Natural products provide a vast array of chemical structures to explore in the discovery of new medicines. Although secondary metabolites produced by microbes have been developed to treat a variety of diseases, including bacterial and fungal infections, to date there has been limited investigation of natural products with antiviral activity. In this report, we used a phenotypic cell-based replicon assay coupled with an iterative biochemical fractionation process to identify, purify, and characterize antiviral compounds produced by marine microbes. We isolated a compound from Streptomyces kaviengensis, a novel actinomycetes isolated from marine sediments obtained off the coast of New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, which we identified as antimycin A1a. This compound displays potent activity against western equine encephalitis virus in cultured cells with half-maximal inhibitory concentrations of less than 4 nM and a selectivity index of greater than 550. Our efforts also revealed that several antimycin A analogues display antiviral activity, and mechanism of action studies confirmed that these Streptomyces-derived secondary metabolites function by inhibiting the cellular mitochondrial electron transport chain, thereby suppressing de novo pyrimidine synthesis. Furthermore, we found that antimycin A functions as a broad spectrum agent with activity against a wide range of RNA viruses in cultured cells, including members of the Togaviridae, Flaviviridae, Bunyaviridae, Picornaviridae, and Paramyxoviridae families. Finally, we demonstrate that antimycin A reduces central nervous system viral titers, improves clinical disease severity, and enhances survival in mice given a lethal challenge with western equine encephalitis virus. Our results provide conclusive validation for using natural product resources derived from marine microbes as source material for antiviral drug discovery, and they indicate that host mitochondrial electron transport is a viable target for the continued development of broadly active antiviral compounds.
Schistosoma japonicum is a parasitic flatworm that causes human schistosomiasis, a significant cause of morbidity in China and the Philippines. Here we present a draft genomic sequence for the worm, which is the first reported for any flatworm, indeed for the superphylum Lophotrochozoa. The genome provides a global insight into the molecular architecture and host interaction of this complex metazoan pathogen, revealing that it can exploit host nutrients, neuroendocrine hormones and signaling pathways for growth, development and maturation. Having a complex nervous system and a well developed sensory system, S. japonicum can accept stimulation of the corresponding ligands as a physiological response to different environments, such as fresh water or the tissues of its intermediate and mammalian hosts. Numerous proteinases, including cercarial elastase, are implicated in mammalian skin penetration and haemoglobin degradation. The genomic information will serve as a valuable platform to facilitate development of new interventions for schistosomiasis control.
The Group VIA Phospholipase A2 (iPLA2β) is the first recognized cytosolic Ca2+-independent PLA2 and has been proposed to participate in arachidonic acid (20:4) incorporation into glycerophosphocholine lipids, cell proliferation, exocytosis, apoptosis, and other processes. To study iPLA2β functions, we disrupted its gene by homologous recombination to generate mice that do not express iPLA2β. Heterozygous iPLA2β+/− breeding pairs yield a Mendelian 1:2:1 ratio of iPLA2β+/+, iPLA2β+/−, and iPLA2β−/− pups and a 1:1 male:female gender distribution of iPLA2β−/− pups. Several tissues of wild-type mice express iPLA2β mRNA, immunoreactive protein, and activity, and testes express the highest levels. Testes or other tissues of iPLA2β−/− mice express no iPLA2β mRNA or protein, but iPLA2β−/− testes are not deficient in 20:4-containing glycerophosphocholine lipids, indicating that iPLA2β does not play an obligatory role in formation of such lipids in that tissue. Spermatozoa from iPLA2β−/− mice have reduced motility and impaired ability to fertilize mouse oocytes in vitro and in vivo, and inhibiting iPLA2β with a bromoenol lactone suicide substrate reduces motility of wild-type spermatozoa in a time- and concentration-dependent manner.Mating iPLA2β−/− male mice with iPLA2β+/+, iPLA2β+/−, or iPLA2β−/− female mice yields only about 7% of the number of pups produced by mating pairs with an iPLA2β+/+ or iPLA2β+/− male, but iPLA2β−/− female mice have nearly normal fertility. These findings indicate that iPLA2β plays an important functional role in spermatozoa, suggest a target for developing male contraceptive drugs, and complement reports that disruption of the Group IVA PLA2 (cPLA2α) gene impairs female reproductive ability.
