Analysis of western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) specific Alu repeats.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Research into great ape genomes has revealed widely divergent activity levels over time for Alu elements. However, the diversity of this mobile element family in the genome of the western lowland gorilla has previously been uncharacterized. Alu elements are primate-specific short interspersed elements that have been used as phylogenetic and population genetic markers for more than two decades. Alu elements are present at high copy number in the genomes of all primates surveyed thus far. The AluY subfamily and its derivatives have been recognized as the evolutionarily youngest Alu subfamily in the Old World primate lineage. RESULTS:Here we use a combination of computational and wet-bench laboratory methods to assess and catalog AluY subfamily activity level and composition in the western lowland gorilla genome (gorGor3.1). A total of 1,075 independent AluY insertions were identified and computationally divided into 10 subfamilies, with the largest number of gorilla-specific elements assigned to the canonical AluY subfamily. CONCLUSIONS:The retrotransposition activity level appears to be significantly lower than that seen in the human and chimpanzee lineages, while higher than that seen in orangutan genomes, indicative of differential Alu amplification in the western lowland gorilla lineage as compared to other Homininae.
Project description:Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) are designated as critically endangered and wild populations are dramatically declining as a result of habitat destruction, fragmentation, diseases (e.g., Ebola) and the illegal bushmeat trade. As wild populations continue to decline, the genetic management of the North American captive western lowland gorilla population will be an important component of the long-term conservation of the species. We genotyped 26 individuals from the North American captive gorilla collection at 11 autosomal microsatellite loci in order to compare levels of genetic diversity to wild populations, investigate genetic signatures of a population bottleneck and identify the genetic structure of the captive-born population. Captive gorillas had significantly higher levels of allelic diversity (t(7) = 4.49, P = 0.002) and heterozygosity (t(7) = 4.15, P = 0.004) than comparative wild populations, yet the population has lost significant allelic diversity while in captivity when compared to founders (t(7) = 2.44, P = 0.04). Analyses suggested no genetic evidence for a population bottleneck of the captive population. Genetic structure results supported the management of North American captive gorillas as a single population. Our results highlight the utility of genetic management approaches for endangered nonhuman primate species.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Emerging infectious diseases in wildlife are major threats for both human health and biodiversity conservation. Infectious diseases can have serious consequences for the genetic diversity of populations, which could enhance the species' extinction probability. The Ebola epizootic in western and central Africa induced more than 90% mortality in Western lowland gorilla population. Although mortality rates are very high, the impacts of Ebola on genetic diversity of Western lowland gorilla have never been assessed. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:We carried out long term studies of three populations of Western lowland gorilla in the Republic of the Congo (Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Lossi gorilla sanctuary both affected by Ebola and Lossi's periphery not affected). Using 17 microsatellite loci, we compared genetic diversity and structure of the populations and estimate their effective size before and after Ebola outbreaks. Despite the effective size decline in both populations, we did not detect loss in genetic diversity after the epizootic. We revealed temporal changes in allele frequencies in the smallest population. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:Immigration and short time elapsed since outbreaks could explain the conservation of genetic diversity after the demographic crash. Temporal changes in allele frequencies could not be explained by genetic drift or random sampling. Immigration from genetically differentiated populations and a non random mortality induced by Ebola, i.e., selective pressure and cost of sociality, are alternative hypotheses. Understanding the influence of Ebola on gorilla genetic dynamics is of paramount importance for human health, primate evolution and conservation biology.
Project description:The Alu repetitive family of short interspersed elements (SINEs) in primates can be subdivided into distinct subfamilies by specific diagnostic nucleotide changes. The older subfamilies are generally very abundant, while the younger subfamilies have fewer copies. Some of the youngest Alu elements are absent in the orthologous loci of nonhuman primates, indicative of recent retroposition events, the primary mode of SINE evolution. PCR analysis of one young Alu subfamily (Sb2) member found in the low-density lipoprotein receptor gene apparently revealed the presence of this element in the green monkey, orangutan, gorilla, and chimpanzee genomes, as well as the human genome. However, sequence analysis of these genomes revealed a highly mutated, older, primate-specific Alu element was present at this position in the nonhuman primates. Comparison of the flanking DNA sequences upstream of this Alu insertion corresponded to evolution expected for standard primate phylogeny, but comparison of the Alu repeat sequences revealed that the human element departed from this phylogeny. The change in the human sequence apparently occurred by a gene conversion event only within the Alu element itself, converting it from one of the oldest to one of the youngest Alu subfamilies. Although gene conversions of Alu elements are clearly very rare, this finding shows that such events can occur and contribute to specific cases of SINE subfamily evolution.
