As Many Exceptions As Rules

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Exceptions to natural and biological rules are used to increase interest in biology. Recent studies, and not so recent studies, are described in order to demonstrate amazing organisms and practices. Core concepts of biology are emphasized, with side trips into the research of topics that give insight into the evolution and interelatedness of all life.

Mark Lasbury
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  • April 16, 2014
  • 08:05 AM
  • 46 views

Using Pain To Stop Pain

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Chronic pain can involve TRPV1 pathways, yet traditional TRPV1 antagonists cannot be used due to incidence of hyperthermia. New research has identified new routes of administration, new agonists and new allosteric functions that will make TRPV1 a viable target for chronic, acute, and cancer-mediated pains. Alternative mechanisms, such as counter irritants and acupuncture are also gaining in evidence for mechaisms that involve TRPV1 signaling pathways... Read more »

Andreev YA, Kozlov SA, Korolkova YV, Dyachenko IA, Bondarenko DA, Skobtsov DI, Murashev AN, Kotova PD, Rogachevskaja OA, Kabanova NV.... (2013) Polypeptide modulators of TRPV1 produce analgesia without hyperthermia. Marine drugs, 11(12), 5100-15. PMID: 24351908  

Lee MG, Huh BK, Choi SS, Lee DK, Lim BG, & Lee M. (2012) The effect of epidural resiniferatoxin in the neuropathic pain rat model. Pain physician, 15(4), 287-96. PMID: 22828682  

Kelly S, Chapman RJ, Woodhams S, Sagar DR, Turner J, Burston JJ, Bullock C, Paton K, Huang J, Wong A.... (2013) Increased function of pronociceptive TRPV1 at the level of the joint in a rat model of osteoarthritis pain. Annals of the rheumatic diseases. PMID: 24152419  

  • April 9, 2014
  • 08:10 AM
  • 110 views

Capsaicin – Adding To Or Taking Your Pain

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Activation of TRPV1 ion channels can lead to potentiation of noxious stimuli while activation of multiple nociceptors can result in sensitization of TRPV1. Both situations can lead to hyperalgesia or allodynia. New research is highlighting the role of TRPV1 in burning mouth syndrome, both in its hyperalgesic and allodynic symptoms, as well as in its treatment. ... Read more »

Borsani E, Majorana A, Cocchi MA, Conti G, Bonadeo S, Padovani A, Lauria G, Bardellini E, Rezzani R, & Rodella LF. (2013) Epithelial expression of vanilloid and cannabinoid receptors: a potential role in burning mouth syndrome pathogenesis. Histology and histopathology. PMID: 24190005  

Silvestre FJ, Silvestre-Rangil J, Tamarit-Santafé C, & Bautista D. (2012) Application of a capsaicin rinse in the treatment of burning mouth syndrome. Medicina oral, patologia oral y cirugia bucal, 17(1). PMID: 21743415  

Alpizar YA, Boonen B, Gees M, Sanchez A, Nilius B, Voets T, & Talavera K. (2014) Allyl isothiocyanate sensitizes TRPV1 to heat stimulation. Pflugers Archiv : European journal of physiology, 466(3), 507-15. PMID: 23955021  

  • April 2, 2014
  • 08:10 AM
  • 97 views

It’s Not Just Chili Peppers That Are Hot

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

The same receptor that senses capsaicin and regulates body temperature is also involved in osmoregulation. New studies indicate that a variant of TRPV1 in the magnocellular neurosecretory cells work in osmoregulation but do not bind capsaicin or sense heat. Another study has elucidated that TRPV1 acts only in hypertonicty; it senses cell shrinkage. Swelling due to hypotonicity is sensed by TRPV4. Together, these form a crucial part of the osmoregulatory system.... Read more »

Holland C, van Drunen C, Denyer J, Smart K, Segboer C, Terreehorst I, Newlands A, Beerahee M, Fokkens W, & Tsitoura DC. (2013) Inhibition of capsaicin-driven nasal hyper-reactivity by SB-705498, a TRPV1 antagonist. British journal of clinical pharmacology. PMID: 23909699  

Chung G, Im ST, Kim YH, Jung SJ, Rhyu MR, & Oh SB. (2014) Activation of transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 by eugenol. Neuroscience, 153-60. PMID: 24384226  

Alpizar YA, Boonen B, Gees M, Sanchez A, Nilius B, Voets T, & Talavera K. (2014) Allyl isothiocyanate sensitizes TRPV1 to heat stimulation. Pflugers Archiv : European journal of physiology, 466(3), 507-15. PMID: 23955021  

