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Sadowska, J. M., Guillem-Marti, J., Ginebra, M. P., (2019). The influence of physicochemical properties of biomimetic hydroxyapatite on the in vitro behavior of endothelial progenitor cells and their interaction with mesenchymal stem cells Advanced Healthcare Materials 8, (2), 1801138

Calcium phosphate (CaP) substrates are successfully used as bone grafts due to their osteogenic properties. However, the influence of the physicochemical features of CaPs in angiogenesis is frequently neglected despite it being a crucial process for bone regeneration. The present work focuses on analyzing the effects of textural parameters of biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) and sintered beta-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP), such as specific surface area, surface roughness, and microstructure, on the behavior of rat endothelial progenitor cells (rEPCs) and their crosstalk with rat mesenchymal stem cells (rMSCs). The higher reactivity of CDHA results in low proliferation rates in monocultured and cocultured systems. This effect is especially pronounced for rMSCs alone, and for CDHA with a fine microstructure. In terms of angiogenic and osteogenic gene expressions, the upregulation of particular genes is especially enhanced for needle-like CDHA compared to plate-like CDHA and β-TCP, suggesting the importance not only of the chemistry of the substrate, but also of its textural features. Moreover, the coculture of rEPCs and rMSCs on needle-like CDHA results in early upregulation of osteogenic modulator, i.e., protein deglycase 1 might be a possible cause of overexpression of osteogenic-related genes on the same substrate.

Keywords: Angiogenesis, Calcium phosphates, Cocultures, Osteogenesis


Casanellas, Ignasi, Lagunas, Anna, Vida, Yolanda, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Andrades, José A., Becerra, José, Samitier, Josep, (2019). Matrix nanopatterning regulates mesenchymal differentiation through focal adhesion size and distribution according to cell fate Biomimetics 4, (2), 43

Extracellular matrix remodeling plays a pivotal role during mesenchyme patterning into different lineages. Tension exerted from cell membrane receptors bound to extracellular matrix ligands is transmitted by the cytoskeleton to the cell nucleus inducing gene expression. Here, we used dendrimer-based arginine–glycine–aspartic acid (RGD) uneven nanopatterns, which allow the control of local surface adhesiveness at the nanoscale, to unveil the adhesive requirements of mesenchymal tenogenic and osteogenic commitments. Cell response was found to depend on the tension resulting from cell–substrate interactions, which affects nuclear morphology and is regulated by focal adhesion size and distribution.

Keywords: Arginine–glycine–aspartic acid (RGD), Nanopattern, Mesenchymal stem cells, Tenogenesis, Osteogenesis, Cell nuclei, Focal adhesions


Bolognesi, Benedetta, Faure, Andre J., Seuma, Mireia, Schmiedel, Jörrn M., Tartaglia, Gian Gaetano, Lehner, Ben, (2019). The mutational landscape of a prion-like domain Nature Communications 10, (1), 4162

Insoluble protein aggregates are the hallmarks of many neurodegenerative diseases. For example, aggregates of TDP-43 occur in nearly all cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, whether aggregates cause cellular toxicity is still not clear, even in simpler cellular systems. We reasoned that deep mutagenesis might be a powerful approach to disentangle the relationship between aggregation and toxicity. We generated >50,000 mutations in the prion-like domain (PRD) of TDP-43 and quantified their toxicity in yeast cells. Surprisingly, mutations that increase hydrophobicity and aggregation strongly decrease toxicity. In contrast, toxic variants promote the formation of dynamic liquid-like condensates. Mutations have their strongest effects in a hotspot that genetic interactions reveal to be structured in vivo, illustrating how mutagenesis can probe the in vivo structures of unstructured proteins. Our results show that aggregation of TDP-43 is not harmful but protects cells, most likely by titrating the protein away from a toxic liquid-like phase.

Keywords: Computational biology and bioinformatics, Genomics, Mechanisms of disease, Neurodegeneration, Systems biology


Hervera, A., De Virgiliis, F., Palmisano, I., Zhou, L., Tantardini, E., Kong, G., Hutson, T., Danzi, M. C., Perry, R. B. T., Santos, C. X. C., Kapustin, A. N., Fleck, R. A., Del Río, J. A., Carroll, T., Lemmon, V., Bixby, J. L., Shah, A. M., Fainzilber, M., Di Giovanni, S., (2018). Reactive oxygen species regulate axonal regeneration through the release of exosomal NADPH oxidase 2 complexes into injured axons Nature Cell Biology 20, (3), 307-319

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) contribute to tissue damage and remodelling mediated by the inflammatory response after injury. Here we show that ROS, which promote axonal dieback and degeneration after injury, are also required for axonal regeneration and functional recovery after spinal injury. We find that ROS production in the injured sciatic nerve and dorsal root ganglia requires CX3CR1-dependent recruitment of inflammatory cells. Next, exosomes containing functional NADPH oxidase 2 complexes are released from macrophages and incorporated into injured axons via endocytosis. Once in axonal endosomes, active NOX2 is retrogradely transported to the cell body through an importin-β1–dynein-dependent mechanism. Endosomal NOX2 oxidizes PTEN, which leads to its inactivation, thus stimulating PI3K–phosporylated (p-)Akt signalling and regenerative outgrowth. Challenging the view that ROS are exclusively involved in nerve degeneration, we propose a previously unrecognized role of ROS in mammalian axonal regeneration through a NOX2–PI3K–p-Akt signalling pathway.

Keywords: Adult neurogenesis, Endocytosis, Exocytosis, Monocytes and macrophages, Stress signalling


Castaño, O., Pérez-Amodio, S., Navarro, C., Mateos-Timoneda, M.A., Engel, E., (2018). Instructive microenvironments in skin wound healing: Biomaterials as signal releasing platforms Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 129, 95-117

Skin wound healing aims to repair and restore tissue through a multistage process that involves different cells and signalling molecules that regulate the cellular response and the dynamic remodelling of the extracellular matrix. Nowadays, several therapies that combine biomolecule signals (growth factors and cytokines) and cells are being proposed. However, a lack of reliable evidence of their efficacy, together with associated issues such as high costs, a lack of standardization, no scalable processes, and storage and regulatory issues, are hampering their application. In situ tissue regeneration appears to be a feasible strategy that uses the body's own capacity for regeneration by mobilizing host endogenous stem cells or tissue-specific progenitor cells to the wound site to promote repair and regeneration. The aim is to engineer instructive systems to regulate the spatio-temporal delivery of proper signalling based on the biological mechanisms of the different events that occur in the host microenvironment. This review describes the current state of the different signal cues used in wound healing and skin regeneration, and their combination with biomaterial supports to create instructive microenvironments for wound healing.

Keywords: Instructive biomaterials, Skin regeneration, Wound healing, Signalling release, In situ tissue engineering


Del Río, J. A., Ferrer, Isidre, Gavín, R., (2018). Role of cellular prion protein in interneuronal amyloid transmission Progress in Neurobiology 165-167, 87-102

Several studies have indicated that certain misfolded amyloids composed of tau, β-amyloid or α-synuclein can be transferred from cell to cell, suggesting the contribution of mechanisms reminiscent of those by which infective prions spread through the brain. This process of a ‘prion-like’ spreading between cells is also relevant as a novel putative therapeutic target that could block the spreading of proteinaceous aggregates throughout the brain which may underlie the progressive nature of neurodegenerative diseases. The relevance of β-amyloid oligomers and cellular prion protein (PrPC) binding has been a focus of interest in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). At the molecular level, β-amyloid/PrPC interaction takes place in two differently charged clusters of PrPC. In addition to β-amyloid, participation of PrPC in α-synuclein binding and brain spreading also appears to be relevant in α-synucleopathies. This review summarizes current knowledge about PrPC as a putative receptor for amyloid proteins and the physiological consequences of these interactions..

Keywords: Cellular prion protein, Amyloid, Proteinaceous species, ‘prion-like’ spreading, Spreading, Neurodegeneration


Sadowska, Joanna M., Wei, Fei, Guo, Jia, Guillem-Marti, Jordi, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, Xiao, Yin, (2018). Effect of nano-structural properties of biomimetic hydroxyapatite on osteoimmunomodulation Biomaterials 181, 318-332

Immune cells are sensitive to the microstructural and textural properties of materials. Tuning the structural features of synthetic bone grafts could be a valuable strategy to regulate the specific response of the immune system, which in turn modulates the activity of bone cells. The aim of this study was to analyse the effect of the structural characteristics of biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) on the innate immune response of macrophages and the subsequent impact on osteogenesis and osteoclastogenesis. Murine RAW 264.7 cells were cultured, under standard and inflammatory conditions, on chemically identical CDHA substrates that varied in microstructure and porosity. The impact on osteogenesis was evaluated by incubating osteoblastic cells (SaOS-2) with RAW-CDHA conditioned extracts. The results showed that macrophages were sensitive to different textural and structural properties of CDHA. Under standard conditions, the impact of inflammatory cytokine production by RAW cells cultured on CDHA played a significant role in the degradation of substrates, suggesting the impact of resorptive behaviour of RAW cells on biomimetic surfaces. Osteoblast differentiation was stimulated by the conditioned media collected from RAW cells cultured on needle-like nanostructured CDHA. The results demonstrated that needle-like nanostructured CDHA was able to generate a favourable osteoimmune environment to regulate osteoblast differentiation and osteogenesis. Under inflammatory conditions, the incubation of RAW cells with less porous CDHA resulted in a decreased gene expression and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Biomimetic hydroxyapatite, Osteoimmunomodulation, Inflammation, Osteogenesis, Osteoclastogesis


Raymond, Santiago, Maazouz, Yassine, Montufar, Edgar B., Perez, Roman A., González, Borja, Konka, Joanna, Kaiser, Jozef, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, (2018). Accelerated hardening of nanotextured 3D-plotted self-setting calcium phosphate inks Acta Biomaterialia 75, 451-462

Direct ink writing (DIW) techniques open up new possibilities for the fabrication of patient-specific bone grafts. Self-setting calcium phosphate inks, which harden at low temperature, allow obtaining nanostructured scaffolds with biomimetic properties and enhanced bioactivity. However, the slow hardening kinetics hampers the translation to the clinics. Different hydrothermal treatments for the consolidation of DIW scaffolds fabricated with an α-tricalcium phosphate /pluronic F127 ink were explored, comparing them with a biomimetic treatment. Three different scaffold architectures were analysed. The hardening process, associated to the conversion of α-tricalcium phosphate to hydroxyapatite was drastically accelerated by the hydrothermal treatments, reducing the time for complete reaction from 7 days to 30 minutes, while preserving the scaffold architectural integrity and retaining the nanostructured features. β-tricalcium phosphate was formed as a secondary phase, and a change of morphology from plate-like to needle-like crystals in the hydroxyapatite phase was observed. The binder was largely released during the treatment. The hydrothermal treatment resulted in a 30% reduction of the compressive strength, associated to the residual presence of β-tricalcium phosphate. Biomimetic and hydrothermally treated scaffolds supported the adhesion and proliferation of rat mesenchymal stem cells, indicating a good suitability for bone tissue engineering applications. Statement of Significance: 3D plotting has opened up new perspectives in the bone regeneration field allowing the customisation of synthetic bone grafts able to fit patient-specific bone defects. Moreover, this technique allows the control of the scaffolds’ architecture and porosity. The present work introduces a new method to harden biomimetic hydroxyapatite 3D-plotted scaffolds which avoids high-temperature sintering. It has two main advantages: i) it is fast and simple, reducing the whole fabrication process from the several days required for the biomimetic processing to a few hours; and ii) it retains the nanostructured character of biomimetic hydroxyapatite and allows controlling the porosity from the nano- to the macroscale. Moreover, the good in vitro cytocompatibility results support its suitability for cell-based bone regeneration therapies.

Keywords: Calcium phosphate, Hydroxyapatite, Biomimetic, Bone regeneration, 3D plotting, Direct ink writing, Bone graft


Barba, Albert, Maazouz, Yassine, Diez-Escudero, Anna, Rappe, Katrin, Espanol, Montserrat, Montufar, Edgar B., Öhman-Mägi, Caroline, Persson, Cecilia, Fontecha, Pedro, Manzanares, Maria-Cristina, Franch, Jordi, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, (2018). Osteogenesis by foamed and 3D-printed nanostructured calcium phosphate scaffolds: Effect of pore architecture Acta Biomaterialia 79, 135-147

There is an urgent need of synthetic bone grafts with enhanced osteogenic capacity. This can be achieved by combining biomaterials with exogenous growth factors, which however can have numerous undesired side effects, but also by tuning the intrinsic biomaterial properties. In a previous study, we showed the synergistic effect of nanostructure and pore architecture of biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) scaffolds in enhancing osteoinduction, i.e. fostering the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells to bone forming cells. This was demonstrated by assessing bone formation after implanting the scaffolds intramuscularly. The present study goes one step forward, since it analyzes the effect of the geometrical features of the same CDHA scaffolds, obtained either by 3D-printing or by foaming, on the osteogenic potential and resorption behaviour in a bony environment. After 6 and 12 weeks of intraosseous implantation, both bone formation and material degradation had been drastically affected by the macropore architecture of the scaffolds. Whereas nanostructured CDHA was shown to be highly osteoconductive both in the robocast and foamed scaffolds, a superior osteogenic capacity was observed in the foamed scaffolds, which was associated with their higher intrinsic osteoinductive potential. Moreover, they showed a significantly higher cell-mediated degradation than the robocast constructs, with a simultaneous and progressive replacement of the scaffold by new bone. In conclusion, these results demonstrate that the control of macropore architecture is a crucial parameter in the design of synthetic bone grafts, which allows fostering both material degradation and new bone formation. Statement of Significance: 3D-printing technologies open new perspectives for the design of patient-specific bone grafts, since they allow customizing the external shape together with the internal architecture of implants. In this respect, it is important to design the appropriate pore geometry to maximize the bone healing capacity of these implants. The present study analyses the effect of pore architecture of nanostructured hydroxyapatite scaffolds, obtained either by 3D-printing or foaming, on the osteogenic potential and scaffold resorption in an in vivo model. While nanostructured hydroxyapatite showed excellent osteoconductive properties irrespective of pore geometry, we demonstrated that the spherical, concave macropores of foamed scaffolds significantly promoted both material resorption and bone regeneration compared to the 3D-printed scaffolds with orthogonal-patterned struts and therefore prismatic, convex macropores.

Keywords: Osteogenesis, Pore architecture, 3D-printing, Foaming, Calcium phosphate


Diez-Escudero, A., Espanol, M., Bonany, M., Lu, X., Persson, C., Ginebra, M. P., (2018). Heparinization of beta tricalcium phosphate: Osteo-immunomodulatory effects Advanced Healthcare Materials 7, (5), 1700867

Immune cells play a vital role in regulating bone dynamics. This has boosted the interest in developing biomaterials that can modulate both the immune and skeletal systems. In this study, calcium phosphates discs (i.e., beta-tricalcium phosphate, β-TCP) are functionalized with heparin to investigate the effects on immune and stem cell responses. The results show that the functionalized surfaces downregulate the release of hydrogen peroxide and proinflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin 1 beta) from human monocytes and neutrophils, compared to nonfunctionalized discs. The macrophages show both elongated and round shapes on the two ceramic substrates, but the morphology of cells on heparinized β-TCP tends toward a higher elongation after 72 h. The heparinized substrates support rat mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) adhesion and proliferation, and anticipate the differentiation toward the osteoblastic lineage as compared to β-TCP and control. The coupling between the inflammatory response and osteogenesis is assessed by culturing MSCs with the macrophage supernatants. The downregulation of inflammation in contact with the heparinized substrates induces higher expression of bone-related markers by MSCs.

Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Heparinization, Inflammation, Osteogenesis


Alcaraz, J., Otero, J., Jorba, I., Navajas, D., (2018). Bidirectional mechanobiology between cells and their local extracellular matrix probed by atomic force microscopy Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology 73, 71-81

There is growing recognition that the mechanical interactions between cells and their local extracellular matrix (ECM) are central regulators of tissue development, homeostasis, repair and disease progression. The unique ability of atomic force microscopy (AFM) to probe quantitatively mechanical properties and forces at the nanometer or micrometer scales in all kinds of biological samples has been instrumental in the recent advances in cell and tissue mechanics. In this review we illustrate how AFM has provided important insights on our current understanding of the mechanobiology of cells, ECM and cell-ECM bidirectional interactions, particularly in the context of soft acinar tissues like the mammary gland or pulmonary tissue. AFM measurements have revealed that intrinsic cell micromechanics is cell-type specific, and have underscored the prominent role of β1 integrin/FAK(Y397) signaling and the actomyosin cytoskeleton in the mechanoresponses of both parenchymal and stromal cells. Moreover AFM has unveiled that the micromechanics of the ECM obtained by tissue decellularization is unique for each anatomical compartment, which may support both its specific function and cell differentiation. AFM has also enabled identifying critical mechanoregulatory proteins involved in branching morphogenesis (MMP14) and acinar differentiation (α3β1 integrin), and has clarified the role of altered tissue mechanics and architecture in a variety of pathologic conditions. Critical technical issues of AFM mechanical measurements like tip geometry effects are also discussed.

Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Beta1 integrin, Elastic modulus, Extracellular matrix, Morphogenesis, Tissue decellularization


Casanellas, Ignasi, García-Lizarribar, Andrea, Lagunas, Anna, Samitier, Josep, (2018). Producing 3D biomimetic nanomaterials for musculoskeletal system regeneration Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 6, Article 128

The human musculoskeletal system is comprised mainly of connective tissues such as cartilage, tendon, ligaments, skeletal muscle and skeletal bone. These tissues support the structure of the body, hold and protect the organs, and are responsible of movement. Since it is subjected to continuous strain, the musculoskeletal system is prone to injury by excessive loading forces or aging, whereas currently available treatments are usually invasive and not always effective. Most of the musculoskeletal injuries require surgical intervention facing a limited post-surgery tissue regeneration, especially for widespread lesions. Therefore, many tissue engineering approaches have been developed tackling musculoskeletal tissue regeneration. Materials are designed to meet the chemical and mechanical requirements of the native tissue three-dimensional (3D) environment, thus facilitating implant integration while providing a good reabsorption rate. With biological systems operating at the nanoscale, nanoengineered materials have been developed to support and promote regeneration at the interprotein communication level. Such materials call for a great precision and architectural control in the production process fostering the development of new fabrication techniques. In this mini review, we would like to summarize the most recent advances in 3D nanoengineered biomaterials for musculoskeletal tissue regeneration, with especial emphasis on the different techniques used to produce them.

