Coordination of host and symbiont gene expression reveals a metabolic tug-of-war between aphids and Buchnera.
ABSTRACT: Symbioses between animals and microbes are often described as mutualistic, but are subject to tradeoffs that may manifest as shifts in host and symbiont metabolism, cellular processes, or symbiont density. In pea aphids, the bacterial symbiont Buchnera is confined to specialized aphid cells called bacteriocytes, where it produces essential amino acids needed by hosts. This relationship is dynamic; Buchnera titer varies within individual aphids and among different clonal aphid lineages, and is affected by environmental and host genetic factors. We examined how host genotypic variation relates to host and symbiont function among seven aphid clones differing in Buchnera titer. We found that bacteriocyte gene expression varies among individual aphids and among aphid clones, and that Buchnera gene expression changes in response. By comparing hosts with low and high Buchnera titer, we found that aphids and Buchnera oppositely regulate genes underlying amino acid biosynthesis and cell growth. In high-titer hosts, both bacteriocytes and symbionts show elevated expression of genes underlying energy metabolism. Several eukaryotic cell signaling pathways are differentially expressed in bacteriocytes of low- versus high-titer hosts: Cell-growth pathways are up-regulated in low-titer genotypes, while membrane trafficking, lysosomal processes, and mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) and cytokine pathways are up-regulated in high-titer genotypes. Specific Buchnera functions are up-regulated within different bacteriocyte environments, with genes underlying flagellar body secretion and flagellar assembly overexpressed in low- and high-titer hosts, respectively. Overall, our results reveal allowances and demands made by both host and symbiont engaged in a metabolic "tug-of-war."
Project description:Many insects are associated with obligate symbiotic bacteria, which are localized in specialized cells called bacteriocytes, vertically transmitted through host generations via ovarial passage, and essential for growth and reproduction of their hosts. Although vertical transmission is pivotal for maintenance of such intimate host-symbiont associations, molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the process are largely unknown. Here we report a cellular mechanism for vertical transmission of the obligate symbiont Buchnera in the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum. In the aphid body, Buchnera cells are transmitted from maternal bacteriocytes to adjacent blastulae at the ovariole tips in a highly coordinated manner. By making use of symbiont-manipulated strains of A. pisum, we demonstrated that the facultative symbiont Serratia is, unlike Buchnera, not transmitted from maternal bacteriocytes to blastulae, suggesting a specific mechanism for Buchnera transmission. EM observations revealed a series of exo-/endocytotic processes operating at the bacteriocyte-blastula interface: Buchnera cells are exocytosed from the maternal bacteriocyte, temporarily released to the extracellular space, and endocytosed by the posterior syncytial cytoplasm of the blastula. These results suggest that the selective Buchnera transmission is likely attributable to Buchnera-specific exocytosis by the maternal bacteriocyte, whereas both Buchnera and Serratia are nonselectively incorporated by the endocytotic activity of the posterior region of the blastula. The sophisticated cellular mechanism for vertical transmission of Buchnera must have evolved to ensure the obligate host-symbiont association, whereas facultative symbionts like Serratia may coopt the endocytotic component of the mechanism for their entry into the host embryos.
