Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, Department of

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Droplet Digital PCR Shows the D-Loop to be an Error Prone Locus for Mitochondrial DNA Copy Number Determination

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-07-30
Abstract: 

Absolute quantification of mitochondrial DNA copy number (mCN) provides important insights in many fields of research including cancer, cardiovascular and reproductive health. Droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) natively reports absolute copy number, and we have developed a single-dye, multiplex assay to measure rat mCN that is accurate, precise and affordable. We demonstrate simple methods to optimize this assay and to determine nuclear reference pseudogene copy number to extend the range of mCN that can be measured with this assay. We evaluated two commonly used mitochondrial DNA reference loci to determine mCN, the ND1 gene and the D-Loop. Harnessing the absolute measures of ddPCR, we found that the D-Loop amplifies with a copy number of ~1.0–1.5 relative to other sites on the mitochondrial genome. This anomalous copy number varied significantly between rats and tissues (aorta, brain, heart, liver, soleus muscle). We advocate for avoiding the D-Loop as a mitochondrial reference in future studies of mCN. Further, we report a novel approach to quantifying immunolabelled mitochondrial DNA that provides single-cell estimates of mCN that closely agree with the population analyses by ddPCR. The combination of these assays represents a cost-effective and powerful suite of tools to study mCN.

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Somatic Mitochondrial DNA Mutations in Diffuse Large B-Cell Ly

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-02-26
Abstract: 

Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) is an aggressive hematological cancer for which mitochondrial metabolism may play an important role. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) encodes crucial mitochondrial proteins, yet the relationship between mtDNA and DLBCL remains unclear. We analyzed the functional consequences and mutational spectra of mtDNA somatic mutations and private constitutional variants in 40 DLBCL tumour-normal pairs. While private constitutional variants occurred frequently in the D-Loop, somatic mutations were randomly distributed across the mitochondrial genome. Heteroplasmic constitutional variants showed a trend towards loss of heteroplasmy in the corresponding tumour regardless of whether the reference or variant allele was being lost, suggesting that these variants are selectively neutral. The mtDNA mutational spectrum showed minimal support for ROS damage and revealed strand asymmetry with increased C > T and A > G transitions on the heavy strand, consistent with a replication-associated mode of mutagenesis. These heavy strand transitions carried higher proportions of amino acid changes – which were also more pathogenic – than equivalent substitutions on the light strand. Taken together, endogenous replication-associated events underlie mtDNA mutagenesis in DLBCL and preferentially generate functionally consequential mutations. Yet mtDNA somatic mutations remain selectively neutral, suggesting that mtDNA-encoded mitochondrial functions may not play an important role in DLBCL.

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Brain Vital Signs: Expanding From the Auditory to Visual Modality

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-01-18
Abstract: 

The critical need for rapid objective, physiological evaluation of brain function at point-of-care has led to the emergence of brain vital signs—a framework encompassing a portable electroencephalography (EEG) and an automated, quick test protocol. This framework enables access to well-established event-related potential (ERP) markers, which are specific to sensory, attention, and cognitive functions in both healthy and patient populations. However, all our applications to-date have used auditory stimulation, which have highlighted application challenges in persons with hearing impairments (e.g., aging, seniors, dementia). Consequently, it has become important to translate brain vital signs into a visual sensory modality. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to: 1) demonstrate the feasibility of visual brain vital signs; and 2) compare and normalize results from visual and auditory brain vital signs. Data were collected from 34 healthy adults (33 ± 13 years) using a 64-channel EEG system. Visual and auditory sequences were kept as comparable as possible to elicit the N100, P300, and N400 responses. Visual brain vital signs were elicited successfully for all three responses across the group (N100: F = 29.8380, p < 0.001; P300: F = 138.8442, p < 0.0001; N400: F = 6.8476, p = 0.01). Initial auditory-visual comparisons across the three components showed attention processing (P300) was found to be the most transferrable across modalities, with no group-level differences and correlated peak amplitudes (rho = 0.7, p = 0.0001) across individuals. Auditory P300 latencies were shorter than visual (p < 0.0001) but normalization and correlation (r = 0.5, p = 0.0033) implied a potential systematic difference across modalities. Reduced auditory N400 amplitudes compared to visual (p = 0.0061) paired with normalization and correlation across individuals (r = 0.6, p = 0.0012), also revealed potential systematic modality differences between reading and listening language comprehension. This study provides an initial understanding of the relationship between the visual and auditory sequences, while importantly establishing a visual sequence within the brain vital signs framework. With both auditory and visual stimulation capabilities available, it is possible to broaden applications across the lifespan.

