Whole genome duplication (WGD) has occurred in relatively few sexually reproducing invertebrates. Consequently, the WGD that occurred in the common ancestor of horseshoe crabs ~135 million years ago provides a rare opportunity to decipher the evolutionary consequences of a duplicated invertebrate genome. Here, we present a high-quality genome assembly for the mangrove horseshoe crab Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda (1.7 Gb, N50 = 90.2 Mb, with 89.8% sequences anchored to 16 pseudomolecules, 2n = 32), and a resequenced genome of the tri-spine horseshoe crab Tachypleus tridentatus (1.7 Gb, N50 = 109.7 Mb). Analyses of gene families, microRNAs, and synteny show that horseshoe crabs have undergone three rounds (3R) of WGD. Comparison of C. rotundicauda and T. tridentatus genomes from populations from several geographic locations further elucidates the diverse fates of both coding and noncoding genes. Together, the present study represents a cornerstone for improving our understanding of invertebrate WGD events on the evolutionary fates of genes and microRNAs, at both the individual and population level. We also provide improved genomic resources for horseshoe crabs, of applied value for breeding programs and conservation of this fascinating and unusual invertebrate lineage.
Legumes provide an essential service to ecosystems by capturing nitrogen from the atmosphere and delivering it to the soil, where it may then be available to other plants. However, this facilitation by legumes has not been widely studied in global tropical forests. Demographic data from 11 large forest plots (16-60 ha) ranging from 5.25° S to 29.25° N latitude show that within forests, leguminous trees have a larger effect on neighbor diversity than non-legumes. Where soil nitrogen is high, most legume species have higher neighbor diversity than non-legumes. Where soil nitrogen is low, most legumes have lower neighbor diversity than non-legumes. No facilitation effect on neighbor basal area was observed in either high or low soil N conditions. The legume-soil nitrogen positive feedback that promotes tree diversity has both theoretical implications for understanding species coexistence in diverse forests, and practical implications for the utilization of legumes in forest restoration.
The uniquely enlarged noses of male proboscis monkeys are prominent adornments, and a sexually selected male trait. A recent study showed significant correlations among nose, body, and testis sizes and clear associations between nose size and the number of females in a male's harem. However, to date, the analyses of other common male traits, i.e., canines, are lacking. Whereas male nose size had a positive correlation with body size, we unexpectedly found a negative correlation between body and canine sizes. We explain this by an interaction between sexual and natural selection. Larger noses in males may interfere with the use of canines, thereby reducing their effectiveness as weapons. Additionally, longer canines are opposed by natural selection because the larger gape it imposes upon its bearer reduces foraging efficiency, particularly in folivores. This unique case of decoupling of body and canine size reveals that large canines carry an ecological cost.
By analyzing isolated collagen gel samples, we demonstrated in situ detection of spectrally deconvoluted auto-cathodoluminescence signatures of specific molecular content with precise spatial localization over a maximum field of view of 300 µm. Correlation of the secondary electron and the hyperspectral images proved ~40 nm resolution in the optical channel, obtained due to a short carrier diffusion length, suppressed by fibril dimensions and poor electrical conductivity specific to their organic composition. By correlating spectrally analyzed auto-cathodoluminescence with mass spectroscopy data, we differentiated spectral signatures of two extracellular matrices, namely human fibrin complex and rat tail collagen isolate, and uncovered differences in protein distributions of isolated extracellular matrix networks of heterogeneous populations. Furthermore, we demonstrated that cathodoluminescence can monitor the progress of a human cell-mediated remodeling process, where human collagenous matrix was deposited within a rat collagenous matrix. The revealed change of the heterogeneous biological composition was confirmed by mass spectroscopy.
Psychiatric disorders are thought to have a complex genetic pathology consisting of interplay of common and rare variation. Traditionally, pedigrees are used to shed light on the latter only, while here we discuss the application of polygenic risk scores to also highlight patterns of common genetic risk. We analyze polygenic risk scores for psychiatric disorders in a large pedigree (n ~ 260) in which 30% of family members suffer from major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder. Studying patterns of assortative mating and anticipation, it appears increased polygenic risk is contributed by affected individuals who married into the family, resulting in an increasing genetic risk over generations. This may explain the observation of anticipation in mood disorders, whereby onset is earlier and the severity increases over the generations of a family. Joint analyses of rare and common variation may be a powerful way to understand the familial genetics of psychiatric disorders.
Biochemical signaling and mechano-transduction are both critical in regulating stem cell fate. How crosstalk between mechanical and biochemical cues influences embryonic development, however, is not extensively investigated. Using a comparative study of focal adhesion constituents between mouse embryonic stem cell (mESC) and their differentiated counterparts, we find while zyxin is lowly expressed in mESCs, its levels increase dramatically during early differentiation. Interestingly, overexpression of zyxin in mESCs suppresses Oct4 and Nanog. Using an integrative biochemical and biophysical approach, we demonstrate involvement of zyxin in regulating pluripotency through actin stress fibres and focal adhesions which are known to modulate cellular traction stress and facilitate substrate rigidity-sensing. YAP signaling is identified as an important biochemical effector of zyxin-induced mechanotransduction. These results provide insights into the role of zyxin in the integration of mechanical and biochemical cues for the regulation of embryonic stem cell fate.