Project description:Many insects host their obligate, maternally transmitted symbiotic bacteria in specialized cells called bacteriocytes. One of the best-studied insect nutritional endosymbioses is that of the aphid and its endosymbiont, Buchnera aphidicola. Aphids and Buchnera are metabolically and developmentally integrated, but the molecular mechanisms underlying Buchnera transmission and coordination with aphid development remain largely unknown. Previous work using electron microscopy to study aphid asexual embryogenesis has revealed that Buchnera transmission involves exocytosis from a maternal bacteriocyte followed by endocytotic uptake by a blastula. While the importance of exo- and endocytic cellular processes for symbiont transmission is clear, the molecular mechanisms that regulate these processes are not known. Here, we shed light on the molecular mechanisms that regulate Buchnera transmission and developmental integration.We present the developmental atlas of ACYPI000536 and ACYPI008904 mRNAs during asexual embryogenesis in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum. Immediately before Buchnera invasion, transcripts of both genes were detected by whole-mount in situ hybridization in the posterior syncytial nuclei of late blastula embryos. Following Buchnera invasion, expression of both genes was identified in the region occupied by Buchnera throughout embryogenesis. Notably during Buchnera migration, expression of both genes was not concomitant with the entirety of the bacterial mass but rather expression colocalized with Buchnera in the anterior region of the bacterial mass. In addition, we found that ACYPI000536 was expressed in nuclei at the leading edge of the bacterial mass, joining the bacterial mass in subsequent developmental stages. Finally, quantitative reverse transcription real-time PCR suggested that early in development both transcripts were maternally provisioned to embryos.We venture that ACYPI000536 and ACYPI008904 function as nutrient sensors at the site of symbiont invasion to facilitate TOR-pathway-mediated endocytosis of Buchnera by the aphid blastula. Our data support earlier reports of bacteriocyte determination involving a two-step recruitment process but suggest that the second wave of recruitment occurs earlier than previously described. Finally, our work highlights that bacteriocyte-enriched amino acid transporter paralogs have additionally been retained to play novel developmental roles in both symbiont recruitment and bacteriome development.
Project description:The best studied insect-symbiont system is that of aphids and their primary bacterial endosymbiont Buchnera aphidicola. Buchnera inhabits specialized host cells called bacteriocytes, provides nutrients to the aphid and has co-speciated with its aphid hosts for the past 150 million years. We have used a single microarray to examine gene expression in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, and its resident Buchnera. Very little is known of gene expression in aphids, few studies have examined gene expression in Buchnera, and no study has examined simultaneously the expression profiles of a host and its symbiont. Expression profiling of aphids, in studies such as this, will be critical for assigning newly discovered A. pisum genes to functional roles. In particular, because aphids possess many genes that are absent from Drosophila and other holometabolous insect taxa, aphid genome annotation efforts cannot rely entirely on homology to the best-studied insect systems. Development of this dual-genome array represents a first attempt to characterize gene expression in this emerging model system.We chose to examine heat shock response because it has been well characterized both in Buchnera and in other insect species. Our results from the Buchnera of A. pisum show responses for the same gene set as an earlier study of heat shock response in Buchnera for the host aphid Schizaphis graminum. Additionally, analyses of aphid transcripts showed the expected response for homologs of known heat shock genes as well as responses for several genes with unknown functional roles.We examined gene expression under heat shock of an insect and its bacterial symbiont in a single assay using a dual-genome microarray. Further, our results indicate that microarrays are a useful tool for inferring functional roles of genes in A. pisum and other insects and suggest that the pea aphid genome may contain many gene paralogs that are differentially regulated.
