ResearchPad - drosophila https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Interplay between axonal Wnt5-Vang and dendritic Wnt5-Drl/Ryk signaling controls glomerular patterning in the <i>Drosophila</i> antennal lobe]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14504 During brain development, the processes of nerve cells, axons and dendrites, grow over long distances to find and connect with each other to form synapses in precise locations. Understanding the mechanisms that control the growth of these neurites is important for understanding normal brain functions like neuronal plasticity and neural diseases like autism. Although much progress has been made by studying the development of axons and dendrites separately, the mechanisms that guide neuronal processes to their final locations are still incompletely understood. In particular, careful observation of converging pre- and postsynaptic processes suggests that their targeting may be coordinated. Whether the final targeting of axons and dendrites are functionally linked and what molecular mechanisms may be involved are unknown. In this paper we show that, in the developing Drosophila olfactory circuit, coalescing axons and dendrites respond to the extracellular Wnt5 signal in a codependent manner. We demonstrate that the converging axons and dendrites contribute different signaling components to the Wnt5 pathway, the Vang Gogh and Derailed transmembrane receptors respectively, which allow Wnt5 to coordinately guide the targeting of the neurites. Our work thus reveals a novel mechanism of neural circuit patterning and the molecular mechanism that controls it.

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<![CDATA[Drosophila melanogaster tPlus3a and tPlus3b ensure full male fertility by regulating transcription of Y-chromosomal, seminal fluid, and heat shock genes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8accf0d5eed0c48499037d

Spermatogenesis in Drosophila melanogaster is characterized by a specific transcriptional program during the spermatocyte stage. Transcription of thousands of genes is regulated by the interaction of several proteins or complexes, including a tTAF-containing TFIID variant, tMAC, Mediator, and chromatin interactors, e.g., bromodomain proteins. We addressed how distinct subsets of target genes are selected. We characterized the highly similar proteins tPlus3a and tPlus3b, which contain a Plus3 domain and are enriched in the testis, mainly in spermatocytes. In tPlus3a and tplus3b deletion mutants generated using the CRISPR/Cas9 system, fertility was severely reduced and sperm showed defects during individualization. tPlus3a and tPlus3b heterodimerized with the bromodomain protein tBRD-1. To elucidate the role of the tPlus3a and tPlus3b proteins in transcriptional regulation, we determined the transcriptomes of tplus3a-tplus3b and tbrd-1 deletion mutants using next-generation sequencing (RNA-seq) and compared them to that of the wild-type. tPlus3a and tPlus3b positively or negatively regulated the expression of nearly 400 genes; tBRD-1 regulated 1,500 genes. Nearly 200 genes were regulated by both tPlus3a and tPlus3b and tBRD-1. tPlus3a and tPlus3b activated the Y-chromosomal genes kl-3 and kl-5, which indicates that tPlus3a and tPlus3b proteins are required for the function of distinct classes of genes. tPlus3a and tPlus3b and tBRD-1 repress genes relevant for seminal fluid and heat shock. We hypothesize that tPlus3a and tPlus3b proteins are required to specify the general transcriptional program in spermatocytes.

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<![CDATA[Induced aneuploidy in neural stem cells triggers a delayed stress response and impairs adult life span in flies]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c79a3e7d5eed0c4841d1c08

Studying aneuploidy during organism development has strong limitations because chronic mitotic perturbations used to generate aneuploidy usually result in lethality. We developed a genetic tool to induce aneuploidy in an acute and time-controlled manner during Drosophila development. This is achieved by reversible depletion of cohesin, a key molecule controlling mitotic fidelity. Larvae challenged with aneuploidy hatch into adults with severe motor defects shortening their life span. Neural stem cells, despite being aneuploid, display a delayed stress response and continue proliferating, resulting in the rapid appearance of chromosomal instability, a complex array of karyotypes, and cellular abnormalities. Notably, when other brain-cell lineages are forced to self-renew, aneuploidy-associated stress response is significantly delayed. Protecting only the developing brain from induced aneuploidy is sufficient to rescue motor defects and adult life span, suggesting that neural tissue is the most ill-equipped to deal with developmental aneuploidy.

