Ancestral capture of syncytin-Car1, a fusogenic endogenous retroviral envelope gene involved in placentation and conserved in Carnivora.
ABSTRACT: Syncytins are envelope protein genes of retroviral origin that have been captured for a function in placentation. Two such genes have already been identified in simians, two distinct, unrelated genes have been identified in Muridae, and a fifth gene has been identified in the rabbit. Here, we searched for similar genes in the Laurasiatheria clade, which diverged from Euarchontoglires--primates, rodents, and lagomorphs--shortly after mammalian radiation (100 Mya). In silico search for envelope protein genes with full-coding capacity within the dog and cat genomes identified several candidate genes, with one common to both species that displayed placenta-specific expression, which was revealed by RT-PCR analysis of a large panel of tissues. This gene belongs to a degenerate endogenous retroviral element, with precise proviral integration at a site common to dog and cat. Cloning of the gene for an ex vivo pseudotype assay showed fusogenicity on both dog and cat cells. In situ hybridization on placenta sections from both species showed specific expression at the level of the invasive fetal villi within the placental junctional zone, where trophoblast cells fuse into a syncytiotrophoblast layer to form the maternofetal interface. Finally, we show that the gene is conserved among a series of 26 Carnivora representatives, with evidence for purifying selection and conservation of fusogenic activity. The gene is not found in the Pholidota order and, therefore, it was captured before Carnivora radiation, between 60 and 85 Mya. This gene is the oldest syncytin gene identified to date, and it is the first in a new major clade of eutherian mammals.
Project description:Syncytins are fusogenic envelope (env) genes of retroviral origin that have been captured for a function in placentation. Syncytins have been identified in Euarchontoglires (primates, rodents, Leporidae) and Laurasiatheria (Carnivora, ruminants) placental mammals. Here, we searched for similar genes in species that retained characteristic features of primitive mammals, namely the Malagasy and mainland African Tenrecidae. They belong to the superorder Afrotheria, an early lineage that diverged from Euarchotonglires and Laurasiatheria 100 Mya, during the Cretaceous terrestrial revolution. An in silico search for env genes with full coding capacity within a Tenrecidae genome identified several candidates, with one displaying placenta-specific expression as revealed by RT-PCR analysis of a large panel of Setifer setosus tissues. Cloning of this endogenous retroviral env gene demonstrated fusogenicity in an ex vivo cell-cell fusion assay on a panel of mammalian cells. Refined analysis of placental architecture and ultrastructure combined with in situ hybridization demonstrated specific expression of the gene in multinucleate cellular masses and layers at the materno-fetal interface, consistent with a role in syncytium formation. This gene, which we named "syncytin-Ten1," is conserved among Tenrecidae, with evidence of purifying selection and conservation of fusogenic activity. To our knowledge, it is the first syncytin identified to date within the ancestrally diverged Afrotheria superorder.
Project description:Capture of retroviral envelope genes from endogenous retroviruses has played a role in the evolution of mammals, with evidence for the involvement of these genes in the formation of the maternofetal interface of the placenta. It has been shown that the diversity of captured genes is likely to be responsible for the diversity of placental structures, ranging from poorly invasive (epitheliochorial) to highly invasive (hemochorial), with an intermediate state (endotheliochorial) as found in carnivorans. The latter recapitulate part of this evolution, with the hyena being the sole carnivoran with a hemochorial placenta. In this study, we performed RNA sequencing on hyena placental transcripts and searched for endogenous retroviral envelope genes that have been captured specifically in the Hyaenidae clade and are not found in any other carnivoran. We identified an envelope gene that is expressed in the placenta at the level of the maternofetal interface, as evidenced by in situ hybridization/immunohistochemistry. The gene entry is coincidental with the emergence of the Hyaenidae clade 30 million years ago (Mya), being found at the same genomic locus in all 4 extant hyena species. Its coding sequence has further been maintained during all of Hyaenidae evolution. It is not found in any of the 30 other carnivorans-both Felidae and Canidae-that we screened. This envelope protein does not disclose any fusogenic activity in ex vivo assays, at variance with the syncytin-Car1 gene, which is found in all carnivorans, including the hyena, in which it is still present, transcriptionally active in the placenta, and fusogenic. Together, the present results illustrate the permanent renewal of placenta-specific genes by retroviral capture and de facto provide a candidate gene for the endotheliochorial to hemochorial transition of Hyaenidae among carnivorans.IMPORTANCE The placenta is the most diverse organ among mammals, due in part to stochastic capture of retroviral envelope genes. In carnivorans, capture of syncytin-Car1 took place 80 Mya. It is fusogenic, expressed at the syncytialized placental maternofetal interface, and conserved among all carnivorans, consistent with their shared endotheliochorial placenta. Hyenas are a remarkable exception, with a highly invasive hemochorial placenta, as found in humans, where disruption of maternal blood vessels results in maternal blood bathing the syncytial maternofetal interface. In this study, we identified a retroviral envelope gene capture and exaptation that took place about 30 Mya and is coincident with the emergence of the Hyaenidae, being conserved in all extant hyena species. It is expressed at the maternofetal interface in addition to the shared syncytin-Car1 gene. This new env gene, not present in any other carnivoran, is a likely candidate to be responsible for the specific structure of the hyena placenta.