A lipidomic approach to understanding free fatty acid lipogenesis derived from dissolved inorganic carbon within cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis.
ABSTRACT: The cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis is arguably one of the most important within the marine environment in that it is integral to the formation of coral reefs. However, the regulatory processes that perpetuate this symbiosis remain unresolved. It is essential to understand these processes, if we are to elucidate the mechanisms that support growth and resource accumulation by coral host, and conversely, recently observed reduction and/or mortality of corals in response to rapid environmental change. This study specifically focused on one area of metabolic activity within the symbiosis, that of free fatty acid synthesis within both the dinoflagellate symbionts and cnidarian host. The main model system used was Aiptasia pulchella and Symbiodinium sp. in combination with aposymbiotic A. pulchella, the symbiotic coral Acropora millepora system and dinoflagellate culture. Fatty acids (FAs) were selected because of their multiple essential roles inclusive of energy storage (resource accumulation), membrane structure fluidity and cell signaling. The study addressed free FA lipogenesis by using a new method of enriched stable isotopic ((13)C) incorporation from dissolved inorganic carbon (DI(13)C) combined with HPLC-MS. FAs derived from DI(13)C aligned with a mixture of known lipogenesis pathways with the addition of some unusual FAs. After 120 hr, (13)C-enriched FA synthesis rates were attributed to only a complex integration of both n-3 and n-6 lipogenesis pathways within the dinoflagellate symbionts. Furthermore, there was no detectible evidence of symbiont derived enriched isotope fatty acids, catabolized (13)C derivatives or DI(13)C being directly utilized, in host late n-6 pathway long-chain FA lipogenesis. These findings do not align with a popular mutualistic translocation model with respect to the use of translocated symbiont photoassimilates in host long-chain FA lipogenesis, which has important connotations for linking nutrient sources with metabolite production and the dynamic regulation of this symbiosis.
Project description:Coral reefs provide habitats for a disproportionate number of marine species relative to the small area of the oceans that they occupy. The mutualism between the cnidarian animal hosts and their intracellular dinoflagellate symbionts provides the nutritional foundation for coral growth and formation of reef structures, because algal photosynthesis can provide >90% of the total energy of the host. Disruption of this symbiosis ("coral bleaching") is occurring on a large scale due primarily to anthropogenic factors and poses a major threat to the future of coral reefs. Despite the importance of this symbiosis, the cellular mechanisms involved in its establishment, maintenance, and breakdown remain largely unknown. We report our continued development of genomic tools to study these mechanisms in Aiptasia, a small sea anemone with great promise as a model system for studies of cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis. Specifically, we have generated de novo assemblies of the transcriptomes of both a clonal line of symbiotic anemones and their endogenous dinoflagellate symbionts. We then compared transcript abundances in animals with and without dinoflagellates. This analysis identified >900 differentially expressed genes and allowed us to generate testable hypotheses about the cellular functions affected by symbiosis establishment. The differentially regulated transcripts include >60 encoding proteins that may play roles in transporting various nutrients between the symbiotic partners; many more encoding proteins functioning in several metabolic pathways, providing clues regarding how the transported nutrients may be used by the partners; and several encoding proteins that may be involved in host recognition and tolerance of the dinoflagellate.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Cnidarian-dinoflagellate intracellular symbioses are one of the most important mutualisms in the marine environment. They form the trophic and structural foundation of coral reef ecosystems, and have played a key role in the evolutionary radiation and biodiversity of cnidarian species. Despite the prevalence of these symbioses, we still know very little about the molecular modulators that initiate, regulate, and maintain the interaction between these two different biological entities. In this study, we conducted a comparative host anemone transcriptome analysis using a cDNA microarray platform to identify genes involved in cnidarian-algal symbiosis. RESULTS: We detected statistically significant differences in host gene expression profiles between sea anemones (Anthopleura elegantissima) in a symbiotic and non-symbiotic state. The group of genes, whose expression is altered, is diverse, suggesting that the molecular regulation of the symbiosis is governed by changes in multiple cellular processes. In the context of cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbioses, we discuss pivotal host gene expression changes involved in lipid metabolism, cell adhesion, cell proliferation, apoptosis, and oxidative stress. CONCLUSION: Our data do not support the existence of symbiosis-specific genes involved in controlling and regulating the symbiosis. Instead, it appears that the symbiosis is maintained by altering expression of existing genes involved in vital cellular processes. Specifically, the finding of key genes involved in cell cycle progression and apoptosis have led us to hypothesize that a suppression of apoptosis, together with a deregulation of the host cell cycle, create a platform that might be necessary for symbiont and/or symbiont-containing host cell survival. This first comprehensive molecular examination of the cnidarian-dinoflagellate associations provides critical insights into the maintenance and regulation of the symbiosis.
