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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2018-08-31
    Description: In most mammals, the X and Y chromosomes synapse and recombine along a conserved region of homology known as the pseudoautosomal region (PAR). These homology-driven interactions are required for meiotic progression and are essential for male fertility. Although the PAR fulfills key meiotic functions in most mammals, several exceptional species lack PAR-mediated sex chromosome associations at meiosis. Here, we leveraged the natural variation in meiotic sex chromosome programs present in North American voles ( Microtus ) to investigate the relationship between meiotic sex chromosome dynamics and X/Y sequence homology. To this end, we developed a novel, reference-blind computational method to analyze sparse sequencing data from flow-sorted X and Y chromosomes isolated from vole species with sex chromosomes that always ( Microtus montanus ), never ( Microtus mogollonensis ), and occasionally synapse ( Microtus ochrogaster ) at meiosis. Unexpectedly, we find more shared X/Y homology in the two vole species with no and sporadic X/Y synapsis compared to the species with obligate synapsis. Sex chromosome homology in the asynaptic and occasionally synaptic species is interspersed along chromosomes and largely restricted to low-complexity sequences, including a striking enrichment for the telomeric repeat sequence, TTAGGG. In contrast, homology is concentrated in high complexity, and presumably euchromatic, sequence on the X and Y chromosomes of the synaptic vole species, M. montanus . Taken together, our findings suggest key conditions required to sustain the standard program of X/Y synapsis at meiosis and reveal an intriguing connection between heterochromatic repeat architecture and noncanonical, asynaptic mechanisms of sex chromosome segregation in voles.
    Print ISSN: 0016-6731
    Topics: Biology
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2018-03-29
    Description: Persistent high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the major causal factor in cervical and other anogenital cancers. Because there are currently no therapeutics capable of preventing neoplastic progression of HPV infections, understanding the mechanisms of HPV-mediated persistence, including immune evasion, is a major research priority. The multifunctional growth factor transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) has been shown to inhibit expression of early viral transcripts from cells harboring integrated HPV genomes or cells infected with retroviruses expressing HPV oncoproteins. However, the mechanism of TGFβ-induced inhibition has not been fully defined. In this study, we have observed a previously uncharacterized ability of TGFβ to repress the differentiation-induced upregulation of late HPV16 gene expression. In addition, interferon kappa (IFN-), a keratinocyte-specific, constitutively expressed cytokine suppressed by differentiation, can be transcriptionally induced by TGFβ1. TGFβ-mediated IFN- transcription only occurs in cells containing HPV16, and this is due to TGFβ1-mediated reversal of HPV-induced methylation of the IFN- promoter through active DNA demethylation mediated by thymine DNA glycosylase (TDG). This novel interaction between growth factor and innate immune signaling may shed light on the mechanisms of HPV persistence and how the virus manipulates both immune and growth factor signaling to promote its life cycle. IMPORTANCE Persistent infection by high-risk HPVs is the primary risk factor for development of HPV-induced cancers. Persistence involves viral evasion of the immune response, including the IFN response. HPV is also known to suppress TGFβ signaling, which inhibits viral gene expression. Here, we show that the TGFβ and IFN pathways are interrelated in the context of HPV16 infection through the upregulation of IFN- by TGFβ. The ability of TGFβ to induce IFN- promoter demethylation and transcriptional activation provides a new explanation for why HPV has evolved mechanisms to inhibit TGFβ in infected cells.
    Print ISSN: 0022-538X
    Electronic ISSN: 1098-5514
    Topics: Medicine
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2018-04-24
    Description: Salmonella enterica elicits intestinal inflammation to gain access to nutrients. One of these nutrients is fructose-asparagine (F-Asn). The availability of F-Asn to Salmonella during infection is dependent upon Salmonella pathogenicity islands 1 and 2, which in turn are required to provoke inflammation. Here, we determined that F-Asn is present in mouse chow at approximately 400 pmol/mg (dry weight). F-Asn is also present in the intestinal tract of germfree mice at 2,700 pmol/mg (dry weight) and in the intestinal tract of conventional mice at 9 to 28 pmol/mg. These findings suggest that the mouse intestinal microbiota consumes F-Asn. We utilized heavy-labeled precursors of F-Asn to monitor its formation in the intestine, in the presence or absence of inflammation, and none was observed. Finally, we determined that some members of the class Clostridia encode F-Asn utilization pathways and that they are eliminated from highly inflamed Salmonella -infected mice. Collectively, our studies identify the source of F-Asn as the diet and that Salmonella -mediated inflammation is required to eliminate competitors and allow the pathogen nearly exclusive access to this nutrient.
