Ultrabithorax is essential for bacteriocyte development.
ABSTRACT: Symbiosis often entails the emergence of novel adaptive traits in organisms. Microbial symbionts are indispensable for diverse insects via provisioning of essential nutrients, wherein novel host cells and organs for harboring the microbes, called bacteriocytes and bacteriomes, have evolved repeatedly. Molecular and developmental mechanisms underpinning the emergence of novel symbiotic cells and organs comprise an unsolved question in evolutionary developmental biology. Here, we report that a conserved homeotic gene, Ultrabithorax, plays a pivotal role in the bacteriocyte differentiation in a hemipteran insect Nysius plebeius. During embryonic development, six pairs of aggregated presumptive bacteriocytes appear on both sides of six abdominal segments, incorporate the symbiotic bacteria at the stage of germband retraction, and fuse into a pair of lateral bacteriomes at the stage of germband flip, where bacteriocyte-associated Ultrabithorax expression coincides with the symbiont infection process. Suppression of Ultrabithorax expression by maternal RNA interference results in disappearance of the bacteriocytes and the symbiont localization therein, suggesting that Ultrabithorax is involved in differentiation of the host cells for symbiosis. Suppression of other homeotic genes abdominal-A and Antennapedia disturbs integrity and positioning of the bacteriomes, affecting the configuration of the host organs for symbiosis. Our findings unveil the molecular and developmental mechanisms underlying the bacteriocyte differentiation, which may have evolved either via cooption of the transcription factors for inducing the novel symbiotic cells, or via revival of the developmental pathway for the bacteriocytes that had existed in the ancestral hemipterans.
Project description:Symbiotic associations play a pivotal role in multicellular life by facilitating acquisition of new traits and expanding the ecological capabilities of organisms. In insects that are obligatorily dependent on intracellular bacterial symbionts, novel host cells (bacteriocytes) or organs (bacteriomes) have evolved for harboring beneficial microbial partners. The processes regulating the cellular life cycle of these endosymbiont-bearing cells, such as the cell-death mechanisms controlling their fate and elimination in response to host physiology, are fundamental questions in the biology of symbiosis. Here we report the discovery of a cell-death process involved in the degeneration of bacteriocytes in the hemipteran insect Acyrthosiphon pisum This process is activated progressively throughout aphid adulthood and exhibits morphological features distinct from known cell-death pathways. By combining electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and molecular analyses, we demonstrated that the initial event of bacteriocyte cell death is the cytoplasmic accumulation of nonautophagic vacuoles, followed by a sequence of cellular stress responses including the formation of autophagosomes in intervacuolar spaces, activation of reactive oxygen species, and Buchnera endosymbiont degradation by the lysosomal system. We showed that this multistep cell-death process originates from the endoplasmic reticulum, an organelle exhibiting a unique reticular network organization spread throughout the entire cytoplasm and surrounding Buchnera aphidicola endosymbionts. Our findings provide insights into the cellular and molecular processes that coordinate eukaryotic host and endosymbiont homeostasis and death in a symbiotic system and shed light on previously unknown aspects of bacteriocyte biological functioning.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Aphids harbor a nutritional obligate endosymbiont in specialized cells called bacteriocytes, which aggregate to form an organ known as the bacteriome. Aphid bacteriomes display distinct gene expression profiles that facilitate the symbiotic relationship. Currently, the mechanisms that regulate these patterns of gene expression are unknown. Recently using computational pipelines, we identified miRNAs that are conserved in expression in the bacteriomes of two aphid species and proposed that they function as important regulators of bacteriocyte gene expression. Here using a dual luciferase assay in mouse NIH/3T3 cell culture, we aimed to experimentally validate the computationally predicted interaction between Myzus persicae miR-92a and the predicted target region of M. persicae bacteriocyte-specific secreted protein 1 (SP1) mRNA. RESULTS:In the dual luciferase assay, miR-92a interacted with the SP1 target region resulting in a significant downregulation of the luciferase signal. Our results demonstrate that miR-92a interacts with SP1 to alter expression in a heterologous expression system, thereby supporting our earlier assertion that miRNAs are regulators of the aphid/Buchnera symbiotic interaction.
Project description:Bacteriocytes set the stage for some of the most intimate interactions between animal and bacterial cells. In all bacteriocyte possessing systems studied so far, de novo formation of bacteriocytes occurs only once in the host development, at the time of symbiosis establishment. Here, we present the free-living symbiotic flatworm Paracatenula galateia and its intracellular, sulfur-oxidizing bacteria as a system with previously undescribed strategies of bacteriocyte formation and bacterial symbiont transmission. Using thymidine analogue S-phase labeling and immunohistochemistry, we show that all somatic cells in adult worms - including bacteriocytes - originate exclusively from aposymbiotic stem cells (neoblasts). The continued bacteriocyte formation from aposymbiotic stem cells in adult animals represents a previously undescribed strategy of symbiosis maintenance and makes P. galateia a unique system to study bacteriocyte differentiation and development. We also provide morphological and immunohistochemical evidence that P. galateia reproduces by asexual fragmentation and regeneration (paratomy) and, thereby, vertically transmits numerous symbiont-containing bacteriocytes to its asexual progeny. Our data support the earlier reported hypothesis that the symbiont population is subjected to reduced bottleneck effects. This would justify both the codiversification between Paracatenula hosts and their Candidatus Riegeria symbionts, and the slow evolutionary rates observed for several symbiont genes.