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<![CDATA[Brain expansion promoted by polycomb-mediated anterior enhancement of a neural stem cell proliferation program]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c7ee7d4d5eed0c4848f4f0c

During central nervous system (CNS) development, genetic programs establish neural stem cells and drive both stem and daughter cell proliferation. However, the prominent anterior expansion of the CNS implies anterior–posterior (A–P) modulation of these programs. In Drosophila, a set of neural stem cell factors acts along the entire A–P axis to establish neural stem cells. Brain expansion results from enhanced stem and daughter cell proliferation, promoted by a Polycomb Group (PcG)->Homeobox (Hox) homeotic network. But how does PcG->Hox modulate neural-stem-cell–factor activity along the A–P axis? We find that the PcG->Hox network creates an A–P expression gradient of neural stem cell factors, thereby driving a gradient of proliferation. PcG mutants can be rescued by misexpression of the neural stem cell factors or by mutation of one single Hox gene. Hence, brain expansion results from anterior enhancement of core neural-stem-cell–factor expression, mediated by PcG repression of brain Hox expression.

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<![CDATA[O-GlcNAcylation of PERIOD regulates its interaction with CLOCK and timing of circadian transcriptional repression]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5ca281d5eed0c48441e509

Circadian clocks coordinate time-of-day-specific metabolic and physiological processes to maximize organismal performance and fitness. In addition to light and temperature, which are regarded as strong zeitgebers for circadian clock entrainment, metabolic input has now emerged as an important signal for clock entrainment and modulation. Circadian clock proteins have been identified to be substrates of O-GlcNAcylation, a nutrient sensitive post-translational modification (PTM), and the interplay between clock protein O-GlcNAcylation and other PTMs is now recognized as an important mechanism by which metabolic input regulates circadian physiology. To better understand the role of O-GlcNAcylation in modulating clock protein function within the molecular oscillator, we used mass spectrometry proteomics to identify O-GlcNAcylation sites of PERIOD (PER), a repressor of the circadian transcriptome and a critical biochemical timer of the Drosophila clock. In vivo functional characterization of PER O-GlcNAcylation sites indicates that O-GlcNAcylation at PER(S942) reduces interactions between PER and CLOCK (CLK), the key transcriptional activator of clock-controlled genes. Since we observe a correlation between clock-controlled daytime feeding activity and higher level of PER O-GlcNAcylation, we propose that PER(S942) O-GlcNAcylation during the day functions to prevent premature initiation of circadian repression phase. This is consistent with the period-shortening behavioral phenotype of per(S942A) flies. Taken together, our results support that clock-controlled feeding activity provides metabolic signals to reinforce light entrainment to regulate circadian physiology at the post-translational level. The interplay between O-GlcNAcylation and other PTMs to regulate circadian physiology is expected to be complex and extensive, and reach far beyond the molecular oscillator.

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<![CDATA[Long live the queen, the king and the commoner? Transcript expression differences between old and young in the termite Cryptotermes secundus]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dc99ad5eed0c484529eb1

Social insects provide promising new avenues for aging research. Within a colony, individuals that share the same genetic background can differ in lifespan by up to two orders of magnitude. Reproducing queens (and in termites also kings) can live for more than 20 years, extraordinary lifespans for insects. We studied aging in a termite species, Cryptotermes secundus, which lives in less socially complex societies with a few hundred colony members. Reproductives develop from workers which are totipotent immatures. Comparing transcriptomes of young and old individuals, we found evidence for aging in reproductives that was especially associated with DNA and protein damage and the activity of transposable elements. By contrast, workers seemed to be better protected against aging. Thus our results differed from those obtained for social insects that live in more complex societies. Yet, they are in agreement with lifespan estimates for the study species. Our data are also in line with expectations from evolutionary theory. For individuals that are able to reproduce, it predicts that aging should only start after reaching maturity. As C. secundus workers are immatures with full reproductive options we expect them to invest into anti-aging processes. Our study illustrates that the degree of aging can differ between social insects and that it may be associated with caste-specific opportunities for reproduction.

