The Chinese tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri chinensis), a squirrel-like and rat-sized mammal, has a wide distribution in Southeast Asia, South and Southwest China and has many unique characteristics that make it suitable for use as an experimental animal. There have been many studies using the tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri) aimed at increasing our understanding of fundamental biological mechanisms and for the modeling of human diseases and therapeutic responses. The recent release of a publicly available annotated genome sequence of the Chinese tree shrew and its genome database (www.treeshrewdb.org) has offered a solid base from which it is possible to elucidate the basic biological properties and create animal models using this species. The extensive characterization of key factors and signaling pathways in the immune and nervous systems has shown that tree shrews possess both conserved and unique features relative to primates. Hitherto, the tree shrew has been successfully used to create animal models for myopia, depression, breast cancer, alcohol-induced or non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, to name a few. The recent successful genetic manipulation of the tree shrew has opened a new avenue for the wider usage of this animal in biomedical research. In this opinion paper, I attempt to summarize the recent research advances that have used the Chinese tree shrew, with a focus on the new knowledge obtained by using the biological properties identified using the tree shrew genome, a proposal for the genome-based approach for creating animal models, and the genetic manipulation of the tree shrew. With more studies using this species and the application of cutting-edge gene editing techniques, the tree shrew will continue to be under the spot light as a viable animal model for investigating the basis of many different human diseases.
Nucleotide oligomerization domain 2 (NOD2) is a major cytoplasmic sensor for pathogens and is critical for the clearance of cytosolic bacteria in mammals. However, studies regarding NOD2, especially the initiated signaling pathways, are scarce in teleost species. In this study, we identified a NOD2 molecule (PaNOD2) from ayu (Plecoglossus altivelis). Bioinformatics analysis showed the structure of NOD2 to be highly conserved during vertebrate evolution. Dual-luciferase reporter assays examined the activation of NF-κB signaling and Western blotting analysis detected the phosphorylation of three MAP kinases (p-38, Erk1/2, and JNK1/2). Functional study revealed that, like its mammalian counterparts, PaNOD2 was the receptor of the bacterial cell wall component muramyl dipeptide (MDP), and the leucine-rich repeat motif was responsible for the recognition and binding of PaNOD2 with the ligand. Overexpression of PaNOD2 activated the NF-κB signaling pathway, leading to the upregulation of inflammatory cytokines, including TNF-α and IL-1β in HEK293T cells and ayu head kidney-derived monocytes/macrophages (MO/MΦ). Particularly, we found that PaNOD2 activated the MAPK signaling pathways, as indicated by the increased phosphorylation of p-38, Erk1/2, and JNK1/2, which have not been characterized in any teleost species previously. Our findings proved that the NOD2 molecule and initiated pathways are conserved between mammals and ayu. Therefore, ayu could be used as an animal model to investigate NOD2-based diseases and therapeutic applications.
Insulin is a key hormone for the regulation of metabolism in vertebrates. Insulin is produced by pancreatic islet cells in response to elevated glucose levels and leads to the uptake of glucose by tissues such as liver and adipose tissue to store energy. Insulin also has additional functions in regulating development. Previous work has shown that the proglucagon gene, which encodes hormones counter regulating insulin, is duplicated in teleost fish, and that the peptide hormones encoded by these genes have diversified in function. I sought to determine whether similar processes have occurred to insulin genes in these species. Searches of fish genomes revealed an unexpected diversity of insulin genes. A triplication of the insulin gene occurred at the origin of teleost fish, however one of these three genes, insc, has been lost in most teleost fish lineages. The two other insulin genes, insa and insb, have been retained but show differing levels of selective constraint suggesting that they might have diversified in function. Intriguingly, a duplicate copy of the insa gene, which I named insab, is found in many fish. The coding sequence encoded by insab genes is under weak selective constraint, with its predicted protein sequences losing their potential to be processed into a two-peptide hormone. However, these sequences have retained perfectly conserved cystine residues, suggesting that they maintain insulin's three-dimensional structure and therefore might modulate the processing and secretion of insulin produced by the other genes.
