Recent investigations into the evolution of deuterostomes and the origin of chordates have paid considerable attention to hemichordates (acorn worms), as hemichordates and echinoderms are the closest chordate relatives. The present study prepared cDNA libraries from Ptychodera flava, to study expression and function of genes involved in development of the hemichordate body plan. Expressed sequence tag (EST) analyses of nine cDNA libraries yielded 18,832 cloned genes expressed in eggs, 18,739 in blastulae, 18,539 in gastrulae, 18,811 in larvae, 18,978 in juveniles, 11,802 in adult proboscis, 17,259 in stomochord, 11,886 in gills, and 11,580 in liver, respectively. A set of 34,159 uni-gene clones of P. flava was obtained. This cDNA resource will be valuable for studying temporal and spatial expression of acorn worm genes during development.
Several thermophilic hydrogenotrophic methanogens naturally aggregate in their habitats in association with hydrogen-producing bacteria for efficient transfer of the methane fermentation intermediates to produce methane. However, physiology of aggregation and the identity of aggregation-specific genes remain to be elucidated. Here, we isolated and characterized a hydrogen and formate-utilizing Methanothermobacter sp. CaT2 that is capable of self-aggregation and utilizing formate. CaT2 produced methane from propionate oxidation in association with a syntrophic propionate-oxidizing bacterium faster than other methanogens, including Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus ?H and Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus?Z-245. CaT2 also aggregated throughout the culture period and was coated with polysaccharides, which was not found on the ?H and Z-245 cells. Sugar content (particularly of rhamnose and mannose) was also higher in the CaT2 cells than the ?H and Z-245 cells. Comparative genomic analysis of CaT2 indicated that four candidate genes, all of which encode glycosyltransferase, were involved in aggregation of CaT2. Transcriptional analysis showed that one glycosyltransferase gene was expressed at relatively high levels under normal growth conditions. The polysaccharide layer on the CaT2 cell surface, which is probably assembled by these glycosyltransferases, may be involved in cell aggregation.
Although many de novo genome assembly projects have recently been conducted using high-throughput sequencers, assembling highly heterozygous diploid genomes is a substantial challenge due to the increased complexity of the de Bruijn graph structure predominantly used. To address the increasing demand for sequencing of nonmodel and/or wild-type samples, in most cases inbred lines or fosmid-based hierarchical sequencing methods are used to overcome such problems. However, these methods are costly and time consuming, forfeiting the advantages of massive parallel sequencing. Here, we describe a novel de novo assembler, Platanus, that can effectively manage high-throughput data from heterozygous samples. Platanus assembles DNA fragments (reads) into contigs by constructing de Bruijn graphs with automatically optimized k-mer sizes followed by the scaffolding of contigs based on paired-end information. The complicated graph structures that result from the heterozygosity are simplified during not only the contig assembly step but also the scaffolding step. We evaluated the assembly results on eukaryotic samples with various levels of heterozygosity. Compared with other assemblers, Platanus yields assembly results that have a larger scaffold NG50 length without any accompanying loss of accuracy in both simulated and real data. In addition, Platanus recorded the largest scaffold NG50 values for two of the three low-heterozygosity species used in the de novo assembly contest, Assemblathon 2. Platanus therefore provides a novel and efficient approach for the assembly of gigabase-sized highly heterozygous genomes and is an attractive alternative to the existing assemblers designed for genomes of lower heterozygosity.
Male and female, generally defined based on differences in gamete size and motility, likely have multiple independent origins, appearing to have evolved from isogamous organisms in various eukaryotic lineages. Recent studies of the gamete fusogen GCS1/HAP2 indicate that this protein is deeply conserved across eukaryotes, and its exclusive and/or functional expression generally resides in males or in male homologues. However, little is known regarding the conserved or primitive molecular traits of males and females within eukaryotes. Here, using morphologically indistinguishable isogametes of the colonial volvocine Gonium pectorale, we demonstrated that GCS1 is differently regulated between the sexes. G. pectorale GCS1 molecules in one sex (homologous to male) are transported from the gamete cytoplasm to the protruded fusion site, whereas those of the other sex (females) are quickly degraded within the cytoplasm upon gamete activation. This molecular trait difference might be conserved across various eukaryotic lineages and may represent male and female prototypes originating from a common eukaryotic ancestor.
Sex chromosomes harbour a primary sex-determining signal that triggers sexual development of the organism. However, diverse sex chromosome systems have been evolved in vertebrates. Here we use positional cloning to identify the sex-determining locus of a medaka-related fish, Oryzias dancena, and find that the locus on the Y chromosome contains a cis-regulatory element that upregulates neighbouring Sox3 expression in developing gonad. Sex-reversed phenotypes in Sox3(Y) transgenic fish, and Sox3(Y) loss-of-function mutants all point to its critical role in sex determination. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Sox3 initiates testicular differentiation by upregulating expression of downstream Gsdf, which is highly conserved in fish sex differentiation pathways. Our results not only provide strong evidence for the independent recruitment of Sox3 to male determination in distantly related vertebrates, but also provide direct evidence that a novel sex determination pathway has evolved through co-option of a transcriptional regulator potentially interacted with a conserved downstream component.
Sex chromosomes turn over rapidly in some taxonomic groups, where closely related species have different sex chromosomes. Although there are many examples of sex chromosome turnover, we know little about the functional roles of sex chromosome turnover in phenotypic diversification and genomic evolution. The sympatric pair of Japanese threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) provides an excellent system to address these questions: the Japan Sea species has a neo-sex chromosome system resulting from a fusion between an ancestral Y chromosome and an autosome, while the sympatric Pacific Ocean species has a simple XY sex chromosome system. Furthermore, previous quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping demonstrated that the Japan Sea neo-X chromosome contributes to phenotypic divergence and reproductive isolation between these sympatric species. To investigate the genomic basis for the accumulation of genes important for speciation on the neo-X chromosome, we conducted whole genome sequencing of males and females of both the Japan Sea and the Pacific Ocean species. No substantial degeneration has yet occurred on the neo-Y chromosome, but the nucleotide sequence of the neo-X and the neo-Y has started to diverge, particularly at regions near the fusion. The neo-sex chromosomes also harbor an excess of genes with sex-biased expression. Furthermore, genes on the neo-X chromosome showed higher non-synonymous substitution rates than autosomal genes in the Japan Sea lineage. Genomic regions of higher sequence divergence between species, genes with divergent expression between species, and QTL for inter-species phenotypic differences were found not only at the regions near the fusion site, but also at other regions along the neo-X chromosome. Neo-sex chromosomes can therefore accumulate substitutions causing species differences even in the absence of substantial neo-Y degeneration.
