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Rodents and shrews are major reservoirs of various pathogens that are related to zoonotic infectious diseases. The purpose of this study was to investigate co-infections of zoonotic pathogens in rodents and shrews trapped in four provinces of China. We sampled different rodent and shrew communities within and around human settlements in four provinces of China and characterised several important zoonotic viral, bacterial, and parasitic pathogens by PCR methods and phylogenetic analysis. A total of 864 rodents and shrews belonging to 24 and 13 species from RODENTIA and EULIPOTYPHLA orders were captured, respectively. For viral pathogens, two species of hantavirus (Hantaan orthohantavirus and Caobang orthohantavirus) were identified in 3.47% of rodents and shrews. The overall prevalence of Bartonella spp., Anaplasmataceae, Babesia spp., Leptospira spp., Spotted fever group Rickettsiae, Borrelia spp., and Coxiella burnetii were 31.25%, 8.91%, 4.17%, 3.94%, 3.59%, 3.47%, and 0.58%, respectively. Furthermore, the highest co-infection status of three pathogens was observed among Bartonella spp., Leptospira spp., and Anaplasmataceae with a co-infection rate of 0.46%. Our results suggested that species distribution and co-infections of zoonotic pathogens were prevalent in rodents and shrews, highlighting the necessity of active surveillance for zoonotic pathogens in wild mammals in wider regions.
Cytochrome P450 proteins (CYPs) in insects can encode various detoxification enzymes and catabolize heterologous substances, conferring tolerance to insecticides. This study describes the identification of a P450 gene (CYP6BQ8) from Tribolium castaneum (Herbst) and investigation of its spatiotemporal expression profile and potential role in the detoxification of terpinen-4-ol, a component of plant essential oils. The developmental expression profile showed that TcCYP6BQ8 expression was relatively higher in early- and late-larval stages of T. castaneum compared with other developmental stages. Tissue expression profiles showed that TcCYP6BQ8 was mainly expressed in the head and integument of both larvae and adults. The expression profiling of TcCYP6BQ8 in developmental stages and tissues is closely related to the detoxification of heterologous substances. TcCYP6BQ8 expression was significantly induced after exposure to terpinen-4-ol, and RNA interference against TcCYP6BQ8 increased terpinen-4-ol-induced larval mortality from 47.78 to 66.67%. This indicates that TcCYP6BQ8 may be involved in T. castaneum's metabolism of terpinen-4-ol. Correlation investigation between the CYP6BQ8 gene and terpinen-4-ol resistance in T. castaneum revealed that the TcCYP6BQ8 gene was one of the factors behind T. castaneum's resistance to terpinen-4-ol. This discovery may provide a new theoretical foundation for future regulation of T. castaneum.
Almost all hospitals are equipped with air-conditioning systems to provide a comfortable environment for patients and staff. However, the accumulation of dust and moisture within these systems increases the risk of transmission of microbes and have on occasion been associated with outbreaks of infection. Nevertheless, the impact of air-conditioning on the transmission of microorganisms leading to infection remains largely uncertain. We conducted a scoping review to screen systematically the evidence for such an association in the face of the coronavirus disease 2019 epidemic. PubMed, Embase and Web of Science databases were explored for relevant studies addressing microbial contamination of the air, their transmission and association with infectious diseases. The review process yielded 21 publications, 17 of which were cross-sectional studies, three were cohort studies and one case−control study. Our analysis showed that, compared with naturally ventilated areas, microbial loads were significantly lower in air-conditioned areas, but the incidence of infections increased if not properly managed. The use of high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration not only decreased transmission of airborne bioaerosols and various microorganisms, but also reduced the risk of infections. By contrast, contaminated air-conditioning systems in hospital rooms were associated with a higher risk of patient infection. Cleaning and maintenance of such systems to recommended standards should be performed regularly and where appropriate, the installation of HEPA filters can effectively mitigate microbial contamination in the public areas of hospitals.
