In the ancient Lake Baikal, Russia, amphipod crustaceans have undergone a spectacular adaptive radiation, resulting in a diverse community of species. A survey of microsporidian parasites inhabiting endemic and non-endemic amphipod host species at the margins of Lake Baikal indicates that the endemic amphipods harbour many microsporidian parasite groups associated with amphipods elsewhere in Eurasia. While these parasites may have undergone a degree of adaptive radiation within the lake, there is little evidence of host specificity. Furthermore, a lack of reciprocal monophyly indicates that exchanges of microsporidia between Baikalian and non-Baikalian hosts have occurred frequently in the past and may be ongoing. Conversely, limitations to parasite exchange between Baikalian and non-Baikalian host populations at the margins of the lake are implied by differences in parasite prevalence and lack of shared microsporidian haplotypes between the two host communities. While amphipod hosts have speciated sympatrically within Lake Baikal, the parasites appear instead to have accumulated, moving into the lake from external amphipod populations on multiple occasions to exploit the large and diverse community of endemic amphipods in Lake Baikal.
Alpha-methylacyl-CoA racemase (Amacr) catalyzes the racemization of alpha-methyl-branched CoA esters. Sequence comparisons have shown that this enzyme is a member of the family III CoA transferases. The mammalian Amacr is involved in bile acid synthesis and branched-chain fatty acid degradation. In human, mutated variants of Amacr have been shown to be associated with disease states. Amino acid sequence alignment of Amacrs and its homologues from various species revealed 26 conserved protic residues, assumed to be potential candidates as catalytic residues. Amacr from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MCR) was taken as a representative of the racemases. To determine their importance for efficient catalysis, each of these 26 protic residues of MCR was mutated into an alanine, respectively, and the mutated variants were overexpressed in Escherichia coli. It was found that four variants (R91A, H126A, D156A, and E241A) were properly folded but had much decreased catalytic efficiency. Apparently, Arg91, His126, Asp156, and Glu241 are important catalytic residues of MCR. The importance of these residues for catalysis can be rationalized by the 1.8 A resolution crystal structure of MCR, which shows that the catalytic site is at the interface between the large and small domain of two different subunits of the dimeric enzyme. This crystal structure is the first structure of a complete enzyme of the bile acid synthesis pathway. It shows that MCR has unique structural features, not seen in the structures of the sequence related formyl-CoA transferases, suggesting that the family III CoA transferases can be subdivided in at least two classes, being racemases and CoA transferases.
In the former Soviet Union (SU) increasing numbers of HIV-1 infections among injecting drug users (IDU) have been reported, especially in the Ukraine. The main subtype transmitted among the IDUs seems to be subtype A, but limited numbers of subtype B cases have also been reported. In Kaliningrad, Russia, an AB recombinant strain was earlier shown to be responsible for the local outbreak. Here we describe the genetic relationship of HIV-1 strains circulating among IDUs in the former SU. For subtype A and the AB recombinant strains nearly full-length genomes were sequenced, and for one subtype B strain the entire envelope gene was cloned. The relationship between the AB recombinant strain and the subtype A and subtype B strains and the mosaic structure of the recombinant was studied by phylogenetic analysis. Ukrainian A and B strains were shown to be the probable parental viruses of the Kaliningrad AB recombinant strain. In the envelope gene the recombination breakpoint could also be precisely mapped to a region of similarity of only 14 base pairs. This suggests that only short stretches of absolute sequence identity may be needed for efficient RNA recombination between HIV-1 subtypes.
Two identical strains of tobacco type TVM have been isolated in the region with 137Cs nuclear contamination with density of 12.6 Cu/km2 recombinant plasmids (pTVM9, pTVM9,5) containing cDNA of complete provirus and C-end sequence of cDNA of specific capsid protein from one of isolated viruses have been obtained. The capsule proteins of isolated strains have the higher 19.5 +/- 1.9 kDa molecular weight than standard TVM strain (17.5 kDa) as to SDS-PAAG electrophoresis data. No differences in distribution of fragments immunoactive to control antiserum have been found when using immunoblot analysis of capsid proteins of isolates and standard strain treated by tripsin. Sequencing analysis of cDNA pTVM9,5 has revealed non-conservative amino acid replacement of serine by tyrosine in position 149 for homologous region of capsid protein of standard TVM strain, which allows to suppose the mediated effect of specific ecological situation on the appearance of such replacement.
Organisms living in extremely cold environments possess mechanisms to survive low temperatures. Among the known cold-induced genes, cold-shock proteins (Csps) are the most prominent. A csp-homologous gene, cspBPi, has been cloned from the Arctic bacterium Polaribacter irgensii KOPRI 22228, and overexpression of this gene greatly increased the freezing tolerance of its host. This protein consists of a unique N-terminal domain and a well conserved C-terminal cold shock domain. To elucidate the detailed mechanisms involved in the extraordinary freeze-tolerance conferred by CspBPi, we identified the responsible domain by mutational analysis. Changes of residues in the cold shock domain that are crucial for binding RNA or single-stranded DNA did not impair the ability of the host to survive freezing stress. All domain-shuffled CspBPi variants containing the N-terminal domain retained the ability to confer superior freeze-tolerance. Slow electrophoretic mobility and far-UV circular dichroism spectra of the N-terminal domain suggested an intrinsically disordered structure for this region. The N-terminal domain also bound to lipid vesicles in vitro. This lipid vesicle binding characteristic is shared with other intrinsically disordered proteins, such as a-synuclein and plant dehydrins, known to confer cold-tolerance when overexpressed, suggesting a mechanism for cold-survival through membrane binding.