Keywords: Nanofiber, 3D printing, Musculoskeletal, Regeneration, Scaffold, Tissue Engineering, Stimuli-responsive


Farré, Ramon, Otero, Jordi, Almendros, Isaac, Navajas, Daniel, (2018). Bioengineered lungs: A challenge and an opportunity Archivos de Bronconeumología 54, (1), 31-38

Lung biofabrication is a new tissue engineering and regenerative development aimed at providing organs for potential use in transplantation. Lung biofabrication is based on seeding cells into an acellular organ scaffold and on culturing them in an especial purpose bioreactor. The acellular lung scaffold is obtained by decellularizing a non-transplantable donor lung by means of conventional procedures based on application of physical, enzymatic and detergent agents. To avoid immune recipient's rejection of the transplanted bioengineered lung, autologous bone marrow/adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells, lung progenitor cells or induced pluripotent stem cells are used for biofabricating the bioengineered lung. The bioreactor applies circulatory perfusion and mechanical ventilation with physiological parameters to the lung during biofabrication. These physical stimuli to the organ are translated into the stem cell local microenvironment - e.g. shear stress and cyclic stretch - so that cells sense the physiological conditions in normally functioning mature lungs. After seminal proof of concept in a rodent model was published in 2010, the hypothesis that lungs can be biofabricated is accepted and intense research efforts are being devoted to the topic. The current experimental evidence obtained so far in animal tests and in ex vivo human bioengineered lungs suggests that the date of first clinical tests, although not immediate, is coming. Lung bioengineering is a disrupting concept that poses a challenge for improving our basic science knowledge and is also an opportunity for facilitating lung transplantation in future clinical translation.

Keywords: Tissue engineering, Regenerative medicine, Lung transplantation, Lung repair, Lung regeneration


Mata, A., Gil, V., Pérez-Clausell, J., Dasilva, M., González-Calixto, M. C., Soriano, E., García-Verdugo, J. M., Sanchez-Vives, M. V., Del Río, J. A., (2018). New functions of Semaphorin 3E and its receptor PlexinD1 during developing and adult hippocampal formation Scientific Reports 8, (1), 1381

The development and maturation of cortical circuits relies on the coordinated actions of long and short range axonal guidance cues. In this regard, the class 3 semaphorins and their receptors have been seen to be involved in the development and maturation of the hippocampal connections. However, although the role of most of their family members have been described, very few data about the participation of Semaphorin 3E (Sema3E) and its receptor PlexinD1 during the development and maturation of the entorhino-hippocampal (EH) connection are available. In the present study, we focused on determining their roles both during development and in adulthood. We determined a relevant role for Sema3E/PlexinD1 in the layer-specific development of the EH connection. Indeed, mice lacking Sema3E/PlexinD1 signalling showed aberrant layering of entorhinal axons in the hippocampus during embryonic and perinatal stages. In addition, absence of Sema3E/PlexinD1 signalling results in further changes in postnatal and adult hippocampal formation, such as numerous misrouted ectopic mossy fibers. More relevantly, we describe how subgranular cells express PlexinD1 and how the absence of Sema3E induces a dysregulation of the proliferation of dentate gyrus progenitors leading to the presence of ectopic cells in the molecular layer. Lastly, Sema3E mutant mice displayed increased network excitability both in the dentate gyrus and the hippocampus proper.

Keywords: Adult neurogenesis, Axon and dendritic guidance


Menal, M. J., Jorba, I., Torres, M., Montserrat, J. M., Gozal, D., Colell, A., Piñol-Ripoll, G., Navajas, D., Almendros, I., Farré, R., (2018). Alzheimer's disease mutant mice exhibit reduced brain tissue stiffness compared to wild-type mice in both normoxia and following intermittent hypoxia mimicking sleep apnea Frontiers in Neurology 9, Article 1

Background: Evidence from patients and animal models suggests that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and that AD is associated with reduced brain tissue stiffness. Aim: To investigate whether intermittent hypoxia (IH) alters brain cortex tissue stiffness in AD mutant mice exposed to IH mimicking OSA. Methods: Six-eight month old (B6C3-Tg(APPswe,PSEN1dE9)85Dbo/J) AD mutant mice and wild-type (WT) littermates were subjected to IH (21% O2 40 s to 5% O2 20 s; 6 h/day) or normoxia for 8 weeks. After euthanasia, the stiffness (E) of 200-μm brain cortex slices was measured by atomic force microscopy. Results: Two-way ANOVA indicated significant cortical softening and weight increase in AD mice compared to WT littermates, but no significant effects of IH on cortical stiffness and weight were detected. In addition, reduced myelin was apparent in AD (vs. WT), but no significant differences emerged in the cortex extracellular matrix components laminin and glycosaminoglycans when comparing baseline AD and WT mice. Conclusion: AD mutant mice exhibit reduced brain tissue stiffness following both normoxia and IH mimicking sleep apnea, and such differences are commensurate with increased edema and demyelination in AD.

Keywords: Animal model, Atomic force microscopy, Brain mechanics, Cortex stiffness, Neurodegenerative disease


Garreta, E., González, F., Montserrat, N., (2018). Studying kidney disease using tissue and genome engineering in human pluripotent stem cells Nephron 138, 48-59

Kidney morphogenesis and patterning have been extensively studied in animal models such as the mouse and zebrafish. These seminal studies have been key to define the molecular mechanisms underlying this complex multistep process. Based on this knowledge, the last 3 years have witnessed the development of a cohort of protocols allowing efficient differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) towards defined kidney progenitor populations using two-dimensional (2D) culture systems or through generating organoids. Kidney organoids are three-dimensional (3D) kidney-like tissues, which are able to partially recapitulate kidney structure and function in vitro. The current possibility to combine state-of-the art tissue engineering with clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated systems 9 (Cas9)-mediated genome engineering provides an unprecedented opportunity for studying kidney disease with hPSCs. Recently, hPSCs with genetic mutations introduced through CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome engineering have shown to produce kidney organoids able to recapitulate phenotypes of polycystic kidney disease and glomerulopathies. This mini review provides an overview of the most recent advances in differentiation of hPSCs into kidney lineages, and the latest implementation of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology in the organoid setting, as promising platforms to study human kidney development and disease.

Keywords: Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated systems 9, Disease modeling, Gene editing, Human pluripotent stem cells, Kidney genetics, Tissue engineering


Casanellas, Ignasi, Lagunas, Anna, Tsintzou, Iro, Vida, Yolanda, Collado, Daniel, Pérez-Inestrosa, Ezequiel, Rodríguez-Pereira, Cristina, Magalhaes, Joana, Gorostiza, Pau, Andrades, José A., Becerra, José, Samitier, Josep, (2018). Dendrimer-based uneven nanopatterns to locally control surface adhesiveness: A method to direct chondrogenic differentiation Journal of Visualized Experiments Bioengineering, (131), e56347

Cellular adhesion and differentiation is conditioned by the nanoscale disposition of the extracellular matrix (ECM) components, with local concentrations having a major effect. Here we present a method to obtain large-scale uneven nanopatterns of arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD)-functionalized dendrimers that permit the nanoscale control of local RGD surface density. Nanopatterns are formed by surface adsorption of dendrimers from solutions at different initial concentrations and are characterized by water contact angle (CA), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and scanning probe microscopy techniques such as scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The local surface density of RGD is measured using AFM images by means of probability contour maps of minimum interparticle distances and then correlated with cell adhesion response and differentiation. The nanopatterning method presented here is a simple procedure that can be scaled up in a straightforward manner to large surface areas. It is thus fully compatible with cell culture protocols and can be applied to other ligands that exert concentration-dependent effects on cells.

Keywords: Bioengineering, Dendrimer, Nanopattern, Arginine-Glycine-Aspartic Acid (RGD), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), Cell Adhesion, Mesenchymal Stem Cells (Mscs), Chondrogenesis


Venkova, Tatiana, Juárez, Antonio, Espinosa, Manuel, (2017). Editorial: Modulating prokaryotic lifestyle by DNA-binding proteins: Learning from (apparently) simple systems Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences , 3, Article 86

Within the research in Molecular Biology, one important field along the years has been the analyses on how prokaryotes regulate the expression of their genes and what the consequences of these activities are. Prokaryotes have attracted the interests of researchers not only because the processes taking place in their world are important to cells, but also because many of the effects often can be readily measured, both at the single cell level and in large populations. Contributing to the interest of the present topic is the fact that modulation of gene activity involves the sensing of intra- and inter-cellular conditions, DNA binding and DNA dynamics, and interaction with the replication/transcription machinery of the cell. All of these processes are fundamental to the operation of a biological entity and they condition its lifestyle. Further, the discoveries achieved in the bacterial world have been of ample use in eukaryotes. In addition to the fundamental interest of understanding modulation of prokaryotic lifestyle by DNA-binding proteins, there is an added interest from the healthcare point of view. As it is well-known the antibiotic-resistance strains of pathogenic bacteria are a major world problem, so that there is an urgent need of innovative approaches to tackle it. Human and animal infectious diseases impose staggering costs worldwide in terms of loss of human life and livestock, diminished productivity, and the heavy economic burden of disease. The global dimension of international trade, personal travel, and population migration expands at an ever-accelerating rate. This increasing mobility results in broader and quicker dissemination of bacterial pathogens and in rapid spread of antibiotic resistance. The majority of the newly acquired resistances are horizontally spread among bacteria of the same or different species by processes of lateral (horizontal) gene transfer, so that discovery of new antibiotics is not the definitive solution to fighting infectious diseases. There is an absolute need of finding novel alternatives to the “classical” approach to treat infections by bacterial pathogens, and these new ways must include the exploration and introduction of novel antibacterials, the development of alternative strategies, and the finding of novel bacterial targets. However, all these approaches will result in a stalemate if we, researchers, are not able to achieve a better understanding of the mechanistic processes underlying bacterial gene expression. It is, then, imperative to continue gaining insight into the basic mechanisms by which bacterial cells regulate the expression of their genes. That is why our Research Topic hosted by Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences was timely, and the output of it offers novel and up-to-date points of view to the “simple” bacterial world.

Keywords: DNA-protein interactions, Gene regulation in Prokaryotes, Replication control, Regulation of Bacterial Gene Expression, Global Regulatory Networks


Perez-Mockus, Gantas, Mazouni, Khalil, Roca, Vanessa, Corradi, Giulia, Conte, Vito, Schweisguth, François, (2017). Spatial regulation of contractility by Neuralized and Bearded during furrow invagination in Drosophila Nature Communications 8, (1), 1594

Embryo-scale morphogenesis arises from patterned mechanical forces. During Drosophila gastrulation, actomyosin contractility drives apical constriction in ventral cells, leading to furrow formation and mesoderm invagination. It remains unclear whether and how mechanical properties of the ectoderm influence this process. Here, we show that Neuralized (Neur), an E3 ubiquitin ligase active in the mesoderm, regulates collective apical constriction and furrow formation. Conversely, the Bearded (Brd) proteins antagonize maternal Neur and lower medial–apical contractility in the ectoderm: in Brd-mutant embryos, the ventral furrow invaginates properly but rapidly unfolds as medial MyoII levels increase in the ectoderm. Increasing contractility in the ectoderm via activated Rho similarly triggers furrow unfolding whereas decreasing contractility restores furrow invagination in Brd-mutant embryos. Thus, the inhibition of Neur by Brd in the ectoderm differentiates the mechanics of the ectoderm from that of the mesoderm and patterns the activity of MyoII along the dorsal–ventral axis.

Keywords: Drosophila, Gastrulation, Morphogenesis


Hernández-Vega, Amayra, Marsal, María, Pouille, Philippe-Alexandre, Tosi, Sébastien, Colombelli, Julien, Luque, Tomás, Navajas, Daniel, Pagonabarraga, Ignacio, Martín-Blanco, Enrique, (2017). Polarized cortical tension drives zebrafish epiboly movements EMBO Journal , 36, (1), 25-41

The principles underlying the biomechanics of morphogenesis are largely unknown. Epiboly is an essential embryonic event in which three tissues coordinate to direct the expansion of the blastoderm. How and where forces are generated during epiboly, and how these are globally coupled remains elusive. Here we developed a method, hydrodynamic regression (HR), to infer 3D pressure fields, mechanical power, and cortical surface tension profiles. HR is based on velocity measurements retrieved from 2D+T microscopy and their hydrodynamic modeling. We applied HR to identify biomechanically active structures and changes in cortex local tension during epiboly in zebrafish. Based on our results, we propose a novel physical description for epiboly, where tissue movements are directed by a polarized gradient of cortical tension. We found that this gradient relies on local contractile forces at the cortex, differences in elastic properties between cortex components and the passive transmission of forces within the yolk cell. All in all, our work identifies a novel way to physically regulate concerted cellular movements that might be instrumental for the mechanical control of many morphogenetic processes.

Keywords: Epiboly, Hydrodynamics, Mechanics, Morphogenesis, Zebrafish


Feiner-Gracia, Natalia, Beck, Michaela, Pujals, Sílvia, Tosi, Sébastien, Mandal, Tamoghna, Buske, Christian, Linden, Mika, Albertazzi, Lorenzo, (2017). Super-resolution microscopy unveils dynamic heterogeneities in nanoparticle protein corona Small 13, (41), 1701631

The adsorption of serum proteins, leading to the formation of a biomolecular corona, is a key determinant of the biological identity of nanoparticles in vivo. Therefore, gaining knowledge on the formation, composition, and temporal evolution of the corona is of utmost importance for the development of nanoparticle-based therapies. Here, it is shown that the use of super-resolution optical microscopy enables the imaging of the protein corona on mesoporous silica nanoparticles with single protein sensitivity. Particle-by-particle quantification reveals a significant heterogeneity in protein absorption under native conditions. Moreover, the diversity of the corona evolves over time depending on the surface chemistry and degradability of the particles. This paper investigates the consequences of protein adsorption for specific cell targeting by antibody-functionalized nanoparticles providing a detailed understanding of corona-activity relations. The methodology is widely applicable to a variety of nanostructures and complements the existing ensemble approaches for protein corona study.

Keywords: Heterogeneity, Mesoporous silica nanoparticles, Protein corona, Super-resolution imaging, Targeting


Oliveira, H., Catros, S., Castano, O., Rey, Sylvie, Siadous, R., Clift, D., Marti-Munoz, J., Batista, M., Bareille, R., Planell, J., Engel, E., Amédée, J., (2017). The proangiogenic potential of a novel calcium releasing composite biomaterial: Orthotopic in vivo evaluation Acta Biomaterialia 54, 377-385

Insufficient angiogenesis remains a major hurdle in current bone tissue engineering strategies. An extensive body of work has focused on the use of angiogenic factors or endothelial progenitor cells. However, these approaches are inherently complex, in terms of regulatory and methodologic implementation, and present a high cost. We have recently demonstrate the potential of electrospun poly(lactic acid) (PLA) fiber-based membranes, containing calcium phosphate (CaP) ormoglass particles, to elicit angiogenesis in vivo, in a subcutaneous model in mice. Here we have devised an injectable composite, containing CaP glass-ceramic particles, dispersed within a (Hydroxypropyl)methyl cellulose (HPMC) matrix, with the capacity to release calcium in a more sustained fashion. We show that by tuning the release of calcium in vivo, in a rat bone defect model, we could improve both bone formation and increase angiogenesis. The bone regeneration kinetics was dependent on the Ca2+ release rate, with the faster Ca2+ release composite gel showing improved bone repair at 3 weeks, in relation to control. In the same line, improved angiogenesis could be observed for the same gel formulation at 6 weeks post implantation. This methodology allows to integrate two fundamental processes for bone tissue regeneration while using a simple, cost effective, and safe approach. Statement of Significance In current bone tissue engineering approaches the achievement of sufficient angiogenesis, during tissue regeneration, is a major limitation in order to attain full tissue functionality. Recently, we have shown that calcium ions, released by the degradation of calcium phosphate ormoglasses (CaP), are effective angiogenic promoters, in both in vitro and in a subcutaneous implantation model. Here, we devised an injectable composite, containing CaP glass-ceramic particles, dispersed within a HPMC matrix, enabling the release of calcium in a more sustained fashion. We show that by tuning the release of calcium in vivo, in a rat bone defect model, we could improve both bone formation and increase angiogenesis. This simple and cost effective approach holds great promise to translate to the clinics.

Keywords: Angiogenesis, Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate ormoglasses


Li, Haiyue, Xu, Bin, Zhou, Enhua H., Sunyer, Raimon, Zhang, Yanhang, (2017). Multiscale measurements of the mechanical properties of collagen matrix ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering 3, (11), 2815-2824

The underlying mechanisms by which extracellular matrix (ECM) mechanics influences cell and tissue function remain to be elucidated because the events associated with this process span size scales from tissue to molecular level. Furthermore, ECM has an extremely complex hierarchical 3D structure and the load distribution is highly dependent on the architecture and mechanical properties of ECM. In the present study, the macro- and microscale mechanical properties of collagen gel were studied. Dynamic rheological testing was performed to study the macroscale mechanical properties of collagen gel. The microscale mechanical properties of collagen gel were measured using optical magnetic twisting cytometry (OMTC). Ferromagnetic beads embedded in the matrix were used as mechanical probes. Our study on the multiscale mechanical properties of collage matrix suggests several interesting differences between macro and microscale mechanical properties originated from the scales of measurements. At the macroscopic scale, storage and loss modulus increase with collagen concentrations. Nonaffine collagen fibril structural network deformation plays an important role in determining the macroscopic mechanical properties of the collagen matrix. At the microscopic scale, however, the local mechanical properties are less sensitive to changes in collagen concentration because of the more immediate/direct deformation of collagen fibrils in the OMTC measurements through forces exerted by locally attached ferromagnetic beads. The loss modulus is more affected by the local interstitial fluid environment, leading to a rather dramatic increase in viscosity with frequency, especially at higher frequencies (>10 Hz). A finite element model was developed to study the geometric factors in the OMTC measurements when the collagen matrix was considered to be hyperelastic. Our results show that the geometric factors are dependent on collagen concentration, or the stiffness of matrix, when nonlinear material properties of the matrix are considered, and thus interpretation of the apparent modulus from OMTC measurements should be conducted carefully.

