Two inbred mouse strains, CBA/J and CBA/CaJ, have been used nearly interchangeably as ‘good hearing’ standards for research in hearing and deafness. We recently reported, however, that these two strains diverge after 1 year of age, such that CBA/CaJ mice show more rapid elevation of compound action potential (CAP) thresholds at high frequencies (Ohlemiller, Brain Res. 1277: 70–83, 2009). One contributor is progressive decline in endocochlear potential (EP) that appears only in CBA/CaJ. Here, we explore the cellular bases of threshold and EP disparities in old CBA/J and CBA/CaJ mice. Among the major findings, both strains exhibit a characteristic age (∼18 months in CBA/J and 24 months in CBA/CaJ) when females overtake males in sensitivity decline. Strain differences in progression of hearing loss are not due to greater hair cell loss in CBA/CaJ, but instead appear to reflect greater neuronal loss, plus more pronounced changes in the lateral wall, leading to EP decline. While both male and female CBA/CaJ show these pathologies, they are more pronounced in females. A novel feature that differed sharply by strain was moderate loss of outer sulcus cells (or ‘root’ cells) in spiral ligament of the upper basal turn in old CBA/CaJ mice, giving rise to deep indentations and void spaces in the ligament. We conclude that CBA/CaJ mice differ both quantitatively and qualitatively from CBA/J in age-related cochlear pathology, and model different types of presbycusis.
presbycusis; stria vascularis; spiral ligament; endocochlear potential; hair cells; outer sulcus cells; marginal cells; gender effects; spiral ganglion
Crystallization of a family 84 glycoside hydrolase, a putative virulence factor, secreted by C. perfringens is reported.
Clostridium perfringens is a ubiquitous environmental organism that is capable of causing a variety of diseases in mammals, including gas gangrene and necrotic enteritis in humans. The activity of a secreted hyaluronidase, attributed to the NagH protein, contributes to the pathogenicity of this organism. The family 84 catalytic module of one of the three homologues of NagH found in C. perfringens (ATCC 13124) has been cloned. The 69 kDa catalytic module of NagJ, here called GH84C, was overproduced in Escherichia coli and purified by immobilized metal-affinity chromatography (IMAC). Crystals belonging to space group I222 or I212121 with unit-cell parameters a = 130.39, b = 150.05, c = 155.43 Å were obtained that diffracted to 2.1 Å. Selenomethionyl crystals have also been produced, leading to the possibility of solving the phase problem by MAD using synchrotron radiation.
Clostridium perfringens; hyaluronidases; family 84 glycoside hydrolases; carbohydrates; hexosaminidases
Accurate readability assessment of health related materials is a critical first step in producing easily understandable consumer health information resources and personal health records. Existing general readability formulas may not always be appropriate for the medical/consumer health domain. We developed a new health-specific readability pilot measure, based on the differences in semantic and syntactic features as well as text unit length. The tool was tested with 4 types of materials: consumer health texts, electronic health records, health news articles, and scientific biomedical journals. The results were compared with those produced by three commonly used general readability formulas. While the general formulas underestimated the difficulty of health records by placing them at the same grade levels as consumer health texts, our method rated health records as the most difficult type of documents. Our ratings, however, were highly correlated with general formulas ratings of consumer health, news, and journal articles (r=0.81~0.85, p<.0001).
readability; consumer health informatics
Extensive morphogenetic remodelling takes place during metamorphosis from a larval to an adult insect body plan. These changes are particularly intricate in the generation of the dipteran wing hinge, a complex structure that is derived from an apparently simple region of the wing imaginal disc. Using the characterisation of original outstretched alleles of the unpaired locus as a starting point, we demonstrate the role of JAK/STAT pathway signalling in the process of wing hinge development. We show that differences in JAK/STAT signalling within the proximal most of three lateral folds present in the wing imaginal disc is required for fold morphology and the subsequent differentiation of the first and second auxiliary sclerites as well as the posterior notal wing process. Changes in these domains are consistent with the established fate map of the wing disc. We show that outstretched wing posture phenotypes arise from the loss of a region of Unpaired expression in the proximal wing fold and demonstrate that this results in a decrease in JAK/STAT pathway activity. Finally we show that reduction of JAK/STAT pathway activity within the proximal wing fold is sufficient to phenocopy the outstretched phenotype. Taken together, we suggest that localised Unpaired expression and hence JAK/STAT pathway activity, is required for the morphogenesis of the adult wing hinge, providing new insights into the link between signal transduction pathways, patterning and development.