Cell-intrinsic innate immune responses mediated by the transcription factor interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF-3) are often vital for early pathogen control, and effective responses in neurons may be crucial to prevent the irreversible loss of these critical central nervous system cells after infection with neurotropic pathogens. To investigate this hypothesis, we used targeted molecular and genetic approaches with cultured neurons to study cell-intrinsic host defense pathways primarily using the neurotropic alphavirus western equine encephalitis virus (WEEV). We found that WEEV activated IRF-3-mediated neuronal innate immune pathways in a replication-dependent manner, and abrogation of IRF-3 function enhanced virus-mediated injury by WEEV and the unrelated flavivirus St. Louis encephalitis virus. Furthermore, IRF-3-dependent neuronal protection from virus-mediated cytopathology occurred independently of autocrine or paracrine type I interferon activity. Despite being partially controlled by IRF-3-dependent signals, WEEV also disrupted antiviral responses by inhibiting pattern recognition receptor pathways. This antagonist activity was mapped to the WEEV capsid gene, which disrupted signal transduction downstream of IRF-3 activation and was independent of capsid-mediated inhibition of host macromolecular synthesis. Overall, these results indicate that innate immune pathways have important cytoprotective activity in neurons and contribute to limiting injury associated with infection by neurotropic arboviruses.
In corals, biocalcification is a major function that may be drastically affected by ocean acidification (OA). Scleractinian corals grow by building up aragonitic exoskeletons that provide support and protection for soft tissues. Although this process has been extensively studied, the molecular basis of biocalcification is poorly understood. Notably lacking is a comprehensive catalog of the skeleton-occluded proteins—the skeletal organic matrix proteins (SOMPs) that are thought to regulate the mineral deposition. Using a combination of proteomics and transcriptomics, we report the first survey of such proteins in the staghorn coral Acropora millepora. The organic matrix (OM) extracted from the coral skeleton was analyzed by mass spectrometry and bioinformatics, enabling the identification of 36 SOMPs. These results provide novel insights into the molecular basis of coral calcification and the macroevolution of metazoan calcifying systems, whereas establishing a platform for studying the impact of OA at molecular level. Besides secreted proteins, extracellular regions of transmembrane proteins are also present, suggesting a close control of aragonite deposition by the calicoblastic epithelium. In addition to the expected SOMPs (Asp/Glu-rich, galaxins), the skeletal repertoire included several proteins containing known extracellular matrix domains. From an evolutionary perspective, the number of coral-specific proteins is low, many SOMPs having counterparts in the noncalcifying cnidarians. Extending the comparison with the skeletal OM proteomes of other metazoans allowed the identification of a pool of functional domains shared between phyla. These data suggest that co-option and domain shuffling may be general mechanisms by which the trait of calcification has evolved.
biomineralization; calcium carbonate skeleton; scleractinian; proteomics; evolution
Arboviral encephalitis is a potentially devastating human disease with no approved therapies that target virus replication. We previously discovered a novel class of thieno[3,2-b]pyrrole-based inhibitors active against neurotropic alphaviruses such as western equine encephalitis virus (WEEV) in cultured cells. In this report we describe initial development of these novel antiviral compounds, including bioisosteric replacement of the 4H-thieno[3,2-b]pyrrole core with indole to improve metabolic stability and the introduction of chirality to assess target enantioselectivity. Selected modifications enhanced antiviral activity while maintaining low cytotoxicity, increased stability to microsomal metabolism, and also revealed striking enantiospecific activity in cultured cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate improved outcomes (both symptoms and survival) following treatment with indole analog 9h (CCG-203926) in an in vivo mouse model of alphaviral encephalitis that closely correlate with the enantiospecific in vitro antiviral activity. These results represent a substantial advancement in the early preclinical development of a promising class of novel antiviral drugs against virulent neurotropic alphaviruses.