    Print ISSN: 0019-9567
    Electronic ISSN: 1098-5522
    Topics: Medicine
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2018-05-05
    Description: Endocytosis is a fundamental process for internalizing material from the plasma membrane, including many transmembrane proteins that are selectively internalized depending on environmental conditions. In most cells, the main route of entry is clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME), a process that involves the coordinated activity of over 60 proteins; however, there are likely as-yet unidentified proteins involved in cargo selection and/or regulation of endocytosis. We performed a mutagenic screen to identify novel endocytic genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae expressing the methionine permease Mup1 tagged with pHluorin (pHl), a pH-sensitive GFP variant whose fluorescence is quenched upon delivery to the acidic vacuole lumen. We used fluorescence-activated cell sorting to isolate mutagenized cells with elevated fluorescence, resulting from failure to traffic Mup1 -pHl cargo to the vacuole, and further assessed subcellular localization of Mup1 -pHl to characterize the endocytic defects in 256 mutants. A subset of mutant strains was classified as having general endocytic defects based on mislocalization of additional cargo proteins. Within this group, we identified mutations in four genes encoding proteins with known roles in endocytosis: the endocytic coat components SLA2 , SLA1 , and EDE1 , and the ARP3 gene, whose product is involved in nucleating actin filaments to form branched networks. All four mutants demonstrated aberrant dynamics of the endocytic machinery at sites of CME; moreover, the arp3 R346H mutation showed reduced actin nucleation activity in vitro . Finally, whole genome sequencing of two general endocytic mutants identified mutations in conserved genes not previously implicated in endocytosis, KRE33 and IQG1 , demonstrating that our screening approach can be used to identify new components involved in endocytosis.
    Electronic ISSN: 2160-1836
    Topics: Biology
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2018-06-22
    Description: Streptococcus agalactiae (group B Streptococcus [GBS]) is often a commensal bacterium that colonizes healthy adults asymptomatically and is a frequent inhabitant of the vaginal tract in women. However, in immunocompromised individuals, particularly the newborn, GBS may transition to an invasive pathogen and cause serious disease. Despite the use of the currently recommended intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis for GBS-positive mothers, GBS remains a leading cause of neonatal septicemia and meningitis. To adapt to the various host environments encountered during its disease cycle, GBS possesses multiple two-component regulatory systems (TCSs). Here we investigated the contribution of a transcriptional regulator containing a LytTR domain, LtdR, to GBS pathogenesis. Disruption of the ltdR gene in the GBS chromosome resulted in a significant increase in bacterial invasion into human cerebral microvascular endothelial cells (hCMEC) in vitro as well as the greater penetration of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and the development of meningitis in vivo . Correspondingly, infection of hCMEC with the ltdR mutant resulted in increased secretion of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-8 (IL-8), CXCL-1, and IL-6. Further, using a mouse model of GBS vaginal colonization, we observed that the ltdR mutant was cleared more readily from the vaginal tract and also that infection with the ltdR mutant resulted in increased cytokine production from human vaginal epithelial cells. RNA sequencing revealed global transcriptional differences between the ltdR mutant and the parental wild-type GBS strain. These results suggest that LtdR regulates many bacterial processes that can influence GBS-host interactions to promote both bacterial persistence and disease progression.
