A method has been developed for culturing cardiac myocytes in a collagen matrix to produce a coherently contracting 3-dimensional model heart tissue that allows direct measurement of isometric contractile force. Embryonic chick cardiomyocytes were mixed with collagen solution and allowed to gel between two Velcro-coated glass tubes. During culture, the cardiomyocytes formed spontaneously beating cardiac myocyte-populated matrices (CMPMs) anchored at opposite ends to the Velcro-covered tubes through which they could be attached to a force measuring system. Immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy revealed a highly organized tissue-like structure of alpha-actin and alpha-tropomyosin-positive cardiac myocytes exhibiting typical cross-striation, sarcomeric myofilaments, intercalated discs, desmosomes, and tight junctions. Force measurements of paced or unpaced CMPMs were performed in organ baths after 6-11 days of cultivation and were stable for up to 24 h. Force increased with frequency between 0.8 and 2.0 Hz (positive "staircase"), increasing rest length (Starling mechanism), and increasing extracellular calcium. The utility of this system as a test bed for genetic manipulation was demonstrated by infecting the CMPMs with a recombinant beta-galactosidase-carrying adenovirus. Transduction efficiency increased from about 5% (MOI 0.1) to about 50% (MOI 100). CMPMs display more physiological characteristics of intact heart tissue than monolayer cultures. This approach, simpler and faster than generation of transgenic animals, should allow functional consequences of genetic or pharmacological manipulation of cardiomyocytes in vitro to be studied under highly controlled conditions.
To examine the influence of chronic mechanical stretch on functional behavior of cardiac myocytes, we reconstituted embryonic chick or neonatal rat cardiac myocytes to a 3-dimensional engineered heart tissue (EHT) by mixing freshly isolated cells with neutralized collagen I and culturing them between two Velcro-coated silicone tubes, held at a fixed distance with a metal spacer. After 4 days, EHTs were subjected to a phasic unidirectional stretch for 6 days in serum-containing medium. Compared to unstretched controls, RNA/DNA and protein/cell ratios increased by 100% and 50%, respectively. ANF mRNA and alpha-sarcomeric actin increased by 98% and 40%, respectively. Morphologically, stretched EHTs exhibited improved organization of cardiac myocytes into parallel arrays of rod-shaped cells, increased cell length and width, longer myofilaments, and increased mitochondrial density. Thus, stretch induced phenotypic changes, generally referred to as hypertrophy. Concomitantly, force of contraction was two- to fourfold higher both under basal conditions and after stimulation with calcium or the beta-adrenergic agonist isoprenaline. Contraction kinetics were accelerated with a 14-44% decrease in twitch duration under all those conditions. In summary, we have developed a new in vitro model that allows morphological, molecular, and functional consequences of stretch to be studied under defined conditions. The main finding was that stretch of EHTs induced cardiac myocyte hypertrophy, which was accompanied by marked improvement of contractile function.
The monoamines octopamine and tyramine, which are the invertebrate counterparts of epinephrine and norepinephrine, transmit their action through sets of G protein-coupled receptors. Four different octopamine receptors (Oamb, Octß1R, Octß2R, Octß3R) and 3 different tyramine receptors (TyrR, TyrRII, TyrRIII) are present in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Utilizing the presumptive promoter regions of all 7 octopamine and tyramine receptors, the Gal4/UAS system is utilized to elucidate their complete expression pattern in larvae as well as in adult flies. All these receptors show strong expression in the nervous system but their exact expression patterns vary substantially. Common to all octopamine and tyramine receptors is their expression in mushroom bodies, centers for learning and memory in insects. Outside the central nervous system, the differences in the expression patterns are more conspicuous. However, four of them are present in the tracheal system, where they show different regional preferences within this organ. On the other hand, TyrR appears to be the only receptor present in the heart muscles and TyrRII the only one expressed in oenocytes. Skeletal muscles express octß2R, Oamb and TyrRIII, with octß2R being present in almost all larval muscles. Taken together, this study provides comprehensive information about the sites of expression of all octopamine and tyramine receptors in the fruit fly, thus facilitating future research in the field.