In infections by apicomplexan parasites including Plasmodium, Toxoplasma gondii, and Eimeria, host interactions are mediated by proteins including families of membrane-anchored cysteine-rich surface antigens (SAGs) and SAG-related sequences (SRS). Eimeria tenella causes caecal coccidiosis in chickens and has a SAG family with over 80 members making up 1% of the proteome. We have solved the structure of a representative E. tenella SAG, EtSAG19, revealing that, despite a low level of sequence similarity, the entire Eimeria SAG family is unified by its three-layer αβα fold which is related to that of the CAP superfamily. Furthermore, sequence comparisons show that the Eimeria SAG fold is conserved in surface antigens of the human coccidial parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis but this fold is unrelated to that of the SAGs/SRS proteins expressed in other apicomplexans including Plasmodium species and the cyst-forming coccidia Toxoplasma gondii, Neospora caninum and Besnoitia besnoiti. However, despite having very different structures, Consurf analysis showed that Eimeria SAG and Toxoplasma SRS families each exhibit marked hotspots of sequence hypervariability that map to their surfaces distal to the membrane anchor. This suggests that the primary and convergent purpose of the different structures is to provide a platform onto which sequence variability can be imposed.
The contribution of germline copy number variants (CNVs) to risk of developing cancer in individuals with pathogenic BRCA1 or BRCA2 variants remains relatively unknown. We conducted the largest genome-wide analysis of CNVs in 15,342 BRCA1 and 10,740 BRCA2 pathogenic variant carriers. We used these results to prioritise a candidate breast cancer risk-modifier gene for laboratory analysis and biological validation. Notably, the HR for deletions in BRCA1 suggested an elevated breast cancer risk estimate (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.21), 95% confidence interval (95% CI = 1.09-1.35) compared with non-CNV pathogenic variants. In contrast, deletions overlapping SULT1A1 suggested a decreased breast cancer risk (HR = 0.73, 95% CI 0.59-0.91) in BRCA1 pathogenic variant carriers. Functional analyses of SULT1A1 showed that reduced mRNA expression in pathogenic BRCA1 variant cells was associated with reduced cellular proliferation and reduced DNA damage after treatment with DNA damaging agents. These data provide evidence that deleterious variants in BRCA1 plus SULT1A1 deletions contribute to variable breast cancer risk in BRCA1 carriers.
Host-virus associations have co-evolved under ecological and evolutionary selection pressures that shape cross-species transmission and spillover to humans. Observed virus-host associations provide relevant context for newly discovered wildlife viruses to assess knowledge gaps in host-range and estimate pathways for potential human infection. Using models to predict virus-host networks, we predicted the likelihood of humans as hosts for 513 newly discovered viruses detected by large-scale wildlife surveillance at high-risk animal-human interfaces in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Predictions indicated that novel coronaviruses are likely to infect a greater number of host species than viruses from other families. Our models further characterize novel viruses through prioritization scores and directly inform surveillance targets to identify host ranges for newly discovered viruses.
Hyperdiverse tropical rainforests, such as the aseasonal forests in Southeast Asia, are supported by high annual rainfall. Its canopy is dominated by the species-rich tree family of Dipterocarpaceae (Asian dipterocarps), which has both ecological (e.g., supports flora and fauna) and economical (e.g., timber production) importance. Recent ecological studies suggested that rare irregular drought events may be an environmental stress and signal for the tropical trees. We assembled the genome of a widespread but near threatened dipterocarp, Shorea leprosula, and analyzed the transcriptome sequences of ten dipterocarp species representing seven genera. Comparative genomic and molecular dating analyses suggested a whole-genome duplication close to the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event followed by the diversification of major dipterocarp lineages (i.e. Dipterocarpoideae). Interestingly, the retained duplicated genes were enriched for genes upregulated by no-irrigation treatment. These findings provide molecular support for the relevance of drought for tropical trees despite the lack of an annual dry season.
Rapid sea-level rise between the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and the mid-Holocene transformed the Southeast Asian coastal landscape, but the impact on human demography remains unclear. Here, we create a paleogeographic map, focusing on sea-level changes during the period spanning the LGM to the present-day and infer the human population history in Southeast and South Asia using 763 high-coverage whole-genome sequencing datasets from 59 ethnic groups. We show that sea-level rise, in particular meltwater pulses 1 A (MWP1A, ~14,500-14,000 years ago) and 1B (MWP1B, ~11,500-11,000 years ago), reduced land area by over 50% since the LGM, resulting in segregation of local human populations. Following periods of rapid sea-level rises, population pressure drove the migration of Malaysian Negritos into South Asia. Integrated paleogeographic and population genomic analysis demonstrates the earliest documented instance of forced human migration driven by sea-level rise.
