Byrappa Venkatesh

National University of Singapore, Tumasik, Singapore

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Publications (125)1082.35 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Comparative analyses of vertebrate genomes continue to uncover a surprising diversity of genes in the globin gene superfamily, some of which have very restricted phyletic distributions despite their antiquity. Genomic analysis of the globin gene repertoire of cartilaginous fish (Chondrichthyes) should be especially informative about the duplicative origins and ancestral functions of vertebrate globins, as divergence between Chondrichthyes and bony vertebrates represents the most basal split within the jawed vertebrates. Here we report a comparative genomic analysis of the vertebrate globin gene family that includes the complete globin gene repertoire of the elephant shark (Callorhinchus milii). Using genomic sequence data from representatives of all major vertebrate classes, integrated analyses of conserved synteny and phylogenetic relationships revealed that the last common ancestor of vertebrates possessed a repertoire of at least seven globin genes: single copies of androglobin and neuroglobin, four paralogous copies of globin X, and the single-copy progenitor of the entire set of vertebrate-specific globins. Combined with expression data, the genomic inventory of elephant shark globins yielded four especially surprising findings: (i) there is no trace of the neuroglobin gene (a highly conserved gene that is present in all other jawed vertebrates that have been examined to date), (ii) myoglobin is highly expressed in heart, but not in skeletal muscle (reflecting a possible ancestral condition in vertebrates with single-circuit circulatory systems), (iii) elephant shark possesses two highly divergent globin X paralogs, one of which is preferentially expressed in gonads, and (iv) elephant shark possesses two structurally distinct α-globin paralogs, one of which is preferentially expressed in the brain. Expression profiles of elephant shark globin genes reveal distinct specializations of function relative to orthologs in bony vertebrates and suggest hypotheses about ancestral functions of vertebrate globins. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.
    Molecular Biology and Evolution 03/2015; 32(7). DOI:10.1093/molbev/msv054 · 14.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Genome 10K Project was established in 2009 by a consortium of biologists and genome scientists determined to facilitate the sequencing and analysis of the complete genomes of 10,000 vertebrate species. Since then the number of selected and initiated species has risen from ∼26 to 277 sequenced or ongoing with funding, an approximately tenfold increase in five years. Here we summarize the advances and commitments that have occurred by mid-2014 and outline the achievements and present challenges of reaching the 10,000-species goal. We summarize the status of known vertebrate genome projects, recommend standards for pronouncing a genome as sequenced or completed, and provide our present and future vision of the landscape of Genome 10K. The endeavor is ambitious, bold, expensive, and uncertain, but together the Genome 10K Consortium of Scientists and the worldwide genomics community are moving toward their goal of delivering to the coming generation the gift of genome empowerment for many vertebrate species.
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    ABSTRACT: Mudskippers are amphibious fishes that have developed morphological and physiological adaptations to match their unique lifestyles. Here we perform whole-genome sequencing of four representative mudskippers to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying these adaptations. We discover an expansion of innate immune system genes in the mudskippers that may provide defence against terrestrial pathogens. Several genes of the ammonia excretion pathway in the gills have experienced positive selection, suggesting their important roles in mudskippers’ tolerance to environmental ammonia. Some vision-related genes are differentially lost or mutated, illustrating genomic changes associated with aerial vision. Transcriptomic analyses of mudskippers exposed to air highlight regulatory pathways that are up- or down-regulated in response to hypoxia. The present study provides a valuable resource for understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying water-to-land transition of vertebrates.
    Nature Communications 12/2014; 5. DOI:10.1038/ncomms6594 · 10.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The cyclostomes (jawless vertebrates), comprising lampreys and hagfishes, are the sister group of jawed vertebrates (gnathostomes) and are hence an important group for the study of vertebrate evolution. In mammals, three Runx genes, Runx1, Runx2 and Runx3, encode transcription factors that are essential for cell proliferation and differentiation in major developmental pathways such as haematopoiesis, skeletogenesis and neurogenesis and are frequently associated with diseases. We describe here the characterization of Runx gene family members from a cyclostome, the Japanese lamprey (Lethenteron japonicum). The Japanese lamprey contains three Runx genes, RunxA, RunxB, and RunxC. However, phylogenetic and synteny analyses suggest that they are not one-to-one orthologs of gnathostome Runx1, Runx2 and Runx3. The major protein domains and motifs found in gnathostome Runx proteins are highly conserved in the lamprey Runx proteins. Although all gnathostome Runx genes each contain two alternative promoters, P1 (distal) and P2 (proximal), only lamprey RunxB possesses the alternative promoters; lamprey RunxA and RunxC contain only P2 and P1 promoter, respectively. Furthermore, the three lamprey Runx genes give rise to fewer alternative isoforms than the three gnathostome Runx genes. The promoters of the lamprey Runx genes lack the tandem Runx-binding motifs that are highly conserved among the P1 promoters of gnathostome Runx1, Runx2 and Runx3 genes; instead these promoters contain dispersed single Runx-binding motifs. The 3'UTR of lamprey RunxB contains binding sites for miR-27 and miR-130b/301ab, which are conserved in mammalian Runx1 and Runx3, respectively. Overall, the Runx genes in lamprey seem to have experienced a different evolutionary trajectory from that of gnathostome Runx genes which are highly conserved all the way from cartilaginous fishes to mammals.
