On universal common ancestry, sequence similarity, and phylogenetic structure: the sins of P-values and the virtues of Bayesian evidence.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:The universal common ancestry (UCA) of all known life is a fundamental component of modern evolutionary theory, supported by a wide range of qualitative molecular evidence. Nevertheless, recently both the status and nature of UCA has been questioned. In earlier work I presented a formal, quantitative test of UCA in which model selection criteria overwhelmingly choose common ancestry over independent ancestry, based on a dataset of universally conserved proteins. These model-based tests are founded in likelihoodist and Bayesian probability theory, in opposition to classical frequentist null hypothesis tests such as Karlin-Altschul E-values for sequence similarity. In a recent comment, Koonin and Wolf (K&W) claim that the model preference for UCA is "a trivial consequence of significant sequence similarity". They support this claim with a computational simulation, derived from universally conserved proteins, which produces similar sequences lacking phylogenetic structure. The model selection tests prefer common ancestry for this artificial data set. RESULTS:For the real universal protein sequences, hierarchical phylogenetic structure (induced by genealogical history) is the overriding reason for why the tests choose UCA; sequence similarity is a relatively minor factor. First, for cases of conflicting phylogenetic structure, the tests choose independent ancestry even with highly similar sequences. Second, certain models, like star trees and K&W's profile model (corresponding to their simulation), readily explain sequence similarity yet lack phylogenetic structure. However, these are extremely poor models for the real proteins, even worse than independent ancestry models, though they explain K&W's artificial data well. Finally, K&W's simulation is an implementation of a well-known phylogenetic model, and it produces sequences that mimic homologous proteins. Therefore the model selection tests work appropriately with the artificial data. CONCLUSIONS:For K&W's artificial protein data, sequence similarity is the predominant factor influencing the preference for common ancestry. In contrast, for the real proteins, model selection tests show that phylogenetic structure is much more important than sequence similarity. Hence, the model selection tests demonstrate that real universally conserved proteins are homologous, a conclusion based primarily on the specific nested patterns of correlations induced in genetically related protein sequences. REVIEWERS:This article was reviewed by Rob Knight, Robert Beiko (nominated by Peter Gogarten), and Michael Gilchrist.
Project description:cis-urocanic acid (cis-UCA) is an endogenous amino acid metabolite capable of transporting protons from the mildly acidic extracellular medium into the cell cytosol. The resulting intracellular acidification suppresses many cellular activities. The current study was aimed at characterizing the molecular mechanisms underlying cis-UCA-mediated cytotoxicity in cultured cancer cells.5367 bladder carcinoma cells were left untreated or treated with cis-UCA. Cell death was assessed by measuring caspase-3 activity, mitochondrial membrane polarization, formation and release of cytoplasmic histone-associated DNA fragments, and cellular permeabilization. Cell viability and metabolic activity were monitored by colorimetric assays. Nuclear labelling was used to quantify the effects of cis-UCA on cell cycle. The activity of the ERK and JNK signalling pathways was studied by immunoblotting with specific antibodies. Phosphatase activity in cis-UCA-treated cells was determined by assay kits measuring absorbance resulting from the dephosphorylation of an artificial substrate. All statistical analyses were performed using the two-way Student's t-test (p < 0.05).Here we report that treatment of the 5637 human bladder carcinoma cells with 2% cis-UCA induces both apoptotic and necrotic cell death. In addition, metabolic activity of the 5637 cells is rapidly impaired, and the cells arrest in cell cycle in response to cis-UCA. Importantly, we show that cis-UCA promotes the ERK and JNK signalling pathways by efficiently inhibiting the activity of serine/threonine and tyrosine phosphatases.Our studies elucidate how cis-UCA modulates several cellular processes, thereby inhibiting the proliferation and survival of bladder carcinoma cells. These anti-cancer effects make cis-UCA a potential candidate for the treatment of non-muscle invasive bladder carcinoma.
