C-module-binding factor A (CbfA) is a jumonji-type transcription regulator that is important for maintaining the expression and mobility of the retrotransposable element TRE5-A in the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. CbfA-deficient cells have lost TRE5-A retrotransposition, are impaired in the ability to feed on bacteria, and do not enter multicellular development because of a block in cell aggregation. In this study, we performed Illumina RNA-seq of growing CbfA mutant cells to obtain a list of CbfA-regulated genes. We demonstrate that the carboxy-terminal domain of CbfA alone is sufficient to mediate most CbfA-dependent gene expression. The carboxy-terminal domain of CbfA from the distantly related social amoeba Polysphondylium pallidum restored the expression of CbfA-dependent genes in the D. discoideum CbfA mutant, indicating a deep conservation in the gene regulatory function of this domain in the dictyostelid clade. The CbfA-like protein CbfB displays ∼25% sequence identity with CbfA in the amino-terminal region, which contains a JmjC domain and two zinc finger regions and is thought to mediate chromatin-remodeling activity. In contrast to CbfA proteins, where the carboxy-terminal domains are strictly conserved in all dictyostelids, CbfB proteins have completely unrelated carboxy-terminal domains. Outside the dictyostelid clade, CbfA-like proteins with the CbfA-archetypical JmjC/zinc finger arrangement and individual carboxy-terminal domains are prominent in filamentous fungi but are not found in yeasts, plants, and metazoans. Our data suggest that two functional regions of the CbfA-like proteins evolved at different rates to allow the occurrence of species-specific adaptation processes during genome evolution.
Colony formation was the first step towards evolution of multicellularity in many macroscopic organisms. Dictyostelid social amoebas have used this strategy for over 600 Myr to form fruiting structures of increasing complexity. To understand in which order multicellular complexity evolved, we measured 24 phenotypic characters over 99 dictyostelid species. Using phylogenetic comparative methods, we show that the last common ancestor (LCA) of Dictyostelia probably erected small fruiting structures directly from aggregates. It secreted cAMP to coordinate fruiting body morphogenesis, and another compound to mediate aggregation. This phenotype persisted up to the LCAs of three of the four major groups of Dictyostelia. The group 4 LCA co-opted cAMP for aggregation and evolved much larger fruiting structures. However, it lost encystation, the survival strategy of solitary amoebas that is retained by many species in groups 1–3. Large structures, phototropism and a migrating intermediate ‘slug’ stage coevolved as evolutionary novelties within most groups. Overall, dictyostelids show considerable plasticity in the size and shape of multicellular structures, both within and between species. This probably reflects constraints placed by colonial life on developmental control mechanisms, which, depending on local cell density, need to direct from 10 to a million cells into forming a functional fructification.
evolution of multicellularity; morphogenetic signalling; phylogenomics; phototropism; encystation; sporulation
Many sequence data repositories can give a quick and easily accessible overview on genomes and their annotations. Less widespread is the possibility to compare related genomes with each other in a common database environment. We have previously described the GenColors database system (http://gencolors.fli-leibniz.de) and its applications to a number of bacterial genomes such as Borrelia, Legionella, Leptospira and Treponema. This system has an emphasis on genome comparison. It combines data from related genomes and provides the user with an extensive set of visualization and analysis tools. Eukaryote genomes are normally larger than prokaryote genomes and thus pose additional challenges for such a system. We have, therefore, adapted GenColors to also handle larger datasets of small eukaryotic genomes and to display eukaryotic gene structures. Further recent developments include whole genome views, genome list options and, for bacterial genome browsers, the display of horizontal gene transfer predictions. Two new GenColors-based databases for two fungal species (http://fgb.fli-leibniz.de) and for four social amoebas (http://sacgb.fli-leibniz.de) were set up. Both new resources open up a single entry point for related genomes for the amoebozoa and fungal research communities and other interested users. Comparative genomics approaches are greatly facilitated by these resources.
