Cyptophyte gene regulation in the kleptoplastidic ciliate Mesodinium rubrum
ABSTRACT: Time series microarray analysis on the photosynthetic ciliate was conducted using an oligochip containing 15,654 genes designed from Teleaulax amphioxeia ESTs Overall design: To identify the gene expression patterns that occur during the sequesteration of the plastid, a total of 15,654 unique genes from cryptophyte were designed. Gene expression was compared in a free-living cryptophyte and in its sequestered state (in Mesodinium cells).
INSTRUMENT(S): Agilent-038578 Teleaulax Gene Expression 4 X 44K array (Probe name version)
Project description:BACKGROUND:Organelle retention is a form of mixotrophy that allows organisms to reap metabolic benefits similar to those of photoautotrophs through capture of algal prey and sequestration of their plastids. Mesodinium rubrum is an abundant and broadly distributed photosynthetic marine ciliate that steals organelles from cryptophyte algae, such as Geminigera cryophila. M. rubrum is unique from most other acquired phototrophs because it also steals a functional nucleus that facilitates genetic control of sequestered plastids and other organelles. We analyzed changes in G. cryophila nuclear gene expression and transcript abundance after its incorporation into the cellular architecture of M. rubrum as an initial step towards understanding this complex system. METHODS:We compared Illumina-generated transcriptomes of the cryptophyte Geminigera cryophila as a free-living cell and as a sequestered nucleus in M. rubrum to identify changes in protein abundance and gene expression. After KEGG annotation, proteins were clustered by functional categories, which were evaluated for over- or under-representation in the sequestered nucleus. Similarly, coding sequences were grouped by KEGG categories/pathways, which were then evaluated for over- or under-expression via read count strategies. RESULTS:At the time of sampling, the global transcriptome of M. rubrum was dominated (~58-62 %) by transcription from its stolen nucleus. A comparison of transcriptomes from free-living G. cryophila cells to those of the sequestered nucleus revealed a decrease in gene expression and transcript abundance for most functional protein categories within the ciliate. However, genes coding for proteins involved in photosynthesis, oxidative stress reduction, and several other metabolic pathways revealed striking exceptions to this general decline. CONCLUSIONS:Major changes in G. cryophila transcript expression after sequestration by M. rubrum and the ciliate's success as a photoautotroph imply some level of control or gene regulation by the ciliate and at the very least reflect a degree of coordination between host and foreign organelles. Intriguingly, cryptophyte genes involved in protein transport are significantly under-expressed in M. rubrum, implicating a role for the ciliate's endomembrane system in targeting cryptophyte proteins to plastid complexes. Collectively, this initial portrait of an acquired transcriptome within a dynamic and ecologically successful ciliate highlights the remarkable cellular and metabolic chimerism of this system.
Project description:Many marine ciliate species retain functional chloroplasts from their photosynthetic prey. In some species, the functionality of the acquired plastids is connected to the simultaneous retention of prey nuclei. To date, this has never been documented in plastidic <i>Strombidium</i> species. The functionality of the sequestered chloroplasts in <i>Strombidium</i> species is thought to be independent from any nuclear control and only maintained via frequent replacement of chloroplasts from newly ingested prey. Chloroplasts sequestered from the cryptophyte prey <i>Teleaulax amphioxeia</i> have been shown to keep their functionality for several days in the ciliate <i>Strombidium</i> cf. <i>basimorphum.</i> To investigate the potential retention of prey genetic material in this ciliate, we applied a molecular marker specific for this cryptophyte prey. Here, we demonstrate that the genetic material from prey nuclei, nucleomorphs, and ribosomes is detectable inside the ciliate for at least 5 days after prey ingestion. Moreover, single-cell transcriptomics revealed the presence of transcripts of prey nuclear origin in the ciliate after 4 days of prey starvation. These new findings might lead to the reconsideration of the mechanisms regulating chloroplasts retention in <i>Strombidium</i> ciliates. The development and application of molecular tools appear promising to improve our understanding on chloroplasts retention in planktonic protists.
