Low structural variation in the host-defense peptide repertoire of the dwarf clawed frog Hymenochirus boettgeri (Pipidae).
ABSTRACT: THE skin secretion of many amphibians contains peptides that are able to kill a broad range of microorganisms (antimicrobial peptides: AMPs) and potentially play a role in innate immune defense. Similar to the toxin arsenals of various animals, amphibian AMP repertoires typically show major structural variation, and previous studies have suggested that this may be the result of diversifying selection in adaptation to a diverse spectrum of pathogens. Here we report on transcriptome analyses that indicate a very different pattern in the dwarf clawed frog H. boettgeri. Our analyses reveal a diverse set of transcripts containing two to six tandem repeats, together encoding 14 distinct peptides. Five of these have recently been identified as AMPs, while three more are shown here to potently inhibit the growth of gram-negative bacteria, including multi-drug resistant strains of the medically important Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Although the number of predicted peptides is similar to the numbers of related AMPs in Xenopus and Silurana frog species, they show significantly lower structural variation. Selection analyses confirm that, in contrast to the AMPs of other amphibians, the H. boettgeri peptides did not evolve under diversifying selection. Instead, the low sequence variation among tandem repeats resulted from purifying selection, recent duplication and/or concerted gene evolution. Our study demonstrates that defense peptide repertoires of closely related taxa, after diverging from each other, may evolve under differential selective regimes, leading to contrasting patterns of structural diversity.
Project description:Drosophila is an important model for studying the evolution of animal immunity, due to the powerful genetic tools developed for D. melanogaster. However, Drosophila is an incredibly speciose lineage with a wide range of ecologies, natural histories, and diverse natural enemies. Surprisingly little functional work has been done on immune systems of species other than D. melanogaster. In this study, we examine the evolution of immune genes in the speciose subgenus Drosophila, which diverged from the subgenus Sophophora (that includes D. melanogaster) approximately 25-40 Mya. We focus on D. neotestacea, a woodland species used to study interactions between insects and parasitic nematodes, and combine recent transcriptomic data with infection experiments to elucidate aspects of host immunity.We found that the vast majority of genes involved in the D. melanogaster immune response are conserved in D. neotestacea, with a few interesting exceptions, particularly in antimicrobial peptides (AMPs); until recently, AMPs were not thought to evolve rapidly in Drosophila. Unexpectedly, we found a distinct diptericin in subgenus Drosophila flies that appears to have evolved under diversifying (positive) selection. We also describe the presence of the AMP drosocin, which was previously thought to be restricted to the subgenus Sophophora, in the subgenus Drosophila. We challenged two subgenus Drosophila species, D. neotestacea and D. virilis with bacterial and fungal pathogens and quantified AMP expression.While diptericin in D. virilis was induced by exposure to gram-negative bacteria, it was not induced in D. neotestacea, showing that conservation of immune genes does not necessarily imply conservation of the realized immune response. Our study lends support to the idea that invertebrate AMPs evolve rapidly, and that Drosophila harbor a diverse repertoire of AMPs with potentially important functional consequences.
Project description:With a diminishing number of effective antibiotics, there has been interest in developing antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) as drugs. However, any new drug faces potential bacterial resistance evolution. Here, we experimentally compare resistance evolution in Staphylococcus aureus selected by three AMPs (from mammals, amphibians and insects), a combination of two AMPs, and two antibiotics: the powerful last-resort vancomycin and the classic streptomycin. We find that resistance evolves readily against single AMPs and against streptomycin, with no detectable fitness cost. However the response to selection from our combination of AMPs led to extinction, in a fashion qualitatively similar to vancomycin. This is consistent with the hypothesis that simultaneous release of multiple AMPs during immune responses is a factor which constrains evolution of AMP resistant pathogens.
Project description:Amphibians can be more vulnerable to environmental changes and diseases than other species because of their complex life cycle and physiological requirements. Therefore, understanding the adaptation of amphibians to environmental changes is crucial for their conservation. Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) presents an excellent tool for the investigation of adaptive variations and the assessment of adaptive potential because it can be under strong diversifying selection. Here, we isolated the MHC class II B (MHCIIB) gene from cDNA sequences of the black-spotted frog (Pelophylax nigromaculatus), a widespread amphibian species in China, and designed locus-specific primers to characterize adaptive variability of this amphibian. Ten alleles were identified from 67 individual frogs of three populations and no more than two alleles were present in each individual animal. Furthermore, none of the sequences had indels or/and stop codons, which is in good agreement with locus-specific amplification of a functional gene. However, we found low polymorphism at both nucleotide and amino acid levels, even in the antigen-binding region. Purifying selection acting at this locus was supported by the findings that the dN/dS ratio across all alleles was below 1 and that negatively selected sites were detected by different methods. Allele frequency distributions were significantly different among geographic populations, indicating that physiographic factors may have strong effect on the genetic structure of the black-spotted frog. This study revealed limited polymorphism of three adjacent black-spotted frog populations at the functional MHCIIB locus, which may be attributed to region-specific differences. The locus-specific genotyping technique developed in this study would provide a foundation for future studies on adaptive divergence among different frog populations.
