Previous studies have reported that chromosome synteny in Lepidoptera has been well conserved, yet the number of haploid chromosomes varies widely from 5 to 223. Here we report the genome (393 Mb) of the Glanville fritillary butterfly (Melitaea cinxia; Nymphalidae), a widely recognized model species in metapopulation biology and eco-evolutionary research, which has the putative ancestral karyotype of n ¼ 31. Using a phylogenetic analyses of Nymphalidae and of other Lepidoptera, combined with orthologue-level comparisons of chromosomes, we conclude that the ancestral lepidopteran karyotype has been n ¼ 31 for at least 140 My. We show that fusion chromosomes have retained the ancestral chromosome segments and very few rearrangements have occurred across the fusion sites. The same, shortest ancestral chromosomes have independently participated in fusion events in species with smaller karyotypes. The short chromosomes have higher rearrangement rate than long ones. These characteristics highlight distinctive features of the evolutionary dynamics of butterflies and moths.
Transfer RNA-derived small RNAs (tsRNAs) are an emerging class of small RNAs, yet their regulatory roles have not been well understood. Here we studied the molecular mechanisms and consequences of tsRNA-mediated regulation in Drosophila. By analyzing 495 public small RNA libraries, we demonstrate that most tsRNAs are conserved, prevalent and abundant in Drosophila. By carrying out mRNA sequencing and ribosome profiling of S2 cells transfected with single-stranded tsRNA mimics and mocks, we show that tsRNAs recognize target mRNAs through conserved complementary sequence matching and suppress target genes by translational inhibition. The target prediction suggests that tsRNAs preferentially suppress translation of the key components of the general translation machinery, which explains how tsRNAs inhibit the global mRNA translation. Serum starvation experiments confirm tsRNAs participate in cellular starvation responses by preferential targeting the ribosomal proteins and translational initiation or elongation factors. Knock-down of AGO2 in S2 cells under normal and starved conditions reveals a dependence of the tsRNA-mediated regulation on AGO2. We also validated the repressive effects of representative tsRNAs on cellular global translation and specific targets with luciferase reporter assays. Our study suggests the tsRNA-mediated regulation might be crucial for the energy homeostasis and the metabolic adaptation in the cellular systems.
Adenosine-to-inosine (A-to-I) editing is hypothesized to facilitate adaptive evolution by expanding proteomic diversity through an epigenetic approach. However, it is challenging to provide evidences to support this hypothesis at the whole editome level. In this study, we systematically characterized 2,114 A-to-I RNA editing sites in female and male brains of D. melanogaster, and nearly half of these sites had events evolutionarily conserved across Drosophila species. We detected strong signatures of positive selection on the nonsynonymous editing sites in Drosophila brains, and the beneficial editing sites were significantly enriched in genes related to chemical and electrical neurotransmission. The signal of adaptation was even more pronounced for the editing sites located in X chromosome or for those commonly observed across Drosophila species. We identified a set of gene candidates (termed “PSEB” genes) that had nonsynonymous editing events favored by natural selection. We presented evidence that editing preferentially increased mutation sequence space of evolutionarily conserved genes, which supported the adaptive evolution hypothesis of editing. We found prevalent nonsynonymous editing sites that were favored by natural selection in female and male adults from five strains of D. melanogaster. We showed that temperature played a more important role than gender effect in shaping the editing levels, although the effect of temperature is relatively weaker compared to that of species effect. We also explored the relevant factors that shape the selective patterns of the global editomes. Altogether we demonstrated that abundant nonsynonymous editing sites in Drosophila brains were adaptive and maintained by natural selection during evolution. Our results shed new light on the evolutionary principles and functional consequences of RNA editing.
Animals with recent shared ancestry frequently adapt in parallel to new but similar habitats, a process often underlined by repeated selection of the same genes. Yet, in contrast, few examples have demonstrated the significance of gene reuse in colonization of multiple disparate habitats. By analyzing 343 genomes of the widespread Asian honeybee, Apis cerana, we showed that multiple peripheral subspecies radiated from a central ancestral population and adapted independently to diverse habitats. We found strong evidence of gene reuse in the Leucokinin receptor (Lkr), which was repeatedly selected in almost all peripheral subspecies. Differential expression and RNA interference knockdown revealed the role of Lkr in influencing foraging labor division, suggesting that Lkr facilitates collective tendency for pollen/nectar collection as an adaptation to floral changes. Our results suggest that honeybees may accommodate diverse floral shifts during rapid radiation through fine-tuning individual foraging tendency, a seemingly complex process accomplished by gene reuse.
