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1.  Occurrence of multipolar mitoses and association with Aurora-A/-B kinases and p53 mutations in aneuploid esophageal carcinoma cells 
BMC Cell Biology  2011;12:13.
Aurora kinases and loss of p53 function are implicated in the carcinogenesis of aneuploid esophageal cancers. Their association with occurrence of multipolar mitoses in the two main histotypes of aneuploid esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and Barrett's adenocarcinoma (BAC) remains unclear. Here, we investigated the occurrence of multipolar mitoses, Aurora-A/-B gene copy numbers and expression/activation as well as p53 alterations in aneuploid ESCC and BAC cancer cell lines.
A control esophageal epithelial cell line (EPC-hTERT) had normal Aurora-A and -B gene copy numbers and expression, was p53 wild type and displayed bipolar mitoses. In contrast, both ESCC (OE21, Kyse-410) and BAC (OE33, OE19) cell lines were aneuploid and displayed elevated gene copy numbers of Aurora-A (chromosome 20 polysomy: OE21, OE33, OE19; gene amplification: Kyse-410) and Aurora-B (chromosome 17 polysomy: OE21, Kyse-410). Aurora-B gene copy numbers were not elevated in OE19 and OE33 cells despite chromosome 17 polysomy. Aurora-A expression and activity (Aurora-A/phosphoT288) was not directly linked to gene copy numbers and was highest in Kyse-410 and OE33 cells. Aurora-B expression and activity (Aurora-B/phosphoT232) was higher in OE21 and Kyse-410 than in OE33 and OE19 cells. The mitotic index was highest in OE21, followed by OE33 > OE19 > Kyse-410 and EPC-hTERT cells. Multipolar mitoses occurred with high frequency in OE33 (13.8 ± 4.2%), followed by OE21 (7.7 ± 5.0%) and Kyse-410 (6.3 ± 2.0%) cells. Single multipolar mitoses occurred in OE19 (1.0 ± 1.0%) cells. Distinct p53 mutations and p53 protein expression patterns were found in all esophageal cancer cell lines, but complete functional p53 inactivation occurred in OE21 and OE33 only.
High Aurora-A expression alone is not associated with overt multipolar mitoses in aneuploid ESCC and BAC cancer cells, as specifically shown here for OE21 and OE33 cells, respectively. Additional p53 loss of function mutations are necessary for this to occur, at least for invasive esophageal cancer cells. Further assessment of Aurora kinases and p53 interactions in cells or tissue specimens derived from non-invasive dysplasia (ESCC) or intestinal metaplasia (BAC) are necessary to disclose a potential causative role of Aurora kinases and p53 for development of aneuploid, invasive esophageal cancers.
PMCID: PMC3094318  PMID: 21470402
2.  Correction: Y Chromosomal Variation Tracks the Evolution of Mating Systems in Chimpanzee and Bonobo 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):10.1371/annotation/14d47e6a-400a-429e-a487-6dd375e04632.
PMCID: PMC2982988
3.  Y Chromosomal Variation Tracks the Evolution of Mating Systems in Chimpanzee and Bonobo 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12482.
The male-specific regions of the Y chromosome (MSY) of the human and the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) are fully sequenced. The most striking difference is the dramatic rearrangement of large parts of their respective MSYs. These non-recombining regions include ampliconic gene families that are known to be important for male reproduction,and are consequently under significant selective pressure. However, whether the published Y-chromosomal pattern of ampliconic fertility genes is invariable within P. troglodytes is an open but fundamental question pertinent to discussions of the evolutionary fate of the Y chromosome in different primate mating systems. To solve this question we applied fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) of testis-specific expressed ampliconic fertility genes to metaphase Y chromosomes of 17 chimpanzees derived from 11 wild-born males and 16 bonobos representing seven wild-born males. We show that of eleven P. troglodytes Y-chromosomal lines, ten Y-chromosomal variants were detected based on the number and arrangement of the ampliconic fertility genes DAZ (deleted in azoospermia) and CDY (chromodomain protein Y)—a so-far never-described variation of a species' Y chromosome. In marked contrast, no variation was evident among seven Y-chromosomal lines of the bonobo, P. paniscus, the chimpanzee's closest living relative. Although, loss of variation of the Y chromosome in the bonobo by a founder effect or genetic drift cannot be excluded, these contrasting patterns might be explained in the context of the species' markedly different social and mating behaviour. In chimpanzees, multiple males copulate with a receptive female during a short period of visible anogenital swelling, and this may place significant selection on fertility genes. In bonobos, however, female mate choice may make sperm competition redundant (leading to monomorphism of fertility genes), since ovulation in this species is concealed by the prolonged anogenital swelling, and because female bonobos can occupy high-ranking positions in the group and are thus able to determine mate choice more freely.