antiviral; alphavirus; indole; central nervous system; encephalitis; RNA replication inhibitor
Despite the crucial role of innate immunity in preventing or controlling pathogen-induced damage in most, if not all, cell types, very little is known about the activity of this essential defense system in central nervous system neurons, especially in humans. In this report we use both an established neuronal cell line model and an embryonic stem cell-based system to examine human neuronal innate immunity and responses to neurotropic alphavirus infection in cultured cells. We demonstrate that neuronal differentiation is associated with increased expression of crucial type I interferon signaling pathway components, including interferon regulatory factor-9 and an interferon receptor heterodimer subunit, which results in enhanced interferon stimulation and subsequent heightened antiviral activity and cytoprotective responses against neurotropic alphaviruses such as western equine encephalitis virus. These results identify important differentiation-dependent changes in innate immune system function that control cell-autonomous neuronal responses. Furthermore, this work demonstrates the utility of human embryonic stem cell-derived cultures as a platform to study the interactions between innate immunity, virus infection, and pathogenesis in central nervous system neurons.
Feature selection for classification in high-dimensional spaces can improve generalization, reduce classifier complexity, and identify important, discriminating feature “markers.” For support vector machine (SVM) classification, a widely used technique is recursive feature elimination (RFE). We demonstrate that RFE is not consistent with margin maximization, central to the SVM learning approach. We thus propose explicit margin-based feature elimination (MFE) for SVMs and demonstrate both improved margin and improved generalization, compared with RFE. Moreover, for the case of a nonlinear kernel, we show that RFE assumes that the squared weight vector 2-norm is strictly decreasing as features are eliminated. We demonstrate this is not true for the Gaussian kernel and, consequently, RFE may give poor results in this case. MFE for nonlinear kernels gives better margin and generalization. We also present an extension which achieves further margin gains, by optimizing only two degrees of freedom—the hyperplane’s intercept and its squared 2-norm—with the weight vector orientation fixed. We finally introduce an extension that allows margin slackness. We compare against several alternatives, including RFE and a linear programming method that embeds feature selection within the classifier design. On high-dimensional gene microarray data sets, University of California at Irvine (UCI) repository data sets, and Alzheimer’s disease brain image data, MFE methods give promising results.
Alzheimer’s; classifier margin; discriminant function; feature elimination; Gaussian kernel; margin maximization; medical imaging; microarray; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); neurodegenerative; polynomial kernel; recursive feature elimination (RFE); support vector machine (SVM)
Simulation studies in population genetics play an important role in helping to better understand the impact of various evolutionary and demographic scenarios on sequence variation and sequence patterns, and they also permit investigators to better assess and design analytical methods in the study of disease-associated genetic factors. To facilitate these studies, it is imperative to develop simulators with the capability to accurately generate complex genomic data under various genetic models. Currently, a number of efficient simulation software packages for large-scale genomic data are available, and new simulation programs with more sophisticated capabilities and features continue to emerge. In this article, we review the three basic simulation frameworks—coalescent, forward, and resampling—and some of the existing simulators that fall under these frameworks, comparing them with respect to their evolutionary and demographic scenarios, their computational complexity, and their specific applications. Additionally, we address some limitations in current simulation algorithms and discuss future challenges in the development of more powerful simulation tools.
backward simulators; disease association study; forward simulators; genome simulation; resampling
To understand the calcium-mediated signalling pathways underlying settlement and metamorphosis in the Scleractinian coral Acropora millepora, a predicted protein set derived from larval cDNAs was scanned for the presence of EF-hand domains (Pfam Id: PF00036). This approach led to the identification of a canonical calmodulin (AmCaM) protein and an uncharacterised member of the Neuronal Calcium Sensor (NCS) family of proteins known here as Acrocalcin (AmAC). While AmCaM transcripts were present throughout development, AmAC transcripts were not detected prior to gastrulation, after which relatively constant mRNA levels were detected until metamorphosis and settlement. The AmAC protein contains an internal CaM-binding site and was shown to interact in vitro with AmCaM. These results are consistent with the idea that AmAC is a target of AmCaM in vivo, suggesting that this interaction may regulate calcium-dependent processes during the development of Acropora millepora.