Keywords: Keywords: collagen, Extracellular matrix, Geometric factor, Nonaffine deformation, Optical magnetic twisting cytometry


Sachot, N., Roguska, A., Planell, J. P., Lewandowska, M., Engel, E., Castaño, O., (2017). Fast-degrading PLA/ORMOGLASS fibrous composite scaffold leads to a calcium-rich angiogenic environment International Journal of Nanomedicine , 12, 4901-4919

The success of scaffold implantation in acellular tissue engineering approaches relies on the ability of the material to interact properly with the biological environment. This behavior mainly depends on the design of the graft surface and, more precisely, on its capacity to biodegrade in a well-defined manner (nature of ions released, surface-to-volume ratio, dissolution profile of this release, rate of material resorption, and preservation of mechanical properties). The assessment of the biological behavior of temporary templates is therefore very important in tissue engineering, especially for composites, which usually exhibit complicated degradation behavior. Here, blended polylactic acid (PLA) calcium phosphate ORMOGLASS (organically modified glass) nanofibrous mats have been incubated up to 4 weeks in physiological simulated conditions, and their morphological, topographical, and chemical changes have been investigated. The results showed that a significant loss of inorganic phase occurred at the beginning of the immersion and the ORMOGLASS maintained a stable composition afterward throughout the degradation period. As a whole, the nanostructured scaffolds underwent fast and heterogeneous degradation. This study reveals that an angiogenic calcium-rich environment can be achieved through fast-degrading ORMOGLASS/PLA blended fibers, which seems to be an excellent alternative for guided bone regeneration.

Keywords: Angiogenesis, Calcium release, Electrospinning, Fast degradation, Nanofibers, ORMOGLASSES


Crespo, Anna, Pedraz, Lucas, Van Der Hofstadt, Marc, Gomila, Gabriel, Torrents, Eduard, (2017). Regulation of ribonucleotide synthesis by the Pseudomonas aeruginosa two-component system AlgR in response to oxidative stress Scientific Reports 7, (1), 17892

Ribonucleotide reductases (RNR) catalyze the last step of deoxyribonucleotide synthesis, and are therefore essential to DNA-based life. Three forms of RNR exist: classes I, II, and III. While eukaryotic cells use only class Ia RNR, bacteria can harbor any combination of classes, granting them adaptability. The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa surprisingly encodes all three classes, allowing it to thrive in different environments. Here we study an aspect of the complex RNR regulation whose molecular mechanism has never been elucidated, the well-described induction through oxidative stress, and link it to the AlgZR two-component system, the primary regulator of the mucoid phenotype. Through bioinformatics, we identify AlgR binding locations in RNR promoters, which we characterize functionally through EMSA and physically through AFM imaging. Gene reporter assays in different growth models are used to study the AlgZR-mediated control on the RNR network under various environmental conditions and physiological states. Thereby, we show that the two-component system AlgZR, which is crucial for bacterial conversion to the mucoid phenotype associated with chronic disease, controls the RNR network and directs how the DNA synthesis pathway is modulated in mucoid and non-mucoid biofilms, allowing it to respond to oxidative stress.

Keywords: Bacterial genes, Bacteriology, Pathogens


Crespo, A., Gavaldà, J., Julián, E., Torrents, E., (2017). A single point mutation in class III ribonucleotide reductase promoter renders Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 inefficient for anaerobic growth and infection Scientific Reports 7, (1), 13350

Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain PAO1 has become the reference strain in many laboratories. One enzyme that is essential for its cell division is the ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) enzyme that supplies the deoxynucleotides required for DNA synthesis and repair. P. aeruginosa is one of the few microorganisms that encodes three different RNR classes (Ia, II and III) in its genome, enabling it to grow and adapt to diverse environmental conditions, including during infection. In this work, we demonstrate that a lack of RNR activity induces cell elongation in P. aeruginosa PAO1. Moreover, RNR gene expression during anaerobiosis differs among P. aeruginosa strains, with class III highly expressed in P. aeruginosa clinical isolates relative to the laboratory P. aeruginosa PAO1 strain. A single point mutation was identified in the P. aeruginosa PAO1 strain class III RNR promoter region that disrupts its anaerobic transcription by the Dnr regulator. An engineered strain that induces the class III RNR expression allows P. aeruginosa PAO1 anaerobic growth and increases its virulence to resemble that of clinical strains. Our results demonstrate that P. aeruginosa PAO1 is adapted to laboratory conditions and is not the best reference strain for anaerobic or infection studies.

Keywords: Bacterial genes, Cellular microbiology, Pathogens


Diez-Escudero, A., Espanol, M., Montufar, E. B., Di Pompo, G., Ciapetti, G., Baldini, N., Ginebra, M. P., (2017). Focus ion beam/scanning electron microscopy characterization of osteoclastic resorption of calcium phosphate substrates Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods , 23, (2), 118-124

This article presents the application of dual focused ion beam/scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) imaging for preclinical testing of calcium phosphates with osteoclast precursor cells and how this high-resolution imaging technique is able to reveal microstructural changes at a level of detail previously not possible. Calcium phosphate substrates, having similar compositions but different microstructures, were produced using low-and high-Temperature processes (biomimetic calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite [CDHA] and stoichiometric sintered hydroxyapatite, respectively). Human osteoclast precursor cells were cultured for 21 days before evaluating their resorptive potential on varying microstructural features. Alternative to classical morphological evaluation of osteoclasts (OC), FIB-SEM was used to observe the subjacent microstructure by transversally sectioning cells and observing both the cells and the substrates. Resorption pits, indicating OC activity, were visible on the smoother surface of high-Temperature sintered hydroxyapatite. FIB-SEM analysis revealed signs of acidic degradation on the grain surface under the cells, as well as intergranular dissolution. No resorption pits were evident on the surface of the rough CDHA substrates. However, whereas no degradation was detected by FIB sections in the material underlying some of the cells, early stages of OC-mediated acidic degradation were observed under cells with more spread morphology. Collectively, these results highlight the potential of FIB to evaluate the resorptive activity of OC, even in rough, irregular, or coarse surfaces where degradation pits are otherwise difficult to visualize.

Keywords: Bone Regeneration, Calcium Phosphate, Focus Ion Beam, Osteoclast, Resorption, Scanning Electron Microscopy


Castellanos, M. I., Guillem-Marti, J., Mas-Moruno, C., Díaz-Ricart, M., Escolar, G., Ginebra, M. P., Gil, F. J., Pegueroles, M., Manero, J. M., (2017). Cell adhesive peptides functionalized on CoCr alloy stimulate endothelialization and prevent thrombogenesis and restenosis Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A , 105, (4), 973-983

Immobilization of bioactive peptide sequences on CoCr surfaces is an effective route to improve endothelialization, which is of great interest for cardiovascular stents. In this work, we explored the effect of physical and covalent immoblization of RGDS, YIGSR and their equimolar combination peptides on endothelial cells (EC) and smooth muscle cell (SMC) adhesion and on thrombogenicity. We extensively investigated using RT-qPCR, the expression by ECs cultured on functionalised CoCr surfaces of different genes. Genes relevant for adhesion (ICAM-1 and VCAM-1), vascularization (VEGFA, VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2) and anti-thrombogenicity (tPA and eNOS) were over-expressed in the ECs grown to covalently functionalized CoCr surfaces compared to physisorbed and control surfaces. Pro-thrombogenic genes expression (PAI-1 and vWF) decreased over time. Cell co-cultures of ECs/SMCs found that functionalization increased the amount of adhered ECs onto modified surfaces compared to plain CoCr, independently of the used peptide and the strategy of immobilization. SMCs adhered less compared to ECs in all surfaces. All studied peptides showed a lower platelet cell adhesion compared to TCPS. Covalent functionalization of CoCr surfaces with an equimolar combination of RGDS and YIGSR represented prevailing strategy to enhance the early stages of ECs adhesion and proliferation, while preventing SMCs and platelet adhesion.

Keywords: Cell coculture, CoCr alloy, Functionalization, Gene expression, Platelet adhesion


Schwab, S., Lehmann, J., Lutz, P., Jansen, C., Appenrodt, B., Lammert, F., Strassburg, C. P., Spengler, U., Nischalke, H. D., Trebicka, J., (2017). Influence of genetic variations in the SOD1 gene on the development of ascites and spontaneous bacterial peritonitis in decompensated liver cirrhosis European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology , 29, (7), 800-804

Background The balance between generation and elimination of reactive oxygen species by superoxide dismutase (SOD) is crucially involved in the pathophysiology of liver cirrhosis. Reactive oxygen species damage cells and induce inflammation/fibrosis, but also play a critical role in immune defense from pathogens. As both processes are involved in the development of liver cirrhosis and its complications, genetic variation of the SOD1 gene was investigated. Patients and methods Two SOD1 single nucleotide polymorphisms (rs1041740 and rs3844942) were analyzed in 49 cirrhotic patients undergoing liver transplantation. In addition, 344 cirrhotic patients with ascites were analyzed in a cohort of 521 individuals in terms of the relationship of these polymorphisms with spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP). Results Although rs3844942 showed no associations with complications of cirrhosis, we observed a significant association between rs1041740 and the presence of ascites and SBP in the discovery cohort of patients with cirrhosis. Importantly, the association with SBP was not confirmed in the validation cohort of patients with ascites. By contrast, a trend toward lower SBP rates was observed in carriers of rs1041740. In this cohort, rs1041740 was not associated with survival. Conclusion These data suggest a complex role of SOD1 in different processes leading to complications of liver cirrhosis. rs1041740 might be associated with the development of ascites and possibly plays a role in SBP once ascites has developed.

Keywords: Ascites, Genetic polymorphism, Liver cirrhosis, Reactive oxygen stress, Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, Superoxide dismutases


Urrea, Laura, Ferrer, Isidro, Gavín, Rosalina, del Río, José Antonio, (2017). The cellular prion protein (PrPC) as neuronal receptor for α-synuclein Prion , 11, (4), 226-233

The term ‘prion-like’ is used to define some misfolded protein species that propagate intercellularly, triggering protein aggregation in recipient cells. For cell binding, both direct plasma membrane interaction and membrane receptors have been described for particular amyloids. In this respect, emerging evidence demonstrates that several β-sheet enriched proteins can bind to the cellular prion protein (PrPC). Among other interactions, the physiological relevance of the binding between β-amyloid and PrPC has been a relevant focus of numerous studies. At the molecular level, published data point to the second charged cluster domain of the PrPC molecule as the relevant binding domain of the β-amyloid/PrPC interaction. In addition to β-amyloid, participation of PrPC in binding α-synuclein, responsible for neurodegenerative synucleopathies, has been reported. Although results indicate relevant participation of PrPC in the spreading of α-synuclein in living mice, the physiological relevance of the interaction remains elusive. In this comment, we focus our attention on summarizing current knowledge of PrPC as a receptor for amyloid proteins and its physiological significance, with particular focus on α-synuclein.

Keywords: α-synuclein, Charged cluster domain, Interneuronal transport, LAG3, Neurodegeneration, PrPC, Parkinson disease


Planell, J. A., Navarro, M., Engel, E., (2017). Developing targeted biocomposites in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine Biomedical Composites (ed. Ambrosio, L.), Woodhead Publishing (Duxfor, UK) Biomaterials, 569-587

Regenerative medicine is a relatively new field with new requirements for smart materials, where composites will have a strong role to play. The new paradigm of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering requires biomaterials with high specificity, where physical and chemical properties are duly tailored and combined with appropriate mechanical and degradation features in order to trigger specific cell events and functions involved in the regenerative process. In this chapter, the chemical, physical, and biological elements that have to be targeted by biocomposites in regenerative medicine are described.

Keywords: Biocomposite, Regenerative medicine, Tissue engineering, Scaffolds, Cell/material interactions


Xia, Yun, Montserrat, Nuria, Campistol, Josep M., Izpisua Belmonte, Juan Carlos, Remuzzi, Giuseppe, Williams, David F., (2017). Lineage reprogramming toward kidney regeneration Kidney Transplantation, Bioengineering and Regeneration (ed. Orlando, G., Remuzzi, Giuseppe, Williams, David F.), Academic Press (London, UK) , 1167-1175

We have known for decades that it is possible to switch the phenotype of one somatic cell type into another. Such epigenetic rewiring processes can be artificially managed and even reversed by using a defined set of transcription factors. Lineage reprogramming is very often defined as a process of converting one cell type into another without going through a pluripotent state, providing great promise for regenerative medicine. However, the identification of key transcription factors for lineage reprogramming is limited, due to the exhaustive and expensive experimental processes. Accumulating knowledge of genetic and epigenetic regulatory networks that are critical for defining a specific lineage provides unprecedented opportunities to model and predict pioneering factors that may drive directional lineage reprogramming to obtain the desired cell type.

Keywords: Reprogramming, Pluripotency, Differentiation, Lineage specification, Epigenetic regulatory network, Regeneration


Parmar, J., Vilela, D., Pellicer, E., Esqué-de los Ojos, D., Sort, J., Sánchez, S., (2016). Reusable and long-lasting active microcleaners for heterogeneous water remediation Advanced Functional Materials 26, (23), 4152-4161

Self-powered micromachines are promising tools for future environmental remediation technology. Waste-water treatment and water reuse is an essential part of environmental sustainability. Herein, we present reusable Fe/Pt multi-functional active microcleaners that are capable of degrading organic pollutants (malachite green and 4-nitrophenol) by generated hydroxyl radicals via a Fenton-like reaction. Various different properties of microcleaners, such as the effect of their size, short-term storage, long-term storage, reusability, continuous swimming capability, surface composition, and mechanical properties, are studied. It is found that these microcleaners can continuously swim for more than 24 hours and can be stored more than 5 weeks during multiple cleaning cycles. The produced microcleaners can also be reused, which reduces the cost of the process. During the reuse cycles the outer iron surface of the Fe/Pt microcleaners generates the in-situ, heterogeneous Fenton catalyst and releases a low concentration of iron into the treated water, while the mechanical properties also appear to be improved due to both its surface composition and structural changes. The microcleaners are characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), nanoindentation, and finite-element modeling (FEM).

Keywords: Catalysts, Heterogeneous catalysis, Microcleaners, Micromotors, Nanorobots, Wastewater treatment


Garreta, E., de Oñate, L., Fernández-Santos, M. E., Oria, R., Tarantino, C., Climent, A. M., Marco, A., Samitier, M., Martínez, Elena, Valls-Margarit, M., Matesanz, R., Taylor, D. A., Fernández-Avilés, F., Izpisua Belmonte, J. C., Montserrat, N., (2016). Myocardial commitment from human pluripotent stem cells: Rapid production of human heart grafts Biomaterials 98, 64-78

Genome editing on human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) together with the development of protocols for organ decellularization opens the door to the generation of autologous bioartificial hearts. Here we sought to generate for the first time a fluorescent reporter human embryonic stem cell (hESC) line by means of Transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) to efficiently produce cardiomyocyte-like cells (CLCs) from hPSCs and repopulate decellularized human heart ventricles for heart engineering. In our hands, targeting myosin heavy chain locus (MYH6) with mCherry fluorescent reporter by TALEN technology in hESCs did not alter major pluripotent-related features, and allowed for the definition of a robust protocol for CLCs production also from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) in 14 days. hPSCs-derived CLCs (hPSCs-CLCs) were next used to recellularize acellular cardiac scaffolds. Electrophysiological responses encountered when hPSCs-CLCs were cultured on ventricular decellularized extracellular matrix (vdECM) correlated with significant increases in the levels of expression of different ion channels determinant for calcium homeostasis and heart contractile function. Overall, the approach described here allows for the rapid generation of human cardiac grafts from hPSCs, in a total of 24 days, providing a suitable platform for cardiac engineering and disease modeling in the human setting.

Keywords: Cardiac function, Extracellular matrix, Gene targeting, Pluripotent stem cells


Oliveira, Hugo, Catros, Sylvain, Boiziau, Claudine, Siadous, Robin, Marti-Munoz, Joan, Bareille, Reine, Rey, Sylvie, Castano, Oscar, Planell, Josep, Amédée, Joëlle, Engel, Elisabeth, (2016). The proangiogenic potential of a novel calcium releasing biomaterial: Impact on cell recruitment Acta Biomaterialia 29, 435-445

Abstract In current bone tissue engineering strategies the achievement of sufficient angiogenesis during tissue regeneration is still a major limitation in order to attain full functionality. Several strategies have been described to tackle this problem, mainly by the use of angiogenic factors or endothelial progenitor cells. However, when facing a clinical scenario these approaches are inherently complex and present a high cost. As such, more cost effective alternatives are awaited. Here, we demonstrate the potential of electrospun poly(lactic acid) (PLA) fiber-based membranes, containing calcium phosphate ormoglass (CaP) particles, to elicit angiogenesis in vivo, in a subcutaneous model in mice. We show that the current approach elicited the local expression of angiogenic factors, associated to a chemotactic effect on macrophages, and sustained angiogenesis into the biomaterial. As both PLA and CaP are currently accepted for clinical application these off-the-shelf novel membranes have great potential for guided bone regeneration applications. Statement of significance In current bone tissue engineering approaches the achievement of sufficient angiogenesis, during tissue regeneration, is a major limitation in order to attain full tissue functionality. Recently, our group has found that calcium ions released by the degradation of calcium phosphate ormoglasses (CaP) are effective angiogenic promoters. Based on this, in this work we successfully produced hybrid fibrous mats with different contents of CaP nanoparticles and thus with different calcium ion release rates, using an ormoglass – poly(lactic acid) blend approach. We show that these matrices, upon implantation in a subcutaneous site, could elicit the local expression of angiogenic factors, associated to a chemotactic effect on macrophages, and sustained angiogenesis into the biomaterial, in a CaP dose dependent manner. This off-the-shelf cost effective approach presents great potential to translate to the clinics.

Keywords: Angiogenesis, Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate ormoglass


Eguizabal, C., Herrera, L., De Oñate, L., Montserrat, N., Hajkova, P., Izpisua Belmonte, J. C., (2016). Characterization of the epigenetic changes during human gonadal primordial germ cells reprogramming Stem Cells , 34, (9), 2418-2428

Abstract: Epigenetic reprogramming is a central process during mammalian germline development. Genome-wide DNA demethylation in primordial germ cells (PGCs) is a prerequisite for the erasure of epigenetic memory, preventing the transmission of epimutations to the next generation. Apart from DNA demethylation, germline reprogramming has been shown to entail reprogramming of histone marks and chromatin remodelling. Contrary to other animal models, there is limited information about the epigenetic dynamics during early germ cell development in humans. Here, we provide further characterization of the epigenetic configuration of the early human gonadal PGCs. We show that early gonadal human PGCs are DNA hypomethylated and their chromatin is characterized by low H3K9me2 and high H3K27me3 marks. Similarly to previous observations in mice, human gonadal PGCs undergo dynamic chromatin changes concomitant with the erasure of genomic imprints. Interestingly, and contrary to mouse early germ cells, expression of BLIMP1/PRDM1 persists in through all gestational stages in human gonadal PGCs and is associated with nuclear lysine-specific demethylase-1. Our work provides important additional information regarding the chromatin changes associated with human PGCs development between 6 and 13 weeks of gestation in male and female gonads.