Nesprin-2, a type II transmembrane protein of the nuclear envelope, is a component of the LINC complex that connects the nuclear lamina with the actin cytoskeleton. To elucidate its physiological role we studied wound healing in Nesprin-2 Giant deficient mice and found that a loss of the protein affected wound healing particularly at later stages during fibroblast differentiation and keratinocyte proliferation leading to delayed wound closure. We identified altered expression and localization of transcription factors as one of the underlying mechanisms. Furthermore, the actin cytoskeleton which surrounds the nucleus was altered and keratinocyte migration was slowed down and focal adhesion formation enhanced. We also uncovered a new activity of Nesprin-2. When we probed for an interaction of Nesprin-2 Giant with chromatin we observed in ChIP Seq experiments an association of the protein with heterochromatic and centromeric DNA. Through this activity Nesprin-2 can affect the nuclear landscape and gene regulation. Our findings suggest functions for Nesprin-2 at the nuclear envelope (NE) in gene regulation and in regulation of the actin cytoskeleton which impact on wound healing.
LINC-complex; actin cytoskeleton; c-Fos; focal adhesion; keratinocyte; signaling; wound healing
Many dinoflagellate species are notorious for the toxins they produce and ecological and human health consequences associated with harmful algal blooms (HABs). Dinoflagellates are particularly refractory to genomic analysis due to the enormous genome size, lack of knowledge about their DNA composition and structure, and peculiarities of gene regulation, such as spliced leader (SL) trans-splicing and mRNA transposition mechanisms. Alexandrium ostenfeldii is known to produce macrocyclic imine toxins, described as spirolides. We characterized the genome of A. ostenfeldii using a combination of transcriptomic data and random genomic clones for comparison with other dinoflagellates, particularly Alexandrium species. Examination of SL sequences revealed similar features as in other dinoflagellates, including Alexandrium species. SL sequences in decay indicate frequent retro-transposition of mRNA species. This probably contributes to overall genome complexity by generating additional gene copies. Sequencing of several thousand fosmid and bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) ends yielded a wealth of simple repeats and tandemly repeated longer sequence stretches which we estimated to comprise more than half of the whole genome. Surprisingly, the repeats comprise a very limited set of 79–97 bp sequences; in part the genome is thus a relatively uniform sequence space interrupted by coding sequences. Our genomic sequence survey (GSS) represents the largest genomic data set of a dinoflagellate to date. Alexandrium ostenfeldii is a typical dinoflagellate with respect to its transcriptome and mRNA transposition but demonstrates Alexandrium-like stop codon usage. The large portion of repetitive sequences and the organization within the genome is in agreement with several other studies on dinoflagellates using different approaches. It remains to be determined whether this unusual composition is directly correlated to the exceptionally genome organization of dinoflagellates with a low amount of histones and histone-like proteins.
RpkA (Receptor phosphatidylinositol kinase A) is an unusual seven-helix transmembrane protein of Dictyostelium discoideum with a G protein coupled receptor (GPCR) signature and a C-terminal lipid kinase domain (GPCR-PIPK) predicted as a phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate 5-kinase. RpkA-homologs are present in all so far sequenced Dictyostelidae as well as in several other lower eukaryotes like the oomycete Phytophthora, and in the Legionella host Acanthamoeba castellani. Here we show by immunofluorescence that RpkA localizes to endosomal membranes and is specifically recruited to phagosomes. RpkA interacts with the phagosomal protein complex V-ATPase as proteins of this complex co-precipitate with RpkA-GFP as well as with the GST-tagged PIPK domain of RpkA. Loss of RpkA leads to a defect in phagocytosis as measured by yeast particle uptake. The uptake of the pathogenic bacterium Legionella pneumophila was however unaltered whereas its intra-cellular replication was significantly enhanced in rpkA-. The difference between wild type and rpkA- was even more prominent when L. hackeliae was used. When we investigated the reason for the enhanced susceptibility for L. pneumophila of rpkA- we could not detect a difference in endosomal pH but rpkA- showed depletion of phosphoinositides (PIP and PIP2) when we compared metabolically labeled phosphoinositides from wild type and rpkA-. Furthermore rpkA- exhibited reduced nitrogen starvation tolerance, an indicator for a reduced autophagy rate. Our results indicate that RpkA is a component of the defense system of D. discoideum as well as other lower eukaryotes.
The larvae of the greater wax moth Galleria mellonella are increasingly used (i) as mini-hosts to study pathogenesis and virulence factors of prominent bacterial and fungal human pathogens, (ii) as a whole-animal high throughput infection system for testing pathogen mutant libraries, and (iii) as a reliable host model to evaluate the efficacy of antibiotics against human pathogens. In order to compensate for the lack of genomic information in Galleria, we subjected the transcriptome of different developmental stages and immune-challenged larvae to next generation sequencing.
