Birds clean and lubricate their feathers with waxes that are produced in the uropygial gland, a holocrine gland located on their back above the tail. The type and the composition of the secreted wax esters are dependent on the bird species, for instance the wax ester secretion of goose contains branched-chain fatty acids and unbranched fatty alcohols, whereas that of barn owl contains fatty acids and alcohols both of which are branched. Alcohol-forming fatty acyl-CoA reductases (FAR) catalyze the reduction of activated acyl groups to fatty alcohols that can be esterified with acyl-CoA thioesters forming wax esters.
cDNA sequences encoding fatty acyl-CoA reductases were cloned from the uropygial glands of barn owl (Tyto alba), domestic chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) and domestic goose (Anser anser domesticus). Heterologous expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae showed that they encode membrane associated enzymes which catalyze a NADPH dependent reduction of acyl-CoA thioesters to fatty alcohols. By feeding studies of transgenic yeast cultures and in vitro enzyme assays with membrane fractions of transgenic yeast cells two groups of isozymes with different properties were identified, termed FAR1 and FAR2. The FAR1 group mainly synthesized 1-hexadecanol and accepted substrates in the range between 14 and 18 carbon atoms, whereas the FAR2 group preferred stearoyl-CoA and accepted substrates between 16 and 20 carbon atoms. Expression studies with tissues of domestic chicken indicated that FAR transcripts were not restricted to the uropygial gland.
The data of our study suggest that the identified and characterized avian FAR isozymes, FAR1 and FAR2, can be involved in wax ester biosynthesis and in other pathways like ether lipid synthesis.
Wax monoesters are synthesized by the esterification of fatty alcohols and fatty acids. A mammalian enzyme that catalyzes this reaction has not been isolated. We used expression cloning to identify cDNAs encoding a wax synthase in the mouse preputial gland. The wax synthase gene is located on the X chromosome and encodes a member of the acyltransferase family of enzymes that synthesize neutral lipids. Expression of wax synthase in cultured cells led to the formation of wax monoesters from straight chain saturated, unsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty alcohols and acids. Polyisoprenols also were incorporated into wax monoesters by the enzyme. The wax synthase had little or no ability to synthesize cholesteryl esters, diacylglycerols, or triacylglycerols, whereas other acyltransferases, including the acyl-CoA:monoacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 and 2 enzymes and the acyl-CoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 and 2 enzymes, exhibited modest wax monoester synthesis activities. Confocal light microscopy indicated that the wax synthase was localized in membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum. Wax synthase mRNA was abundant in tissues rich in sebaceous glands such as the preputial gland and eyelid and was present at lower levels in other tissues. Coexpression of cDNAs specifying fatty acyl-CoA reductase 1 and wax synthase led to the synthesis of wax monoesters. The data suggest that wax monoester synthesis in mammals involves a two step biosynthetic pathway catalyzed by fatty acyl-CoA reductase and wax synthase enzymes.
Barn owls are capable of great accuracy in detecting the interaural time differences (ITDs) that underlie azimuthal sound localization. They compute ITDs in a circuit in nucleus laminaris (NL) that is reorganized with respect to birds like the chicken. The events that lead to the reorganization of the barn owl NL take place during embryonic development, shortly after the cochlear and laminaris nuclei have differentiated morphologically. At first the developing owl’s auditory brainstem exhibits morphology reminiscent of that of the developing chicken. Later, the two systems diverge, and the owl’s brainstem auditory nuclei undergo a secondary morphogenetic phase during which NL dendrites retract, the laminar organization is lost, and synapses are redistributed. These events lead to the restructuring of the ITD coding circuit and the consequent reorganization of the hindbrain map of ITDs and azimuthal space.
