Comparative genomics reveals conservation of filaggrin and loss of caspase-14 in dolphins.
ABSTRACT: The expression of filaggrin and its stepwise proteolytic degradation are critical events in the terminal differentiation of epidermal keratinocytes and in the formation of the skin barrier to the environment. Here, we investigated whether the evolutionary transition from a terrestrial to a fully aquatic lifestyle of cetaceans, that is dolphins and whales, has been associated with changes in genes encoding filaggrin and proteins involved in the processing of filaggrin. We used comparative genomics, PCRs and re-sequencing of gene segments to screen for the presence and integrity of genes coding for filaggrin and proteases implicated in the maturation of (pro)filaggrin. Filaggrin has been conserved in dolphins (bottlenose dolphin, orca and baiji) but has been lost in whales (sperm whale and minke whale). All other S100 fused-type genes have been lost in cetaceans. Among filaggrin-processing proteases, aspartic peptidase retroviral-like 1 (ASPRV1), also known as saspase, has been conserved, whereas caspase-14 has been lost in all cetaceans investigated. In conclusion, our results suggest that filaggrin is dispensable for the acquisition of fully aquatic lifestyles of whales, whereas it appears to confer an evolutionary advantage to dolphins. The discordant evolution of filaggrin, saspase and caspase-14 in cetaceans indicates that the biological roles of these proteins are not strictly interdependent.
Project description:The causes of dolphin and whale stranding can often be difficult to determine. Because toothed whales rely on echolocation for orientation and feeding, hearing deficits could lead to stranding. We report on the results of auditory evoked potential measurements from eight species of odontocete cetaceans that were found stranded or severely entangled in fishing gear during the period 2004 through 2009. Approximately 57% of the bottlenose dolphins and 36% of the rough-toothed dolphins had significant hearing deficits with a reduction in sensitivity equivalent to severe (70-90 dB) or profound (>90 dB) hearing loss in humans. The only stranded short-finned pilot whale examined had profound hearing loss. No impairments were detected in seven Risso's dolphins from three different stranding events, two pygmy killer whales, one Atlantic spotted dolphin, one spinner dolphin, or a juvenile Gervais' beaked whale. Hearing impairment could play a significant role in some cetacean stranding events, and the hearing of all cetaceans in rehabilitation should be tested.
Project description:The remarkable fossil record of whales and dolphins (Cetacea) has made them an exemplar of macroevolution. Although their overall adaptive transition from terrestrial to fully aquatic organisms is well known, this is not true for the radiation of modern whales. Here, we explore the diversification of extant cetaceans by constructing a robust molecular phylogeny that includes 87 of 89 extant species. The phylogeny and divergence times are derived from nuclear and mitochondrial markers, calibrated with fossils. We find that the toothed whales are monophyletic, suggesting that echolocation evolved only once early in that lineage some 36-34 Ma. The rorqual family (Balaenopteridae) is restored with the exclusion of the gray whale, suggesting that gulp feeding evolved 18-16 Ma. Delphinida, comprising all living dolphins and porpoises other than the Ganges/Indus dolphins, originated about 26 Ma; it contains the taxonomically rich delphinids, which began diversifying less than 11 Ma. We tested 2 hypothesized drivers of the extant cetacean radiation by assessing the tempo of lineage accumulation through time. We find no support for a rapid burst of speciation early in the history of extant whales, contrasting with expectations of an adaptive radiation model. However, we do find support for increased diversification rates during periods of pronounced physical restructuring of the oceans. The results imply that paleogeographic and paleoceanographic changes, such as closure of major seaways, have influenced the dynamics of radiation in extant cetaceans.
