In this study of eight rare atypical deletion cases with Williams-Beuren syndrome (WS; also known as 7q11.23 deletion syndrome) consisting of three different patterns of deletions, compared to typical WS and typically developing (TD) individuals, we show preliminary evidence of dissociable genetic contributions to brain structure and human cognition. Univariate and multivariate pattern classification results of morphometric brain patterns complemented by behavior implicate a possible role for the chromosomal region that includes: 1) GTF2I/GTF2IRD1 in visuo-spatial/motor integration, intraparietal as well as overall gray matter structures, 2) the region spanning ABHD11 through RFC2 including LIMK1, in social cognition, in particular approachability, as well as orbitofrontal, amygdala and fusiform anatomy, and 3) the regions including STX1A, and/or CYLN2 in overall white matter structure. This knowledge contributes to our understanding of the role of genetics on human brain structure, cognition and pathophysiology of altered cognition in WS. The current study builds on ongoing research designed to characterize the impact of multiple genes, gene-gene interactions and changes in gene expression on the human brain.
Herein we describe the synthesis and antibacterial evaluation of a new, unsymmetrical triaryl bisamidine compound series, [Am]-[indole]-[linker]-[HetAr/Ar]-[Am], in which [Am] is an amidine or amino group, [linker] is a benzene, thiophene or pyridine ring, and [HetAr/Ar] is a benzimidazole, imidazopyridine, benzofuran, benzothiophene, pyrimidine or benzene ring. When the [HetAr/Ar] unit is a 5,6-bicyclic heterocycle, it is oriented such that the 5-membered ring portion is connected to the [linker] unit and the 6-membered ring portion is connected to the [Am] unit. Among the 34 compounds in this series, compounds with benzofuran as the [HetAr/Ar] unit showed the highest potencies. Introduction of a fluorine atom or a methyl group to the triaryl core led to the more potent analogs. Bisamidines are more active toward bacteria while the monoamidines are more active toward mammalian cells (as indicated by low CC50 values). Importantly, we identified compound P12a (MBX 1887) with a relatively narrow spectrum against bacteria and a very high CC50 value. Compound P12a has been scaled up and is currently undergoing further evaluations for therapeutic applications.
Influenza viruses are a major public health threat worldwide and options for antiviral therapy are limited by the emergence of drug-resistant virus strains. The influenza glycoprotein hemagglutinin (HA) plays critical roles in the early stage of virus infection, including receptor binding and membrane fusion making it a potential target for the development of anti-influenza drugs. Using pseudotype virus based high throughput screens, we have identified several new small molecules capable of inhibiting influenza virus entry. We prioritized two novel inhibitors, MBX2329 and MBX2546, with aminoalkyl phenol ether and sulfonamide scaffolds respectively, that specifically inhibit HA-mediated viral entry. The two compounds (a) are potent (IC50 = 0.3-5.9 ?M), (b) are selective (CC50 >100 ?M) with selectivity index (SI) values >20-200 for different influenza strains, (c) inhibit a wide spectrum of influenza A virus that includes the 2009 pandemic influenza A/H1N1/2009, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A/H5N1, and oseltamivir resistant A/H1N1 strains, (d) exhibit large volumes of synergy with oseltamivir (36-331 ?M2 with 95% confidence) and (e) have chemically tractable structures. Mechanism of action studies suggest that both MBX2329 and MBX2546 bind to HA in a non-overlapping manner. Additional results from HA-mediated hemolysis of chicken red blood cells (cRBCs), competition assay with MAb C179 and mutational analysis suggest that the compounds bind in the stem region of the HA trimer and inhibit HA mediated fusion. Therefore, MBX2329 and MBX2546 represent new starting points for chemical optimization and have the potential to provide valuable future therapeutic options and research tools to study the HA mediated entry process.
Alanine substitutions and selected deletions have been used to localize amino acids in QnrB essential for its protective activity. Essential amino acids are found at positions i and i(-2) in the pentapeptide repeat module and in the larger of two loops, where deletion of only a single amino acid compromises activity. Deletion of 10 amino acids at the N terminus is tolerated, but removal of 3 amino acids in the C-terminal dimerization unit destroys activity.
