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See detailMaking sense of residues on flaked stone artefacts: learning from blind tests
Rots, Veerle ULg; Hayes, Elspeth; Cnuts, Dries ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2016)

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See detailBenevolent Ideology and Women’s Economic Decision-Making: When Sexism Is Hurting Men’s Wallet
Silvestre, Aude ULg; Sarlet, Marie; Huart, Johanne ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2016), 11(2),

Can ideology, as a widespread “expectation creator,” impact economic decisions? In two studies we investigated the influence of the Benevolent Sexism (BS) ideology (which dictates that men should provide ... [more ▼]

Can ideology, as a widespread “expectation creator,” impact economic decisions? In two studies we investigated the influence of the Benevolent Sexism (BS) ideology (which dictates that men should provide for passive and nurtured women) on women’s economic decision- making. In Study 1, using a Dictator Game in which women decided how to share amounts of money with men, results of a Generalized Linear Mixed Model analysis show that higher endorsement of BS and contextual expectations of benevolence were associated with more very unequal offers. Similarly, in an Ultimatum Game in which women received monetary offers from men, Study 2’s Generalized Linear Mixed Model’s results revealed that BS led women to reject more very unequal offers. If women’s endorsement of BS ideology and expectations of benevolence prove contrary to reality, they may strike back at men. These findings show that BS ideology creates expectations that shape malefemale relationships in a way that could be prejudicial to men. [less ▲]

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See detailTradeoffs between Maize Silage Yield and Nitrate Leaching in a Mediterranean Nitrate- Vulnerable Zone under Current and Projected Climate Scenarios
Basso, Bruno; Giola, Pietro; Dumont, Benjamin ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2016), 11(1): e0146360

Future climatic changes may have profound impacts on cropping systems and affect the agronomic and environmental sustainability of current N management practices. The objectives of this work were to i ... [more ▼]

Future climatic changes may have profound impacts on cropping systems and affect the agronomic and environmental sustainability of current N management practices. The objectives of this work were to i) evaluate the ability of the SALUS crop model to reproduce experimental crop yield and soil nitrate dynamics results under different N fertilizer treatments in a farmer’s field, ii) use the SALUS model to estimate the impacts of different N fertilizer treatments on NO3- leaching under future climate scenarios generated by twenty nine different global circulation models, and iii) identify the management system that best minimizes NO3- leaching and maximizes yield under projected future climate conditions. A field experiment (maize-triticale rotation) was conducted in a nitrate vulnerable zone on the west coast of Sardinia, Italy to evaluate N management strategies that include urea fertilization (NMIN), conventional fertilization with dairy slurry and urea (CONV), and no fertilization (N0). An ensemble of 29 global circulation models (GCM) was used to simulate different climate scenarios for two Representative Circulation Pathways (RCP6.0 and RCP8.5) and evaluate potential nitrate leaching and biomass production in this region over the next 50 years. Data collected from two growing seasons showed that the SALUS model adequately simulated both nitrate leaching and crop yield, with a relative error that ranged between 0.4% and 13%. Nitrate losses under RCP8.5 were lower than under RCP6.0 only for NMIN. Accordingly, levels of plant N uptake, N use efficiency and biomass production were higher under RCP8.5 than RCP6.0. Simulations under both RCP scenarios indicated that the NMIN treatment demonstrated both the highest biomass production and NO3- losses. The newly proposed best management practice (BMP), developed from crop N uptake data, was identified as the optimal N fertilizer management practice since it minimized NO3- leaching and maximized biomass production over the long term. [less ▲]

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See detailEvolution of the Northern Rockweed, Fucus distichus, in a Regime of Glacial Cycling: Implications for Benthic Algal Phylogenetics
Laughinghouse, Haywood, Dail; Müller, Kirsten; Adey, Walter et al

in PLoS ONE (2015), 10(12), 0143795

Northern hemisphere rockweeds (Fucus) are thought to have evolved in the North Pacific and then spread to the North Atlantic following the opening of the Bering Strait. They have dispersed and widely ... [more ▼]

