How to switch a master switch
- The crystal structure of a nucleotide exchange factor in white blood cells reveals an autoinhibitory mechanism that reinforces the switch-like behaviour of the signalling protein Ras.
Research organism: Human
Combined transcript, proteome, and metabolite analysis of transgenic maize seeds engineered for enhanced carotenoid synthesis reveals pleotropic effects in core metabolism
- The aim of this study was to assess whether endosperm-specific carotenoid biosynthesis influenced core metabolic processes in maize embryo and endosperm and how global seed metabolism adapted to this expanded biosynthetic capacity. Although enhancement of carotenoid biosynthesis was targeted to the endosperm of maize kernels, a concurrent up-regulation of sterol and fatty acid biosynthesis in the embryo was measured. Targeted terpenoid analysis, and non-targeted metabolomic, proteomic, and transcriptomic profiling revealed changes especially in carbohydrate metabolism in the transgenic line. In-depth analysis of the data, including changes of metabolite pools and increased enzyme and transcript concentrations, gave a first insight into the metabolic variation precipitated by the higher up-stream metabolite demand by the extended biosynthesis capacities for terpenoids and fatty acids. An integrative model is put forward to explain the metabolic regulation for the increased provision of terpenoid and fatty acid precursors, particularly glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate and pyruvate or acetyl-CoA from imported fructose and glucose. The model was supported by higher activities of fructokinase, glucose 6-phosphate isomerase, and fructose 1,6-bisphosphate aldolase indicating a higher flux through the glycolytic pathway. Although pyruvate and acetyl-CoA utilization was higher in the engineered line, pyruvate kinase activity was lower. A sufficient provision of both metabolites may be supported by a by-pass in a reaction sequence involving phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase, malate dehydrogenase, and malic enzyme.
Forests, savannas, and grasslands: bridging the knowledge gap between ecology and dynamic global vegetation models
Stefan C. Dekker
Peter M. van Bodegom
Steven I. Higgins
Christian H. Reick
Miguel Ángel de Zavala
- The forest, savanna, and grassland biomes, and the transitions between them, are expected to undergo major changes in the future due to global climate change. Dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs) are very useful for understanding vegetation dynamics under the present climate, and for predicting its changes under future conditions. However, several DGVMs display high uncertainty in predicting vegetation in tropical areas. Here we perform a comparative analysis of three different DGVMs (JSBACH, LPJ-GUESS-SPITFIRE and aDGVM) with regard to their representation of the ecological mechanisms and feedbacks that determine the forest, savanna, and grassland biomes, in an attempt to bridge the knowledge gap between ecology and global modeling. The outcomes of the models, which include different mechanisms, are compared to observed tree cover along a mean annual precipitation gradient in Africa. By drawing on the large number of recent studies that have delivered new insights into the ecology of tropical ecosystems in general, and of savannas in particular, we identify two main mechanisms that need improved representation in the examined DGVMs. The first mechanism includes water limitation to tree growth, and tree–grass competition for water, which are key factors in determining savanna presence in arid and semi-arid areas. The second is a grass–fire feedback, which maintains both forest and savanna presence in mesic areas. Grasses constitute the majority of the fuel load, and at the same time benefit from the openness of the landscape after fires, since they recover faster than trees. Additionally, these two mechanisms are better represented when the models also include tree life stages (adults and seedlings), and distinguish between fire-prone and shade-tolerant forest trees, and fire-resistant and shade-intolerant savanna trees. Including these basic elements could improve the predictive ability of the DGVMs, not only under current climate conditions but also and especially under future scenarios.