Project description:Free-living protozoa are thought to be of fundamental importance in aquatic ecosystems, but there is limited understanding of their diversity and ecological role, particularly in surface-associated communities such as biofilms. Existing eukaryote-specific PCR primers were used to survey 18S rRNA gene sequence diversity in stream biofilms but poorly revealed protozoan diversity, demonstrating a need for protozoan-targeted primers. Group-specific PCR primers targeting 18S rRNA genes of the protozoan phylum Ciliophora were therefore designed and tested using DNA extracted from cultured protozoan isolates. The two most reliable primer combinations were applied to stream biofilm DNA, followed by cloning and sequencing analysis. Of 44 clones derived from primer set 384F/1147R, 86% were of probable ciliate origin, as were 25% of 44 clones detected by primer set 121F/1147R. A further 29% of 121F/1147R-detected clones matched sequences from the closely related phylum Apicomplexa. The highly ciliate-specific primer set 384F/1147R was subsequently used in PCRs on biofilm DNA from four streams exhibiting different levels of human impact, revealing differences in ciliate sequence diversity in samples from each site. Of a total of 240 clones, 73% were of probable ciliate origin; 54 different putative ciliate sequences were detected from throughout seven taxonomic ciliate classes. Sequences from Oligohymenophorea were most commonly detected in all samples, followed by either Spirotrichea or Phyllopharyngea. Restriction fragment length polymorphism profile-based analysis of clones suggested a potentially higher level of diversity than did sequencing. Nevertheless, newly designed PCR primers 384F/1147R were considered to provide an effective molecular basis for characterization of ciliate diversity in stream biofilms.
Project description:The presence of plastids in diverse eukaryotic lineages that have lost the capacity for photosynthesis is well documented. The metabolic functions of such organelles, however, are poorly understood except in the case of the apicoplast in the Apicomplexa, a group of intracellular parasites including Plasmodium falciparum, and the plastid of the green alga Helicosporidium sp., a parasite for which the only host-free stage identified in nature so far is represented by cysts. As a first step in the reconstruction of plastid functions in a nonphotosynthetic, predominantly free-living organism, we searched for expressed sequence tags (ESTs) that correspond to nucleus-encoded plastid-targeted polypeptides in the green alga Prototheca wickerhamii. From 3,856 ESTs, we found that 71 unique sequences (235 ESTs) correspond to different nucleus-encoded putatively plastid-targeted polypeptides. The identified proteins predict that carbohydrate, amino acid, lipid, tetrapyrrole, and isoprenoid metabolism as well as de novo purine biosynthesis and oxidoreductive processes take place in the plastid of P. wickerhamii. Mg-protoporphyrin accumulation and, therefore, plastid-to-nucleus signaling might also occur in this nonphotosynthetic organism, as we identified a transcript which encodes subunit I of Mg-chelatase, the enzyme which catalyzes the first committed step in chlorophyll synthesis. Our data indicate a far more complex metabolism in P. wickerhamii's plastid compared with the metabolic pathways predicted to be located in the apicoplast of P. falciparum and the plastid of Helicosporidium sp.