Northern hemisphere rockweeds (Fucus) are thought to have evolved in the North Pacific and then spread to the North Atlantic following the opening of the Bering Strait. They have dispersed and widely speciated in the North Atlantic and its tributary seas. Fucus distichus is likely near the ancestral member of this genus, and studies have shown that there are several species/subspecies in this complex (i.e. F. evanescens and F. gardneri). We used phylogenetic and haplotype analyses to test the phylogenetic relationships and biogeogra- phy of F. distichus. Our data and subsequent analyses demonstrate that, unlike previous studies that lacked samples from an extensive geographical area of the Arctic and Subarc- tic, there is a distinct Arctic haplotype that is the source of subspecies in both the North Pacific and North Atlantic. Fucus distichus occupies a low tide zone habitat, and in Arctic/ Subarctic regions it is adapted to the severe stress of sea ice coverage and disturbance dur- ing many months per year. We hypothesize that the very large geographic area of Arctic and Subarctic rocky shores available to this species during interglacials, supported by large Arctic/Subarctic fringe areas as well as unglaciated refugia during glacial cycles, provided a robust population and gene pool (described by the Thermogeographic Model). This gene pool dilutes that of the more fragmented and area-limited Temperate/Boreal area popula- tions when they are brought together during glacial cycles. We suggest that similar subspe- cies complexes for a variety of Arctic/Subarctic shore biota should be examined further in this context, rather than arbitrarily being split up into numerous species. [less ▲]

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See detailDiscrimination of deciduous tree species from time series of unmanned aerial system imagery
Lisein, Jonathan ULg; Michez, Adrien ULg; Claessens, Hugues ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2015), 10(11),

Technology advances can revolutionize Precision Forestry by providing accurate and fine forest information at tree level. This paper addresses the question of how and particularly when Unmanned Aerial ... [more ▼]

Technology advances can revolutionize Precision Forestry by providing accurate and fine forest information at tree level. This paper addresses the question of how and particularly when Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) should be used in order to efficiently discriminate deciduous tree species. A time series of high resolution UAS imagery was collected to cover the growing season from leaf flush to leaf fall. Full benefit was taken of the temporal resolution of UAS acquisition, one of the most promising features of small drones. The disparity in forest tree phenology is at the maximum during early spring and late autumn. But the phenology state that optimized the classification result is the one that minimizes the spectral variation within tree species groups and, at the same time, maximizes the phenologic differences between species. Sunlit tree crowns (5 deciduous species groups) were classified using a Random Forest approach for monotemporal, two-date and three-date combinations. The end of leaf flushing was the most efficient single-date time window. Multitemporal datasets definitely improve the overall classification accuracy. But single-date high resolution orthophotomosaics, acquired on optimal time-windows, result in a very good classification accuracy (overall out of bag error of 16%). [less ▲]

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See detailWood Specific Gravity Variations and Biomass of Central African Tree Species: The Simple Choice of the Outer Wood
Bastin, Jean-François ULg; Fayolle, Adeline ULg; Tarelkin, Yegor et al

in PLoS ONE (2015)

Context: Wood specific gravity is a key element in tropical forest ecology. It integrates many aspects of tree mechanical properties and functioning and is an important predictor of tree biomass. Wood ... [more ▼]