Transcriptional regulation critically depends on proper interactions between transcription factors (TF) and their cognate DNA binding sites. The widely used model of TF-DNA binding – the Positional Weight Matrix (PWM) – presumes independence between positions within the binding site. However, there is evidence to show that the independence assumption may not always hold, and the extent of interposition dependence is not completely known. We hypothesize that the interposition dependence should partly be manifested as correlated evolution at the positions. We report a Maximum-Likelihood (ML) approach to infer correlated evolution at any two positions within a PWM, based on a multiple alignment of 5 mammalian genomes. Application to a genome-wide set of putative cis elements in human promoters reveals a prevalence of correlated evolution within cis elements. We found that the interdependence between two positions decreases with increasing distance between the positions. The interdependent positions tend to be evolutionarily more constrained and moreover, the dependence patterns are relatively similar across structurally related transcription factors. Although some of the detected mutational dependencies may be due to context-dependent genomic hyper-mutation, notably CG to TG, the majority is likely due to context-dependent preferences for specific nucleotide combinations within the cis elements. Patterns of evolution at individual nucleotide positions within mammalian TF binding sites are often significantly correlated, suggesting interposition dependence. The proposed methodology is also applicable to other classes of non-coding functional elements. A detailed investigation of mutational dependencies within specific motifs could reveal preferred nucleotide combinations that may help refine the DNA binding models.
Metabolic and psychiatric disturbances occur early on in the clinical manifestation of Huntington’s disease (HD), a neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expanded CAG repeat in the huntingtin (HTT) gene. Hypothalamus has emerged as an important site of pathology and alterations in this area and its neuroendocrine circuits may play a role in causing early non-motor symptoms and signs in HD. Leptin is a hormone that controls energy homeostasis by signaling through leptin receptors in the hypothalamus. Disturbed leptin action is implicated in both obesity and depression and altered circulating levels of leptin have been reported in both clinical HD and rodent models of the disease. Pathological leptin signaling may therefore be involved in causing the metabolic and psychiatric disturbances of HD. Here we tested the hypothesis that expression of mutant HTT in leptin receptor carrying neurons plays a role in the development of the non-motor phenotype in the BACHD mouse model. Our results show that inactivation of mutant HTT in leptin receptor-expressing neurons in the BACHD mouse using cross-breeding based on a cre-loxP system did not have an effect on the metabolic phenotype or anxiety-like behavior. The data suggest that mutant HTT disrupts critical hypothalamic pathways by other mechanisms than interfering with intracellular leptin signaling.
Endosomal sorting mechanisms mediated by AP-3 and BLOC-1 are perturbed in Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome, a human genetic condition characterized by albinism and prolonged bleeding (OMIM #203300). Additionally, mouse models defective in either one of these complexes possess defective synaptic vesicle biogenesis (Newell-Litwa et al., 2009). These synaptic vesicle phenotypes were presumed uniform throughout the brain. However, here we report that AP-3 and BLOC-1 differentially regulate the composition of pre-synaptic terminals in the striatum and dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. Quantitative immunoelectron microscopy demonstrated that the majority of AP-3 immunoreactivity in both wild type striatum and hippocampus localizes to pre-synaptic axonal compartments, where it regulates synaptic vesicle size. In the striatum, loss of AP-3 (Ap3dmh/mh) resulted in decreased synaptic vesicle size. In contrast, loss of AP-3 in the dentate gyrus increased synaptic vesicle size, thus suggesting anatomically specific AP-3-regulatory mechanisms. Loss-of-function alleles of BLOC-1, Pldnpa/pa and Mutedmu/mu, revealed that this complex acts as a brain-region specific regulator of AP-3. In fact, BLOC-1 deficiencies selectively reduced AP-3 and AP-3 cargo immunoreactivity in pre-synaptic compartments within the dentate gyrus both at the light and/or electron microscopy level. However, the striatum did not exhibit these BLOC-1-null phenotypes. Our results demonstrate that distinct brain regions differentially regulate AP-3-dependent synaptic vesicle biogenesis. We propose that anatomically restricted mechanisms within the brain diversify the biogenesis and composition of synaptic vesicles.
