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Department of Animal Sciences
The Robert H. Smith Faculty
of Agricultural, Food & Environment

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Herzl 229, Rehovot 7610001, Israel
Phone: +972-(0)8-9489119;
Fax: +972-(0)8-9465763;
Yael Lewitus, Department's Secretary


Blum, S. E. ; Heller, D. ; Jacoby, S. ; Krifucks, O. ; Leitner, G. Comparison of the immune responses associated with experimental bovine mastitis caused by different strains of Escherichia coli. Journal of Dairy Research 2017, 84, 190-197. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We studied the mammary immune response to different mammary pathogenic Escherichia coli (MPEC) strains in cows, hypothesising that the dynamics of response would differ. E. coli is a major aetiologic agent of acute clinical bovine mastitis of various degrees of severity with specific strains being associated with persistent infections. We compared challenge with three distinct pathogenic MPEC strains (VL2874, VL2732 and P4), isolated from different forms of mastitis (per-acute, persistent and acute, respectively). A secondary objective was to verify the lack of mammary pathogenicity of an environmental isolate (K71) that is used for comparison against MPEC in genomic and phenotypic studies. Twelve cows were challenged by intra-mammary infusion with one of the strains. Cellular and chemokine responses and bacterial culture follow-up were performed for 35 d. All cows challenged by any of the MPEC strains developed clinical mastitis. Differences were found in the intensity and duration of response, in somatic cell count, secreted cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-17) and levels of milk leucocyte membrane Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). A sharp decrease of TLR4 on leucocytes was observed concomitantly to peak bacterial counts in milk. Intra-mammary infusion of strain K71 did not elicit inflammation and bacteria were not recovered from milk. Results suggest some differences in the mammary immune response to distinct MPEC strains that could be correlated to their previously observed pathogenic traits. This is also the first report of an E. coli strain that is non-pathogenic to the bovine mammary gland. © Proprietors of Journal of Dairy Research 2017.
Malama, E. ; Zeron, Y. ; Janett, F. ; Siuda, M. ; Roth, Z. ; Bollwein, H. Use of computer-assisted sperm analysis and flow cytometry to detect seasonal variations of bovine semen quality. Theriogenology 2017, 87, 79 - 90. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Seasonal fluctuations of climate are considered a major factor affecting spermatogenesis and semen quality in the bovine. Our study aimed to investigate the effect of season on functional parameters of frozen-thawed bovine semen using computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA) and flow cytometry. For this purpose, 86 ejaculates were collected from five mature Holstein-Friesian bulls kept under subtropical conditions during summer (August to September; n = 43) and winter (December to January; n = 43) months. Semen was diluted with a Tris-egg yolk-based extender and frozen at −196 °C. Computer-assisted sperm analysis was performed immediately after thawing (0h) and after 3 hours of incubation (3h) to evaluate the percentage (%) of total motile, progressively motile, and rapidly motile sperm. In addition, the average path, curvilinear, and straight-line velocities as well as the amplitude of lateral head displacement of sperm were determined. The percentages of sperm with intact plasma membrane and acrosome (PMAI, %), with high mitochondrial membrane potential (HMMP, %), with low intracellular Ca+2 levels (LOW-Ca+2, %), and with high DNA fragmentation index (DFI%, %) were flow cytometrically determined at 0 and 3h. The survival rate of sperm under hypotonic conditions (HYPO-SURV, %) and the percentage of sperm with inducible acrosome reaction (IAR, %) were assessed using flow cytometry at 0 and 3h, respectively. The fixed effect of season (winter vs. summer) on the quality parameters of sperm was explored by applying linear mixed-effects models. The results showed an improvement of all CASA parameters, except for the straight-line velocity (P > 0.05) in winter compared with summer for both unincubated and incubated sperm (P < 0.01 in all cases). Ejaculates collected in summer had lower values of IAR (P < 0.001) as well as PMAI, HMMP, and LOW-Ca+2 at 0 and 3h (P < 0.01 in all cases). On the contrary, HYPO-SURV and DFI% (at 0 and 3h) were not affected by season (P > 0.05 in all cases). Concluding, the employment of CASA and flow cytometry revealed season-related alterations in the functional status of cryopreserved bovine sperm, which suggest an adverse effect of summer heat stress on motility, plasma membrane and acrosome integrity, inducibility of acrosome reaction, mitochondrial function and intracellular Ca+2 content, but not on the DNA integrity of sperm after freezing–thawing.