Xenoestrogens can interfere with normal estrogen signaling by competitively binding to the estrogen receptor (ER) and activating transcription of target genes. In this study, we cloned the estrogen receptor alpha (vbERalpha) and beta 2 (vbERbeta2) genes from liver of the indigenous Taiwanese cyprinid fish Varicorhinus barbatulus and tested the direct impact of several xenoestrogens on these ERs. Transcriptional activity of xenoestrogens was measured by the enzymatic activity of estrogen responsive element (ERE)-containing beta-galactosidase in a yeast reporter system. The xenoestrogens tested were phenol derivatives, DDT-related substances, phthalic acid esters, and polychlorinated biphenyls, with 17beta-estradiol (E2) as a subjective standard. The phenol derivatives [4-nonylphenol (4-NP), 4-t-octylphenol (4-t-OP) and bisphenol A (BPA)] exhibited significant dose-dependent responses in both ligand potency and ligand efficiency. Consistent with yeast assays using human or rainbow trout ERs, we observed a general subtype preference in that vbERalpha displayed higher relative potencies and efficiencies than vbERbeta2, although our assays induced a stronger response for xenoestrogens than did human or trout ERs. Whereas 4-NP and 4-t-OP have similar EC50 values relative to E2 for both ER subtypes, the strong estrogenic response of BPA markedly differentiates vbERalpha from vbERbeta2, suggesting possible species-specific BPA sensitivity. We report that the ameliorative yeast tool is readily applicable for indigenous wildlife studies of the bio-toxic influence of xenoestrogens with wildlife-specific estrogen receptors.
We describe the assembly of a 1-Mb cosmid contig and restriction map spanning the candidate region for Finnish congenital nephrosis (NPHS1) in 19q13.1. The map was constructed from 16 smaller contigs assembled by fingerprinting, a BAC and a PAC clone, and 42 previously unmapped cosmids. In most cases, single-step cosmid walks were sufficient to join two previously assembled contigs, and all but one gap was filled from this cosmid contig library. The remaining gap of about 19 kb was spanned with a single BAC and a single PAC clone. EcoRI mapping of a dense set of overlapping clones validated the assembly of the map and indicated a length of 1040 kb for the contig. This high-resolution clone map provides an ideal resource for gene identification through cDNA selection, exon trapping, and DNA sequencing.
Usher syndrome type 1C (USH1C) occurs in a small population of Acadian descendants from southwestern Louisiana. Linkage and linkage disequilibrium analyses localize USH1C to chromosome 11p between markers D11S1397 and D11S1888, an interval of less than 680 kb. Here, we refine the USH1C linkage to a region less than 400 kb, between genetic markers D11S1397 and D11S1890. Using 17 genetic markers from this interval, we have isolated a contiguous set of 60 bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) that span the USH1C critical region. Exon trapping of BAC clones from this region resulted in the recovery of an exon of the nuclear EF-hand acidic (NEFA) gene. However, DNA sequence analysis of the NEFA cDNA from lymphocytes of affected individuals provided no evidence of mutation, making structural mutations in the NEFA protein unlikely as the cellular cause of Acadian Usher syndrome.
In vertebrates, the synthesis of prostaglandin hormones is catalyzed by cyclooxygenase (COX)-1, a constitutively expressed enzyme with physiological functions, and COX-2, induced in inflammation and cancer. Prostaglandins have been detected in high concentrations in certain corals, and previous evidence suggested their biosynthesis through a lipoxygenase-allene oxide pathway. Here we describe the discovery of an ancestor of cyclooxygenases that is responsible for prostaglandin biosynthesis in coral. Using a homology-based polymerase chain reaction cloning strategy, the cDNA encoding a polypeptide with approximately 50% amino acid identity to both mammalian COX-1 and COX-2 was cloned and sequenced from the Arctic soft coral Gersemia fruticosa. Nearly all the amino acids essential for substrate binding and catalysis as determined in the mammalian enzymes are represented in coral COX: the arachidonate-binding Arg(120) and Tyr(355) are present, as are the heme-coordinating His(207) and His(388); the catalytic Tyr(385); and the target of aspirin attack, Ser(530). A key amino acid that determines the sensitivity to selective COX-2 inhibitors (Ile(523) in COX-1 and Val(523) in COX-2) is present in coral COX as isoleucine. The conserved Glu(524), implicated in the binding of certain COX inhibitors, is represented as alanine. Expression of the G. fruticosa cDNA afforded a functional cyclooxygenase that converted exogenous arachidonic acid to prostaglandins. The biosynthesis was inhibited by indomethacin, whereas the selective COX-2 inhibitor nimesulide was ineffective. We conclude that the cyclooxygenase occurs widely in the animal kingdom and that vertebrate COX-1 and COX-2 are evolutionary derivatives of the invertebrate precursor.