Previous behavioural research suggests that infants possess phonologically detailed representations of the vowels and consonants in familiar words. These tasks examine infants sensitivity to mispronunciations of a target label in the presence of a target and distracter image. Sensitivity to the mispronunciation may, therefore, be contaminated by the degree of mismatch between the distracter label and the heard mispronounced label. Event-related potential (ERP) studies allow investigation of infants sensitivity to the relationship between a heard label (correct or mispronounced) and the referent alone using single picture trials. ERPs also provide information about the timing of lexico-phonological activation in infant word recognition. The current study examined 14-month-olds sensitivity to vowel mispronunciations of familiar words using ERP data from single picture trials. Infants were presented with familiar images followed by a correct pronunciation of its label, a vowel mispronunciation or a phonologically unrelated non-word. The results support and extend previous behavioural findings that 14-month-olds are sensitive to mispronunciations of the vowels in familiar words using an ERP task. We suggest that the presence of pictorial context reinforces infants sensitivity to mispronunciations of words, and that mispronunciation sensitivity may rely on infants accessing the cross-modal associations between word forms and their meanings.
One of the most compelling features of Williams syndrome (WS) is the widely reported excessive sociability, accompanied by a relative proficiency in expressive language, which stands in stark contrast with significant intellectual and nonverbal impairments. It has been proposed that the unique language skills observed in WS are implicated in the strong drive to interact and communicate with others, which has been widely documented in WS. Nevertheless, this proposition has yet to be empirically examined. The present study aimed at investigating the relationship between a brain index of language processing and judgments of approachability of faces, as a proxy for sociability, in individuals with WS as contrasted to typical controls. Results revealed a significant and substantial association between the two in the WS, but not in the control group, supporting the hitherto untested notion that language use in WS might be uniquely related to their excessive social drive.
Ebola virus (EBOV) causes severe hemorrhagic fever, for which therapeutic options are not available. Preventing the entry of EBOV into host cells is an attractive antiviral strategy, which has been validated for HIV by the FDA approval of the anti-HIV drug enfuvirtide. To identify inhibitors of EBOV entry, the EBOV envelope glycoprotein (EBOV-GP) gene was used to generate pseudotype viruses for screening of chemical libraries. A benzodiazepine derivative (compound 7) was identified from a high-throughput screen (HTS) of small-molecule compound libraries utilizing the pseudotype virus. Compound 7 was validated as an inhibitor of infectious EBOV and Marburg virus (MARV) in cell-based assays, with 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC(50)s) of 10 ?M and 12 ?M, respectively. Time-of-addition and binding studies suggested that compound 7 binds to EBOV-GP at an early stage during EBOV infection. Preliminary Schrödinger SiteMap calculations, using a published EBOV-GP crystal structure in its prefusion conformation, suggested a hydrophobic pocket at or near the GP1 and GP2 interface as a suitable site for compound 7 binding. This prediction was supported by mutational analysis implying that residues Asn69, Leu70, Leu184, Ile185, Leu186, Lys190, and Lys191 are critical for the binding of compound 7 and its analogs with EBOV-GP. We hypothesize that compound 7 binds to this hydrophobic pocket and as a consequence inhibits EBOV infection of cells, but the details of the mechanism remain to be determined. In summary, we have identified a novel series of benzodiazepine compounds that are suitable for optimization as potential inhibitors of filoviral infection.
Individuals with Williams syndrome (WS) demonstrate an abnormally positive social bias. However, the neural substrates of this hypersociability, i.e., positive attribution bias and increased drive toward social interaction, have not fully been elucidated. METHODS: We performed an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging study while individuals with WS and typically developing controls (TD) matched positive and negative emotional faces. WS compared to TD showed reduced right amygdala activation during presentation of negative faces, as in the previous literature. In addition, WS showed a unique pattern of right orbitofrontal cortex activation. While TD showed medial orbitofrontal cortex activation in response to positive, and lateral orbitofrontal cortex activation to negative, WS showed the opposite pattern. In light of the general notion of a medial/lateral gradient of reward/punishment processing in the orbitofrontal cortex, these findings provide an additional biological explanation for, or correlate of positive attribution bias and hypersociability in WS.