  • March 26, 2014
  • 08:15 AM
  • 109 views

Naked Mole Rats Don’t Feel The Burn

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Recent evidence is shedding light on the various mechanisms through which naked mole rats avoid the pain associated with capsaicin and other activators of TRPV1. The mole rats have deep dorsal horn connections that modulate TRPV1nociceptove signaling after capsaicin ingestion. They also suppress neural firing of pain neurons through a 2 amino acid change in the Nav1.7 sodium channel downstream of TRPV1. But they also have low levels or lack completely the substance P neurotransmitter that works ........ Read more »

Smith ES, Omerbašić D, Lechner SG, Anirudhan G, Lapatsina L, & Lewin GR. (2011) The molecular basis of acid insensitivity in the African naked mole-rat. Science (New York, N.Y.), 334(6062), 1557-60. PMID: 22174253  

Park TJ, Lu Y, Jüttner R, Smith ES, Hu J, Brand A, Wetzel C, Milenkovic N, Erdmann B, Heppenstall PA.... (2008) Selective inflammatory pain insensitivity in the African naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber). PLoS biology, 6(1). PMID: 18232734  

  • March 19, 2014
  • 08:05 AM
  • 121 views

Maybe We Do Taste The Burn

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Common perception is that capsaicin is a pain sensation, not a taste. But recent research is showing that capsaicin, while perhaps not tasted on its own, does influence what is tasted. It is know that capsaicin can suppress sweet and bitter tastes. A 2010 study indicated that TRPV1 expressing neurons are expressed in circumvallate taste buds, and can be co-expressed with sweet or bitter taste receptors. Other work shows that alterations in sweet, bitter, and metallic tastes do occur in TRPV1 kno........ Read more »

  • March 12, 2014
  • 08:00 AM
  • 95 views

Are Chilies Spicy, Hot, Or Piquant?

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Why do we say that spicy foods are “hot?” The painful sensation and sting of chili peppers in the mouth is likened to the burn from a heated source. This is much closer to the truth than just a verbal similarity. The capsaicin of chili peppers serve to protect the seeds from killing by Fusarium fungi; the evolutionary pressure of fungal pathogens drives higher capsaicin levels. Other studies indicate that plant growth conditions also affect capsaicin levels. Higher growth temperatur........ Read more »

Tewksbury JJ, Reagan KM, Machnicki NJ, Carlo TA, Haak DC, Peñaloza AL, & Levey DJ. (2008) Evolutionary ecology of pungency in wild chilies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(33), 11808-11. PMID: 18695236  

  • March 5, 2014
  • 08:30 AM
  • 149 views

Taste And Be Tasted – Fair Is Fair

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Arthropods have the most amazing structures and functions for taste sense. New research is showing that that insects can taste carbon dioxide, as well as DEET repellent. CO2 helps guide blood suckers to victims while DEET flavor keep mosquitoes from landing or biting.

Turnabout is fair play; caterpillars use taste to poison parasitic larvae within their body. The caterpillars switch to toxic plants when infected. On the other hand, plants can taste caterpillar saliva and initiate defensive s........ Read more »

Falik O, Mordoch Y, Quansah L, Fait A, Novoplansky A. (2011) Rumor Has It…: Relay Communication of Stress Cues in Plants. PLoS ONE, 6(11). info:/

Lee Y, Kim SH, & Montell C. (2010) Avoiding DEET through insect gustatory receptors. Neuron, 67(4), 555-61. PMID: 20797533  

Kwon JY, Dahanukar A, Weiss LA, & Carlson JR. (2007) The molecular basis of CO2 reception in Drosophila. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(9), 3574-8. PMID: 17360684  

  • February 26, 2014
  • 08:10 AM
  • 187 views

Strange Insects Taste

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

New research is describing the ways that arthropods use gustatory receptors. Drosophila use a muscular reflex to extend or retract the proboscis, based on the sweet or bitter taste they experience. In silica studies are showing that female behaviors are driving gene duplication and evolution of taste receptor genes, while specific taste receptors are responsible for male female interactions in fruit fly courtship rituals.
... Read more »

Briscoe AD, Macias-Muñoz A, Kozak KM, Walters JR, Yuan F, Jamie GA, Martin SH, Dasmahapatra KK, Ferguson LC, Mallet J.... (2013) Female behaviour drives expression and evolution of gustatory receptors in butterflies. PLoS genetics, 9(7). PMID: 23950722  

  • February 19, 2014
  • 08:05 AM
  • 163 views

Who Tastes Best

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

There are links between the function of taste bud receptor cells and solitary chemosensory cells (SCC) that sense nutrients in many animals. New research shows that the evolution of SCC and taste bud receptors were completely independent of one another, even though they share receptors and purinergic signaling systems.... Read more »

Tim Birkhead. (2012) Bird Sense: What It Is Like To Be Bird. Walker Publishing, New York. info:/

  • February 12, 2014
  • 07:50 AM
  • 188 views

Tasting With Every Part Of Your Body

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Lots of recent evidence is demonstrating that lingual taste buds are just the tip of the iceberg. Taste receptors have been identified in parts of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, renal, and nervous systems. Taste receptor functions in non-gustatory tissues are related to feeding and hunger, nutrient sensing, and protective responses.