Keywords: Epigenetic, Human primordial germ cells, Reprograming


Wills, C. R., Malandrino, A., Van Rijsbergen, M., Lacroix, D., Ito, K., Noailly, J., (2016). Simulating the sensitivity of cell nutritive environment to composition changes within the intervertebral disc Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids , 90, 108-123

Altered nutrition in the intervertebral disc affects cell viability and can generate catabolic cascades contributing to extracellular matrix (ECM) degradation. Such degradation is expected to affect couplings between disc mechanics and nutrition, contributing to accelerate degenerative processes. However, the relation of ECM changes to major biophysical events within the loaded disc remains unclear. A L4-L5 disc finite element model including the nucleus (NP), annulus (AF) and endplates was used and coupled to a transport-cell viability model. Solute concentrations and cell viability were evaluated along the mid-sagittal plane path. A design of experiment (DOE) was performed. DOE parameters corresponded to AF and NP biochemical tissue measurements in discs with different degeneration grades. Cell viability was not affected by any parameter combinations defined. Nonetheless, the initial water content was the parameter that affected the most the solute contents, especially glucose. Calculations showed that altered NP composition could negatively affect AF cell nutrition. Results suggested that AF and NP tissue degeneration are not critical to nutrition-related cell viability at early-stage of disc degeneration. However, small ECM degenerative changes may alter significantly disc nutrition under mechanical loads. Coupling disc mechano-transport simulations and enzyme expression studies could allow identifying spatiotemporal sequences related to tissue catabolism.

Keywords: Cell nutrition, Finite element analysis, Intervertebral disc degeneration, Multiphysics, Tissue composition


Crespo, Anna, Pedraz, Lucas, Astola, Josep, Torrents, Eduard, (2016). Pseudomonas aeruginosa exhibits deficient biofilm formation in the absence of class II and III ribonucleotide reductases due to hindered anaerobic growth Frontiers in Microbiology 7, Article 688

Chronic lung infections by the ubiquitous and extremely adaptable opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa correlate with the formation of a biofilm, where bacteria grow in association with an extracellular matrix and display a wide range of changes in gene expression and metabolism. This leads to increased resistance to physical stress and antibiotic therapies, while enhancing cell-to-cell communication. Oxygen diffusion through the complex biofilm structure generates an oxygen concentration gradient, leading to the appearance of anaerobic microenvironments. Ribonucleotide reductases (RNRs) are a family of highly sophisticated enzymes responsible for the synthesis of the deoxyribonucleotides, and they constitute the only de novo pathway for the formation of the building blocks needed for DNA synthesis and repair. P. aeruginosa is one of the few bacteria encoding all three known RNR classes (Ia, II, and III). Class Ia RNRs are oxygen dependent, class II are oxygen independent, and class III are oxygen sensitive. A tight control of RNR activity is essential for anaerobic growth and therefore for biofilm development. In this work we explored the role of the different RNR classes in biofilm formation under aerobic and anaerobic initial conditions and using static and continuous-flow biofilm models. We demonstrated the importance of class II and III RNR for proper cell division in biofilm development and maturation. We also determined that these classes are transcriptionally induced during biofilm formation and under anaerobic conditions. The molecular mechanism of their anaerobic regulation was also studied, finding that the Anr/Dnr system is responsible for class II RNR induction. These data can be integrated with previous knowledge about biofilms in a model where these structures are understood as a set of layers determined by oxygen concentration and contain cells with different RNR expression profiles, bringing us a step closer to the understanding of this complex growth pattern, essential for P. aeruginosa chronic infections.

Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Ribonucleotide Reductases, Vitamin B 12, Anaerobic metabolism, Biofilm formation, DNA Synthesis, Oxygen diffusion, nrd genes.


Tahirbegi, I.B., Pardo, W.A., Alvira, M., Mir, M., Samitier, J., (2016). Amyloid Aβ 42, a promoter of magnetite nanoparticle formation in Alzheimer's disease Nanotechnology 27, (46), 465102

The accumulation of iron oxides - mainly magnetite - with amyloid peptide is a key process in the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the mechanism for biogeneration of magnetite inside the brain of someone with AD is still unclear. The iron-storing protein ferritin has been identified as the main magnetite-storing molecule. However, accumulations of magnetite in AD are not correlated with an increase in ferritin, leaving this question unresolved. Here we demonstrate the key role of amyloid peptide Aβ 42, one of the main hallmarks of AD, in the generation of magnetite nanoparticles in the absence of ferritin. The capacity of amyloid peptide to bind and concentrate iron hydroxides, the basis for the formation of magnetite, benefits the spontaneous synthesis of these nanoparticles, even under unfavorable conditions for their formation. Using scanning and transmission electron microscopy, electron energy loss spectroscopy and magnetic force microscopy we characterized the capacity of amyloid peptide Aβ 42 to promote magnetite formation.

Keywords: Alzheimer disease (AD), amyloid peptide Ab42, magnetite nanoparticle, metallobiomolecule, iron oxide, neurodegenerative brain diseases


del Río, J. A., Gavín, R., (2016). Functions of the cellular prion protein, the end of Moore's law, and Ockham's razor theory Prion , 10, (1), 25-40

Since its discovery the cellular prion protein (encoded by the Prnp gene) has been associated with a large number of functions. The proposed functions rank from basic cellular processes such as cell cycle and survival to neural functions such as behavior and neuroprotection, following a pattern similar to that of Moore's law for electronics. In addition, particular interest is increasing in the participation of Prnp in neurodegeneration. However, in recent years a redefinition of these functions has begun, since examples of previously attributed functions were increasingly re-associated with other proteins. Most of these functions are linked to so-called “Prnp-flanking genes” that are close to the genomic locus of Prnp and which are present in the genome of some Prnp mouse models. In addition, their role in neuroprotection against convulsive insults has been confirmed in recent studies. Lastly, in recent years a large number of models indicating the participation of different domains of the protein in apoptosis have been uncovered. However, after more than 10 years of molecular dissection our view is that the simplest mechanistic model in PrPC-mediated cell death should be considered, as Ockham's razor theory suggested.

Keywords: Neurodegeneration, Prion, PrP


González, F., (2016). CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing in human pluripotent stem cells: Harnessing human genetics in a dish Developmental Dynamics , 245, (7), 788-806

Abstract: Because of their extraordinary differentiation potential, human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) can differentiate into virtually any cell type of the human body, providing a powerful platform not only for generating relevant cell types useful for cell replacement therapies, but also for modeling human development and disease. Expanding this potential, structures resembling human organs, termed organoids, have been recently obtained from hPSCs through tissue engineering. Organoids exhibit multiple cell types self-organizing into structures recapitulating in part the physiology and the cellular interactions observed in the organ in vivo, offering unprecedented opportunities for human disease modeling. To fulfill this promise, tissue engineering in hPSCs needs to be supported by robust and scalable genome editing technologies. With the advent of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology, manipulating the genome of hPSCs has now become an easy task, allowing modifying their genome with superior precision, speed, and throughput. Here we review current and potential applications of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology in hPSCs and how they contribute to establish hPSCs as a model of choice for studying human genetics.

Keywords: CRISPR/Cas9, Disease modeling, Human genetics, Human pluripotent stem cells, Tissue and genome engineering


Malandrino, Andrea, Pozo, Jose Maria, Castro-Mateos, Isaac, Frangi, Alejandro F., van Rijsbergen, Marc M., Ito, Keita, Wilke, Hans-Joachim, Dao, Tien Tuan, Ho Ba Tho, Marie-Christine, Noailly, Jerome, (2015). On the relative relevance of subject-specific geometries and degeneration-specific mechanical properties for the study of cell death in human intervertebral disc models Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 3, (Article 5), 1-15

Capturing patient- or condition-specific intervertebral disk (IVD) properties in finite element models is outmost important in order to explore how biomechanical and biophysical processes may interact in spine diseases. However, disk degenerative changes are often modeled through equations similar to those employed for healthy organs, which might not be valid. As for the simulated effects of degenerative changes, they likely depend on specific disk geometries. Accordingly, we explored the ability of continuum tissue models to simulate disk degenerative changes. We further used the results in order to assess the interplay between these simulated changes and particular IVD morphologies, in relation to disk cell nutrition, a potentially important factor in disk tissue regulation. A protocol to derive patient-specific computational models from clinical images was applied to different spine specimens. In vitro, IVD creep tests were used to optimize poro-hyperelastic input material parameters in these models, in function of the IVD degeneration grade. The use of condition-specific tissue model parameters in the specimen-specific geometrical models was validated against independent kinematic measurements in vitro. Then, models were coupled to a transport-cell viability model in order to assess the respective effects of tissue degeneration and disk geometry on cell viability. While classic disk poro-mechanical models failed in representing known degenerative changes, additional simulation of tissue damage allowed model validation and gave degeneration-dependent material properties related to osmotic pressure and water loss, and to increased fibrosis. Surprisingly, nutrition-induced cell death was independent of the grade-dependent material properties, but was favored by increased diffusion distances in large IVDs. Our results suggest that in situ geometrical screening of IVD morphology might help to anticipate particular mechanisms of disk degeneration.

Keywords: Intervertebral Disc Degeneration, Finite element modelling, Lumbar spine, Poroelasticity, Damage model, Subject-specific modelling, Disc cell nutrition


Kovtun, A., Goeckelmann, M. J., Niclas, A. A., Montufar, E. B., Ginebra, M. P., Planell, J. A., Santin, M., Ignatius, A., (2015). In vivo performance of novel soybean/gelatin-based bioactive and injectable hydroxyapatite foams Acta Biomaterialia Elsevier Ltd 12, (1), 242-249

Major limitations of calcium phosphate cements (CPCs) are their relatively slow degradation rate and the lack of macropores allowing the ingrowth of bone tissue. The development of self-setting cement foams has been proposed as a suitable strategy to overcome these limitations. In previous work we developed a gelatine-based hydroxyapatite foam (G-foam), which exhibited good injectability and cohesion, interconnected porosity and good biocompatibility in vitro. In the present study we evaluated the in vivo performance of the G-foam. Furthermore, we investigated whether enrichment of the foam with soybean extract (SG-foam) increased its bioactivity. G-foam, SG-foam and non-foamed CPC were implanted in a critical-size bone defect in the distal femoral condyle of New Zealand white rabbits. Bone formation and degradation of the materials were investigated after 4, 12 and 20 weeks using histological and biomechanical methods. The foams maintained their macroporosity after injection and setting in vivo. Compared to non-foamed CPC, cellular degradation of the foams was considerably increased and accompanied by new bone formation. The additional functionalization with soybean extract in the SG-foam slightly reduced the degradation rate and positively influenced bone formation in the defect. Furthermore, both foams exhibited excellent biocompatibility, implying that these novel materials may be promising for clinical application in non-loaded bone defects.

Keywords: Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate cement, Gelatine, Rabbit model, Soybean


Solórzano, Carla, Srikumar, Shabarinath, Canals, Rocío, Juárez, Antonio, Paytubi, Sonia, Madrid, Cristina, (2015). Hha has a defined regulatory role that is not dependent upon H-NS or StpA Frontiers in Microbiology 6, Article 773

The Hha family of proteins is involved in the regulation of gene expression in enterobacteria by forming complexes with H-NS-like proteins. Whereas several amino acid residues of both proteins participate in the interaction, some of them play a key role. Residue D48 of Hha protein is essential for the interaction with H-NS, thus the D48N substitution in Hha protein abrogates H-NS/Hha interaction. Despite being a paralog of H-NS protein, StpA interacts with HhaD48N with higher affinity than with the wild type Hha protein. To analyze whether Hha is capable of acting independently of H-NS and StpA, we conducted transcriptomic analysis on the hha and stpA deletion strains and the hhaD48N substitution strain of Salmonella Typhimurium using a custom microarray. The results obtained allowed the identification of 120 genes regulated by Hha in an H-NS/StpA-independent manner, 38% of which are horizontally acquired genes. A significant number of the identified genes are involved in functions related to cell motility, iron uptake, and pathogenicity. Thus, motility assays, siderophore detection and intra-macrophage replication assays were performed to confirm the transcriptomic data. Our findings point out the importance of Hha protein as an independent regulator in S. Typhimurium, highlighting a regulatory role on virulence.

Keywords: Salmonella, Gene regulation, Motility, Pathogenicity island, H-NS, HHA, STPA


Sachot, Nadège, Castano, Oscar, Planell, Josep A., Engel, Elisabeth, (2015). Optimization of blend parameters for the fabrication of polycaprolactone-silicon based ormoglass nanofibers by electrospinning Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part B: Applied Biomaterials , 103, (6), 1287–1293

Electrospinning is a method that can be used to efficiently produce scaffolds that mimic the fibrous structure of natural tissue, such as muscle structures or the extracellular matrix of bone. The technique is often used as a way of depositing composites (organic/inorganic materials) to obtain bioactive nanofibers which have the requisite mechanical properties for use in tissue engineering. However, many factors can influence the formation and collection of fibers, including experimental variables such as the parameters of the solution of the electrospun slurry. In this study, we assessed the influence of the polymer concentration, glass content and glass hydrolysis level on the morphology and thickness of fibers produced by electrospinning for a PCL-(Si-Ca-P2) bioactive ormoglass—organically modified glass—blend. Based on previous assays, this combination of materials shows good angiogenic and osteogenic properties, which gives it great potential for use in tissue engineering. The results of our study showed that blend preparation directly affected the features of the resulting fibers, and when the parameters of the blend are precisely controlled, fibers with a regular diameter could be produced fairly easily when 2,2,2-trifluoroethanol was used as a solvent instead of tetrahydrofuran. The diameter of the homogeneous fibers ranged from 360 to 620 nm depending on the experimental conditions used. This demonstrates that experimental optimization of the electrospinning process is crucial in order to obtain a deposit of hybrid nanofibers with a regular shape.

Keywords: Si-based glasses, Ormoglass, Electrospinning, Hybrid materials, Bioactivity, Angiogenesis


Álvarez, Z., Castaño, O., Castells, A. A., Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., Alcántara, S., (2014). Neurogenesis and vascularization of the damaged brain using a lactate-releasing biomimetic scaffold Biomaterials 35, (17), 4769-4781

Regenerative medicine strategies to promote recovery following traumatic brain injuries are currently focused on the use of biomaterials as delivery systems for cells or bioactive molecules. This study shows that cell-free biomimetic scaffolds consisting of radially aligned electrospun poly-l/dl lactic acid (PLA70/30) nanofibers release l-lactate and reproduce the 3D organization and supportive function of radial glia embryonic neural stem cells. The topology of PLA nanofibers supports neuronal migration while l-lactate released during PLA degradation acts as an alternative fuel for neurons and is required for progenitor maintenance. Radial scaffolds implanted into cavities made in the postnatal mouse brain fostered complete implant vascularization, sustained neurogenesis, and allowed the long-term survival and integration of the newly generated neurons. Our results suggest that the endogenous central nervous system is capable of regeneration through the invivo dedifferentiation induced by biophysical and metabolic cues, with no need for exogenous cells, growth factors, or genetic manipulation.

Keywords: Lactate, Nanofibers, Neural stem cells, Neurogenesis, Regeneration, Vascularization


Castaño, O., Sachot, N., Xuriguera, E., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Park, J. H., Jin, G. Z., Kim, T. H., Kim, J. H., Kim, H. W., (2014). Angiogenesis in bone regeneration: Tailored calcium release in hybrid fibrous scaffolds ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 6, (10), 7512-7522

In bone regeneration, silicon-based calcium phosphate glasses (Bioglasses) have been widely used since the 1970s. However, they dissolve very slowly because of their high amount of Si (SiO2 > 45%). Recently, our group has found that calcium ions released by the degradation of glasses in which the job of silicon is done by just 5% of TiO2 are effective angiogenic promoters, because of their stimulation of a cell-membrane calcium sensing receptor (CaSR). Based on this, other focused tests on angiogenesis have found that Bioglasses also have the potential to be angiogenic promoters even with high contents of silicon (80%); however, their slow degradation is still a problem, as the levels of silicon cannot be decreased any lower than 45%. In this work, we propose a new generation of hybrid organically modified glasses, ormoglasses, that enable the levels of silicon to be reduced, therefore speeding up the degradation process. Using electrospinning as a faithful way to mimic the extracellular matrix (ECM), we successfully produced hybrid fibrous mats with three different contents of Si (40, 52, and 70%), and thus three different calcium ion release rates, using an ormoglass–polycaprolactone blend approach. These mats offered a good platform to evaluate different calcium release rates as osteogenic promoters in an in vivo subcutaneous environment. Complementary data were collected to complement Ca2+ release analysis, such as stiffness evaluation by AFM, ζ-potential, morphology evaluation by FESEM, proliferation and differentiation analysis, as well as in vivo subcutaneous implantations. Material and biological characterization suggested that compositions of organic/inorganic hybrid materials with a Si content equivalent to 40%, which were also those that released more calcium, were osteogenic. They also showed a greater ability to form blood vessels. These results suggest that Si-based ormoglasses can be considered an efficient tool for calcium release modulation, which could play a key role in the angiogenic promoting process.

Keywords: Biological materials, Blood vessels, Calcium, Electrospinning, Glass, Hybrid materials, Silicon oxides, Sol-gel process, Sol-gels, Angiogenesis, Biological characterization, Calcium phosphate glass, Calcium-sensing receptors, Degradation process, Extracellular matrices, Organic/inorganic hybrid materials, ormoglasses, Silicon


Navarro, S., Moleiro, V., Molina-Estevez, F. J., Lozano, M. L., Chinchon, R., Almarza, E., Quintana-Bustamante, O., Mostoslavsky, G., Maetzig, T., Galla, M., Heinz, N., Schiedlmeier, B., Torres, Y., Modlich, U., Samper, E., Río, P., Segovia, J. C., Raya, A., Güenechea, G., Izpisua-Belmonte, J. C., Bueren, J. A., (2014). Generation of iPSCs from genetically corrected Brca2 hypomorphic cells: Implications in cell reprogramming and stem cell therapy Stem Cells , 32, (2), 436-446

Fanconi anemia (FA) is a complex genetic disease associated with a defective DNA repair pathway known as the FA pathway. In contrast to many other FA proteins, BRCA2 participates downstream in this pathway and has a critical role in homology-directed recombination (HDR). In our current studies, we have observed an extremely low reprogramming efficiency in cells with a hypomorphic mutation in Brca2 (Brca2Δ27/Δ27), that was associated with increased apoptosis and defective generation of nuclear RAD51 foci during the reprogramming process. Gene complementation facilitated the generation of Brca2Δ27/Δ27 induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) with a disease-free FA phenotype. Karyotype analyses and comparative genome hybridization arrays of complemented Brca2Δ27/Δ27 iPSCs showed, however, the presence of different genetic alterations in these cells, most of which were not evident in their parental Brca2 Δ27/Δ27 mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Gene-corrected Brca2Δ27/Δ27 iPSCs could be differentiated in vitro toward the hematopoietic lineage, although with a more limited efficacy than WT iPSCs or mouse embryonic stem cells, and did not engraft in irradiated Brca2Δ27/Δ27 recipients. Our results are consistent with previous studies proposing that HDR is critical for cell reprogramming and demonstrate that reprogramming defects characteristic of Brca2 mutant cells can be efficiently overcome by gene complementation. Finally, based on analysis of the phenotype, genetic stability, and hematopoietic differentiation potential of gene-corrected Brca2Δ27/Δ27 iPSCs, achievements and limitations in the application of current reprogramming approaches in hematopoietic stem cell therapy are also discussed.