Zur funktionellen Rolle von A-Typ Kaliumkanälen und deren β-Untereinheit KChIP4 in dopaminergen Mittelhirnneuronen der Maus
The influence of interspecific interactions on species range expansion rates
Robert D. Holt
Frank M. Schurr
Katja H. Schiffers
Thomas C. Edwards
Steven I. Higgins
Julia E. M. S. Nabel
- Ongoing and predicted global change makes understanding and predicting species’ range shifts an urgent scientific priority. Here, we provide a synthetic perspective on the so far poorly understood effects of interspecific interactions on range expansion rates. We present theoretical foundations for how interspecific interactions may modulate range expansion rates, consider examples from empirical studies of biological invasions and natural range expansions as well as process-based simulations, and discuss how interspecific interactions can be more broadly represented in process-based, spatiotemporally explicit range forecasts. Theory tells us that interspecific interactions affect expansion rates via alteration of local population growth rates and spatial displacement rates, but also via effects on other demographic parameters. The best empirical evidence for interspecific effects on expansion rates comes from studies of biological invasions. Notably, invasion studies indicate that competitive dominance and release from specialized enemies can enhance expansion rates. Studies of natural range expansions especially point to the potential for competition from resident species to reduce expansion rates. Overall, it is clear that interspecific interactions may have important consequences for range dynamics, but also that their effects have received too little attention to robustly generalize on their importance. We then discuss how interspecific interactions effects can be more widely incorporated in dynamic modeling of range expansions. Importantly, models must describe spatiotemporal variation in both local population dynamics and dispersal. Finally, we derive the following guidelines for when it is particularly important to explicitly represent interspecific interactions in dynamic range expansion forecasts: if most interacting species show correlated spatial or temporal trends in their effects on the target species, if the number of interacting species is low, and if the abundance of one or more strongly interacting species is not closely linked to the abundance of the target species.
The association of late-acting snoRNPs with human pre-ribosomal complexes requires the RNA helicase DDX21
Katherine E. Sloan
Matthias S. Leisegang
Ana S. Ramírez
Nicholas J. Watkins
Markus T. Bohnsack
- Translation fidelity and efficiency require multiple ribosomal (r)RNA modifications that are mostly mediated by small nucleolar (sno)RNPs during ribosome production. Overlapping basepairing of snoRNAs with pre-rRNAs often necessitates sequential and efficient association and dissociation of the snoRNPs, however, how such hierarchy is established has remained unknown so far. Here, we identify several late-acting snoRNAs that bind pre-40S particles in human cells and show that their association and function in pre-40S complexes is regulated by the RNA helicase DDX21. We map DDX21 crosslinking sites on pre-rRNAs and show their overlap with the basepairing sites of the affected snoRNAs. While DDX21 activity is required for recruitment of the late-acting snoRNAs SNORD56 and SNORD68, earlier snoRNAs are not affected by DDX21 depletion. Together, these observations provide an understanding of the timing and ordered hierarchy of snoRNP action in pre-40S maturation and reveal a novel mode of regulation of snoRNP function by an RNA helicase in human cells.
Disentangling the relationship of the Australian marsupial orders using retrotransposon and evolutionary network analyses
Maria A. Nilsson
- The ancestors to the Australian marsupials entered Australia around 60 (54-72) million years ago from Antarctica, and radiated into the four living orders Peramelemorphia, Dasyuromorphia, Diprotodontia and Notoryctemorphia. The relationship between the four Australian marsupial orders has been a long-standing question, because different phylogenetic studies were not able to consistently reconstruct the same topology. Initial in silico analysis of the Tasmanian devil genome and experimental screening in the seven marsupial orders revealed 20 informative transposable element insertions for resolving the inter- and intraordinal relationships of Australian and South American orders. However, the retrotransposon insertions support three conflicting topologies regarding Peramelemorphia, Dasyuromorphia and Notoryctemorphia, indicating that the split between the three orders may be best understood as a network. This finding is supported by a phylogenetic re-analysis of nuclear gene sequences, using a consensus network approach that allows depicting hidden phylogenetic conflict, otherwise lost when forcing the data into a bifurcating tree. The consensus network analysis agrees with the transposable element analysis in that all possible topologies regarding Peramelemorphia, Dasyuromorphia, and Notoryctemorphia in a rooted four-taxon topology are equally well supported. In addition, retrotransposon insertion data supports the South American order Didelphimorphia being the sistergroup to all other living marsupial orders. The four Australian orders originated within three million years at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. The rapid divergences left conflicting phylogenetic information in the genome possibly generated by incomplete lineage sorting or introgressive hybridisation, leaving the relationship among Australian marsupial orders unresolvable as a bifurcating process million years later.
