Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) have diverse essential biological functions in all organisms, and in eukaryotes, two such classes of ncRNAs are the small nucleolar (sno) and small nuclear (sn) RNAs. In this study, we have identified and characterized a collection of sno and snRNAs in Giardia lamblia, by exploiting our discovery of a conserved 12 nt RNA processing sequence motif found in the 3′ end regions of a large number of G. lamblia ncRNA genes. RNA end mapping and other experiments indicate the motif serves to mediate ncRNA 3′ end formation from mono- and di-cistronic RNA precursor transcripts. Remarkably, we find the motif is also utilized in the processing pathway of all four previously identified trans-spliced G. lamblia introns, revealing a common RNA processing pathway for ncRNAs and trans-spliced introns in this organism. Motif sequence conservation then allowed for the bioinformatic and experimental identification of additional G. lamblia ncRNAs, including new U1 and U6 spliceosomal snRNA candidates. The U6 snRNA candidate was then used as a tool to identity novel U2 and U4 snRNAs, based on predicted phylogenetically conserved snRNA–snRNA base-pairing interactions, from a set of previously identified G. lamblia ncRNAs without assigned function. The Giardia snRNAs retain the core features of spliceosomal snRNAs but are sufficiently evolutionarily divergent to explain the difficulties in their identification. Most intriguingly, all of these snRNAs show structural features diagnostic of U2-dependent/major and U12-dependent/minor spliceosomal snRNAs.
Spliceosomes are assembled in stages. The first stage forms complex E, which is characterized by the presence of U1 snRNPs base-paired to the 5′ splice site, components recognizing the 3′ splice site and proteins thought to connect them. The splice sites are held in close proximity and the pre-mRNA is committed to splicing. Despite this, the sites for splicing appear not to be fixed until the next complex (A) forms. We have investigated the reasons why 5′ splice sites are not fixed in complex E, using single molecule methods to determine the stoichiometry of U1 snRNPs bound to pre-mRNA with one or two strong 5′ splice sites. In complex E most transcripts with two alternative 5′ splice sites were bound by two U1 snRNPs. However, the surplus U1 snRNPs were displaced during complex A formation in an ATP-dependent process requiring an intact 3′ splice site. This process leaves only one U1 snRNP per complex A, regardless of the number of potential sites. We propose a mechanism for selection of the 5′ splice site. Our results show that constitutive splicing components need not be present in a fixed stoichiometry in a splicing complex.
Drosophila melanogaster experience cold shock injury and die when exposed to low non-freezing temperatures. In this study, we generated transgenic D. melanogaster that express putative Ixodes scapularis antifreeze glycoprotein (IAFGP) and show that the presence of IAFGP increases the ability of flies to survive in the cold. Male and female adult iafgp-expressing D. melanogaster exhibited higher survival rates compared with controls when placed at non-freezing temperatures. Increased hatching rates were evident in embryos expressing IAFGP when exposed to the cold. The TUNEL assay showed that flight muscles from iafgp-expressing female adult flies exhibited less apoptotic damage upon exposure to non-freezing temperatures in comparison to control flies. Collectively, these data suggest that expression of iafgp increases cold tolerance in flies by preventing apoptosis. This study defines a molecular basis for the role of an antifreeze protein in cryoprotection of flies.
We present a new method for inferring hidden Markov models from noisy time sequences without the necessity of assuming a model architecture, thus allowing for the detection of degenerate states. This is based on the statistical prediction techniques developed by Crutchfield et al. and generates so called causal state models, equivalent in structure to hidden Markov models. The new method is applicable to any continuous data which clusters around discrete values and exhibits multiple transitions between these values such as tethered particle motion data or Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) spectra. The algorithms developed have been shown to perform well on simulated data, demonstrating the ability to recover the model used to generate the data under high noise, sparse data conditions and the ability to infer the existence of degenerate states. They have also been applied to new experimental FRET data of Holliday Junction dynamics, extracting the expected two state model and providing values for the transition rates in good agreement with previous results and with results obtained using existing maximum likelihood based methods. The method differs markedly from previous Markov-model reconstructions in being able to uncover truly hidden states.