Project description:Structural variation has played an important role in the evolutionary restructuring of human and great ape genomes. We generated approximately 10-fold genomic sequence coverage from a western lowland gorilla and integrated these data into a physical and cytogenetic framework to develop a comprehensive view of structural variation. We discovered and validated over 7,665 structural changes within the gorilla lineage including sequence resolution of inversions, deletions, duplications and retrotranspositions. A comparison with human and other ape genomes shows that the gorilla genome has been subjected to the highest rate of segmental duplication. We show that both the gorilla and chimpanzee genomes have experienced independent yet parallel patterns of structural mutation that have not occurred in humans, including the formation of subtelomeric heterochromatic caps, the hyperexpansion of segmental duplications and bursts of retroviral integrations. Our analysis suggests that the chimpanzee and gorilla genomes are structurally more derived than either orangutan or human. Overall design: all combinations of human, chimpanzee and gorilla are used in 2 different arrayCGH designs. First, a standard 2.1 was used to detected CNVs, and second, we used a custom designed arrayCGH to validate gorilla specific duplications and deletions
Project description:The goal of the 1000 Genomes Consortium is to characterize human genome structural variation (SV), including forms of copy number variations such as deletions, duplications, and insertions. Mobile element insertions, particularly Alu elements, are major contributors to genomic SV among humans. During the pilot phase of the project we experimentally validated 645 (611 intergenic and 34 exon targeted) polymorphic "young" Alu insertion events, absent from the human reference genome. Here, we report high resolution sequencing of 343 (322 unique) recent Alu insertion events, along with their respective target site duplications, precise genomic breakpoint coordinates, subfamily assignment, percent divergence, and estimated A-rich tail lengths. All the sequenced Alu loci were derived from the AluY lineage with no evidence of retrotransposition activity involving older Alu families (e.g., AluJ and AluS). AluYa5 is currently the most active Alu subfamily in the human lineage, followed by AluYb8, and many others including three newly identified subfamilies we have termed AluYb7a3, AluYb8b1, and AluYa4a1. This report provides the structural details of 322 unique Alu variants from individual human genomes collectively adding about 100 kb of genomic variation. Many Alu subfamilies are currently active in human populations, including a surprising level of AluY retrotransposition. Human Alu subfamilies exhibit continuous evolution with potential drivers sprouting new Alu lineages.
Project description:Structural variation has played an important role in the evolutionary restructuring of human and great ape genomes. Recent analyses have suggested that the genomes of chimpanzee and human have been particularly enriched for this form of genetic variation. Here, we set out to assess the extent of structural variation in the gorilla lineage by generating 10-fold genomic sequence coverage from a western lowland gorilla and integrating these data into a physical and cytogenetic framework of structural variation. We discovered and validated over 7665 structural changes within the gorilla lineage, including sequence resolution of inversions, deletions, duplications, and mobile element insertions. A comparison with human and other ape genomes shows that the gorilla genome has been subjected to the highest rate of segmental duplication. We show that both the gorilla and chimpanzee genomes have experienced independent yet convergent patterns of structural mutation that have not occurred in humans, including the formation of subtelomeric heterochromatic caps, the hyperexpansion of segmental duplications, and bursts of retroviral integrations. Our analysis suggests that the chimpanzee and gorilla genomes are structurally more derived than either orangutan or human genomes.
