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Biophysica, Volume 3, Issue 4 (December 2023) – 9 articles

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16 pages, 356 KiB  
Opinion
Does Proprioception Involve Synchronization with Theta Rhythms by a Novel Piezo2 Initiated Ultrafast VGLUT2 Signaling?
Biophysica 2023, 3(4), 695-710; https://doi.org/10.3390/biophysica3040046 - 18 Dec 2023
Viewed by 768
Abstract
This opinion manuscript outlines how the hippocampal theta rhythm could receive two novel peripheral inputs. One of the ways this could be achieved is through Piezo2 channels and atypical hippocampal-like metabotropic glutamate receptors coupled to phospholipase D containing proprioceptive primary afferent terminals. Accordingly, [...] Read more.
This opinion manuscript outlines how the hippocampal theta rhythm could receive two novel peripheral inputs. One of the ways this could be achieved is through Piezo2 channels and atypical hippocampal-like metabotropic glutamate receptors coupled to phospholipase D containing proprioceptive primary afferent terminals. Accordingly, activated proprioceptive terminal Piezo2 on Type Ia fibers synchronizes to the theta rhythm with the help of hippocampal Piezo2 and medial septal glutamatergic neurons. Second, after baroreceptor Piezo2 is entrained to activated proprioceptive Piezo2, it could turn on the Cav1.3 channels, which pace the heart rhythm and regulate pacemaker cells during cardiac sympathetic activation. This would allow the Cav1.3 channels to synchronize to theta rhythm pacemaker hippocampal parvalbumin-expressing GABAergic neurons. This novel Piezo2-initiated proton–proton frequency coupling through VGLUT2 may provide the ultrafast long-range signaling pathway for the proposed Piezo2 synchronization of the low-frequency glutamatergic cell surface membrane oscillations in order to provide peripheral spatial and speed inputs to the space and speed coding of the hippocampal theta rhythm, supporting locomotion, learning and memory. Moreover, it provides an ultrafast signaling for postural and orthostatic control. Finally, suggestions are made as to how Piezo2 channelopathy could impair this ultrafast communication in many conditions and diseases with not entirely known etiology, leading to impaired proprioception and/or autonomic disbalance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation)
27 pages, 21549 KiB  
Perspective
Dual Nucleosomal Double-Strand Breaks Are the Key Effectors of Curative Radiation Therapy
Biophysica 2023, 3(4), 668-694; https://doi.org/10.3390/biophysica3040045 - 14 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 514
Abstract
Most ionizing radiation produces δ-rays of ≈1 keV that can impart MGy doses to 100 nm3 volumes of DNA. These events can produce severe dual double-strand breaks (DDSBs) on nucleosomes, particularly in dense heterochromatic DNA. This is the most common multiply [...] Read more.
Most ionizing radiation produces δ-rays of ≈1 keV that can impart MGy doses to 100 nm3 volumes of DNA. These events can produce severe dual double-strand breaks (DDSBs) on nucleosomes, particularly in dense heterochromatic DNA. This is the most common multiply damaged site, and their probabilities determine the biological effectiveness of different types of radiation. We discuss their frequency, effect on cell survival, DNA repair, and imaging by gold nanoparticle tracers and electron microscopy. This new and valuable nanometer resolution information can be used for determining the optimal tumor cure by maximizing therapeutic effects on tumors and minimizing therapeutic effects on normal tissues. The production of DDSBs makes it important to deliver a rather high dose and LET to the tumor (>2.5 Gy/Fr) and at the same time reach approximately 1.8–2.3 Gy of the lowest possible LET per fraction in TP53 intact normal tissues at risk. Therefore, their intrinsic low-dose hyper-sensitivity (LDHS)-related optimal daily fractionation window is utilized. Before full p53 activation of NHEJ and HR repair at ≈½ Gy, the low-dose apoptosis (LDA) and LDHS minimize normal tissue mutation probabilities. Ion therapy should thus ideally produce the lowest possible LET in normal tissues to avoid elevated DDSBs. Helium to boron ions can achieve this with higher-LET Bragg peaks, producing increased tumor DDSB densities. Interestingly, the highest probability of complication-free cure with boron or heavier ions requires a low LET round-up for the last 10–15 GyE, thereby steepening the dose response and further minimizing normal tissue damage. In conclusion, the new high-resolution DSB and DDSB diagnostic methods, and the new more accurate DNA-repair-based radiation biology, have been combined to increase our understanding of what is clinically important in curative radiation therapy. In fact, we must understand that we already passed the region of optimal LET and need to go back one step rather than forward, with oxygen being contemplated. As seen by the high overkill and severely high LET in the distal tumor and the increased LET to normal tissues (reminding of neutrons or neon ions), it is therefore preferable to use lithium–boron ions or combine carbon with an optimal 10–15 GyE photon, electron, or perhaps even a proton round-up, thus allowing optimized, fractionated, curative, almost complication-free treatments with photons, electrons, and light ions, introducing a real paradigm shift in curative radiation therapy with a potential 5 GyE tumor boost, 25% increase in complication-free cure and apoptotic–senescent Bragg Peak molecular light ion radiation therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation)
