[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The majority of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) involved in mRNA metabolism in mammals have been believed to downregulate the corresponding mRNA expression level in a pre- or post-transcriptional manner by forming short or long ncRNA-mRNA duplex structures. Information on non-duplex-forming long ncRNAs is now also rapidly accumulating. To examine the directional properties of transcription at the whole-genome level, we performed directional RNA-seq analysis of mouse and chimpanzee tissue samples.
We found that there is only about 1% of the genome where both the top and bottom strands are utilized for transcription, suggesting that RNA-RNA duplexes are not abundantly formed. Focusing on transcription start sites (TSSs) of protein-coding genes revealed that a significant fraction of them contain switching-points that separate antisense- and sense-biased transcription, suggesting that head-to-head transcription is more prevalent than previously thought. More than 90% of head-to-head type promoters contain CpG islands. Moreover, CCG and CGG repeats are significantly enriched in the upstream regions and downstream regions, respectively, of TSSs located in head-to-head type promoters. Genes with tissue-specific promoter-associated ncRNAs (pancRNAs) show a positive correlation between the expression of their pancRNA and mRNA, which is in accord with the proposed role of pancRNA in facultative gene activation, whereas genes with constitutive expression generally lack pancRNAs.
We propose that single-stranded ncRNA resulting from head-to-head transcription at GC-rich sequences regulates tissue-specific gene expression.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Regeneration of a lost tissue in an animal is an important issue. Although regenerative studies have a history of research spanning more than a century, the gene functions underlying regulation of the regeneration are mostly unclear. Analysis of knockout animals is a very powerful tool with which to elucidate gene function. Recently, transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) have been developed as an effective technique for genome editing. This technique enables gene targeting in amphibians such as newts that were previously impossible. Here we show that newts microinjected with TALEN mRNAs designed for targeting the tyrosinase gene in single-cell stage embryos revealed an albino phenotype. Sequence analysis revealed that the tyrosinase genes were effectively disrupted in these albino newts. Moreover, precise genome alteration was achieved using TALENs and single strand oligodeoxyribonucleotides. Our results suggest that TALENs are powerful tools for genome editing for regenerative research in newts.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In natural forests, hundreds of fungal species colonize plant roots. The preference or specificity for partners in these symbiotic relationships is a key to understanding how the community structures of root-associated fungi and their host plants influence each other. In an oak-dominated forest in Japan, we investigated the root-associated fungal community based on a pyrosequencing analysis of the roots of 33 plant species. Of the 387 fungal taxa observed, 153 (39.5%) were identified on at least two plant species. Although many mycorrhizal and root-endophytic fungi are shared between the plant species, the five most common plant species in the community had specificity in their association with fungal taxa. Likewise, fungi displayed remarkable variation in their association specificity for plants even within the same phylogenetic or ecological groups. For example, some fungi in the ectomycorrhizal family Russulaceae were detected almost exclusively on specific oak (Quercus) species, whereas other Russulaceae fungi were found even on "non-ectomycorrhizal" plants (e.g., Lyonia and Ilex). Putatively endophytic ascomycetes in the orders Helotiales and Chaetothyriales also displayed variation in their association specificity and many of them were shared among plant species as major symbionts. These results suggest that the entire structure of belowground plant-fungal associations is described neither by the random sharing of hosts/symbionts nor by complete compartmentalization by mycorrhizal type. Rather, the colonization of multiple types of mycorrhizal fungi on the same plant species and the prevalence of diverse root-endophytic fungi may be important features of belowground linkage between plant and fungal communities.
