[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Zebrafish have become a popular organism for the study of vertebrate gene function. The virtually transparent embryos of this species, and the ability to accelerate genetic studies by gene knockdown or overexpression, have led to the widespread use of zebrafish in the detailed investigation of vertebrate gene function and increasingly, the study of human genetic disease. However, for effective modelling of human genetic disease it is important to understand the extent to which zebrafish genes and gene structures are related to orthologous human genes. To examine this, we generated a high-quality sequence assembly of the zebrafish genome, made up of an overlapping set of completely sequenced large-insert clones that were ordered and oriented using a high-resolution high-density meiotic map. Detailed automatic and manual annotation provides evidence of more than 26,000 protein-coding genes, the largest gene set of any vertebrate so far sequenced. Comparison to the human reference genome shows that approximately 70% of human genes have at least one obvious zebrafish orthologue. In addition, the high quality of this genome assembly provides a clearer understanding of key genomic features such as a unique repeat content, a scarcity of pseudogenes, an enrichment of zebrafish-specific genes on chromosome 4 and chromosomal regions that influence sex determination.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Otitis media is a common reason for hearing loss, especially in children. Otitis media is a multifactorial disease and environmental factors, anatomic dysmorphology and genetic predisposition can all contribute to its pathogenesis. However, the reasons for the variable susceptibility to otitis media are elusive. MCPH1 mutations cause primary microcephaly in humans. So far, no hearing impairment has been reported either in the MCPH1 patients or mouse models with Mcph1 deficiency. In this study, Mcph1-deficient (Mcph1(tm1a) (/tm1a) ) mice were produced using embryonic stem cells with a targeted mutation by the Sanger Institute's Mouse Genetics Project. Auditory brainstem response measurements revealed that Mcph1(tm1a) (/tm1a) mice had mild to moderate hearing impairment with around 70% penetrance. We found otitis media with effusion in the hearing-impaired Mcph1(tm1a) (/tm1a) mice by anatomic and histological examinations. Expression of Mcph1 in the epithelial cells of middle ear cavities supported its involvement in the development of otitis media. Other defects of Mcph1(tm1a) (/tm1a) mice included small skull sizes, increased micronuclei in red blood cells, increased B cells and ocular abnormalities. These findings not only recapitulated the defects found in other Mcph1-deficient mice or MCPH1 patients, but also revealed an unexpected phenotype, otitis media with hearing impairment, which suggests Mcph1 is a new gene underlying genetic predisposition to otitis media.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(3):e58156. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Relapsing C. difficile disease in humans is linked to a pathological imbalance within the intestinal microbiota, termed dysbiosis, which remains poorly understood. We show that mice infected with epidemic C. difficile (genotype 027/BI) develop highly contagious, chronic intestinal disease and persistent dysbiosis characterized by a distinct, simplified microbiota containing opportunistic pathogens and altered metabolite production. Chronic C. difficile 027/BI infection was refractory to vancomycin treatment leading to relapsing disease. In contrast, treatment of C. difficile 027/BI infected mice with feces from healthy mice rapidly restored a diverse, healthy microbiota and resolved C. difficile disease and contagiousness. We used this model to identify a simple mixture of six phylogenetically diverse intestinal bacteria, including novel species, which can re-establish a health-associated microbiota and clear C. difficile 027/BI infection from mice. Thus, targeting a dysbiotic microbiota with a defined mixture of phylogenetically diverse bacteria can trigger major shifts in the microbial community structure that displaces C. difficile and, as a result, resolves disease and contagiousness. Further, we demonstrate a rational approach to harness the therapeutic potential of health-associated microbial communities to treat C. difficile disease and potentially other forms of intestinal dysbiosis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) is lipid messenger involved in the regulation of embryonic development, immune system functions, and many other physiological processes. However, the mechanisms of S1P transport across cellular membranes remain poorly understood, with several ATP-binding cassette family members and the spinster 2 (Spns2) member of the major facilitator superfamily known to mediate S1P transport in cell culture. Spns2 was also shown to control S1P activities in zebrafish in vivo and to play a critical role in zebrafish cardiovascular development. However, the in vivo roles of Spns2 in mammals and its involvement in the different S1P-dependent physiological processes have not been investigated. In this study, we characterized Spns2-null mouse line carrying the Spns2(tm1a(KOMP)Wtsi) allele (Spns2(tm1a)). The Spns2(tm1a/tm1a) animals were viable, indicating a divergence in Spns2 function from its zebrafish ortholog. However, the immunological phenotype of the Spns2(tm1a/tm1a) mice closely mimicked the phenotypes of partial S1P deficiency and impaired S1P-dependent lymphocyte trafficking, with a depletion of lymphocytes in circulation, an increase in mature single-positive T cells in the thymus, and a selective reduction in mature B cells in the spleen and bone marrow. Spns2 activity in the nonhematopoietic cells was critical for normal lymphocyte development and localization. Overall, Spns2(tm1a/tm1a) resulted in impaired humoral immune responses to immunization. This study thus demonstrated a physiological role for Spns2 in mammalian immune system functions but not in cardiovascular development. Other components of the S1P signaling network are investigated as drug targets for immunosuppressive therapy, but the selective action of Spns2 may present an advantage in this regard.