Genetic recombination maps provide important frameworks for comparative genomics, identifying gene functions, assembling genome sequences and for breeding. The molecular recombination map currently available for the model eudicot Antirrhinum majus is the result of a cross with Antirrhinum molle, limiting its usefulness within A. majus.
We created a molecular linkage map of A. majus based on segregation of markers in the F2 population of two inbred lab strains of A. majus. The resulting map consisted of over 300 markers in eight linkage groups, which could be aligned with a classical recombination map and the A. majus karyotype. The distribution of recombination frequencies and distorted transmission of parental alleles differed from those of a previous inter-species hybrid. The differences varied in magnitude and direction between chromosomes, suggesting that they had multiple causes. The map, which covered an estimated of 95% of the genome with an average interval of 2 cM, was used to analyze the distribution of a newly discovered family of MITE transposons and tested for its utility in positioning seven mutations that affect aspects of plant size.
The current map has an estimated interval of 1.28 Mb between markers. It shows a lower level of transmission ratio distortion and a longer length than the previous inter-species map, making it potentially more useful. The molecular recombination map further indicates that the IDLE MITE transposons are distributed throughout the genome and are relatively stable. The map proved effective in mapping classical morphological mutations of A. majus.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an established therapy for Parkinson’s Disease and is being investigated as a treatment for chronic depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and for facilitating functional recovery of patients in minimally conscious states following brain injury. For all of these applications, quantitative assessments of the behavioral effects of DBS are crucial to determine whether the therapy is effective and, if so, how stimulation parameters can be optimized. Behavioral analyses for DBS are challenging because subject performance is typically assessed from only a small set of discrete measurements made on a discrete rating scale, the time course of DBS effects is unknown, and between-subject differences are often large. We demonstrate how Bayesian state-space methods can be used to characterize the relationship between DBS and behavior comparing our approach with logistic regression in two experiments: the effects of DBS on attention of a macaque monkey performing a reaction-time task, and the effects of DBS on motor behavior of a human patient in a minimally conscious state. The state-space analysis can assess the magnitude of DBS behavioral facilitation (positive or negative) at specific time points and has important implications for developing principled strategies to optimize DBS paradigms.
deep brain stimulation; state-space models; Bayesian estimation; behavior; model selection; logistic regression
In addition to cross-linking F-actin, Drosophila Kelch is a component of a cullin-RING ubiquitin ligase complex required for morphogenesis of ring canals during oogenesis.
Drosophila melanogaster Kelch (KEL) is the founding member of a diverse protein family defined by a repeated sequence motif known as the KEL repeat (KREP). Several KREP proteins, including Drosophila KEL, bind filamentous actin (F-actin) and contribute to its organization. Recently, a subset of KREP proteins has been shown to function as substrate adaptor proteins for cullin-RING (really interesting new gene) ubiquitin E3 ligases. In this study, we demonstrate that association of Drosophila KEL with Cullin-3, likely in a cullin-RING ligase, is essential for the growth of Drosophila female germline ring canals. These results suggest a role for protein ubiquitylation in the remodeling of a complex F-actin cytoskeletal structure.
Adaptation and visual attention are two processes that alter neural responses to luminance contrast. Rapid contrast adaptation changes response size and dynamics at all stages of visual processing while visual attention has been shown to modulate both contrast gain and response gain in macaque extrastriate visual cortex. Since attention aims to enhance behaviorally relevant sensory responses while adaptation acts to attenuate neural activity, the question we asked is, how does attention alter adaptation? We present here single-unit recordings from V4 of two rhesus macaques performing a cued target detection task. The study was designed to characterize the effects of attention on the size and dynamics of a sequence of responses produced by a series of flashed oriented gratings parametric in luminance contrast. We found that the effect of attention on the response dynamics of V4 neurons is inconsistent with a mechanism that only alters the effective stimulus contrast, or only rescales the gain of the response. Instead, the action of attention modifies contrast gain early in the task, and modifies both response gain and contrast gain later in the task. We also show that responses to attended stimuli are more closely locked to the stimulus cycle than unattended responses, and that attended responses show less of the phase lag produced by adaptation than unattended responses. The phase advance generated by attention of the adapted responses suggests that the attentional gain control operates in some ways like a contrast gain control utilizing a neural measure of contrast to influence dynamics.