Background Caddisflies (Insecta: Trichoptera) are a highly adapted freshwater group of insects split from a common ancestor with Lepidoptera. They are the most diverse (>16,000 species) of the strictly aquatic insect orders and are widely employed as bio-indicators in water quality assessment and monitoring. Among the numerous adaptations to aquatic habitats, caddisfly larvae use silk and materials from the environment (e.g., stones, sticks, leaf matter) to build composite structures such as fixed retreats and portable cases. Understanding how caddisflies have adapted to aquatic habitats will help explain the evolution and subsequent diversification of the group. Findings We sequenced a retreat-builder caddisfly Stenopsyche tienmushanensis Hwang and assembled a high-quality genome from both Illumina and Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) sequencing. In total, 601.2 M Illumina reads (90.2 Gb) and 16.9 M PacBio subreads (89.0 Gb) were generated. The 451.5 Mb assembled genome has a contig N50 of 1.29 M, has a longest contig of 4.76 Mb, and covers 97.65% of the 1,658 insect single-copy genes as assessed by Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologs. The genome comprises 36.76% repetitive elements. A total of 14,672 predicted protein-coding genes were identified. The genome revealed gene expansions in specific groups of the cytochrome P450 family and olfactory binding proteins, suggesting potential genomic features associated with pollutant tolerance and mate finding. In addition, the complete gene complex of the highly repetitive H-fibroin, the major protein component of caddisfly larval silk, was assembled. Conclusions We report the draft genome of Stenopsyche tienmushanensis , the highest-quality caddisfly genome so far. The genome information will be an important resource for the study of caddisflies and may shed light on the evolution of aquatic insects.
Background: The piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that specifically repress transposable elements (TEs) in the germline of Drosophila. Despite our expanding understanding of TE:piRNA interaction, whether there is an evolutionary arms race between TEs and piRNAs was unclear. Results: Here, we studied the population genomics of TEs and piRNAs in the worldwide strains of D. melanogaster. By conducting a correlation analysis between TE contents and the abundance of piRNAs from ovaries of representative strains of D. melanogaster, we find positive correlations between TEs and piRNAs in six TE families. Our simulations further highlight that TE activities and the strength of purifying selection against TEs are important factors shaping the interactions between TEs and piRNAs. Our studies also suggest that the de novo generation of piRNAs is an important mechanism to repress the newly invaded TEs. Conclusions: Our results revealed the existence of an evolutionary arms race between the copy numbers of TEs and the abundance of antisense piRNAs at the population level. Although the interactions between TEs and piRNAs are complex and many factors should be considered to impact their interaction dynamics, our results suggest the emergence, repression specificity and strength of piRNAs on TEs should be considered in studying the landscapes of TE insertions in Drosophila. These results deepen our understanding of the interactions between piRNAs and TEs, and also provide novel insights into the nature of genomic conflicts of other forms.
Background Enzyme assays have widespread applications in drug discovery from plants to natural products. The appropriate use of blanks in enzyme assays is important for assay baseline-correction, and the correction of false signals associated with background matrix interferences. However, the blank-correction procedures reported in published literature are highly inconsistent. We investigated the influence of using different types of blanks on the final calculated activity/inhibition results for three enzymes of significance in diabetes and obesity; α-glucosidase, α-amylase, and lipase. This is the first study to examine how different blank-correcting methods affect enzyme assay results. Although assays targeting the above enzymes are common in the literature, there is a scarcity of detailed published protocols. Therefore, we have provided comprehensive, step-by-step protocols for α-glucosidase-, α-amylase- and lipase-inhibition assays that can be performed in 96-well format in a simple, fast, and resource-efficient manner with clear instructions for blank-correction and calculation of results. Results In the three assays analysed here, using only a buffer blank underestimated the enzyme inhibitory potential of the test sample. In the absorbance-based α-glucosidase assay, enzyme inhibition was underestimated when a sample blank was omitted for the coloured plant extracts. Similarly, in the fluorescence-based α-amylase and lipase assays, enzyme inhibition was underestimated when a substrate blank was omitted. For all three assays, method six [Raw Data - (Substrate + Sample Blank)] enabled the correction of interferences due to the buffer, sample, and substrate without double-blanking, and eliminated the need to add substrate to each sample blank. Conclusion The choice of blanks and blank-correction methods contribute to the variability of assay results and the likelihood of underestimating the enzyme inhibitory potential of a test sample. This highlights the importance of standardising the use of blanks and the reporting of blank-correction procedures in published studies in order to ensure the accuracy and reproducibility of results, and avoid overlooked opportunities in drug discovery research due to inadvertent underestimation of enzyme inhibitory potential of test samples resulting from unsuitable blank-correction. Based on our assessments, we recommend method six [RD − (Su + SaB)] as a suitable method for blank-correction of raw data in enzyme assays.
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