We performed a Galleria transcriptome characterization on the Roche 454-FLX platform combined with traditional Sanger sequencing to obtain a comprehensive transcriptome. To maximize sequence diversity, we pooled RNA extracted from different developmental stages, larval tissues including hemocytes, and from immune-challenged larvae and normalized the cDNA pool. We generated a total of 789,105 pyrosequencing and 12,032 high-quality Sanger EST sequences which clustered into 18,690 contigs with an average length of 1,132 bases. Approximately 40% of the ESTs were significantly similar (E ≤ e-03) to proteins of other insects, of which 45% have a reported function. We identified a large number of genes encoding proteins with established functions in immunity related sensing of microbial signatures and signaling, as well as effector molecules such as antimicrobial peptides and inhibitors of microbial proteinases. In addition, we found genes known as mediators of melanization or contributing to stress responses. Using the transcriptomic data, we identified hemolymph peptides and proteins induced upon immune challenge by 2D-gelelectrophoresis combined with mass spectrometric analysis.
Here, we have developed extensive transcriptomic resources for Galleria. The data obtained is rich in gene transcripts related to immunity, expanding remarkably our knowledge about immune and stress-inducible genes in Galleria and providing the complete sequences of genes whose primary structure have only partially been characterized using proteomic methods. The generated data provide for the first time access to the genetic architecture of immunity in this model host, allowing us to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying pathogen and parasite response and detailed analyses of both its immune responses against human pathogens, and its coevolution with entomopathogens.
The terrestrial habitat was colonized by the ancestors of modern land plants about 500 to 470 million years ago. Today it is widely accepted that land plants (embryophytes) evolved from streptophyte algae, also referred to as charophycean algae. The streptophyte algae are a paraphyletic group of green algae, ranging from unicellular flagellates to morphologically complex forms such as the stoneworts (Charales). For a better understanding of the evolution of land plants, it is of prime importance to identify the streptophyte algae that are the sister-group to the embryophytes. The Charales, the Coleochaetales or more recently the Zygnematales have been considered to be the sister group of the embryophytes However, despite many years of phylogenetic studies, this question has not been resolved and remains controversial.
Here, we use a large data set of nuclear-encoded genes (129 proteins) from 40 green plant taxa (Viridiplantae) including 21 embryophytes and six streptophyte algae, representing all major streptophyte algal lineages, to investigate the phylogenetic relationships of streptophyte algae and embryophytes. Our phylogenetic analyses indicate that either the Zygnematales or a clade consisting of the Zygnematales and the Coleochaetales are the sister group to embryophytes.
Our analyses support the notion that the Charales are not the closest living relatives of embryophytes. Instead, the Zygnematales or a clade consisting of Zygnematales and Coleochaetales are most likely the sister group of embryophytes. Although this result is in agreement with a previously published phylogenetic study of chloroplast genomes, additional data are needed to confirm this conclusion. A Zygnematales/embryophyte sister group relationship has important implications for early land plant evolution. If substantiated, it should allow us to address important questions regarding the primary adaptations of viridiplants during the conquest of land. Clearly, the biology of the Zygnematales will receive renewed interest in the future.
Millions of humans and animals suffer from superficial infections caused by a group of highly specialized filamentous fungi, the dermatophytes, which exclusively infect keratinized host structures. To provide broad insights into the molecular basis of the pathogenicity-associated traits, we report the first genome sequences of two closely phylogenetically related dermatophytes, Arthroderma benhamiae and Trichophyton verrucosum, both of which induce highly inflammatory infections in humans.
97% of the 22.5 megabase genome sequences of A. benhamiae and T. verrucosum are unambiguously alignable and collinear. To unravel dermatophyte-specific virulence-associated traits, we compared sets of potentially pathogenicity-associated proteins, such as secreted proteases and enzymes involved in secondary metabolite production, with those of closely related onygenales (Coccidioides species) and the mould Aspergillus fumigatus. The comparisons revealed expansion of several gene families in dermatophytes and disclosed the peculiarities of the dermatophyte secondary metabolite gene sets. Secretion of proteases and other hydrolytic enzymes by A. benhamiae was proven experimentally by a global secretome analysis during keratin degradation. Molecular insights into the interaction of A. benhamiae with human keratinocytes were obtained for the first time by global transcriptome profiling. Given that A. benhamiae is able to undergo mating, a detailed comparison of the genomes further unraveled the genetic basis of sexual reproduction in this species.