The critical need for rapid objective, physiological evaluation of brain function at point-of-care has led to the emergence of brain vital signs—a framework encompassing a portable electroencephalography (EEG) and an automated, quick test protocol. This framework enables access to well-established event-related potential (ERP) markers, which are specific to sensory, attention, and cognitive functions in both healthy and patient populations. However, all our applications to-date have used auditory stimulation, which have highlighted application challenges in persons with hearing impairments (e.g., aging, seniors, dementia). Consequently, it has become important to translate brain vital signs into a visual sensory modality. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to: 1) demonstrate the feasibility of visual brain vital signs; and 2) compare and normalize results from visual and auditory brain vital signs. Data were collected from 34 healthy adults (33 ± 13 years) using a 64-channel EEG system. Visual and auditory sequences were kept as comparable as possible to elicit the N100, P300, and N400 responses. Visual brain vital signs were elicited successfully for all three responses across the group (N100: F = 29.8380, p < 0.001; P300: F = 138.8442, p < 0.0001; N400: F = 6.8476, p = 0.01). Initial auditory-visual comparisons across the three components showed attention processing (P300) was found to be the most transferrable across modalities, with no group-level differences and correlated peak amplitudes (rho = 0.7, p = 0.0001) across individuals. Auditory P300 latencies were shorter than visual (p < 0.0001) but normalization and correlation (r = 0.5, p = 0.0033) implied a potential systematic difference across modalities. Reduced auditory N400 amplitudes compared to visual (p = 0.0061) paired with normalization and correlation across individuals (r = 0.6, p = 0.0012), also revealed potential systematic modality differences between reading and listening language comprehension. This study provides an initial understanding of the relationship between the visual and auditory sequences, while importantly establishing a visual sequence within the brain vital signs framework. With both auditory and visual stimulation capabilities available, it is possible to broaden applications across the lifespan.

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Effects of acidosis on neuronal voltage-gated sodium channels: Nav1.1 and Nav1.3

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-10-26
Abstract: 

Voltage-gated sodium channels are key contributors to membrane excitability. These channels are expressed in a tissue-specific manner. Mutations and modulation of these channels underlie various physiological and pathophysiological manifestations. The effects of changes in extracellular pH on channel gating have been studied on several sodium channel subtypes. Among these, Nav1.5 is the most pH-sensitive channel, with Nav1.2 and Nav1.4 being mostly pH-resistant channels. However, pH effects have not been characterized on other sodium channel subtypes. In this study, we sought to determine whether Nav1.1 and Nav1.3 display resistance or sensitivity to changes in extracellular pH. These two sodium channel subtypes are predominantly found in inhibitory neurons. The expression of these channels highly depends on age and the developmental stage of neurons, with Nav1.3 being found mostly in neonatal neurons, and Nav1.1 being found in adult neurons. Our present results indicate that, during extracellular acidosis, both channels show a depolarization in the voltage-dependence of activation and moderate reduction in current density. Voltage-dependence of steady-state fast inactivation and recovery from fast inactivation were unchanged. We conclude that Nav1.1 and Nav1.3 have similar pH-sensitivities.

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A Mixed Periodic Paralysis & Myotonia Mutant, P1158S, Imparts pH-Sensitivity in Skeletal Muscle Voltage-gated Sodium Channels

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-04-19
Abstract: 