The Journal of Immunology 06/2012; 189(1):102-11. · 5.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stem cell differentiation and lineage specification depend on coordinated programs of gene expression, but our knowledge of the chromatin-modifying factors regulating these events remains incomplete. Ubiquitination of histone H2A (H2A-K119u) is a common chromatin modification associated with gene silencing, and controlled by the ubiquitin-ligase polycomb repressor complex 1 (PRC1) and H2A-deubiquitinating enzymes (H2A-DUBs). The roles of H2A-DUBs in mammalian development, stem cells, and hematopoiesis have not been addressed. Here we characterized an H2A-DUB targeted mouse line Mysm1(tm1a/tm1a) and demonstrated defects in BM hematopoiesis, resulting in lymphopenia, anemia, and thrombocytosis. Development of lymphocytes was impaired from the earliest stages of their differentiation, and there was also a depletion of erythroid cells and a defect in erythroid progenitor function. These phenotypes resulted from a cell-intrinsic requirement for Mysm1 in the BM. Importantly, Mysm1(tm1a/tm1a) HSCs were functionally impaired, and this was associated with elevated levels of reactive oxygen species, γH2AX DNA damage marker, and p53 protein in the hematopoietic progenitors. Overall, these data establish a role for Mysm1 in the maintenance of BM stem cell function, in the control of oxidative stress and genetic stability in hematopoietic progenitors, and in the development of lymphoid and erythroid lineages.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clostridium difficile is a major cause of antibiotic-associated diarrheal disease in many parts of the world. In recent years, distinct genetic variants of C. difficile that cause severe disease and persist within health care settings have emerged. Highly resistant and infectious C. difficile spores are proposed to be the main vectors of environmental persistence and host transmission, so methods to accurately monitor spores and their inactivation are urgently needed. Here we describe simple quantitative methods, based on purified C. difficile spores and a murine transmission model, for evaluating health care disinfection regimens. We demonstrate that disinfectants that contain strong oxidizing active ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide, are very effective in inactivating pure spores and blocking spore-mediated transmission. Complete inactivation of 10⁶ pure C. difficile spores on indicator strips, a six-log reduction, and a standard measure of stringent disinfection regimens require at least 5 min of exposure to hydrogen peroxide vapor (HPV; 400 ppm). In contrast, a 1-min treatment with HPV was required to disinfect an environment that was heavily contaminated with C. difficile spores (17 to 29 spores/cm²) and block host transmission. Thus, pure C. difficile spores facilitate practical methods for evaluating the efficacy of C. difficile spore disinfection regimens and bringing scientific acumen to C. difficile infection control.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology 10/2010; 76(20):6895-900. · 3.95 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clostridium difficile persists in hospitals by exploiting an infection cycle that is dependent on humans shedding highly resistant and infectious spores. Here we show that human virulent C. difficile can asymptomatically colonize the intestines of immunocompetent mice, establishing a carrier state that persists for many months. C. difficile carrier mice consistently shed low levels of spores but, surprisingly, do not transmit infection to cohabiting mice. However, antibiotic treatment of carriers triggers a highly contagious supershedder state, characterized by a dramatic reduction in the intestinal microbiota species diversity, C. difficile overgrowth, and excretion of high levels of spores. Stopping antibiotic treatment normally leads to recovery of the intestinal microbiota species diversity and suppresses C. difficile levels, although some mice persist in the supershedding state for extended periods. Spore-mediated transmission to immunocompetent mice treated with antibiotics results in self-limiting mucosal inflammation of the large intestine. In contrast, transmission to mice whose innate immune responses are compromised (Myd88(-/-)) leads to a severe intestinal disease that is often fatal. Thus, mice can be used to investigate distinct stages of the C. difficile infection cycle and can serve as a valuable surrogate for studying the spore-mediated transmission and interactions between C. difficile and the host and its microbiota, and the results obtained should guide infection control measures.
Infection and immunity 07/2009; 77(9):3661-9. · 4.21 Impact Factor