[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytrypamine) is the vertebrate hormone of the night: circulating levels at night are markedly higher than day levels. This increase is driven by precisely regulated increases in acetylation of serotonin in the pineal gland by arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AANAT), the penultimate enzyme in the synthesis of melatonin. This unique essential role of AANAT in vertebrate timekeeping is recognized by the moniker the timezyme. AANAT is also found in the retina, where melatonin is thought to play a paracrine role. Here, we focused on the evolution of AANAT in early vertebrates. AANATs from Agnathans (lamprey) and Chondrichthyes (catshark and elephant shark) were cloned, and it was found that pineal glands and retinas from these groups express a form of AANAT that is compositionally, biochemically, and kinetically similar to AANATs found in bony vertebrates (VT-AANAT). Examination of the available genomes indicates that VT-AANAT is absent from other forms of life, including the Cephalochordate amphioxus. Phylogenetic analysis and evolutionary rate estimation indicate that VT-AANAT evolved from the nonvertebrate form of AANAT after the Cephalochordate-Vertebrate split over one-half billion years ago. The emergence of VT-AANAT apparently involved a dramatic acceleration of evolution that accompanied neofunctionalization after a duplication of the nonvertebrate AANAT gene. This scenario is consistent with the hypotheses that the advent of VT-AANAT contributed to the evolution of the pineal gland and lateral eyes from a common ancestral photodetector and that it was not a posthoc recruitment.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A methodology for inducing spawning in captivity of the lancelet Branchiostoma lanceolatum has been developed recently with animals collected at the Racou beach, in the southern coast of France. An increasing amount of laboratories around the world are now working on the evolution of developmental mechanisms (Evo-Devo) using amphioxus collected in this site. Thus, today, the development of new aquaculture techniques for keeping amphioxus in captivity is needed and the study of the natural conditions at which amphioxus is exposed in the Racou beach during their spawning season becomes necessary. We have investigated the amphioxus distribution, size frequency, and population structure in the Racou beach during its natural spawning season using multivariate methods (redundancy analysis and multiple regression). We found a clear preference of amphioxus for sandy sites, something that seems to be a general behaviour of different amphioxus species around the world. We have also estimated the amphioxus growth rate and we show how the animals are preferentially localized in shallow waters during April and June.
PLoS ONE 04/2011; 6(4):e18520. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In most species daily rhythms are synchronized by the photoperiodic cycle. They are generated by the circadian system, which is made of a pacemaker, an entrainment pathway to this clock, and one or more output signals. In vertebrates, melatonin produced by the pineal organ is one of these outputs. The production of this time-keeping hormone is high at night and low during the day. Despite the fact that this is a well-preserved pattern, the pathways through which the photoperiodic information controls the rhythm have been profoundly modified from early vertebrates to mammals. The photoperiodic control is direct in fish and frogs and indirect in mammals. In the former, full circadian systems are found in photoreceptor cells of the pineal organ, retina, and possibly brain, thus forming a network where melatonin could be a hormonal synchronizer. In the latter, the three elements of a circadian system are scattered: the photoreceptive units are in the eyes, the clocks are in the suprachiasmatic nuclei of the hypothalamus, and the melatonin-producing units are in the pineal cells. Intermediate situations are observed in sauropsids. Differences are also seen at the level of the arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AANAT), the enzyme responsible for the daily variations in melatonin production. In contrast to tetrapods, teleost fish AANATs are duplicated and display tissue-specific expression; also, pineal AANAT is special--it responds to temperature in a species-specific manner, which reflects the fish ecophysiological preferences. This review summarizes anatomical, structural, and molecular aspects of the evolution of the melatonin-producing system in vertebrates.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 05/2009; 1163:101-11. · 4.38 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cephalochordate amphioxus (Branchiostoma sp.) is an important animal model for studying the evolution of chordate developmental mechanisms. Obtaining amphioxus embryos is a key step for these studies. It has been shown that an increase of 3-4 degrees C in water temperature triggers spawning of the European amphioxus (Branchiostoma lanceolatum) in captivity, however, very little is known about the natural spawning behavior of this species in the field. In this work, we have followed the spawning behavior of the European amphioxus during two spawning seasons (2004 and 2005), both in the field and in captivity. We show that animals in the field spawn approximately from mid-May through early July, but depending on the year, they show different patterns of spawning. Thus, even if temperature has a critical role in the induction of the spawning in captivity, it is not the major factor in the field. Moreover, we report some improvements on the methodology for inducing spawning in captivity (e.g. in maintenance, light cycle control and induction of spawning in a laboratory without running sea water system). These studies have important implications for amphioxus animal husbandry and for improving laboratory techniques to develop amphioxus as an experimental animal model.
Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B Molecular and Developmental Evolution 08/2007; 308(4):484-93. · 1.88 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Melatonin biosynthesis from serotonin involves the sequential activation of the arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AANAT) and hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase (HIOMT). Photoperiod synchronizes a daily rhythm in pineal and retinal melatonin secretion through controlling AANAT activity. Teleost fish possess two Aanat, one expressed in the retina (AANAT1) and the other expressed in the pineal gland (AANAT2). We report here the full-length cloning of Aanat1, Aanat2, SmHiomt and Otx5 (orthodenticle homeobox homolog 5) in the turbot (Scophthalmus maximus, Sm), a flatfish belonging to an evolutionary recent group of Teleost. The temporal expression pattern of the genes investigated is consistent with the idea that OTX5 is needed for photoreceptor specification, and that the pineal gland differentiates before the retina. SmAanat2 expression remained pineal specific during the period of time investigated, whereas SmOtx5 and SmHiomt expressions were seen in both the retina and pineal gland. Our results do not support the existence of a second SmHiomt, as is the case for SmAanat. Neither SmAanat2 nor SmHiomt mRNAs displayed cyclic accumulation in the pineal organ of embryos and larvae maintained under a light-dark cycle from fertilization onward. This is in marked contrast with the situation observed with zebrafish Aanat2, indicating that the molecular mechanisms controlling the development of the pineal melatonin system have been modified during the evolution of Teleost.
European Journal of Neuroscience 06/2007; 25(10):3047-57. · 3.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Melatonin is the time-keeping molecule of the organism. The production by the pineal organ is responsible for the diurnal and annual rhythms of plasma melatonin content. This contributes to synchronizing behavioural, biochemical and physiological processes to the environmental variations in photoperiod and temperature. Conservation and diversity characterize the melatonin system in vertebrates: conservation because its nocturnal pattern of production as well as its synchronizing properties are a constant; diversity because the modalities of its biosynthesis and modes of action have been profoundly modified in the course of evolution. This review summarizes our current knowledge on the targets and modes of action of melatonin in fish and comparisons are made with mammals.
Journal de la Société de Biologie 02/2007; 201(1):21-9.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Melatonin is the time-keeping molecule of the organism. The production by the pineal organ is responsible for the diurnal and annual rhythms of plasma melatonin content. This contributes to synchronizing behavioural, biochemical and physiological processes to the environmental variations in photoperiod and temperature. Conservation and diversity characterize the melatonin system in vertebrates: conservation because its nocturnal pattern of production as well as its synchronizing properties are a constant; diversity because the modalities of its biosynthesis and modes of action have been profoundly modi ed in the course of evolution. This review summarizes our current knowledge on the targets and modes of action of melatonin in fish and comparisons are made with mammals. La mélatonine est l'hormone donneuse de temps chez les Vertébrés. Par son rythme de sécrétion journalier et saisonnier elle contribue à la synchronisation de comportements et de régulations physiologiques sur les périodicités naturelles. La conservation et la diversité caractérisent le système mélatoninergique chez les Poissons chez les Vertébrés : conservation car le mode de production de la mélatonine et les propriétés de synchronisation sont une constante ; diversité car la régulation de la synthèse et les modes d'action ont été profondément modifiés au cours de l'évolution. Cette revue résume nos connaissances actuelles sur les cibles et les modes d'action de la mélatonine et des parallèles sont faits avec les Mammifères.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Members of the subphylum Cephalochordata, which include the genus Branchiostoma (i.e. amphioxus), represent the closest living invertebrate relatives of the vertebrates. To date, developmental studies have been carried out on three amphioxus species (the European Branchiostoma lanceolatum, the East Asian B. belcheri, and Floridian-Caribbean B. floridae). In most instances, adult animals have been collected from the field during their ripe season and allowed (or stimulated) to spawn in the laboratory. In any given year, dates of laboratory pawning have been limited by two factors. First, natural populations of these three most studied species of amphioxus are ripe, at most, for only a couple of months each year and, second, even when apparently ripe, animals spawn only at unpredictable intervals of every several days. This limited supply of living material hinders the development of amphioxus as a model system because this limitation makes it more difficult to work out protocols for new laboratory techniques. Therefore we are developing laboratory methods for increasing the number of amphioxus spawning dates per year. The present study found that a Mediterranean population of B. lanceolatum living near the Franco-Spanish border spawned naturally at the end of May and again at the end of June in 2003. Re-feeding experiments in the laboratory demonstrated that the gonads emptied at the end of May refilled with gametes by the end of June. We also found that animals with large gonads (both, obtained from the field and kept and fed at the laboratory during several weeks) could be induced to spawn in the laboratory out of phase with the field population if they were temperature shocked (spawning occurred 36 hours after a sustained increase in water temperature from 19 degrees C to 25 degrees C).
Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B Molecular and Developmental Evolution 08/2004; 302(4):384-91. · 1.88 Impact Factor