Dosage compensation, the process whereby expression of sex-linked genes remains similar between sexes (despite heterogamety) and balanced with autosomal expression, was long believed to be essential. However, recent research has shown that several lineages, including birds, butterflies, monotremes and sticklebacks, lack chromosome-wide dosage compensation mechanisms and do not completely balance the expression of sex-linked and autosomal genes. To obtain further understanding of avian sex-biased gene expression, we studied Z-linked gene expression in the brain of two songbirds of different genera (zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata, and common whitethroat, Sylvia communis) using microarray technology. In both species, the male-bias in gene expression was significantly higher for Z than for autosomes, although the ratio of Z-linked to autosomal expression (Z:A) was relatively close to one in both sexes (range: 0.89–1.01). Interestingly, the Z-linked male-bias in gene expression increased with expression level, and genes with low expression showed the lowest degree of sex-bias. These results support the view that the heterogametic females have up-regulated their single Z-linked homologues to a high extent when the W-chromosome degraded and thereby managed to largely balance their Z:A expression with the exception of highly expressed genes. The male-bias in highly expressed genes points towards male-driven selection on Z-linked loci, and this and other possible hypotheses are discussed.
Transcription factor-DNA interactions, central to cellular regulation and control, are commonly described by position weight matrices (PWMs). These matrices are frequently used to predict transcription factor binding sites in regulatory regions of DNA to complement and guide further experimental investigation. The DNA sequence preferences of transcription factors, encoded in PWMs, are dictated primarily by select residues within the DNA binding domain(s) that interact directly with DNA. Therefore, the DNA binding properties of homologous transcription factors with identical DNA binding domains may be characterized by PWMs derived from different species. Accordingly, we have implemented a fully automated domain-level homology searching method for identical DNA binding sequences.
By applying the domain-level homology search to transcription factors with existing PWMs in the JASPAR and TRANSFAC databases, we were able to significantly increase coverage in terms of the total number of PWMs associated with a given species, assign PWMs to transcription factors that did not previously have any associations, and increase the number of represented species with PWMs over an order of magnitude. Additionally, using protein binding microarray (PBM) data, we have validated the domain-level method by demonstrating that transcription factor pairs with matching DNA binding domains exhibit comparable DNA binding specificity predictions to transcription factor pairs with completely identical sequences.
The increased coverage achieved herein demonstrates the potential for more thorough species-associated investigation of protein-DNA interactions using existing resources. The PWM scanning results highlight the challenging nature of transcription factors that contain multiple DNA binding domains, as well as the impact of motif discovery on the ability to predict DNA binding properties. The method is additionally suitable for identifying domain-level homology mappings to enable utilization of additional information sources in the study of transcription factors. The domain-level homology search method, resulting PWM mappings, web-based user interface, and web API are publicly available at http://dodoma.systemsbiology.netdodoma.systemsbiology.net.
This article is a response to Vibranovski et al.
See correspondence article http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7007/10/49 and the original research article http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7007/9/29
We have previously reported a high propensity of testis-expressed X-linked genes to activation in meiotic cells, a similarity in global gene expression between the X chromosome and autosomes in meiotic germline, and under-representation of various types of tissue-specific genes on the X chromosome. Based on our findings and a critical review of the current literature, we believe that there is no global and severe silencing of the X chromosome in the meiotic male germline of Drosophila. The term 'meiotic sex chromosome inactivation' (MSCI) therefore seems misleading when used to describe the minor underexpression of the X chromosome in the testis of Drosophila, because this term erroneously implies a profound and widespread silencing of the X-linked genes, by analogy to the well-studied MSCI system in mammals, and therefore distracts from identification and analysis of the real mechanisms that orchestrate gene expression and evolution in this species.
Paucity of male-biased genes on the Drosophila X chromosome is a well-established phenomenon, thought to be specifically linked to the role of these genes in reproduction and/or their expression in the meiotic male germline. In particular, meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI) has been widely considered a driving force behind depletion of spermatocyte-biased X-linked genes in Drosophila by analogy with mammals, even though the existence of global MCSI in Drosophila has not been proven.