In vertebrate cells, centromeres are specified epigenetically through the deposition of the centromere-specific histone CENP-A. Following CENP-A deposition, additional proteins are assembled on centromeric chromatin. However, it remains unknown whether additional epigenetic features of centromeric chromatin are required for kinetochore assembly. Here, we used ChIP-seq analysis to examine centromere-specific histone modifications at chicken centromeres, which lack highly repetitive sequences. We found that H4K20 monomethylation (H4K20me1) is enriched at centromeres. Immunofluorescence and biochemical analyses revealed that H4K20me1 is present at all centromeres in chicken and human cells. Based on immunoprecipitation data, H4K20me1 occurs primarily on the histone H4 that is assembled as part of the CENP-A nucleosome following deposition of CENP-A into centromeres. Targeting the H4K20me1-specific demethylase PHF8 to centromeres reduces the level of H4K20me1 at centromeres and results in kinetochore assembly defects. We conclude that H4K20me1 modification of CENP-A nucleosomes contributes to functional kinetochore assembly.
Oryzias latipes (medaka) has been established as a vertebrate genetic model for more than a century and recently has been rediscovered outside its native Japan. The power of new sequencing methods now makes it possible to reinvigorate medaka genetics, in particular by establishing a near-isogenic panel derived from a single wild population. Here we characterize the genomes of wild medaka catches obtained from a single Southern Japanese population in Kiyosu as a precursor for the establishment of a near-isogenic panel of wild lines. The population is free of significant detrimental population structure and has advantageous linkage disequilibrium properties suitable for the establishment of the proposed panel. Analysis of morphometric traits in five representative inbred strains suggests phenotypic mapping will be feasible in the panel. In addition, high-throughput genome sequencing of these medaka strains confirms their evolutionary relationships on lines of geographic separation and provides further evidence that there has been little significant interbreeding between the Southern and Northern medaka population since the Southern/Northern population split. The sequence data suggest that the Southern Japanese medaka existed as a larger older population that went through a relatively recent bottleneck approximately 10,000 years ago. In addition, we detect patterns of recent positive selection in the Southern population. These data indicate that the genetic structure of the Kiyosu medaka samples is suitable for the establishment of a vertebrate near-isogenic panel and therefore inbreeding of 200 lines based on this population has commenced. Progress of this project can be tracked at http://www.ebi.ac.uk/birney-srv/medaka-ref-panel.
Inosine is an abundant RNA modification in the human transcriptome and is essential for many biological processes in modulating gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. Adenosine deaminases acting on RNA (ADARs) catalyze the hydrolytic deamination of adenosines to inosines (A-to-I editing) in double-stranded regions. We previously established a biochemical method called "inosine chemical erasing" (ICE) to directly identify inosines on RNA strands with high reliability. Here, we have applied the ICE method combined with deep sequencing (ICE-seq) to conduct an unbiased genome-wide screening of A-to-I editing sites in the transcriptome of human adult brain. Taken together with the sites identified by the conventional ICE method, we mapped 19,791 novel sites and newly found 1258 edited mRNAs, including 66 novel sites in coding regions, 41 of which cause altered amino acid assignment. ICE-seq detected novel editing sites in various repeat elements as well as in short hairpins. Gene ontology analysis revealed that these edited mRNAs are associated with transcription, energy metabolism, and neurological disorders, providing new insights into various aspects of human brain functions.
De novo microbial genome sequencing reached a turning point with third-generation sequencing (TGS) platforms, and several microbial genomes have been improved by TGS long reads. Bacillus subtilis natto is closely related to the laboratory standard strain B. subtilis Marburg 168, and it has a function in the production of the traditional Japanese fermented food "natto." The B. subtilis natto BEST195 genome was previously sequenced with short reads, but it included some incomplete regions. We resequenced the BEST195 genome using a PacBio RS sequencer, and we successfully obtained a complete genome sequence from one scaffold without any gaps, and we also applied Illumina MiSeq short reads to enhance quality. Compared with the previous BEST195 draft genome and Marburg 168 genome, we found that incomplete regions in the previous genome sequence were attributed to GC-bias and repetitive sequences, and we also identified some novel genes that are found only in the new genome.
Marine subsurface sediments on the Pacific margin harbor diverse microbial communities even at depths of several hundreds meters below the seafloor (mbsf) or more. Previous PCR-based molecular analysis showed the presence of diverse reductive dehalogenase gene (rdhA) homologs in marine subsurface sediment, suggesting that anaerobic respiration of organohalides is one of the possible energy-yielding pathways in the organic-rich sedimentary habitat. However, primer-independent molecular characterization of rdhA has remained to be demonstrated. Here, we studied the diversity and frequency of rdhA homologs by metagenomic analysis of five different depth horizons (0.8, 5.1, 18.6, 48.5, and 107.0 mbsf) at Site C9001 off the Shimokita Peninsula of Japan. From all metagenomic pools, remarkably diverse rdhA-homologous sequences, some of which are affiliated with novel clusters, were observed with high frequency. As a comparison, we also examined frequency of dissimilatory sulfite reductase genes (dsrAB), key functional genes for microbial sulfate reduction. The dsrAB were also widely observed in the metagenomic pools whereas the frequency of dsrAB genes was generally smaller than that of rdhA-homologous genes. The phylogenetic composition of rdhA-homologous genes was similar among the five depth horizons. Our metagenomic data revealed that subseafloor rdhA homologs are more diverse than previously identified from PCR-based molecular studies. Spatial distribution of similar rdhA homologs across wide depositional ages indicates that the heterotrophic metabolic processes mediated by the genes can be ecologically important, functioning in the organic-rich subseafloor sedimentary biosphere.
Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is regarded as a model plant of the Solanaceae family. The genome sequencing of the tomato cultivar Heinz 1706 was recently completed. To accelerate the progress of tomato genomics studies, systematic bioresources, such as mutagenized lines and full-length cDNA libraries, have been established for the cultivar Micro-Tom. However, these resources cannot be utilized to their full potential without the completion of the genome sequencing of Micro-Tom. We undertook the genome sequencing of Micro-Tom and here report the identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and insertion/deletions (indels) between Micro-Tom and Heinz 1706. The analysis demonstrated the presence of 1.23 million SNPs and 0.19 million indels found in common between the two cultivars. The density of SNPs and indels was high in chromosomes 02, 05, and 11, but was low in chromosomes 06, 08 and 10. Three known mutations of Micro-Tom were localized on chromosomal regions where the density of SNPs and indels was low, which was consistent with the fact that these mutations were relatively new and introgressed into Micro-Tom during the breeding of this cultivar. We also report SNP analysis for two Micro-Tom varieties that have been maintained independently in Japan and France, both of which have served as standard lines for Micro-Tom mutant collections. Approximately 28,000 SNPs were identified between these two Micro-Tom lines. These results provide high-resolution DNA polymorphic information on Micro-Tom and represent a valuable contribution to the Micro-Tom-based genomics resources.
The deep sequencing of 16S rRNA genes amplified by universal primers has revolutionized our understanding of microbial communities by allowing the characterization of the diversity of the uncultured majority. However, some universal primers also amplify eukaryotic rRNA genes, leading to a decrease in the efficiency of sequencing of prokaryotic 16S rRNA genes with possible mischaracterization of the diversity in the microbial community. In this study, we compared 16S rRNA gene sequences from genome-sequenced strains and identified candidates for non-degenerate universal primers that could be used for the amplification of prokaryotic 16S rRNA genes. The 50 identified candidates were investigated to calculate their coverage for prokaryotic and eukaryotic rRNA genes, including those from uncultured taxa and eukaryotic organelles, and a novel universal primer set, 342F-806R, covering many prokaryotic, but not eukaryotic, rRNA genes was identified. This primer set was validated by the amplification of 16S rRNA genes from a soil metagenomic sample and subsequent pyrosequencing using the Roche 454 platform. The same sample was also used for pyrosequencing of the amplicons by employing a commonly used primer set, 338F-533R, and for shotgun metagenomic sequencing using the Illumina platform. Our comparison of the taxonomic compositions inferred by the three sequencing experiments indicated that the non-degenerate 342F-806R primer set can characterize the taxonomic composition of the microbial community without substantial bias, and is highly expected to be applicable to the analysis of a wide variety of microbial communities.
Coelacanths are known as "living fossils," as they show remarkable morphological resemblance to the fossil record and belong to the most primitive lineage of living Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fishes and tetrapods). Coelacanths may be key to elucidating the tempo and mode of evolution from fish to tetrapods. Here, we report the genome sequences of five coelacanths, including four Latimeria chalumnae individuals (three specimens from Tanzania and one from Comoros) and one L. menadoensis individual from Indonesia. These sequences cover two African breeding populations and two known extant coelacanth species. The genome is ?2.74 Gbp and contains a high proportion (?60%) of repetitive elements. The genetic diversity among the individuals was extremely low, suggesting a small population size and/or a slow rate of evolution. We found a substantial number of genes that encode olfactory and pheromone receptors with features characteristic of tetrapod receptors for the detection of airborne ligands. We also found that limb enhancers of bmp7 and gli3, both of which are essential for limb formation, are conserved between coelacanth and tetrapods, but not ray-finned fishes. We expect that some tetrapod-like genes may have existed early in the evolution of primitive Sarcopterygii and were later co-opted to adapt to terrestrial environments. These coelacanth genomes will provide a cornerstone for studies to elucidate how ancestral aquatic vertebrates evolved into terrestrial animals.
ParaHox and Hox genes are thought to have evolved from a common ancestral ProtoHox cluster or from tandem duplication prior to the divergence of cnidarians and bilaterians. Similar to Hox clusters, chordate ParaHox genes including Gsx, Xlox, and Cdx, are clustered and their expression exhibits temporal and spatial colinearity. In non-chordate animals, however, studies on the genomic organization of ParaHox genes are limited to only a few animal taxa. Hemichordates, such as the Enteropneust acorn worms, have been used to gain insights into the origins of chordate characters. In this study, we investigated the genomic organization and expression of ParaHox genes in the indirect developing hemichordate acorn worm Ptychodera flava.
Dinoflagellates are known for their capacity to form harmful blooms (e.g., "red tides") and as symbiotic, photosynthetic partners for corals. These unicellular eukaryotes have permanently condensed, liquid-crystalline chromosomes and immense nuclear genome sizes, often several times the size of the human genome. Here we describe the first draft assembly of a dinoflagellate nuclear genome, providing insights into its genome organization and gene inventory.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurological disorder characterized by the degeneration of motor neurons and typically results in death within 3-5 years from onset. Familial ALS (FALS) comprises 5%-10% of ALS cases, and the identification of genes associated with FALS is indispensable to elucidating the molecular pathogenesis. We identified a Japanese family affected by late-onset, autosomal-dominant ALS in which mutations in genes known to be associated with FALS were excluded. A whole- genome sequencing and parametric linkage analysis under the assumption of an autosomal-dominant mode of inheritance with incomplete penetrance revealed the mutation c.2780G>A (p. Arg927Gln) in ERBB4. An extensive mutational analysis revealed the same mutation in a Canadian individual with familial ALS and a de novo mutation, c.3823C>T (p. Arg1275Trp), in a Japanese simplex case. These amino acid substitutions involve amino acids highly conserved among species, are predicted as probably damaging, and are located within a tyrosine kinase domain (p. Arg927Gln) or a C-terminal domain (p. Arg1275Trp), both of which mediate essential functions of ErbB4 as a receptor tyrosine kinase. Functional analysis revealed that these mutations led to a reduced autophosphorylation of ErbB4 upon neuregulin-1 (NRG-1) stimulation. Clinical presentations of the individuals with mutations were characterized by the involvement of both upper and lower motor neurons, a lack of obvious cognitive dysfunction, and relatively slow progression. This study indicates that disruption of the neuregulin-ErbB4 pathway is involved in the pathogenesis of ALS and potentially paves the way for the development of innovative therapeutic strategies such using NRGs or their agonists to upregulate ErbB4 functions.