One mechanism proposed to explain high species diversity in tropical systems is strong negative conspecific density dependence (CDD), which reduces recruitment of juveniles in proximity to conspecific adult plants. Although evidence shows that plant-specific soil pathogens can drive negative CDD, trees also form key mutualisms with mycorrhizal fungi, which may counteract these effects. Across 43 large-scale forest plots worldwide, we tested whether ectomycorrhizal tree species exhibit weaker negative CDD than arbuscular mycorrhizal tree species. We further tested for conmycorrhizal density dependence (CMDD) to test for benefit from shared mutualists. We found that the strength of CDD varies systematically with mycorrhizal type, with ectomycorrhizal tree species exhibiting higher sapling densities with increasing adult densities than arbuscular mycorrhizal tree species. Moreover, we found evidence of positive CMDD for tree species of both mycorrhizal types. Collectively, these findings indicate that mycorrhizal interactions likely play a foundational role in global forest diversity patterns and structure.
Pediatric patients with recurrent and refractory cancers are in most need for new treatments. This study developed patient-derived-xenograft (PDX) models within the European MAPPYACTS cancer precision medicine trial (NCT02613962). To date, 131 PDX models were established following heterotopical and/or orthotopical implantation in immunocompromised mice: 76 sarcomas, 25 other solid tumors, 12 central nervous system tumors, 15 acute leukemias, and 3 lymphomas. PDX establishment rate was 43%. Histology, whole exome and RNA sequencing revealed a high concordance with the primary patient's tumor profile, human leukocyte-antigen characteristics and specific metabolic pathway signatures. A detailed patient molecular characterization, including specific mutations prioritized in the clinical molecular tumor boards are provided. Ninety models were shared with the IMI2 ITCC Pediatric Preclinical Proof-of-concept Platform (IMI2 ITCC-P4) for further exploitation. This PDX biobank of unique recurrent childhood cancers provides an essential support for basic and translational research and treatments development in advanced pediatric malignancies.
Burkholderia pseudomallei is a highly versatile pathogen with ~25% of its genome annotated to encode hypothetical proteins. One such hypothetical protein, BPSL1038, is conserved across seven bacterial genera and 654 Burkholderia spp. Here, we present a 1.55 Å resolution crystal structure of BPSL1038. The overall structure folded into a modified βαββαβα ferredoxin fold similar to known Cas2 nucleases. The Cas2 equivalent catalytic aspartate (D11) pairs are conserved in BPSL1038 although B. pseudomallei has no known CRISPR associated system. Functional analysis revealed that BPSL1038 is a nuclease with endonuclease activity towards double-stranded DNA. The DNase activity is divalent ion independent and optimum at pH 6. The concentration of monovalent ions (Na+ and K+) is crucial for nuclease activity. An active site with a unique D11(X20)SST motif was identified and proposed for BPSL1038 and its orthologs. Structure modelling indicates the catalytic role of the D11(X20)SST motif and that the arginine residues R10 and R30 may interact with the nucleic acid backbone. The structural similarity of BPSL1038 to Cas2 proteins suggests that BPSL1038 may represent a sub-family of nucleases that share a common ancestor with Cas2.
Coral reefs in the Central Indo-Pacific region comprise some of the most diverse and yet threatened marine habitats. While reef monitoring has grown throughout the region in recent years, studies of coral reef benthic cover remain limited in spatial and temporal scales. Here, we analysed 24,365 reef surveys performed over 37 years at 1972 sites throughout East Asia by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network using Bayesian approaches. Our results show that overall coral cover at surveyed reefs has not declined as suggested in previous studies and compared to reef regions like the Caribbean. Concurrently, macroalgal cover has not increased, with no indications of phase shifts from coral to macroalgal dominance on reefs. Yet, models incorporating socio-economic and environmental variables reveal negative associations of coral cover with coastal urbanisation and sea surface temperature. The diversity of reef assemblages may have mitigated cover declines thus far, but climate change could threaten reef resilience. We recommend prioritisation of regionally coordinated, locally collaborative long-term studies for better contextualisation of monitoring data and analyses, which are essential for achieving reef conservation goals.
Aichi Target 11 committed governments to protect ≥17% of their terrestrial environments by 2020, yet it was rarely achieved, raising questions about the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework goal to protect 30% by 2030. Asia is a challenging continent for such targets, combining high biodiversity with dense human populations. Here, we evaluated achievements in Asia against Aichi Target 11. We found that Asia was the most underperforming continent globally, with just 13.2% of terrestrial protected area (PA) coverage, averaging 14.1 ± SE 1.8% per country in 2020. 73.1% of terrestrial ecoregions had <17% representation and only 7% of PAs even had an assessment of management effectiveness. We found that a higher agricultural land in 2015 was associated with lower PA coverage today. Asian countries also showed a remarkably slow average annual pace of 0.4 ± SE 0.1% increase of PA extent. These combined lines of evidence suggest that the ambitious 2030 targets are unlikely to be achieved in Asia unless the PA coverage to increase 2.4-5.9 times faster. We provided three recommendations to support Asian countries to meet their post-2020 biodiversity targets: complete reporting and the wider adoption "other effective area-based conservation measures"; restoring disturbed landscapes; and bolstering transboundary PAs.