avian development; morphogenesis; auditory; laminaris; evolution; interaural time difference
Wax esters are esters of long-chain fatty acids and long-chain fatty alcohols which are of considerable commercial importance and are produced on a scale of 3 million tons per year. The oil from the jojoba plant (Simmondsia chinensis) is the main biological source of wax esters. Although it has a multitude of potential applications, the use of jojoba oil is restricted, due to its high price. In this study, we describe the establishment of heterologous wax ester biosynthesis in a recombinant Escherichia coli strain by coexpression of a fatty alcohol-producing bifunctional acyl-coenzyme A reductase from the jojoba plant and a bacterial wax ester synthase from Acinetobacter baylyi strain ADP1, catalyzing the esterification of fatty alcohols and coenzyme A thioesters of fatty acids. In the presence of oleate, jojoba oil-like wax esters such as palmityl oleate, palmityl palmitoleate, and oleyl oleate were produced, amounting to up to ca. 1% of the cellular dry weight. In addition to wax esters, fatty acid butyl esters were unexpectedly observed in the presence of oleate. The latter could be attributed to solvent residues of 1-butanol present in the medium component, Bacto tryptone. Neutral lipids produced in recombinant E. coli were accumulated as intracytoplasmic inclusions, demonstrating that the formation and structural integrity of bacterial lipid bodies do not require specific structural proteins. This is the first report on substantial biosynthesis and accumulation of neutral lipids in E. coli, which might open new perspectives for the biotechnological production of cheap jojoba oil equivalents from inexpensive resources employing recombinant microorganisms.
Marinobacter hydrocarbonoclasticus DSM 8798 has been reported to synthesize isoprenoid wax ester storage compounds when grown on phytol as the sole carbon source under limiting nitrogen and/or phosphorous conditions. We hypothesized that isoprenoid wax ester synthesis involves (i) activation of an isoprenoid fatty acid by a coenzyme A (CoA) synthetase and (ii) ester bond formation between an isoprenoid alcohol and isoprenoyl-CoA catalyzed, most likely, by an isoprenoid wax ester synthase similar to an acyl wax ester synthase, wax ester synthase/diacylglycerol acyltransferase (WS/DGAT), recently described from Acinetobacter sp. strain ADP1. We used the recently released rough draft genome sequence of a closely related strain, M. aquaeolei VT8, to search for WS/DGAT and acyl-CoA synthetase candidate genes. The sequence information from putative WS/DGAT and acyl-CoA synthetase genes identified in this strain was used to clone homologues from the isoprenoid wax ester synthesizing Marinobacter strain. The activities of the recombinant enzymes were characterized, and two new isoprenoid wax ester synthases capable of synthesizing isoprenoid ester and acyl/isoprenoid hybrid ester in vitro were identified along with an isoprenoid-specific CoA synthetase. One of the Marinobacter wax ester synthases displays several orders of magnitude higher activity toward acyl substrates than any previously characterized acyl-WS and may reflect adaptations to available carbon sources in their environments.
Recently, a shift in preen wax composition, from lower molecular weight monoesters to higher molecular weight diesters, was described for individuals of a sandpiper species (red knot, Calidris canutus) that were about to leave for the tundra breeding grounds. The timing of the shift indicated that diester waxes served as a quality signal during mate choice. Here, this hypothesis is evaluated on the basis of a survey of preen wax composition in 19 sandpiper species. All of these species showed the same shift observed in the high-Arctic breeding red knots. As the shift also occurred in temperate breeding species, it is not specific to tundra-breeding sandpipers. Both sexes produced the diester waxes during the incubation period until hatching, in addition to the short period of courtship, indicating that diesters' functions extend beyond that of a sexually selected 'make-up'. The few non-incubating birds examined (males of curlew sandpipers (C. ferruginea) and ruffs (Philomachus pugnax)) had the lowest likelihood of secreting diesters, indicating a functional role for diester preen waxes during incubation. We propose that diester preen waxes enhance olfactory crypticism at the nest.
MHC class I proteins mediate functions in anti-pathogen defense. MHC diversity has already been investigated by many studies in model avian species, but here we chose the bar-headed goose, a worldwide migrant bird, as a non-model avian species. Sequences from exons encoding the peptide-binding region (PBR) of MHC class I molecules were isolated from liver genomic DNA, to investigate variation in these genes. These are the first MHC class I partial sequences of the bar-headed goose to be reported. A preliminary analysis suggests the presence of at least four MHC class I genes, which share great similarity with those of the goose and duck. A phylogenetic analysis of bar-headed goose, goose and duck MHC class I sequences using the NJ method supports the idea that they all cluster within the anseriforms clade.
