250 research outputs found

    Pre-Columbian treponemes clarify worldwide spread of treponematosis

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    International audienceSyphilis dramatically hit Europe at the end of the fifteen century before spreading to other continents. Yet the origin of the sudden pandemic in the Old World remains debated, in particular because the leading Columbus hypothesis of a New World origin of historical syphilis in Europe lacks paleomicrobiological confirmation. Here we screened a worldwide set of >1,700 ancient humans and identified ancient Treponema pallidum strains in two pre-Columbian child sacrifices from Tlatelolco, Mexico. Over 12,000 Treponema-specific reads were recovered to define a novel Treponema pallidum ancient population: Treponema pallidum str. tlatelolcoensis. Phylogenetics show that this population displays ancestral features but also bears the genetic building blocks of disease-causing modern Treponema pallidum subspecies, hence demonstrating how pre-Colombian Americas were the source of worldwide spread of treponematosis

    Is it time to switch to a formulation other than the live attenuated poliovirus vaccine to prevent poliomyelitis?

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    International audienceThe polioviruses (PVs) are mainly transmitted by direct contact with an infected person through the fecal-oral route and respiratory secretions (or more rarely via contaminated water or food) and have a primary tropism for the gut. After their replication in the gut, in rare cases (far less than 1% of the infected individuals), PVs can spread to the central nervous system leading to flaccid paralysis, which can result in respiratory paralysis and death. By the middle of the 20th century, every year the wild polioviruses (WPVs) are supposed to have killed or paralyzed over half a million people. The introduction of the oral poliovirus vaccines (OPVs) through mass vaccination campaigns (combined with better application of hygiene measures), was a success story which enabled the World Health Organization (WHO) to set the global eradication of poliomyelitis as an objective. However this strategy of viral eradication has its limits as the majority of poliomyelitis cases today arise in individuals infected with circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPVs) which regain pathogenicity following reversion or recombination. In recent years (between January 2018 and May 2023), the WHO recorded 8.8 times more cases of polio which were linked to the attenuated OPV vaccines (3,442 polio cases after reversion or recombination events) than cases linked to a WPV (390 cases). Recent knowledge of the evolution of RNA viruses and the exchange of genetic material among biological entities of the intestinal microbiota, call for a reassessment of the polio eradication vaccine strategies.</jats:p

    From viral democratic genomes to viral wild bunch of quasispecies

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    Abstract The tremendous majority of RNA genomes from pathogenic viruses analyzed and deposited in databases are consensus or “democratic” genomes. They represent the genomes most frequently found in the clinical samples of patients but do not account for the huge genetic diversity of coexisting genomes, which is better described as quasispecies. A viral quasispecies is defined as the dynamic distribution of nonidentical but closely related mutants, variants, recombinant, or reassortant viral genomes. Viral quasispecies have collective behavior and dynamics and are the subject of internal interactions that comprise interference, complementation, or cooperation. In the setting of SARS‐CoV‐2 infection, intrahost SARS‐CoV‐2 genetic diversity was recently notably reported for immunocompromised, chronically infected patients, for patients treated with monoclonal antibodies targeting the viral spike protein, and for different body compartments of a single patient. A question that deserves attention is whether such diversity is generated postinfection from a clonal genome in response to selection pressure or is already present at the time of infection as a quasispecies. In the present review, we summarize the data supporting that hosts are infected by a “wild bunch” of viruses rather than by multiple virions sharing the same genome. Each virion in the “wild bunch” may have different virulence and tissue tropisms. As the number of viruses replicated during host infections is huge, a viral quasispecies at any time of infection is wide and is also influenced by host‐specific selection pressure after infection, which accounts for the difficulty in deciphering and predicting the appearance of more fit variants and the evolution of epidemics of novel RNA viruses

    Metallo-Beta-Lactamase-like Encoding Genes in Candidate Phyla Radiation: Widespread and Highly Divergent Proteins with Potential Multifunctionality

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    International audienceThe Candidate Phyla Radiation (CPR) was found to harbor a vast repertoire of genes encoding for enzymes with potential antibiotic resistance activity. Among these, as many as 3349 genes were predicted in silico to contain a metallo-beta-lactamase-like (MBL-like) fold. These proteins were subject to an in silico functional characterization by comparing their protein profiles (presence/absence of conserved protein domains) to other MBLs, including 24 already expressed in vitro, along with those of the beta-lactamase database (BLDB) (n = 761). The sequence similarity network (SSN) was then used to predict the functional clusters of CPR MBL-like sequences. Our findings showed that CPR MBL-like sequences were longer and more diverse than bacterial MBL sequences, with a high content of functional domains. Most CPR MBL-like sequences did not show any SSN connectivity with expressed MBLs, indicating the presence of many potential, yet unidentified, functions in CPR. In conclusion, CPR was shown to have many protein functions and a large sequence variability of MBL-like folds, exceeding all known MBLs. Further experimental and evolutionary studies of this superfamily of hydrolyzing enzymes are necessary to illustrate their functional annotation, origin, and expansion for adaptation or specialization within a given niche or compared to a specific substrate