Project description:Background: Cnidarian – dinoflagellate intracellular symbioses are one of the most important mutualisms in the marine environment. They form the trophic and structural foundation of coral reef ecosystems, and have played a key role in the evolutionary radiation and biodiversity of cnidarian species. Despite the prevalence of these symbioses, we still know very little about the molecular modulators that initiate, regulate, and maintain the interaction between these two different biological entities. In this study, we conducted a comparative host anemone transcriptome analysis using a cDNA microarray platform to identify genes involved in cnidarian – algal symbiosis. Results: We detected statistically significant differences in host gene expression profiles between sea anemones (Anthopleura elegantissima) in a symbiotic and non-symbiotic state. The group of genes, whose expression is altered, is diverse, suggesting that the molecular regulation of the symbiosis is governed by changes in multiple cellular processes. In the context of cnidarian – dinoflagellate symbioses, we discuss pivotal host gene expression changes involved in lipid metabolism, cell adhesion, cell proliferation, apoptosis, and oxidative stress. Conclusion: Our data do not support the existence of symbiosis-specific genes involved in controlling and regulating the symbiosis. Instead, it appears that the symbiosis is maintained by altering expression of existing genes involved in vital cellular processes. Specifically, the finding of key genes involved in cell cycle progression and apoptosis have led us to hypothesize that a suppression of apoptosis, together with a deregulation of the host cell cycle, create a platform that might be necessary for symbiont and/or symbiont-containing host cell survival. This first comprehensive molecular examination of the cnidarian – dinoflagellate associations provides critical insight into the maintenance and regulation of the symbiosis. Keywords: comparative genomic hybridization Overall design: We applied a multiple dye-swap experimental design for the two conditions, aposymbiotic and symbiotic anemone groups, compared in our experiment. For this experiment, there were no reference samples. Six biological replicates per condition were used as recommended for this type of two-comparison experimental design. There were not technical replicates on the array.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The most diverse marine ecosystems, coral reefs, depend upon a functional symbiosis between cnidarian hosts and unicellular dinoflagellate algae. The molecular mechanisms underlying the establishment, maintenance, and breakdown of the symbiotic partnership are, however, not well understood. Efforts to dissect these questions have been slow, as corals are notoriously difficult to work with. In order to expedite this field of research, we generated and analyzed a collection of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from the sea anemone Aiptasia pallida and its dinoflagellate symbiont (Symbiodinium sp.), a system that is gaining popularity as a model to study cellular, molecular, and genomic questions related to cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbioses. RESULTS:A set of 4,925 unique sequences (UniSeqs) comprising 1,427 clusters of 2 or more ESTs (contigs) and 3,498 unclustered ESTs (singletons) was generated by analyzing 10,285 high-quality ESTs from a mixed host/symbiont cDNA library. Using a BLAST-based approach to predict which unique sequences derived from the host versus symbiont genomes, we found that the contribution of the symbiont genome to the transcriptome was surprisingly small (1.6-6.4%). This may reflect low levels of gene expression in the symbionts, low coverage of alveolate genes in the sequence databases, a small number of symbiont cells relative to the total cellular content of the anemones, or failure to adequately lyse symbiont cells. Furthermore, we were able to identify groups of genes that are known or likely to play a role in cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbioses, including oxidative stress pathways that emerged as a prominent biological feature of this transcriptome. All ESTs and UniSeqs along with annotation results and other tools have been made accessible through the implementation of a publicly accessible database named AiptasiaBase. CONCLUSION:We have established the first large-scale transcriptomic resource for Aiptasia pallida and its dinoflagellate symbiont. These data provide researchers with tools to study questions related to cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbioses on a molecular, cellular, and genomic level. This groundwork represents a crucial step towards the establishment of a tractable model system that can be utilized to better understand cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbioses. With the advent of next-generation sequencing methods, the transcriptomic inventory of A. pallida and its symbiont, and thus the extent of AiptasiaBase, should expand dramatically in the near future.
