The maintenance of mixed mating was studied in Shorea curtisii, a dominant and widely distributed dipterocarp species in Southeast Asia. Paternity and hierarchical Bayesian analyses were used to estimate the parameters of pollen dispersal kernel, male fecundity and self-pollen affinity. We hypothesized that partial self incompatibility and/or inbreeding depression reduce the number of selfed seeds if the mother trees receive sufficient pollen, whereas reproductive assurance increases the numbers of selfed seeds under low amounts of pollen. Comparison of estimated parameters of self-pollen affinity between high density undisturbed and low density selectively logged forests indicated that self-pollen was selectively excluded from mating in the former, probably due to partial self incompatibility or inbreeding depression until seed maturation. By estimating the self-pollen affinity of each mother tree in both forests, mother trees with higher amount of self-pollen indicated significance of self-pollen affinity with negative estimated value. The exclusion of self-fertilization and/or inbreeding depression during seed maturation occurred in the mother trees with large female fecundity, whereas reproductive assurance increased self-fertilization in the mother trees with lower female fecundity.
Objectives: To develop and validate Osteoporosis Prevention and Awareness Tool (OPAAT) in
Methods: The OPAAT was modified from the Malaysian Osteoporosis Knowledge Tool and developed from an exploratory study on patients. Face and content validity was established by
an expert panel. The OPAAT consists of 30 items, categorized into three domains. A higher score indicates higher knowledge level. English speaking non-osteoporotic postmenopausal women 50 years of age and pharmacists were included in the study.
Results: A total of 203 patients and 31 pharmacists were recruited. Factor analysis extracted three
domains. Flesch reading ease was 59.2. The mean±SD accuracy rate was 0.60±0.22 (range: 0.26-0.94). The Cronbach’s α for each domain ranged from 0.286-0.748. All items were highly correlated (Spearman’s rho: 0.761-0.990, p<0.05), with no significant change in the overall test-retest scores, indicating that OPAAT has achieved stable reliability. Pharmacists had higher knowledge score than patients (80.9±8.7vs63.6±17.4, p<0.001), indicating
that the OPAAT was able to discriminate between the knowledge levels of pharmacists and patients.
Conclusion: The OPAAT was found to be a valid and reliable instrument for assessing patient’s knowledge
about osteoporosis and its prevention in Malaysia. The OPAAT can be used to identify individuals in need of osteoporosis educational intervention.
The cathepsin B inhibitor, benzyloxycarbonyl-phenylalanine-alanine-fluoromethyl ketone (z-FA-FMK) readily inhibits anti-CD3-induced human T cell proliferation, whereas the analogue benzyloxycarbonyl-phenylalanine-alanine-diazomethyl ketone (z-FA-DMK) had no effect. In contrast, benzyloxycarbonyl-phenylalanine-alanine-chloromethyl ketone (z-FA-CMK) was toxic. The inhibition of T cell proliferation mediated by z-FA-FMK requires not only the FMK moiety, but also the benzyloxycarbonyl group at the N-terminal, suggesting some degree of specificity in z-FA-FMK-induced inhibition of primary T cell proliferation. We showed that z-FA-FMK treatment leads to a decrease in intracellular glutathione (GSH) with a concomitant increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels in activated T cells. The inhibition of anti-CD3-induced T cell proliferation mediated by z-FA-FMK was abolished by the presence of low molecular weight thiols such as GSH, N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and L-cysteine, whereas D-cysteine which cannot be metabolised to GSH has no effect. The inhibition of anti-CD3-induced up-regulation of CD25 and CD69 expression mediated by z-FA-FMK was also attenuated in the presence of exogenous GSH. Similar to cell proliferation, GSH, NAC and L-cysteine but not D-cysteine, completely restored the processing of caspase-8 and caspase-3 to their respective subunits in z-FA-FMK-treated activated T cells. Our collective results demonstrated that the inhibition of T cell activation and proliferation mediated by z-FA-FMK is due to oxidative stress via the depletion of GSH.
Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are evolutionarily conserved antimicrobial MR1-restricted CD8(+) T cells co-expressing the semi-invariant TCR Vα7.2, and are numerous in the blood and mucosal tissues of humans. MAIT cells appear to undergo exhaustion in chronic viral infections. However, their role in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) mono-infection and HIV/tuberculosis (TB) co-infection have seldom been elaborately investigated. We conducted a cross-sectional study to investigate the frequencies and phenotypes of CD161(++)CD8(+) T cells among anti-retroviral therapy (ART)/anti-TB therapy (ATT) treatment-naïve HIV/TB co-infected, ART/TB treated HIV/TB co-infected, ART naïve HIV-infected, ART-treated HIV-infected patients, and HIV negative healthy controls (HCs) by flow cytometry. Our data revealed that the frequency of MAIT cells was severely depleted in HIV mono- and HIV/TB co-infections. Further, PD-1 expression on MAIT cells was significantly increased in HIV mono- and HIV-TB co-infected patients. The frequency of MAIT cells did not show any significant increase despite the initiation of ART and/or ATT. Majority of the MAIT cells in HCs showed a significant increase in CCR6 expression as compared to HIV/TB co-infections. No marked difference was seen with expressions of chemokine co-receptor CCR5 and CD103 among the study groups. Decrease of CCR6 expression appears to explain why HIV-infected patients display weakened mucosal immune responses.
The malaria parasite Plasmodium knowlesi, previously associated only with infection of macaques, is now known to infect humans as well and has become a significant public health problem in Southeast Asia. This species should therefore be targeted in vaccine and therapeutic strategies against human malaria. Apical Membrane Antigen 1 (AMA1), which plays a role in Plasmodium merozoite invasion of the erythrocyte, is currently being pursued in human vaccine trials against P. falciparum. Recent vaccine trials in macaques using the P. knowlesi orthologue PkAMA1 have shown that it protects against infection by this parasite species and thus should be developed for human vaccination as well. Here, we present the crystal structure of Domains 1 and 2 of the PkAMA1 ectodomain, and of its complex with the invasion-inhibitory monoclonal antibody R31C2. The Domain 2 (D2) loop, which is displaced upon binding the Rhoptry Neck Protein 2 (RON2) receptor, makes significant contacts with the antibody. R31C2 inhibits binding of the Rhoptry Neck Protein 2 (RON2) receptor by steric blocking of the hydrophobic groove and by preventing the displacement of the D2 loop which is essential for exposing the complete binding site on AMA1. R31C2 recognizes a non-polymorphic epitope and should thus be cross-strain reactive. PkAMA1 is much less polymorphic than the P. falciparum and P. vivax orthologues. Unlike these two latter species, there are no polymorphic sites close to the RON2-binding site of PkAMA1, suggesting that P. knowlesi has not developed a mechanism of immune escape from the host's humoral response to AMA1.
Digital image watermarking is an important technique for the authentication of multimedia content and copyright protection. Conventional digital image watermarking techniques are often vulnerable to geometric distortions such as Rotation, Scaling, and Translation (RST). These distortions desynchronize the watermark information embedded in an image and thus disable watermark detection. To solve this problem, we propose an RST invariant domain watermarking technique based on fractional calculus. We have constructed a domain using Heaviside function of order alpha (HFOA). The HFOA models the signal as a polynomial for watermark embedding. The watermark is embedded in all the coefficients of the image. We have also constructed a fractional variance formula using fractional Gaussian field. A cross correlation method based on the fractional Gaussian field is used for watermark detection. Furthermore the proposed method enables blind watermark detection where the original image is not required during the watermark detection thereby making it more practical than non-blind watermarking techniques. Experimental results confirmed that the proposed technique has a high level of robustness.
