The evolution of the ribosome biogenesis pathway from a yeast perspective
Matthias S. Leisegang
Arndt von Haeseler
Markus T. Bohnsack
- Ribosome biogenesis is fundamental for cellular life, but surprisingly little is known about the underlying pathway. In eukaryotes a comprehensive collection of experimentally verified ribosome biogenesis factors (RBFs) exists only for Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Far less is known for other fungi, animals or plants, and insights are even more limited for archaea. Starting from 255 yeast RBFs, we integrated ortholog searches, domain architecture comparisons and, in part, manual curation to investigate the inventories of RBF candidates in 261 eukaryotes, 26 archaea and 57 bacteria. The resulting phylogenetic profiles reveal the evolutionary ancestry of the yeast pathway. The oldest core comprising 20 RBF lineages dates back to the last universal common ancestor, while the youngest 20 factors are confined to the Saccharomycotina. On this basis, we outline similarities and differences of ribosome biogenesis across contemporary species. Archaea, so far a rather uncharted domain, possess 38 well-supported RBF candidates of which some are known to form functional sub-complexes in yeast. This provides initial evidence that ribosome biogenesis in eukaryotes and archaea follows similar principles. Within eukaryotes, RBF repertoires vary considerably. A comparison of yeast and human reveals that lineage-specific adaptation via RBF exclusion and addition characterizes the evolution of this ancient pathway.
The phylogeny of the genus Gazella and the phylogeography and population genetics of arabian species
- Biodiversity is caused by a fundamental evolutionary process: speciation. When species can spread into new habitats and are allowed to colonize new ecological niches, speciation can become accelerated and is then called radiation. This can happen, e.g., when formerly separated land masses become connected. A prime example of such a scenario is the Arabian Peninsula that connects Africa and Asia since the Oligocene (approx. 30 Ma ago). Since then, the peninsula promoted several faunal exchanges between both continents. The mammalian genus Gazella is an excellent candidate for investigating this faunal exchange. Species are distributed on both, the African and Asian continent as well as on the Arabian Peninsula that is located in between. The aim of my thesis was to cast new light on the evolution and speciation of the genus and, furthermore, to evaluate the currently problematic taxonomy to infer suggestions for improved conservation actions for threatened gazelle species. Therefore, I investigated the taxon Gazella genetically and identified factors that promoted the speciation of this diverse genus. I assessed intraspecific genetic variability for species that inhabited the Arabian Peninsula to infer the past demography of those species and to estimate the history of species divergence and past population parameters.
In the first part of my thesis I inferred a mitochondrial phylogeny based on cytochrome b gene sequences using samples of all nine extant species of Gazella and also of closely related taxa (chapter 2). Besides the monophyly of the genus Gazella two reciprocally monophyletic clades were detected that evolved in allopatry: one predominantly African and one predominantly Asian clade. Within both clades species pairs could be inferred with species being ecologically adapted to different habitats: one species is a desert-dweller (probably the ancestral character state combination), while the other one is adapted to rather mountainous and humid habitats. These adaptations also correlate with the behavior of the species with the mountainous forms being sedentary, territorial and living in small groups and the desert forms being migratory, non-territorial and living in larger herds.
The second part of my thesis focuses on the Arabian gazelle species. In a study about G. subgutturosa I could show that the Arabian form G. marica (sand gazelle)—previously recognized as a subspecies of G. subgutturosa—is genetically distinct from the nominate form (chapter 3). Moreover, a phylogenetic tree based on cytochrome b gene sequences revealed a polyphyly of G. subgutturosa and G. marica with sand gazelles being more closely related to G. leptoceros and G. cuvieri of North Africa. Consequently, I suggested the restoration to full species level for G. marica corroborating earlier conservation practices of breeding both taxa separately in captivity.