Microarray-based study and qRT-PCR analyses show that the dynamics of gene expression during testis development are very similar between X-linked and autosomal genes, with both showing transcriptional activation concomitant with meiosis. However, the genes showing at least ten-fold expression bias toward testis are significantly underrepresented on the X chromosome. Intriguingly, the genes with similar expression bias toward tissues other than testis, even those not apparently associated with reproduction, are also strongly underrepresented on the X. Bioinformatics analysis shows that while tissue-specific genes often bind silencing-associated factors in embryonic and cultured cells, this trend is less prominent for the X-linked genes.
Our data show that the global meiotic inactivation of the X chromosome does not occur in Drosophila. Paucity of testis-biased genes on the X appears not to be linked to reproduction or germline-specific events, but rather reflects a general underrepresentation of tissue-biased genes on this chromosome. Our analyses suggest that the activation/repression switch mechanisms that probably orchestrate the highly-biased expression of tissue-specific genes are generally not efficient on the X chromosome. This effect, probably caused by dosage compensation counteracting repression of the X-linked genes, may be the cause of the exodus of highly tissue-biased genes to the autosomes.
In Drosophila, developing germline cysts in testis are enveloped by two somatic cyst cells essential for germline development and male reproduction. The cyst cells continue development along with the germline. However, the mechanisms of somatic gene expression in testes are poorly understood. We report transcriptional up-regulation of the Ku heterodimer in cyst cells. The initial up-regulation is independent of germline, and transcription is further augmented during spermatogenesis. Abundance of Ku in the cyst cell cytoplasm suggests the role for Ku subunits in the regulation of sperm individualization.
testes; transcription; somatic cells; Ku heterodimer
Spatial organization of chromatin in the interphase nucleus plays a role in gene expression and inheritance. Although it appears not to be random, the principles of this organization are largely unknown. In this work, we show an explicit relationship between the intranuclear localization of various chromosome segments and the pattern of gene distribution along the genome sequence. Using a 7-megabase-long region of the Drosophila melanogaster chromosome 2 as a model, we observed that the six gene-poor chromosome segments identified in the region interact with components of the nuclear matrix to form a compact stable cluster. The six gene-rich segments form a spatially segregated unstable cluster dependent on nonmatrix nuclear proteins. The resulting composite structure formed by clusters of gene-rich and gene-poor regions is reproducible between the nuclei. We suggest that certain aspects of chromosome folding in interphase are predetermined and can be inferred through in silico analysis of chromosome sequence, using gene density profile as a manifestation of “folding code.”
Recently, the phenomenon of clustering of co-expressed genes on chromosomes was discovered in eukaryotes. To explore the hypothesis that genes within clusters occupy shared chromatin domains, we performed a detailed analysis of transcription pattern and chromatin structure of a cluster of co-expressed genes. We found that five non-homologous genes (Crtp, Yu, CK2βtes, Pros28.1B and CG13581) are expressed exclusively in Drosophila melanogaster male germ-line and form a non-interrupted cluster in the 15 kb region of chromosome 2. The cluster is surrounded by genes with broader transcription patterns. Analysis of DNase I sensitivity revealed ‘open’ chromatin conformation in the cluster and adjacent regions in the male germ-line cells, where all studied genes are transcribed. In contrast, in somatic tissues where the cluster genes are silent, the domain of repressed chromatin encompassed four out of five cluster genes and an adjacent non-cluster gene CG13589 that is also silent in analyzed somatic tissues. The fifth cluster gene (CG13581) appears to be excluded from the chromatin domain occupied by the other four genes. Our results suggest that extensive clustering of co-expressed genes in eukaryotic genomes does in general reflect the domain organization of chromatin, although domain borders may not exactly correspond to the margins of gene clusters.