    Print ISSN: 0019-9567
    Electronic ISSN: 1098-5522
    Topics: Medicine
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2018-05-15
    Description: Zoonotic viruses circulate as swarms in animal reservoirs and can emerge into human populations, causing epidemics that adversely affect public health. Portable, safe, and effective vaccine platforms are needed in the context of these outbreak and emergence situations. In this work, we report the generation and characterization of an alphavirus replicon vaccine platform based on a non-select agent, attenuated Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus vaccine, strain 3526 (VRP 3526). Using both noroviruses and coronaviruses as model systems, we demonstrate the utility of the VRP 3526 platform in the generation of recombinant proteins, production of virus-like particles, and in vivo efficacy as a vaccine against emergent viruses. Importantly, packaging under biosafety level 2 (BSL2) conditions distinguishes VRP 3526 from previously reported alphavirus platforms and makes this approach accessible to the majority of laboratories around the world. In addition, improved outcomes in the vulnerable aged models as well as against heterologous challenge suggest improved efficacy compared to that of previously attenuated VRP approaches. Taking these results together, the VRP 3526 platform represents a safe and highly portable system that can be rapidly deployed under BSL2 conditions for generation of candidate vaccines against emerging microbial pathogens. IMPORTANCE While VEE virus replicon particles provide a robust, established platform for antigen expression and vaccination, its utility has been limited by the requirement for high-containment-level facilities for production and packaging. In this work, we utilize an attenuated vaccine strain capable of use at lower biocontainment level but retaining the capacity of the wild-type replicon particle. Importantly, the new replicon platform provides equal protection for aged mice and following heterologous challenge, which distinguishes it from other attenuated replicon platforms. Together, the new system represents a highly portable, safe system for use in the context of disease emergence.
    Print ISSN: 0022-538X
    Electronic ISSN: 1098-5514
    Topics: Medicine
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2018-02-14
    Description: The recent acquisition of a novel retrovirus (KoRV) by koalas ( Phascolarctos cinereus ) has created new opportunities for retroviral research and new challenges for koala conservation. There are currently two major subtypes of KoRV: KoRV-A, which is believed to be endogenous only in koalas from the northern part of Australia, and KoRV-B, which appears to be exogenous. Understanding and management of these subtypes require population level studies of their prevalence and diversity, especially when coinfected in the same population, and investigations of their modes of transmission in the wild. Toward this end, we studied a wild Queensland koala population of 290 animals over a 5-year period and investigated the prevalence, diversity and mode of transmission of KoRV-A and KoRV-B. We found KoRV-A to have an infection level of 100% in the population, with all animals sharing the same dominant envelope protein sequence. In contrast, the KoRV-B infection prevalence was only 24%, with 21 different envelope protein sequence variants found in the 83 KoRV-B-positive animals. Linked to severe disease outcomes, a significant association between KoRV-B positivity and both chlamydial disease and neoplasia was found in the population. Transmission of KoRV-B was found at a rate of 3% via adult-to-adult contact per year, while there was a 100% rate of KoRV-B-positive mothers transmitting the virus to their joeys. Collectively, these findings demonstrate KoRV-B as the pathogenic subtype in this wild koala population and inform future intervention strategies with subtype variation and transmission data. IMPORTANCE KoRV represents a unique opportunity to study a relatively young retrovirus as it goes through its molecular evolution in both an endogenous form and a more recently evolved exogenous form. The endogenous form, KoRV-A, now appears to have stably and completely established itself in Northern Australian koala populations and is progressing south. Conversely, the exogenous form, KoRV-B, is undergoing continuous mutation and spread in the north and, as yet, has not reached all southern koala populations. We can now link KoRV-B to neoplasia and chlamydial disease in both wild and captive koalas, making it an imminent threat to this already vulnerable species. This work represents the largest study of koalas in a wild population with respect to KoRV-A/KoRV-B-infected/coinfected animals and the linkage of this infection to chlamydial disease, neoplasia, viral evolution, and spread.
    Print ISSN: 0022-538X
    Electronic ISSN: 1098-5514
    Topics: Medicine
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  • 8
    Publication Date: 2018-02-28
    Description: During antifungal drug treatment and hypoxia, genetic and epigenetic changes occur to maintain sterol homeostasis and cellular function. In this study, we show that SET domain-containing epigenetic factors govern drug efficacy to the medically relevant azole class of antifungal drugs. Upon this discovery, we determined that Set4 is induced when Saccharomyces cerevisiae are treated with azole drugs or grown under hypoxic conditions; two conditions that deplete cellular ergosterol and increase sterol precursors. Interestingly, Set4 induction is controlled by the sterol-sensing transcription factors, Upc2 and Ecm22 . To determine the role of Set4 on gene expression under hypoxic conditions, we performed RNA-sequencing analysis and showed that Set4 is required for global changes in gene expression. Specifically, loss of Set4 led to an upregulation of nearly all ergosterol genes, including ERG11 and ERG3 , suggesting that Set4 functions in gene repression. Furthermore, mass spectrometry analysis revealed that Set4 interacts with the hypoxic-specific transcriptional repressor, Hap1 , where this interaction is necessary for Set4 recruitment to ergosterol gene promoters under hypoxia. Finally, an erg3 strain, which produces precursor sterols but lacks ergosterol, expresses Set4 under untreated aerobic conditions. Together, our data suggest that sterol precursors are needed for Set4 induction through an Upc2 -mediated mechanism. Overall, this new sterol-signaling pathway governs azole antifungal drug resistance and mediates repression of sterol genes under hypoxic conditions.
