Food availability significantly affects an animal's energy metabolism, and thus its phenotype, survival, and reproduction. Maternal and offspring responses to food conditions are critical for understanding population dynamics and life-history evolution of a species. In this study, we conducted food manipulation experiments in field enclosures to identify the effect of food restriction on female reproductive traits and postpartum body condition, as well as on hatchling phenotypes, in a lacertid viviparous lizard from the Inner Mongolian desert steppe of China. Females under low-food availability treatment (LFT) had poorer immune function and body condition compared with those under high-food availability treatment (HFT). The food availability treatments significantly affected the litter size and litter mass of the females, but not their gestation period in captivity or brood success, or the body size, sprint speed, and sex ratio of the neonates. Females from the LFT group had smaller litter sizes and, therefore, lower litter mass than those from the HFT group. These results suggest that female racerunners facing food restriction lay fewer offspring with unchanged body size and locomotor performance, and incur a cost in the form of poor postpartum body condition and immune function. The flexibility of maternal responses to variable food availability represents an important life strategy that could enhance the resistance of lizards to unpredictable environmental change.
Targeted genome editing technology has been widely used in biomedical studies. The CRISPR-associated RNA-guided endonuclease Cas9 has become a versatile genome editing tool. The CRISPR/Cas9 system is useful for studying gene function through efficient knock-out, knock-in or chromatin modification of the targeted gene loci in various cell types and organisms. It can be applied in a number of fields, such as genetic breeding, disease treatment and gene functional investigation. In this review, we introduce the most recent developments and applications, the challenges, and future directions of Cas9 in generating disease animal model. Derived from the CRISPR adaptive immune system of bacteria, the development trend of Cas9 will inevitably fuel the vital applications from basic research to biotechnology and bio-medicine.
Insects compose more than half of all living organisms on earth, playing essential roles in global ecosystems and forming complex relationships with humans. Insect research has significant biological and practical importance. However, the application of genetic manipulation technology has long been restricted to several model insects only, such as gene knockout in Drosophila, which has severely restrained the development of insect biology research. Recently, with the increase in the release of insect genome data and the introduction of the CRISPR/Cas9 system for efficient genetic modification, it has been possible to conduct meaningful functional studies in a broad array of insect species. Here, we summarize the advances in CRISPR/Cas9 in different insect species, discuss methods for its promotion, and consider its application in future insect studies. This review provides detailed information about the application of the CRISPR/Cas9 system in insect research and presents possible ways to improve its use in functional studies and insect pest control.
In the past three years, RNA-guided Cas9 nuclease from the microbial clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) adaptive immune system has been used to facilitate efficient genome editing in many model and non-model animals. However, its application in nonhuman primates is still at the early stage, though in view of the similarities in anatomy, physiology, behavior and genetics, closely related nonhuman primates serve as optimal models for human biology and disease studies. In this review, we summarize the current proceedings of gene editing using CRISPR/Cas9 in nonhuman primates.
With the development of high-throughput sequencing technology in the post-genomic era, researchers have concentrated their efforts on elucidating the relationships between genes and their corresponding functions. Recently, important progress has been achieved in the generation of genetically modified mice based on CRISPR/Cas9 and haploid embryonic stem cell (haESC) approaches, which provide new platforms for gene function analysis, human disease modeling, and gene therapy. Here, we review the CRISPR/Cas9 and haESC technology for the generation of genetically modified mice and discuss the key challenges in the application of these approaches.
The postpartum period is when a host of changes occur at molecular, cellular, physiological and behavioral levels to prepare female humans for the challenge of maternity. Alteration or prevention of these normal adaptions is thought to contribute to disruptions of emotion regulation, motivation and cognitive abilities that underlie postpartum mental disorders, such as postpartum depression. Despite the high incidence of this disorder, and the detrimental consequences for both mother and child, its etiology and related neurobiological mechanisms remain poorly understood, partially due to the lack of appropriate animal models. In recent decades, there have been a number of attempts to model postpartum depression disorder in rats. In the present review, we first describe clinical symptoms of postpartum depression and discuss known risk factors, including both genetic and environmental factors. Thereafter, we discuss various rat models that have been developed to capture various aspects of this disorder and knowledge gained from such attempts. In doing so, we focus on the theories behind each attempt and the methods used to achieve their goals. Finally, we point out several understudied areas in this field and make suggestions for future directions.