Project description:Ichthyoses are a heterogeneous group of inherited cornification disorders characterized by generalized dry skin, scaling and/or hyperkeratosis. Ichthyosis vulgaris is the most common form of ichthyosis in humans and caused by genetic variants in the FLG gene encoding filaggrin. Filaggrin is a key player in the formation of the stratum corneum, the uppermost layer of the epidermis and therefore crucial for barrier function. During terminal differentiation of keratinocytes, the precursor profilaggrin is cleaved by several proteases into filaggrin monomers and eventually processed into free amino acids contributing to the hydration of the cornified layer. We studied a German Shepherd dog with a novel form of ichthyosis. Comparing the genome sequence of the affected dog with 288 genomes from genetically diverse non-affected dogs we identified a private heterozygous variant in the ASPRV1 gene encoding "aspartic peptidase, retroviral-like 1", which is also known as skin aspartic protease (SASPase). The variant was absent in both parents and therefore due to a de novo mutation event. It was a missense variant, c.1052T>C, affecting a conserved residue close to an autoprocessing cleavage site, p.(Leu351Pro). ASPRV1 encodes a retroviral-like protease involved in profilaggrin-to-filaggrin processing. By immunofluorescence staining we showed that the filaggrin expression pattern was altered in the affected dog. Thus, our findings provide strong evidence that the identified de novo variant is causative for the ichthyosis in the affected dog and that ASPRV1 plays an essential role in skin barrier formation. ASPRV1 is thus a novel candidate gene for unexplained human forms of ichthyoses.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are a group of adapted marine mammals with an enigmatic history of transition from terrestrial to full aquatic habitat and rapid radiation in waters around the world. Throughout this evolution, the pathogen stress-response proteins must have faced challenges from the dramatic change of environmental pathogens in the completely different ecological niches cetaceans occupied. For this reason, cetaceans could be one of the most ideal candidate taxa for studying evolutionary process and associated driving mechanism of vertebrate innate immune systems such as Toll-like receptors (TLRs), which are located at the direct interface between the host and the microbial environment, act at the first line in recognizing specific conserved components of microorganisms, and translate them rapidly into a defense reaction. RESULTS: We used TLR4 as an example to test whether this traditionally regarded pattern recognition receptor molecule was driven by positive selection across cetacean evolutionary history. Overall, the lineage-specific selection test showed that the dN/dS (ω) values along most (30 out of 33) examined cetartiodactylan lineages were less than 1, suggesting a common effect of functional constraint. However, some specific codons made radical changes, fell adjacent to the residues interacting with lipopolysaccharides (LPS), and showed parallel evolution between independent lineages, suggesting that TLR4 was under positive selection. Especially, strong signatures of adaptive evolution on TLR4 were identified in two periods, one corresponding to the early evolutionary transition of the terrestrial ancestors of cetaceans from land to semi-aquatic (represented by the branch leading to whale + hippo) and from semi-aquatic to full aquatic (represented by the ancestral branch leading to cetaceans) habitat, and the other to the rapid diversification and radiation of oceanic dolphins. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study thus far to characterize the TLR gene in cetaceans. Our data present evidences that cetacean TLR4 has undergone adaptive evolution against the background of purifying selection in response to the secondary aquatic adaptation and rapid diversification in the sea. It is suggested that microbial pathogens in different environments are important factors that promote adaptive changes at cetacean TLR4 and new functions of some amino acid sites specialized for recognizing pathogens in dramatically contrasted environments to enhance the fitness for the adaptation and survival of cetaceans.
Project description:Cetaceans have a long history of commitment to a fully aquatic lifestyle that extends back to the Eocene. Extant species have evolved a spectacular array of adaptations in conjunction with their deployment into a diverse array of aquatic habitats. Sensory systems are among those that have experienced radical transformations in the evolutionary history of this clade. In the case of vision, previous studies have demonstrated important changes in the genes encoding rod opsin (RH1), short-wavelength sensitive opsin 1 (SWS1), and long-wavelength sensitive opsin (LWS) in selected cetaceans, but have not examined the full complement of opsin genes across the complete range of cetacean families. Here, we report protein-coding sequences for RH1 and both color opsin genes (SWS1, LWS) from representatives of all extant cetacean families. We examine competing hypotheses pertaining to the timing of blue shifts in RH1 relative to SWS1 inactivation in the early history of Cetacea, and we test the hypothesis that some cetaceans are rod monochomats. Molecular evolutionary analyses contradict the "coastal" hypothesis, wherein SWS1 was pseudogenized in the common ancestor of Cetacea, and instead suggest that RH1 was blue-shifted in the common ancestor of Cetacea before SWS1 was independently knocked out in baleen whales (Mysticeti) and in toothed whales (Odontoceti). Further, molecular evidence implies that LWS was inactivated convergently on at least five occasions in Cetacea: (1) Balaenidae (bowhead and right whales), (2) Balaenopteroidea (rorquals plus gray whale), (3) Mesoplodon bidens (Sowerby's beaked whale), (4) Physeter macrocephalus (giant sperm whale), and (5) Kogia breviceps (pygmy sperm whale). All of these cetaceans are known to dive to depths of at least 100 m where the underwater light field is dim and dominated by blue light. The knockout of both SWS1 and LWS in multiple cetacean lineages renders these taxa rod monochromats, a condition previously unknown among mammalian species.
