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In a screen for human kinases that regulate Xenopus laevis embryogenesis, we identified Nagk and other components of the UDP-GlcNAc glycosylation salvage pathway as regulators of anteroposterior patterning and Wnt signaling. We find that the salvage pathway does not affect other major embryonic signaling pathways (Fgf, TGFβ, Notch, or Shh), thereby demonstrating specificity for Wnt signaling. We show that the role of the salvage pathway in Wnt signaling is evolutionarily conserved in zebrafish and Drosophila. Finally, we show that GlcNAc is essential for the growth of intestinal enteroids, which are highly dependent on Wnt signaling for growth and maintenance. We propose that the Wnt pathway is sensitive to alterations in the glycosylation state of a cell and acts as a nutritional sensor in order to couple growth/proliferation with its metabolic status. We also propose that the clinical manifestations observed in congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG) in humans may be due, in part, to their effects on Wnt signaling during development.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Metals are a limiting resource for pathogenic bacteria and must be scavenged from host proteins. Hemoglobin provides the most abundant source of iron in the human body and is required by several pathogens to cause invasive disease. However, the consequences of hemoglobin evolution for bacterial nutrient acquisition remain unclear. Here we show that the α- and β-globin genes exhibit strikingly parallel signatures of adaptive evolution across simian primates. Rapidly evolving sites in hemoglobin correspond to binding interfaces of IsdB, a bacterial hemoglobin receptor harbored by pathogenic Using an evolution-guided experimental approach, we demonstrate that the divergence between primates and staphylococcal isolates governs hemoglobin recognition and bacterial growth. The reintroduction of putative adaptive mutations in α- or β-globin proteins was sufficient to impair binding, providing a mechanism for the evolution of disease resistance. These findings suggest that bacterial hemoprotein capture has driven repeated evolutionary conflicts with hemoglobin during primate descent. During infection, bacteria must steal metals, including iron, from the host tissue. Therefore, pathogenic bacteria have evolved metal acquisition systems to overcome the elaborate processes mammals use to withhold metal from pathogens. uses IsdB, a hemoglobin receptor, to thieve iron-containing heme from hemoglobin within human blood. We find evidence that primate hemoglobin has undergone rapid evolution at protein surfaces contacted by IsdB. Additionally, variation in the hemoglobin sequences among primates, or variation in IsdB of related staphylococci, reduces bacterial hemoglobin capture. Together, these data suggest that has evolved to recognize human hemoglobin in the face of rapid evolution at the IsdB binding interface, consistent with repeated evolutionary conflicts in the battle for iron during host-pathogen interactions.
Copyright © 2018 Choby et al.
The emergence of the basement membrane (BM), a specialized form of extracellular matrix, was essential in the unicellular transition to multicellularity. However, the mechanism is unknown. Goodpasture antigen-binding protein (GPBP), a BM protein, was uniquely poised to play diverse roles in this transition owing to its multiple isoforms (GPBP-1, -2, and -3) with varied intracellular and extracellular functions (ceramide trafficker and protein kinase). We sought to determine the evolutionary origin of GPBP isoforms. Our findings reveal the presence of GPBP in unicellular protists, with GPBP-2 as the most ancient isoform. In vertebrates, GPBP-1 assumed extracellular function that is further enhanced by membrane-bound GPBP-3 in mammalians, whereas GPBP-2 retained intracellular function. Moreover, GPBP-2 possesses a dual intracellular/extracellular function in cnidarians, an early nonbilaterian group. We conclude that GPBP functioning both inside and outside the cell was of fundamental importance for the evolutionary transition to animal multicellularity and tissue evolution.
© 2019 Darris et al.
