Byrappa Venkatesh

Institute of Molecular Biology, Mayence, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

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Publications (118)976.83 Total impact

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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. · 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. · 3.53 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; · 42.35 Impact Factor
  • Nature 07/2014; 511(7508):E9-10. · 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; · 12.03 Impact Factor
  • Evolution & Development 05/2014; 16(3). · 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. · 3.53 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; · 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. · 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. · 5.29 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; · 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; · 2.82 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. · 42.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pax6 is a developmental control gene essential for eye development throughout the animal kingdom. In addition, Pax6 plays key roles in other parts of the CNS, olfactory system, and pancreas. In mammals a single Pax6 gene encoding multiple isoforms delivers these pleiotropic functions. Here we provide evidence that the genomes of many other vertebrate species contain multiple Pax6 loci. We sequenced Pax6-containing BACs from the cartilaginous elephant shark (Callorhinchus milii) and found two distinct Pax6 loci. Pax6.1 is highly similar to mammalian Pax6, while Pax6.2 encodes a paired-less Pax6. Using synteny relationships, we identify homologs of this novel paired-less Pax6.2 gene in lizard and in frog, as well as in zebrafish and in other teleosts. In zebrafish two full-length Pax6 duplicates were known previously, originating from the fish-specific genome duplication (FSGD) and expressed in divergent patterns due to paralog-specific loss of cis-elements. We show that teleosts other than zebrafish also maintain duplicate full-length Pax6 loci, but differences in gene and regulatory domain structure suggest that these Pax6 paralogs originate from a more ancient duplication event and are hence renamed as Pax6.3. Sequence comparisons between mammalian and elephant shark Pax6.1 loci highlight the presence of short- and long-range conserved noncoding elements (CNEs). Functional analysis demonstrates the ancient role of long-range enhancers for Pax6 transcription. We show that the paired-less Pax6.2 ortholog in zebrafish is expressed specifically in the developing retina. Transgenic analysis of elephant shark and zebrafish Pax6.2 CNEs with homology to the mouse NRE/Pα internal promoter revealed highly specific retinal expression. Finally, morpholino depletion of zebrafish Pax6.2 resulted in a "small eye" phenotype, supporting a role in retinal development. In summary, our study reveals that the pleiotropic functions of Pax6 in vertebrates are served by a divergent family of Pax6 genes, forged by ancient duplication events and by independent, lineage-specific gene losses.
    PLoS Genetics 01/2013; 9(1):e1003177. · 8.17 Impact Factor
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    The Biology of Genomes, Suzhou, China; 01/2013
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    ABSTRACT: Non-visual photoreception in mammals is primarily mediated by two splice variants that derive from a single melanopsin (OPN4M) gene, whose expression is restricted to a subset of retinal ganglion cells. Physiologically, this sensory system regulates the photoentrainment of many biological rhythms, such as sleep via the melatonin endocrine system and pupil constriction. By contrast, melanopsin exists as two distinct lineages in non-mammals, opn4m and opn4x, and is broadly expressed in a wide range of tissue types, including the eye, brain, pineal gland and skin. Despite these findings, the evolution and function of melanopsin in early vertebrates are largely unknown. We, therefore, investigated the complement of opn4 classes present in the genome of a model deep-sea cartilaginous species, the elephant shark (Callorhinchus milii), as a representative vertebrate that resides at the base of the gnathostome (jawed vertebrate) lineage. We reveal that three melanopsin genes, opn4m1, opn4m2 and opn4x, are expressed in multiple tissues of the elephant shark. The two opn4m genes are likely to have arisen as a result of a lineage-specific duplication, whereas "long" and "short" splice variants are generated from a single opn4x gene. By using a heterologous expression system, we suggest that these genes encode functional photopigments that exhibit both "invertebrate-like" bistable and classical "vertebrate-like" monostable biochemical characteristics. We discuss the evolution and function of these melanopsin pigments within the context of the diverse photic and ecological environments inhabited by this chimaerid holocephalan, as well as the origin of non-visual sensory systems in early vertebrates.
    PLoS ONE 12/2012; 7(12):e51276. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cartilaginous fishes are the most ancient group of living jawed vertebrates (gnathostomes) and are, therefore, an important reference group for understanding the evolution of vertebrates. The elephant shark (Callorhinchus milii), a holocephalan cartilaginous fish, has been identified as a model cartilaginous fish genome because of its compact genome (∼910 Mb) and a genome project has been initiated to obtain its whole genome sequence. In this study, we have generated and sequenced full-length enriched cDNA libraries of the elephant shark using the 'oligo-capping' method and Sanger sequencing. A total of 6,778 full-length protein-coding cDNA and 10,701 full-length noncoding cDNA were sequenced from six tissues (gills, intestine, kidney, liver, spleen, and testis) of the elephant shark. Analysis of their polyadenylation signals showed that polyadenylation usage in elephant shark is similar to that in mammals. Furthermore, both coding and noncoding transcripts of the elephant shark use the same proportion of canonical polyadenylation sites. Besides BLASTX searches, protein-coding transcripts were annotated by Gene Ontology, InterPro domain, and KEGG pathway analyses. By comparing elephant shark genes to bony vertebrate genes, we identified several ancient genes present in elephant shark but differentially lost in tetrapods or teleosts. Only ∼6% of elephant shark noncoding cDNA showed similarity to known noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs). The rest are either highly divergent ncRNAs or novel ncRNAs. In addition to full-length transcripts, 30,375 5'-ESTs and 41,317 3'-ESTs were sequenced and annotated. The clones and transcripts generated in this study are valuable resources for annotating transcription start sites, exon-intron boundaries, and UTRs of genes in the elephant shark genome, and for the functional characterization of protein sequences. These resources will also be useful for annotating genes in other cartilaginous fishes whose genomes have been targeted for whole genome sequencing.
    PLoS ONE 10/2012; 7(10):e47174. · 3.53 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

5k Citations
976.83 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1996–2014
    • Institute of Molecular Biology
      Mayence, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
  • 2013
    • The University of Edinburgh
      • MRC Human Genetics Unit
      Edinburgh, SCT, United Kingdom
  • 2012
    • University of California, Santa Cruz
      • Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
      Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 2011
    • The University of Tokyo
      • Faculty and Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Sceince
      Tokyo, Tokyo-to, Japan
  • 2005–2011
    • Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
      • Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB)
      Tumasik, Singapore
    • Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
      • Department of Pediatrics
      Cincinnati, OH, United States
  • 2010
    • University College London
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2009
    • UCL Eastman Dental Institute
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2007–2008
    • National Neuroscience Institute
      Tumasik, Singapore
  • 2005–2008
    • Uppsala University
      • Department of Neuroscience
      Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden
  • 1995–2006
    • National University of Singapore
      • • Department of Physiology
      • • Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology
      Singapore, Singapore
  • 2004
    • University of Queensland 
      • Institute for Molecular Bioscience
      Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • 1996–2004
    • University of Cambridge
      • Department of Medicine
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2002
    • University of British Columbia - Vancouver
      • Department of Medical Genetics
      Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 1999
    • Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics
      Dresden, Saxony, Germany
  • 1998
    • University of Bristol
      • Medical School
      Bristol, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 1997
    • Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom