2022 Vol. 43, No. 5

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2022-5 Contents
2022, 43(5): 1-1.
The abundance of domesticated sheep varieties and phenotypes is largely the result of long-term natural and artificial selection. However, there is limited information regarding the genetic mechanisms underlying phenotypic variation induced by the domestication and improvement of sheep. In this study, to explore genomic diversity and selective regions at the genome level, we sequenced the genomes of 100 sheep across 10 breeds and combined these results with publicly available genomic data from 225 individuals, including improved breeds, Chinese indigenous breeds, African indigenous breeds, and their Asian mouflon ancestor. Based on population structure, the domesticated sheep formed a monophyletic group, while the Chinese indigenous sheep showed a clear geographical distribution trend. Comparative genomic analysis of domestication identified several selective signatures, including IFI44 and IFI44L genes and PANK2 and RNF24 genes, associated with immune response and visual function. Population genomic analysis of improvement demonstrated that candidate genes of selected regions were mainly associated with pigmentation, energy metabolism, and growth development. Furthermore, the IFI44 and IFI44L genes showed a common selection signature in the genomes of 30 domesticated sheep breeds. The IFI44 c. 54413058 C>G mutation was selected for genotyping and population genetic validation. Results showed that the IFI44 polymorphism was significantly associated with partial immune traits. Our findings identified the population genetic basis of domesticated sheep at the whole-genome level, providing theoretical insights into the molecular mechanism underlying breed characteristics and phenotypic changes during sheep domestication and improvement.
Evolutionary biologists are always interested in deciphering the geographic context of diversification, therefore they introduced the concept of comparative phylogeography, which helps to identify common mechanisms that contribute to shared genetic structures among organisms from the same region. Here, we used multi-locus genetic data along with environmental data to investigate shared phylogeographic patterns among three Asian-endemic newt genera, Cynops, Paramesotriton and Pachytriton, which occurred in montane/submontane streams or ponds in southern China. Our 222 samples from 78 localities covered the entire range of the three genera and represented the largest dataset of this group to date. We reconstructed matrilineal genealogies from two protein-coding, mitochondrial genes, and gene network from two nuclear genes. We also estimated divergence times of major cladogenetic events and used occurrence data to evaluate niche difference and similarity between lineages. Our results revealed a common basal split in all three genera that corresponds to the separation of two geographic terrains of southern China. Those ancient divergence occurred during middle to late Miocene and likely correlate with paleoclimatic fluctuations caused by the uplift of the Qinghai-Xizang (Tibet) Plateau (QTP). Particularly, the strengthening and weakening of Asian summer monsoons during the Miocene may have profoundly impacted southern China and led to repeatedly vicariance in those newts. However, despite differences in realized niches between lineages, there is no evidence for divergence of fundamental niches. Preservation of old newt matriline lineages in mountains of southern China suggests that the region acts as both museums and cradles of speciation. Based on those results, we advocate a multi-pronged protection strategy for newts in the three genera.
Reptile sex determination is attracting much attention because the great diversity of sex-determination and dosage compensation mechanisms permits us to approach fundamental questions about mechanisms of sex chromosome turnover. Recent studies have made significant progress in better understanding diversity and conservation of reptile sex chromosomes, with however no reptile master sex determination genes identified. Here we describe an integrated genomics and cytogenetics pipeline, combining probes generated from the microdissected sex chromosomes with transcriptome and genome sequencing to explore the sex chromosome diversity in non-model Australian reptiles. We tested our pipeline on a turtle, two species of geckos, and a monitor lizard. Genes identified on sex chromosomes were compared to the chicken genome to identify homologous regions among the four species. We identified candidate sex determining genes within these regions, including conserved vertebrate sex-determining genes pdgfa, pdgfra amh and wt1, and demonstrated their testis or ovary-specific expression. All four species showed gene-by-gene rather than chromosome-wide dosage compensation. Our results imply that reptile sex chromosomes originated by independent acquisition of sex-determining genes on different autosomes, as well as translocations between different ancestral macro- and microchromosomes. We discuss the evolutionary drivers of the slow differentiation and turnover of reptile sex chromosomes.
