Project description:Investigations aimed at defining the 3D configuration of eukaryotic chromosomes have consistently encountered an endogenous population of chromosome-derived circular genomic DNA, referred to as extrachromosomal circular DNA (eccDNA). While the production, distribution, and activities of eccDNAs remain understudied, eccDNA formation from specific regions of the linear genome has profound consequences on the regulatory and coding capabilities for these regions. Here, we define eccDNA distributions in Caenorhabditis elegans and in three human cell types, utilizing a set of DNA topology-dependent approaches for enrichment and characterization. The use of parallel biophysical, enzymatic, and informatic approaches provides a comprehensive profiling of eccDNA robust to isolation and analysis methodology. Results in human and nematode systems provide quantitative analysis of the eccDNA loci at both unique and repetitive regions. Our studies converge on and support a consistent picture, in which endogenous genomic DNA circles are present in normal physiological states, and in which the circles come from both coding and noncoding genomic regions. Prominent among the coding regions generating DNA circles are several genes known to produce a diversity of protein isoforms, with mucin proteins and titin as specific examples.
Project description:Kynureninase is a member of a large family of catalytically diverse but structurally homologous pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP) dependent enzymes known as the aspartate aminotransferase superfamily or alpha-family. The Homo sapiens and other eukaryotic constitutive kynureninases preferentially catalyze the hydrolytic cleavage of 3-hydroxy-l-kynurenine to produce 3-hydroxyanthranilate and l-alanine, while l-kynurenine is the substrate of many prokaryotic inducible kynureninases. The human enzyme was cloned with an N-terminal hexahistidine tag, expressed, and purified from a bacterial expression system using Ni metal ion affinity chromatography. Kinetic characterization of the recombinant enzyme reveals classic Michaelis-Menten behavior, with a Km of 28.3 +/- 1.9 microM and a specific activity of 1.75 micromol min-1 mg-1 for 3-hydroxy-dl-kynurenine. Crystals of recombinant kynureninase that diffracted to 2.0 A were obtained, and the atomic structure of the PLP-bound holoenzyme was determined by molecular replacement using the Pseudomonas fluorescens kynureninase structure (PDB entry 1qz9) as the phasing model. A structural superposition with the P. fluorescens kynureninase revealed that these two structures resemble the "open" and "closed" conformations of aspartate aminotransferase. The comparison illustrates the dynamic nature of these proteins' small domains and reveals a role for Arg-434 similar to its role in other AAT alpha-family members. Docking of 3-hydroxy-l-kynurenine into the human kynureninase active site suggests that Asn-333 and His-102 are involved in substrate binding and molecular discrimination between inducible and constitutive kynureninase substrates.
Project description:Cortical thickness has been investigated since the beginning of the 20th century, but we do not know how similar the cortical thickness profiles among humans are. In this study, the local similarity of cortical thickness profiles was investigated using sliding window methods. Here, we show that approximately 5% of the cortical thickness profiles are similarly expressed among humans while 45% of the cortical thickness profiles show a high level of heterogeneity. Therefore, heterogeneity is the rule, not the exception. Cortical thickness profiles of somatosensory homunculi and the anterior insula are consistent among humans, while the cortical thickness profiles of the motor homunculus are more variable. Cortical thickness profiles of homunculi that code for muscle position and skin stimulation are highly similar among humans despite large differences in sex, education, and age. This finding suggests that the structure of these cortices remains well preserved over a lifetime. Our observations possibly relativize opinions on cortical plasticity.
Project description:We investigated the evidence of recent positive selection in the human phototransduction system at single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and gene level.SNP genotyping data from the International HapMap Project for European, Eastern Asian, and African populations was used to discover differences in haplotype length and allele frequency between these populations. Numeric selection metrics were computed for each SNP and aggregated into gene-level metrics to measure evidence of recent positive selection. The level of recent positive selection in phototransduction genes was evaluated and compared to a set of genes shown previously to be under recent selection, and a set of highly conserved genes as positive and negative controls, respectively.Six of 20 phototransduction genes evaluated had gene-level selection metrics above the 90th percentile: RGS9, GNB1, RHO, PDE6G, GNAT1, and SLC24A1. The selection signal across these genes was found to be of similar magnitude to the positive control genes and much greater than the negative control genes.There is evidence for selective pressure in the genes involved in retinal phototransduction, and traces of this selective pressure can be demonstrated using SNP-level and gene-level metrics of allelic variation. We hypothesize that the selective pressure on these genes was related to their role in low light vision and retinal adaptation to ambient light changes. Uncovering the underlying genetics of evolutionary adaptations in phototransduction not only allows greater understanding of vision and visual diseases, but also the development of patient-specific diagnostic and intervention strategies.
