Anthropoid primate-specific retroviral element THE1B controls expression of CRH in placenta and alters gestation length.
ABSTRACT: Pregnancy and parturition are intricately regulated to ensure successful reproductive outcomes. However, the factors that control gestational length in humans and other anthropoid primates remain poorly defined. Here, we show the endogenous retroviral long terminal repeat transposon-like human element 1B (THE1B) selectively controls placental expression of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) that, in turn, influences gestational length and birth timing. Placental expression of CRH and subsequently prolonged gestational length were found in two independent strains of transgenic mice carrying a 180-kb human bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) DNA that contained the full length of CRH and extended flanking regions, including THE1B. Restricted deletion of THE1B silenced placental CRH expression and normalized birth timing in these transgenic lines. Furthermore, we revealed an interaction at the 5' insertion site of THE1B with distal-less homeobox 3 (DLX3), a transcription factor expressed in placenta. Together, these findings suggest that retroviral insertion of THE1B into the anthropoid primate genome may have initiated expression of CRH in placental syncytiotrophoblasts via DLX3 and that this placental CRH is sufficient to alter the timing of birth.
Project description:In anthropoid primates, growth hormone (GH) genes have undergone at least 2 independent locus expansions, one in platyrrhines (New World monkeys) and another in catarrhines (Old World monkeys and apes). In catarrhines, the GH cluster has a pituitary-expressed gene called GH1; the remaining GH genes include placental GHs and placental lactogens. Here, we provide cDNA sequence evidence that the platyrrhine GH cluster also includes at least 3 placenta expressed genes and phylogenetic evidence that placenta expressed anthropoid GH genes have undergone strong adaptive evolution, whereas pituitary-expressed GH genes have faced strict functional constraint. Our phylogenetic evidence also points to lineage-specific gene gain and loss in early placental mammalian evolution, with at least three copies of the GH gene present at the time of the last common ancestor (LCA) of primates, rodents, and laurasiatherians. Anthropoid primates and laurasiatherians share gene descendants of one of these three copies, whereas rodents and strepsirrhine primates each maintain a separate copy. Eight of the amino-acid replacements that occurred on the lineage leading to the LCA of extant anthropoids have been implicated in GH signaling at the maternal-fetal interface. Thus, placental expression of GH may have preceded the separate series of GH gene duplications that occurred in catarrhines and platyrrhines (i.e., the roles played by placenta-expressed GHs in human pregnancy may have a longer evolutionary history than previously appreciated).
Project description:Placental CRH production increases with advancing pregnancy in women and its course predicts gestational length. We hypothesized that CRH gene expression in the placenta is epigenetically controlled setting gestational trajectories characteristic of normal and pathological pregnancies. Here we determined histone modification and DNA methylation levels and DNA methylation patterns at the CRH promoter in primary trophoblast cultures by chromatin immunoprecipitation combined with clonal bisulfite sequencing and identified the transcriptionally active epialleles that associate with particular histone modifications and transcription factors during syncytialisation and cAMP-stimulation. CRH gene expression increased during syncytial differentiation and cAMP stimulation, which was associated with increased activating and decreased repressive histone modification levels at the promoter. DNA methylation levels remained unchanged. The nine CpGs of the CRH proximal promoter were partially and allele-independently methylated displaying many (>100) epialleles. RNA-polymerase-II (Pol-II) bound only to three particular epialleles in cAMP-stimulated cells, while phospho-cAMP response element-binding protein (pCREB) bound to only one epiallele, which was different from those selected by Pol-II. Binding of TATA-binding protein increased during syncytial differentiation preferentially at epialleles compatible with Pol-II and pCREB binding. Histone-3 acetylation was detected only at epialleles targeted by Pol-II and pCREB, while gene activating histone-4 acetylation and histone-3-lysine-4 trimethylation occurred at CRH epialleles not associated with Pol-II or pCREB. The suppressive histone-3-lysine-27 trimethyl and-lysine-9 trimethyl modifications showed little or no epiallele preference. The epiallele selectivity of activating histone modifications and transcription factor binding demonstrates the epigenetic and functional diversity of the CRH gene in trophoblasts, which is controlled predominantly by the patterns, not the overall extent, of promoter methylation. We propose that conditions impacting on epiallele distribution influence the number of transcriptionally active CRH gene copies in the trophoblast cell population determining the gestational trajectory of placental CRH production in normal and pathological pregnancies.