Keywords: Bone marrow aplasia, Cellular therapy, Fanconi anemia, Gene therapy, Hematopoietic stem cells, Induced pluripotent stem cells


Vila, O. F., Martino, M. M., Nebuloni, L., Kuhn, G., Pérez-Amodio, S., Müller, R., Hubbell, J. A., Rubio, N., Blanco, J., (2014). Bioluminescent and micro-computed tomography imaging of bone repair induced by fibrin-binding growth factors Acta Biomaterialia 10, (10), 4377-4389

In this work we have evaluated the capacity of bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) and fibrin-binding platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB) to support cell growth and induce bone regeneration using two different imaging technologies to improve the understanding of structural and organizational processes participating in tissue repair. Human mesenchymal stem cells from adipose tissue (hAMSCs) expressing two luciferase genes, one under the control of the cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter and the other under the control of a tissue-specific promoter (osteocalcin or platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule), were seeded in fibrin matrices containing BMP-2 and fibrin-binding PDGF-BB, and further implanted intramuscularly or in a mouse calvarial defect. Then, cell growth and bone regeneration were monitored by bioluminescence imaging (BLI) to analyze the evolution of target gene expression, indicative of cell differentiation towards the osteoblastic and endothelial lineages. Non-invasive imaging was supplemented with micro-computed tomography (μCT) to evaluate bone regeneration and high-resolution μCT of vascular casts. Results from BLI showed hAMSC growth during the first week in all cases, followed by a rapid decrease in cell number; as well as an increment of osteocalcin but not PECAM-1 expression 3 weeks after implantation. Results from μCT show that the delivery of BMP-2 and PDGF-BB by fibrin induced the formation of more bone and improves vascularization, resulting in more abundant and thicker vessels, in comparison with controls. Although the inclusion of hAMSCs in the fibrin matrices made no significant difference in any of these parameters, there was a significant increment in the connectivity of the vascular network in defects treated with hAMSCs.

Keywords: Angiogenesis, Bioluminescence imaging, Bone regeneration, Fibrin, Mesenchymal stem cell


González-Vázquez, A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2014). Extracellular calcium and CaSR drive osteoinduction in mesenchymal stromal cells Acta Biomaterialia 10, (6), 2824–2833

Bone is the main store of calcium and progenitor cells in the body. During the resorption process, the local calcium concentration reaches 8-40 mM, and the surrounding cells are exposed to these fluctuations in calcium. This stimulus is a signal that is detected through the calcium sensing receptor (CaSR), which modulates chemotactic and proliferative G protein-dependent signaling pathways. The objective of the present work is to evaluate the roles of extracellular calcium ([Ca2+]o) and the CaSR in osteoinduction. Rat bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (rBMSCs) were stimulated with 10 mM of Ca2+. Several experiments were conducted to demonstrate the effect of [Ca2+]o on chemotaxis, proliferation and differentiation on the osteoblastic lineage. It was found that [Ca2+]o induces rBMSCs to migrate and proliferate in a concentration-dependent manner. Real-time polymerase chain reaction and immunofluorescence also revealed that 10 mM Ca2+ stimulates overexpression of osteogenic markers in rBMSCs, including alkaline phosphatase (ALP), bone sialoprotein, collagen Ia1 and osteocalcin. Functional assays determining ALP activity and mineralization tests both corroborate the increased expression of these markers in rBMSCs stimulated with Ca2+. Moreover, CaSR blockage inhibited the cellular response to stimulation with high concentrations of [Ca2+]o, revealing that the CaSR is a key modulator of these cellular responses.

Keywords: Calcium sensing receptor (CaSR), Extracellular calcium, Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), Osteoinduction, Regenerative medicine


Oberhansl, S., Garcia, A., Lagunas, A., Prats-Alfonso, E., Hirtz, M., Albericio, F., Fuchs, H., Samitier, J., Martinez, Elena, (2014). Mesopattern of immobilised bone morphogenetic protein-2 created by microcontact printing and dip-pen nanolithography influence C2C12 cell fate RSC Advances 4, (100), 56809-56815

Dip-pen nanolithography and microcontact printing were used to fabricate mesopatterned substrates for cell differentiation experiments. A biotin-thiol was patterned on gold substrates and subsequently functionalised with streptavidin and biotinylated bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2). The feasibility of mesopatterned substrates containing immobilised BMP-2 was proven by obtaining similar differentiation outcomes compared to the growth factor in solution. Therefore, these substrates might be suitable for replacing conventional experiments with BMP-2 in solution.

Keywords: Bone morphogenetic protein-2, C2C12 cells, Dip-pen nanolithography, Micro contact printing


Torrents, Eduard, (2014). Ribonucleotide reductases: Essential Enzymes for bacterial life Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology , 4, 1-9

Ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) is a key enzyme that mediates the synthesis of deoxyribonucleotides, the DNA precursors, for DNA synthesis in every living cell. This enzyme converts ribonucleotides to deoxyribonucleotides, the building blocks for DNA replication, and repair. Clearly, RNR enzymes have contributed to the appearance of genetic material that exists today, being essential for the evolution of all organisms on Earth. The strict control of RNR activity and dNTP pool sizes is important, as pool imbalances increase mutation rates, replication anomalies, and genome instability. Thus, RNR activity should be finely regulated allosterically and at the transcriptional level. In this review we examine the distribution, the evolution, and the genetic regulation of bacterial RNRs. Moreover, this enzyme can be considered an ideal target for anti-proliferative compounds designed to inhibit cell replication in eukaryotic cells (cancer cells), parasites, viruses, and bacteria.

Keywords: Anaerobiosis, Transcription Factors, Evolution, Gene regulation, Ribonucleotide reductase, DNA Synthesis, NrdR,nrd


Melo, E., Cárdenes, N., Garreta, E., Luque, T., Rojas, M., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2014). Inhomogeneity of local stiffness in the extracellular matrix scaffold of fibrotic mouse lungs Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials , 37, 186-195

Lung disease models are useful to study how cell engraftment, proliferation and differentiation are modulated in lung bioengineering. The aim of this work was to characterize the local stiffness of decellularized lungs in aged and fibrotic mice. Mice (2- and 24-month old; 14 of each) with lung fibrosis (N=20) and healthy controls (N=8) were euthanized after 11 days of intratracheal bleomycin (fibrosis) or saline (controls) infusion. The lungs were excised, decellularized by a conventional detergent-based (sodium-dodecyl sulfate) procedure and slices of the acellular lungs were prepared to measure the local stiffness by means of atomic force microscopy. The local stiffness of the different sites in acellular fibrotic lungs was very inhomogeneous within the lung and increased according to the degree of the structural fibrotic lesion. Local stiffness of the acellular lungs did not show statistically significant differences caused by age. The group of mice most affected by fibrosis exhibited local stiffness that were ~2-fold higher than in the control mice: from 27.2±1.64 to 64.8±7.1. kPa in the alveolar septa, from 56.6±4.6 to 99.9±11.7. kPa in the visceral pleura, from 41.1±8.0 to 105.2±13.6. kPa in the tunica adventitia, and from 79.3±7.2 to 146.6±28.8. kPa in the tunica intima. Since acellular lungs from mice with bleomycin-induced fibrosis present considerable micromechanical inhomogeneity, this model can be a useful tool to better investigate how different degrees of extracellular matrix lesion modulate cell fate in the process of organ bioengineering from decellularized lungs.

Keywords: Ageing, Atomic force microscopy, Decellularization, Lung fibrosis, Tissue engineering, Atomic force microscopy, Biological organs, Peptides, Sodium dodecyl sulfate, Sodium sulfate, Tissue engineering, Ageing, Decellularization, Extracellular matrices, Healthy controls, Inhomogeneities, Lung fibrosis, Micro-mechanical, Statistically significant difference, Mammals, bleomycin, adventitia, animal experiment, animal model, article, atomic force microscopy, bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis, cell fate, controlled study, extracellular matrix, female, intima, lung alveolus, lung fibrosis, lung mechanics, mechanical probe, microenvironment, mouse, nonhuman, pleura, priority journal, rigidity, tissue engineering


Pérez-Amodio, Soledad, Engel, Elisabeth, (2014). Bone biology and Regeneration Bio-Ceramics with Clinical Applications (ed. Vallet-Regí, M.), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (Chichester, UK) , 315-342

Each bone of the skeleton constantly undergoes modeling during life to help it to adapt to changing biomechanical forces as well as remodeling to remove old bone and replace it with new, mechanically stronger bone to help preserve bone strength. Bone remodeling involves the removal of mineralized bone by osteoclasts, followed by the formation of bone matrix through the osteoblasts that subsequently become mineralized. All these assets make bone a suitable model for regeneration. Bone tissue can be grossly divided into inorganic mineral material (mostly HA), and organic material from cells and the extracellular matrix. This chapter outlines some of the bone diseases such as osteoporosis and Paget's disease. Bone can be considered as a biphasic composite material, with two phases: one the mineral and the other collagen. This combination confers better mechanical properties on the tissue than each component itself.

Keywords: Bone biology, Bone cells, Bone diseases, Bone extracellular matrix, Bone mechanics, Bone remodeling, Bone tissue regeneration, Skeleton


Vinagre, M., Aranda, J., Casals, A., (2014). An interactive robotic system for human assistance in domestic environments Computers Helping People with Special Needs (ed. Miesenberger, K., Fels, D., Archambault, D., Pe, Zagler), Springer International Publishing 8548, 152-155

This work introduces an interactive robotic system for assistance, conceived to tackle some of the challenges that domestic environments impose. The system is organized into a network of heterogeneous components that share both physical and logical functions to perform complex tasks. It consists of several robots for object manipulation, an advanced vision system that supplies in-formation about objects in the scene and human activity, and a spatial augmented reality interface that constitutes a comfortable means for interacting with the system. A first analysis based on users' experiences confirms the importance of having a friendly user interface. The inclusion of context awareness from visual perception enriches this interface allowing the robotic system to become a flexible and proactive assistant.

Keywords: Accessibility, Activity Recognition, Ambient Intelligence, Human-Robot Interaction, Robot Assistance, Augmented reality, Complex networks, Computer vision, User interfaces, Accessibility, Activity recognition, Ambient intelligence, Domestic environments, Heterogeneous component, Interactive robotics, Robot assistance, Spatial augmented realities, Human assistance, Robotics


Aviles, AngelicaI, Casals, Alicia, (2014). On genetic algorithms optimization for heart motion compensation Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing ROBOT2013: First Iberian Robotics Conference (ed. Armada, Manuel A., Sanfeliu, Alberto, Ferre, Manuel), Springer International Publishing 252, 237-244

Heart motion compensation is a challenging problem within medical robotics and it is still considered an open research area due to the lack of robustness. As it can be formulated as an energy minimization problem, an optimization technique is needed. The selection of an adequate method has a significant impact over the global solution. For this reason, a new methodology is presented here for solving heart motion compensation in which the central topic is oriented to increase robustness with the goal of achieving a balance between efficiency and efficacy. Particularly, genetic algorithms are used as optimization technique since they can be adapted to any real application, complex and oriented to work in real-time problems.

Keywords: Genetic Algorithms, Deformation, Stochastic Optimization, Beating Heart Surgery, Robotic Assisted Surgery


Gorostiza, Pau, Arosio, Daniele, Bregestovski, Piotr, (2013). Molecular probes and switches for functional analysis of receptors, ion channels and synaptic networks Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 6, (Article 48), 1-2

Izquierdo-Serra, Mercè, Trauner, Dirk, Llobet, Artur, Gorostiza, Pau, (2013). Optical modulation of neurotransmission using calcium photocurrents through the ion channel LiGluR Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 6, (Article 3), 1-6

A wide range of light-activated molecules (photoswitches and phototriggers) have been used to the study of computational properties of an isolated neuron by acting pre and postsynaptically. However, new tools are being pursued to elicit a presynaptic calcium influx that triggers the release of neurotransmitters, most of them based in calcium-permeable Channelrhodopsin-2 mutants. Here we describe a method to control exocytosis of synaptic vesicles through the use of a light-gated glutamate receptor (LiGluR), which has recently been demonstrated that supports secretion by means of calcium influx in chromaffin cells. Expression of LiGluR in hippocampal neurons enables reversible control of neurotransmission with light, and allows modulating the firing rate of the postsynaptic neuron with the wavelength of illumination. This method may be useful for the determination of the complex transfer function of individual synapses.

Keywords: Calcium, Neurotransmission, Optogenetics, Neural coding, Firing rate, Optical control, Synaptic transfer function


Ordoñez-Gutiérrez, L., Torres, J. M., Gavín, R., Antón, M., Arroba-Espinosa, A. I., Espinosa, J. C., Vergara, C., del Río, J. A., Wandosell, F., (2013). Cellular prion protein modulates β-amyloid deposition in aged APP/PS1 transgenic mice Neurobiology of Aging , 34, (12), 2793-2804

Alzheimer's disease and prion diseases are neuropathological disorders that are caused by abnormal processing and aggregation of amyloid and prion proteins. Interactions between amyloid precursor protein (APP) and PrPc proteins have been described at the neuron level. Accordingly to this putative interaction, we investigated whether β-amyloid accumulation may affect prion infectivity and, conversely, whether different amounts of PrP may affect β-amyloid accumulation. For this purpose, we used the APPswe/PS1dE9 mouse line, a common model of Alzheimer's disease, crossed with mice that either overexpress (Tga20) or that lack prion protein (knock-out) to generate mice that express varying amounts of prion protein and deposit β-amyloid. On these mouse lines, we investigated the influence of each protein on the evolution of both diseases. Our results indicated that although the presence of APP/PS1 and β-amyloid accumulation had no effect on prion infectivity, the accumulation of β-amyloid deposits was dependent on PrPc, whereby increasing levels of prion protein were accompanied by a significant increase in β-amyloid aggregation associated with aging.

Keywords: Aging, Amyloid, Neurodegeneration, Prion, Signaling


Perez, R. A., Altankov, G., Jorge-Herrero, E., Ginebra, M. P., (2013). Micro- and nanostructured hydroxyapatite-collagen microcarriers for bone tissue-engineering applications Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine , 7, (5), 353-361

Novel hydroxyapatite (HA)-collagen microcarriers (MCs) with different micro/nanostructures were developed for bone tissue-engineering applications. The MCs were fabricated via calcium phosphate cement (CPC) emulsion in oil. Collagen incorporation in the liquid phase of the CPC resulted in higher MC sphericity. The MCs consisted of a porous network of entangled hydroxyapatite crystals, formed as a result of the CPC setting reaction. The addition of collagen to the MCs, even in an amount as small as 0.8wt%, resulted in an improved interaction with osteoblast-like Saos-2 cells. The micro/nanostructure and the surface texture of the MCs were further tailored by modifying the initial particle size of the CPC. A synergistic effect between the presence of collagen and the nanosized HA crystals was found, resulting in significantly enhanced alkaline phosphatase activity on the collagen-containing nanosized HA MCs.

Keywords: Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate cement, Cell response, Collagen, Hydroxyapatite, Microcarrier


Llorens, F., Carulla, P., Villa, A., Torres, J. M., Fortes, P., Ferrer, Isidro, Del Río, J. A., (2013). PrPC regulates epidermal growth factor receptor function and cell shape dynamics in Neuro2a cells Journal of Neurochemistry , 127, (1), 124-138

The prion protein (PrP) plays a key role in prion disease pathogenesis. Although the misfolded and pathologic variant of this protein (PrPSC) has been studied in depth, the physiological role of PrPC remains elusive and controversial. PrPC is a cell-surface glycoprotein involved in multiple cellular functions at the plasma membrane, where it interacts with a myriad of partners and regulates several intracellular signal transduction cascades. However, little is known about the gene expression changes modulated by PrPC in animals and in cellular models. In this article, we present PrPC-dependent gene expression signature in N2a cells and its implication in the most overrepresented functions: cell cycle, cell growth and proliferation, and maintenance of cell shape. PrPC over-expression enhances cell proliferation and cell cycle re-entrance after serum stimulation, while PrPC silencing slows down cell cycle progression. In addition, MAP kinase and protein kinase B (AKT) pathway activation are under the regulation of PrPC in asynchronous cells and following mitogenic stimulation. These effects are due in part to the modulation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) by PrPC in the plasma membrane, where the two proteins interact in a multimeric complex. We also describe how PrPC over-expression modulates filopodia formation by Rho GTPase regulation mainly in an AKT-Cdc42-N-WASP-dependent pathway.

Keywords: Cell signaling, Cellular prion protein, Filopodia, Gene expression, Microarray, Proliferation


Izquierdo-Serra, Mercè, Trauner, Dirk, Llobet, Artur, Gorostiza, Pau, (2013). Optical control of calcium-regulated exocytosis Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - General Subjects , 1830, (3), 2853-2860

Background Neurons signal to each other and to non-neuronal cells as those in muscle or glands, by means of the secretion of neurotransmitters at chemical synapses. In order to dissect the molecular mechanisms of neurotransmission, new methods for directly and reversibly triggering neurosecretion at the presynaptic terminal are necessary. Here we exploit the calcium permeability of the light-gated channel LiGluR in order to reversibly manipulate cytosolic calcium concentration, thus controlling calcium-regulated exocytosis. Methods Bovine chromaffin cells expressing LiGluR were stimulated with light. Exocytic events were detected by amperometry or by whole-cell patch-clamp to quantify membrane capacitance and calcium influx. Results Amperometry reveals that optical stimulation consistently triggers exocytosis in chromaffin cells. Secretion of catecholamines can be adjusted between zero and several Hz by changing the wavelength of illumination. Differences in secretion efficacy are found between the activation of LiGluR and native voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs). Our results show that the distance between sites of calcium influx and vesicles ready to be released is longer when calcium influx is triggered by LiGluR instead of native VGCCs. Conclusion and general significance LiGluR activation directly and reversibly increases the intracellular calcium concentration. Light-gated calcium influx allows for the first time to control calcium-regulated exocytosis without the need of applying depolarizing solutions or voltage clamping in chromaffin cells. Thus, LiGluR is a useful tool to study the secretory mechanisms and their spatiotemporal patterns in neurotransmission, and opens a window to study other calcium-dependent processes such as muscular contraction or cell migration.