Our results enlighten the genetic basis of fundamental and putatively virulence-related traits of dermatophytes, advancing future research on these medically important pathogens.
The dinoflagellate Alexandrium minutum typically produces paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins, which are known only from cyanobacteria and dinoflagellates. While a PSP toxin gene cluster has recently been characterized in cyanobacteria, the genetic background of PSP toxin production in dinoflagellates remains elusive.
We constructed and analysed an expressed sequence tag (EST) library of A. minutum, which contained 15,703 read sequences yielding a total of 4,320 unique expressed clusters. Of these clusters, 72% combined the forward-and reverse reads of at least one bacterial clone. This sequence resource was then used to construct an oligonucleotide microarray. We analysed the expression of all clusters in three different strains. While the cyanobacterial PSP toxin genes were not found among the A. minutum sequences, 192 genes were differentially expressed between toxic and non-toxic strains.
Based on this study and on the lack of identified PSP synthesis genes in the two existent Alexandrium tamarense EST libraries, we propose that the PSP toxin genes in dinoflagellates might be more different from their cyanobacterial counterparts than would be expected in the case of a recent gene transfer. As a starting point to identify possible PSP toxin-associated genes in dinoflagellates without relying on a priori sequence information, the sequences only present in mRNA pools of the toxic strain can be seen as putative candidates involved in toxin synthesis and regulation, or acclimation to intracellular PSP toxins.
Dictyostelium, an amoeboid motile cell, harbors several paralogous Sec7 genes that encode members of three distinct subfamilies of the Sec7 superfamily of Guanine nucleotide exchange factors. Among them are proteins of the GBF/BIG family present in all eukaryotes. The third subfamily represented with three members in D. discoideum is the cytohesin family that has been thought to be metazoan specific. Cytohesins are characterized by a Sec7 PH tandem domain and have roles in cell adhesion and migration.
Dictyostelium SecG exhibits highest homologies to the cytohesins. It harbors at its amino terminus several ankyrin repeats that are followed by the Sec7 PH tandem domain. Mutants lacking SecG show reduced cell-substratum adhesion whereas cell-cell adhesion that is important for development is not affected. Accordingly, multicellular development proceeds normally in the mutant. During chemotaxis secG− cells elongate and migrate in a directed fashion towards cAMP, however speed is moderately reduced.
The data indicate that SecG is a relevant factor for cell-substrate adhesion and reveal the basic function of a cytohesin in a lower eukaryote.
Cyanobacterial morphology is diverse, ranging from unicellular spheres or rods to multicellular structures such as colonies and filaments. Multicellular species represent an evolutionary strategy to differentiate and compartmentalize certain metabolic functions for reproduction and nitrogen (N2) fixation into specialized cell types (e.g. akinetes, heterocysts and diazocytes). Only a few filamentous, differentiated cyanobacterial species, with genome sizes over 5 Mb, have been sequenced. We sequenced the genomes of two strains of closely related filamentous cyanobacterial species to yield further insights into the molecular basis of the traits of N2 fixation, filament formation and cell differentiation. Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii CS-505 is a cylindrospermopsin-producing strain from Australia, whereas Raphidiopsis brookii D9 from Brazil synthesizes neurotoxins associated with paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). Despite their different morphology, toxin composition and disjunct geographical distribution, these strains form a monophyletic group. With genome sizes of approximately 3.9 (CS-505) and 3.2 (D9) Mb, these are the smallest genomes described for free-living filamentous cyanobacteria. We observed remarkable gene order conservation (synteny) between these genomes despite the difference in repetitive element content, which accounts for most of the genome size difference between them. We show here that the strains share a specific set of 2539 genes with >90% average nucleotide identity. The fact that the CS-505 and D9 genomes are small and streamlined compared to those of other filamentous cyanobacterial species and the lack of the ability for heterocyst formation in strain D9 allowed us to define a core set of genes responsible for each trait in filamentous species. We presume that in strain D9 the ability to form proper heterocysts was secondarily lost together with N2 fixation capacity. Further comparisons to all available cyanobacterial genomes covering almost the entire evolutionary branch revealed a common minimal gene set for each of these cyanobacterial traits.
A genomic analysis of the annual fish Nothobranchius furzeri, a vertebrate with the shortest known life span in captivity and which may provide a new model organism for aging research.
