Two models, Z Dosage and Dominant W, have been proposed to explain sex determination in birds, in which males are characterized by the presence of two Z chromosomes, and females are hemizygous with a Z and a W chromosome. According to the Z Dosage model, high dosage of a Z-linked gene triggers male development, whereas the Dominant W model postulates that a still unknown W-linked gene triggers female development. Using 33 polymorphic microsatellite markers, we describe a female triploid Kentish plover Charadrius alexandrinus identified by characteristic triallelic genotypes at 14 autosomal markers that produced viable diploid offspring. Chromatogram analysis showed that the sex chromosome composition of this female was ZZW. Together with two previously described ZZW female birds, our results suggest a prominent role for a female determining gene on the W chromosome. These results imply that avian sex determination is more dynamic and complex than currently envisioned.
sex determination; birds; microsatellites; aneuploidy
Genes of the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) have become an important marker for the investigation of adaptive genetic variation in vertebrates because of their critical role in pathogen resistance. However, despite significant advances in the last few years the characterization of MHC variation in non-model species still remains a challenging task due to the redundancy and high variation of this gene complex. Here we report the utility of a single pair of primers for the cross-amplification of the third exon of MHC class I genes, which encodes the more polymorphic half of the peptide-binding region (PBR), in oscine passerines (songbirds; Aves: Passeriformes), a group especially challenging for MHC characterization due to the presence of large and complex MHC multigene families. In our survey, although the primers failed to amplify exon 3 from two suboscine passerine birds, they amplified exon 3 of multiple MHC class I genes in all 16 species of oscine songbirds tested, yielding a total of 120 sequences. The 16 songbird species belong to 14 different families, primarily within the Passerida, but also in the Corvida. Using a conservative approach based on the analysis of cloned amplicons (n = 16) from each species, we found between 3 and 10 MHC sequences per individual. Each allele repertoire was highly divergent, with the overall number of polymorphic sites per species ranging from 33 to 108 (out of 264 sites) and the average number of nucleotide differences between alleles ranging from 14.67 to 43.67. Our survey in songbirds allowed us to compare macroevolutionary dynamics of exon 3 between songbirds and non-passerine birds. We found compelling evidence of positive selection acting specifically upon peptide-binding codons across birds, and we estimate the strength of diversifying selection in songbirds to be about twice that in non-passerines. Analysis using comparative methods suggest weaker evidence for a higher GC content in the 3rd codon position of exon 3 in non-passerine birds, a pattern that contrasts with among-clade GC patterns found in other avian studies and may suggests different mutational mechanisms. Our primers represent a useful tool for the characterization of functional and evolutionarily relevant MHC variation across the hyperdiverse songbirds.
454 pyrosequencing; Major histocompatibility complex; Diversifying selection; Pathogen-mediated selection; Immune response; Adaptive variation; GC content; Comparative methods
As the molecular basis of signal propagation in the cell, proteins are regulated by perturbations, such as mechanical forces or ligand binding. The question arises how fast such a signal propagates through the protein molecular scaffold. As a first step, we have investigated numerically the dynamics of force propagation through a single (Ala) protein following a sudden increase in the stretching forces applied to its end termini. The force propagates along the backbone into the center of the chain on the picosecond scale. Both conformational and tension dynamics are found in good agreement with a coarse-grained theory of force propagation through semiflexible polymers. The speed of force propagation of 50Å ps−1 derived from these simulations is likely to determine an upper speed limit of mechanical signal transfer in allosteric proteins or molecular machines.