Project description:The mutualistic endosymbiosis between cnidarians and dinoflagellates is mediated by complex inter-partner signaling events, where the host cnidarian innate immune system plays a crucial role in recognition and regulation of symbionts. To date, little is known about the diversity of thrombospondin-type-1 repeat (TSR) domain proteins in basal metazoans or their potential role in regulation of cnidarian-dinoflagellate mutualisms. We reveal a large and diverse repertoire of TSR proteins in seven anthozoan species, and show that in the model sea anemone Aiptasia pallida the TSR domain promotes colonization of the host by the symbiotic dinoflagellate Symbiodinium minutum. Blocking TSR domains led to decreased colonization success, while adding exogenous TSRs resulted in a 'super colonization'. Furthermore, gene expression of TSR proteins was highest at early time-points during symbiosis establishment. Our work characterizes the diversity of cnidarian TSR proteins and provides evidence that these proteins play an important role in the establishment of cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis.
Project description:Stony corals form the foundation of coral reef ecosystems. Their phylogeny is characterized by a deep evolutionary divergence that separates corals into a robust and complex clade dating back to at least 245 mya. However, the genomic consequences and clade-specific evolution remain unexplored. In this study we have produced the genome of a robust coral, Stylophora pistillata, and compared it to the available genome of a complex coral, Acropora digitifera. We conducted a fine-scale gene-based analysis focusing on ortholog groups. Among the core set of conserved proteins, we found an emphasis on processes related to the cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis. Genes associated with the algal symbiosis were also independently expanded in both species, but both corals diverged on the identity of ortholog groups expanded, and we found uneven expansions in genes associated with innate immunity and stress response. Our analyses demonstrate that coral genomes can be surprisingly disparate. Future analyses incorporating more genomic data should be able to determine whether the patterns elucidated here are not only characteristic of the differences between S. pistillata and A. digitifera but also representative of corals from the robust and complex clade at large.
Project description:The symbiotic relationship between cnidarians and dinoflagellates is the cornerstone of coral reef ecosystems. Although research has focused on the molecular mechanisms underlying this symbiosis, the role of epigenetic mechanisms, that is, the study of heritable changes that do not involve changes in the DNA sequence, is unknown. To assess the role of DNA methylation in the cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis, we analyzed genome-wide CpG methylation, histone associations, and transcriptomic states of symbiotic and aposymbiotic anemones in the model system Aiptasia. We found that methylated genes are marked by histone 3 lysine 36 trimethylation (H3K36me3) and show significant reduction of spurious transcription and transcriptional noise, revealing a role of DNA methylation in the maintenance of transcriptional homeostasis. Changes in DNA methylation and expression show enrichment for symbiosis-related processes, such as immunity, apoptosis, phagocytosis recognition, and phagosome formation, and reveal intricate interactions between the underlying pathways. Our results demonstrate that DNA methylation provides an epigenetic mechanism of transcriptional homeostasis that responds to symbiosis.
Project description:The osmolyte glycine betaine (GB) ranks among the few widespread biomolecules in all three domains of life. In corals, tissue concentrations of GB are substantially higher than in the ambient seawater. However, the synthetic routes remain unresolved, questioning whether intracellular GB originates from de novo synthesis or heterotrophic input. Here we show that the genomic blueprint of coral metaorganisms encode the biosynthetic and degradation machinery for GB. Member organisms also adopted the prokaryotic high-affinity carrier-mediated uptake of exogenous GB, rendering coral reefs potential sinks of marine dissolved GB. The machinery metabolizing GB is highly expressed in the coral model Aiptasia and its microalgal symbionts, signifying GB's role in the cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis. We estimate that corals store between 106-109 grams of GB globally, representing about 16% of their nitrogen biomass. Our findings provide a framework for further mechanistic studies addressing GB's role in coral biology and reef ecosystem nitrogen cycling.