Genomic maps of local ancestry identify ancestry transitions - points on a chromosome where recent recombination events in admixed individuals have joined two different ancestral haplotypes. These events bring together alleles that evolved within separate continential populations, providing a unique opportunity to evaluate the joint effect of these alleles on health outcomes. In this work, we evaluate the impact of genetic variants in the context of nearby local ancestry transitions within a sample of nearly 10,000 adults of African ancestry with traits derived from electronic health records. Genetic data was located using the Metabochip, and used to derive local ancestry. We develop a model that captures the effect of both single variants and local ancestry, and use it to identify examples where local ancestry transitions significantly interact with nearby variants to influence metabolic traits. In our most compelling example, we find that the minor allele of rs16890640 occuring on a European background with a downstream local ancestry transition to African ancestry results in significantly lower mean corpuscular hemoglobin and volume. This finding represents a new way of discovering genetic interactions, and is supported by molecular data that suggest changes to local ancestry may impact local chromatin looping.
The origin of animals, one of the major transitions in evolution, remains mysterious. Many key aspects of animal evolution can be reconstructed by comparing living species within a robust phylogenetic framework. However, uncertainty remains regarding the evolutionary relationships between two ancient animal lineages - sponges and ctenophores - and the remaining animal phyla. Comparative morphology and some phylogenomic analyses support the view that sponges represent the sister lineage to the rest of the animals, while other phylogenomic analyses support ctenophores, a phylum of carnivorous, gelatinous marine organisms, as the sister lineage. Here, we explore why different studies yield different answers and discuss the implications of the two alternative hypotheses for understanding the origin of animals. Reconstruction of ancient evolutionary radiations is devilishly difficult and will likely require broader sampling of sponge and ctenophore genomes, improved analytical strategies and critical analyses of the phylogenetic distribution and molecular mechanisms underlying apparently conserved traits. Rather than staking out positions in favor of the ctenophores-sister or the sponges-sister hypothesis, we submit that research programs aimed at understanding the biology of the first animals should instead embrace the uncertainty surrounding early animal evolution in their experimental designs.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Studies of regulatory activity and gene expression have revealed an intriguing dichotomy: There is substantial turnover in the regulatory activity of orthologous sequences between species; however, the expression level of orthologous genes is largely conserved. Understanding how distal regulatory elements, for example, enhancers, evolve and function is critical, as alterations in gene expression levels can drive the development of both complex disease and functional divergence between species. In this study, we investigated determinants of the conservation of regulatory enhancer activity for orthologous sequences across mammalian evolution. Using liver enhancers identified from genome-wide histone modification profiles in ten diverse mammalian species, we compared orthologous sequences that exhibited regulatory activity in all species (conserved-activity enhancers) to shared sequences active only in a single species (species-specific-activity enhancers). Conserved-activity enhancers have greater regulatory potential than species-specific-activity enhancers, as quantified by both the density and diversity of transcription factor binding motifs. Consistent with their greater regulatory potential, conserved-activity enhancers have greater regulatory activity in humans than species-specific-activity enhancers: They are active across more cellular contexts, and they regulate more genes than species-specific-activity enhancers. Furthermore, the genes regulated by conserved-activity enhancers are expressed in more tissues and are less tolerant of loss-of-function mutations than those targeted by species-specific-activity enhancers. These consistent results across various stages of gene regulation demonstrate that conserved-activity enhancers are more pleiotropic than their species-specific-activity counterparts. This suggests that pleiotropy is associated with the conservation of regulatory across mammalian evolution.
© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.
Many developmental functions in marsupials and eutherian mammals are accomplished by different tissues, but similar genes.
BACKGROUND - microRNAs (miRNAs) are essential to the regulation of gene expression in eukaryotes, and improper expression of miRNAs contributes to hundreds of diseases. Despite the essential functions of miRNAs, the evolutionary dynamics of how they are integrated into existing gene regulatory and functional networks is not well understood. Knowledge of the origin and evolutionary history a gene has proven informative about its functions and disease associations; we hypothesize that incorporating the evolutionary origins of miRNAs into analyses will help resolve differences in their functional dynamics and how they influence disease.
