Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hot off the presses! Oct 25 PLoS Biol

The Oct 25 issue of the PLoS Biol is now up on Pubget (About PLoS Biol): if you're at a subscribing institution, just click the link in the latest link at the home page. (Note you'll only be able to get all the PDFs in the issue if your institution subscribes to Pubget.)

Latest Articles Include:

  • How Symbiotic Bacteria Survive Host Defenses
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001164 (2011)
  • Australian Fish Stretching Their Legs
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001167 (2011)
  • Loss of Microtubule-to-Actin Linkage Disrupts Cortical Development
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001175 (2011)
  • Genetic Origins of Birth Defects Revealed by New Animal Model
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001180 (2011)
  • And Now There Are Five: A New Player in Intracellular Trafficking Pathways
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001173 (2011)
  • On the Nature of Scientific Progress: Anarchistic Theory Says "Anything Goes"—But I Don't Think So
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001165 (2011)
  • Rethinking Feyerabend: The "Worst Enemy of Science"?
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001166 (2011)
  • Toshisada Nishida (1941–2011): Chimpanzee Rapport
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001185 (2011)
  • A Holistic Approach to Marine Eco-Systems Biology
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001177 (2011)
  • Teaching How to Bridge Neuroscience, Society, and Culture
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001178 (2011)
  • Protection of Sinorhizobium against Host Cysteine-Rich Antimicrobial Peptides Is Critical for Symbiosis
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001169 (2011)
    Sinorhizobium meliloti differentiates into persisting, nitrogen-fixing bacteroids within root nodules of the legume Medicago truncatula. Nodule-specific cysteine-rich antimicrobial peptides (NCR AMPs) and the bacterial BacA protein are essential for bacteroid development. However, the bacterial factors central to the NCR AMP response and the in planta role of BacA are unknown. We investigated the hypothesis that BacA is critical for the bacterial response towards NCR AMPs. We found that BacA was not essential for NCR AMPs to induce features of S. meliloti bacteroids in vitro. Instead, BacA was critical to reduce the amount of NCR AMP-induced membrane permeabilization and bacterial killing in vitro. Within M. truncatula, both wild-type and BacA-deficient mutant bacteria were challenged with NCR AMPs, but this resulted in persistence of the wild-type bacteria and rapid cell death of the mutant bacteria. In contrast, BacA was dispensable for bacterial survival in an M. tr! uncatula dnf1 mutant defective in NCR AMP transport to the bacterial compartment. Therefore, BacA is critical for the legume symbiosis by protecting S. meliloti against the bactericidal effects of NCR AMPs. Host AMPs are ubiquitous in nature and BacA proteins are essential for other chronic host infections by symbiotic and pathogenic bacteria. Hence, our findings suggest that BacA-mediated protection of bacteria against host AMPs is a critical stage in the establishment of different prolonged host infections.
  • Structure and Evolution of Streptomyces Interaction Networks in Soil and In Silico
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001184 (2011)
    Soil grains harbor an astonishing diversity of Streptomyces strains producing diverse secondary metabolites. However, it is not understood how this genotypic and chemical diversity is ecologically maintained. While secondary metabolites are known to mediate signaling and warfare among strains, no systematic measurement of the resulting interaction networks has been available. We developed a high-throughput platform to measure all pairwise interactions among 64 Streptomyces strains isolated from several individual grains of soil. We acquired more than 10,000 time-lapse movies of colony development of each isolate on media containing compounds produced by each of the other isolates. We observed a rich set of such sender-receiver interactions, including inhibition and promotion of growth and aerial mycelium formation. The probability that two random isolates interact is balanced; it is neither close to zero nor one. The interactions are not random: the distribution of the! number of interactions per sender is bimodal and there is enrichment for reciprocity—if strain A inhibits or promotes B, it is likely that B also inhibits or promotes A. Such reciprocity is further enriched in strains derived from the same soil grain, suggesting that it may be a property of coexisting communities. Interactions appear to evolve rapidly: isolates with identical 16S rRNA sequences can have very different interaction patterns. A simple eco-evolutionary model of bacteria interacting through antibiotic production shows how fast evolution of production and resistance can lead to the observed statistical properties of the network. In the model, communities are evolutionarily unstable—they are constantly being invaded by strains with new sets of interactions. This combination of experimental and theoretical observations suggests that diverse Streptomyces communities do not represent a stable ecological state but an intrinsically dynamic eco-evolutionary phenome! non.
