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Topological and thermodynamic factors that influence the evolution of small networks of catalytic RNA species.
Yeates JAM, Nghe P, Lehman N.
RNA. - 23(7) 1088-1096 - doi: 10.1261/rna.061093.117 - 2017
An RNA-directed recombination reaction can result in a network of interacting RNA species. It is now becoming increasingly apparent that such networks could have been an important feature of the RNA world during the nascent evolution of life on the Earth. However, the means by which such small RNA networks assimilate other available genotypes in the environment to grow and evolve into the more complex networks that are thought to have existed in the prebiotic milieu are not known. Here, we used the ability of fragments of the Azoarcus group I intron ribozyme to covalently self-assemble via genotype-selfish and genotype-cooperative interactions into full-length ribozymes to investigate the dynamics of small (three- and four-membered) networks. We focused on the influence of a three-membered core network on the incorporation of additional nodes, and on the degree and direction of connectivity as single new nodes are added to this core. We confirmed experimentally the predictions that additional links to a core should enhance overall network growth rates, but that the directionality of the link (a "giver" or a "receiver") impacts the growth of the core itself. Additionally, we used a simple mathematical model based on the first-order effects of lower-level interactions to predict the growth of more complex networks, and find that such a model can, to a first approximation, predict the ordinal rankings of nodes once a steady-state distribution has been reached.
Synthesis of new hydrophilic rhodamine based enzymatic substrates compatible with droplet-based microfluidic assays
Johan Fenneteau, Dany Chauvin,b Andrew D. Griffiths,b Clément Nizak,b and Janine Cossy
Chem. Comm. - 53 5437-5440 - DOI: 10.1039/C7CC01506B - 2017
Here we report the conception, synthesis and evaluation of new hydrophilic rhodamine-based enzymatic substrates for detection of peptidase activity compatible with high-throughput screening using droplet-based microfluidics.
Droplet-based microfluidic high-throughput screening of heterologous enzymes secreted by the yeast Yarrowia lipolytica
Beneyton T, Thomas S, Griffiths AD, Nicaud JM, Drevelle A, Rossignol T.
Microb Cell Fact. - 16(1) 18 - doi: 10.1186/s12934-017-0629-5. - 2017
BACKGROUND:
Droplet-based microfluidics is becoming an increasingly attractive alternative to microtiter plate techniques for enzymatic high-throughput screening (HTS), especially for exploring large diversities with lower time and cost footprint. In this case, the assayed enzyme has to be accessible to the substrate within the water-in-oil droplet by being ideally extracellular or displayed at the cell surface. However, most of the enzymes screened to date are expressed within the cytoplasm of Escherichia coli cells, which means that a lysis step must take place inside the droplets for enzyme activity to be assayed. Here, we take advantage of the excellent secretion abilities of the yeast Yarrowia lipolytica to describe a highly efficient expression system particularly suitable for the droplet-based microfluidic HTS.
RESULTS:
Five hydrolytic genes from Aspergillus niger genome were chosen and the corresponding five Yarrowia lipolytica producing strains were constructed. Each enzyme (endo-β-1,4-xylanase B and C; 1,4-β-cellobiohydrolase A; endoglucanase A; aspartic protease) was successfully overexpressed and secreted in an active form in the crude supernatant. A droplet-based microfluidic HTS system was developed to (a) encapsulate single yeast cells; (b) grow yeast in droplets; (c) inject the relevant enzymatic substrate; (d) incubate droplets on chip; (e) detect enzymatic activity; and (f) sort droplets based on enzymatic activity. Combining this integrated microfluidic platform with gene expression in Y. lipolytica results in remarkably low variability in the enzymatic activity at the single cell level within a given monoclonal population (<5%). Xylanase, cellobiohydrolase and protease activities were successfully assayed using this system. We then used the system to screen for thermostable variants of endo-β-1,4-xylanase C in error-prone PCR libraries. Variants displaying higher thermostable xylanase activities compared to the wild-type were isolated (up to 4.7-fold improvement).
CONCLUSIONS:
Yarrowia lipolytica was used to express fungal genes encoding hydrolytic enzymes of interest. We developed a successful droplet-based microfluidic platform for the high-throughput screening (105 strains/h) of Y. lipolytica based on enzyme secretion and activity. This approach provides highly efficient tools for the HTS of recombinant enzymatic activities. This should be extremely useful for discovering new biocatalysts via directed evolution or protein engineering approaches and should lead to major advances in microbial cell factory development.
Sign epistasis caused by hierarchy within signalling cascades.
Nghe P, Kogenaru M, Tans SJ.