    Insights into RAG evolution from the identification of “missing link” family A RAGL transposons

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    ABSTRACT A series of “molecular domestication” events are thought to have converted an invertebrate RAG-like (RAGL) transposase into the RAG1-RAG2 (RAG) recombinase, a critical enzyme for adaptive immunity in jawed vertebrates. The timing and order of these events is not well understood, in part because of a dearth of information regarding the invertebrate RAGL-A transposon family. In contrast to the abundant and divergent RAGL-B transposon family, RAGL-A most closely resembles RAG and is represented by a single orphan RAG1-like ( RAG1L ) gene in the genome of the hemichordate Ptychodera flava ( PflRAG1L-A ). Here, we provide evidence for the existence of complete RAGL-A transposons in the genomes of P. flava and several echinoderms. The predicted RAG1L-A and RAG2L-A proteins encoded by these transposons intermingle sequence features of jawed vertebrate RAG and RAGL-B transposases, leading to a prediction of DNA binding, catalytic, and transposition activities that are a hybrid of RAG and RAGL-B. Similarly, the terminal inverted repeats (TIRs) of the RAGL-A transposons combine features of both RAGL-B transposon TIRs and RAG recombination signal sequences. Unlike all previously described RAG2L proteins, PflRAG2L-A and echinoderm RAG2L-A contain an acidic hinge region, which we demonstrate is capable of efficiently inhibiting RAG-mediated transposition. Our findings provide evidence for a critical intermediate in RAG evolution and argue that certain adaptations thought to be specific to jawed vertebrates (e.g., the RAG2 acidic hinge) actually arose in invertebrates, thereby focusing attention on other adaptations as the pivotal steps in the completion of RAG domestication in jawed vertebrates

    Parallel evolution of amphioxus and vertebrate small-scale gene duplications

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    Background: Amphioxus are non-vertebrate chordates characterized by a slow morphological and molecular evolution. They share the basic chordate body-plan and genome organization with vertebrates but lack their 2R whole-genome duplications and their developmental complexity. For these reasons, amphioxus are frequently used as an outgroup to study vertebrate genome evolution and Evo-Devo. Aside from whole-genome duplications, genes continuously duplicate on a smaller scale. Smallscale duplicated genes can be found in both amphioxus and vertebrate genomes, while only the vertebrate genomes have duplicated genes product of their 2R wholegenome duplications. Here, we explore the history of small-scale gene duplications in the amphioxus lineage and compare it to small- and large-scale gene duplication history in vertebrates. Results: We present a study of the European amphioxus (Branchiostoma lanceolatum) gene duplications thanks to a new, high-quality genome reference. We fnd that, despite its overall slow molecular evolution, the amphioxus lineage has had a history of small-scale duplications similar to the one observed in vertebrates. We fnd parallel gene duplication profles between amphioxus and vertebrates and conserved func‑tional constraints in gene duplication. Moreover, amphioxus gene duplicates show lev‑ els of expression and patterns of functional specialization similar to the ones observed in vertebrate duplicated genes. We also fnd strong conservation of gene synteny between two distant amphioxus species, B. lanceolatum and B. foridae, with two major chromosomal rearrangements. Conclusions: In contrast to their slower molecular and morphological evolution, amphioxus' small-scale gene duplication history resembles that of the vertebrate line‑age both in quantitative and in functional terms

    The return of the “Mistigri” (virus adaptative gain by gene loss) through the SARS‐CoV‐2 XBB.1.5 chimera that predominated in 2023

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    Abstract Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 XBB.1.5 is the first recombinant lineage to predominate at the country and global scales. Very interestingly, like the Marseille‐4B subvariant (or B.1.160) and the pandemic variant B.1.1.7 (or Alpha) previously, it has its ORF8 gene inactivated by a stop codon. We aimed here to study the distribution of stop codons in ORF8 of XBB.1.5 and non‐XBB.1.5 genomes. We identified that a stop codon was present at 89 (74%) ORF8 codons in ≄1 of 15 222 404 genomes available in GISAID. The mean proportion of genomes with a stop codon per codon was 0.11% (range, 0%–7.8%). In addition, a stop codon was detected at 15 (12%) codons in at least 1000 genomes. These 15 codons are notably located on seven stem‐loop hairpin regions and in the signal peptide region for the case of the XBB.1.5 lineage (codon 8). Thus, it is very likely that stop codons in ORF8 gene contributed on at least three occasions and independently during the pandemic to the evolutionary success of a lineage that became transiently predominant. Such association of gene loss with evolutionary success, which suits the recently described Mistigri rule, is an important biological phenomenon very unknown in virology while largely described in cellular organisms