The annual fish Nothobranchius furzeri is the vertebrate with the shortest known life span in captivity. Fish of the GRZ strain live only three to four months under optimal laboratory conditions, show explosive growth, early sexual maturation and age-dependent physiological and behavioral decline, and express aging related biomarkers. Treatment with resveratrol and low temperature significantly extends the maximum life span. These features make N. furzeri a promising new vertebrate model for age research.
To contribute to establishing N. furzeri as a new model organism, we provide a first insight into its genome and a comparison to medaka, stickleback, tetraodon and zebrafish. The N. furzeri genome contains 19 chromosomes (2n = 38). Its genome of between 1.6 and 1.9 Gb is the largest among the analyzed fish species and has, at 45%, the highest repeat content. Remarkably, tandem repeats comprise 21%, which is 4-12 times more than in the other four fish species. In addition, G+C-rich tandem repeats preferentially localize to centromeric regions. Phylogenetic analysis based on coding sequences identifies medaka as the closest relative. Genotyping of an initial set of 27 markers and multi-locus fingerprinting of one microsatellite provides the first molecular evidence that the GRZ strain is highly inbred.
Our work presents a first basis for systematic genomic and genetic analyses aimed at understanding the mechanisms of life span determination in N. furzeri.
Centromeres play a pivotal role in the life of a eukaryote cell, perform an essential and conserved function, but this has not led to a standard centromere structure. It remains currently unclear, how the centromeric function is achieved by widely differing structures. Since centromeres are often large and consist mainly of repetitive sequences they have only been analyzed in great detail in a handful of organisms. The genome of Dictyostelium discoideum, a valuable model organism, was described a few years ago but its centromere organization remained largely unclear. Using available sequence information we reconstructed the putative centromere organization in three of the six chromosomes of D. discoideum. They mainly consist of one type of transposons that is confined to centromeric regions. Centromeres are dynamic due to transposon integration, but an optimal centromere size seems to exist in D. discoideum. One centromere probably has expanded recently, whereas another underwent major rearrangements.
In addition to insights into the centromere organization and dynamics of a protist eukaryote, this work also provides a starting point for the analysis of the evolution of centromere structures in social amoebas by comparative genomics.
Actin belongs to the most abundant proteins in eukaryotic cells which harbor usually many conventional actin isoforms as well as actin-related proteins (Arps). To get an overview over the sometimes confusing multitude of actins and Arps, we analyzed the Dictyostelium discoideum actinome in detail and compared it with the genomes from other model organisms. The D. discoideum actinome comprises 41 actins and actin-related proteins. The genome contains 17 actin genes which most likely arose from consecutive gene duplications, are all active, in some cases developmentally regulated and coding for identical proteins (Act8-group). According to published data, the actin fraction in a D. discoideum cell consists of more than 95% of these Act8-type proteins. The other 16 actin isoforms contain a conventional actin motif profile as well but differ in their protein sequences. Seven actin genes are potential pseudogenes. A homology search of the human genome using the most typical D. discoideum actin (Act8) as query sequence finds the major actin isoforms such as cytoplasmic beta-actin as best hit. This suggests that the Act8-group represents a nearly perfect actin throughout evolution. Interestingly, limited data from D. fasciculatum, a more ancient member among the social amoebae, show different relationships between conventional actins. The Act8-type isoform is most conserved throughout evolution. Modeling of the putative structures suggests that the majority of the actin-related proteins is functionally unrelated to canonical actin. The data suggest that the other actin variants are not necessary for the cytoskeleton itself but rather regulators of its dynamical features or subunits in larger protein complexes.
Physarum polycephalum, an acellular plasmodial species belongs to the amoebozoa, a major branch in eukaryote evolution. Its complex life cycle and rich cell biology is reflected in more than 2500 publications on various aspects of its biochemistry, developmental biology, cytoskeleton, and cell motility. It now can be genetically manipulated, opening up the possibility of targeted functional analysis in this organism.
Here we describe a large fraction of the transcribed genes by sequencing a cDNA library from the plasmodial stage of the developmental cycle.
In addition to the genes for the basic metabolism we found an unexpected large number of genes involved in sophisticated signaling networks and identified potential receptors for environmental signals such as light. In accordance with the various developmental options of the plasmodial cell we found that many P. polycephalum genes are alternatively spliced. Using 30 donor and 30 acceptor sites we determined the splicing signatures of this species.