Project description:Although the deep-sea bathymodiolin mussels have been intensively studied as a model of animal-bacteria symbiosis, it remains challenging to assess the host-symbiont interactions due to the complexity of the symbiotic tissue-the gill. Using cold-seep mussel <i>Gigantidas platifrons</i> as a model, we isolated the symbiont harboring bacteriocytes and profiled the transcriptomes of the three major parts of the symbiosis-the gill, the bacteriocyte, and the symbiont. This breakdown of the complex symbiotic tissue allowed us to characterize the host-symbiont interactions further. Our data showed that the gill's non-symbiotic parts play crucial roles in maintaining and protecting the symbiosis; the bacteriocytes supply the symbiont with metabolites, control symbiont population, and shelter the symbiont from phage infection; the symbiont dedicates to the methane oxidation and energy production. This study demonstrates that the bathymodiolin symbiosis interacts at the tissue, cellular, and molecular level, maintaining high efficiency and harmonic chemosynthetic micro niche.
Project description:Bacteriocytes are insect cells harboring symbiotic bacteria that are required by their insect host and are transmitted vertically via the female ovary . In most insect groups, the bacteria are released from the bacteriocytes and transferred to the ovary [2, 3], but in whiteflies, maternal bacteriocytes migrate to each egg [4-6], where they have been reported to lyse, releasing the symbionts . To investigate bacteriocyte inheritance in whiteflies further, we applied microsatellite genotyping and genomic analysis to a genetically diverse population of Bemisia tabaci, and we observed the fate of the bacteriocyte in embryos. Surprisingly, the microsatellite profile of the bacteriocytes was uniform, and insect cross experiments demonstrated that the bacteriocytes have a stable genotype that differs from the genotype of the insect head (which lacks bacteriocytes). Comparative genomic analysis indicates that genomes of the bacteriocyte and whitefly head are distinct. Interestingly, the bacterioyte genome contains the canonical arthropod telomere repeats TTAGG, and the bacteriocytes express telomere maintenance genes that may underlie cellular immortality in animal cells . Microscopy observations confirmed that a single bacteriocyte transmitted to each egg is retained and divides once just before egg hatch, yielding two bacteriocytes in the neonate insect. These data demonstrate the maternal inheritance of an absolutely required somatic insect cell, violating the developmental separation of germline and soma [8, 9]. Future investigation on the mechanism and phylogenetic distribution of maternally inherited bacteriocytes will shed light on the developmental origins and evolutionary diversification of bacteriocytes  and the processes underlying cellular immortality .
Project description:BACKGROUND:Obligate intracellular symbionts of insects are metabolically and developmentally integrated with their hosts. Typically, reproduction fails in many insect nutritional endosymbioses when host insects are cured of their bacterial symbionts, and yet remarkably little is known about the processes that developmentally integrate host and symbiont. Here in the best studied insect obligate intracellular symbiosis, that of the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, with the gammaproteobacterium Buchnera aphidicola, we tracked the expression and localization of amino acid transporter ApGLNT1 gene products during asexual embryogenesis. Recently being characterized as a glutamine transporter, ApGLNT1 has been proposed to be a key regulator of amino acid biosynthesis in A. pisum bacteriocytes. To determine when this important mediator of the symbiosis becomes expressed in aphid embryonic bacteriocytes, we applied whole-mount in situ hybridization and fluorescent immunostaining with a specific anti-ApGLNT1 antibody to detect the temporal and spatial expression of ApGLNT1 gene products during asexual embryogenesis. RESULTS:During embryogenesis, ApGLNT1 mRNA and protein localize to the follicular epithelium that surrounds parthenogenetic viviparous embryos, where we speculate that it functions to supply developing embryos with glutamine from maternal hemolymph. Unexpectedly, in the embryonic bacteriome ApGLNT1 protein does not localize to the membrane of bacteriocytes, a pattern that leads us to conclude that the regulation of amino acid metabolism in the embryonic bacteriome mechanistically differs from that in the maternal bacteriome. Paralleling our earlier report of punctate cytoplasmic localization of ApGLNT1 in maternal bacteriocytes, we find ApGLNT1 protein localizing as cytoplasmic puncta throughout development in association with Buchnera. CONCLUSIONS:Our work that documents ontogenetic shifts in the localization of ApGLNT1 protein in the host bacteriome demonstrates that maternal and embryonic bacteriomes are not equivalent. Significantly, the persistent punctate cytoplasmic localization of ApGLNT1 in association with Buchnera in embryos prior to bacteriocyte formation and later in both embryonic and maternal bacteriomes suggests that ApGLNT1 plays multiple roles in this symbiosis, roles that include amino acid transport and possibly nutrient sensing.