The intermediate chains (ICs) are the subunits of the cytoplasmic dynein that provide binding of the complex to cargo organelles through interaction of their N termini with dynactin. We present evidence that in Drosophila, the IC subunits are represented by at least 10 structural isoforms, created by the alternative splicing of transcripts from a unique Cdic gene. The splicing pattern is tissue specific. A constitutive set of four IC isoforms is expressed in all tissues tested; in addition, tissue-specific isoforms are found in the ovaries and nervous tissue. The structural variations between isoforms are limited to the N terminus of the IC molecule, where the interaction with dynactin takes place. This suggests differences in the dynactin-mediated organelle binding by IC isoforms. Accordingly, when transiently expressed in Drosophila Schneider-3 cells, the IC isoforms differ in their intracellular targeting properties from each other. A mechanism is proposed for the regulation of dynein binding to organelles through the changes in the content of the IC isoform pool.
Carbonic anhydrase (CA) IX is a transmembrane isozyme of CAs that catalyzes reversible hydration of CO2. While it is known that CA IX is distributed in human embryonic chondrocytes, its role in chondrocyte differentiation has not been reported. In the present study, we found that Car9 mRNA and CA IX were expressed in proliferating but not hypertrophic chondrocytes. Next, we examined the role of CA IX in the expression of marker genes of chondrocyte differentiation in vitro. Introduction of Car9 siRNA to mouse primary chondrocytes obtained from costal cartilage induced the mRNA expressions of Col10a1, the gene for type X collagen α-1 chain, and Epas1, the gene for hypoxia-responsible factor-2α (HIF-2α), both of which are known to be characteristically expressed in hypertrophic chondrocytes. On the other hand, forced expression of CA IX had no effect of the proliferation of chondrocytes or the transcription of Col10a1 and Epas1, while the transcription of Col2a1 and Acan were up-regulated. Although HIF-2α has been reported to be a potent activator of Col10a1 transcription, Epas1 siRNA did not suppress Car9 siRNA-induced increment in Col10a1 expression, indicating that down-regulation of CA IX induces the expression of Col10a1 in chondrocytes in a HIF-2α-independent manner. On the other hand, cellular cAMP content was lowered by Car9 siRNA. Furthermore, the expression of Col10a1 mRNA after Car9 silencing was augmented by an inhibitor of protein kinase A, and suppressed by an inhibitor for phosphodiesterase as well as a brominated analog of cAMP. While these results suggest a possible involvement of cAMP-dependent pathway, at least in part, in induction of Col10a1 expression by down-regulation of Car9, more detailed study is required to clarify the role of CA IX in regulation of Col10a1 expression in chondrocytes.
Theoretical models suggest that gene silencing at the nuclear periphery may involve “closing” of chromatin by transcriptional repressors, such as histone deacetylases (HDACs). Here we provide experimental evidence confirming these predictions. Histone acetylation, chromatin compactness, and gene repression in lamina-interacting multigenic chromatin domains were analyzed in Drosophila S2 cells in which B-type lamin, diverse HDACs, and lamina-associated proteins were downregulated by dsRNA. Lamin depletion resulted in decreased compactness of the repressed multigenic domain associated with its detachment from the lamina and enhanced histone acetylation. Our data reveal the major role for HDAC1 in mediating deacetylation, chromatin compaction, and gene silencing in the multigenic domain, and an auxiliary role for HDAC3 that is required for retention of the domain at the lamina. These findings demonstrate the manifold and central involvement of class I HDACs in regulation of lamina-associated genes, illuminating a mechanism by which these enzymes can orchestrate normal and pathological development.
Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI), recently associated with a novel Atlantic salmon reovirus (ASRV), is currently one of the most prevalent inflammatory diseases in commercial Atlantic salmon farms in Norway. Mortality varies from low to 20%, but morbidity can be very high, reducing growth performance and causing considerable financial impact. Clinical symptoms, including myocarditis, myocardial and red skeletal muscle necrosis, correlate with the intensity of the inflammatory response. In the present study, the effects of two functional feeds (FF1 and FF2) were compared to a standard commercial reference feed (ST) in Atlantic salmon subjected to an ASRV challenge. The functional feeds had reduced levels of total lipid and digestible energy, and different levels and proportions of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA). The objective was to determine whether these feeds could provide effective protection by decreasing the inflammatory response associated with HSMI. Histopathology, viral load, fatty acid composition and gene expression of heart tissue were assessed over a period of 16 weeks post-infection with ASRV. The viral load and histopathology scores in heart tissue in response to ASRV infection were reduced in fish fed both functional feeds, with FF1 showing the greatest effect. Microarray hierarchical cluster analysis showed that the functional feeds greatly affected expression of inflammation/immune related genes over the course of the ASRV infection. Viral load correlated with up-regulation of pro-inflammatory genes at the early-mid stages of infection in fish fed the ST diet. Expression of inflammatory genes 16-weeks after ASRV challenge reflected the difference in efficacy between the functional feeds, with fish fed FF1 showing lower expression. Thus, severity of the lesions in heart tissue correlated with the intensity of the innate immune response and was associated with tissue fatty acid compositions. The present study demonstrated that dietary modulation through clinical nutrition had major influences on the development and severity of the response to ASRV infection in salmon. Thus, HSMI was reduced in fish fed the functional feeds, particularly FF1. The modulation of gene expression between fish fed the different feeds provided further insight into the molecular mechanisms and progression of the inflammatory and immune responses to ASRV infection in salmon.
TG-interacting factor (TGIF) in Drosophila consists of two tandemly-repeated genes, achintya (Dmachi) and vismay (Dmvis), which act as transcriptional activators in Drosophila spermatogenesis. In contrast, TGIF in humans is a transcriptional repressor that binds directly to DNA or interacts with corepressors to repress the transcription of target genes. In this study, we investigated the characteristics and functions of BmTGIF, a Bombyx mori homolog of DmTGIF. Like DmTGIF, BmTGIF is predominantly expressed in the testes and ovaries. Four alternatively spliced isoforms could be isolated from testes, and two isoforms from ovaries. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction indicated BmTGIF was abundantly expressed in the testis of 3rd instar larvae, when the testis is almost full of primary spermatocytes. The results of luciferase assays indicated that BmTGIF contains two adjacent acidic domains that activate the transcription of reporter genes. Immunofluorescence assay in BmN cells showed that the BmTGIF protein was located mainly in the nucleus, and paraffin sections of testis showed BmTGIF was grossly expressed in primary spermatocytes and mature sperms. Consistent with the role of DmVis in Drosophila development, BmTGIF significantly affected spermatid differentiation, as indicated by hematoxylin-eosin staining of paraffin sections of testis from BmTGIF-small interfering RNA (siRNA)-injected male silkworms. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments suggested that BmTGIF interacted with BmAly, and that they may recruit other factors to form a complex to regulate the genes required for meiotic divisions and spermatid differentiation. The results of this analysis of BmTGIF will improve our understanding of the mechanism of spermatid differentiation in B. mori, with potential applications for pest control.
We used human fetal bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (hfMSCs) differentiating towards chondrocytes as an alternative model for the human growth plate (GP). Our aims were to study gene expression patterns associated with chondrogenic differentiation to assess whether chondrocytes derived from hfMSCs are a suitable model for studying the development and maturation of the GP. hfMSCs efficiently formed hyaline cartilage in a pellet culture in the presence of TGFβ3 and BMP6. Microarray and principal component analysis were applied to study gene expression profiles during chondrogenic differentiation. A set of 232 genes was found to correlate with in vitro cartilage formation. Several identified genes are known to be involved in cartilage formation and validate the robustness of the differentiating hfMSC model. KEGG pathway analysis using the 232 genes revealed 9 significant signaling pathways correlated with cartilage formation. To determine the progression of growth plate cartilage formation, we compared the gene expression profile of differentiating hfMSCs with previously established expression profiles of epiphyseal GP cartilage. As differentiation towards chondrocytes proceeds, hfMSCs gradually obtain a gene expression profile resembling epiphyseal GP cartilage. We visualized the differences in gene expression profiles as protein interaction clusters and identified many protein clusters that are activated during the early chondrogenic differentiation of hfMSCs showing the potential of this system to study GP development.