Context: Wood specific gravity is a key element in tropical forest ecology. It integrates many aspects of tree mechanical properties and functioning and is an important predictor of tree biomass. Wood specific gravity varies widely among and within species and also within individual trees. Notably, contrasted patterns of radial variation of wood specific gravity have been demonstrated and related to regeneration guilds (light demanding vs. shade-bearing). However, although being repeatedly invoked as a potential source of error when estimating the biomass of trees, both intraspecific and radial variations remain little studied. In this study we characterized detailed pith-to-bark wood specific gravity profiles among contrasted species prominently contributing to the biomass of the forest, i.e., the dominant species, and we quantified the consequences of such variations on the biomass. Methods: Radial profiles of wood density at 8% moisture content were compiled for 14 dominant species in the Democratic Republic of Congo, adapting a unique 3D X-ray scanning technique at very high spatial resolution on core samples. Mean wood density estimates were validated by water displacement measurements. Wood density profiles were converted to wood specific gravity and linear mixed models were used to decompose the radial variance. Potential errors in biomass estimation were assessed by comparing the biomass estimated from the wood specific gravity measured from pith-to-bark profiles, from global repositories, and from partial information (outer wood or inner wood). Results: Wood specific gravity profiles from pith-to-bark presented positive, neutral and negative trends. Positive trends mainly characterized light-demanding species, increasing up to 1.8 g.cm-3 per meter for Piptadeniastrum africanum, and negative trends characterized shade-bearing species, decreasing up to 1 g.cm-3 per meter for Strombosia pustulata. The linear mixed model showed the greater part of wood specific gravity variance was explained by species only (45%) followed by a redundant part between species and regeneration guilds (36%). Despite substantial variation in wood specific gravity profiles among species and regeneration guilds, we found that values from the outer wood were strongly correlated to values from the whole profile, without any significant bias. In addition, we found that wood specific gravity from the DRYAD global repository may strongly differ depending on the species (up to 40% for Dialium pachyphyllum). Main conclusion: Therefore, when estimating forest biomass in specific sites, we recommend the systematic collection of outer wood samples on dominant species. This should prevent the main errors in biomass estimations resulting from wood specific gravity and allow for the collection of new information to explore the intraspecific variation of mechanical properties of trees. [less ▲]

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See detailEctopic Expression of Retrotransposon-Derived PEG11/RTL1 Contributes to the Callipyge Muscular Hypertrophy.
Xu, Xuewen; Ectors, Fabien ULg; Davis, Erica E. et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(10), 0140594

The callipyge phenotype is an ovine muscular hypertrophy characterized by polar overdominance: only heterozygous +Mat/CLPGPat animals receiving the CLPG mutation from their father express the phenotype ... [more ▼]

The callipyge phenotype is an ovine muscular hypertrophy characterized by polar overdominance: only heterozygous +Mat/CLPGPat animals receiving the CLPG mutation from their father express the phenotype. +Mat/CLPGPat animals are characterized by postnatal, ectopic expression of Delta-like 1 homologue (DLK1) and Paternally expressed gene 11/Retrotransposon-like 1 (PEG11/RTL1) proteins in skeletal muscle. We showed previously in transgenic mice that ectopic expression of DLK1 alone induces a muscular hypertrophy, hence demonstrating a role for DLK1 in determining the callipyge hypertrophy. We herein describe newly generated transgenic mice that ectopically express PEG11 in skeletal muscle, and show that they also exhibit a muscular hypertrophy phenotype. Our data suggest that both DLK1 and PEG11 act together in causing the muscular hypertrophy of callipyge sheep. [less ▲]

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See detailA lysine cluster in domain II of Bacillus subtilis PBP4a plays a role in the membrane attachment of this C1-PBP
Vanden Broeck, Arnaud; Van Der Heiden, Edwige ULg; Sauvage, Eric ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2015)

In PBP4a, a Bacillus subtilis class-C1 penicillin-binding protein (PBP), four clustered lysine (K) residues, K86, K114, K119, and K265, protrude from domain II. Replacement of these amino acids with ... [more ▼]

In PBP4a, a Bacillus subtilis class-C1 penicillin-binding protein (PBP), four clustered lysine (K) residues, K86, K114, K119, and K265, protrude from domain II. Replacement of these amino acids with glutamine (Q) residues by site-directed mutagenesis yielded Mut4KQ PBP4a. When produced in Escherichia coli without its predicted Sec-signal peptide, wildtype (WT) PBP4a was found mainly associated with the host cytoplasmic membrane, whereas Mut4KQ PBP4a remained largely unbound. After purification, the capacities of the two proteins to bind to B. subtilis membranes were compared. The results were similar to those obtained in E. coli: in vitro, a much higher percentage of WT PBP4a than of Mut4KQ PBP4a was found to interact with B. subtilis membranes. Immunodetection of PBP4a in B. subtilis membrane extracts revealed that a processed form of this PBP (as indicated by its size) associates with the B. subtilis cytoplasmic membrane. In the absence of any amphiphilic peptide in PBP4a, the crown of positive charges on the surface of domain II is likely responsible for the cellular localization of this PBP and its attachment to the cytoplasmic membrane. [less ▲]