PMCID: PMC2931694  PMID: 20824190
4.  A Novel System of Polymorphic and Diverse NK Cell Receptors in Primates 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(10):e1000688.
There are two main classes of natural killer (NK) cell receptors in mammals, the killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) and the structurally unrelated killer cell lectin-like receptors (KLR). While KIR represent the most diverse group of NK receptors in all primates studied to date, including humans, apes, and Old and New World monkeys, KLR represent the functional equivalent in rodents. Here, we report a first digression from this rule in lemurs, where the KLR (CD94/NKG2) rather than KIR constitute the most diverse group of NK cell receptors. We demonstrate that natural selection contributed to such diversification in lemurs and particularly targeted KLR residues interacting with the peptide presented by MHC class I ligands. We further show that lemurs lack a strict ortholog or functional equivalent of MHC-E, the ligands of non-polymorphic KLR in “higher” primates. Our data support the existence of a hitherto unknown system of polymorphic and diverse NK cell receptors in primates and of combinatorial diversity as a novel mechanism to increase NK cell receptor repertoire.
Author Summary
Most receptors of natural killer (NK) cells interact with highly polymorphic major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules and thereby regulate the activity of NK cells against infected or malignant target cells. Whereas humans, apes, and Old and New World monkeys use the family of killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) as highly diverse NK cell receptors, this function is performed in rodents by the diverse family of lectin-like receptors Ly49. When did this functional separation occur in evolution? We followed this by investigating lemurs, primates that are distantly related to humans. We show here that lemurs employ the CD94/NKG2 family as their highly diversified NK cell receptors. The CD94/NKG2 receptors also belong to the lectin-like receptor family, but are rather conserved in “higher” primates and rodents. We could further demonstrate that lemurs have a single Ly49 gene like other primates but lack functional KIR genes of the KIR3DL lineage and show major deviations in their MHC class I genomic organisation. Thus, lemurs have evolved a “third way” of polymorphic and diverse NK cell receptors. In addition, the multiplied lemur CD94/NKG2 receptors can be freely combined, thereby forming diverse receptors. This is, therefore, the first description of some combinatorial diversity of NK cell receptors.
PMCID: PMC2757895  PMID: 19834558
5.  Chromosomal evolution of the PKD1 gene family in primates 
Correction to Kirsch S, Pasantes J, Wolf A, Bogdanova N, Münch C, Pennekamp P, Krawczak M, Dworniczak B, Schempp W: Chromosomal evolution of the PKD1 gene family in primates. BMC Evolutionary Biology 2008, 8:263 (doi:10.1186/1471-2148-8-263)
PMCID: PMC2649905
6.  Evolutionary analysis of the highly dynamic CHEK2 duplicon in anthropoids 
Segmental duplications (SDs) are euchromatic portions of genomic DNA (≥ 1 kb) that occur at more than one site within the genome, and typically share a high level of sequence identity (>90%). Approximately 5% of the human genome is composed of such duplicated sequences. Here we report the detailed investigation of CHEK2 duplications. CHEK2 is a multiorgan cancer susceptibility gene encoding a cell cycle checkpoint kinase acting in the DNA-damage response signalling pathway. The continuous presence of the CHEK2 gene in all eukaryotes and its important role in maintaining genome stability prompted us to investigate the duplicative evolution and phylogeny of CHEK2 and its paralogs during anthropoid evolution.
