Why humans have large brains with higher cognitive abilities is a question long asked by scientists. However, much remains unknown, especially the underlying genetic mechanisms. With the use of a transgenic monkey model, we showed that human-specific sequence changes of a key brain development gene (primary microcephaly1, MCPH1) could result in detectable molecular and cognitive changes resembling human neoteny, a notable characteristic developed during human evolution.
This research aimed to provide evidence of a relationship between digit ratio and depression status in the cynomolgus monkey (Macaca fascicularis). In stable cynomolgus monkey social groups, we selected 15 depressed monkeys based on depressive-like behavioral criteria and 16 normal control monkeys. All animals were video recorded for two weeks, with the duration and frequency of the core depressive behaviors and 58 other behaviors in 12 behavioral categories then evaluated via behavioral analysis. Finger lengths from the right and left forelimb hands of both groups were measured by X-ray imaging. Finger length and digit ratio comparisons between the two groups were conducted using Student’s t-test. In terms of the duration of each behavior, significant differences emerged in “Huddling” and five other behavioral categories, including Ingestive, Amicable, Parental, Locomotive, and Resting. In addition to the above five behavioral categories, we found that depressed monkeys spent less time in parental and rubbing ‘ and forth behaviors than the control group. Furthermore, the 4th fingers were significantly longer in the left and right hands in the control group relative to the depressed monkeys. The second-to-fourth (2D:4D) digit ratio in the left and right forelimb hands was significantly lower in the control group than that in the depressed group. Our findings revealed significant differences in finger lengths and digit ratios between depressed monkeys and healthy controls, which concords with our view that relatively high fetal testosterone exposure may be a protective factor against developing depressive symptoms (or that low fetal testosterone exposure is a risk factor).
Gibbons in China represent the northernmost margin of present day gibbon species distribution (around N25°). Compared to tropical habitats, northern gibbon habitats are characterized by low temperatures and remarkable seasonal variation in fruit abundance. How gibbons adapt to their cold and seasonal habitats and what ecological factors affect their sociality are key questions for understanding their ecology and social system evolution, the elucidation of which will contribute to the conservation of these special populations/species. According to preliminary short-term studies, northern gibbons consume more leaves and use larger home ranges than tropical gibbons. Interestingly, some Nomascus groups consist of more than one adult female. However, these preliminary results are not well understood or incorporated into current socio-ecological theories regarding gibbon species. To better understand northern gibbons, our team has systematically studied three habituated groups of Nomascus concolor, three groups of N. nasutus, and two habituated groups of Hoolock tianxing since 2002. In this paper, we stress the challenges facing gibbons living in northern habitats and summarize their behavioral adaptations to their harsh environments. We also describe the northern gibbon social system and discuss the potential relationships between their ecology and sociality. Finally, we highlight future research questions related to northern gibbons in China.
China supports the richest non-human primate diversity in the northern hemisphere, providing an excellent opportunity for Chinese primatologists to take a leading role in advancing the study of primatology. Primatology in China began to flourish after 1979. To date, Chinese primatologists have published more than 1000 papers in journals indexed by the Chinese Science Citation Database and the Web of Science Core Collection, and universities and academic institutions have trained 107 PhD students and 370 Masters students between 1984 and 2016. In total, the National Science Foundation of China has funded 129 primate projects (71.7 million Yuan) supporting 59 researchers from 28 organizations. However, previous research has also shown obvious species bias. Rhinopithecus roxellana, Rhinopithecus bieti, and Macaca mulatta have received much greater research attention than other species. Researchers have also tended to continue to study the same species (55.2%) they studied during their PhD training. To promote the development of primatology in China, we suggest 1) the need for a comprehensive primatology textbook written in Chinese, 2) continued training of more PhD students, and 3) encouragement to study less well-known primate species.
Parasites can increase infection rates andpathogenicity in immunocompromised humanimmunodeficiency virus (HIV) patients. However, invitro studies and epidemiological investigationsalso suggest that parasites might escapeimmunocompromised hosts during HIV infection.Due to the lack of direct evidence from animalexperiments, the effects of parasitic infections onimmunocompromised hosts remain unclear. Here,we detected 14 different parasites in six northernpig-tailed macaques (NPMs) before or during the50th week of post-simian immunodeficiency virus(SIV) infection by ELISA. The NPMs all carriedparasites before viral injection. At the 50th week afterviral injection, the individuals with negative resultsin parasitic detection (i.e., 08247 and 08287) werecharacterized as the Parasites Exit (PE) group, withthe other individuals (i.e., 09203, 09211, 10205, and10225) characterized as the Parasites Remain (PR)group. Compared with the PR group, the NPMs in thePE group showed higher viral loads, lower CD4+ Tcells counts, and lower CD4/CD8 rates. Additionally,the PE group had higher immune activation andimmune exhaustion of both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells.Pathological observation showed greater injury tothe liver, cecum, colon, spleen, and mesentericlymph nodes in the PE group. This study showedmore seriously compromised immunity in the PEgroup, strongly indicating that parasites might exit animmunocompromised host.
