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See detailPressure flaking to serrate bifacial points for the hunt during the MIS5 at Sibudu Cave (South Africa)
Rots, Veerle ULg; Lentfer, Carol ULg; Schmid, Viola C. et al

in PLoS ONE (2017), 12(4), 61

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See detailStress indicator gene expression profiles, colony dynamics and tissue development of honey bees exposed to sub-lethal doses of imidacloprid in laboratory and field experiments
De Smet, Lina; Hatjina; Ioannidis, Pavlos et al

in PLOS One (2017), 10(137),

In this study, different context-dependent effects of imidacloprid exposure on the honey bee response were studied. Honey bees were exposed to different concentrations of imidacloprid during a time period ... [more ▼]

In this study, different context-dependent effects of imidacloprid exposure on the honey bee response were studied. Honey bees were exposed to different concentrations of imidacloprid during a time period of 40 days. Next to these variables, a laboratory-field comparison was conducted. The influence of the chronic exposure on gene expression levels was determined using an in-house developed microarray targeting different immunity-related and detoxification genes to determine stress-related gene expression changes. Increased levels of the detoxification genes encoding, CYP9Q3 and CYT P450, were detected in imidacloprid- exposed honey bees. The different context-dependent effects of imidacloprid exposure on honey bees were confirmed physiologically by decreased hypopharyngeal gland sizes. Honey bees exposed to imidacloprid in laboratory cages showed a general immunosuppression and no detoxification mechanisms were triggered significantly, while honey bees infield showed a resilient response with an immune stimulation at later time points. However, the treated colonies had a brood and population decline tendency after the first brood cycle in the field. In conclusion, this study highlighted the different context-dependent effects of imidacloprid exposure on the honey bee response. These findings warn for possible pitfalls concerning the generalization of results based on specific experiments with short exposure times. The increased levels of CYT P450 and CYP9Q3 combined with an immune response reaction can be used as markers for bees which are exposed to pesticides in the field. [less ▲]

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See detailSputum biomarkers in IPF: Evidence for raised gene expression and protein level of IGFBP-2, IL-8 and MMP-7.
GUIOT, Julien ULg; Henket, Monique; Corhay, Jean-Louis ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2017), 12(2), 0171344

BACKGROUND: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a rare lung disease of unknown origin leading rapidly to death. This paper addresses the issue of whether sputum induction is a suitable tool to study ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a rare lung disease of unknown origin leading rapidly to death. This paper addresses the issue of whether sputum induction is a suitable tool to study respiratory tract inflammation and potential biomarkers in IPF compared to COPD, a fibrosing airway wall disease. METHODS: In a cross-sectional analysis, 15 IPF patients, 32 COPD and 30 healthy subjects underwent sputum induction. Total sputum cell counts and the amount of TGF- beta, IGF-1, IGF-2, IGFBP-1, IGFBP-2, IGFBP-3, IL-8, IL-13, MMP-7, MMP-9, YKL-40, TNF-alpha and KL-6 in sputum supernatant were analysed. We also profiled gene expression of cells in the induced sputum for TGF-beta, MMP-7, YKL-40, IGFBP-2, IL-6, IL-8 and TNF-alpha. RESULTS: IPF patients, like COPD, had increased sputum absolute number of neutrophils, eosinophils, macrophages and epithelial cells compared to HS. IPF sputum supernatants had increased concentrations of IGFBP-2, IL-8, TGF-beta, MMP-7, MMP-9 and KL-6 (p<0.05, p<0.0001, p<0.05, p<0.05, p<0.0001, p<0.05 respectively) when compared to healthy subjects where COPD had higher IL-6 and TNF-alpha levels than IPF (p<0.05 and p<0.05 respectively) and HS (p<0.0001 and p<0.001 respectively) and higher IL-8 and MMP-9 than HS (p<0.0001 and p<0.001 respectively). Conversely to IL-6 and TNF-alpha, MMP-7 was increased in IPF compared to COPD (p<0.05). The KL-6 and MMP-7 protein levels in sputum were inversely correlated with total lung capacity (TLC, % of predicted) in IPF patients (r = -0.73 and r = -0.53 respectively). Sputum gene expression analysis identified a significant increase for IGFBP-2, IL-6, IL-8 and MMP-7 in IPF compared to HS (p<0.05, p<0.01, p<0.05 and p<0.0001 respectively) and for IGFBP-2, YKL-40, IL-6, IL-8 and MMP-7 compared to COPD (p<0.01, p<0.01, p<0.05, p<0.01 and p<0.0001 respectively). Furthermore, gene expression of TGF-beta was increased in IPF compared to COPD (p<0.001) but not to HS. CONCLUSION: Our data show clear increase in expression and production of IGFBP-2, IL-8 and MMP-7 in sputum from patients with IPF that may contribute to the disease. [less ▲]