Innate cell-autonomous antiviral responses are essential first lines of defense against central nervous system infections but may also contribute to neuropathogenesis. We investigated the relationships between innate immunity and neuronal differentiation using an in vitro culture system with human cell lines to analyze cellular responses to the neurotropic alphavirus western equine encephalitis virus. Human neuronal cells displayed a maturation-dependent reduction in virus-induced cytopathology that was independent of autocrine interferon α or β activity. In addition, maturation was associated with enhanced responsiveness to exogenous stimuli, such that differentiated neurons required five- to ten-fold less type I interferon to suppress viral replication or virus-induced cytopathology compared to immature cells, although this enhanced responsiveness extended to only a subset of unique type I interferons. These results demonstrate that maturation-dependent changes in human neuronal cells may be key determinants in the innate immune response to infections with neurotropic alphaviruses.
Neurons; Differentiation; Alphavirus; Interferon
The acclimatization capacity of corals is a critical consideration in the persistence of coral reefs under stresses imposed by global climate change. The stress history of corals plays a role in subsequent response to heat stress, but the transcriptomic changes associated with these plastic changes have not been previously explored. In order to identify host transcriptomic changes associated with acquired thermal tolerance in the scleractinian coral Acropora millepora, corals preconditioned to a sub-lethal temperature of 3°C below bleaching threshold temperature were compared to both non-preconditioned corals and untreated controls using a cDNA microarray platform. After eight days of hyperthermal challenge, conditions under which non-preconditioned corals bleached and preconditioned corals (thermal-tolerant) maintained Symbiodinium density, a clear differentiation in the transcriptional profiles was revealed among the condition examined. Among these changes, nine differentially expressed genes separated preconditioned corals from non-preconditioned corals, with 42 genes differentially expressed between control and preconditioned treatments, and 70 genes between non-preconditioned corals and controls. Differentially expressed genes included components of an apoptotic signaling cascade, which suggest the inhibition of apoptosis in preconditioned corals. Additionally, lectins and genes involved in response to oxidative stress were also detected. One dominant pattern was the apparent tuning of gene expression observed between preconditioned and non-preconditioned treatments; that is, differences in expression magnitude were more apparent than differences in the identity of genes differentially expressed. Our work revealed a transcriptomic signature underlying the tolerance associated with coral thermal history, and suggests that understanding the molecular mechanisms behind physiological acclimatization would be critical for the modeling of reefs in impending climate change scenarios.
Innate immune pathways are early defense responses important for the immediate control and eventual clearance of many pathogens, where signaling is initiated via pattern recognition receptor-mediated events that occur in a ligand- and cell-type specific manner. Within CNS neurons, innate immune pathways are likely crucial to control pathogens that target these essential yet virtually irreplaceable cells. However, relatively little is known about the induction and regulation of neuronal pattern recognition receptor signaling. In this report, we used human neuronal cell lines and primary rat neuronal cultures to examine pattern recognition receptor expression and function. We found that several innate immune receptor ligands, including Sendai virus, the dsRNA mimetic polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid, and LPS all activated differentiation-dependent neuronal innate immune pathways. Functional genetic analyses revealed that interferon regulatory factor 3-mediated pathways that resulted in IFNβ transcriptional upregulation were activated in cultured human neuronal cells by the pattern recognition receptors TLR3, melanoma differentiated-associated gene 5, or retinoic acid inducible gene I in a ligand-specific manner. Furthermore, genome-wide transcriptional array and targeted genetic and pharmacologic analyses identified PI3K signaling as crucial for the induction of innate immune pathways in neurons. These results indicate that human neuronal cells possess specific and functional pattern recognition receptor pathways essential for the effective induction of innate immune responses, and suggest that neurons can play an active role in defense against neurotropic pathogens.
This is an author-produced version of a manuscript accepted for publication in The Journal of Immunology (The JI). The American Association of Immunologists, Inc. (AAI), publisher of The JI, holds the copyright to this manuscript. This manuscript has not yet been copyedited or subjected to editorial proofreading by The JI; hence it may differ from the final version published in The JI (online and in print). AAI (The JI) is not liable for errors or omissions in the author-produced version on the manuscript or in any version derived from it by the United States National Institutes of Health or any other third party. The final, citable version of record can be found at www.jimmunol.org.
