Transgenerational persistence of parental responses to environmental stimuli has been reported in various organisms, but the underlying mechanisms remain underexplored. In one of these reported examples, we have shown that exposure of fly larvae to G418 antibiotic leads to non-Mendelian inheritance of ectopic induction of certain developmental genes. Here we investigate if this inheritance involves changes in mRNA composition within the early, maternal-stage offspring embryos of exposed flies. Exposure to G418 in F1 modified the maternal RNA levels of many genes in their early (F2) embryos. This includes reduction of maternal Polycomb group genes which persisted in the following generation of embryos (F3). To investigate the functional meaning of this reduction, we compared genetically normal embryos of Polycomb mutant females to normal embryos of normal females. Analysis with two different alleles of Polycomb, Pc1 and Pc3, revealed that maternal reduction in Polycomb gene dosage has a positive influence on the inheritance of induced expression. Together, this shows that exposure to G418 stress reduces the maternal levels of Polycomb in the offspring embryos and this reduction contributes to the inheritance of induced expression.
Commensal gut bacteria in many species including flies are integral part of their host, and are known to influence its development and homeostasis within generation. Here we report an unexpected impact of host-microbe interactions, which mediates multi-generational, non-Mendelian inheritance of a stress-induced phenotype. We have previously shown that exposure of fly larvae to G418 antibiotic induces transgenerationally heritable phenotypes, including a delay in larval development, gene induction in the gut and morphological changes. We now show that G418 selectively depletes commensal Acetobacter species and that this depletion explains the heritable delay, but not the inheritance of the other phenotypes. Notably, the inheritance of the delay was mediated by a surprising trans-generational effect. Specifically, bacterial removal from F1 embryos did not induce significant delay in F1 larvae, but nonetheless led to a considerable delay in F2. This effect maintains a delay induced by bacterial-independent G418 toxicity to the host. In line with these findings, reintroduction of isolated Acetobacter species prevented the inheritance of the delay. We further show that this prevention is partly mediated by vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) produced by these bacteria; exogenous Riboflavin led to partial prevention and inhibition of Riboflavin synthesis compromised the ability of the bacteria to prevent the inheritance. These results identify host-microbe interactions as a hitherto unrecognized factor capable of mediating non-Mendelian inheritance of a stress-induced phenotype.
The emergence of massively parallel sequencing technology has revolutionized microbial profiling, allowing the unprecedented comparison of microbial diversity across time and space in a wide range of host-associated and environmental ecosystems. Although the high-throughput nature of such methods enables the detection of low-frequency bacteria, these advances come at the cost of sequencing read length, limiting the phylogenetic resolution possible by current methods. Here, we present a generic approach for integrating short reads from large genomic regions, thus enabling phylogenetic resolution far exceeding current methods. The approach is based on a mapping to a statistical model that is later solved as a constrained optimization problem. We demonstrate the utility of this method by analyzing human saliva and Drosophila samples, using Illumina single-end sequencing of a 750 bp amplicon of the 16S rRNA gene. Phylogenetic resolution is significantly extended while reducing the number of falsely detected bacteria, as compared with standard single-region Roche 454 Pyrosequencing. Our approach can be seamlessly applied to simultaneous sequencing of multiple genes providing a higher resolution view of the composition and activity of complex microbial communities.
Developing organisms have evolved a wide range of mechanisms for coping with recurrent environmental challenges. How they cope with rare or unforeseen challenges is, however, unclear as are the implications to their unchallenged offspring. Here, we investigate these questions by confronting the development of the fly, D. melanogaster, with artificial tissue distributions of toxic stress that are not expected to occur during fly development. We show that under a wide range of toxic scenarios, this challenge can lead to modified development that may coincide with increased tolerance to an otherwise lethal condition. Part of this response was mediated by suppression of Polycomb group genes, which in turn leads to derepression of developmental regulators and their expression in new domains. Importantly, some of the developmental alterations were epigenetically inherited by subsequent generations of unchallenged offspring. These results show that the environment can induce alternative patterns of development that are stable across multiple generations.
The fundamental dynamics of the cell cycle, underlying cell growth and reproduction, were previously found to be robust under a wide range of environmental and internal perturbations. This property was commonly attributed to its network structure, which enables the coordinated interactions among hundreds of proteins. Despite significant advances in deciphering the components and autonomous interactions of this network, understanding the interfaces of the cell cycle with other major cellular processes is still lacking. To gain insight into these interfaces, we used the process of genome-rewiring in yeast by placing an essential metabolic gene HIS3 from the histidine biosynthesis pathway, under the exclusive regulation of different cell-cycle promoters. In a medium lacking histidine and under partial inhibition of the HIS3p, the rewired cells encountered an unforeseen multitasking challenge; the cell-cycle regulatory genes were required to regulate the essential histidine-pathway gene in concert with the other metabolic demands, while simultaneously driving the cell cycle through its proper temporal phases. We show here that chemostat cell populations with rewired cell-cycle promoters adapted within a short time to accommodate the inhibition of HIS3p and stabilized a new phenotypic state. Furthermore, a significant fraction of the population was able to adapt and grow into mature colonies on plates under such inhibiting conditions. The adapted state was shown to be stably inherited across generations. These adaptation dynamics were accompanied by a non-specific and irreproducible genome-wide transcriptional response. Adaptation of the cell-cycle attests to its multitasking capabilities and flexible interface with cellular metabolic processes and requirements. Similar adaptation features were found in our previous work when rewiring HIS3 to the GAL system and switching cells from galactose to glucose. Thus, at the basis of cellular plasticity is the emergence of a yet-unknown general, non-specific mechanism allowing fast inherited adaptation to unforeseen challenges.
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