Project description:The marine mixotrophic ciliate <i>Mesodinium rubrum</i> is known to acquire chloroplasts, mitochondria, nucleomorphs, and nucleus from its cryptophyte prey, particularly from species in the genera, <i>Geminigera</i> and <i>Teleaulax</i>. The sequestered prey nucleus and chloroplasts are considered to support photosynthesis of <i>M. rubrum</i>. In addition, recent studies have shown enlargement of the retained prey nucleus in starved <i>M. rubrum</i> and have inferred that enlargement results from the fusion of ingested prey nuclei. Thus far, however, little is known about the mechanism underlying the enlargement of the prey nucleus in <i>M. rubrum</i>. Here, we conducted starvation and refeeding studies to monitor the fate of prey nuclei acquired by <i>M. rubrum</i> when feeding on <i>Teleaulax amphioxeia</i> and to explore the influence of the retained prey nucleus on photosynthesis of <i>M. rubrum</i>. Results indicate that enlargement of the prey nucleus does not result from fusion of nuclei. Furthermore, the enlarged prey nucleus does not appear to divide during cell division of <i>M. rubrum</i>. The presence of a prey nucleus significantly affected photosynthetic performance of <i>M. rubrum</i>, while the number of retained chloroplasts had little influence on rate of carbon fixation. We interpret results within the context of a model that considers the dynamics of ingested prey nuclei during division of <i>M. rubrum</i>.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The ciliate protozoan Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (Ich) is an important parasite of freshwater fish that causes 'white spot disease' leading to significant losses. A genomic resource for large-scale studies of this parasite has been lacking. To study gene expression involved in Ich pathogenesis and virulence, our goal was to generate expressed sequence tags (ESTs) for the development of a powerful microarray platform for the analysis of global gene expression in this species. Here, we initiated a project to sequence and analyze over 10,000 ESTs. RESULTS: We sequenced 10,368 EST clones using a normalized cDNA library made from pooled samples of the trophont, tomont, and theront life-cycle stages, and generated 9,769 sequences (94.2% success rate). Post-sequencing processing led to 8,432 high quality sequences. Clustering analysis of these ESTs allowed identification of 4,706 unique sequences containing 976 contigs and 3,730 singletons. These unique sequences represent over two million base pairs (~10% of Plasmodium falciparum genome, a phylogenetically related protozoan). BLASTX searches produced 2,518 significant (E-value < 10-5) hits and further Gene Ontology (GO) analysis annotated 1,008 of these genes. The ESTs were analyzed comparatively against the genomes of the related protozoa Tetrahymena thermophila and P. falciparum, allowing putative identification of additional genes. All the EST sequences were deposited by dbEST in GenBank (GenBank: EG957858-EG966289). Gene discovery and annotations are presented and discussed. CONCLUSION: This set of ESTs represents a significant proportion of the Ich transcriptome, and provides a material basis for the development of microarrays useful for gene expression studies concerning Ich development, pathogenesis, and virulence.
Project description:Teleaulax amphioxeia is a photosynthetic unicellular cryptophyte alga that is distributed throughout marine habitats worldwide. This alga is an important plastid donor to the dinoflagellate Dinophysis caudata through the ciliate Mesodinium rubrum in the marine food web. To better understand the genomic characteristics of T. amphioxeia, we have sequenced and analyzed its plastid genome. The plastid genome sequence of T. amphioxeia is similar to that of Rhodomonas salina, and they share significant synteny. This sequence exhibits less similarity to that of Guillardia theta, the representative plastid genome of photosynthetic cryptophytes. The gene content and order of the three photosynthetic cryptomonad plastid genomes studied is highly conserved. The plastid genome of T. amphioxeia is composed of 129,772 bp and includes 143 protein-coding genes, 2 rRNA operons and 30 tRNA sequences. The DNA polymerase III gene (dnaX) was most likely acquired via lateral gene transfer (LGT) from a firmicute bacterium, identical to what occurred in R. salina. On the other hand, the psbN gene was independently encoded by the plastid genome without a reverse transcriptase gene as an intron. To clarify the phylogenetic relationships of the algae with red-algal derived plastids, phylogenetic analyses of 32 taxa were performed, including three previously sequenced cryptophyte plastid genomes containing 93 protein-coding genes. The stramenopiles were found to have branched out from the Chromista taxa (cryptophytes, haptophytes, and stramenopiles), while the cryptophytes and haptophytes were consistently grouped into sister relationships with high resolution.