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See detailA semiquantitative framework for gene regulatory networks: increasing the time and quantitative resolution of Boolean networks
Kerkhofs, Johan ULg; Geris, Liesbet ULg

in PLoS ONE (2015), 10(6), 0130033

Boolean models have been instrumental in predicting general features of gene networks and more recently also as explorative tools in specific biological applications. In this study we introduce a basic ... [more ▼]

Boolean models have been instrumental in predicting general features of gene networks and more recently also as explorative tools in specific biological applications. In this study we introduce a basic quantitative and a limited time resolution to a discrete (Boolean) framework. Quantitative resolution is improved through the employ of normalized variables in unison with an additive approach. Increased time resolution stems from the introduction of two distinct priority classes. Through the implementation of a previously published chondrocyte network and T helper cell network, we show that this addition of quantitative and time resolution broadens the scope of biological behaviour that can be captured by the models. Specifically, the quantitative resolution readily allows models to discern qualitative differences in dosage response to growth factors. The limited time resolution, in turn, can influence the reachability of attractors, delineating the likely long term system behaviour. Importantly, the information required for implementation of these features, such as the nature of an interaction, is typically obtainable from the literature. Nonetheless, a trade-off is always present between additional computational cost of this approach and the likelihood of extending the model’s scope. Indeed, in some cases the inclusion of these features does not yield additional insight. This framework, incorporating increased and readily available time and semi-quantitative resolution, can help in substantiating the litmus test of dynamics for gene networks, firstly by excluding unlikely dynamics and secondly by refining falsifiable predictions on qualitative behaviour. [less ▲]

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See detailChitosan enriched three-dimensional matrix reduces inflammatory and catabolic mediators production by human chondrocytes
Oprenyeszk, Frédéric ULg; Sanchez, Christelle ULg; Dubuc, Jean-Emile et al

in PLoS ONE (2015), 10(5),

This in vitro study investigated the metabolism of human osteoarthritic (OA) chondrocytes encapsulated in a spherical matrix enriched of chitosan. Human OA chondrocytes were encapsulated and cultured for ... [more ▼]

This in vitro study investigated the metabolism of human osteoarthritic (OA) chondrocytes encapsulated in a spherical matrix enriched of chitosan. Human OA chondrocytes were encapsulated and cultured for 28 days either in chitosan-alginate beads or in alginate beads. The beads were formed by slowly passed dropwise either the chitosan 0.6%- alginate 1.2% or the alginate 1.2% solution through a syringe into a 102 mM CaCl2 solution. Beads were analyzed histologically after 28 days. Interleukin (IL)-6 and -8, prostaglandin (PG) E2, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), hyaluronan and aggrecan were quantified directly in the culture supernatant by specific ELISA and nitric oxide (NO) by using a colorimetric method based on the Griess reaction. Hematoxylin and eosin staining showed that chitosan was homogeneously distributed through the matrix and was in direct contact with chondrocytes. The production of IL-6, IL-8 and MMP-3 by chondrocytes significantly decreased in chitosan-alginate beads compared to alginate beads. PGE2 and NO decreased also significantly but only during the first three days of culture. Hyaluronan and aggrecan production tended to increase in chitosan-alginate beads after 28 days of culture. Chitosan-alginate beads reduced the production of inflammatory and catabolic mediators by OA chondrocytes and tended to stimulate the synthesis of cartilage matrix components. These particular effects indicate that chitosan-alginate beads are an interesting scaffold for chondrocytes encapsulation before transplantation to repair cartilage defects. [less ▲]

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See detailRetirement age and the age of onset of Alzheimer’s disease: Results from the ICTUS study
Grotz, Catherine ULg; Letenneur, Luc; Bonsang, Eric ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2015), 10(2), 0115056

