Quartz c-axis orientation patterns in fracture cement as a measure of fracture opening rate and a validation tool for fracture pattern models

We evaluate a published model for crystal growth patterns in quartz cement in sandstone fractures by comparing crystal fracture-spanning predictions to quartz c-axis orientation distributions measured by electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) of spanning quartz deposits. Samples from eight subvertical opening-mode fractures in four sandstone formations, the Jurassic–Cretaceous Nikanassin Formation, northwestern Alberta Foothills (Canada), Cretaceous Mesaverde Group (USA; Cozzette Sandstone Member of the Iles Formation), Piceance Basin, Colorado (USA), and upper Jurassic–lower Cretaceous Cotton Valley Group (Taylor sandstone) and overlying Travis Peak Formation, east Texas, have similar quartzose composition and grain size but contain fractures with different temperature histories and opening rates based on fluid inclusion assemblages and burial history. Spherical statistical analysis shows that, in agreement with model predictions, bridging crystals have a preferred orientation with c-axis orientations at a high angle to fracture walls. The second form of validation is for spanning potential that depends on the size of cut substrate grains. Using measured cut substrate grain sizes and c-axis orientations of spanning bridges, we calculated the required orientation for the smallest cut grain to span the maximum gap size and the required orientation of the crystal with the least spanning potential to form overgrowths that span across maximum measured gap sizes. We find that within a 10° error all spanning crystals conform to model predictions. Using crystals with the lowest spanning potential based on crystallographic orientation (c-axis parallel to fracture wall) and a temperature range for fracture opening measured from fluid inclusion assemblages, we calculate maximum fracture opening rates that allow crystals to span. These rates are comparable to those derived independently from fracture temperature histories based on burial history and multiple sequential fluid inclusion assemblages. Results support the R. Lander and S. Laubach model, which predicts that for quartz deposited synchronously with fracture opening, spanning potential, or likelihood of quartz deposits that are thick enough to span between fracture walls, depends on temperature history, fracture opening rate, size of opening increments, and size, mineralogy, and crystallographic orientation of substrates in the fracture wall (transected grains). Results suggest that EBSD maps, which can be more rapidly acquired than measurement of tens to hundreds of fluid inclusion assemblages, can provide a useful measure of relative opening rates within populations of quartz-filled fractures formed under sedimentary basin conditions. Such data are useful for evaluating fracture pattern development models.

Quartz c-axis orientation patterns in fracture cement as a measure of fracture opening rate and a validation tool for fracture pattern models

We evaluate a published model for crystal growth patterns in quartz cement in sandstone fractures by comparing crystal fracture-spanning predictions to quartz c-axis orientation distributions measured by electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) of spanning quartz deposits. Samples from eight subvertical opening-mode fractures in four sandstone formations, the Jurassic–Cretaceous Nikanassin Formation, northwestern Alberta Foothills (Canada), Cretaceous Mesaverde Group (USA; Cozzette Sandstone Member of the Iles Formation), Piceance Basin, Colorado (USA), and upper Jurassic–lower Cretaceous Cotton Valley Group (Taylor sandstone) and overlying Travis Peak Formation, east Texas, have similar quartzose composition and grain size but contain fractures with different temperature histories and opening rates based on fluid inclusion assemblages and burial history. Spherical statistical analysis shows that, in agreement with model predictions, bridging crystals have a preferred orientation with c-axis orientations at a high angle to fracture walls. The second form of validation is for spanning potential that depends on the size of cut substrate grains. Using measured cut substrate grain sizes and c-axis orientations of spanning bridges, we calculated the required orientation for the smallest cut grain to span the maximum gap size and the required orientation of the crystal with the least spanning potential to form overgrowths that span across maximum measured gap sizes. We find that within a 10° error all spanning crystals conform to model predictions. Using crystals with the lowest spanning potential based on crystallographic orientation (c-axis parallel to fracture wall) and a temperature range for fracture opening measured from fluid inclusion assemblages, we calculate maximum fracture opening rates that allow crystals to span. These rates are comparable to those derived independently from fracture temperature histories based on burial history and multiple sequential fluid inclusion assemblages. Results support the R. Lander and S. Laubach model, which predicts that for quartz deposited synchronously with fracture opening, spanning potential, or likelihood of quartz deposits that are thick enough to span between fracture walls, depends on temperature history, fracture opening rate, size of opening increments, and size, mineralogy, and crystallographic orientation of substrates in the fracture wall (transected grains). Results suggest that EBSD maps, which can be more rapidly acquired than measurement of tens to hundreds of fluid inclusion assemblages, can provide a useful measure of relative opening rates within populations of quartz-filled fractures formed under sedimentary basin conditions. Such data are useful for evaluating fracture pattern development models.

Combination of small RNAs for skeletal muscle regeneration [Research Communication]

Selectively controlling the expression of the target genes through RNA interference (RNAi) has significant therapeutic potential for injuries or diseases of tissues. We used this strategy to accelerate and enhance skeletal muscle regeneration for the treatment of muscular atrophy. In this study, we used myostatin small interfering (si)RNA (siGDF-8), a major inhibitory factor in the development and postnatal regeneration of skeletal muscle and muscle-specific microRNAs (miR-1 and -206) to further accelerate muscle regeneration. This combination of 3 small RNAs significantly improved the gene expression of myogenic regulatory factors in vitro, suggesting myogenic activation. Moreover, cell proliferation and myotube formation improved without compromising each other, which indicates the myogenic potential of this combination of small RNAs. The recovery of chemically injured tibialis anterior muscles in rats was significantly accelerated, both functionally and structurally. This novel combination of siRNA and miRNAs has promising therapeutic potential to improve in situ skeletal muscle regeneration.—Kim, N., Yoo, J. J., Atala, A., Lee, S. J. Combination of small RNAs for skeletal muscle regeneration.

