal stimuli while being exposed to alternating 40-s periods of blue or green ambient light. Blue (relative to green) light increased responses to emotional stimuli in the voice area of the temporal cortex and in the hippocampus. During emotional processing, the functional connectivity between the voice area, the amygdala, and the hypothalamus was selectively enhanced in the context of blue illumination, which shows that responses to emotional stimulation in the hypothalamus and amygdala are influenced by both the decoding of vocal information in the voice area and the spectral quality of ambient light. These results demonstrate the acute influence of light and its spectral quality on emotional brain processing and identify a unique network merging affective and ambient light information. [less ▲]

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See detailAn atypical member of the light-harvesting complex stress-related protein family modulates diatom responses to light.
Bailleul, Benjamin; Rogato, Alessandra; de Martino, Alessandra et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2010), 107(42), 18214-9

Diatoms are prominent phytoplanktonic organisms that contribute around 40% of carbon assimilation in the oceans. They grow and perform optimally in variable environments, being able to cope with ... [more ▼]

Diatoms are prominent phytoplanktonic organisms that contribute around 40% of carbon assimilation in the oceans. They grow and perform optimally in variable environments, being able to cope with unpredictable changes in the amount and quality of light. The molecular mechanisms regulating diatom light responses are, however, still obscure. Using knockdown Phaeodactylum tricornutum transgenic lines, we reveal the key function of a member of the light-harvesting complex stress-related (LHCSR) protein family, denoted LHCX1, in modulation of excess light energy dissipation. In contrast to green algae, this gene is already maximally expressed in nonstressful light conditions and encodes a protein required for efficient light responses and growth. LHCX1 also influences natural variability in photoresponse, as evidenced in ecotypes isolated from different latitudes that display different LHCX1 protein levels. We conclude, therefore, that this gene plays a pivotal role in managing light responses in diatoms. [less ▲]

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See detailInformation-Theoretic Analysis of Phenotype Changes in Early Stages of Carcinogenesis
Remacle, Françoise ULg; Kravchenko-Balasha, N.; Leviztski, A. et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2010), 107

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See detailMaximal Entropy Inference of Oncogenicity from Phosphorylation Signaling
Graeber, T. G.; Heath, J. R.; Skaggs, B. J. et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2010), 107

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See detailAll-DNA finite-state automata with finite memory
Wang, Z. G.; Elbaz, J.; Remacle, Françoise ULg et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2010), 107(51), 21996-22001

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See detailBrain plasticity related to the consolidation of motor sequence learning and motor adaptation
Debas, K.; Carrier, J.; Orban, Patricia ULg et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2010), 107(41), 17839-44

This study aimed to investigate, through functional MRI (fMRI), the neuronal substrates associated with the consolidation process of two motor skills: motor sequence learning (MSL) and motor adaptation ... [more ▼]

This study aimed to investigate, through functional MRI (fMRI), the neuronal substrates associated with the consolidation process of two motor skills: motor sequence learning (MSL) and motor adaptation (MA). Four groups of young healthy individuals were assigned to either (i) a night/sleep condition, in which they were scanned while practicing a finger sequence learning task or an eight-target adaptation pointing task in the evening (test) and were scanned again 12 h later in the morning (retest) or (ii) a day/awake condition, in which they were scanned on the MSL or the MA tasks in the morning and were rescanned 12 h later in the evening. As expected and consistent with the behavioral results, the functional data revealed increased test-retest changes of activity in the striatum for the night/sleep group compared with the day/awake group in the MSL task. By contrast, the results of the MA task did not show any difference in test-retest activity between the night/sleep and day/awake groups. When the two MA task groups were combined, however, increased test-retest activity was found in lobule VI of the cerebellar cortex. Together, these findings highlight the presence of both functional and structural dissociations reflecting the off-line consolidation processes of MSL and MA. They suggest that MSL consolidation is sleep dependent and reflected by a differential increase of neural activity within the corticostriatal system, whereas MA consolidation necessitates either a period of daytime or sleep and is associated with increased neuronal activity within the corticocerebellar system. [less ▲]

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See detailImpact of diet in shaping gut microbiota revealed by a comparative study in children from Europe and Rural Africa
De Filippo, C.; Cavalieri, D.; Di Paola, M. et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2010), 107(33), 14691-14696