Elucidating the phylogenetic relationships of the current but problematic Dasyatidae (Order Myliobatiformes) was the first priority of the current study. Here, we studied three molecular gene markers of 43 species (COI gene), 33 species (ND2 gene) and 34 species (RAG1 gene) of stingrays to draft out the phylogenetic tree of the order. Nine character states were identified and used to confirm the molecularly constructed phylogenetic trees. Eight or more clades (at different hierarchical level) were identified for COI, ND2 and RAG1 genes in the Myliobatiformes including four clades containing members of the present Dasyatidae, thus rendering the latter non-monophyletic. The uncorrected p-distance between these four 'Dasytidae' clades when compared to the distance between formally known families confirmed that these four clades should be elevated to four separate families. We suggest a revision of the present classification, retaining the Dasyatidae (Dasyatis and Taeniurops species) but adding three new families namely, Neotrygonidae (Neotrygon and Taeniura species), Himanturidae (Himantura species) and Pastinachidae (Pastinachus species). Our result indicated the need to further review the classification of Dasyatis microps. By resolving the non-monophyletic problem, the suite of nine character states enables the natural classification of the Myliobatiformes into at least thirteen families based on morphology.
Termites and ants contribute more to animal biomass in tropical rain forests than any other single group and perform vital ecosystem functions. Although ants prey on termites, at the community level the linkage between these groups is poorly understood. Thus, assessing the distribution and specificity of ant termitophagy is of considerable interest. We describe an approach for quantifying ant-termite food webs by sequencing termite DNA (cytochrome c oxidase subunit II, COII) from ant guts and apply this to a soil-dwelling ant community from tropical rain forest in Gabon. We extracted DNA from 215 ants from 15 species. Of these, 17.2 % of individuals had termite DNA in their guts, with BLAST analysis confirming the identity of 34.1 % of these termites to family level or better. Although ant species varied in detection of termite DNA, ranging from 63 % (5/7; Camponotus sp. 1) to 0 % (0/7; Ponera sp. 1), there was no evidence (with small sample sizes) for heterogeneity in termite consumption across ant taxa, and no evidence for species-specific ant-termite predation. In all three ant species with identifiable termite DNA in multiple individuals, multiple termite species were represented. Furthermore, the two termite species that were detected on multiple occasions in ant guts were in both cases found in multiple ant species, suggesting that ant-termite food webs are not strongly compartmentalised. However, two ant species were found to consume only Anoplotermes-group termites, indicating possible predatory specialisation at a higher taxonomic level. Using a laboratory feeding test, we were able to detect termite COII sequences in ant guts up to 2 h after feeding, indicating that our method only detects recent feeding events. Our data provide tentative support for the hypothesis that unspecialised termite predation by ants is widespread and highlight the use of molecular approaches for future studies of ant-termite food webs.
A centrifugal compact disc (CD) microfluidic platform with reservoirs, micro-channels, and valves can be employed for implementing a complete immunoassay. Detection or biosensor chambers are either coated for immuno-interaction or a biosensor chip is inserted in them. On microfluidic CDs featuring such multi-step chemical/biological processes, the biosensor chamber must be repeatedly filled with fluids such as enzymes solutions, buffers, and washing solutions. After each filling step, the biosensor chamber needs to be evacuated by a passive siphoning process to prepare it for the next step in the assay. However, rotational speed dependency and limited space on a CD are two big obstacles to performing such repetitive filling and siphoning steps. In this work, a unique thermo-pneumatic (TP) Push-Pull pumping method is employed to provide a superior alternative biosensor chamber filling and evacuation technique. The proposed technique is demonstrated on two CD designs. The first design features a simple two-step microfluidic process to demonstrate the evacuation technique, while the second design shows the filling and evacuation technique with an example sequence for an actual immunoassay. In addition, the performance of the filling and evacuation technique as a washing step is also evaluated quantitatively and compared to the conventional manual bench top washing method. The two designs and the performance evaluation demonstrate that the technique is simple to implement, reliable, easy to control, and allows for repeated push-pulls and thus filling and emptying of the biosensor chamber. Furthermore, by addressing the issue of rotational speed dependency and limited space concerns in implementing repetitive filling and evacuation steps, this newly introduced technique increases the flexibility of the microfluidic CD platform to perform multi-step biological and chemical processes.
