Selective accumulation of germ-line associated gene products in early development of the sea star and distinct differences from germ-line development in the sea urchin.
ABSTRACT: Echinodermata is a diverse phylum, a sister group to chordates, and contains diverse organisms that may be useful to understand varied mechanisms of germ-line specification.We tested 23 genes in development of the sea star Patiria miniata that fall into five categories: (1) Conserved germ-line factors; (2) Genes involved in the inductive mechanism of germ-line specification; (3) Germ-line associated genes; (4) Molecules involved in left-right asymmetry; and (5) Genes involved in regulation and maintenance of the genome during early embryogenesis. Overall, our results support the contention that the posterior enterocoel is a source of the germ line in the sea star P. miniata.The germ line in this organism appears to be specified late in embryogenesis, and in a pattern more consistent with inductive interactions amongst cells. This is distinct from the mechanism seen in sea urchins, a close relative of the sea star clad. We propose that P. miniata may serve as a valuable model to study inductive mechanisms of germ-cell specification and when compared with germ-line formation in the sea urchin S. purpuratus may reveal developmental transitions that occur in the evolution of inherited and inductive mechanisms of germ-line specification.
Project description:Specification of the germ cell lineage is required for sexual reproduction in animals. The mechanism of germ cell specification varies among animals but roughly clusters into either inherited or inductive mechanisms. The inductive mechanism, the use of cell-cell interactions for germ cell specification, appears to be the ancestral mechanism in animal phylogeny, yet the pathways responsible for this process are only recently surfacing. Here, we show that germ cell factors in the sea star initially are present broadly, then become restricted dorsally and then in the left side of the embryo where the germ cells form a posterior enterocoel. We find that Nodal signaling is required for the restriction of two germ cell factors, Nanos and Vasa, during the early development of this animal. We learned that Nodal inhibits germ cell factor accumulation in three ways including: inhibition of specific transcription, degradation of specific mRNAs and inhibition of tissue morphogenesis. These results document a signaling mechanism required for the sequential restriction of germ cell factors, which causes a specific set of embryonic cells to become the primordial germ cells.
Project description:Dysferlin is a calcium-binding transmembrane protein involved in membrane fusion and membrane repair. In humans, mutations in the dysferlin gene are associated with muscular dystrophy. In this study, we isolated plasma membrane-enriched fractions from full-grown immature oocytes of the sea star, and identified dysferlin by mass spectrometry analysis. The full-length dysferlin sequence is highly conserved between human and the sea star. We learned that in the sea star Patiria miniata, dysferlin RNA and protein are expressed from oogenesis to gastrulation. Interestingly, the protein is highly enriched in the plasma membrane of oocytes. Injection of a morpholino against dysferlin leads to a decrease of endocytosis in oocytes, and to a developmental arrest during gastrulation. These results suggest that dysferlin is critical for normal endocytosis during oogenesis and for embryogenesis in the sea star and that this animal may be a useful model for studying the relationship of dysferlin structure as it relates to its function.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Germ lines are the cell lineages that give rise to the sperm and eggs in animals. The germ lines first arise from primordial germ cells (PGCs) during embryogenesis: these form from either a presumed derived mode of preformed germ plasm (inheritance) or from an ancestral mechanism of inductive cell-cell signalling (induction). Numerous genes involved in germ line specification and development have been identified and functionally studied. However, little is known about the molecular evolutionary dynamics of germ line genes in metazoan model systems.<h4>Results</h4>Here, we studied the molecular evolution of germ line genes within three metazoan model systems. These include the genus Drosophila (N=34 genes, inheritance), the fellow insect Apis (N=30, induction), and their more distant relative Caenorhabditis (N=23, inheritance). Using multiple species and established phylogenies in each genus, we report that germ line genes exhibited marked variation in the constraint on protein sequence divergence (dN/dS) and codon usage bias (CUB) within each genus. Importantly, we found that de novo lineage-specific inheritance (LSI) genes in Drosophila (osk, pgc) and in Caenorhabditis (pie-1, pgl-1), which are essential to germ plasm functions under the derived inheritance mode, displayed rapid protein sequence divergence relative to the other germ line genes within each respective genus. We show this may reflect the evolution of specialized germ plasm functions and/or low pleiotropy of LSI genes, features not shared with other germ line genes. In addition, we observed that the relative ranking of dN/dS and of CUB between genera were each more strongly correlated between Drosophila and Caenorhabditis, from different phyla, than between Drosophila and its insect relative Apis, suggesting taxonomic differences in how germ line genes have evolved.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Taken together, the present results advance our understanding of the evolution of animal germ line genes within three well-known metazoan models. Further, the findings provide insights to the molecular evolution of germ line genes with respect to LSI status, pleiotropy, adaptive evolution as well as PGC-specification mode.