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<![CDATA[Conserved regulation of neurodevelopmental processes and behavior by FoxP in Drosophila]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6c75bdd5eed0c4843d00af

FOXP proteins form a subfamily of evolutionarily conserved transcription factors involved in the development and functioning of several tissues, including the central nervous system. In humans, mutations in FOXP1 and FOXP2 have been implicated in cognitive deficits including intellectual disability and speech disorders. Drosophila exhibits a single ortholog, called FoxP, but due to a lack of characterized mutants, our understanding of the gene remains poor. Here we show that the dimerization property required for mammalian FOXP function is conserved in Drosophila. In flies, FoxP is enriched in the adult brain, showing strong expression in ~1000 neurons of cholinergic, glutamatergic and GABAergic nature. We generate Drosophila loss-of-function mutants and UAS-FoxP transgenic lines for ectopic expression, and use them to characterize FoxP function in the nervous system. At the cellular level, we demonstrate that Drosophila FoxP is required in larvae for synaptic morphogenesis at axonal terminals of the neuromuscular junction and for dendrite development of dorsal multidendritic sensory neurons. In the developing brain, we find that FoxP plays important roles in α-lobe mushroom body formation. Finally, at a behavioral level, we show that Drosophila FoxP is important for locomotion, habituation learning and social space behavior of adult flies. Our work shows that Drosophila FoxP is important for regulating several neurodevelopmental processes and behaviors that are related to human disease or vertebrate disease model phenotypes. This suggests a high degree of functional conservation with vertebrate FOXP orthologues and established flies as a model system for understanding FOXP related pathologies.

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<![CDATA[Stress response, behavior, and development are shaped by transposable element-induced mutations in Drosophila]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6c758ad5eed0c4843cfe7b

Most of the current knowledge on the genetic basis of adaptive evolution is based on the analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Despite increasing evidence for their causal role, the contribution of structural variants to adaptive evolution remains largely unexplored. In this work, we analyzed the population frequencies of 1,615 Transposable Element (TE) insertions annotated in the reference genome of Drosophila melanogaster, in 91 samples from 60 worldwide natural populations. We identified a set of 300 polymorphic TEs that are present at high population frequencies, and located in genomic regions with high recombination rate, where the efficiency of natural selection is high. The age and the length of these 300 TEs are consistent with relatively young and long insertions reaching high frequencies due to the action of positive selection. Besides, we identified a set of 21 fixed TEs also likely to be adaptive. Indeed, we, and others, found evidence of selection for 84 of these reference TE insertions. The analysis of the genes located nearby these 84 candidate adaptive insertions suggested that the functional response to selection is related with the GO categories of response to stimulus, behavior, and development. We further showed that a subset of the candidate adaptive TEs affects expression of nearby genes, and five of them have already been linked to an ecologically relevant phenotypic effect. Our results provide a more complete understanding of the genetic variation and the fitness-related traits relevant for adaptive evolution. Similar studies should help uncover the importance of TE-induced adaptive mutations in other species as well.

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<![CDATA[A combined computational strategy of sequence and structural analysis predicts the existence of a functional eicosanoid pathway in Drosophila melanogaster]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6c7583d5eed0c4843cfe40

This study reports on a putative eicosanoid biosynthesis pathway in Drosophila melanogaster and challenges the currently held view that mechanistic routes to synthesize eicosanoid or eicosanoid-like biolipids do not exist in insects, since to date, putative fly homologs of most mammalian enzymes have not been identified. Here we use systematic and comprehensive bioinformatics approaches to identify most of the mammalian eicosanoid synthesis enzymes. Sensitive sequence analysis techniques identified candidate Drosophila enzymes that share low global sequence identities with their human counterparts. Twenty Drosophila candidates were selected based upon (a) sequence identity with human enzymes of the cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase branches, (b) similar domain architecture and structural conservation of the catalytic domain, and (c) presence of potentially equivalent functional residues. Evaluation of full-length structural models for these 20 top-scoring Drosophila candidates revealed a surprising degree of conservation in their overall folds and potential analogs for functional residues in all 20 enzymes. Although we were unable to identify any suitable candidate for lipoxygenase enzymes, we report structural homology models of three fly cyclooxygenases. Our findings predict that the D. melanogaster genome likely codes for one or more pathways for eicosanoid or eicosanoid-like biolipid synthesis. Our study suggests that classical and/or novel eicosanoids mediators must regulate biological functions in insects–predictions that can be tested with the power of Drosophila genetics. Such experimental analysis of eicosanoid biology in a simple model organism will have high relevance to human development and health.