In case of G. dorcas such a genetic differentiation could not be detected (chapter 4). Despite the large distribution range from Mali in the west to Saudi Arabia in the east only low genetic variation was detectable in mitochondrial sequence data. Statistically parsimony network analyses revealed pronounced haplotype sharing across regions. Using a coalescence approach I observed a steep population decline that started about 25,000 years ago and which is still ongoing. The decline could be correlated with human hunting activities in the Sahara. Hence, hunting of G. dorcas (already in ancient times) had a much larger impact on gazelle populations than previously thought and even led to the extinction of the Arabian form of G. dorcas.
In chapter 5 of my thesis I provided a rigorous test to genetically distinguish between the potential species G. gazella and G. arabica. Previously recognized as a single species mitochondrial sequence analyses provided first hints for the separation of both taxa. But without the investigation of nuclear loci the observed pattern could also be the result of male biased dispersal combined with female philopatry. Therefore, I amplified mitochondrial sequence markers and nuclear microsatellite loci for both taxa and found support for the earlier view of two separate species. No signs of recurrent gene flow could be detected between neighboring populations of G. arabica and G. gazella. The split of both species could be estimated one million years ago and the recommendation of breeding both taxa separately in captivity for conservation purposes is fully justified.
Several populations of G. arabica suffer from a severe decline. In chapter 6 I asked whether the population occurring on the Farasan archipelago—being at stable individual numbers for decades—may serve as potential source for future reintroduction on the Arabian mainland, although the gazelles show a reduced body size. Analyzing the genetic differentiation of Farasan gazelles, a genetic cluster could be inferred being endemic to the archipelago. However, only approx. 70% of Farasan individuals were assigned to this specific cluster, while the others showed at least intermediate or even complete assignment to the mainland cluster. This indicates ongoing introgression that is probably mediated by human translocations of gazelles from and onto the islands. Considering the uniform dwarfism of Farasan gazelles, reasons for the smaller body size might be direct consequences of resource limitations, i.e., phenotypic plasticity. If the population decline on the mainland will hold on Farasan gazelles could serve as stocks for future reintroductions.
Development of β-Lactamase as a Tool for Monitoring Conditional Gene Expression by a Tetracycline-Riboswitch in Methanosarcina acetivorans
Miriam M. Geist
Julia E. Weigand
- The use of reporter gene fusions to assess cellular processes such as protein targeting and regulation of transcription or translation is established technology in archaeal, bacterial, and eukaryal genetics. Fluorescent proteins or enzymes resulting in chromogenic substrate turnover, like β -galactosidase, have been particularly useful for microscopic and screening purposes. However, application of such methodology is of limited use for strictly anaerobic organisms due to the requirement of molecular oxygen for chromophore formation or color development. We have developed β -lactamase from Escherichia coli (encoded by bla) in conjunction with the chromogenic substrate nitrocefin into a reporter system usable under anaerobic conditions for the methanogenic archaeon Methanosarcina acetivorans. By using a signal peptide of a putative flagellin from M. acetivorans and different catabolic promoters, we could demonstrate growth substrate-dependent secretion of β -lactamase, facilitating its use in colony screening on agar plates. Furthermore, a series of fusions comprised of a constitutive promoter and sequences encoding variants of the synthetic tetracycline-responsive riboswitch (tc-RS) was created to characterize its influence on translation initiation in M. acetivorans. One tc-RS variant resulted in more than 11-fold tetracycline-dependent regulation of bla expression, which is in the range of regulation by naturally occurring riboswitches. Thus, tc-RS fusions represent the first solely cis-active, that is, factor-independent system for controlled gene expression in Archaea.