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See detailComparison of Various Indices of Energy Metabolism in Recumbent and Healthy Dairy Cows
Guyot, Hugues ULg; Detilleux, Johann ULg; Lebreton, Pascal et al

in PLoS ONE (2017), 12(1), 1-11

BACKGROUND: Downer cow syndrome (DCS) is often diagnosed in dairy cattle during the early post-partum period. The etiology of this condition is not completely understood, as it can be related to the ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Downer cow syndrome (DCS) is often diagnosed in dairy cattle during the early post-partum period. The etiology of this condition is not completely understood, as it can be related to the energetic or electrolyte metabolism, as well as to infectious diseases or to trauma. HYPOTHESIS/OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study is to compare energy metabolism and insulin sensitivity indices and various biochemical parameters between recumbent and healthy dairy cows. ANIMALS: A prospective study has been undertaken on 361 recumbent and 80 healthy Holstein cows. METHODS: Plasmatic glucose, insulin, non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) and β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) were assayed in all cows in order to calculate the insulin sensitivity indices but also minerals (Calcium, Phosphorous and Magnesium), thyroxin and creatine kinase. Body Condition Scores (BCS) was assessed. RESULTS: Significant differences in NEFA, and the glucose and insulin sensitivity indices ("Homeostasis Model Assessment" HOMA, "Revised Quantitative Insulin Sensitivity Check Index" RQUICKI, RQUICKI-BHB) were observed between healthy and recumbent cows in the early post-parturient period indicating disturbances of glucose and insulin homeostasis in the recumbent cows. In the same manner, mineral concentrations were significantly different between healthy and recumbent cows. Glucose, insulin NEFA, and HOMA, were different between early post-partum downer cows and the DCS-affected cows later in lactation. CONCLUSION AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: Results indicate disturbances in energy homeostasis in DCS-affected dairy cows. Further research should determine a prognostic value of the indices in cows suffering from recumbency of metabolic origin [less ▲]

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See detailHealth Outcomes of Sarcopenia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
Beaudart, Charlotte ULg; Zaaria, Myriam; Pasleau, Françoise ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2017), 12(1), 0169548

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to perform a systematic review to assess the short-, middle- and long-term consequences of sarcopenia. METHODS: Prospective studies assessing the consequences of ... [more ▼]