MHC I; Anser indicus; polymorphism; phylogenetic analysis
Wax esters are produced in certain bacteria as a potential carbon and energy storage compound. The final enzyme in the biosynthetic pathway responsible for wax ester production is the bifunctional wax ester synthase/acyl-coenzyme A (acyl-CoA):diacylglycerol acyltransferase (WS/DGAT), which utilizes a range of fatty alcohols and fatty acyl-CoAs to synthesize the corresponding wax ester. We report here the isolation and substrate range characterization for five WS/DGAT enzymes from four different bacteria: Marinobacter aquaeolei VT8, Acinetobacter baylyi, Rhodococcus jostii RHA1, and Psychrobacter cryohalolentis K5. The results from kinetic studies of isolated enzymes reveal a differential activity based on the order of substrate addition and reveal subtle differences between the substrate selectivity of the different enzymes. These in vitro results are compared to the wax ester and triacylglyceride product profiles obtained from each organism grown under neutral lipid accumulating conditions, providing potential insights into the role that the WS/DGAT enzyme plays in determining the final wax ester products that are produced under conditions of nutrient stress in each of these bacteria. Further, the analysis revealed that one enzyme in particular from M. aquaeolei VT8 showed the greatest potential for future study based on rapid purification and significantly higher activity than was found for the other isolated WS/DGAT enzymes. The results provide a framework to test prospective differences between these enzymes for potential biotechnological applications such as high-value petrochemicals and biofuel production.
Acyl-CoA-dependent O-acyltransferases catalyze reactions in which fatty acyl-CoAs are joined to acyl acceptors containing free hydroxyl groups to produce neutral lipids. In this report, we characterize a human multifunctional O-acyltransferase (designated MFAT) that belongs to the acyl-CoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferase 2/acyl-CoA:monoacylglycerol acyltransferase (MGAT) gene family and is highly expressed in the skin. Membranes of insect cells and homogenates of mammalian cells overexpressing MFAT exhibited significantly increased MGAT, acyl-CoA:fatty acyl alcohol acyltransferase (wax synthase), and acyl-CoA:retinol acyltransferase (ARAT) activities, which catalyze the synthesis of diacylglycerols, wax monoesters, and retinyl esters, respectively. Furthermore, when provided with the appropriate substrates, intact mammalian cells overexpressing MFAT accumulated more waxes and retinyl esters than control cells. We conclude that MFAT is a multifunctional acyltransferase that likely plays an important role in lipid metabolism in human skin.
neutral lipids; diacylglycerol; fatty alcohol; esterification; ARAT, acyl-coenzyme A:retinol acyltransferase; DGAT, acyl-coenzyme A:diacylglycerol acyltransferase; MFAT, multifunctional acyltransferase; MGAT, acyl-coenzyme A:monoacylglycerol acyltransferase; NCBI, National Center for Biotechnology Information
Wild aquatic birds in the Orders Anseriformes and Charadriiformes are the main reservoir hosts perpetuating the genetic pool of all influenza A viruses, including pandemic viruses. High viral loads in feces of infected birds permit a fecal-oral route of transmission. Numerous studies have reported the isolation of avian influenza viruses (AIVs) from surface water at aquatic bird habitats. These isolations indicate aquatic environments have an important role in the transmission of AIV among wild aquatic birds. However, the progressive dilution of infectious feces in water could decrease the likelihood of virus/host interactions. To evaluate whether alternate mechanisms facilitate AIV transmission in aquatic bird populations, we investigated whether the preen oil gland secretions by which all aquatic birds make their feathers waterproof could support a natural mechanism that concentrates AIVs from water onto birds' bodies, thus, representing a possible source of infection by preening activity. We consistently detected both viral RNA and infectious AIVs on swabs of preened feathers of 345 wild mallards by using reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and virus-isolation (VI) assays. Additionally, in two laboratory experiments using a quantitative real-time (qR) RT-PCR assay, we demonstrated that feather samples (n = 5) and cotton swabs (n = 24) experimentally impregnated with preen oil, when soaked in AIV-contaminated waters, attracted and concentrated AIVs on their surfaces. The data presented herein provide information that expands our understanding of AIV ecology in the wild bird reservoir system.