Skeletal muscle channelopathies, many of which are inherited as autosomal dominant mutations, include myotonia and periodic paralysis. Myotonia is defined by a delayed relaxation after muscular contraction, whereas periodic paralysis is defined by episodic attacks of weakness. One sub-type of periodic paralysis, known as hypokalemic periodic paralysis (hypoPP), is associated with low potassium levels. Interestingly, the P1158S missense mutant, located in the third domain S4-S5 linker of the “skeletal muscle”, Nav1.4, has been implicated in causing both myotonia and hypoPP. A common trigger for these conditions is physical activity. We previously reported that Nav1.4 is relatively insensitive to changes in extracellular pH compared to Nav1.2 and Nav1.5. Given that intense exercise is often accompanied by blood acidosis, we decided to test whether changes in pH would push gating in P1158S towards either phenotype. Our results suggest that, unlike in WT-Nav1.4, low pH depolarizes the voltage-dependence of activation and steady-state fast inactivation, decreases current density, and increases late currents in P1185S. Thus, P1185S turns the normally pH-insensitive Nav1.4 into a proton-sensitive channel. Using action potential modeling we predict a pH-to-phenotype correlation in patients with P1158S. We conclude that activities which alter blood pH may trigger the noted phenotypes in P1158S patients.

Document type: 
Article

Inhibitory Effects of Cannabidiol on Voltage-Dependent Sodium Currents

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-09-14
Abstract: 

Cannabis sativa contains many related compounds known as phytocannabinoids. The main psychoactive and nonpsychoactive compounds are Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), respectively. Much of the evidence for clinical efficacy of CBD-mediated antiepileptic effects has been from case reports or smaller surveys. The mechanisms for CBD's anticonvulsant effects are unclear and likely involve noncannabinoid receptor pathways. CBD is reported to modulate several ion channels, including sodium channels (Nav). Evaluating the therapeutic mechanisms and safety of CBD demands a richer understanding of its interactions with central nervous system targets. Here, we used voltage-clamp electrophysiology of HEK-293 cells and iPSC neurons to characterize the effects of CBD on Nav channels. Our results show that CBD inhibits hNav1.1–1.7 currents, with an IC50 of 1.9–3.8 μM, suggesting that this inhibition could occur at therapeutically relevant concentrations. A steep Hill slope of ∼3 suggested multiple interactions of CBD with Nav channels. CBD exhibited resting-state blockade, became more potent at depolarized potentials, and also slowed recovery from inactivation, supporting the idea that CBD binding preferentially stabilizes inactivated Nav channel states. We also found that CBD inhibits other voltage-dependent currents from diverse channels, including bacterial homomeric Nav channel (NaChBac) and voltage-gated potassium channel subunit Kv2.1. Lastly, the CBD block of Nav was temperature-dependent, with potency increasing at lower temperatures. We conclude that CBD's mode of action likely involves 1) compound partitioning in lipid membranes, which alters membrane fluidity affecting gating, and 2) undetermined direct interactions with sodium and potassium channels, whose combined effects are loss of channel excitability. 

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Zebrafish as a Model of Mammalian Cardiac Function: Optically Mapping the Interplay of Temperature and Rate on Voltage and Calcium Dynamics

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-07-12
Abstract: 

The zebrafish (Danio rerio) heart is a viable model of mammalian cardiovascular function due to similarities in heart rate, ultrastructure, and action potential morphology. Zebrafish are able to tolerate a wide range of naturally occurring temperatures through altering chronotropic and inotropic properties of the heart. Optical mapping of cannulated zebrafish hearts can be used to assess the effect of temperature on excitation-contraction (EC) coupling and to explore the mechanisms underlying voltage (Vm) and calcium (Ca2+) transients. Applicability of zebrafish as a model of mammalian cardiac physiology should be understood in the context of numerous subtle differences in structure, ion channel expression, and Ca2+ handling. In contrast to mammalian systems, Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) plays a relatively small role in activating the contractile apparatus in teleosts, which may contribute to differences in restitution. The contractile function of the zebrafish heart is closely tied to extracellular Ca2+ which enters cardiomyocytes through L-type Ca2+ channel (LTCC), T-type Ca2+ channel (TTCC), and the sodium-calcium exchanger (NCX). Novel data found that despite large temperature effects on heart rate, Vm, and Ca2+ durations, the relationship between Vm and Ca2+ signals was only minimally altered in the face of acute temperature change. This suggests that zebrafish Vm and Ca2+ kinetics are largely rate-independent. In comparison to mammalian systems, zebrafish Ca2+ cycling is inherently more dependent on transsarcolemmal Ca2+ transport and less reliant on SR Ca2+ release. However, the compensatory actions of various components of the Ca2+ cycling machinery of the zebrafish cardiomyocytes, allow for maintenance of EC coupling over a wide range of environmental temperatures.

