Atovaquone, a coenzyme Q analogue has been indicated to specifically target the cytochrome bc1 complex of the mitochondrial respiratory chain in the malarial parasite and other protozoan. Various mutations in the quinone binding site of the cytochrome b gene of Plasmodium spp. such as M133I, L144S, L271V, K272R, Y268C, Y268S, Y268N, and V284F are suggesting to associate with resistance to atovaquone. There is no direct evidence of relation between the mutations and resistance to atovaquone in Plasmodium parasite that has been available. Technical difficulties in isolating active assayable mitochondria in the malarial parasite hinder us to obtain direct biochemical evidence to support the relation between the mutations and drug resistance. The establishment of a mitochondrial isolation method for the malaria parasite has allowed us to test the degree of resistance of Plasmodium berghei isolates to atovaquone directly. We have tested the activity of dihydroorotate (DHO)-cytochrome c reductase in various P. berghei atovaquone resistant clones in the presence of a wide concentration range of atovaquone. Our results show the IC50 of P. berghei atovaquone resistant clones is much higher (1.5 up to 40nM) in comparison to the atovaquone sensitive clones (0.132-0.465nM). The highest IC50 was revealed in clones carrying Y268C and Y268N mutations (which play an important role in atovaquone resistance in Plasmodium falciparum), with an approximately 100-fold increase. The findings indicate the importance of the mutation in the quinone binding site of the cytochrome b gene and that provide a direct evidence for the atovaquone inhibitory mechanism in the cytochrome bc1 complex of the parasite.
The plastids of chlorarachniophytes were derived from an ancestral green alga via secondary endosymbiosis. Thus, genes from the "green" lineage via secondary endosymbiotic gene transfer (EGT) are expected in the nuclear genomes of the Chlorarachniophyta. However, several recent studies have revealed the presence of "red" genes in their nuclear genomes. To elucidate the origin of such "red" genes in chlorarachniophyte nuclear genomes, we carried out exhaustive single-gene phylogenetic analyses, including two operational taxonomic units (OTUs) that represent two divergent sister lineages of the Chlorarachniophyta, Amorphochlora amoeboformis (?=?Lotharella amoeboformis; based on RNA sequences newly determined here) and Bigelowiella natans (based on the published genome sequence). We identified 10 genes of cyanobacterial origin, phylogenetic analysis of which showed the chlorarachniophytes to branch with the red lineage (red algae and/or red algal secondary or tertiary plastid-containing eukaryotes). Of the 10 genes, 7 demonstrated robust monophyly of the two chlorarachniophyte OTUs. Thus, the common ancestor of the extant chlorarachniophytes likely experienced multiple horizontal gene transfers from the red lineage. Because 4 of the 10 genes are obviously photosynthesis- and/or plastid-related, and almost all of the eukaryotic OTUs in the 10 trees possess plastids, such red genes most likely originated directly from photosynthetic eukaryotes. This situation could be explained by a possible cryptic endosymbiosis of a red algal plastid before the secondary endosymbiosis of the green algal plastid, or a long-term feeding on a single (or multiple closely related) red algal plastid-containing eukaryote(s) after the green secondary endosymbiosis.
Perkinsus marinus (Phylum Perkinsozoa) is a protozoan parasite that has devastated natural and farmed oyster populations in the USA, significantly affecting the shellfish industry and the estuarine environment. The other two genera in the phylum, Parvilucifera and Rastrimonas, are parasites of microeukaryotes. The Perkinsozoa occupies a key position at the base of the dinoflagellate branch, close to its divergence from the Apicomplexa, a clade that includes parasitic protista, many harbouring a relic plastid. Thus, as a taxon that has also evolved toward parasitism, the Perkinsozoa has attracted the attention of biologists interested in the evolution of this organelle, both in its ultrastructure and the conservation, loss or transfer of its genes. A review of the recent literature reveals mounting evidence in support of the presence of a relic plastid in P. marinus, including the presence of multimembrane structures, characteristic metabolic pathways and proteins with a bipartite N-terminal extension. Further, these findings raise intriguing questions regarding the potential functions and unique adaptation of the putative plastid and/or plastid genes in the Perkinsozoa. In this review we analyse the above-mentioned evidence and evaluate the potential future directions and expected benefits of addressing such questions. Given the rapidly expanding molecular/genetic resources and methodological toolbox for Perkinsus spp., these organisms should complement the currently established models for investigating plastid evolution within the Chromalveolata.