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See detailImpaired respiration discloses the physiological significance of state transitions in Chlamydomonas.
Cardol, Pierre ULg; Alric, Jean; Girard-Bascou, Jacqueline et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2009), 106(37), 15979-84

State transitions correspond to a major regulation process for photosynthesis, whereby chlorophyll protein complexes responsible for light harvesting migrate between photosystem II and photosystem I in ... [more ▼]

State transitions correspond to a major regulation process for photosynthesis, whereby chlorophyll protein complexes responsible for light harvesting migrate between photosystem II and photosystem I in response to changes in the redox poise of the intersystem electron carriers. Here we disclose their physiological significance in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii using a genetic approach. Using single and double mutants defective for state transitions and/or mitochondrial respiration, we show that photosynthetic growth, and therefore biomass production, critically depends on state transitions in respiratory-defective conditions. When extra ATP cannot be provided by respiration, enhanced photosystem I turnover elicited by transition to state 2 is required for photosynthetic activity. Concomitant impairment of state transitions and respiration decreases the overall yield of photosynthesis, ultimately leading to reduced fitness. We thus provide experimental evidence that the combined energetic contributions of state transitions and respiration are required for efficient carbon assimilation in this alga. [less ▲]

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See detailA nonsense mutation in cGMP-dependent type II protein kinase (PRKG2) causes dwarfism in American Angus cattle.
Koltes, James E; Mishra, Bishnu P; Kumar, Dinesh et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2009), 106(46), 19250-5

Historically, dwarfism was the major genetic defect in U.S. beef cattle. Aggressive culling and sire testing were used to minimize its prevalence; however, neither of these practices can eliminate a ... [more ▼]

Historically, dwarfism was the major genetic defect in U.S. beef cattle. Aggressive culling and sire testing were used to minimize its prevalence; however, neither of these practices can eliminate a recessive genetic defect. We assembled a 4-generation pedigree to identify the mutation underlying dwarfism in American Angus cattle. An adaptation of the Elston-Steward algorithm was used to overcome small pedigree size and missing genotypes. The dwarfism locus was fine-mapped to BTA6 between markers AFR227 and BM4311. Four candidate genes were sequenced, revealing a nonsense mutation in exon 15 of cGMP-dependant type II protein kinase (PRKG2). This C/T transition introduced a stop codon (R678X) that truncated 85 C-terminal amino acids, including a large portion of the kinase domain. Of the 75 mutations discovered in this region, only this mutation was 100% concordant with the recessive pattern of inheritance in affected and carrier individuals (log of odds score = 6.63). Previous research has shown that PRKG2 regulates SRY (sex-determining region Y) box 9 (SOX9)-mediated transcription of collagen 2 (COL2). We evaluated the ability of wild-type (WT) or R678X PRKG2 to regulate COL2 expression in cell culture. Real-time PCR results confirmed that COL2 is overexpressed in cells that overexpressed R678X PRKG2 as compared with WT PRKG2. Furthermore, COL2 and COL10 mRNA expression was increased in dwarf cattle compared with unaffected cattle. These experiments indicate that the R678X mutation is functional, resulting in a loss of PRKG2 regulation of COL2 and COL10 mRNA expression. Therefore, we present PRKG2 R678X as a causative mutation for dwarfism cattle. [less ▲]

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See detailSeizures, sensorineural deafness, ataxia, mental retardation, and electrolyte imbalance (SeSAME syndrome) caused by mutations in KCNJ10.
Scholl, Ute I; Choi, Murim; Liu, Tiewen et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2009), 106(14), 5842-7

We describe members of 4 kindreds with a previously unrecognized syndrome characterized by seizures, sensorineural deafness, ataxia, mental retardation, and electrolyte imbalance (hypokalemia, metabolic ... [more ▼]