RESULTS - We computed the phylogenetic age of miRNAs across 146 species and quantified the relationship between human miRNA age and several functional attributes. Older miRNAs are significantly more likely to be associated with disease than younger miRNAs, and the number of associated diseases increases with age. As has been observed for genes, the miRNAs associated with different diseases have different age profiles. For example, human miRNAs implicated in cancer are enriched for origins near the dawn of animal multicellularity. Consistent with the increasing contribution of miRNAs to disease with age, older miRNAs target more genes than younger miRNAs, and older miRNAs are expressed in significantly more tissues. Furthermore, miRNAs of all ages exhibit a strong preference to target older genes; 93% of validated miRNA gene targets were in existence at the origin of the targeting miRNA. Finally, we find that human miRNAs in evolutionarily related families are more similar in their targets and expression profiles than unrelated miRNAs.
CONCLUSIONS - Considering the evolutionary origin and history of a miRNA provides useful context for the analysis of its function. Consistent with recent work in Drosophila, our results support a model in which miRNAs increase their expression and functional regulatory interactions over evolutionary time, and thus older miRNAs have increased potential to cause disease. We anticipate that these patterns hold across mammalian species; however, comprehensively evaluating them will require refining miRNA annotations across species and collecting functional data in non-human systems.
Cetaceans, a group of mammals adapted to the aquatic environment that descended from terrestrial artiodactyls, exhibit tremendous interspecific differences in a number of phenotypes, including feeding behavior, such as filter feeding in the Mysticeti vs prey-hunting Odontoceti, and size, with the smallest cetacean, the vaquita, at 1.4 meters and the largest, the blue whale, reaching 33 meters. The Melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) regulates food intake, energy balance, and somatic growth in both mammals and teleosts. In this study, we examined allelic variants of the MC4R in cetaceans. We sequenced the MC4R from 20 cetaceans, and pharmacologically characterized 17 of these protein products. Results identified a single variation at amino acid 156 in the MC4R from representative species of major cetacean lineages uniquely associated with the toothed whales or Odontoceti (arginine at 156) and baleen whales or Mysticeti (glutamine at 156). The Q156 receptor variant found in the larger baleen whales was functionally less responsive to its endogenous anorexigenic ligand, α-MSH. Furthermore, the R156 receptor variant showed greater constitutive activity and a higher affinity for ligand. These data suggest that the MC4R may be one gene involved in the evolution of feeding ecology, energy balance, and body size in cetaceans.
BACKGROUND - The cytosolic arrestin proteins mediate desensitization of activated G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) via competition with G proteins for the active phosphorylated receptors. Arrestins in active, including receptor-bound, conformation are also transducers of signaling. Therefore, this protein family is an attractive therapeutic target. The signaling outcome is believed to be a result of structural and sequence-dependent interactions of arrestins with GPCRs and other protein partners. Here we elucidated the detailed evolution of arrestins in deuterostomes.
RESULTS - Identity and number of arrestin paralogs were determined searching deuterostome genomes and gene expression data. In contrast to standard gene prediction methods, our strategy first detects exons situated on different scaffolds and then solves the problem of assigning them to the correct gene. This increases both the completeness and the accuracy of the annotation in comparison to conventional database search strategies applied by the community. The employed strategy enabled us to map in detail the duplication- and deletion history of arrestin paralogs including tandem duplications, pseudogenizations and the formation of retrogenes. The two rounds of whole genome duplications in the vertebrate stem lineage gave rise to four arrestin paralogs. Surprisingly, visual arrestin ARR3 was lost in the mammalian clades Afrotheria and Xenarthra. Duplications in specific clades, on the other hand, must have given rise to new paralogs that show signatures of diversification in functional elements important for receptor binding and phosphate sensing.
CONCLUSION - The current study traces the functional evolution of deuterostome arrestins in unprecedented detail. Based on a precise re-annotation of the exon-intron structure at nucleotide resolution, we infer the gain and loss of paralogs and patterns of conservation, co-variation and selection.