The publication data currently available has been vetted by Vanderbilt faculty, staff, administrators and trainees. The data itself is retrieved directly from NCBI's PubMed and is automatically updated on a weekly basis to ensure accuracy and completeness.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact us.
BACKGROUND - Associations between traits are prevalent in nature, occurring across a diverse range of taxa and traits. Individual traits may co-evolve with one other, and these correlations can be driven by factors intrinsic or extrinsic to an organism. However, few studies, especially in microbes, have simultaneously investigated both across a broad taxonomic range. Here we quantify pairwise associations among 48 traits across 784 diverse yeast species of the ancient budding yeast subphylum Saccharomycotina, assessing the effects of phylogenetic history, genetics, and ecology.
RESULTS - We find extensive negative (traits that tend to not occur together) and positive (traits that tend to co-occur) pairwise associations among traits, as well as between traits and environments. These associations can largely be explained by the biological properties of the traits, such as overlapping biochemical pathways. The isolation environments of the yeasts explain a minor but significant component of the variance, while phylogeny (the retention of ancestral traits in descendant species) plays an even more limited role. Positive correlations are pervasive among carbon utilization traits and track with chemical structures (e.g., glucosides and sugar alcohols) and metabolic pathways, suggesting a molecular basis for the presence of suites of traits. In several cases, characterized genes from model organisms suggest that enzyme promiscuity and overlapping biochemical pathways are likely mechanisms to explain these macroevolutionary trends. Interestingly, fermentation traits are negatively correlated with the utilization of pentose sugars, which are major components of the plant biomass degraded by fungi and present major bottlenecks to the production of cellulosic biofuels. Finally, we show that mammalian pathogenic and commensal yeasts have a suite of traits that includes growth at high temperature and, surprisingly, the utilization of a narrowed panel of carbon sources.
CONCLUSIONS - These results demonstrate how both intrinsic physiological factors and extrinsic ecological factors drive the distribution of traits present in diverse organisms across macroevolutionary timescales.
The sizes of the data matrices assembled to resolve branches of the tree of life have increased dramatically, motivating the development of programs for fast, yet accurate, inference. For example, several different fast programs have been developed in the very popular maximum likelihood framework, including RAxML/ExaML, PhyML, IQ-TREE, and FastTree. Although these programs are widely used, a systematic evaluation and comparison of their performance using empirical genome-scale data matrices has so far been lacking. To address this question, we evaluated these four programs on 19 empirical phylogenomic data sets with hundreds to thousands of genes and up to 200 taxa with respect to likelihood maximization, tree topology, and computational speed. For single-gene tree inference, we found that the more exhaustive and slower strategies (ten searches per alignment) outperformed faster strategies (one tree search per alignment) using RAxML, PhyML, or IQ-TREE. Interestingly, single-gene trees inferred by the three programs yielded comparable coalescent-based species tree estimations. For concatenation-based species tree inference, IQ-TREE consistently achieved the best-observed likelihoods for all data sets, and RAxML/ExaML was a close second. In contrast, PhyML often failed to complete concatenation-based analyses, whereas FastTree was the fastest but generated lower likelihood values and more dissimilar tree topologies in both types of analyses. Finally, data matrix properties, such as the number of taxa and the strength of phylogenetic signal, sometimes substantially influenced the programs' relative performance. Our results provide real-world gene and species tree phylogenetic inference benchmarks to inform the design and execution of large-scale phylogenomic data analyses.
© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.
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.
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.