    PLoS ONE 11/2014; 9(11):e113445. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0113445 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cichlid fishes are famous for large, diverse and replicated adaptive radiations in the Great Lakes of East Africa. To understand the molecular mechanisms underlying cichlid phenotypic diversity,we sequenced the genomes and transcriptomes of five lineages of African cichlids: theNile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), an ancestral lineage with low diversity; and four members of the East African lineage: Neolamprologus brichardi/pulcher (older radiation, Lake Tanganyika), Metriaclima zebra (recent radiation, LakeMalawi),Pundamilia nyererei (very recent radiation, LakeVictoria), and Astatotilapia burtoni (riverine species around Lake Tanganyika).We found an excess of gene duplications in the East African lineage compared to tilapia and other teleosts, an abundance of non-coding element divergence, accelerated coding sequence evolution, expression divergence associated with transposable element insertions, and regulation by novel microRNAs. In addition, we analysed sequence data from sixty individuals representing six closely related species from Lake Victoria, and show genome-wide diversifying selection on coding and regulatory variants, some of which were recruited from ancient polymorphisms. We conclude that a number of molecular mechanisms shaped East African cichlid genomes, and that amassing of standing variation during periods of relaxed purifying selection may have been important in facilitating subsequent evolutionary diversification.
    Nature 09/2014; 513(513):375-381. DOI:10.1038/nature13726 · 42.35 Impact Factor
  • Nature 07/2014; 511(7508):E9-E10. · 42.35 Impact Factor
  • Nature 07/2014; 511(7508):E9-10. DOI:10.1038/nature13447 · 42.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The predatory efficiency of squid and cuttlefish (superorder Decapodiformes) is enhanced by robust Sucker Ring Teeth (SRT) that perform grappling functions during prey capture. Here we show that SRT are composed entirely of related structural "suckerin" proteins whose modular designs enable the formation of nano-confined β-sheet-reinforced polymer networks. 37 previously undiscovered suckerins were identified from transcriptomes assembled from three distantly related decapodiform cephalopods. Similarity in modular sequence design and exon-intron architecture suggest that suckerins are encoded by a multi-gene family. Phylogenetic analysis supports this view, revealing that suckerin genes originated in a common ancestor ~350 MYa and indicating that nano-confined β-sheet reinforcement is an ancient strategy to create robust bulk biomaterials. X-ray diffraction, nanomechanical, and micro-Raman spectroscopy measurements confirm that the modular design of the suckerins facilitates the formation of β-sheets of precise nano-scale dimensions and enables their assembly into structurally robust supramolecular networks stabilized by cooperative hydrogen bonding. The suckerin gene family has likely played a key role in the evolutionary success of decapodiform cephalopods and provides a large molecular toolbox for biomimetic materials engineering.
    ACS Nano 06/2014; 8(7). DOI:10.1021/nn502149u · 12.88 Impact Factor
  • Evolution & Development 05/2014; 16(3). DOI:10.1111/ede.12072 · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Runx family genes encode transcription factors that play key roles in hematopoiesis, skeletogenesis and neurogenesis and are often implicated in diseases. We describe here the cloning and characterization of Runx1, Runx2, Runx3 and Runxb genes in the elephant shark (Callorhinchus milii), a member of Chondrichthyes, the oldest living group of jawed vertebrates. Through the use of alternative promoters and/or alternative splicing, each of the elephant shark Runx genes expresses multiple isoforms similar to their orthologs in human and other bony vertebrates. The expression profiles of elephant shark Runx genes are similar to those of mammalian Runx genes. The syntenic blocks of genes at the elephant shark Runx gene loci are highly conserved in human, but represented by shorter conserved blocks in zebrafish indicating a higher degree of rearrangements in this teleost fish. Analysis of promoter regions revealed conservation of binding sites for transcription factors, including two tandem binding sites for Runx that are totally conserved in the distal promoter regions of elephant shark Runx1-3. Several conserved noncoding elements (CNEs), which are putative cis-regulatory elements, and miRNA binding sites were identified in the elephant shark and human Runx gene loci. Some of these CNEs and miRNA binding sites are absent in teleost fishes such as zebrafish and fugu. In summary, our analysis reveals that the genomic organization and expression profiles of Runx genes were already complex in the common ancestor of jawed vertebrates.