Methamphetamine affects the hippocampus, a brain region crucial for learning and memory, as well as relapse to drug seeking. Rats self-administered methamphetamine for 1 h twice weekly (intermittent-short-I-ShA), 1 h daily (limited-short-ShA), or 6 h daily (extended-long-LgA) for 22 sessions. After 22 sessions, rats from each access group were withdrawn from self-administration and underwent spatial memory (Y-maze) and working memory (T-maze) tests followed by extinction and reinstatement to methamphetamine seeking or received one intraperitoneal injection of 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU) to label progenitors in the hippocampal subgranular zone (SGZ) during the synthesis phase. Two-hour-old and 28-day-old surviving BrdU-immunoreactive cells were quantified. I-ShA rats performed better on the Y-maze and had a greater number of 2-h-old SGZ BrdU cells than nondrug controls. LgA rats, but not ShA rats, performed worse on the Y- and T-maze and had a fewer number of 2-h-old SGZ BrdU cells than nondrug and I-ShA rats, suggesting that new hippocampal progenitors, decreased by methamphetamine, were correlated with impairment in the acquisition of new spatial cues. Analyses of addiction-related behaviors after withdrawal and extinction training revealed methamphetamine-primed reinstatement of methamphetamine-seeking behavior in all three groups (I-ShA, ShA, and LgA), and this effect was enhanced in LgA rats compared with I-ShA and ShA rats. Protracted withdrawal from self-administration enhanced the survival of SGZ BrdU cells, and methamphetamine seeking during protracted withdrawal enhanced Fos expression in the dentate gyrus and medial prefrontal cortex in LgA rats to a greater extent than in ShA and I-ShA rats. These results indicate that changes in the levels of the proliferation and survival of hippocampal neural progenitors and neuronal activation of hippocampal granule cells predict the effects of methamphetamine self-administration (limited vs extended access) on cognitive performance and relapse to drug seeking and may contribute to the impairments that perpetuate the addiction cycle.
subgranular zone; medial prefrontal cortex; Y-maze; T-maze; BrdU; Fos; addiction & substance abuse; plasticity; psychostimulants; animal models; BrdU; neurogenesis
Characterization of the genetic basis of fitness traits in natural populations is important for understanding how organisms adapt to the changing environment and to novel events, such as epizootics. However, candidate fitness-influencing loci, such as regulatory regions, are usually unavailable in nonmodel species. Here, we analyze sequence data from targeted resequencing of the cis-regulatory regions of three candidate genes for disease resistance (CD74, HSP90α, and LCP1) in populations of the house finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) historically exposed (Alabama) and naïve (Arizona) to Mycoplasma gallisepticum. Our study, the first to quantify variation in regulatory regions in wild birds, reveals that the upstream regions of CD74 and HSP90α are GC-rich, with the former exhibiting unusually low sequence variation for this species. We identified two SNPs, located in a GC-rich region immediately upstream of an inferred promoter site in the gene HSP90α, that were significantly associated with Mycoplasma pathogen load in the two populations. The SNPs are closely linked and situated in potential regulatory sequences: one in a binding site for the transcription factor nuclear NFYα and the other in a dinucleotide microsatellite ((GC)6). The genotype associated with pathogen load in the putative NFYα binding site was significantly overrepresented in the Alabama birds. However, we did not see strong effects of selection at this SNP, perhaps because selection has acted on standing genetic variation over an extremely short time in a highly recombining region. Our study is a useful starting point to explore functional relationships between sequence polymorphisms, gene expression, and phenotypic traits, such as pathogen resistance that affect fitness in the wild.
Association mapping; cis-regulatory element; expression; house finch; Mycoplasma gallisepticum
Animal models of drug dependence have described both reductions in brain reward processes and potentiation of stress-like (or anti-reward) mechanisms, including a recruitment of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) signaling. Accordingly, chronic exposure to opiates often leads to the development of mechanical hypersensitivity. We measured paw withdrawal thresholds (PWTs) in male Wistar rats allowed limited (short access group: ShA) or extended (long access group: LgA) access to heroin or cocaine self-administration, or in rats made dependent on ethanol via ethanol vapor exposure (ethanol-dependent group). In heroin self-administering animals, after transition to LgA conditions, thresholds were reduced to around 50% of levels observed at baseline, and were also significantly lower than thresholds measured in animals remaining on the ShA schedule. In contrast, thresholds in animals self-administering cocaine under either ShA (1 h) or LgA (6 h) conditions were unaltered. Similar to heroin LgA rats, ethanol-dependent rats also developed mechanical hypersensitivity after eight weeks of ethanol vapor exposure compared to non-dependent animals. Systemic administration of the CRF1R antagonist MPZP significantly alleviated the hypersensitivity observed in rats dependent on heroin or ethanol. The emergence of mechanical hypersensitivity with heroin and ethanol dependence may thus represent one critical drug-associated negative emotional state driving dependence on these substances. These results also suggest a recruitment of CRF-regulated nociceptive pathways associated with escalation of intake and dependence. A greater understanding of relationships between chronic drug exposure and pain-related states may provide insight into mechanisms underlying the transition to drug addiction, as well as reveal new treatment opportunities.