  • Development and Evolution of the Muscles of the Pelvic Fin
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001168 (2011)
    Locomotor strategies in terrestrial tetrapods have evolved from the utilisation of sinusoidal contractions of axial musculature, evident in ancestral fish species, to the reliance on powerful and complex limb muscles to provide propulsive force. Within tetrapods, a hindlimb-dominant locomotor strategy predominates, and its evolution is considered critical for the evident success of the tetrapod transition onto land. Here, we determine the developmental mechanisms of pelvic fin muscle formation in living fish species at critical points within the vertebrate phylogeny and reveal a stepwise modification from a primitive to a more derived mode of pelvic fin muscle formation. A distinct process generates pelvic fin muscle in bony fishes that incorporates both primitive and derived characteristics of vertebrate appendicular muscle formation. We propose that the adoption of the fully derived mode of hindlimb muscle formation from this bimodal character state is an evolutionar! y innovation that was critical to the success of the tetrapod transition.
  • Accelerated Recruitment of New Brain Development Genes into the Human Genome
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001179 (2011)
    How the human brain evolved has attracted tremendous interests for decades. Motivated by case studies of primate-specific genes implicated in brain function, we examined whether or not the young genes, those emerging genome-wide in the lineages specific to the primates or rodents, showed distinct spatial and temporal patterns of transcription compared to old genes, which had existed before primate and rodent split. We found consistent patterns across different sources of expression data: there is a significantly larger proportion of young genes expressed in the fetal or infant brain of humans than in mouse, and more young genes in humans have expression biased toward early developing brains than old genes. Most of these young genes are expressed in the evolutionarily newest part of human brain, the neocortex. Remarkably, we also identified a number of human-specific genes which are expressed in the prefrontal cortex, which is implicated in complex cognitive behaviors. ! The young genes upregulated in the early developing human brain play diverse functional roles, with a significant enrichment of transcription factors. Genes originating from different mechanisms show a similar expression bias in the developing brain. Moreover, we found that the young genes upregulated in early brain development showed rapid protein evolution compared to old genes also expressed in the fetal brain. Strikingly, genes expressed in the neocortex arose soon after its morphological origin. These four lines of evidence suggest that positive selection for brain function may have contributed to the origination of young genes expressed in the developing brain. These data demonstrate a striking recruitment of new genes into the early development of the human brain.
  • Three-Dimensional Regulation of Radial Glial Functions by Lis1-Nde1 and Dystrophin Glycoprotein Complexes
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001172 (2011)
    Radial glial cells (RGCs) are distinctive neural stem cells with an extraordinary slender bipolar morphology and dual functions as precursors and migration scaffolds for cortical neurons. Here we show a novel mechanism by which the Lis1-Nde1 complex maintains RGC functions through stabilizing the dystrophin/dystroglycan glycoprotein complex (DGC). A direct interaction between Nde1 and utrophin/dystrophin allows for the assembly of a multi-protein complex that links the cytoskeleton to the extracellular matrix of RGCs to stabilize their lateral membrane, cell-cell adhesion, and radial morphology. Lis1-Nde1 mutations destabilized the DGC and resulted in deformed, disjointed RGCs and disrupted basal lamina. Besides impaired RGC self-renewal and neuronal migration arrests, Lis1-Nde1 deficiencies also led to neuronal over-migration. Additional to phenotypic resemblances of Lis1-Nde1 with DGC, strong synergistic interactions were found between Nde1 and dystroglycan in RGCs. ! As functional insufficiencies of LIS1, NDE1, and dystroglycan all cause lissencephaly syndromes, our data demonstrated that a three-dimensional regulation of RGC's cytoarchitecture by the Lis1-Nde1-DGC complex determines the number and spatial organization of cortical neurons as well as the size and shape of the cerebral cortex.