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to perform a systematic review to assess the short-, middle- and long-term consequences of sarcopenia. METHODS: Prospective studies assessing the consequences of sarcopenia were searched across different electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, EBM Reviews, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, EBM Reviews ACP Journal Club, EBM Reviews DARE and AMED). Only studies that used the definition of the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People to diagnose sarcopenia were included. Study selection and data extraction were performed by two independent reviewers. For outcomes reported by three or more studies, a meta-analysis was performed. The study results are expressed as odds ratios (OR) with 95% CI. RESULTS: Of the 772 references identified through the database search, 17 were included in this systematic review. The number of participants in the included studies ranged from 99 to 6658, and the duration of follow-up varied from 3 months to 9.8 years. Eleven out of 12 studies assessed the impact of sarcopenia on mortality. The results showed a higher rate of mortality among sarcopenic subjects (pooled OR of 3.596 (95% CI 2.96-4.37)). The effect was higher in people aged 79 years or older compared with younger subjects (p = 0.02). Sarcopenia is also associated with functional decline (pooled OR of 6 studies 3.03 (95% CI 1.80-5.12)), a higher rate of falls (2/2 studies found a significant association) and a higher incidence of hospitalizations (1/1 study). The impact of sarcopenia on the incidence of fractures and the length of hospital stay was less clear (only 1/2 studies showed an association for both outcomes). CONCLUSION: Sarcopenia is associated with several harmful outcomes, making this geriatric syndrome a real public health burden. [less ▲]

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See detailThe role of short-term memory and visuo-spatial skills in numerical magnitude processing: evidence from Turner syndrome
Attout, Lucie ULg; Noël, Marie-Pascale; Nassogne, Marie-Cécile et al

in PLoS ONE (2017), 12(2), 0171454

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See detailStudies of HVC Plasticity in Adult Canaries Reveal Social Effects and Sex Differences as Well as Limitations of Multiple Markers Available to Assess Adult Neurogenesis.
Shevchouk, Olesya ULg; Ball, G.F.; Cornil, Charlotte ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2017), 12(1), 0170938

In songbirds, neurogenesis in the song control nucleus HVC is sensitive to the hormonal and social environment but the dynamics of this process is difficult to assess with a single exogenous marker of new ... [more ▼]

In songbirds, neurogenesis in the song control nucleus HVC is sensitive to the hormonal and social environment but the dynamics of this process is difficult to assess with a single exogenous marker of new neurons. We simultaneously used three independent markers to investigate HVC neurogenesis in male and female canaries. Males were castrated, implanted with testosterone and housed either alone (M), with a female (M-F) or with another male (M-M) while females were implanted with 17β- estradiol and housed with a male (F-M). All subjects received injections of the two thymidine analogues, BrdU and of EdU, respectively 21 and 10 days before brain collection. Cells containing BrdU or EdU or expressing doublecortin (DCX), which labels newborn neurons, were quantified. Social context and sex differentially affected total BrdU+, EdU+, BrdU+EdU- and DCX+ populations. M-M males had a higher density of BrdU+ cells in the ventricular zone adjacent to HVC and of EdU+ in HVC than M-F males. M birds had a higher ratio of BrdU+EdU- to EdU+ cells than M-F subjects suggesting higher survival of newer neurons in the former group. Total number of HVC DCX+ cells was lower in M-F than in M-M males. Sex differences were also dependent of the type of marker used. Several technical limitations associated with the use of these multiple markers were also identified. These results indicate that proliferation, recruitment and survival of new neurons can be independently affected by environmental conditions and effects can only be fully discerned through the use of multiple neurogenesis markers. [less ▲]

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See detailLimited Impact of Imatinib in a Murine Model of Sclerodermatouc Chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease
Belle, Ludovic ULg; Fransolet, Gilles ULg; Somja, Joan ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2016), 11

Background Sclerodermatous chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease (scl-cGVHD) is one of the most severe form of cGVHD. The Platelet-derived Grotwth Factor (PDGF) and the Transforming Growth Factor-β (TGF-β ... [more ▼]