Commonly used classical inbred mouse strains have mosaic genomes with sequences from different subspecific origins. Their genomes are derived predominantly from the Western European subspecies Mus musculus domesticus, with the remaining sequences derived mostly from the Japanese subspecies Mus musculus molossinus. However, it remains unknown how this intersubspecific genome introgression occurred during the establishment of classical inbred strains. In this study, we resequenced the genomes of two M. m. molossinus-derived inbred strains, MSM/Ms and JF1/Ms. MSM/Ms originated from Japanese wild mice, and the ancestry of JF1/Ms was originally found in Europe and then transferred to Japan. We compared the characteristics of these sequences to those of the C57BL/6J reference sequence and the recent data sets from the resequencing of 17 inbred strains in the Mouse Genome Project (MGP), and the results unequivocally show that genome introgression from M. m. molossinus into M. m. domesticus provided the primary framework for the mosaic genomes of classical inbred strains. Furthermore, the genomes of C57BL/6J and other classical inbred strains have long consecutive segments with extremely high similarity (>99.998%) to the JF1/Ms strain. In the early 20th century, Japanese waltzing mice with a morphological phenotype resembling that of JF1/Ms mice were often crossed with European fancy mice for early studies of "Mendelism," which suggests that the ancestor of the extant JF1/Ms strain provided the origin of the M. m. molossinus genome in classical inbred strains and largely contributed to its intersubspecific genome diversity.
Fish use olfaction to sense a variety of nonvolatile chemical signals in water. However, the evolutionary importance of olfaction in species-rich cichlids is controversial. Here, we determined an almost complete sequence of the vomeronasal type 2 receptor-like (OlfC: putative amino acids receptor in teleosts) gene cluster using the bacterial artificial chromosome library of the Lake Victoria cichlid, Haplochromis chilotes. In the cluster region, we found 61 intact OlfC genes, which is the largest number of OlfC genes identified among the seven teleost fish investigated to date. Data mining of the Oreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia) draft genome sequence, and genomic Southern hybridization analysis revealed that the ancestor of all modern cichlids had already developed almost the same OlfC gene repertoire, which was accomplished by lineage-specific gene expansions. Furthermore, comparison of receptor sequences showed that recently duplicated paralogs are more variable than orthologs of different species at particular sites that were predicted to be involved in amino acid selectivity. Thus, the increase of paralogs through gene expansion may lead to functional diversification in detection of amino acids. This study implies that cichlids have developed a potent capacity to detect a variety of amino acids (and their derivatives) through OlfCs, which may have contributed to the extraordinary diversity of their feeding habitats.
Transposable elements (TEs) have a major impact on genome evolution, but they are potentially deleterious, and most of them are silenced by epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation. Here, we report the characterization of a TE encoding an activity to counteract epigenetic silencing by the host. In Arabidopsis thaliana, we identified a mobile copy of the Mutator-like element (MULE) with degenerated terminal inverted repeats (TIRs). This TE, named Hiun (Hi), is silent in wild-type plants, but it transposes when DNA methylation is abolished. When a Hi transgene was introduced into the wild-type background, it induced excision of the endogenous Hi copy, suggesting that Hi is the autonomously mobile copy. In addition, the transgene induced loss of DNA methylation and transcriptional activation of the endogenous Hi. Most importantly, the trans-activation of Hi depends on a Hi-encoded protein different from the conserved transposase. Proteins related to this anti-silencing factor, which we named VANC, are widespread in the non-TIR MULEs and may have contributed to the recent success of these TEs in natural Arabidopsis populations.
Centromeres are specified by sequence-independent epigenetic mechanisms in most organisms. Rarely, centromere repositioning results in neocentromere formation at ectopic sites. However, the mechanisms governing how and where neocentromeres form are unknown. Here, we established a chromosome-engineering system in chicken DT40 cells that allowed us to efficiently isolate neocentromere-containing chromosomes. Neocentromeres appear to be structurally and functionally equivalent to native centromeres. Chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) analysis with 18 neocentromeres revealed that the centromere-specific histone H3 variant CENP-A occupies an ?40 kb region at each neocentromere, which has no preference for specific DNA sequence motifs. Furthermore, we found that neocentromeres were not associated with histone modifications H3K9me3, H3K4me2, and H3K36me3 or with early replication timing. Importantly, low but significant levels of CENP-A are detected around endogenous centromeres, which are capable of seeding neocentromere assembly if the centromere core is removed. In summary, our experimental system provides valuable insights for understanding how neocentromeres form.
RodZ interacts with MreB and both factors are required to maintain the rod shape of Escherichia coli. The assembly of MreB into filaments regulates the subcellular arrangement of a group of enzymes that synthesizes the peptidoglycan (PG) layer. However, it is still unknown how polymerization of MreB determines the rod shape of bacterial cells. Regulatory factor(s) are likely to be involved in controlling the function and dynamics of MreB. We isolated suppressor mutations to partially recover the rod shape in rodZ deletion mutants and found that some of the suppressor mutations occurred in mreB. All of the mreB mutations were in or in the vicinity of domain IA of MreB. Those mreB mutations changed the property of MreB filaments in vivo. In addition, suppressor mutations were found in the periplasmic regions in PBP2 and RodA, encoded by mrdA and mrdB genes. Similar to MreB and RodZ, PBP2 and RodA are pivotal to the cell wall elongation process. Thus, we found that mutations in domain IA of MreB and in the periplasmic domain of PBP2 and RodA can restore growth and rod shape to ?rodZ cells, possibly by changing the requirements of MreB in the process.