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See detailTime-varying respiratory system elastance: a physiological model for patients who are spontaneously breathing.
Chiew, Yeong Shiong; Pretty, Christopher; Docherty, Paul D. et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(1), 0114847

BACKGROUND: Respiratory mechanics models can aid in optimising patient-specific mechanical ventilation (MV), but the applications are limited to fully sedated MV patients who have little or no ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Respiratory mechanics models can aid in optimising patient-specific mechanical ventilation (MV), but the applications are limited to fully sedated MV patients who have little or no spontaneously breathing efforts. This research presents a time-varying elastance (Edrs) model that can be used in spontaneously breathing patients to determine their respiratory mechanics. METHODS: A time-varying respiratory elastance model is developed with a negative elastic component (Edemand), to describe the driving pressure generated during a patient initiated breathing cycle. Data from 22 patients who are partially mechanically ventilated using Pressure Support (PS) and Neurally Adjusted Ventilatory Assist (NAVA) are used to investigate the physiology relevance of the time-varying elastance model and its clinical potential. Edrs of every breathing cycle for each patient at different ventilation modes are presented for comparison. RESULTS: At the start of every breathing cycle initiated by patient, Edrs is < 0. This negativity is attributed from the Edemand due to a positive lung volume intake at through negative pressure in the lung compartment. The mapping of Edrs trajectories was able to give unique information to patients' breathing variability under different ventilation modes. The area under the curve of Edrs (AUCEdrs) for most patients is > 25 cmH2Os/l and thus can be used as an acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) severity indicator. CONCLUSION: The Edrs model captures unique dynamic respiratory mechanics for spontaneously breathing patients with respiratory failure. The model is fully general and is applicable to both fully controlled and partially assisted MV modes. [less ▲]

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See detailGenome-Wide Analysis of In Vivo Binding of the Master Regulator DasR in Streptomyces coelicolor Identifies Novel Non-Canonical Targets
Świątek-Połatyńska, MA; Bucca, G; Laing, E et al

in PLoS ONE (2015)

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See detailAnatomically discrete sex differences in neuroplasticity in zebra finches as reflected by perineuronal nets.
Cornez, Gilles; Ter Haar, Sita M.; Cornil, Charlotte ULg et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(4), 0123199

Large morphological sex differences in the vertebrate brain were initially identified in song control nuclei of oscines. Besides gross differences between volumes of nuclei in males and females, sex ... [more ▼]

Large morphological sex differences in the vertebrate brain were initially identified in song control nuclei of oscines. Besides gross differences between volumes of nuclei in males and females, sex differences also concern the size and dendritic arborization of neurons and various neurochemical markers, such as the calcium-binding protein parvalbumin (PV). Perineuronal nets (PNN) of the extracellular matrix are aggregates of different compounds, mainly chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans, that surround subsets of neurons, often expressing PV. PNN develop in zebra finches song control nuclei around the end of the sensitive period for song learning and tutor deprivation, known to delay the end of the song learning sensitive period, decreases the numbers of PNN in HVC. We demonstrate here the existence in zebra finches of a major sex difference (males > females) affecting the number of PNN (especially those surrounding PV-positive cells) in HVC and to a smaller extent the robust nucleus of the arcopallium, RA, the two main nuclei controlling song production. These differences were not present in Area X and LMAN, the lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior nidopallium. A dense expression of material immunoreactive for chondroitin sulfate was also detected in several nuclei of the auditory and visual pathways. This material was often organized in perineuronal rings but quantification of these PNN did not reveal any sex difference with the exception that the percentage of PNN surrounding PV-ir cells in the dorsal lateral mesencephalic nucleus, MLd, was larger in females than in males, a sex difference in the opposite direction compared to what is seen in HVC and RA. These data confirm and extend previous studies demonstrating the sex difference affecting PNN in HVC-RA by showing that this sex difference is anatomically specific and does not concern visual or auditory pathways. [less ▲]

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See detailStreptococcus pneumoniae GAPDH Is Released by Cell Lysis and Interacts with Peptidoglycan.
Terrasse, Remi; Amoroso, Ana Maria ULg; Vernet, Thierry et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(4), 0125377