Nat Commun - 9(1) 1451. - doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03644-8 - 2017
Sign epistasis is a central evolutionary constraint, but its causal factors remain difficult to predict. Here we use the notion of parameterised optima to explain epistasis within a signalling cascade, and test these predictions in Escherichia coli. We show that sign epistasis arises from the benefit of tuning phenotypic parameters of cascade genes with respect to each other, rather than from their complex and incompletely known genetic bases. Specifically, sign epistasis requires only that the optimal phenotypic parameters of one gene depend on the phenotypic parameters of another, independent of other details, such as activating or repressing nature, position within the cascade, intra-genic pleiotropy or genotype. Mutational effects change sign more readily in downstream genes, indicating that optimising downstream genes is more constrained. The findings show that sign epistasis results from the inherent upstream-downstream hierarchy between signalling cascade genes, and can be addressed without exhaustive genotypic mapping.
Particle Deposition Kinetics of Colloidal Suspensions in Microchannels at High Ionic Strength
Cesare M. Cejas, Fabrice Monti, Marine Truchet, Jean-Pierre Burnouf, and Patrick Tabeling
Langmuir - 33, 36 6471-6480 - DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.7b01394 - 2017
Despite its considerable practical importance, the deposition of real Brownian particles transported in a channel by a liquid, at small Reynolds numbers, has never been described at a comprehensive level. Here, by coupling microfluidic experiments, theory, and numerics, we succeed in unravelling the problem for the case of straight channels at high salinity. We discover a broad regime of deposition (the van der Waals regime) in which particle–wall van der Waals interactions govern the deposition mechanism. We determine the range of existence of the regime, for which we calculate the concentration profiles, retention profiles, and deposition kinetics analytically. The retention profiles decay as the inverse of the square root of the distance from the entry, and the deposition kinetics are given by the expression , where S is a dimensionless deposition function, A is the Hamaker constant, and ξL is a dimensionless parameter characterizing fluid flow properties. These findings are well supported by numerics. Experimentally, we find that the retention profiles behave as x–0.5±0.1 (where x is the distance from the channel entry) over three decades in scale, as predicted theoretically. By varying the flow conditions (speed, geometry, surface properties, and concentration) so as to cover four decades in ξL and taking the Hamaker constant as a free parameter, we accurately confirm the theoretical expression for the deposition kinetics. Operating in the van der Waals regime enables control of the deposition rates via surface chemistry. From a surface science perspective, working in the van der Waals regime enables us to measure the Hamaker constants of thousands of particles in a few minutes, a task that would take a much longer time to perform with standard AFM.
Roughness of oxide glass subcritical fracture surfaces
Gael Pallares , Frederic Lechenault, Matthieu George, Elisabeth Bouchaud, Cédric Ottina, Cindy L. Rountree, Matteo Ciccotti ,
Phys. Chem. - 101 (3) 1279-1288 - DOI : 10.1111/jace.15262 - 2017
An original setup combining a very stable loading stage, an atomic force microscope and an environmental chamber, allows to obtain very stable sub-critical fracture propagation in oxide glasses under controlled environment, and subsequently to finely characterize the nanometric roughness properties of the crack surfaces. The analysis of the surface roughness is conducted both in terms of the classical root mean square roughness to compare with the literature, and in terms of more physically adequate indicators related to the self-affine nature of the fracture surfaces. Due to the comparable nanometric scale of the surface roughness, the AFM tip size and the instrumental noise, a special care is devoted to the statistical evaluation of the metrologic properties. The 2 roughness amplitude of several oxide glasses was shown to decrease as a function of the stress intensity factor, to be quite insensitive to the relative humidity and to increase with the degree of heterogeneity of the glass. The results are discussed in terms of several modeling arguments concerning the coupling between crack propagation, material's heterogeneity, crack tip plastic deformation and water diffusion at the crack tip. A synthetic new model is presented combining the predictions of a model by Wiederhorn et al. [1] on the effect of the material's heterogeneity on the crack tip stresses with the self-affine nature of the fracture surfaces.
Paper-based RNA detection and multiplexed analysis for Ebola virus diagnostics
Laura Magro, Béatrice Jacquelin, Camille Escadafal, Pierre Garneret, Aurélia Kwasiborski, Jean-Claude Manuguerra, Fabrice Monti, Anavaj Sakuntabhai, Jessica Vanhomwegen, Pierre Lafaye & Patrick Tabeling
Scientific Reports - 1347 (2017) - https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-00758-9 - 2017
The most performing techniques enabling early diagnosis of infectious diseases rely on nucleic acid detection. Today, because of their high technicality and cost, nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) are of benefit only to a small fraction of developing countries population. By reducing costs, simplifying procedures and enabling multiplexing, paper microfluidics has the potential to considerably facilitate their accessibility. However, most of the studies performed in this area have not quit the lab. This letter brings NAAT on paper closer to the field, by using clinical samples and operating in a resource-limited setting. We first performed isothermal reverse transcription and Recombinase Polymerase Amplification (RT-RPA) of synthetic Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) of Ebola virus using paper microfluidics devices. We further applied this method in Guinea to detect the presence of Ebola virus in human sample RNA extracts, with minimal facilities (carry-on detection device and freeze-dried reagents on paper). RT-RPA results were available in few minutes and demonstrate a sensitivity of 90.0% compared to the gold-standard RT-PCR on a set of 43 patient samples. Furthermore, the realization of a nine-spot multilayered device achieving the parallel detection of three distinct RNA sequences opens a route toward the detection of multiple viral strains or pathogens.