Addiction; Ethanol; Heroin; Cocaine; Hyperalgesia; Corticotropin-Releasing Factor
Alcoholism is a devastating condition that represents a progression from initial alcohol use to dependence. Although most individuals are capable of consuming alcohol in a limited fashion, the development of alcohol dependence in a subset of individuals is often associated with negative emotional states (including anxiety and depression). Since the alleviation of this negative motivational state via excessive alcohol consumption often becomes a central goal of alcoholics, the transition from initial use to dependence is postulated to be associated with a transition from positive to negative reinforcement mechanisms. Vasopressin is a neuropeptide known to potentiate the effects of CRF on the HPA axis, and emerging evidence also suggests a role for centrally located vasopressin acting on V1b receptors in the regulation of stress- and anxiety-like behaviors in rodents. The present study determined state-dependent alterations in vasopressin/V1bR signaling in an animal model of ethanol dependence. The V1bR antagonist SSR149415 dose-dependently reduced excessive levels of ethanol self-administration observed in dependent animals without affecting the limited levels of ethanol drinking in non-dependent animals. Ethanol self-administration reduced V1b receptor levels in the basolateral amygdala of non-dependent animals, a neuroadaptation that could theoretically facilitate the positive reinforcing effects of alcohol. In contrast, V1bR levels were seemingly restored in ethanol-dependent rats, a switch that may in part underlie a transition from positive to negative reinforcement mechanisms with dependence. Together, our data suggest a key role for vasopressin/V1bR signaling in the transition to ethanol dependence.
Amygdala; Ethanol Dependence; Vasopressin
Preclinical animal models have supported much of the recent rapid expansion of neuroscience research and have facilitated critical discoveries that undoubtedly benefit patients suffering from psychiatric disorders. This overview serves as an introduction for the following chapters describing both in vivo and in vitro preclinical models of psychiatric disease components and briefly describes models related to drug dependence and affective disorders. Although there are no perfect animal models of any psychiatric disorder, models do exist for many elements of each disease state or stage. In many cases, the development of certain models is essentially restricted to the human clinical laboratory domain for the purpose of maximizing validity, whereas the use of in vitro models may best represent an adjunctive, well-controlled means to model specific signaling mechanisms associated with psychiatric disease states. The data generated by preclinical models are only as valid as the model itself, and the development and refinement of animal models for human psychiatric disorders continues to be an important challenge. Collaborative relationships between basic neuroscience and clinical modeling could greatly benefit the development of new and better models, in addition to facilitating medications development.
Animal model; Anxiety; Depression; Drug addiction; Preclinical model; Psychiatric disorders; Stress
Heroin addiction is a wide-reaching problem with a spectrum of damaging social consequences. Currently approved heroin addiction medications include drugs that bind at the same receptors (e.g. opioid receptors) occupied by heroin and/or its metabolites in the brain, but undesired side effects of these treatments, maintenance dependence and relapse to drug taking remains problematic. A vaccine capable of blocking heroin’s effects could provide an economical, long-lasting and sustainable adjunct to heroin addiction therapy without the side effects associated with available treatment options. Heroin, however, presents a particularly challenging vaccine target as it is metabolized to multiple psychoactive molecules of differing lipophilicity, with differing abilities to cross the blood brain barrier. In this review, we discuss the opiate scaffolding and hapten design considerations to confer immunogenicity as well as the specificity of the immune response towards structurally similar opiates. In addition, we detail different strategies employed in the design of immunoconjugates for a vaccine-based therapy for heroin addiction treatment.
