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:Human quinolinate phosphoribosyltransferase (EC 184.108.40.206) (hQPRTase) is a member of the type II phosphoribosyltransferase family involved in the catabolism of quinolinic acid (QA). It catalyses the formation of nicotinic acid mononucleotide from quinolinic acid, which involves a phosphoribosyl transfer reaction followed by decarboxylation. hQPRTase has been implicated in a number of neurological conditions and in order to study it further, we have carried out structural and kinetic studies on recombinant hQPRTase. The structure of the fully active enzyme overexpressed in Escherichia coli was solved using multiwavelength methods to a resolution of 2.0 A. hQPRTase has a alpha/beta barrel fold sharing a similar overall structure with the bacterial QPRTases. The active site of hQPRTase is located at an alpha/beta open sandwich structure that serves as a cup for the alpha/beta barrel of the adjacent subunit with a QA binding site consisting of three arginine residues (R102, R138 and R161) and two lysine residues (K139 and K171). Mutation of these residues affected substrate binding or abolished the enzymatic activity. The kinetics of the human enzyme are different to the bacterial enzymes studied, hQPRTase is inhibited competitively and non-competitively by one of its substrates, 5-phosphoribosylpyrophosphate (PRPP). The human enzyme adopts a hexameric arrangement, which places the active sites in close proximity to each other.
Project description:We have sequenced miRNA libraries from human embryonic, neural and foetal mesenchymal stem cells. We report that the majority of miRNA genes encode mature isomers that vary in size by one or more bases at the 3’ and/or 5’ end of the miRNA. Northern blotting for individual miRNAs showed that the proportions of isomiRs expressed by a single miRNA gene often differ between cell and tissue types. IsomiRs were readily co-immunoprecipitated with Argonaute proteins in vivo and were active in luciferase assays, indicating that they are functional. Bioinformatics analysis predicts substantial differences in targeting between miRNAs with minor 5’ differences and in support of this we report that a 5’ isomiR-9-1 gained the ability to inhibit the expression of DNMT3B and NCAM2 but lost the ability to inhibit CDH1 in vitro. This result was confirmed by the use of isomiR-specific sponges. Our analysis of the miRGator database indicates that a small percentage of human miRNA genes express isomiRs as the dominant transcript in certain cell types and analysis of miRBase shows that 5’ isomiRs have replaced canonical miRNAs many times during evolution. This strongly indicates that isomiRs are of functional importance and have contributed to the evolution of miRNA genes Sequence library of miRNAs from a single sample of human foetal mesenchymal stem cells. Results tested and confirmed by northern blotting. Please note that only raw data files are available for the embryonic and neual samples and thus, directly submitted to SRA (SRX547311, SRX548700, respectively under SRP042115/PRJNA247767)
Project description:Coupling molecular biology to high-throughput sequencing has revolutionized the study of biology. Molecular genomics techniques are continually refined to provide higher resolution mapping of nucleic acid interactions and structure. Sequence preferences of enzymes can interfere with the accurate interpretation of these data. We developed seqOutBias to characterize enzymatic sequence bias from experimental data and scale individual sequence reads to correct intrinsic enzymatic sequence biases. SeqOutBias efficiently corrects DNase-seq, TACh-seq, ATAC-seq, MNase-seq and PRO-seq data. We show that seqOutBias correction facilitates identification of true molecular signatures resulting from transcription factors and RNA polymerase interacting with DNA.
Project description:CLC channels mediate passive Cl- conduction, while CLC transporters mediate active Cl- transport coupled to H+ transport in the opposite direction. The distinction between CLC-0/1/2 channels and CLC transporters seems undetectable by amino acid sequence. To understand why they are different functionally we determined the structure of the human CLC-1 channel. Its 'glutamate gate' residue, known to mediate proton transfer in CLC transporters, adopts a location in the structure that appears to preclude it from its transport function. Furthermore, smaller side chains produce a wider pore near the intracellular surface, potentially reducing a kinetic barrier for Cl- conduction. When the corresponding residues are mutated in a transporter, it is converted to a channel. Finally, Cl- at key sites in the pore appear to interact with reduced affinity compared to transporters. Thus, subtle differences in glutamate gate conformation, internal pore diameter and Cl- affinity distinguish CLC channels and transporters.
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:Two primary goals of psychological science should be to understand what aspects of human psychology are universal and the way that context and culture produce variability. This requires that we take into account the importance of culture and context in the way that we write our papers and in the types of populations that we sample. However, most research published in our leading journals has relied on sampling WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic) populations. One might expect that our scholarly work and editorial choices would by now reflect the knowledge that Western populations may not be representative of humans generally with respect to any given psychological phenomenon. However, as we show here, almost all research published by one of our leading journals, Psychological Science, relies on Western samples and uses these data in an unreflective way to make inferences about humans in general. To take us forward, we offer a set of concrete proposals for authors, journal editors, and reviewers that may lead to a psychological science that is more representative of the human condition.
Project description:Psychological, clinical and neurobiological findings endorse that empathic abilities are more developed in women than in men. Because there is growing evidence that yawn contagion is an empathy-based phenomenon, we expect that the female bias in the empathic abilities reflects on a gender skew in the responsiveness to others' yawns. We verified this assumption by applying a linear model on a dataset gathered during a 5 year period of naturalistic observations on humans. Gender, age and social bond were included in the analysis as fixed factors. The social bond and the receiver's gender remained in the best model. The rates of contagion were significantly lower between acquaintances than between friends and family members, and significantly higher in women than in men. These results not only confirm that yawn contagion is sensitive to social closeness, but also that the phenomenon is affected by the same gender bias affecting empathy. The sex skew, also found in other non-human species, fits with the female social roles which are likely to require higher empathic abilities (e.g. parental care, group cohesion maintenance, social mediation). The fact that female influence in social dynamics also relies on face-to-face emotional exchange raises concerns on the negative repercussions of having women's facial expressions forcibly concealed.