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<![CDATA[The Drosophila fussel gene is required for bitter gustatory neuron differentiation acting within an Rpd3 dependent chromatin modifying complex]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c65dcafd5eed0c484dec036

Members of the Ski/Sno protein family are classified as proto-oncogenes and act as negative regulators of the TGF-ß/BMP-pathways in vertebrates and invertebrates. A newly identified member of this protein family is fussel (fuss), the Drosophila homologue of the human functional Smad suppressing elements (fussel-15 and fussel-18). We and others have shown that Fuss interacts with SMAD4 and that overexpression leads to a strong inhibition of Dpp signaling. However, to be able to characterize the endogenous Fuss function in Drosophila melanogaster, we have generated a number of state of the art tools including anti-Fuss antibodies, specific fuss-Gal4 lines and fuss mutant fly lines via the CRISPR/Cas9 system. Fuss is a predominantly nuclear, postmitotic protein, mainly expressed in interneurons and fuss mutants are fully viable without any obvious developmental phenotype. To identify potential target genes or cells affected in fuss mutants, we conducted targeted DamID experiments in adult flies, which revealed the function of fuss in bitter gustatory neurons. We fully characterized fuss expression in the adult proboscis and by using food choice assays we were able to show that fuss mutants display defects in detecting bitter compounds. This correlated with a reduction of gustatory receptor gene expression (Gr33a, Gr66a, Gr93a) providing a molecular link to the behavioral phenotype. In addition, Fuss interacts with Rpd3, and downregulation of rpd3 in gustatory neurons phenocopies the loss of Fuss expression. Surprisingly, there is no colocalization of Fuss with phosphorylated Mad in the larval central nervous system, excluding a direct involvement of Fuss in Dpp/BMP signaling. Here we provide a first and exciting link of Fuss function in gustatory bitter neurons. Although gustatory receptors have been well characterized, little is known regarding the differentiation and maturation of gustatory neurons. This work therefore reveals Fuss as a pivotal element for the proper differentiation of bitter gustatory neurons acting within a chromatin modifying complex.

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<![CDATA[Drosophila ZDHHC8 palmitoylates scribble and Ras64B and controls growth and viability]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6730b5d5eed0c484f37f58

Palmitoylation is an important posttranslational modification regulating diverse cellular functions. Consequently, aberrant palmitoylation can lead to diseases such as neuronal disorders or cancer. In humans there are roughly one hundred times more palmitoylated proteins than enzymes catalyzing palmitoylation (palmitoyltransferases). Therefore, it is an important challenge to establish the links between palmitoyltransferases and their targets. From publicly available data, we find that expression of human ZDHHC8 correlates significantly with cancer survival. To elucidate the organismal function of ZDHHC8, we study the Drosophila ortholog of hZDHHC8, CG34449/dZDHHC8. Knockdown of dZDHHC8 causes tissue overgrowth while dZDHHC8 mutants are larval lethal. We provide a list of 159 palmitoylated proteins in Drosophila and present data suggesting that scribble and Ras64B are targets of dZDHHC8.

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<![CDATA[Lysine 27 of replication-independent histone H3.3 is required for Polycomb target gene silencing but not for gene activation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b52c1d5eed0c4842bcf85