Comparisons to various other organisms including Dictyostelium, the closest relative, revealed that roughly half of the transcribed genes have no detectable counterpart, thus potentially defining species specific adaptations. On the other hand, we found highly conserved proteins, which are maintained in the metazoan lineage, but absent in D. discoideum or plants. These genes arose possibly in the last common ancestor of Amoebozoa and Metazoa but were lost in D. discoideum.
This work provides an analysis of up to half of the protein coding genes of Physarum polycephalum. The definition of splice motifs together with the description of alternatively spliced genes will provide a valuable resource for the ongoing genome project.
Paulinella chromatophora is a freshwater filose amoeba with photosynthetic endosymbionts (chromatophores) of cyanobacterial origin that are closely related to free-living Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus species (PS-clade). Members of the PS-clade of cyanobacteria contain a proteobacterial form 1A RubisCO (ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase) that was acquired by horizontal gene transfer (HGT) of a carboxysomal operon. In rDNA-phylogenies, the Paulinella chromatophore diverged basal to the PS-clade, raising the question whether the HGT occurred before or after the split of the chromatophore ancestor.
Phylogenetic analyses of the almost complete rDNA operon with an improved taxon sampling containing most known cyanobacterial lineages recovered the Paulinella chromatophore as sister to the complete PS-clade. The sequence of the complete carboxysomal operon of Paulinella was determined. Analysis of RubisCO large subunit (rbcL) sequences revealed that Paulinella shares the proteobacterial form 1A RubisCO with the PS-clade. The γ-proteobacterium Nitrococcus mobilis was identified as sister of the Paulinella chromatophore and the PS-clade in the RubisCO phylogeny. Gene content and order in the carboxysomal operon correlates well with the RubisCO phylogeny demonstrating that the complete carboxysomal operon was acquired by the common ancestor of the Paulinella chromatophore and the PS-clade through HGT. The carboxysomal operon shows a significantly elevated AT content in Paulinella, which in the rbcL gene is confined to third codon positions. Combined phylogenies using rbcL and the rDNA-operon resulted in a nearly fully resolved tree of the PS-clade.
The HGT of the carboxysomal operon predated the divergence of the chromatophore ancestor from the PS-clade. Following HGT and divergence of the chromatophore ancestor, diversification of the PS-clade into at least three subclades occurred. The γ-proteobacterium Nitrococcus mobilis represents the closest known relative to the donor of the carboxysomal operon. The isolated position of the Paulinella chromatophore in molecular phylogenies as well as its elevated AT content suggests that the Paulinella chromatophore has already undergone typical steps in the reductive evolution of an endosymbiont.
The Viridiplantae (green algae and land plants) consist of two monophyletic lineages: the Chlorophyta and the Streptophyta. Most green algae belong to the Chlorophyta, while the Streptophyta include all land plants and a small group of freshwater algae known as Charophyceae. Eukaryotes attach a poly-A tail to the 3' ends of most nuclear-encoded mRNAs. In embryophytes, animals and fungi, the signal for polyadenylation contains an A-rich sequence (often AAUAAA or related sequence) 13 to 30 nucleotides upstream from the cleavage site, which is commonly referred to as the near upstream element (NUE). However, it has been reported that the pentanucleotide UGUAA is used as polyadenylation signal for some genes in volvocalean algae.
We set out to investigate polyadenylation signal differences between streptophytes and chlorophytes that may have emerged shortly after the evolutionary split between Streptophyta and Chlorophyta. We therefore analyzed expressed genes (ESTs) from three streptophyte algae, Mesostigma viride, Klebsormidium subtile and Coleochaete scutata, and from two early-branching chlorophytes, Pyramimonas parkeae and Scherffelia dubia. In addition, to extend the database, our analyses included ESTs from six other chlorophytes (Acetabularia acetabulum, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Helicosporidium sp. ex Simulium jonesii, Prototheca wickerhamii, Scenedesmus obliquus and Ulva linza) and one streptophyte (Closterium peracerosum). Our results indicate that polyadenylation signals in green algae vary widely. The UGUAA motif is confined to late-branching Chlorophyta. Most streptophyte algae do not have an A-rich sequence motif like that in embryophytes, animals and fungi. We observed polyadenylation signals similar to those of Arabidopsis and other land plants only in Mesostigma.
Polyadenylation signals in green algae show considerable variation. A new NUE (UGUAA) was invented in derived chlorophytes and replaced not only the A-rich NUE but the complete poly(A) signal in all chlorophytes investigated except Scherffelia (only NUE replaced) and Pyramimonas (UGUAA completely missing). The UGUAA element is completely absent from streptophytes. However, the structure of the poly(A) signal was often modified in streptophyte algae. In most species investigated, an A-rich NUE is missing; instead, these species seem to rely mainly on U-rich elements.
