Biologische Hochschulschriften (Goethe-Universität)
Generation and physiological roles of linear ubiquitin chains
- Ubiquitination now ranks with phosphorylation as one of the best-studied post-translational modifications of proteins with broad regulatory roles across all of biology. Ubiquitination usually involves the addition of ubiquitin chains to target protein molecules, and these may be of eight different types, seven of which involve the linkage of one of the seven internal lysine (K) residues in one ubiquitin molecule to the carboxy-terminal diglycine of the next. In the eighth, the so-called linear ubiquitin chains, the linkage is between the amino-terminal amino group of methionine on a ubiquitin that is conjugated with a target protein and the carboxy-terminal carboxy group of the incoming ubiquitin. Physiological roles are well established for K48-linked chains, which are essential for signaling proteasomal degradation of proteins, and for K63-linked chains, which play a part in recruitment of DNA repair enzymes, cell signaling and endocytosis. We focus here on linear ubiquitin chains, how they are assembled, and how three different avenues of research have indicated physiological roles for linear ubiquitination in innate and adaptive immunity and suppression of inflammation.
Optical mapping as a routine tool for bacterial genome sequence finishing
Barry S. Goldman
Helge Björn Bode
- Background: In sequencing the genomes of two Xenorhabdus species, we encountered a large number of sequence repeats and assembly anomalies that stalled finishing efforts. This included a stretch of about 12 Kb that is over 99.9% identical between the plasmid and chromosome of X. nematophila.
Results: Whole genome restriction maps of the sequenced strains were produced through optical mapping technology. These maps allowed rapid resolution of sequence assembly problems, permitted closing of the genome, and allowed correction of a large inversion in a genome assembly that we had considered finished.
Conclusion: Our experience suggests that routine use of optical mapping in bacterial genome sequence finishing is warranted. When combined with data produced through 454 sequencing, an optical map can rapidly and inexpensively generate an ordered and oriented set of contigs to produce a nearly complete genome sequence assembly.
Structural analysis of SHARPIN, a subunit of a large multi-protein E3 ubiquitin ligase, reveals a novel dimerization function for the pleckstrin homology superfold
Lesley F. Haire
- SHARPIN (SHANK-associated RH domain interacting protein) is part of a large multi-protein E3 ubiquitin ligase complex called LUBAC (linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex), which catalyzes the formation of linear ubiquitin chains and regulates immune and apoptopic signaling pathways. The C-terminal half of SHARPIN contains ubiquitin-like domain and Npl4-zinc finger domains that mediate the interaction with the LUBAC subunit HOIP and ubiquitin, respectively. In contrast, the N-terminal region does not show any homology with known protein interaction domains but has been suggested to be responsible for self-association of SHARPIN, presumably via a coiled-coil region. We have determined the crystal structure of the N-terminal portion of SHARPIN, which adopts the highly conserved pleckstrin homology superfold that is often used as a scaffold to create protein interaction modules. We show that in SHARPIN, this domain does not appear to be used as a ligand recognition domain because it lacks many of the surface properties that are present in other pleckstrin homology fold-based interaction modules. Instead, it acts as a dimerization module extending the functional applications of this superfold.
Nephronectin regulates atrioventricular canal differentiation via Bmp4-Has2 signaling in zebrafish
Machteld J. van Amerongen
Felix B. Engel
- The extracellular matrix is crucial for organogenesis. It is a complex and dynamic component that regulates cell behavior by modulating the activity, bioavailability and presentation of growth factors to cell surface receptors. Here, we determined the role of the extracellular matrix protein Nephronectin (Npnt) in heart development using the zebrafish model system. The vertebrate heart is formed as a linear tube in which myocardium and endocardium are separated by a layer of extracellular matrix termed the cardiac jelly. During heart development, the cardiac jelly swells at the atrioventricular (AV) canal, which precedes valve formation. Here, we show that Npnt expression correlates with this process. Morpholino-mediated knockdown of Npnt prevents proper valve leaflet formation and trabeculation and results in greater than 85% lethality at 7 days post-fertilization. The earliest observed phenotype is an extended tube-like structure at the AV boundary. In addition, the expression of myocardial genes involved in cardiac valve formation (cspg2, fibulin 1, tbx2b, bmp4) is expanded and endocardial cells along the extended tube-like structure exhibit characteristics of AV cells (has2, notch1b and Alcam expression, cuboidal cell shape). Inhibition of has2 in npnt morphants rescues the endocardial, but not the myocardial, expansion. By contrast, reduction of BMP signaling in npnt morphants reduces the ectopic expression of myocardial and endocardial AV markers. Taken together, our results identify Npnt as a novel upstream regulator of Bmp4-Has2 signaling that plays a crucial role in AV canal differentiation.