Antimicrobial resistance is an urgent global health challenge in human and veterinary medicine. Wild animals are not directly exposed to clinically relevant antibiotics; however, antibacterial resistance in wild animals has been increasingly reported worldwide in parallel to the situation in human and veterinary medicine. This underlies the complexity of bacterial resistance in wild animals and the possible interspecies transmission between humans, domestic animals, the environment, and wildlife. This review summarizes the current data on expanded-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL), AmpC β-lactamase, carbapenemase, and colistin resistance genes in Enterobacteriaceae isolates of wildlife origin. The aim of this review is to better understand the important role of wild animals as reservoirs and vectors in the global dissemination of crucial clinical antibacterial resistance. In this regard, continued surveillance is urgently needed worldwide.
In September and October 2015, a new species of the family Nemacheilidae, Triplophysa tianxingensis sp. nov., was discovered from underground water in Qiubei County, Yunnan Province, China. It can be distinguished from all other troglobiotic Triplophysa species occurring in Yunnan by the following combination of characters: eyes small, a little degenerated; barbels longer; ventral profiles greatly convex; pectoral fin short, attaining a third of the distance from the pectoral-fin base to pelvic fin base; body with many brown blotches; caudal peduncle with fin fold; caudal fin shallowly forked, and free posterior chamber of swim bladder cylindrical.
The grey wolf (Canis lupus) is one of the most widely distributed terrestrial mammals, and its distribution and ecology in Europe and North America are largely well described. However, the distribution of grey wolves in southern China is still highly controversial. Several well-known western literatures stated that there were no grey wolves in southern China, while the presence of grey wolves across China has been indicated in A Guide to the Mammals of China, published by Princeton University Press. It is essential to solve this discrepancy since dogs may have originated from grey wolves in southern China. Therefore, we systematically investigated Chinese literatures about wild animal surveys and identified more than 100 articles and books that included information of the distribution of grey wolves in China. We also surveyed the collections of three Chinese natural museums and found 26 grey wolf skins specimens collected across China. Moreover, we investigated the fossil records in China and identified 25 archaeological sites with wolf remains including south China. In conclusion, with the comprehensive summary of Chinese literatures, museum specimens and fossil records, we demonstrate that grey wolves do distribute across all parts of the Chinese mainland, including the most southern parts.
Model organisms have long been important in biology and medicine due to their specific characteristics. Amphibians, especially Xenopus, play key roles in answering fundamental questions on developmental biology, regeneration, genetics, and toxicology due to their large and abundant eggs, as well as their versatile embryos, which can be readily manipulated and developed in vivo. Furthermore, amphibians have also proven to be of considerable benefit in human disease research due to their conserved cellular developmental and genomic organization. This review gives a brief introduction on the progress and limitations of these animal models in biology and human disease research, and discusses the potential and challenge of Microhyla fissipes as a new model organism.
The piscidin family, which includes potent antimicrobial peptides with broad-spectrum activity, plays an important role in the innate immune system of fish. In this study, we cloned piscidin-5-like type 3 (Lcpis5lt3) in large yellow croaker (Larimichthys crocea). Multiple alignments with other known piscidins revealed amino acid conservation throughout the fish, especially at the signal peptide (22 amino acids). The phylogenetic tree confirmed that Lcpis5lt3 and large yellow croaker piscidin-5-like proteins were grouped together to form a branch. Quantitative real-time PCR revealed that Lcpis5lt3 was expressed in a wide range of tissues, including the brain, muscle, gill, head kidney, intestine, kidney, liver, and spleen. The highest mRNA expression level of Lcpis5lt3 was found in the spleen. After Vibrio alginolyticus infection, mRNA expression was rapidly upregulated in the liver, head kidney, gill, kidney, and intestine at 4, 8, 12, and 24 h post infection (hpi), whereas there were no significant changes in the spleen. The antimicrobial spectrum showed that the synthetic mature peptide of Lcpis5lt3 exhibited different activity in vitro against various bacteria, such as Aeromonas hydrophila, V. anguillarum, V. alginolyticus, V. parahaemolyticus, Staphylococcus aureus, and Listeria monocytogenes. In addition, survival rates from the in vivo assay indicated that the synthetic peptide of Lcpis5lt3 increased the survival rate of large yellow croaker after V. alginolyticus challenge, resulting in a decline in bacterial burden and mRNA expression levels of interleukin-1β, interleukin-10, and tumor necrosis factor-α. These data suggest that Lcpis5lt3 plays an important role in innate immunity in large yellow croaker and might represent a potential therapeutic agent against pathogen invasion.