Animals, including humans, use interaural time differences (ITDs) that arise from different sound path lengths to the two ears as a cue of horizontal sound source location. The nature of the neural code for ITD is still controversial. Current models differentiate between two population codes: either a map-like rate-place code of ITD along an array of neurons, consistent with a large body of data in the barn owl, or a population rate code, consistent with data from small mammals. Recently, it was proposed that these different codes reflect optimal coding strategies that depend on head size and sound frequency. The chicken makes an excellent test case of this proposal because its physical pre-requisites are similar to small mammals, yet it shares a more recent common ancestry with the owl. We show here that, like in the barn owl, the brainstem nucleus laminaris in mature chickens displayed the major features of a place code of ITD. ITD was topographically represented in the maximal responses of neurons along each isofrequency band, covering approximately the contralateral acoustic hemisphere. Furthermore, the represented ITD range appeared to change with frequency, consistent with a pressure gradient receiver mechanism in the avian middle ear. At very low frequencies, below400 Hz, maximal neural responses were symmetrically distributed around zero ITD and it remained unclear whether there was a topographic representation. These findings do not agree with the above predictions for optimal coding and thus revive the discussion as to what determines the neural coding strategies for ITDs.
Auditory; Hearing; Sound localization; Sensory
An outbreak of egg drop disease occurred in many chicken and goose farms in China in 2011. By using an NS5-specific reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR), we found that 56% of chicken and 38% of goose samples were positive for Tembusu-like virus (TMUV). Isolates showed high sequence homology to duck TMUVs, and chickens and geese showed signs of egg drop disease after experimental infection with duck TMUV. Our data suggest TMUV has adapted in domestic birds.
Previous studies on the immunoglobulin (Ig) genes in avian species are limited (mainly to galliformes and anseriformes) but have revealed several interesting features, including the absence of the IgD and Igκ encoding genes, inversion of the IgA encoding gene and the use of gene conversion as the primary mechanism to generate an antibody repertoire. To better understand the Ig genes and their evolutionary development in birds, we analyzed the Ig genes in the ostrich (Struthio camelus), which is one of the most primitive birds. Similar to the chicken and duck, the ostrich expressed only three IgH chain isotypes (IgM, IgA and IgY) and λ light chains. The IgM and IgY constant domains are similar to their counterparts described in other vertebrates. Although conventional IgM, IgA and IgY cDNAs were identified in the ostrich, we also detected a transcript encoding a short membrane-bound form of IgA (lacking the last two CH exons) that was undetectable at the protein level. No IgD or κ encoding genes were identified. The presence of a single leader peptide in the expressed heavy chain and light chain V regions indicates that gene conversion also plays a major role in the generation of antibody diversity in the ostrich. Because the ostrich is one of the most primitive living aves, this study suggests that the distinct features of the bird Ig genes appeared very early during the divergence of the avian species and are thus shared by most, if not all, avian species.
Performing sound recognition is a task that requires an encoding of the time-varying spectral structure of the auditory stimulus. Similarly, computation of the interaural time difference (ITD) requires knowledge of the precise timing of the stimulus. Consistent with this, low-level nuclei of birds and mammals implicated in ITD processing encode the ongoing phase of a stimulus. However, the brain areas that follow the binaural convergence for the computation of ITD show a reduced capacity for phase locking. In addition, we have shown that in the barn owl there is a pooling of ITD-responsive neurons to improve the reliability of ITD coding. Here we demonstrate that despite two stages of convergence and an effective loss of phase information, the auditory system of the anesthetized barn owl displays a graceful transition to an envelope coding that preserves the spectrotemporal information throughout the ITD pathway to the neurons of the core of the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus.
Members of the genus Rhodococcus are frequently found in soil and other natural environments and are highly resistant to stresses common in those environments. The accumulation of storage compounds permits cells to survive and metabolically adapt during fluctuating environmental conditions. The purpose of this study was to perform a genome-wide bioinformatic analysis of key genes encoding metabolism of diverse storage compounds by Rhodococcus jostii RHA1 and to examine its ability to synthesize and accumulate triacylglycerols (TAG), wax esters, polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), glycogen and polyphosphate (PolyP).
