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Archive - Mar 2, 2016

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Finnish and Singaporean Researchers Publish First Empirical Study on Evolution of Musical Aptitude

Geneticists at the University of Helsinki and the National University of Singapore have teamed up to explore the evolution of musical aptitude in the first-ever empirical study of the evolution of music. The Finnish scientists in the project were supported by funding from the Academy of Finland. The study was published online on February 16, 2016 in Scientific Reports, a peer-reviewed scientific journal of the Nature Publishing Group. The open-access article is titled “Detecting Signatures of Positive Selection Associated with Musical Aptitude in the Human Genome.” In the study, the researchers applied genomic methods to identify candidate regions in the human genome showing positive selection regions with musical aptitude. They found that the associated regions contained numerous candidate genes, among them genes known to affect ear function, language development, memory, bird song, and the brain’s reward mechanism. “We started out from the hypothesis that genetic variants associated with musical aptitude have a pivotal role in musical practices. This assumption is based on the idea that the evolution of the human genome progresses much more slowly than cultural evolution. The structure and function of the auditory system is very similar in modern humans and the first primates, suggesting high evolutionary conservation of auditory perception among species,” says Docent Irma Järvelä, the principal investigator of the study. FOXP1, one of the candidate genes discovered, has been previously found to affect both human language development and songbirds’ singing. The researchers also identified RGS9 as another gene that is implicated in song learning and singing in songbirds. RGS9 is expressed in the corpus striatum together with dopamine receptors. The striatum is activated by expectations in music.

Novel Mechanism Underlies Aldosterone-Induced Heath Damage

When the heart begins to fail, the body does everything in its power to fix the situation. But sometimes, those compensatory mechanisms ultimately do more harm than good. Such is the case with the adrenal hormone aldosterone, which stimulates the heart to pump harder, causing greater damage to the heart muscle. But now, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) are closer than ever to putting the brakes on that process. With their recent discovery of an unexpected mechanism by which signaling molecules known as G protein-coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) mediate aldosterone-induced heart damage, they have opened the path to an important therapeutic advance. "It turns out that two kinases, GRK2 and GRK5, contribute to the pathology of heart failure by inducing specific changes in myocytes (heart cells) down-stream of mineralocorticoid receptors that bind aldosterone," explained Dr. Walter J. Koch (photo), Ph.D., William Wikoff Smith Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology, Director of the Center for Translational Medicine at LKSOM and senior investigator on the new study. The report, published online on March 2, 2016 in the journal Nature Communications, is the first to shed light on the unique interaction. The open-access article is titled “Myocardial Pathology Induced by Aldosterone Is Dependent on Non-Canonical Activities of G Protein-Coupled Receptor Kinases.”"When aldosterone binds to its receptor, GRK2 moves to the mitochondria, where it stimulates pro-death pathways, and GRK5 moves to the cell nucleus, where it activates pathways that cause heart cells to grow, making them less efficient," Dr. Koch said.

Bone Marrow Stromal/Stem Cell-Derived EVs Regulate Osteoblast Activity and Differentiation In Vitro and Promote Bone Regeneration In Vivo

Scientists from Shanghai and Gaungzhou, China have presented evidence that an assay they developed using bone marrow stromal-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) will become a valuable tool for promoting bone regeneration. In their new work, the scientists isolated bone marrow stromal/stem cell (BMSC)-derived EVs through gradient ultracentrifugation and ultrafiltration, and tested the influence of the EVs on osteogenesis, both in vivo and in vitro. The results indicated that EVs positively regulated osteogenic genes and osteoblastic differentiation, but did not inhibit proliferation in vitro. Furthermore, the scientists constructed an EBV delivery system to stimulate bone formation in Sprague Dawley (SD) rats with calvarial defects. They found that BMSC-derived EVs led to more bone formation in the critical-size calvarial bone defects. Furthermore, the scientists constructed an EV delivery system to stimulate bone formation in Sprague Dawley (SD) rats with calvarial defects. They found that BMSC-derived EVs led to more bone formation in the critical-size calvarial bone defects. Moreover, they found that miR-196a plays an essential role in the regulation of osteoblastic differentiation and the expression of osteogenic genes. This work was published online on February 25, 2016 in Scientific Reports. The open-access article is titled “Bone Marrow Stromal/Stem Cell-Derived Extracellular Vesicles Regulate Osteoblast Activity and Differentiation In Vitro and Promote Bone Regeneration In Vivo.”

[Scientific Reports article]