Keppen-Lubinsky syndrome (KPLBS) is a rare disease mainly characterized by severe developmental delay and intellectual disability, microcephaly, large prominent eyes, a narrow nasal bridge, a tented upper lip, a high palate, an open mouth, tightly adherent skin, an aged appearance, and severe generalized lipodystrophy. We sequenced the exomes of three unrelated individuals affected by KPLBS and found de novo heterozygous mutations in KCNJ6 (GIRK2), which encodes an inwardly rectifying potassium channel and maps to the Down syndrome critical region between DIRK1A and DSCR4. In particular, two individuals shared an in-frame heterozygous deletion of three nucleotides (c.455_457del) leading to the loss of one amino acid (p.Thr152del). The third individual was heterozygous for a missense mutation (c.460G>A) which introduces an amino acid change from glycine to serine (p.Gly154Ser). In agreement with animal models, the present data suggest that these mutations severely impair the correct functioning of this potassium channel. Overall, these results establish KPLBS as a channelopathy and suggest that KCNJ6 (GIRK2) could also be a candidate gene for other lipodystrophies. We hope that these results will prompt investigations in this unexplored class of inwardly rectifying K(+) channels.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) directly regulate gene expression at a post-transcriptional level and represent an attractive therapeutic target for a wide range of diseases. Here, we report a novel strategy for delivering miRNAs to endothelial cells (ECs) to regulate angiogenesis, using polymer functionalized carbon nanotubes (CNTs). CNTs were coated with two different polymers, polyethyleneimine (PEI) or polyamidoamine dendrimer (PAMAM), followed by conjugation of miR-503 oligonucleotides as recognized regulators of angiogenesis. We demonstrated a reduced toxicity for both polymer-coated CNTs, compared with pristine CNTs or polymers alone. Moreover, polymer-coated CNT stabilized miR-503 oligonucleotides and allowed their efficient delivery to ECs. The functionality of PAMAM-CNT-miR-503 complexes was further demonstrated in ECs through regulation of target genes, cell proliferation and angiogenic sprouting and in a mouse model of angiogenesis. This comprehensive series of experiments demonstrates that the use of polyamine-functionalized CNTs to deliver miRNAs is a novel and effective means to regulate angiogenesis.
Reprogramming of human fibroblasts into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) leads to mitochondrial rejuvenation, making iPSCs a candidate model to study the mitochondrial biology during stemness and differentiation. At present, it is generally accepted that iPSCs can be maintained and propagated indefinitely in culture, but no specific studies have addressed this issue. In our study, we investigated features related to the 'biological age' of iPSCs, culturing and analyzing iPSCs kept for prolonged periods in vitro. We have demonstrated that aged iPSCs present an increased number of mitochondria per cell with an altered mitochondrial membrane potential and fail to properly undergo in vitro neurogenesis. In aged iPSCs we have also found an altered expression of genes relevant to mitochondria biogenesis. Overall, our results shed light on the mitochondrial biology of young and aged iPSCs and explore how an altered mitochondrial status may influence neuronal differentiation. Our work suggests to deepen the understanding of the iPSCs biology before considering their use in clinical applications.
Recent findings in nanomedicine have revealed that carbon nanotubes (CNTs) can be used as potential drug carriers, therapeutic agents and diagnostics tools. Moreover, due to their ability to cross cellular membranes, their nanosize dimension, high surface area and relatively good biocompatibility, CNTs have also been employed as a novel gene delivery vector system. In our previous work, we functionalized CNTs with two polyamine polymers, polyethyleneimine (PEI) and polyamidoamine dendrimer (PAMAM). These compounds have low cytotoxicity, ability to conjugate microRNAs (such as miR-503) and, at the same time, transfect efficiently endothelial cells. The parameters contributing to the good efficiency of transfection that we observed were not investigated in detail. In fact, the diameter and length of CNTs are important parameters to be taken into account when evaluating the effects on drug delivery efficiency. In order to investigate the biophysical and biological contributions of polymer-coated CNTs in delivery of miRNAs to human cells, we decided to investigate three different preparations, characterized by different dimensions and aspect ratios. In particular, we took into account very small CNTs, a suspension of CNTs starting from the commercial product and a 2D material based on CNTs (ie, buckypapers [BPs]) to examine the transfection efficiency of a rigid scaffold. In conclusion, we extensively investigated the biophysical and biological contributions of polyamine-coated CNTs and bidimensional BPs in the delivery of miRNAs to human cells, in order to optimize the transfection efficiency of these compounds to be employed as efficient drug delivery vectors in biomedical applications.
Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS), Small Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) are physical techniques widely employed to characterize the morphology and the structure of vesicles such as liposomes or human extracellular vesicles (exosomes). Bacterial extracellular vesicles are similar in size to human exosomes, although their function and membrane properties have not been elucidated in such detail as in the case of exosomes. Here, we applied the above cited techniques, in synergy with the thermodynamic characterization of the vesicles lipid membrane using a turbidimetric technique to the study of vesicles produced by Gram-negative bacteria (Outer Membrane Vesicles, OMVs) grown at different temperatures. This study demonstrated that our combined approach is useful to discriminate vesicles of different origin or coming from bacteria cultured under different experimental conditions. We envisage that in a near future the techniques employed in our work will be further implemented to discriminate complex mixtures of bacterial vesicles, thus showing great promises for biomedical or diagnostic applications.
In this study, the use of dendrimer-coated carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as a delivery vehicle for dsRNA was assessed in Tribolium castaneum. Exposure to low dosages of polyamidoamine dendrimer carbon nanotubes (PAMAM-CNTs) did not affect T. castaneum larval mortality. Expression of key apoptotic factors, Dronc (Tc12580), Dredd (Tcn-like, Tc014026) and Buffy, (Tcinhib apop1), which can act as toxicity indicators, were not altered in T. castaneum larvae following injection of PAMAM-CNTs. The level of knockdown of two target genes, α-tubulin and mitochondrial RNA polymerase (mtpol), were significantly increased when larvae were injected with double-stranded RNA bound to CNTs (PAMAM-CNT-dsRNA), compared to those injected with target dsRNA alone. PAMAM-CNTs were visualised in cellular vacuoles and in the cell nucleus. Increase occurrence of a blistered wing phenotype was found in a subset of PAMAM-CNT-dsRNA αtub injected larvae, relative to the level seen in larvae injected with naked dsRnA αtub alone. These results suggest that the use of functionalised CNTs for dsRNA delivery could increase the efficacy of RNA interference in insect pest species. RNA interference (RNAi) is a promising tool for the control of insect pests. Introduction of exogenous doublestranded RNA (dsRNA) is effective at triggering gene knockdown and associated phenotypes in many problem pest species such as the Western Corn Rootworm 1 , the Colorado potato beetle 2 and the Varroa mite 3. New developments in dsRNA delivery methods to crop pests, such as dsRNA expression in transgenic plants 4 and foliar application 5 , offer the possibility of dsRNA-based insecticides 6. Despite this promise, there is notable variation in RNAi response between insect species 7 , with some, such as many lepidopterans 8 , unable to mount a strong RNAi response to dsRNA. Ingestion of dsRNA can be a valid route for delivery, yet many insects secrete enzymes in their gut that breakdown dsRNA before the latter can elicit an effect on target gene transcripts 9-11. When dsRNA enters into the cytoplasm, it is generally very effective in mounting an RNAi response 12,13. However, the route to the cytoplasm can act as a barrier to effective RNAi, with stability and uptake of dsRNA within the insect thought to be the significant limiting factor 10,11,14,15. Therefore, the protection of dsRNA from degradation coupled with an efficient cellular uptake is key to RNAi success. The development of delivery vehicles or carriers that enable these two processes is now necessary to fully realise the potential for dsRNA as an effective control measure. Combining dsRNA with other substances that act as efficient carriers, such as chitosan 16,17 , perfluorocarbon nanoparticles 18-20 or ribonuceloparticles 21 , can stabilise dsRNA and increase the chances of successful gene knockdown. Encapsulation of dsRNA within carbon quantum dots 22 and liposomes 23,24 has also shown some promise in increasing efficacy in more challenging insect species. In the last decade, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have emerg...
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