Synapse; Synaptic; dentate gyrus; striatum; presynaptic regulation; Membrane
The SILVER locus has been mapped in the domestic cat, identifying a unique genomic location distinct from that of any known reported gene associated with silver or hypopigmentation in mammals. A demonstrated lack of linkage to SILV, the strong candidate gene for silver, led to the initiation of a genome scan utilizing 2 pedigrees segregating for silver coat color. Linkage mapping defined a genomic region for SILVER as a 3.3-Mb region, (95.87–99.21 Mb) on chromosome D2, (peak logarithm of the odds = 10.5, θ = 0), which displays conserved synteny to a genomic interval between 118.58 and 121.85 Mb on chromosome 10 in the human genome. In the domestic cat, mutations at the SILVER locus suppress the development of pigment in the hair, but in contrast to other mammalian silver variants, there is an apparently greater influence on the production of pheomelanin than eumelanin pigment. The mapping of a novel locus for SILVER offers much promise in identifying a gene that may help elucidate aspects of pheomelanogenesis, a pathway that has been very elusive, and illustrates the promise of the cat genome project in increasing our understanding of basic biological processes of general relevance for mammals.
coat color; domestic cat; genetic linkage mapping; pheomelanogenic; SILVER
A long-standing question in evolutionary biology is how sexual reproduction has persisted in eukaryotic lineages. As cyclical parthenogens, monogonont rotifers are a powerful model for examining this question, yet the molecular nature of sexual reproduction in this lineage is currently understudied. To examine genes involved in meiosis, we generated partial genome assemblies for 2 distantly related monogonont species, Brachionus calyciflorus and B. manjavacas. Here we present an inventory of 89 meiotic genes, of which 80 homologs were identified and annotated from these assemblies. Using phylogenetic analysis, we show that several meiotic genes have undergone relatively recent duplication events that appear to be specific to the monogonont lineage. Further, we compare the expression of “meiosis-specific” genes involved in recombination and all annotated copies of the cell cycle regulatory gene CDC20 between obligate parthenogenetic (OP) and cyclical parthenogenetic (CP) strains of B. calyciflorus. We show that “meiosis-specific” genes are expressed in both CP and OP strains, whereas the expression of one of the CDC20 genes is specific to cyclical parthenogenesis. The data presented here provide insights into mechanisms of cyclical parthenogenesis and establish expectations for studies of obligate asexual relatives of monogononts, the bdelloid rotifer lineage.
asexual reproduction; cyclical parthenogenesis; evolution of sex
Captive breeding and rearing are central elements in conservation, management, and recovery planning for many endangered species including Rio Grande Silvery Minnow, a North American freshwater cyprinid. Traditionally, the sole purpose of hatcheries was to produce as many fish as feasible for stocking and harvest. Production quotas are also an important consideration in hatchery programs for endangered species, but they must also maintain and maximize genetic diversity of fish produced through implementation of best breeding practices. Here, we assessed genetic outcomes and measures of productivity (number of eggs and larval viability) for three replicates of three mating designs that are used for this small, pelagic-spawning fish. These were 1) monogamous mating, 2) hormone-induced communal spawning, and 3) environmentally cued communal spawning. A total of 180 broodstock and 450 progeny were genotyped. Genetic diversity and egg productivity did not differ significantly among spawning designs (H
e: F = 0.52, P = 0.67; H
o: F = 0.12, P = 0.89; number of eggs: F = 3.59, P = 0.09), and there was evidence for variance in reproductive success among individuals in all three designs. Allelic richness declined from the broodstock to progeny generation in all breeding designs. There was no significant difference in the genetic effective size (regardless of the method used) among designs. Significantly more viable eggs were produced in environmentally cued communal spawn compared to the alternative strategies (F = 5.72, P = 0.04), but this strategy is the most difficult to implement.
captive spawning; effective population size; genetic diversity; Rio Grande Silvery Minnow
The tf (tufted) locus is responsible for a classic phenotype of hair loss and regrowth in mice. It is a characteristic of the BTBR strain. Here, we use a combination of positional cloning methods and complementation mapping to identify Itpr3, the inositol triphosphate receptor type 3, as the gene responsible for the tf locus.