Project description:This study identifies and analyzes statistically significant overlaps between selective sweep screens in anatomically modern humans and several domesticated species. The results obtained suggest that (paleo-)genomic data can be exploited to complement the fossil record and support the idea of self-domestication in Homo sapiens, a process that likely intensified as our species populated its niche. Our analysis lends support to attempts to capture the "domestication syndrome" in terms of alterations to certain signaling pathways and cell lineages, such as the neural crest.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Protein-coding regions in a genome evolve by sequence divergence and gene gain and loss, altering the gene content of the organism. However, it is not well understood how this has given rise to the enormous diversity of metazoa present today.<h4>Results</h4>To obtain a global view of human genomic evolution, we quantify the divergence of proteins by functional category at different evolutionary distances from human.<h4>Conclusion</h4>This analysis highlights some general systems-level characteristics of human evolution: regulatory processes, such as signal transducers, transcription factors and receptors, have a high degree of plasticity, while core processes, such as metabolism, transport and protein synthesis, are largely conserved. Additionally, this study reveals a dynamic picture of selective forces at short, medium and long evolutionary timescales. Certain functional categories, such as 'development' and 'organogenesis', exhibit temporal patterns of sequence divergence in eukaryotes relative to human. This framework for a grammar of human evolution supports previously postulated theories of robustness and evolvability.
Project description:The transient receptor potential Ankyrin-1 (TRPA1) ion channel is modulated by myriad noxious stimuli that interact with multiple regions of the channel, including cysteine-reactive natural extracts from onion and garlic which modify residues in the cytoplasmic domains. The way in which TRPA1 cytoplasmic domain modification is coupled to opening of the ion-conducting pore has yet to be elucidated. The cryo-EM structure of TRPA1 revealed a tetrameric C-terminal coiled-coil surrounded by N-terminal ankyrin repeat domains (ARDs), an architecture shared with the canonical transient receptor potential (TRPC) ion channel family. Similarly, structures of the TRP melastatin (TRPM) ion channel family also showed a C-terminal coiled-coil surrounded by N-terminal cytoplasmic domains. This conserved architecture may indicate a common gating mechanism by which modification of cytoplasmic domains can transduce conformational changes to open the ion-conducting pore. We developed an in vitro system in which N-terminal ARDs and C-terminal coiled-coil domains can be expressed in bacteria and maintain the ability to interact. We tested three gating regulators: temperature; the polyphosphate compound IP6; and the covalent modifier allyl isothiocyanate to determine whether they alter N- and C-terminal interactions. We found that none of the modifiers tested abolished ARD-coiled-coil interactions, though there was a significant reduction at 37˚C. We found that coiled-coils tetramerize in a concentration dependent manner, with monomers and trimers observed at lower concentrations. Our system provides a method for examining the mechanism of oligomerization of TRPA1 cytoplasmic domains as well as a system to study the transmission of conformational changes resulting from covalent modification.
Project description:Understanding the timing and character of the expansion of Homo sapiens out of Africa is critical for inferring the colonization and admixture processes that underpin global population history. It has been argued that dispersal out of Africa had an early phase, particularly ~130-90 thousand years ago (ka), that reached only the East Mediterranean Levant, and a later phase, ~60-50?ka, that extended across the diverse environments of Eurasia to Sahul. However, recent findings from East Asia and Sahul challenge this model. Here we show that H. sapiens was in the Arabian Peninsula before 85?ka. We describe the Al Wusta-1 (AW-1) intermediate phalanx from the site of Al Wusta in the Nefud desert, Saudi Arabia. AW-1 is the oldest directly dated fossil of our species outside Africa and the Levant. The palaeoenvironmental context of Al Wusta demonstrates that H. sapiens using Middle Palaeolithic stone tools dispersed into Arabia during a phase of increased precipitation driven by orbital forcing, in association with a primarily African fauna. A Bayesian model incorporating independent chronometric age estimates indicates a chronology for Al Wusta of ~95-86?ka, which we correlate with a humid episode in the later part of Marine Isotope Stage 5 known from various regional records. Al Wusta shows that early dispersals were more spatially and temporally extensive than previously thought. Early H. sapiens dispersals out of Africa were not limited to winter rainfall-fed Levantine Mediterranean woodlands immediately adjacent to Africa, but extended deep into the semi-arid grasslands of Arabia, facilitated by periods of enhanced monsoonal rainfall.