The monoamines octopamine (OA) and tyramine (TA) modulate numerous behaviours and physiological processes in invertebrates. Nevertheless, it is not clear whether these invertebrate counterparts of norepinephrine are important regulators of metabolic and life history traits. We show that flies (Drosophila melanogaster) lacking OA are more resistant to starvation, while their overall life span is substantially reduced compared with control flies. In addition, these animals have increased body fat deposits, reduced physical activity and a reduced metabolic resting rate. Increasing the release of OA from internal stores induced the opposite effects. Flies devoid of both OA and TA had normal body fat and metabolic rates, suggesting that OA and TA act antagonistically. Moreover, OA-deficient flies show increased insulin release rates. We inferred that the OA-mediated control of insulin release accounts for a substantial proportion of the alterations observed in these flies. Apparently, OA levels control the balance between thrifty and expenditure metabolic modes. Thus, changes in OA levels in response to external and internal signals orchestrate behaviour and metabolic processes to meet physiological needs. Moreover, chronic deregulation of the corresponding signalling systems in humans may be associated with metabolic disorders, such as obesity or diabetes.
The biogenic monoamine octopamine is essential for ovulation and fertilization in insects. Release of this hormone from neurons in the thoracoabdominal ganglion triggers ovulation and sperm release from the spermathecae. Here we show that the effects of octopamine on ovulation are mediated by at least two different octopamine receptors. In addition to the Oamb receptor that is present in the epithelium of the oviduct, the octß2R receptor is essential for ovulation and fertilization. Octß2R is widely expressed in the female reproductive tract. Most prominent is expression in the oviduct muscle and the spermathecae. Animals deficient in expression of the receptor show a severe egg-laying defect. The corresponding females have a much larger ovary that is caused by egg retention in the ovary. Moreover, the very few laid eggs are not fertilized, indicating problems in the process of sperm delivery. We assume that octß2R acts in a similar way as ß2-adrenoreceptors in smooth muscles, were activation of this receptor induces an increase in cAMP levels that lead to relaxation of the muscle. Taken together, our findings show that octopaminergic control of ovulation and fertilization is more complex than anticipated and that various receptors located in different cells act together to enable a well-orchestrated activity of the female reproductive system in response to copulation.
Sir2 is the most intensively discussed longevity gene in current aging research. Although, the gene encoding for a NAD+-dependent histone deacetylase initially was found to extend lifespan of various organisms ranging from yeast to mammals, serious doubts regarding its role in longevity have been expressed recently. In this study, we tested whether tissue-specific overexpression of Sir2 in the adult fat body can extend lifespan when compared to genetically identical controls. We also wanted to elucidate the mechanisms by which fat body Sir2 promotes longevity by studying the phenotypic and transcriptional changes in the fat body. We found that moderate (3-fold) Sir2 overexpression in the fat body during adulthood only can promote longevity in both sexes by roughly 13 %. In addition, we obtained transcriptional profiles elicited by this overexpression and propose a role for Sir2 in lipid droplet biology especially under conditions of starvation. Furthermore, our data do not support the idea of Sir2 mediating the response to dietary restriction (DR) because transcriptional profiles of fat bodies after DR or Sir2 overexpression do not match. This study provides additional independent evidence for the concept of Sir2 as a longevity gene and as a promising pharmacological target to cure age-related diseases.
The intestinal immune system is tailored to fight pathogens effectively while tolerating the indigenous microbiota. Impairments of this homeostatic interaction may contribute to the etiology of various diseases including inflammatory bowel diseases. However, the molecular architecture underlying this complex regulatory interaction is not well understood. Here, we show that the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has a multilayered intestinal immune system that ensures strictly localized antimicrobial responses. Enterocytes, a major cell population of the intestine, produced antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in a FoxO- but not NF-κB-dependent manner. Consequently, animals impaired in FoxO-mediated signaling had a significantly lowered resistance to intestinal infections; they were unable to increase the expression of AMP genes and males showed an increased bacterial load in response to an infection. Conventional innate immune signaling converging onto NF-κB activation was operative in only a few regions of the intestine, comprising the proventriculus, copper cells, and intestinal stem cells. Taken together, our results imply that danger-mediated as well as conventional innate immune signaling constitute modules that contribute to the fruit fly's intestinal immune system. We propose that this special architecture ensures localized and efficient antimicrobial responses against invasive pathogens while preserving the microbiota.
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