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1.  The Physarum polycephalum Genome Reveals Extensive Use of Prokaryotic Two-Component and Metazoan-Type Tyrosine Kinase Signaling 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2015;8(1):109-125.
Physarum polycephalum is a well-studied microbial eukaryote with unique experimental attributes relative to other experimental model organisms. It has a sophisticated life cycle with several distinct stages including amoebal, flagellated, and plasmodial cells. It is unusual in switching between open and closed mitosis according to specific life-cycle stages. Here we present the analysis of the genome of this enigmatic and important model organism and compare it with closely related species. The genome is littered with simple and complex repeats and the coding regions are frequently interrupted by introns with a mean size of 100 bases. Complemented with extensive transcriptome data, we define approximately 31,000 gene loci, providing unexpected insights into early eukaryote evolution. We describe extensive use of histidine kinase-based two-component systems and tyrosine kinase signaling, the presence of bacterial and plant type photoreceptors (phytochromes, cryptochrome, and phototropin) and of plant-type pentatricopeptide repeat proteins, as well as metabolic pathways, and a cell cycle control system typically found in more complex eukaryotes. Our analysis characterizes P. polycephalum as a prototypical eukaryote with features attributed to the last common ancestor of Amorphea, that is, the Amoebozoa and Opisthokonts. Specifically, the presence of tyrosine kinases in Acanthamoeba and Physarum as representatives of two distantly related subdivisions of Amoebozoa argues against the later emergence of tyrosine kinase signaling in the opisthokont lineage and also against the acquisition by horizontal gene transfer.
PMCID: PMC4758236  PMID: 26615215
Amoebozoa; tyrosine kinase receptor; two-component system; signaling; phytochrome
2.  NEAT1 long noncoding RNA regulates transcription via protein sequestration within subnuclear bodies 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(1):169-183.
Paraspeckles are subnuclear structures formed around NEAT1 lncRNA. Paraspeckles became enlarged after proteasome inhibition caused by NEAT1 transcriptional activation, leading to protein sequestration into paraspeckles. The NEAT1-dependent sequestration affects the transcription of several genes, arguing for a novel role for lncRNA in gene regulation.
Paraspeckles are subnuclear structures formed around nuclear paraspeckle assembly transcript 1 (NEAT1)/MENε/β long noncoding RNA (lncRNA). Here we show that paraspeckles become dramatically enlarged after proteasome inhibition. This enlargement is mainly caused by NEAT1 transcriptional up-regulation rather than accumulation of undegraded paraspeckle proteins. Of interest, however, using immuno–electron microscopy, we find that key paraspeckle proteins become effectively depleted from the nucleoplasm by 50% when paraspeckle assembly is enhanced, suggesting a sequestration mechanism. We also perform microarrays from NEAT1-knockdown cells and find that NEAT1 represses transcription of several genes, including the RNA-specific adenosine deaminase B2 (ADARB2) gene. In contrast, the NEAT1-binding paraspeckle protein splicing factor proline/glutamine-rich (SFPQ) is required for ADARB2 transcription. This leads us to hypothesize that ADARB2 expression is controlled by NEAT1-dependent sequestration of SFPQ. Accordingly, we find that ADARB2 expression is strongly reduced upon enhanced SFPQ sequestration by proteasome inhibition, with concomitant reduction in SFPQ binding to the ADARB2 promoter. Finally, NEAT1−/− fibroblasts are more sensitive to proteasome inhibition, which triggers cell death, suggesting that paraspeckles/NEAT1 attenuates the cell death pathway. These data further confirm that paraspeckles are stress-responsive nuclear bodies and provide a model in which induced NEAT1 controls target gene transcription by protein sequestration into paraspeckles.
PMCID: PMC3873887  PMID: 24173718
3.  Low rate of replication fork progression lengthens the replication timing of a locus containing an early firing origin 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(17):5763-5774.
Invariance of temporal order of genome replication in eukaryotic cells and its correlation with gene activity has been well-documented. However, recent data suggest a relax control of replication timing. To evaluate replication schedule accuracy, we detailed the replicational organization of the developmentally regulated php locus that we previously found to be lately replicated, even though php gene is highly transcribed in naturally synchronous plasmodia of Physarum. Unexpectedly, bi-dimensional agarose gel electrophoreses of DNA samples prepared at specific time points of S phase showed that replication of the locus actually begins at the onset of S phase but it proceeds through the first half of S phase, so that complete replication of php-containing DNA fragments occurs in late S phase. Origin mapping located replication initiation upstream php coding region. This proximity and rapid fork progression through the coding region result in an early replication of php gene. We demonstrated that afterwards an unusually low fork rate and unidirectional fork pausing prolong complete replication of php locus, and we excluded random replication timing. Importantly, we evidenced that the origin linked to php gene in plasmodium is not fired in amoebae when php expression dramatically reduced, further illustrating replication-transcription coupling in Physarum.
PMCID: PMC2034475  PMID: 17717000
4.  The One-Kilobase DNA Fragment Upstream of the ardC Actin Gene of Physarum polycephalum Is Both a Replicator and a Promoter 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(5):3506-3514.
The 1-kb DNA fragment upstream of the ardC actin gene of Physarum polycephalum promotes the transcription of a reporter gene either in a transient-plasmid assay or as an integrated copy in an ectopic position, defining this region as the transcriptional promoter of the ardC gene (PardC). Since we mapped an origin of replication activated at the onset of S phase within this same fragment, we examined the pattern of replication of a cassette containing the PardC promoter and the hygromycin phosphotransferase gene, hph, integrated into two different chromosomal sites. In both cases, we show by two-dimensional agarose gel electrophoresis that an efficient, early activated origin coincides with the ectopic PardC fragment. One of the integration sites was a normally late-replicating region. The presence of the ectopic origin converted this late-replicating domain into an early-replicating domain in which replication forks propagate with kinetics indistinguishable from those of the native PardC replicon. This is the first demonstration that initiation sites for DNA replication in Physarum correspond to cis-acting replicator sequences. This work also confirms the close proximity of a replication origin and a promoter, with both functions being located within the 1-kb proximal region of the ardC actin gene. A more precise location of the replication origin with respect to the transcriptional promoter must await the development of a functional autonomously replicating sequence assay in Physarum.
PMCID: PMC84143  PMID: 10207074

Results 1-4 (4)