Project description:Background: The best studied insect-symbiont system is that of aphids and their primary bacterial endosymbiont Buchnera aphidicola. Buchnera inhabits specialized host cells called bacteriocytes, provides nutrients to the aphid and has co-speciated with its aphid hosts for the past 150 million years. We have used a single microarray to examine gene expression in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, and its resident Buchnera. Very little is known of gene expression in aphids, few studies have examined gene expression in Buchnera, and no study has examined simultaneously the expression profiles of a host and its symbiont. Expression profiling of aphids, in studies such as this, will be critical for assigning newly discovered A. pisum genes to functional roles. In particular, because aphids possess many genes that are absent from Drosophila and other holometabolous insect taxa, aphid genome annotation efforts cannot rely entirely on homology to the best-studied insect systems. Development of this dual-genome array represents a first attempt to characterize gene expression in this emerging model system. Results: We chose to examine heat shock response because it has been well characterized both in Buchnera and in other insect species. Our results from the Buchnera of A. pisum show responses for the same gene set as an earlier study of heat shock response in Buchnera for the host aphid Schizaphis graminum. Additionally, analyses of aphid transcripts showed the expected response for homologs of known heat shock genes as well as responses for several genes with unknown functional roles. Conclusions: We examined gene expression under heat shock of an insect and its bacterial symbiont in a single assay using a dual-genome microarray. Further, our results indicate that microarrays are a useful tool for inferring functional roles of genes in A. pisum and other insects and suggest that the pea aphid genome may contain many gene paralogs that are differentially regulated. Keywords: Stress response Overall design: Two biological replicates (TUC1 and TUC2), dye-flip experiment
Project description:Aphids possess bacteriocytes, cells specifically differentiated to harbor obligatory mutualistic bacteria of the genus Buchnera, which have lost many genes that are essential for common bacterial functions. To understand the host's role in maintaining the symbiotic relationship, bacteriocytes were isolated from the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, and the host transcriptome was investigated by using EST analysis and real-time quantitative RT-PCR. A number of genes were highly expressed specifically in the bacteriocyte, including (i) genes for amino acid metabolism, including those for biosynthesis of amino acids that Buchnera cannot produce, and those for utilization of amino acids that Buchnera can synthesize; (ii) genes related to transport, including genes for mitochondrial transporters and a gene encoding Rab, a G protein that regulates vesicular transport; and (iii) genes for putative lysozymes that degrade bacterial cell walls. Significant up-regulation of i clearly indicated that the bacteriocyte is involved in the exchange of amino acids between the host aphid and Buchnera, the key metabolic process in the symbiotic system. Conspicuously high expression of ii and iii shed light on previously unknown aspects of the host-Buchnera interactions in the symbiotic system.
Project description:SMLS (Sitobion miscanthi L type symbiont) is a newly reported aphid secondary symbiont. Phylogenetic evidence from molecular markers indicates that SMLS belongs to the Rickettsiaceae and has a sibling relationship with Orientia tsutsugamushi. A comparative analysis of coxA nucleotide sequences further supports recognition of SMLS as a new genus in the Rickettsiaceae. In situ hybridization reveals that SMLS is housed in both sheath cells and secondary bacteriocytes and it is also detected in aphid hemolymph. The population dynamics of SMLS differ from those of Buchnera aphidicola and titer levels of SMLS increase in older aphids. A survey of 13 other aphids reveals that SMLS only occurs in wheat-associated species.
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:Endosymbiotic associations have played a major role in evolution. However, the molecular basis for the biochemical interdependence of these associations remains poorly understood. The aphid-Buchnera endosymbiosis provides a powerful system to elucidate how these symbioses are regulated. In aphids, the supply of essential amino acids depends on an ancient nutritional symbiotic association with the gamma-proteobacterium Buchnera aphidicola. Buchnera cells are densely packed in specialized aphid bacteriocyte cells. Here we confirm that five putative amino acid transporters are highly expressed and/or highly enriched in Acyrthosiphon pisum bacteriocyte tissues. When expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes, two bacteriocyte amino acid transporters displayed significant levels of glutamine uptake, with transporter ACYPI001018, LOC100159667 (named here as Acyrthosiphon pisum glutamine transporter 1, ApGLNT1) functioning as the most active glutamine transporter. Transporter ApGLNT1 has narrow substrate selectivity, with high glutamine and low arginine transport capacity. Notably, ApGLNT1 has high binding affinity for arginine, and arginine acts as a competitive inhibitor for glutamine transport. Using immunocytochemistry, we show that ApGLNT1 is localized predominantly to the bacteriocyte plasma membrane, a location consistent with the transport of glutamine from A. pisum hemolymph to the bacteriocyte cytoplasm. On the basis of functional transport data and localization, we propose a substrate feedback inhibition model in which the accumulation of the essential amino acid arginine in A. pisum hemolymph reduces the transport of the precursor glutamine into bacteriocytes, thereby regulating amino acid biosynthesis in the bacteriocyte. Structural similarities in the arrangement of hosts and symbionts across endosymbiotic systems suggest that substrate feedback inhibition may be mechanistically important in other endosymbioses.
