The ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by infection with human coronavirus 2019 (HCoV-19 / SARS-CoV-2 / 2019-nCoV), is a global threat to the human population. Here, we briefly summarize the available data for the zoonotic origins of HCoV-19, with reference to the other two epidemics of highly virulent coronaviruses, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, which cause severe pneumonia in humans. We propose to intensify future efforts for tracing the origins of HCoV-19, which is a very important scientific question for the control and prevention of the pandemic.
Interleukin-34 (IL-34) is a novel cytokine that plays an important role in innate immunity and inflammatory processes by binding to the colony-stimulating factor-1 receptor (CSF-1R). However, information on the function of IL-34 in fish remains limited. In the present study, we identified an IL-34 homolog from mudskippers (Boleophthalmus pectinirostris). In silico analysis showed that the mudskipper IL-34 (BpIL-34) was similar to other known IL-34 variants in sequence and structure and was most closely related to an orange-spotted grouper (Epinephelus coioides) homolog. BpIL-34 transcripts were constitutively expressed in various tissues, with the highest level of expression found in the brain. Edwardsiella tarda infection significantly up-regulated the mRNA expression of BpIL-34 in the mudskipper tissues. The recombinant mature BpIL-34 peptide (rBpIL-34) was purified and used to produce anti-rBpIL-34 IgG. Western blot analysis combined with PNGase F digestion revealed that native BpIL-34 in monocytes/macrophages (MOs/MФs) was N-glycosylated. In vitro, rBpIL-34 treatment enhanced the phagocytotic and bactericidal activity of mudskipper MOs/MФs, as well as the mRNA expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines like tumor necrosis factor α (BpTNF-α) and BpIL-1β in these cells. Furthermore, the knockdown of mudskipper CSF-1R1 (BpCSF-1R1), but not mudskipper BpCSF-1R2, significantly inhibited the rBpIL-34-mediated enhanced effect on MO/MФ function. In conclusion, our results indicate that mudskipper BpIL-34 modulates the functions of MOs/MФs via BpCSF-1R1.
Hypobaric hypoxia (HH) exposure can cause serious brain injury as well as life-threatening cerebral edema in severe cases. Previous studies on the mechanisms of HH-induced brain injury have been conducted primarily using non-primate animal models that are genetically distant to humans, thus hindering the development of disease treatment. Here, we report that cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) exposed to acute HH developed human-like HH syndrome involving severe brain injury and abnormal behavior. Transcriptome profiling of white blood cells and brain tissue from monkeys exposed to increasing altitude revealed the central role of the HIF-1 and other novel signaling pathways, such as the vitamin D receptor (VDR) signaling pathway, in co-regulating HH-induced inflammation processes. We also observed profound transcriptomic alterations in brains after exposure to acute HH, including the activation of angiogenesis and impairment of aerobic respiration and protein folding processes, which likely underlie the pathological effects of HH-induced brain injury. Administration of progesterone (PROG) and steroid neuroprotectant 5α-androst-3β,5,6β-triol (TRIOL) significantly attenuated brain injuries and rescued the transcriptomic changes induced by acute HH. Functional investigation of the affected genes suggested that these two neuroprotectants protect the brain by targeting different pathways, with PROG enhancing erythropoiesis and TRIOL suppressing glutamate-induced excitotoxicity. Thus, this study advances our understanding of the pathology induced by acute HH and provides potential compounds for the development of neuroprotectant drugs for therapeutic treatment.
The outbreak of COVID-19 started in mid-December 2019 in Wuhan, China. Up to 29 February 2020, SARS-CoV-2 (HCoV-19 / 2019-nCoV) had infected more than 85 000 people in the world. In this study, we used 93 complete genomes of SARS-CoV-2 from the GISAID EpiFluTM database to investigate the evolution and human-to-human transmissions of SARS-CoV-2 in the first two months of the outbreak. We constructed haplotypes of the SARS-CoV-2 genomes, performed phylogenomic analyses and estimated the potential population size changes of the virus. The date of population expansion was calculated based on the expansion parameter tau (τ) using the formula t=τ/2u. A total of 120 substitution sites with 119 codons, including 79 non-synonymous and 40 synonymous substitutions, were found in eight coding-regions in the SARS-CoV-2 genomes. Forty non-synonymous substitutions are potentially associated with virus adaptation. No combinations were detected. The 58 haplotypes (31 found in samples from China and 31 from outside China) were identified in 93 viral genomes under study and could be classified into five groups. By applying the reported bat coronavirus genome (bat-RaTG13-CoV) as the outgroup, we found that haplotypes H13 and H38 might be considered as ancestral haplotypes, and later H1 was derived from the intermediate haplotype H3. The population size of the SARS-CoV-2 was estimated to have undergone a recent expansion on 06 January 2020, and an early expansion on 08 December 2019. Furthermore, phyloepidemiologic approaches have recovered specific directions of human-to-human transmissions and the potential sources for international infected cases.
Leopard coral groupers belong to the Plectropomus genus of the Epinephelidae family and are important fish for coral reef ecosystems and the marine aquaculture industry. To promote future research of this species, a high-quality chromosome-level genome was assembled using PacBio sequencing and Hi-C technology. A 787.06 Mb genome was assembled, with 99.7% (784.57 Mb) of bases anchored to 24 chromosomes. The leopard coral grouper genome size was smaller than that of other groupers, which may be related to its ancient status among grouper species. A total of 22 317 protein-coding genes were predicted. This high-quality genome of the leopard coral grouper is the first genomic resource for Plectropomus and should provide a pivotal genetic foundation for further research. Phylogenetic analysis of the leopard coral grouper and 12 other fish species showed that this fish is closely related to the brown-marbled grouper. Expanded genes in the leopard coral grouper genome were mainly associated with immune response and movement ability, which may be related to the adaptive evolution of this species to its habitat. In addition, we also identified differentially expressed genes (DEGs) associated with carotenoid metabolism between red and brown-colored leopard coral groupers. These genes may play roles in skin color decision by regulating carotenoid content in these groupers.
The genus-level recognition of monophyletic short-legged toads (Brachytarsophrys) has been recently implicated in the taxonomic debate of Megophrys sensu lato. In the present study, Brachytarsophrys is reasonably regarded as a distinct genus based on significant morphological differentiations and recent molecular analyses. Furthermore, a comprehensive review of this genus is performed, with two species groups proposed based on morphological differences and phylogenetic relationships. Particularly, Brachytarsophrys platyparietus is removed as a synonym of Brachytarsophrys carinense and considered a valid species due to significant genetic divergence and distinct morphological differences. In addition, a new species, Brachytarsophrys orientalis sp . nov ., is described based on a series of specimens collected from southeastern China. This work takes the member species of the genus Brachytarsophrys to seven, suggesting that the diversity of Brachytarsophrys is underestimated. In addition, the genus levels of other monophyletic groups within the subfamily Megophryinae are discussed.