Dong et al investigate the co-occurrence of prolonged milk provisioning and extended parental care for nutritionally independent offspring of the milking spider, Toxeus magnus. T. magnus is not the first recorded invertebrate to provide a milk-like substance to nourish offspring. Examples of maternal nutrient liquid provisioning are reported across different arthropod clades, such as flies, cockroaches, burying beetles, bees, swaps, and ant. However, T. magnus has two distinct characteristics that make it unique in that its mothers progressively feed their young with secretions from the hatchling stage until sub-adulthood and T. magnus provides maternal care for sexually mature offspring, which has not been reported in other invertebrate.
Valentin's rock lizard (Darevskia valentini) is suggested to be the parent for several parthenogenetic species (e.g., D. armeniaca, D. bendimahiensis, D. sapphirina, and D. unisexualis) that evolved through hybridization. Complex evolutionary processes (including reticulate evolution) are occurring within the areas where Valentin's rock lizard coexists with these and other rock lizards. Hence, a detailed biological specification of this species is important for understanding how vertebrates evolve. Valentin's rock lizard is a longlived (up to 9 years), small diurnal lizard with larger females than males, which is unlike other species of the genus. Their relatively large eggs and early reproduction period, which occurs just after emergence from winter shelters, are adaptations for living in a high elevation climate (higher than 2 000 m a.s.l.). Their body temperatures (31 -32 ° С) are comparable to body temperatures of rock lizards living in milder climates, though female body temperature is more dependent on substrate temperature and basking due to their lower activity than that found in males. Population density fluctuates from several individuals to several hundred per hectare and is not affected by parthenogen coexistence, although hybrids do occur in sexually biased populations where males are more common than females. The male home range is larger than that of females, though these home ranges broadly overlap. Prey is not limited in the mountain meadows and Valentin's rock lizards feed on a great variety of arthropods. Infanticide occurs in high-density populations.
The goldfish is not only an important ornamental and aquacultural fish in China, but also one of the most common aquarium fish worldwide. Rapid development of large-scale and highly intensive goldfish farming has increased outbreaks of disease, resulting in serious effects on aquaculture production. Hemorrhagic septicemia is an acute, highly fatal disease that affects goldfish. Here, Chen et al sequenced, assembled, and characterized the transcriptomes of the skin and head kidney of goldfish suffering hemorrhagic septicemia to gain a better understanding of related immune genes. Based on functional annotation, an extensive and diverse catalog of expressed genes were identified in both the skin and head kidney.
Ambient temperature is an important factor influencing many physiological processes, including antioxidant defense and immunity. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that antioxidant defense and immunity are suppressed by high and low temperature treatment in Brandt's voles (Lasiopodomys brandtii). Thirty male voles were randomly assigned into different temperature groups (4, 23, and 32 °C, n=10 for each group), with the treatment course lasting for 27 d. Results showed that low temperature increased gross energy intake (GEI) and liver, heart, and kidney mass, but decreased body fat mass and dry carcass mass. With the decline in temperature, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) concentration, which is indicative of reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, increased in the liver, decreased in the heart, and was unchanged in the kidney, testis, and small intestine. Lipid peroxidation indicated by malonaldehyde (MDA) content in the liver, heart, kidney, testis, and small intestine did not differ among groups, implying that high and low temperature did not cause oxidative damage. Similarly, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) activities and total antioxidant capacity (TAOC) in the five tissues did not respond to low or high temperature, except for elevation of CAT activity in the testis upon cold exposure. Bacteria killing capacity, which is indicative of innate immunity, was nearly suppressed in the 4 °C group in contrast to the 23 ° C group, whereas spleen mass and white blood cells were unaffected by temperature treatment. The levels of testosterone, but not corticosterone, were influenced by temperature treatment, though neither were correlated with innate immunity, H2O2 and MDA levels, or SOD, CAT, and TAOC activity in any detected tissues. Overall, these results showed that temperature had different influences on oxidative stress, antioxidant enzymes, and immunity, which depended on the tissues and parameters tested. Up-regulation or maintenance of antioxidant defense might be an important mechanism for voles to survive highly variable environmental temperatures.