Corals, like many other marine invertebrates, lack a mature allorecognition system in early life history stages. Indeed, in early ontogeny, when corals acquire and establish associations with various surface microbiota and dinoflagellate endosymbionts, they do not efficiently distinguish between closely and distantly related individuals from the same population. However, very little is known about the molecular components that underpin allorecognition and immunity responses or how they change through early ontogeny in corals.
Patterns in the expression of four putative immune response genes (apextrin, complement C3, and two CELIII type lectin genes) were examined in juvenile colonies of Acropora millepora throughout a six-month post-settlement period using quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR). Expression of a CELIII type lectin gene peaked in the fourth month for most of the coral juveniles sampled and was significantly higher at this time than at any other sampling time during the six months following settlement. The timing of this increase in expression levels of putative immune response genes may be linked to allorecognition maturation which occurs around this time in A.millepora. Alternatively, the increase may represent a response to immune challenges, such as would be involved in the recognition of symbionts (such as Symbiodinium spp. or bacteria) during winnowing processes as symbioses are fine-tuned.
Our data, although preliminary, are consistent with the hypothesis that lectins may play an important role in the maturation of allorecognition responses in corals. The co-expression of lectins with apextrin during development of coral juveniles also raises the possibility that these proteins, which are components of innate immunity in other invertebrates, may influence the innate immune systems of corals through a common pathway or system. However, further studies investigating the expression of these genes in alloimmune-challenged corals are needed to further clarify emerging evidence of a complex innate immunity system in corals.
Scleractinian corals are currently a focus of major interest because of their ecological importance and the uncertain fate of coral reefs in the face of increasing anthropogenic pressure. Despite this, remarkably little is known about the evolutionary origins of corals. The Scleractinia suddenly appear in the fossil record about 240 Ma, but the range of morphological variation seen in these Middle Triassic fossils is comparable to that of modern scleractinians, implying much earlier origins that have so far remained elusive. A significant weakness in reconstruction(s) of early coral evolution is that deep-sea corals have been poorly represented in molecular phylogenetic analyses.
By adding new data from a large and representative range of deep-water species to existing molecular datasets and applying a relaxed molecular clock, we show that two exclusively deep-sea families, the Gardineriidae and Micrabaciidae, diverged prior to the Complexa/Robusta coral split around 425 Ma, thereby pushing the evolutionary origin of scleractinian corals deep into the Paleozoic.
The early divergence and distinctive morphologies of the extant gardineriid and micrabaciid corals suggest a link with Ordovician "scleractiniamorph" fossils that were previously assumed to represent extinct anthozoan skeletonized lineages. Therefore, scleractinian corals most likely evolved from Paleozoic soft-bodied ancestors. Modern shallow-water Scleractinia, which are dependent on symbionts, appear to have had several independent origins from solitary, non-symbiotic precursors. The Scleractinia have survived periods of massive climate change in the past, suggesting that as a lineage they may be less vulnerable to future changes than often assumed.
As a step towards understanding coral immunity we present the first whole transcriptome analysis of the acute responses of Acropora millepora to challenge with the bacterial cell wall derivative MDP and the viral mimic poly I:C, defined immunogens provoking distinct but well characterised responses in higher animals.
These experiments reveal similarities with the responses both of arthropods and mammals, as well as coral-specific effects. The most surprising finding was that MDP specifically induced three members of the GiMAP gene family, which has been implicated in immunity in mammals but is absent from Drosophila and Caenorhabditis. Like their mammalian homologs, GiMAP genes are arranged in a tandem cluster in the coral genome.
A phylogenomic survey of this gene family implies ancient origins, multiple independent losses and lineage-specific expansions during animal evolution. Whilst functional convergence cannot be ruled out, GiMAP expression in corals may reflect an ancestral role in immunity, perhaps in phagolysosomal processing.