Release of conserved cytoplasmic proteins is widely spread among Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Because these proteins display additional functions when located at the bacterial surface, they ... [more ▼]

Release of conserved cytoplasmic proteins is widely spread among Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Because these proteins display additional functions when located at the bacterial surface, they have been qualified as moonlighting proteins. The GAPDH is a glycolytic enzyme which plays an important role in the virulence processes of pathogenic microorganisms like bacterial invasion and host immune system modulation. However, GAPDH, like other moonlighting proteins, cannot be secreted through active secretion systems since they do not contain an N-terminal predicted signal peptide. In this work, we investigated the mechanism of GAPDH export and surface retention in Streptococcus pneumoniae, a major human pathogen. We addressed the role of the major autolysin LytA in the delivery process of GAPDH to the cell surface. Pneumococcal lysis is abolished in the DeltalytA mutant strain or when 1% choline chloride is added in the culture media. We showed that these conditions induce a marked reduction in the amount of surface-associated GAPDH. These data suggest that the presence of GAPDH at the surface of pneumococcal cells depends on the LytA-mediated lysis of a fraction of the cell population. Moreover, we demonstrated that pneumococcal GAPDH binds to the bacterial cell wall independently of the presence of the teichoic acids component, supporting peptidoglycan as a ligand to surface GAPDH. Finally, we showed that peptidoglycan-associated GAPDH recruits C1q from human serum but does not activate the complement pathway. [less ▲]

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See detailThe alpha2,3-Sialyltransferase Encoded by Myxoma Virus Is a Virulence Factor that Contributes to Immunosuppression.
Boutard, Berengere; Vankerckhove, Sophie; Markine-Goriaynoff, Nicolas et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(2), 0118806

Myxoma virus (MYXV) induces a lethal disease called Myxomatosis in European rabbits. MYXV is one of the rare viruses that encodes an alpha2,3-sialyltransferase through its M138L gene. In this study, we ... [more ▼]

Myxoma virus (MYXV) induces a lethal disease called Myxomatosis in European rabbits. MYXV is one of the rare viruses that encodes an alpha2,3-sialyltransferase through its M138L gene. In this study, we showed that although the absence of the enzyme was not associated with any in vitro deficit, the M138L deficient strains are highly attenuated in vivo. Indeed, while all rabbits infected with the parental and the revertant strains died within 9 days post-infection from severe myxomatosis, all but one rabbit inoculated with the M138L deficient strains survived the infection. In primary lesions, this resistance to the infection was associated with an increased ability of innate immune cells, mostly neutrophils, to migrate to the site of virus replication at 4 days post-infection. This was followed by the development of a better specific immune response against MYXV. Indeed, at day 9 post-infection, we observed an important proliferation of lymphocytes and an intense congestion of blood vessels in lymph nodes after M138L knockouts infection. Accordingly, in these rabbits, we observed an intense mononuclear cell infiltration throughout the dermis in primary lesions and higher titers of neutralizing antibodies. Finally, this adaptive immune response provided protection to these surviving rabbits against a challenge with the MYXV WT strain. Altogether, these results show that expression of the M138L gene contributes directly or indirectly to immune evasion by MYXV. In the future, these results could help us to better understand the pathogenesis of myxomatosis but also the importance of glycans in regulation of immune responses. [less ▲]

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See detailElevated Plasma Soluble ST2 Is Associated with Heart Failure Symptoms and Outcome in Aortic Stenosis.
LANCELLOTTI, Patrizio ULg; DULGHERU, Raluca Elena ULg; Magne, Julien et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(9), 0138940

B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is often used as a complementary finding in the diagnostic work-up of patients with aortic stenosis (AS). Whether soluble ST2, a new biomarker of cardiac stretch, is ... [more ▼]

