Genome-wide analysis of transposable elements and tandem repeats in the compact placozoan genome.
ABSTRACT: The placozoan Trichoplax adhaerens has a compact genome with many primitive eumetazoan characteristics. In order to gain a better understanding of its genome architecture, we conducted a detailed analysis of repeat content in this genome. The transposable element (TE) content is lower than that of other metazoans, and the few TEs present in the genome appear to be inactive. A new phylogenetic clade of the gypsy-like LTR retrotransposons was identified, which includes the majority of gypsy-like elements in Trichoplax. A particular microsatellite motif (ACAGT) exhibits unexpectedly high abundance, and also has strong association with its nearby genes.
Project description:Simple telomeres were identified in the genome assembly of the basal placozoan animal Trichoplax adhaerens. They have 1-2 kb of TTAGGG telomeric repeats, which are preceded by a subtelomeric region of 1.5-13 kb. Unlike subtelomeric regions in most animals examined, these subtelomeric regions are unique to each telomere.
Project description:Placozoans are a phylum of nonbilaterian marine animals currently represented by a single described species, Trichoplax adhaerens, Schulze 1883. Placozoans arguably show the simplest animal morphology, which is identical among isolates collected worldwide, despite an apparently sizeable genetic diversity within the phylum. Here, we use a comparative genomics approach for a deeper appreciation of the structure and causes of the deeply diverging lineages in the Placozoa. We generated a high-quality draft genome of the genetic lineage H13 isolated from Hong Kong and compared it to the distantly related T. adhaerens. We uncovered substantial structural differences between the two genomes that point to a deep genomic separation and provide support that adaptation by gene duplication is likely a crucial mechanism in placozoan speciation. We further provide genetic evidence for reproductively isolated species and suggest a genus-level difference of H13 to T. adhaerens, justifying the designation of H13 as a new species, Hoilungia hongkongensis nov. gen., nov. spec., now the second described placozoan species and the first in a new genus. Our multilevel comparative genomics approach is, therefore, likely to prove valuable for species distinctions in other cryptic microscopic animal groups that lack diagnostic morphological characters, such as some nematodes, copepods, rotifers, or mites.
Project description:The phylum Placozoa officially consists of only a single described species, Trichoplax adhaerens, although several lineages can be separated by molecular markers, geographical distributions and environmental demands. The placozoan 16S haplotype H2 (Trichoplax sp. H2) is the most robust and cosmopolitan lineage of placozoans found to date. In this study, its genome was found to be distinct but highly related to the Trichoplax adhaerens reference genome, for remarkably unique reasons. The pattern of variation and allele distribution between the two lineages suggests that both originate from a single interbreeding event in the wild, dating back at least several decades ago, and both seem not to have engaged in sexual reproduction since. We conclude that populations of certain placozoan haplotypes remain stable for long periods without bisexual reproduction. Furthermore, allelic variation within and between the two Trichoplax lineages indicates that successful bisexual reproduction between related placozoan lineages might serve to either counter accumulated negative somatic mutations or to cope with changing environmental conditions. On the other hand, enrichment of neutral or beneficial somatic mutations by vegetative reproduction, combined with rare sexual reproduction, could instantaneously boost genetic variation, generating novel ecotypes and eventually species.
Project description:The evolution of ANTP genes in the Metazoa has been the subject of conflicting hypotheses derived from full or partial gene sequences and genomic organization in higher animals. Whole genome sequences have recently filled in some crucial gaps for the basal metazoan phyla Cnidaria and Porifera. Here we analyze the complete genome of Trichoplax adhaerens, representing the basal metazoan phylum Placozoa, for its set of ANTP class genes. The Trichoplax genome encodes representatives of Hox/ParaHox-like, NKL, and extended Hox genes. This repertoire possibly mirrors the condition of a hypothetical cnidarian-bilaterian ancestor. The evolution of the cnidarian and bilaterian ANTP gene repertoires can be deduced by a limited number of cis-duplications of NKL and "extended Hox" genes and the presence of a single ancestral "ProtoHox" gene.
Project description:Symbiotic relationships between eukaryotic hosts and bacteria range from parasitism to mutualism and may deeply influence both partners' fitness. The presence of intracellular bacteria in the metazoan phylum Placozoa has been reported several times, but without any knowledge about the nature of this relationship and possible implications for the placozoan holobiont. This information may be of crucial significance since little is known about placozoan ecology and how different species adapt to different environmental conditions, despite being almost invariable at the morphological level. We here report on the novel genome of the rickettsial endosymbiont of Trichoplax sp. H2 (strain "Panama"). The combination of eliminated and retained metabolic pathways of the bacterium indicates a potential for a mutualistic as well as for a parasitic relationship, whose outcome could depend on the environmental context. In particular we show that the endosymbiont is dependent on the host for growth and reproduction and that the latter could benefit from a supply with essential amino acids and important cofactors. These findings call for further studies to clarify the actual benefit for the placozoan host and to investigate a possible role of the endosymbiont for ecological separation between placozoan species.