We identified in the RHA1 genome: 14 genes encoding putative wax ester synthase/acyl-CoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferase enzymes (WS/DGATs) likely involved in TAG and wax esters biosynthesis; a total of 54 genes coding for putative lipase/esterase enzymes possibly involved in TAG and wax ester degradation; 3 sets of genes encoding PHA synthases and PHA depolymerases; 6 genes encoding key enzymes for glycogen metabolism, one gene coding for a putative polyphosphate kinase and 3 putative exopolyphosphatase genes. Where possible, key amino acid residues in the above proteins (generally in active sites, effectors binding sites or substrate binding sites) were identified in order to support gene identification. RHA1 cells grown under N-limiting conditions, accumulated TAG as the main storage compounds plus wax esters, PHA (with 3-hydroxybutyrate and 3-hydroxyvalerate monomers), glycogen and PolyP. Rhodococcus members were previously known to accumulate TAG, wax esters, PHAs and polyP, but this is the first report of glycogen accumulation in this genus.
RHA1 possess key genes to accumulate diverse storage compounds. Under nitrogen-limiting conditions lipids are the principal storage compounds. An extensive capacity to synthesize and metabolize storage compounds appears to contribute versatility to RHA1 in its responses to environmental stresses.
The barn owl midbrain contains mutually aligned maps of auditory and visual space. Throughout life, map alignment is maintained through the actions of an instructive signal that encodes the magnitude of auditory-visual mismatch. The intracellular signaling pathways activated by this signal are unknown. Here we tested the hypothesis that CREB (cAMP response element binding protein) provides a cell-specific readout of instructive information. Owls were fitted with prismatic or control spectacles and provided rich auditory-visual experience - hunting live mice. CREB activation was analyzed within 30 minutes of hunting using phosphorylation state-specific (pCREB) and CREB antibodies, confocal imaging and immunofluorescence measurements at individual cell nuclei. In control owls or prism-adapted owls, which experience small instructive signals, the frequency distributions of pCREB/CREB values obtained for cell nuclei within the external nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICX) were unimodal. In contrast, in owls adapting to prisms or re-adapting to normal conditions, the distributions were bimodal: certain cells had received a signal that positively regulated CREB, and by extension, transcription of CREB-dependent genes, while others a signal that negatively regulated it. These changes were restricted to the sub-region of the inferior colliculus that received optically displaced input, the rostral ICX, and not evident in the caudal ICX or central nucleus. Finally, the topographic pattern of CREB regulation was patchy, not continuous, as expected from the actions of a topographically precise signal encoding discrete events. These results support a model in which the magnitude of CREB activation within individual cells provides a readout of the instructive signal that guides plasticity and learning.
Auditory; CREB; Inferior Colliculus; Learning; Plasticity; signal transduction
The goose is usually considered to be resistant even to strains of Newcastle disease virus (NDV) that are markedly virulent for chickens. However, ND outbreaks have been frequently reported in goose flocks in China since the late 1990s with the concurrent emergence of genotype VIId NDV in chickens. Although the NDVs isolated from both chickens and geese in the past 15 years have been predominantly VIId viruses, published data comparing goose- and chicken-originated ND viruses are scarce and controversial.
In this paper, we compared genotype VIId NDVs originated from geese and chickens genetically and pathologically. Ten entire genomic sequences and 329 complete coding sequences of individual genes from genotype VIId NDVs of both goose- and chicken-origin were analyzed. We then randomly selected two goose-originated and two chicken-originated VIId NDVs and compared their pathobiology in both geese and chickens in vivo and in vitro with genotype IV virus Herts/33 as a reference. The results showed that all the VIId NDVs either from geese or from chickens shared high sequence homology and characteristic amino acid substitutions and clustered together in phylogenetic trees. In addition, geese and chickens infected by goose or chicken VIId viruses manifested very similar pathological features distinct from those of birds infected with Herts/33.