    Origin, Diversity, and Multiple Roles of Enzymes with Metallo-ÎČ-Lactamase Fold from Different Organisms

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    International audienceÎČ-lactamase enzymes have generated significant interest due to their ability to confer resistance to the most commonly used family of antibiotics in human medicine. Among these enzymes, the class B ÎČ-lactamases are members of a superfamily of metallo-ÎČ-lactamase (MÎČL) fold proteins which are characterised by conserved motifs (i.e., HxHxDH) and are not only limited to bacteria. Indeed, as the result of several barriers, including low sequence similarity, default protein annotation, or untested enzymatic activity, MÎČL fold proteins have long been unexplored in other organisms. However, thanks to search approaches which are more sensitive compared to classical Blast analysis, such as the use of common ancestors to identify distant homologous sequences, we are now able to highlight their presence in different organisms including Bacteria, Archaea, Nanoarchaeota, Asgard, Humans, Giant viruses, and Candidate Phyla Radiation (CPR). These MÎČL fold proteins are multifunctional enzymes with diverse enzymatic or non-enzymatic activities of which, at least thirteen activities have been reported such as ÎČ-lactamase, ribonuclease, nuclease, glyoxalase, lactonase, phytase, ascorbic acid degradation, anti-cancer drug degradation, or membrane transport. In this review, we (i) discuss the existence of MÎČL fold enzymes in the different domains of life, (ii) present more suitable approaches to better investigating their homologous sequences in unsuspected sources, and (iii) report described MÎČL fold enzymes with demonstrated enzymatic or non-enzymatic activities

    Integration of the immune memory into the pathogen‐driven MHC polymorphism hypothesis

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    International audienceMajor histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes (referred to as HLA or HLA in humans) are a key component of vertebrate immune systems, coding for proteins which present antigens to T‐cells. These genes are outstanding in their degree of polymorphism, with important consequences for human and animal health. The polymorphism is thought to arise from selection pressures imposed by pathogens on MHC allomorphs, which differ in their antigen‐binding capacity. However, the existing theory has not considered MHC selection in relation to the formation of immune memory. In this paper, we argue that this omission limits our understanding of the evolution of MHC polymorphism and its role in disease. We review recent evidence that has emerged from the massive research effort related to the SARS‐CoV‐2 pandemics, and which provides new evidence for the role of MHC in shaping immune memory. We then discuss why the inclusion of immune memory within the existing theory may have non‐trivial consequence for our understanding of the evolution of MHC polymorphism. Finally, we will argue that neglecting immune memory hinders our interpretation of empirical findings, and postulate that future studies focusing on pathogen‐driven MHC selection would benefit from stratifying the available data according to the history of infection (and vaccination, if relevant)

    Parallel evolution of amphioxus and vertebrate small-scale gene duplications

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    International audienceAbstract Background Amphioxus are non-vertebrate chordates characterized by a slow morphological and molecular evolution. They share the basic chordate body-plan and genome organization with vertebrates but lack their 2R whole-genome duplications and their developmental complexity. For these reasons, amphioxus are frequently used as an outgroup to study vertebrate genome evolution and Evo-Devo. Aside from whole-genome duplications, genes continuously duplicate on a smaller scale. Small-scale duplicated genes can be found in both amphioxus and vertebrate genomes, while only the vertebrate genomes have duplicated genes product of their 2R whole-genome duplications. Here, we explore the history of small-scale gene duplications in the amphioxus lineage and compare it to small- and large-scale gene duplication history in vertebrates. Results We present a study of the European amphioxus ( Branchiostoma lanceolatum ) gene duplications thanks to a new, high-quality genome reference. We find that, despite its overall slow molecular evolution, the amphioxus lineage has had a history of small-scale duplications similar to the one observed in vertebrates. We find parallel gene duplication profiles between amphioxus and vertebrates and conserved functional constraints in gene duplication. Moreover, amphioxus gene duplicates show levels of expression and patterns of functional specialization similar to the ones observed in vertebrate duplicated genes. We also find strong conservation of gene synteny between two distant amphioxus species, B. lanceolatum and B. floridae , with two major chromosomal rearrangements. Conclusions In contrast to their slower molecular and morphological evolution, amphioxus’ small-scale gene duplication history resembles that of the vertebrate lineage both in quantitative and in functional terms
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