Heroin; 6-acetyl-morphine morphine; addiction; drug dependence; immunoconjugate; treatment; therapy
The timing of the origin and diversification of rodents remains controversial, due to conflicting results from molecular clocks and paleontological data. The fossil record tends to support an early Cenozoic origin of crown-group rodents. In contrast, most molecular studies place the origin and initial diversification of crown-Rodentia deep in the Cretaceous, although some molecular analyses have recovered estimated divergence times that are more compatible with the fossil record. Here we attempt to resolve this conflict by carrying out a molecular clock investigation based on a nine-gene sequence dataset and a novel set of seven fossil constraints, including two new rodent records (the earliest known representatives of Cardiocraniinae and Dipodinae). Our results indicate that rodents originated around 61.7–62.4 Ma, shortly after the Cretaceous/Paleogene (K/Pg) boundary, and diversified at the intraordinal level around 57.7–58.9 Ma. These estimates are broadly consistent with the paleontological record, but challenge previous molecular studies that place the origin and early diversification of rodents in the Cretaceous. This study demonstrates that, with reliable fossil constraints, the incompatibility between paleontological and molecular estimates of rodent divergence times can be eliminated using currently available tools and genetic markers. Similar conflicts between molecular and paleontological evidence bedevil attempts to establish the origination times of other placental groups. The example of the present study suggests that more reliable fossil calibration points may represent the key to resolving these controversies.
Anolis carolinensis is an emerging model species and the sole member of its genus native to the United States. Considerable morphological and physiological variation has been described in the species, and the recent sequencing of its genome makes it an attractive system for studies of genome variation. To inform future studies of molecular and phenotypic variation within A. carolinensis, a rigorous account of intraspecific population structure and relatedness is needed. Here, we present the most extensive phylogeographic study of this species to date. Phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA sequence data support the previous hypothesis of a western Cuban origin of the species. We found five well-supported, geographically distinct mitochondrial haplotype clades throughout the southeastern United States. Most Florida populations fall into one of three divergent clades, whereas the vast majority of populations outside Florida belong to a single, shallowly diverged clade. Genetic boundaries do not correspond to major rivers, but may reflect effects of Pleistocene glaciation events and the Appalachian Mountains on migration and expansion of the species. Phylogeographic signal should be examined using nuclear loci to complement these findings.
Glaciation; lizards; mitochondrial variation; North America; phylogeography
Intronic DNA is a major component of eukaryotic genes and genomes and can be subject to
selective constraint and have functions in gene regulation. Intron size is of particular
interest given that it is thought to be the target of a variety of evolutionary forces and
has been suggested to be linked ultimately to various phenotypic traits, such as powered
flight. Using whole-genome analyses and comparative approaches that account for
phylogenetic nonindependence, we examined interspecific variation in intron size variation
in three data sets encompassing from 12 to 30 amniotes genomes and allowing for different
levels of genome coverage. In addition to confirming that intron size is negatively
associated with intron position and correlates with genome size, we found that on average
mammals have longer introns than birds and nonavian reptiles, a trend that is correlated
with the proliferation of repetitive elements in mammals. Two independent comparisons
between flying and nonflying sister groups both showed a reduction of intron size in
volant species, supporting an association between powered flight, or possibly the high
metabolic rates associated with flight, and reduced intron/genome size. Small intron size
in volant lineages is less easily explained as a neutral consequence of large effective
population size. In conclusion, we found that the evolution of intron size in amniotes
appears to be non-neutral, is correlated with genome size, and is likely influenced by
powered flight and associated high metabolic rates.