There is no genetic or phenotypic difference between genotype VIId NDVs originated from geese and chickens. Therefore, no species-preference exists for either goose or chicken viruses and more attention should be paid to the trans-species transmission of VIId NDVs between geese and chickens for the control and eradication of ND.
Genotype VIId Newcastle disease virus; Genetic; Phenotypic; Geese; Chickens
The bifunctional wax ester synthase/acyl coenzyme A (acyl-CoA):diacylglycerol acyltransferase (WS/DGAT) from Acinetobacter sp. strain ADP1 (formerly Acinetobacter calcoaceticus ADP1) mediating the biosyntheses of wax esters and triacylglycerols was used for the in vivo and in vitro biosynthesis of thio wax esters and dithio wax esters. For in vitro biosynthesis, 5′His6WS/DGAT comprising an N-terminal His6 tag was purified from the soluble protein fraction of Escherichia coli Rosetta(DE3)pLysS (pET23a::5′His6atf). By employing SP-Sepharose high-pressure and Ni-nitrilotriacetic acid fast-protein liquid chromatographies, a 19-fold enrichment with a final specific activity of 165.2 nmol mg of protein−1 min−1 was achieved by using 1-hexadecanol and palmitoyl-CoA as substrates. Incubation of purified 5′His6WS/DGAT with 1-hexadecanethiol and palmitoyl-CoA as substrates resulted in the formation of palmitic acid hexadecyl thio ester (10.4% relative specific activity of a 1-hexadecanol control). Utilization of 1,8-octanedithiol and palmitoyl-CoA as substrates led to the formation of 1-S-monopalmitoyloctanedithiol and minor amounts of 1,8-S-dipalmitoyloctanedithiol (59.3% relative specific activity of a 1-hexadecanol control). The latter dithio wax ester was efficiently produced when 1-S-monopalmitoyloctanedithiol and palmitoyl-CoA were used as substrates (13.4% specific activity relative to that of a 1-hexadecanol control). For the in vivo biosynthesis of thio wax esters, the knockout mutant Acinetobacter sp. strain ADP1acr1ΩKm, which is unable to produce fatty alcohols, was used. Cultivation of Acinetobacter sp. strain ADP1acr1ΩKm in the presence of gluconate, 1-hexadecanethiol, and oleic acid in nitrogen-limited mineral salts medium resulted in the accumulation of unusual thio wax esters that accounted for around 1.19% (wt/wt) of the cellular dry weight and consisted mainly of oleic acid hexadecyl thioester as revealed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.
The bifunctional wax ester synthase/acyl-coenzyme A:diacylglycerol acyltransferase (WS/DGAT) is the key enzyme in storage lipid accumulation in the gram-negative bacterium Acinetobacter calcoaceticus ADP1, mediating wax ester, and to a lesser extent, triacylglycerol (TAG) biosynthesis. Saccharomyces cerevisiae accumulates TAGs and steryl esters as storage lipids. Four genes encoding a DGAT (Dga1p), a phospholipid:diacylglycerol acyltransferase (Lro1p) and two acyl-coenzyme A:sterol acyltransferases (ASATs) (Are1p and Are2p) are involved in the final esterification steps in TAG and steryl ester biosynthesis in this yeast. In the quadruple mutant strain S. cerevisiae H1246, the disruption of DGA1, LRO1, ARE1, and ARE2 leads to an inability to synthesize storage lipids. Heterologous expression of WS/DGAT from A. calcoaceticus ADP1 in S. cerevisiae H1246 restored TAG but not steryl ester biosynthesis, although high levels of ASAT activity could be demonstrated for WS/DGAT expressed in Escherichia coli XL1-Blue in radiometric in vitro assays with cholesterol and ergosterol as substrates. In addition to TAG synthesis, heterologous expression of WS/DGAT in S. cerevisiae H1246 resulted also in the accumulation of fatty acid ethyl esters as well as fatty acid isoamyl esters. In vitro studies confirmed that WS/DGAT is capable of utilizing a broad range of alcohols as substrates comprising long-chain fatty alcohols like hexadecanol as well as short-chain alcohols like ethanol or isoamyl alcohol. This study demonstrated the highly unspecific acyltransferase activity of WS/DGAT from A. calcoaceticus ADP1, indicating the broad biocatalytic potential of this enzyme for biotechnological production of a large variety of lipids in vivo in prokaryotic as well as eukaryotic expression hosts.