BTBR mouse; hair; inosine triphosphate receptor type 3
Variation patterns of allozymes and of ND3 haplotypes of mitochondrial DNA reveal a zone of genetic transition among western Palearctic water frogs extending across northeastern Greece and European Turkey. At the western end of the zone, allozymes characteristic of Central European frogs known as Pelophylax ridibundus predominate, whereas at the eastern end, alleles characteristic of western Anatolian water frogs (P. cf. bedriagae) prevail. The ND3 haplotypes reveal 2 major clades, 1 characteristic of Anatolian frogs, the other of European; the European clade itself has distinct eastern and western subclades. Both the 2 major clades and the 2 subclades overlap within the transition zone. Using Bayesian model selection methods, allozyme data suggest considerable immigration into the Nestos River area from eastern and western populations. In contrast, the ND3 data suggest that migration rates are so high among all locations that they form a single panmictic unit; the best model for allozymes is second best for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Nuclear markers (allozymes), which have roughly 4 times as deep a coalescent history as mtDNA data and thus may reflect patterns over a longer time, indicate that eastern and western refugial populations have expanded since deglaciation (in the last 10 000 years) and have met near the Nestos River, whereas the mtDNA with its smaller effective population size has already lost the signal of partitioning into refugia.
allozymes; Bayes factors; gene flow; hybridization; migration; mitochondrial DNA; model selection; Pelophylax; sympatry; water frogs
Genetic datasets can be used to date evolutionary events, even on recent time scales if sufficient data are available. We used statistics calculated from multilocus microsatellite datasets to estimate population ages in data generated through coalescent simulations and in samples from populations of known age in a metapopulation of Daphnia magna in Finland. Our simulation results show that age estimates improve with additional loci and define a time frame over which these statistics are most useful. On the most recent time scales, assumptions regarding the model of mutation (infinite sites vs. stepwise mutation) have little influence on estimated ages. In older populations, size homoplasy among microsatellite alleles results in a downwards bias for estimates based on the infinite sites model (ISM). In the Finnish D. magna metapopulation, our genetically derived estimated ages were biased upwards. Potential sources of this bias include the underlying model of mutation, gene flow, founder size, and the possibility of persistent source populations in the system. Our simulated data show that genetic age estimation is possible, even for very young populations, but our empirical data highlight the importance of factors such as migration when these statistics are applied in natural populations.
colonization; distribution; metapopulation; microsatellites; mismatch; population expansion
Rexoid, curly hair mutations have been selected to develop new domestic cat breeds. The Selkirk Rex is the most recently established curly-coated cat breed originating from a spontaneous mutation that was discovered in the United States in 1987. Unlike the earlier and well-established Cornish and Devon Rex breeds with curly-coat mutations, the Selkirk Rex mutation is suggested as autosomal dominant and has a different curl phenotype. This study provides a genetic analysis of the Selkirk Rex breed. An informal segregation analysis of genetically proven matings supported an autosomal, incomplete dominant expression of the curly trait in the Selkirk Rex. Homozygous curl cats can be distinguished from heterozygous cats by head and body type, as well as the presentation of the hair curl. Bayesian clustering of short tandem repeat (STR) genotypes from 31 cats that represent the future breeding stock supported the close relationship of the Selkirk Rex to the British Shorthair, Scottish Fold, Persian, and Exotic Shorthair, suggesting the Selkirk as part of the Persian breed family. The high heterozygosity of 0.630 and the low mean inbreeding coefficient of 0.057 suggest that Selkirk Rex has a diverse genetic foundation. A new locus for Selkirk autosomal dominant Rex, SADRE, is suggested for the curly trait.
curly; dominant; feline; hair
Woolly hair is a congenital abnormality of scalp hair manifesting as short, kinked hair, which may also involve the hair over the other parts of the body. Keratosis pilaris has been a well known association of woolly hair, and can also be a part of the Naxos or Carvajal syndromes. We herein present a case of woolly hair with associated keratosis pilaris, canaliform dystrophy of nails, increased interdental spaces and recurrent bullous impetigo. Although keratosis pilaris and teeth abnormalities have been reported as isolated associations with woolly hair, such a combination of findings as seen in our patient has not been reported before.