Komsky-Elbaz, A. ; Roth, Z. Effect of the herbicide atrazine and its metabolite DACT on bovine sperm quality. Reproductive Toxicology 2017, 67, 15 - 25. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Atrazine (ATZ), one of the most extensively used herbicides, is considered a ubiquitous environmental contaminant. ATZ is a known endocrine disruptor, and deleterious effects on reproductive function have been shown, even at low, ecologically relevant doses (0.1–3μg/L). Once it enters the body, ATZ is metabolized to various metabolites, which are further detected in the urine, serum and tissues. In mammals, the major ATZ metabolite is diaminochlorotriazine (DACT). The current study focuses on direct effects of low doses of ATZ and DACT on bovine sperm isolated from ejaculates or epididymis compartments (head, body and tail). Sperm were incubated under capacitation conditions with or without 0.1–10μM ATZ or 1–100μM DACT. The integrity and functionality of sperm membranes (plasma, acrosomal and mitochondrial) were examined simultaneously by fluorescence staining at 0, 2 and 4h of incubation. Acrosome reaction (AR) was induced by Ca++ ionophore, after capacitation. The findings indicated that both ATZ and DACT adversely affect sperm, expressed by damaged sperm membranes. ATZ had a prominent effect on epididymal-tail sperm, expressed as disruption of all examined membranes, mostly at low (0.1 or 1μM) concentrations; pseudo-AR and that induced by Ca++ ionophore were both affected by exposure to 0.1μM ATZ (P<0.05 and P<0.00004, respectively). A similar pattern was documented for sperm isolated from ejaculates (P<0.002 and P<0.001, respectively). ΔYm was affected by ATZ in sperm isolated from the epididymis tail (1μM, P<0.0009), but not in that isolated from ejaculates. DACT reduced sperm viability at all examined concentrations and in all fractions. DACT at 1μM impaired ΔΨm in sperm isolated from the epididymis tail and ejaculate (P<0.005). DACT at 100μM did not induce pseudo-AR in sperm isolated from the ejaculate, but did in sperm isolated from the epididymis tail (P<0.05). Induction of AR by Ca++ ionophore was impaired in sperm isolated from ejaculate and exposed to 10 or 100μM DACT (P<0.05) and in sperm isolated from the epididymis tail and exposed to 1, 10 or 100μM DACT (P<0.0004). These findings reveal the harmful effect of exposure to ATZ and DACT, mainly at low ecologically relevant doses, on sperm viability, AR and mitochondrial function. We conclude that sperm at advanced stages of spermatogenesis, through its passage and storage in the epididymis compartments as well as in the ejaculate, is sensitive to herbicide. The results suggest that ATZ- or DACT-induced disruptions of sperm membranes might impair sperm fertilization competence.