We describe members of 4 kindreds with a previously unrecognized syndrome characterized by seizures, sensorineural deafness, ataxia, mental retardation, and electrolyte imbalance (hypokalemia, metabolic alkalosis, and hypomagnesemia). By analysis of linkage we localize the putative causative gene to a 2.5-Mb segment of chromosome 1q23.2-23.3. Direct DNA sequencing of KCNJ10, which encodes an inwardly rectifying K(+) channel, identifies previously unidentified missense or nonsense mutations on both alleles in all affected subjects. These mutations alter highly conserved amino acids and are absent among control chromosomes. Many of these mutations have been shown to cause loss of function in related K(+) channels. These findings demonstrate that loss-of-function mutations in KCNJ10 cause this syndrome, which we name SeSAME. KCNJ10 is expressed in glia in the brain and spinal cord, where it is believed to take up K(+) released by neuronal repolarization, in cochlea, where it is involved in the generation of endolymph, and on the basolateral membrane in the distal nephron. We propose that KCNJ10 is required in the kidney for normal salt reabsorption in the distal convoluted tubule because of the need for K(+) recycling across the basolateral membrane to enable normal activity of the Na(+)-K(+)-ATPase; loss of this function accounts for the observed electrolyte defects. Mice deficient for KCNJ10 show a related phenotype with seizures, ataxia, and hearing loss, further supporting KCNJ10's role in this syndrome. These findings define a unique human syndrome, and establish the essential role of basolateral K(+) channels in renal electrolyte homeostasis. [less ▲]

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See detailProtein Phosphatase 2a Controls The Activity Of Histone Deacetylase 7 During T Cell Apoptosis And Angiogenesis
Martin, Maud ULg; Potente, M.; Janssens, V. et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2008), 105(12), 4727-4732

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See detailEndocannabinoid signaling controls pyramidal cell specification and long-range axon patterning.
Mulder, Jan; Aguado, Tania; Keimpema, Erik et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2008), 105(25), 8760-5

Endocannabinoids (eCBs) have recently been identified as axon guidance cues shaping the connectivity of local GABAergic interneurons in the developing cerebrum. However, eCB functions during pyramidal ... [more ▼]

Endocannabinoids (eCBs) have recently been identified as axon guidance cues shaping the connectivity of local GABAergic interneurons in the developing cerebrum. However, eCB functions during pyramidal cell specification and establishment of long-range axonal connections are unknown. Here, we show that eCB signaling is operational in subcortical proliferative zones from embryonic day 12 in the mouse telencephalon and controls the proliferation of pyramidal cell progenitors and radial migration of immature pyramidal cells. When layer patterning is accomplished, developing pyramidal cells rely on eCB signaling to initiate the elongation and fasciculation of their long-range axons. Accordingly, CB(1) cannabinoid receptor (CB(1)R) null and pyramidal cell-specific conditional mutant (CB(1)R(f/f,NEX-Cre)) mice develop deficits in neuronal progenitor proliferation and axon fasciculation. Likewise, axonal pathfinding becomes impaired after in utero pharmacological blockade of CB(1)Rs. Overall, eCBs are fundamental developmental cues controlling pyramidal cell development during corticogenesis. [less ▲]

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See detailAn original adaptation of photosynthesis in the marine green alga Ostreococcus.
Cardol, Pierre ULg; Bailleul, Benjamin; Rappaport, Fabrice et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2008), 105(22), 7881-6

Adaptation of photosynthesis in marine environment has been examined in two strains of the green, picoeukaryote Ostreococcus: OTH95, a surface/high-light strain, and RCC809, a deep-sea/low-light strain ... [more ▼]

Adaptation of photosynthesis in marine environment has been examined in two strains of the green, picoeukaryote Ostreococcus: OTH95, a surface/high-light strain, and RCC809, a deep-sea/low-light strain. Differences between the two strains include changes in the light-harvesting capacity, which is lower in OTH95, and in the photoprotection capacity, which is enhanced in OTH95. Furthermore, RCC809 has a reduced maximum rate of O(2) evolution, which is limited by its decreased photosystem I (PSI) level, a possible adaptation to Fe limitation in the open oceans. This decrease is, however, accompanied by a substantial rerouting of the electron flow to establish an H(2)O-to-H(2)O cycle, involving PSII and a potential plastid plastoquinol terminal oxidase. This pathway bypasses electron transfer through the cytochrome b(6)f complex and allows the pumping of "extra" protons into the thylakoid lumen. By promoting the generation of a large DeltapH, it facilitates ATP synthesis and nonphotochemical quenching when RCC809 cells are exposed to excess excitation energy. We propose that the diversion of electrons to oxygen downstream of PSII, but before PSI, reflects a common and compulsory strategy in marine phytoplankton to bypass the constraints imposed by light and/or nutrient limitation and allow successful colonization of the open-ocean marine environment. [less ▲]

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