This study deploys RTK-GNSS in 2012, TLS in 2015 and UAV in 2018 to monitor the changes of Urumqi Glacier No. 1 (UG1), eastern Tien Shan, and analyzes the feasibility of three technologies in monitoring the mountain glaciers. DEM differencing shows that UG1 has experienced a pronounced thinning and mass loss for the period of 2012–18. The glacier surface elevation change of −0.83 ± 0.57 m w.e. a−1 has been recorded for 2012–15, whereas the changes of glacier tongue surface elevation in 2015–18 and 2012–18 were −2.03 ± 0.95 and −1.34 ± 0.88 m w.e. a−1, respectively. The glacier area shrunk by 0.07 ± 0.07 × 10−3 km2 and the terminus retreat rate was 6.28 ± 0.83 m a−1 during 2012–18. The good agreement between the glaciological and geodetic specific mass-balances is promising, showing the combination of the three technologies is suitable to monitor glacier mass change. We recommend application of the three technologies to assess each other in different locations of the glacier, e.g. RTK-GNSS base stations, ground control points, glacier tongue and terminus, in order to avoid the inherent limitations of each technology and to provide reliable data for the future studies of mountain glacier changes in western China.
Shifts in the maternal gut microbiota have been implicated in the development of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Understanding the interaction between gut microbiota and host glucose metabolism will provide a new target of prediction and treatment. In this nested case-control study, we aimed to investigate the causal effects of gut microbiota from GDM patients on the glucose metabolism of germ-free (GF) mice. Stool and peripheral blood samples, as well as clinical information, were collected from 45 GDM patients and 45 healthy controls (matched by age and prepregnancy body mass index (BMI)) in the first and second trimester. Gut microbiota profiles were explored by next-generation sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, and inflammatory factors in peripheral blood were analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Fecal samples from GDM and non-GDM donors were transferred to GF mice. The gut microbiota of women with GDM showed reduced richness, specifically decreased Bacteroides and Akkermansia, as well as increased Faecalibacterium. The relative abundance of Akkermansia was negatively associated with blood glucose levels, and the relative abundance of Faecalibacterium was positively related to inflammatory factor concentrations. The transfer of fecal microbiota from GDM and non-GDM donors to GF mice resulted in different gut microbiota colonization patterns, and hyperglycemia was induced in mice that received GDM donor microbiota. These results suggested that the shifting pattern of gut microbiota in GDM patients contributed to disease pathogenesis.
Six acidic dykes were discovered surrounding the Laiziling pluton, Xianghualing area, in the western Cathaysia Block, South China. A number of captured zircons are found in two of these acidic dykes. By detailed U–Pb dating, Lu–Hf isotopes and trace-element analysis, we find that these zircons have ages clustered at c. 2.5 Ga. Two acidic dyke samples yielded upper intersection point 206U/238Pb ages of 2505 ± 42 Ma and 2533 ± 22 Ma, and weighted mean 207Pb/206Pb ages of 2500 ± 30 Ma and 2535 ± 16 Ma. The majority of these zircons have high (Sm/La)N, Th/U and low Ce/Ce* ratios, indicating a magmatic origin, but some grains were altered by later hydrothermal fluid. Additionally, the magmatic zircons have high Y, U, heavy rare earth element, Nb and Ta contents, indicating that their host rocks were mainly mafic rocks or trondhjemite–tonalite–granodiorite rock series. Equally, their moderate Y, Yb, Th, Gd and Er contents also indicate that a mafic source formed in a continental volcanic-arc environment. These zircons have positive ϵHf(t) values (2.5–6.9) close to zircons from the depleted mantle, with TDM (2565–2741 Ma) and TDM2 (2608–2864 Ma) ages close to their formation ages, indicating that these zircons originated directly from depleted mantle magma, or juvenile crust derived from the depleted mantle in a very short period. We therefore infer that the Cathaysia Block experienced a crustal growth event at c. 2.5 Ga.
The Wulian complex is located on the northern margin of the Sulu orogenic belt, and was formed by collision between the North China Craton (NCC) to the north and South China Craton (SCC) to the south. It consists of the metasedimentary Wulian Group, gneissic granite and meta-diorite. The U–Pb analyses for the detrital zircons from the Wulian Group exhibit one predominant age population of 2600–2400 Ma with a peak at c. 2.5 Ga and several secondary age populations of > 3000, 3000–2800, 2800–2600, 2200–2000, 1900–1800, 1500–1300 and 1250–950 Ma; some metamorphic zircons have metamorphic ages of c. 2.7, 2.55–2.45, 2.1–2.0 and 1.95–1.80 Ga, which are consistent with magmatic-metamorphic events in the SCC. Additionally, the Wulian Group was intruded by the gneissic granite and meta-diorite at c. 0.76 Ga, attributed to Neoproterozoic syn-rifting bimodal magmatic activity in the SCC and derived from partial melting of Archaean continental crust and depleted mantle, respectively. The Wulian Group therefore has tectonic affinity to the SCC and was mainly sourced from the SCC. The detrital zircons have positive and negative ϵHf(t) values, indicating that their source rocks were derived from reworking of both ancient and juvenile crustal rocks. The major early Precambrian crustal growth took place during c. 3.4–2.5 Ga with a dominant peak at 2.96 Ga and several secondary peaks at 3.27, 2.74 and 2.52 Ga. The two oldest zircons with ages of 3307 and 3347 Ma record the recycling of ancient continental crust (> 3.35 Ga) and crustal growth prior to c. 3.95 Ga in the SCC.