Expansion of CORE-SINEs in the genome of the Tasmanian devil
Maria A. Nilsson
Elizabeth P. Murchison
Björn M. Hallström
- Background: The genome of the carnivorous marsupial, the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii, Order: Dasyuromorphia), was sequenced in the hopes of finding a cure for or gaining a better understanding of the contagious devil facial tumor disease that is threatening the species’ survival. To better understand the Tasmanian devil genome, we screened it for transposable elements and investigated the dynamics of short interspersed element (SINE) retroposons.
Results: The temporal history of Tasmanian devil SINEs, elucidated using a transposition in transposition analysis, indicates that WSINE1, a CORE-SINE present in around 200,000 copies, is the most recently active element. Moreover, we discovered a new subtype of WSINE1 (WSINE1b) that comprises at least 90% of all Tasmanian devil WSINE1s. The frequencies of WSINE1 subtypes differ in the genomes of two of the other Australian marsupial orders. A co-segregation analysis indicated that at least 66 subfamilies of WSINE1 evolved during the evolution of Dasyuromorphia. Using a substitution rate derived from WSINE1 insertions, the ages of the subfamilies were estimated and correlated with a newly established phylogeny of Dasyuromorphia. Phylogenetic analyses and divergence time estimates of mitochondrial genome data indicate a rapid radiation of the Tasmanian devil and the closest relative the quolls (Dasyurus) around 14 million years ago.
Conclusions: The radiation and abundance of CORE-SINEs in marsupial genomes indicates that they may be a major player in the evolution of marsupials. It is evident that the early phases of evolution of the carnivorous marsupial order Dasyuromorphia was characterized by a burst of SINE activity. A correlation between a speciation event and a major burst of retroposon activity is for the first time shown in a marsupial genome.
Coordinated optimization of visual cortical maps : 1. Symmetry-based analysis
Justin C. Crowley
- In the primary visual cortex of primates and carnivores, functional architecture can be characterized by maps of various stimulus features such as orientation preference (OP), ocular dominance (OD), and spatial frequency. It is a long-standing question in theoretical neuroscience whether the observed maps should be interpreted as optima of a specific energy functional that summarizes the design principles of cortical functional architecture. A rigorous evaluation of this optimization hypothesis is particularly demanded by recent evidence that the functional architecture of orientation columns precisely follows species invariant quantitative laws. Because it would be desirable to infer the form of such an optimization principle from the biological data, the optimization approach to explain cortical functional architecture raises the following questions: i) What are the genuine ground states of candidate energy functionals and how can they be calculated with precision and rigor? ii) How do differences in candidate optimization principles impact on the predicted map structure and conversely what can be learned about a hypothetical underlying optimization principle from observations on map structure? iii) Is there a way to analyze the coordinated organization of cortical maps predicted by optimization principles in general? To answer these questions we developed a general dynamical systems approach to the combined optimization of visual cortical maps of OP and another scalar feature such as OD or spatial frequency preference. From basic symmetry assumptions we obtain a comprehensive phenomenological classification of possible inter-map coupling energies and examine representative examples. We show that each individual coupling energy leads to a different class of OP solutions with different correlations among the maps such that inferences about the optimization principle from map layout appear viable. We systematically assess whether quantitative laws resembling experimental observations can result from the coordinated optimization of orientation columns with other feature maps.