intron size evolution; genome size; amniotes; flight; metabolic rate
Reexposure to cocaine-associated environments promotes relapse to cocaine seeking and represents a persistent impediment to successful abstinence. Neurobiological adaptations are thought to underlie the preservation of drug-seeking behavior during protracted withdrawal periods, possibly including changes associated specifically with cocaine-paired contexts. We measured GluR1S845 and ERK phosphorylation in rat striatal subregions in an animal model of cocaine relapse. Animals with cocaine self-administration experience and their yoked partners were exposed to extinction conditions for one hour in the drug-paired environmental context after one day or three weeks withdrawal to measure protein phosphorylation induced by the cocaine-paired context in the absence of cocaine reinforcement. GluR1S845 (an index of PKA activity) and ERK phosphorylation increased in the nucleus accumbens core of self-administering but not yoked animals after three weeks (but not one day) withdrawal, indicating a time-dependent emergence of context-associated protein phosphorylation in this accumbens subregion. In comparison, animals trained to self-administer sucrose displayed a similar increase in ERK, but not GluR1S845, phosphorylation following reexposure to a sucrose-paired environment three weeks later, indicating that GluR1S845 phosphorylation did not result solely from lever press behavior per se. In contrast, basal (home cage) GluR1S845 phosphorylation was elevated in the nucleus accumbens shell and caudate-putamen after one day or three weeks cocaine withdrawal regardless of context exposure. These results suggest that time-dependent emergence of context-associated GluR1S845 phosphorylation in the nucleus accumbens core may contribute to the persistence of cocaine-seeking behavior, whereas ERK phosphorylation may be a consequence of this behavior.
Cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase; ERK; rats; relapse; self-administration; striatum
A protein at equilibrium is commonly thought of as a fully relaxed structure, with the intra-molecular interactions showing fluctuations around their energy minimum. In contrast, here we find direct evidence for a protein as a molecular tensegrity structure, comprising a balance of tensed and compressed interactions, a concept that has been put forward for macroscopic structures. We quantified the distribution of inter-residue prestress in ubiquitin and immunoglobulin from all-atom molecular dynamics simulations. The network of highly fluctuating yet significant inter-residue forces in proteins is a consequence of the intrinsic frustration of a protein when sampling its rugged energy landscape. In beta sheets, this balance of forces is found to compress the intra-strand hydrogen bonds. We estimate that the observed magnitude of this pre-compression is enough to induce significant changes in the hydrogen bond lifetimes; thus, prestress, which can be as high as a few 100 pN, can be considered a key factor in determining the unfolding kinetics and pathway of proteins under force. Strong pre-tension in certain salt bridges on the other hand is connected to the thermodynamic stability of ubiquitin. Effective force profiles between some side-chains reveal the signature of multiple, distinct conformational states, and such static disorder could be one factor explaining the growing body of experiments revealing non-exponential unfolding kinetics of proteins. The design of prestress distributions in engineering proteins promises to be a new tool for tailoring the mechanical properties of made-to-order nanomaterials.
A tensegrity structure is one composed of members that are permanently under either tension or compression, and the balance of these tensile and compressive forces provides the structure with its mechanical stability. Macroscale tensegrity structures, which include Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes, achieve exceptional structural integrity with a minimal use of resources. The question we address in this work is whether nature makes use of molecular-scale tensegrity in the design of proteins. Using Molecular Dynamics simulations of the protein ubiquitin, we measure the network of pairwise forces connecting the amino acid residues and show that this network does indeed have the character of a tensegrity structure. Furthermore, we find that the arrangement of tensile and compressive forces is such that hydrogen bonds in the protein's beta sheet, which are crucial for bearing mechanical loads, are compressed. This pre-compression is enough to significantly lengthen the lifetime of a bond under a given force, and thus should be an important factor in determining the protein's mechanical strength. The rational design of molecular prestress networks promises to be a new avenue for the engineering of proteins with made-to-order mechanical properties, for applications in medicine, materials and nanotechnology.
