218,081 research outputs found

    Steroid Receptors and Vertebrate Evolution

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    Considering that life on earth evolved about 3.7 billion years ago, vertebrates are young, appearing in the fossil record during the Cambrian explosion about 542 to 515 million years ago. Results from sequence analyses of genomes from bacteria, yeast, plants, invertebrates and vertebrates indicate that receptors for adrenal steroids (aldosterone, cortisol), and sex steroids (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) also are young, with receptors for estrogens and 3-ketosteroids first appearing in basal chordates (cephalochordates: amphioxus), which are close ancestors of vertebrates. An ancestral progesterone receptor and an ancestral corticoid receptor, the common ancestor of the glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors, evolved in jawless vertebrates (cyclostomes: lampreys, hagfish). This was followed by evolution of an androgen receptor and distinct glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors in cartilaginous fishes (gnathostomes: sharks). Adrenal and sex steroid receptors are not found in echinoderms: and hemichordates, which are ancestors in the lineage of cephalochordates and vertebrates. The presence of steroid receptors in vertebrates, in which these steroid receptors act as master switches to regulate differentiation, development, reproduction, immune responses, electrolyte homeostasis and stress responses, argues for an important role for steroid receptors in the evolutionary success of vertebrates, considering that the human genome contains about 22,000 genes, which is not much larger than genomes of invertebrates, such as Caenorhabditis elegans (~18,000 genes) and Drosophila (~14,000 genes).Comment: 18 pages, 5 figure

    Genomic and phenotypic signatures of climate adaptation in an Anolis lizard

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    Integrated knowledge on phenotype, physiology and genomic adaptations is required to understand the effects of climate on evolution. The functional genomic basis of organismal adaptation to changes in the abiotic environment, its phenotypic consequences, and its possible convergence across vertebrates, are still understudied. In this study, we use a comparative approach to verify predicted gene functions for vertebrate thermal adaptation with observed functions underlying repeated genomic adaptations in response to elevation in the lizard Anolis cybotes. We establish a direct link between recurrently evolved phenotypes and functional genomics of altitude-related climate adaptation in three highland and lowland populations in the Dominican Republic. We show that across vertebrates, genes contained in this interactome are expressed within the brain and during development. These results are relevant to elucidate the effect of global climate change across vertebrates, and might aid in furthering insight into gene-environment relationships under disturbances to external homeostasis

    Marine Flora and Fauna of the eastern United States: Acanthocephala

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    The phylum Acanthocephala (intestinal worm parasites of vertebrates) of the Atlantic coast of the United States comprises 43 species and 20 genera belonging to three orders: Echinorhynchida, Neoechinorhynchida, and Polymorphida. Adults are exclusively intestinal parasites of vertebrates. This study includes those species found in vertebrates of marine and estuarine environments along the North American Atlantic coast between Maine and Texas. Species that can be found within that geographical range and those that typically infect freshwater fishes but that are occasionally present in marine or estuarine hosts are also included. The taxonamy, anatomy, natural history, and ecology of the phylum Acanthocephala are discussed, and an illustrated key to the genera is presented. Techniques, an\ud annotated systematic treatment of all 43 species, and a systematic index are included. No systematic decisions will be made at this time, but areas where such decisions are pending will be indicated and discussed for future reports. (PDF file contains 32 pages.

    Female Sex Development and Reproductive Duct Formation Depend on Wnt4a in Zebrafish.

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    In laboratory strains of zebrafish, sex determination occurs in the absence of a typical sex chromosome and it is not known what regulates the proportion of animals that develop as males or females. Many sex determination and gonad differentiation genes that act downstream of a sex chromosome are well conserved among vertebrates, but studies that test their contribution to this process have mostly been limited to mammalian models. In mammals, WNT4 is a signaling ligand that is essential for ovary and Müllerian duct development, where it antagonizes the male-promoting FGF9 signal. Wnt4 is well conserved across all vertebrates, but it is not known if Wnt4 plays a role in sex determination and/or the differentiation of sex organs in nonmammalian vertebrates. This question is especially interesting in teleosts, such as zebrafish, because they lack an Fgf9 ortholog. Here we show that wnt4a is the ortholog of mammalian Wnt4, and that wnt4b was present in the last common ancestor of humans and zebrafish, but was lost in mammals. We show that wnt4a loss-of-function mutants develop predominantly as males and conclude that wnt4a activity promotes female sex determination and/or differentiation in zebrafish. Additionally, both male and female wnt4a mutants are sterile due to defects in reproductive duct development. Together these results strongly argue that Wnt4a is a conserved regulator of female sex determination and reproductive duct development in mammalian and nonmammalian vertebrates

    Biased amino acid composition in warm-blooded animals

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    Among eubacteria and archeabacteria, amino acid composition is correlated with habitat temperatures. In particular, species living at high temperatures have proteins enriched in the amino acids E-R-K and depleted in D-N-Q-T-S-H-A. Here, we show that this bias is a proteome-wide effect in prokaryotes, and that the same trend is observed in fully sequenced mammals and chicken compared to cold-blooded vertebrates (Reptilia, Amphibia and fish). Thus, warm-blooded vertebrates likely experienced genome-wide weak positive selection on amino acid composition to increase protein thermostability
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