As a novel experimental animal model, tree shrews have received increasing attention in recent years. Despite this, little is known in regards to the time phases of their embryonic development. In this study, surveillance systems were used to record the behavior and timing of copulations; embryos at different post-copulation stages were collected and cultured in vitro; and the developmental characteristics of both early-stage and in vitro cultured embryos were determined. A total of 163 females were collected following effective copulation, and 150 were used in either unilateral or bilateral oviduct embryo collections, with 307 embryos from 111 females obtained (conception rate=74%). Among them, 237 embryos were collected from 78 females, bilaterally, i.e., the average embryo number per female was 3.04; 172 fertilized eggs collected from 55 females, bilaterally, were cultured for 24-108 h in vitro for developmental observations; finally, 65 embryos from 23 bilateral cases and 70 embryos from 33 unilateral cases were used in embryo transplantation.
A computer software package called ‘FasParser’ was developed for manipulating sequence data. It can be used on personal computers to perform series of analyses, including counting and viewing differences between two sequences at both DNA and codon levels, identifying overlapping regions between two alignments, sorting of sequences according to their IDs or lengths, concatenating sequences of multiple loci for a particular set of samples, translating nucleotide sequences to amino acids, and constructing alignments in several different formats, as well as some extracting and filtrating of data for a particular FASTA file. Majority of these functions can be run in a batch mode, which is very useful for analyzing large data sets. This package can be used by a broad audience, and is designed for researchers that do not have programming experience in sequence analyses. The GUI version of FasParser can be downloaded from https://github.com/Sun-Yanbo/FasParser, free of charge.
We describe a new species of frog in the dicroglossid genus Fejervarya from Ban Monjong, Omkoi District, Chiang Mai Province, northern Thailand. Analysis of DNA sequence data from the mitochondrial gene 16S, advertisement calls, and morphological distinctiveness support recognition of the new species. Matrilineal genealogy suggests that the new population from Chiang Mai is a sister taxon to the South Asian clade that includes F. syhadrensis, F. granosa, and F. pierrei. The new species, Fejervarya chiangmaiensis sp. nov., differs morphologically from its congeners by its relatively small body size and proportions and the presence of dorsal warts and dermal ridges. Discovery of this new species indicates that the biodiversity of amphibians in this region remains underestimated.
Using total counts in simultaneous annual surveys, we monitored the population size and spatial distribution of oriental white storks (Ciconia boyciana) wintering in Poyang Lake between 1998 and 2011. Results showed that Poyang Lake wetland is an important wintering ground for oriental white storks, with an annual average population number of 2 305±326. The population sizes in 2004, 2005, 2010, and 2011 were higher than the highest-ever estimate of its global population. In 2005, we recorded 3 789 individuals, which was the maximum population number within the period of 1998-2011. The storks inhabited 52 lakes, with the greatest distance between these lakes being 180.3 km. The storks presented a clustered distribution pattern in the Poyang Lake wetland, irrespective of the number of individuals or occurrence frequencies. Shahu, Dahuchi, Banghu, and Hanchihu were most frequently used lakes and had the largest annual average numbers of storks. There was a significant positive correlation between occurrence frequency and annual average number of storks in the lakes. Most of the lakes important for storks were covered by existing nature reserves, though some lakes outside the reserves were also frequently used. About 64.9%±5.5% of the storks were found in nature reserves. In addition, the storks more frequently used and clumped in significantly larger flocks in lakes within nature reserves than lakes outside.
Viral vector transfection systems are among the simplest of biological agents with the ability to transfer genes into the central nervous system. In brain research, a series of powerful and novel gene editing technologies are based on these systems. Although many viral vectors are used in rodents, their full application has been limited in non-human primates. To identify viral vectors that can stably and effectively express exogenous genes within non-human primates, eleven commonly used recombinant adeno-associated viral and lentiviral vectors, each carrying a gene to express green or red fluorescence, were injected into the parietal cortex of four rhesus monkeys. The expression of fluorescent cells was used to quantify transfection efficiency. Histological results revealed that recombinant adeno-associated viral vectors, especially the serotype 2/9 coupled with the cytomegalovirus, human synapsin I, or Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II promoters, and lentiviral vector coupled with the human ubiquitin C promoter, induced higher expression of fluorescent cells, representing high transfection efficiency. This is the first comparison of transfection efficiencies of different viral vectors carrying different promoters and serotypes in non-human primates (NHPs). These results can be used as an aid to select optimal vectors to transfer exogenous genes into the central nervous system of non-human primates.