Roth, Z. Effect of Heat Stress on Reproduction in Dairy Cows: Insights into the Cellular and Molecular Responses of the Oocyte. Annual Review of Animal BiosciencesAnnual Review of Animal Biosciences 2017, 5 151 - 170. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Among the components of the female reproductive tract, the ovarian pool of follicles and their enclosed oocytes are highly sensitive to hyperthermia. Heat-induced alterations in small antral follicles can be expressed later as compromised maturation and developmental capacity of the ovulating oocyte. This review summarizes the most up-to-date information on the effects of heat stress on the oocyte with an emphasis on unclear points and open questions, some of which might involve new research directions, for instance, whether preantral follicles are heat resistant. The review focuses on the follicle-enclosed oocytes, provides new insights into the cellular and molecular responses of the oocyte to elevated temperature, points out the role of the follicle microenvironment, and discusses some mechanisms that might underlie oocyte impairment. Mechanisms include nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation, mitochondrial function, apoptotic pathways, and oxidative stress. Understanding the mechanism by which heat stress compromises fertility might enable development of new strategies to mitigate its effects.Among the components of the female reproductive tract, the ovarian pool of follicles and their enclosed oocytes are highly sensitive to hyperthermia. Heat-induced alterations in small antral follicles can be expressed later as compromised maturation and developmental capacity of the ovulating oocyte. This review summarizes the most up-to-date information on the effects of heat stress on the oocyte with an emphasis on unclear points and open questions, some of which might involve new research directions, for instance, whether preantral follicles are heat resistant. The review focuses on the follicle-enclosed oocytes, provides new insights into the cellular and molecular responses of the oocyte to elevated temperature, points out the role of the follicle microenvironment, and discusses some mechanisms that might underlie oocyte impairment. Mechanisms include nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation, mitochondrial function, apoptotic pathways, and oxidative stress. Understanding the mechanism by which heat stress compromises fertility might enable development of new strategies to mitigate its effects.
Kalo, D. ; Roth, Z. Low level of mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate reduces oocyte developmental competence in association with impaired gene expression. Toxicology 2017, 377, 38 - 48. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and its metabolite, mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), are reproductive toxicants. However, disruptive effects of MEHP at low concentrations on the oocyte and developing blastocyst are unknown. Previously, we detected low levels of MEHP in follicular fluid aspirated from DEHP-treated cows associated with reduced estradiol levels. Moreover, the MEHP concentrations found were similar to those reported for follicular fluid aspirated from women who have undergone IVF cycles. In the current study, we used an in vitro embryo production model to examine the effect of MEHP at low levels on oocyte developmental competence. We set up several experiments to mimic the follicular fluid content, i.e., low MEHP level and low estradiol. For all experiments, cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs) were aspirated from bovine ovaries, then matured in vitro in standard oocyte maturation medium (OMM) supplemented with: MEHP at a range levels (20–1000nM) or with estradiol at a range levels (0–2000ng/ml). Then, oocytes were fertilized and cultured for an additional 7days to allow blastocyst development. Findings revealed that MEHP at low levels impairs oocyte developmental competence in a dose-dependent manner (P<0.05) and that estradiol by itself does not impair it. Accordingly, in another set of experiments, COCs were matured in vitro with MEHP at two choosen concentrations (20 or 1000nM) with or without estradiol, fertilized and cultured for 7days. Samples of mature oocytes and their derived blastocysts were subjected to quantitative real-time PCR to examine the profiles of selected genes (CYC1, MT-CO1, ATP5B, POU5F1, SOX2 and DNMT3b). Maturation of COCs with MEHP (20 or 1000nM) affected gene expression in the mature oocyte. Maturation of COCs with MEHP (20 or 1000nM) in the absence of estradiol reduced oocyte developmental competence (P<0.05). A differential carryover effect on transcript abundance was recorded in blastocysts developed from MEHP-treated oocytes. In the presence of estradiol, increased expression was recorded for CYC1, ATP5B, SOX2 and DNMT3b. In the absence of estradiol, decreased expression was recorded, with a significant effect for 1000nM MEHP (P<0.05). Taken together, the findings suggest that low levels of phthalate must be taken into consideration in risk assessments.