Innate immunity; Evolution; GTPase; Coral disease; Cnidaria; Transcriptomics
Alzheimer's disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are of great current research interest. While there is no consensus on whether MCIs actually “convert” to AD, this concept is widely applied. Thus, the more important question is not whether MCIs convert, but what is the best such definition. We focus on automatic prognostication, nominally using only a baseline brain image, of whether an MCI will convert within a multi-year period following the initial clinical visit. This is not a traditional supervised learning problem since, in ADNI, there are no definitive labeled conversion examples. It is not unsupervised, either, since there are (labeled) ADs and Controls, as well as cognitive scores for MCIs. Prior works have defined MCI subclasses based on whether or not clinical scores significantly change from baseline. There are concerns with these definitions, however, since, e.g., most MCIs (and ADs) do not change from a baseline CDR = 0.5 at any subsequent visit in ADNI, even while physiological changes may be occurring. These works ignore rich phenotypical information in an MCI patient's brain scan and labeled AD and Control examples, in defining conversion. We propose an innovative definition, wherein an MCI is a converter if any of the patient's brain scans are classified “AD” by a Control-AD classifier. This definition bootstraps design of a second classifier, specifically trained to predict whether or not MCIs will convert. We thus predict whether an AD-Control classifier will predict that a patient has AD. Our results demonstrate that this definition leads not only to much higher prognostic accuracy than by-CDR conversion, but also to subpopulations more consistent with known AD biomarkers (including CSF markers). We also identify key prognostic brain region biomarkers.
Regulated exocytosis in many cells is controlled by the SNARE complex, whose core includes three proteins that promote membrane fusion. Complexins I and II are highly related cytosolic proteins that bind tightly to the assembled SNARE complex and regulate neuronal exocytosis. Like somatic cells, sperm undergo regulated exocytosis; however, sperm release a single large vesicle, the acrosome, whose release has different characteristics than neuronal exocytosis. Acrosomal release is triggered upon sperm adhesion to the mammalian egg extracellular matrix (zona pellucida) to allow penetration of the egg coat. Membrane fusion occurs at multiple points within the acrosome but how fusion is activated and the formation and progression of fusion points is synchronized is unclear. We show that complexins I and II are found in acrosome-intact mature sperm, bind to SNARE complex proteins, and are not detected in sperm after acrosomal exocytosis (acrosome reaction). Although complexin I-deficient sperm acrosome-react in response to calcium ionophore, they do not acrosome-react in response to egg zona pellucida proteins and have reduced fertilizing ability. Complexin II is present in the complexin I-deficient sperm and its expression is increased in complexin I-deficient testes. Therefore, complexin I functions in exocytosis in two related but morphologically distinct secretory processes. Sperm are unusual because they express both complexins I and II but have a unique and specific requirement for complexin I.
fertilization; zona pellucida; acrosome reaction; calcium; SNARE; secretion; oocyte; extracellular matrix; egg; membrane fusion
Interactions among genetic loci are believed to play an important role in disease risk. While many methods have been proposed for detecting such interactions, their relative performance remains largely unclear, mainly because different data sources, detection performance criteria, and experimental protocols were used in the papers introducing these methods and in subsequent studies. Moreover, there have been very few studies strictly focused on comparison of existing methods. Given the importance of detecting gene-gene and gene-environment interactions, a rigorous, comprehensive comparison of performance and limitations of available interaction detection methods is warranted.
We report a comparison of eight representative methods, of which seven were specifically designed to detect interactions among single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), with the last a popular main-effect testing method used as a baseline for performance evaluation. The selected methods, multifactor dimensionality reduction (MDR), full interaction model (FIM), information gain (IG), Bayesian epistasis association mapping (BEAM), SNP harvester (SH), maximum entropy conditional probability modeling (MECPM), logistic regression with an interaction term (LRIT), and logistic regression (LR) were compared on a large number of simulated data sets, each, consistent with complex disease models, embedding multiple sets of interacting SNPs, under different interaction models. The assessment criteria included several relevant detection power measures, family-wise type I error rate, and computational complexity. There are several important results from this study. First, while some SNPs in interactions with strong effects are successfully detected, most of the methods miss many interacting SNPs at an acceptable rate of false positives. In this study, the best-performing method was MECPM. Second, the statistical significance assessment criteria, used by some of the methods to control the type I error rate, are quite conservative, thereby limiting their power and making it difficult to fairly compare them. Third, as expected, power varies for different models and as a function of penetrance, minor allele frequency, linkage disequilibrium and marginal effects. Fourth, the analytical relationships between power and these factors are derived, aiding in the interpretation of the study results. Fifth, for these methods the magnitude of the main effect influences the power of the tests. Sixth, most methods can detect some ground-truth SNPs but have modest power to detect the whole set of interacting SNPs.