To study CHEK2 duplicon evolution in anthropoids we applied a combination of comparative FISH and in silico analyses. Our comparative FISH results with a CHEK2 fosmid probe revealed the single-copy status of CHEK2 in New World monkeys, Old World monkeys and gibbons. Whereas a single CHEK2 duplication was detected in orangutan, a multi-site signal pattern indicated a burst of duplication in African great apes and human. Phylogenetic analysis of paralogous and ancestral CHEK2 sequences in human, chimpanzee and rhesus macaque confirmed this burst of duplication, which occurred after the radiation of orangutan and African great apes. In addition, we used inter-species quantitative PCR to determine CHEK2 copy numbers. An amplification of CHEK2 was detected in African great apes and the highest CHEK2 copy number of all analysed species was observed in the human genome. Furthermore, we detected variation in CHEK2 copy numbers within the analysed set of human samples.
Our detailed analysis revealed the highly dynamic nature of CHEK2 duplication during anthropoid evolution. We determined a burst of CHEK2 duplication after the radiation of orangutan and African great apes and identified the highest CHEK2 copy number in human. In conclusion, our analysis of CHEK2 duplicon evolution revealed that SDs contribute to inter-species variation. Furthermore, our qPCR analysis led us to presume CHEK2 copy number variation in human, and molecular diagnostics of the cancer susceptibility gene CHEK2 inside the duplicated region might be hampered by the individual-specific set of duplicons.
PMCID: PMC2566985  PMID: 18831734
7.  Chromosomal evolution of the PKD1 gene family in primates 
The autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is mostly caused by mutations in the PKD1 (polycystic kidney disease 1) gene located in 16p13.3. Moreover, there are six pseudogenes of PKD1 that are located proximal to the master gene in 16p13.1. In contrast, no pseudogene could be detected in the mouse genome, only a single copy gene on chromosome 17. The question arises how the human situation originated phylogenetically. To address this question we applied comparative FISH-mapping of a human PKD1-containing genomic BAC clone and a PKD1-cDNA clone to chromosomes of a variety of primate species and the dog as a non-primate outgroup species.
Comparative FISH with the PKD1-cDNA clone clearly shows that in all primate species studied distinct single signals map in subtelomeric chromosomal positions orthologous to the short arm of human chromosome 16 harbouring the master PKD1 gene. Only in human and African great apes, but not in orangutan, FISH with both BAC and cDNA clones reveals additional signal clusters located proximal of and clearly separated from the PKD1 master genes indicating the chromosomal position of PKD1 pseudogenes in 16p of these species, respectively. Indeed, this is in accordance with sequencing data in human, chimpanzee and orangutan. Apart from the master PKD1 gene, six pseudogenes are identified in both, human and chimpanzee, while only a single-copy gene is present in the whole-genome sequence of orangutan. The phylogenetic reconstruction of the PKD1-tree reveals that all human pseudogenes are closely related to the human PKD1 gene, and all chimpanzee pseudogenes are closely related to the chimpanzee PKD1 gene. However, our statistical analyses provide strong indication that gene conversion events may have occurred within the PKD1 family members of human and chimpanzee, respectively.
PKD1 must have undergone amplification very recently in hominid evolution. Duplicative transposition of the PKD1 gene and further amplification and evolution of the PKD1 pseudogenes may have arisen in a common ancestor of Homo, Pan and Gorilla ~8 MYA. Reticulate evolutionary processes such as gene conversion and non-allelic homologous recombination (NAHR) may have resulted in concerted evolution of PKD1 family members in human and chimpanzee and, thus, simulate an independent evolution of the PKD1 pseudogenes from their master PKD1 genes in human and chimpanzee.
PMCID: PMC2564946  PMID: 18822117

Results 1-7 (7)