Katsowich, N. ; Elbaz, N. ; Pal, R. R. ; Mills, E. ; Kobi, S. ; Kahan, T. ; Rosenshine, I. Host cell attachment elicits posttranscriptional regulation in infecting enteropathogenic bacteria. Science 2017, 355, 735–739. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Escherichia coli is transformed from a commensal organism into a pathogen by acquisition of genetic elements called pathogenicity islands (PAIs). Katsowich et al. investigated how the PAI virulence genes of enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) respond when the bacterium attaches to a host gut cell. EPEC first sticks to the host by means of pili and then uses a PAI-encoded type 3 secretion system (T3SS) to inject multiple effectors into the host cell. But not all virulence mediators are injected. For example, CesT, a bacterial chaperone, delivers virulence effectors into the T3SS apparatus. Then, within the bacterial cytoplasm, it interacts with a gene repressor called CsrA, which reprograms bacterial gene expression to help the bacteria to adapt to epithelial cell–associated life.Science, this issue p. 735The mechanisms by which pathogens sense the host and respond by remodeling gene expression are poorly understood. Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EPEC), the cause of severe intestinal infection, employs a type III secretion system (T3SS) to inject effector proteins into intestinal epithelial cells. These effectors subvert host cell processes to promote bacterial colonization. We show that the T3SS also functions to sense the host cell and to trigger in response posttranscriptional remodeling of gene expression in the bacteria. We further show that upon effector injection, the effector-bound chaperone (CesT), which remains in the EPEC cytoplasm, antagonizes the posttranscriptional regulator CsrA. The CesT-CsrA interaction provokes reprogramming of expression of virulence and metabolic genes. This regulation is likely required for the pathogen’s adaptation to life on the epithelium surface.
Mills, E. ; Avraham, R. Breaking the population barrier by single cell analysis: one host against one pathogen. Current Opinion in Microbiology 2017, 36, 69 - 75. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Most of our understanding of the host–bacterium interaction has come from studies of bulk populations. In reality, highly adaptable and dynamic host cells and bacteria engage in complex, diverse interactions. This complexity necessarily limits the depth of understanding that can be gained with bulk population measurements. Here, we will review the merit of single cell analysis to characterize this diversity that can trigger heterogeneous outcomes. We will discuss heterogeneity of bacterial and host populations, differences in host microenvironments, technological advances that facilitate the analysis of rare subpopulations, and the potential relevance of these subpopulations to infection outcomes. We focus our discussion on intracellular bacterial pathogens and on methods that characterize and quantify RNA in single cells, aiming to highlight how novel methodologies have the potential to characterize the multidimensional process of infection and to provide answers to some of the most fundamental questions in the field.
Basavaraja, R. ; Przygrodzka, E. ; Pawlinski, B. ; Gajewski, Z. ; Kaczmarek, M. M. ; Meidan, R. Interferon-tau promotes luteal endothelial cell survival and inhibits specific luteolytic genes in bovine corpus luteum. Reproduction 2017, 154. Publisher's Version
Farberov, S. ; Meidan, R. Fibroblast growth factor-2 and transforming growth factor-beta1 oppositely regulate miR-221 that targets thrombospondin-1 in bovine luteal endothelial cells. Biology of Reproduction 2017, 98, 366 - 375. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Thrombospondin-1 (THBS1) affects corpus luteum (CL) regression. Highly induced during luteolysis, it acts as a natural anti-angiogenic, proapoptotic compound. THBS1 expression is regulated in bovine luteal endothelial cells (LECs) by fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) and transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGFB1) acting in an opposite manner. Here we sought to identify specific microRNAs (miRNAs) targeting THBS1 and investigate their possible involvement in FGF2 and TGFB1-mediated THBS1 expression. Several miRNAs predicted to target THBS1 mRNA (miR-1, miR-18a, miR-144, miR-194, and miR-221) were experimentally tested. Of these, miR-221 was shown to efficiently target THBS1 expression and function in LECs. We found that this miRNA is highly expressed in luteal cells and in mid-cycle CL. Consistent with the inhibition of THBS1 function, miR-221 also reduced Serpin Family E Member 1 [SERPINE1] in LECs and promoted angiogenic characteristics of LECs. Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), the gene product of SERPINE1, inhibited cell adhesion, suggesting that PAI-1, like THBS1, has anti-angiogenic properties. Importantly, FGF2, which negatively regulates THBS1, elevates miR-221. Conversely, TGFB1 that stimulates THBS1, significantly reduces miR-221. Furthermore, FGF2 enhances the suppression of THBS1 caused by miR-221 mimic, and prevents the increase in THBS1 induced by miR-221 inhibitor. In contrast, TGFB1 reverses the inhibitory effect of miR-221 mimic on THBS1, and enhances the upregulation of THBS1 induced by miR-221 inhibitor. These data support the contention that FGF2 and TGFB1 modulate THBS1 via miR-221. These in vitro data propose that dynamic regulation of miR-221 throughout the cycle, affecting THBS1 and SERPINE1, can modulate vascular function in the CL.