This comparison study provides new insights into the strengths and limitations of current methods for detecting interacting loci. This study, along with freely available simulation tools we provide, should help support development of improved methods. The simulation tools are available at: http://code.google.com/p/simulation-tool-bmc-ms9169818735220977/downloads/list.
To identify fast-evolving genes in reef-building corals, we performed direct comparative sequence analysis with expressed sequence tag (EST) datasets from two acroporid species: Acropora palmata from the Caribbean Sea and A. millepora from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Comparison of 589 independent sequences from 1,421 A. palmata contigs, with 10,247 A. millepora contigs resulted in the identification of 196 putative homologues. Most of the homologous pairs demonstrated high amino acid similarities (over 90%). Comparisons of putative homologues showing low amino acid similarities (under 90%) among the Acropora species to the near complete datasets from two other cnidarians (Hydra magnipapillata and Nematostella vectensis) implied that some were non-orthologous. Within 86 homologous pairs, 39 exhibited dN/dS ratios significantly less than 1, suggesting that these genes are under purifying selection associated with functional constraints. Eight independent genes showed dN/dS ratios exceeding 1, while three deviated significantly from 1, suggesting that these genes may play important roles in the adaptive evolution of Acropora. Our results also indicated that CEL-III lectin was under positive selection, consistent with a possible role in immunity or symbiont recognition. Further studies are needed to clarify the possible functions of the genes under positive selection to provide insight into the evolutionary process of corals.
Rhinovirus (RV), a single-stranded RNA picornavirus, is the most frequent cause of asthma exacerbations. We previously demonstrated in human bronchial epithelial cells that melanoma differentiation-associated gene (MDA)-5 and the adaptor protein for Toll-like receptor (TLR)-3 are each required for maximal RV1B-induced interferon (IFN) responses. However, in vivo, the overall airway response to viral infection likely represents a coordinated response integrating both antiviral and pro-inflammatory pathways. We examined the airway responses of MDA5- and TLR3-deficient mice to infection with RV1B, a minor group virus which replicates in mouse lungs. MDA5 null mice showed a delayed type I IFN and attenuated type III IFN response to RV1B infection, leading to a transient increase in viral titer. TLR3 null mice showed normal IFN responses and unchanged viral titers. Further, RV-infected MDA5 and TLR3 null mice showed reduced lung inflammatory responses and reduced airways responsiveness. Finally, RV-infected MDA5 null mice with allergic airways disease showed lower viral titers despite deficient IFN responses, and allergic MDA5 and TLR3 null mice each showed decreased RV-induced airway inflammatory and contractile responses. These results suggest that, in the context of RV infection, binding of viral dsRNA to MDA5 and TLR3 initiates pro-inflammatory signaling pathways leading to airways inflammation and hyperresponsiveness.
Rhinovirus (RV) is the most frequent cause of acute respiratory tract infection in humans. RV has emerged as the most frequent pathogen associated with exacerbations of asthma. However, the mechanisms by which RV causes asthma flare-ups are not precisely known. We studied the requirements of two receptors which bind viral double-stranded RNA, melanoma differentiation-associated gene (MDA)-5 and Toll-like receptor (TLR)-3, for RV-induced airway responses using specific knockout mice. We found that MDA5 and TLR3 deficiencies had modest effects on viral titer. However, MDA5 and TLR3 knockout mice showed significantly reduced airway inflammation and responsiveness in response to RV infection. Mice with allergic airways disease also showed reduced airway responses. These results suggest that, in the context of RV infection, TLR3 and MDA5 initiate pro-inflammatory signaling pathways which lead to airways inflammation and hyperresponsiveness.