Project description:The relaxin/insulin-like gene family includes signaling molecules that perform a variety of physiological roles mostly related to reproduction and neuroendocrine regulation. Several previous studies have focused on the evolutionary history of relaxin genes in anthropoid primates, with particular attention on resolving the duplication history of RLN1 and RLN2 genes, which are found as duplicates only in apes. These studies have revealed that the RLN1 and RLN2 paralogs in apes have a more complex history than their phyletic distribution would suggest. In this regard, alternative scenarios have been proposed to explain the timing of duplication, and the history of gene gain and loss along the organismal tree. In this article, we revisit the question and specifically reconstruct phylogenies based on coding and noncoding sequence in anthropoid primates to readdress the timing of the duplication event giving rise to RLN1 and RLN2 in apes. Results from our phylogenetic analyses based on noncoding sequence revealed that the duplication event that gave rise to the RLN1 and RLN2 occurred in the last common ancestor of catarrhine primates, between ? 44.2 and 29.6 Ma, and not in the last common ancestor of apes or anthropoids, as previously suggested. Comparative analyses based on coding and noncoding sequence suggests an event of convergent evolution at the sequence level between co-ortholog genes, the single-copy RLN gene found in New World monkeys and the RLN1 gene of apes, where changes in a fraction of the convergent sites appear to be driven by positive selection.
Project description:Reconstructing the origin and early evolutionary history of anthropoid primates (monkeys, apes, and humans) is a current focus of paleoprimatology. Although earlier hypotheses frequently supported an African origin for anthropoids, recent discoveries of older and phylogenetically more basal fossils in China and Myanmar indicate that the group originated in Asia. Given the Oligocene-Recent history of African anthropoids, the colonization of Africa by early anthropoids hailing from Asia was a decisive event in primate evolution. However, the fossil record has so far failed to constrain the nature and timing of this pivotal event. Here we describe a fossil primate from the late middle Eocene Pondaung Formation of Myanmar, Afrasia djijidae gen. et sp. nov., that is remarkably similar to, yet dentally more primitive than, the roughly contemporaneous North African anthropoid Afrotarsius. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that Afrasia and Afrotarsius are sister taxa within a basal anthropoid clade designated as the infraorder Eosimiiformes. Current knowledge of eosimiiform relationships and their distribution through space and time suggests that members of this clade dispersed from Asia to Africa sometime during the middle Eocene, shortly before their first appearance in the African fossil record. Crown anthropoids and their nearest fossil relatives do not appear to be specially related to Afrotarsius, suggesting one or more additional episodes of dispersal from Asia to Africa. Hystricognathous rodents, anthracotheres, and possibly other Asian mammal groups seem to have colonized Africa at roughly the same time or shortly after anthropoids gained their first toehold there.
Project description:Asian tarsiid and sivaladapid primates maintained relictual distributions in southern Asia long after the extirpation of their close Holarctic relatives near the Eocene-Oligocene boundary. We report here the discovery of amphipithecid and eosimiid primates from Oligocene coastal deposits in Pakistan that demonstrate that stem anthropoids also survived in southern Asia beyond the climatic deterioration that characterized the Eocene-Oligocene transition. These fossils provide data on temporal and paleobiogeographic aspects of early anthropoid evolution and significantly expand the record of stem anthropoid evolution in the Paleogene of South Asia.
Project description:<h4>Purpose</h4>Labor is a complex process involving multiple para-, auto- and endocrine cascades. The interaction of cortisol, corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and progesterone is essential. The action of cortisol on the human feto-placental unit is regulated by 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11?-HSD2/HSD11B2) that converts cortisol into inactive cortisone. The majority of studies on the assessment of placental 11?-HSD2 function determined indirect activity parameters. It remains elusive if indirect measurements correlate with enzymatic function and if these parameters are affected by potential confounders (e.g., mode of delivery). Thus, we compared determinants of indirect 11?-HSD2 tissue activity with its direct enzymatic turnover rate in placental samples from spontaneous births and cesarean (C)-sections.<h4>Methods</h4>Using LC-MS/MS, we determined CRH, cortisol, cortisone, progesterone and 17-hydroxy(OH)-progesterone in human term placentas (spontaneous birth vs. C-section, n?=?5 each) and measured the enzymatic glucocorticoid conversion rates in placental microsomes. Expression of HSD11B1, 2 and CRH was determined via qRT-PCR in the same samples.<h4>Results</h4>Cortisol-cortisone ratio correlated with direct microsomal enzymatic turnover. While this observation seemed independent of sampling site, a strong influence of mode of delivery on tissue steroids was observed. The mRNA expression of HSD11B2 correlated with indirect and direct cortisol turnover rates in C-section placentas only. In contrast to C-sections, CRH, cortisol and cortisone levels were significantly increased in placental samples following spontaneous birth.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Labor involves a series of complex hormonal processes including activation of placental CRH and glucocorticoid metabolism. This has to be taken into account when selecting human cohorts for comparative analysis of placental steroids.