Measureable rates of genome evolution are well documented in human pathogens but are less well understood in bacterial pathogens in the wild, particularly during and after host switches. Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) is a pathogenic bacterium that has evolved predominantly in poultry and recently jumped to wild house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus), a common North American songbird. For the first time we characterize the genome and measure rates of genome evolution in House Finch isolates of MG, as well as in poultry outgroups. Using whole-genome sequences of 12 House Finch isolates across a 13-year serial sample and an additional four newly sequenced poultry strains, we estimate a nucleotide diversity in House Finch isolates of only ∼2% of ancestral poultry strains and a nucleotide substitution rate of 0.8−1.2×10−5 per site per year both in poultry and in House Finches, an exceptionally fast rate rivaling some of the highest estimates reported thus far for bacteria. We also found high diversity and complete turnover of CRISPR arrays in poultry MG strains prior to the switch to the House Finch host, but after the invasion of House Finches there is progressive loss of CRISPR repeat diversity, and recruitment of novel CRISPR repeats ceases. Recent (2007) House Finch MG strains retain only ∼50% of the CRISPR repertoire founding (1994–95) strains and have lost the CRISPR–associated genes required for CRISPR function. Our results suggest that genome evolution in bacterial pathogens of wild birds can be extremely rapid and in this case is accompanied by apparent functional loss of CRISPRs.
Documenting the evolutionary changes occurring in pathogens when they switch hosts is important for understanding mechanisms of adaptation and rates of evolution. We took advantage of a novel host–pathogen system involving a bacterial pathogen (Mycoplasma gallisepticum, or MG) and a songbird host, the House Finch, to study genome-wide changes during a host-shift. Around 1994, biologists noticed that House Finches were contracting conjunctivitis and MG from poultry was discovered to be the cause. The resulting epizootic was one of the best documented for a wildlife species, partly as a result of thousands of citizen science observers. We sequenced the genomes of 12 House Finch MG strains sampled throughout the epizootic, from 1994–2007, as well as four additional putatively ancestral poultry MG strains. Using this serial sample, we estimate a remarkably high rate of substitution, consistent with past implications that mycoplasmas are among the fastest evolving bacteria. We also find that an array of likely phage-derived sequences known as CRISPRs has degraded and ceased to recruit new repeats in the House Finch MG strains, as compared to the poultry strains in which it is diverse and rapidly evolving. This suggests that phage dynamics might be important in the dynamics of MG infection.
The International Crocodilian Genomes Working Group (ICGWG) will sequence and assemble the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) and Indian gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) genomes. The status of these projects and our planned analyses are described.
Genomics; evolution; Crocodylia; Archosauria; amniote
Chronic cocaine use produces numerous biological changes in brain, but relatively few are functionally associated with cocaine reinforcement. Here we show that daily intravenous cocaine self-administration, but not passive cocaine administration, induces dynamic up-regulation of the AMPA glutamate receptor subunits GluR1 and GluR2 in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of rats. Increases in GluR1 protein and GluR1S845 phosphorylation are associated with increased GluR1 mRNA in self-administering animals, while increased GluR2 protein levels occurred despite substantial decreases in GluR2 mRNA. We investigated the functional significance of GluR1 up-regulation in the VTA on cocaine self-administration using localized viral-mediated gene transfer. Over-expression of GluR1WT in rat VTA primarily infected dopamine neurons (75%), and increased AMPA receptor-mediated membrane rectification in these neurons with AMPA application. Similar GluR1WT over-expression potentiated locomotor responses to intra-VTA AMPA, but not NMDA, infusions. In cocaine self-administering animals, over-expression of GluR1WT in the VTA markedly increased the motivation for cocaine injections on a progressive ratio schedule of cocaine reinforcement. In contrast, over-expression of protein kinase A-resistant GluR1S845A in the VTA reduced peak rates of cocaine self-administration on a fixed ratio reinforcement schedule. Neither viral vector altered sucrose self-administration, and over-expression of GluR1WT or GluR1S845A in the adjacent substantia nigra had no effect on cocaine self-administration. Taken together, these results suggest that dynamic regulation of AMPA receptors in the VTA during cocaine self-administration contributes to cocaine addiction by acting to facilitate subsequent cocaine use.