Project description:Hoplolaimina plant-parasitic nematodes (PPN) are a lineage of animals with many documented cases of horizontal gene transfer (HGT). In a recent study, we reported on three likely HGT candidate genes in the soybean cyst nematode Heterodera glycines, all of which encode secreted candidate effectors with putative functions in the host plant. Hg-GLAND1 is a putative GCN5-related N-acetyltransferase (GNAT), Hg-GLAND13 is a putative invertase (INV), and Hg-GLAND16 is a putative chorismate mutase (CM), and blastp searches of the non-redundant database resulted in highest similarity to bacterial sequences. Here, we searched nematode and non-nematode sequence databases to identify all the nematodes possible that contain these three genes, and to formulate hypotheses about when they most likely appeared in the phylum Nematoda. We then performed phylogenetic analyses combined with model selection tests of alternative models of sequence evolution to determine whether these genes were horizontally acquired from bacteria.Mining of nematode sequence databases determined that GNATs appeared in Hoplolaimina PPN late in evolution, while both INVs and CMs appeared before the radiation of the Hoplolaimina suborder. Also, Hoplolaimina GNATs, INVs and CMs formed well-supported clusters with different rhizosphere bacteria in the phylogenetic trees, and the model selection tests greatly supported models of HGT over descent via common ancestry. Surprisingly, the phylogenetic trees also revealed additional, well-supported clusters of bacterial GNATs, INVs and CMs with diverse eukaryotes and archaea. There were at least eleven and eight well-supported clusters of GNATs and INVs, respectively, from different bacteria with diverse eukaryotes and archaea. Though less frequent, CMs from different bacteria formed supported clusters with multiple different eukaryotes. Moreover, almost all individual clusters containing bacteria and eukaryotes or archaea contained species that inhabit very similar niches.GNATs were horizontally acquired late in Hoplolaimina PPN evolution from bacteria most similar to the saprophytic and plant-pathogenic actinomycetes. INVs and CMs were horizontally acquired from bacteria most similar to rhizobacteria and Burkholderia soil bacteria, respectively, before the radiation of Hoplolaimina. Also, these three gene groups appear to have been frequent subjects of HGT from different bacteria to numerous, diverse lineages of eukaryotes and archaea, which suggests that these genes may confer important evolutionary advantages to many taxa. In the case of Hoplolaimina PPN, this advantage likely was an improved ability to parasitize plants.
Project description:We identified the first prokaryotic urea carboxylase (UCA) from a member of the alpha subclass of the class Proteobacteria, Oleomonas sagaranensis. This enzyme (O. sagaranensis Uca) was composed of 1,171 amino acids, and its N-terminal region resembled the biotin carboxylase domains of various biotin-dependent carboxylases. The C-terminal region of the enzyme harbored the Met-Lys-Met motif found in biotin carboxyl carrier proteins. The primary structure of the enzyme was 45% identical to that of the urea carboxylase domain of urea amidolyase from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. O. sagaranensis Uca did not harbor the allophanate hydrolase domain found in the yeast enzyme, but a separate gene with structural similarity was found to be adjacent to the uca gene. Purified recombinant O. sagaranensis Uca displayed ATP-dependent carboxylase activity towards urea (V(max) = 21.2 micro mol mg(-1) min(-1)) but not towards acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) and propionyl-CoA, indicating that the gene encoded a bona fide UCA and not an acetyl-CoA or propionyl-CoA carboxylase. The enzyme also exhibited high levels of activity towards acetamide and formamide. Kinetic parameters of the enzyme reaction were determined with ATP, urea, acetamide, and formamide. O. sagaranensis could grow on urea, acetamide, and formamide as sole nitrogen sources; moreover, ATP-dependent urea-degrading activity was found in cells grown with urea but not in cells grown with ammonia. The results suggest that the UCA of this organism may be involved in the assimilation of these compounds as nitrogen sources. Furthermore, orthologues of the O. sagaranensis uca gene were found to be widely distributed among Bacteria. This implies that there are two systems of urea degradation in Bacteria, a pathway catalyzed by the previously described ureases and the UCA-allophanate hydrolase pathway identified in this study.
Project description:Over 500 strains of inbred brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) have been developed for use as a biomedical model organism. Most of these inbred lines were derived from the colony established at the Wistar Institute in 1906 or its descendants following worldwide distribution to research and breeding centers. The geographic source of the animals that founded the Wistar colony has been lost to history; thus, we compared 25 inbred rat strains to 326 wild rats from a global diversity dataset at 32 k SNPs, and 47 mitochondrial genomes to identify the source populations. We analyzed nuclear genomic data using principal component analyses and co-ancestry heat maps, and mitogenomes using phylogenetic trees and networks. In the nuclear genome, inbred rats clustered together indicating a single geographic origin for the strains studied and showed admixed ancestral variation with wild rats in eastern Asia and western North America. The Sprague Dawley derived, Wistar derived, and Brown Norway strains each had mitogenomes from different clades which diverged between 13 and 139 kya. Thus, we posit that rats originally collected for captive breeding had high mitochondrial diversity that became fixed through genetic drift and/or artificial selection. Our results show that these important medical models share common genomic ancestry from a few source populations, and opportunities exist to create new strains with diverse genomic backgrounds to provide novel insight into the genomic basis of disease phenotypes.
Project description:A recent model shows that altruism can evolve with limited migration and variable group sizes, and the authors claim that kin selection cannot provide a sufficient explanation of their results. It is demonstrated, using a recent reformulation of Hamilton's original arguments, that the model falls squarely within the scope of inclusive fitness theory, which furthermore shows how to calculate inclusive fitness and the relevant relatedness. A distinction is drawn between inclusive fitness, which is a method of analysing social behaviour; and kin selection, a process that operates through genetic similarity brought about by common ancestry, but not by assortation by genotype or by direct assessment of genetic similarity. The recent model is analysed, and it turns out that kin selection provides a sufficient explanation to considerable quantitative accuracy, contrary to the authors' claims. A parallel analysis is possible and would be illuminating for all models of social behaviour in which individuals' effects on each other's offspring numbers combine additively.