Proper determination of cell fates depends on epigenetic information that is used to preserve memory of decisions made earlier in development. Post-translational modification of histone residues is thought to be a central means by which epigenetic information is propagated. In particular, modifications of histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27) are strongly correlated with both gene activation and gene repression. H3K27 acetylation is found at sites of active transcription, whereas H3K27 methylation is found at loci silenced by Polycomb group proteins. The histones bearing these modifications are encoded by the replication-dependent H3 genes as well as the replication-independent H3.3 genes. Owing to differential rates of nucleosome turnover, H3K27 acetylation is enriched on replication-independent H3.3 histones at active gene loci, and H3K27 methylation is enriched on replication-dependent H3 histones across silenced gene loci. Previously, we found that modification of replication-dependent H3K27 is required for Polycomb target gene silencing, but it is not required for gene activation. However, the contribution of replication-independent H3.3K27 to these functions is unknown. Here, we used CRISPR/Cas9 to mutate the endogenous replication-independent H3.3K27 to a non-modifiable residue. Surprisingly, we find that H3.3K27 is also required for Polycomb target gene silencing despite the association of H3.3 with active transcription. However, the requirement for H3.3K27 comes at a later stage of development than that found for replication-dependent H3K27, suggesting a greater reliance on replication-independent H3.3K27 in post-mitotic cells. Notably, we find no evidence of global transcriptional defects in H3.3K27 mutants, despite the strong correlation between H3.3K27 acetylation and active transcription.

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<![CDATA[TCTP and CSN4 control cell cycle progression and development by regulating CULLIN1 neddylation in plants and animals]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59fee9d5eed0c4841357b5

Translationally Controlled Tumor Protein (TCTP) controls growth by regulating the G1/S transition during cell cycle progression. Our genetic interaction studies show that TCTP fulfills this role by interacting with CSN4, a subunit of the COP9 Signalosome complex, known to influence CULLIN-RING ubiquitin ligases activity by controlling CULLIN (CUL) neddylation status. In agreement with these data, downregulation of CSN4 in Arabidopsis and in tobacco cells leads to delayed G1/S transition comparable to that observed when TCTP is downregulated. Loss-of-function of AtTCTP leads to increased fraction of deneddylated CUL1, suggesting that AtTCTP interferes negatively with COP9 function. Similar defects in cell proliferation and CUL1 neddylation status were observed in Drosophila knockdown for dCSN4 or dTCTP, respectively, demonstrating a conserved mechanism between plants and animals. Together, our data show that CSN4 is the missing factor linking TCTP to the control of cell cycle progression and cell proliferation during organ development and open perspectives towards understanding TCTP’s role in organ development and disorders associated with TCTP miss-expression.

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<![CDATA[Ask1 and Akt act synergistically to promote ROS-dependent regeneration in Drosophila]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c536ae2d5eed0c484a47ab5

How cells communicate to initiate a regenerative response after damage has captivated scientists during the last few decades. It is known that one of the main signals emanating from injured cells is the Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), which propagate to the surrounding tissue to trigger the replacement of the missing cells. However, the link between ROS production and the activation of regenerative signaling pathways is not yet fully understood. We describe here the non-autonomous ROS sensing mechanism by which living cells launch their regenerative program. To this aim, we used Drosophila imaginal discs as a model system due to its well-characterized regenerative ability after injury or cell death. We genetically-induced cell death and found that the Apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (Ask1) is essential for regenerative growth. Ask1 senses ROS both in dying and living cells, but its activation is selectively attenuated in living cells by Akt1, the core kinase component of the insulin/insulin-like growth factor pathway. Akt1 phosphorylates Ask1 in a secondary site outside the kinase domain, which attenuates its activity. This modulation of Ask1 activity results in moderate levels of JNK signaling in the living tissue, as well as in activation of p38 signaling, both pathways required to turn on the regenerative response. Our findings demonstrate a non-autonomous activation of a ROS sensing mechanism by Ask1 and Akt1 to replace the missing tissue after damage. Collectively, these results provide the basis for understanding the molecular mechanism of communication between dying and living cells that triggers regeneration.

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<![CDATA[Threshold response to stochasticity in morphogenesis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b52e0d5eed0c4842bd1b9