Project description:We performed single-cell transcriptome analysis (using MARS-seq) in the sponge Amphimedon queenslandica (adult and larval stages), in the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi (adult stage), and in the placozoan Trichoplax adhaerens (adult stage). Additionally we performed bulk iChIP experiments (2 replicates of each experiment) using antibodies against H3K4me3 and H3K4me2 in adult Mnemiopsis leidyi and adult Trichoplax adhaerens.
Project description:A detailed annotation of non-protein coding RNAs is typically missing in initial releases of newly sequenced genomes. Here we report on a comprehensive ncRNA annotation of the genome of Trichoplax adhaerens, the presumably most basal metazoan whose genome has been published to-date. Since blast identified only a small fraction of the best-conserved ncRNAs--in particular rRNAs, tRNAs and some snRNAs--we developed a semi-global dynamic programming tool, GotohScan, to increase the sensitivity of the homology search. It successfully identified the full complement of major and minor spliceosomal snRNAs, the genes for RNase P and MRP RNAs, the SRP RNA, as well as several small nucleolar RNAs. We did not find any microRNA candidates homologous to known eumetazoan sequences. Interestingly, most ncRNAs, including the pol-III transcripts, appear as single-copy genes or with very small copy numbers in the Trichoplax genome.
Project description:We performed single-cell transcriptome analysis (using 10x) of four placozoan species (Trichoplax adhaerens, Trichoplax sp. H2, Cladtertia collaboinventa, Hoilungia hongkongensis). Additionally we performed bulk ATAC-seq experiments and anti-H3K4me2/anti-H3K4me3 ChIP-seq experiments the same species.
Project description:Nuclear receptors are a superfamily of transcription factors restricted to animals. These transcription factors regulate a wide variety of genes with diverse roles in cellular homeostasis, development, and physiology. The origin and specificity of ligand binding within lineages of nuclear receptors (e.g., subfamilies) continues to be a focus of investigation geared toward understanding how the functions of these proteins were shaped over evolutionary history. Among early-diverging animal lineages, the retinoid X receptor (RXR) is first detected in the placozoan, Trichoplax adhaerens. To gain insight into RXR evolution, we characterized ligand- and DNA-binding activity of the RXR from T. adhaerens (TaRXR). Like bilaterian RXRs, TaRXR specifically bound 9-cis-retinoic acid, which is consistent with a recently published result and supports a conclusion that the ancestral RXR bound ligand. DNA binding site specificity of TaRXR was determined through protein binding microarrays (PBMs) and compared with human RXR?. The binding sites for these two RXR proteins were broadly conserved (?85% shared high-affinity sequences within a targeted array), suggesting evolutionary constraint for the regulation of downstream genes. We searched for predicted binding motifs of the T. adhaerens genome within 1000 bases of annotated genes to identify potential regulatory targets. We identified 648 unique protein coding regions with predicted TaRXR binding sites that had diverse predicted functions, with enriched processes related to intracellular signal transduction and protein transport. Together, our data support hypotheses that the original RXR protein in animals bound a ligand with structural similarity to 9-cis-retinoic acid; the DNA motif recognized by RXR has changed little in more than 1 billion years of evolution; and the suite of processes regulated by this transcription factor diversified early in animal evolution.
Project description:Mitochondrial genomes of multicellular animals are typically 15- to 24-kb circular molecules that encode a nearly identical set of 12-14 proteins for oxidative phosphorylation and 24-25 structural RNAs (16S rRNA, 12S rRNA, and tRNAs). These genomes lack significant intragenic spacers and are generally without introns. Here, we report the complete mitochondrial genome sequence of the placozoan Trichoplax adhaerens, a metazoan with the simplest known body plan of any animal, possessing no organs, no basal membrane, and only four different somatic cell types. Our analysis shows that the Trichoplax mitochondrion contains the largest known metazoan mtDNA genome at 43,079 bp, more than twice the size of the typical metazoan mtDNA. The mitochondrion's size is due to numerous intragenic spacers, several introns and ORFs of unknown function, and protein-coding regions that are generally larger than those found in other animals. Not only does the Trichoplax mtDNA have characteristics of the mitochondrial genomes of known metazoan outgroups, such as chytrid fungi and choanoflagellates, but, more importantly, it shares derived features unique to the Metazoa. Phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial proteins provide strong support for the placement of the phylum Placozoa at the root of the Metazoa.