Obesity during pregnancy contributes to the development of metabolic disorders in offspring. Maternal exercise may limit gestational weight gain and ameliorate these programming effects. We previously showed benefits of post-weaning voluntary exercise in offspring from obese dams. Here we examined whether voluntary exercise during pregnancy influences lipid and glucose homeostasis in muscle and fat in offspring of both lean and obese dams. Female Sprague-Dawley rats were fed chow (C) or high fat (F) diet for 6 weeks before mating. Half underwent voluntary exercise (CE/FE) with a running wheel introduced 10 days prior to mating and available until the dams delivered; others remained sedentary (CS/FS). Male and female pups were killed at postnatal day (PND)19 and retroperitoneal fat and gastrocnemius muscle were collected for gene expression. Lean and obese dams achieved similar modest levels of exercise. At PND1, both male and female pups from exercised lean dams were significantly lighter (CE versus CS), with no effect in those from obese dams. At PND19, maternal obesity significantly increased offspring body weight and adiposity, with no effect of maternal exercise. Exercise significantly reduced insulin concentrations in males (CE/FE versus CS/FS), with reduced glucose in male FE pups. In males, maternal obesity significantly decreased muscle myogenic differentiation 1 (MYOD1) and glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT4) mRNA expressions (FS vs CS); these were normalized by exercise. Maternal exercise upregulated adipose GLUT4, interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma coactivator 1 alpha (PGC1α) mRNA expression in offspring of dams consuming chow. Modest voluntary exercise during pregnancy was associated with lower birth weight in pups from lean dams. Maternal exercise appeared to decrease the metabolic risk induced by maternal obesity, improving insulin/glucose metabolism, with greater effects in male than female offspring.
Smart grid (SG) application is being used nowadays to meet the demand of increasing power consumption. SG application is considered as a perfect solution for combining renewable energy resources and electrical grid by means of creating a bidirectional communication channel between the two systems. In this paper, three SG applications applicable to renewable energy system, namely, distribution automation (DA), distributed energy system-storage (DER) and electrical vehicle (EV), are investigated in order to study their suitability in Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. To compensate the weakness in the existing scheduling algorithms, a novel bandwidth estimation and allocation technique and a new scheduling algorithm are proposed. The technique allocates available network resources based on application's priority, whereas the algorithm makes scheduling decision based on dynamic weighting factors of multi-criteria to satisfy the demands (delay, past average throughput and instantaneous transmission rate) of quality of service. Finally, the simulation results demonstrate that the proposed mechanism achieves higher throughput, lower delay and lower packet loss rate for DA and DER as well as provide a degree of service for EV. In terms of fairness, the proposed algorithm shows 3%, 7 % and 9% better performance compared to exponential rule (EXP-Rule), modified-largest weighted delay first (M-LWDF) and exponential/PF (EXP/PF), respectively.
Plasmodium knowlesi is a newly described zoonosis that causes malaria in the human population that can be severe and fatal. The study of P. knowlesi parasites from human clinical isolates is relatively new and, in order to obtain maximum information from patient sample collections, we explored the possibility of generating P. knowlesi genome sequences from archived clinical isolates. Our patient sample collection consisted of frozen whole blood samples that contained excessive human DNA contamination and, in that form, were not suitable for parasite genome sequencing. We developed a method to reduce the amount of human DNA in the thawed blood samples in preparation for high throughput parasite genome sequencing using Illumina HiSeq and MiSeq sequencing platforms. Seven of fifteen samples processed had sufficiently pure P. knowlesi DNA for whole genome sequencing. The reads were mapped to the P. knowlesi H strain reference genome and an average mapping of 90% was obtained. Genes with low coverage were removed leaving 4623 genes for subsequent analyses. Previously we identified a DNA sequence dimorphism on a small fragment of the P. knowlesi normocyte binding protein xa gene on chromosome 14. We used the genome data to assemble full-length Pknbpxa sequences and discovered that the dimorphism extended along the gene. An in-house algorithm was developed to detect SNP sites co-associating with the dimorphism. More than half of the P. knowlesi genome was dimorphic, involving genes on all chromosomes and suggesting that two distinct types of P. knowlesi infect the human population in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. We use P. knowlesi clinical samples to demonstrate that Plasmodium DNA from archived patient samples can produce high quality genome data. We show that analyses, of even small numbers of difficult clinical malaria isolates, can generate comprehensive genomic information that will improve our understanding of malaria parasite diversity and pathobiology.