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Chromosome evolution is an important driver of speciation and species evolution. Previous studies have detected chromosome rearrangement events among different Carnivora species using chromosome painting strategies. However, few of these studies have focused on chromosome evolution at a nucleotide resolution due to the limited availability of chromosome-level Carnivora genomes. Although the de novo genome assembly of the giant panda is available, current short read-based assemblies are limited to moderately sized scaffolds, making the study of chromosome evolution difficult. RESULTS:Here, we present a chromosome-level giant panda draft genome with a total size of 2.29?Gb. Based on the giant panda genome and published chromosome-level dog and cat genomes, we conduct six large-scale pairwise synteny alignments and identify evolutionary breakpoint regions. Interestingly, gene functional enrichment analysis shows that for all of the three Carnivora genomes, some genes located in evolutionary breakpoint regions are significantly enriched in pathways or terms related to sensory perception of smell. In addition, we find that the sweet receptor gene TAS1R2, which has been proven to be a pseudogene in the cat genome, is located in an evolutionary breakpoint region of the giant panda, suggesting that interchromosomal rearrangement may play a role in the cat TAS1R2 pseudogenization. CONCLUSIONS:We show that the combined strategies employed in this study can be used to generate efficient chromosome-level genome assemblies. Moreover, our comparative genomics analyses provide novel insights into Carnivora chromosome evolution, linking chromosome evolution to functional gene evolution.
Project description:Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are proviral phases of exogenous retroviruses that have co-evolved with vertebrate genomes for millions of years. Previous studies have identified the envelope (env) protein genes of retroviral origin preferentially expressed in the placenta which suggests a role in placentation based on their membrane fusogenic capacity and therefore they have been named syncytins. Until now, all the characterized syncytins have been associated with three invasive placentation types: the endotheliochorial (Carnivora), the synepitheliochorial (Ruminantia), and the hemochorial placentation (human, mouse) where they play a role in the syncytiotrophoblast formation. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate whether EqERV env RNA is expressed in horse tissues as well and investigate if the horse, possessing an epitheliochorial placenta, has "captured" a common retroviral env gene with syncytin-like properties in placental tissues. Interestingly, although in the equine placenta there is no syncytiotrophoblast layer at the maternal-fetal interface, our results showed that EqERV env RNA is highly expressed at that level, as expected for a candidate syncytin-like gene but with reduced abundance in the other somatic tissues (nearly 30-fold lower) thus suggesting a possible role in the placental tissue. Although the horse is one of the few domestic animals with a sequenced genome, few studies have been conducted about the EqERV and their expression in placental tissue has never been investigated.
Project description:Syncytins are genes of retroviral origin captured by eutherian mammals, with a role in placentation. Here we show that some marsupials-which are the closest living relatives to eutherian mammals, although they diverged from the latter ?190 Mya-also possess a syncytin gene. The gene identified in the South American marsupial opossum and dubbed syncytin-Opo1 has all of the characteristic features of a bona fide syncytin gene: It is fusogenic in an ex vivo cell-cell fusion assay; it is specifically expressed in the short-lived placenta at the level of the syncytial feto-maternal interface; and it is conserved in a functional state in a series of Monodelphis species. We further identify a nonfusogenic retroviral envelope gene that has been conserved for >80 My of evolution among all marsupials (including the opossum and the Australian tammar wallaby), with evidence for purifying selection and conservation of a canonical immunosuppressive domain, but with only limited expression in the placenta. This unusual captured gene, together with a third class of envelope genes from recently endogenized retroviruses-displaying strong expression in the uterine glands where retroviral particles can be detected-plausibly correspond to the different evolutionary statuses of a captured retroviral envelope gene, with only syncytin-Opo1 being the present-day bona fide syncytin active in the opossum and related species. This study would accordingly recapitulate the natural history of syncytin exaptation and evolution in a single species, and definitely extends the presence of such genes to all major placental mammalian clades.
Project description:TRIM5alpha mediates a potent retroviral restriction phenotype in diverse mammalian species. Here, we identify a TRIM5 transcript in cat cells with a truncated B30.2 capsid binding domain and ablated restrictive function which, remarkably, is conserved across the Feliformia. Cat TRIM5 displayed no restriction activity, but ectopic expression conferred a dominant negative effect against human TRIM5alpha. Our findings explain the absence of retroviral restriction in cat cells and suggest that disruption of the TRIM5 locus has arisen independently at least twice in the Carnivora, with implications concerning the evolution of the host and pathogen in this taxon.