Although some preliminary work has revealed the potential transcriptional regulatory function of the introns in eukaryotes, additional evidences are needed to support this conjecture. In this study, we perform systemic analyses of the sequence characteristics of human introns. The results show that the first introns are generally longer and C, G and their dinucleotide compositions are over-represented relative to other introns, which are consistent with the previous findings. In addition, some new phenomena concerned with transcriptional regulation are found: i) the first introns are enriched in CpG islands; and ii) the percentages of the first introns containing TATA, CAAT and GC boxes are relatively higher than other position introns. The similar features of introns are observed in tissue-specific genes. The results further support that the first introns of human genes are likely to be involved in transcriptional regulation, and give an insight into the transcriptional regulatory regions of genes.
Genomes are spatially assembled into chromosome territories (CT) within the nucleus of living cells. Recent evidences have suggested associations between three-dimensional organization of CTs and the active gene clusters within neighboring CTs. These gene clusters are part of signaling networks sharing similar transcription factor or other downstream transcription machineries. Hence, presence of such gene clusters of active signaling networks in a cell type may regulate the spatial organization of chromosomes in the nucleus. However, given the probabilistic nature of chromosome positions and complex transcription factor networks (TFNs), quantitative methods to establish their correlation is lacking. In this paper, we use chromosome positions and gene expression profiles in interphase fibroblasts and describe methods to capture the correspondence between their spatial position and expression. In addition, numerical simulations designed to incorporate the interacting TFNs, reveal that the chromosome positions are also optimized for the activity of these networks. These methods were validated for specific chromosome pairs mapped in two distinct transcriptional states of T-Cells (naïve and activated). Taken together, our methods highlight the functional coupling between topology of chromosomes and their respective gene expression patterns.
Dioxins are persistent organic pollutants interfering with endocrine systems and causing reproductive and developmental disorders. The objective of our project was to determine the impact of an in utero exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) on reproductive function of male and female offspring in the rat with a special emphasis on the immature period. We used a low dose of TCDD (unique exposure by oral gavage of 200 ng/kg at 15.5 days of gestation) in order to mirror a response to an environmental dose of TCDD not altering fertility of the progeny. We choose a global gene expression approach using Affymetrix microarray analysis, and testes of 5 days and ovaries of 14 days of age. Less than 1% of the expressed genes in gonads were altered following embryonic TCDD exposure; specifically, 113 genes in ovaries and 56 in testes with 7 genes common to both sex gonads. It included the repressor of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (Ahrr), the chemokines Ccl5 and Cxcl4 previously shown to be regulated by dioxin in testis, Pgds2/Hpgds and 3 others uncharacterized. To validate and extend the microarray data we realized real-time PCR on gonads at various developmental periods of interest (from 3 to 25 days for ovaries, from 5 to the adult age for testes). Overall, our results evidenced that both sex gonads responded differently to TCDD exposure. For example, we observed induction of the canonic battery of TCDD-induced genes coding enzymes of the detoxifying machinery in ovaries aged of 3–14 days of age (except Cyp1a1 induced at 3–10 days) but not in testes of 5 days (except Ahrr). We also illustrated that inflammatory pathway is one pathway activated by TCDD in gonads. Finally, we identified several new genes targeted by TCDD including Fgf13 in testis and one gene, Ptgds2/Hpgds regulated in the two sex gonads.