Gravierende Veränderungen in der submersen Makrophytenvegetation der Alten Fahrt bei Senden in Westfalen
- Die Makrophytenvegetation eines stillgelegten Kanalabschnittes ("Alte Fahrt") bei Senden in Westfalen hat sich seit Beginn der 90er Jahre drastisch verändert. Aus einem typischen Potamogetonetum lucentis sind Reinbestände von Myriophyllum spicatum geworden, denen stellenweise Ceratophyllum demersum beigemischt ist. Die Ursachen für diese gravierenden Vegetationsveränderungen sind nicht klar. Da es sich um einen der bedeutendsten westfälischen Standorte des Potamogetonetum lucentis, einer in Nordrhein-Westfalen stark gefährdeten Pflanzengesellschaft, handelte, sind weiterführende Untersuchungen und Versuche zur Wiederansiedlung zu fordern.
Zur Flora des Wippertales in der Umgebung von Wippra (MTB 4433)
- Der Botanische Verein Sachsen-Anhalt e. V. und der Botanische Arbeitskreis Nordharz e. V. führten vom 7.–9.9.2012 eine gemeinsame Kartierungsexkursion im Wippertal durch. Näher betrachtet wurde die Umgebung von Wippra. Es wurde der Grundbestand des Sommer- und Spätsommeraspektes in vier Viertelquadranten entlang der Wipper, von der Wippertalsperre flussabwärts erfasst. Die Aufstellung enthält Funde geschützter, gefährdeter und seltener Arten sowie bemerkenswerten Neophyten und Adventivpflanzen. Alle Funde beziehen sich auf das Messtischblatt 4433 (Wippra). Den Fundorten ist daher nur die Nummer des Viertelquadranten vorangestellt worden. Die Kartierung erfolgte nur an einem Tag. Es wurden insgesamt knapp 550 Arten aktuell für die vier Viertelquadranten nachgewiesen. Am zweiten Exkursionstag besuchten die Teilnehmer das Biosphärenreservat Karstlandschaft Südharz. Die Bestimmung und Nomenklatur folgen ROTHMALER (2007 bzw. 2011).
Biodiversity Islands in the Savanna – Analysis of the Phytodiversity on Termite Mounds in Northern Benin
- Termite mounds represent abundant microhabitats of high biodiversity in tropical savanna ecosystems and are an important source of landscape heterogeneity in Sub–Saharan West Africa. Floristic composition as well as density, structure and zonation of plant cover on the mounds were investigated in northern Benin and compared to the adjacent savanna vegetation. A total of 57 abandoned and densely vegetated termite mounds of comparable size and similarly affected by erosion located in different types of savannas inside and outside of the W National Park and in cotton fields were studied. This study revealed that termitaria are special habitats differing in density, composition and structure from surrounding savannas. The plant cover of termite mounds showed a distinctive zonation. Succulents, geophytes, and lianas were much more abundant on mounds, the family Capparaceae was found exclusively on mounds. The floristic composition and vegetation on termitaria proved to be rather homogeneous; although those mounds located in cotton fields differed by higher abundance of Poaceae and lower species richness.
The estimation of aboveground biomass and nutrient pools of understorey plants in closed Norway spruce forests and on clearcuts
- The estimation model PhytoCalc allows a non-destructive quantification of dry weight and nutrient pools of understorey plants in forests by using the relationship between species biomass, cover and mean shoot length. The model has been validated with independent samples in several German forest types and can be a useful tool in forest monitoring. However, in open areas within forests (e.g. clearcuts), the current model version underestimates biomass and produces unreliable nutrient pool estimations. Thus, tissue density, as approximated by leaf dry matter content (LDMC), is systematically higher under high light compared to low light conditions. We demonstrate that the ratio of LDMC under clearcut conditions to LDMC under forest conditions can be used to adjust the PhytoCalc model to clearcut conditions. We investigated the LDMC ratio of five exemplary species commonly occurring on clearcuts. Integrating the square of the ratio as a correction factor improved estimates of biomass to more than 70% fit between observations and predictions. Results also suggest this ratio can be used to correct nutrient concentrations modelled in PhytoCalc, which tend to be overestimated in clearcuts. As morphological groups of plant species exhibit significantly different ratios, we advise using group-specific correction factors for clearcut adjustments in the future.