Project description:Dinoflagellates are important marine primary producers and grazers and cause toxic "red tides". These taxa are characterized by many unique features such as immense genomes, the absence of nucleosomes, and photosynthetic organelles (plastids) that have been gained and lost multiple times. We generated EST sequences from non-normalized and normalized cDNA libraries from a culture of the toxic species Alexandrium tamarense to elucidate dinoflagellate evolution. Previous analyses of these data have clarified plastid origin and here we study the gene content, annotate the ESTs, and analyze the genes that are putatively involved in DNA packaging.Approximately 20% of the 6,723 unique (11,171 total 3'-reads) ESTs data could be annotated using Blast searches against GenBank. Several putative dinoflagellate-specific mRNAs were identified, including one novel plastid protein. Dinoflagellate genes, similar to other eukaryotes, have a high GC-content that is reflected in the amino acid codon usage. Highly represented transcripts include histone-like (HLP) and luciferin binding proteins and several genes occur in families that encode nearly identical proteins. We also identified rare transcripts encoding a predicted protein highly similar to histone H2A.X. We speculate this histone may be retained for its role in DNA double-strand break repair.This is the most extensive collection to date of ESTs from a toxic dinoflagellate. These data will be instrumental to future research to understand the unique and complex cell biology of these organisms and for potentially identifying the genes involved in toxin production.
Project description:The hindgut of wood-feeding Panesthia cockroaches harbours a diverse microbial community, whose most morphologically prominent members are bacterivorous clevelandellid ciliates. Co-occurrence and correlation patterns of prokaryotes associated with these endosymbiotic ciliates were investigated. Multidimensional scaling based on taxa interaction-adjusted index showed a very clear separation of the hindgut ciliate samples from the ciliate-free hindgut samples. This division was corroborated also by SparCC analysis which revealed strong negative associations between prokaryotic taxa that were relatively more abundant in the ciliate-free hindgut samples and prokaryotic taxa that were more abundant in the ciliate samples. This very likely reflects the grazing behaviour of hindgut ciliates which prefer Proteobacteria, Firmicutes and Actinobacteria, causing their abundances to be increased in the ciliate samples at the expense of abundances of Euryarchaeota and Bacteroidetes which prevail in the hindgut content. Ciliate species do not distinctly differ in the associated prokaryotes, indicating that minute variations in the proportion of associated bacteria might be sufficient to avoid competition between bacterivorous ciliate species and hence enable their co-occurrence in the same host. The nearest free-living relatives of hindgut ciliates have a different pattern of associations with prokaryotes, i.e., alphaproteobacteria are predominantly associated with free-living ciliates while gammaproteobacteria with hindgut ciliates.
Project description:Sacoglossan sea slugs are unique in the animal kingdom in that they sequester and maintain active plastids that they acquire from the siphonaceous algae upon which they feed, making the animals photosynthetic. Although most sacoglossan species digest their freshly ingested plastids within hours, four species from the family Plakobranchidae retain their stolen plastids (kleptoplasts) in a photosynthetically active state on timescales of weeks to months. The molecular basis of plastid maintenance within the cytosol of digestive gland cells in these photosynthetic metazoans is yet unknown but is widely thought to involve gene transfer from the algal food source to the slugs based upon previous investigations of single genes. Indeed, normal plastid development requires hundreds of nuclear-encoded proteins, with protein turnover in photosystem II in particular known to be rapid under various conditions. Moreover, only algal plastids, not the algal nuclei, are sequestered by the animals during feeding. If algal nuclear genes are transferred to the animal either during feeding or in the germ line, and if they are expressed, then they should be readily detectable with deep-sequencing methods. We have sequenced expressed mRNAs from actively photosynthesizing, starved individuals of two photosynthetic sea slug species, Plakobranchus ocellatus Van Hasselt, 1824 and Elysia timida Risso, 1818. We find that nuclear-encoded, algal-derived genes specific to photosynthetic function are expressed neither in P. ocellatus nor in E. timida. Despite their dramatic plastid longevity, these photosynthetic sacoglossan slugs do not express genes acquired from algal nuclei in order to maintain plastid function.