Project description:The leafhopper Macrosteles laevis, like other plant sap-feeding hemipterans, lives in obligate symbiotic association with microorganisms. The symbionts are harbored in the cytoplasm of large cells termed bacteriocytes, which are integrated into huge organs termed bacteriomes. Morphological and molecular investigations have revealed that in the bacteriomes of M. laevis, two types of bacteriocytes are present which are as follows: bacteriocytes with bacterium Sulcia and bacteriocytes with Nasuia symbiont. We observed that in bacteriocytes with Sulcia, some cells of this bacterium contain numerous cells of the bacterium Arsenophonus. All types of symbionts are transmitted transovarially between generations. In the mature female, the bacteria Nasuia, bacteria Sulcia, and Sulcia with Arsenophonus inside are released from the bacteriocytes and start to assemble around the terminal oocytes. Next, the bacteria enter the cytoplasm of follicular cells surrounding the posterior pole of the oocyte. After passing through the follicular cells, the symbionts enter the space between the oocyte and follicular epithelium, forming a characteristic "symbiont ball."
Project description:Aphids evolved novel cells, called bacteriocytes, that differentiate specifically to harbour the obligatory mutualistic endosymbiotic bacteria Buchnera aphidicola. The genome of the host aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum contains many orphan genes that display no similarity with genes found in other sequenced organisms, prompting us to hypothesize that some of these orphan genes are related to lineage-specific traits, such as symbiosis. We conducted deep sequencing of bacteriocytes mRNA followed by whole mount in situ hybridizations of over-represented transcripts encoding aphid-specific orphan proteins. We identified a novel class of genes that encode small proteins with signal peptides, which are often cysteine-rich, that are over-represented in bacteriocytes. These genes are first expressed at a developmental time point coincident with the incorporation of symbionts strictly in the cells that contribute to the bacteriocyte and this bacteriocyte-specific expression is maintained throughout the aphid's life. The expression pattern suggests that recently evolved secretion proteins act within bacteriocytes, perhaps to mediate the symbiosis with beneficial bacterial partners, which is reminiscent of the evolution of novel cysteine-rich secreted proteins of leguminous plants that regulate nitrogen-fixing endosymbionts.
Project description:The family Nosodendridae is a small group of tree sap beetles with only 91 described species representing three genera from the world. In 1930s, bacteria-harboring symbiotic organs, called bacteriomes, were briefly described in a European species Nosodendron fasciculare. Since then, however, no studies have been conducted on the nosodendrid endosymbiosis for decades. Here we investigated the bacteriomes and the endosymbiotic bacteria of Nosodendron coenosum and Nosodendron asiaticum using molecular phylogenetic and histological approaches. In adults and larvae, a pair of slender bacteriomes were found along both sides of the midgut. The bacteriomes consisted of large bacteriocytes at the center and flat sheath cells on the surface. Fluorescence in situ hybridization detected preferential localization of the endosymbiotic bacteria in the cytoplasm of the bacteriocytes. In reproductive adult females, the endosymbiotic bacteria were also detected at the infection zone in the ovarioles and on the surface of growing oocytes, indicating vertical symbiont transmission via ovarial passage. Transmission electron microscopy unveiled bizarre structural features of the bacteriocytes, whose cytoplasm exhibited degenerate cytology with deformed endosymbiont cells. Molecular phylogenetic analysis revealed that the nosodendrid endosymbionts formed a distinct clade in the Bacteroidetes. The nosodendrid endosymbionts were the most closely related to the bacteriome endosymbionts of bostrichid powderpost beetles and also allied to the bacteriome endosymbionts of silvanid grain beetles, uncovering an unexpected endosymbiont relationship across the unrelated beetle families Nosodendridae, Bostrichidae and Silvanidae. Host-symbiont co-evolution and presumable biological roles of the endosymbiotic bacteria are discussed.
Project description:Endosymbiotic associations constitute a driving force in the ecological and evolutionary diversification of metazoan organisms. Little is known about whether and how symbiotic cells are coordinated according to host physiology. Here, we use the nutritional symbiosis between the insect pest, Acyrthosiphon pisum, and its obligate symbiont, Buchnera aphidicola, as a model system. We have developed a novel approach for unculturable bacteria, based on flow cytometry, and used this method to estimate the absolute numbers of symbionts at key stages of aphid life. The endosymbiont population increases exponentially throughout nymphal development, showing a growing rate which has never been characterized by indirect molecular techniques. Using histology and imaging techniques, we have shown that the endosymbiont-bearing cells (bacteriocytes) increase significantly in number and size during the nymphal development, and clustering in the insect abdomen. Once adulthood is reached and the laying period has begun, the dynamics of symbiont and host cells is reversed: the number of endosymbionts decreases progressively and the bacteriocyte structure degenerates during insect aging. In summary, these results show a coordination of the cellular dynamics between bacteriocytes and primary symbionts and reveal a fine-tuning of aphid symbiotic cells to the nutritional demand imposed by the host physiology throughout development.