Most HIV-1-specific neutralizing antibodies isolated to date exhibit unusual characteristics that complicate their elicitation. Neutralizing antibodies that target the V1V2 apex of the HIV-1 envelope (Env) trimer feature unusually long protruding loops, which enable them to penetrate the HIV-1 glycan shield. As antibodies with loops of requisite length are created through uncommon recombination events, an alternative mode of apex binding has been sought. Here, we isolated a lineage of Env apex-directed neutralizing antibodies, N90-VRC38.01-11, by using virus-like particles and conformationally stabilized Env trimers as B cell probes. A crystal structure of N90-VRC38.01 with a scaffolded V1V2 revealed a binding mode involving side-chain-to-side-chain interactions that reduced the distance the antibody loop must traverse the glycan shield, thereby facilitating V1V2 binding via a non-protruding loop. The N90-VRC38 lineage thus identifies a solution for V1V2-apex binding that provides a more conventional B cell pathway for vaccine design.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Sirtuins are NAD-dependent protein deacylases that regulate several aspects of metabolism and aging. In contrast to the other mammalian sirtuins, the primary enzymatic activity of mitochondrial sirtuin 4 (SIRT4) and its overall role in metabolic control have remained enigmatic. Using a combination of phylogenetics, structural biology, and enzymology, we show that SIRT4 removes three acyl moieties from lysine residues: methylglutaryl (MG)-, hydroxymethylglutaryl (HMG)-, and 3-methylglutaconyl (MGc)-lysine. The metabolites leading to these post-translational modifications are intermediates in leucine oxidation, and we show a primary role for SIRT4 in controlling this pathway in mice. Furthermore, we find that dysregulated leucine metabolism in SIRT4KO mice leads to elevated basal and stimulated insulin secretion, which progressively develops into glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. These findings identify a robust enzymatic activity for SIRT4, uncover a mechanism controlling branched-chain amino acid flux, and position SIRT4 as a crucial player maintaining insulin secretion and glucose homeostasis during aging.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Near the end of the Pleistocene epoch, populations of the woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) were distributed across parts of three continents, from western Europe and northern Asia through Beringia to the Atlantic seaboard of North America. Nonetheless, questions about the connectivity and temporal continuity of mammoth populations and species remain unanswered. We use a combination of targeted enrichment and high-throughput sequencing to assemble and interpret a data set of 143 mammoth mitochondrial genomes, sampled from fossils recovered from across their Holarctic range. Our dataset includes 54 previously unpublished mitochondrial genomes and significantly increases the coverage of the Eurasian range of the species. The resulting global phylogeny confirms that the Late Pleistocene mammoth population comprised three distinct mitochondrial lineages that began to diverge ~1.0-2.0 million years ago (Ma). We also find that mammoth mitochondrial lineages were strongly geographically partitioned throughout the Pleistocene. In combination, our genetic results and the pattern of morphological variation in time and space suggest that male-mediated gene flow, rather than large-scale dispersals, was important in the Pleistocene evolutionary history of mammoths.
Closely spaced clusters of tandemly duplicated genes (CTDGs) contribute to the diversity of many phenotypes, including chemosensation, snake venom, and animal body plans. CTDGs have traditionally been identified subjectively as genomic neighborhoods containing several gene duplicates in close proximity; however, CTDGs are often highly variable with respect to gene number, intergenic distance, and synteny. This lack of formal definition hampers the study of CTDG evolutionary dynamics and the discovery of novel CTDGs in the exponentially growing body of genomic data. To address this gap, we developed a novel homology-based algorithm, CTDGFinder, which formalizes and automates the identification of CTDGs by examining the physical distribution of individual members of families of duplicated genes across chromosomes. Application of CTDGFinder accurately identified CTDGs for many well-known gene clusters (e.g., Hox and beta-globin gene clusters) in the human, mouse and 20 other mammalian genomes. Differences between previously annotated gene clusters and our inferred CTDGs were due to the exclusion of nonhomologs that have historically been considered parts of specific gene clusters, the inclusion or absence of genes between the CTDGs and their corresponding gene clusters, and the splitting of certain gene clusters into distinct CTDGs. Examination of human genes showing tissue-specific enhancement of their expression by CTDGFinder identified members of several well-known gene clusters (e.g., cytochrome P450s and olfactory receptors) and revealed that they were unequally distributed across tissues. By formalizing and automating CTDG identification, CTDGFinder will facilitate understanding of CTDG evolutionary dynamics, their functional implications, and how they are associated with phenotypic diversity.
© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: email@example.com.
Understanding the phylogenetic relationships among the yeasts of the subphylum Saccharomycotina is a prerequisite for understanding the evolution of their metabolisms and ecological lifestyles. In the last two decades, the use of rDNA and multilocus data sets has greatly advanced our understanding of the yeast phylogeny, but many deep relationships remain unsupported. In contrast, phylogenomic analyses have involved relatively few taxa and lineages that were often selected with limited considerations for covering the breadth of yeast biodiversity. Here we used genome sequence data from 86 publicly available yeast genomes representing nine of the 11 known major lineages and 10 nonyeast fungal outgroups to generate a 1233-gene, 96-taxon data matrix. Species phylogenies reconstructed using two different methods (concatenation and coalescence) and two data matrices (amino acids or the first two codon positions) yielded identical and highly supported relationships between the nine major lineages. Aside from the lineage comprised by the family Pichiaceae, all other lineages were monophyletic. Most interrelationships among yeast species were robust across the two methods and data matrices. However, eight of the 93 internodes conflicted between analyses or data sets, including the placements of: the clade defined by species that have reassigned the CUG codon to encode serine, instead of leucine; the clade defined by a whole genome duplication; and the species Ascoidea rubescens These phylogenomic analyses provide a robust roadmap for future comparative work across the yeast subphylum in the disciplines of taxonomy, molecular genetics, evolutionary biology, ecology, and biotechnology. To further this end, we have also provided a BLAST server to query the 86 Saccharomycotina genomes, which can be found at http://y1000plus.org/blast.
Copyright © 2016 Shen et al.