Background Sclerodermatous chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease (scl-cGVHD) is one of the most severe form of cGVHD. The Platelet-derived Grotwth Factor (PDGF) and the Transforming Growth Factor-β (TGF-β) play a significant role in the fibrosing process occurring in scl-cGVHD. This prompted us to assess the impact of the PDGF-r and c-Abl tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib on scl-cGVHD. Methods To assess the impact of imatinib on T cell subset proliferation in vivo, Balb/cJ recipient mice were lethally (7 Gy) irradiated and then injected with 10x106 bone marrow cells from B10.D2 mice on day 0. Fourteen days later, 70x106 carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester (CFSE)-labeled splenocytes from B10.D2 mice were infused and imatinib or sterile water was administered for 5 days. To induce severe scl-cGVHD, Balb/cJ mice were injected i.v. with 10.106 bone marrow cells and 70.106 splenocytes from B10.D2 donor mice after 7 Gy irradiation. Mice were then given sterile water or imatinib from day +7 after transplantation to the end of the experiment (day +52). Results Imatinib decreased the proliferation of total T cells (P = 0.02), CD8+ T cells (P = 0.01), and of regulatory T cells (Tregs) (P = 0.02) in the spleen. In the severe scl-cGVHD model, imatinib-treated mice had significantly lower levels of PDGF-r phosphorylation than control mice on day 29 after transplantation (P = 0.008). However, scl-cGVHD scores were similar between vehicle- and imatinib-treated mice during the whole experiment, while there was a suggestion for less weight loss in imatinib-treated mice that reached statistical significance at day +52 following transplantation (P = 0.02). [less ▲]

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See detailA Novel Physiological Glycosaminoglycan-Deficient Splice Variant of Neuropilin-1 Is Anti-Tumorigenic In Vitro and In Vivo
Hendricks, Céline; Dubail, Johanne; Brohée, Laura ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2016)

Neuropilin-1 (NRP1) is a transmembrane protein acting as a co-receptor for several growth factors and interacting with other proteins such as integrins and plexins/semaphorins. It is involved in axonal ... [more ▼]

Neuropilin-1 (NRP1) is a transmembrane protein acting as a co-receptor for several growth factors and interacting with other proteins such as integrins and plexins/semaphorins. It is involved in axonal development, angiogenesis and cancer progression. Its primary mRNA is subjected to alternative splicing mechanisms generating different isoforms, some of which lack the transmembrane domain and display antagonist properties to NRP1 full size (FS). NRP1 is further post-translationally modified by the addition of glycosaminoglycans (GAG) side chains through an O-glycosylation site at serine612. Here, we characterized a novel splice variant which has never been investigated, NRP1-Δ7, differing from the NRP1-FS by a deletion of 7 amino acids occurring two residues downstream of the O-glycosylation site. This short sequence contains two aspartic residues critical for efficient glycosylation. As expected, the high molecular weight products appearing as a smear in SDS-PAGE and reflecting the presence of GAG in NRP1-FS were undetectable in the NRP1-Δ7 protein. NRP1-Δ7 mRNA was found expressed at an appreciable level, between 10 and 30% of the total NRP1, by various cells lines and tissues from human and murine origin. To investigate the biological properties of this isoform, we generated prostatic (PC3) and breast (MDA-MB-231) cancer cells able to express recombinant NRP1-FS or NRP1-Δ7 in a doxycycline-inducible manner. Cells with increased expression of NRP1-Δ7 were characterized in vitro by a significant reduction of proliferation, migration and anchorage-independent growth, while NRP1-FS had the expected opposite “pro-tumoral” effects. Upon VEGF-A165 treatment, a lower internalization rate was observed for NRP1-Δ7 than for NRP1-FS. Finally, we showed that NRP1-Δ7 inhibited growth of prostatic tumors and their vascularization in vivo. This report identifies NRP1-Δ7 as a splice variant displaying anti-tumorigenic properties in vitro and in vivo, emphasizing the need to consider this isoform in future studies. [less ▲]

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See detail68Ga and 188Re Starch-Based Microparticles as Theranostic Tool for the Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Radiolabeling and Preliminary In Vivo Rat Studies
Verger, Elise ULg; Drion, Pierre ULg; MEFFRE, Geneviève ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2016)