Are accessory hearing structures linked to inner ear morphology? Insights from 3D orientation patterns of ciliary bundles in three cichlid species
Brian D. Metscher
- Background: Cichlid fishes show considerable diversity in swim bladder morphology. In members of the subfamily Etroplinae, the connection between anterior swim bladder extensions and the inner ears enhances sound transmission and translates into an improved hearing ability. We tested the hypothesis that those swim bladder modifications coincide with differences in inner ear morphology and thus compared Steatocranus tinanti (vestigial swim bladder), Hemichromis guttatus (large swim bladder without extensions), and Etroplus maculatus (intimate connection between swim bladder and inner ears). Methodology and results We applied immunostaining together with confocal imaging and scanning electron microscopy for the investigation of sensory epithelia, and high-resolution, contrast-enhanced microCT imaging for characterizing inner ears in 3D, and evaluated otolith dimensions. Compared to S. tinanti and H. guttatus, inner ears of E. maculatus showed an enlargement of all three maculae, and a particularly large lacinia of the macula utriculi. While our analysis of orientation patterns of ciliary bundles on the three macula types using artificially flattened maculae uncovered rather similar orientation patterns of ciliary bundles, interspecific differences became apparent when illustrating the orientation patterns on the 3D models of the maculae: differences in the shape and curvature of the lacinia of the macula utriculi, and the anterior arm of the macula lagenae resulted in an altered arrangement of ciliary bundles.
Conclusions: Our results imply that improved audition in E. maculatus is associated not only with swim bladder modifications but also with altered inner ear morphology. However, not all modifications in E. maculatus could be connected to enhanced auditory abilities, and so a potential improvement of the vestibular sense, among others, also needs to be considered. Our study highlights the value of analyzing orientation patterns of ciliary bundles in their intact 3D context in studies of inner ear morphology and physiology.
Magnetoreception: activated cryptochrome 1a concurs with magnetic orientation in birds
- The radical pair model proposes that the avian magnetic compass is based on radical pair processes in the eye, with cryptochrome, a flavoprotein, suggested as receptor molecule. Cryptochrome 1a (Cry1a) is localized at the discs of the outer segments of the UV/violet cones of European robins and chickens. Here, we show the activation characteristics of a bird cryptochrome in vivo under natural conditions. We exposed chickens for 30 min to different light regimes and analysed the amount of Cry1a labelled with an antiserum against an epitope at the C-terminus of this protein. The staining after exposure to sunlight and to darkness indicated that the antiserum labels only an illuminated, activated form of Cry1a. Exposure to narrow-bandwidth lights of various wavelengths revealed activated Cry1a at UV, blue and turquoise light. With green and yellow, the amount of activated Cry1a was reduced, and with red, as in the dark, no activated Cry1a was labelled. Activated Cry1a is thus found at all those wavelengths at which birds can orient using their magnetic inclination compass, supporting the role of Cry1a as receptor molecule. The observation that activated Cry1a and well-oriented behaviour occur at 565 nm green light, a wavelength not absorbed by the fully oxidized form of cryptochrome, suggests that a state other than the previously suggested Trp/FAD radical pair formed during photoreduction is crucial for detecting magnetic directions.
Novel three-dimensional in vitro models of ovarian endometriosis
Nagesh P. Rao
Simon A. Gayther
- Background: Endometriosis is characterized by the presence of functional endometrial tissue outside of the uterine cavity. It affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. This chronic condition commonly leads to consequences such as pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea, infertility and an elevated risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. Despite the prevalence of endometriosis and its impact on women's lives, there are relatively few in vitro and in vivo models available for studying the complex disease biology, pathophysiology, and for use in the preclinical development of novel therapies. The goal of this study was to develop a novel three-dimensional (3D) cell culture model of ovarian endometriosis and to test whether it is more reflective of endometriosis biology than traditional two dimensional (2D) monolayer cultures.
Methods: A novel ovarian endometriosis epithelial cell line (EEC16) was isolated from a 34-year old female with severe endometriosis. After characterization of cells using in vitro assays, western blotting and RNA-sequencing, this cell line and a second, already well characterized endometriosis cell line, EEC12Z, were established as in vitro 3D spheroid models. We compared biological features of 3D spheroids to 2D cultures and human endometriosis lesions using immunohistochemistry and real-time semi-quantitative PCR.
Results: In comparison to normal ovarian epithelial cells, EEC16 displayed features of neoplastic transformation in in vitro assays. When cultured in 3D, EEC16 and EEC12Z showed differential expression of endometriosis-associated genes compared to 2D monolayer cultures, and more closely mimicked the molecular and histological features of human endometriosis lesions.