macaque; adaptation; visual attention; contrast; dynamics
The population structure of an organism reflects its evolutionary history and influences its evolutionary trajectory. It constrains the combination of genetic diversity and reveals patterns of past gene flow. Understanding it is a prerequisite for detecting genomic regions under selection, predicting the effect of population disturbances, or modeling gene flow. This paper examines the detailed global population structure of Arabidopsis thaliana. Using a set of 5,707 plants collected from around the globe and genotyped at 149 SNPs, we show that while A. thaliana as a species self-fertilizes 97% of the time, there is considerable variation among local groups. This level of outcrossing greatly limits observed heterozygosity but is sufficient to generate considerable local haplotypic diversity. We also find that in its native Eurasian range A. thaliana exhibits continuous isolation by distance at every geographic scale without natural breaks corresponding to classical notions of populations. By contrast, in North America, where it exists as an exotic species, A. thaliana exhibits little or no population structure at a continental scale but local isolation by distance that extends hundreds of km. This suggests a pattern for the development of isolation by distance that can establish itself shortly after an organism fills a new habitat range. It also raises questions about the general applicability of many standard population genetics models. Any model based on discrete clusters of interchangeable individuals will be an uneasy fit to organisms like A. thaliana which exhibit continuous isolation by distance on many scales.
Much of the modern field of population genetics is premised on particular models of what an organism's population structure is and how it behaves. The classic models generally start with the idea of a single randomly mating population that has reached an evolutionary equilibrium. Many models relax some of these assumptions, allowing for phenomena such as assortative mating, discrete sub-populations with migration, self-fertilization, and sex-ratio distortion. Virtually all models, however, have as their core premise the notion that there exist classes of exchangeable individuals each of which represents an identical, independent sample from that class' distribution. For certain organisms, such as Drosophila melanogaster, these models do an excellent job of describing how populations work. For other organisms, such as humans, these models can be reasonable approximations but require a great deal of care in assembling samples and can begin to break down as sampling becomes locally dense. For the vast majority of organisms the applicability of these models has never been investigated.
An insight into the operation of molecular motors has already been obtained under in vitro conditions from single-molecule tracking of proteins. It remains to analyze the effects of these motors on the position and secretion of specific organelles in the environment of the cell. For this purpose, we have investigated the accuracy of a standard algorithm to enable the tracking of particles in live-cell microscopy. The results have been applied to an example study into the role of the microtubule-motor kinesin on the function of COPII-coated secretory-cargo exit sites forming part of the mammalian endoplasmic reticulum. These exit sites are marked with multiple EYFP-tagged proteins to produce bright fluorescent particles, and a demonstration of the motility of vesicles, under different conditions in the cell, is described here. It is essential to use a low-level expression of fluorescent protein-tagged cellular components to ensure faithful replication for the behaviour of endogenous protein. However, this leads to a lower ratio for the signal-to-noise than is desired for the sub-pixel tracking of objects in digital images. This has driven the present effort to develop a computational model of the experiment in order to estimate the precision for localization of a fluorescent particle. Our work gives a greater insight, than has been managed in the past, into the accuracy and precision of particle tracking from live-cell imaging under a variety of different conditions, and it takes into consideration the current standards in digital technology for optical microscopy.
