279 research outputs found

    Marsupials and monotremes sort genome treasures from junk

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    A recent landmark paper demonstrates the unique contribution of marsupials and monotremes to comparative genome analysis, filling an evolutionary gap between the eutherian mammals (including humans) and more distant vertebrate species

    Does gene dosage really matter?

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    Mechanisms to compensate for dosage differences of genes on sex chromosomes are widespread in animals and have been thought to be critical for viability. However, in birds, compensation is inefficient, implying that for many genes dosage compensation is not critical, and for some genes, dosage differences have even been selected for

    An Initial Assessment of the Potential of Genomic Analysis to Help Inform Bighorn Sheep Management

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    Genetic research may be a useful approach for understanding factors that could impact productivity and restoration of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) herds.  For example, genetic consequences of inbreeding in small populations can impact recruitment and local adaptations can influence translocation success.  This modest pilot study quantified genetic attributes of bighorn sheep populations with a range of different herd histories in Montana and Wyoming to investigate genetic similarity and differences, genetic heterogeneity and genetic distance.  Employing an Ovine array containing about 700,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with approximately 24,000 markers that are informative for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, we used whole genome genotyping to analyze genetic material.  This technique represents a significant advancement in genetic analysis of bighorn sheep, as most previous studies have used microsatellites and less than 200 genetic markers.  We analyzed approximately fifteen individuals from each of four different populations that we predicted would differ in genetic characteristics, due to population dissimilarities that potentially impacted their genetics, including origin (native/reintroduced), population size, bottleneck history, degree of connectivity, and augmentation history.  We selected four populations that provided a spectrum of these herd attributes, including the Tendoys, Stillwater and Glacier National Park in Montana and the northeastern Greater Yellowstone Area in Wyoming.  We present the results of this effort and examine expected and observed heterogeneity and genetic distance estimates to evaluate the potential for links between genetics and herd demography.  We discuss the utility of genetic analyses in improving knowledge of bighorn sheep populations and potential implications for bighorn sheep management

    Independent Evolution of Transcriptional Inactivation on Sex Chromosomes in Birds and Mammals

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    X chromosome inactivation in eutherian mammals has been thought to be tightly controlled, as expected from a mechanism that compensates for the different dosage of X-borne genes in XX females and XY males. However, many X genes escape inactivation in humans, inactivation of the X in marsupials is partial, and the unrelated sex chromosomes of monotreme mammals have incomplete and gene-specific inactivation of X-linked genes. The bird ZW sex chromosome system represents a third independently evolved amniote sex chromosome system with dosage compensation, albeit partial and gene-specific, via an unknown mechanism (i.e. upregulation of the single Z in females, down regulation of one or both Zs in males, or a combination). We used RNA-fluorescent in situ hybridization (RNA-FISH) to demonstrate, on individual fibroblast cells, inactivation of 11 genes on the chicken Z and 28 genes on the X chromosomes of platypus. Each gene displayed a reproducible frequency of 1Z/1X-active and 2Z/2X-active cells in the homogametic sex. Our results indicate that the probability of inactivation is controlled on a gene-by-gene basis (or small domains) on the chicken Z and platypus X chromosomes. This regulatory mechanism must have been exapted independently to the non-homologous sex chromosomes in birds and mammals in response to an over-expressed Z or X in the homogametic sex, highlighting the universal importance that (at least partial) silencing plays in the evolution on amniote dosage compensation and, therefore, the differentiation of sex chromosomes.This project was supported by an Australian Research Fellowship to PDW (DP0987091) and an Australian Research Council discovery project grant to PDW, JED and JAMG (DP1094868) (http://www.arc.gov.au/). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript

    Construction of a highly enriched marsupial Y chromosome-specific BAC sub-library using isolated Y chromosomes

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    The Y chromosome is perhaps the most interesting element of the mammalian genome but comparative analysis of the Y chromosome has been impeded by the difficulty of assembling a shotgun sequence of the Y. B AC-based sequencing has been successful for the human and chimpanzee Y but is difficult to do efficiently for an atypical mammalian model species (Skaletsky et al. 2003, Kuroki et al. 2006). We show how Y-specific sub-libraries can be efficiently constructed using DNA amplified from microdissected or flow-sorted Y chromosomes. A Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) library was constructed from the model marsupial, the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii). We screened this library for Y chromosome-derived BAC clones using DNA from both a microdissected Y chromosome and a flow-sorted Y chromosome in order to create a Y chromosome-specific sub-library. We expected that the tammar wallaby Y chromosome should detect ∼100 clones from the 2.2 times redundant library. The microdissected Y DNA detected 85 clones, 82% of which mapped to the Y chromosome and the flow-sorted Y DNA detected 71 clones, 48% of which mapped to the Y chromosome. Overall, this represented a ∼330-fold enrichment for Y chromosome clones. This presents an ideal method for the creation of highly enriched chromosome-specific sub-libraries suitable for BAC-based sequencing of the Y chromosome of any mammalian species

    A cross-species comparison of escape from X inactivation in Eutheria: implications for evolution of X chromosome inactivation