The MHC, which is regarded as the most polymorphic region in the genomes of jawed vertebrates, plays a central role in the immune system by encoding various proteins involved in the immune response. The chicken MHC-B genomic region has a highly streamlined gene content compared to mammalian MHCs. Its core region includes genes encoding Class I and Class IIB molecules but is only ~92Kb in length. Sequences of other galliform MHCs show varying degrees of similarity as that of chicken. The black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) is a wild galliform bird species which is an important model in conservation genetics and ecology. We sequenced the black grouse core MHC-B region and combined this with available data from related species (chicken, turkey, gold pheasant and quail) to perform a comparative genomics study of the galliform MHC. This kind of analysis has previously been severely hampered by the lack of genomic information on avian MHC regions, and the galliformes is still the only bird lineage where such a comparison is possible.
In this study, we present the complete genomic sequence of the MHC-B locus of black grouse, which is 88,390 bp long and contains 19 genes. It shows the same simplicity as, and almost perfect synteny with, the corresponding genomic region of chicken. We also use 454-transcriptome sequencing to verify expression in 17 of the black grouse MHC-B genes. Multiple sequence inversions of the TAPBP gene and TAP1-TAP2 gene block identify the recombination breakpoints near the BF and BLB genes. Some of the genes in the galliform MHC-B region also seem to have been affected by selective forces, as inferred from deviating phylogenetic signals and elevated rates of non-synonymous nucleotide substitutions.
We conclude that there is large synteny between the MHC-B region of the black grouse and that of other galliform birds, but that some duplications and rearrangements have occurred within this lineage. The MHC-B sequence reported here will provide a valuable resource for future studies on the evolution of the avian MHC genes and on links between immunogenetics and ecology of black grouse.
A panel of five serovar-specific monoclonal antibodies which distinguish the five known avian serovars of Chlamydia psittaci was used to serotype 45 European avian Chlamydia psittaci isolates. Chlamydial antigen was grown in Buffalo green monkey (BGM) cells or in embryonated chicken eggs and was then inoculated into BGM cells. Serotyping was performed in an indirect immunofluorescence test. The 45 European isolates included 22 isolates from the order Psittaciformes, 9 isolates from the order Columbiformes, 6 isolates from the order Galliformes, 5 isolates from the order Passeriformes, and 3 isolates from the order Anseriformes. All of these were successfully serotyped. No additional serovars were found. One isolate from a duck and two isolates from psittacine birds gave positive immunofluorescences with two monoclonal antibodies considered to be specific for two different serovars. These three isolates were cloned by an agar overlay method. Serotyping of the clones demonstrated that the duck and one psittacine bird each were infected with two different serovars. After cloning, one isolate from a psittacine bird reacted only with serovar A. From these results it was concluded that this serotyping system allows the classification of all isolates tested so far. The results show that similar serovars are prevalent in avian species in Europe and the United States. The results also indicate that birds from a certain order are more susceptible to a distinct serovar. The use of a panel of serovar-specific monoclonal antibodies in the immunofluorescence test provides a reliable method for serotyping avian isolates. Monoclonal antibodies to new avian isolate serovars can easily be added to the panel, which makes the system useful for epidemiological studies.