Studies have shown that the pancreas has umami and sweet receptors that work in insulin release. The gut has receptors for fat, umami, sweet and bitter. The........ Read more »

Sundaresan S, Shahid R, Riehl TE, Chandra R, Nassir F, Stenson WF, Liddle RA, & Abumrad NA. (2013) CD36-dependent signaling mediates fatty acid-induced gut release of secretin and cholecystokinin. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 27(3), 1191-202. PMID: 23233532  

Wauson EM, Zaganjor E, Lee AY, Guerra ML, Ghosh AB, Bookout AL, Chambers CP, Jivan A, McGlynn K, Hutchison MR, Deberardinis RJ, Cobb MH. (2012) The G protein-coupled taste receptor T1R1/T1R3 regulates mTORC1 and autophagy. Mol Cell., 47(6), 851-862. DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2012.08.001  

Dehkordi O, Rose JE, Fatemi M, Allard JS, Balan KV, Young JK, Fatima S, Millis RM, & Jayam-Trouth A. (2012) Neuronal expression of bitter taste receptors and downstream signaling molecules in the rat brainstem. Brain research, 1-10. PMID: 22836012  

  • February 5, 2014
  • 08:05 AM
  • 183 views

Cats Don’t Taste Sweet, But Dogs Taste Salty

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Taste sense is important in all vertebrates as well as for many invertebrates. Evolutionary pressures rewarded those animals that could distinguish toxins from nutrient source, and physiology has made those things we need taste good to us. But there are differences in taste sense between species and within species.

Recent research has shown that many obligate carnivores have lost the ability to taste sweet foods, and some are known to have reduced sensitivity to umami tastes as well. Vampire ........ Read more »

Zhao H, Xu D, Zhang S, & Zhang J. (2012) Genomic and genetic evidence for the loss of umami taste in bats. Genome biology and evolution, 4(1), 73-9. PMID: 22117084  

Jiang P, Josue J, Li X, Glaser D, Li W, Brand JG, Margolskee RF, Reed DR, & Beauchamp GK. (2012) Major taste loss in carnivorous mammals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(13), 4956-61. PMID: 22411809  

  • January 29, 2014
  • 08:15 AM
  • 204 views

Sweet, Salt, Bitter, Sour - They Ain't The Half Of It

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

What are the tastes humans sense? Sweet salt, sour, and bitter – don’t forget umami. Even though it has been around since 1908, umami as a concept has hit it big in just the past decade or so. This makes one wonder, are there more tastes out there? How about fat. New research shows that there are fatty acid receptors in the oral cavity, and they do induce specific physiologic responses. Is this the same as tasting?

Fatty acid receptors may turn out to be especially important for o........ Read more »

Keller KL, Liang LC, Sakimura J, May D, van Belle C, Breen C, Driggin E, Tepper BJ, Lanzano PC, Deng L.... (2012) Common variants in the CD36 gene are associated with oral fat perception, fat preferences, and obesity in African Americans. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 20(5), 1066-73. PMID: 22240721  

Chan KQ, Tong EM, Tan DH, & Koh AH. (2013) What do love and jealousy taste like?. Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 13(6), 1142-9. PMID: 24040883  

  • January 22, 2014
  • 08:00 AM
  • 151 views

A Taste Of Things To Come

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Taste is a direct chemo-sensing process, wherein water and fat-soluble molecules interact with gustatory receptors for sweet, salt, sour, bitter, or umami. However, there are chemicals that can mimic food chemicals, like artificial sweeteners, while other molecules can alter the perceived sensation in the mouth. Recent studies have started to deduce how miraculin, the active molecule in the miracle berry, is able to make sour foods taste sweet. Miraculin binds the sweet receptor, but sweetness i........ Read more »

Koizumi, A., Tsuchiya, A., Nakajima, K., Ito, K., Terada, T., Shimizu-Ibuka, A., Briand, L., Asakura, T., Misaka, T., & Abe, K. (2011) From the Cover: Human sweet taste receptor mediates acid-induced sweetness of miraculin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(40), 16819-16824. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1016644108  

  • January 15, 2014
  • 08:20 AM
  • 213 views

Pump Up Your Brain

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Exercise increases brainpower, but do you know how? Many recent studies document the results of exercise on executive function, memory, processing speed, and attention, but some are also investigating just how these changes in cognitive function are brought about.

