Influenza A virus continues to pose a threat to public health. Since this virus can evolve escape mutants rapidly, it is desirable to predict the antigenic evolution for developing effective vaccines. Although empirical methods have been proposed and reported to predict the antigenic evolution more or less accurately, they did not provide much insight into the effects of unobserved mutations and the mechanisms of antigenic evolution. Here a theoretical method was introduced to predict the antigenic evolution of H3N2 human influenza A virus by evaluating de novo mutations through estimating the antigenic distance. The antigenic distance defined with the hemagglutination inhibition (HI) titer was estimated with antigenic models taking into account the volume, isoelectric point, relative solvent accessibility, and distances from receptor-binding sites (RBS) and N-linked glycosylation sites (NGS) for amino acids in hemagglutinin 1 (HA1). When the best model with the optimized parameter values was used to predict the antigenic evolution for the dominant strains, the prediction accuracy was relatively low. However, there appeared to be an overall tendency that the amino acid sites with larger potential net effect on antigenicity were more likely to evolve and the amino acid changes with larger potential effect were more likely to take place, suggesting that natural selection may operate to enhance the antigenic evolution of H3N2 human influenza A virus.
Genetic interaction networks are especially useful for functional assignment of genes and gaining new insights into the systems-level organization of the cell. While studying interactions of nonessential genes can be relatively straight-forward via use of deletion mutants, different approaches must be used to reveal interactions of essential genes due to their indispensability. One method shown to be useful for revealing interactions of essential genes requires tagging the query protein. However, this approach can be complicated by mutational effects of potential hypomorphic alleles. Here, we describe a pilot study for a new scheme of systematically studying the interactions of essential genes. Our method uses a low-copy, F-based, complementing plasmid, pFE604T, from which the essential gene is conditionally expressed. The essential gene is expressed at lower levels, producing a moderate growth defect in a query host. Secondary mutations are introduced into the query host by conjugation and the resultant exconjugants are scored for growth by imaging them over time. We report results from studying five essential query genes: dnaN, ftsW, trmD, yrfF and yjgP, showing (on average) interactions with nearly 80 nonessential genes. This system should prove useful for genome-wide analyses of other essential genes in E. coli K-12.
Cystathionine γ-synthase (CGS) catalyzes the first committed step of methionine (Met) biosynthesis in plants. Expression of the Arabidopsis thaliana CGS1 gene is negatively feedback-regulated in response to the direct Met metabolite S-adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet). This regulation occurs at the step of mRNA stability during translation and is coupled with AdoMet-induced CGS1-specific translation arrest. In general, mRNA decay is initiated by a shortening of the poly(A) tail. However, this process has not been studied in detail in cases where regulatory events, such as programmed translation arrest, are involved. Here, we report that the poly(A) tail of the full-length CGS1 mRNA showed an apparent increase from 50–80 nucleotides (nt) to 140–150 nt after the induction of CGS1 mRNA degradation. This finding was unexpected because mRNAs that are destined for degradation harbored longer poly(A) tail than mRNAs that were not targeted for degradation. The results suggest that poly(A) shortening is inhibited or delayed during AdoMet-induced translation arrest of CGS1 mRNA. We propose an explanation for this phenomenon that remains consistent with the recent model of actively translating mRNA. We also found that CGS1 mRNA degradation intermediates, which are 5'-truncated forms of CGS1 mRNA, had a short poly(A) tail of 10–30 nt. This suggests that poly(A) shortening occurs rapidly on the degradation intermediates. The present study highlights CGS1 mRNA degradation as a useful system to understand the dynamic features of poly(A) shortening.
We performed a comparative study on the enzymological features of purified recombinant α-amylase of three species belonging to the Drosophila melanogaster species subgroup: D. melanogaster, D. erecta and D. sechellia. D. erecta and D. sechellia are specialist species, with host plant Pandanus candelabrum (Pandanaceae) and Morinda citrifolia (Rubiaceae), respectively. The temperature optima were around 57–60℃ for the three species. The pH optima were 7.2 for D. melanogaster, 8.2 for D. erecta and 8.5 for D. sechellia. The kcat and Km were also estimated for each species with different substrates. The specialist species D. erecta and D. sechellia display a higher affinity for starch than D. melanogaster. α-Amylase activity is higher on starch than on glycogen in all species. α-Amylases of D. erecta and D. sechellia have a higher activity on maltooligosaccharides (G6 and G7) than on starch, contrary to D. melanogaster. Such differences in the enzymological features between the species might reflect adaptation to different ecological niches and feeding habits.
Vertebrate Pax1 gene is a member of Pax gene family and encodes a transcription factor associated with crucial roles in the development of pharyngeal pouch, scletrotome and limb bud. In zebrafish, the genome contains two Pax1 paralogs, DrPax1a and DrPax1b, which share high sequence similarity with other Pax1 genes. To elucidate the function of zebrafish DrPax1b gene, we first examined the gene expression pattern and found that it was mainly expressed in the endodermal pharyngeal pouch, caudal somites, notochord, and fin bud. Then, we performed knockdown experiments using antisense morpholino oligonucleotides, which lead to the defects in the vertebral column, tail, pharyngeal skeleton, and pectoral fin. Additionally, we also found that the mouse MmPax1 mRNA, but not the amphioxus AmphiPax1/9 mRNA, could rescue the MO-induced defects. Furthermore, sequence alignment revealed that the N-terminal region of vertebrate Pax1 and amphioxus Pax1/9 were highly conserved, whereas their C-terminal regions were relatively divergent. However, the chimeric Am(N)Dr(C)Pax1, Mm(N)Dr(C)Pax1 and Dr(N)Mm(C)Pax1 mRNA could partially rescue the defects, while the Dr(N)Am(C)Pax1 mRNA could not. In conclusion, our data demonstrate a conserved function of DrPax1b in the development of the vertebral column, pectoral fin and pharyngeal skeleton formation in zebrafish and also provide critical insight into the functional evolution of Pax1 gene by changing its C-terminal sequence.