Validation of novel reference genes for reverse transcription quantitative real-time PCR in drought-stressed sugarcane
Roberta Lane de Oliveira Silva
Manassés Daniel Silva
José Ribamar Costa Ferreira Neto
Claudia Huerta de Nardi
Sabrina Moutinho Chabregas
William Lee Burnquist
Ana Maria Benko-Iseppon
Ederson Akio Kido
- One of the most challenging aspects of RT-qPCR data analysis is the identification of reliable reference genes. Ideally, they should be neither induced nor repressed under different experimental conditions. To date, few reference genes have been adequately studied for sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) using statistical approaches. In this work, six candidate genes (αTUB, GAPDH, H1, SAMDC, UBQ, and 25S rRNA) were tested for gene expression normalization of sugarcane root tissues from drought-tolerant and -sensitive accessions after continuous dehydration (24 h). By undergoing different approaches (GeNorm, NormFinder, and BestKeeper), it was shown that most of them could be used in combinations for normalization purposes, with the exception of SAMDC. Nevertheless three of them (H1, αTUB, and GAPDH) were considered the most reliable reference genes. Their suitability as reference genes validated the expression profiles of two targets (AS and PFPα1), related to SuperSAGE unitags, in agreement with results revealed by previous in silico analysis. The other two sugarcane unitags (ACC oxidase and PIP1-1), after salt stress (100 mM NaCl), presented their expressions validated in the same way. In conclusion, these reference genes will be useful for dissecting gene expression in sugarcane roots under abiotic stress, especially in transcriptomic studies using SuperSAGE or RNAseq approaches.
Bears in a forest of gene trees: phylogenetic inference is complicated by incomplete lineage sorting and gene flow
Verena E. Kutschera
Julia L. Rodi
Steven R. Fain
- Ursine bears are a mammalian subfamily that comprises six morphologically and ecologically distinct extant species. Previous phylogenetic analyses of concatenated nuclear genes could not resolve all relationships among bears, and appeared to conflict with the mitochondrial phylogeny. Evolutionary processes such as incomplete lineage sorting and introgression can cause gene tree discordance and complicate phylogenetic inferences, but are not accounted for in phylogenetic analyses of concatenated data. We generated a high-resolution data set of autosomal introns from several individuals per species and of Y-chromosomal markers. Incorporating intraspecific variability in coalescence-based phylogenetic and gene flow estimation approaches, we traced the genealogical history of individual alleles. Considerable heterogeneity among nuclear loci and discordance between nuclear and mitochondrial phylogenies were found. A species tree with divergence time estimates indicated that ursine bears diversified within less than 2 My. Consistent with a complex branching order within a clade of Asian bear species, we identified unidirectional gene flow from Asian black into sloth bears. Moreover, gene flow detected from brown into American black bears can explain the conflicting placement of the American black bear in mitochondrial and nuclear phylogenies. These results highlight that both incomplete lineage sorting and introgression are prominent evolutionary forces even on time scales up to several million years. Complex evolutionary patterns are not adequately captured by strictly bifurcating models, and can only be fully understood when analyzing multiple independently inherited loci in a coalescence framework. Phylogenetic incongruence among gene trees hence needs to be recognized as a biologically meaningful signal.
Contrasting taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity responses to forest modifications: comparisons of taxa and successive plant life stages in South african scarp forest
Eike Lena Neuschulz
- The degradation of natural forests to modified forests threatens subtropical and tropical biodiversity worldwide. Yet, species responses to forest modification vary considerably. Furthermore, effects of forest modification can differ, whether with respect to diversity components (taxonomic or phylogenetic) or to local (α-diversity) and regional (β-diversity) spatial scales. This real-world complexity has so far hampered our understanding of subtropical and tropical biodiversity patterns in human-modified forest landscapes. In a subtropical South African forest landscape, we studied the responses of three successive plant life stages (adult trees, saplings, seedlings) and of birds to five different types of forest modification distinguished by the degree of within-forest disturbance and forest loss. Responses of the two taxa differed markedly. Thus, the taxonomic α-diversity of birds was negatively correlated with the diversity of all plant life stages and, contrary to plant diversity, increased with forest disturbance. Conversely, forest disturbance reduced the phylogenetic α-diversity of all plant life stages but not that of birds. Forest loss neither affected taxonomic nor phylogenetic diversity of any taxon. On the regional scale, taxonomic but not phylogenetic β-diversity of both taxa was well predicted by variation in forest disturbance and forest loss. In contrast to adult trees, the phylogenetic diversity of saplings and seedlings showed signs of contemporary environmental filtering. In conclusion, forest modification in this subtropical landscape strongly shaped both local and regional biodiversity but with contrasting outcomes. Phylogenetic diversity of plants may be more threatened than that of mobile species such as birds. The reduced phylogenetic diversity of saplings and seedlings suggests losses in biodiversity that are not visible in adult trees, potentially indicating time-lags and contemporary shifts in forest regeneration. The different responses of taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity to forest modifications imply that biodiversity conservation in this subtropical landscape requires the preservation of natural and modified forests.