Project description:The genetic architecture of the craniofacial complex has been the subject of intense scrutiny because of the high frequency of congenital malformations. Numerous animal models have been used to document the early development of the craniofacial complex, but few studies have focused directly on the genetic underpinnings of normal variation in the human craniofacial complex. This study examines 80 quantitative traits derived from lateral cephalographs of 981 participants in the Fels Longitudinal Study, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio. Quantitative genetic analyses were conducted using the Sequential Oligogenic Linkage Analysis Routines analytic platform, a maximum-likelihood variance components method that incorporates all familial information for parameter estimation. Heritability estimates were significant and of moderate to high magnitude for all craniofacial traits. Additionally, significant quantitative trait loci (QTL) were identified for 10 traits from the three developmental components (basicranium, splanchnocranium, and neurocranium) of the craniofacial complex. These QTL were found on chromosomes 3, 6, 11, 12, and 14. This study of the genetic architecture of the craniofacial complex elucidates fundamental information of the genetic architecture of the craniofacial complex in humans.
Project description:Recent developmental studies demonstrate that early fossil hominins possessed shorter growth periods than living humans, implying disparate life histories. Analyses of incremental features in teeth provide an accurate means of assessing the age at death of developing dentitions, facilitating direct comparisons with fossil and modern humans. It is currently unknown when and where the prolonged modern human developmental condition originated. Here, an application of x-ray synchrotron microtomography reveals that an early Homo sapiens juvenile from Morocco dated at 160,000 years before present displays an equivalent degree of tooth development to modern European children at the same age. Crown formation times in the juvenile's macrodont dentition are higher than modern human mean values, whereas root development is accelerated relative to modern humans but is less than living apes and some fossil hominins. The juvenile from Jebel Irhoud is currently the oldest-known member of Homo with a developmental pattern (degree of eruption, developmental stage, and crown formation time) that is more similar to modern H. sapiens than to earlier members of Homo. This study also underscores the continuing importance of North Africa for understanding the origins of human anatomical and behavioral modernity. Corresponding biological and cultural changes may have appeared relatively late in the course of human evolution.
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:By using the 1.6 million single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotype data set from Perlegen Sciences [Hinds, D. A., Stuve, L. L., Nilsen, G. B., Halperin, E., Eskin, E., Ballinger, D. G., Frazer, K. A. & Cox, D. R. (2005) Science 307, 1072-1079], a probabilistic search for the landscape exhibited by positive Darwinian selection was conducted. By sorting each high-frequency allele by homozygosity, we search for the expected decay of adjacent SNP linkage disequilibrium (LD) at recently selected alleles, eliminating the need for inferring haplotype. We designate this approach the LD decay (LDD) test. By these criteria, 1.6% of Perlegen SNPs were found to exhibit the genetic architecture of selection. These results were confirmed on an independently generated data set of 1.0 million SNP genotypes (International Human Haplotype Map Phase I freeze). Simulation studies indicate that the LDD test, at the megabase scale used, effectively distinguishes selection from other causes of extensive LD, such as inversions, population bottlenecks, and admixture. The approximately 1,800 genes identified by the LDD test were clustered according to Gene Ontology (GO) categories. Based on overrepresentation analysis, several predominant biological themes are common in these selected alleles, including host-pathogen interactions, reproduction, DNA metabolism/cell cycle, protein metabolism, and neuronal function.
Project description:Filamin A (FlnA) plays a critical role in cytoskeletal organization, cell motility and cellular signaling. FlnA utilizes different binding sites on a series of 24 immunoglobulin-like domains (Ig repeats) to interact with diverse cytosolic proteins and with cytoplasmic portions of membrane proteins. Mutations in a specific domain, Ig10 (FlnA-Ig10), are correlated with two severe forms of the otopalatodigital syndrome spectrum disorders Melnick-Needles syndrome and frontometaphyseal dysplasia. The crystal structure of FlnA-Ig10 determined at 2.44?Å resolution provides insight into the perturbations caused by these mutations.
Project description:We searched the primary sequence of influenza A H5N1 polyprotein for hexamer amino acid sequences shared with human proteins using the Protein International Resource database and the exact peptide matching analysis program. We find that the viral polyprotein shares numerous hexapeptides with the human proteome. The human proteins involved in the viral overlap are represented by antigens associated with basic cell functions such as proliferation, development, and differentiation. Of special importance, many human proteins that share peptide sequences with influenza A polyprotein are antigens such as reelin, neurexin I-?, myosin-IXa, Bardet-Biedl syndrome 10 protein, Williams syndrome transcription factor, disrupted in schizophrenia 1 protein, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 2 chromosomal region candidate gene 17 protein, fragile X mental retardation 2 protein, and jouberin. That is, the viral-vs-human overlap involves human proteins that, when altered, have been reported to be potentially associated with multiple neurological disorders that can include autism, epilepsy, obesity, dystonia, ataxia-telangiectasia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sensorineural deafness, sudden infant death syndrome, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, and myelination. The present data are discussed as a possible molecular basis for understanding influenza A viral escape from immunosurveillance and for defining anti-influenza immune-therapeutic approaches devoid of collateral adverse events.
Project description:Defining the distinctive capacities of Homo sapiens relative to other hominins is a major focus for human evolutionary studies. It has been argued that the procurement of small, difficult-to-catch, agile prey is a hallmark of complex behavior unique to our species; however, most research in this regard has been limited to the last 20,000 years in Europe and the Levant. Here, we present detailed faunal assemblage and taphonomic data from Fa-Hien Lena Cave in Sri Lanka that demonstrates specialized, sophisticated hunting of semi-arboreal and arboreal monkey and squirrel populations from ca. 45,000 years ago, in a tropical rainforest environment. Facilitated by complex osseous and microlithic technologies, we argue these data highlight that the early capture of small, elusive mammals was part of the plastic behavior of Homo sapiens that allowed it to rapidly colonize a series of extreme environments that were apparently untouched by its hominin relatives.
Project description:Locomotion is one of the major physiological functions for most animals. Previous studies have described aging mechanisms linked to locomotor performance among different species. However, the precise dynamics of these age-related changes, and their interactions with development and senescence, are largely unknown. Here, we use the same conceptual framework to describe locomotor performances in Caenorhabditis elegans, Mus domesticus, Canis familiaris, Equus caballus, and Homo sapiens. We show that locomotion is a consistent biomarker of age-related changes, with an asymmetrical pattern throughout life, regardless of the type of effort or its duration. However, there is variation (i) among species for the same mode of locomotion, (ii) within species for different modes of locomotion, and (iii) among individuals of the same species for the same mode of locomotion. Age-related patterns are modulated by genetic (such as selective breeding) as well as environmental conditions (such as temperature). However, in all cases, the intersection of the rising developmental phase and the declining senescent phase reveals neither a sharp transition nor a plateau, but a smooth transition, emphasizing a crucial moment: the age at peak performance. This transition may define a specific target for future investigations on the dynamics of such biological interactions.