In particular a 2013 study shows that preadolescents who begin exercise score better on a cognitive assessment not unlike an IQ test. They also perform better on a math test, even though no additional math instruction was given. On ........ Read more »

  • January 8, 2014
  • 08:15 AM
  • 181 views

Exercise Puts Me To Sleep – You Too

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

A New Year’s resolution to exercise could also help you sleep. But how? Sheer exhaustion is one way and reducing stress is another, but there is much more. Research is showing that exercise can induce sleep in the anterior hypothalamus and preoptic nucleus by either manipulation the temperature of the body or by modulating cytokine levels. Studies indicate that decreased temperature after exercise stimulate the brain to inhibit wakefulness signals modulated by orexin/hypocretin. Additional........ Read more »

  • December 30, 2013
  • 08:15 AM
  • 246 views

It’s An Exercise Resolution

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

More exercise is a good New Year’s resolution, but do you know why it is good for you. Sure, you strengthen your heart and may lose some weight, but exercise affects your brain most of all. In terms of improved mood, research is showing how brain derived neurotrophic factor is stimulated by endocannabinoids and then increases serotonin production. The endocannabinoids have also recently been shown to decrease nociception to allow for increased effects of high serotonin and dopamine levels......... Read more »

Galdino G, Romero TR, Silva JF, Aguiar DC, de Paula AM, Cruz JS, Parrella C, Piscitelli F, Duarte ID, Di Marzo V.... (2013) The endocannabinoid system mediates aerobic exercise-induced antinociception in rats. Neuropharmacology, 313-324. PMID: 24148812  

  • December 18, 2013
  • 08:15 AM
  • 268 views

Snow Saves Lives

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Tis the season for snow in the northern hemisphere – on the ground and in the mind of the biologist. Recent studies are showing the unique ways that organisms depend on and use snow in order to survive. An antifreeze protein from snow fleas may lengthen the time that organs can be stored for transplant. More amazing, reindeer use the UV rays that bounce of the snow to see predators – they are the only mammals that can see in the UV range.... Read more »

Hogg C, Neveu M, Stokkan KA, Folkow L, Cottrill P, Douglas R, Hunt DM, & Jeffery G. (2011) Arctic reindeer extend their visual range into the ultraviolet. The Journal of experimental biology, 214(Pt 12), 2014-9. PMID: 21613517  

Kondo H, Hanada Y, Sugimoto H, Hoshino T, Garnham CP, Davies PL, & Tsuda S. (2012) Ice-binding site of snow mold fungus antifreeze protein deviates from structural regularity and high conservation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(24), 9360-5. PMID: 22645341  

  • December 11, 2013
  • 08:25 AM
  • 305 views

Is There Anything Fat Can’t Do?

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Phospholipids are just one type of lipid in all cells. The fatty acids are the precursor to all kinds of lipids, but in some cases they have been modified to such a degree that they are not identifiable. The fatty acids are showing interesting functions, such as a new study showing that the levels of odd chain fatty acids can be used to monitor rumen health in cattle. The omega fatty acids are also becoming important in the treatment and prevention of depression. A new study shows that in Ameri........ Read more »

Beydoun MA, Fanelli Kuczmarski MT, Beydoun HA, Hibbeln JR, Evans MK, & Zonderman AB. (2013) ω-3 Fatty Acid Intakes Are Inversely Related to Elevated Depressive Symptoms among United States Women. The Journal of nutrition, 143(11), 1743-52. PMID: 24005610  

Li Z, Thiel K, Thul PJ, Beller M, Kühnlein RP, & Welte MA. (2012) Lipid droplets control the maternal histone supply of Drosophila embryos. Current biology : CB, 22(22), 2104-13. PMID: 23084995  

Vlaeminck B, Dufour C, van Vuuren AM, Cabrita AR, Dewhurst RJ, Demeyer D, & Fievez V. (2005) Use of odd and branched-chain fatty acids in rumen contents and milk as a potential microbial marker. Journal of dairy science, 88(3), 1031-42. PMID: 15738238  

  • December 4, 2013
  • 08:15 AM
  • 355 views

The Skinny On Fat

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Fats are bothersome to most us, but essential to life. Lipodystrophies are dysfunctions in fat storage, including lipoatrophies where fat is lost from a specific part of the body. In HIV, there is lipoatrophy in the face, but deposition of fat around the visceral organs. A new study shows tracked different markers in each location and found that mitochondrial changes were the same in visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and subdermal adipose tissue (SAT). But the signals to build fat decreased only in ........ Read more »

  • November 27, 2013
  • 08:15 AM
  • 317 views

Corn Color Concepts

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Indian corn isn’t corn, it’s maize. But not all corn is maize, corn is actually an old word that denotes the major crop of any particular region. We use Indian corn as decoration, but its history is as a food stuff colors and all, an that history is getting longer, as a new study from Florida State shows that maize has been farmed for over 7000 years. The colors are most beautiful, including a newly breed variety called Carl’s Glass Gem corn. The spots of color were instrumenta........ Read more »

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