Volvocalean green algae have among the most diverse mitochondrial and plastid DNAs (mtDNAs and ptDNAs) from the eukaryotic domain. However, nearly all of the organelle genome data from this group are restricted to unicellular species, like Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, and presently only one multicellular species, the ?4,000-celled Volvox carteri, has had its organelle DNAs sequenced. The V. carteri organelle genomes are repeat rich, and the ptDNA is the largest plastome ever sequenced. Here, we present the complete mtDNA and ptDNA of the colonial volvocalean Gonium pectorale, which is comprised of ?16 cells and occupies a phylogenetic position closer to that of V. carteri than C. reinhardtii within the volvocine line. The mtDNA and ptDNA of G. pectorale are circular-mapping AT-rich molecules with respective lengths and coding densities of 16 and 222.6 kilobases and 73 and 44%. They share some features with the organelle DNAs of V. carteri, including palindromic repeats within the plastid compartment, but show more similarities with those of C. reinhardtii, such as a compact mtDNA architecture and relatively low organelle DNA intron contents. Overall, the G. pectorale organelle genomes raise several interesting questions about the origin of linear mitochondrial chromosomes within the Volvocales and the relationship between multicellularity and organelle genome expansion.
Tardigrades inhabiting terrestrial environments exhibit extraordinary resistance to ionizing radiation and UV radiation although little is known about the mechanisms underlying the resistance. We found that the terrestrial tardigrade Ramazzottius varieornatus is able to tolerate massive doses of UVC irradiation by both being protected from forming UVC-induced thymine dimers in DNA in a desiccated, anhydrobiotic state as well as repairing the dimers that do form in the hydrated animals. In R. varieornatus accumulation of thymine dimers in DNA induced by irradiation with 2.5 kJ/m(2) of UVC radiation disappeared 18 h after the exposure when the animals were exposed to fluorescent light but not in the dark. Much higher UV radiation tolerance was observed in desiccated anhydrobiotic R. varieornatus compared to hydrated specimens of this species. On the other hand, the freshwater tardigrade species Hypsibius dujardini that was used as control, showed much weaker tolerance to UVC radiation than R. varieornatus, and it did not contain a putative phrA gene sequence. The anhydrobiotes of R. varieornatus accumulated much less UVC-induced thymine dimers in DNA than hydrated one. It suggests that anhydrobiosis efficiently avoids DNA damage accumulation in R. varieornatus and confers better UV radiation tolerance on this species. Thus we propose that UV radiation tolerance in tardigrades is due to the both high capacities of DNA damage repair and DNA protection, a two-pronged survival strategy.
In humans and mice, there are 11 genes derived from sushi-ichi related retrotransposons, some of which are known to play essential roles in placental development. Interestingly, this family of retrotransposons was thought to exist only in eutherian mammals, indicating their significant contributions to the eutherian evolution, but at least one, PEG10, is conserved between marsupials and eutherians. Here we report a novel sushi-ichi retrotransposon-derived gene, SIRH12, in the tammar wallaby, an Australian marsupial species of the kangaroo family. SIRH12 encodes a protein highly homologous to the sushi-ichi retrotransposon Gag protein in the tammar wallaby, while SIRH12 in the South American short-tailed grey opossum is a pseudogene degenerated by accumulation of multiple nonsense mutations. This suggests that SIRH12 retrotransposition occurred only in the marsupial lineage but acquired and retained some as yet unidentified novel function, at least in the lineage of the tammar wallaby.
We present the genome sequence of the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii, which is a member of the kangaroo family and the first representative of the iconic hopping mammals that symbolize Australia to be sequenced. The tammar has many unusual biological characteristics, including the longest period of embryonic diapause of any mammal, extremely synchronized seasonal breeding and prolonged and sophisticated lactation within a well-defined pouch. Like other marsupials, it gives birth to highly altricial young, and has a small number of very large chromosomes, making it a valuable model for genomics, reproduction and development.
Genomic imprinting causes parental origin-specific monoallelic gene expression through differential DNA methylation established in the parental germ line. However, the mechanisms underlying how specific sequences are selectively methylated are not fully understood. We have found that the components of the PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA) pathway are required for de novo methylation of the differentially methylated region (DMR) of the imprinted mouse Rasgrf1 locus, but not other paternally imprinted loci. A retrotransposon sequence within a noncoding RNA spanning the DMR was targeted by piRNAs generated from a different locus. A direct repeat in the DMR, which is required for the methylation and imprinting of Rasgrf1, served as a promoter for this RNA. We propose a model in which piRNAs and a target RNA direct the sequence-specific methylation of Rasgrf1.
MITOPLD is a member of the phospholipase D superfamily proteins conserved among diverse species. Zucchini (Zuc), the Drosophila homolog of MITOPLD, has been implicated in primary biogenesis of Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs). By contrast, MITOPLD has been shown to hydrolyze cardiolipin in the outer membrane of mitochondria to generate phosphatidic acid, which is a signaling molecule. To assess whether the mammalian MITOPLD is involved in piRNA biogenesis, we generated Mitopld mutant mice. The mice display meiotic arrest during spermatogenesis, demethylation and derepression of retrotransposons, and defects in primary piRNA biogenesis. Furthermore, in mutant germ cells, mitochondria and the components of the nuage, a perinuclear structure involved in piRNA biogenesis/function, are mislocalized to regions around the centrosome, suggesting that MITOPLD may be involved in microtubule-dependent localization of mitochondria and these proteins. Our results indicate a conserved role for MITOPLD/Zuc in the piRNA pathway and link mitochondrial membrane metabolism/signaling to small RNA biogenesis.