Project description:In 2007, we detected human herpes simplex virus type 1, which caused stomatitis, in a juvenile confiscated eastern lowland gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) that had a high degree of direct contact with human caretakers. Our findings confirm that pathogens can transfer between nonhuman primate hosts and humans.
Project description:TSEN54 encodes a subunit of the tRNA-splicing endonuclease complex, which catalyzes the identification and cleavage of introns from precursor tRNAs. Previously, we identified an AluSx-derived alternative transcript in TSEN54 of cynomolgus monkey. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) amplification and TSEN54 sequence analysis of primate and human samples identified five novel alternative transcripts, including the AluSx exonized transcript. Additionally, we performed comparative expression analysis via RT-qPCR in various cynomolgus, rhesus monkey, and human tissues. RT-qPCR amplification revealed differential expression patterns. Furthermore, genomic PCR amplification and sequencing of primate and human DNA samples revealed that AluSx elements were integrated in human and all of the primate samples tested. Intriguingly, in langur genomic DNA, an additional AluY element was inserted into AluSx of intron eight of TSEN54. The new AluY element showed polymorphic insertion. Using standardized nomenclature for Alu repeats, the polymorphic AluY of the langur TSEN54 was designated as being of the AluYl17 subfamily. Our results suggest that integration of the AluSx element in TSEN54 contributed to diversity in transcripts and induced lineage- or species-specific evolutionary events such as alternative splicing and polymorphic insertion during primate evolution.
Project description:Many nonhuman primates produce food-associated vocalizations upon encountering or ingesting particular food. Concerning the great apes, only food-associated vocalizations of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos (Pan paniscus) have been studied in detail, providing evidence that these vocalizations can be produced flexibly in relation to a variety of factors, such as the quantity and quality of food and/or the type of audience. Only anecdotal evidence exists of eastern (Gorilla beringei) and western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla) producing food-associated vocalizations, termed SINGING or HUMMING. To enable a better understanding of the context in which these calls are produced, we investigated and compared the vocal behavior of two free-ranging groups of western lowland gorillas (Gorilla g. gorilla) at Mondika, Republic of Congo. Our results show that (a) food-associated call production occurs only during feeding and not in other contexts; (b) calling is not uniformly distributed across age and sex classes; (c) calls are only produced during feeding on specific foods; and (d) normally just one individual gives calls during group feeding sessions, however, certain food types elicit simultaneous calling of two or more individuals. Our findings provide new insight into the vocal abilities of gorillas but also carry larger implications for questions concerning vocal variability among the great apes. Food-associated calls of nonhuman primates have been shown to be flexible in terms of when they are used and who they are directed at, making them interesting vocalizations from the viewpoint of language evolution. Food-associated vocalizations in great apes can offer new opportunities to investigate the phylogenetic development of vocal communication within the primate lineage and can possibly contribute novel insights into the origins of human language.
Project description:The Western and Eastern species of gorillas (Gorilla gorilla and Gorilla beringei) began diverging in the mid-Pleistocene, but in a complex pattern with ongoing gene flow following their initial split. We sequenced the complete mitochondrial genomes of 1 Eastern and 1 Western gorilla to provide the most accurate date for their mitochondrial divergence, and to analyze patterns of nucleotide substitutions. The most recent common ancestor of these genomes existed about 1.9 million years ago, slightly more recent than that of chimpanzee and bonobo. We in turn use this date as a calibration to reanalyze sequences from the Eastern lowland and mountain gorilla subspecies to estimate their mitochondrial divergence at approximately 380000 years ago. These dates help frame a hypothesis whereby populations became isolated nearly 2 million years ago with restricted maternal gene flow, followed by ongoing male migration until the recent past. This process of divergence with prolonged hybridization occurred against the backdrop of the African Pleistocene, characterized by intense fluctuations in temperature and aridity, while at the same time experiencing tectonic uplifting and consequent shifts in the drainage of major river systems. Interestingly, this same pattern of introgression following divergence and discrepancies between mitochondrial and nuclear loci is seen in fossil hominins from Eurasia, suggesting that such processes may be common in hominids and that living gorillas may provide a useful model for understanding isolation and migration in our extinct relatives.