Ochoa, J. C. ; Peñagaricano, F. ; Baez, G. M. ; Melo, L. F. ; Motta, J. C. L. ; Garcia-Guerra, A. ; Meidan, R. ; Pinheiro Ferreira, J. C. ; Sartori, R. ; Wiltbank, M. C. Mechanisms for rescue of corpus luteum during pregnancy: gene expression in bovine corpus luteum following intrauterine pulses of prostaglandins E1 and F2α†. Biology of Reproductionbiolreprod 2017, 98, 465 - 479. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In ruminants, uterine pulses of prostaglandin (PG) F2α characterize luteolysis, while increased PGE2/PGE1 distinguish early pregnancy. This study evaluated intrauterine (IU) infusions of PGF2α and PGE1 pulses on corpus luteum (CL) function and gene expression. Cows on day 10 of estrous cycle received 4 IU infusions (every 6 h; n = 5/treatment) of saline, PGE1 (2 mg PGE1), PGF2α (0.25 mg PGF2α), or PGE1 + PGF2α. A luteal biopsy was collected at 30 min after third infusion for determination of gene expression by RNA-Seq. As expected, IU pulses of PGF2α decreased (P < 0.01) P4 luteal volume. However, there were no differences in circulating P4 or luteal volume between saline, PGE1, and PGE1 + PGF2α, indicating inhibition of PGF2α-induced luteolysis by IU pulses of PGE1. After third pulse of PGF2α, luteal expression of 955 genes were altered (false discovery rate [FDR] < 0.01), representing both typical and novel luteolytic transcriptomic changes. Surprisingly, after third pulse of PGE1 or PGE1 + PGF2α, there were no significant changes in luteal gene expression (FDR > 0.10) compared to saline cows. Increased circulating concentrations of the metabolite of PGF2α (PGFM; after PGF2α and PGE1 + PGF2α) and the metabolite PGE (PGEM; after PGE1 and PGE1 + PGF2α) demonstrated that PGF2α and PGE1 are entering bloodstream after IU infusions. Thus, IU pulses of PGF2α and PGE1 allow determination of changes in luteal gene expression that could be relevant to understanding luteolysis and pregnancy. Unexpectedly, by third pulse of PGE1, there is complete blockade of either PGF2α transport to the CL or PGF2α action by PGE1 resulting in complete inhibition of transcriptomic changes following IU PGF2α pulses.
Levavi-Sivan, B. ; G, D. ; A, H. Vitellogenin Level in the Plasma of Russian Sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii) Northern Israel. Journal of Marine Science: Research & Development 2017, 7 244. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In the present study, we examined the vitellogenin (Vg) level of Russian sturgeon maintained in a relatively constant aquaculture at a water temperature of 18-22°C during growth and maturation.

An increase in Vg in the blood plasma from oocytes was found in the yellow oocytes stage to the gray oocytes stage. However, no Vg was found in the pre-vitellogenic stage. Based on the present study and previous studies on hormone control reproduction and growth, we proposed a quality model that correlated between egg development and the hormones involved in controlling vitelogenesis (VTL).