Virus entry into a host cell is an attractive target for therapy because propagation of virus can be blocked at an early stage, minimizing chances for the virus to acquire drug resistance. Anti-infective drug discovery for BSL-4 viruses like Ebola or Lassa hemorrhagic fever virus presents challenges due to the requirement for a BSL-4 laboratory containment facility. Pseudotyped viruses provide a surrogate model in which the native envelope glycoprotein of a BSL-2 level virus (e.g., vesicular stomatitis virus) is replaced with envelope glycoprotein of a foreign BSL-4 virus (e.g., Ebola virus). Because the envelope glycoprotein determines interaction of virus with its cellular receptors, pseudotyped viruses can mimic the viral entry process of the original virus. Moreover, they are competent for only a single cycle of infection, and therefore can be used in BSL-2 facilities. Pseudotyped viruses have been used in high-throughput screening of entry inhibitors for a number of BSL-4 level viruses. This unit includes protocols for preparing pseudotyped viruses using lentiviral vectors and use of pseudotyped viruses for high-throughput screening of viral entry inhibitors.
Two neurodevelopmental disorders, Williams syndrome (WS) and autism, are both commonly described as having opposite social profiles: social avoidance in autism vs hypersociability in individuals with WS. The goal of this study was to contrast the brain activity associated with language processing in these two populations, in order to understand the very likely interplay between the use of language and the sociability dimension, on which these disorders diverge. Towards this aim, the N400 component of the event-related potentials was used to quantify the processing of semantic integration in these two populations. Results revealed that individuals with WS showed a significantly larger N400 effect, as compared to both typical controls and individuals with autism, while the latter group demonstrated the smallest N400 effect. The findings demonstrate quite opposite profiles of neural correlates of language processing in WS and autism, mirroring their contrasting social phenotypes.
Williams syndrome (WS) is a genetic condition characterized by atypical brain structure, cognitive deficits, and a life-long fascination with faces. Face recognition is relatively spared in WS, despite abnormalities in aspects of face processing and structural alterations in the fusiform gyrus, part of the ventral visual stream. Thus, face recognition in WS may be subserved by abnormal neural substrates in the ventral stream. To test this hypothesis, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging and examined the fusiform face area (FFA), which is implicated in face recognition in typically developed (TD) individuals, but its role in WS is not well understood. We found that the FFA was approximately two times larger among WS than TD participants (both absolutely and relative to the fusiform gyrus), despite apparently normal levels of face recognition performance on a Benton face recognition test. Thus, a larger FFA may play a role in face recognition proficiency among WS.
Although genetics is the most significant known determinant of human intelligence, specific gene contributions remain largely unknown. To accelerate understanding in this area, we have taken a new approach by studying the relationship between quantitative gene expression and intelligence in a cohort of 65 patients with Williams Syndrome (WS), a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by a 1.5 Mb deletion on chromosome 7q11.23. We find that variation in the transcript levels of the brain gene STX1A correlates significantly with intelligence in WS patients measured by principal component analysis (PCA) of standardized WAIS-R subtests, r = 0.40 (Pearson correlation, Bonferroni corrected p-value = 0.007), accounting for 15.6% of the cognitive variation. These results suggest that syntaxin 1A, a neuronal regulator of presynaptic vesicle release, may play a role in WS and be a component of the cellular pathway determining human intelligence.
A frequently noted but largely anecdotal behavioral observation in Williams syndrome (WS) is an increased tendency to approach strangers, yet the basis for this behavior remains unknown. We examined the relationship between affect identification ability and affiliative behavior in participants with WS relative to a neurotypical comparison group. We quantified social behavior from self-judgments of approachability for faces, and from parent/other evaluations of real life. Relative to typical individuals, participants with WS were perceived as more sociable by others, exhibited perceptual deficits in affect identification, and judged faces of strangers as more approachable. In WS, high self-rated willingness to approach strangers was correlated with poor affect identification ability, suggesting that these two findings may be causally related. We suggest that the real-life hypersociability in WS may arise at least in part from abnormal perceptual processing of other peoples faces, rather than from an overall bias at the level of behavior. While this did not achieve statistical significance, it provides preliminary evidence to suggest that impaired social-perceptual ability may play a role in increased approachability in WS.
Williams syndrome (WS) is a genetic condition often paired with abnormal social functioning and behavior. In particular, those with WS are characterized as being relatively hypersocial, overly emotional/empathic, and socially uninhibited or fearless. In addition, WS is associated with abnormal amygdala structure and function. Very little is known however about the relationship between specific social behaviors and altered amygdala function in WS. This study was designed to compare three models that relate abnormal social behavior with amygdala function in WS (indiscriminate sociability, emotional and empathic sociability and social fearlessness). We used a social behavior assessment procedure (Salk Institute Sociability Questionnaire), functional magnetic resonance imaging and an implicit emotion face processing task to test these models. Our findings provide support for a model of abnormal social fearlessness by showing that in WS, abnormal amygdala response to fear is paired with an increased tendency to approach strangers. Specifically, individuals with WS that exhibited less amygdala response to fearful facial expressions (compared to neutral) also exhibited an increased tendency to approach strangers. These findings contribute to our understanding of social and emotional functioning in neurodevelopmental conditions and provide evidence that in WS, amygdala response to fear modulates social behavior.