Diverse mitochondrial (mt) genetic systems have evolved independently of the more uniform nuclear system and often employ modified genetic codes. The organization and genetic system of dinoflagellate mt genomes are particularly unusual and remain an evolutionary enigma. We determined the sequence of full-length cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (cox1) mRNA of the earliest diverging dinoflagellate Perkinsus and show that this gene resides in the mt genome. Apparently, this mRNA is not translated in a single reading frame with standard codon usage. Our examination of the nucleotide sequence and three-frame translation of the mRNA suggest that the reading frame must be shifted 10 times, at every AGG and CCC codon, to yield a consensus COX1 protein. We suggest two possible mechanisms for these translational frameshifts: a ribosomal frameshift in which stalled ribosomes skip the first bases of these codons or specialized tRNAs recognizing non-triplet codons, AGGY and CCCCU. Regardless of the mechanism, active and efficient machinery would be required to tolerate the frameshifts predicted in Perkinsus mitochondria. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence of translational frameshifts in protist mitochondria and, by far, is the most extensive case in mitochondria.
Eukaryotic genes with cyanobacterial ancestry in plastid-lacking protists have been regarded as important evolutionary markers implicating the presence of plastids in the early evolution of eukaryotes. Although recent genomic surveys demonstrated the presence of cyanobacterial and algal ancestry genes in the genomes of plastid-lacking protists, comparative analyses on the origin and distribution of those genes are still limited.
The phylogenetic positions of the primary photosynthetic eukaryotes, or Archaeplastida (green plants, red algae, and glaucophytes) and the secondary photosynthetic chromalveolates, Haptophyta, vary depending on the data matrices used in the previous nuclear multigene phylogenetic studies. Here, we deduced the phylogeny of three groups of Archaeplastida and Haptophyta on the basis of sequences of the multiple slowly evolving nuclear genes and reduced the gaps or missing data, especially in glaucophyte operational taxonomic units (OTUs). The present multigene phylogenetic analyses resolved that Haptophyta and two other groups of Chromalveolata, stramenopiles and Alveolata, form a monophyletic group that is sister to the green plants and that the glaucophytes and red algae are basal to the clade composed of green plants and Chromalveolata. The bootstrap values supporting these phylogenetic relationships increased with the exclusion of long-branched OTUs. The close relationship between green plants and Chromalveolata is further supported by the common replacement in two plastid-targeted genes.
For more than 140 years, pollen tube guidance in flowering plants has been thought to be mediated by chemoattractants derived from target ovules. However, there has been no convincing evidence of any particular molecule being the true attractant that actually controls the navigation of pollen tubes towards ovules. Emerging data indicate that two synergid cells on the side of the egg cell emit a diffusible, species-specific signal to attract the pollen tube at the last step of pollen tube guidance. Here we report that secreted, cysteine-rich polypeptides (CRPs) in a subgroup of defensin-like proteins are attractants derived from the synergid cells. We isolated synergid cells of Torenia fournieri, a unique plant with a protruding embryo sac, to identify transcripts encoding secreted proteins as candidate molecules for the chemoattractant(s). We found two CRPs, abundantly and predominantly expressed in the synergid cell, which are secreted to the surface of the egg apparatus. Moreover, they showed activity in vitro to attract competent pollen tubes of their own species and were named as LUREs. Injection of morpholino antisense oligomers against the LUREs impaired pollen tube attraction, supporting the finding that LUREs are the attractants derived from the synergid cells of T. fournieri.
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