To gain more comprehensive understanding of metabolic syndrome (Mets) among in general Chinese population.
Cross-sectional study. Mets was defined by three widely accepted definitions including modified Adults Treatment Panel (ATP) III criteria, International Diabetes Federation (IDF) criteria and harmonized definition. Risk factors were evaluated by using multivariate logistic regression.
Nineteen rural villages in northeast China.
The survey was conducted in September 2017 and May 2018 on 10 926 individuals.
According to modified ATP III criteria, IDF criteria and harmonised definition, the overall prevalence of Mets was 41·3 % (95 % CI 40·3, 42·2), 34·2 % (95 % CI 33·2, 35·1) and 44·1 % (95 % CI 43·1, 45·1), respectively. Females had a higher prevalence, and elevated blood pressure was the most frequent. Age, female sex, non-peasant worker, higher BMI and lower-annual income were independent risk factors of Mets in all three definitions (all ps < 0·05). Based on modified ATP III criteria and harmonised definition, heavy drinking was positively correlated with Mets. In contrast, former drinking was inversely associated with Mets.
Mets is highly prevalent in rural areas of northeast China. Its independent risk factors include higher age, female sex, non-peasantry worker, higher BMI and lower-annual income. Modified ATP III criteria and harmonised definition may be superior definitions of Mets.
Al-based composites with micrometer and submicro-TiB2 reinforcements (1 wt%) have been produced by selective laser melting (SLM) from mixed powder under different processing conditions. The results show that the densification level of SLM-processed composite with submicro-TiB2 particles (>99.0%) was 0.3–2.4% larger than that of micrometer TiB2-reinforced composite under the same processing conditions. The distribution of Si precipitates in the matrix experienced a transform from continuous cellular to directional line-like morphology with reinforcement size decreasing from micron to submicron. The reinforcement size added in the matrix also exhibited a critical influence on preferred orientation and grain size of matrix. The SLM-processed composites exhibited improved tensile strength and ductility with a decrease of reinforcement size. High tensile strength of ∼400 MPa and elongation of ∼3.6% were obtained for the fine TiB2-reinforced samples, increasing by 6 and 13% compared with that of micro-TiB2–added samples, respectively.
The aim of this retrospective study was to investigate the prognostic significance of pre-treatment immunological and nutritional statuses in patients with locally advanced gastric cancer (GC), and to use the risk factors to develop a predictive score. A total of 731 patients who underwent gastrectomy for stage II/III GC from November 2010 to December 2015 were recruited into this retrospective study. On the basis of univariate and further multivariate Cox regression analyses, decreased pretreatment lymphocyte count (<1·5×109/litre) and prealbumin concentrations (<180 mg/l) were identified to be independently associated with poorer overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS). Low albumin concentrations (<33 g/l) were identified as an independent risk factor only for OS, but not for DFS. Thereafter, patients who had a decreased prealbumin concentration and lymphocyte count were given a combination of serum prealbumin concentration and lymphocyte count (Co-PaL) score of 2. Patients with only one or neither of these concentrations were given a Co-PaL score of 1 or 0, respectively. Both the OS and the DFS time were inversely related to the Co-PaL scores, and the differences among the three groups were all significant. In contrast, the prognosis did not differ significantly between patients with good nutrition and those with mild to moderate malnutrition according to the prognostic nutritional index. This study indicated that the simple scoring system could accurately predict the prognosis of patients who underwent gastrectomy for stage II/III GC. The score might be helpful in terms of clinical preoperative decision-making.
Nanoscale magnetization modulation by electric field enables the construction of low-power spintronic devices for information storage applications and, etc. Electric field-induced ion migration can introduce desired changes in the material's stoichiometry, defect profile, and lattice structure, which in turn provides a versatile and convenient means to modify the materials’ chemical-physical properties at the nanoscale and in situ. In this review, we provide a brief overview on the recent study on nanoscale magnetization modulation driven by electric field-induced migration of ionic species either within the switching material or from external sources. The formation of magnetic conductive filaments that exhibit magnetoresistance behaviors in resistive switching memory via foreign metal ion migration and redox activities is also discussed. Combining the magnetoresistance and quantized conductance switching of the magnetic nanopoint contact structure may provide a future high-performance device for non-von Neumann computing architectures.
