Annual Review of Physiology, Volume 79

View the full table of contents for the Annual Review of Physiology, Volume 79.

The first article to catch my attention inthis volume, “A Critical and Comparative Review of Fluorescent Tools for Live-Cell Imaging” by Elizabeth A. Specht et al., conjured  for me images of white-coated researchers anxiously holding fluorescent light tubes over microscopes. This amusing vision was, of course, very fleeting, and the last remnants were swept away when I started reading the article and realized biological researchers use the phrase “fluorescent tool” in reference to the fluorescent markers, dyes, and sensors in biological samples. These tools are much more complicated and diverse than I realized and I was very interested in learning about how they work:

This review provides a broad overview of well-established fluorescent tools, with an eye toward recent developments and emerging technologies, and it refers the reader to more comprehensive and detailed reviews on individual techniques and applications. We begin with a discussion of general classes of fluorophores and their advantages and disadvantages for various applications. We then discuss methods for labeling a molecule of interest with a fluorescent moiety—including fluorescent protein fusions, incorporation of fluorescent moieties through nonnatural amino acid substitution, chemical labeling, and antibody labeling—emphasizing applications in live cells. We briefly review applications for monitoring proteins, which are already well established, and then focus on the extension of these techniques to high-throughput proteomics and screening.

Next on my personal reading list is the article by Johannes Overgaard & Heath A. Macmillan titled “The Integrative Physiology of Insect Chill Tolerance.”  This article reminded me of when my little brother found a beetle frozen in a pool of ice when we were children. After marveling at it for days he decided to melt the ice so he could examine the beetle more closely and use it as part of an ongoing school science project.  We were both quite shocked when the defrosted beetle turned out to be very much alive and not in favor of being used for science projects. (By “shocked” I mean we jumped and screamed when it started moving.)

This article looks at how insects survive ice and cold and the adaptations that make it possible:

The cold tolerance of insects has historically been classified by their ability to tolerate ice formation in the extracellular fluid (freeze-tolerant species) or to avoid freezing by lowering the freezing point of their extracellular fluid [freeze-avoiding species that survive low temperatures above their supercooling point (SCP)]. Studies of freeze tolerance and avoidance have revealed a range of fascinating physiological adaptations that involve accumulation of cryoprotectants, removal of ice nucleators, synthesis of antifreeze proteins, or use of severe dehydration, all of which allow insects to either tolerate or avoid freezing. Nevertheless, the classification of insect species as freeze avoiding and freeze tolerant has received some criticism because it fails to take into account that insect species from warm regions experience loss of homeostasis, cold-induced injury, and death at temperatures above those causing extracellular freezing.

ph79-tongueFinally, I discovered the article by Charlotte M. Mistretta & Archana Kumari, “Tongue and Taste Organ Biology and Function: Homeostasis Maintained by Hedgehog Signaling.”  I’ve given some thought to how taste works but because it seems such a basic part of life I forget how complex it actually is. This article certainly reminded me and also included bonus discussion of the hedgehog pathway, one of my favorite names in all of science. As the authors write in the abstract:

The tongue is an elaborate complex of heterogeneous tissues with taste organs of diverse embryonic origins. The lingual taste organs are papillae, composed of an epithelium that includes specialized taste buds, the basal lamina, and a lamina propria core with matrix molecules, fibroblasts, nerves, and vessels. Because taste organs are dynamic in cell biology and sensory function, homeostasis requires tight regulation in specific compartments or niches.

If you found an article in this volume that interests you, please let me know in the comments!

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.