During development of biological organisms, multiple complex structures are formed. In many instances, these structures need to exhibit a high degree of order to be functional, although many of their constituents are intrinsically stochastic. Hence, it has been suggested that biological robustness ultimately must rely on complex gene regulatory networks and clean-up mechanisms. Here we explore developmental processes that have evolved inherent robustness against stochasticity. In the context of the Drosophila eye disc, multiple optical units, ommatidia, develop into crystal-like patterns. During the larva-to-pupa stage of metamorphosis, the centers of the ommatidia are specified initially through the diffusion of morphogens, followed by the specification of R8 cells. Establishing the R8 cell is crucial in setting up the geometric, and functional, relationships of cells within an ommatidium and among neighboring ommatidia. Here we study an PDE mathematical model of these spatio-temporal processes in the presence of parametric stochasticity, defining and applying measures that quantify order within the resulting spatial patterns. We observe a universal sigmoidal response to increasing transcriptional noise. Ordered patterns persist up to a threshold noise level in the model parameters. In accordance with prior qualitative observations, as the noise is further increased past a threshold point of no return, these ordered patterns rapidly become disordered. Such robustness in development allows for the accumulation of genetic variation without any observable changes in phenotype. We argue that the observed sigmoidal dependence introduces robustness allowing for sizable amounts of genetic variation and transcriptional noise to be tolerated in natural populations without resulting in phenotype variation.

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<![CDATA[Thermodynamic model of gene regulation for the Or59b olfactory receptor in Drosophila]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c4a309fd5eed0c4844c073a

Complex eukaryotic promoters normally contain multiple cis-regulatory sequences for different transcription factors (TFs). The binding patterns of the TFs to these sites, as well as the way the TFs interact with each other and with the RNA polymerase (RNAp), lead to combinatorial problems rarely understood in detail, especially under varying epigenetic conditions. The aim of this paper is to build a model describing how the main regulatory cluster of the olfactory receptor Or59b drives transcription of this gene in Drosophila. The cluster-driven expression of this gene is represented as the equilibrium probability of RNAp being bound to the promoter region, using a statistical thermodynamic approach. The RNAp equilibrium probability is computed in terms of the occupancy probabilities of the single TFs of the cluster to the corresponding binding sites, and of the interaction rules among TFs and RNAp, using experimental data of Or59b expression to tune the model parameters. The model reproduces correctly the changes in RNAp binding probability induced by various mutation of specific sites and epigenetic modifications. Some of its predictions have also been validated in novel experiments.

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<![CDATA[The glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase PLAT2 functions in the generation of DHA-rich glycerolipids in Aurantiochytrium limacinum F26-b]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b52aad5eed0c4842bcdd2

Thraustochytrids possess docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) as acyl chain(s) of triacylglycerol (TG) and phosphatidylcholine (PC), some of which contain multiple DHAs. However, little is known about how these DHA-rich glycerolipids are produced in thraustochytrids. In this study, we identified PLAT2 in Aurantiochytrium limacinum F26-b as a glycerol-3-phosphate (G3P) acyltransferase (GPAT) by heterologous expression of the gene in budding yeast. Subsequently, we found that GPAT activity was reduced by disruption of the PLAT2 gene in A. limacinum, resulting in a decrease in DHA-containing lysophosphatidic acid (LPA 22:6). Conversely, overexpression of PLAT2 increased both GPAT activity and LPA 22:6. These results indicate that PLAT2 is a GPAT that transfers DHA to G3P in vivo as well as in vitro. Overexpression of the PLAT2 gene increased the production of a two DHA-containing diacylglycerol (DG 44:12), followed by an increase in the three DHA-containing TG (TG 66:18), two-DHA-containing TG (TG 60:12), and two DHA-containing PC (PC 44:12). However, overexpression of PLAT2 did not increase DHA-free DG (DG32:0), which was preferentially converted to three 16:0-containing TG (TG 48:0) but not two 16:0-containing PC (PC 32:0). Collectively, we revealed that DHA-rich glycerolipids are produced from a precursor, LPA 22:6, which is generated by incorporating DHA to G3P by PLAT2 in the A. limacinum.

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<![CDATA[Sex differences in aggression: Differential roles of 5-HT2, neuropeptide F and tachykinin]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59fea5d5eed0c4841351f0