Pro-inflammatory cytokines are critical in mechanisms of muscle atrophy. In addition, asparagine (Asn) is necessary for protein synthesis in mammalian cells. We hypothesised that Asn could attenuate lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced muscle atrophy in a piglet model. Piglets were allotted to four treatments (non-challenged control, LPS-challenged control, LPS+0·5 % Asn and LPS+1·0 % Asn). On day 21, the piglets were injected with LPS or saline. At 4 h post injection, piglet blood and muscle samples were collected. Asn increased protein and RNA content in muscles, and decreased mRNA expression of muscle atrophy F-box (MAFbx) and muscle RING finger 1 (MuRF1). However, Asn had no effect on the protein abundance of MAFbx and MuRF1. In addition, Asn decreased muscle AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) α phosphorylation, but increased muscle protein kinase B (Akt) and Forkhead Box O (FOXO) 1 phosphorylation. Moreover, Asn decreased the concentrations of TNF-α, cortisol and glucagon in plasma, and TNF-α mRNA expression in muscles. Finally, Asn decreased mRNA abundance of muscle toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 and nucleotide-binding oligomerisation domain protein (NOD) signalling-related genes, and regulated their negative regulators. The beneficial effects of Asn on muscle atrophy may be associated with the following: (1) inhibiting muscle protein degradation via activating Akt and inactivating AMPKα and FOXO1; and (2) decreasing the expression of muscle pro-inflammatory cytokines via inhibiting TLR4 and NOD signalling pathways by modulation of their negative regulators.
The intestine requires a high amount of energy to maintain its health and function; thus, energy deficits in intestinal mucosa may lead to intestinal damage. Asparagine (Asn) is a precursor for many other amino acids such as aspartate, glutamine and glutamate, which can be used to supply energy to enterocytes. In the present study, we hypothesise that dietary supplementation of Asn could alleviate bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced intestinal injury via improvement of intestinal energy status. A total of twenty-four weaned piglets were assigned to one of four treatments: (1) non-challenged control; (2) LPS+0 % Asn; (3) LPS+0·5 % Asn; (4) LPS+1·0 % Asn. On day 19, piglets were injected with LPS or saline. At 24 h post-injection, piglets were slaughtered and intestinal samples were collected. Asn supplementation improved intestinal morphology, indicated by higher villus height and villus height:crypt depth ratio, and lower crypt depth. Asn supplementation also increased the ratios of RNA:DNA and protein:DNA as well as disaccharidase activities in intestinal mucosa. In addition, Asn supplementation attenuated bacterial LPS-induced intestinal energy deficits, indicated by increased ATP and adenylate energy charge levels, and decreased AMP:ATP ratio. Moreover, Asn administration increased the activities of key enzymes involved in the tricarboxylic acid cycle, including citrate synthase, isocitrate dehydrogenase and α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex. Finally, Asn administration decreased the mRNA abundance of intestinal AMP-activated protein kinase-α1 (AMPKα1), AMPKα2, silent information regulator 1 (SIRT1) and PPARγ coactivator-1α (PGC1α), and reduced intestinal AMPKα phosphorylation. Collectively, these results indicate that Asn supplementation alleviates bacterial LPS-induced intestinal injury by modulating the AMPK signalling pathway and improving energy status.