Members of the Mycobacterium terrae complex are slow-growing, non-chromogenic acid-fast bacilli found in the natural environment and occasionally in clinical material. These genetically closely-related members are difficult to differentiate by conventional phenotypic and molecular tests. In this paper we describe the use of whole genome data for the identification of four strains genetically similar to Mycobacterium sp. JDM601, a newly identified member of the M. terrae complex. Phylogenetic information from the alignment of genome-wide orthologous genes and single nucleotide polymorphisms show consistent clustering of the four strains together with M. sp. JDM601 into a distinct clade separate from other rapid and slow growing mycobacterial species. More detailed inter-strain comparisons using average nucleotide identity, tetra-nucleotide frequencies and analysis of synteny indicate that our strains are closely related to but not of the same species as M. sp. JDM601. Besides the 16S rRNA signature described previously for the M. terrae complex, five more hypothetical proteins were found that are potentially useful for the rapid identification of mycobacterial species belonging to the M. terrae complex. This paper illustrates the versatile utilization of whole genome data for the delineation of new bacterial species and introduces four new genomospecies to add to current members in the M. terrae complex.
Recent evidence suggests that suicidal ideation is increased among university students, it is essential to increase our knowledge concerning the etiology of suicidal ideation among university students. This study was conducted to examine the relationships between problem-solving skills appraisal, hardiness, and suicidal ideation among university students. In addition, this study was conducted to examine problem-solving skills appraisal (including the three components of problem-solving confidence, approach-avoidance style, and personal control of emotion) as a potential mediator between hardiness and suicidal ideation.
Glabridin is an isoflavan from licorice root, which is a common component of herbal remedies used for treatment of menopausal symptoms. Past studies have shown that glabridin resulted in favorable outcome similar to 17β-estradiol (17β-E2), suggesting a possible role as an estrogen replacement therapy (ERT). This study aims to evaluate the estrogenic effect of glabridin in an in-vitro endometrial cell line -Ishikawa cells via alkaline phosphatase (ALP) assay and ER-α-SRC-1-co-activator assay. Its effect on cell proliferation was also evaluated using Thiazoyl blue tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. The results showed that glabridin activated the ER-α-SRC-1-co-activator complex and displayed a dose-dependent increase in estrogenic activity supporting its use as an ERT. However, glabridin also induced an increase in cell proliferation. When glabridin was treated together with 17β-E2, synergistic estrogenic effect was observed with a slight decrease in cell proliferation as compared to treatment by 17β-E2 alone. This suggest that the combination might be better suited for providing high estrogenic effects with lower incidences of endometrial cancer that is associated with 17β-E2.
The non-stereospecific α-haloalkanoic acid dehalogenase E (DehE) degrades many halogenated compounds but is ineffective against β-halogenated compounds such as 3-chloropropionic acid (3CP). Using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and site-directed mutagenesis we show here that introducing the mutation S188V into DehE improves substrate specificity towards 3CP. MD simulations showed that residues W34, F37, and S188 of DehE were crucial for substrate binding. DehE showed strong binding ability for D-2-chloropropionic acid (D-2CP) and L-2-chloropropionic acid (L-2CP) but less affinity for 3CP. This reduced affinity was attributed to weak hydrogen bonding between 3CP and residue S188, as the carboxylate of 3CP forms rapidly interconverting hydrogen bonds with the backbone amide and side chain hydroxyl group of S188. By replacing S188 with a valine residue, we reduced the inter-molecular distance and stabilised bonding of the carboxylate of 3CP to hydrogens of the substrate-binding residues. Therefore, the S188V can act on 3CP, although its affinity is less strong than for D-2CP and L-2CP as assessed by Km. This successful alteration of DehE substrate specificity may promote the application of protein engineering strategies to other dehalogenases, thereby generating valuable tools for future bioremediation technologies.