Letter to the editor
Glaucoma is characterized by the progressive loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), although the pathogenic mechanism remains largely unknown. To study the mechanism and assess RGC degradation, mouse models are often used to simulate human glaucoma and specific markers are used to label and quantify RGCs. However, manually counting RGCs is time-consuming and prone to distortion due to subjective bias. Furthermore, semi-automated counting methods can produce significant differences due to different parameters, thereby failing objective evaluation. Here, to improve counting accuracy and efficiency, we developed an automated algorithm based on the improved YOLOv5 model, which uses five channels instead of one, with a squeeze-and-excitation block added. The complete number of RGCs in an intact mouse retina was obtained by dividing the retina into small overlapping areas and counting, and then merging the divided areas using a non-maximum suppression algorithm. The automated quantification results showed very strong correlation (mean Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.993) with manual counting. Importantly, the model achieved an average precision of 0.981. Furthermore, the graphics processing unit (GPU) calculation time for each retina was less than 1 min. The developed software has been uploaded online as a free and convenient tool for studies using mouse models of glaucoma, which should help elucidate disease pathogenesis and potential therapeutics.
Letter to the editor
Animal-derived biological products, such as fetal bovine serum (FBS) and trypsin, are important supplements for scientific, pharmaceutical, and medical use. Although preventive guidelines and tests are implemented to reduce potential viral contamination in these biologicals, they do not target unusual or emerging viruses, leading to safety concerns. Using unbiased metagenomics, we investigated the presence of viruses in recently collected commercial FBS and trypsin samples from different geographic regions. In total, we detected viral sequences belonging to Parvoviridae, Anelloviridae, Flaviviridae, Herpesviridae, Caliciviridae, Nodaviridae, Rhabdoviridae, and Paramyxoviridae, including several viruses related to bovine diseases, viruses of potential human and insect origin, and viruses of unknown origin. Bovine parvovirus 3 and bosavirus were detected with high frequency and abundance in FBS, necessitating more stringent testing for these parvoviruses during production. Both bovine norovirus and bovine viral diarrhea virus 1 displayed relatively high genetic distance to closest hits, indicating the presence of new genotypes in farm animals. While the origin of novel lyssavirus and Nipah virus is unclear, their presence raises the possibility of the introduction of pathogenic animal-derived viruses into biologicals. Our results showed relatively widespread contamination of different viruses in biologicals, underscoring the need for robust safety protocol alternatives, such as metagenomic sequencing, to monitor emerging viruses.
Karst habitats are hotspots of diversity and endemism. Their naturally fragmented distributions across broad geographic landscapes have led to the complex array of smaller evolutionary ecosystems that present unique challenges from a conservation perspective. Comprehensive biodiversity assessments of karst habitats have revealed that these ecosystems contain an almost unparalleled level of endemism, and many site-restricted species remain undescribed, thus posing considerable challenges for effective conservation management. Small rock-dwelling species, such as geckos, may be particularly prone to such isolation. In this paper, we discuss one such genus, i.e., Hemiphyllodactylus, and explore its diversity across karst landforms in Yunnan Province, southwestern China. Based on morphological and genetic data, we describe two new species of Hemiphyllodactylus from karst habitats in Simao District and Yanshan County. A phylogenetic tree for Hemiphyllodactylus was constructed using 1 039 base pairs (bp) of the mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 gene (ND2). The Simao and Yanshan specimens can be distinguished from all other congeners within their respective subclades based on uncorrected genetic pairwise distances greater than 6.3% and 4.3% respectively, as well as significant morphological differences. The discovery and description of these two new species brings the total number of described Hemiphyllodactylus species in China to 14 and indicates many more undescribed species from unsurveyed karst regions await discovery. Our findings suggest that karst ecosystems in Yunnan support a higher diversity of Hemiphyllodactylus than previously known. This study also highlights the importance of karst ecosystems as refugia for site-specific endemic species and the need for heightened conservation efforts.
The Paramesotriton Chang, 1935 genus of Asian warty newts is the second most diverse genus in the family Salamandridae, currently containing 14 recognized species from northern Vietnam to southwest-central and southern China. Although species of this genus have been included in previous phylogenetic studies, the origin and interspecific relationships of the genus are still not fully resolved, especially at key nodes in the phylogeny. In this study, we sequenced mitochondrial genomes and 32 nuclear genes from 27 samples belonging to 14 species to reconstruct the interspecific phylogenetic relationships within Paramesotriton and explore its historical biogeography in southern China. Both Bayesian inference and maximum-likelihood analyses highly supported the monophyly of Paramesotriton and its two recognized species groups (P. caudopunctatus and P. chinensis groups) and further identified five hypothetical phylogenetic cryptic species. Biogeographic analyses indicated that Paramesotriton originated in southwestern China (Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau/South China) during the late Oligocene. The time of origin of Paramesotriton corresponded to the second uplift of the Himalayan/Qinghai-Xizang (Tibetan) Plateau (QTP), rapid lateral extrusion of Indochina, and formation of karst landscapes in southwestern China. Principal component analysis (PCA), independent sample t-tests, and niche differentiation using bioclimatic variables based on locations of occurrence suggested that Paramesotriton habitat conditions in the three current regions (West, South, and East) differ significantly, with different levels of climatic niche differentiation. Species distribution model (SDM) predictions indicated that the most suitable distribution areas for the P. caudopunctatus and P. chinensis species groups are western and southern/eastern areas of southern China. This study increases our knowledge of the taxonomy, biodiversity, origin, and suitable distribution areas of the genus Paramesotriton based on phylogenetic, biogeographic, and species distribution models.