Early rearing experiences are important in one's whole life, whereas early adverse rearing experience(EARE) is usually related to various physical and mental disorders in later life. Although there were many studies on human and animals, regarding the effect of EARE on brain development, neuroendocrine systems, as well as the consequential mental disorders and behavioral abnormalities, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Due to the close genetic relationship and similarity in social organizations with humans, non-human primate(NHP) studies were performed for over 60 years. Various EARE models were developed to disrupt the early normal interactions between infants and mothers or peers. Those studies provided important insights of EARE induced effects on the physiological and behavioral systems of NHPs across life span, such as social behaviors(including disturbance behavior, social deficiency, sexual behavior, etc), learning and memory ability, brain structural and functional developments(including influences on neurons and glia cells, neuroendocrine systems, e.g., hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal(HPA) axis, etc). In this review, the effects of EARE and the underlying epigenetic mechanisms were comprehensively summarized and the possibility of rehabilitation was discussed.
Northern pig-tailed macaques (NPMs, Macaca leonina) are susceptible to HIV-1 infection largely due to the loss of HIV-1-restricting factor TRIM5α. However, great impediments still exist in the persistent replication of HIV-1 in vivo, suggesting some viral restriction factors are reserved in this host. The APOBEC3 proteins have demonstrated a capacity to restrict HIV-1 replication, but their inhibitory effects in NPMs remain elusive. In this study, we cloned the NPM A3A-A3H genes, and determined by BLAST searching that their coding sequences (CDSs) showed 99% identity to the corresponding counterparts from rhesus and southern pig-tailed macaques. We further analyzed the anti-HIV-1 activities of the A3A-A3H genes, and found that A3G and A3F had the greatest anti-HIV-1 activity compared with that of other members. The results of this study indicate that A3G and A3F might play critical roles in limiting HIV-1 replication in NPMs in vivo. Furthermore, this research provides valuable information for the optimization of monkey models of HIV-1 infection.
Currently many facets of genetic information are ill-defined. In particular, how protein folding is genetically regulated has been a long-standing issue for genetics and protein biology. And a generic mechanistic model with supports of genomic data is still lacking. Recent technological advances have enabled much needed genome-wide experiments. While putting the effect of codon optimality on debate, these studies have supplied mounting evidence suggesting a role of mRNA structure in the regulation of protein folding by modulating translational elongation rate. In conjunctions with previous theories, this mechanistic model of protein folding guided by mRNA structure shall expand our understandings of genetic information and offer new insights into various biomedical puzzles.
Triplophysa daochengensis sp. nov. is described from the Daocheng River, a northern tributary of the Jinsha River in Sichuan Province, China. The new species can be distinguished from its congeners by the following characters: body smooth and scales absent; lateral line complete; caudal peduncle compressed, depth unchanging; head length equal to caudal-peduncle length; lower jaw shovel-shaped; dorsal-fin origin anterior to pelvic-fin origin and closer to the tip of the snout than to the caudal-fin base, last unbranched ray hard; pelvic-fin tip not reaching anus; posterior chamber of gas bladder absent; intestine of spiral type with three winding coils.
Biological invasion is a pervasive negative force of global change, especially in its effects on sensitive freshwater ecosystems. Even protected areas are usually not immune. Ptychobarbus chungtienensis is a threatened freshwater fish now almost confined to Bita Lake, in the Shangri-La region of Yunnan province, China. Its existence is threatened by the introduction of non-native weatherfishes (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus and Paramisgurnus dabryanus) by an unusual method known as ‘prayer animal release’. Periodic surveys revealed the ratio of invasive weatherfishes to P. chungtienensis has been increasing since the former species was first recorded from the lake in August, 2009. Ptychobarbus chungtienensis shows low genetic diversity in the relict Lake Bita population. Weatherfishes, however, have highly successful survival strategies. The degree of dietary overlap between the species is alarming and perhaps critical if food is found to be a limiting factor.
The tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri) is a promising laboratory animal that possesses a closer genetic relationship to primates than to rodents. In addition, advantages such as small size, easy breeding, and rapid reproduction make the tree shrew an ideal subject for the study of human disease. Numerous tree shrew disease models have been generated in biological and medical studies in recent years. Here we summarize current tree shrew disease models, including models of infectious diseases, cancers, depressive disorders, drug addiction, myopia, metabolic diseases, and immune-related diseases. With the success of tree shrew transgenic technology, this species will be increasingly used in biological and medical studies in the future.
Lampreys belong to the superclass Cyclostomata and represent the most ancient group of vertebrates. Existing for over 360 million years, they are known as living fossils due to their many evolutionally conserved features. They are not only a keystone species for studying the origin and evolution of vertebrates, but also one of the best models for researching vertebrate embryonic development and organ differentiation. From the perspective of genetic information, the lamprey genome remains primitive compared with that of other higher vertebrates, and possesses abundant functional genes. Through scientific and technological progress, scientists have conducted in-depth studies on the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems of lampreys. Such research has significance for understanding and revealing the origin and evolution of vertebrates, and could contribute to a greater understanding of human diseases and treatments. This review presents the current progress and significance of lamprey research.
Quality deficiencies in single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analyses have important implications. We used missingness rates to investigate the quality of a recently published dataset containing 424 mitochondrial, 211 Y chromosomal, and 160 432 autosomal SNPs generated by a semicustom Illumina SNP array from 5 392 dogs and 14 grey wolves. Overall, the individual missingness rate for mitochondrial SNPs was ~43.8%, with 980 (18.1%) individuals completely missing mitochondrial SNP genotyping (missingness rate=1). In males, the genotype missingness rate was ~28.8% for Y chromosomal SNPs, with 374 males recording rates above 0.96. These 374 males also exhibited completely failed mitochondrial SNPs genotyping, indicative of a batch effect. Individual missingness rates for autosomal markers were greater than zero, but less than 0.5. Neither mitochondrial nor Y chromosomal SNPs achieved complete genotyping (locus missingness rate=0), whereas 5.9% of autosomal SNPs had a locus missingness rate=1. The high missingness rates and possible batch effect show that caution and rigorous measures are vital when genotyping and analyzing SNP array data for domestic animals. Further improvements of these arrays will be helpful to future studies.
The Chinese tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri chinensis), a squirrel-like and rat-sized mammal, has a wide distribution in Southeast Asia, South and Southwest China and has many unique characteristics that make it suitable for use as an experimental animal. There have been many studies using the tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri) aimed at increasing our understanding of fundamental biological mechanisms and for the modeling of human diseases and therapeutic responses. The recent release of a publicly available annotated genome sequence of the Chinese tree shrew and its genome database (www.treeshrewdb.org) has offered a solid base from which it is possible to elucidate the basic biological properties and create animal models using this species. The extensive characterization of key factors and signaling pathways in the immune and nervous systems has shown that tree shrews possess both conserved and unique features relative to primates. Hitherto, the tree shrew has been successfully used to create animal models for myopia, depression, breast cancer, alcohol-induced or non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, to name a few. The recent successful genetic manipulation of the tree shrew has opened a new avenue for the wider usage of this animal in biomedical research. In this opinion paper, I attempt to summarize the recent research advances that have used the Chinese tree shrew, with a focus on the new knowledge obtained by using the biological properties identified using the tree shrew genome, a proposal for the genome-based approach for creating animal models, and the genetic manipulation of the tree shrew. With more studies using this species and the application of cutting-edge gene editing techniques, the tree shrew will continue to be under the spot light as a viable animal model for investigating the basis of many different human diseases.
Piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA) plays an important role in the gonadal development and maintenance of Teleostei. In this study, piRNA libraries derived from the adult gonads of Japanese flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus) were generated using next-generation sequencing technology. Using zebrafish piRNAs as a reference, 5 865 unique candidate piRNAs were identified; 289 candidate piRNA clusters (PRCs) were generated from the above piRNAs. Among the isolated candidate PRCs, a total of 38 ovary-specific, 45 ovary-bias, 24 testis-specific, and 131 testis-bias PRCs were found. The relative expression levels of seven PRCs were validated through quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. The results of this study will help facilitate exploration of the development and maintenance of the phenotypic sex mechanism in P. olivaceus.
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