Wang ang Guo examine the external morphology of red-bamboo rat snake Oreocryptophis porphyraceus specimens preserved in Chinese museums and also compared the skulls of several specimens from different populations to explore the intraspecific diversity and clarify how many subspecies are present in mainland China. In this study, a total of 106 individuals of O. porphyraceus from mainland China were morphologically examined and recorded. Differences between populations were compared by combining data from this study and other published research. They suggest that at least four subspecies of O. porphyraceus should be recognized in mainland China. These are O. p. porphyraceus, O. p. pulchra, O. p. vaillanti, and O. p. hainana. However, the taxonomical arrangement of the central Chinese populations with intermediate morphology remain unresolved.
We present a morphological and molecular assessment of the Microhyla fauna of Myanmar based on new collections from central (Magway Division) and northern (Kachin State) parts of the country. In total, six species of Microhyla are documented, including M. berdmorei, M. heymonsi, M. butleri, M. mukhlesuri and two new species described from the semi-arid savanna-like plains of the middle part of the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River Valley. We used a 2 481 bp long 12S rRNA - 16S rRNA fragment of mtDNA to hypothesize genealogical relationships within Microhyla. We applied an integrative taxonomic approach combining molecular, morphological, and acoustic lines of evidence to evaluate the taxonomic status of Myanmar Microhyla. We demonstrated that the newly discovered populations of Microhyla sp. from the Magway Division represent two yet undescribed species. These two new sympatric species are assigned to the M. achatina species group, with both adapted to the seasonally dry environments of the Irrawaddy Valley. Microhyla fodiens sp. nov. is a stout-bodied species with a remarkably enlarged shovel-like outer metatarsal tubercle used for burrowing and is highly divergent from other known congeners (P-distance^8.8%). Microhyla irrawaddy sp. nov. is a small-bodied slender frog reconstructed as a sister species to M. kodial from southern India (P-distance=5.3%); however, it clearly differs from the latter both in external morphology and advertisement call parameters. Microhyla mukhlesuri is reported from Myanmar for the first time. We further discuss the morphological diagnostics and biogeography of Microhyla species recorded in Myanmar.
Leukocyte cell-derived chemotaxin 2 (LECT2), a multifunctional hepatokine, is involved in many pathological conditions. However, its role in atherosclerosis remains undefined. In this study, we administered vehicle or LECT2 to male Apoe-mice fed a Western diet for 15 weeks. Atherosclerotic lesions were visualized and quantified with Oil-red O and hematoxylin staining. The mRNA expression levels of MCP-1, MMP-1, IL-8, IL-1 ß , and TNF-a were analyzed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Serum TNF-a, IL-1 ß , IL-8, MCP-1, and MMP-1 concentrations were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. CD68, CD31, and a - SMA, markers of macrophages, endothelial cells, and smooth muscle cells, respectively, were detected by immunostaining. Results showed that LECT2 reduced total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein concentrations in serum and inhibited the development of atherosclerotic lesions, accompanied by reductions in inflammatory cytokines and lower MCP-1, MMP-1, TNF-a, IL-8, and IL-1 ß mRNA abundance. Furthermore, LECT2 decreased CD68, but increased a-SMA in atherosclerotic lesions, suggesting an increase in smooth muscle cells and reduction in macrophages. In summary, LECT2 inhibited the development of atherosclerosis in mice, accompanied by reduced serum total cholesterol concentration and lower inflammatory responses.
Huang et al describe a new species of cave-dwelling Triplophysa found during their exploration of cave animals in the Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Nationality Autonomous Prefecture, Hunan Province, central south China. The new species can be distinguished from other species of Triplophysa by the following combination of characters: eyes absent; body scaleless and colorless; caudal-fin 17; maxillary barbel longest; fins transparent, compressed pectoral-fin reaching 2/3 distance between pectoral-fin and pelvic-fin origins; pelvic-fin and dorsal-fin origins relative; posterior chamber of airbladder well developed, long, oval, and dissociative.