Aizen, J. ; Hollander-Cohen, L. ; Shpilman, M. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. Biologically active recombinant carp LH as a spawning-inducing agent for carp. Journal of Endocrinology 2017, 232. Publisher's Version
Sanchís-Benlloch, P. J. ; Nocillado, J. ; Ladisa, C. ; Aizen, J. ; Miller, A. ; Shpilman, M. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. ; Ventura, T. ; Elizur, A. In-vitro and in-vivo biological activity of recombinant yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi) follicle stimulating hormone. General and Comparative Endocrinology 2017, 241, 41 - 49. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Biologically active recombinant yellowtail kingfish follicle stimulating hormone (rytkFsh) was produced in yeast Pichia pastoris and its biological activity was demonstrated by both in-vitro and in-vivo bioassays. Incubation of ovarian and testicular fragments with the recombinant hormone stimulated E2 and 11-KT secretion, respectively. In-vivo trial in immature female YTK resulted in a significant increase of plasma E2 levels and development of oocytes. In males at the early stages of puberty, advancement of spermatogenesis was observed, however plasma 11-KT levels were reduced when administered with rytkFsh.
Spicer, O. S. ; Zmora, N. ; Wong, T. - T. ; Golan, M. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. ; Gothilf, Y. ; Zohar, Y. The gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (Lpxrfa) system's regulation of reproduction in the brain–pituitary axis of the zebrafish (Danio rerio)†. Biology of Reproduction 2017, 96, 1031-1042. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GNIH) was discovered in quail with the ability to reduce gonadotropin expression/secretion in the pituitary. There have been few studies on GNIH orthologs in teleosts (LPXRFamide (Lpxrfa) peptides), which have provided inconsistent results. Therefore, the goal of this study was to determine the roles and modes of action by which Lpxrfa exerts its functions in the brain–pituitary axis of zebrafish (Danio rerio). We localized Lpxrfa soma to the ventral hypothalamus, with fibers extending throughout the brain and to the pituitary. In the preoptic area, Lpxrfa fibers interact with gonadotropin-releasing hormone 3 (Gnrh3) soma. In pituitary explants, zebrafish peptide Lpxrfa-3 downregulated luteinizing hormone beta subunit and common alpha subunit expression. In addition, Lpxrfa-3 reduced gnrh3 expression in brain slices, offering another pathway for Lpxrfa to exert its effects on reproduction. Receptor activation studies, in a heterologous cell-based system, revealed that all three zebrafish Lpxrfa peptides activate Lpxrf-R2 and Lpxrf-R3 via the PKA/cAMP pathway. Receptor activation studies demonstrated that, in addition to activating Lpxrf receptors, zebrafish Lpxrfa-2 and Lpxrfa-3 antagonize Kisspeptin-2 (Kiss2) activation of Kisspeptin receptor-1a (Kiss1ra). The fact that kiss1ra-expressing neurons in the preoptic area are innervated by Lpxrfa-ir fibers suggests an additional pathway for Lpxrfa action. Therefore, our results suggest that Lpxrfa may act as a reproductive inhibitory neuropeptide in the zebrafish that interacts with Gnrh3 neurons in the brain and with gonadotropes in the pituitary, while also potentially utilizing the Kiss2/Kiss1ra pathway.
Simon, Y. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. ; Cahaner, A. ; Hulata, G. ; Antler, A. ; Rozenfeld, L. ; Halachmi, I. A behavioural sensor for fish stress. Aquacultural Engineering 2017, 77, 107 - 111. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Due to water turbidity, fish stress might be difficult to observe. Evaluation of fish stress by blood sampling requires removing a fish from the water, which is in itself a stressful event. Therefore, we designed and built a sensor to detect fish behaviour that reflects stress. The electronic sensor detected early signs of fish stress by scoring the fish's inactivity. LEDs and detectors are embedded on a steel wand that is held underwater by an operator. In this preliminary (feasibility) study, the new sensor was validated for Tilapia (Cichlidae) and Hybrid Striped Bass (Morone). We induced stressful situations in the fish tanks by manipulating oxygen and temperature levels. Results Lowering the temperature and oxygen levels both significantly increased the average number of signals identified by the sensor, which indicate stress. The effect of reducing water temperature from 24°C to 15°C was three times stronger than was the effect of lowering the oxygen saturation level from 85% to 50%. The difference in the number of signals between the good and stressful conditions was statistically significant, amounting to approximately eight sensor signals, 10.57 compared to 2.49 respectively. Lowering the temperature increased the mean number of signals by 5.85 and 6.06 at 85% and 50% oxygen saturation respectively, whereas lowering oxygen levels increased the mean number of signals by 2.02 and 2.23 at 24°C and 15°C, respectively. The results indicate that the stress status of cultured fish can be evaluated using the proposed behavioural sensor. The new sensor may provide an earlier indication of a problem in a fish tank or pond than was heretofore possible. This early warning can enable the fish farmer to take action before many fish are harmed.