During the 2006–2007 winter season in South Korea, several outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (H5N1) were confirmed among domestic poultry and in migratory bird habitats. Phylogenetic analysis showed that all isolates were closely related and that all belong to the A/bar-headed goose/Qinghai/5/2005–like lineage rather than the A/chicken/Korea/ES/2003–like lineage.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza; H5N1 virus; South Korea; poultry; wild birds; dispatch
Animals frequently use metabolites produced by symbiotic bacteria as agents against pathogens and parasites. Secretions from the preen gland of birds are used for this purpose, although its chemicals apparently are produced by the birds themselves. European hoopoes Upupa epops and green woodhoopoes Phoeniculus purpureus harbour symbiotic bacteria in the uropygial gland that might be partly responsible for the chemical composition of secretions. Here we investigate the antimicrobial activity of the volatile fraction of chemicals in hoopoe preen secretions, and, by means of experimental antibiotic injections, test whether symbiotic bacteria living within the uropygial gland are responsible for their production. Hoopoes produce two different kinds of secretions that differ drastically in their chemical composition. While the malodorous dark secretions produced by nestlings included a complex mix of volatiles, these chemicals did not appear in white secretions produced by non-nesting birds. All volatiles detected showed strong antibacterial activity, and a mixture of the chemicals at the concentrations measured in nestling glands inhibited the growth of all bacterial strains assayed. We found support for the hypothesized role of bacteria in the production of such antimicrobial chemicals because experimental clearance of bacteria from glands of nestlings with antibiotics resulted in secretions without most of the volatiles detected in control individuals. Thus, the presence of symbiotic bacteria in the uropygial gland provides hoopoes with potent antimicrobials for topical use.
antimicrobial substances; chemical defence; coevolution; symbiotic bacteria; Upupa epops; uropygial gland
In the present study, we explored the genetic basis underlying the virulence and host range of two H5N1 influenza viruses in chickens. A/goose/Guangdong/1/96 (GS/GD/1/96) is a highly pathogenic virus for chickens, whereas A/goose/Guangdong/2/96 (GS/GD/2/96) is unable to replicate in chickens. These two H5N1 viruses differ in sequence by only five amino acids mapping to the PA, NP, M1, and NS1 genes. We used reverse genetics to create four single-gene recombinants that contained one of the sequence-differing genes from nonpathogenic GS/GD/2/96 and the remaining seven gene segments from highly pathogenic GS/GD/1/96. We determined that the NS1 gene of GS/GD/2/96 inhibited the replication of GS/GD/1/96 in chickens, while the substitution of the PA, NP, or M gene did not change the highly pathogenic properties of GS/GD/1/96. Conversely, of the recombinant viruses generated in the GS/GD/2/96 background, only the virus containing the NS1 gene of GS/GD/1/96 was able to replicate and cause disease and death in chickens. The single-amino-acid difference in the sequence of these two NS1 genes resides at position 149. We demonstrate that a recombinant virus expressing the GS/GD/1/96 NS1 protein with Ala149 is able to antagonize the induction of interferon protein levels in chicken embryo fibroblasts (CEFs), but a recombinant virus carrying a Val149 substitution is not capable of the same effect. These results indicate that the NS1 gene is critical for the pathogenicity of avian influenza virus in chickens and that the amino acid residue Ala149 correlates with the ability of these viruses to antagonize interferon induction in CEFs.
1. The respiratory metabolism of non-nucleated mammalian erythrocytes is enormously accelerated and approaches the magnitude of the metabolism of the nucleated erythrocytes of birds on the addition of methylene blue (and certain other dyes), to a final concentration of 0.005–0.0005 per cent. 2. In the presence of methylene blue the respiration is accelerated even when M/1000 KCN is also present. 3. The accelerated respiration due to methylene blue occurs at room temperature but it is most active at 38°. 4. Methylene blue in the above concentration accelerates the respiration of avian (goose) erythrocytes to a much smaller extent than it does the respiration of the erythrocytes of mammalian blood, while the effect upon anemic goose blood seems to be less than it is upon cells of normal goose blood. 5. Owing to a rather large initial carbon dioxide formation in defibrinated blood on incubation, which may not be related to the immediate respiratory process, proper respiratory quotients cannot be obtained in whole blood. When the cells are separated from the serum and suspended in Locke's solution, respiratory quotients are obtained upon incubation comparable to those of other resting mammalian cells, as well as of the actively respiring erythrocytes of birds. 6. The hypothesis is advanced that methylene blue acts in the rôle of an oxygen carrier, supplying a substance which has disappeared from adult mammalian non-nucleated erythrocytes and restoring their metabolic activity to an extent comparable to that of the young immature forms, or to that of the actively respiring avian (goose) blood.