This work aims to develop, validate and optimize the radiolabeling of Starch-Based Microparticles (SBMP) by 188Re and 68Ga in the form of ready-to-use radiolabeling kits, the ultimate goal being to obtain ... [more ▼]

This work aims to develop, validate and optimize the radiolabeling of Starch-Based Microparticles (SBMP) by 188Re and 68Ga in the form of ready-to-use radiolabeling kits, the ultimate goal being to obtain a unique theranostic vector for the treatment of Hepatocellular Carcinoma. METHODS: Optimal labeling conditions and composition of freeze-dried kits were defined by monitoring the radiochemical purity while varying several parameters. In vitro stability studies were carried out, as well as an in vivo biodistribution as a preliminary approach with the intra-arterial injection of 68Ga radiolabeled SBMP into the hepatic artery of DENA-induced rats followed by PET/CT imaging. RESULTS: Kits were optimized for 188Re and 68Ga with high and stable radiochemical purity (>95% and >98% respectively). The in vivo preliminary study was successful with more than 95% of activity found in the liver and mostly in the tumorous part. CONCLUSION: SBMP are a promising theranostic agent for the Selective Internal Radiation Therapy of Hepatocellular carcinoma [less ▲]

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See detailNuclear Magnetic Resonance Metabolomic Profiling of Mouse Kidney, Urine and Serum Following Renal Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury.
Jouret, François ULg; Leenders, Justine ULg; Defraigne, Jean-Olivier ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2016), 11(9), 1-14

Abstract BACKGROUND: Ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) is the most common cause of acute kidney injury (AKI). Its pathophysiology remains unclear. Metabolomics is dedicated to identify metabolites involved in ... [more ▼]

Abstract BACKGROUND: Ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) is the most common cause of acute kidney injury (AKI). Its pathophysiology remains unclear. Metabolomics is dedicated to identify metabolites involved in (patho)physiological changes of integrated living systems. Here, we performed 1H-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance metabolomics using urine, serum and kidney samples from a mouse model of renal I/R. METHODS: Renal 30-min ischemia was induced in 12-week-old C57BL/6J male mice by bilaterally clamping vascular pedicles, and was followed by 6, 24 or 48-hour reperfusion (n = 12/group). Sham-operated mice were used as controls. Statistical discriminant analyses, i.e. principal component analysis and orthogonal projections to latent structures (OPLS-DA), were performed on urine, serum and kidney lysates at each time-point. Multivariate receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were drawn, and sensitivity and specificity were calculated from ROC confusion matrix (with averaged class probabilities across 100 cross-validations). RESULTS: Urine OPLS-DA analysis showed a net separation between I/R and sham groups, with significant variations in levels of taurine, di- and tri-methylamine, creatine and lactate. Such changes were observed as early as 6 hours post reperfusion. Major metabolome modifications occurred at 24h post reperfusion. At this time-point, correlation coefficients between urine spectra and conventional AKI biomarkers, i.e. serum creatinine and urea levels, reached 0.94 and 0.95, respectively. The area under ROC curve at 6h, 24h and 48h post surgery were 0.73, 0.98 and 0.97, respectively. Similar discriminations were found in kidney samples, with changes in levels of lactate, fatty acids, choline and taurine. By contrast, serum OPLS-DA analysis could not discriminate sham-operated from I/R-exposed animals. CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrates that renal I/R in mouse causes early and sustained metabolomic changes in urine and kidney composition. The most implicated pathways at 6h and 24h post reperfusion include gluconeogenesis, taurine and hypotaurine metabolism, whereas protein biosynthesis, glycolysis, and galactose and arginine metabolism are key at 48h post reperfusion. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Envelope Cytoplasmic Tail of HIV-1 Subtype C Contributes to Poor Replication Capacity through Low Viral Infectivity and Cell-to-Cell Transmission.
Santos da Silva, Eveline; Mulinge, Martin; Lemaire, Morgane et al

in PLoS ONE (2016)