    PLoS ONE 04/2014; 9(4):e93816. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0093816 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Biological differences between cell types and developmental processes are characterised by differences in gene expression profiles. Gene-distal enhancers are key components of the regulatory networks that specify the tissue-specific expression patterns driving embryonic development and cell fate decisions, and variations in their sequences are a major contributor to genetic disease and disease susceptibility. Despite advances in the methods for discovery of putative cis-regulatory sequences, characterisation of their spatio-temporal enhancer activities in a mammalian model system remains a major bottle-neck. We employed a strategy that combines gnathostome sequence conservation with transgenic mouse and zebrafish reporter assays to survey the genomic locus of the developmental control gene PAX6 for the presence of novel cis-regulatory elements. Sequence comparison between human and the cartilaginous elephant shark (Callorhinchus milii) revealed several ancient gnathostome conserved non-coding elements (agCNEs) dispersed widely throughout the PAX6 locus, extending the range of the known PAX6 cis-regulatory landscape to contain the full upstream PAX6-RCN1 intergenic region. Our data indicates that ancient conserved regulatory sequences can be tested effectively in transgenic zebrafish even when not conserved in zebrafish themselves. The strategy also allows efficient dissection of compound regulatory regions previously assessed in transgenic mice. Remarkable overlap in expression patterns driven by sets of agCNEs indicates that PAX6 resides in a landscape of multiple tissue-specific regulatory archipelagos.
    Developmental Biology 01/2014; 387(2). DOI:10.1016/j.ydbio.2014.01.007 · 3.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The emergence of jawed vertebrates (gnathostomes) from jawless vertebrates was accompanied by major morphological and physiological innovations, such as hinged jaws, paired fins and immunoglobulin-based adaptive immunity. Gnathostomes subsequently diverged into two groups, the cartilaginous fishes and the bony vertebrates. Here we report the whole-genome analysis of a cartilaginous fish, the elephant shark (Callorhinchus milii). We find that the C. milii genome is the slowest evolving of all known vertebrates, including the 'living fossil' coelacanth, and features extensive synteny conservation with tetrapod genomes, making it a good model for comparative analyses of gnathostome genomes. Our functional studies suggest that the lack of genes encoding secreted calcium-binding phosphoproteins in cartilaginous fishes explains the absence of bone in their endoskeleton. Furthermore, the adaptive immune system of cartilaginous fishes is unusual: it lacks the canonical CD4 co-receptor and most transcription factors, cytokines and cytokine receptors related to the CD4 lineage, despite the presence of polymorphic major histocompatibility complex class II molecules. It thus presents a new model for understanding the origin of adaptive immunity.
    Nature 01/2014; 505(7482):174-179. DOI:10.1038/nature12826 · 42.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The stomach, a hallmark of gnathostome evolution, represents a unique anatomical innovation characterized by the presence of acid- and pepsin-secreting glands. However, the occurrence of these glands in gnathostome species is not universal; in the nineteenth century the French zoologist Cuvier first noted that some teleosts lacked a stomach. Strikingly, Holocephali (chimaeras), dipnoids (lungfish) and monotremes (egg-laying mammals) also lack acid secretion and a gastric cellular phenotype. Here, we test the hypothesis that loss of the gastric phenotype is correlated with the loss of key gastric genes. We investigated species from all the main gnathostome lineages and show the specific contribution of gene loss to the widespread distribution of the agastric condition. We establish that the stomach loss correlates with the persistent and complete absence of the gastric function gene kit-H(+)/K(+)-ATPase (Atp4A and Atp4B) and pepsinogens (Pga, Pgc, Cym)-in the analysed species. We also find that in gastric species the pepsinogen gene complement varies significantly (e.g. two to four in teleosts and tens in some mammals) with multiple events of pseudogenization identified in various lineages. We propose that relaxation of purifying selection in pepsinogen genes and possibly proton pump genes in response to dietary changes led to the numerous independent events of stomach loss in gnathostome history. Significantly, the absence of the gastric genes predicts that reinvention of the stomach in agastric lineages would be highly improbable, in line with Dollo's principle.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 01/2014; 281(1775):20132669. DOI:10.1098/rspb.2013.2669 · 5.29 Impact Factor
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    Nature 01/2014; · 42.