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  1. Abstract

    Every animal secretes mucus, placing them among the most diverse biological materials. Mucus hydrogels are complex mixtures of water, ions, carbohydrates, and proteins. Uncertainty surrounding their composition and how interactions between components contribute to mucus function complicates efforts to exploit their properties. There is substantial interest in commercializing mucus from the garden snail,Cornu aspersum, for skincare, drug delivery, tissue engineering, and composite materials.C. aspersumsecretes three mucus—one shielding the animal from environmental threats, one adhesive mucus from the pedal surface of the foot, and another pedal mucus that is lubricating. It remains a mystery how compositional differences account for their substantially different properties. Here, we characterize mucus proteins, glycosylation, ion content, and mechanical properties that could be used to provide insight into structure-function relationships through an integrative “mucomics” approach. We identify macromolecular components of these hydrogels, including a previously unreported protein class termed Conserved Anterior Mollusk Proteins (CAMPs). Revealing differences betweenC. aspersummucus shows how considering structure at all levels can inform the design of mucus-inspired materials.

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  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 14, 2024
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  4. We introduce a proper notion of two-dimensional signature for images. This object is inspired by the so-called rough paths theory, and it captures many essential features of a two-dimensional object such as an image. It thus serves as a low-dimensional feature for pattern classification. Here, we implement a simple procedure for texture classification. In this context, we show that a low-dimensional set of features based on signatures produces an excellent accuracy. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  5. Abstract

    Chemical defense systems involving tryptophan-derived secondary metabolites (TDSMs) and salicylic acid (SA) are induced by general nonself signals and pathogen signals, respectively, in Arabidopsis thaliana. Whether and how these chemical defense systems are connected and balanced is largely unknown. In this study, we identified the AVRRPT2-INDUCED GENE2A (AIG2A) and AIG2B genes as gatekeepers that prevent activation of SA defense systems by TDSMs. These genes also were identified as important contributors to natural variation in disease resistance among A. thaliana natural accessions. The loss of AIG2A and AIG2B function leads to upregulation of both SA and TDSM defense systems. Suppressor screens and genetic analysis revealed that a functional TDSM system is required for the upregulation of the SA pathway in the absence of AIG2A and AIG2B, but not vice versa. Furthermore, the AIG2A and AIG2B genes are co-induced with TDSM biosynthesis genes by general pathogen elicitors and nonself signals, thereby functioning as a feedback control of the TDSM defense system, as well as limiting activation of the SA defense system by TDSMs. Thus, this study uncovers an AIG2A- and AIG2B-mediated mechanism that fine-tunes and balances SA and TDSM chemical defense systems in response to nonpathogenic and pathogenic microbes.

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  6. Abstract

    Reinforcement learning is a general technique that allows an agent to learn an optimal policy and interact with an environment in sequential decision-making problems. The goodness of a policy is measured by its value function starting from some initial state. The focus of this paper was to construct confidence intervals (CIs) for a policy’s value in infinite horizon settings where the number of decision points diverges to infinity. We propose to model the action-value state function (Q-function) associated with a policy based on series/sieve method to derive its confidence interval. When the target policy depends on the observed data as well, we propose a SequentiAl Value Evaluation (SAVE) method to recursively update the estimated policy and its value estimator. As long as either the number of trajectories or the number of decision points diverges to infinity, we show that the proposed CI achieves nominal coverage even in cases where the optimal policy is not unique. Simulation studies are conducted to back up our theoretical findings. We apply the proposed method to a dataset from mobile health studies and find that reinforcement learning algorithms could help improve patient’s health status. A Python implementation of the proposed procedure is available at

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  7. Abstract

    Convergent paired electrolysis combines both anodic and cathodic reactions simultaneously in an electrochemical transformation. It provides a highly energy‐efficient and divergent approach to conventionally challenging and useful structures. However, the physical separation of the two half‐electrode reactions makes it extremely difficult to couple the intermediates arising from the two electrodes. In this concept article, four strategies used in convergent paired electrolysis will be discussed from the perspective of the reaction mechanism: a) metal‐catalyzed convergent paired electrolysis, b) convergent paired electrolysis enabled by persistent radical effects, c) microfluidic chemistry applied to convergent paired electrolysis, and d) alternating current electrolysis.

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