Document type: 
Article

The Critical Power Model as a Potential Tool for Anti-Doping

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-06
Abstract: 

Existing doping detection strategies rely on direct and indirect biochemical measurement methods focused on detecting banned substances, their metabolites, or biomarkers related to their use. However, the goal of doping is to improve performance, and yet evidence from performance data is not considered by these strategies. The emergence of portable sensors for measuring exercise intensities and of player tracking technologies may enable the widespread collection of performance data. How these data should be used for doping detection is an open question. Herein, we review the basis by which performance models could be used for doping detection, followed by critically reviewing the potential of the critical power (CP) model as a prototypical performance model that could be used in this regard. Performance models are mathematical representations of performance data specific to the athlete. Some models feature parameters with physiological interpretations, changes to which may provide clues regarding the specific doping method. The CP model is a simple model of the power-duration curve and features two physiologically interpretable parameters, CP and W0 . We argue that the CP model could be useful for doping detection mainly based on the predictable sensitivities of its parameters to ergogenic aids and other performance-enhancing interventions. However, our argument is counterbalanced by the existence of important limitations and unresolved questions that need to be addressed before the model is used for doping detection. We conclude by providing a simple worked example showing how it could be used and propose recommendations for its implementation.

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Intracortical Microstimulation Maps of Motor, Somatosensory, and Posterior Parietal Cortex in Tree Shrews (Tupaia Belangeri) Reveal Complex Movement Representations

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2017-02-01
Abstract: 

Long-train intracortical microstimulation (LT-ICMS) is a popular method for studying the organization of motor and posterior parietal cortex (PPC) in mammals. In primates, LT-ICMS evokes both multi-joint and multiple body-part movements in primary motor, premotor, and posterior parietal cortex. In rodents LT-ICMS evokes complex movements of a single limb in motor cortex. Unfortunately, very little is known about motor/PPC organization in other mammals. Tree shrews are closely related to both primates and rodents and could provide insights into the evolution of complex movement domains in primates. The present study investigated the extent of cortex in which movements could be evoked with ICMS and the characteristics of movements elicited using both short-train (ST) and LT ICMS in tree shrews. We demonstrate that LT-ICMS and ST-ICMS maps are similar, with the movements elicited with ST-ICMS being truncated versions of those elicited with LT-ICMS. In addition, LT-ICMS evoked complex movements within motor cortex similar to those in rodents. More complex movements involving multiple body parts such as the hand and mouth were also elicited in motor cortex and PPC, as in primates. Our results suggest that complex movement networks present in PPC and motor cortex were present in mammals prior to the emergence of primates.

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Improved Methods for Acrylic-Free Implants in Non-Human Primates for Neuroscience Research

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2017-08-30
Abstract: 

Traditionally, head fixation devices and recording cylinders have been implanted in nonhuman primates (NHP) using dental acrylic despite several shortcomings associated with acrylic. The use of more biocompatible materials such as titanium and PEEK is becoming more prevalent in NHP research. We describe a cost effective set of procedures that maximizes the integration of headposts and recording cylinders with the animal’s tissues while reducing surgery time. Nine rhesus monkeys were implanted with titanium headposts, and one of these was also implanted with a recording chamber. In each case, a three-dimensional printed replica of the skull was created based on computerized tomography scans. The titanium feet of the headposts were shaped, and the skull thickness was measured preoperatively, reducing surgery time by up to 70%. The recording cylinder was manufactured to conform tightly to the skull, which was fastened to the skull with four screws and remained watertight for 8.5 mo. We quantified the amount of regression of the skin edge at the headpost. We found a large degree of variability in the timing and extent of skin regression that could not be explained by any single recorded factor. However, there was not a single case of bone exposure; although skin retracted from the titanium, skin also remained adhered to the skull adjacent to those regions. The headposts remained fully functional and free of complications for the experimental life of each animal, several of which are still participating in experiments more than 4 yr after implant.

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