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17 pages, 4139 KiB  
Article
Screening and Analysis of Potential Inhibitors of SHMT2
Biophysica 2023, 3(4), 651-667; https://doi.org/10.3390/biophysica3040044 - 03 Dec 2023
Viewed by 639
Abstract
Serine hydroxymethyltransferase 2 (SHMT2) has garnered significant attention as a critical catalytic regulator of the serine/glycine pathway in the one-carbon metabolism of cancer cells. Despite its potential as an anti-cancer target, only a limited number of inhibitors have been identified so far. In [...] Read more.
Serine hydroxymethyltransferase 2 (SHMT2) has garnered significant attention as a critical catalytic regulator of the serine/glycine pathway in the one-carbon metabolism of cancer cells. Despite its potential as an anti-cancer target, only a limited number of inhibitors have been identified so far. In this study, we employed seven different scoring functions and skeleton clustering to screen the ChemDiv database for 38 compounds, 20 of which originate from the same skeleton structure. The most significant residues from SHMT2 and chemical groups from the inhibitors were identified using ASGBIE (Alanine Scanning with Generalized Born model and Interaction Entropy), and the binding energy of each residue was quantitatively determined, revealing the essential features of the protein–inhibitor interaction. The two most important contributing residues are TYR105 and TYR106 of the B chain followed by LEU166 and ARG425 of the A chain. The findings will be greatly helpful in developing a thorough comprehension of the binding mechanisms involved in drug–SHMT2 interactions and offer valuable direction for designing more potent inhibitors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Structure and Simulation in Biological System 2.0)
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15 pages, 2328 KiB  
Article
Microgravity as an Anti-Metastatic Agent in an In Vitro Glioma Model
Biophysica 2023, 3(4), 636-650; https://doi.org/10.3390/biophysica3040043 - 25 Nov 2023
Viewed by 593
Abstract
Gravity is a primary physical force that has a profound influence on the stability of the cell cytoskeleton. In our research, we investigated the influence of microgravity on altering the cytoskeletal pathways of glioblastoma cells. The highly infiltrative behavior of glioblastoma is supported [...] Read more.
Gravity is a primary physical force that has a profound influence on the stability of the cell cytoskeleton. In our research, we investigated the influence of microgravity on altering the cytoskeletal pathways of glioblastoma cells. The highly infiltrative behavior of glioblastoma is supported by cytoskeletal dynamics and surface proteins that allow glioblastoma cells to avoid stable connections with the tissue environment and other cells. Glioblastoma cell line C6 was exposed to a microgravity environment for 24, 48, and 72 h by 3D-RPM, a laboratory instrument recognized to reproduce the effect of microgravity in cell cultures. The immunofluorescence for GFAP, vinculin, and Connexin-43 was investigated as signals related to cytoskeleton dynamics. The polymerization of GFAP and the expression of focal contact structured by vinculin were found to be altered, especially after 48 and 72 h of microgravity. Connexin-43, involved in several intracellular pathways that critically promote cell motility and invasion of glioma cells, was found to be largely reduced following microgravity exposure. In conclusion, microgravity, by reducing the expression of Connexin-43, alters the architecture of specific cytoskeletal elements such as GFAP and increases the focal contact, which can induce a reduction in glioma cell mobility, thereby inhibiting their aggressive metastatic behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Biophysics in Italy)
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16 pages, 1879 KiB  
Article
Investigating the Insertion Mechanism of Cell-Penetrating Peptide Penetratin into Cell Membranes: Implications for Targeted Drug Delivery
Biophysica 2023, 3(4), 620-635; https://doi.org/10.3390/biophysica3040042 - 11 Nov 2023
Viewed by 895
Abstract
The cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) penetratin (PEN) has garnered attention for its potential to enter tumor cells. However, its translocation mechanism and lack of selectivity remain debated. This study investigated PEN’s insertion into healthy cells (H-) and cancer cells (C-) using micromolar concentrations and [...] Read more.
The cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) penetratin (PEN) has garnered attention for its potential to enter tumor cells. However, its translocation mechanism and lack of selectivity remain debated. This study investigated PEN’s insertion into healthy cells (H-) and cancer cells (C-) using micromolar concentrations and various techniques. Raman spectroscopy was used to determine PEN’s location in the lipid bilayer at different lipid-to-peptide ratios. Dynamic light scattering (DLS) and zeta potential analysis were used to measure the lipid–PEN complex’s size and charge. The results showed helical PEN particles directly inserted into C- membranes at a ratio of 110, while aggregated particles stayed on H- surfaces. Raman spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy confirmed PEN insertion in C- membranes. Zeta potential studies revealed highly negative charges for PEN–C- complexes and neutral charges for PEN–H- complexes at pH 6.8. C- integrity remained unchanged at a ratio of 110. Specific lipid-to-peptide ratios with dipalmitoylphosphatidylserine (DPPS) were crucial for direct insertion. These results provide valuable insights into CPP efficacy for targeted drug delivery in cancer cells, considering membrane composition and lipid-to-peptide ratios. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomedical Optics 2.0)
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22 pages, 4283 KiB  
Review
Physical Virology in Spain
Biophysica 2023, 3(4), 598-619; https://doi.org/10.3390/biophysica3040041 - 31 Oct 2023
Viewed by 720
Abstract
Virus particles consist of a protein coat that protects their genetic material and delivers it to the host cell for self-replication. Understanding the interplay between virus structure and function is a requirement for understanding critical processes in the infectious cycle such as entry, [...] Read more.
Virus particles consist of a protein coat that protects their genetic material and delivers it to the host cell for self-replication. Understanding the interplay between virus structure and function is a requirement for understanding critical processes in the infectious cycle such as entry, uncoating, genome metabolism, capsid assembly, maturation, and propagation. Together with well-established techniques in cell and molecular biology, physical virology has emerged as a rapidly developing field, providing detailed, novel information on the basic principles of virus assembly, disassembly, and dynamics. The Spanish research community contains a good number of groups that apply their knowledge on biology, physics, or chemistry to the study of viruses. Some of these groups got together in 2010 under the umbrella of the Spanish Interdisciplinary Network on Virus Biophysics (BioFiViNet). Thirteen years later, the network remains a fertile ground for interdisciplinary collaborations geared to reveal new aspects on the physical properties of virus particles, their role in regulating the infectious cycle, and their exploitation for the development of virus-based nanotechnology tools. Here, we highlight some achievements of Spanish groups in the field of physical virology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Biophysics in Spain 2.0)
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16 pages, 3023 KiB  
Article
Elucidating the Influence of Lipid Composition on Bilayer Perturbations Induced by the N-Terminal Region of the Huntingtin Protein
Biophysica 2023, 3(4), 582-597; https://doi.org/10.3390/biophysica3040040 - 28 Oct 2023
Viewed by 758
Abstract
Understanding the membrane interactions of the N-terminal 17 residues of the huntingtin protein (HttN) is essential for unraveling its role in cellular processes and its impact on huntingtin misfolding. In this study, we used atomic force microscopy (AFM) to examine the effects of [...] Read more.