Despite the conserved function of aggression across taxa in obtaining critical resources such as food and mates, serotonin’s (5-HT) modulatory role on aggressive behavior appears to be largely inhibitory for vertebrates but stimulatory for invertebrates. However, critical gaps exist in our knowledge of invertebrates that need to be addressed before definitively stating opposing roles for 5-HT and aggression. Specifically, the role of 5-HT receptor subtypes are largely unknown, as is the potential interactive role of 5-HT with other neurochemical systems known to play a critical role in aggression. Similarly, the influence of these systems in driving sex differences in aggressive behavior of invertebrates is not well understood. Here, we investigated these questions by employing complementary approaches in a novel invertebrate model of aggression, the stalk-eyed fly. A combination of altered social conditions, pharmacological manipulation and 5-HT2 receptor knockdown by siRNA revealed an inhibitory role of this receptor subtype on aggression. Additionally, we provide evidence for 5-HT2’s involvement in regulating neuropeptide F activity, a suspected inhibitor of aggression. However, this function appears to be stage-specific, altering only the initiation stage of aggressive conflicts. Alternatively, pharmacologically increasing systemic concentrations of 5-HT significantly elevated the expression of the neuropeptide tachykinin, which did not affect contest initiation but instead promoted escalation via production of high intensity aggressive behaviors. Notably, these effects were limited solely to males, with female aggression and neuropeptide expression remaining unaltered by any manipulation that affected 5-HT. Together, these results demonstrate a more nuanced role for 5-HT in modulating aggression in invertebrates, revealing an important interactive role with neuropeptides that is more reminiscent of vertebrates. The sex-differences described here also provide valuable insight into the evolutionary contexts of this complex behavior.

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<![CDATA[Molecular characterization of the insecticidal activity of double-stranded RNA targeting the smooth septate junction of western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c40f769d5eed0c4843860d9

The western corn rootworm (WCR, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera) gene, dvssj1, is a putative homolog of the Drosophila melanogaster gene, snakeskin (ssk). This gene encodes a membrane protein associated with the smooth septate junction (SSJ) which is required for the proper barrier function of the epithelial lining of insect intestines. Disruption of DVSSJ integrity by RNAi technique has been shown previously to be an effective approach for corn rootworm control, by apparent suppression of production of DVSSJ1 protein leading to growth inhibition and mortality. To understand the mechanism that leads to the death of WCR larvae by dvssj1 double-stranded RNA, we examined the molecular characteristics associated with SSJ functions during larval development. Dvssj1 dsRNA diet feeding results in dose-dependent suppression of mRNA and protein; this impairs SSJ formation and barrier function of the midgut and results in larval mortality. These findings suggest that the malfunctioning of the SSJ complex in midgut triggered by dvssj1 silencing is the principal cause of WCR death. This study also illustrates that dvssj1 is a midgut-specific gene in WCR and its functions are consistent with biological functions described for ssk.

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<![CDATA[Drosophila melanogaster cloak their eggs with pheromones, which prevents cannibalism]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c40f80bd5eed0c484386efb

Oviparous animals across many taxa have evolved diverse strategies that deter egg predation, providing valuable tests of how natural selection mitigates direct fitness loss. Communal egg laying in nonsocial species minimizes egg predation. However, in cannibalistic species, this very behavior facilitates egg predation by conspecifics (cannibalism). Similarly, toxins and aposematic signaling that deter egg predators are often inefficient against resistant conspecifics. Egg cannibalism can be adaptive, wherein cannibals may benefit through reduced competition and added nutrition, but since it reduces Darwinian fitness, the evolution of anticannibalistic strategies is rife. However, such strategies are likely to be nontoxic because deploying toxins against related individuals would reduce inclusive fitness. Here, we report how D. melanogaster use specific hydrocarbons to chemically mask their eggs from cannibal larvae. Using an integrative approach combining behavioral, sensory, and mass spectrometry methods, we demonstrate that maternally provisioned pheromone 7,11-heptacosadiene (7,11-HD) in the eggshell’s wax layer deters egg cannibalism. Furthermore, we show that 7,11-HD is nontoxic, can mask underlying substrates (for example, yeast) when coated upon them, and its detection requires pickpocket 23 (ppk23) gene function. Finally, using light and electron microscopy, we demonstrate how maternal pheromones leak-proof the egg, consequently concealing it from conspecific larvae. Our data suggest that semiochemicals possibly subserve in deceptive functions across taxa, especially when predators rely on chemical cues to forage, and stimulate further research on deceptive strategies mediated through nonvisual sensory modules. This study thus highlights how integrative approaches can illuminate our understanding on the adaptive significance of deceptive defenses and the mechanisms through which they operate.

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