The carotenoid-binding protein (CBP) of the domesticated silkworm, Bombyx mori, a major determinant of cocoon color, is likely to have been substantially influenced by domestication of this species. We analyzed the structure of the CBP gene in multiple strains of B. mori, in multiple individuals of the wild silkworm, B. mandarina (the putative wild ancestor of B. mori), and in a number of other lepidopterans. We found the CBP gene copy number in genomic DNA to vary widely among B. mori strains, ranging from 1 to 20. The copies of CBP are of several types, based on the presence of a retrotransposon or partial deletion of the coding sequence. In contrast to B. mori, B. mandarina was found to possess a single copy of CBP without the retrotransposon insertion, regardless of habitat. Several other lepidopterans were found to contain sequences homologous to CBP, revealing that this gene is evolutionarily conserved in the lepidopteran lineage. Thus, domestication can generate significant diversity of gene copy number and structure over a relatively short evolutionary time.
Despite the enormous ecological and economic importance of coral reefs, the keystone organisms in their establishment, the scleractinian corals, increasingly face a range of anthropogenic challenges including ocean acidification and seawater temperature rise. To understand better the molecular mechanisms underlying coral biology, here we decoded the approximately 420-megabase genome of Acropora digitifera using next-generation sequencing technology. This genome contains approximately 23,700 gene models. Molecular phylogenetics indicate that the coral and the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis diverged approximately 500 million years ago, considerably earlier than the time over which modern corals are represented in the fossil record (?240 million years ago). Despite the long evolutionary history of the endosymbiosis, no evidence was found for horizontal transfer of genes from symbiont to host. However, unlike several other corals, Acropora seems to lack an enzyme essential for cysteine biosynthesis, implying dependency of this coral on its symbionts for this amino acid. Corals inhabit environments where they are frequently exposed to high levels of solar radiation, and analysis of the Acropora genome data indicates that the coral host can independently carry out de novo synthesis of mycosporine-like amino acids, which are potent ultraviolet-protective compounds. In addition, the coral innate immunity repertoire is notably more complex than that of the sea anemone, indicating that some of these genes may have roles in symbiosis or coloniality. A number of genes with putative roles in calcification were identified, and several of these are restricted to corals. The coral genome provides a platform for understanding the molecular basis of symbiosis and responses to environmental changes.
The whole genome of Jatropha curcas was sequenced, using a combination of the conventional Sanger method and new-generation multiplex sequencing methods. Total length of the non-redundant sequences thus obtained was 285 858 490 bp consisting of 120 586 contigs and 29 831 singlets. They accounted for ~95% of the gene-containing regions with the average G + C content was 34.3%. A total of 40 929 complete and partial structures of protein encoding genes have been deduced. Comparison with genes of other plant species indicated that 1529 (4%) of the putative protein-encoding genes are specific to the Euphorbiaceae family. A high degree of microsynteny was observed with the genome of castor bean and, to a lesser extent, with those of soybean and Arabidopsis thaliana. In parallel with genome sequencing, cDNAs derived from leaf and callus tissues were subjected to pyrosequencing, and a total of 21 225 unigene data have been generated. Polymorphism analysis using microsatellite markers developed from the genomic sequence data obtained was performed with 12 J. curcas lines collected from various parts of the world to estimate their genetic diversity. The genomic sequence and accompanying information presented here are expected to serve as valuable resources for the acceleration of fundamental and applied research with J. curcas, especially in the fields of environment-related research such as biofuel production. Further information on the genomic sequences and DNA markers is available at http://www.kazusa.or.jp/jatropha/.
The centromere is essential for faithful chromosome segregation by providing the site for kinetochore assembly. Although the role of the centromere is conserved throughout evolution, the DNA sequences associated with centromere regions are highly divergent among species and it remains to be determined how centromere DNA directs kinetochore formation. Despite the active use of chicken DT40 cells in studies of chromosome segregation, the sequence of the chicken centromere was unclear. Here, we performed a comprehensive analysis of chicken centromere DNA which revealed unique features of chicken centromeres compared with previously studied vertebrates. Centromere DNA sequences from the chicken macrochromosomes, with the exception of chromosome 5, contain chromosome-specific homogenous tandem repetitive arrays that span several hundred kilobases. In contrast, the centromeres of chromosomes 5, 27, and Z do not contain tandem repetitive sequences and span non-tandem-repetitive sequences of only approximately 30 kb. To test the function of these centromere sequences, we conditionally removed the centromere from the Z chromosome using genetic engineering and have shown that that the non-tandem-repeat sequence of chromosome Z is a functional centromere.
VASA is an evolutionarily conserved RNA helicase essential for germ cell development. The mouse PIWI family proteins MILI and MIWI2 are involved in production of Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) in fetal male germ cells through a ping-pong amplification cycle. Expression of retrotransposons is elevated in MILI- and MIWI2-deficient male germ cells due to defective de novo DNA methylation, which is presumably caused by impaired piRNA expression. Here, we report that essentially the same abnormalities are observed in MVH (mouse VASA homolog)-deficient mice. Comprehensive analysis of piRNAs in MVH-deficient fetal male germ cells showed that MVH plays crucial roles in the early phase of the ping-pong amplification cycle.
Bacillus subtilis natto is closely related to the laboratory standard strain B. subtilis Marburg 168, and functions as a starter for the production of the traditional Japanese food "natto" made from soybeans. Although re-sequencing whole genomes of several laboratory domesticated B. subtilis 168 derivatives has already been attempted using short read sequencing data, the assembly of the whole genome sequence of a closely related strain, B. subtilis natto, from very short read data is more challenging, particularly with our aim to assemble one fully connected scaffold from short reads around 35 bp in length.
The glutamate receptors (GluRs) play a vital role in the mediation of excitatory synaptic transmission in the central nervous system. To clarify the evolutionary dynamics and mechanisms of the GluR genes in the lineage leading to humans, we determined the complete sequences of the coding regions and splice sites of 26 chimpanzee GluR genes.
