• Analysing men's written friendship narratives

      Guy, L.; Montague, Jane; University of Birmingham; University of Derby (2012-05-24)
    • Caenorhabditis elegans, a model organism for investigating immunity.

      Marsh, Elizabeth K; May, Robin C; University of Birmingham (2012-03-09)
      The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has been a powerful experimental organism for almost half a century. Over the past 10 years, researchers have begun to exploit the power of C. elegans to investigate the biology of a number of human pathogens. This work has uncovered mechanisms of host immunity and pathogen virulence that are analogous to those involved during pathogenesis in humans or other animal hosts, as well as novel immunity mechanisms which appear to be unique to the worm. More recently, these investigations have uncovered details of the natural pathogens of C. elegans, including the description of a novel intracellular microsporidian parasite as well as new nodaviruses, the first identification of viral infections of this nematode. In this review, we consider the application of C. elegans to human infectious disease research, as well as consider the nematode response to these natural pathogens.
    • Mechanisms of interpersonal sway synchrony and stability

      Reynolds, Raymond Francis; Osler, Callum J.; University of Birmingham; University of Derby (The Royal Society, 2014-10-22)
      Here we explain the neural and mechanical mechanisms responsible for synchronizing sway and improving postural control during physical contact with another standing person. Postural control processes were modelled using an inverted pendulum under continuous feedback control. Interpersonal interactions were simulated either by coupling the sensory feedback loops or by physically coupling the pendulums with a damped spring. These simulations precisely recreated the timing and magnitude of sway interactions observed empirically. Effects of firmly grasping another person's shoulder were explained entirely by the mechanical linkage. This contrasted with light touch and/or visual contact, which were explained by a sensory weighting phenomenon; each person's estimate of upright was based on a weighted combination of veridical sensory feedback combined with a small contribution from their partner. Under these circumstances, the model predicted reductions in sway even without the need to distinguish between self and partner motion. Our findings explain the seemingly paradoxical observation that touching a swaying person can improve postural control.
    • Mitotic control of human papillomavirus genome-containing cells is regulated by the function of the PDZ-binding motif of the E6 oncoprotein.

      Marsh, Elizabeth K.; Delury, Craig P.; Davies, Nicholas J.; Weston, Christopher J.; Miah, Mohammed A. L.; Banks, Lawrence; Parish, Joanna L.; Higgs, Martin R.; Roberts, Sally; University of Birmingham; et al. (Impact Journals, 2017-01-03)
      The function of a conserved PDS95/DLG1/ZO1 (PDZ) binding motif (E6 PBM) at the C-termini of E6 oncoproteins of high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) types contributes to the development of HPV-associated malignancies. Here, using a primary human keratinocyte-based model of the high-risk HPV18 life cycle, we identify a novel link between the E6 PBM and mitotic stability. In cultures containing a mutant genome in which the E6 PBM was deleted there was an increase in the frequency of abnormal mitoses, including multinucleation, compared to cells harboring the wild type HPV18 genome. The loss of the E6 PBM was associated with a significant increase in the frequency of mitotic spindle defects associated with anaphase and telophase. Furthermore, cells carrying this mutant genome had increased chromosome segregation defects and they also exhibited greater levels of genomic instability, as shown by an elevated level of centromere-positive micronuclei. In wild type HPV18 genome-containing organotypic cultures, the majority of mitotic cells reside in the suprabasal layers, in keeping with the hyperplastic morphology of the structures. However, in mutant genome-containing structures a greater proportion of mitotic cells were retained in the basal layer, which were often of undefined polarity, thus correlating with their reduced thickness. We conclude that the ability of E6 to target cellular PDZ proteins plays a critical role in maintaining mitotic stability of HPV infected cells, ensuring stable episome persistence and vegetative amplification.
    • The role of protein kinase A regulation of the E6 PDZ-binding domain during the differentiation-dependent life cycle of human papillomavirus type 18.