Genetic analysis of muscle specification, formation and function in model systems has provided valuable insight into human muscle physiology and disease. Studies in Drosophila have been particularly useful for discovering key genes involved in muscle specification, myoblast fusion, and sarcomere organization. The muscles of the Drosophila female reproductive system have received little attention despite extensive work on oogenesis. We have used newly available GFP protein trap lines to characterize of ovarian muscle morphology and sarcomere organization. The muscle cells surrounding the oviducts are multinuclear with highly organized sarcomeres typical of somatic muscles. In contrast, the two muscle layers of the ovary, which are derived from gonadal mesoderm, have a mesh-like morphology similar to gut visceral muscle. Protein traps in the Fasciclin 3 gene produced Fas3::GFP that localized in dots around the periphery of epithelial sheath cells, the muscle surrounding ovarioles. Surprisingly, the epithelial sheath cells each contain a single nucleus, indicating these cells do not undergo myoblast fusion during development. Consistent with this observation, we were able to use the Flp/FRT system to efficiently generate genetic mosaics in the epithelial sheath, suggesting these cells provide a new opportunity for clonal analysis of adult striated muscle.
oogenesis; visceral muscle; Fasciclin 3; Zasp; Filamin
The Arp2/3 complex and its activators, Scar/WAVE and Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome protein (WASp), promote actin polymerization in vitro and have been proposed to influence cell shape and motility in vivo. We demonstrate that the Drosophila Scar homologue, SCAR, localizes to actin-rich structures and is required for normal cell morphology in multiple cell types throughout development. In particular, SCAR function is essential for cytoplasmic organization in the blastoderm, axon development in the central nervous system, egg chamber structure during oogenesis, and adult eye morphology. Highly similar developmental requirements are found for subunits of the Arp2/3 complex. In the blastoderm, SCAR and Arp2/3 mutations result in a reduction in the amount of cortical filamentous actin and the disruption of dynamically regulated actin structures. Remarkably, the single Drosophila WASp homologue, Wasp, is largely dispensable for these numerous Arp2/3-dependent functions, whereas SCAR does not contribute to cell fate decisions in which Wasp and Arp2/3 play an essential role. These results identify SCAR as a major component of Arp2/3-dependent cell morphology during Drosophila development and demonstrate that the Arp2/3 complex can govern distinct cell biological events in response to SCAR and Wasp regulation.
Scar; Arp2/3; Wasp; actin; Drosophila
The Drosophila kelch gene encodes a member of a protein superfamily defined by the presence of kelch repeats. In Drosophila, Kelch is required to maintain actin organization in ovarian ring canals. We set out to study the actin cross-linking activity of Kelch and how Kelch function is regulated. Biochemical studies using purified, recombinant Kelch protein showed that full-length Kelch bundles actin filaments, and kelch repeat 5 contains the actin binding site. Two-dimensional electrophoresis demonstrated that Kelch is tyrosine phosphorylated in a src64-dependent pathway. Site-directed mutagenesis determined that tyrosine residue 627 is phosphorylated. A Kelch mutant with tyrosine 627 changed to alanine (KelY627A) rescued the actin disorganization phenotype of kelch mutant ring canals, but failed to produce wild-type ring canals. Electron microscopy demonstrated that phosphorylation of Kelch is critical for the proper morphogenesis of actin during ring canal growth, and presence of the nonphosphorylatable KelY627A protein phenocopied src64 ring canals. KelY627A protein in ring canals also dramatically reduced the rate of actin monomer exchange. The phenotypes caused by src64 mutants and KelY627A expression suggest that a major function of Src64 signaling in the ring canal is the negative regulation of actin cross-linking by Kelch.
oogenesis; kelch; Src; actin binding; ring canal
The Arp2/3 complex has been shown to dramatically increase the slow spontaneous rate of actin filament nucleation in vitro, and it is known to be important for remodeling the actin cytoskeleton in vivo. We isolated and characterized loss of function mutations in genes encoding two subunits of the Drosophila Arp2/3 complex: Arpc1, which encodes the homologue of the p40 subunit, and Arp3, encoding one of the two actin-related proteins. We used these mutations to study how the Arp2/3 complex contributes to well-characterized actin structures in the ovary and the pupal epithelium. We found that the Arp2/3 complex is required for ring canal expansion during oogenesis but not for the formation of parallel actin bundles in nurse cell cytoplasm and bristle shaft cells. The requirement for Arp2/3 in ring canals indicates that the polymerization of actin filaments at the ring canal plasma membrane is important for driving ring canal growth.
ring canal; oogenesis; actin; Arp2/3; Drosophila