In the compact Dictyostelium discoideum genome, non-long terminal repeat (non-LTR) retrotransposons known as TREs avoid accidental integration-mediated gene disruption by targeting the vicinity of tRNA genes. In this study we provide the first evidence that proteins of a non-LTR retrotransposon interact with a target-specific transcription factor to direct its integration. We applied an in vivo selection system that allows for the isolation of natural TRE5-A integrations into a known genomic location upstream of tRNA genes. TRE5-A frequently modified the integration site in a way characteristic of other non-LTR retrotransposons by adding nontemplated extra nucleotides and generating small and extended target site deletions. Mutations within the B-box promoter of the targeted tRNA genes interfered with both the in vitro binding of RNA polymerase III transcription factor TFIIIC and the ability of TRE5-A to target these genes. An isolated B box was sufficient to enhance TRE5-A integration in the absence of a surrounding tRNA gene. The RNA polymerase III-transcribed ribosomal 5S gene recruits TFIIIC in a B-box-independent manner, yet it was readily targeted by TRE5-A in our assay. These results suggest a direct role of an RNA polymerase III transcription factor in the targeting process.
At least three species of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (Bbsl) cause tick-borne Lyme disease. Previous work including the genome analysis of B. burgdorferi B31 and B. garinii PBi suggested a highly variable plasmid part. The frequent occurrence of duplicated sequence stretches, the observed plasmid redundancy, as well as the mainly unknown function and variability of plasmid encoded genes rendered the relationships between plasmids within and between species largely unresolvable.
To gain further insight into Borreliae genome properties we completed the plasmid sequences of B. garinii PBi, added the genome of a further species, B. afzelii PKo, to our analysis, and compared for both species the genomes of pathogenic and apathogenic strains.
The core of all Bbsl genomes consists of the chromosome and two plasmids collinear between all species. We also found additional groups of plasmids, which share large parts of their sequences. This makes it very likely that these plasmids are relatively stable and share common ancestors before the diversification of Borrelia species.
The analysis of the differences between B. garinii PBi and B. afzelii PKo genomes of low and high passages revealed that the loss of infectivity is accompanied in both species by a loss of similar genetic material. Whereas B. garinii PBi suffered only from the break-off of a plasmid end, B. afzelii PKo lost more material, probably an entire plasmid. In both cases the vls gene locus encoding for variable surface proteins is affected.
The complete genome sequences of a B. garinii and a B. afzelii strain facilitate further comparative studies within the genus Borrellia. Our study shows that loss of infectivity can be traced back to only one single event in B. garinii PBi: the loss of the vls cassettes possibly due to error prone gene conversion. Similar albeit extended losses in B. afzelii PKo support the hypothesis that infectivity of Borrelia species depends heavily on the evasion from the host response.
The Viridiplantae (land plants and green algae) consist of two monophyletic lineages, the Chlorophyta and the Streptophyta. The Streptophyta include all embryophytes and a small but diverse group of freshwater algae traditionally known as the Charophyceae (e.g. Charales, Coleochaete and the Zygnematales). The only flagellate currently included in the Streptophyta is Mesostigma viride Lauterborn. To gain insight into the genome evolution in streptophytes, we have sequenced 10,395 ESTs from Mesostigma representing 3,300 independent contigs and compared the ESTs of Mesostigma with available plant genomes (Arabidopsis, Oryza, Chlamydomonas), with ESTs from the bryophyte Physcomitrella, the genome of the rhodophyte Cyanidioschyzon, the ESTs from the rhodophyte Porphyra, and the genome of the diatom Thalassiosira.
The number of expressed genes shared by Mesostigma with the embryophytes (90.3 % of the expressed genes showing similarity to known proteins) is higher than with Chlamydomonas (76.1 %). In general, cytosolic metabolic pathways, and proteins involved in vesicular transport, transcription, regulation, DNA-structure and replication, cell cycle control, and RNA-metabolism are more conserved between Mesostigma and the embryophytes than between Mesostigma and Chlamydomonas. However, plastidic and mitochondrial metabolic pathways, cytoskeletal proteins and proteins involved in protein folding are more conserved between Mesostigma and Chlamydomonas than between Mesostigma and the embryophytes.