Understanding and resolving conflicts between phenotypic and genetic differentiation is central to evolutionary research. While phenotypically monomorphic species may exhibit deep genetic divergences, some morphologically distinct taxa lack notable genetic differentiation. Here we conduct a molecular investigation of an enigmatic shorebird with a convoluted taxonomic history, the White-faced Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus dealbatus), widely regarded as a subspecies of the Kentish Plover (C. alexandrinus). Described as distinct in 1863, its name was consistently misapplied in subsequent decades until taxonomic clarification ensued in 2008. Using a recently proposed test of species delimitation, we reconfirm the phenotypic distinctness of dealbatus. We then compare three mitochondrial and seven nuclear DNA markers among 278 samples of dealbatus and alexandrinus from across their breeding range and four other closely related plovers. We fail to find any population genetic differentiation between dealbatus and alexandrinus, whereas the other species are deeply diverged at the study loci. Kentish Plovers join a small but growing list of species for which low levels of genetic differentiation are accompanied by the presence of strong phenotypic divergence, suggesting that diagnostic phenotypic characters may be encoded by few genes that are difficult to detect. Alternatively, gene expression differences may be crucial in producing different phenotypes whereas neutral differentiation may be lagging behind.
Chronic drug exposure induces alterations in gene expression profiles that are thought to underlie the development of drug addiction. The present study examined regulation of the Fos-family of transcription factors, specifically cFos, FosB, and ΔFosB, in striatal subregions during and after chronic intravenous cocaine administration in self-administering and yoked rats. We found that cFos, FosB, and ΔFosB exhibit regionally and temporally distinct expression patterns, with greater accumulation of ΔFosB protein in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) shell and core after chronic cocaine administration, while ΔFosB increases in the caudate-putamen (CPu) remained similar with either acute or chronic administration. In contrast, tolerance developed to cocaine-induced mRNA for ΔFosB in all 3 striatal subregions with chronic administration. Tolerance also developed to FosB expression, most notably in the NAc shell and CPu. Interestingly, tolerance to cocaine-induced cFos induction was dependent on volitional control of cocaine intake in ventral but not dorsal striatal regions, whereas regulation of FosB and ΔFosB was similar in cocaine self-administering and yoked animals. Thus, ΔFosB-mediated neuroadaptations in the CPu may occur earlier than previously thought with the initiation of intravenous cocaine use and, together with greater accumulation of ΔFosB in the NAc, could contribute to addiction-related increases in cocaine-seeking behavior.
cocaine; self-administration; withdrawal; striatum; Fos
Isochores are large regions of relatively homogeneous nucleotide composition and are present in the genomes of all mammals and birds that have been sequenced to date. The newly sequenced genome of Anolis carolinensis provides the first opportunity to quantify isochore structure in a nonavian reptile. We find Anolis to have the most compositionally homogeneous genome of all amniotes sequenced thus far, a homogeneity exceeding that for the frog Xenopus. Based on a Bayesian algorithm, Anolis has smaller and less GC-rich isochores compared with human and chicken. Correlates generally associated with GC-rich isochores, including shorter introns and higher gene density, have all but disappeared from the Anolis genome. Using genic GC as a proxy for isochore structure so as to compare with other vertebrates, we found that GC content has substantially decreased in the lineage leading to Anolis since diverging from the common ancestor of Reptilia ∼275 Ma, perhaps reflecting weakened or reversed GC-biased gene conversion, a nonadaptive substitution process that is thought to be important in the maintenance and trajectory of isochore evolution. Our results demonstrate that GC composition in Anolis is not associated with important features of genome structure, including gene density and intron size, in contrast to patterns seen in mammal and bird genomes.