Conclusions: To our knowledge, this represents the first report of an in vitro spheroid model of endometriosis. 3D endometriosis models represent valuable experimental tools for studying EEC biology and the development of novel therapeutic approaches.
Generation and Phenotyping of a Collection of sRNA Gene Deletion Mutants of the Haloarchaeon Haloferax volcanii
- The haloarchaeon Haloferax volcanii was shown to contain 145 intergenic and 45 antisense sRNAs. In a comprehensive approach to unravel various biological roles of haloarchaeal sRNAs in vivo, 27 sRNA genes were selected and deletion mutants were generated. The phenotypes of these mutants were compared to that of the parent strain under ten different conditions, i.e. growth on four different carbon sources, growth at three different salt concentrations, and application of four different stress conditions. In addition, cell morphologies in exponential and stationary phase were observed. Furthermore, swarming of 17 mutants was analyzed. 24 of the 27 mutants exhibited a difference from the parent strain under at least one condition, revealing that haloarchaeal sRNAs are involved in metabolic regulation, growth under extreme conditions, regulation of morphology and behavior, and stress adaptation. Notably, 7 deletion mutants showed a gain of function phenotype, which has not yet been described for any other prokaryotic sRNA gene deletion mutant. Comparison of the transcriptomes of one sRNA gene deletion mutant and the parent strain led to the identification of differentially expressed genes. Genes for flagellins and chemotaxis were up-regulated in the mutant, in accordance with its gain of function swarming phenotype. While the deletion mutant analysis underscored that haloarchaeal sRNAs are involved in many biological functions, the degree of conservation is extremely low. Only 3 of the 27 genes are conserved in more than 10 haloarchaeal species. 22 of the 27 genes are confined to H. volcanii, indicating a fast evolution of haloarchaeal sRNA genes.
openSNP–A Crowdsourced Web Resource for Personal Genomics
Philipp E. Bayer
- Genome-Wide Association Studies are widely used to correlate phenotypic traits with genetic variants. These studies usually compare the genetic variation between two groups to single out certain Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) that are linked to a phenotypic variation in one of the groups. However, it is necessary to have a large enough sample size to find statistically significant correlations. Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) genetic testing can supply additional data: DTC-companies offer the analysis of a large amount of SNPs for an individual at low cost without the need to consult a physician or geneticist. Over 100,000 people have already been genotyped through Direct-To-Consumer genetic testing companies. However, this data is not public for a variety of reasons and thus cannot be used in research. It seems reasonable to create a central open data repository for such data. Here we present the web platform openSNP, an open database which allows participants of Direct-To-Consumer genetic testing to publish their genetic data at no cost along with phenotypic information. Through this crowdsourced effort of collecting genetic and phenotypic information, openSNP has become a resource for a wide area of studies, including Genome-Wide Association Studies. openSNP is hosted at http://www.opensnp.org, and the code is released under MIT-license at http://github.com/gedankenstuecke/snpr.
Neonicotinoids Interfere with Specific Components of Navigation in Honeybees
- Three neonicotinoids, imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiacloprid, agonists of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in the central brain of insects, were applied at non-lethal doses in order to test their effects on honeybee navigation. A catch-and-release experimental design was applied in which feeder trained bees were caught when arriving at the feeder, treated with one of the neonicotinoids, and released 1.5 hours later at a remote site. The flight paths of individual bees were tracked with harmonic radar. The initial flight phase controlled by the recently acquired navigation memory (vector memory) was less compromised than the second phase that leads the animal back to the hive (homing flight). The rate of successful return was significantly lower in treated bees, the probability of a correct turn at a salient landscape structure was reduced, and less directed flights during homing flights were performed. Since the homing phase in catch-and-release experiments documents the ability of a foraging honeybee to activate a remote memory acquired during its exploratory orientation flights, we conclude that non-lethal doses of the three neonicotinoids tested either block the retrieval of exploratory navigation memory or alter this form of navigation memory. These findings are discussed in the context of the application of neonicotinoids in plant protection.
BMPs control postnatal dendrite growth and complexity in sympathetic neurons / von Afsaneh Majdazari