Vol 15, No 2 (2023)


Connectivity of the Brain in the Light of Chemogenetic Modulation of Neuronal Activity

Dygalo N.N.


Connectivity is the coordinated activity of the neuronal networks responsible for brain functions; it is detected based on functional magnetic resonance imaging signals that depend on the oxygen level in the blood (blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signals) supplying the brain. The BOLD signal is only indirectly related to the underlying neuronal activity; therefore, it remains an open question whether connectivity and changes in it are only manifestations of normal and pathological states of the brain or they are, to some extent, the causes of these states. The creation of chemogenetic receptors activated by synthetic drugs (designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs, DREADDs), which, depending on the receptor type, either facilitate or, on the contrary, inhibit the neuronal response to received physiological stimuli, makes it possible to assess brain connectivity in the light of controlled neuronal activity. Evidence suggests that connectivity is based on neuronal activity and is a manifestation of connections between brain regions that integrate sensory, cognitive, and motor functions. Chemogenetic modulation of the activity of various groups and types of neurons changes the connectivity of the brain and its complex functions. Chemogenetics can be useful in reconfiguring the pathological mechanisms of nervous and mental diseases. The initiated integration, based on the whole-brain connectome from molecular-cellular, neuronal, and synaptic processes to higher nervous activity and behavior, has the potential to significantly increase the fundamental and applied value of this branch of neuroscience.

Acta Naturae. 2023;15(2):4-13
pages 4-13 views

The Unique Genome of the Virus and Alternative Strategies for its Realization

Zhirnov O.P.


The genome of some RNA-containing viruses comprises ambipolar genes that are arranged in stacks (one above the other) encoding proteins in opposite directions. Ambipolar genes provide a new approach for developing viral diversity when virions possessing an identical genome may differ in its expression scheme (strategy) and have distinct types of progeny virions varying in the genomic RNA polarity and the composition of proteins expressed by positive- or negative-sense genes, the so-called ambipolar virions. So far, this pathway of viral genome expression remains hypothetical and hidden from us, like the dark side of the Moon, and deserves a detailed study.

Acta Naturae. 2023;15(2):14-19
pages 14-19 views

Gene therapy for Cystic Fibrosis: recent advances and future prospects

Lomunova M.A., Gershovich P.M.


Gene replacement therapies are novel therapeutic approaches that seek to tackle hereditary diseases caused by a congenital deficiency in a particular gene, when a functional copy of a gene can be delivered to the cells and tissues using various delivery systems. To do this, viral particles carrying a functional copy of the gene of interest and various nonviral gene delivery systems, including liposomes, nanoparticles, etc., can be used. In this review, we discuss the state of current knowledge regarding the molecular mechanisms and types of genetic mutations that lead to cystic fibrosis and highlight recent developments in gene therapy that can be leveraged to correct these mutations and to restore the physiological function of the carrier protein transporting sodium and chlorine ions in the airway epithelial cells. Restoration of carrier protein expression could lead to the normalization of ion and water transport across the membrane and induce a decrease in the viscosity of airway surface fluid, which is one of the pathological manifestations of this disease. This review also summarizes recently published preclinical and clinical data for various gene therapies to allow one to make some conclusions about future prospects for gene therapy in cystic fibrosis treatment.

Acta Naturae. 2023;15(2):20-31
pages 20-31 views

MALAT1 Long Non-coding RNA and Its Role in Breast Carcinogenesis

Tsyganov M.M., Ibragimova M.K.


Our genome consists not only of protein-coding DNA, but also of the non-coding part that plays a very important role in the regulation of all cellular processes. A part of the non-coding genome comes with non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), and disruption of the functional activity of these RNAs may be associated with oncogenesis in various cancer types. There exist two types of ncRNAs: small and long non-coding RNAs, which are classified according to their transcript length. Long non-coding metastasis-associated lung adenocarcinoma transcript 1, MALAT1 RNA (NEAT2), is a long non-coding RNA of particular interest. The aforementioned transcript takes part in the regulation of numerous cellular processes and pathogenesis of different malignant tumors, including breast tumors. This review focuses on experimental and clinical studies into the role of MALAT1 in carcinogenesis and the progression of breast cancer.