The cytoplasmic tail (gp41CT) of the HIV-1 envelope (Env) mediates Env incorporation into virions and regulates Env intracellular trafficking. Little is known about the functional impact of variability in ... [more ▼]

The cytoplasmic tail (gp41CT) of the HIV-1 envelope (Env) mediates Env incorporation into virions and regulates Env intracellular trafficking. Little is known about the functional impact of variability in this domain. To address this issue, we compared the replication of recombinant virus pairs carrying the full Env (Env viruses) or the Env ectodomain fused to the gp41CT of NL4.3 (EnvEC viruses) (12 subtype C and 10 subtype B pairs) in primary CD4+ T-cells and monocyte-derived-macrophages (MDMs). In CD4+ T-cells, replication was as follows: B-EnvEC = B-Env>C-EnvEC>C-Env, indicating that the gp41CT of subtype C contributes to the low replicative capacity of this subtype. In MDMs, in contrast, replication capacity was comparable for all viruses regardless of subtype and of gp41CT. In CD4+ T-cells, viral entry, viral release and viral gene expression were similar. However, infectivity of free virions and cell-to-cell transmission of C-Env viruses released by CD4+ T-cells was lower, suggestive of lower Env incorporation into virions. Subtype C matrix only minimally rescued viral replication and failed to restore infectivity of free viruses and cell-to-cell transmission. Taken together, these results show that polymorphisms in the gp41CT contribute to viral replication capacity and suggest that the number of Env spikes per virion may vary across subtypes. These findings should be taken into consideration in the design of vaccines. [less ▲]

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See detailAssociation of Empirically Derived Dietary Patterns with Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Comparison of PCA and RRR Methods
Sauvageot, Nicolas ULg; Leite, sonia; Alkerwi, Ala'a et al

in PLoS ONE (2016), 11(8),

Abstract Introduction Principal component analysis is used to determine dietary behaviors of a population whereas reduced rank regression is used to construct disease-related dietary patterns. This study ... [more ▼]

Abstract Introduction Principal component analysis is used to determine dietary behaviors of a population whereas reduced rank regression is used to construct disease-related dietary patterns. This study aimed to compare both types of DP and theirs associations with cardiovascular risk factors (CVRF). Materiel and Methods Data were derived from the cross sectional NESCAV (Nutrition, Environment and Cardiovascular Health) study, aiming to describe the cardiovascular health of the Greater region’s population (Grand duchy of Luxembourg, Wallonia (Belgium), Lorraine (France)). 2298 individuals were included for this study and dietary intake was assessed using a 134-item food frequency questionnaire. Results We found that CVRF-related patterns also reflect eating behaviours of the population. Comparing concordant food groups between both dietary pattern methods, a diet high in fruits, oleaginous and dried fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fats rich in omega 6 and tea and low in fried foods, lean and fatty meat, processed meat, ready meal, soft drink and beer was associated with lower prevalence of CVRF. In the opposite, a pattern characterized by high intakes of fried foods, meat, offal, beer, wine and aperitifs and spirits, and low intakes of cereals, sugar and sweets and soft drinks was associated with higher prevalence of CVRF. Conclusion In sum, we found that a “Prudent” and “Animal protein and alcohol” patterns were both associated with CVRF and behaviourally meaningful. Moreover, the relationships of those dietary patterns with lifestyle characteristics support the theory that food choices are part of a larger pattern of healthy lifestyle. [less ▲]

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See detailHabenular Neurogenesis in Zebrafish Is Regulated by a Hedgehog, Pax6 Proneural Gene Cascade
Halluin, Caroline; Madelaine, Romain; Naye, Francois et al

in PLoS ONE (2016), 11(7), 0158210

The habenulae are highly conserved nuclei in the dorsal diencephalon that connect the forebrain to the midbrain and hindbrain. These nuclei have been implicated in a broad variety of behaviours in humans ... [more ▼]