From that date, all submissions must clearly state whether "all applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were strictly followed; all animal sample collection protocols complied with the current laws of XX (country name) ... " or not; and "permission/document/ series numbers for conducting scientific field surveys and/or material transfer agreements" must be provided (Editorial Office of Zoological Research, 2019). [...]the improper handling of conflicts of interest (COIs) during manuscript review can introduce bias in evaluating research findings. [...]ZR authors must disclose all potential COIs and all reviewers and editors must follow the recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) in handling potential COIs. Reviewers and editors must declare all COIs relevant to the work under consideration (i. e., relationships, both financial and personal, that may interfere with the interpretation of the work) to avoid potential bias and, furthermore, must not use knowledge of the work they are reviewing before its publication in furtherance of their own interests (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, 2017, 2018).
Divergence of gene expression and alternative splicing is a crucial driving force in the evolution of species; to date, however the molecular mechanism remains unclear. Hybrids of closely related species provide a suitable model to analyze allele-specific expression (ASE) and allele-specific alternative splicing (ASS). Analysis of ASE and ASS can uncover the differences in cis-regulatory elements between closely related species, while eliminating interference of irans-regulatory elements. Here, we provide a detailed characterization of ASE and ASS from 19 and 10 transcriptome datasets across five tissues from reciprocal-cross hybrids of horsex donkey (mule/hinny) and cattlexyak (dzo), respectively. Results showed that 4.8% - 8.7% and 10.8%-16.7% of genes exhibited ASE and ASS, respectively. Notably, lncRNAs and pseudogenes were more likely to show ASE than protein-coding genes. In addition, genes showing ASE and ASS in mule/hinny were found to be involved in the regulation of muscle strength, whereas those of dzo were involved in high-altitude adaptation. In conclusion, our study demonstrated that exploration of genes showing ASE and ASS in hybrids of closely related species is feasible for species evolution research.
Genetically improved farmed tilapia (GIFT) and GIFT-derived strains account for the majority of farmed tilapia worldwide. As male tilapias grow much faster than females, they are often considered more desirable in the aquacultural industry. Sex reversal of females to males using the male sex hormone 17-a-methyltestosterone (MT) is generally used to induce phenotypic males during large-scale production of all male fingerlings. However, the widespread use of large quantities of sex reversal hormone in hatcheries may pose a health risk to workers and ecological threats to surrounding environments. Breeding procedures to produce genetically all-male tilapia with limited or no use of sex hormones are therefore urgently needed. In this study, by applying marker-assisted selection (MAS) for the selection of YY supermales from a GIFT-derived strain, we identified 24 XY pseudofemale and 431 YY supermale tilapias. By applying MAS for the selection of supermale GIFT-derived strains, we established a set of MAS procedures and obtained more than 400 YY supermales.
Relaxed open-mouth display serves important social functions in relation to submission, reconciliation, affiliation and reassurance among non-human primate societies; however, quantitative evidence on this behavior remains insufficient among multi-level social groups. From July to November 2016, we examined four potential functions of the relaxed open-mouth display during pairwise, intra-unit social interactions among 18 free-ranging adult and sub-adult golden snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana) who belonged to three one-male, multi-female units (OMU) at Dalongtan, Shennongjia National Park, China. Results showed that: compared with no relaxed open-mouth display, (1) the occurrence of displacement by a dominant individual approaching a subordinate was lower and the distance of the subordinate to the approaching dominant was shorter when the subordinate showed open-mouth display; (2) relaxed open-mouth display reduced the probability of continued attack for victims of aggression and allowed victims to achieve closer proximity to the aggressor during post-conflict periods; (3) relaxed open-mouth display by dominant individuals allowed them to achieve closer proximity to subordinates; and (4) the exchange of relaxed open-mouth display had a greater impact on the outcome of interactions than one individual alone giving this signal. These findings suggest that relaxed open-mouth display serves important functions regarding submission, reconciliation, affiliation and reassurance in coordinating social interactions within OMUs in golden snub-nosed monkeys.
Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) and cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis) are frequently used in establishing animal models for human diseases. To determine the differences in gut microbiota between these species, rectal swabs from 20 rhesus macaques and 21 cynomolgus macaques were collected, and the microbial composition was examined by deep sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. We found that the rectal microbiota of cynomolgus macaques exhibited significantly higher alpha diversity than that of rhesus macaques, although the observed number of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) was almost the same. The dominant taxa at both the phylum and genus levels were similar between the two species, although the relative abundances of these dominant taxa were significantly different between them. Phylogenetic Investigation of Communities by Reconstruction of Unobserved States (PICRUSt) showed significant differences in the functional components between the microbiota of the two species, in particular the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) synthesis proteins. The above data indicated significant differences in microbial composition and function between these two closely related macaque species, which should be taken into consideration in the future selection of these animals for disease models.
A new species of the genus Liurana Dubois, 1986 is described from Medog County, Tibet, China, based on morphological and molecular data. The new species can be differentiated from all other congeners by the following combination of characters: (1) head wider than long; (2) tympanum distinct and large; (3) hindlimb long, tibiotarsal articulation beyond tip of snout when adpressed; (4) belly with flat tubercles, cloacal region with small tubercles; (5) transverse bands distinctly on dorsal limbs, four bands on thigh and three on tibia; and, (6) dark brown marbled patterns or speckles on white belly. Here, we also discuss the distribution pattern of Liurana in the East Himalaya region, the role of the Yarlung Tsangpo River in the speciation and genetic isolation of congeners, the direct developmental mode of reproduction, and the two different ecotypes of the genus. Lastly, we provide conservation recommendations for the genus in southeastern Tibet.
Several previous studies have indicated that nest sanitation behavior is a general adaptation in altricial birds, with egg recognition capacity evolving as a specific response to interspecific brood parasitism (IBP). However, a recent study suggested an alternative hypothesis, concluding that conspecific brood parasitism (CBP) selects for egg rejection in thrushes, with IBP as a by-product. In the present study, we used a spectrophotometer to quantify egg coloration and egg mimicry and performed artificial parasitism experiments in the greybacked thrush. In summary, previous studies on thrush hosts have provided inconsistent conclusions. This situation is complicated by the explanation for one species not being suitable for another. Our study provides preliminary information, and thus cannot offer sufficient evidence to support either the IBP or CBP hypothesis. However, considering that previous studies have provided strong evidence that hosts affected by IBP can retain egg recognition capacities after long-term escape from cuckoo parasitism, egg rejection capacity in grey-backed thrushes may be maintained because parasitic cuckoos have exploited this potential host in the past.
We describe a new species of the genus Tylototriton from Ingyin Taung Mt., Mohnyin Township, Kachin State, Myanmar, based on morphological and molecular evidence. The new species is assigned to the subgenus Tylototriton s. str. and is clearly distinct from all known congeners by the following characters: medium body size; thin, long tail, lacking lateral grooves; rough skin; truncate snout; wide, protruding supratemporal bony ridges on head, beginning at anterior corner of orbit; weak, almost indistinct sagittal ridge; long, thin limbs, broadly overlapping when adpressed along body; distinct, wide, non-segmented vertebral ridge; 13 or 14 rib nodules; brown to darkbrown background coloration with dull orange-brown to yellowish-brown markings on labial regions, parotoids, rib nodules, whole limbs, vent, and ventral tail ridge. We also briefly discuss biogeography and species diversity of thegenus Tylototriton in Myanmar.
Why humans have large brains with higher cognitive abilities is a question long asked by scientists. However, much remains unknown, especially the underlying genetic mechanisms. With the use of a transgenic monkey model, we showed that human-specific sequence changes of a key brain development gene (Primary microcephaly1, MCPH1) could result in detectable molecular and cognitive changes resembling human neoteny, a notable characteristic developed during human evolution. MCPH1 is a key gene regulating brain development in humans, and its truncate mutations can cause primary microcephaly. Similarly, MCPH1 knockout in mice and monkeys can recapitulate the microcephaly phenotype, highlighting its critical role in mammalian brain development. This study represents the first attempt to utilize a transgenic monkey model to study human brain evolution. The results highlight the great potential of non-human primate models in studying human evolution and may pave the way for future studies to explore the genetic mechanisms of human-specific traits and elucidate the etiology of human brain disorders such as autism and Alzheimer's disease.