Acta Naturae. 2023;15(2):32-41
pages 32-41 views

Research Articles

Relationship between the Gene Expression of Adenosine Kinase Isoforms and the Expression of CD39 and CD73 Ectonucleotidases in Colorectal Cancer

Zhulai G.A., Shibaev M.I.


Tumor cells have the capacity to create an adenosine-rich immunosuppressive environment, which can interfere with antitumor immunotherapy. Approaches are currently being developed with a view to suppressing the production of adenosine or its signals. Such approaches include the use of antibodies to inhibit CD39, CD73, and adenosine-receptor antagonists. However, the abundance of enzymatic pathways that control the ATP-adenosine balance, as well as the still poorly understood intracellular adenosine regulation, makes the hoped-for success unlikely. In the present study, the enzyme adenosine kinase (ADK) needed to convert adenosine to adenosine monophosphate, thereby regulating its levels, was investigated. To do so, peripheral blood samples from patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) (n = 31) were collected with blood samples from healthy donors (n = 17) used as controls. ADK gene expression levels and those of its long (ADK-L) and short (ADK-S) isoforms were measured. The relationship between the levels of ADK gene expression and that of CD39, CD73, and A2aR genes was analyzed. It turned out that in the group of CRC patients (stages III-IV), the level of ADK-L mRNA was lower (p < 0.0011) when compared to that of the control. For the first time, an average correlation was found between the level of expression of CD39 and ADK-S (r = -0.468 at p = 0.043) and between CD73 and ADK-L (r = 0.518 at p = 0.0232) in CRC patients. Flow cytometry was used to assess the content of CD39/CD73-expressing CD8+, CD4+ and Treg lymphocytes, as well as their relationship with the level of ADK gene expression in CRC patients. But no significant correlations were found.

Acta Naturae. 2023;15(2):42-49
pages 42-49 views

MMP-9 mRNA Expression and Bridging Fibrosis Progression in Toxic Liver Injury

Lebedeva E.I., Babenka A.S., Shchastniy A.T.


Developing liver disease treatments, in which fibrosis is a key pathogenetic link, still remains an urgent problem in hepatology. In the present study, the level of mmp-9 mRNA expression and the number of FAP+, α-SMA+, CD45+ cells were analyzed at nine time points of fibrosis and cirrhosis. It was found that in the case of liver fibrosis, the choice of the optimal reference gene depended on the stage of fibrogenesis. When studying the specific stages rather than the entire process in a long-term experiment, it was shown that choosing an optimal reference gene has to be done additionally. In this case, the mmp-9 mRNA expression level should be considered as a marker of liver fibrosis initiation and development but not as that of cirrhosis progression. In the liver, two morphologically heterogeneous populations of myofibroblasts were simultaneously identified as able to synthesize various types of immunohistochemical markers. It was found that the FAP+ cells were the main contributor to the development of portal fibrosis and the initial stages of bridging fibrosis. In the selected experimental model, fibrosis initiation and the development stages preceding parenchyma restructuring were accompanied by a low level of inflammation.

Acta Naturae. 2023;15(2):50-58
pages 50-58 views

EGFR Suppression Inhibits the Sphere Formation of MCF7 Cells Overexpressing EGFR

Novak D.D., Troitskaya O.S., Nushtaeva A.A., Zhilnikova M.V., Richter V.A., Meschaninova M.I., Koval O.A.


The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is an oncogenic tyrosine kinase that is involved in tumor initiation and progression, making EGFR inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies to this receptor essential for anti-tumor therapy. We have previously shown that EGFR transgene expression in the human breast adenocarcinoma cell line MCF7 (MCF7-EGFR) stimulates the 3D spheroid-like growth. The primary focus of our present work was to investigate whether EGFR inhibition could affect the assembly of spheroids or lead to the destruction of pre-existing spheroids. We compared the effects of anti-EGFR siRNA, the anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody cetuximab, and the tyrosine kinase inhibitor AG1478 on dissociated and spheroid MCF7-EGFR cells. MCF7-EGFR cells were found to have a 2.5-fold higher sensitivity towards the cytotoxic effects of cetuximab and AG1478 compared with the parental MCF7 cell line. The suppression of EGFR mRNA with siRNA was found to reduce the sphere formation, whereas treating the pre-existing spheroids had no such effect. Treatment of dissociated spheroids with cetuximab and AG1478 was also found to inhibit the MCF7-EGFR sphere formation. We suggest that EGFR expression is important, at least, during the spheroid formation stage. The transition of a MCF7wt adherent cell culture to MCF7-EGFR spheroids was accompanied by a considerable increase in N-cadherin adhesion proteins. The level of N-cadherin decreased when MCF7-EGFR cells were treated with siRNA and cetuximab. Thus, we have demonstrated that N-cadherin is involved in the EGFR-dependent formation of MCF7-EGFR spheroids. Accordingly, MCF7-EGFR spheroids can be considered a suitable model for studying aggressive hormone-positive breast tumors.