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    Sex chromosome dosage compensation in both eutherian and marsupial mammals is achieved by X chromosome inactivation (XCI)—transcriptional repression that silences one of the two X chromosomes in the somatic cells of females. We recently used RNA fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) to show, in individual nuclei, that marsupial X inactivation (in the absence of XIST) occurs on a gene-by-gene basis, and that escape from inactivation is stochastic and independent of gene location. In the absence of similar data from fibroblast cell lines of eutherian representatives, a meaningful comparison is lacking. We therefore used RNA-FISH to examine XCI in fibroblast cell lines obtained from three distantly related eutherian model species: African savannah elephant (Loxodonta africana), mouse (Mus musculus) and human (Homo sapiens). We show that, unlike the orthologous marsupial X, inactivation of the X conserved region (XCR) in eutherians generally is complete. Two-colour RNA-FISH on female human, mouse and elephant interphase nuclei showed that XCR loci have monoallelic expression in almost all nuclei. However, we found that many loci located in the evolutionarily distinct recently added region (XAR) displayed reproducible locus-specific frequencies of nuclei with either one or two active X alleles. We propose that marsupial XCI retains features of an ancient incomplete silencing mechanism that was augmented by the evolution of the XIST gene that progressively stabilized the eutherian XCR. In contrast, the recently added region of the eutherian X displays an incomplete inactivation profile similar to that observed on the evolutionarily distinct marsupial X and the independently evolved monotreme X chromosomes

    Expression of Human α2-Adrenergic Receptors in Adipose Tissue of β3-Adrenergic Receptor-deficient Mice Promotes Diet-induced Obesity

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    Catecholamines play an important role in controlling white adipose tissue function and development. β- and α2-adrenergic receptors (ARs) couple positively and negatively, respectively, to adenylyl cyclase and are co-expressed in human adipocytes. Previous studies have demonstrated increased adipocyte α2/β-AR balance in obesity, and it has been proposed that increased α2-ARs in adipose tissue with or without decreased β-ARs may contribute mechanistically to the development of increased fat mass. To critically test this hypothesis, adipocyte α2/β-AR balance was genetically manipulated in mice. Human α2A-ARs were transgenically expressed in the adipose tissue of mice that were either homozygous (−/−) or heterozygous (+/−) for a disrupted β3-AR allele. Mice expressing α2-ARs in fat, in the absence of β3-ARs (β3-AR −/− background), developed high fat diet-induced obesity. Strikingly, this effect was due entirely to adipocyte hyperplasia and required the presence of α2-ARs, the absence of β3-ARs, and a high fat diet. Of note, obese α2-transgenic, β3 −/− mice failed to develop insulin resistance, which may reflect the fact that expanded fat mass was due to adipocyte hyperplasia and not adipocyte hypertrophy. In summary, we have demonstrated that increased α2/β-AR balance in adipocytes promotes obesity by stimulating adipocyte hyperplasia. This study also demonstrates one way in which two genes (α2 and β3-AR) and diet interact to influence fat mass

    Landscape of DNA methylation on the marsupial x

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    DNA methylation plays a key role in maintaining transcriptional silence on the inactive X chromosome of eutherian mammals. Beyond eutherians, there are limited genome wide data on DNA methylation from other vertebrates. Previous studies of X borne genes in various marsupial models revealed no differential DNA methylation of promoters between the sexes, leading to the conclusion that CpG methylation plays no role in marsupial X-inactivation. Using reduced representation bisulfite sequencing, we generated male and female CpG methylation profiles in four representative vertebrates (mouse, gray short-tailed opossum, platypus, and chicken). A variety of DNA methylation patterns were observed. Platypus and chicken displayed no large-scale differential DNA methylation between the sexes on the autosomes or the sex chromosomes. As expected, a metagene analysis revealed hypermethylation at transcription start sites (TSS) of genes subject to X-inactivation in female mice. This contrasted with the opossum, in which metagene analysis did not detect differential DNA methylation between the sexes at TSSs of genes subject to X-inactivation. However, regions flanking TSSs of these genes were hypomethylated. Our data are the first to demonstrate that, for genes subject to X-inactivation in both eutherian and marsupial mammals, there is a consistent difference between DNA methylation levels at TSSs and immediate flanking regions, which we propose has a silencing effect in both groups.This work was funded by Australian Research Council Discovery Projects DP0987091 and DP1094868

    Western Bumble Bee: Declines in the Continental United States and Range-Wide Information Gaps

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    In recent decades, many bumble bee species have declined due to changes in habitat, climate, and pressures from pathogens, pesticides, and introduced species. The western bumble bee (Bombus occidentalis), once common throughout western North America, is a species of concern and will be considered for listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We attempt to improve alignment of data collection and research with USFWS needs to consider redundancy, resiliency, and representation in the upcoming species status assessment. We reviewed existing data and literature on B. occidentalis, highlighting information gaps and priority topics for research. Priorities include increased knowledge of trends, basic information on several life‐history stages, and improved understanding of the relative and interacting effects of stressors on population trends, especially the effects of pathogens, pesticides, climate change, and habitat loss. An understanding of how and where geographic range extent has changed for the two subspecies of B. occidentalis is also needed. We outline data that could be easily collected in other research projects that would increase their utility for understanding range‐wide trends of bumble bees. We modeled the overall trend in occupancy from 1998 to 2018 of Bombus occidentalis within the continental United States using existing data. The probability of local occupancy declined by 93% over 21 yr from 0.81 (95% CRI = 0.43, 0.98) in 1998 to 0.06 (95% CRI = 0.02, 0.16) in 2018. The decline in occupancy varied spatially by landcover and other environmental factors. Detection rates vary in both space and time, but peak detection across the continental United States occurs in mid‐July. We found considerable spatial gaps in recent sampling, with limited sampling in many regions, including most of Alaska, northwestern Canada, and the southwestern United States. We therefore propose a sampling design to address these gaps to best inform the ESA species status assessment through improved assessment of how the spatial distribution of stressors influences occupancy changes. Finally, we request involvement via data sharing, participation in occupancy sampling with repeated visits to distributed survey sites, and complementary research to address priorities outlined in this paper
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