Rice straw/magnetic nanocomposites (RS/Fe3O4-NCs) were prepared via co-precipitation method for removal of Pb(II) and Cu(II) from aqueous solutions. Response surface methodology (RSM) was utilized to find the optimum conditions for removal of ions. The effects of three independent variables including initial ion concentration, removal time, and adsorbent dosage were investigated on the maximum adsorption of Pb (II) and Cu (II). The optimum conditions for the adsorption of Pb(II) and Cu(II) were obtained (100 and 60 mg/L) of initial ion concentration, (41.96 and 59.35 s) of removal time and 0.13 g of adsorbent for both ions, respectively. The maximum removal efficiencies of Pb(II) and Cu(II) were obtained 96.25% and 75.54%, respectively. In the equilibrium isotherm study, the adsorption data fitted well with the Langmuir isotherm model. The adsorption kinetics was best depicted by the pseudo-second order model. Desorption experiments showed adsorbent can be reused successfully for three adsorption-desorption cycles.
INTRODUCTION: Most studies have reported barriers to guideline usage mainly from doctors' perspective; few have reported the perspective of other stakeholders. This study aimed to determine the views and barriers to adherence of a national clinical practice guideline (CPG) on management of hypertension from the perspectives of policymakers, doctors and allied healthcare professionals.
METHODS: This study used a qualitative approach with purposive sampling. Seven in depth interviews and six focus group discussions were conducted with 35 healthcare professionals (policy makers, doctors, pharmacists and nurses) at a teaching hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, between February and June 2013. All interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and checked. Thematic approach was used to analyse the data.
RESULTS: Two main themes and three sub-themes emerged from this study. The main themes were (1) variation in the use of CPG and (2) barriers to adherence to CPG. The three sub-themes for barriers were issues inherent to the CPG, systems and policy that is not supportive of CPG use, and attitudes and behaviour of stakeholders. The main users of the CPG were the primary care doctors. Pharmacists only partially use the guidelines, while nurses and policy makers were not using the CPG at all. Participants had suggested few strategies to improve usage and adherence to CPG. First, update the CPG regularly and keep its content simple with specific sections for allied health workers. Second, use technology to facilitate CPG accessibility and provide protected time for implementation of CPG recommendations. Third, incorporate local CPG in professional training, link CPG adherence to key performance indicators and provide incentives for its use.
CONCLUSIONS: Barriers to the use of CPG hypertension management span across all stakeholders. The development and implementation of CPG focused mainly on doctors with lack of involvement of other healthcare stakeholders. Guidelines should be made simple, current, reliable, accessible, inclusive of all stakeholders and with good policy support.
While healthcare costs for rotavirus gastroenteritis requiring hospitalization may be burdensome on households in Malaysia, exploration on the distribution and catastrophic impact of these expenses on households are lacking.
Arginine vasopressin (AVP) is synthesised in magnocellular neurons (MCNs) of supraoptic nucleus (SON) and paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus. In response to the hyperosmotic stressors of dehydration (complete fluid deprivation, DH) or salt loading (drinking 2% salt solution, SL), AVP synthesis increases in MCNs, which over-burdens the protein folding machinery in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). ER stress and the unfolded protein response (UPR) are signaling pathways that improve ER function in response to the accumulation of misfold/unfold protein. We asked whether an ER stress response was activated in the SON and PVN of DH and SL rats. We observed increased mRNA expression for the immunoglobulin heavy chain binding protein (BiP), activating transcription factor 4 (Atf4), C/EBP-homologous protein (Chop), and cAMP responsive element binding protein 3 like 1 (Creb3l1) in both SON and PVN of DH and SL rats. Although we found no changes in the splicing pattern of X box-binding protein 1 (Xbp1), an increase in the level of the unspliced form of Xbp1 (Xbp1U) was observed in DH and SL rats. CREB3L1, a novel ER stress inducer, has been shown to be activated by ER stress to regulate the expression of target genes. We have previously shown that CREB3L1 is a transcriptional regulator of the AVP gene; however, a role for CREB3L1 in the response to ER stress has yet to be investigated in MCNs. Here, we used lentiviral vectors to introduce a dominant negative form of CREB3L1 (CREB3L1DN) in the rat SON. Expression of CREB3L1DN in the SON decreased Chop and Xbp1U mRNA levels, but not BiP and Atf4 transcript expression. CREB3L1 is thus implicated as a transcriptional mediator of the ER stress response in the osmotically stimulated SON.