Zmora, N. ; Wong, T. - T. ; Stubblefield, J. ; Levavi-Sivan, B. ; Zohar, Y. Neurokinin B regulates reproduction via inhibition of kisspeptin in a teleost, the striped bass. Journal of Endocrinology 2017, 233. Publisher's Version
Pines, M. ; Levi, O. ; Genin, O. ; Lavy, A. ; Angelini, C. ; Allamand, V. ; Halevy, O. Elevated Expression of Moesin in Muscular Dystrophies. The American Journal of Pathology 2017, 187, 654 - 664. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Fibrosis is the main complication of muscular dystrophies. We identified moesin, a member of the ezrin-radixin-moesin family, in dystrophic muscles of mice representing Duchenne and congenital muscular dystrophies (DMD and CMD, respectively) and dysferlinopathy, but not in the wild type. High levels of moesin were also observed in muscle biopsy specimens from DMD, Ullrich CMD, and merosin-deficient CMD patients, all of which present high levels of fibrosis. The myofibroblasts, responsible for extracellular matrix protein synthesis, and the macrophages infiltrating the dystrophic muscles were the source of moesin. Moesin-positive cells were embedded within the fibrotic areas between the myofibers adjacent to the collagen type I fibers. Radixin was also synthesized by the myofibroblasts, whereas ezrin colocalized with the myofiber membranes. In animal models and patients' muscles, part of the moesin was in its active phosphorylated form. Inhibition of fibrosis by halofuginone, an antifibrotic agent, resulted in a major decrease in moesin levels in the muscles of DMD and CMD mice. In summary, the results of this study may pave the way for exploiting moesin as a novel target for intervention in MDs, and as part of a battery of biomarkers to evaluate treatment success in preclinical studies and clinical trials.
Piestun, Y. ; Patael, T. ; Yahav, S. ; Velleman, S. G. ; Halevy, O. Early posthatch thermal stress affects breast muscle development and satellite cell growth and characteristics in broilers. Poultry Science 2017, 96, 2877 - 2888. Publisher's VersionAbstract
ABSTRACT Heat or cold stress, can disrupt well-being and physiological responses in birds. This study aimed to elucidate the effects of continuous heat exposure in the first 2 wk of age on muscle development in broilers, with an emphasis on the pectoralis muscle satellite cell population. Chicks were reared for 13 d under either commercial conditions or a temperature regime that was 5°C higher. Body and muscle weights, as well as absolute muscle growth were lower in heat-exposed chicks from d 6 onward. The number of satellite cells derived from the experimental chicks was higher in the heat-treated group on d 3 but lower on d 8 and 13 compared to controls. This was reflected in a lower number of myonuclei expressing proliferating nuclear cell antigen in cross sections of pectoralis major muscle sampled on d 8. However, a TUNEL assay revealed similar cell survival in both groups. Mean myofiber diameter and distribution were lower in muscle sections sampled on d 8 and 13 in heat-treated versus control group, suggesting that the lower muscle growth is due to changes in muscle hypertrophy. Oil-Red O staining showed a higher number of satellite cells with lipids in the heat-treated compared to the control group on these days. Moreover, lipid deposition was observed in pectoralis muscle cross sections derived from the heat-treated chicks on d 13, whereas the controls barely exhibited any lipid staining. The gene and protein expression levels of CCAAT/enhancer binding protein β in pectoralis muscle from the heat-treated group were significantly higher on d 13 than in controls, while myogenin levels were similar. The results suggest high sensitivity of muscle progenitor cells in the early posthatch period at a time when they are highly active, to chronic heat exposure, leading to impaired myogenicity of the satellite cells and increased fat deposition.