Bullous impetigo; keratosis pilaris; woolly hair
Environmental temperature plays a crucial role in determining a species distribution and abundance by affecting individual physiological processes, metabolic activities, and developmental rates. Many studies have identified clinal variation in phenotypes associated with response to environmental stresses, but variation in traits associated with climatic adaptation directly attributed to sequence variation within candidate gene regions has been difficult to identify. Insect heat shock genes are possible agents of thermal tolerance because of their involvement in protein folding, traffic, protection, and renaturation at the cellular level in response to temperature stress. Previously, members of the Drosophila small heat shock protein (sHSP) complex (Hsp23, Hsp26, Hsp27, Hsp67Ba) have been implicated as candidate climatic adaptation genes; therefore, this research examines sequence variation at these genes in 2 distant populations of Drosophila pseudoobscura. Flies from Tempe, AZ (n = 30) and Cheney, WA (n = 17) were used in the study. We identify high differentiation in the heat-shock complex (FST : 0.219**, 0.262*, 0.279***, 0.166 not significant) as compared with neighboring genes and Tajima’s D values indicative of balancing selection (Mann–Whitney U = 38, n1 = 10 n2 = 4, P < 0.05 two-tailed), both of which are suggestive of such climatic adaptation.
balancing selection; environmental adaptability
During the process of speciation, diverging taxa often hybridize and produce offspring wherein the heterogametic sex (i.e., XY or ZW) is unfit (Haldane's rule). Dominance theory seeks to explain Haldane's rule in terms of the difference in X-linked dominance regimes experienced by the sexes. However, X inactivation in female mammals extends the effects of hemizygosity to both sexes. Here, we highlight where the assumptions of dominance theory are particularly problematic in marsupials, where X inactivation uniformly results in silencing the paternal X. We then present evidence of Haldane's rule for sterility but not for viability in marsupials, as well as the first violations of Haldane's rule for these traits among all mammals. Marsupials represent a large taxonomic group possessing heteromorphic sex chromosomes, where the dominance theory cannot explain Haldane's rule. In this light, we evaluate alternative explanations for the preponderance of male sterility in interspecific hybrids, including faster male evolution, X–Y interactions, and genomic conflict hypotheses.
hybrid sterility; metatheria; reproductive isolation; speciation; X inactivation
Population genetic characteristics are shaped by the life-history traits of organisms and the geologic history of their habitat. This study provides a neutral framework for understanding the population dynamics and opportunities for selection in Semibalanus balanoides, a species that figures prominently in ecological and evolutionary studies in the Atlantic intertidal. We used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region (N = 131) and microsatellite markers (∼40 individuals/site/locus) to survey populations of the broadly dispersing acorn barnacle from 8 sites spanning 800 km of North American coast and 1 site in Europe. Patterns of mtDNA sequence evolution were consistent with larger population sizes in Europe and population expansion at the conclusion of the last ice age, approximately 20 000 years ago, in North America. A significant portion of mitochondrial diversity was partitioned between the continents (φST = 0.281), but there was only weak structure observed from mtDNA within North America. Microsatellites showed significant structuring between the continents (FST = 0.021) as well as within North America (FST = 0.013). Isolation by distance in North America was largely driven by a split between populations south of Cape Cod and all others (P < 10−4). The glacial events responsible for generating allelic diversity at mtDNA and microsatellites may also be responsible for generating selectable variation at metabolic enzymes in S. balanoides.
glaciation; larval dispersal; microsatellites; mtDNA; phylogeography; Semibalanus balanoides
The wildcat (Felis silvestris ssp.) is a conservation concern largely due to introgressive hybridization with its congener F. s. catus, the common domestic cat. Because of a recent divergence and entirely overlapping ranges, hybridization is common and pervasive between these taxa threatening the genetic integrity of remaining wildcat populations. Identifying pure wildcats for inclusion in conservation programs using current morphological discriminants is difficult because of gross similarity between them and the domestic, critically hampering conservation efforts. Here, we present a vetted panel of microsatellite loci and mitochondrial polymorphisms informative for each of the 5 naturally evolved wildcat subspecies and the derived domestic cat. We also present reference genotypes for each assignment class. Together, these marker sets and corresponding reference genotypes allow for the development of a genetic rational for defining “units of conservation” within a phylogenetically based taxonomy of the entire F. silvestris species complex. We anticipate this marker panel will allow conservators to assess genetic integrity and quantify admixture in managed wildcat populations and to be a starting point for more in-depth analysis of hybridization.