The testis specific X-linked genes whose evolution is traced here in the melanogaster species subgroup are thought to undergo fast rate of diversification. The CK2ßtes and NACβtes gene families encode the diverged regulatory β-subunits of protein kinase CK2 and the homologs of β-subunit of nascent peptide associated complex, respectively. We annotated the CK2βtes-like genes related to CK2ßtes family in the D. simulans and D. sechellia genomes. The ancestor CK2βtes-like genes preserved in D. simulans and D. sechellia are considered to be intermediates in the emergence of the D. melanogaster specific Stellate genes related to the CK2ßtes family. The CK2ßtes-like genes are more similar to the unique autosomal CK2ßtes gene than to Stellates, taking into account their peculiarities of polymorphism. The formation of a variant the CK2ßtes gene Stellate in D. melanogaster as a result of illegitimate recombination between a NACßtes promoter and a distinct polymorphic variant of CK2ßtes-like ancestor copy was traced. We found a close nonrandom proximity between the dispersed defective copies of DINE-1 transposons, the members of Helitron family, and the CK2βtes and NACβtes genes, suggesting an involvement of DINE-1 elements in duplication and amplification of these genes.
The Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas (Mollusca, Lophotrochozoa) is an alternative and irregular protandrous hermaphrodite: most individuals mature first as males and then change sex several times. Little is known about genetic and phenotypic basis of sex differentiation in oysters, and little more about the molecular pathways regulating reproduction. We have recently developed and validated a microarray containing 31,918 oligomers (Dheilly et al., 2011) representing the oyster transcriptome. The application of this microarray to the study of mollusk gametogenesis should provide a better understanding of the key factors involved in sex differentiation and the regulation of oyster reproduction.
Gene expression was studied in gonads of oysters cultured over a yearly reproductive cycle. Principal component analysis and hierarchical clustering showed a significant divergence in gene expression patterns of males and females coinciding with the start of gonial mitosis. ANOVA analysis of the data revealed 2,482 genes differentially expressed during the course of males and/or females gametogenesis. The expression of 434 genes could be localized in either germ cells or somatic cells of the gonad by comparing the transcriptome of female gonads to the transcriptome of stripped oocytes and somatic tissues. Analysis of the annotated genes revealed conserved molecular mechanisms between mollusks and mammals: genes involved in chromatin condensation, DNA replication and repair, mitosis and meiosis regulation, transcription, translation and apoptosis were expressed in both male and female gonads. Most interestingly, early expressed male-specific genes included bindin and a dpy-30 homolog and female-specific genes included foxL2, nanos homolog 3, a pancreatic lipase related protein, cd63 and vitellogenin. Further functional analyses are now required in order to investigate their role in sex differentiation in oysters.
This study allowed us to identify potential markers of early sex differentiation in the oyster C. gigas, an alternative hermaphrodite mollusk. We also provided new highly valuable information on genes specifically expressed by mature spermatozoids and mature oocytes.
The micro-array profiling of micro-RNA has been performed in rat skeletal muscle tissues, isolated from male adult offspring of intrauterine plus postnatal growth restricted model (IPGR). Apparently, the GLUT4 mRNA expression in male sk. muscle was found to be unaltered in contrast to females. The over-expression of miR-29a and miR-23a in the experimental group of SMSP (Starved Mother Starved Pups) have been found to regulate the glucose transport activity with respect to their control counterparts CMCP (Control Mother Control Pups) as confirmed in rat L6 myoblast-myocyte cell culture system. The ex-vivo experimentation demonstrates an aberration in insulin signaling pathway in male sk. muscle that leads to the localization of the membrane-bound Glut4 protein. We have identified through a series of experiments one important protein factor SMAD4, a co-SMAD critical to the TGF-beta signaling pathway. This factor is targeted by miR-29a, as identified in an in vitro reporter-assay system in cell-culture experiment. The other micro-RNA, miR-23a, targets SMAD4 indirectly that seems to be critical in regulating insulin-dependent glucose transport activity. MicroRNA mimics, inhibitors and siRNA studies indicate the role of SMAD4 as inhibitory for glucose transport activities in normal physiological condition. The data demonstrate for the first time a critical function of microRNAs in fine-tuning the regulation of glucose transport in skeletal muscle. Chronic starved conditions (IPGR) in sk. muscle up-regulates microRNA changing the target protein expression patterns, such as SMAD4, to alter the glucose transport pathways for the survival. The innovative outcome of this paper identifies a critical pathway (TGF-beta) that may act negatively for the mammalian glucose transport machinery.