  • Multifactorial Origins of Heart and Gut Defects in nipbl-Deficient Zebrafish, a Model of Cornelia de Lange Syndrome
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001181 (2011)
    Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS) is the founding member of a class of multi-organ system birth defect syndromes termed cohesinopathies, named for the chromatin-associated protein complex cohesin, which mediates sister chromatid cohesion. Most cases of CdLS are caused by haploinsufficiency for Nipped-B-like (Nipbl), a highly conserved protein that facilitates cohesin loading. Consistent with recent evidence implicating cohesin and Nipbl in transcriptional regulation, both CdLS cell lines and tissues of Nipbl-deficient mice show changes in the expression of hundreds of genes. Nearly all such changes are modest, however—usually less than 1.5-fold—raising the intriguing possibility that, in CdLS, severe developmental defects result from the collective action of many otherwise innocuous perturbations. As a step toward testing this hypothesis, we developed a model of nipbl-deficiency in zebrafish, an organism in which we can quantitatively investigate the combinatorial ! effects of gene expression changes. After characterizing the structure and embryonic expression of the two zebrafish nipbl genes, we showed that morpholino knockdown of these genes produces a spectrum of specific heart and gut/visceral organ defects with similarities to those in CdLS. Analysis of nipbl morphants further revealed that, as early as gastrulation, expression of genes involved in endodermal differentiation (sox32, sox17, foxa2, and gata5) and left-right patterning (spaw, lefty2, and dnah9) is altered. Experimental manipulation of the levels of several such genes—using RNA injection or morpholino knockdown—implicated both additive and synergistic interactions in causing observed developmental defects. These findings support the view that birth defects in CdLS arise from collective effects of quantitative changes in gene expression. Interestingly, both the phenotypes and gene expression changes in nipbl morphants differed from those in mutants or morphants for! genes encoding cohesin subunits, suggesting that the transcri! ptional functions of Nipbl cannot be ascribed simply to its role in cohesin loading.
  • Dpp Signaling Activity Requires Pentagone to Scale with Tissue Size in the Growing Drosophila Wing Imaginal Disc
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001182 (2011)
    The wing of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, with its simple, two-dimensional structure, is a model organ well suited for a systems biology approach. The wing arises from an epithelial sac referred to as the wing imaginal disc, which undergoes a phase of massive growth and concomitant patterning during larval stages. The Decapentaplegic (Dpp) morphogen plays a central role in wing formation with its ability to co-coordinately regulate patterning and growth. Here, we asked whether the Dpp signaling activity scales, i.e. expands proportionally, with the growing wing imaginal disc. Using new methods for spatial and temporal quantification of Dpp activity and its scaling properties, we found that the Dpp response scales with the size of the growing tissue. Notably, scaling is not perfect at all positions in the field and the scaling of target gene domains is ensured specifically where they define vein positions. We also found that the target gene domains are not def! ined at constant concentration thresholds of the downstream Dpp activity gradients P-Mad and Brinker. Most interestingly, Pentagone, an important secreted feedback regulator of the pathway, plays a central role in scaling and acts as an expander of the Dpp gradient during disc growth.
  • Memory Phenotype CD4 T Cells Undergoing Rapid, Nonburst-Like, Cytokine-Driven Proliferation Can Be Distinguished from Antigen-Experienced Memory Cells
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001171 (2011)
    Memory phenotype (CD44bright, CD25negative) CD4 spleen and lymph node T cells (MP cells) proliferate rapidly in normal or germ-free donors, with BrdU uptake rates of 6% to 10% per day and Ki-67 positivity of 18% to 35%. The rapid proliferation of MP cells stands in contrast to the much slower proliferation of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV)-specific memory cells that divide at rates ranging from <1% to 2% per day over the period from 15 to 60 days after LCMV infection. Anti-MHC class II antibodies fail to inhibit the in situ proliferation of MP cells, implying a non–T-cell receptor (TCR)-driven proliferation. Such proliferation is partially inhibited by anti–IL-7Rα antibody. The sequence diversity of TCRβ CDR3 gene segments is comparable among the proliferating and quiescent MP cells from conventional and germ-free mice, implying that the majority of proliferating MP cells have not recently derived from a small cohort of cells that expand through multip! le continuous rounds of cell division. We propose that MP cells constitute a diverse cell population, containing a subpopulation of slowly dividing authentic antigen-primed memory cells and a majority population of rapidly proliferating cells that did not arise from naïve cells through conventional antigen-driven clonal expansion.