Acta Naturae. 2023;15(2):59-69
pages 59-69 views

CRISPR/Cas9 Essential Gene Editing in Drosophila

Osadchiy I.S., Sophia K.O., Tumashova K.Y., Georgiev P.G., Maksimenko O.G.


Since the addition of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology to the genetic engineering toolbox, the problems of low efficiency and off-target effects hamper its widespread use in all fields of life sciences. Furthermore, essential gene knockout usually results in failure and it is often not obvious whether the gene of interest is an essential one. Here, we report on a new strategy to improve the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, which is based on the idea that editing efficiency is tightly linked to how essential the gene to be modified is. The more essential the gene, the less the efficiency of the editing and the larger the number of off-targets, due to the survivorship bias. Considering this, we generated deletions of three essential genes in Drosophila: trf2, top2, and mep-1, using fly strains with previous target gene overexpression (“pre-rescued” genetic background).

Acta Naturae. 2023;15(2):70-74
pages 70-74 views

Cell Therapy: A New Technology for Cerebral Circulation Restoration after Ischemia/Reperfusion

Sokolova I.B., Gorshkova O.P.


Cell therapy with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) may be a promising technique for cerebral blood flow restoration after transient ischemia. Before a practical application of the cell material, 7–9 days are required for its cultivation. We studied the efficacy of human MSC (hMSC) transplantation performed 7 days after cerebral ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) to help recover cerebral circulation. The intravital micrograph technique was used to comparatively evaluate the vasculature density in the pia mater and the reactivity of the pial arteries in response to acetylcholine (ACh) in rats after I/R (clamping of both carotid arteries and a simultaneous decrease in and strict maintenance of the mean BP at 45 ± 2 mm Hg for 12 min) and with/without hMSC transplantation. Perfusion (P) in the sensorimotor cortex was assessed using laser dopplerography. After 14 and 21 days, the vasculature density in I/R-affected rats was 1.2- to 1.4-fold and 1.2- to 1.3-fold lower, respectively, than that in the controls. The number of ACh-dilated arteries decreased 1.6- to 1.9-fold and 1.2- to 1.7-fold 14 and 21 days after I/R, respectively. After 21 days, the P level decreased 1.6-fold, on average. Administration of hMSCs on day 7 after I/R resulted in complete recovery of the vasculature density by day 14. ACh-mediated dilatation fully recovered only in arteries of less than 40 μm in diameter within 21 days. After 21 days, the P level was 1.2-fold lower than that in the controls but significantly higher than that in rats after I/R without hMSCs. Delayed administration of MSCs after a transient cerebral ischemic attack affords the time for the procedures required to prepare cell material for transplantation and provides a good therapeutic response in the pial microvasculature.

Acta Naturae. 2023;15(2):75-80
pages 75-80 views

Short communications

Search for Inhibitors of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Transketolase in a Series of Sulfo-Substituted Compounds

Gushchina I.V., Nilov D.K., Shcherbakova T.A., Baldin S.M., Svedas V.K.


As a result of the computer screening of a library of sulfo-substituted compounds, molecules capable of binding to the active site of transketolase from Mycobacterium tuberculosis were identified. An experimental verification of the inhibitory activity of the most promising compound, STK045765, against a highly purified recombinant enzyme preparation was carried out. It was shown that the STK045765 molecule competes for the binding site of the pyrophosphate group of the thiamine diphosphate cofactor and, at micromolar concentrations, is able to suppress the activity of mycobacterial transketolase. The discovered furansulfonate scaffold may serve as the basis for the creation of anti-tuberculosis drugs.

Acta Naturae. 2023;15(2):81-83
pages 81-83 views

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