B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is often used as a complementary finding in the diagnostic work-up of patients with aortic stenosis (AS). Whether soluble ST2, a new biomarker of cardiac stretch, is associated with symptomatic status and outcome in asymptomatic AS is unknown. sST2 and BNP levels were measured in 86 patients (74+/-13 years; 59 asymptomatic, 69%) with AS (<1.5 cm2) and preserved left ventricular ejection fraction who were followed-up for 26+/-16 months. Both BNP and sST2 were associated with NYHA class but sST2 (>23 ng/mL, AUC = 0.68, p<0.01) was more accurate to identify asymptomatic patients or those who developed symptoms during follow-up. sST2 was independently related to left atrial index (p<0.0001) and aortic valve area (p = 0.004; model R2 = 0.32). A modest correlation was found with BNP (r = 0.4, p<0.01). During follow-up, 29 asymptomatic patients (34%) developed heart failure symptoms. With multivariable analysis, peak aortic jet velocity (HR = 2.7, p = 0.007) and sST2 level (HR = 1.04, p = 0.03) were independent predictors of cardiovascular events. In AS, sST2 levels could provide complementary information regarding symptomatic status, new onset heart failure symptoms and outcome. It might become a promising biomarker in these patients. [less ▲]

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See detailIdentification of the neutralizing epitopes of Merkel cell polyomavirus major capsid protein within the BC and EF surface loops.
Fleury, Maxime J. J.; Nicol, Jérôme ULg; Samimi, Mahtab et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(3), 0121751

Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) is the first polyomavirus clearly associated with a human cancer, i.e. the Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). Polyomaviruses are small naked DNA viruses that induce a robust ... [more ▼]

Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) is the first polyomavirus clearly associated with a human cancer, i.e. the Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). Polyomaviruses are small naked DNA viruses that induce a robust polyclonal antibody response against the major capsid protein (VP1). However, the polyomavirus VP1 capsid protein epitopes have not been identified to date. The aim of this study was to identify the neutralizing epitopes of the MCPyV capsid. For this goal, four VP1 mutants were generated by insertional mutagenesis in the BC, DE, EF and HI loops between amino acids 88-89, 150-151, 189-190, and 296-297, respectively. The reactivity of these mutants and wild-type VLPs was then investigated with anti-VP1 monoclonal antibodies and anti-MCPyV positive human sera. The findings together suggest that immunodominant conformational neutralizing epitopes are present at the surface of the MCPyV VLPs and are clustered within BC and EF loops. [less ▲]

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See detailThe aerodynamic cost of head morphology in bats: maybe not as bad as it seems
Vanderelst, Dieter; Peremans, Herbert; Abdul Razak, Norizham et al

in PLoS ONE (2015), 10(3), 0118545

At first sight, echolocating bats face a difficult trade-off. As flying animals, they would benefit from a streamlined geometric shape to reduce aerodynamic drag and increase flight efficiency. However ... [more ▼]

At first sight, echolocating bats face a difficult trade-off. As flying animals, they would benefit from a streamlined geometric shape to reduce aerodynamic drag and increase flight efficiency. However, as echolocating animals, their pinnae generate the acoustic cues necessary for navigation and foraging. Moreover, species emitting sound through their nostrils often feature elaborate noseleaves that help in focussing the emitted echolocation pulses. Both pinnae and noseleaves reduce the streamlined character of a bat’s morphology. It is generally assumed that by compromising the streamlined charactered of the geometry, the head morphology generates substantial drag, thereby reducing flight efficiency. In contrast, it has also been suggested that the pinnae of bats generate lift forces counteracting the detrimental effect of the increased drag. However, very little data exist on the aerodynamic properties of bat pinnae and noseleaves. In this work, the aerodynamic forces generated by the heads of seven species of bats, including noseleaved bats, are measured by testing detailed 3D models in a wind tunnel. Models of Myotis daubentonii, Macrophyllum macrophyllum, Micronycteris microtis, Eptesicus fuscus, Rhinolophus formosae, Rhinolophus rouxi and Phyllostomus discolor are tested. The results confirm that non-streamlined facial morphologies yield considerable drag forces but also generate substantial lift. The net effect is a slight increase in the lift-to-drag ratio. Therefore, there is no evidence of high aerodynamic costs associated with the morphology of bat heads [less ▲]

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