Understanding the membrane interactions of the N-terminal 17 residues of the huntingtin protein (HttN) is essential for unraveling its role in cellular processes and its impact on huntingtin misfolding. In this study, we used atomic force microscopy (AFM) to examine the effects of lipid specificity in mediating bilayer perturbations induced by HttN. Across various lipid environments, the peptide consistently induced bilayer disruptions in the form of holes. Notably, our results unveiled that cholesterol enhanced bilayer perturbation induced by HttN, while phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) lipids suppressed hole formation. Furthermore, anionic phosphatidylglycerol (PG) and cardiolipin lipids, along with cholesterol at high concentrations, promoted the formation of double-bilayer patches. This unique structure suggests that the synergy among HttN, anionic lipids, and cholesterol can enhance bilayer fusion, potentially by facilitating lipid intermixing between adjacent bilayers. Additionally, our AFM-based force spectroscopy revealed that HttN enhanced the mechanical stability of lipid bilayers, as evidenced by an elevated bilayer puncture force. These findings illuminate the complex interplay between HttN and lipid membranes and provide useful insights into the role of lipid composition in modulating membrane interactions with the huntingtin protein. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Feature Papers in Biophysics)
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13 pages, 4293 KiB  
Article
Fractal Dimension Analyses to Detect Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases Using Their Thin Brain Tissue Samples via Transmission Optical Microscopy
Biophysica 2023, 3(4), 569-581; https://doi.org/10.3390/biophysica3040039 - 26 Oct 2023
Viewed by 756
Abstract
Biological tissues in nature are fractal due to their self-similarity and porosity properties. These properties change with the progress of some diseases, including brain tissue in leading neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD). Thus, there is an unmet [...] Read more.
Biological tissues in nature are fractal due to their self-similarity and porosity properties. These properties change with the progress of some diseases, including brain tissue in leading neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD). Thus, there is an unmet clinical need to develop a tool for accurate and early diagnosis of AD and PD conditions. Although the whole brain tissues in AD and PD have been extensively studied, their local structural alterations at the nano-to-submicron levels have not been explored. In this paper, we measure the local structural alterations in different brain regions of AD and PD patients by measuring their change in fractal dimensions via optical microscopy. Our results show an increase in the fractal dimension value of ~5–10% in the affected regions of the brain tissues relative to their respective controls. For AD cases, the structural alteration is attributed to the aberrant deposition of amyloid beta protein and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, and for PD, the gradual loss of dopaminergic neurons and abnormal accumulation of α-synuclein in the brain. The work will enhance the further understanding of alterations in the brain structures in AD and PD and its detection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomedical Optics 2.0)
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11 pages, 6238 KiB  
Article
Inactivating Host Bacteria for Characterization and Use of Phages
Biophysica 2023, 3(4), 558-568; https://doi.org/10.3390/biophysica3040038 - 27 Sep 2023
Viewed by 779
Abstract
Phage characterization for research and therapy can involve newly isolated phages propagated in pathogenic bacteria. If so, characterization requires safety-managing the bacteria. In the current study, we adapt a common and inexpensive reagent, PrimeStore (Longhorn Vaccines and Diagnostics, San Antonio, TX, USA), to [...] Read more.
Phage characterization for research and therapy can involve newly isolated phages propagated in pathogenic bacteria. If so, characterization requires safety-managing the bacteria. In the current study, we adapt a common and inexpensive reagent, PrimeStore (Longhorn Vaccines and Diagnostics, San Antonio, TX, USA), to safety-manage bacteria in 20 min by selectively inactivating the bacteria. No bacterial survivors are observed among >109 bacteria per ml for a representative of both Gram-negative bacteria (Escherichia coli) and Gram-positive bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis). This procedure causes no detected inactivation of podophage T3, myophage T4 and siphophage 0105phi7-2. Margins of safety for PrimeStore concentration exist for bacterial inactivation and phage non-inactivation. Thus, general applicability is expected. Subsequent dialysis is used to block long-term effects on phages. Nonetheless, comparable tests should be performed for each pathogenic bacterial strain/phage. Electron microscopy of thin sections reveals inactivation-altered bacterial cytoplasm and a non-disintegrated bacterial envelope (ghosts). Ghosting of E. coli includes re-arrangement of the cytoplasm and the release of endotoxin. The activity of the released endotoxin is >99% reduced after subsequent dialysis, which also removes PrimeStore components. Ghosting of B. thuringiensis includes apparent phase separation within the cytoplasm. The primary application envisaged is biophysical and other screening of phages for therapy of infectious disease. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomedical Optics)
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