Project description:Oviparous animals store yolk proteins within the developing oocyte. These proteins are used in gametogenesis and as a nutritional source for embryogenesis. Vitellogenin and the major yolk protein are two of the most important yolk proteins among diverse species of invertebrates and vertebrates. Among the echinoderms, members of the subphyla Echinozoa (sea urchins and sea cucumbers) express the major yolk protein (MYP) but not vitellogenin (Vtg), while an initial report has documented that two Asterozoa (sea stars) express a vitellogenin. Our results show that sea stars contain two vitellogenins, Vtg 1 and Vtg 2, and MYP. In Patiria miniata, these genes are differentially expressed in the somatic and germ cells of the ovary: Vtg 1 is enriched in the somatic cells of the ovary but not in the oocytes, and Vtg 2 accumulates in both oocytes and somatic cells; MYP is not robustly present in either. Remarkably, Vtg 2 and MYP mRNA reappear in larvae; Vtg 2 is detected within cells of the ectoderm, and MYP accumulates in the coelomic pouches, the intestine, and the posterior enterocoel (PE), the site of germ line formation in this animal. Additionally, the Vtg 2 protein is present in oocytes, follicle cells, and developing embryos, but becomes undetectable following gastrulation. These results help elucidate the mechanisms involved in yolk dynamics, and provide molecular information that allows for greater understanding of the evolution of these important gene products.
Project description:The genetic basis for the evolution of development includes genes that encode proteins expressed on the surfaces of sperm and eggs. Previous studies of the sperm acrosomal protein bindin have helped to characterize the adaptive evolution of gamete compatibility and speciation in sea urchins. The absence of evidence for bindin expression in taxa other than the Echinoidea has limited such studies to sea urchins, and led to the suggestion that bindin might be a sea urchin-specific molecule. Here we characterize the gene that encodes bindin in a broadcast-spawning asterinid sea star (Patiria miniata). We describe the sequence and domain structure of a full-length bindin cDNA and its single intron. In comparison with sea urchins, P. miniata bindin is larger but the two molecules share several general features of their domain structure and some sequence features of two domains. Our results extend the known evolutionary history of bindin from the Mesozoic (among the crown group sea urchins) into the early Paleozoic (and the common ancestor of eleutherozoans), and present new opportunities for understanding the role of bindin molecular evolution in sexual selection, life history evolution, and speciation among sea stars.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Studies of specification of germ-cells in insect embryos has indicated that in many taxa the germ cells form early in development, and their formation is associated with pole plasm, germ plasm or an organelle called the oosome. None of these morphological features associated with germ cell formation have been identified in the Honeybee Apis mellifera. In this study I report the cloning and expression analysis of Honeybee homologues of vasa and nanos, germ cell markers in insects and other animals. RESULTS: Apis vasa and nanos RNAs are present in early honeybee embryos, but the RNAs clear rapidly, without any cells expressing these germ cell markers past stage 2. These genes are then only expressed in a line of cells in the abdomen from stage 9 onwards. These cells are the developing germ cells that are moved dorsally by dorsal closure and are placed in the genital ridge. CONCLUSION: This study of the expression of germ cell markers in the honeybee implies that in this species either germ cells are formed by an inductive event, late in embryogenesis, or they are formed early in development in the absence of vasa and nanos expression. This contrasts with germ cell development in other members of the Hymenoptera, Diptera and Lepidoptera.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Specification of the germ line is an essential event during the embryonic development of sexually reproducing animals, as germ line cells are uniquely capable of giving rise to the next generation. Animal germ cells arise through either inheritance of a specialized, maternally supplied cytoplasm called 'germ plasm' or though inductive signaling by somatic cells. Our understanding of germ cell determination is based largely on a small number of model organisms. To better understand the evolution of germ cell specification, we are investigating this process in the amphipod crustacean Parhyale hawaiensis. Experimental evidence from previous studies demonstrated that Parhyale germ cells are specified through inheritance of a maternally supplied cytoplasmic determinant; however, this determinant has not been identified. RESULTS:Here we show that the one-cell stage Parhyale embryo has a distinct cytoplasmic region that can be identified by morphology as well as the localization of germ line-associated RNAs. Removal of this cytoplasmic region results in a loss of embryonic germ cells, supporting the hypothesis that it is required for specification of the germ line. Surprisingly, we found that removal of this distinct cytoplasm also results in aberrant somatic cell behaviors, as embryos fail to gastrulate. CONCLUSIONS:Parhyale hawaiensis embryos have a specialized cytoplasm that is required for specification of the germ line. Our data provide the first functional evidence of a putative germ plasm in a crustacean and provide the basis for comparative functional analysis of germ plasm formation within non-insect arthropods.