Wein, Y. ; Geva, Z. ; Bar-Shira, E. ; Friedman, A. Transport-related stress and its resolution in turkey pullets: activation of a pro-inflammatory response in peripheral blood leukocytes. Poultry Science 2017, 96, 2601 - 2613. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The transportation process is one of the most stressful practices in poultry and livestock management. Extensive knowledge is available on the impact of transport on stress and animal welfare; however, little is known on the impact of transport on the physiology of turkey pullets, their welfare and health, and even less on the process of homeostatic recovery in the post-transport new environment. The main focus of this manuscript was to focus on trauma, stress, and recovery following transport of turkey pullets from nurseries to pullet farms. Specifically, we determined the physiological consequences of transport, the temporal restoration of homeostasis and its effects on immune system function. We hypothesized that stress signaling by stress hormones would directly activate circulating turkey blood leukocytes (TBL), thus inducing a pro-inflammatory response directed towards tissue repair and recovery. Extensive blood analyses prior to transit and during the collecting, transit, and post-transit stages revealed extensive stress (elevated heat shock protein 70) and blunt-force trauma (internal bleeding and muscle damage as well as limb fractures). TBL were shown to increase mRNA expression of cortisol and adrenergic receptors during transit, thus indicating a possible direct response to circulating stress hormones. Consequently, TBL were shown to increase mRNA expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, as well as that of serum inflammatory proteins (lysozyme and transferrin) partaking in reducing oxygen radicals as demonstrated by consumption of these proteins. The flare-up due to transit related stress diminished with time until 10 d post-transit, a time at which most parameters returned to resting levels. Though general and vaccine-specific antibody levels were not altered by transport-related stress, the physical and physiological injury caused during transport may explain the susceptibility of turkey pullets to opportunist pathogens in the immediate post-transit period.
Tadmor-Levi, R. ; Asoulin, E. ; Hulata, G. ; David, L. Studying the Genetics of Resistance to CyHV-3 Disease Using Introgression from Feral to Cultured Common Carp Strains. Frontiers in Genetics 2017, 8 24. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Sustainability and further development of aquaculture production are constantly challenged by outbreaks of fish diseases, which are difficult to prevent or control. Developing fish strains that are genetically resistant to a disease is a cost-effective and a sustainable solution to address this challenge. To do so, heritable genetic variation in disease resistance should be identified and combined together with other desirable production traits. Aquaculture of common carp has suffered substantial losses from the infectious disease caused by the cyprinid herpes virus type 3 (CyHV-3) virus and the global spread of outbreaks indicates that many cultured strains are susceptible. In this research, CyHV-3 resistance from the feral strain “Amur Sassan” was successfully introgressed into two susceptible cultured strains up to the first backcross (BC1) generation. Variation in resistance of families from F1 and BC1 generations was significantly greater compared to that among families of any of the susceptible parental lines, a good starting point for a family selection program. Considerable additive genetic variation was found for CyHV-3 resistance. This phenotype was transferable between generations with contributions to resistance from both the resistant feral and the susceptible cultured strains. Reduced scale coverage (mirror phenotype) is desirable and common in cultured strains, but so far, cultured mirror carp strains were found to be susceptible. Here, using BC1 families ranging from susceptible to resistant, no differences in resistance levels between fully scaled and mirror full-sib groups were found, indicating that CyHV-3 resistance was successfully combined with the desirable mirror phenotype. In addition, the CyHV-3 viral load in tissues throughout the infection of susceptible and resistant fish was followed. Although resistant fish get infected, viral loads in tissues of these fish are significantly lesser than in those of susceptible fish, allowing them to survive the disease. Taken together, in this study we have laid the foundation for breeding CyHV-3-resistant strains and started to address the mechanisms underlying the phenotypic differences in resistance to this disease.