Ecology and Evolution 09/2013; 3(9):3112-3124. · 1.18 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The planarian Dugesia japonica can regenerate a complete individual from a head, trunk or tail fragment via activation of somatic pluripotent stem cells. About a century ago, Thomas Hunt Morgan attempted to explain the extraordinary regenerative ability of planarians by positing two opposing morphogenetic gradients of formative "head stuff" and "tail stuff" along the anterior-posterior axis. However, Morgan's hypothesis remains open to debate. Here we show that extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) and Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathways establish a solid framework for planarian regeneration. Our data suggest that ERK signalling forms a spatial gradient in the anterior region during regeneration. The fibroblast growth factor receptor-like gene nou-darake (which serves as an output of ERK signalling in the differentiating head) and posteriorly biased β-catenin activity negatively regulate ERK signalling along the anterior-posterior axis in distinct manners, and thereby posteriorize regenerating tissues outside the head region to reconstruct a complete head-to-tail axis. On the basis of this knowledge about D. japonica, we proposed that β-catenin signalling is responsible for the lack of head-regenerative ability of tail fragments in the planarian Phagocata kawakatsui, and our confirmation thereof supports the notion that posterior β-catenin signalling negatively modulates the ERK signalling involved in anteriorization across planarian species. These findings suggest that ERK signalling has a pivotal role in triggering globally dynamic differentiation of stem cells in a head-to-tail sequence through a default program that promotes head tissue specification in the absence of posteriorizing signals. Thus, we have confirmed the broad outline of Morgan's hypothesis, and refined it on the basis of our proposed default property of planarian stem cells.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: COVER PHOTOGRAPH: Low magnification image of planarian flatworms (Schmidtea mediterranea) fed with liver paste containing either red, green, yellow, or blue food dye. Uptake of colored liver paste containing in vitro synthesized double-stranded RNA is readily visualized in the planarian gut. Ingestion and processing of double-stranded RNA in the planarian gut leads to systemic RNA-interference. Image credit: Labib Rouhana and Phillip A. Newmark, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. From RNA Interference by feeding in vitro-synthesized double-stranded RNA to planarians, Labib Rouhana, Jennifer A. Weiss, David J. Forsthoefel, Hayoung Lee, Ryan S. King, Takeshi Inoue, Norito Shibata, Kiyokazu Agata, and Phillip A. Newmark, Developmental Dynamics 242:718-730, 2013.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Animals that possess regenerative abilities are widespread in the animal kingdom. Hydra,
planarian, zebrafish, newt and axolotl are known prominent species, and the cellular aspects
of the stem cell system for regeneration are well elucidated. However, few animals can be
used to investigate the molecular basis of neuronal regeneration, in spite of the presence of
prominent regenerative animals, as mentioned above. Planarians, for instance, can regenerate
a functional brain after amputation in a few days, even from non-brain tissue. Newts can
regenerate several tissues and organs (i.e., lens, limbs, jaws, hearts and tails) with recovery of
function and physiology after injury or tissue removal. These animals achieve regeneration
of missing nervous system utilizing stem cells. However, it is difficult to regenerate
nervous system in mammalians, including human beings, although these animals possess
neural stem cells. Therefore, regenerative animals provide unique opportunities to investigate
the generation and utilization of stem cells to repair lost or injured tissue in non-regenerative
animals. On the other hand, the successful derivation of neural cells from human embryonic
stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) under in vitro conditions
provides a new experimental strategy for clinical translation. In other words, although human
beings lack regenerative abilities, the new clinical strategy of “regenerative medicine,”
including cell-transplantation therapy, has been developed to recover lost neural functions by
using stem cells. This research field has become a greatly advancing scientific field worldwide. In this chapter, we focus on the molecular systems of generation of functional dopaminergic
(DA) neurons in vivo and/or in vitro in regenerative and non-regenerative animals. The first
topic investigates how regenerative animals recruit new DA neurons from stem cells after
injury. The second topic explores how to generate DA neurons from mammalian ESCs and
iPSCs under in vitro conditions. The third topic evaluates clinical applications for human neural
disease, especially Parkinson’s disease.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Extant sauropsids (reptiles and birds) are divided into two major lineages, the lineage of Testudines (turtles) and Archosauria (crocodilians and birds) and the lineage of Lepidosauria (tuatara, lizards, worm lizards and snakes). Karyotypes of these sauropsidan groups generally consist of macrochromosomes and microchromosomes. In chicken, microchromosomes exhibit a higher GC-content than macrochromosomes. To examine the pattern of intra-genomic GC heterogeneity in lepidosaurian genomes, we constructed a cytogenetic map of the Japanese four-striped rat snake (Elaphe quadrivirgata) with 183 cDNA clones by fluorescence in situ hybridization, and examined the correlation between the GC-content of exonic third codon positions (GC3) of the genes and the size of chromosomes on which the genes were localized. RESULTS: Although GC3 distribution of snake genes was relatively homogeneous compared with those of the other amniotes, microchromosomal genes showed significantly higher GC3 than macrochromosomal genes as in chicken. Our snake cytogenetic map also identified several conserved segments between the snake macrochromosomes and the chicken microchromosomes. Cross-species comparisons revealed that GC3 of most snake orthologs in such macrochromosomal segments were GC-poor (GC3 < 50%) whereas those of chicken orthologs in microchromosomes were relatively GC-rich (GC3 >= 50%). CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that the chromosome size-dependent GC heterogeneity had already occurred before the lepidosaur-archosaur split, 275 million years ago. This character was probably present in the common ancestor of lepidosaurs and but lost in the lineage leading to Anolis during the diversification of lepidosaurs. We also identified several genes whose GC-content might have been influenced by the size of the chromosomes on which they were harbored over the course of sauropsid evolution.