captive breeding; conservation genetics; hybridization; introgression; reintroduction microsatellite
The Alaskan sled dog offers a unique mechanism for studying the genetics of elite athletic performance. They are a group of mixed breed dogs, comprised of multiple common breeds, and a unique breed entity seen only as a part of the sled dog mix. Alaskan sled dogs are divided into 2 primary groups as determined by their racing skills. Distance dogs are capable of running over 1000 miles in 10 days, whereas sprint dogs run much shorter distances, approximately 30 miles, but in faster times, that is, 18–25 mph. Finding the genes that distinguish these 2 types of performers is likely to illuminate genetic contributors to human athletic performance. In this study, we tested for association between polymorphisms in 2 candidate genes; angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and myostatin (MSTN) and enhanced speed and endurance performance in 174 Alaskan sled dogs. We observed 81 novel genetic variants within the ACE gene and 4 within the MSTN gene, including a polymorphism within the ACE gene that significantly (P value 2.38 × 10−5) distinguished the sprint versus distance populations.
Alaskan sled dogs; angiotensin-converting enzyme; myostatin; performance genetics
Short interspersed nuclear elements (SINEs) are a type of class 1 transposable element (retrotransposon) with features that allow investigators to resolve evolutionary relationships between populations and species while providing insight into genome composition and function. Characterization of a Carnivora-specific SINE family, Can-SINEs, has, has aided comparative genomic studies by providing rare genomic changes, and neutral sequence variants often needed to resolve difficult evolutionary questions. In addition, Can-SINEs constitute a significant source of functional diversity with Carnivora. Publication of the whole-genome sequence of domestic dog, domestic cat, and giant panda serves as a valuable resource in comparative genomic inferences gleaned from Can-SINEs. In anticipation of forthcoming studies bolstered by new genomic data, this review describes the discovery and characterization of Can-SINE motifs as well as describes composition, distribution, and effect on genome function. As the contribution of noncoding sequences to genomic diversity becomes more apparent, SINEs and other transposable elements will play an increasingly large role in mammalian comparative genomics.
carnivore; genome; SINE
Caenorhabditis elegans is an androdioecious nematode with both hermaphrodites and males. Although males can potentially play an important role in avoiding inbreeding and facilitating adaptation, their existence is evolutionarily problematic because they do not directly generate offspring in the way that hermaphrodites do. This review explores how genetic, population genomic, and experimental evolution approaches are being used to address the role of males and outcrossing within C. elegans. Although theory suggests that inbreeding depression and male mating ability should be the primary determinants of male frequency, this has yet to be convincingly confirmed experimentally. Genomic analysis of natural populations finds that outcrossing occurs at low, but not negligible levels, and that observed patterns of linkage disequilibrium consistent with strong selfing may instead be generated by natural selection against outcrossed progeny. Recent experimental evolution studies suggest that males can be maintained at fairly high levels if populations are initiated with sufficient genetic variation and/or subjected to strong natural selection via a change in the environment. For example, as reported here, populations adapting to novel laboratory rearing and temperature regimes maintain males at frequencies from 5% to 40%. Laboratory and field results still await full reconciliation, which may be facilitated by identifying the loci underlying among-strain differences in mating system dynamics.
androdioecy; experimental evolution; male mating; outbreeding depression; outcrossing; self-fertilization
Intralocus sexual conflict occurs due to the expression of sexually antagonistic alleles: those that increase fitness when expressed in one sex but decrease fitness when expressed in the other sex. This genetic conflict is expected whenever the sexes are selected toward differing phenotypic optima for a trait that has a positive genetic correlation between the sexes. Here we synthesize recent developments in the areas of genomics, microarray analysis, and developmental and molecular genetics to establish feasible mechanisms by which the intersexual genetic correlation can be reduced, as well as the time course over which conflict resolution is expected to evolve.
genetic correlation; intralocus sexual conflict; microarray; sex-biased gene expression; sexual dimorphism