    Print ISSN: 0016-6731
    Topics: Biology
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  • 9
    Publication Date: 2018-03-06
    Description: Vector-borne diseases are responsible for 〉 1 million deaths every year but genomic resources for most species responsible for their transmission are limited. This is true for neglected diseases such as sleeping sickness (Human African Trypanosomiasis), a disease caused by Trypanosoma parasites vectored by several species of tseste flies within the genus Glossina . We describe an integrative approach that identifies statistical associations between trypanosome infection status of Glossina fuscipes fuscipes ( Gff ) flies from Uganda, for which functional studies are complicated because the species cannot be easily maintained in laboratory colonies, and ~73,000 polymorphic sites distributed across the genome. Then, we identify candidate genes involved in Gff trypanosome susceptibility by taking advantage of genomic resources from a closely related species, G. morsitans morsitans ( Gmm ). We compiled a comprehensive transcript library from 72 published and unpublished RNAseq experiments of trypanosome-infected and uninfected Gmm flies, and improved the current Gmm transcriptome assembly. This new assembly was then used to enhance the functional annotations on the Gff genome. As a consequence, we identified 56 candidate genes in the vicinity of the 18 regions associated with Trypanosoma infection status in Gff . Twenty-nine of these genes were differentially expressed (DE) among parasite-infected and uninfected Gmm , suggesting that their orthologs in Gff may correlate with disease transmission. These genes were involved in DNA regulation, neurophysiological functions, and immune responses. We highlight the power of integrating population and functional genomics from related species to enhance our understanding of the genetic basis of physiological traits, particularly in nonmodel organisms.
    Electronic ISSN: 2160-1836
    Topics: Biology
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  • 10
    Publication Date: 2018-01-23
    Description: Borrelia burgdorferi is a causative agent of Lyme disease, the most common arthropod-borne disease in the United States. B. burgdorferi evades host immune defenses to establish a persistent, disseminated infection. Previous work showed that P66-deficient B. burgdorferi ( p66 ) is cleared quickly after inoculation in mice. We demonstrate that the p66 strain is rapidly cleared from the skin inoculation site prior to dissemination. The rapid clearance of p66 bacteria is not due to inherent defects in multiple properties that might affect infectivity: bacterial outer membrane integrity, motility, chemotactic response, or nutrient acquisition. This led us to the hypothesis that P66 has a role in mouse cathelicidin-related antimicrobial peptide (mCRAMP; a major skin antimicrobial peptide) and/or neutrophil evasion. Neither wild-type (WT) nor p66 B. burgdorferi was susceptible to mCRAMP. To examine the role of neutrophil evasion, we administered neutrophil-depleting antibody anti-Ly6G (1A8) to C3H/HeN mice and subsequently monitored the course of B. burgdorferi infection. p66 mutants were unable to establish infection in neutrophil-depleted mice, suggesting that the important role of P66 during early infection is through another mechanism. Neutrophil depletion did not affect WT B. burgdorferi bacterial burdens in the skin (inoculation site), ear, heart, or tibiotarsal joint at early time points postinoculation. This was unexpected given that prior in vitro studies demonstrated neutrophils phagocytose and kill B. burgdorferi . These data, together with our previous work, suggest that despite the in vitro ability of host innate defenses to kill B. burgdorferi , individual innate immune mechanisms have limited contributions to controlling early B. burgdorferi infection in the laboratory model used.
    Print ISSN: 0019-9567
    Electronic ISSN: 1098-5522
    Topics: Medicine
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