Combination of small RNAs for skeletal muscle regeneration [Research Communication]

Selectively controlling the expression of the target genes through RNA interference (RNAi) has significant therapeutic potential for injuries or diseases of tissues. We used this strategy to accelerate and enhance skeletal muscle regeneration for the treatment of muscular atrophy. In this study, we used myostatin small interfering (si)RNA (siGDF-8), a major inhibitory factor in the development and postnatal regeneration of skeletal muscle and muscle-specific microRNAs (miR-1 and -206) to further accelerate muscle regeneration. This combination of 3 small RNAs significantly improved the gene expression of myogenic regulatory factors in vitro, suggesting myogenic activation. Moreover, cell proliferation and myotube formation improved without compromising each other, which indicates the myogenic potential of this combination of small RNAs. The recovery of chemically injured tibialis anterior muscles in rats was significantly accelerated, both functionally and structurally. This novel combination of siRNA and miRNAs has promising therapeutic potential to improve in situ skeletal muscle regeneration.—Kim, N., Yoo, J. J., Atala, A., Lee, S. J. Combination of small RNAs for skeletal muscle regeneration.

STAT-3 contributes to pulmonary fibrosis through epithelial injury and fibroblast-myofibroblast differentiation [Research Communication]

Lung fibrosis is the hallmark of the interstitial lung diseases. Alveolar epithelial cell (AEC) injury is a key step that contributes to a profibrotic microenvironment. Fibroblasts and myofibroblasts subsequently accumulate and deposit excessive extracellular matrix. In addition to TGF-β, the IL-6 family of cytokines, which signal through STAT-3, may also contribute to lung fibrosis. In the current manuscript, the extent to which STAT-3 inhibition decreases lung fibrosis is investigated. Phosphorylated STAT-3 was elevated in lung biopsies from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and bleomycin (BLM)-induced fibrotic murine lungs. C-188-9, a small molecule STAT-3 inhibitor, decreased pulmonary fibrosis in the intraperitoneal BLM model as assessed by arterial oxygen saturation (control, 84.4 ± 1.3%; C-188-9, 94.4 ± 0.8%), histology (Ashcroft score: untreated, 5.4 ± 0.25; C-188-9, 3.3 ± 0.14), and attenuated fibrotic markers such as diminished α–smooth muscle actin, reduced collagen deposition. In addition, C-188-9 decreased the expression of epithelial injury markers, including hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1). In vitro studies show that inhibition of STAT-3 decreased IL-6– and TGF-β–induced expression of multiple genes, including HIF-1α and PAI-1, in AECs. Furthermore, C-188-9 decreased fibroblast-to-myofibroblast differentiation. Finally, TGF-β stimulation of lung fibroblasts resulted in SMAD2/SMAD3-dependent phosphorylation of STAT-3. These findings demonstrate that STAT-3 contributes to the development of lung fibrosis and suggest that STAT-3 may be a therapeutic target in pulmonary fibrosis.—Pedroza, M., Le, T. T., Lewis, K., Karmouty-Quintana, H., To, S., George, A. T., Blackburn, M. R., Tweardy, D. J., Agarwal, S. K. STAT-3 contributes to pulmonary fibrosis through epithelial injury and fibroblast-myofibroblast differentiation.

Talin1 is required for cardiac Z-disk stabilization and endothelial integrity in zebrafish [Research Communication]

Talin (tln) binds and activates integrins to couple extracellular matrix–bound integrins to the cytoskeleton; however, its role in heart development is not well characterized. We identified the defective gene and the resulting cardiovascular phenotypes in zebrafish tln1fl02k mutants. The ethylnitrosourea-induced fl02k mutant showed heart failure, brain hemorrhage, and diminished cardiac and vessel lumens at 52 h post fertilization. Positional cloning revealed a nonsense mutation of tln1 in this mutant. tln1, but neither tln2 nor -2a, was dominantly expressed in the heart and vessels. Unlike tln1 and -2 in the mouse heart, the unique tln1 expression in the heart enabled us, for the first time, to determine the critical roles of Tln1 in the maintenance of cardiac sarcomeric Z-disks and endothelial/endocardial cell integrity, partly through regulating F-actin networks in zebrafish. The similar expression profiles of tln1 and integrin β1b (itgb1b) and synergistic function of the 2 genes revealed that itgb1b is a potential partner for tln1 in the stabilization of cardiac Z-disks and vessel lumens. Taken together, the results of this work suggest that Tln1-mediated Itgβ1b plays a crucial role in maintaining cardiac sarcomeric Z-disks and endothelial/endocardial cell integrity in zebrafish and may also help to gain molecular insights into congenital heart diseases.—Wu, Q., Zhang, J., Koh, W., Yu, Q., Zhu, X., Amsterdam, A., Davis, G. E., Arnaout, M. A., Xiong, J.-W. Talin1 is required for cardiac Z-disk stabilization and endothelial integrity in zebrafish.