Project description:Despite the recent large-scale efforts dedicated to comprehensive phylogenetic analyses using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences, several relationships among mammalian orders remain controversial. Here, we present an extensive application of retroposon (L1) insertion analysis to the phylogenetic relationships among almost all mammalian orders. In addition to demonstrating the validity of Glires, Euarchontoglires, Laurasiatheria, and Boreoeutheria, we demonstrate an interordinal clade that links Chiroptera, Carnivora, and Perissodactyla within Laurasiatheria. Re-examination of a large DNA sequence data set yielded results consistent with our conclusion. We propose a superordinal name "Pegasoferae" for this clade of Chiroptera + Perissodactyla + Carnivora + Pholidota. The presence of a single incongruent L1 locus generates a tree in which the group of Carnivora + Perissodactyla associates with Cetartiodactyla but not with Chiroptera. This result suggests that incomplete lineage sorting of an ancestral dimorphism occurred with regard to the presence or absence of retroposon alleles in a common ancestor of Scrotifera (Pegasoferae + Cetartiodactyla), which was followed by rapid divergence into the extant orders over an evolutionarily short period. Accordingly, Euungulata (Cetartiodactyla + Perissodactyla) and Fereuungulata (Carnivora + Pholidota + Perissodactyla + Cetartiodactyla) cannot be validated as natural groups. The interordinal mammalian relationships presented here provide a cornerstone for future studies in the reconstruction of mammalian classifications, including extinct species, on evolution of large genomic sequences and structure, and in developmental analysis of morphological diversification.
Project description:Capture of retroviral envelope genes is likely to have played a role in the emergence of placental mammals, with evidence for multiple, reiterated, and independent capture events occurring in mammals, and be responsible for the diversity of present day placental structures. Here, we uncover a full-length endogenous retrovirus envelope protein, dubbed HEMO [human endogenous MER34 (medium-reiteration-frequency-family-34) ORF], with unprecedented characteristics, because it is actively shed in the blood circulation in humans via specific cleavage of the precursor envelope protein upstream of the transmembrane domain. At variance with previously identified retroviral envelope genes, its encoding gene is found to be transcribed from a unique CpG-rich promoter not related to a retroviral LTR, with sites of expression including the placenta as well as other tissues and rather unexpectedly, stem cells as well as reprogrammed induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), where the protein can also be detected. We provide evidence that the associated retroviral capture event most probably occurred >100 Mya before the split of Laurasiatheria and Euarchontoglires, with the identified retroviral envelope gene encoding a full-length protein in all simians under purifying selection and with similar shedding capacity. Finally, a comprehensive screen of the expression of the gene discloses high transcript levels in several tumor tissues, such as germ cell, breast, and ovarian tumors, with in the latter case, evidence for a histotype dependence and specific protein expression in clear-cell carcinoma. Altogether, the identified protein could constitute a "stemness marker" of the normal cell and a possible target for immunotherapeutic approaches in tumors.
Project description:The American mink (Neovison vison) is a semiaquatic species of mustelid native to North America. It's an important animal for the fur industry. Many efforts have been made to locate genes influencing fur quality and color, but this search has been impeded by the lack of a reference genome. Here we present the first draft genome of mink. In our study, two mink individuals were sequenced by Illumina sequencing with 797?Gb sequence generated. Assembly yielded 7,175 scaffolds with an N50 of 6.3?Mb and length of 2.4?Gb including gaps. Repeat sequences constitute around 31% of the genome, which is lower than for dog and cat genomes. The alignments of mink, ferret and dog genomes help to illustrate the chromosomes rearrangement. Gene annotation identified 21,053 protein-coding sequences present in mink genome. The reference genome's structure is consistent with the microsatellite-based genetic map. Mapping of well-studied genes known to be involved in coat quality and coat color, and previously located fur quality QTL provide new knowledge about putative candidate genes for fur traits. The draft genome shows great potential to facilitate genomic research towards improved breeding for high fur quality animals and strengthen our understanding on evolution of Carnivora.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The giant panda has an interesting bamboo diet unlike the other species in the order of Carnivora. The umami taste receptor gene T1R1 has been identified as a pseudogene during its genome sequencing project and confirmed using a different giant panda sample. The estimated mutation time for this gene is about 4.2 Myr. Such mutation coincided with the giant panda's dietary change and also reinforced its herbivorous life style. However, as this gene is preserved in herbivores such as cow and horse, we need to look for other reasons behind the giant panda's diet switch. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Since taste is part of the reward properties of food related to its energy and nutrition contents, we did a systematic analysis on those genes involved in the appetite-reward system for the giant panda. We extracted the giant panda sequence information for those genes and compared with the human sequence first and then with seven other species including chimpanzee, mouse, rat, dog, cat, horse, and cow. Orthologs in panda were further analyzed based on the coding region, Kozak consensus sequence, and potential microRNA binding of those genes. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Our results revealed an interesting dopamine metabolic involvement in the panda's food choice. This finding suggests a new direction for molecular evolution studies behind the panda's dietary switch.