Williams syndrome is a neurological condition associated with high levels of auditory reactivity and emotional expression combined with impaired perception of prosody. Yet, little is currently known about the neural organization of affective auditory processing in individuals with this disorder. The current study examines auditory emotion processing in individuals with Williams syndrome. Hemispheric organization for positive and negative human non-linguistic sound processing was compared in participants with and without the disorder using a dichotic listening paradigm. While controls exhibited an expected right cerebral hemisphere advantage for processing negative sounds, those with Williams syndrome showed the opposite pattern. No differences between the groups emerged for the positive stimuli. The results suggest aberrant processing of negative auditory information in Williams syndrome.
In the sequence upstream from qnrB (but not qnrA or qnrS) is a LexA binding site. qnrB was shown to be under SOS control by demonstrating that quinolone susceptibility decreased with increasing temperature in a strain with a recA441(Ts) allele, whereas qnrB expression increased in response to ciprofloxacin or mitomycin C in strains with an intact lexA gene.
The Williams syndrome (WS) cognitive profile is characterized by relative strengths in face processing, an attentional bias towards social stimuli, and an increased affinity and emotional reactivity to music. An audio-visual integration study examined the effects of auditory emotion on visual (social/non-social) affect identification in individuals with WS and typically developing (TD) and developmentally delayed (DD) controls. The social bias in WS was hypothesized to manifest as an increased ability to process social than non-social affect, and a reduced auditory influence in social contexts. The control groups were hypothesized to perform similarly across conditions. The results showed that while participants with WS exhibited indistinguishable performance to TD controls in identifying facial affect, DD controls performed significantly more poorly. The TD group outperformed the WS and DD groups in identifying non-social affect. The results suggest that emotionally evocative music facilitated the ability of participants with WS to process emotional facial expressions. These surprisingly strong facial-processing skills in individuals with WS may have been due to the effects of combining social and music stimuli and to a reduction in anxiety due to the music in particular. Several directions for future research are suggested.
Williams syndrome (WS) features a spectrum of neurocognitive and behavioral abnormalities due to a rare 1.5 MB deletion that includes about 24-28 genes on chromosome band 7q11.23. Study of the expression of these genes from the single normal copy provides an opportunity to elucidate the genetic and epigenetic controls on these genes as well as their roles in both WS and normal brain development and function. We used quantitative RT-PCR to determine the transcriptional level of 14 WS gene markers in a cohort of 77 persons with WS and 48 normal controls. Results reported here: (1) show that the expression of the genes deleted in WS is decreased in some but not all cases, (2) demonstrate that the parental origin of the deletion contributes to the level of expression of GTF2I independently of age and gender and (3) indicate that the correlation of expression between GTF2I and some other genes in the WS region differs in WS subjects and normal controls, which in turn points toward a regulatory role for this gene. Interspecies comparisons suggest GTF2I may play a key role in normal brain development.
Williams syndrome (WS) is a genetic disorder caused by a hemizygous microdeletion on chromosome 7q11.23. WS is associated with a compelling neurocognitive profile characterized by relative deficits in visuospatial function, relative strengths in face and language processing, and enhanced drive toward social engagement. We used a combined functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and event-related potential (ERP) approach to examine the neural basis of social responsiveness in WS participants to two types of social stimuli, negative (fearful) and positive (happy) emotional facial expressions. Here, we report a double dissociation consistent across both methods such that WS participants exhibited heightened amygdala reactivity to positive (happy) social stimuli and absent or attenuated amygdala reactivity to negative (fearful) social stimuli, compared with controls. The fMRI findings indicate that atypical social processing in WS may be rooted in altered development of disparate amygdalar nuclei that subserve different social functions. The ERP findings suggest that abnormal amygdala reactivity in WS may possibly function to increase attention to and encoding of happy expressions and to decrease arousal to fearful expressions. This study provides the first evidence that the genetic deletion associated with WS influences the function of the amygdala to be particularly responsive to socially appetitive stimuli.
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