In germ cells, early embryos, and stem cells of animals, PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) have an important role in silencing retrotransposons, which are vicious genomic parasites, through transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms. To examine whether the piRNA pathway can be used to silence genes of interest in germ cells, we have generated knock-in mice in which a foreign DNA fragment was inserted into a region generating pachytene piRNAs. The knock-in sequence was transcribed, and the resulting RNA was processed to yield piRNAs in postnatal testes. When reporter genes possessing a sequence complementary to portions of the knock-in sequence were introduced, they were greatly repressed after the time of pachytene piRNA generation. This repression mainly occurred at the post-transcriptional level, as degradation of the reporter RNAs was accelerated. Our results show that the piRNA pathway can be used as a tool for sequence-specific gene silencing in germ cells and support the idea that the piRNA generating regions serve as traps for retrotransposons, enabling the host cell to generate piRNAs against active retrotransposons.
Genomic comparisons of chordates, hemichordates, and echinoderms can inform hypotheses for the evolution of these strikingly different phyla from the last common deuterostome ancestor. Because hox genes play pivotal developmental roles in bilaterian animals, we analyzed the Hox complexes of two hemichordate genomes. We find that Saccoglossus kowalevskii and Ptychodera flava both possess 12-gene clusters, with mir10 between hox4 and hox5, in 550 kb and 452 kb intervals, respectively. Genes hox1-hox9/10 of the clusters are in the same genomic order and transcriptional orientation as their orthologs in chordates, with hox1 at the 3 end of the cluster. At the 5 end, each cluster contains three posterior genes specific to Ambulacraria (the hemichordate-echinoderm clade), two forming an inverted terminal pair. In contrast, the echinoderm Strongylocentrotus purpuratus contains a 588 kb cluster of 11 orthologs of the hemichordate genes, ordered differently, plausibly reflecting rearrangements of an ancestral hemichordate-like ambulacrarian cluster. Hox clusters of vertebrates and the basal chordate amphioxus have similar organization to the hemichordate cluster, but with different posterior genes. These results provide genomic evidence for a well-ordered complex in the deuterostome ancestor for the hox1-hox9/10 region, with the number and kind of posterior genes still to be elucidated.
Crop domestications are long-term selection experiments that have greatly advanced human civilization. The domestication of cultivated rice (Oryza sativa L.) ranks as one of the most important developments in history. However, its origins and domestication processes are controversial and have long been debated. Here we generate genome sequences from 446 geographically diverse accessions of the wild rice species Oryza rufipogon, the immediate ancestral progenitor of cultivated rice, and from 1,083 cultivated indica and japonica varieties to construct a comprehensive map of rice genome variation. In the search for signatures of selection, we identify 55 selective sweeps that have occurred during domestication. In-depth analyses of the domestication sweeps and genome-wide patterns reveal that Oryza sativa japonica rice was first domesticated from a specific population of O. rufipogon around the middle area of the Pearl River in southern China, and that Oryza sativa indica rice was subsequently developed from crosses between japonica rice and local wild rice as the initial cultivars spread into South East and South Asia. The domestication-associated traits are analysed through high-resolution genetic mapping. This study provides an important resource for rice breeding and an effective genomics approach for crop domestication research.
DNA methylation of promoters is linked to transcriptional silencing of protein-coding genes, and its alteration plays important roles in cancer formation. For example, hypermethylation of tumor suppressor genes has been seen in some cancers. Alteration of methylation in the promoters of microRNAs (miRNAs) has also been linked to transcriptional changes in cancers; however, no systematic studies of methylation and transcription of miRNAs have been reported. In the present study, to clarify the relation between DNA methylation and transcription of miRNAs, next-generation sequencing and microarrays were used to analyze the methylation and expression of miRNAs, protein-coding genes, other non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), and pseudogenes in the human breast cancer cell lines MCF7 and the adriamycin (ADR) resistant cell line MCF7/ADR. DNA methylation in the proximal promoter of miRNAs is tightly linked to transcriptional silencing, as it is with protein-coding genes. In protein-coding genes, highly expressed genes have CpG-rich proximal promoters whereas weakly expressed genes do not. This is only rarely observed in other gene categories, including miRNAs. The present study highlights the epigenetic similarities and differences between miRNA and protein-coding genes.
Tardigrades are able to tolerate almost complete dehydration by reversibly switching to an ametabolic state. This ability is called anhydrobiosis. In the anhydrobiotic state, tardigrades can withstand various extreme environments including space, but their molecular basis remains largely unknown. Late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins are heat-soluble proteins and can prevent protein-aggregation in dehydrated conditions in other anhydrobiotic organisms, but their relevance to tardigrade anhydrobiosis is not clarified. In this study, we focused on the heat-soluble property characteristic of LEA proteins and conducted heat-soluble proteomics using an anhydrobiotic tardigrade. Our heat-soluble proteomics identified five abundant heat-soluble proteins. All of them showed no sequence similarity with LEA proteins and formed two novel protein families with distinct subcellular localizations. We named them Cytoplasmic Abundant Heat Soluble (CAHS) and Secretory Abundant Heat Soluble (SAHS) protein families, according to their localization. Both protein families were conserved among tardigrades, but not found in other phyla. Although CAHS protein was intrinsically unstructured and SAHS protein was rich in ?-structure in the hydrated condition, proteins in both families changed their conformation to an ?-helical structure in water-deficient conditions as LEA proteins do. Two conserved repeats of 19-mer motifs in CAHS proteins were capable to form amphiphilic stripes in ?-helices, suggesting their roles as molecular shield in water-deficient condition, though charge distribution pattern in ?-helices were different between CAHS and LEA proteins. Tardigrades might have evolved novel protein families with a heat-soluble property and this study revealed a novel repertoire of major heat-soluble proteins in these anhydrobiotic animals.