Pro-inflammatory cytokines play a key role in many models of hepatic damage. In addition, asparagine (Asn) plays an important role in immune function. We aimed to investigate whether Asn could attenuate lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced liver damage. Forty-eight castrated barrows were allotted to four groups including: (1) non-challenged control; (2) LPS-challenged control; (3) LPS+0·5 % Asn; and (4) LPS+1·0 % Asn. After 19 d feeding with control, 0·5 or 1·0 % Asn diets, pigs were injected with LPS or saline. Blood and liver samples were obtained at 4 h (early stage) and 24 h (late stage) post-injection. Asn alleviated liver injury, indicated by reduced serum aspartate aminotransferase and alkaline phosphatase activities linearly and quadratically; it increased claudin-1 protein expression linearly and quadratically at 24 h, and less severe liver morphological impairment at 4 or 24 h. In addition, Asn decreased mRNA expression of TNF-α and heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) linearly and quadratically at 4 h; it increased TNF-α mRNA expression, and HSP70 protein expression linearly and quadratically at 24 h. Moreover, Asn increased inducible NO synthase activity linearly and quadratically. Finally, Asn down-regulated the mRNA expression of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signalling molecules (TLR4, IL-1 receptor-associated kinase 1 (IRAK1), TNF-α receptor-associated factor 6), nucleotide-binding oligomerisation domain protein (NOD) signalling molecules (NOD1, NOD2 and their adaptor molecule receptor-interacting serine/threonine-protein kinase 2 (RIPK2)), and NF-κB p65 linearly or quadratically at 4 h. Oppositely, Asn up-regulated mRNA expressions of TLR4 and NOD signalling molecules (TLR4, myeloid differentiation factor 88, IRAK1, NOD2 and RIPK2), and their negative regulators (radioprotective 105, single Ig IL-1R-related molecule, Erbb2 interacting protein and centaurin β1) linearly or quadratically at 24 h. These results indicate that, in early and late stages of LPS challenge, Asn improves liver integrity and exerts different regulatory effects on mRNA expression of TLR4 and NOD signalling molecules.
Long-term fertilization experiment has been conducted since 1981 to study the effect of soil management practices on soil fertility, soil carbon and nitrogen sequestration, soil culturable microbe counts and crop yields at the Nanhu Experimental Station in the Hubei Academy of Agricultural Sciences (situated in the middle reach of the Yangtze River and the rice–wheat cropping system). The experiment was designed with the following eight treatments: (1) unfertilized treatment: Control; (2) inorganic nitrogen fertilizer treatment: N; (3) inorganic nitrogen plus inorganic phosphorus fertilizer treatment: NP; (4) inorganic nitrogen, inorganic phosphorus plus inorganic potassium fertilizer treatment: NPK; (5) pig dung compost (manure) treatment: M; (6) inorganic nitrogen fertilizer plus manure: NM; (7) inorganic nitrogen, inorganic phosphorus fertilizer plus manure treatment: NPM and (8) inorganic nitrogen, inorganic phosphorus, inorganic potassium fertilizer plus manure treatment: NPKM. The results showed that long-term application of organic manure in combination with inorganic fertilizer significantly (p < 0.05) increased soil organic C concentrations compared with the corresponding inorganic fertilizers alone. Soil organic C contents were significantly (p < 0.05) increased in balanced application of NPK fertilizers in comparison to unbalanced application of fertilizers. After 30 years of experiment, soil organic C and total N sequestration rate averagely were 0.48 t ha−1 year−1 and 28.3 kg ha−1 year−1 in the fertilized treatments respectively; nevertheless, it were 0.27 t ha−1 year−1 and 9.7 kg ha−1 year−1 in the unfertilized treatment. Application of organic fertilizer in combination with inorganic fertilizer significantly (p < 0.05) increased culturable microbial counts compared with the corresponding inorganic fertilizers alone. The balanced application of NPK fertilizers significantly (p < 0.05) increased culturable microbial counts compared with unbalanced application of fertilizers. The average grain yield of wheat and rice was significantly (p < 0.05) higher in organic manure combined with inorganic fertilizer treatment than in inorganic fertilizer alone and unfertilized control. Therefore, long-term application of organic manure combined with inorganic fertilizer and balanced application of NPK fertilizers could increase soil organic C and total N sequestration, culturable microbial counts and crop grain yields.
A guide star catalogue characterised by fewer guide stars, uniform distribution and high completeness is conducive to the improvement of star pattern identification and star tracking efficiency, and it has become an important study objective. A screening method, which takes “quasi-uniform distribution” of space solid angles as the principle and the size of the space solid angle corresponding to 4°×4° on the equator as the reference and divided the whole celestial sphere into 2,664 sub-blocks in sequence, is proposed in this paper. Based on this method, a “quasi-uniform” guide star catalogue with 2,937 guide stars was obtained. According to our ergodic statistical analysis of the whole celestial sphere, in a 12°×12° field of view, after the space solid angle method was used to divide the celestial sphere, the probability of emergence of three guide stars was 99·9% or above, while the number of guide stars decreased by 12·6% compared to the inscribed cube method. It can be concluded that when the completeness is equal, the space solid angle method is superior to the inscribed cube method in both capacity and distribution uniformity.