      Delury, Craig P; Marsh, Elizabeth K; James, Claire D; Boon, Siaw Shi; Banks, Lawrence; Knight, Gillian L; Roberts, Sally; University of Birmingham (American Society for Microbiology, 2013-08-13)
      Human papillomavirus (HPV) E6 proteins of high-risk alpha types target a select group of PSD95/DLG1/ZO1 (PDZ) domain-containing proteins by using a C-terminal PDZ-binding motif (PBM), an interaction that can be negatively regulated by phosphorylation of the E6 PBM by protein kinase A (PKA). Here, we have mutated the canonical PKA recognition motif that partially overlaps with the E6 PBM in the HPV18 genome (E6153PKA) and compared the effect of this mutation on the HPVl8 life cycle in primary keratinocytes with the wild-type genome and with a second mutant genome that lacks the E6 PBM (E6ΔPDZ). Loss of PKA recognition of E6 was associated with increased growth of the genome-containing cells relative to cells carrying the wild-type genome, and upon stratification, a more hyperplastic phenotype, with an increase in the number of S-phase competent cells in the upper suprabasal layers, while the opposite was seen with the E6ΔPDZ genome. Moreover, the growth of wild-type genome-containing cells was sensitive to changes in PKA activity, and these changes were associated with increased phosphorylation of the E6 PBM. In marked contrast to E6ΔPDZ genomes, the E6153PKA mutation exhibited no deleterious effects on viral genome amplification or expression of late proteins. Our data suggest that the E6 PBM function is differentially regulated by phosphorylation in the HPV18 life cycle. We speculate that perturbation of protein kinase signaling pathways could lead to changes in E6 PBM function, which in turn could have a bearing on tumor promotion and progression.
    • Targeted transgene integration overcomes variability of position effects in zebrafish.

      Roberts, Jennifer Anne; Miguel-Escalada, Irene; Slovik, Katherine Joan; Walsh, Kathleen Theodora; Hadzhiev, Yavor; Sanges, Remo; Stupka, Elia; Marsh, Elizabeth Kate; Balciuniene, Jorune; Balciunas, Darius; et al. (2014-01-21)
      Zebrafish transgenesis is increasingly popular owing to the optical transparency and external development of embryos, which provide a scalable vertebrate model for in vivo experimentation. The ability to express transgenes in a tightly controlled spatio-temporal pattern is an important prerequisite for exploitation of zebrafish in a wide range of biomedical applications. However, conventional transgenesis methods are plagued by position effects: the regulatory environment of genomic integration sites leads to variation of expression patterns of transgenes driven by engineered cis-regulatory modules. This limitation represents a bottleneck when studying the precise function of cis-regulatory modules and their subtle variants or when various effector proteins are to be expressed for labelling and manipulation of defined sets of cells. Here, we provide evidence for the efficient elimination of variability of position effects by developing a PhiC31 integrase-based targeting method. To detect targeted integration events, a simple phenotype scoring of colour change in the lens of larvae is used. We compared PhiC31-based integration and Tol2 transgenesis in the analysis of the activity of a novel conserved enhancer from the developmentally regulated neural-specific esrrga gene. Reporter expression was highly variable among independent lines generated with Tol2, whereas all lines generated with PhiC31 into a single integration site displayed nearly identical, enhancer-specific reporter expression in brain nuclei. Moreover, we demonstrate that a modified integrase system can also be used for the detection of enhancer activity in transient transgenesis. These results demonstrate the power of the PhiC31-based transgene integration for the annotation and fine analysis of transcriptional regulatory elements and it promises to be a generally desirable tool for a range of applications, which rely on highly reproducible patterns of transgene activity in zebrafish.
    • A two-gene balance regulates Salmonella typhimurium tolerance in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.

      Marsh, Elizabeth K; van den Berg, Maaike C W; May, Robin C; University of Birmingham (Public Library of Science, 2011-03-02)
      Lysozymes are antimicrobial enzymes that perform a critical role in resisting infection in a wide-range of eukaryotes. However, using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model host we now demonstrate that deletion of the protist type lysozyme LYS-7 renders animals susceptible to killing by the fatal fungal human pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans, but, remarkably, enhances tolerance to the enteric bacteria Salmonella Typhimurium. This trade-off in immunological susceptibility in C. elegans is further mediated by the reciprocal activity of lys-7 and the tyrosine kinase abl-1. Together this implies a greater complexity in C. elegans innate immune function than previously thought.