Project description:Dolphin morbillivirus (DMV) has caused several mortality events in Mediterranean striped (Stenella coeruleoalba) and bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus) dolphins populations since 19; in the last 5 years, the virus was reported to infect new hosts in this basin, such as fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), and even a harbor seal (Phoca vitulina). Very recently, a calf Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) calf stranded on the Southern Italian coastline with mild pathological findings suggestive of morbilliviral infection, received the first confirmation of DMV infection in this species by biomolecular evidences on lung tissue. This new cross-species infection report, along with 19% of the cetaceans specimens examined by the Italian Stranding Network being found positive to DMV, support the hypothesis of an endemic circulation of this virus among Mediterranean cetaceans.
Project description:The sperm whale, made famous by Moby Dick, is one of the most fascinating of all ocean-dwelling species given their unique life history, novel physiological adaptations to hunting squid at extreme ocean depths, and their position as one of the earliest branching toothed whales (Odontoceti). We assembled the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) genome and resequenced individuals from multiple ocean basins to identify new candidate genes for adaptation to an aquatic environment and infer demographic history. Genes crucial for skin integrity appeared to be particularly important in both the sperm whale and other cetaceans. We also find sperm whales experienced a steep population decline during the early Pleistocene epoch. These genomic data add new comparative insight into the evolution of whales.
Project description:The transition from land to water in whales and dolphins (cetaceans) was accompanied by remarkable adaptations. To reveal genomic changes that occurred during this transition, we screened for protein-coding genes that were inactivated in the ancestral cetacean lineage. We found 85 gene losses. Some of these were likely beneficial for cetaceans, for example, by reducing the risk of thrombus formation during diving (F12 and KLKB1), erroneous DNA damage repair (POLM), and oxidative stress-induced lung inflammation (MAP3K19). Additional gene losses may reflect other diving-related adaptations, such as enhanced vasoconstriction during the diving response (mediated by SLC6A18) and altered pulmonary surfactant composition (SEC14L3), while loss of SLC4A9 relates to a reduced need for saliva. Last, loss of melatonin synthesis and receptor genes (AANAT, ASMT, and MTNR1A/B) may have been a precondition for adopting unihemispheric sleep. Our findings suggest that some genes lost in ancestral cetaceans were likely involved in adapting to a fully aquatic lifestyle.
Project description:Cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) are a group of specialized mammals that evolved from terrestrial ancestors and are fully adapted to aquatic habitats. Taking advantage of the recently sequenced finless porpoise genome, we conducted comparative analyses of the genomes of seven cetaceans and related terrestrial species to provide insight into the molecular bases of adaptation of these aquatic mammals. Changes in gene sequences were identified in main lineages of cetaceans, offering an evolutionary picture of cetacean genomes that reveal new pathways that could be associated with adaptation to aquatic lifestyle. We profiled bone microanatomical structures across 28 mammals, including representatives of cetaceans, pinnipeds, and sirenians. Subsequent phylogenetic comparative analyses revealed genes (including leptin, insulin-like growth factor 1, and collagen type I alpha 2 chain) with the root-to-tip substitution rate significantly correlated with bone compactness, implicating these genes could be involved in bone mass control. Overall, this study described adjustments of the genomes of cetaceans according to lifestyle, phylogeny, and bone mass.
Project description:The mammalian gastric and oral mucosa may be colonized by mixed Helicobacter and Campylobacter species, respectively, in individual animals. To better characterize the presence and distribution of Helicobacter and Campylobacter among marine mammals, we used PCR and 16S rDNA sequence analysis to examine gastric and oral samples from ten dolphins (Tursiops gephyreus), one killer whale (Orcinus orca), one false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens), and three wild La Plata river dolphins (Pontoporia blainvillei). Helicobacter spp. DNA was widely distributed in gastric and oral samples from both captive and wild cetaceans. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated two Helicobacter sequence clusters, one closely related to H. cetorum, a species isolated from dolphins and whales in North America. The second related cluster was to sequences obtained from dolphins in Australia and to gastric non-H. pylori helicobacters, and may represent a novel taxonomic group. Dental plaque sequences from four dolphins formed a third cluster within the Campylobacter genus that likely represents a novel species isolated from marine mammals. Identification of identical Helicobacter spp. DNA sequences from dental plaque, saliva and gastric fluids from the same hosts, suggests that the oral cavity may be involved in transmission. These results demonstrate that Helicobacter and Campylobacter species are commonly distributed in marine mammals, and identify taxonomic clusters that may represent novel species.