GC content; intron; gene density; recombination; genome structure; effective population size
The efficacy of four biological nematicides on root-galling, root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita) reproduction, and shoot weight of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) grown in stone wool substrate or in pots with sandy soil was compared to an oxamyl treatment and a non-treated control. In stone wool grown tomato, Avid® (a.i. abamectin) was highly effective when applied as a drench at time of nematode inoculation. It strongly reduced root-galling and nematode reproduction, and prevented a reduction in tomato shoot weight. However, applying the product one week before, or two weeks after nematode inoculation was largely ineffective. This shows that Avid® has short-lived, non-systemic activity. The effects of Avid® on nematode symptoms and reproduction on soil-grown tomato were only very minor, probably due to the known strong adsorption of the active ingredient abamectin to soil particles. The neem derived product Ornazin® strongly reduced tomato root-galling and nematode reproduction only in stone wool and only when applied as a drench one week prior to nematode inoculation, suggesting a local systemic activity or modification of the root system, rendering them less suitable host for the nematodes. This application however also had some phytotoxic effect, reducing tomato shoot weights. The other two products, Nema-Q™ and DiTera®, did not result in strong or consistent effects on nematode symptoms or reproduction.
control; Meloidogyne incognita; Solanum lycopersicum; stone wool; substrate
Some of the important biochemical, structural, and behavioral changes induced by chronic exposure to drugs of abuse appear to be mediated by the highly stable transcription factor ΔFosB. Previous work has shown that ΔFosB overexpression in mice for 2 weeks leads to an increase in the expression of numerous genes in striatum, most of which are later downregulated following 8 weeks of ΔFosB expression. Interestingly, a large number of these genes were also upregulated in mice overexpressing the transcription factor CREB. It was unclear from this study, however, whether short-term ΔFosB regulates these genes via CREB. Here we find that 2 weeks of ΔFosB overexpression increases CREB expression in striatum, an effect that dissipates by 8 weeks. The early induction is associated with increased CREB binding to certain target gene promoters in this brain region. Surprisingly, one gene that was a suspected CREB target based on previous reports, cholecystokinin (Cck), was not controlled by CREB in striatum. To further investigate the regulation of Cck following ΔFosB overexpression, we confirmed that short-term ΔFosB overexpression increases both Cck promoter activity and gene expression. It also increases binding activity at a putative CREB binding site (CRE) in the Cck promoter. However, while the CRE site is necessary for normal basal expression of Cck, it is not required for ΔFosB induction of Cck. Taken together, these results suggest that while short-term ΔFosB induction increases CREB expression and activity at certain gene promoters, this is not the only mechanism by which genes are upregulated under these conditions.
nucleus accumbens; transcription; addiction
Here we develop an argument in support of sequencing a garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) genome, and outline a plan to accomplish this. This snake is a common, widespread, nonvenomous North American species that has served as a model for diverse studies in evolutionary biology, physiology, genomics, behavior and coevolution. The anole lizard is currently the only genome sequence available for a non-avian reptile. Thus, the garter snake at this time would be the first available snake genome sequence and as such would provide much needed comparative representation of non-avian reptilian genomes, and would also allow critical new insights for vertebrate comparative genomic studies. We outline the major areas of discovery that the availability of the garter snake genome would enable, and describe a plan for whole-genome sequencing.
The progression from recreational drug use to drug addiction impacts multiple neurobiological processes and can be conceptualized as a transition from positive to negative reinforcement mechanisms driving both drug-taking and drug-seeking behaviors. Neurobiological mechanisms for negative reinforcement, defined as drug taking that alleviates a negative emotional state, involve changes in the brain reward system and recruitment of brain stress (or antireward) systems within forebrain structures, including the extended amygdala. These systems are hypothesized to be dysregulated by excessive drug intake and to contribute to allostatic changes in reinforcement mechanisms associated with addiction. Points of intersection between positive and negative motivational circuitry may further drive the compulsivity of drug addiction but also provide a rich neurobiological substrate for therapeutic intervention.
addiction; amygdala; corticotropin-releasing factor; drug dependence; dynorphin; extended amygdala; neuroadaptation; norepinephrine; opponent process; stress