Project description:Trophic endosymbiosis between anthozoans and photosynthetic dinoflagellates forms the key foundation of reef ecosystems. Dysfunction and collapse of symbiosis lead to bleaching (symbiont expulsion), which is responsible for the severe worldwide decline of coral reefs. Molecular signals are central to the stability of this partnership and are therefore closely related to coral health. To decipher inter-partner signaling, we developed genomic resources (cDNA library and microarrays) from the symbiotic sea anemone Anemonia viridis. Here we describe differential expression between symbiotic (also called zooxanthellate anemones) or aposymbiotic (also called bleached) A. viridis specimens, using microarray hybridizations and qPCR experiments. We mapped, for the first time, transcript abundance separately in the epidermal cell layer and the gastrodermal cells that host photosynthetic symbionts. Transcriptomic profiles showed large inter-individual variability, indicating that aposymbiosis could be induced by different pathways. We defined a restricted subset of 39 common genes that are characteristic of the symbiotic or aposymbiotic states. We demonstrated that transcription of many genes belonging to this set is specifically enhanced in the symbiotic cells (gastroderm). A model is proposed where the aposymbiotic and therefore heterotrophic state triggers vesicular trafficking, whereas the symbiotic and therefore autotrophic state favors metabolic exchanges between host and symbiont. Several genetic pathways were investigated in more detail: i) a key vitamin K-dependant process involved in the dinoflagellate-cnidarian recognition; ii) two cnidarian tissue-specific carbonic anhydrases involved in the carbon transfer from the environment to the intracellular symbionts; iii) host collagen synthesis, mostly supported by the symbiotic tissue. Further, we identified specific gene duplications and showed that the cnidarian-specific isoform was also up-regulated both in the symbiotic state and in the gastroderm. Our results thus offer new insight into the inter-partner signaling required for the physiological mechanisms of the symbiosis that is crucial for coral health.
Project description:The endosymbiotic relationship between cnidarians and photosynthetic dinoflagellate algae provides the foundation of coral reef ecosystems. This essential interaction is globally threatened by anthropogenic disturbance. As such, it is important to understand the molecular mechanisms underpinning the cnidarian-algal association. Here we investigated phosphorylation-mediated protein signalling as a mechanism of regulation of the cnidarian-algal interaction, and we report on the generation of the first phosphoproteome for the coral model system Aiptasia. Mass spectrometry-based phosphoproteomics using data-independent acquisition allowed consistent quantification of over 3,000 phosphopeptides totalling more than 1,600 phosphoproteins across aposymbiotic (symbiont-free) and symbiotic anemones. Comparison of the symbiotic states showed distinct phosphoproteomic profiles attributable to the differential phosphorylation of 539 proteins that cover a broad range of functions, from receptors to structural and signal transduction proteins. A subsequent pathway enrichment analysis identified the processes of "protein digestion and absorption," "carbohydrate metabolism," and "protein folding, sorting and degradation," and highlighted differential phosphorylation of the "phospholipase D signalling pathway" and "protein processing in the endoplasmic reticulum." Targeted phosphorylation of the phospholipase D signalling pathway suggests control of glutamate vesicle trafficking across symbiotic compartments, and phosphorylation of the endoplasmic reticulum machinery suggests recycling of symbiosome-associated proteins. Our study shows for the first time that changes in the phosphorylation status of proteins between aposymbiotic and symbiotic Aiptasia anemones may play a role in the regulation of the cnidarian-algal symbiosis. This is the first phosphoproteomic study of a cnidarian-algal symbiotic association as well as the first application of quantification by data-independent acquisition in the coral field.