In situ targeted activation of an anticancer agent using ultrasound-triggered release of composite droplets
Bezagu M, Clarhaut J, Renoux B, Monti F, Tanter M, Tabeling P, Cossy J, Couture O, Papot S, Arseniyadis S.
Eur J Med Chem. - 42 2-7 - doi: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2017.03.057 - 2017
The efficiency of a drug is usually highly dependent on the way it is administered or delivered. As such, targeted-therapy, which requires conceiving drug-delivery vehicles that will change their state from a relatively stable structure with a very slow leak-rate to an unstable structure with a fast release, clearly improves the pharmacokinetics, the absorption, the distribution, the metabolism and the therapeutic index of a given drug. In this context, we have developed a particularly effective double stimuli-responsive drug-delivery method allowing an ultrasound-induced release of a monomethylauristatin E-glucuronide prodrug and its subsequent activation by a β-glucuronidase. This led to an increase of cytotoxicity of about 80% on cancer cells.
Microfluidic step-emulsification in axisymmetric geometry
Chakraborty, J. Ricouvier, P. Yazhgur, P. Tabelingb and A. M. Leshansky
Lab. Chip - 17 3609-3620 - DOI: 10.1039/C7LC00755H - 2017
Biphasic step-emulsification (Z. Li et al., Lab Chip, 2015, 15, 1023) is a promising microfluidic technique for high-throughput production of μm and sub-μm highly monodisperse droplets. The step-emulsifier consists of a shallow (Hele-Shaw) microchannel operating with two co-flowing immiscible liquids and an abrupt expansion (i.e., step) to a deep and wide reservoir. Under certain conditions the confined stream of the disperse phase, engulfed by the co-flowing continuous phase, breaks into small highly monodisperse droplets at the step. Theoretical investigation of the corresponding hydrodynamics is complicated due to the complex geometry of the planar device, calling for numerical approaches. However, direct numerical simulations of the three dimensional surface-tension-dominated biphasic flows in confined geometries are computationally expensive. In the present paper we study a model problem of axisymmetric step-emulsification. This setup consists of a stable core-annular biphasic flow in a cylindrical capillary tube connected co-axially to a reservoir tube of a larger diameter through a sudden expansion mimicking the edge of the planar step-emulsifier. We demonstrate that the axisymmetric setup exhibits similar regimes of droplet generation to the planar device. A detailed parametric study of the underlying hydrodynamics is feasible via inexpensive (two dimensional) simulations owing to the axial symmetry. The phase diagram quantifying the different regimes of droplet generation in terms of governing dimensionless parameters is presented. We show that in qualitative agreement with experiments in planar devices, the size of the droplets generated in the step-emulsification regime is independent of the capillary number and almost insensitive to the viscosity ratio. These findings confirm that the step-emulsification regime is solely controlled by surface tension. The numerical predictions are in excellent agreement with in-house experiments with the axisymmetric step-emulsifier.
Paper Microfluidics for Nucleic Acids Amplification Testing (NAAT) of Infectious Diseases
Magro L1, Escadafal C, Garneret P, Jacquelin B, Kwasiborski A, Manuguerra JC, Monti F, Sakuntabhai A, Vanhomwegen J, Lafaye P, Tabeling P.
Lab. Chip - 17(14) 2347-2371 - doi: 10.1039/c7lc00013h. - 2017
The diagnosis of infectious diseases is entering a new and interesting phase. Technologies based on paper microfluidics, coupled to developments in isothermal amplification of Nucleic Acids (NAs) raise opportunities for bringing the methods of molecular biology in the field, in a low setting environment. A lot of work has been performed in the domain over the last few years and the landscape of contributions is rich and diverse. Most often, the level of sample preparation differs, along with the sample nature, the amplification and detection methods, and the design of the device, among other features. In this review, we attempt to offer a structured description of the state of the art. The domain is not mature and there exist bottlenecks that hamper the realization of Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs) complying with the constraints of the field in low and middle income countries. In this domain however, the pace of progress is impressively fast. This review is written for a broad Lab on a Chip audience.

326 publications.