Two major drivers in population dynamics are bottom-up processes, such as environmental factors that affect foraging success, and the top-down impacts of predation. Many populations of marine mammal and seabird species appear to be declining in response to reductions in prey associated with the bottom-up effects of climate change. However, predation, which usually occurs at sea and is difficult to observe, may also play a key role. We analysed drivers of population dynamics of Antarctic fur seals Arctocephalus gazella at Cape Shirreff from 1997 to 2009, including a predator that targets pre-weaned pups and bottom-up environmental effects in an ecosystem particularly sensitive to small changes in temperature. We use Bayesian mark-recapture analysis to demonstrate that although large-scale environmental variability affects annual adult survival and reproduction, first year survival appears to be driving the current decline in this population (as defined by a decline in the annual number of pups born). Although the number of pups increased during the first third of the study, first year survival and recruitment of those pups in later years was very low. Such low survival may be driven by leopard seal Hydrurga leptonyx predation, particularly prior to weaning. Our results suggest that without leopard seal predation, this population would most likely increase in size, despite the observed bottom-up effects of climate changes on adult vital rates. More broadly, our results show how age-targeted predation could be a major factor in population decline of K-selected colonial breeders.
Filamentous tau-positive protein inclusions in neurons and glia are prominent features of a number of neurodegenerative disorders termed tauopathies. These inclusions are further characterized by the presence of heat shock proteins (HSPs). The group of small HSPs, namely, HSP27 and alphaB-crystallin, interact with the cytoskeleton, bind to nonnative proteins, and prevent their aggregation after stress. To further investigate their contribution to neurodegenerative diseases, we have analyzed the association of HSP27 with pathological lesions of tauopathies. Microarray and immunoblot analysis revealed that HSP27 is enhanced at the mRNA and protein levels in affected brains, and that it is associated with astrocytic pathology. The upregulation of HSP27 in tauopathies with gial pathology implies distinct mechanisms for glial and neuronal cells. This was sustained by cell culture studies, demonstrating that the small HSPs are specifically and prominently expressed in unstressed astrocytes and not in neurons and in neurons remained at a rather low level even after stress situations.
The accumulation and aggregation of alpha-synuclein in nerve cells and glia are characteristic features of a number of neurodegenerative diseases termed synucleinopathies. alpha-Synuclein is a highly soluble protein which in a nucleation dependent process is capable of self-aggregation. The causes underlying aggregate formation are not yet understood, impairment of the proteolytic degradation systems might be involved.
?-Synuclein-containing glial cytoplasmic inclusions (GCIs) originating in oligodendrocytes are the characteristic hallmark for neuropathological diagnosis of multiple system atrophy (MSA). ?-Synuclein can be degraded either by the proteasomal machinery or by autophagy, a lysosomal pathway which involves the formation of autophagosomes. The autophagosome takes up polyubiquitinated proteins via the autophagosomal protein LC3 and the ubiquitin binding protein p62. In the present study, neuropathological examination of seven MSA cases revealed that LC3-immunoreactivity is found to be associated with ?-synuclein-positive GCIs. These are also prominently stained by antibodies against p62 and ubiquitin, indicating that the autophagic pathway is upregulated during pathogenesis, which might be due to a persistent downregulation of proteasomal activity. To further address this question in a cellular context, we have investigated whether proteasomal inhibition in cultured rat brain oligodendrocytes promotes the recruitment of LC3 and p62 to protein aggregates. The data show that the autophagic marker LC3-II is upregulated and LC3 is recruited to the growing protein aggregates in cultured oligodendrocytes when the proteasome is impaired. However, aggregated proteins remain in the oligodendroglial cytoplasm and cannot be cleared efficiently. In conclusion, autophagy and the ubiquitin proteasome system are closely connected, and the presence of LC3-positive vesicles in GCIs indicates that macroautophagy participates in MSA pathogenesis.
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