Project description:The skin secretion of many amphibians contains an arsenal of bioactive molecules, including hormone-like peptides (HLPs) acting as defense toxins against predators, and antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) providing protection against infectious microorganisms. Several amphibian taxa seem to have independently acquired the genes to produce skin-secreted peptide arsenals, but it remains unknown how these originated from a non-defensive ancestral gene and evolved diverse defense functions against predators and pathogens. We conducted transcriptome, genome, peptidome and phylogenetic analyses to chart the full gene repertoire underlying the defense peptide arsenal of the frog Silurana tropicalis and reconstruct its evolutionary history. Our study uncovers a cluster of 13 transcriptionally active genes, together encoding up to 19 peptides, including diverse HLP homologues and AMPs. This gene cluster arose from a duplicated gastrointestinal hormone gene that attained a HLP-like defense function after major remodeling of its promoter region. Instead, new defense functions, including antimicrobial activity, arose by mutation of the precursor proteins, resulting in the proteolytic processing of secondary peptides alongside the original ones. Although gene duplication did not trigger functional innovation, it may have subsequently facilitated the convergent loss of the original function in multiple gene lineages (subfunctionalization), completing their transformation from HLP gene to AMP gene. The processing of multiple peptides from a single precursor entails a mechanism through which peptide-encoding genes may establish new functions without the need for gene duplication to avoid adaptive conflicts with older ones.
Project description:Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are a group of gene-encoded small peptides that play pivotal roles in the host immune system of multicellular organisms. Cathelicidins are an important family of AMPs that exclusively exist in vertebrates. Many cathelicidins have been identified from mammals, birds, reptiles and fish. To date, however, cathelicidins from amphibians are poorly understood. In the present study, two novel cathelicidins (OL-CATH1 and 2) were identified and studied from the odorous frog Odorrana livida. Firstly, the cDNAs encoding the OL-CATHs (780 and 735 bp in length, respectively) were successfully cloned from a lung cDNA library constructed for the frog. Multi-sequence alignment was carried out to analyze differences between the precursors of the OL-CATHs and other representative cathelicidins. Mature peptide sequences of OL-CATH1 and 2 were predicted (33 amino acid residues) and their secondary structures were determined (OL-CATH1 showed a random-coil conformation and OL-CATH2 demonstrated a-helical conformation). Furthermore, OL-CATH1 and 2 were chemically synthesized and their in vitro functions were determined. Antimicrobial and bacterial killing kinetic analyses indicated that OL-CATH2 demonstrated relatively moderate and rapid antimicrobial potency and exhibited strong anti-inflammatory activity. At very low concentrations (10 ?g/mL), OL-CATH2 significantly inhibited the lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced transcription and production of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-a, IL-1b and IL-6 in mouse peritoneal macrophages. In contrast, OL-CATH1 did not exhibit any detectable antimicrobial or anti-inflammatory activities. Overall, identification of these OL-CATHs from O. livida enriches our understanding of the functions of cathelicidins in the amphibian immune system. The potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities of OL-CATH2 highlight its potential as a novel candidate in anti-infective drug development.
Project description:Microbial communities can augment host immune responses and probiotic therapies are under development to prevent or treat diseases of humans, crops, livestock, and wildlife including an emerging fungal disease of amphibians, chytridiomycosis. However, little is known about the stability of host-associated microbiota, or how the microbiota is structured by innate immune factors including antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) abundant in the skin secretions of many amphibians. Thus, conservation medicine including therapies targeting the skin will benefit from investigations of amphibian microbial ecology that provide a model for vertebrate host-symbiont interactions on mucosal surfaces. Here, we tested whether the cutaneous microbiota of Panamanian rocket frogs, Colostethus panamansis, was resistant to colonization or altered by treatment. Under semi-natural outdoor mesocosm conditions in Panama, we exposed frogs to one of three treatments including: (1) probiotic - the potentially beneficial bacterium Lysinibacillus fusiformis, (2) transplant - skin washes from the chytridiomycosis-resistant glass frog Espadarana prosoblepon, and (3) control - sterile water. Microbial assemblages were analyzed by a culture-independent T-RFLP analysis. We found that skin microbiota of C. panamansis was resistant to colonization and did not differ among treatments, but shifted through time in the mesocosms. We describe regulation of host AMPs that may function to maintain microbial community stability. Colonization resistance was metabolically costly and microbe-treated frogs lost 7-12% of body mass. The discovery of strong colonization resistance of skin microbiota suggests a well-regulated, rather than dynamic, host-symbiont relationship, and suggests that probiotic therapies aiming to enhance host immunity may require an approach that circumvents host mechanisms maintaining equilibrium in microbial communities.