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Proteomic studies of skeletal proteins have revealed large, complex mixtures of proteins occluded within the mineral. Many skeletal proteomes contain rapidly evolving proteins with repetitive domains, further complicating our understanding. In echinoderms, proteomic analysis of the skeletal proteomes of mineralized tissues of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus prominently featured spicule matrix proteins with repetitive sequences linked to a C-type lectin domain. A comparative study of the brittle star Ophiocoma wendtii skeletal proteome revealed an order of magnitude fewer proteins containing C-type lectin domains. A number of other proteins conserved in the skeletons of the two groups were identified. Here we report the complete skeletal proteome of the sea star Patiria miniata and compare it to that of the other echinoderm groups.<h4>Results</h4>We have identified eighty-five proteins in the P. miniata skeletal proteome. Forty-two percent of the proteins were determined to be homologous to proteins found in the S. purpuratus skeletal proteomes. An additional 34 % were from similar functional classes as proteins in the urchin proteomes. Thirteen percent of the P. miniata proteins had homologues in the O. wendtii skeletal proteome with an additional 29% showing similarity to brittle star skeletal proteins. The P. miniata skeletal proteome did not contain any proteins with C-lectin domains or with acidic repetitive regions similar to the sea urchin or brittle star spicule matrix proteins. MSP130 proteins were also not found. We did identify a number of proteins homologous between the three groups. Some of the highly conserved proteins found in echinoderm skeletons have also been identified in vertebrate skeletons.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The presence of proteins conserved in the skeleton in three different echinoderm groups indicates these proteins are important in skeleton formation. That a number of these proteins are involved in skeleton formation in vertebrates suggests a common origin for some of the fundamental processes co-opted for skeleton formation in deuterostomes. The proteins we identify suggest transport of proteins and calcium via endosomes was co-opted to this function in a convergent fashion. Our data also indicate that modifications to the process of skeleton formation can occur through independent co-option of proteins following species divergence as well as through domain shuffling.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The ParaHox genes are thought to be major players in patterning the gut of several bilaterian taxa. Though this is a fundamental role that these transcription factors play, their activities are not limited to the endoderm and extend to both ectodermal and mesodermal tissues. Three genes compose the ParaHox group: Gsx, Xlox and Cdx. In some taxa (mostly chordates but to some degree also in protostomes) the three genes are arranged into a genomic cluster, in a similar fashion to what has been shown for the better-known Hox genes. Sea urchins possess the full complement of ParaHox genes but they are all dispersed throughout the genome, an arrangement that, perhaps, represented the primitive condition for all echinoderms. In order to understand the evolutionary history of this group of genes we cloned and characterized all ParaHox genes, studied their expression patterns and identified their genomic loci in a member of an earlier branching group of echinoderms, the asteroid Patiria miniata. RESULTS:We identified the three ParaHox orthologs in the genome of P. miniata. While one of them, PmGsx is provided as maternal message, with no zygotic activation afterwards, the other two, PmLox and PmCdx are expressed during embryogenesis, within restricted domains of both endoderm and ectoderm. Screening of a Patiria bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library led to the identification of a clone containing the three genes. The transcriptional directions of PmGsx and PmLox are opposed to that of the PmCdx gene within the cluster. CONCLUSIONS:The identification of P. miniata ParaHox genes has revealed the fact that these genes are clustered in the genome, in contrast to what has been reported for echinoids. Since the presence of an intact cluster, or at least a partial cluster, has been reported in chordates and polychaetes respectively, it becomes clear that within echinoderms, sea urchins have modified the original bilaterian arrangement. Moreover, the sea star ParaHox domains of expression show chordate-like features not found in the sea urchin, confirming that the dynamics of gene expression for the respective genes and their putative regulatory interactions have clearly changed over evolutionary time within the echinoid lineage.
Project description:Specification of the primordial germ cells (PGCs) is essential for sexually reproducing animals. Although the mechanisms of PGC specification are diverse between organisms, the RNA binding protein Nanos is consistently required in the germ line in all species tested. How Nanos is selectively expressed in the germ line, however, remains largely elusive. We report that in sea urchin embryos, the early expression of Nanos2 in the PGCs requires the maternal Wnt pathway. During gastrulation, however, Nanos2 expression expands into adjacent somatic mesodermal cells and this secondary Nanos expression instead requires Delta/Notch signaling through the forkhead family member FoxY. Each of these transcriptional regulators were tested by chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis and found to directly interact with a DNA locus upstream of Nanos2. Given the conserved importance of Nanos in germ line specification, and the derived character of the micromeres and small micromeres in the sea urchin, we propose that the ancestral mechanism of Nanos2 expression in echinoderms was by induction in mesodermal cells during gastrulation.