The distribution of the capped langur (Trachypithecus pileatus) in China has become controversial since Shortridge’s langur (Trachypithecus shortridgei) was upgraded to a full species. The capped langur is considered to be distributed in northeast India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and northwest Myanmar only (Brandon-Jones et al., 2004; Choudhury, 2008, 2014; Das et al., 2008; Groves, 2001). In our field survey, however, we obtained photos of the capped langur, demonstrating its existence in China.
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.
Polymeric immunoglobulin receptors(pIgR) are key participants in the formation and secretion of secretory IgA(S-IgA), which is critical for the prevention of microbial infection and colonization in the respiratory system. Although increased respiratory colonization and infections are common in HIV/AIDS, little is known about the expression of pIgR in the airway mucosa of these patients. To address this, the expression levels of pIgR in the tracheal mucosa and lungs of SHIV/SIV-infected rhesus macaques were examined by real-time RTPCR and confocal microscopy. We found that the levels of both PIGR mRNA and pIgR immunoreactivity were lower in the tracheal mucosa of SHIV/SIV-infected rhesus macaques than that in non-infected rhesus macaques, and the difference in pIgR immunoreactivity was statistically significant. IL-17A, which enhances pIgR expression, was also changed in the same direction as that of pIgR. In contrast to changes in the tracheal mucosa, pIgR and IL-17A levels were higher in the lungs of infected rhesus macaques. These results indicated abnormal pIgR expression in SHIV/SIV, and by extension HIV infections, which might partially result from IL-17A alterations and might contribute to the increased microbial colonization and infection related to pulmonary complications in HIV/AIDS.
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.
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.
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.
Stress from dominance ranks in human societies, or that of other social animals, especially nonhuman primates, can have negative influences on health. Individuals holding different social status may be burdened with various stress levels. The middle class experiences a special stress situation within the dominance hierarchy due to its position between the higher and lower classes. Behaviorally, questions about where middle-class stress comes from and how individuals adapt to middle-class stress remain poorly understood in nonhuman primates. In the present study, social interactions, including aggression, avoidance, grooming and mounting behaviors, between beta males, as well as among group members holding higher or lower social status, were analyzed in captive male-only cynomolgus monkey groups. We found that aggressive tension from the higher hierarchy members was the main origin of stress for middle-class individuals. However, behaviors such as attacking lower hierarchy members immediately after being the recipient of aggression, as well as increased avoidance, grooming and mounting toward both higher and lower hierarchy members helped alleviate middle-class stress and were particular adaptations to middle-class social status.
Recent advances in high-throughput sequencing technologies have revolutionized the field of population genetics. Data now routinely contain genomic level polymorphism information, and the low cost of DNA sequencing enables researchers to investigate tens of thousands of subjects at a time. This provides an unprecedented opportunity to address fundamental evolutionary questions, while posing challenges on traditional population genetic theories and methods. This review provides an overview of the recent methodological developments in the field of population genetics, specifically methods used to infer ancient population history and investigate natural selection using large-sample, large-scale genetic data. Several open questions are also discussed at the end of the review.
Non-human primates often live in socially stable groups characterized by bonded relationships among individuals. Social organization can be used to evaluate living conditions and expansion potential. Bisexual group size, ratio of males to females and group composition are essential elements determining the type of social organization. Although the first report on Shortridge's capped langurs (Trachypithecus shortridgei) was in the 1970s, until now, the species only inhabits forests of the Dulongjiang valley in northwest Yunnan, China, with c. 250-370 individuals in 19 populations. To understand its social organization, we collected data from five groups of Shortridge's langurs at Silaluo in the Dulongjiang valley during August 2012-October 2013. Family groups consist of one adult male, 2–3 adult females and up to five young. Group size averaged 8 (7-9) individuals. The ratio of adult males to females (M/F) was 1:2.9, infants to adult females was (I/F) 1:2.2; and ratio of adults to immatures was 1:1.2, indicating the potential of a population increasing. Birth season was during March-July and the inter-birth interval was two years.
Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) enters productive infection after infecting epithelial cells, where it controls the host nucleus to make viral proteins, starts viral DNA synthesis and assembles infectious virions. In this process, replicating viral genomes are organized into replication centers to facilitate viral growth. HSV-1 is known to use host factors, including host chromatin and host transcription regulators, to transcribe its genes; however, the invading virus also encounters host defense and stress responses to inhibit viral growth. Recently, we found that HSV-1 replication centers recruit host factor CTCF but exclude γH2A.X. Thus, HSV-1 replication centers may selectively recruit cellular factors needed for viral growth, while excluding host factors that are deleterious for viral transcription or replication. Here we report that the viral replication centers selectively excluded modified histone H3, including heterochromatin mark H3K9me3, H3S10P and active chromatin mark H3K4me3, but not unmodified H3. We found a dynamic association between the viral replication centers and host RNA polymerase II. The centers also recruited components of the DNA damage response pathway, including 53BP1, BRCA1 and host antiviral protein SP100. Importantly, we found that ATM kinase was needed for the recruitment of CTCF to the viral centers. These results suggest that the HSV-1 replication centers took advantage of host signaling pathways to actively recruit or exclude host factors to benefit viral growth.
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