Our EST-analysis of Mesostigma supports the notion that this organism should be a suitable unicellular model for the last flagellate common ancestor of the streptophytes. Mesostigma shares more genes with the embryophytes than with the chlorophyte Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, although both organisms are flagellate unicells. Thus, it seems likely that several major physiological changes (e.g. in the regulation of photosynthesis and photorespiration) took place early during the evolution of streptophytes, i.e. before the transition to land.
A survey of the Dictyostelium genome reveals at least 25 RasGEFs, all of which appear to be expressed at some point in development. Disruption of several of these novel RasGEFs reveals that many have clear phenotypes, suggesting that the unexpectedly large number of RasGEF genes reflects an evolutionary expansion of the range of Ras signaling.
Dictyostelium discoideum is a eukaryote with a simple lifestyle and a relatively small genome whose sequence has been fully determined. It is widely used for studies on cell signaling, movement and multicellular development. Ras guanine-nucleotide exchange factors (RasGEFs) are the proteins that activate Ras and thus lie near the top of many signaling pathways. They are particularly important for signaling in development and chemotaxis in many organisms, including Dictyostelium.
We have searched the genome for sequences encoding RasGEFs. Despite its relative simplicity, we find that the Dictyostelium genome encodes at least 25 RasGEFs, with a few other genes encoding only parts of the RasGEF consensus domains. All appear to be expressed at some point in development. The 25 genes include a wide variety of domain structures, most of which have not been seen in other organisms. The LisH domain, which is associated with microtubule binding, is seen particularly frequently; other domains that confer interactions with the cytoskeleton are also common. Disruption of a sample of the novel genes reveals that many have clear phenotypes, including altered morphology and defects in chemotaxis, slug phototaxis and thermotaxis.
These results suggest that the unexpectedly large number of RasGEF genes reflects an evolutionary expansion of the range of Ras signaling rather than functional redundancy or the presence of multiple pseudogenes.
Kinesins constitute a large superfamily of motor proteins in eukaryotic cells. They perform diverse tasks such as vesicle and organelle transport and chromosomal segregation in a microtubule- and ATP-dependent manner. In recent years, the genomes of a number of eukaryotic organisms have been completely sequenced. Subsequent studies revealed and classified the full set of members of the kinesin superfamily expressed by these organisms. For Dictyostelium discoideum, only five kinesin superfamily proteins (Kif's) have already been reported.
Here, we report the identification of thirteen kinesin genes exploiting the information from the raw shotgun reads of the Dictyostelium discoideum genome project. A phylogenetic tree of 390 kinesin motor domain sequences was built, grouping the Dictyostelium kinesins into nine subfamilies. According to known cellular functions or strong homologies to kinesins of other organisms, four of the Dictyostelium kinesins are involved in organelle transport, six are implicated in cell division processes, two are predicted to perform multiple functions, and one kinesin may be the founder of a new subclass.
This analysis of the Dictyostelium genome led to the identification of eight new kinesin motor proteins. According to an exhaustive phylogenetic comparison, Dictyostelium contains the same subset of kinesins that higher eukaryotes need to perform mitosis. Some of the kinesins are implicated in intracellular traffic and a small number have unpredictable functions.
Taking advantage of the ongoing Dictyostelium genome
sequencing project, we have assembled >73 kb of
genomic DNA in 15 contigs harbouring 15 genes and one pseudogene
of Rho-related proteins. Comparison with EST sequences revealed that
every gene is interrupted by at least one and up to four introns.
For racC extensive alternative splicing was identified.
Northern blot analysis showed that mRNAs for racA, racE, racG, racH and racI were present at all stages of development, whereas racJ and racL were expressed only
at late stages. Amino acid sequences have been analysed in the context
of Rho-related proteins of other organisms. Rac1a/1b/1c,
RacF1/F2 and to a lesser extent RacB and the GTPase domain
of RacA can be grouped in the Rac subfamily. None of the additional Dictyostelium Rho-related proteins belongs to any
of the well-defined subfamilies, like Rac, Cdc42 or Rho. RacD and
RacA are unique in that they lack the prenylation motif characteristic
of Rho proteins. RacD possesses a 50 residue C-terminal extension and
RacA a 400 residue C-terminal extension that contains a proline-rich
region, two BTB domains and a novel C-terminal domain. We have also
identified homologues for RacA in Drosophila and
mammals, thus defining a new subfamily of Rho proteins, RhoBTB.