Project description:Purpose of Review:Placental malaria is the primary mechanism through which malaria in pregnancy causes adverse perinatal outcomes. This review summarizes recent work on the significance, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and prevention of placental malaria. Recent Findings:Placental malaria, characterized by the accumulation of Plasmodium-infected red blood cells in the placental intervillous space, leads to adverse perinatal outcomes such as stillbirth, low birth weight, preterm birth, and small-for-gestational-age neonates. Placental inflammatory responses may be primary drivers of these complications. Associated factors contributing to adverse outcomes include maternal gravidity, timing of perinatal infection, and parasite burden. Summary:Placental malaria is an important cause of adverse birth outcomes in endemic regions. The main strategy to combat this is intermittent preventative treatment in pregnancy; however, increasing drug resistance threatens the efficacy of this approach. There are studies dissecting the inflammatory response to placental malaria, alternative preventative treatments, and in developing a vaccine for placental malaria.
Project description:In the early-life environment, proper development of the placenta is essential for both fetal and maternal health. Telomere length at birth has been related to life expectancy. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) as potential epigenetic determinants of telomere length at birth have not been identified. In this study, we investigate whether placental miRNA expression is associated with placental telomere length at birth.We measured the expression of seven candidate miRNAs (miR-16-5p, -20a-5p, -21-5p, -34a-5p, 146a-5p, -210-3p and -222-3p) in placental tissue at birth in 203 mother-newborn (51.7% girls) pairs from the ENVIRONAGE birth cohort. We selected miRNAs known to be involved in crucial cellular processes such as inflammation, oxidative stress, cellular senescence related to aging. Placental miRNA expression and relative average placental telomere length were measured using RT-qPCR.Both before and after adjustment for potential covariates including newborn's ethnicity, gestational age, paternal age, maternal smoking status, maternal educational status, parity, date of delivery and outdoor temperature during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, placental miR-34a, miR-146a, miR-210 and miR-222 expression were significantly (p???0.03) and positively associated with placental relative telomere length in newborn girls. In newborn boys, only higher expression of placental miR-21 was weakly (p?=?0.08) associated with shorter placental telomere length. Significant miRNAs explain around 6-8% of the telomere length variance at birth.Placental miR-21, miR-34a, miR-146a, miR-210 and miR-222 exhibit sex-specific associations with telomere length in placenta. Our results indicate miRNA expression in placental tissue could be an important determinant in the process of aging starting from early life onwards.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Developmental processes that underpin morphological variation have become a focus of interest when attempting to interpret macroevolutionary patterns. Recently, the Dental Inhibitory Cascade (DIC) model has been suggested to explain much of the variation in mammalian molar size proportions. We tested the macroevolutionary implications of this model using anthropoid primate species (n=100), focusing on overall morphological patterns, as well as predictions made about molar size variability, direct developmental control, and diet. RESULTS:Of the species sampled, 56 % had centroids that fell within regions of molar proportion morphospace consistent with the DIC model. We also found that the third molar had greater variation in size than either the first or second molars, as expected by the model. Some DIC model predictions were not supported, however, such as the expected proportion of M 2/M 1 when the third molar is absent. Furthermore, we found that some variability in third molar size could not be explained by the influence of the inhibitory cascade. Overall, we found considerable clade-specific differences in relative molar sizes among anthropoid primates, with hominoids and cercopithecins strongly divergent from DIC model predictions, and platyrrhines, colobines, and papionins more consistent with the inhibitory cascade. Finally, we investigated reasons why some clades deviated from DIC model expectations. Adaptations for frugivory (e.g., bunodont cusp relief) appeared to be one driver of relatively larger second molars and have evolved independently in multiple lineages of anthropoids. CONCLUSIONS:The DIC model explains some of the variation in anthropoid primate molar proportions. However, there are interesting deviations away from this broad mammalian pattern, particularly in hominoids and cercopithecins, which suggest the model is only one of multiple mechanisms determining morphological variability in mammalian teeth.
Project description:Little is known about novel genetic elements that drove the emergence of anthropoid primates. We exploited the sequencing of the marmoset genome to identify 23,849 anthropoid-specific constrained (ASC) regions and confirmed their robust functional signatures. Of the ASC base pairs, 99.7% were noncoding, suggesting that novel anthropoid functional elements were overwhelmingly cis-regulatory. ASCs were highly enriched in loci associated with fetal brain development, motor coordination, neurotransmission, and vision, thus providing a large set of candidate elements for exploring the molecular basis of hallmark primate traits. We validated ASC192 as a primate-specific enhancer in proliferative zones of the developing brain. Unexpectedly, transposable elements (TEs) contributed to >56% of ASCs, and almost all TE families showed functional potential similar to that of nonrepetitive DNA. Three L1PA repeat-derived ASCs displayed coherent eye-enhancer function, thus demonstrating that the "gene-battery" model of TE functionalization applies to enhancers in vivo. Our study provides fundamental insights into genome evolution and the origins of anthropoid phenotypes and supports an elegantly simple new null model of TE exaptation.