  • Mouse PRDM9 DNA-Binding Specificity Determines Sites of Histone H3 Lysine 4 Trimethylation for Initiation of Meiotic Recombination
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001176 (2011)
    Meiotic recombination generates reciprocal exchanges between homologous chromosomes (also called crossovers, COs) that are essential for proper chromosome segregation during meiosis and are a major source of genome diversity by generating new allele combinations. COs have two striking properties: they occur at specific sites, called hotspots, and these sites evolve rapidly. In mammals, the Prdm9 gene, which encodes a meiosis-specific histone H3 methyltransferase, has recently been identified as a determinant of CO hotspots. Here, using transgenic mice, we show that the sole modification of PRDM9 zinc fingers leads to changes in hotspot activity, histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation (H3K4me3) levels, and chromosome-wide distribution of COs. We further demonstrate by an in vitro assay that the PRDM9 variant associated with hotspot activity binds specifically to DNA sequences located at the center of the three hotspots tested. Remarkably, we show that mutations in cis locat! ed at hotspot centers and associated with a decrease of hotspot activity affect PRDM9 binding. Taken together, these results provide the direct demonstration that Prdm9 is a master regulator of hotspot localization through the DNA binding specificity of its zinc finger array and that binding of PRDM9 at hotspots promotes local H3K4me3 enrichment.
  • The Fifth Adaptor Protein Complex
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001170 (2011)
    Adaptor protein (AP) complexes sort cargo into vesicles for transport from one membrane compartment of the cell to another. Four distinct AP complexes have been identified, which are present in most eukaryotes. We report the existence of a fifth AP complex, AP-5. Tagged AP-5 localises to a late endosomal compartment in HeLa cells. AP-5 does not associate with clathrin and is insensitive to brefeldin A. Knocking down AP-5 subunits interferes with the trafficking of the cation-independent mannose 6-phosphate receptor and causes the cell to form swollen endosomal structures with emanating tubules. AP-5 subunits can be found in all five eukaryotic supergroups, but they have been co-ordinately lost in many organisms. Concatenated phylogenetic analysis provides robust resolution, for the first time, into the evolutionary order of emergence of the adaptor subunit families, showing AP-3 as the basal complex, followed by AP-5, AP-4, and AP-1 and AP-2. Thus, AP-5 is an evolution! arily ancient complex, which is involved in endosomal sorting, and which has links with hereditary spastic paraplegia.
  • Regulation of Nucleotide Excision Repair by UV-DDB: Prioritization of Damage Recognition to Internucleosomal DNA
    - PLoS Biol 9(10):e1001183 (2011)
    How tightly packed chromatin is thoroughly inspected for DNA damage is one of the fundamental unanswered questions in biology. In particular, the effective excision of carcinogenic lesions caused by the ultraviolet (UV) radiation of sunlight depends on UV-damaged DNA-binding protein (UV-DDB), but the mechanism by which this DDB1-DDB2 heterodimer stimulates DNA repair remained enigmatic. We hypothesized that a distinctive function of this unique sensor is to coordinate damage recognition in the nucleosome repeat landscape of chromatin. Therefore, the nucleosomes of human cells have been dissected by micrococcal nuclease, thus revealing, to our knowledge for the first time, that UV-DDB associates preferentially with lesions in hypersensitive, hence, highly accessible internucleosomal sites joining the core particles. Surprisingly, the accompanying CUL4A ubiquitin ligase activity is necessary to retain the xeroderma pigmentosum group C (XPC) partner at such internucleosom! al repair hotspots that undergo very fast excision kinetics. This CUL4A complex thereby counteracts an unexpected affinity of XPC for core particles that are less permissive than hypersensitive sites to downstream repair subunits. That UV-DDB also adopts a ubiquitin-independent function is evidenced by domain mapping and in situ protein dynamics studies, revealing direct but transient interactions that promote a thermodynamically unfavorable β-hairpin insertion of XPC into substrate DNA. We conclude that the evolutionary advent of UV-DDB correlates with the need for a spatiotemporal organizer of XPC positioning in higher eukaryotic chromatin.

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