Project description:Host-defense antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) from amphibians are usually considered as one of the most promising next-generation antibiotics because of their excellent antimicrobial properties and low cytotoxicity. In the present study, one novel Brevinin-1 type peptide, Brevinin-1GHd, was isolated and characterized from the skin secretion of the frog, Hylarana guentheri. Brevinin-1GHd was found to possess a wide range of antimicrobial activity through penetrating the bacterial membrane within a short time while showing low hemolysis at bactericidal concentrations, even against the resistant strains. It also inhibited and eradicated biofilms that are thought to be closely related to the rise in resistance. Meanwhile, Brevinin-1GHd exhibited wide-spectrum anti-proliferation activity toward human cancer lines. Taken together, these results indicate that Brevinin-1GHd with its excellent antimicrobial and anticancer activities is a promising candidate for a novel antibiotic agent, and study of its structure-activity relationships also provided a rational template for further research and peptide analog design.
Project description:Cells that constitutively diversify their immunoglobulin genes can be used for selection of novel antibodies and for refining existing affinities and specificities. Here, we report an adaptation of the chicken DT40 system wherein its capacity for somatic hypermutation is harnessed to evolve human antibodies expressed as single-chain variable fragments (scFvs). Expression of membrane-anchored scFvs from within the rearranged Ig? locus created self-diversifying scFv libraries from which we could both select scFvs of a desired specificity and evolve both the specificity and affinity of existing scFvs by iterative expansion and selection. From these scFvs, we were able to create fully human IgG antibodies with nanomolar affinities. We further enhanced the functionality of the system by creating a pool of DT40 scFv lines with high levels of mutation driven by the overexpression of a hyperactive variant of activation-induced deaminase. From this library, we successfully isolated scFvs that bound the spliceosome factor CWC15 and the cytokine human IFN?. Our results demonstrate the flexibility and utility of DT40 for rapid generation of scFv repertoires and efficient selection, evolution and affinity maturation of scFv specificities.
Project description:Size is a fundamental feature of biological systems that affects physiology at all levels. For example, the dynamic, microtubule-based spindle that mediates chromosome segregation scales to a wide range of cell sizes across different organisms and cell types. Xenopus frog species possess a variety of egg and meiotic spindle sizes, and differences in activities or levels of microtubule-associated proteins in the egg cytoplasm between Xenopus laevis and Xenopus tropicalis have been shown to account for spindle scaling . Increased activity of the microtubule severing protein katanin scales the X. tropicalis spindle smaller compared to X. laevis , as do elevated levels of TPX2, a protein that enriches the cross-linking kinesin-5 motor Eg5 at spindle poles . To examine the conservation of spindle scaling mechanisms more broadly across frog species, we have utilized the tiny, distantly related Pipid frog Hymenochirus boettgeri. We find that egg extracts from H. boettgeri form meiotic spindles similar in size to X. tropicalis but that TPX2 and katanin-mediated scaling is not conserved. Instead, the microtubule depolymerizing motor protein kif2a functions to modulate spindle size. H. boettgeri kif2a possesses an activating phosphorylation site that is absent from X. laevis. Comparison of katanin and kif2a phosphorylation sites across a variety of species revealed strong evolutionary conservation, with X. laevis and X. tropicalis possessing distinct and unique alterations. Our study highlights the diversity and complexity of spindle assembly and scaling mechanisms, indicating that there is more than one way to assemble a spindle of a particular size.
Project description:In an era where the pipeline of new antibiotic development is drying up, the continuous rise of multi-drug resistant (MDR) and extensively drug resistant (XDR) bacteria are genuine threats to human health. Although antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) may serve as promising leads against drug resistant bacteria, only a few AMPs are in advanced clinical trials. The limitations of AMPs, namely their low in vivo activity, toxicity, and poor bioavailability, need to be addressed. Here, we review engineering of frog derived short ?-helical AMPs (aurein, temporins) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) binding designed ?-boomerang AMPs for further development. The discovery of novel cell selective AMPs from the human proprotein convertase furin is also discussed.