Project description:Obligate nutritional endosymbioses are arguably the most intimate of all interspecific associations. While many insect nutritional endosymbioses are well studied, a full picture of how two disparate organisms, a bacterial endosymbiont and a eukaryotic host, are integrated is still lacking. The mTOR pathway is known to integrate nutritional conditions with cell growth and survival in eukaryotes. Characterization and localization of amino acid transporters in aphids suggest the mTOR pathway as a point of integration between an aphid host and its amino acid-provisioning endosymbiont Buchnera aphidicola The mTOR pathway is unannotated in aphids and unstudied in any nutritional endosymbiosis. We annotated mTOR pathway genes in two aphid species, Acyrthosiphon pisum and Myzus persicae, using both BLASTp searches and Hidden Markov Models. Using previously collected RNAseq data we constructed new reference transcriptomes for bacteriocyte, gut, and whole insect tissue for three lines of M. persicae Annotation of the mTOR pathway identified homologs of all known invertebrate mTOR genes in both aphid species with some duplications. Differential expression analysis showed that genes specific to the amino acid-sensitive mTOR Complex 1 were more highly expressed in bacteriocytes than genes specific to the amino acid-insensitive mTOR Complex 2. Almost all mTOR genes involved in sensing amino acids showed higher expression in bacteriocytes than in whole insect tissue. When compared to gut, the putative glutamine/arginine sensing transporter ACYPI000333, an ortholog of SLC38A9, showed 6.5 times higher expression in bacteriocytes. Our results suggest that the mTOR pathway may be functionally important in mediating integration of Buchnera into aphid growth and reproduction.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Aphids possess bacteriocytes, which are cells specifically differentiated to harbour the obligate mutualist Buchnera aphidicola (gamma-Proteobacteria). Buchnera has lost many of the genes that appear to be essential for bacterial life. From the bacteriocyte of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum, we previously identified two clusters of expressed sequence tags that display similarity only to bacterial genes. Southern blot analysis demonstrated that they are encoded in the aphid genome. In this study, in order to assess the possibility of lateral gene transfer, we determined the full-length sequences of these transcripts, and performed detailed structural and phylogenetic analyses. We further examined their expression levels in the bacteriocyte using real-time quantitative RT-PCR. RESULTS: Sequence similarity searches demonstrated that these fully sequenced transcripts are significantly similar to the bacterial genes ldcA (product, LD-carboxypeptidase) and rlpA (product, rare lipoprotein A), respectively. Buchnera lacks these genes, whereas many other bacteria, including Escherichia coli, a close relative of Buchnera, possess both ldcA and rlpA. Molecular phylogenetic analysis clearly demonstrated that the aphid ldcA was derived from a rickettsial bacterium closely related to the extant Wolbachia spp. (alpha-Proteobacteria, Rickettsiales), which are intracellular symbionts of various lineages of arthropods. The evolutionary origin of rlpA was not fully resolved, but it was clearly demonstrated that its double-psi beta-barrel domain is of bacterial origin. Real-time quantitative RT-PCR demonstrated that ldcA and rlpA are expressed 11.6 and 154-fold higher in the bacteriocyte than in the whole body, respectively. LdcA is an enzyme required for recycling murein (peptidoglycan), which is a component of the bacterial cell wall. As Buchnera possesses a cell wall composed of murein but lacks ldcA, a high level of expression of the aphid ldcA in the bacteriocyte may be essential to maintain Buchnera. Although the function of RlpA is not well known, conspicuous up-regulation of the aphid rlpA in the bacteriocyte implies that this gene is also essential for Buchnera. CONCLUSION: In this study, we obtained several lines of evidence indicating that aphids acquired genes from bacteria via lateral gene transfer and that these genes are used to maintain the obligately mutualistic bacterium, Buchnera.