In this paper, we present a high-precision Mars entry integrated navigation algorithm under large uncertainties via a desensitised extended Kalman filter (DEKF). Firstly, a new six degree-of-freedom Mars entry dynamics model is derived based on the angular velocity outputs of a gyro, which is free of modelling errors in the aerodynamic and control torques. Secondly, both the accelerometer outputs and radio measurements between orbiters and entry vehicle are used as the observations embedded in a navigation filter to perform state estimation and suppress the measurement noise. Finally, a desensitised extended Kalman filter, exhibiting the desirable property of efficiently reducing the sensitivity of state variables with respect to model and parameter uncertainties, is adopted in order to overcome the adverse effects of initial state errors and uncertainties during Mars atmospheric entry and further improve entry navigation accuracy. The numerical simulation results show that the DEKF-based integrated navigation algorithm developed in this paper can achieve a better navigation performance with higher accuracy when compared with the standard extended Kalman filter (EKF)-based integrated navigation algorithm in the presence of larger state errors and parameter uncertainties.
Grain boundary engineering (GBE) has been carried out in nickel-based Alloy 690 with different initial grain sizes. The microstructure evolution during GBE-processing is characterized using electron backscatter diffraction to study the initial grain size effects on the grain boundary network (GBN). The microstructures of the partially recrystallized samples revealed that the GBE-processing is a strain-recrystallization process, during which each grain-cluster is formed by “multiple twinning” starting from a single recrystallization nucleus. Taking into consideration the coincidence site lattices (CSLs) and ∑, which is defined as the reciprocal density of coincidence sites, a high proportion of low-∑ CSL grain boundaries (GBs) and large grain-clusters are found to be the features of GBE-processed GBN. The initial grain size has a combined effect on the low-∑ CSL GBs proportion. A large initial grain size reduces the number of recrystallization nuclei that form, increasing the cluster size, but decreasing twin boundary density. On the other hand, smaller initial grain sizes increase the density of twin boundary after recrystallization, while decreasing grain-cluster size. Neither the grain-cluster size nor the twin boundary density is the sole factor influencing the proportion of low-∑ CSL GBs. The ratio of the grain cluster size over the grain size governs the proportion of low-∑ CSL GBs.
As Earth-based radio tracking navigation is severely limited because of communications constraints and low relative navigation accuracy, autonomous optical navigation capabilities are essential for both robotic and manned deep-space exploration missions. Image processing is considered one of the key technologies for autonomous optical navigation to extract high-precision navigation observables from a raw image. New image processing algorithms for deep-space autonomous optical navigation are developed in this paper. First, multiple image pre-processing and the Canny edge detection algorithm are adopted to identify the edges of target celestial bodies and simultaneously remove the potential false edges. Secondly, two new limb profile fitting algorithms are proposed based on the Least Squares method and the Levenberg-Marquardt algorithm, respectively, with the assumption that the perspective projection of a target celestial body on the image plane will form an ellipse. Next, the line-of-sight (LOS) vector from the spacecraft to the centroid of the observed object is obtained. This is taken as the navigation measurement observable and input to the navigation filter algorithm. Finally, the image processing algorithms developed in this paper are validated using both synthetic simulated images and real flight images from the MESSENGER mission.
There is increasing evidence to show that 2-cell stage mouse blastomeres have differing developmental properties. Additionally, it has been suggested that such a difference might be due to their distribution of mRNA and/or protein asymmetry. However, to date, the exact genes that are involved in the orientation and order of blastomere division are not known. In this study, some differentially expressed transcripts were identified. Axin1, cell division cycle 25 homolog C (Cdc25c) and cyclin-dependent inhibitor 2D (Cdkn2d) were selected for validation by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based on published data. Our real-time PCR results demonstrated that Axin1, Cdc25c and Cdkn2d genes had different levels of expression among blastomeres of the mouse 2-cell embryo i.e. the level of Axin1 mRNA was significantly higher in one blastomere when compared with the other blastomeres of the 2-cell embryo (p < 0.05). The variation in Cdc25c (p < 0.05) and Cdkn2d (p < 0.01) mRNA expression followed a similar trend to that of Axin1. In addition, the highest levels of expression of these three genes were detected in the same blastomere in the 2-cell embryo. We confirmed that there was an asymmetrical distribution pattern for Axin1, Cdc25c and Cdkn2d transcripts in 2-cell embryos. In conclusion, this study demonstrated clearly that there is embryonic asymmetry at the 2-cell stage and that these differentially expressed genes may result in differentiation in expression in embryo development.