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cyclostomes, comprising jawless vertebrates such as lampreys and hagfishes, are the sister group of living jawed vertebrates (gnathostomes) and hence an important group for understanding the origin and diversity of vertebrates. In vertebrates and other metazoans, Hox genes determine cell fate along the anteroposterior axis of embryos and are implicated in driving morphological diversity. Invertebrates contain a single Hox cluster (either intact or fragmented), whereas elephant shark, coelacanth, and tetrapods contain four Hox clusters owing to two rounds of whole-genome duplication ("1R" and "2R") during early vertebrate evolution. By contrast, most teleost fishes contain up to eight Hox clusters because of an additional "teleost-specific" genome duplication event. By sequencing bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones and the whole genome, here we provide evidence for at least six Hox clusters in the Japanese lamprey (Lethenteron japonicum). This suggests that the lamprey lineage has experienced an additional genome duplication after 1R and 2R. The relative age of lamprey and human paralogs supports this hypothesis. Compared with gnathostome Hox clusters, lamprey Hox clusters are unusually large. Several conserved noncoding elements (CNEs) were predicted in the Hox clusters of lamprey, elephant shark, and human. Transgenic zebrafish assay indicated the potential of CNEs to function as enhancers. Interestingly, CNEs in individual lamprey Hox clusters are frequently conserved in multiple Hox clusters in elephant shark and human, implying a many-to-many orthology relationship between lamprey and gnathostome Hox clusters. Such a relationship suggests that the first two rounds of genome duplication may have occurred independently in the lamprey and gnathostome lineages.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2013; 110(40). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1315760110 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Jawed vertebrates (Gnasthostomes) are broadly separated into cartilaginous fishes (Chondricthyes) and bony vertebrates (Osteichthyes). Cartilaginous fishes are divided into chimaeras (e.g. ratfish, rabbit fish and elephant shark) and elasmobranchs (e.g. sharks, rays and skates). Both cartilaginous fish and bony vertebrates are believed to have a common armoured bony ancestor (Class Placodermi), however cartilaginous fish are believed to have lost bone. This study has identified and investigated genes involved in skeletal development in vertebrates, in the cartilaginous fish, elephant shark (Callorhinchus milii). Ctnnb1 (β-catenin), Sfrp (secreted frizzled protein) and a single Sost or Sostdc1 gene (sclerostin or sclerostin domain-containing protein 1) were identified in the elephant shark genome and found to be expressed in a number of tissues, including cartilage. β-catenin was also localized in several elephant shark tissues. The expression of these genes, which belong to the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, is required for normal bone formation in mammals. These findings in the cartilaginous skeleton of elephant shark support the hypothesis that the common ancestor of cartilaginous fishes and bony vertebrates had the potential for making bone.
    General and Comparative Endocrinology 07/2013; DOI:10.1016/j.ygcen.2013.06.021 · 2.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The discovery of a living coelacanth specimen in 1938 was remarkable, as this lineage of lobe-finned fish was thought to have become extinct 70 million years ago. The modern coelacanth looks remarkably similar to many of its ancient relatives, and its evolutionary proximity to our own fish ancestors provides a glimpse of the fish that first walked on land. Here we report the genome sequence of the African coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae. Through a phylogenomic analysis, we conclude that the lungfish, and not the coelacanth, is the closest living relative of tetrapods. Coelacanth protein-coding genes are significantly more slowly evolving than those of tetrapods, unlike other genomic features. Analyses of changes in genes and regulatory elements during the vertebrate adaptation to land highlight genes involved in immunity, nitrogen excretion and the development of fins, tail, ear, eye, brain and olfaction. Functional assays of enhancers involved in the fin-to-limb transition and in the emergence of extra-embryonic tissues show the importance of the coelacanth genome as a blueprint for understanding tetrapod evolution.
    Nature 04/2013; 496(7445):311-316. · 42.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The discovery of a living coelacanth specimen in 1938 was remarkable, as this lineage of lobe-finned fish was thought to have become extinct 70 million years ago. The modern coelacanth looks remarkably similar to many of its ancient relatives, and its evolutionary proximity to our own fish ancestors provides a glimpse of the fish that first walked on land. Here we report the genome sequence of the African coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae. Through a phylogenomic analysis, we conclude that the lungfish, and not the coelacanth, is the closest living relative of tetrapods. Coelacanth protein-coding genes are significantly more slowly evolving than those of tetrapods, unlike other genomic features. Analyses of changes in genes and regulatory elements during the vertebrate adaptation to land highlight genes involved in immunity, nitrogen excretion and the development of fins, tail, ear, eye, brain and olfaction. Functional assays of enhancers involved in the fin-to-limb transition and in the emergence of extra-embryonic tissues show the importance of the coelacanth genome as a blueprint for understanding tetrapod evolution.
    Nature 04/2013; 496(7445):311-316. DOI:10.1038/nature12027 · 42.35 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

6k Citations
1,082.35 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2008–2014
    • National University of Singapore
      • • Department of Paediatrics
      • • Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology
      Tumasik, Singapore
  • 1996–2014
    • Institute of Molecular Biology
      Mayence, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
  • 2013
    • The University of Edinburgh
      • Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine
      Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 2004
    • University of Cambridge
      • Department of Oncology
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 1999
    • Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics
      Dresden, Saxony, Germany
  • 1998
    • University of Bristol
      • Medical School
      Bristol, England, United Kingdom