Project description:Recent studies of ancient genomes have suggested that gene flow from archaic hominin groups to the ancestors of modern humans occurred on two separate occasions during the modern human expansion out of Africa. At the same time, decreasing levels of human genetic diversity have been found at increasing distance from Africa as a consequence of human expansion out of Africa. We analyzed the signal of archaic ancestry in modern human populations, and we investigated how serial founder models of human expansion affect the signal of archaic ancestry using simulations. For descendants of an archaic admixture event, we show that genetic drift coupled with ascertainment bias for common alleles can cause artificial but largely predictable differences in similarity to archaic genomes. In genotype data from non-Africans, this effect results in a biased genetic similarity to Neandertals with increasing distance from Africa. However, in addition to the previously reported gene flow between Neandertals and non-Africans as well as gene flow between an archaic human population from Siberia ("Denisovans") and Oceanians, we found a significant affinity between East Asians, particularly Southeast Asians, and the Denisova genome--a pattern that is not expected under a model of solely Neandertal admixture in the ancestry of East Asians. These results suggest admixture between Denisovans or a Denisova-related population and the ancestors of East Asians, and that the history of anatomically modern and archaic humans might be more complex than previously proposed.
Project description:Ultrasound contrast agents (UCAs) have been explored as a means to enhance therapeutic techniques. Because the effectiveness of these techniques relies on the UCA concentration at a target site, it would be beneficial to estimate UCA concentration noninvasively. In this study, a noninvasive method for estimating UCA concentration was developed in vitro. Backscatter coefficients (BSCs) estimated from measurements of Definity(®) UCAs were fitted to a theoretical scattering model in the 15-25 MHz range using a Levenberg-Marquardt regression technique. The model was defined by the UCA size distribution and concentration, and therefore concentration estimates were extracted directly from the fit. Calculation of the BSC was accomplished using planar reference measurements from the back wall of a Plexiglas(®) chamber and an average of 500 snapshots of ultrasonic backscatter from UCAs flowing through the chamber. In order to verify the ultrasonically derived UCA concentration estimates, a sample of the UCAs was extracted from the flow path and the concentration was estimated with a hemacytometer. UCA concentrations of 1, 2, and 5 times the dose recommended by the manufacturer were used in experiments. All BSC-based estimates were within one standard deviation of hemacytometer based estimates for peak rarefactional pressures of 100-400 kPa.
Project description:Kerry cattle are an endangered landrace heritage breed of cultural importance to Ireland. In the present study we have used genome-wide SNP array data to evaluate genomic diversity within the Kerry population and between Kerry cattle and other European breeds. Patterns of genetic differentiation and gene flow among breeds using phylogenetic trees with ancestry graphs highlighted historical gene flow from the British Shorthorn breed into the ancestral population of modern Kerry cattle. Principal component analysis (PCA) and genetic clustering emphasised the genetic distinctiveness of Kerry cattle relative to comparator British and European cattle breeds. Modelling of genetic effective population size (Ne) revealed a demographic trend of diminishing Ne over time and that recent estimated Ne values for the Kerry breed may be less than the threshold for sustainable genetic conservation. In addition, analysis of genome-wide autozygosity (FROH) showed that genomic inbreeding has increased significantly during the 20 years between 1992 and 2012. Finally, signatures of selection revealed genomic regions subject to natural and artificial selection as Kerry cattle adapted to the climate, physical geography and agro-ecology of southwest Ireland.
Project description:Organisms modify and choose components of their local environments. This 'niche construction' can alter ecological processes, modify natural selection and contribute to inheritance through ecological legacies. Here, we propose that niche construction initiates and modifies the selection directly affecting the constructor, and on other species, in an orderly, directed and sustained manner. By dependably generating specific environmental states, niche construction co-directs adaptive evolution by imposing a consistent statistical bias on selection. We illustrate how niche construction can generate this evolutionary bias by comparing it with artificial selection. We suggest that it occupies the middle ground between artificial and natural selection. We show how the perspective leads to testable predictions related to: (i) reduced variance in measures of responses to natural selection in the wild; (ii) multiple trait coevolution, including the evolution of sequences of traits and patterns of parallel evolution; and (iii) a positive association between niche construction and biodiversity. More generally, we submit that evolutionary biology would benefit from greater attention to the diverse properties of all sources of selection.
Project description:Echolocating bats need to solve the problem of signal jamming by conspecifics when they are in a group. However, while several mechanisms have been suggested, it remains unclear how bats avoid confusion between their own echoes and interfering sounds in a complex acoustic environment. Here, we fixed on-board microphones onto individual frequency-modulating bats flying in groups. We found that group members broaden the inter-individual differences in the terminal frequencies of pulses, thereby decreasing the similarity of pulses among individuals. To understand what features most affect similarity between pulses, we calculated the similarity of signals mimicking pulses. We found that the similarity between those artificial signals was decreased most by manipulation of terminal frequency. These results demonstrate that the signal jamming problem is solved by this simple strategy, which may be universally used by animals that use active sensing, such as echolocating bats and electric fish, thereby transcending species and sensory modalities.