Keywords: Optical control, Calcium, Exocytosis, Light-gated glutamate receptor (LiGluR), Neurotransmission, Optogenetics


Bueno, M., Paganetti, H., Duch, M. A., Schuemann, J., (2013). An algorithm to assess the need for clinical Monte Carlo dose calculation for small proton therapy fields based on quantification of tissue heterogeneity Medical Physics , 40, (8), 081704

Purpose: In proton therapy, complex density heterogeneities within the beam path constitute a challenge to dose calculation algorithms. This might question the reliability of dose distributions predicted by treatment planning systems based on analytical dose calculation. For cases in which substantial dose errors are expected, resorting to Monte Carlo dose calculations might be essential to ensure a successful treatment outcome and therefore the benefit is worth a presumably long computation time. The aim of this study was to define an indicator for the accuracy of dose delivery based on analytical dose calculations in treatment planning systems for small proton therapy fields to identify those patients for which Monte Carlo dose calculation is warranted. Methods: Fourteen patients treated at our facility with small passively scattered proton beams (apertures diameters below 7 cm) were selected. Plans were generated in the XiO treatment planning system in combination with a pencil beam algorithm developed at the Massachusetts General Hospital and compared to Monte Carlo dose calculations. Differences in the dose to the 50% of the gross tumor volume (D50, GTV) were assessed in a field-by-field basis. A simple and fast methodology was developed to quantify the inhomogeneity of the tissue traversed by a single small proton beam using a heterogeneity index (HI) - a concept presented by Plugfelder [Med. Phys. 34, 1506-1513 (2007)10.1118/1. 2710329] for scanned proton beams. Finally, the potential correlation between the error made by the pencil beam based treatment planning algorithm for each field and the level of tissue heterogeneity traversed by the proton beam given by the HI was evaluated. Results: Discrepancies up to 5.4% were found in D50 for single fields, although dose differences were within clinical tolerance levels (<3%) when combining all of the fields involved in the treatment. The discrepancies found for each field exhibited a strong correlation to their associated HI-values (Spearman's ρ = 0.8, p < 0.0001); the higher the level of tissue inhomogeneities for a particular field, the larger the error by the analytical algorithm. With the established correlation a threshold for HI can be set by choosing a tolerance level of 2-3% - commonly accepted in radiotherapy. Conclusions: The HI is a good indicator for the accuracy of proton field delivery in terms of GTV prescription dose coverage when small fields are delivered. Each HI-value was obtained from the CT image in less than 3 min on a computer with 2 GHz CPU allowing implementation of this methodology in clinical routine. For HI-values exceeding the threshold, either a change in beam direction (if feasible) or a recalculation of the dose with Monte Carlo would be highly recommended.

Keywords: Heterogeneities, Heterogeneity index, Monte Carlo, Proton therapy, Small fields


Vila, Olaia F., Bagó, Juli R., Navarro, Melba, Alieva, Maria, Aguilar, Elisabeth, Engel, Elisabeth, Planell, Josep, Rubio, Nuria, Blanco, Jerónimo, (2013). Calcium phosphate glass improves angiogenesis capacity of poly(lactic acid) scaffolds and stimulates differentiation of adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stromal cells to the endothelial lineage Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A , 101A, (4), 932-941

The angiogenic capacity of a new biomaterial composite of poly(lactic acid) and calcium phosphate glass (PLA/CaP) was analyzed by noninvasive bioluminescence imaging (BLI) and histological procedures. Human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stromal cells expressing cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter regulated Photinus pyralis luciferase (hAMSC-PLuc) grew up to 30 times the initial cell load, in vitro, when seeded in PLA/CaP scaffolds, but suffered an initial growth crisis followed by recovery when the scaffolds were subcutaneously implanted in SCID mice. To analyze changes in gene expression, hAMSC-PLuc cells were double labeled with a CMV promoter regulated Renilla reniformis luciferase and a Photinus pyralis luciferase reporter regulated by either the PECAM promoter or a hypoxia response element (HRE) artificial promoter and seeded in PLA/CaP and PLA scaffolds implanted in SCID mice. Analysis by BLI showed that hAMSCs in scaffolds were induced to differentiate to the endothelial lineage and did this faster in PLA/CaP than in PLA scaffolds. Endothelial differentiation correlated with a decrease in the activity of HRE regulated luciferase expression, indicative of a reduction of hypoxia. Histological analysis showed that PLA/CaP scaffolds were colonized by a functional host vascular system. Moreover, colonization by isolectin B4 positive host cells was more effective in PLA/CaP than in PLA scaffolds, corroborating BLI results.

Keywords: Scaffold, Bioluminescence imaging, Cell differentiation, Angiogenesis, Mesenchymal stromal cells


Sánchez-Danes, A., Benzoni, P., Memo, M., Dell'Era, P., Raya, A., Consiglio, A., (2013). Induced pluripotent stem cell-based studies of Parkinson's disease: Challenges and promises CNS and Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets , 12, (8), 1114-1127

A critical step in the development of effective therapeutics to treat Parkinson's disease (PD) is the identification of molecular pathogenic mechanisms underlying this chronically progressive neurodegenerative disease. However, while animal models have provided valuable information about the molecular basis of PD, the lack of faithful cellular and animal models that recapitulate human pathophysiology is delaying the development of new therapeutics. The reprogramming of somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) using delivery of defined combinations of transcription factors is a groundbreaking discovery that opens great opportunities for modeling human diseases, including PD, since iPSC can be generated from patients and differentiated into disease-relevant cell types, which would capture the patients' genetic complexity. Furthermore, human iPSC-derived neuronal models offer unprecedented access to early stages of the disease, allowing the investigation of the events that initiate the pathologic process in PD. Recently, human iPSC-derived neurons from patients with familial and sporadic PD have been generated and importantly they recapitulate some PD-related cell phenotypes, including abnormal α-synuclein accumulation in vitro, and alterations in the autophagy machinery. This review highlights the current PD iPSC-based models and discusses the potential future research directions of this field.

Keywords: Human cellular model, Induced pluripotent stem cells, Neurodegenerative disease, Parkinson's disease


Riggio, C., Nocentini, S., Catalayud, M. P., Goya, G. F., Cuschieri, A., Raffa, V., del Río, J. A., (2013). Generation of magnetized olfactory ensheathing cells for regenerative studies in the central and peripheral nervous tissue International Journal of Molecular Sciences 14, (6), 10852-10868

As olfactory receptor axons grow from the peripheral to the central nervous system (CNS) aided by olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs), the transplantation of OECs has been suggested as a plausible therapy for spinal cord lesions. The problem with this hypothesis is that OECs do not represent a single homogeneous entity, but, instead, a functionally heterogeneous population that exhibits a variety of responses, including adhesion and repulsion during cell-matrix interactions. Some studies report that the migratory properties of OECs are compromised by inhibitory molecules and potentiated by chemical gradients. In this paper, we report a system based on modified OECs carrying magnetic nanoparticles as a proof of concept experiment enabling specific studies aimed at exploring the potential of OECs in the treatment of spinal cord injuries. Our studies have confirmed that magnetized OECs (i) survive well without exhibiting stress-associated cellular responses; (ii) in vitro, their migration can be modulated by magnetic fields; and (iii) their transplantation in organotypic slices of spinal cord and peripheral nerve showed positive integration in the model. Altogether, these findings indicate the therapeutic potential of magnetized OECs for CNS injuries.

Keywords: Magnetic nanoparticle, Nerve regeneration, Olfactory ensheathing cell, Organotypic culture


Ginebra, M. P., Canal, C., Espanol, M., Pastorino, D., Montufar, E. B., (2012). Calcium phosphate cements as drug delivery materials Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 64, (12), 1090-1110

Calcium phosphate cements are used as synthetic bone grafts, with several advantages, such as their osteoconductivity and injectability. Moreover, their low-temperature setting reaction and intrinsic porosity allow for the incorporation of drugs and active principles in the material. It is the aim of the present work to: a) provide an overview of the different approaches taken in the application of calcium phosphate cements for drug delivery in the skeletal system, and b) identify the most significant achievements. The drugs or active principles associated to calcium phosphate cements are classified in three groups, i) low molecular weight drugs; ii) high molecular weight biomolecules; and iii) ions.

Keywords: Antibiotic, Bioceramic, Biomaterial, Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate cement, Ceramic matrix, Growth factor, Hydroxyapatite, Ions, Protein


Sánchez-Danés, A., Richaud-Patin, Y., Carballo-Carbajal, I., Jiménez-Delgado, S., Caig, C., Mora, S., Di Guglielmo, C., Ezquerra, M., Patel, B., Giralt, A., Canals, J. M., Memo, M., Alberch, J., López-Barneo, J., Vila, M., Cuervo, A. M., Tolosa, E., Consiglio, A., Raya, A., (2012). Disease-specific phenotypes in dopamine neurons from human iPS-based models of genetic and sporadic Parkinson's disease EMBO Molecular Medicine , 4, (5), 380-395

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) offer an unprecedented opportunity to model human disease in relevant cell types, but it is unclear whether they could successfully model age-related diseases such as Parkinson's disease (PD). Here, we generated iPSC lines from seven patients with idiopathic PD (ID-PD), four patients with familial PD associated to the G2019S mutation in the Leucine-Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2) gene (LRRK2-PD) and four age- and sex-matched healthy individuals (Ctrl). Over long-time culture, dopaminergic neurons (DAn) differentiated from either ID-PD- or LRRK2-PD-iPSC showed morphological alterations, including reduced numbers of neurites and neurite arborization, as well as accumulation of autophagic vacuoles, which were not evident in DAn differentiated from Ctrl-iPSC. Further induction of autophagy and/or inhibition of lysosomal proteolysis greatly exacerbated the DAn morphological alterations, indicating autophagic compromise in DAn from ID-PD- and LRRK2-PD-iPSC, which we demonstrate occurs at the level of autophagosome clearance. Our study provides an iPSC-based in vitro model that captures the patients' genetic complexity and allows investigation of the pathogenesis of both sporadic and familial PD cases in a disease-relevant cell type.

Keywords: Autophagy, Disease modeling, LRRK2 mutation, Neurodegeneration, Pluripotent stem cells


McLenachan, S., Menchon, C., Raya, A., Consiglio, A., Edel, M. J., (2012). Cyclin A(1) is essential for setting the pluripotent state and reducing tumorigenicity of induced pluripotent stem cells Stem Cells and Development , 21, (15), 2891-2899

The proper differentiation and threat of cancer rising from the application of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are major bottlenecks in the field and are thought to be inherently linked to the pluripotent nature of iPS cells. To address this question, we have compared iPS cells to embryonic stem cells (ESCs), the gold standard of ground state pluripotency, in search for proteins that may improve pluripotency of iPS cells. We have found that when reprogramming somatic cells toward pluripotency, 1%-5% of proteins of 5 important cell functions are not set to the correct expression levels compared to ESCs, including mainly cell cycle proteins. We have shown that resetting cyclin A1 protein expression of early- passage iPS cells closer to the ground state pluripotent state of mouse ESCs improves the pluripotency and reduces the threat of cancer of iPS cells. This work is a proof of principle that reveals that setting expression of certain proteins correctly during reprogramming is essential for achieving ESC- state pluripotency. This finding would be of immediate help to those researchers in different fields of iPS cell work that specializes in cell cycle, apoptosis, cell adhesion, cell signaling, and cytoskeleton.

Keywords: Self-renewal, IPS cells, Ground-state, C-MYC, Generation, Pathway, Disease, Mice, Link, P53


Aguirre, A., Gonzalez, A., Navarro, M., Castano, O., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2012). Control of microenvironmental cues with a smart biomaterial composite promotes endothelial progenitor cell angiogenesis European Cells & Materials , 24, 90-106

Smart biomaterials play a key role when aiming at successful tissue repair by means of regenerative medicine approaches, and are expected to contain chemical as well as mechanical cues that will guide the regenerative process. Recent advances in the understanding of stem cell biology and mechanosensing have shed new light onto the importance of the local microenvironment in determining cell fate. Herein we report the biological properties of a bioactive, biodegradable calcium phosphate glass/polylactic acid composite biomaterial that promotes bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) mobilisation, differentiation and angiogenesis through the creation of a controlled bone healing-like microenvironment. The angiogenic response is triggered by biochemical and mechanical cues provided by the composite, which activate two synergistic cell signalling pathways: a biochemical one mediated by the calcium-sensing receptor and a mechanosensitive one regulated by non-muscle myosin II contraction. Together, these signals promote a synergistic response by activating EPCs-mediated VEGF and VEGFR-2 synthesis, which in turn promote progenitor cell homing, differentiation and tubulogenesis. These findings highlight the importance of controlling microenvironmental cues for stem/progenitor cell tissue engineering and offer exciting new therapeutical opportunities for biomaterialbased vascularisation approaches and clinical applications.

Keywords: Calcium phosphate glass composite, Smart biomaterial, Endothelial progenitor cell, Angiogenesis, Mechanosensing, Calcium-sensing receptor


Comelles, J., Hortigüela, V., Samitier, J., Martinez, E., (2012). Versatile gradients of covalently bound proteins on microstructured substrates Langmuir , 28, (38), 13688-13697

In this work, we propose an easy method to produce highly tunable gradients of covalently bound proteins on topographically modified poly(methyl methacrylate). We used a rnicrofluidic approach to obtain linear gradients with high slope (0.5 pmol.cm(-2).mm(-1)), relevant at the single-cell level. These protein gradients were characterized using fluorescence microscopy and surface plasmon resonance. Both experimental results and theoretical modeling on the protein gradients generated have proved them to be highly reproducible, stable up to 7 days, and easily tunable. This method enables formation of versatile cell culture platforms combining both complex biochemical and physical cues in an attempt to approach in vitro cell culture methods to in vivo cellular microenvironments.

Keywords: Cell-migration, Microfluidic channel, Surface, Streptavidin, Molecules, Topography, Mechanisms, Generation, Responses, Guidance


Valle-Delgado, J. J., Liepina, I., Lapidus, D., Sabaté, R., Ventura, S., Samitier, J., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2012). Self-assembly of human amylin-derived peptides studied by atomic force microscopy and single molecule force spectroscopy Soft Matter , 8, (4), 1234-1242

The self-assembly of peptides and proteins into amyloid fibrils of nanometric thickness and up to several micrometres in length, a phenomenon widely observed in biological systems, has recently aroused a growing interest in nanotechnology and nanomedicine. Here we have applied atomic force microscopy and single molecule force spectroscopy to study the amyloidogenesis of a peptide derived from human amylin and of its reverse sequence. The spontaneous formation of protofibrils and their orientation along well-defined directions on graphite and DMSO-coated graphite substrates make the studied peptides interesting candidates for nanotechnological applications. The measured binding forces between peptides correlate with the number of hydrogen bonds between individual peptides inside the fibril structure according to molecular dynamics simulations.

Keywords: Amyloid fibril, Amyloidogenesis, Binding forces, Fibril structure, Graphite substrate, Molecular dynamics simulations, Nanometrics, Protofibrils, Single molecule force spectroscopy, Spontaneous formation, Atomic force microscopy, Atomic spectroscopy, Graphite, Hydrogen bonds, Medical nanotechnology, Molecular dynamics, Molecular physics, Self assembly, Thickness measurement, Peptides


Colomer-Farrarons, J., Miribel-Català , P., Juanola-Feliu, E., Samitier, J., (2012). A proof-of-concept of a multi-harvesting power source in a low-voltage CMOS technology IEEE Computer Society 2012 IEEE International Conference on Green Computing and Communications, Conference on Internet of Things, and Conference on Cyber, Physical and Social Computing , IEEE (Besancon, France) , 655-659

This paper presents a view of the state of the art in the field of energy harvesting solutions focused on discrete to integrated solutions in the range of low-power generation, from a few microwatts to several nanowatts. A view of commercial solutions to the new trends in new self-powered smart sensors operating without the use of any kind of battery will be presented. A specific solution developed in our laboratory will be used as an example of application.

Keywords: Electric power generation, Energy scavenging, Low-power electronics, Power conditioning


Castaño, O., Eltohamy, M., Kim, H. W., (2012). Electrospinning technology in tissue regeneration Nanotechnology in Regenerative Medicine - Methods and Protocols (Methods in Molecular Biology) (ed. Navarro, M., Planell, J. A.), Springer (New York, USA) 811, 127-140

Electrospinning is one of the most versatile and effective tools to produce nanostructured fibers in the biomedical science fields. The nanofibrous structure with diameters from tens to hundreds of nanometers largely mimics the native extracellular matrix (ECM) of many tissues. Thus far, a range of compositions including polymers and ceramics and their composites/hybrids have been successfully applied for generating electrospun nanofibers. Different processing tools in electrospinning set-ups and assemblies are currently developed to tune the morphology and properties of nanofibers. Herein, we demonstrate the electrospinning process and the electrospun biomaterials for specific use in tissue regeneration with some examples, involving different material combinations and fiber morphologies.

Keywords: Ceramic, Composites, Electrospinning, Nanofi bers, Nanostructured fi bers, Polymer, Tissue regeneration


Navarro, M., Planell, J. A., (2012). Is nanotechnology the key to unravel and engineer biological processes? Nanotechnology in Regenerative Medicine - Methods and Protocols (Methods in Molecular Biology) (ed. Navarro, M., Planell, J. A.), Springer (New York, USA) 811, 1-16

Regenerative medicine is an emerging field aiming to the development of new reparative strategies to treat degenerative diseases, injury, and trauma through developmental pathways in order to rebuild the architecture of the original injured organ and take over its functionality. Most of the processes and interactions involved in the regenerative process take place at subcellular scale. Nanotechnology provides the tools and technology not only to detect, to measure, or to image the interactions between the different biomolecules and biological entities, but also to control and guide the regenerative process. The relevance of nanotechnology for the development of regenerative medicine as well as an overview of the different tools that contribute to unravel and engineer biological systems are presented in this chapter. In addition, general data about the social impact and global investment in nanotechnology are provided.

Keywords: Nanotechnology, Regenerative medicine, Tissue engineering


Montufar, Edgar B., Traykova, Tania, Planell, Josep A., Ginebra, Maria-Pau, (2011). Comparison of a low molecular weight and a macromolecular surfactant as foaming agents for injectable self setting hydroxyapatite foams: Polysorbate 80 versus gelatine Materials Science and Engineering: C 31, (7), 1498-1504

Hydroxyapatite foams are potential synthetic bone grafting materials or scaffolds for bone tissue engineering. A novel method to obtain injectable hydroxyapatite foams consists in foaming the liquid phase of a calcium phosphate cement. In this process, the cement powder is incorporated into a liquid foam, which acts as a template for macroporosity. After setting, the cement hardens maintaining the macroporous structure of the foam. In this study a low molecular weight surfactant, Polysorbate 80, and a protein, gelatine, were compared as foaming agents of a calcium phosphate cement. The foamability of Polysorbate 80 was greater than that of gelatine, resulting in higher macroporosity in the set hydroxyapatite foam and higher macropore interconnectivity. Gelatine produced less interconnected foams, especially at high concentrations, due to a higher liquid foam stability. However it increased the injectability and cohesion of the foamed paste, and enhanced osteoblastic-like cell adhesion, all of them important properties for bone grafting materials.