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Limb regeneration involves re-establishing a limb development program from cells within adult tissues. Identifying molecular handles that provide insight into the relationship between cell differentiation status and cell lineage is an important step to study limb blastema cell formation. Here, using single cell PCR, focussing on newly isolated Twist1 sequences, we molecularly profile axolotl limb blastema cells using several progenitor cell markers. We link their molecular expression profile to their embryonic lineage via cell tracking experiments. We use in situ hybridization to determine the spatial localization and extent of overlap of different markers and cell types. Finally, we show by single cell PCR that the mature axolotl limb harbors a small but significant population of Twist1(+) cells.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Microbes are usually believed to have cosmopolitan distributions. However, for estimating the global distributions of microorganisms, discriminating among cryptic species and eliminating undersampling biases are important challenges. We used a novel approach to address these problems and infer the global distribution of a given fungal ecological guild. We collected mushroom-forming fungi from Yakushima, Japan. We sequenced the internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) from these samples and queried their sequences against GenBank. After identifying similar sequences, we tracked down the geographical origins of samples that yielded those sequences. We used Bayesian zero-inflated models to allow for species whose DNA sequences have not yet been deposited in GenBank. Results indicated that the geographical distribution of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi was strongly constrained by host specificity, resulting in the occurrence of these fungi intensively in the neighbouring regions. On the other hand, saprotrophic (SAP) fungi were less constrained by climatic conditions, resulting in a much broader distribution range. We inferred that differences in constraints during colonization between ECM and SAP fungi were responsible for the different geographical distribution ranges. We hypothesize that the degree of host/habitat specificity and the degree of isolation of potentially suitable habitats determine microbial biogeographic patterns.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DJ-1/PARK7 has multiple functions as an antioxidant, an oncogene, and a molecular chaperone in vertebrates, and loss-of-function mutations in DJ-1 cause early onset of Parkinson's disease. However, the function of invertebrate DJ-1 remains unknown. In order to investigate the function of planarian DJ-1, we isolated the planarian DJ-1 gene Dugesia japonica DJ-1 (DjDJ-1) and analyzed its expression and function. In situ hybridization analysis revealed that DjDJ-1 mRNA was expressed throughout the body, including the central nervous system, cells surrounding the pharynx, and stem cells. Planarian DjDJ-1 protein exhibited antioxidant function, similar to human DJ-1, as evidenced by the fact that recombinant DjDJ-1 protein reduced reactive oxygen species and protected human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells from cell death. In addition, dopaminergic neurons in DjDJ-1(RNAi) planarians became susceptible to 6-hydroxydopamine, a dopaminergic neurotoxin. These results suggest that planarians have a DJ-1 ortholog, which has conserved antioxidant and neuroprotective functions.
Neuroscience Research 09/2012; · 2.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Planarians are considered to be among the extant animals close to one of the earliest groups of organisms that acquired a central nervous system (CNS) during evolution. Planarians have a bilobed brain with nine lateral branches from which a variety of external signals are projected into different portions of the main lobes. Various interneurons process different signals to regulate behavior and learning/memory. Furthermore, planarians have robust regenerative ability and are attracting attention as a new model organism for the study of regeneration. Here we conducted large-scale EST analysis of the head region of the planarian Dugesia japonica to construct a database of the head-region transcriptome, and then performed comparative analyses among related species. RESULTS: A total of 54,752 high-quality EST reads were obtained from a head library of the planarian Dugesia japonica, and 13,167 unigene sequences were produced by de novo assembly. A new method devised here revealed that proteins related to metabolism and defense mechanisms have high flexibility of amino-acid substitutions within the planarian family. Eight-two CNS-development genes were found in the planarian (cf. C. elegans 3; chicken 129). Comparative analysis revealed that 91% of the planarian CNS-development genes could be mapped onto the schistosome genome, but one-third of these shared genes were not expressed in the schistosome. CONCLUSIONS: We constructed a database that is a useful resource for comparative planarian transcriptome studies. Analysis comparing homologous genes between two planarian species showed that the potential of genes is important for accumulation of amino-acid substitutions. The presence of many CNS-development genes in our database supports the notion that the planarian has a fundamental brain with regard to evolution and development at not only the morphological/functional, but also the genomic, level. In addition, our results indicate that the planarian CNS-development genes already existed before the divergence of planarians and schistosomes from their common ancestor.