The habenulae are highly conserved nuclei in the dorsal diencephalon that connect the forebrain to the midbrain and hindbrain. These nuclei have been implicated in a broad variety of behaviours in humans, primates, rodents and zebrafish. Despite this, the molecular mechanisms that control the genesis and differentiation of neural progenitors in the habenulae remain relatively unknown. We have previously shown that, in zebrafish, the timing of habenular neurogenesis is left-right asymmetric and that in the absence of Nodal signalling this asymmetry is lost. Here, we show that habenular neurogenesis requires the homeobox transcription factor Pax6a and the redundant action of two proneural bHLH factors, Neurog1 and Neurod4. We present evidence that Hedgehog signalling is required for the expression of pax6a, which is in turn necessary for the expression of neurog1 and neurod4. Finally, we demonstrate by pharmacological inhibition that Hedgehog signalling is required continuously during habenular neurogenesis and by cell transplantation experiments that pathway activation is required cell autonomously. Our data sheds light on the mechanism underlying habenular development that may provide insights into how Nodal signalling imposes asymmetry on the timing of habenular neurogenesis. [less ▲]

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See detailBenchmarking for Bayesian Reinforcement Learning
Castronovo, Michaël ULg; Ernst, Damien ULg; Couëtoux, Adrien ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2016)

In the Bayesian Reinforcement Learning (BRL) setting, agents try to maximise the col- lected rewards while interacting with their environment while using some prior knowledge that is accessed beforehand ... [more ▼]

In the Bayesian Reinforcement Learning (BRL) setting, agents try to maximise the col- lected rewards while interacting with their environment while using some prior knowledge that is accessed beforehand. Many BRL algorithms have already been proposed, but even though a few toy examples exist in the literature, there are still no extensive or rigorous benchmarks to compare them. The paper addresses this problem, and provides a new BRL comparison methodology along with the corresponding open source library. In this methodology, a comparison criterion that measures the performance of algorithms on large sets of Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) drawn from some probability distributions is defined. In order to enable the comparison of non-anytime algorithms, our methodology also includes a detailed analysis of the computation time requirement of each algorithm. Our library is released with all source code and documentation: it includes three test prob- lems, each of which has two different prior distributions, and seven state-of-the-art RL algorithms. Finally, our library is illustrated by comparing all the available algorithms and the results are discussed. [less ▲]

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See detailHow Bees Deter Elephants: Beehive Trials with Forest Elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) in Gabon
Ngama, Steeve ULg; Korte, Lisa; Bindelle, Jérôme ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2016), 11(5), 12

In Gabon, like elsewhere in Africa, crops are often sources of conflict between humans and wildlife. Wildlife damage to crops can drastically reduce income, amplifying poverty and creating a negative ... [more ▼]

In Gabon, like elsewhere in Africa, crops are often sources of conflict between humans and wildlife. Wildlife damage to crops can drastically reduce income, amplifying poverty and creating a negative perception of wild animal conservation among rural people. In this context, crop-raiding animals like elephants quickly become “problem animals”. To deter elephants from raiding crops beehives have been successfully employed in East Africa; however, this method has not yet been tested in Central Africa. We experimentally examined whether the presence of Apis mellifera adansonii, the African honey bee species present in Central Africa, deters forest elephants (Loxodonta Africana cyclotis) from feeding on fruit trees. We show for the first time that the effectiveness of beehives as deterrents of elephants is related to bee activity. Empty hives and those housing colonies of low bee activity do not deter elephants all the time; but beehives with high bee activity do. Although elephant disturbance of hives does not impede honey production, there is a tradeoff between deterrence and the quantity of honey produced. To best achieve the dual goals of deterring elephants and producing honey colonies must maintain an optimum activity level of 40 to 60 bee movements per minute. Thus, beehives colonized by Apis mellifera adansonii bees can be effective elephant deterrents, but people must actively manage hives to maintain bee colonies at the optimum activity level. [less ▲]

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