Heavy metals are natural constituents of the environment, but indiscriminate use for human purposes has altered their geochemical cycles and biochemical balance. This results in excess release of heavy metals such as cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, zinc etc. into natural resources like the soil and aquatic environments. Prolonged exposure and higher accumulation of such heavy metals can have deleterious health effects on human life and aquatic biota. The role of microorganisms and plants in biotransformation of heavy metals into nontoxic forms is well-documented, and understanding the molecular mechanism of metal accumulation has numerous biotechnological implications for bioremediation of
OPEN ACCESSSustainability 2015, 7 2190 metal-contaminated sites. In view of this, the present review investigates the abilities of microorganisms and plants in terms of tolerance and degradation of heavy metals. Also, advances in bioremediation technologies and strategies to explore these immense and valuable biological resources for bioremediation are discussed. An assessment of the current status of technology deployment and suggestions for future bioremediation research has also been included. Finally, there is a discussion of the genetic and molecular basis of metal tolerance in microbes, with special reference to the genomics of heavy metal accumulator plants and the identification of functional genes involved in tolerance and detoxification.
The pathophysiological functions of proline-glutamic acid (PE)/proline-proline-glutamic acid (PPE) family of proteins of Mycobacterium tuberculosis are not well understood. In this study, we demonstrate that one of the PPE proteins, PPE18 can stimulate macrophages to secrete IL-10, known to favor a Th2 type response. The recombinant PPE18 was found to specifically interact with the TLR2 leading to an early and sustained activation of p38 MAPK, which is critical for IL-10 induction. In silico docking analyses and mutation experiments indicate that PPE18 specifically interacts with the leucine rich repeat 11 approximately 15 domain of TLR2 and the site of interaction is different from that of a synthetic lipopeptide Pam(3)CSK(4) known to activate predominantly ERK 1/2. When PMA-differentiated THP-1 macrophages were infected with a mutant Mycobacterium tuberculosis strain lacking the PPE18, produced poorer levels of IL-10 as compared with those infected with the wild-type strain. In contrast, an M. smegmatis strain overexpressing the PPE18 induced higher levels of IL-10 in infected macrophages. Our data indicate that the PPE18 protein may trigger an anti-inflammatory response by inducing IL-10 production.
Despite its relatively poor efficacy, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) has been used as a tuberculosis (TB) vaccine since its development in 1921. BCG induces robust T helper 1 (Th1) immune responses but, for many individuals, this is not sufficient for host resistance against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb) infection. Here we provide evidence that early secreted antigenic target protein 6 (ESAT-6), expressed by the virulent M. tb strain H37Rv but not by BCG, promotes vaccine-enhancing Th17 cell responses. These activities of ESAT-6 were dependent on TLR-2/MyD88 signalling and involved IL-6 and TGF-β production by dendritic cells. Thus, animals that were previously infected with H37Rv or recombinant BCG containing the RD1 region (BCG::RD1) exhibited improved protection upon re-challenge with virulent H37Rv compared with mice previously infected with BCG or RD1-deficient H37Rv (H37RvΔRD1). However, TLR-2 knockout (TLR-2-/-) animals neither showed Th17 responses nor exhibited improved protection in response to immunization with H37Rv. Furthermore, H37Rv and BCG::RD1 infection had little effect on the expression of the anti-inflammatory microRNA-146a (miR146a) in dendritic cells (DCs), whereas BCG and H37RvΔRD1 profoundly induced its expression in DCs. Consistent with these findings, ESAT-6 had no effect on miR146a expression in uninfected DCs, but dramatically inhibited its upregulation in BCG-infected or LPS-treated DCs. Collectively, our findings indicate that, in addition to Th1 immunity induced by BCG, RD1/ESAT-6-induced Th17 immune responses are essential for optimal vaccine efficacy.
E-cigarette usage is increasing, especially among the young, with both the general population and physicians perceiving them as a safe alternative to tobacco smoking. Worryingly, e-cigarettes are commonly used by pregnant women. As nicotine is known to adversely affect children in utero, we hypothesized that nicotine delivered via e-cigarettes would negatively affect lung development. To test this, we developed a mouse model of maternal e-vapor (nicotine and nicotine-free) exposure and investigated the impact on the growth and lung inflammation in both offspring and mothers. Female Balb/c mice were exposed to e-fluid vapor containing nicotine (18 mg/ml nicotine E-cigarette [E-cig18], equivalent to two cigarettes per treatment, twice daily,) or nicotine free (E-cig0 mg/ml) from 6 weeks before mating until pups weaned. Male offspring were studied at Postnatal Day (P) 1, P20, and at 13 weeks. The mothers were studied when the pups weaned. In the mothers' lungs, e-cigarette exposure with and without nicotine increased the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α. In adult offspring, TNF-α protein levels were increased in both E-cig18 and E-cig0 groups, whereas IL-1β was suppressed. This was accompanied by global changes in DNA methylation. In this study, we found that e-cigarette exposure during pregnancy adversely affected maternal and offspring lung health. As this occurred with both nicotine-free and nicotine-containing e-vapor, the effects are likely due to by-products of vaporization rather than nicotine.
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