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A hallmark of stem cells is the ability to sustainably generate stem cells themselves (self-renew) as well as differentiated cells. Although a full understanding of this ability will require clarifying underlying the primordial molecular and cellular mechanisms, how stem cells maintain their stem state and their population in the evolutionarily oldest extant multicellular organisms, sponges, is poorly understood. Here, we report the identification of the first stem cell-specific gene in demosponges, a homolog of Musashi (an evolutionarily conserved RNA binding protein that regulates the stem cell state in various organisms). EflMsiA, a Musashi paralog, is specifically expressed in stem cells (archeocytes) in the freshwater sponge Ephydatia fluviatilis. EflMsiA protein is localized predominantly in the nucleus, with a small fraction in the cytoplasm, in archeocytes. When archeocytes enter M-phase, EflMsiA protein diffuses into the cytoplasm, probably because of the breakdown of the nuclear membrane. In the present study, the existence of two types of M-phase archeocytes [(M)-archeocytes] was revealed by a precise analysis of the expression levels of EflMsiA mRNA and protein. In Type I (M)-archeocytes, presumably archeocytes undergoing self-renewal, the expression levels of EflMsiA mRNA and protein were high. In Type II (M)-archeocytes, presumably archeocytes committed to differentiate (committed archeocytes), the expression levels of EflMsiA mRNA and protein were about 60% and 30% lower than those in Type I (M)-archeocytes. From these results, archeocytes can be molecularly defined for the first time as EflMsiA-mRNA-expressing cells. Furthermore, these findings shed light on the mode of cell division of archeocytes and suggest that archeocytes divide symmetrically for both self-renewal and differentiation.
Mechanisms of development 03/2012; 129(1-4):24-37. · 2.83 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To investigate the boundaries between regenerative and non-regenerative animals, we first survey regenerative ability across animal phyla from sponges to chordates (including mammals). There are both regenerative and non-regenerative animals in each phylum. The cells participating in regeneration also vary among different species. Thus, it is hard to find clear rules concerning regeneration ability across the animal kingdom, suggesting that it is not useful to compare the difference of regenerative ability across phyla to seek the boundary between regenerative and non-regenerative animals. Instead, if we carefully compare the differences of regenerative ability between closely related species within each phylum and accumulate these differences at the cellular molecular levels, we may be able to clarify the boundary between regenerative and non-regenerative animals. Here we introduce our comparative analysis of cellular events after amputation of lower jaws between frogs and newts. Then we propose that such comparative analyses using closely related species within the same phylum should be accumulated to understand the boundary between regenerative and non-regenerative animals in order to apply this understanding for realizing regenerative medicine in the future.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Comparative genome analysis of non-avian reptiles and amphibians provides important clues about the process of genome evolution in tetrapods. However, there is still only limited information available on the genome structures of these organisms. Consequently, the protokaryotypes of amniotes and tetrapods and the evolutionary processes of microchromosomes in tetrapods remain poorly understood. We constructed chromosome maps of functional genes for the Chinese soft-shelled turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis), the Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis), and the Western clawed frog (Xenopus tropicalis) and compared them with genome and/or chromosome maps of other tetrapod species (salamander, lizard, snake, chicken, and human). This is the first report on the protokaryotypes of amniotes and tetrapods and the evolutionary processes of microchromosomes inferred from comparative genomic analysis of vertebrates, which cover all major non-avian reptilian taxa (Squamata, Crocodilia, Testudines). The eight largest macrochromosomes of the turtle and chicken were equivalent, and 11 linkage groups had also remained intact in the crocodile. Linkage groups of the chicken macrochromosomes were also highly conserved in X. tropicalis, two squamates, and the salamander, but not in human. Chicken microchromosomal linkages were conserved in the squamates, which have fewer microchromosomes than chicken, and also in Xenopus and the salamander, which both lack microchromosomes; in the latter, the chicken microchromosomal segments have been integrated into macrochromosomes. Our present findings open up the possibility that the ancestral amniotes and tetrapods had at least 10 large genetic linkage groups and many microchromosomes, which corresponded to the chicken macro- and microchromosomes, respectively. The turtle and chicken might retain the microchromosomes of the amniote protokaryotype almost intact. The decrease in number and/or disappearance of microchromosomes by repeated chromosomal fusions probably occurred independently in the amphibian, squamate, crocodilian, and mammalian lineages.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(12):e53027. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The growth in size of freshwater planarians in response to nutrient intake is limited by the eventual separation of tail and body fragments in a process called fission. The resulting tail fragment regenerates the entire body as an artificially amputated tail fragment would do, and the body fragment regenerates a tail, resulting in two whole planarians. This regenerative ability is supported by pluripotent somatic stem cells, called neoblasts, which are distributed throughout almost the entire body of the planarian. Neoblasts are the only planarian cells with the ability to continuously proliferate and give rise to all types of cells during regeneration, asexual reproduction, homeostasis, and growth. In order to investigate the molecular characteristics of neoblasts, we conducted an extensive search for neoblast-specific genes using the High Coverage Expression Profiling (HiCEP) method, and tested the function of the resulting candidates by RNAi. Disruption of the expression of one candidate gene, DjP2X-A (Dugesia japonica membrane protein P2X homologue), resulted in a unique phenotype. DjP2X-A RNAi leads to an increase of fission events upon feeding. We confirmed by immunohistochemistry that DjP2X-A is a membrane protein, and elucidated its role in regulating neoblast proliferation, thereby explaining its unique phenotype. We found that DjP2X-A decreases the burst of neoblast proliferation that normally occurs after feeding. We also found that DjP2X-A is required for normal proliferation in starved animals. We propose that DjP2X-A modulates stem cell proliferation in response to the nutritional condition.