Keywords: Hydroxyapatite, Porosity, Calcium phosphate cement, Scaffolds, Foaming, Bone regeneration


Yue, J. J., Morgenstern, R., Morgenstern, C., Lauryssen, C., (2011). Shape memory hydrogels - A novel material for treating age-related degenerative conditions of the Spine European Musculoskeletal Review , 6, (3), 184-188

Hydrogels are water-insoluble hydrophilic polymers used in a wide range of medical products such as, drug delivery, tissue replacement, heart surgery, gynaecology, ophthalmology, plastic surgery and orthopaedic surgery. These polymers exhibit low toxicity, reduced tissue adherence, and are highly biocompatible. A class of hydrogels, hydrolysed polyacrylonitriles, possess unique shape memory properties, which, when combined with biodurability, mechanical strength and viscoelasticity make them ideal for treating certain degenerative conditions of the spine. Animal and other in vitro studies have shown that the hydrogel is biocompatible and well tolerated by host tissues. This article focuses on two specific indications in spine surgery that demonstrate the potential of hydrogel-based technology to provide significant treatment advantages.

Keywords: Biocompatibility, Degenerative disc disease, Hydrolysed polyacrylonitrile, Minimally invasive surgery, Shape memory hydrogel, Spinal stenosis


Trepat, X., Fredberg, J. J., (2011). Plithotaxis and emergent dynamics in collective cellular migration Trends in Cell Biology 21, (11), 638-646

For a monolayer sheet to migrate cohesively, it has long been suspected that each constituent cell must exert physical forces not only upon its extracellular matrix but also upon neighboring cells. The first comprehensive maps of these distinct force components reveal an unexpected physical picture. Rather than showing smooth and systematic variation within the monolayer, the distribution of physical forces is dominated by heterogeneity, both in space and in time, which emerges spontaneously, propagates over great distances, and cooperates over the span of many cell bodies. To explain the severe ruggedness of this force landscape and its role in collective cell guidance, the well known mechanisms of chemotaxis, durotaxis, haptotaxis are clearly insufficient. In a broad range of epithelial and endothelial cell sheets, collective cell migration is governed instead by a newly discovered emergent mechanism of innately collective cell guidance - plithotaxis.

Keywords: Positional information, Drosophila embryo, Sheet migration, Dpp gradient, Cells, Force, Morphogenesis, Transition, Identification, Proliferation


Crona, Mikael, Torrents, Eduard, Rohr, Asmund K., Hofer, Anders, Furrer, Ernst, Tomter, Ane B., Andersson, K. Kristoffer, Sahlin, Margareta, Sjoberg, Britt-Marie, (2011). NrdH-redoxin protein mediates high enzyme activity in manganese-reconstituted ribonucleotide reductase from bacillus anthracis Journal of Biological Chemistry , 286, (38), 33053-33060

Bacillus anthracis is a severe mammalian pathogen encoding a class Ib ribonucleotide reductase (RNR). RNR is a universal enzyme that provides the four essential deoxyribonucleotides needed for DNA replication and repair. Almost all Bacillus spp. encode both class Ib and class III RNR operons, but the B. anthracis class III operon was reported to encode a pseudogene, and conceivably class Ib RNR is necessary for spore germination and proliferation of B. anthracis upon infection. The class Ib RNR operon in B. anthracis encodes genes for the catalytic NrdE protein, the tyrosyl radical metalloprotein NrdF, and the flavodoxin protein NrdI. The tyrosyl radical in NrdF is stabilized by an adjacent Mn(2)(III) site (Mn-NrdF) formed by the action of the NrdI protein or by a Fe(2)(III) site (Fe-NrdF) formed spontaneously from Fe(2+) and O(2). In this study, we show that the properties of B. anthracis Mn-NrdF and Fe-NrdF are in general similar for interaction with NrdE and NrdI. Intriguingly, the enzyme activity of Mn-NrdF was approximately an order of magnitude higher than that of Fe-NrdF in the presence of the class Ib-specific physiological reductant NrdH, strongly suggesting that the Mn-NrdF form is important in the life cycle of B. anthracis. Whether the Fe-NrdF form only exists in vitro or whether the NrdF protein in B. anthracis is a true cambialistic enzyme that can work with either manganese or iron remains to be established.

Keywords: Escherichia-coli, Corynebacterium-ammoniagenes, Crystal-structure, Cofactor, Cubunit, Growth, Genes


Llorens, Franc, Hummel, Manuela, Pastor, Xavier, Ferrer, Anna, Pluvinet, Raquel, Vivancos, Ana, Castillo, Ester, Iraola, Susana, Mosquera, Ana M., Gonzalez, Eva, Lozano, Juanjo, Ingham, Matthew, Dohm, Juliane C., Noguera, Marc, Kofler, Robert, Antonio del Rio, Jose, Bayes, Monica, Himmelbauer, Heinz, Sumoy, Lauro, (2011). Multiple platform assessment of the EGF dependent transcriptome by microarray and deep tag sequencing analysis BMC Genomics , 12, 326

Background: Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) is a key regulatory growth factor activating many processes relevant to normal development and disease, affecting cell proliferation and survival. Here we use a combined approach to study the EGF dependent transcriptome of HeLa cells by using multiple long oligonucleotide based microarray platforms (from Agilent, Operon, and Illumina) in combination with digital gene expression profiling (DGE) with the Illumina Genome Analyzer. Results: By applying a procedure for cross-platform data meta-analysis based on RankProd and GlobalAncova tests, we establish a well validated gene set with transcript levels altered after EGF treatment. We use this robust gene list to build higher order networks of gene interaction by interconnecting associated networks, supporting and extending the important role of the EGF signaling pathway in cancer. In addition, we find an entirely new set of genes previously unrelated to the currently accepted EGF associated cellular functions. Conclusions: We propose that the use of global genomic cross-validation derived from high content technologies (microarrays or deep sequencing) can be used to generate more reliable datasets. This approach should help to improve the confidence of downstream in silico functional inference analyses based on high content data.

Keywords: Gene-expression measurements, Quality-control maqc, Cancer-cell-lines, Real-time pcr, Oligonucleotide microarrays, Phosphorylation dynamics, In-vivo, Networks, Signal, Technologies


Byrne, Damien P., Lacroix, Damien, Prendergast, Patrick J., (2011). Simulation of fracture healing in the tibia: Mechanoregulation of cell activity using a lattice modeling approach Journal of Orthopaedic Research , 29, (10), 1496-1503

In this study, a three-dimensional (3D) computational simulation of bone regeneration was performed in a human tibia under realistic muscle loading. The simulation was achieved using a discrete lattice modeling approach combined with a mechanoregulation algorithm to describe the cellular processes involved in the healing process namely proliferation, migration, apoptosis, and differentiation of cells. The main phases of fracture healing were predicted by the simulation, including the bone resorption phase, and there was a qualitative agreement between the temporal changes in interfragmentary strain and bending stiffness by comparison to experimental data and clinical results. Bone healing was simulated beyond the reparative phase by modeling the transition of woven bone into lamellar bone. Because the simulation has been shown to work with realistic anatomical 3D geometry and muscle loading, it demonstrates the potential of simulation tools for patient-specific pre-operative treatment planning.

Keywords: Tissue differentiation, Computational analysis, Mechanical conditions, Bone regeneration, Weight-bearing, Proliferation, Osteoblast, Stiffness, Ingrowth, Scaffold


van Zanten, T. S., Gomez, J., Manzo, C., Cambi, A., Buceta, J., Reigada, R., Garcia-Parajo, M. F., (2010). Direct mapping of nanoscale compositional connectivity on intact cell membranes Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107, (35), 15437-15442

Lateral segregation of cell membranes is accepted as a primary mechanism for cells to regulate a diversity of cellular functions. In this context, lipid rafts have been conceptualized as organizing principle of biological membranes where underlying cholesterol-mediated selective connectivity must exist even at the resting state. However, such a level of nanoscale compositional connectivity has been challenging to prove. Here we used single-molecule near-field scanning optical microscopy to visualize the nanolandscape of raft ganglioside GM1 after tightening by its ligand cholera toxin (CTxB) on intact cell membranes. We show that CTxB tightening of GM1 is sufficient to initiate a minimal raft coalescence unit, resulting in the formation of cholesterol-dependent GM1 nanodomains <120 nm in size. This particular arrangement appeared independent of cell type and GM1 expression level on the membrane. Simultaneous dual color high-resolution images revealed that GPI anchored and certain transmembrane proteins were recruited to regions proximal (<150 nm) to CTxB-GM1 nanodomains without physical intermixing. Together with in silico experiments, our high-resolution data conclusively demonstrate the existence of raft-based interconnectivity at the nanoscale. Such a linked state on resting cell membranes constitutes thus an obligatory step toward the hierarchical evolution of large-scale raft coalescence upon cell activation.

Keywords: Cholera toxin, Membrane heterogeneity, Near-field scanning optical microscopy, Raft ganglioside GM1, Single-molecule detection


del Rio, Jose Antonio, Soriano, Eduardo, (2010). Regenerating cortical connections in a dish: the entorhino-hippocampal organotypic slice co-culture as tool for pharmacological screening of molecules promoting axon regeneration Nature Protocols 5, (2), 217-226

We present a method for using long-term organotypic slice co-cultures of the entorhino-hippocampal formation to analyze the axon-regenerative properties of a determined compound. The culture method is based on the membrane interphase method, which is easy to perform and is generally reproducible. The degree of axonal regeneration after treatment in lesioned cultures can be seen directly using green fluorescent protein (GFP) transgenic mice or by axon tracing and histological methods. Possible changes in cell morphology after pharmacological treatment can be determined easily by focal in vitro electroporation. The well-preserved cytoarchitectonics in the co-culture facilitate the analysis of identified cells or regenerating axons. The protocol takes up to a month.

Keywords: Cajal-retzius cells, Green-fluorescent-protein, In-vitro model, Rat hippocampus, Nervous-tissue, Brain-slices, Dentate gyrus, Gene-transfer, Cultures, Damage


Santoro, R., Olivares, A. L., Brans, G., Wirz, D., Longinotti, C., Lacroix, D., Martin, I., Wendt, D., (2010). Bioreactor based engineering of large-scale human cartilage grafts for joint resurfacing Biomaterials 31, (34), 8946-8952

Apart from partial or total joint replacement, no surgical procedure is currently available to treat large and deep cartilage defects associated with advanced diseases such as osteoarthritis. In this work, we developed a perfusion bioreactor system to engineer human cartilage grafts in a size with clinical relevance for unicompartmental resurfacing of human knee joints (50 mm diameter x 3 mm thick). Computational fluid dynamics models were developed to optimize the flow profile when designing the perfusion chamber. Using the developed system, human chondrocytes could be seeded throughout large 50 mm diameter scaffolds with a uniform distribution. Following two weeks culture, tissues grown in the bioreactor were viable and homogeneously cartilaginous, with biomechanical properties approaching those of native cartilage. In contrast, tissues generated by conventional manual production procedures were highly inhomogeneous and contained large necrotic regions. The unprecedented engineering of human cartilage tissues in this large-scale opens the practical perspective of grafting functional biological substitutes for the clinical treatment for extensive cartilage defects, possibly in combination with surgical or pharmacological therapies to support durability of the implant. Ongoing efforts are aimed at integrating the up-scaled bioreactor based processes within a fully automated and closed manufacturing system for safe, standardized, and GMP compliant production of large-scale cartilage grafts.

Keywords: Bioreactor, Cartilage repair, Computational fluid dynamics, Scale-up, Regenerative medicine, Tissue engineering


Angelini, T. E., Hannezo, E., Trepat, X., Fredberg, J. J., Weitz, D. A., (2010). Cell migration driven by cooperative substrate deformation patterns Physical Review Letters , 104, (16), 168104

Most eukaryotic cells sense and respond to the mechanical properties of their surroundings. This can strongly influence their collective behavior in embryonic development, tissue function, and wound healing. We use a deformable substrate to measure collective behavior in cell motion due to substrate mediated cell-cell interactions. We quantify spatial and temporal correlations in migration velocity and substrate deformation, and show that cooperative cell-driven patterns of substrate deformation mediate long-distance mechanical coupling between cells and control collective cell migration.

Keywords: Movement, Morphogenesis, Stiffness, Forces, Flocks


Valle-Delgado, J. J., Alfonso-Prieto, M., de Groot, N. S., Ventura, S., Samitier, J., Rovira, C., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2010). Modulation of A beta(42) fibrillogenesis by glycosaminoglycan structure FASEB Journal , 24, (11), 4250-4261

The role of amyloid beta (A beta) peptide in the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease is linked to the presence of soluble A beta species. Sulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) promote A beta fibrillogenesis and reduce the toxicity of the peptide in neuronal cell cultures, but a satisfactory rationale to explain these effects at the molecular level has not been provided yet. We have used circular dichroism, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, fluorescence microscopy and spectroscopy, protease digestion, atomic force microscopy (AFM), and molecular dynamics simulations to characterize the association of the 42-residue fragment A beta(42) with sulfated GAGs, hyaluronan, chitosan, and poly(vinyl sulfate) (PVS). Our results indicate that the formation of stable A beta(42) fibrils is promoted by polymeric GAGs with negative charges placed in-frame with the 4.8-angstrom separating A beta(42) monomers within protofibrillar beta-sheets. Incubation of A beta(42) with excess sulfated GAGs and hyaluronan increased amyloid fibril content and resistance to proteolysis 2- to 5-fold, whereas in the presence of the cationic polysaccharide chitosan, A beta(42) fibrillar species were reduced by 25% and sensitivity to protease degradation increased similar to 3-fold. Fibrils of intermediate stability were obtained in the presence of PVS, an anionic polymer with more tightly packed charges than GAGs. Important structural differences between A beta(42) fibrils induced by PVS and A beta(42) fibrils obtained in the presence of GAGs and hyaluronan were observed by AFM, whereas mainly precursor protofibrillar forms were detected after incubation with chitosan. Computed binding energies per peptide from -11.2 to -13.5 kcal/mol were calculated for GAGs and PVS, whereas a significantly lower value of -7.4 kcal/mol was obtained for chitosan. Taken together, our data suggest a simple and straightforward mechanism to explain the role of GAGs as enhancers of the formation of insoluble A beta(42) fibrils trapping soluble toxic forms.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease, Amyloid fibril structure, Fibrillogenesis enhancers and inhibitors, Polysaccharides


Ginebra, M. P., Espanol, M., Montufar, E. B., Perez, R. A., Mestres, G., (2010). New processing approaches in calcium phosphate cements and their applications in regenerative medicine Acta Biomaterialia 6, (8), 2863-2873

The key feature of calcium phosphate cements (CPCs) lies in the setting reaction triggered by mixing one or more solid calcium phosphate salts with an aqueous solution. Upon mixture, the reaction takes place through a dissolution-precipitation process which is macroscopically observed by a gradual hardening of the cement paste. The precipitation of hydroxyapatite nanocrystals at body or room temperature, and the fact that those materials can be used as self-setting pastes, have for many years been the most attractive features of CPCs. However, the need to develop materials able to sustain bone tissue ingrowth and be capable of delivering drugs and bioactive molecules, together with the continuous requirement from surgeons to develop more easily handling cements, has pushed the development of new processing routes that can accommodate all these requirements, taking advantage of the possibility of manipulating the self-setting CPC paste. It is the goal of this paper to provide a brief overview of the new processing developments in the area of CPCs and to identify the most significant achievements.

Keywords: Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate cements, Granules, Microcarriers, Scaffolds


Madronal, Noelia, Lopez-Aracil, Cristina, Rangel, Alejandra, del Rio, Jose A., Delgado-Garcia, Jose M., Gruart, Agnes, (2010). Effects of Enriched Physical and Social Environments on Motor Performance, Associative Learning, and Hippocampal Neurogenesis in Mice PLoS ONE 5, (6), e11130

We have studied the motor abilities and associative learning capabilities of adult mice placed in different enriched environments. Three-month-old animals were maintained for a month alone (AL), alone in a physically enriched environment (PHY), and, finally, in groups in the absence (SO) or presence (SOPHY) of an enriched environment. The animals' capabilities were subsequently checked in the rotarod test, and for classical and instrumental learning. The PHY and SOPHY groups presented better performances in the rotarod test and in the acquisition of the instrumental learning task. In contrast, no significant differences between groups were observed for classical eyeblink conditioning. The four groups presented similar increases in the strength of field EPSPs (fEPSPs) evoked at the hippocampal CA3-CA1 synapse across classical conditioning sessions, with no significant differences between groups. These trained animals were pulse-injected with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) to determine hippocampal neurogenesis. No significant differences were found in the number of NeuN/BrdU double-labeled neurons. We repeated the same BrdU study in one-month-old mice raised for an additional month in the above-mentioned four different environments. These animals were not submitted to rotarod or conditioned tests. Non-trained PHY and SOPHY groups presented more neurogenesis than the other two groups. Thus, neurogenesis seems to be related to physical enrichment at early ages, but not to learning acquisition in adult mice.

Keywords: Long-term potentiation, Adult neurogenesis, Synaptic transmission, Cell proliferation, CA3-CA1 synapse, Granule cells


Park, C. Y., Tambe, D., Alencar, A. M., Trepat, X., Zhou, E. H., Millet, E., Butler, J. P., Fredberg, J. J., (2010). Mapping the cytoskeletal prestress The American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology , 298, (5), C1245-C1252

Park CY, Tambe D, Alencar AM, Trepat X, Zhou EH, Millet E, Butler JP, Fredberg JJ. Mapping the cytoskeletal prestress. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 298: C1245-C1252, 2010. First published February 17, 2010; doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00417.2009.-Cell mechanical properties on a whole cell basis have been widely studied, whereas local intracellular variations have been less well characterized and are poorly understood. To fill this gap, here we provide detailed intracellular maps of regional cytoskeleton (CSK) stiffness, loss tangent, and rate of structural rearrangements, as well as their relationships to the underlying regional F-actin density and the local cytoskeletal prestress. In the human airway smooth muscle cell, we used micropatterning to minimize geometric variation. We measured the local cell stiffness and loss tangent with optical magnetic twisting cytometry and the local rate of CSK remodeling with spontaneous displacements of a CSK-bound bead. We also measured traction distributions with traction microscopy and cell geometry with atomic force microscopy. On the basis of these experimental observations, we used finite element methods to map for the first time the regional distribution of intracellular prestress. Compared with the cell center or edges, cell corners were systematically stiffer and more fluidlike and supported higher traction forces, and at the same time had slower remodeling dynamics. Local remodeling dynamics had a close inverse relationship with local cell stiffness. The principal finding, however, is that systematic regional variations of CSK stiffness correlated only poorly with regional F-actin density but strongly and linearly with the regional prestress. Taken together, these findings in the intact cell comprise the most comprehensive characterization to date of regional variations of cytoskeletal mechanical properties and their determinants.