Although pioneering sequencing projects have shed light on the boxer and poodle genomes, a number of challenges need to be met before the sequencing and annotation of the dog genome can be considered complete. Here, we present the DNA sequence of the Jindo dog genome, sequenced to 45-fold average coverage using Illumina massively parallel sequencing technology. A comparison of the sequence to the reference boxer genome led to the identification of 4 675 437 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, including 3 346 058 novel SNPs), 71 642 indels and 8131 structural variations. Of these, 339 non-synonymous SNPs and 3 indels are located within coding sequences (CDS). In particular, 3 non-synonymous SNPs and a 26-bp deletion occur in the TCOF1 locus, implying that the difference observed in cranial facial morphology between Jindo and boxer dogs might be influenced by those variations. Through the annotation of the Jindo olfactory receptor gene family, we found 2 unique olfactory receptor genes and 236 olfactory receptor genes harbouring non-synonymous homozygous SNPs that are likely to affect smelling capability. In addition, we determined the DNA sequence of the Jindo dog mitochondrial genome and identified Jindo dog-specific mtDNA genotypes. This Jindo genome data upgrade our understanding of dog genomic architecture and will be a very valuable resource for investigating not only dog genetics and genomics but also human and dog disease genetics and comparative genomics.
Organisms are remarkably adapted to diverse environments by specialized metabolisms, morphology, or behaviors. To address the molecular mechanisms underlying environmental adaptation, we have utilized a Drosophila melanogaster line, termed "Dark-fly", which has been maintained in constant dark conditions for 57 years (1400 generations). We found that Dark-fly exhibited higher fecundity in dark than in light conditions, indicating that Dark-fly possesses some traits advantageous in darkness. Using next-generation sequencing technology, we determined the whole genome sequence of Dark-fly and identified approximately 220,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 4,700 insertions or deletions (InDels) in the Dark-fly genome compared to the genome of the Oregon-R-S strain, a control strain. 1.8% of SNPs were classified as non-synonymous SNPs (nsSNPs: i.e., they alter the amino acid sequence of gene products). Among them, we detected 28 nonsense mutations (i.e., they produce a stop codon in the protein sequence) in the Dark-fly genome. These included genes encoding an olfactory receptor and a light receptor. We also searched runs of homozygosity (ROH) regions as putative regions selected during the population history, and found 21 ROH regions in the Dark-fly genome. We identified 241 genes carrying nsSNPs or InDels in the ROH regions. These include a cluster of alpha-esterase genes that are involved in detoxification processes. Furthermore, analysis of structural variants in the Dark-fly genome showed the deletion of a gene related to fatty acid metabolism. Our results revealed unique features of the Dark-fly genome and provided a list of potential candidate genes involved in environmental adaptation.
The plant genome evolves with rapid proliferation of LTR-type retrotransposons, which is associated with their clustered accumulation in gene-poor regions, such as centromeres. Despite their major role for plant genome evolution, no mobile LTR element with targeted integration into gene-poor regions has been identified in plants. Here, we report such targeted integrations de novo. We and others have previously shown that an ATCOPIA93 family retrotransposon in Arabidopsis thaliana is mobilized when the DNA methylation machinery is compromised. Although ATCOPIA93 family elements are low copy number in the wild-type A. thaliana genome, high-copy-number related elements are found in the wild-type Arabidopsis lyrata genome, and they show centromere-specific localization. To understand the mechanisms for the clustered accumulation of the A. lyrata elements directly, we introduced one of them, named Tal1 (Transposon of Arabidopsis lyrata 1), into A. thaliana by transformation. The introduced Tal1 was retrotransposed in A. thaliana, and most of the retrotransposed copies were found in centromeric repeats of A. thaliana, suggesting targeted integration. The targeted integration is especially surprising because the centromeric repeat sequences differ considerably between A. lyrata and A. thaliana. Our results revealed unexpectedly dynamic controls for evolution of the transposon-rich heterochromatic regions.
Teleosts have an asymmetrical caudal fin skeleton formed by the upward bending of the caudal-most portion of the body axis, the ural region. This homocercal type of caudal fin ensures powerful and complex locomotion and is regarded as one of the most important innovations for teleosts during adaptive radiation in an aquatic environment. However, the mechanisms that create asymmetric caudal fin remain largely unknown. The spontaneous medaka (teleost fish) mutant, Double anal fin (Da), exhibits a unique symmetrical caudal skeleton that resembles the diphycercal type seen in Polypterus and Coelacanth. We performed a detailed analysis of the Da mutant to obtain molecular insight into caudal fin morphogenesis. We first demonstrate that a large transposon, inserted into the enhancer region of the zic1 and zic4 genes (zic1/zic4) in Da, is associated with the mesoderm-specific loss of their transcription. We then show that zic1/zic4 are strongly expressed in the dorsal part of the ural mesenchyme and thereby induce asymmetric caudal fin development in wild-type embryos, whereas their expression is lost in Da. Comparative analysis further indicates that the dorsal mesoderm expression of zic1/zic4 is conserved in teleosts, highlighting the crucial role of zic1/zic4 in caudal fin morphogenesis.
Three sex-determining (SD) genes, SRY (mammals), Dmy (medaka), and DM-W (Xenopus laevis), have been identified to date in vertebrates. However, how and why a new sex-determining gene appears remains unknown, as do the switching mechanisms of the master sex-determining gene. Here, we used positional cloning to search for the sex-determining gene in Oryzias luzonensis and found that GsdfY (gonadal soma derived growth factor on the Y chromosome) has replaced Dmy as the master sex-determining gene in this species. We found that GsdfY showed high expression specifically in males during sex differentiation. Furthermore, the presence of a genomic fragment that included GsdfY converts XX individuals into fertile XX males. Luciferase assays demonstrated that the upstream sequence of GsdfY contributes to the male-specific high expression. Gsdf is downstream of Dmy in the sex-determining cascade of O. latipes, suggesting that emergence of the Dmy-independent Gsdf allele led to the appearance of this novel sex-determining gene in O. luzonensis.
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