The International journal of developmental biology 01/2012; 56(1-3):173-82. · 2.16 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) is a useful method for stem cell biology, which enables us to isolate the living stem cells of interest from mixture of a variety of cells. In general, the target cells for FACS need to be labeled for various cell surface markers. However, in non-model organisms, we usually do not have specific labels for such cell surface markers. Here, we describe a method for isolating stem cells from non-model organisms, such as planarians, based on physiological and morphological properties of the stem cells. This method may also be applicable to other non-model animals.
Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 01/2012; 879:29-37.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Organisms are remarkably adapted to diverse environments by specialized metabolisms, morphology, or behaviors. To address the molecular mechanisms underlying environmental adaptation, we have utilized a Drosophila melanogaster line, termed "Dark-fly", which has been maintained in constant dark conditions for 57 years (1400 generations). We found that Dark-fly exhibited higher fecundity in dark than in light conditions, indicating that Dark-fly possesses some traits advantageous in darkness. Using next-generation sequencing technology, we determined the whole genome sequence of Dark-fly and identified approximately 220,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 4,700 insertions or deletions (InDels) in the Dark-fly genome compared to the genome of the Oregon-R-S strain, a control strain. 1.8% of SNPs were classified as non-synonymous SNPs (nsSNPs: i.e., they alter the amino acid sequence of gene products). Among them, we detected 28 nonsense mutations (i.e., they produce a stop codon in the protein sequence) in the Dark-fly genome. These included genes encoding an olfactory receptor and a light receptor. We also searched runs of homozygosity (ROH) regions as putative regions selected during the population history, and found 21 ROH regions in the Dark-fly genome. We identified 241 genes carrying nsSNPs or InDels in the ROH regions. These include a cluster of alpha-esterase genes that are involved in detoxification processes. Furthermore, analysis of structural variants in the Dark-fly genome showed the deletion of a gene related to fatty acid metabolism. Our results revealed unique features of the Dark-fly genome and provided a list of potential candidate genes involved in environmental adaptation.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(3):e33288. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The neoblasts are the only somatic stem cells in planarians possessing pluripotency, and can give rise to all types of cells, including germline cells. Recently, accumulated knowledge about the transcriptome and expression dynamics of various pluripotent somatic stem cells has provided important opportunities to understand not only fundamental mechanisms of pluripotency, but also stemness across species at the molecular level. The neoblasts can easily be eliminated by radiation. Also, by using fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS), we can purify and collect many neoblasts, enabling identification of neoblast-related genes by comparison of the gene expression level among intact and X-ray-irradiated animals, and purified neoblasts. In order to find such genes, here we employed the high coverage expression profiling (HiCEP) method, which enables us to observe and compare genome-wide gene expression levels between different samples without advance sequence information, in the planarian D. japonica as a model organism of pluripotent stem cell research. We compared expression levels of ~17,000 peaks corresponding to independent genes among different samples, and obtained 102 peaks as candidates. Expression analysis of genes identified from those peaks by in situ hybridization revealed that at least 42 genes were expressed in the neoblasts and in neoblast-related cells that had a different distribution pattern in the body than neoblasts. Also, single-cell PCR analysis of those genes revealed heterogeneous expression of some genes in the neoblast population. Thus, using multidimensional gene expression analyses, we were able to obtain a valuable data set of neoblast-related genes and their expression patterns.
The International journal of developmental biology 01/2012; 56(1-3):93-102. · 2.16 Impact Factor