Mammals, including human beings, have evolved a unique viviparous reproductive system and a highly developed central nervous system. How did these unique characteristics emerge in mammalian evolution, and what kinds of changes did occur in the mammalian genomes as evolution proceeded? A key conceptual term in approaching these issues is “mammalian-specific genomic functions”, a concept covering both mammalian-specific epigenetics and genetics. Genomic imprinting and LTR retrotransposon-derived genes are reviewed as the representative, mammalian-specific genomic functions that are essential not only for the current mammalian developmental system, but also mammalian evolution itself. First, the essential roles of genomic imprinting in mammalian development, especially related to viviparous reproduction via placental function, as well as the emergence of genomic imprinting in mammalian evolution, are discussed. Second, we introduce the novel concept of “mammalian-specific traits generated by mammalian-specific genes from LTR retrotransposons”, based on the finding that LTR retrotransposons served as a critical driving force in the mammalian evolution via generating mammalian-specific genes.
Group A streptococcus (GAS) or Streptococcus pyogenes causes various diseases ranging from self-limiting sore throat to deadly invasive diseases. The genome size of GAS is 1.85–1.9 Mb, and genomic rearrangement has been demonstrated. GAS possesses various surface-associated substances such as hyaluronic capsule, M proteins, and fibronectin/laminin/immunoglobulin-binding proteins. These are related to the virulence and play multifaceted and mutually reflected roles in the pathogenesis of GAS infections. Invasion of GAS into epithelial cells and deeper tissues provokes immune and non-immune defense or inflammatory responses including the recruitment of neutrophils, macrophages, and dendritic cells in hosts. GAS frequently evades host defense mechanisms by using its virulence factors. Extracellular products of GAS may perturb cellular and subcellular functions and degrade tissues enzymatically, which leads to the aggravation of local and/or systemic disorders in the host. In this review, we summarize some important cellular and extracellular substances that may affect pathogenic processes during GAS infections, and the host responses to these.
This study focuses on the structure and function of the primary sensory neurons that innervate vibrissal follicles in the rat. Both the peripheral and central terminations, as well as their firing properties were identified using intracellular labelling and recording in trigeminal ganglia in vivo. Fifty-one labelled neurons terminating peripherally, as club-like, Merkel, lanceolate, reticular or spiny endings were identified by their morphology. All neurons responded robustly to air puff stimulation applied to the vibrissal skin. Neurons with club-like endings responded with the highest firing rates; their peripheral processes rarely branched between the cell body and their terminal tips. The central branches of these neurons displayed abundant collaterals terminating within all trigeminal nuclei. Analyses of three-dimensional reconstructions reveal a palisade arrangement of club-like endings bound to the ringwulst by collagen fibers. Our morphological findings suggest that neurons with club-like endings sense mechanical aspects related to the movement of the ringwulst and convey this information to all trigeminal nuclei in the brainstem.