Despite decades of research, the mechanism by which the fertilizing spermatozoon penetrates the mammalian vitelline membrane, the zona pellucida (ZP) remains one of the unexplained fundamental events of human/mammalian development. Evidence has been accumulating in support of the 26S proteasome as a candidate for echinoderm, ascidian and mammalian egg coat lysin. Monitoring ZP protein degradation by sperm during fertilization is nearly impossible because those few spermatozoa that penetrate the ZP leave behind a virtually untraceable residue of degraded proteins. We have overcome this hurdle by designing an experimentally consistent in vitro system in which live boar spermatozoa are co-incubated with ZP-proteins (ZPP) solubilized from porcine oocytes. Using this assay, mimicking sperm-egg interactions, we demonstrate that the sperm-borne proteasomes can degrade the sperm receptor protein ZPC. Upon coincubation with motile spermatozoa, the solubilized ZPP, which appear to be ubiquitinated, adhered to sperm acrosomal caps and induced acrosomal exocytosis/formation of the acrosomal shroud. The degradation of the sperm receptor protein ZPC was assessed by Western blotting band-densitometry and proteomics. A nearly identical pattern of sperm receptor degradation, evident already within the first 5 min of coincubation, was observed when the spermatozoa were replaced with the isolated, enzymatically active, sperm-derived proteasomes. ZPC degradation was blocked by proteasomal inhibitors and accelerated by ubiquitin-aldehyde(UBAL), a modified ubiquitin protein that stimulates proteasomal proteolysis. Such a degradation pattern of ZPC is consistent with in vitro fertilization studies, in which proteasomal inhibitors completely blocked fertilization, and UBAL increased fertilization and polyspermy rates. Preincubation of intact zona-enclosed ova with isolated active sperm proteasomes caused digestion, abrasions and loosening of the exposed zonae, and significantly reduced the fertilization/polyspermy rates after IVF, accompanied by en-mass detachment of zona bound sperm. Thus, the sperm borne 26S proteasome is a candidate zona lysin in mammals. This new paradigm has implications for contraception and assisted reproductive technologies in humans, as well as animals.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been widely applied to identify informative SNPs associated with common and complex diseases. Besides single-SNP analysis, the interaction between SNPs is believed to play an important role in disease risk due to the complex networking of genetic regulations. While many approaches have been proposed for detecting SNP interactions, the relative performance and merits of these methods in practice are largely unclear. In this paper, a ground-truth based comparative study is reported involving 9 popular SNP detection methods using realistic simulation datasets. The results provide general characteristics and guidelines on these methods that may be informative to the biological investigators.
Genome-wide association study; single-nucleotide polymorphism; SNP interaction
Motivation: In both genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and pathway analysis, the modest sample size relative to the number of genetic markers presents formidable computational, statistical and methodological challenges for accurately identifying markers/interactions and for building phenotype-predictive models.
Results: We address these objectives via maximum entropy conditional probability modeling (MECPM), coupled with a novel model structure search. Unlike neural networks and support vector machines (SVMs), MECPM makes explicit and is determined by the interactions that confer phenotype-predictive power. Our method identifies both a marker subset and the multiple k-way interactions between these markers. Additional key aspects are: (i) evaluation of a select subset of up to five-way interactions while retaining relatively low complexity; (ii) flexible single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) coding (dominant, recessive) within each interaction; (iii) no mathematical interaction form assumed; (iv) model structure and order selection based on the Bayesian Information Criterion, which fairly compares interactions at different orders and automatically sets the experiment-wide significance level; (v) MECPM directly yields a phenotype-predictive model. MECPM was compared with a panel of methods on datasets with up to 1000 SNPs and up to eight embedded penetrance function (i.e. ground-truth) interactions, including a five-way, involving less than 20 SNPs. MECPM achieved improved sensitivity and specificity for detecting both ground-truth markers and interactions, compared with previous methods.
Supplementary information:Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.