The divergence and continuous evolution of plants and animals contribute to ecological diversity. Promoters and transcription factors (TFs) are key determinants of gene regulation and transcription throughout life. However, the evolutionary trajectories and relationships of promoters and TFs are still poorly understood. Here, we conducted extensive analysis of large-scale multi-omics sequences in 420 animal species and 223 plant species spanning nearly a billion years of evolutionary history. Results showed that promoter GC-content and TF isoelectric points, as features/signatures that accompany long biological evolution, exhibited increasing growth in animal cells but a decreasing trend in plant cells. Furthermore, the evolutionary trajectories of promoter and TF signatures in the animal kingdom provided further evidence that Mammalia as well as Aves evolved directly from the ancestor Reptilia. The strong correlation between promoter and TF signatures indicates that promoters and TFs formed antagonistic coevolution in the animal kingdom, but mutualistic coevolution in the plant kingdom. The distinct coevolutionary patterns potentially drive the plant-animal divergence, divergent evolution and ecological diversity.
Pikas (Lagomorpha: Ochotonidae) are small mouse-like lagomorphs. To investigate their adaptation to different ecological environments during their dispersal from the Qinghai-Xizang (Tibet) Plateau (QTP), we collected 226 pikas and measured 20 morphological characteristics and recorded habitat information. We also sequenced the genome of 81 specimens, representing 27 putative pika species. The genome-wide tree based on 4 090 coding genes identified five subgenera, i.e., Alienauroa, Conothoa, Lagotona, Ochotona, and Pika, consistent with morphometric data. Morphologically, Alienauroa and Ochotona had similar traits, including smaller size and earlier divergence time compared to other pikas. Consistently, the habitats of Alienauroa and Ochotona differed from those of the remaining subgenera. Phylogenetic signal analysis detected 83 genes significantly related to morphological characteristics, including several visual and hearing-related genes. Analysis of shared amino acid substitutions and positively selected genes (PSGs) in Alienauroa and Ochotona identified two genes, i.e., mitochondrial function-related TSFM (p.Q155E) and low-light visual sensitivity-related PROM1 (p.H419Y). Functional experiments demonstrated that TSFM-155E significantly enhanced mitochondrial function compared to TSFM-155Q in other pikas, and PROM1-419Y decreased the modeling of dynamic intracellular chloride efflux upon calcium uptake. Alienauroa and Ochotona individuals mostly inhabit different environments (e.g., subtropical forests) than other pikas, suggesting that a shift from the larger ancestral type and changes in sensory acuity and energy enhancement may have been required in their new environments. This study increases our understanding of the evolutionary history of pikas.
During faunal studies of psammophilic ciliates along the coast of Qingdao, China, several marine karyorelictean species were isolated. Among them, four species within the genus Remanella were investigated, including two species new to science: i.e., R. rugosa, Remanella elongata sp. nov. , Remanella aposinica sp. nov. , and R. unicorpusculata. Remanella rugosa has been reported several times, but this study is the first to provide detailed morphological characters and phylogenetics. Remanella elongata sp. nov. can be distinguished from its congeners by the presence of complex cortical granules, fewer macronuclei, and longer body size. Remanella aposinica sp. nov. differs from its congeners by having 14–17 right lateral ciliary rows and 24–37 dikinetids of intrabuccal kinety. Poorly known Remanella rugosa var. unicorpusculata (Kahl, 1933) Foissner, 1996 should be elevated from subspecies to species level, Remanella unicorpusculata (Foissner, 1996) stat. nov. , based on detailed redescriptions with statistical data, living morphology, infraciliature, and species definitions. Small subunit (SSU) rDNA was sequenced for the four species, and phylogenetic analysis revealed that all known taxa in Remanella formed the outline branch to the genus Loxodes with moderate to high bootstrap support among Remanella lineages.
Hatching asynchrony in birds is considered an adaptation to facilitate brood reduction because under conditions of food scarcity, the smallest nestling usually dies soon after hatching, thereby minimizing parental effort. However, in species with extreme hatching asynchrony, the last hatchlings paradoxically experience a very low probability of survival and death can take so long that it can hardly be considered an adaptation. Here, we propose and experimentally tested a new adaptive hypothesis explaining the brood reduction paradox, namely the “Male Manipulation Hypothesis”. Our hypothesis suggests that by inducing asynchronous hatching, females increase the feeding requirements of the brood, which will induce males to increase provisioning effort. In addition, females may extend the period of male manipulation by feeding the smallest nestling just enough to sustain life. Our study showed that male common blackbirds (Turdus merula) increased their effort (i.e., number of food items per hour) in experimental asynchronous broods compared to synchronous broods, while females reduced their contribution, as predicted by the hypothesis.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder prevalent in school-age children. At present, however, its etiologies and risk factors are unknown. Transmembrane α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptor regulatory protein γ-8 (TARP γ-8, also known as calcium voltage-gated channel auxiliary subunit gamma 8 (CACNG8)) is an auxiliary AMPA receptor (AMPAR) subunit. Here, we report an association between TARP γ-8 and ADHD, whereby adolescent TARP γ-8 knockout (KO) mice exhibited ADHD-like behaviors, including hyperactivity, impulsivity, anxiety, impaired cognition, and memory deficits. Human single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis also revealed strong associations between intronic alleles in CACNG8 genes and ADHD susceptibility. In addition, synaptosomal proteomic analysis revealed dysfunction of the AMPA glutamate receptor complex in the hippocampi of TARP γ-8 KO mice. Proteomic analysis also revealed dysregulation of dopaminergic and glutamatergic transmissions in the prefrontal cortices of TARP γ-8 KO mice. Methylphenidate (MPH), which is commonly used to treat ADHD, significantly rescued the major behavioral deficits and abnormal synaptosomal proteins in TARP γ-8 KO mice. Notably, MPH significantly reversed the up-regulation of Grik2 and Slc6a3 in the prefrontal cortex. MPH also significantly improved synaptic AMPAR complex function by up-regulating other AMPAR auxiliary proteins in hippocampal synaptosomes. Taken together, our results suggest that TARP γ-8 is involved in the development of ADHD in humans. This study provides a useful alternative animal model with ADHD-like phenotypes related to TARP γ-8 deficiency, which has great potential for the development of new therapies.
Letter to the editor
Various peptide toxins in animal venom inhibit voltage-gated sodium ion channel Nav1.7, including Nav-targeting spider toxin (NaSpTx) Family I. Toxins in NaSpTx Family I share a similar structure, i.e., N-terminal, loops 1–4, and C-terminal. Here, we used Mu-theraphotoxin-Ca2a (Ca2a), a peptide isolated from Cyriopagopus albostriatus, as a template to investigate the general properties of toxins in NaSpTx Family I. The toxins interacted with the cell membrane prior to binding to Nav1.7 via similar hydrophobic residues. Residues in loop 1, loop 4, and the C-terminal primarily interacted with the S3–S4 linker of domain II, especially basic amino acids binding to E818. We also identified the critical role of loop 2 in Ca2a regarding its affinity to Nav1.7. Our results provide further evidence that NaSpTx Family I toxins share similar structures and mechanisms of binding to Nav1.7.
Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a significant clinical complication with a substantial impact on morbidity and mortality, for which therapeutic options remain limited. The Hippo signaling pathway is an evolutionarily conserved pathway implicated in cell proliferation, dedifferentiation, and apoptosis via phosphorylation and inactivation of its downstream effectors Yes-associated protein (YAP)/ transcriptional co-activator with PDZ-binding motif (TAZ). Recent studies have revealed that the Hippo pathway plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis and repair of AKI. The Hippo pathway can mediate renal dysfunction through modulation of mitochondrial apoptosis under AKI conditions. Transient activation of YAP/TAZ in the acute phase of AKI may benefit renal recovery and regeneration, whereas persistent activation of YAP/TAZ in severe AKI may lead to maladaptive repair and transition to chronic kidney disease. This review aims to summarize recent findings on the associations between the Hippo pathway and AKI and to identify new therapeutic targets and strategies for AKI.