Keywords: Cell mechanics, Stiffness, Remodeling, Heterogeneity


Messeguer, J., Masip, I., Montolio, M., del Rio, J. A., Soriano, E., Messeguer, A., (2010). Peptoids bearing tertiary amino residues in the n-alkyl side chains: synthesis of a potent inhibitor of Semaphorin 3A Tetrahedron , 66, (13), 2444-2454

A study on the preparation of N-alkylglycines (peptoids) that contain tertiary amino residues on the N-alkyl side chains is reported. The appropriate combination of the submonomer strategy with N-alkylglycine monomer couplings depending upon the structure of the N-alkyl side chain that must be incorporated into the peptoid is determinant for the efficiency of the synthetic pathway. The application of this strategy to the preparation of SICHI, an N-alkyglycine trimer containing tertiary amino residues in the three N-alkyl branches, and that has been identified as a potent Semaphorin 3A inhibitor, is presented.

Keywords: Peptoids, N-Alkylglycine monomers, Solid-phase synthesis, Semaphorin inhibition, Axonal regeneration


Aguirre, A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2010). Dynamics of bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cell/mesenchymal stem cell interaction in co-culture and its implications in angiogenesis Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications , 400, (2), 284-291

Tissue engineering aims to regenerate tissues and organs by using cell and biomaterial-based approaches. One of the current challenges in the field is to promote proper vascularization in the implant to prevent cell death and promote host integration. Bone marrow endothelial progenitor cells (BM-EPCs) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are bone marrow resident stem cells widely employed for proangiogenic applications. In vivo, they are likely to interact frequently both in the bone marrow and at sites of injury. In this study, the physical and biochemical interactions between BM-EPCs and MSCs in an in vitro co-culture system were investigated to further clarify their roles in vascularization. BM-EPC/MSC co-cultures established close cell-cell contacts soon after seeding and self-assembled to form elongated structures at 3 days. Besides direct contact, cells also exhibited vesicle transport phenomena. When co-cultured in Matrigel, tube formation was greatly enhanced even in serum-starved, growth factor free medium. Both MSCs and BM-EPCs contributed to these tubes. However, cell proliferation was greatly reduced in co-culture and morphological differences were observed. Gene expression and cluster analysis for wide panel of angiogenesis-related transcripts demonstrated up-regulation of angiogenic markers but down-regulation of many other cytokines. These data suggest that cross-talk occurs in between BM-EPCs and MSCs through paracrine and direct cell contact mechanisms leading to modulation of the angiogenic response.

Keywords: Bone marrow, Endothelial progenitor cell, Co-culture, Mesenchymal stem cell, Angiogenesis


Aguirre, A., Gonzalez, A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., (2010). Extracellular calcium modulates in vitro bone marrow-derived Flk-1(+) CD34(+) progenitor cell chemotaxis and differentiation through a calcium-sensing receptor Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications , 393, (1), 156-161

Angiogenesis is a complex process regulated by many cell types and a large variety of biochemical signals such as growth factors, transcription factors, oxygen and nutrient diffusion among others. In the present study, we found out that Flk-1(+) CD34(+) progenitor cells (bone marrow resident cells with an important role in angiogenesis) were responsive to changes in extracellular calcium concentration through a membrane bound, G-protein-coupled receptor sensitive to calcium ions related to the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR). Calcium was able to induce progenitor cell migration in Boyden chamber experiments and tubulogenesis in Matrigel assays. Addition of anti-CaSR antibodies completely blocked the effect, while CaSR agonist Mg2+ produced a similar response to that of calcium. Real time RT-PCR for a wide array of angiogenesis-related genes showed increased expression of endothelial markers and signaling pathways involved in angiogenesis. These results suggest calcium could be a physiological modulator of the bone marrow progenitor cell-mediated angiogenic response.

Keywords: Endothelial progenitor cell, Calcium-sensing receptor, Angiogenesis, Chemotaxis, Calcium, Bone marrow


Rajzer, I., Castano, O., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., (2010). Injectable and fast resorbable calcium phosphate cement for body-setting bone grafts Journal of Materials Science-Materials in Medicine , 21, (7), 2049-2056

In this work a calcium phosphate (CPC)/polymer blend was developed with the advantage of being moldable and capable of in situ setting to form calcium deficient hydroxyapatite under physiological conditions in an aqueous environment at body temperature. The CPC paste consists in a mix of R cement, glycerol as a liquid phase carrier and a biodegradable hydrogel such as Polyvinyl alcohol, which acts as a binder. Microstructure and mechanical analysis shows that the CPC blend can be used as an injectable implant for low loaded applications and fast adsorption requirements. The storage for commercial distribution was also evaluated and the properties of the materials obtained do not significantly change during storage at -18A degrees C.

Keywords: Clinical-applications, Composites, Regeneration, Behavior, Scaffold, Repair


Trepat, X., Wasserman, M. R., Angelini, T. E., Millet, E., Weitz, D. A., Butler, J. P., Fredberg, J. J., (2009). Physical forces during collective cell migration Nature Physics 5, (6), 426-430

Fundamental biological processes including morphogenesis, tissue repair and tumour metastasis require collective cell motions(1-3), and to drive these motions cells exert traction forces on their surroundings(4). Current understanding emphasizes that these traction forces arise mainly in 'leader cells' at the front edge of the advancing cell sheet(5-9). Our data are contrary to that assumption and show for the first time by direct measurement that traction forces driving collective cell migration arise predominately many cell rows behind the leading front edge and extend across enormous distances. Traction fluctuations are anomalous, moreover, exhibiting broad non-Gaussian distributions characterized by exponential tails(10-12). Taken together, these unexpected findings demonstrate that although the leader cell may have a pivotal role in local cell guidance, physical forces that it generates are but a small part of a global tug-of-war involving cells well back from the leading edge.

Keywords: Focal adhesions, Granular matter, Bead packs, Morphogenesis, Sheets, Actin, Fluctuations, Fibroblasts, Microscopy, Diversity


Rico, P., Rodriguez Hernandez, J. C., Moratal, D., Altankov, G., Monleon Pradas, M., Salmeron-Sanchez, M., (2009). Substrate-induced assembly of fibronectin into networks. Influence of surface chemistry and effect on osteoblast adhesion Tissue Engineering Part A , 15, (00), 1-11

The influence of surface chemistry -substrates with controlled surface density of -OH groups- on fibronectin conformation and distribution is directly observed by Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). FN fibrillogenesis, which is known to be a process triggered by interaction with integrins, is shown in our case to be induced by the substrate (in absence of cells), which is able to enhance FN-FN interactions leading to the formation of a protein network on the material surface. This phenomenon depends both on surface chemistry and protein concentration. The level of the FN fibrillogenesis was quantified by calculating the fractal dimension of the adsorbed protein from image analysis of the AFM results. The total amount of adsorbed FN is obtained by making use of a methodology which employs western-blotting combined with image analysis of the corresponding protein bands, with the lowest sensitivity threshold equal to 15 ng of adsorbed protein. Furthermore, FN adsorption is correlated to human osteoblast adhesion through morphology and actin cytoskeleton formation. Actin polymerization is in need of the formation of the protein network on the substrate's surface. Cell morphology is more rounded (as quantified by calculating the circularity of the cells by image analysis) the lower the degree of FN fibrillogenesis on the substrate.

Keywords: Cell-adhesion, Conformational-changes, Electron-microscopy, Protein adsorption, Fractal dimension, Integrin binding, Biocompatibility, Monolayers, Matrix, Fibrillogenesis


Fiz, J. A., Morera Prat, J., Jané, R., (2009). Treatment of patients with simple snoring Archivos de Bronconeumología 45, (10), 508-515

Management of snoring is part of the treatment offered to patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. In patients who do not have this syndrome, however, snoring should be treated according to the severity of the condition. General or specific therapeutic measures should be applied to snorers that have concomitant cardiovascular disease or unrefreshing sleep and in cases in which an individual's snoring disturbs his/her partner's sleep. The present review examines the treatments currently available for snorers and the current state of knowledge regarding each option. It will also focus on the possible indications of these treatments and evaluate their effectiveness.

Keywords: Simple snoring, Treatment, General measures, Surgery


Engel, E., Michiardi, A., Navarro, M., Lacroix, D., Planell, J. A., (2008). Nanotechnology in regenerative medicine: the materials side Trends in Biotechnology , 26, (1), 39-47

Regenerative medicine is an emerging multidisciplinary field that aims to restore, maintain or enhance tissues and hence organ functions. Regeneration of tissues can be achieved by the combination of living cells, which will provide biological functionality, and materials, which act as scaffolds to support cell proliferation. Mammalian cells behave in vivo in response to the biological signals they receive from the surrounding environment, which is structured by nanometre-scaled components. Therefore, materials used in repairing the human body have to reproduce the correct signals that guide the cells towards a desirable behaviour. Nanotechnology is not only an excellent tool to produce material structures that mimic the biological ones but also holds the promise of providing efficient delivery systems. The application of nanotechnology to regenerative medicine is a wide issue and this short review will only focus on aspects of nanotechnology relevant to biomaterials science. Specifically, the fabrication of materials, such as nanoparticles and scaffolds for tissue engineering, and the nanopatterning of surfaces aimed at eliciting specific biological responses from the host tissue will be addressed.

Keywords: Animals, Biocompatible Materials/ metabolism, Humans, Nanoparticles, Nanotechnology/ methods, Regenerative Medicine/ methods, Tissue Scaffolds


Bravo, R., Arimon, M., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Garcia, R., Durany, N., Castel, S., Cruz, M., Ventura, S., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2008). Sulfated polysaccharides promote the assembly of amyloid beta(1-42) peptide into stable fibrils of reduced cytotoxicity Journal of Biological Chemistry , 283, (47), 32471-32483

The histopathological hallmarks of Alzheimer disease are the self-aggregation of the amyloid beta peptide (A beta) in extracellular amyloid fibrils and the formation of intraneuronal Tau filaments, but a convincing mechanism connecting both processes has yet to be provided. Here we show that the endogenous polysaccharide chondroitin sulfate B (CSB) promotes the formation of fibrillar structures of the 42-residue fragment, A beta(1-42). Atomic force microscopy visualization, thioflavin T fluorescence, CD measurements, and cell viability assays indicate that CSB-induced fibrils are highly stable entities with abundant beta-sheet structure that have little toxicity for neuroblastoma cells. We propose a wedged cylinder model for A beta(1-42) fibrils that is consistent with the majority of available data, it is an energetically favorable assembly that minimizes the exposure of hydrophobic areas, and it explains why fibrils do not grow in thickness. Fluorescence measurements of the effect of different A beta(1-42) species on Ca2+ homeostasis show that weakly structured nodular fibrils, but not CSB-induced smooth fibrils, trigger a rise in cytosolic Ca2+ that depends on the presence of both extracellular and intracellular stocks. In vitro assays indicate that such transient, local Ca2+ increases can have a direct effect in promoting the formation of Tau filaments similar to those isolated from Alzheimer disease brains.

Keywords: AFM, Alzheimers-disease, Chondroitin sulfate, Heparan-sulfate, Lipid-bilayers, Beta-peptide, In-vitro, Neurodegenerative diseases, Extracellular-matrix, Prion protein


Sanzana, E. S., Navarro, M., Macule, F., Suso, S., Planell, J. A., Ginebra, M. P., (2008). Of the in vivo behavior of calcium phosphate cements and glasses as bone substitutes Acta Biomaterialia 4, (6), 1924-1933

The use of injectable self-setting calcium phosphate cements or soluble glass granules represent two different strategies for bone regeneration, each with distinct advantages and potential applications. This study compares the in vivo behavior of two calcium phosphate cements and two phosphate glasses with different composition, microstructure and solubility, using autologous bone as a control, in a rabbit model. The implanted materials were alpha-tricalcium phosphate cement (cement H), calcium sodium potassium phosphate cement (cement R), and two phosphate glasses in the P2O5-CaO-Na2O and P2O5-CaO-Na2O-TiO2 systems. The four materials were osteoconductive, biocompatible and biodegradable. Radiological and histological studies demonstrated correct osteointegration and substitution of the implants by new bone. The reactivity of the different materials, which depends on their solubility, porosity and specific surface area, affected the resorption rate and bone formation mainly during the early stages of implantation, although this effect was weak. Thus, at 4 weeks the degradation was slightly higher in cements than in glasses, especially for cement R. However, after 12 weeks of implantation all materials showed a similar degradation degree and promoted bone neoformation equivalent to that of the control group.

Keywords: Calcium phosphates, Calcium phosphate cements, Phosphate glasses, Bone grafts, Bone regenerations


Roca, Ignasi, Torrents, Eduard, Sahlin, Margareta, Gibert, Isidre, Sjoberg, Britt-Marie, (2008). NrdI essentiality for class Ib ribonucleotide reduction in streptococcus pyogenes Journal of Bacteriology , 190, (14), 4849-4858

The Streptococcus pyogenes genome harbors two clusters of class Ib ribonucleotide reductase genes, nrdHEF and nrdF*I*E*, and a second stand-alone nrdI gene, designated nrdI2. We show that both clusters are expressed simultaneously as two independent operons. The NrdEF enzyme is functionally active in vitro, while the NrdE*F* enzyme is not. The NrdF* protein lacks three of the six highly conserved iron-liganding side chains and cannot form a dinuclear iron site or a tyrosyl radical. In vivo, on the other hand, both operons are functional in heterologous complementation in Escherichia coli. The nrdF*I*E* operon requires the presence of the nrdI* gene, and the nrdHEF operon gained activity upon cotranscription of the heterologous nrdI gene from Streptococcus pneumoniae, while neither nrdI* nor nrdI2 from S. pyogenes rendered it active. Our results highlight the essential role of the flavodoxin NrdI protein in vivo, and we suggest that it is needed to reduce met-NrdF, thereby enabling the spontaneous reformation of the tyrosyl radical. The NrdI* flavodoxin may play a more direct role in ribonucleotide reduction by the NrdF*I*E* system. We discuss the possibility that the nrdF*I*E* operon has been horizontally transferred to S. pyogenes from Mycoplasma spp.

Keywords: Group-a streptococcus, Bacillus-subtilis genes, Escherichia-coli, Corynebacterium-ammoniagenes, Mycobacterium-tuberculosis, Expression analysis, Genome sequence, Small-subunit, Salmonella-typhimurium, Iron center


Banos, R. C., Pons, J. I., Madrid, C., Juarez, A., (2008). A global modulatory role for the Yersinia enterocolitica H-NS protein Microbiology , 154, (5), 1281-1289

The H-NS protein plays a significant role in the modulation of gene expression in Gram-negative bacteria. Whereas isolation and characterization of hns mutants in Escherichia coli, Salmonella and Shigella represented critical steps to gain insight into the modulatory role of H-NS, it has hitherto not been possible to isolate hns mutants in Yersinia. The hns mutation is considered to be deleterious in this genus. To study the modulatory role of H-NS in Yersinia we circumvented hns lethality by expressing in Y. enterocolitica a truncated H-NS protein known to exhibit anti-H-NS activity in E. coli (H-NST(EPEC)). Y. enterocolitica cells expressing H-NST(EPEC) showed an altered growth rate and several differences in the protein expression pattern, including the ProV protein, which is modulated by H-NS in other enteric bacteria. To further confirm that H-NST(EPEC) expression in Yersinia can be used to demonstrate H-NS-dependent regulation in this genus, we used this approach to show that H-NS modulates expression of the YmoA protein.

Keywords: Bacterial Proteins/biosynthesis/genetics/ physiology, DNA-Binding Proteins/biosynthesis/genetics/ physiology, Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional, Gene Expression Profiling, Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial, Genes, Essential, Proteome/analysis, RNA, Bacterial/biosynthesis, RNA, Messenger/biosynthesis, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, Sequence Deletion, Yersinia enterocolitica/chemistry/genetics/growth & development/ physiology


Lopez, M. J., Caballero, D., Campo, E. M., Perez-Castillejos, R., Errachid, A., Esteve, J., Plaza, J. A., (2008). Focused ion beam-assisted technology in sub-picolitre micro-dispenser fabrication Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering , 18, (7), 8

Novel medical and biological applications are driving increased interest in the fabrication of micropipette or micro-dispensers. Reduced volume samples and drug dosages are prime motivators in this effort. We have combined microfabrication technology with ion beam milling techniques to successfully produce cantilever-type polysilicon micro-dispensers with 3D enclosed microchannels. The microfabrication technology described here allows for the designing of nozzles with multiple shapes. The contribution of ion beam milling has had a large impact on the fabrication process and on further customizing shapes of nozzles and inlet ports. Functionalization tests were conducted to prove the viability of ion beam-fabricated micro-dispensers. Self-assembled monolayers were successfully formed when a gold surface was patterned with a thiol solution dispensed by the fabricated micro-dispensers.

Keywords: Dip-pen nanolithography, Silicon, Deposition, Microneedles, Delivery, Arrays, Polysilicon, Capillary, Systems, Gene


Castellarnau, Marc, Errachid, Abdelhamid, Madrid, Cristina, Juárez, Antonio, Samitier, Josep, (2006). Dielectrophoresis as a tool to characterize and differentiate isogenic mutants of Escherichia coli Biophysical Journal , 91, (10), 3937-3945

In this study we report on an experimental method based on dielectrophoretic analysis to identify changes in four Escherichia coli isogenic strains that differed exclusively in one mutant allele. The dielectrophoretic properties of wild-type cells were compared to those of hns, hha, and hha hns mutant derivatives. The hns and hha genes code respectively for the global regulators Hha and H-NS. The Hha and H-NS proteins modulate gene expression in Escherichia coli and other Gram negative bacteria. Mutations in either hha or hns genes result in a pleiotropic phenotype. A two-shell prolate ellipsoidal model has been used to fit the experimental data, obtained from dielectrophoresis measurements, and to study the differences in the dielectric properties of the bacterial strains. The experimental results show that the mutant genotype can be predicted from the dielectrophoretic analysis of the corresponding cultures, opening the way to the development of microdevices for specific identification. Therefore, this study shows that dielectrophoresis can be a valuable tool to study bacterial populations which, although apparently homogeneous, may present phenotypic variability.

Keywords: H-NS, Dielectric behaviour, Hemolysin genes, Cells, Separation, Expression, Proteins, HHA, Electrorotation, Polarization